Critique of Religions and Notions of Freethinking in al-Ma'arri's Luzumiyyat.

Thesis author: 
Sona Grigoryan
Year of enrollment: 
Duration of thesis project: 
Sep, 2011 - May, 2018
Thesis supervisor: 
Aziz Alazmeh
Thesis abstract: 

The thesis aims at revisiting previous readings of Abu’l-‘Ala’ al-Ma‘arri’s Luzumiyyat and the poet’s reputation as a freethinker, atheist or deist. The discussions will show that contradictions in Luzum which, according to many scholars were result of taqiya, did not constitute a problem in writing. Contradictory writing was not a task here. The task and the intention were only literary: to compose a virtuous work through extra-ordinary rules of prosody and versification. In this sense, Luzum must be seen as a deliberate and well-planned writing, manneristic in nature, with the purpose of establishing a certain authority through writing.
As for the incoherence, inconsistencies and contradictions especially (but not only) in matters of belief, I employ the concept of ambivalence as a hemeneutical tool. Introducing the notion of ambivalence, allows for more complex, wider and inclusive reading of Luzum than the notions of taqiya which dismisses one discourse in the text at the expense of the other or prefers one over the other. The notion of ambivalence will be applied while discussing the notion of God, reason and revelation, as well as the notion of humanism.
The thesis also brings in a detailed discussion on al-Ma‘arri’s reception at his time and in posterity. The major purpose here is to show that the issue of persecution did not play a role in writing as it should be understood (in the light of Straussian famous thesis) if we follow the notion of taqiya.