Origine et finalité du langage dans le moyen âge islamique

  • Giovanni Carrera
  • Francesco Chiabotti


This research, issued from a doctoral seminar at the French Institute of Damascus (IFPO - Institut Français du Proche Orient) organized by the authors and Professor Pierre Lory (IFPO / EPHE - Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes), aims at inquiring upon the issues related to language during the Islamic Middle-Ages. The two articles explore two dimensions of language, i.e. two different perspectives of the nature and scope of the language: the first, theological and, the second, mystical. Theology and Sufism, although they appear distant and separated from each other, share the same degree of attention to the phenomenon of human language. The first part of the article is devoted to the Mutakallimūn’s discussion on the origin of language and the theological issues related to it. The discussion about the origin of language in the kalām milieux is analyzed on one side in its diachronic perspective, and via the primary sources comparative analysis, on the other. This approach will show how the two main key concepts of tawqīf and muwāḍa‘a are embedded in a strict theological context. The second part of the article will be devoted to the mystical approach on language. The analysis takes into account the mystical and ṣūfī interpretation of grammar of the Ṣūfī master, ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Qušayrī (d. 465/1072) throughout his grammatical works: an accurate reading of which allows to grasp the mystical interpretation of grammar (naḥw) that goes beyond the mere linguistic dimension of the Arabic language. Moreover, from the analysis of al-Qušayrī’s grammatical works a new interpretation of language inscribed into the relation between man and God will arise. Finally, the two articles undertake a sources’ analysis aiming at reconsidering the role of language (the Arabic language) aside from the Arabic grammatical tradition’s boundaries. Reconsidering the role of language as a core issue in its theological and mystic contexts shows how the phenomenon of language intervenes within man’s relationship vis-à-vis the other and God.


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