On Wednesday 11th October 2023, Professor Nahyan Fancy (University of Exeter) delivered a research seminar entitled ‘Medical Discussions on Lovesickness (ʿIshq) during the Post-Classical Period.’ He spoke about the discussions on lovesickness from five medical commentaries from the Mamluk period focusing on illuminating how the texts and the authors engage with the works of their predecessors and what we can learn about the specific intellectual landscapes in which each author operated.
The late Michael Dols in his book on the Majnūn rightly asserted that when dealing with madmen in medieval Islamic societies, we need to have in mind a model of medical pluralism. He had spotted the various intersections of genres of texts and learning, and even sociological classes and behavioral norms in his examination of madness, more broadly, and lovesickness (ʿishq), in particular. In this chapter, I shall focus on the discussions on lovesickness from five medical commentaries from the Mamluk period. The focus will be not only be on illuminating how the texts and the authors engage with the work(s) of their predecessor(s), but also what we can learn about the specific intellectual landscapes in which each author operated along with their specific interests in the topic.
Professor Nahyan Fancy is the Al-Qasimi Professor in Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. He received his PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Notre Dame. He taught for 17 years in the History department at DePauw University, Indiana, before joining the faculty at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter this year. He works on the intersections of philosophy, medicine, science and religion during the period between 1200 and 1520. His first book, Science and Religion in Mamluk Egypt: Ibn al-Nafis, Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrection (Routledge, 2013), situated Ibn al-Nafis’s proposal of the pulmonary transit of blood within the context of debates amongst philosophers and religious scholars over the proper role of reason in interpreting revelation and the possibility of bodily resurrection. He has published widely on post-classical medicine, including more recent work on pre-modern understandings of sleep and plague. His current book project examines eight medical commentaries on the Canon of Medicine and its Epitome, to reveal that neither were Ibn al-Nafis’s works ignored after 1300, nor was there a decline in medical and scientific thought due to religious antagonism.