Séminaire IDEO 2022-2023 : “Salaf in the Classical Age Building an Authority Figure”, Le Caire

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L’institut dominicain d’études orientales organise un séminaire  : “Salaf in the Classical Age Building an Authority Figure” (« Les salafs à l’âge classique. Construire une figure d’autorité » ) – Le Caire – 2022/2023


Salaf in the Classical Age Building an Authority Figure The Islamic reformist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought the salaf, those first generations of Muslims, back to the forefront as a major reference of Islam, in doctrinal contents and as exemplary models of life, to the point that many of these movements, despite great differences between them, are generally grouped under the terms salafism or salafiyya. However, while they have promoted the generations of the salaf in a new way, they inherit about them an older tradition, which is based on a famous ḥadīṯ: “The best of my community are those of my time, then those who will follow them, then those who will follow the latter.”

For all that, the notion of the salaf is relatively problematic. Who exactly does it refer to? The first three generations of Muslims, as suggested by the ḥadīt (who will be called the Companions, the Followers and the Followers of the Followers), in a strict temporal approach, or should this approach be adapted to exclude those who are unworthy of it, because they have deviated from strict orthodoxy, or to include later but highly authoritative figures, such as the founders of schools? Can we really designate them as a homogeneous group, which would have shared the same theological or legal opinions? The question arises all the more because the salaf left little written material, and their thought is known only through the quotations we find of them in the oldest tafāsīr, the Qur’anic commentaries.

The seminar will intend to study the construction of the salaf as a reference group in medieval Islam. Through the study of different classical texts, it aims to understand how this authority figure was developed and what functions were assigned to it, depending on the disciplines and contexts.

The seminar will be held one Wednesday per month at the Dominican Institute of Oriental Studies, from November to May.


16 November at 5pm: General introduction to the seminar: the Salaf between history, memory and myth Ancient and modern historians in search of the salaf Wednesday 1

4 December at 5pm: The salaf as a source of religious knowledge in the early tafāsīr Wednesday

18 January at 5pm: Early ḥanbalites, supporters of the salaf? Wednesday

15 February at 5pm: The salaf in the theology of al-Ašʿarī Wednesday

15 March at 5pm: The salaf in the doxographers (Al-Šahrastānī, Ibn Ḥazm) Wednesday

5 April at 5pm: Medieval Shi’ism facing the salaf — with Dr Mathieu Terrier Wednesday

17 May at 5pm: The salaf in the thought of Ibn Taymiyya — with Dr Jon Hoover

Source : Lettre d’information de l’IDEO

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