The Triumph of Mercy

Philosophy and Scripture in Mullā Ṣadrā

By Mohammed Rustom

Subjects: Religion, Islam, Sufism, Philosophy Of Religion, Mysticism
Paperback : 9781438443409, 255 pages, July 2013
Hardcover : 9781438443416, 255 pages, September 2012

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Table of contents

Transliterations and Abbreviations
1. Qur'ānic Hermeneutics
Lord of the Heart
Etiquette and Understanding
Concept and Reality
The Command’s Decent
The Soul’s Ascent
2. Formal Considerations
Texts and Sources
Structure and Content
3. Metaphysics
The Essence
Names and their Loci
4. Cosmology
The Act of Praise
The Muhammadan Reality
5. Theology
From Outer to Inner
Idols of Belief
The Religion of the Perfect Man
6. Soteriology I
The Nature of Things
The Essential and the Accidental
7. Soteriology II
Paths to Mercy
Divine Hands and Feet
Intellectual and Scriptural Fidelity
Revealing and Concealing
Chastisement’s Sweetness
Appendix 1: Some Key Texts from the Mafātīḥ al-Ghayb
Appendix 2: Key Texts from the Tafsīr Sūrat al-Fātiḥa
Appendix 3: Passages from the Futūḥāt Reworked into the Tafsīr Sūrat al-Fātiḥa
Index of Qur'ānic Passages
Index of Ḥadīths and Sayings
Index of Names and Terms

Discusses philosopher Mullā Ṣadrā’s commentary on the opening chapter of the Qur’ān.


Winner of the 21st International Book of the Year Prize in Iran

This book investigates the convergence of philosophy, scriptural exegesis, and mysticism in the thought of the celebrated Islamic philosopher Mullā Ṣadrā (d. 1050/1640). Through a careful presentation of the theoretical and practical dimensions of Ṣadrā's Qur'ānic hermeneutics, Mohammed Rustom highlights the manner in which Ṣadrā offers a penetrating metaphysical commentary upon the Fātiḥa, the chapter of the Qur'ān that occupies central importance in Muslim daily life. Engaging such medieval intellectual giants as Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210) and Ibn 'Arabī (d. 638/1240) on the one hand, and the wider disciplines of philosophy, theology, Sufism, and Qur'ānic exegesis on the other, Ṣadrā's commentary upon the Fātiḥa provides him with the opportunity to modify and recast many of his philosophical positions within a scripture-based framework. He thereby reveals himself to be a profound religious thinker who, among other things, argues for the salvation of all human beings in the afterlife.

Mohammed Rustom is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Carleton University. He is the coeditor (with Atif Khalil and Kazuyo Murata) of In Search of the Lost Heart: Explorations in Islamic Thought by William C. Chittick, also published by SUNY Press.


"Written with eminent clarity … [The Triumph of Mercy] fuses the best of scholarship in Islamic studies with a refined textual approach that is simultaneously historical, analytical, and phenomenological." — Studia Islamica

"…[a] systematic study … Student and specialist will find it supremely useful in a field that has too long been stuck in the 'interdisciplinary' boondocks." — Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

"…a beautifully written study on the celebrated Islamic philosopher Mullā Ṣadrā … The translations are flawless and the discussions, rich with intellectual history, are lucid and meaningful." — American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

"…a path-breaking study which will usher in new ways of envisioning the relationship between philosophy, mysticism, and the Qur'an … it is an excellent contribution to the burgeoning fields of post-Avicennian Islamic intellectual history, Sufi and non-Sufi tafsīr, and Mullā Ṣadrā studies." — Journal of Sufi Studies

"…the book enjoys both academic rigor and an accessible narrative … The Triumph of Mercy is both a contribution to Mullā Ṣadrā scholarship and a worthwhile addition to exegetical literature." — Iranian Studies

"…Rustom's masterful study … is an original and valuable asset to both academics and lay readers who have some background and interest in Islamic philosophy, Sufism and qur'anic exegesis … [the] work is a valuable addition to the fields of philosophy and Islamic studies, and will be a source of inspiration and discussion for years to come." — Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations

"…this book is an excellent introduction to Mullā Ṣadrā's mystic thought as it appears in his commentary of al-Fātiḥah. Above all, the author explains clearly Mullā Ṣadrā's concept of being in relation to scripture … this book is a fine philological work." — Journal of Shiʽa Islamic Studies

"…Rustom's study will both generate and provide the ground for increased scholarly attention to Ṣadrā's religious writings." — Journal of Islamic Studies

"…Rustom reminds us how Ṣadrā 'is able to successfully recast his sophisticated ontology of the fundamentality of being into a theological and scripture-based framework' (p. 118), thereby recommending his work to anyone seeking articulate access to Islamic theology." — Modern Theology

"Informed, informative, and a superb example of seminal scholarship, The Triumph of Mercy is a highly recommended and core addition to academic library Islamic Studies and Philosophy Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists." — Midwest Book Review

"By focusing on Ṣadrā's commentary on the Qur'ān's opening chapter, Rustom shows how the great Iranian thinker created an original Qur'ānic hermeneutics as well as a new ontology of the Qur'ān. Rustom's book is a groundbreaking and richly detailed study of the way that Ṣadrā both appropriated and transcended the Islamic traditions of theology, mysticism, philosophy, and scriptural exegesis." — Robert Wisnovsky, author of Avicenna's Metaphysics in Context

"Mohammed Rustom has opened the door to a remarkable philosophical exegesis of the Qur'ān in this pathbreaking study of the outstanding Iranian thinker of the seventeenth century, Mullā Ṣadrā. In the process, he clarifies the profound connections between philosophy, Sufism, and Islamic theology in Ṣadrā's work. This absorbing study will be welcomed by anyone interested in the fundamental question of how reason interacts with revelation." — Carl W. Ernst, author of How to Read the Qur'ān: A New Guide, with Select Translations

"This first book-length survey of Mullā Ṣadrā's Qur'ānic commentaries is a major contribution to the study of this seventeenth-century Muslim philosopher and to the field of philosophical exegesis in Islam. Mohammed Rustom presents Ṣadrā's vision for the unity of the 'intellectual' and 'transmitted' sciences and gives us a complete picture of a first-rate thinker contemplating upon the Qur'ān. He does an excellent job of contextualizing Ṣadrā's Qur'ānic hermeneutics within the framework of his 'Transcendent Wisdom' and shows how scriptural reasoning complements philosophical vision. Based on an in-depth reading and translation of Ṣadrā's key texts on Qur'ānic exegesis, the book examines a much-neglected aspect of Ṣadrā's thought and introduces the reader to the rich philosophical tapestry of the Islamic intellectual tradition." — Ibrahim Kalin, author of Knowledge in Later Islamic Philosophy: Mullā Ṣadrā on Existence, Intellect, and Intuition