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Die Problematik von ḥaqīqa und maǧāz in Abū al-Ḥusain al-Basrīs Kitāb al-Muʿtamad

Pages 339 - 262


The concepts of ḥaqīqa (“proper” or “literal meaning”) and maǧāz (“figurative meaning”) play a central role in many classical works of the genre of uṣūl al-fiqh (Islamic legal theory), since they are basic concepts in the hermeneutics of the texts from which Islamic law is derived. Using the example of the understanding of ḥaqīqa and maǧāz as expounded in Abū al-Ḥusain al-Baṣrī's Kitāb al-Muʿtamad, this paper will examine the way in which these two concepts relate to each other and their relevance to al-Baṣrī's theory of language. To this end, the chapters in the Kitāb al-Muʿtamad dealing with the concepts of ḥaqīqa and maǧāz are analysed in detail. As all meaningful linguistic expressions, according to al-Baṣrī, fall into one of the two categories of ḥaqīqa or maǧāz, it is possible to draw conclusions about his understanding of language as an instrument of communication in general, from his treatment of these two concepts. While the ḥaqīqa-meanings of expressions are understood as having been permanently fixed by a single coinage (waḍʿ), the concept of maǧāz allows for a much higher degree of flexibility in the usage of expressions. The importance of the theories of language propounded within uṣūl al-fiqh for the philosophy of language has been pointed out by Western scholars in recent decades. This article presents a detailed analysis of one of the central source texts for this topic.


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