Dr. Livnat Holtzman
LIVNAT HOLTZMAN is an expert in Islamic theology. She specializes in traditionalist theology from the inception of Islam until the 15th century, and has published extensively on the thought of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya. Currently she is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University, and is on sabbatical leave until October 2019.
Her main research interests are: (1) the presence of the theological discourse in the public sphere of the medieval societies; (2) Hadith literature (in the widest sense of the term) and its role in theological debates; (3) non-textual elements in the process of Hadith transmission.
Recently, she published Anthropomorphism in Islam: The Challenge of Traditionalism (700-1350), Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (March 2018). This monograph focuses on the discussions on the divine attributes and tashbīh among the traditionalistic circles in the major centres of learning (Medina, Baghdad, Basra, Kufa, Nishapur, Damascus, and Cairo) in the Islamic world. The muḥaddithūn (Hadith scholars) in these learning centres vehemently argued about the interpretation of aḥādīth al-ṣifāt (anthropomorphic Hadith text-units). This monograph highlights the complicated social networks and political settings in which the discourse about anthropomorphism existed. The monograph contains the first large-scale analysis of the language of gestures in the theological discourse.
All the courses are accompanied by course’s websites. The lectures are accompanied by PowerPoint presentations, relevant maps, sketches and movies.
- 36-861-01, 36-862 Defining Anthropomorphism (Tashbih): The Challenge of Islamic Traditionalism (semestral course for graduates, 2 credit points). The course offers in-depth reading in Ibn Qayyim a-Jawziyya’s (d. 1350) al-Kafiyah al-Shafiyah fi al-Intisar lil-Firqa al-Najiya, a 6000-verse didactic poem which deals with the divine attributes and the hermeneutical and theological complexities they pose to traditionalist thinkers. Students taking this course as a seminar will write a final paper of approx. 10,000 words.
- 36-661-01, 36-662-01 Form and Content in Classical Arabic Poetry (two-semestral course for third-year undergraduates, 2 credit points). This course introduces one of the most challenging areas of Arabic literature. We will closely read odes (qasida pl. qasa’id) from three major poetry compilations from the 9th century onward: Diwan al-Hamasa of Abu Tamam, Diwan al-Mufaddaliyyat and the one of the seven Mu'allaqat. The close reading is corroborated by discussions in class on the social and political processes in the tribal societies of pre-Islamic and Islamic Arabia, Iraq and al-Sham. We will reconstruct everyday life from the many clues the poets give us: clothing, perfumes, special dishes, wine, fruit, weapons, hairdressing, games, dancing etc. We will reconsider the status of women. We will also track down the characteristics of pagan religions and rituals. As a rich reservoir of human emotions, the classical Arabic poetry is an excellent starting point of contemplating and considering love, hate, envy, anger and compassion. Students taking this course as a seminar will write a final paper of approx. 10,000 words.
- 36-120-01 Introduction to the Religion of Islam (two-semestral course for first year undergraduates, 2 credit points). The course provides a broad view of the historical development of the various fields of religious thought in Islam through analyses of religious texts. We will analyze texts in translation from the two major religious sources, Quran and Hadith, but also acquaint ourselves with other literary genres such as aqaid (professions of faith), polemical responsa, religious poetry etc.
- Hanbali and Ashari theology
- Didactic poetry in the Mamluk era
- Qur'an and Hadith exegesis
- Performative elements in public rituals and sermons
- Patterns of Argumentation and Rhetorical Devices in the Legal and Theological Works of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya- with Prof. Birgit Krawietz from Freie Universitaet Berlin- a three-year GIF grant since December 2010. The project was granted one-year extension until December 2014.
- Defining Anthropomorphism (Tashbih): The Challenge of Islamic Traditionalism during the 8-14th Centuries- a three-year ISF grant since October 2010. The project was granted one-year extension until October 2014.
- The practical aspects of the theological thought of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya- a two-year ISF grant since September 2006.
TALKS AND INVITED LECTURES
- "The Dream Interpreter and the Later Hanbalis: Regulating Oneiromancy in Mamluk Damascus". First Conference of the School of Mamluk Studies. Universita Ca' Foscari, Venice Italy, 23-25 June 2014.
- "Longing, Love and Tenderness: The Pilgrimage to Mecca as Reflected in a Poetic Text from the Mamluk Period", Travelers and Traveling: Representations and Meanings. The 37th Annual Conference of the Israel Historical Society. Bar-Ilan University, 9 June 2014.
- "Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Description of Paradise in Prose and Poetry”, an invited lecture for graduate students and faculty members in the Institut für Islamwissenschaft, Freie Universität Berlin, 27.7.2013.
- "Ibn al-Qayyim Lecture of Good Advice (waṣīya) in al-Kāfiya al-Shāfiya fī ‘l-Intiṣār lil-Firqa al-Nājiya", an invited talk in the GIF workshop Normative and theological dimensions of a Mamluk polygraph; The thought and reception of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Geschichts-und Kulturwissenschaften Institut für Islamwissenschaft, Freie Universität Berlin, 26/7/2013.
- "Theology is Politics: Taqi al-Din al-Subki's Attack on the Later Hanbalis as a Case-Study", the thirty-seven annual conference of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Association of Israel (MEISAI), Tel-Aviv University, 6.6.2013.
- "The Ring of the Dove in the Garden of Love: The Reception of the Writings of Ibn Hazm of Cordoba in Mamluk Damascus", the thirty-three annual conference of the Department of the Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology in honor of Prof. Joseph Drory, Bar-Ilan University, 30.5.2013.
- “Defining Anthropomorphism (Tashbih): The Challenge of Islamic Traditionalism from the Eighth to the Fourteenth Centuries”, an invited lecture for graduate students of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands, 12 April 2013.
- Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Description of Paradise in Prose and Poetry”, an invited lecture for group members of “The Here and the Hereafter in Islamic Traditions” (HHIT, a 4-year research program funded by ERC), Universiteit Utrecht, the Netherlands, 11 April 2013.
- “Accused of Anthropomorphism: Ibn Taymiyya’s Mihan as Reflected in Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s al-Kafiya al-Shafiya”, the Departmental Colloquium of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Tel-Aviv University, 23 January 2013.
- “Ibn Taymiyya and the Salaf: On Ibn Taymiyya’s Hermeneutical Methodology”, Islamic Radicalism: Medieval and Modern Polemics, The Nehemia Levtzion Center for Islamic Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 21 November 2012.
- Insult, Fury, and Frustration: the Martyrological Narrative of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah’s al-Kafiyah al-Shafiyah”, International Conference on Mamluk Literature, the University of Chicago, 28-29 April 2012.
- “Hidden Treasures in al-Kafiya al-Shafiya: Rhymed Episodes from the Life of Ibn Taymiyya”—Benjamin’s Mess: Readings in Islamic Theology, a One-Day Conference in Honor of Prof. Binyamin Abrahamov, Bar-Ilan University, 21 March 2012/
- “Sweetness and Happiness in Your Heart: Ibn Taymiyya’s Biography as Reflected in Majmu’ al-Fatawa”—Scriptures and Masterpieces in Islam—The National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, 17 January 2012.
- “Tashbih, Hashwiyya, and Takfir. Taqi al-Din al-Subki’s Counterattack on the Later HAnbalis”—Takfir: A Diachronic Perspective—International Conference, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid, 24-26 October 2011.
- “Polemical Didactic Poems in Mamluk Cairo and Damascus”— NEW FRONTIERS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES German- Israeli Summer School— THE POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND INTELLECTUAL HISTORY OF THE MAMLUK AND MONGOL EMPIRES: A COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE—The Institute of Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 18-23 September 2011.
- “Does God Really Laugh? – Ibn Taymiyya's Nuanced Approach to Anthropomorphic Hadith Material” —20TH CHESFAME Colloquium on the History of Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid, and Mamluk Eras (10th - 15th centuries), Universiteit Gent, 11-13 May 2011
- “Several Responses to a Dhimmi’s Question on Predetermination: The Dynamics of Composing Polemical Didactic Poems in Mamluk Cairo and Damascus” — Egypt and Syria under Mamluk Rule: Political, Social and Cultural Aspects- an International Conference, University of Haifa, 11-13 April 2011.
- “Shi’r al-fuqaha’ and Its Role in Proliferating Theological Formulae in 14th c. Cairo and Damascus” – The Second International Conference of the European Research Council’s FP7 Project, Theological Rationalism in the Medieval World of Islam, The Orient Institute, Istanbul, 4-6 June 2010.
- "Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya on God's Uncreated Word"- International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 13-16 2009.
- "Debating on Jabr (Compulsion): Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya Reads Fakhr al-Din al-Razi"- a lecture in the Department Colloquium for Advanced Students, Department of Arabic, Tel-Aviv University, 17 June 2009.
- "Debating on Jabr (Compulsion): Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya Reads Fakhr al-Din al-Razi"- 33rd Annual Conference of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Association of Israel (MEISAI), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, May 20 2009.
- "God's Laughter and the Prophet's Laughter: The Challenge of Islamic Traditionalism (9-14 centuries)- Laughter in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Times- 7th International Symposium, The University of Arizona, Tucson Arizona, April 30- May 3 2009.
- "A Cure for Every Disease- Practical Aspects to the Story of Joseph and al-Aziz's Wife"- Seduction and Temptation in the Middle Ages and Afterwards: Literature, Theology, Art, a conference, Bar Ilan University March 15- 16 2009.
- "Ibn Hazm's Short Theory of the Quranic Manifestations and Its Role in the Later Hanbali- Ashari Polemic" – The Life and Work of Ibn Hazm of Cordoba, a workshop, The Orient Institute, Istanbul, August 25-28 2008.
- "The Influence of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi on Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya's Theology and Qur'an Exegesis"- Neo-Hanbalism Reconsidered: the Impact of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, a workshop, Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin, October 23-25 2007.
- "Fundamentals of the Hanbali-Ashari Polemic in Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya's al-Qasida al-Nuniyya"- 16th Colloquium on the History of Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras. Universiteit Gent, May 9-11 2007.
- "The Literary Presentation of al-Wasat Principle in Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya's Theological Treatise in Verse"- MESA (Middle East Studies Association) 2006, Boston Massachusetts, November 18- 21 2006.
- "The Literary Value of Didactic Verses in the Islamic Scholarly Circles of the Mamluk Era", Arabic and Islam- Language, Culture, History- One-Day Conference of the Department of Arabic and the Department of Middle Eastern History, Bar-Ilan University, June 21 2006
- " 'I Choose Not to Choose' - The Theological Manzuma by Ibn Taymiyya: Literary and Historical Aspects ", 15th Colloquium on the History of Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, May 17-19 2006
- "Historiography and National Identity" Research Conference: Seventy Years after the Palestinian- Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, The Ben Gurion Heritage Institute and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, May 16-17 2006
- "A Literary Presentation of al-Wasat Principle in Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya's Theological Treatise in Verse", 30th Annual Conference of the Israeli Oriental Society. Bar Ilan University, May 8 2006
- "Tarjih and Its Derivatives as Intellectual Tools in the Islamic Thought after Ibn Sina", Post-Avicennian Science and Philosophy conference, Bar Ilan University, November 21-23 2005
- "Human Choice and the Fitra Tradition: Some Remarks on the neo-Hanbalite Approach to Hadith Exegesis", Ibn Taymiyyah and His Times Conference, Princeton, New Jersey, April 8-10 2005
- "The Great Arab Revolt in Palestine 1936-1939: Central Issues and Historiographical Debate as Reflected in the Palestinian Sources", 24th Annual Conference of the Israeli Oriental Society. Tel Aviv University, May 2000
An abstract of the Holtzman-Krawietz GIF project (from the Freie Universitaet website)
The Holtzman-Krawietz GIF project on Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (press release)
Outstanding Lecturer (a movie in Hebrew)
Outstanding Lecturer (press release, in Hebrew)