Paretymologies in the Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam in the light of Ibn ʿArabī’s hermeneutic principles

  • Federico Salvaggio University of Udine


In the Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam Ibn ʿArabī presents us with several linguistic explanations about the meanings of specific words and expressions (mostly Qur’anic occurrences). From a contemporary linguistic perspective, many of those explanations would be classified within the category of paretymologies or folk etymologies. In the present contribution we will examine the paretymologies in Ibn ʿArabī’s Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam against some aspects of the Islamic linguistic thought, as specifically developed by Ibn ʿArabī, and try to make explicit the epistemological and theoretical framework standing behind those disputable etymologies. In so doing we will attempt to show how, far from simply being the product of popular fantasy or fanciful speculations, Ibn ʿArabī’s semantic explanations appear as highly sophisticated hermeneutic practices, grounded in a thorough knowledge of various language-related branches of Islamic science, consistent with the metaphysical vision of language emerging from the Andalusian master's speculations on the nature of the sacred text and on the linguistic structure of revelation.


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Author Biography

Federico Salvaggio, University of Udine

Federico Salvaggio holds a PhD in Arabic Linguistics from the University of Genoa and is currently a Lecturer in Arabic Language and Translation at the University of Trieste and a Research Fellow in Linguistics at the University of Udine. His research interests focus on the ideological and symbolic dimension related to linguistic knowledge and its transmission within the Arab and Islamic world. His publications mainly deal with Arabic language pedagogy and the religious and cultural influence of Arabic on other Islamic Languages.

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