University platform for research on Islam

Initiated by
the Federation
of European

Supported by
the International
of Catholic

Référence :

in “Le vie del sapere in ambito siro-mesopotamico dal III al IX secolo”, Orientalia christiana analecta 293, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, Roma, 2013



Basra, cradle of Islamic culture. An analysis of the urban area that was the early home of Islamic Studies


Several factors account for the primacy of Baúra in Islamic studies, some attributable to objective reasons, some to prevailing anthropological, historical and political conditions. Baúra is the only VII-century town that can be considered really free from external constraints, an urban area that had always tried to make its decisions alone. For this reason, it had been defeated often by Umayyad or ‘Abbâsid armies, as during the Zubairid phase (683-691/64-72) or throughout al-Nafs al-Zakiyya uprising in 762/145. Baúra’s defeat as a political factor in the first century, however, allowed it to gain instead a significant role in the rise of early Islamic studies, greater even than that of the capital, Damascus. The Arab Bedouin urbanization process and the simultaneous phase of Islamization brought the appeasement of the Arab pre-Islamic feeling of freedom and independence along with the first Muslim elaboration of religious studies. Baúra’s primacy in Islamic studies un-derlined the lack of distinction concerning the orthodoxy and the unorthodoxy of the singular religious contribution and without censorship because novelty and freshness do not directly imply undesirable innovation (bid‘a). This situation fostered, on the one hand, the emergence of a significant process of elaboration within cultural and religious-Islamic studies, which initially was not able to distinguish the mystics from Tradition, or Quranic studies from theology, and, subsequently, the attempt to elaborate an Islamic ethical society which rejected the division of the Umma (the Islamic community after the fitna al-Kubrâ) and, as such, could promote a process of social moralization completely detached from political intrigue. This quietist approach is exemplified by Baúra’s pre-Sufism movements, early theological schools, the presence of violent and non-violent Æarióites sects and the lack of aüâdíth makers against religious adversaries. Finally, Baúra is the urban area in which free will had been reconciled within God’s transcendence without having considered disrespectful of ‘Allâh’s power, but in full compliance with his justice.

Titre original : “Basra, cradle of Islamic culture. An analysis of the urban area that was the early home of Islamic Studies”


Plusieurs facteurs expliquent la primauté de Baúra dans les études islamiques, certains attribuables à des raisons objectives, certains à des conditions anthropologiques, historiques et politiques dominantes. Baúra est la seule ville du VIIe siècle qui peut être considérée comme réellement libre des contraintes extérieures, une zone urbaine qui a toujours essayé de prendre ses propres décisions. Pour cette raison, il a été vaincu souvent par les armées omeyyades ou abbassides, comme pendant la phase Zubairid (683-691/64-72) ou tout au long du soulèvement al-Nafs al-Zakiyya en 762/145. La défaite de Baúra, comprise comme facteur politique au premier siècle, cependant, lui a permis de gagner au contraire un rôle significatif dans la montée des premières études islamiques, plus grande même que celle de la capitale, Damas. Le processus d’urbanisation des Bédouins arabes et la phase simultanée de l’islamisation ont apporté l’apaisement du sentiment pré-islamique arabe de liberté et d’indépendance avec la première élaboration musulmane d’études religieuses. La primauté de Baúra dans les études islamiques a mis en évidence le manque de distinction concernant l’orthodoxie et l’hétérodoxie de la contribution religieuse singulière et sans censure, car la nouveauté et la fraîcheur n’impliquent pas directement une innovation indésirable (bid’a). Cette situation a favorisé, d’une part, l’émergence d’un processus significatif d’élaboration dans les études culturelles et religieuses islamiques, qui n’a d’abord pas été en mesure de distinguer les mystiques de la Tradition, ou études coraniques de la théologie, et, par la suite, la tentative d’élaborer une société islamique éthique qui a rejeté la division de l’Umma (la communauté islamique après le fitna al-Kubrâ) et, en tant que telle, pourrait promouvoir un processus de moralisation sociale complètement détaché de l’intrigue politique. Cette approche silencieuse est illustrée par les mouvements pré-soufistes de Baúra, les premières écoles théologiques, la présence de sectes æarióites violentes et non-violentes et le manque d’aüâdíth mak-ers contre les adversaires religieux. Enfin, Baúra est l’espace urbain dans lequel le libre arbitre a été réconcilié dans la transcendance de Dieu sans avoir considéré comme irrespectueux le pouvoir d’Allah, mais en pleine conformité avec sa justice.

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