How will COBHUNI proceed?
Recent advances in the historical study of conceptualizations of pre-natal life in texts of Islamic normativity (Qur’an, Hadith and texts from the Islamic legal tradition) have broadened significantly our understanding of the many different areas on which imaginations of the unborn impacted. They constitute a leap in the demarcation of the field of inquiry Based on the mentioned advances and preliminary research a set of roughly 20 Qur’an passages and Hadiths has been identified – a much broader corpus than the three passages that are usually referred to in the contemporary concept of “Islamic embryology”. The COBHUNI project will follow up on these passages across regions through the history of Islam until today. This will be done by analyzing the Arabic Sunni exegetical texts on these Qur’an and Hadith sections with the following matrix:
This matrix allows for the following:
- Investigation into the interrelation of different stages within the same field of inquiry.
For example, certain issues of legal procedures establishing parenthood
(stage: after the unborn) rely on deduction from physiognomy. These procedures build on assumptions about how different forms and degrees of similarities among kin can be explained. Differentiated discussions about the question of similarity can be found in places completely unrelated to filiation but linked to e.g. the legal question of sperm and ritual purity (stage: before the unborn).
- Detection and analysis of linkages across fields of inquiry as well as the three stages.
In his work on miscarriage for example, Prof. Thomas Eich analyzed the connection between the legal field of inquiry (stage: after the unborn) and theological developments such as the gradual general acceptance of the body-soul dualism until ca. 9th century (stage: the unborn).
The exegetical material will be studied in two directions:
- Vertical axis: citations and cross-referencing within the exegetical tradition;
- Horizontal axis: contextualizing the exegesis and scrutinizing links to other genres.