Journal of Islamic Philosophy

Volume 12, 2021

Ismail Lala
Pages 5-44

Perceptions of Abraham’s Attempted Sacrifice of Isaac in the Latin Philosophical Tradition, the Sunnī Exegetical Tradition, and by Ibn ʿArabī

Kierkegaard raises many issues in his account of the near sacri­fice of Isaac by his father. Responding to and critiquing Hegelian and Kantian depictions of Abraham, Kierkegaard moves to elevate Abraham into a position as a knight of faith. The Sunnī perception of the incident in the exegetical tradition is far more ethically unequivocal than that of the Latin philosophical tradi­tion. The ubiquitous Sufi theorist, Ibn ʿArabī, however, in a single act of interpretive ingenuity, managed to extirpate the central root of contention raised by the philosophers when he alleges that Abraham was only ever commanded to sacrifice a ram. Despite his abiding commitment to spiritual unveiling (kashf) and his insistence on the personal nature of God, Ibn ʿArabī advo­cates the employment of a Kantian criterion of universal ratio­nality to adjudicate between literal and metaphorical dreams.