With regard to the Umayyads, the standard description of them as 'antireligious', accepted by so many Western and Muslim scholars, is repeated: 'their motives were political, not religious' (34), and theirs was only 'a more or less superficial profession of the new religion' (34). However, as Hathaway again points out, 'historians have begun to revise, at least to elaborate on, this view' (xi). One would add further that the growing publication of, and rekindled interest in, early hadtth material has allowed us to see the majority of Umayyad governors and caliphs in a remarkably favourable light compared to the prejudices of past generations: our earliest hadtth sources show them as very much interested in and concerned with matters of fiqh, and on matters of purely religious import, such as purity, fasting, and hajj, as much as on matters with potential governmental repercussions, such as taxation and inheritance. Finally, one should mention that the four maps are a useful addition to the text, though in this edition they are in danger of being too small to be read clearly. Yasin Dutton University of Edinburgh
Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic: Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition By PETER KINGSLEY. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. Pp. 422. Price HB £40.00. 0-19-814988-3. This work is without doubt the most important book on Empedocles in recent years and one of the most significant in early Greek thought since the writings of F. Cornford saw the light of day. While refuting the interpretations of most modern scholars who have relied on a rather rationalistic account of Empedocles by Aristotle and Theophrastus, Kingsley returns to the works of the Greek sage himself. In studying afresh Empedocles' two poems, Peri Physeos and Katharmoi, in the context of the original understanding of philosophy as a path towards the realization of the sacred, Kingsley is able to demonstrate clearly the initiatic significance of the work of Empedocles. Referring to the poem to Pausanias by Empedocles, Kingsley writes, 'What appears not to have been noted at all is the relation between his riddling introduction to the poem and the poem's background of mystery and initiation' (360—1). Furthermore, 'it has become clear that Empedocles' poetry needs to be viewed against a background of mystery and initiation' (365). Kingsley not only reveals the real nature of Empedocles' philosophy as being concerned with the esoteric, the mystical, and the initiatic rather than simply rudimentary natural philosophy setting the background for Aristotle's Physics. He also shows that far from being an isolated body of writings, his work is related to Pythagoreanism and bears striking resemblance to the Hermetic corpus, for 'when we look closely at Empedocles' poetry, and at Hermetica, it becomes clear that what was considered important by the authors in both cases
was an inner sense of revelation capable of pointing to the real nature and significance of things outwardly observed' (373). It is these links and their continuation into the Islamic world that make the present book of great interest to students of Islamic thought and readers of this journal. This book is of great significance for the study of early Greek thought and presents a major transformation of view as far as Empedocles and Pythagoras as well as the relation of Pythagoreanism to Plato are concerned. But the work should also be of importance to all students of Islamic philosophy. For someone who has read the accounts by Muslim alchemists, Isma'TIT philosophers, and the Sufis SuhrawardT and Mulla Sadra of the thought of Empedocles, the interpretation of Kingsley based upon careful scholarly study of the Greek sources seems very familiar. It is as if these Islamic thinkers, who greatly extolled Empedocles, had been acquainted with Kingsley's research. Referring to Arabic sources, the author writes, 'it also contains elements which very clearly correspond to, and derive from, the historical Empedocles as known from the surviving fragments of his poetry. And, what is perhaps more important, we have repeatedly seen examples of the way the Arab [Muslim] writers— both in and out of the alchemical tradition—managed intuitively to reconstruct aspects of Empedoclean or Pythagorean teaching which even by the time of Plato and Aristotle has been either misinterpreted or simply ignored' (379). This assertion, which goes against the view of almost all Western orientalists who have never taken Islamic accounts of the pre-Socratics seriously as indicative of the views of the latter, is of the greatest import for the understanding of the relation between Islamic philosophy and the Greek philosophical tradition. But our view is that this discovery, with which we concur completely, is not only the result of 'intuition'. Rather, there was first of all an oral tradition transmitted to Islamic philosophers from antiquity and secondly a metaphysics of the highest order issuing from the Haqiqa at the heart of the Qur'anic revelation which enabled figures such as Ibn Masarra, SuhrawardT, and Mulla Sadra to penetrate to the most profound level of meaning of the words of the pre-Socratics beyond the interpretations of Aristotle. Kingsley himself is able to show for the first time that the teachings of Empedocles along with Pythagoreanism and Hermeticism survived in southern Egypt, from where they were transmitted directly to Islam. He points to the significance of Dhu 1-Nun al-Misri, one of the early patriarchs of Sufism who was also an alchemist, who hailed from AkhmTm in Egypt which was a centre of Hermeticism and where also the Arabic original of the celebrated Latin alchemical text Turba Philosophorum was composed by Ibn Suwayd. This text itself is replete with elements of Empedoclean doctrine in a Pythagorean matrix. By revealing this route of transmission, neglected by Western scholarship, Kingsley is in reality reasserting the views of SuhrawardT concerning the transmission of sophia or al-hikma from the ancient world to Islam, where it became integrated into the Qur'anic world-view. It must be recalled, however, that this transmission does not in any way negate the Islamic origin of Sufism, as implied by Kingsley, but reveals the power of synthesis of Islam in its esoteric as well as exoteric aspect.
The research of Kingsley also reopens the question of so-called 'pseudoEmpedoclean' material in several schools of Islamic thought, cavalierly dismissed by S. M. Stern, whose views have been repeated by many other scholars during the past two decades. There is a need to re-examine the significance of Empedoclean teachings in Isma'TII philosophy, SuhrawardFs school of illumination (al-ishraq), Andalusian philosophy and Sufism, especially Ibn Masarra and Ibn 'Arab!, and the whole of the Islamic Hermetic and alchemical tradition. For this reason the book of Kingsley is of singular importance in the study of the Islamic intellectual tradition, while being of an even greater significance for the field of Greek and Western philosophy, since it challenges the commonly held view of the whole foundation of Western philosophical thought. Seyyed Hossein Nasr George Washington University An Islamic Response to Greek Astronomy: Kitab Ta'dil Hay'at al-Aflak of Sadr al-Sharta Edited and translated by AHMAD S. DALLAL. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995. Pp. xv+ 272. Price HB £35.00. 0-521^*6226-6. This is a first-class edition and translation of an Arabic astronomical work, in which the author shows that he is fully competent both linguistically and technically. The text is the third part of an encyclopaedia of which the first two parts are on logic and theology (i.e. metaphysics), written in Bukhara shortly before the middle of the fourteenth century by the HanafT scholar, Sadr al-Shan'a al-Thanl. In line with DallaFs teacher, George Saliba, and the recent volumes of the History of Islamic Philosophy edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman (London: Routledge, 1996), it exemplifies, once again, the fact that Islamic philosophy and science did not go into decline with the death of Averroes (1198), after which Western science took over. Rather, it reached a new high point in the East in the thirteenth century, with (in regard to astronomy) figures like NasTr al-DTn al-TusT and Qutb al-DTn al-ShfrazT. The first of these was commissioned by the new Mongol ruler to found the observatory at Maragha, to which ShTrazT was invited, and where in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries astronomical observations were made and new planetary models were devised, of such moment that they even had some influence in the West—notably on Copernicus. Sadr al-SharT'a was not at Maragha, but engaged in the same critical evaluation of his predecessors as did the members of the Maragha school. His scholarship, which was probably representative of that of his time, shows how resilient and flexible the intellectual tradition was in spite of political changes and the destruction of cities. Though meant to form part of a philosophical encyclopaedia in the Avicennan tradition, Sadr al-SharTa's treatise on astronomy is remarkably detailed, and concentrates on the problems raised by the planetary models proposed by TusT and ShTrazi, who in turn had been exposing the weaknesses of Ptolemy's planetary theory. But this concentration on problems is not merely critical;