Anan Ben David - Fundamental Principles of Ananism

Fundamental Principles of Ananism

Abu Hanifah was accustomed in certain cases to take the words of the Qur'an not in their literal, but in a symbolical sense (Ta'awil); see also Qur'an#Levels of meaning and inward aspects of the Qur'an. Anan adopted a similar method with the Hebrew text of the Bible. Illustrations of this method are not infrequently, indeed, afforded by the Talmud itself. Thus he interpreted the prohibition of plowing on Sabbath (Ex. xxxiv. 21) as applying to marital intercourse; the word "brothers" (aḥim, Deut. xxv. 5) in connection with the levirate marriage he interpreted as "relatives," etc. Anan's method of interpretation, however, was distinct from its Muslim counterpart in that he primarily built upon analogy of expressions, words (the rabbinical gezerah shawah), and single letters.

Some sources claim that Anan borrowed the belief in the transmigration of the soul (metempsychosis) from Muslim sectarians. This doctrine, represented in Greek antiquity especially by Empedocles and the Pythagoreans, had always been widespread in India, and even though it was found among some Muslim sects, such as the Rawendites, it was also a central tenet of Manichaeism, which was enjoying something of a renaissance in the region at the time of Anan. He is said to have written a special work in its defense. The belief in transmigration is also found in Kabbalah.

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