In 1768, Aḥmad al-Damanhūrī became the rector (shaykh) of al-Azhar, which was one of the most authoritative and respected positions in the Ottoman Empire. He occupied this position until his death. Despite being a prolific author, whose writings are largely extant, al-Damanhūrī remains almost unknown, and much of his work awaits study and analysis. This book aims to shed light on al-Damanhūrī’s diverse intellectual background, and that of and his contemporaries, building on and continuing the scholarship on the academic thought of the late Ottoman Empire.
The book specifically investigates the intersection of medical and religious knowledge in Eighteenth-Century Egypt. It takes as its focus a manuscript on anatomy by al-Damanhūrī (d. 1778), entitled "The Clear Statement on the Science of Anatomy (al-qawl al-ṣarīḥ fī ʿilm al-tashrīḥ),". The book includes an edited translation of The Clear Statement, which is a well-known but unstudied and unpublished manuscript. It also provides a summary translation and analysis of al-Damanhūrī’s own intellectual autobiography. As such, the book provides an important window into a period that remains deeply understudied and a topic that continues to cause debates and controversies.
This study, therefore, will be of keen interest to scholars working on the "post-Classical" Islamic world, as well as historians of religion, science, and medicine looking beyond Europe in the Early Modern period.
‘Medicine and Religion in the Life of an Ottoman Sheikh is a brilliant work. This book is a much-needed contribution to the history of medicine and intellectual life in the late Ottoman Empire. The translation is elegant and finely wrought and the accompanying chapters bring to life the intellectual milieu of Shaykh Ahmad al-Damanhuri, one of the most significant intellectuals of late Ottoman Egypt.’ – Jennifer L. Derr, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
Part I: The study of al-Damanhūrī’s life and career
1 Al-Damanhūrī: the life of a scholar
2 The Education of Ahmad al-Damanhūrī
3 Medicine and Religion in al-Damanhūrī’s Clear Statement
Postscript Al-Damanhūrī in Anticipation: Writing Postcolonially
Part II: The Clear Statement—a translation
A note on translation
The Clear Statement—Translation