The Fihrist of al-Nadīm, A Tenth-century survey of Muslim culture

Bayard Dodge


The Fifth Part

of the book Al-Fihrist, [1] with accounts of the ancient and modern scholars, who were authors, with the names of the books which they composed about the rest of the sciences. [2] The composition of Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq al-Nadīm, known as Abū al-Faraj ibn Abī Ya‘qūb al- Warrāq.




1. This heading and the first segment of Chapter V are found only in the Beatty MS, as explained below. Under the heading, on the left-hand side of the page, there is written, “An imitation of the handwriting of the author, His servant Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq.” On the right-hand side there is “The fifth chapter about dialectic theology and the dialectic theologians (al-kalām wa-al-mutakallimīn).” For further information, see Arberry, Islamic Research Association Miscellany, I (1948), 19.


Most of Chapter V, Section 1, is found only in the Beatty MS. After the termination of the Beatty MS, a few pages follow which are found only in the Tonk MS (see nn. 237, 238). Evidently one or more pages have been lost between the end of the Beatty MS and the beginning of the Tonk MS (see n. 238 for probable content of the missing material). As the Beatty and Tonk MSS are not easily available for study, an attempt has been made to give the transliteration of some of the more important words in the book titles in this segment. With the account of al-Wāsiṭī, very near the end of Section 1, the Flügel text resumes, and MS 1934 begins (n. 266). See Introduction for more information on these manuscripts.


The Cairo edition of Al-Fihrist, printed by the Raḥmānīyah Press in 1929, has a very short Appendix, the content of which was taken from Aḥmad Taymur, who took the material from Die Kunde des Morgen Landes, 1889, a work which is not generally available. This Appendix contains accounts of nearly a dozen scholars, almost all of whom are mentioned in Chapter V by either Flügel or the Beatty MS. It is referred to in the footnotes as these men appear in the text. The one scholar in the Cairo Appendix who is not mentioned by the Beatty MS or the Flügel text is a judge named Abū Muḥammad ‘Abd Allāh ibn Aḥmad, called Ibn Zubd. He may be the man of that name, although called Ibn Zanū, who is mentioned in the Index to Ṭabarī, Annales. Perhaps “Ibn Zubd” is meant to be “Ibn Zayd.”


In this chapter, certain technical words and the names of many religious sects are mentioned over and over again. For explanation, the Glossary should be consulted.


2. In writing this phrase, “the rest of the sciences,” the author probably had in mind the theology in the fifth chapter and law in the sixth chapter, as those two fields of study were included in the Islāmic sciences.





In the name of Allāh, the Merciful, the Compassionate


The Fifth Chapter

of the book Al-Fihrist, with accounts of the scholars and the names of the books which they composed, in five sections.


The First Section

with accounts of the dialectic theologians (al-mutakallimūn) of the Mu‘tazilah and the Murji’ah, and of the beginning of dialectic theology (al-kalām) and disputation (al-jidāl). [3]





Why the Mu‘tazilah Were Called by This Name [4]

   Thus saith Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq [al-Nadīm]: Abū al-Qāsim al-Balkhī said that the Mu‘tazilah were called by this name because of the disagreement occurring in connection with the terms for those who committed great sins among the people of prayer. [5] The Khawārij said that these were unbehevers and polytheists, as well as sinners. [6] The Murji’ah said that they were believers and Muslims, but at the same time sinners. The Zaydīyah and Ibādīyah said that they did not believe in [God’s] grace, and were neither polytheists nor Muslims, but sinners. The companions of al-Ḥasan [7] said that they were hypocrites and also sinners.



3. Most of the theological discussions were carried on by members of the heretical sect of the Mu‘tazilah, until al-Ash‘arī persuaded the orthodox scholars to use dialectic methods to defend their own doctrines.


4. At the beginning of the Arabic title there is the letter lām (l) which is evidently meant to express interrogation. Al-Mu‘tazilah means those who are separated from others. This passage explains the reason for calling this sect by this name. For the founding of the Mu‘tazilī movement, see Nicholson, Literary History of the Arabs, pp. 222–23; Khallikān, II, 513; Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (7), 224; Jār Allāh, Mu‘tazilah, p. 2; Nādir, Système philosophique, p. 4; Baghdādi (Seelye), p. 121; Shahrastānī (Haarbrücker), Part I, p. 47. The various sects and technical words are explained in the Glossary.


5. This evidently refers to pious Muslims.


6. This means that these rebels were not only transgressors against the ordinances of the Qur’ān, but also regarded as being outside of the Muslim community.


7. This evidently refers to the disciples of al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī; see Shahrastānī (Haarbrücker), Part I, pp. 25, 44, 46, 49; “al-Ḥasan ibn abi’l-Ḥasan,” Enc. Islam, II, 273.





All of the Mu‘tazilah separated themselves from the things about which these [groups] differed. They said, “We agree about what they join in calling sin, but we avoid matters about which they disagree concerning unbelief, belief, hypocrisy, and polytheism.”


Abū Bakr ibn al-Ikhshīd said, ‘“Separation’ (al-i‘tizāl) became attached to the Mu‘tazilah during the days of al-Ḥasan [al-Baṣrī], according to what some people record, but this is not confirmed among us, nor do we have quotations about it.” He said, “What is [better] known among our scholars is that the name originated afier [the time of] al-Ḥasan.” He said:

The basis for it was that after al-Ḥasan had died and Qatādah had taken his place, ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubayd and a group with him separated themselves from him [Qatādah]. So Qatādah called them al-Mu‘tazilah (the Separatists). When ‘Amr heard about this name, he accepted and approved it, saying to his companions, “Al-i‘tizāl is a term which Allāh has praised in His Book, [8] so that this is unexpected good fortune,” [9] and thus he accepted it.


Mention of the First to Speak About Predestination, Justice, and Oneness

   Al-Balkhī said that the first person to speak about predestination and separation was Abū Yūnus al-Aswārī, a man from among the Aswārīyah known as Sinsawayh, who was followed by Ma‘bad al-Juhanī. It is also said that Sulaymān ibn ‘Abd al-Malik spoke about this matter.


The Names of Those from Whom Justice and Oneness Were Derived

   I read [what was written] in the handwriting of Abū ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Abdūs [al-Jahshiyārī], that Abū al-Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā ibn ‘Alī ibn Yaḥyā al-Munajjim said:



8. Al-i‘tizāl means “separation” or “turning aside.” It is mentioned in the Qur’ān 18:15(16), where it is said that Allāh will show mercy to those who separate from false worshipers to enter the cave; also in 19:50(49), where it speaks of Allāh’s reward for Abraharn, when he turned aside from false worshipers.


9. For the idiom “good fortune,” see Richardson, Dictionary, p. 17; in Arabic it is ittifāq Ḥasan.




My father informed me, and my paternal uncle Aḥmad as well as my paternal uncle Hārūn [10] also informed me, saying, “Abū Ya‘lā Zurqān, whose name was Muḥammad ibn Shaddād, the companion of Abū al-Hudhayl, related to me saying, ‘Abū al-Hudhayl al-‘Allāf Muḥammad ibn al-Hudhayl told us saying, “I received [11] what I know about justice and oneness from ‘Uthmān al-Ṭawīl, who was the teacher of Abū al- Hudhayl.” Abū al-Hudhayl said, “ ‘Uthmān told me that he learned about the matter from Wāṣil ibn ‘Aṭā’, and that Wāṣil derived this from Abū Hāshim ‘Abd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥanafīyah. ‘Abd Allāh received it from his father, Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥanafīyah. Muḥammad informed him that he obtained it from his father ‘Alī, for whom be peace, and that his father received it from the Apostle of Allāh, for whom be peace. [12] The Apostle of Allāh told him that Gabriel (Jibrīl) revealed it from Allāh, Glorious and Almighty. [13]


Al-Ḥasan ibn Abī al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī, surnamed Abū Sa‘īd

   He was born two years before the end of the caliphate of ‘Umar and died when eighty-nine years old, during the year one hundred and ten [A.D. 728]. [14] Al-Ḥasan served as secretary to al-Rabī‘ ibn Ziyād in Khurāsān and for about three years was the secretary of Anas ibn Mālik at Sābur. [15] He was one of those who gave allegiance to Ibn al-Ash‘ath, but was also one of the ascetics and pietists. [16] When Ibn al-Ash‘ath was overthrown, his adherents were hunted down and he [al-Ḥasan] went to al-Ḥajjāj, who after disciplining him gave him amnesty. But as al-Ḥasan did not feel safe near al-Ḥajjāj, he hid until he [al-Ḥajjāj] died. [17]



10. See Biog. Index, Munajjim farnily.


11. In this passage forms of the Arabic word akhad are translated as “received,” “obtained,” “derived,” etc, to make the meaning clearer.


12. On the rnargin of the Beatty MS there is the note, “Abū Hudhayl and ‘Uthmān lied.”


13. There is a second note on the rnargin of the Beatty MS, saying that this passage is a lie against Allāh and His Apostle, with some extra words which are not clear.


14. ‘Umar was the second caliph, who died A.D. 644. The age of al-Ḥasan is reckoned in lunar years.


15. See Yāqūt, Geog., III, 4–6.


16. The word for “giving allegiance” implies electing him as the caliph. Ibn al-Ash‘ath revolted when al-Ḥajjāj was the governor in al-‘Irāq. The rebel was killed A.D. 701/2. Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī was more famous as an early ascetic than as a man interested in politics.


17. Al-Ḥajjāj was famous for his tyranny. He died A.D. 714.





Among his words despising al-Ḥajjāj, when news of his death reached him, there was “Oh, our God, thou it is who has killed him and cut short his way of life.” Then he said, “Thou gavest us a little blind bat, emitting poison (burning), miserable and afflicted, with flapping of sides and shaking of buttocks, saying ‘Know us, know us!’ Truly we have known thee; Allāh has abhorred thee and abhorred thee also have the righteous.” [He also said] “He stretched out to me a hand with short fingers, and, by Allāh, it has never perspired from holding the reins to drive along the way of God.”


Among the books of al-Ḥasan there were: 

Commentary on the Qur’ān (Tafsīr li-al-Qur’ān), which a group quoted from him; [18] a book addressed to ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān refuting the Qadarīyah.


Wāṣil ibn ‘Aṭā’

   Abū Ḥudhayfah Wāṣil ibn ‘Aṭā’ was a protégé of the Banū Ḍabbah, or it is also said of the Banū Makhsūm. [19] His birth was at al-Madīnah and he was called al-Ghazzāl because of his frequenting Sūq al-Ghazl in order to become acquainted with the chaste women, to whom he distributed his alms. [20] He had a long neck and also mispronounced the letter rā’ (r) but as he was a master of style, eloquent and vigorous in speech, with versatility of expression, it was possible for him to avoid the letter ra’ (r) in his speech.


It was related that Wāṣil said about Bashshār ibn Burd, “Is there not someone to kill this blind man (a‘mā) who is surnamed Abū Mu‘ādh? By Allāh, if it were not for the malice which is one of the characteristics of the Ghulāt, [21] I would have sent someone to rip open his stomach on his bed. An ‘Uqaylī or Sadūsī would attend



18. The members of this group were probably his pupils, who quoted his teachings and wrote commentaries about them.


19. For these tribes see Qutaybah, Ma‘ārif, pp. 34, 36.


20. The Sūq al-Ghazl was the bazaar where the women spun thread. The word “chaste” probably refers to elderly women, needing aid and with no one to depend upon.


21. The Arabic text gives the form al-Ghāliyah, but the Glossary and translation give the usual form, Ghulāt.





to that.” [22] Thus he avoided pronouncing rā’, for he spoke of the “blind man surnamed Abū Mu‘ādh,” not saying either Bashshār or Ibn Burd. He mentioned al-a‘mā instead of saying al-ḍarīr [23] and spoke of the characteristics of the Ghulāt, rather than of the Mughīrīyah or the Manṣūrīyah. He also said ba‘atha instead of arsala [24] and mentioned ‘alā muḍṭaja‘ihi rather than saying ‘alā frāshihi. [25] He spoke of the Banū ‘Uqayl, because Bashshār was a protégé of theirs, and nientioned the Banū Sadūs because he dwelt among them. Avoiding letters is very difficult, especially one like ra’, which is used so much.


Wāṣil fell in with Abū Hāshim ‘Abd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥanafīyah and also attended the session (class) of al-Ḥasan [al-Basri]. Because he kept very silent, he was thought to be dumb. His neck was very long, so that ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubayd remarked about it, saying “A man with such a neck cannot be of any use!” But when Wāṣil became proficient, his excellence being evident, ‘Amr said, “Perhaps I made a mistake about his sense of perception.”


Al-Balkhī said, “Wāṣil was one of the people of al-Madīnah. His birth was during the year eighty [A.D. 699] and he died in the year one hundred and thirty-one [A.D. 748].” Among his books there were: 

The Middle Position (Al-Manzilah bayn al-Manzilatayn); [26] Judicial Interpretation (Al-Futyā); Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd).

Among the books of his associates (pupils), the authors being unknown, there were:

The Mashraqīyīn, [27] from the pupils of Abū Ḥudhayfah [Wāṣil ibn ‘Aṭā’] to their brothers in North Africa, which included a number of chapters (books), among which there was, The Way to a Knowledge of the Truth (Al-Sabīl ilā Ma‘rifat al-Ḥaqq).


22. For these tribes see Durayd, Geneal., pp. 181, 211. The translation is given freely so as to make the passage readable.


23. These are both words for “blind.”


24. Synonyms meaning “sent.”


25. These words might be translated “bedding” and “mattresses,” signifying the same thing.


26. See Glossary for this phrase.


27. The Mashraqīyūn was a name used for those living in the east. In North Africa it applied especially to members of the Shī‘ah.





Amr ibn ‘Ubayd

   He was Abū ‘Uthmān ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubayd ibn Bāb, a protégé of the Banū al-’Adawīyah [clan] of the Ḥanẓalah [branch] of the Banū Tamīm Tribe. [28] Al-Balkhī said that Bāb [the grandfather] was one of the prisoners from Kābul, a prisoner of ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Samurah [29] and a protégé first of the Banū ‘Uqayl, but later of the Banū ‘Arārah. [30]


He was born during the year in which Wāṣil was born, which was the year eighty [A.D. 699]. He was a man of medium stature, calloused between the eyes as the result of prostrating. [31] He was a friend of [the Caliph] Abū Ja‘far al-Manṣūr and there were stories about them. He preached to al-Manṣūr a number of times with a famous and well-known message (word). ‘Amr died while returning along the way to Makkah from al-Baṣrah, at a place known as Marrān, [32] during the year one hundred and forty-four [A.D. 761], when he was sixty years of age.


Although it has never been heard of for a caliph to make an elegy for a person of lower rank, al-Manṣūr composed an elegy for him, saying:

May Allāh bless you lying in the tomb, which I passed on the way at Marrān;

It is a tomb enshrouding a believer, who revered and worshiped Allāh, believing the Qur’ān.

Had time spared a righteous rnan, it would have spared for us ‘Amr Abū ‘Uthmān.

Among his books there were:

The Commentary (Al-Tafsīr), taken from al-Ḥasan [al-Baṣrī]; Justice and Oneness (Al-‘Adl wa-al-Tawḥīd); a refutation of the Qadarīyah.


 28. See Qutaybah, Ma‘ārif, p. 37.


29. This was a Companion of the Prophet who conquered Kābul; see Biog. Index.


30. See Durayd, Geneal., pp. 181, 254.


31. He prayed so often, touching his forehead to the ground, that the skin over his eyes became calloused.


32. See Yāqūt, Geog., IV, 479, where there is mention of a tomb at Marrān in Arabia.





Naming of those Who Drew upon ‘Amr [ibn ‘Ubayd] and Wāṣil [ibn ‘Aṭā’]

   One of those who drew upon ‘Amr and Wāṣil, but no book of whom is known, was Abū ‘Amr ‘Uthmān ibn Khālid al-Ṭawīl, the teacher of Abū Hudhayl [al-‘Allāf]. There was also Abū Ḥafṣ ‘Umar ibn Abī ‘Uthmān al-Sāmarrī, who drew upon the Commentary (Kitāb al-Tafsīr) of ‘Amr and al-Ḥasan.


Abū al-Hudhayl al-‘Allāf

   He was Abū al-Hudhayl Muḥammad ibn al-Hudhayl al-‘Allāf, a protégé of ‘Abd al-Qays and al-Hudhayl ibn ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn Makḥūl al-‘Abdī. [33] Abū al-Hudhayl was born during the year one hundred and thirty-one [A.D. 748/49]; it is also said thirty-four. He learned theology from ‘Uthmān ibn Khālid al-Ṭawīl, not coming into contact with either Wāṣil [ibn ‘Aṭā’] or ‘Amr [ibn ‘Ubayd]. Abū al-‘Aynā’ said that Abū al-Hudhayl died at Sāmarrā during the year two hundred and twenty-six [A.D. 840/41], [34] when he was one hundred and four years old.


When Abū al-Hudhayl was asked about his birth, he replied, “I was born during the year one hundred and thirty-five [A.D. 752/53].” On another occasion, when he was asked about this he said, “My parents told me that Ibrāhīm ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ḥasan was killed when I was a child of ten years old.” Ibrāhīm was killed during the year forty-five [A.H. 145: A.D. 762/63]. This remark of Abū al-Hudhayl indicates, therefore, that his birth was during the year one hundred and thirty-five [A.D. 752/53].


Abū al-Hudhayl died during the caliphate of al-Mutawakkil, in the year two hundred and thirty-five [A.D. 849/50], when he was one hundred [lunar] years old. At the end of his life he was stricken with senility. Although he did not lose sight of the fundarnental principles of doctrine, he became weak in opposing adversaries and disputing with persons who disagreed with him, as his intelligence became weak.



33. See Durayd, Geneal., p. 45, for ‘Abd al-Qays. The second name may be that of a chief or a subtribe.


34. This date and those given by Mas‘ūdi, VI, 369, and Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 125, seem to be too early. Khallikān, II, 667, says he died A.D. 849/50, which is also the date given by al-Nadīm in the next paragraph.





It was said that when a son of Ṣāliḥ ibn ‘Abd al-Quddūs died and [the father] grieved for him, Abū al-Hudhayl came to mourn with him. Upon finding him distraught Abū al-Hudhayl said to him, “I do not know the reason why you grieve for your son if man, according to you, is like what is planted (al-zar‘).” Ṣāliḥ replied, “Oh, Abū al-Hudhayl, I grieve for him because he never read the Book of Doubts (Kitāb al-Shukūk).” Then he [Abū al-Hudhayl] asked him, “The Book of Doubts, what is that, oh, Ṣāliḥ?” He answered, “It is a book which I have written, in order that whoever reads it will be doubtful about what exists, imagining that it is non-existent, and about what does not exist, imagining that it is existent.” So Abū al-Hudhayl said to him, “Be doubtful about the death of your son, acting as though he did not die, even though he has passed away. Be uncertain about his reading the Book of Doubts, even though he never read it.”


Abū al-Hudhayl wrote a book known as Mīlās. This Mīlās was a Magian, who embraced Islām because of a meeting which he arranged between Abū al-Hudhayl and a group of dualists. When Abū al-Hudhayl silenced them, Mīlās immediately embraced Islām. [35] Abū al-Hudhayl had a son, whose name was al-Hudhayl. Although he was a theologian, no book of his exists.


A person coming up behind Abū al-Hudhayl stopped him and, seizing his throat, said, “Take off your clothes, so that I can see the proof you have of this [circumcision].” Then Abū al-Hudhayl retorted to him, “My proof is that you are saying ‘Take off your clothes,’ when to remove them while you are holding my throat is impossible. Let go your hand, so that I can take them off!” So he said, “Go in the care of Allāh, for if I postpone the proof for a day, you will take them off immediately.” So he did not take off his clothes. [36]



35. Cf. this passage with Khallikān, II, 668.


36. Because Abū al-Hudhayl was a heretic, who was not born as a Muslim, he was accused of not being circumcised. Accordingly, he was told to take off his clothes, so as to show whether or not he was circumcised. In the second-to-last sentence, the implication is that if Abū al-Hudhayl could have a day’s notice, he would immediately become circumcised. The last line is not clear, and the whole passage is so confused that the translation is given freely. The translation assumes that the word given in Arabic as ḥajj (“pilgrimage”) is meant for ḥujjah (“proof”).





Abū al-Hudhayl came to Baghdād during the year two hundred and thirty [A.D. 844/45]. He lived to be over a hundred, but lost his sight. Among his books there were:

The Imamate, against Hishām; [37] against Abū Shimr in connection with al-irjā’; Obedience, Not for the Desire of Allāh (Ṭa‘ah Lā Yurād Allāh biha); [38] against the Sophists; against the Magians; against the Jews; Birth, against al-Naẓẓām; [39] The Promise and the Threat (Al-Wa‘d wa-al-Wa‘īd); The Killing of Ghaylān; [40] book to the Damascenes; The Sessions; The Proof (Al-Ḥujjah); Describing Allāh as Justice and the Rejection of Evil; [41] Pretence (Proof) of the Heretics (al-Mulḥidīn); Naming of the Innovators (Ahl al-Iḥdāth); against Ḍirār [ibn ‘Amr] who said that Allāh oppresses His creatures (inna Allāh yaghḍab min fi‘lihi); [42] against the Christians; Questions about Motions and Other Things; against ‘Ammār the Christian, which was a refutation of the Christians; A Description of the Oppression and Good Will of Allāh, Exalted Is He; [43] Oppression and Good Will; What Is Created [the Qu’rān], against Ḥafṣ al-Fard; Refutation of Muknif al-Madanī; Ordinance, against Ibrāhīm [al-Naẓẓām]; Refutation of the Ghaylanīyah in Connec-tion with al-Irjā’.


Against Ḥafṣ al-Fard in connection with fa‘ala wa-yaf‘al; [44] against al-Naẓẓām in connection with [God’s] approval of the foreordainment of injustice; [45] against al-Naẓẓām in connection with creation of a phenomenon, and the reply from him; Refutation of the Qadarīyah and the Mujbirah; against Ḍirār, Jahm, Abū Ḥanīfah, and Ḥafṣ, in connection


37. Probably Hishām ibn al-Ḥakam. See Glossary for “imamate.”


38. The heresy of those who are obedient without the intention of pleasing Allāh; see Baghdādi (Seelye), p. 129.


39. Cf. Baghdādī (Seelye), pp. 139-40.


40. See Ghaylān ibn Marwān in the Biog. Index.


41. In Arabic this is Ṣifat Allāh hi-al-‘Adl wa-Nafī al-Qabiḥ. Perhaps ṣifat (“describing”) should be translated as “attribute.” For the terms in this title, see Mu‘tazilah in Glossary and Galland, Essai sur les Mo‘tazélites, p. 66.


42. See Shahrastāni (Haarbrücker), Part I, p. 94.


43. A word in the manuscript is not clear, but also unimportant. “Oppression” probably refers to the orthodox doctrine that God foreordains man to sin and then punishes him, while “Good Will” refers to the contrary doctrine of the Mu‘tazilah.


44. These forms of the verb had theological importance as the first required an object, whereas the second did not. See MacDonald, Development of the Muslim Theology, p. 137; Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 131.


45. See Baghdādī (Seelye), pp. 138 ff.




with the created [the Qur’ān]; [46] against al-Naẓẓām, about man; [47] about totality (composition) of forms; [48] Al-Istiṭā‘ah; Motions; [49] about the creation of a phenomenon from a phenomenon; Refutation of Ahl al-Adyān [ritualists]; Understanding, Also, the Movements of the People of Heaven; [50] answer of al-‘Attābī [Kulthūm ibn ‘Amr]; against whoever speaks of punishing infants; [51] The Leaps, [52] against Ibrāhīm [al-Naẓẓām]; against the dualists; Essential and Accidental Properties (Al-Jawāhir wa-al-A‘rāḍ); Water, Intercession, and Punishment in the Tomb (Al-Ḥawḍ [53] wa-al-Shafā‘ah wa-‘Adhāb al-Qabr); against the authorities for the Ḥadīth (aṣḥāb al-Ḥadīth) in connection with metaphor; Relationship (Qualification) of the Essential Elements; [54] Hearing and Sight: Are They Active or Employed Phenomena?; [55] Man: What Is He?; [56] Indications of the Validity of the Apostle; The Duration of Man, His Color and Composition; [57] Sound: What Is It? [58]


Among His Associates

   There was Abū Ya‘lā Muḥammad ibn Shaddād, known as Zurqān, among whose books there were:

The Delightful Book of Discourses; The Created [the Qur’ān].


46. These men were almost certainly Ḍirār ibn ‘Amr, Jahm ibn Safwān, Abū Ḥanīfah al-Nu‘mān, and Ḥafṣ al-Fard.


47. Cf. Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 139, bottom.


48. See Baghdādī (Seelye). p. 135.


49. See Nādir, Système philosophique, p. 168.


50. This may refer to the heresy which holds that the people of Heaven are active, drink, and intermarry, among other things; see Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 127.


51. This evidently refers to the foreordaining of infants to go to Hell.


52. See Glossary.


53. Al-Ḥawḍ was the “watering trough of the Apostle,” from which believers would be given a drink on the Day of Resurrection; see Lane, Lexicon, Part II, p. 670.


54. Abū al-Hudhayl defined the body as containing six elements; see Nādir, Système philosophique, pp. 150, 151, 278.


55. This is a free translation; the book evidently dealt with problems connected with the attributes of God.


56. See Nādir, Système philosophique, pp. 268 ff.


57. Cf. ibid., p. 164, for atomic composition and death of man; Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 135, for the body and color of man.


58. See Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 144, for the heresy about hearing.





Al-Aswārī [59]

   He was Abū ‘Alī ‘Amr ibn Fāyid al-Aswārī, one of the important theologians among the people of al-Baṣrah. He was attached to Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān ibn ‘Alī al-Hāshimī. Coniing from Asāwarah he fell in with ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubayd, from whom he learned and with whom he had disputes. He died shortly after two hundred [A.D. 815/16].


‘Amr ibn Fāyid [al-Aswārī] said to Abū al-Mundhir Sallām al- Qāri’ (the Qur’ānic Reader) in the presence of Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān, “From whom is the truth?” Sallām answered, “From Allali.” Then he said, “Who is the revealer of the truth (al-muḥiqq)?” He answered, “Allah.” He said, “From whom is the false?” He replied, “From Allāh.” He said, “Who is the teller of falsehoods (al-mubṭil)?” Whereupon Sallām was silent, cutting short [the conversation]. Among his books there were: -----------.


Bishr ibn al-Mu‘tamir

   Abū Sahl Bishr ibn al-Mu‘tamir was born at al-Kūfah, or some say Baghdād. He was one of the great men and chiefs of the Mu‘tazilah. The leadership was passed to him during his time. He quoted poetry and historical traditions and was also a poet, most of whose poetry was muzdawij. [60] He turned prose books about theology, law, and other subjects into poetry. We have already mentioned, in the proper place [in connection] with poetry and the poets, the things which he transcribed.


A group of scholars preferred him to Abān al-Lāḥiqī. He wrote a poem nearly three hundred pages long about his arguments (evidences). No one was ever seen who was more capable than he was in [composing] mukhammas [61] and muzdawij. He had skin trouble, [62] and died during the year two hundred and ten [A.D. 825/26] when he had grown old.



59. This man was very likely the father of the better known ‘Alī al-Aswāri.


60. A type of poetry composed of rhymed couplets.


61. A type of poetry in the form of five-line verse.


62. Abraṣ is the word translated as “skin trouble.” It means “leprous,” but other skin diseases were often confused with true leprosy.





Al-Jāḥiẓ said:

Bishr ibn al-Mu‘tamir slandered Abū al-Hudhayl, whom he accused of hypocrisy. He said in describing Abū al-Hudhayl, “For him to be ignorant, when the people think that he is learned, pleases him more than being learned but considered by the public to be ignorant. Moreover, to belong to a low social class, but to be considered by the people to be a member of an upper class, is better liked by him than that he should belong to the upper class, but by the people be assigned to a lower class. He also prefers to be stupid but appear to be intelligent, rather than to be intelligent but appear to be stupid. Thus he prefers hypocrisy to sincerity, and falsehood which is accepted to truth which is repudiated.”

Bishr wrote [the following] prose works, in addition to the books already mentioned as being transmuted into poetry:

Refutation of Anyone Who Reproached Theology; Refutation of the Khawārij; Unbelief and Faith; The Threat (Al-Wa‘īd), against the Mujbirah; against Kulthūm [ibn ‘Amr al-‘Attābī] and his associates; Interpretation of the Strange in the Qur’ān; against al-Naẓẓām; against Ḍirār in connection with the created [the Qur’ān]; Refutation of the Hypocrites; Refutation of the Ignorant; Refutation of Abū al-Hudhayl; The Imamate; Al-Istiṭā‘ah, against Hishām ibn al-Ḥakam; Justice (Al-‘Adl); against al-Aṣamm, about the created [the Qur’ān]; Al-Tawallud, against al-Naẓẓām; against upholders of predestination; against Mazīd [63] in connection with al-istiṭā‘ah; about the middle position (al-manzilah bayn al-manzilatayn); [64] about children (al-aṭfāl), against the Mujbirah.



   Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Sayyār ibn Hānī al-Naẓẓām was a freed-man (protégé) of the Ziyādīyūn. [65] He was born a slave, [66] the servitude having befallen one of his ancestors. He was a theologian, poet, and man of letters, with a passion [67] for Abū Nuwās, about whom he composed a number of short poems. Abū Nuwās had him in mind when he said,



63. This name is mentioned by Jār Allāh, Mu‘tazilah, p. 226, but cannot be definitely identified and is omitted in the Biog. Index.


64. See Glossary.


65. See Ṭabarī, Annales, Part III, p. 1754.


66. Instead of “slave,” the Arabic word may indicate that he was a member of the tribe of al-‘Ubayd; see Durayd, Geneal., p. 258.


67. The Cairo Appendix has “upbraiding” instead of “with a passion for.”




Tell anyone who with learning lays claim to philosophy,

That you have remembered some things, but other things have gone from you. [68]

In his poetry he adhered to the school of thought of philosophical dialectic, but at the same time he was eloquent in literary style, excellent in expression, and good in deliberate speaking. When describing ‘Abd al-Wahhāb al-Thaqafī there was among his sayings: [69] “He, by Allāh, was sweeter than security after fear, recovery after illness, fertility after barrenness, and wealth after poverty; [sweeter] than the obedience of the beloved, the rejoicing of the distressed, and unceasing association with tender youth.” [70]


From his poetry there was:

He was so slender that if his garments were torn

The sky would hold him, because of his fineness.

Repeatedly looking at him will wound him

And if you ogle him with the eye he complains. [71]

It is said that when Abū al-Hudhayl was with him he [al-Naẓẓām] repeated these two couplets. Then he [Abū al-Hudhayl] said to him, “Oh, Abū Isḥāq, such [poetry] could not have been offered without some nobleness of mind.” From his poetry there was [also]:

I censure him, but with forgiving, turning my back on what my soul feels;

I fear the persistent tattle of blame, feeling pain,

For ignorance smites the heart of a forbearing man.

I am humble with Jūm, as though I were expressing to him repentence for his [own] sin committed against me.


68. The Cairo Appendix adds the following lines to the poem from the Beatty MS: “‘Do not ban a benefit, as though it were something prohibited, / For refusing is like repudiation in religion.’ This was because he was appealing to him to accept the doctrine of the threat (al-wa‘īd), which he refused.”


69. Here the Cairo Appendix adds, “apparently nothing was seen better than this.”


70. In the Beatty MS the word for tender is al-nā‘im, but the Cairo Appendix has al-dā’im (“lasting,” “eternal”).


71. This poem is given in Baghdādī, Ta’rīkh, Part VI, p. 98, and also in the Cairo Appendix.





Al-Naẓẓām died in the house of Ḥammawayh, [nicknamed] Ṣāḥib al-Tawāwīs (Owner of the Peacocks). Among his books there were:

Confirmation of the Apostles; Oneness of Allāh (Al-Tawḥīd); against the materialists (aṣḥāb al-hayyūlā); Refutation of the Dahrīyah; Refutation of Adherents of the Dualists; Refutation of the Types of the Heretics (al-Mulḥidūn); Rectifying and Making Legal; Knowledge(Al-Ma‘rifah); Foreordaining (Al-Taqdīr); Predestination; about the self-contradictory (the impossible, al-muḥal); The Created [the Qur’ān], against the Mujbirah); about justice (al-‘adl); Substitution (Al-Badal); [72] Compliance (Al-Mustaṭī‘); Al-Tawallud; The Threat (Al-Wa‘īd); Replies; Unraveling (Breaking an Agreenient, Al-Nakth).


The Atom; Al-Ma‘ānī, against Mu‘ammar [al-Sulamī]; The Leap; [73] Al-Makāmanah; [74] Al-Mudākhalah [one who becomes a proselyte to a heresy]; about The Great World; The Small World; Event (Al-Ḥadath); Man; [75] Logic (Al-Manṭiq); Motions; Essential and Accidental Properties (Al-Jawāhir wa-al-A‘rāḍ); Bridegroom (Sulphur, Al-‘Arūs) (or Thrones [Al-‘Arūsh]); Riches (Possessions, Al-Arzāq); The Movements of the People of Heaven; [76] Creation of the Phenomenon; The Attributes; [77] about the Qur’ān, what is it?; [78] Al-Afā‘īl [actions within the limits of space and time]; Refutation of the Murji’ah.


Al-Dimashqī Qāsim ibn al-Khalīl [79]

   He was in the group (class) of Ja‘far ibn Mubashshir. Among his books there were: 

The Imamate of Abū Bakr; Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd); Commentary of the Qur’ān; The Threat (Al-Wa‘īd); Justice (Al-‘Adl), about the categories of the Mu‘tazilah; The Created [the Qur’ān].


Īsā ibn Ṣabīḥ al-Murdār

   He was Abū Mūsā ‘Īsā ibn Ṣabīḥ al-Murdār, one of the early chiefs of the Mu‘tazilah, who was a pupil of Bishr ibn al-Mu‘tamir, the man who introduced the Mu‘tazilī schism [al-i‘tizāl] at Baghdād



72. If a diacritical mark is added, the word might be al-bazl (“clarification”).


73. See Glossary.


74. This Arabic word probably means “places of safe keeping,” or “places of hiding,” but it may have some religious significance in this title.


75. See Nādir, Système philosophique, pp. 268 ff.


76. See n. 50.


77. The Mu‘tazilah denied the attributes of Allāh (see “attributes,” Glossary).


78. The Mu‘tazilah claimed that the Qur’ān was created.


79. Some authorities spell this name al-Dimishqī.





and because of whom it was spread and made known. [80] Al-Ṣilḥī [81] said that ‘Īsā died during the year two hundred and twenty-six [A.D. 840/41].


Al-Khayyāṭ remembered him, saying, “When he met one of his friends he told him, ‘We did not show sincere friendship when we met, but when we agreed.’” When Abū Muḥammad al-Yazīdī [82] addressed al-Ma’mūn, he referred to ‘Īsā ibn Ṣabīḥ [in the following verse]: 

Oh, king, whose God is oneness,

Your judge Bishr ibn al-Walīd is a jackass;

He rejects the testimony of him who believes

What the Book has proclaimed and the Ḥadīth handed down.

He considers to be correct the man who says that his deity

Is a ghost, his body surrounded by the regions [of the world],

According to al-Marīsī, who believed in his lord,

Even though his [doctrine of] oneness was that of the Ajbār [Mujbirah]. [83]

He was one of those who were fond of Bishr ibn al-Mu‘tamir. Among his books there were:

Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd); Refutation of the Mujbirah; Justice (Al-‘Adl); Questions and Answers; Kindness (Al-Luṭf); Refutation of the Christians; against Abū Qurrah, the Christian; Refutation of the Heretics (al-Mulḥidūn); Considering What Is Lawful and Perrnited (Al-Ta‘dīl


80. Bishr founded the Mu‘tazilī movement at Baghdād, A.D. 825/26. See “al-Mu‘tazila,” Enc. Islam, III, 790.


81. As this name cannot be identified, it is not included in the Biog. Index. It may refer to al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl, who had a residence at al-Ṣilḥ near Fam al-Ṣilḥ. See Yāqūt, Geog., III, 413.


82. As Abū Muḥammad al-Yazīdī died A.D. 817/18 and Bishr ibn al-Walīd was appointed as judge A.D. 824/25, this is probably meant for the son, Muḥammad al-Yazīdī, who was an intimate associate of al-Ma’mūn.


83. This poem is given in Ṭabarī, Annales, Part III, p. 1067. Page 1126 also throws light on it. Ṭabarī evidently makes bad mistakes, but, as he omits the two last lines, they may not belong to the poem. Al-Yazīdī was probably making fun of ‘Īsā ibn Ṣabīḥ, because ‘Īsā was unable to persuade the friendly scholar Bishr ibn al-Walīd to accept his heretical ideas and those of Bishr ibn Ghiyāth al-Marīsī. Al-Marīsī was influenced by the Murji’ī doctrine that Allāh does not wish believers to condemn sinners, but rather to leave their punishment for the Day of Judgment. The reference to the Book evidently is connected with the Mu‘tazilī claim that passages from the Qur’ān itself prove that it was created. See Steiner, Mu‘tazilīten, p. 30; Galland, Essai sur les Mo‘tazélites, p. 67; Nādir, Système philosophique, p. 99. Mention of the ghost probably refers to the heresy which held that although Allāh could be seen in Heaven, He would be without form; see Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 172.




wa-al-Tajwīz); against the Aḥbar [84] and Magians, in connection with justice and legalizing (‘Alā al-Aḥbār wa-al-Majūs fi al-‘adl wa-al-tajwīz); Refutation of the Jahmīyah; The Sources of Religion; The Created [the Qur’ān], against al-Najjār; Justice (Al-‘Adl), against the Mujbirah; Dialectic Theology (Al-Kalām) of the Learned and the Ignorant; Instruction (Al-Ta‘līm); Substitution (Al-Badal), against al-Najjār; [85] Knowledge (Al-Ma‘rifah), against Thumāmah.


Knowledge, against al-Shaḥḥām; Creation of the Qur’ān (Khalq al-Qur’ān); Power over Injustice (Al-Qudrah ‘alā al-Ẓulm), against al-Naẓẓām; [86] What Took Place between Him and the People of al-Baṣrah; The Arts of Dialectic Theology (Funūn al-Kalām); against those who uphold legal interpretation by personal opinion (‘Alā Aṣḥāb Ijtihād al-Ra’ī); Justice (Al-Adl); concerning what the Mujbirah are to be questioned about; Melodious Singing, a reply to the “Book of Repentence”; [87] Counsel (Al-Naṣīḥah); He Who Speaks of the Punishment of Infants; [88] Piety (Al-Diyānah); Repentance (Al-Tawbah); The Right (Middle) Way (Al-Iqtiṣād); Traditions of the Qur’ān (Akhbār al-Qur’ān). [89]


Mu‘ammar al-Sulamī

   He was Abū al-Mu‘tamir, the chief of those who upheld al-ma‘ānī. [90] It is also said that he was [called] Abū ‘Amr Mu‘ammar ibn ‘Abbād al-Sulamī [descended] from the Banū al-Sulaym. [91] He was one of the inhabitants of al-Baṣrah, but he went to Baghdād, where he had disputes with al-Naẓẓām about matters connected with the doctrine (sect). Mu‘ammar satirized Bishr ibn al-Mu‘tamir, the only poetry which he composed being as follows: 

A blond-skinned man, his face overflowing with whiteness,

Considers slander a religion, his heart being diseased.


84. These were Hebrew scribes, but the word is perhaps meant to be al-ajbār, another form for the Mujbirah.


85. Cf. the heresy mentioned in Baghdādī (Halkin), p. 10, n. 2.


86. See Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 138, middle.


87. This word is not clearly written in the manuscript, but looks like al-nagham (“melodious singing”). It very likely is intended for al-bagham (“obscure speech”). Book of Repentance (“Kitāb al-Tawbah”) is the title of one of the author’s own books and also a title used by other scholars.


88. See n. 51.


89. There is another title, but the text is not clear enough to be deciphered.


90. For al-ma‘ānī, see Frank, Journal of the American Oriental Society, LXXXVII, No. 3 (July-September 1967), 248–59.


91. See “Sulaim,” Enc. Islam, IV, 518.





He died during the year two hundred and fifteen [A.D. 830/31]. Among his books there were:

Al-Ma‘ānī; Al-Istiṭā‘ah; Falsifying of Weights, and Deceit (‘Allat al-Farasṭūn wa-al-Murā’ah); The Atorn Which Is Not Divided and the Proposition of Accidental and Essential Properties (Al-Qawl bi-al-A‘rāḍ wa-al-Jawāhir).


Thumāmah ibn Ashras

   He was Abū Bishr Thumāmah ibn Ashras al-Numayrī, whose relationship was with the Banū Numayr. [92] He was one of the important men among the theologians of the Mu‘tazilah and also a writer with an eloquent literary style. He attained an excellent position with al-Ma’mūn, who wished to make him a vizier, but he begged off. In connection with this there was a famous statement presented in an address to al-Ma’mūn, who released him. It was also he who advised him [al-Ma’mūn] to appoint Aḥmad ibn Abī Khālid instead of himself.


Before the time of al-Ma’mūn he was with [Hārūn] al-Rashīd, who being displeased with him because of the Barmak family, [93] placed him in the custody of one of his employees. When he was in custody, he wrote to al-Rashīd from his place of confinement:

I am a slave who confesses, a protégé who has sought

The grace of him about whom nomads and townsmen speak.

You can bestow upon him grace, repeating the grace

Of the past and the present, which will be known among the people.

Although absent, my obedience continues and my loyalty

Has not been marred for an hour by falsehood or shame.

If you pardon, it is a thing which I expect,

And if you give me aid, your Lord [Allāh] will aid you.

Among his books there were:

The Proof; The Particular, the Universal, and the Threat (Al-Wa‘īd); [94] Knowledge, Which Is Learning; against all who speak of the created


92. See Durayd, Geneal., pp. 178, 184, for the Banū Numayr.


93. Evidently Thumāmah was a protégé of the members of the Barmak family, so that he suffered with them when al-Rashīd persecuted the Barmak family. See Hitti, Arabs, pp. 294-96.


94. This evidently deals with the different kinds of sins. For the threat, see Glossary.





[the Qur’ān]; Refutation of the Mushabbihah; The Created [the Qur’ān], against the Mujbirah; Ease (Favors) of the People of Heaven; The Laws (Al-Sunan).


Ja‘far ibn Mubashshir

   He was Abū Muḥammad Ja‘far ibn Mubashshir al-Thaqafī, one of the Mu‘tazilah of Baghdād, a jurist, theologian, and authority for the Ḥadīth. He had a place as a speaker with eloquence and leadership among his associates. He was also pious, ascetic, and virtuous. He had a brother named Ḥubaysh who, although acquainted with theology, did not equal Ja‘far or come up to him. Ja‘far died during the year two hundred and thirty-four [A.D. 848/49]. Among his books there were: 

Drinks; Laws and Judgments (Al-Sunan wa-al-Aḥkām); Legal Interpretation; Narrative and What Is Told; Learning (Al-Ma‘ārif), against al-Jāḥiẓ; Tanzīh al-Anbiyā’; [95] The Proof, against the innovators (al-iḥdāth); The Abrogating and the Abrogated; Ritual Purification (Al-Ṭahārah); the large book, Traces (Al-Āthār); The Meaning of Historical Traditions (Ma‘ānī al-Akhbār) and Their Disclosure; The Court (Al-Dār); against the people of favor (‘alā aṣḥāb al-luṭf); [96] The Command for Good and Avoidance of Evil (Al-Amr bi-al-Ma‘rūf wa-al-Nahy ‘an al-Munkar); Questions and Answers; The Land Tax (Al-Kharāj); Refutation of the Book of Ibn Shabīb, about al-irjā’; What Is Certain, against Burghūth about the created [the Qur’ān]; Consensus of Opinion (Al-Ijmā‘), What Is It?; Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd), according to the classifications of the Mushabbihah, the Jahmīyah, and the Rāfiḍah; against those who uphold analogy and personal opinion (‘alā aṣḥāb al-qiyās wa-al-ra’y). [97]


Al-Jāḥiẓ Abū ‘Uthmān [98]

   He was Abū ‘Uthmān ‘Amr ibn Baḥr ibn Maḥbūb, a protégé of Abū al-Qallamas ‘Amr ibn Qal‘ al-Kinānī, then al-Fuqaymī, whose



95. This means literally “Purifying of the Prophets,” but it more likely should be translated, “The Prophets’ Declaration of the Purity of Allāh.” See Ash‘arī, Al-Ibānah ‘an Uṣūl al-Diyānah, pp. 36, 87 n.


96. This is probably an attack on persons who depend upon the grace of Allāh rather than their own free will to choose what is right.


97. See Glossary for the terms in this paragraph.


98. This account should be compared with those in Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (6), 56, and Baghdādi, Ta’rīkh, Part XII, p. 213. See also Pellat, Le Milieu baṣrien, p. 51.





ancestor was one of the Nasāh (Nasā’ah). The grandparent of al-Jāḥiẓ was a Negro called Fazārah, who was a porter of ‘Amr ibn Qal‘. [99]


Abū ‘Ubayd Allāh told us that Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad related that Abū al-‘Abbās Muḥammad ibn Yazīd [al-Mubarrad] the grammarian [100] said: 

I never saw anyone niore avaricious for learning than these three: al-Jāḥiẓ, al-Fatḥ ibn Khāqān, and Isma‘īl ibn Isḥāq al-Qāḍī (the Judge). Whatever book came into the hands of al-Jāḥiẓ, he read it from start to finish, while al-Fatḥ carried a book in his slipper and if he left the presence of al-Mutawakkil [the caliph] to urinate or pray, he took up [the book] as he walked, looking it over until he reached his destination. Then he did the same thing again while returning, until he regained his seat. As for Ismā‘īl ibn Isḥāq, whenever I went in to him there was in his hand a book which he was reading, or else he was turning over some books so as to choose one of them to read. [101]

Abū ‘Ubayd Allāh [also] said, ‘‘Muḥammad ibn Yaḥyā said to me, ‘I heard Abū Mūsā al-Hāshimī relate that al-Jāḥiẓ said, “I am about the age of Abū Nuwās and older than al-Jammāz.” ’ ” Al-Jāḥiẓ was



99. The name Qal‘ is also written Qila‘. In the Beatty MS there is probably an error, as it is given as Qaṭ‘. The significance of the nanie “al-Fuqaymī” is not clear. Probably ‘Amr ibn Qal‘ was given this name as well as “al-Kināni” because of some connection with the Fuqaym Tribe. Al-Anbāri quotes a tradition that ‘Amr ibn Qal‘ was called al-Kināni al-Fuqaymī. For the tribes of Kinānah and Fuqaym, see “Kināna,” Enc. Islam, II, 1017, and Durayd, Geneal., p. 150.


The ancestor of ‘Amr ibn Qal‘ was called Abū al-Qallamas; see Ma’sūdī, III, 116. He was the first of the Nasāh (Nasā’ah), who were members of the tribe of Kinānah engaged in supervising observance of the sacred months. During these months raiding ceased, making it safe to conduct trade and go on the pilgrimage. For the Nasāh, see Bīrūnī, Chronologie orientalischer Volker, p. 12, l. I, or Bīrūnī, Chronology, p. 13 l. 19.


Fazārah was evidently the grandfather of al-Jāḥiẓ. Either his name was Maḥbūb and his nickname was Fazārah, or else he was the maternal grandfather and Maḥbūb was the paternal grandfather. It is also possible that the names have been given erroneously, confused with those of other ancestors. Fazārah may have been a porter (ḥammāl) or a camel herder (jammāl); the texts differ.


100. Abū ‘Ubayd Allāh was evidently a friend of the author of Al-Fihrist. Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad may have been a son of al-Mubarrad.


101. See Chap. III, sect. 2, near n. 12, where the same anecdote is told.





substituted for Ibrāhīm ibn al-‘Abbās al-Ṣūlī in the secretariat for a time. [102]


Al-Ṣūlī [103] said:

Aḥmad ibn Yazīd al-Muhallabī passed on to me from his father, [who said] that “[The Caliph] al-Mu‘tazz said, ‘Oh, Yazīd, news of the death of al-Jāḥiẓ has come!’ Then I [Yazīd] said to the Commander of the Faithful, ‘The long-lasting of existence and the duration of glory!’ ” [104] He [Yazīd] said that this was during the year two hundred and fifty-five [A.D. 869]. [Yazīd continued,] “Al-Mu‘tazz [once] said, ‘I desired to bring him to me and to have him remain with me,’ but I replied to him that even before dying he was crippled by paralysis.”

Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn Muḥammad, known as Ibn Abī Ja‘far, said to me, “One day al-Jāḥiẓ said to a physician, while complaining to him about his illness, ‘I have experienced contrary reactions in my body, for when I ate something cold it affected my foot, whereas if I ate something hot it affected my head.’”


Abū ‘Ubayd Allāh said to me that Muḥammad ibn al-‘Abbās the grammarian related: 

I heard al-Jāḥiẓ say, “I am paralyzed on my left side, so that even if I pinch with scissors I do not feel it, whereas on my right side there is a swelling of the joints [neuritis], so that even if flies pass over it I feel the pain. I also have stones because of which my urine does not flow, but the most oppressive thing for me is ninety-six years [of age].” [105]

Al-Jāḥiẓ said: 

When al-Ma’mūn read my books about the imamate, he found them to be in accordance with what I had been ordered to undertake. When I went to him, after he had instructed al-Yazīdī [106] to inspect them and to tell him about them, al-Ma’mūn said to me, ‘‘A man whose intelligence we respect and who gives information accurately has submitted a report


102. Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (6), 58, says that al-Jāḥiẓ worked in the govemment secretariat of al-Ma’mūn for three days and then left. Abū Mūsā al-Hāshimī cannot be identified. Cf. Abmad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Hāshimī.


103. Probably Abū Bakr Muḥammad al-Ṣūlī. These anecdotes are translated freely.


104. In Arabic without case endings: tūl al-baqā’ wa-dawām al-‘izz.


105. Khallikān, II, 408, gives this interpretation, but the words might also be understood with a somewhat modified meaning.


106. See the Yazīdī family in the Biog. Index. It is impossible to be sure which member of the family is indicated here.




to us about these books, with precise details about the workmanship and abundance of useful material. He said to us, [107] ‘The evaluation [of the books] might have been more favorable than what [actually] appears, but when I looked into them, I saw that what I found was even better than the evaluation. Then when I examined them carefully, the investigation disclosed even more than what had appeared [at first reading], just as what [actually] appeared amounted to more than the [preliminary] evaluation. For these books, moreover, there is no need for the author or for anyone else to be present in order to explain them, for the author has combined a study of the significant implications with a study of all of the rights [of the caliphate, expressed] in eloquent phraseology, with the easy manners of speech of the market place, of the kings, the populace, and special classes.’ ” [108]

Thus saith Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq [al-Nadīm]: I suppose al-Jāḥiẓ elaborated this statement, glorifying himself and honoring his composition, for how could al-Ma’mūn have spoken these words, praising the composition and commending the authorship?


He [al-Ma’mūn] wrote to the king of the Burghar [109] a letter over one hundred pages in length, but although he did not seek anyone’s aid or quote any verse from the Book of Allāh, may His name be exalted, or any word from any wise man preceding him, al-Jāḥiẓ cajoled his tongue into saying, “This letter we have regarded as being taken in a favorable way from a discourse of al-Jāḥiẓ.” In his [al-Jāḥiẓ’s] epistle to Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik he said: [110]

Benefit involves love, harm involves hatred, opposition involves enmity,


107. The Arabic form is abbreviated, while the sentences which follow are given in such a colloquial way that it is difficult to be sure of the original meaning. “Evaluation” is ṣifah, “more favorable” is arbā, “appears” is ‘īyān. The translation is given freely, so as to make sense, but it may not be entirely accurate, as the structure is somewhat confused.


108. The books about the caliphate undoubtedly tried to prove that it was the ‘Abbasīd caliphs who had the divine right to rule the Islāmic theocracy. Al-Jāḥiẓ put these words into the caliph’s mouth to show that his arguments were not only sound, but were not exaggerated, and were told in a clear way, showing a wide knowledge of language.


109. Almost certainly al-Ma’mūn wrote this statement, which al-Jāljiz, according to a satirical anecdote, claimed was taken from one of his own compositions. For the Burghar, see Yāqūt, Geog., I, 568.


110. This was probably an epistle from al-Jāḥiẓ to one of his patrons, Muhainniatl ibn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Zayyāt.




incompatibility involves vexation, whereas agreement involves friendship, trustworthiness involves peace of mind, perfidy involves controversy about honor, justice involves a joining of hearts, oppression involves dissension, being good natured involves comradeship, withdrawal involves incivility, haughtiness involves hate, humility involves love, liberality involves praise, miserliness involves contempt, lassitude and being easy going involves impatience, good management involves delight, reprimanding involves repentence, caution involves preparations, efficiency of administration involves prosperity, disdain involves coolness, strife forms the preliminaries of evil and is the cause of destruction.


Moreover, for each one of these qualities there may be excess or deficiency. The results are realized when the limits are overstepped. Thus excess of liberality involves waste, excess of humility involves contempt, excesses of self-importance involve hate, excesses of faithlessness involve lack of trust in a person to whom there is access, excess of familiarity involves blending with what is wrong, whereas excess of withdrawal renders a man of good counsel uncivil.

In a passage of one of his books, he [al-Jāḥiẓ] said:

When I was writing these two books, [one] about [the doctrine of] the creation of the Qur’ān, which was the tenet given importance and honor by the Commander of the Faithful, [111] and [a second] about superiority in connection with the Banū Hāshim, the ‘Abd Shams, and Makhzūm [112] what was my due but to sit above the Simakān, Spica and Arcturus, or on top of the ‘Ayyūq, [113] or to deal with red sulphur, or to conduct the ‘Anqā by her leading string to the Greatest King. [114]


111. This probably refers to the Caliph al-Ma’mūn, who made a special point of the doctrine of the creation of the Qur’ān. See Hitti, Arabs, p. 429, and “created” in the Glossary. As al-Jāḥiẓ wrote numerous books about the caUphs, it is impossible to know which two books are referred to here.


112. This book evidently praised the lineage of the ‘Abbāsids, showing that their ancestors, the Banū Hāshim, were preferable to the ancestors of the Umayyads, that is, the ‘Abd Shams, and to the great rival family of Makhzūm.


113. The Simakān were two stars: al-Simāk al-A‘zal or Spica, and al-Simāk al-Rāmiḥ or Arcturus. The ‘Ayyūq was either Aldebaran in the constellation of Taurus, or else Capella. See Richardson, Dictionary, p. 1040, and Lane, Lexicon, p. 2199.


114. The ‘Anqā was a fabled bird, also called Sīmurgh, that reigned as queen on Mount Qāf. The Ṣūfīs sometimes used the bird as an allegorical symbol of divine truth, so that the “Greatest King” probably refers to God. See Richardson, Dictionary, p. 1032, and Browne, Literary History of Persia, II, 33 n., 512–14.





Al-Jāḥiẓ died during the year two hundred and fifty [A.D. 869], during the caliphate of al-Mu‘tazz. Among his books there were:

The Animal (Kitāb al-Ḥayawān). [115] It is well known that it has seven sections and that there is appended to it another book entitled The Women (Kitāb al-Nisā’), about the differences between male and female. There is another book, The Mules (Kitāb al-Bighāl). [116] I saw these two books written in the handwriting of Zakarīyā’ ibn Yaḥyā ibn Sulaymān, surnamed Abu Yaḥyā, who was the warrāq of al-Jāḥiẓ. Added to these there was The Camel (Kitāb al-Ibil), which was not in the style of al-Jāḥiẓ and did not resemble it.

He composed this book [Kitāb al-Ḥayawān] in honor of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Zayyāt. [117] Maymūn ibn Hārūn related:

I said to al-Jāḥiẓ, “Do you have an estate at al-Baṣrah?” He smiled and said, “Verily, there is myself, a concubine, the handmaid who serves her, a manservant, and a donkey. I presented The Book of the Animal (Kitāb al-Ḥayawān) to Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik [al-Zayyāt], who gave me five thousand gold coins (s., dīnār); I presented The Book of Eloquence and Exposition (Kitāb al-Bayān wa-al-Tabyīn) to Ibn Abī Da’ūd, who gave me five thousand gold coins; and I presented The Book of Sowing and the Palm Tree (Kitāb al-Zar‘ wa-al-Nakhl) to Ibrāhīm ibn ‘Abbās al-Ṣūlī, who gave me five thousand gold coins. [118] Then I went to al-Baṣrah and had an estate which did not require renovation or fertilizing.”


Order of the Sections of the Book [119]


The first:

   Its beginning: “Allāh has kept you clear of doubt, guarded you from perplexity, and established a relationship between you and learning.”



115. See the Bibliography for a modern edition of this famous book.


116. This title is evidently given incorrectly by Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (6), 75. For a modem edition of this book, with the title Al-Qawl fī al-Bighāl (“The Saying about the Mules”), see the Bibliography.


117. Kitāb al-Ḥayawān is assumed to be the book meant because of its mention in the statement which follows.


118. Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (6), 76, gives Kitāb al-Zar‘ wa-al-Naḥl (“The Book of Sowing and the Bees”), but the Beatty MS gives the title as translated.


119. This is a list of the first and last words of the different sections of The Book of the Animal (“Kitāb al-Ḥayawān”). These quotations should be compared with the lines in the modern edition of this book; see Bibliography.





Its ending: “To men of the Khawārij, [when] one strikes an open wound, healing it is like [mending] the border of striped cloth.” [120]


The second:

   Its beginning: “Abū al-Yaqẓān said about comparison of this derivation.” [121]

   Its ending: “And by Allāh I do not know where I put it,” about the cutting (ḥazz) of Sahl ibn Hārūn. [122]


The third:

   Its beginning: “We begin it, and with Allāh there is success, by mentioning the dove and what Allāh has bestowed upon it.”

   Its ending: “In that there is praiseworthy work, benefit with great usefulness and with manifest good effects.” [123]


The fourth:

   Its beginning: “The discussion about the ant and the grub.” [124]

   Its ending: “Kurdūs al-Murādī said.” [125]


The fifth:

   Its beginning: “We begin in the name of Allāh by completing the statement about the fires of the Arabs and Persians.”

   Its ending: “As though when we came to it we encamped at the side of the garden spot, its freshness quenching thirst.” [126]


The sixth:

   Its beginning: “We have spoken about scripts, their benefits and their advantages in general.” [127]



120. Jāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-Ḥayawān, I, 3, main text.


121. Ibid., II, 10. This passage has to do with an analysis of the word for “dog” (kalb), giving examples.


122. Ibid., II, 375. This refers to an amusing anecdote about Sahl ibn Hārūn, telling about the cutting off of a rooster’s head and its disappearance.


123. Ibid., III, 5 nn., p. 59. The ending refers to the meat of bats.


124. Ibid., IV, 5. The word translated “grub” (al-dharrah) may also be the egg of the ant.


125. Ibid., IV, 492. The proper name cannot be identified.


126. Ibid., V, 5, 604.


127. Ibid., VI, 5. For the statement about scripts referred to here, ibid., I, 62.





   Its ending: “Abū al-Muthannā prospered in al-‘Irāq and taught his people to eat al-khabīṣ.” [128]


The seventh:

   Its beginning: “Knowing the animals. Oh, our God, verily we seek Thy protection from Satan.” [129]

   Its ending: “Clad with encirclement of iron as though.” [130]


[Additional Books by al-Jāḥiẓ]

Explanation and Exposition (Kitāb al-Bayān wa-al-Tabyin) [131] — there are two manuscripts for this book, the first and the second, the second being the more accurate and excellent; [132] Sowing and the Palm Tree (al-Zar‘ wa-al-Nakhl); [133] The Difference between a Prophet and One Claiming to Be a Prophet (Al-Farq bayn al-Nabī wa-al-Mutanabbī); Knowledge (Al-Ma‘rifah); The Replies of the Book of Knowledge; [134] Questions of the Book of Knowledge; Refutation of Those Who [Claim to] Have Divine Inspiration; Order of the Qur’ān, three copies (Naẓm al-Qur’ān, thalāthat nusakh); Questions in the Qur’ān; [135] Excellence of the Mu‘tazilah; Refutation of the Mushabbihah; The Imamate, according to the Doctrine of the Shī‘ah. Statement about the Declaration of the Branches of the Zaydīyah (Ḥikāyat Qawl Aṣnaf al-Zaydīyah); The ‘Uthmānīyah; [136] Historical Traditions and How They Are Valid; Refutation of the Christians; The Heavy-Spoken Man of al-Mirbad;


128. Ibid., VI, 510. The translation follows this passage cited, as the Beatty MS has the preposition ‘alā instead of ‘allam (“taught”). Al-khabīṣ is a dish of dates with butter.


129. Ibid., VII, 5. In al-Jāljiz’s own text, the first phrase is “Knowing the species of animals.”


130. Ibid., VII, 263. This line comes at the end of a poem and is metaphorical, following a simile about a mountain.


131. For this translation of the title, see Nicholson, Literary History of the Arabs, p. 347 top. The titles in the following list should be compared with the ones given in Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (6), 76, 77.


132. The following incomplete statement is found at this point; it is not translated in the text: “The beginning of the first section of the second.”


133. See n. 118.


134. In the Beatty MS the word jawabāt (“replies”) followed by several letters has been inserted under the word for book. Flügel gives the singular, “reply.”


135. The passage of Yāqūt (see n. 131) omits (“in”).


136. This refers to the adherents of ‘Uthmān, the third caliph.




Refutation of the ‘Uthmānīyah; [137] The Caliphate of Mu‘āwiyah; The Caliphate of the ‘Abbāsids (Imāmat Banī al-‘Abbās).


The Two Youths (Al-Fityān); [138] The Leaders (Military Chiefs, Al-Quwwād); The Robbers (Al-Luṣūṣ); Mention of What There Is [Shared] between the Zaydīyah and the Rāfiḍah; Discourse about Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd); The Art (Formation) of Speech; [139] Praising of ‘Alī, about giving authority to the judges (Taṣwib ‘ Alī fī taḥkīm al-ḥakamīn); [140] Things Necessary for the Caliphate (Wujūb al-Imāmah); Idols (Al-Aṣnām); Deputies and Guardians (Al-Wukalā’ wa-al-Muwakkalīn); [141] The Drinker and What Is Drunk (Al-Shārib wa-al-Mashrūb); The Glory of Winter and Summer (Iftikhār al-Shitā’ wa-al-Ṣayf); The Teachers (Al-Mu‘allimīn); [142] Slave Girls (Al-Jawārī) (or Associates [Al-Ḥawārī]); Rare Forms of Goodness (Nawādir al-Ḥusn) (or Rare Anecdotes about al-Ḥasan [Nawādir al-Ḥasan]); The Misers (Al-Bukhalā’); [143] The Difference between the Banū ‘Abd Shams and Makhzūm; [144] The Lame and the Lepers (Al-‘Urjān wa-al-Burṣān); [145] Nobility of the Members of Qaḥṭān and ‘Adnān; [146] Making a Quadrangle and a Circle (Al-Tarbi‘ wa-al-Tadwīr). [147]


137. Yāqūt (see n. 131) gives ‘Iṣām al-Murīd, which might refer to a man called ‘Iṣām the Seeker (after knowledge). The translation is taken from the Beatty MS, which seems to indicate either ‘Abām al-Mirbad or, if a consonant point is placed over the first letter of the Arabic, Ghannām al-Mirbad. ‘Abām is a person with heavy speech, probably a nomad. Ghannām is “sheep owner.” Al-Mirbad was the market place of al-Baṣrah, where al-Jāḥiẓ used to talk with the nomads who came to sell their animals, so as to learn the tribal vemaculars. See Pellat, Le Milieu baṣrien, p. 63.


138. This very likely refers to al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusayn, the two grandsons of the Prophet, although it might signify “day” and “night.”


139. The Arabic is Ṣinā‘at al-Kalām, from the Beatty MS. Yāqūt (see n. 131) gives Ṣiyāghat al-Kalām, which would imply Goldsmithing Speech and must be wrong.


140. The last word may be al-ḥakamayn. This may refer to the appointment of arbitrators to settle the famous dispute between ‘Alī and Mu‘āwiyah.


141. The final word may be muwakkilīn (“those who appoint deputies”) instead of muwakkalīn.


142. This may be instead The Instructed (“Al-Mu‘allamīn”).


143. For a modern French translation, see Jāḥiẓ, Le Livre des avares.


144. ‘Abd Shams was the ancestor of the Umayyads, while Makhzūm was a noble family of Makkah. See Hitti, Arabs, p. 189; “Makhzūm,” Enc. Islam, III, 171. Yāqūt (see n. 131) has al-fakhr (“glory”), whereas the Beatty MS has al-farq (“difference”).


145. The translation follows the Yāqūt passage (see n. 131). Instead of al-‘urjān (“lame”), the Beatty MS has a word which seems to be an error in copying.


146. These were the two original divisions of the Arabian tribes; see Hitti, Arabs, p. 32.


147. Reference to a modern edition of this book will be found in the Bibliography. To understand the significance of this book, see Pellat, Le Milieu baṣrien, p. 51 ff.




Humble Companions (Al-Ṭufaylīyīn); Dispositions of the Kings (Akhlāq al-Mulūk); The Judicial Interpretation (Al-Futyā); Excellence of the Troops of the Caliphate and Superior Qualities of the Turks (Manāqib Jund al-Khilāfah wa-Faḍā’il al-Atrāk); [148] The Envious and the Envied (Al-Ḥāsid wa-al-Maḥsūd); Refutation of the Jews; The Pure [-Blooded] and the Sons of Slave Mothers (Al-Ṣuraḥā’ wa-al-Hujanā’); The Blacks and the Whites (Al-Sūdān wa-al-Bīḍān); Life in the Next World and the Present Life (Al-Ma‘ād wa-al-Ma‘āsh); Women (Al-Nisā’); Comparison between the Arabs and Persians (Foreigners) (Al-Taswīyah bayn al-‘Arab wa-al-‘Ajam); The Government (Al-Sulṭān) and the Dispositions of Its People (Administrators); The Threat (Al-Wa‘īd); The Towns (Regions); Historical Traditions (Al-Akhbār); The Demonstration that the Imamate is a Divine Command (Al-Dalālah ‘alā an al-Imāmah Farḍ); Al-Istiṭā‘ah wa-Khalq al-Af‘āl; [149] The Artisans (Saddle Makers), Wealth and Craftwork (Al-Muqayyinīn wa-al-Ghanā’ wa-al-Ṣan‘ah); Gifts (Al-Hadāyā); The Emaciated (The Plagiarized, Al-Manḥūl); The Brothers (Al-Ikhwān); Refutation of Whoever Has Apostatized, about the Book of Allāh (Al-Radd ‘alā man Alḥad fī Kitāb Allāh); What Is the Qur’ān? (Āy al-Qur’ān); The Amorous: Growing Hot, Growing Cold [150] (Al-‘Āshiq al-Nāshī al-Mutalāshī).


A Perfume Shop (Ḥanūt Aṭṭār); The Comparison (Al-Tamthīl); The Excellence of Learning (Faḍl al-‘Ilm); Gaity and Earnestness (Al-Mirāh wa-al-Jadd); [151] The Assembly of Kings (Jamharat al-Mulūk); Polo Sticks (Al-Ṣawālijah); [152] Denouncing Fornication (Dhamm al-Zinā’); Meditation and Consideration (Al-Tafakkur wa-al-I‘tibār); Proof and Prophecy (Al-Ḥujjah wa-al-Nubūwah); to Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mudabbir about correspondence (al-mukātabah); [153] The Trickery of Force [Employed] against Oppression (Iḥālat al-Qudrah ‘alā al-Ẓulm); Freed Slave Mothers of Children (Ummahāt al-Awlād); The Doctrine of the Mu‘tazilah and Its Excellence Due to Superior Virtue (Al-I‘tizāl


148. For the Turkish bodyguard of the caliphs, see Hitti, Arabs, p. 466.


149. Al-istiṭā‘ah is man’s ability to appropriate a foreordained action; see Glossary for references. Khalq al-af‘āl is the divine “creation of actions,” before man appropriates them.


150. Yāqut (see n. 131) omits al-‘āshiq (“the amorous”). The other words mean literally, “increasing and vanishing.”


151. Yāqūt (see n. 131) has al-muzāḥ wa-al-jadd, which might be translated as “humorous and serious speech.”


152. Sticks with bent ends used for a game of ball on horseback, which was probably the origin of polo.


153. Yāqūt (see n. 131) has Āl (“family of”) instead of ilā (“to”) before Ibrāhim.




wa-Faḍluhu ‘an al-Faḍīlah); Dignities, Ranks, and Professions (Al-Akhṭār wa-al-Marātib wa-al-Ṣinā‘āt); Story of the World (Uḥdūthat al-‘Ālam); Refutation of Whoever Supposes that Man Is One Piece (Juz’) and Not Divided (Yatajazza’); Abū al-Najm and His Reply; [154] The Apple (Al-Tuffāḥ); Social Life and Contentment (Al-Uns wa-al-Salwah); Steadfastness and Resolution (Al-Ḥazm wa-al-‘Azm); The Great, the Beautiful, and the Ugly (Al-Kibar al-Mustaḥsan wa-al-Mustaqbaḥ); Refutation of Medicine (Naqḍ al-Ṭibb); The Elements of Morals (‘Unāṣir al-Ādāb); Preserving Possessions (Taḥṣīn al-Amwāl); Similes (Proverbs); Superiority of the Horse over the Pack Animal (Faḍīl al-Faras ‘alā al-Himlāj).


What Has Been Regarded as an Epistle among the Works of  al-Jāḥiẓ [155]

His epistle to Abū al-Faraj ibn Najjāḥ about examining the wise ideas (minds) of the ancients (imtiḥān ‘uqūl al-awliyā’); his epistle to Abū al-Najm about the land tax (al-kharāj); his epistle about the pen (script, al-qalm); his epistle about excellence in choice of books (faḍl ittikhādh al-kutub [156]); his epistle about keeping a secret (kitmān al-sirr); his epistle about praise of wine (madḥ al-nabīdh); his epistle about the re-proach of wine (dhamni al-nabīdh); his epistle about forgiveness and pardon (al-‘afw wa-al-ṣafḥ); his epistle about the offense of drunkenness (ithm al-sukr); his epistle about hope and the hoped-for (al-amal wa-al-ma’mūl); his epistle about ornament (elegance of literary style, al-ḥilyah); his epistle about the reproach of secretaries (dhamm al-kuttāb); his epistle about praise of the warrāqūn; his epistle about reproaching them; his epistle about who among the poets was named ‘Umar; [157] his epistle about the excess of the ignorance of Ya‘qūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī; his epistle about generosity (al-karm), addressed to Abū al-Faraj ibn Najāḥ; his epistle about the unique (al-yatīmah); [158] his epistle about the death of Abū Ḥarb al-Ṣaffār al-Baṣrī; his epistle about inheritance (al-mīrāth);


154. Abū al-Najm may be one of the men of this name listed in the Biog. Index, or the character in a story, or perhaps a friend of al-Jāḥiẓ.


155. See Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (6), 77-78, for these epistles.


156. This might be al-kutab, an unusual plural for “secretaries.”


157. For this epistle, the translation follows Yāqūt (see n. 155).


158. This was a popular title for books, the most famous one being The Unique Pearl (“Al-Durrah al-Yatīmah”) by Ibn al-Muqaffa‘; see Hitti, Arabs, p. 401 top.




his epistle about kīmiyā’ wa-al-kīmiyā’; [159] his epistle about obstinate arbitrariness and consultation in war (al-istibdād wa-al-mushāwarah fī al-ḥarb); his epistle about refutation of the qawlīyah. [160]


The Lion and the Wolf (Al-Asad wa-al-Dhi’b); [161] The Kings and the Nations: Those Extinct and Those Surviving (Al-Mulūk wa-al-Umam: al-Sālifah wa-al-Bāqiyah); Judges and Governors (Al-Quḍāh wa-al-Wulāh); The Wise and the Ignorant (Al-‘Ālim wa-al-Jāhil); Āl-Nard [162] and Chess (Al-Nard wa-al-Shaṭranj); Adulteration of the Crafts (Ghashsh al-Sina‘āt); Dispute between the Cross-Eyed Man and the Man Blind in One Eye (Khuṣūmat al-Ḥūl wa-al-‘Ūr); Stricken by Blights (Dhawī al-‘Āhāt); The Singers (Al-Mughannīyīn); The Manners of Those Who Pester Their Friends (Akhlāq al-Shuṭṭār). [163]

I have found written in the handwriting of Ibn al-Furāt, near the epistles of al-Jāḥiẓ, what has not been mentioned and is added to al-Nadīm -----------.” [164]

Epistle to Aḥmad ibn Isrā’īl; epistle to Aḥmad ibn al-Munajjim, [165] about care of speech (ḥifẓ al-lisān); another epistle to Aḥmad ibn al-Munajjim; epistle to Sulaymān ibn Wahb; epistle to al-Ḥasan ibn Wahb; epistle to Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik, about anger and satisfaction (al-ghaḍab wa-al-riḍā’); epistle about thanks (praise, al-shukr); epistle about earnestness and joking (al-jidd wa-al-hazl); epistle about the description of the important matters concerning the creation of the Qur’ān, about which there are also five other epistles; epistle to Muḥammad al-Yazīdī; four epistles to Ibn Najāḥ [AbQ al-Faraj], about the mind, judgment, and other things (al-‘aql al-ḥukm wa-ghayrihi); epistle to Abū ‘Amr Aḥmad ibn Sa‘īd, to whom three other epistles were also addressed.


159. Yāqūt (see n. 155) gives Kitāb al-Kīmiyā’ (“The Book of Alchemy”). The repetition of the word kīmiyā’, in the Beatty MS, may be an error in copying, or meant to be “elixir,” or have some other significance. See “al-Kīmiyā’,” Enc. Islam, II, 1010.


160. Qawlīyah is sometimes used for the “multitude,” with its Biblical significance. It may also refer to some sect, which cannot be identified, or else to the uneducated, common people.


161. This second paragraph is a list of book titles.


162. An old game similar to backgammon or checkers. See Chap. III, sect. 3, n. 186.


163. Yāqūt (see n. 155) ends his hst at this point, omitting the epistles which follow.


164. This is an attempt to translate what is legible in a marginal note of the Beatty MS. The list which follows was evidently added to the text by some scribe.


165. Probably Aḥmad ibn ‘Alī ibn Yaljyā al-Munajjim.




Epistle to ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn Yaḥyā [ibn Khāqān]; epistle to Ibn Abī Da’ūd about the book “Order of the Qur’ān” (Naẓm al-Qur’ān); also an epistle addressed to him about the qualities of the book “The Judicial Interpretation (Al-Futyā); [166] epistle to Abū al-Walīd ibn Aḥmad about cauterization (al-kayy); epistle to ‘Abdān ibn Abī Ḥarb, to whom he also addressed two other epistles; epistle about the reproach for what is plagiarized; [167] epistle to Aḥmad ibn Ḥamdūn al-Nadīm about the qualities of a court companion (ṣifāt al-nadīm); epistle to Aḥmad ibn al-Mudabbir; epistle to Aḥmad ibn al-Mudabbir ‘Awn, [168] about guarding a secret and [use of] the tongue (ḥifẓ al-sirr wa-al-lisān); epistle to the Commander of the Faithful al-Muntaẓar bi-Allāh [Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan]; epistle to Aḥmad ibn al-Khaṭīb, which was the last [epistle] that I found [listed] in the handwriting of Ibn al-Furāt.


Aḥmad ibn Abī Duwād [169]

   Although no book of his is recorded, we mention Ibn Abī Duwād because he was one of the superior members of the Mu’tazilah, unsullied, a part of the pure living of the sect, upholding his people and his responsibility for them. [170]


He was Abū ‘Abd Allāh Aḥmad ibn Abī Duwād ibn Jarīr ibn Mālik ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Abbād ibn Salām ibn Mālik ibn ‘Abd Hind ibn Lakhm ibn Mālik ibn Qamas [171] ibn Man‘ah (Mana‘ah) ibn Daws ibn al-Dīl ibn [172] Umayyah ibn Ḥudhafah ibn Zuhr ibn Iyād ibn Nizār ibn Ma‘add.



166. This book and the one preceding it may have been those listed as the works of al-Jāḥiẓ. The word translated as “qualities” in this title and the fourth one to follow, is probably meant for ṣifāt, although the a is not given in its long form.


167. “What is plagiarized” is written al-manḥūlah, but perhaps al-manḥūl is the word meant.


168. In the marginal note in the Beatty MS the name al-Mudabbir is crossed out, and the name Abī ‘Awn is inserted underneath. See Biog. Index, Abū ‘Awn, Aḥmad ibn al-Najm.


169. Some authorities spell the last element “Du’ād.”


170. The word translated “upholding” is not clear and may have some other significance. A.D. 851, the Caliph al-Mutawakkil turned against the Mu‘tazilah. He became angry with the son of Aḥmad and dispossessed the father of his property. This sentence may refer to Aḥmad’s fortitude at this time.


171. The Beatty MS is not clear; “Qamas” is taken from Khallikān, I, 61, and Qutaybah, Ma‘ārif, p. 31 top.


172. The Beatty MS has min (“from”) instead of ibn.





His birth was at al-Baṣrah and he was one of the protégés of Yaḥyā ibn Aktham, who introduced him to al-Ma’mūn. Then, through al-Ma’mūn he became associated with al-Mu‘taṣim. Among the sons of the people of his kind, there was never seen a more honorable, excellent, or liberal person. It is said that he was adopted by Iyād, his status being recorded in the book Faults (Kitāb al-Mathālib). Mukhallad ibn Bakkār said, lampooning him:

With me thou art of Iyād, this is not mere talk. [173]

An Arab art thou, an Arab in truth, not by coercion. [174]

The hair of your legs and thighs is khuzāmā and thumām, [175]

Your chest bones show with moles.

If you make a motion, there will not flee from you even an ostrich,

Or prolific gazelles with large loins.

What fault of mine is it if people lie about thee?

For verily they say that he is a Ḥām of the Banū Anbāṭ. [176]

Verily a true Arab art thou in lineage; So farewell. [177]

Aḥmad had a number of sons with Arabicized names and surnames. The most distinguished of the group was Abū al-Walīd, who served as a judge during his father’s lifetime, but died about a month before his father’s death. Abū al-Walīd wrote a number of books about the law, agreeing in point of view with Abū Ḥanīfah. We will give a thorough account of him in his proper place.


Aḥmad ibn Abī Duwād died during the year two hundred and forty [A.D. 854/55], during the caliphate of al-Mutawakkil, due to a paralysis which befell him. No compositions or books of his are known.



173. The phrase translated “this is not mere talk” is literally “there is not a word.” For the tribe, see “Iyād,” Enc. Islam, II, 565; Khaldūn, Muqaddimah (Rosenthal), I, 266; II, 379; III, 343.


174. In this passage there is probably a satirical reference to the fact that the Iyād Tribe, to which Ibn Abi Duwād claimed to belong, fled to the Byzantines for protection, fought against the army of the early caliphate and only joined Islām under compulsion; see “Iyād,” Enc. Islam, II, 565.


175. Khuzāmā is lavender (Lavandula spica) and thumām is the herb Panicum dichotomum. This simile implied that he was truly an Arab.


176. Ḥām of the Banū Anbāṭ would be a Nabataean Hamite, and therefore not a true Arab.


177. “In lineage” is a free rendering of ḥāsim (“consecutive”). The last word is abbreviated, but evidently meant for al-salām (“peace”), which was often used to say farewell.





Ja‘far ibn Ḥarb

   He was Abū al-Faḍl ibn Ḥarb al-Hamadhānī from Hamadhān, to whom the leadership passed during his time. He was an ascetic, who abstained from the unlawful, fearing Allāh. He was also an anchorite.


It is said that he once attended a session of [the Caliph] al-Wāthiq for controversial discussion. When the time came to pray, those in attendance arose, al-Wāthiq leading and praying with them. But Ja‘far, going aside and rernoving his slippers, prayed by himself. It was said that Yaḥyā ibn Kāmil was the nearest to him among them and that tears dripped down his cheek, fearing death for Ja‘far. It was also said that when Ja‘far put on his slippers and returned to the gathering, al-Wāthiq regarded him with disapproval. [178]


Then they resumed their controversy, but after they had departed Aḥmad ibn Abī Du’ād said to Ja‘far, “This lion [al-Wāthiq] does not tolerate this kind of behavior. If you are persistent with it, don’t attend the audience.” Ja‘far replied, “I don’t want to attend it, unless you take me there!” So he [Ahrnad] told him, “Then don’t attend!” It is said, moreover, that when al-Wāthiq was at a second session he remarked, after observing those present and failing to find Ja‘far, “Where is the righteous shaykh?” Aḥmad replied to him, “As he has tuberculosis he has to lie down, a thing to which the audience of the Commander of the Faithful is superior.” Then al-Wāthiq said, “May he be a ransom for you!” But he did not attend to Ja‘far.


Ja‘far died during the year two hundred and thiry-six [A.D. 850/51], when he was fifty-nine years old. Among his books there were:

Allegorical Interpretation of the Qur’ān (Mutaṣḥābih al-Qur’ān); The Thorough Investigation (Al-Istiqṣā’); The Sources (Al-Uṣūl); Refutation of Those Upholding the [Concept of] Natures (Aṣḥāb al-Ṭabā’ī‘). [179]



   Al-Balkhī said that he was Abū Ja‘far Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Iskāfī, whose origin was from Samarqand. He had an



178. This is a free translation, which may not be entirely correct, as the Arabic use of pronouns is not very definite. It was insulting for Ja‘far to refuse to pray with the caliph, so his friend probably feared that the caliph might execute him.


179. See Nādir, Falsifat al-Mu‘tazilah, Part II, pp. 74–86.





extraordinary degree of learning, intelligence, and knowledge, as well as self-control, superiority of purpose, and purity from defilement.


He reached a point of old age not reached by his companions, so that [the Caliph] al-Mu‘taṣim, rnarveling at him with great astonishment, advanced and enriched him. I have been told that when he spoke, he [the Caliph] paid attention to him, while those in the audience kept silence. They did not utter a word until, when he finished, al-Mu’taṣim turned to them saying, “Who can deviate from this opinion and explanation?” He [the Caliph] used to say to him, “Oh, Muḥammad, declare this doctrine to the judges (al-mawālī) and inform me about any one of them who refuses [to accept it], so that I may deal with him and take action.” [180]


Al-Iskāfī died during the year forty [A.H. 240: A.D. 854/55]. When news of his death reached Muḥammad ibn ‘Īsā Burghūth, he prostrated himself. Six months later he, too, died.


Al-Iskāfī was at first a tailor. His father and mother prevented him from going often to seek theology, [181] imposing upon him the necessity of earning his living. But Ja‘far ibn Ḥarb took charge of him, [182] sending his mother twenty silver coins (s., dirham) each month, in lieu of his earnings. Among his books there were:

The Delightful (Al-Laṭīf); The Substitute (Al-Badal); against al-Naẓẓām, about the tenet that the two different natures (al-ṭabi‘ayn al-mukhtalifayn) are formed together as one agent; [183] The Sessions, about giving superiority to ‘Alī, for whom may there be peace; Confirmation of the Creation of the Qur’ān (Athbāt Khalq al-Qur’ān); Refutation of the


180. The last clause is literally, “so that I will deal with him what I shall do.” This passage refers to the inquisition (al-miḥnah), which was begun A.D. 833, but maintained by al-Mu‘taṣim. Any judge who did not subscribe to the doctrine of the creation of the Qur’ān was liable to be discharged from his office. See “Miḥna,” Enc. Islam, III, 483; Hitti, Arabs, p. 429. As the inquisition was directed especially against the judges and religious authorities, the word al-mawālī is translated “judges,” although usually it is used for “masters” and “lords,” or else for “slaves” and “protégés.”


181. This probably meant that the boy wished to leave his work in the tailor’s shop, to attend classes and lectures at some mosque.


182. It was the custom for a scholar to have a boy work for him, in return for some pay and instruction.


183. See Baghdādī (Seelye), pp. 139 bottom, 140.




Mushabbihah; The Created [the Qur’ān], against the Mujbirah; Explanation of the Obscure (Bayān al-Mushkil), against Burghūth; Explanation of Falsifying, invalidating the book of Ḥafṣ (Bayān al-Tamwīh, naqḍ kitāb Ḥafṣ); Refutation of the Book of al-Ḥusayn al-Najjār; Refutation of Whoever Has Denied (Ankar) the Creation of the Qur’ān.


Explanation of the Declarations of the Mujbirah (Sharḥ Aqāwīl al-Mujbirah); Making Void the Statement of Anyone Who Has Spoken of the Punishment of Infants (Ibṭāl Qawl man qāl bi-Ta‘dhīb al-Aṭfāl); [184] A Compendium of the Dogma of the People of Truth (Jumal Qawl Ahl al-Ḥaqq); [185] Grace (Al-Na‘īm); about what the theologians disagree on; against al-Ḥusayn [al-Najjār] about al-istiṭā‘ah; The Virtues of ‘Alī, for Whom May There Be Peace; Drinks (Al-Ashribah); Al-Quṭb; [186] against Hishām; [187] Refutation of the Book of Ibn Shabīb about the Threat (Al-Wa‘īd).


Ibn al-Iskāfī

   He was Abū al-Qāsim Ja‘far ibn Muḥammad al-Iskāfī, a secretary with good literary style, to whom al-Mu‘taṣim assigned one of his government offices and who was superior to many of the secretaries. Among his books there was The Standard oj Measure and Balance (Al-Mi‘yār wa-al-Muwāzanah).



Mention of the Persons among the Mu‘tazilah Who Adopted Innovations and Individual Doctrines

   Thus saith Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq [al-Nadīm]: We mention these men at this point of time, after which we shall return to mentioning the sincere members of the Mu‘tazilah, whom we shall record in sequence until our own time. In Allāh is confidence. [188]



184. This evidently refers to the foreordaining of infants to go to hell.


185. In this paragraph, Qawl (“saying”) and aqāwīl (“sayings”) are translated in different ways to fit the context.


186. This word is used for the Prophet Muharnmad, but may also mean the Pole Star or that upon which an affair depends, among other meanings. See also Sprenger, pp. 1166 if.


187. Almost certainly Hishām ibn al-Hakam.


188. Further mention of the “sincere members of the Mu‘tazilah” is not made in the Beatty MS, the pages referring to them having been lost. Some of them are mentioned in the Tonk MS, following the termination of the Beatty MS.






   It is related that Thumāmah once described Abū Bakr [al-Aṣamm] to al-Ma’mūn with eloquence of portrayal. Thumāmah said [about this incident], “One day I said to him [al-Ma’mūn], ‘Oh, Commander of the Faithful, you are the caliph, whereas he [al-Aṣamm] is a subject. If you should see him, you would treat him generously.’ When he [the caliph] came to al-‘Irāq he said, ‘Where is your friend, whom you were describing. Present him, that we may give him patronage.’ [189] Then he went on to relate, “I said, ‘He has gone before you, oh, Commander of the Faithful, for he died before your arrival.’ ”


He was poor, bearing his poverty with great patience. His friends said to him, “All have benefited by their companions, who have given property and other worldly things, but we do not give you anything.” It is related that he replied, “By Allāh, I have not expected that your companionship would bring me the world!” [190]


In his time he was counted as one of the Mu‘tazilah, but because he turned against the Commander of the Faithful ‘Alī, for whom may there be peace, he was slandered and ruled out from the sincere group of the Mu‘tazilah. [191] He died during the year of the Hijrah two hundred [A.D. 815/16], but it is also said [during the year], one [A.H. 201]. Among his books there were:

Commentary on the Qur’ān (Tafsīr al-Qur’ān); Creation of the Qur’ān (Khalq al-Qur’ān); Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd); The Proofand the Apostles; [192] The Things about Which the Mujbirah Ask; [193] An Explanation of the Names of Allāh, May His Narne Be Glorified; The Imamate; Division of the People and Dissention of the Partisans (Iftirāq al-Umrnah wa-Ikhtilāf al-Shiya‘); The Command for Good and Prohibition of Evil (Al-Amr bi-al-Ma‘rūf wa-al-Nahy ‘an al-Munkar); Refutation of Hishām [194] regarding al-Tashbīh; The Created [the Qur’ān]; Motions; The Compendium, against the Rāfiḍah.


189. The Arabic word translated as “give him patronage” (istakaff) probably implies that the caliph will benefit by the presence of al-Aṣamm if he includes him in the entourage of the court.


190. This passage is translated freely.


191. See Baghdādl (Seelye), p. 170.


192. Instead of al-hujjah (“proof”), this may be al-hijjah (“pilgrimage”).


193. The word translated “things” is al-āy, which may also mean “signs” or “verses.”


194. Probably Hishām ibn al-Ḥakam.




Refutation of the Mujbirah about the created [the Qur’ān]; Refutation of the Dahrīyah; against the heretics (al-mulḥidah); Refutation of the Jews; Refutation of the Magians; Knowledge (Al-Ma‘rifah); Epistles of the Imams about Justice (Rasā’il al-A’immah fī al-’Adl); Refutation of Whoever Has Spoken with the Sword (al-Sayf); against those who give legal interpretations (‘alā ahl al-fatwā); The Compendium about the Apostles (Al-Mūjaz fī al-Rusul); Refutation of the Zanādiqah; Knowledge of Aspects of Theology (Ma‘rifat Wujūh al-Kalām); What Is Directed by the Book and the Sunnah, with a Description of the Great and the Small. [195]



   He was Hishām ibn ‘Amr al-Fūṭī, the second letter being quiescent as is required in Arabic. He was one of the friends (disciples) of Abū al-Hudhayl, though he deviated from him [his teachings]. The Mu‘tazilah were uncertain with regards to him and, according to what Ibn al-Ikhshīd recorded, they turned away from him. He was one of the people of al-Baṣrah, but traveled to numerous lands of the sea. [196]


A group of people from the cities accepted his call to the Mu‘tazilī doctrine [al-i‘tizāl]. Hishām asserted that Satan does not enter into a man, but whispers to him from outside. Allāh is greater than this, for his whispering reaches the heart of a son of Adam, to test him. Among his books there were:


The Created [the Qur’ān]; Refutation of al-Aṣamm, about rejecting of motions (fī nafy al-ḥarakāt); Creation of the Qur’ān; Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd); Answer of the People of Khurāsān; To the People of al-Baṣrah; The Five Sources (Al-Uṣūl al-Khams); [197] against the Bakrīyah; against Abū al-Hudhayl, about grace (al-na‘īm).


Ḍirār ibn ‘Amr

   He was surnamed Abū ‘Amr and was one of the persons claimed by the Mu‘tazilah. It is said that it was the custom of Abū Yūsuf,



195. The Book refers to the Qur’ān and “great” and “small” to different types of sins.


196. Instead of “sea” (al-baḥr) this might be “trade” (al-tajr).


197. The jurist al-Shāfi‘ī adopted four sources for the law: the Qur’ān, the Sunnah, analogy, and consensus of opinion. Al-Fūṭī may have adopted a fifth, such as personal opinion, or this may refer to a theological rather than a legal theory.





the friend of Abū Ḥanīfah, to pass by [the house of ] Ḍirār when he wished to go to the place of prayer. [198] It happened that when he passed by him, seeking to observe the prayer for the feast on the Day of Sacrifice (Yawm al-Naḥr), Ḍirār was with the sacrifice (body) of his sheep, which was being skinned. So Abū Yūsuf said to him, “Oh, Abū ‘Amr, what does this mean, you are slaughtering before the imam (prayer leader) prays!” It is said that Ḍirār rephed to him, “I thought that the sessions of the scholars (al-‘ulamā’) had already educated you, so who is this imam here, for whose prayer I should wait?” Among his books there were:

Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd); Refutarion of All the Heretics (al-Mulḥdah); The Created [the Qur’ān]; Contradiction of the Ḥadīth (Tanāquḍ al-Ḥadīth); The Inducement (Al-Mad‘awah); [199] Guidance, about the occurrence of things (Al-Dalālah, ‘alā ḥadath al-ashyā’); Refutation of the Heretics (Al-Mulḥidūn); combining thirteen books (chapters) about a refutation of the Mushabbihah; combining six books about a refutation of the heretics (al-mulḥidīn); combining ten books about a refutation of the people of sects (sectarians); Equation (Comparison, Al-Musāwāh); Al-Kharā’iṭ; [200] Confirmation of the Apostles.


Refutation of Aristotle, about essential and accidental properties (al-jawāhir wa-al-a‘rāḍ); four epistles against innovators (ahl al-ahwā’); [201] The Two Governments (Al-Dawlatayn); [202] Incitement and Impulses (Al-Taḥrish wa-al-Ighrā’); to whoever among the Muslims matures (attains knowledge); Friday (Al-Jum‘ah); Kindness and Gratitude (Al-Ma‘rūf wa-al-Shukr); Commentary on the Qur’ān; Refutation of the Zanādiqah; The Threat (Al-Wa‘īd); The Enemy Who Is a Reconciler (Al-‘Adw al-Muṣliḥ); Thought about Allāh on the Day of Judgment (Al-Fikr fī Allāh ‘alā al-Wāqi‘ah), which has five books (chapters); against the Murji’ah, about intercession (al-shafā‘ah).


198. For the two men almost certainly referred to in this passage, see Biog. Index, Abū Abū Yūsuf Ya‘qūb ibn Ibrāhīm and Abū Ḥanifah; see also Pellat, Le Milieu baṣrien, p. 91.


199. This word is given as “inducement” which seems to be what is intended, although in the Beatty MS it is written, perhaps incorrectly, as al-mad‘ūwah, an unidentified form.


200. This is used for leather strips bound together, often in the form of an official briefcase. It might be an unusual form for the plural of “purge.”


201. For ahl al-ahwā’ (“innovators,” “unconventional persons”), see Bustāni, Muḥīṭ al-Muḥīṭ, II, 2204, left side, ll. 4-6.


202. The two governments were almost certainly the Umayyad and ‘Abbāsid dynasties.




Disagreements about Atoms (Ikhtilāf al-Ajzā’); Refutation of Those Upholding the [Concept of] Natures (Aṣḥāb al-Taba’i’); [203] Refutation of the Christians; Epistle of the Ṣūfīs (Risālat al-Ṣūfīyīn); Disagreement of the People and Confirmation of the Proof (Ikhtilāf al-Nās wa-Ithbāt al-Ḥujjah); Refutation of the Khawārij; Predestination; The Desire (Al-Irādah); Similitude (Allegory); Assistance, about the Forsaken (Al-Ma‘ūnah fī al-Khadlān); Possessions, Property, Periods (Deaths), and Children (Al-Arzāq wa-al-Mulk wa-al-Ājāl wa-al-Aṭfāl); The Copied (The Quoted, Al-Manqūlīn); Historical Traditions (Al-Akhbār).


Reasons and Knowledge in Connection with Prophecy (Al-Asbāb wa-al-‘Ilm ‘alā al-Nabūwah); against the Fuḍaylīyah and the Muḥakkimah, in connection with their assertion that people belong to the Faith, even if there appears among them wrongdoing; against the Murji’ah in connection with the names [of Allāh]; The Middle Position (Al-Manzilah bayn al-Manzilatayn); Interpretation of the Qur’ān (Ta’wīl al-Qur’ān); The Two Regimes (Al-Ḥukmayn); [204] Morals of the Theologians (Ādāb al-Mutakallimīn); against the Azāriqah, the Najadāt, and the Murji’ah.


Refutation of the Wāqifah, the Jahmīyah, and the Ghaylānīyah; Refutation of the Rāfiḍah and the Ḥashawīyah; Refutation of the One Who Thinks That the Prophets Disagreed about an Attribute of Allāh, Glorified and Exalted; Refutation of Mu‘ammar about His Saying That Muḥammad Is Lord; [205] The Imamate; The Will; Refutation of the Mughīrīyah and the Manṣūrīyah, about their saying that the earth is never without a prophet; Refutation of the Ḥashawīyah, about their saying that if the Prophet was asked forgiveness for a man, he would pardon him; against anyone who thinks that the Prophet omitted anything from the Faith (al-Dīn), or understood [206] the invisible (al-ghayb); that the names [of Allāh] are not compared (al-asmā’ la tuqās).


Abbād ibn Sulaymān

   Abū Sahl ‘Abbād ibn Sulaymān ibn ‘Alī is counted among the Mu‘tazilah of al-Baṣrah. He was one of the inhabitants of al-Basrah and an associate (pupil) of Hishām ibn ‘Amr [al-Fūṭī], but he



203. See Nādir, Falsifat al-Mu‘tazilah, Part II, pp. 74–86.


204. Al-Ḥukmayn must refer to the Umayyad and ‘Abbāsid dynasties.


205. Mu‘ammar probably refers to either Mu‘ammar ibn ‘Abbād or Mu‘ammar ibn al-Ash‘ath. “Lord” (al-rabb) is used for Allāh, but not Muḥammad.


206. The word translated “understood” might be “knew” or “taught.”





disagreed with the Mu‘tazilah about some points, having particular ideas which he himself invented. Abū ‘Alī al-Jubbā’ī described him as skillful in theology, but then he said, “If it were not for his craziness!”


When ‘Abbād was speaking with a Sophist, it is related that the Sophist said to him, “A thirsty man once came to drink what he supposed to be water, but he found it to be something else. How can you deny that this is the way of all suppositions?” [207] ‘Abbād replied to him, “If this man, who desired a drink which he supposed to be water but found to be some other beverage, had come to the Tigris, he would have supposed that it also contained that other beverage. But by his experience he would have learned from the Tigris and the water in it what the truth really was, just as he learned previously about that other beverage, recognizing the difference between water and the beverage by his sense perceptions.” Thereupon the man stopped [talking]. [208]


Among the books of ‘Abbād there were:

Denial That Men Create Their Actions (Al-Inkār ann Yakhliq al-Nās Af‘ālahum); Determining Guidance for Accidents (Tathbīt Dalālat al-A‘rāḍ [209]); Confirmation of the Atom Which Does Not Divide (Ithbāt al-Juz’ al-Ladhī La Yatajuzza’).


Abū Sa‘īd al-Ḥuṣrī al-Ṣūfī

   He was one of the Mu‘tazilah, but he confused and invented [doctrines]. Among his books there were:

Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd); Al-Istiṭā‘ah; The Created [the Qur’ān], against the Mujbirah; Oaths (Al-Aymān); [210] The Virtues (Faḍā’il) of ‘Alī, for Whom May There Be Peace.


207. In the Beatty MS the word “thirsty” (al-aṭshān) is crossed out and on the margin there is given the word “mistaken” (sādir).


208. This passage has been translated freely. The point is that the Sophists denied reality. The word translated “beverage” (al-sharāb) is often used for “syrup” or “wine.”


209. Instead of “accidents” this may refer to “bodies.”


210. This may be The Faith (Al-I’mān).





AḤafṣ al-Haddād

   Although he was one of those who invented new doctrines, he was a Mu‘tazilī, among whose books there was Al-Ḥārūf, [211] in connection with sufficiency of proofs, concerning which he was refuted by Abū ‘Alī al-Jubbā’ī, al-Khayyāṭ [Abū al-Ḥusayn], and al-Ḥārith al-Warrāq.


‘Īsā al-Ṣūf̣ī

   He was Abū Mūsā ‘Īsā ibn al-Haytham, who was one of the important members of the Mu‘tazilah, but who after a time confused [his doctrines]. Ibn al-Rāwandī received information from him. He died during the year two hundred and forty-five [A.D. 859/60]. Among his books there were: -------- .


Abū ‘Īsā al-Warrāq

   Abū ‘Īsā Muḥammad ibn Hārūn ibn Muḥammad al-Warrāq was one of the brilliant theologians who was a Mu‘tazilī, but confused [the doctrines] until his confusion caused him to be accused of belonging to the sect of the adherents of dualism. Ibn al-Rāwandī drew upon [his ideas]. Among his books there were:

Discourses; The Event (Al-Ḥadath); the large book, The Imamate; the small book, The Imamate; The Unusual Eastern in Rhyme (Al-Gharib al-Mashraqī fī al-Nawḥ), against “The Book of the Animal” (Kitāb al-Ḥayawān); [212] A Recounting about the Sects of the Adherents of Dualism (Iqtiṣāṣ Madhāhib Aṣḥāb al-Ithnayn), with a refutation of them; the large book, Refutation of the Christians; the medium-size book, Refutation of the Christians; the small book, Refutation of the Christians; Refutation of the Magians; Refutation of the Jews.


Ibn al-Rāwandī

   In the book The Virtues oj Khurāsān (Maḥāsin Khurāsān), al-Balkhī said, “He was Abū al-Ḥusayn Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā al-



211. Al-ḥārūf lacks consonant signs and the letter at the end might be q instead of f. It is, therefore, very likely meant for al-khāzūq. In later times this was used for “a stake for impaling,” whereas in modern slang it means “a thorny problem.” What the meaning was in the tenth century is not certain.


212. This was evidently a criticism of the famous Book of the Animal by al-Jāḥiẓ. The word “eastern” is the only translation which fits the form in the Beatty MS, but it may not be correct.





Rāwandī [213] from among the people of Marw al-Rūz. [214] He was one of the theologians, and during his time there was no one among his peers who was keener than he was in theology or better acquainted with its subtlety and importance. [215]


During the first part of his life he was straightforward, sound in doctrine, and exceedingly modest. Then he was divested of all this because of influences affecting him and because his learning was greater than his intelligence. Appropriate to him was the saying of the poet: 

Who developed righteously in his childhood,

But became concealed when repudiated. [216]

A group reported that he repented of what he had been doing, at the time of his death, so that penitence and his confession purified him. He encountered, however, scorn and disdain directed toward him, because of the cruelty of his companions and their expelling him from their meetings. [217]


He wrote most of his heretical books for Abū ‘Īsā al-Yahūdī al-Ahwāzī, and it was at the home of this man that he died. Among the cursed books composed for him, which are known, there are:

The Crown (Al-Tāj), in which he argues for the etemity of the world; [218] The Emerald (Al-Zumurrud), in which he argues about the apostles and the falsity of apostleship; The Description of Wisdom in the Scripture of Allāh, May His Name Be Glorified (Na‘t al-Ḥikmah bi-Ṣifr Allāh), about requiring from his creation what he has ordered and forbidden


213. The Beatty MS omits the long alif. The correct spelling of the name Rāwand, from which this word is taken, is found in Yāqūt, Geog., II, 741.


214. Ibid., IV, 506.


215. It is possible that this phrase should be translated, “or more known for precision and honor.”


216. This very likely refers to the fact that when the companions of Ibn al-Rāwandī wanted to have him executed, he hid in the home of hisjewish patron at al-Kūfah; see Murtaḍā, p. 92, l. 14.


217. This passage and the list of books which follows should be compared with the Cairo Appendix, p. 5. See also Khayyāṭ, Intiṣār (Nādir), Introduction, pp. xxii, ff., xxviii, for a list of the books of Ibn al-Rāwandī. The final word, “meetings” (majālis), is often translated “sessions,” which see in Glossary.


218. This was a book upholding dualism and the eternity of matter. For this title and several others which follow, see Murtaḍā, p. 92.




(fī taklīf khalqihi amrahu wa-nahyahu); [219] The Striker, in which he speaks ill of the order of the Qur’ān (Al-Dāmigh, yaṭ‘an fīhi ‘alā nuẓum al-Qur’ān); [220] The Branch, in which he shows that the knowledge of Allāh about things is an event, and that He was without knowledge until He created for himself knowledge; [221] The Unique, about accusation of the Prophet (Al-Farid, fī al-ṭa‘n ‘alā al-Nabī), for whom may there be peace’ [222] The Coral (Al-Marjān); [223] The Pearl, about denial of motions (Al-Lu’lu’ah, manāhī al-ḥarakāt).

Ibn al-Rāwandī said:

I passed by a shaykh who was seated with a Qur’ān in his hand. He was reading, “To Allāh is the waterspout (al-mīzāb) of the heavens and the earth.” I saluted and said, “Oh, shaykh, why do you read that the Qurān says ‘To Allāh is the waterspout of the heavens and the earth’?” He said, “This is the rain which you see.” Then I said, “A mistake in pronunciation only exists when it is explained. It is not like that, but is ‘The heritage (al-mīrāth) of the heavens and the earth.’” He then said, “Our God is forgiving; for forty years I have read it and in my confusing it is thus.” [224]

Ibn al-Rāwandī died ----------. Among his books there were:

The Names and the Decrees: The Days of Righteousness (Al-Asmā wa’l-Aḥkām: Ayyām Ṣalāḥah); Commencing and Recommencing (Al-Ibtadā’ wa-al-I‘ādah); The Imamate; Creation of the Qur’ān; Continuation and Annihilation (Al-Baqā’ wa-al-Fanā’); [225] Al-Waqf;


219. Murtaḍā (ibid.) says that this book is about dualism.


220. Murtaḍā (ibid.) also speaks of this book, and says that it deals with a refutation of the Qur’ān.


221. In the Beatty MS the title Al-Qadīb (“The Branch”) has a line through it with some letters inserted after it, but the text is not clear enough to decipher them. In the Qur’ān 2: 117, it explains how Allāh creates: “When He decreeth a matter, He says to it Be and it is.”


222. Murtaḍā, p. 92, says that this book is a refutation of the prophets. In the Beatty MS it is clearly written al-farīd (“the unique”), but in Khayyāṭ, Intiṣār (Nādir), p. xxix and in the Cairo Appendix it is given as al-farand (al-firand), meaning “sword.”


223. In the Beatty MS some words are inserted on the margin, but they are not legible.


224. The word translated “confusing” is given in the Beatty MS as taṣḥīf (“mistaking of words”).


225. Although the mystics used the word al-fanā’ for “ecstasy,” it probably means “annihilation” here. See Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 181 bottom.




The Red Stone, the Days of Its Corruption (Al-Ḥajar al-Ahmar Ayyām Fasādih); [226] The Black Stone (Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad) likewise; There Is Nothing unless It Is Existing (Mawjūd); Al-Istiṭā‘ah; Disgraceful Acts of the Mu‘tazilah (Faḍā’iḥ al-Mu‘tazilah).


Careful Examination (Al-Rawīyah); [227] The Proving (Al-Iḥtijāj), addressed to Hishām ibn al-Ḥakam; Man (Al-Insān); The Particular and the Universal (Al-Khāṣṣ wa-al-‘Ām); Refutation of One Who Has Spoken of Fulfilling a Motion by Its Perception (Al-Radd ‘alā man Qāl bi-Wafi al-Ḥarakah bi-Baṣrih); [228] Totals (Al-Jumal); Confirmation of the Apostles (Athbāt al-Rusl); Corruption of the Court and Prohibition of Earnings (Fasād al-Dār wa-Taḥrim al-Makāsib); Refutation of One Who Has Denied Actions and Accidents (Nafā al-Af‘āl wa-al-A‘rāḍ); [229] Questions (Al-Masā’il), against the Hishāmīyah; The Manner of Proving (Kīfīyat al-Istidlāl); Accidents (Al-A‘rāḍ); Refutation of the Zanādiqah.


An Account of the Statement (Qawl) of Mu‘ammar [ibn ‘Abbād al-Sulamī] and His Proof (Iḥtijāj) in “Al-Ma‘ānī”;  Subdety and Answers (Al-Nukat wa-al-Jawābāt); [230] The Method of Consensus and What Its Form Is; [231] Confirmation of the Power of the One (Athbāt Jabr al-Wāḥid); [232] Refutation of the Mu‘tazilah, concerning the threat and the middle position (fī al-wa‘īd wa-al-manzilah bayn al-manzilatayn); Al-Adrāk (Punishments, The Lowest Hell); Statement about the Defects (al-‘Ilal) of Hishām in Connection with Body and Appearance (fī al-Jism-wa-al-Ru’yah); Historical Traditions (Al-Akhbār) and a Refutation


226. If the title which follows refers to the famous Black Stone in the Ka‘bah at Makkah, it is possible that the Red Stone refers to the idol of that name at Mount Ajā’, worshipped by the Ṭayyī’ Tribe; see Kalbī, Aṣnām, p. 51. This idol was called al-Fals. It was a red stone which protruded from the rock like a human face. As, however, the word translated” corruption” (fasād) more literally means “decomposition,” it is likely that the black and red stones were substances used for alchemy. The term Kibrīt al-Aḥmar was used for the Philosopher’s Stone. Black often indicated lead. See “al-Kīmiyā’,” Enc. Islam, II, 1010.


227. This is perhaps meant to be Vision (“Al-Ru’yah”).


228. This title may not be given correctly, as the words in the text are carelessly written. Cf. Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 185.


229. The word al-a‘rāḍ, in this title and in the third one following, can have several meanings other than “accidents.”


230. After this title there is the word “against” followed by what looks like “al-Manāmīyah,” but is very likely meant to be al-thanawīyah (“the dualists”).


231. This title evidently signifies a book describing in what way consensus of opinion is to be used for legal interpretation.


232. Instead of jabr (“power”), especially in connection with preordination, the word may be khayr (“good”) or khubr (“information,” “knowledge”).




of Anyone Who Has Invalidated Reliable Traditions (al-Tawātur); The Morals of Disputation (Adab al-Jadal); Refutation of the Book “The Emerald” (Naqḍ Kitāb al-Zumurrud), against himself; [233] Refutation of “The Coral” (Naqḍ al-Marjān); Refutation of “The Striker” (al Dāmigh) he did not finish it.


Al-Nāshī al-Kabīr [234]

   Abū al-‘Abbās ‘Abd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Malik al-Nāshī, known as Shirshīr, was one of the people of al-Anbār. After living in Baghdād he moved to Egypt, where he died. He was a theologian, poet, and deliberate speaker, with good training. He wrote a poem of four thousand verses, each terminating with the same ending and rhyme. [235] It was about theology, but in it he pursued the method of philosophy. He fell out with the theologians of his generation, it being said that he was a dualist.


I have read written in the handwriting of al-Ḥijāzī, [surnamed] Abū al-Qāsim:

The reason for this nickname, I mean “al-Nāshī,” was his going to a session in which there were persons engaged in disputation. When he spoke as a youth, young in years, about the doctrine of the Mu‘tazilah, one of the shaykhs among them approved, interrupting the discussion. Then standing up he raised his head saying, “Oh, Allāh, don’t let us lose anyone like this one who is maturing (al-nāshī), so that he may be among us and that those like him may come [236] to us at all times.” So Abū al-‘Abbās approved the name and with it he was nicknamed, according to what Ibn al-Junayd told me. [237]


233. This book and the two which follow were written for an unbeliever, Abū ‘Īsā the Jew. Before he died, Ibn al-Rāwandī repented of his heresy and evidently wrote these books to prove his sincere penitence.


234. Al-kabīr can mean “the great,” but more likely means “the elder.” The Cairo Appendix omits the account of al-Nāshī, but adds some of his lines of poetry.


235. For this poem, see Mas‘ūdī, VII, 88, 89.


236. The word translated “may come” is crossed out in the text and the correction on the margin is not clearly enough written to be sure of its meaning.


237. The Beatty MS ends at this point. After this, there is at least one manuscript page which has been lost from all sources (see following note). Then follows material which is found only in the Tonk MS, from this point until the account of al-Wāsiṭī, where the Flügel text resumes and MS 1934 begins (n. 266). See Fück, ZDMG, New Ser., XV, No. 2 (1936), 298–321, where the Tonk text is printed.





[Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Khayyāṭ] [238]

------------, against Ibn al-Rāwandī; Refutation of “The Emerald” (Naqḍ al-Zumurrud), against al-Rāwandī; Refutation of the Book of ‘Abbād ibn Salmā, about the opposite (al-‘aks); [239] Refutation of “The Crown” (Al-Tāj), against [Ibn] al-Rāwandī; Refutation of “The Striker” (Al-Dāmigh), against [Ibn] al-Rāwandī; Refutation of “The Proof” (Al-Burhān).



   He was Abū al-Ḥasan ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Bardha‘ī, whose origin was at Bardha‘ah in Ādharbayjān. [240] He was one of the great men among the Mu‘tazilah of Baghdād.



   He was Abū al-Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn ‘Alī al-Shaṭawī, one of the notables among the Mu‘tazilah, but miserly and jealous. He died, strangled, during the year seventy-nine [A.D. 892/93]. [241] His son and daughter strangled him, because when his daughter asked him to marry her to a man whom she chose, he refused her request, increasing her confinement. So she and his son agreed that they would come with a slaughterer (butcher) from Bāb Muḥawwal, and they hanged him. He was dwelling at Darb al-Qibāb in al-Karkh. [242]



238. Between the end of the Beatty MS and this heading, there is at least one page of material lacking from all sources. This may have contained an account of Abū ‘Alī Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Jubbā’ī, since it would have been unreasonable to omit such a well-known theologian from this section. And the missing material evidently contained an account of Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Khayyāṭ which is completed by the mention of the following six titles.


The word kitāb (“book”) is omitted from some of the titles, but they evidently refer to books written by al-Khayyāṭ. Murtaḍā, p. 92, says that al-Khayyāṭ wrote books refuting many of those of Ibn al-Rāwandī, including TheEmerald, The Crown, and The Striker. The famous heretic is sometimes called al-Rāwandī and sometimes Ibn al-Rāwandī. The first a is not always indicated as being long.


239. Perhaps ‘Abbād ibn Sulaymān is the name meant, although Murtaḍā, ibid., does not mention Al-‘Aks as a title in dealing with the books written by that scholar.


240. See Yāqūt, Geog., I, 558.


241. This is probably a mistake for ninety-seven (A.D. 909/10).


242. Bāb Muḥawwal was west of the Round City of Baghdad, and the Karkh Quarter was south. See Le Strange, Baghdad, pp. 47 map, 65, 146. As the text is not perfectly clear, the translation may not be entirely accurate.





Al-Ḥārith al-Warrāq

   In the book Al-Mahāsin, al-Balkhī [243] said, “He was Abū al-Qāsim al-Ḥārith ibn ‘Alī, one of the inhabitants of Khurāsān and altogether a man of religion, humility, and piety, as well as a chief among the leaders of persons with discernment, with few equals during his period.”


His composition was in good style and he wrote excellent and famous books and refutations of a number of the books of Ibn al-Rāwandī. He was a conternporary of Abū ‘Alī al-Jubba’ī, with whom he had controversies. They met at the Sūq al-Ahwāz. [244] It was said that he was a warrāq, who sold books and acted as a warrāq for the people of Qaṣr al-Waḍḍāh on the left bank. [245] Among his books there were:

The Created [the Qur’ān]; Names and Judgments (Al-Asmā’ wa-al-Aḥkām); The Imamate; Refutation of “The Striker” (Naqḍ al-Dāmigh); [246] Refutation of “The Emerald” (Naqḍ al-Zumurrud); Refutation of “Arousing Wisdom” (Naqḍ Ba‘th al-Ḥikmah); Refutation of “The Crown” (Naqḍ al-Tāj); Allegorical Interpretation of the Qur’ān (Mutaṣḥābihāt al-Qur’ān); Emergence of the World and Its Evidence (Ḥudūth al-‘Ālam wa-al-Adillah ‘Alayhā).


Abū al-Qāsim [al-Balkhī]

   He was Abū al-Qāsim ‘Abd Allāh ibn Aḥmad ibn Maḥmūd al-Balkhī, known as al-Ka‘bī. He was a scholar and dialectic theologian, the leader of the men of his period. He served as secretary to one of the generals, Naṣr ibn Aḥmad, and was acquainted with Aḥmad ibn Sahl [ibn Hāshim]. When Aḥmad ibn Sahl turned against Naṣr ibn Aḥmad, he lived at Nīsābūr. Then when he [Naṣr] gained control over Aḥmad, he took al-Balkhī along with a



243. This title is not mentioned with the books of either Abū al-Qāsim al-Balkhī or Aḥmad ibn Sahl al-Balkhī.


244. Sūq al-Ahwāz was probably a market street near Qaṣr al-Waḍḍāḥ, which was a palace a short distance southeast of the Round City of Baghdad; see Le Strange, Baghdad, pp. 58, 92, 97 map.


245. This man is a good example of a well-educated book dealer, who by selling manuscripts and stationery to the people at the palace was able to make enough money to write books of his own.


246. The books mentioned in this and the three following titles were written by the heretic Ibn al-Rāwandī.





group of men, whom he seized and kept in confinement. [247] When his [al-Balkhī’s] situation became known to ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā, the vizier, he was released from this predicarnent. This was during the vizierate of Ḥāmid ibn al-‘Abbās.


Al-Balkhī went to the session of Abū Aḥmad Yaḥyā ibn ‘Alī, whose sessions were attended by theologians coming together. [248] They elevated and exalted him [al-Balkhī] so that there was no one over whom he did not have authority. It happened that a Jew came in while some of them were theorizing about abrogation of the law (shar‘). When they reached a subject in their discussion about which they were passing judgment on Abū al-Qāsim [al-Balkhī], it was the Jew’s turn to speak. So Abū al-Qāsim said, “It is for you to speak.” The Jew then said to him, “What do you know about this?” Abū al-Qāsim replied to him, “Wait for this! Do you acknowledge that there is a theological session at Baghdād more important than this?” He [the Jew] said, “No.” Then he [Abū al-Qāsim] said, “Do you know of anyone among the theologians who does not attend it?” He said, “No.” He [Abū al-Qāsim] said, “Have you seen anybody among them who does not rise up for me and exalt me?” He said, “No.” So he [Abū al-Qāsim] said, “Do you see them doing this when I am absent?”


Al-Balkhī died on the first day of Sha‘ban [eighth Muslim month] during the year three hundred and nine. [249] Among his books there were:

The Treatises (Al-Maqālāt), in which he related the sources of questions and their answers; The Most Excellent and the Rare (Al-Ghurur wa-al-Nawādir); The Means of Demonstrating the Concealed with Evidence (Kayfīyat al-Istidlāl bi-al-Shāhid ‘alā al-Ghā’ib); Disputation (Al-Jadal), the Training of Those Engaged in It and Correction (Taṣṣīḥ) of Its Defects (‘Ilal); The Sunnah and al-Jamā‘ah; the large book of sessions;


247. See “Naṣr b. Aḥmad,” Enc. Islam, III, 871.


248. As Abū Aḥmad Yaḥyā ibn ‘Alī was a court favorite, he may have organized these sessions on theology at the court of the caliph, as many of the rulers liked to spend their leisure time in listening to learned discussions, as well as in hearing their slave girls sing. Compare the story which follows with Murtaḍā, p. 88.


249. The Tonk MS has 309 (A.D. 921/22), but Baghdādī, Khaṭīb-Ta’rīkh, Part IV, p. 384, has 319 (A.D. 931/32) which is probably correct. The rendering in Fück, ZDMG, New Ser., XV, No. 2 (1936), 298–321, corrects what seem to be errors in the Tonk MS.




the small book of sessions; Refutation of the Book of al-Khalīl [250] against Burghūth; the second book against Abū ‘Alī [al-Jubbā’ī] about Heaven; Questions of al-Khujandī, about how he disagreed with Abū ‘Alī [al-Jubbā’ī]; Confirmation of the Treatises of Abū al-Hudhayl (Ta’yīd Maqālāt Abī al-Hudhayl), about the atom. [251]


The Resembling (Al-Mudāhāh), against Burghūth; the large commentary on the Qur’ān; Qualities (Fuḍūl) (or Divisions [Fuṣūl]) of Public Speakers (al-Khuṭṭāb); against the man pretending to be a prophet in Khurāsān; The Ultimate in the Right (Al-Nihāyah fī al-Aṣlaḥ); against Abū ‘Alī [al-Jubbā’ī] and the refutation of him by al-Saymarī; Dialectic Theology among the Lower Classes (Al-Kalām fī al-Ummah), against Ibn Qutaybah; [252] Refutation of al-Rāzī, about divine knowledge (al-‘ilm al-illāhī).


Theologians Contemporary with [Abū al-Qāsim] al-Balkhī

   Abū Bakr al-Halaqānī.

   Abū Isḥāq al-Wāhibī.




   He was Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ‘Umar al-Ṣaymarī, from the people of al-Ṣaymarah, [253] and was counted among the Mu‘tazilah of al-Baṣrah because he claimed to have learned from Abū ‘Alī al-Jubbā’ī. After the death of Abū ‘Alī [about A.D. 916], the leadership culminated with him. He was of the same age as Abū ‘Alī, or close to it. He died during the year three hundred and fifteen [A.D. 927/28].


It was related about Abū ‘Alī that he said, “Our shaykh is Abū ‘Abd Allāh [al-Ṣaymarī], from whom the Shaykh Abū Sa‘īd al-Sīrafī learned the science of theology, and who was also the



250. This may be the al-Khalīl known as Ibn Jank.


251. The Tonk MS has al-ḥazz (“incision,” “notch”), but this word is very likely meant to be al-juz’ (“atom”), a subject in which the metaphysicians were interested.


252. This name is too carelessly written to be sure that it is correctly interpreted.


253. See Yāqūt, Geog., III, 442. On the margin of the Tonk MS at this point there is the note, “During the period of al-Balkhi among the theologians, Abū ‘Alī al-Jubbā’ī.”





teacher of Abū Bakr ibn al-Ikhshīd.” [254] Among his books there were:

Questions and Answers. He also wrote Refutation of the Book of Ibn al-Rāwandī about Ternperarnents (Innate Qualities, Al-Ṭabā’i’); Refutation of the Book of al-Balkhī  Known as “The Ultimate in the Right” (Kitāb al-Nihāyah fī al-Aṣlaḥ), against Abū ‘Alī al-Jubba’ī.



   Abū ‘Umar Muḥammad ibn ‘Umar ibn Sa‘īd al-Bāhilī al-Baṣrī belonged to the Bāhilah. [255] His birthplace was at al-Baṣrah, where there was for him a source of technical excellence in the science of theology, according to the school of thought of the scholars of al-Baṣrah.


He was a judge, whose session the theologians attended. It was said that Abū ‘Alī [al-Jubbā’ī] went to his session, and that because of the excellence of his recountings and the poignancy of his interpretation, the people and the theologians used to weep. Among his books there were:

Sublimity (I‘jāz) of the Qur’ān; The Sources, about oneness; Oneness, separate from “The Sources.”


Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā al-Munajjim

   Abū al-Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā ibn ‘Alī ibn Yaḥyā ibn Abī Manṣūr al-Munajjim was beautifully cultured and well acquainted with theology, about which he wrote books, in addition to those about other cultural subjects. We have dealt with him thoroughly in the accounts about the court companions. Among his books about theology there were:


Proofs of the Prophecy of Muḥammad, for Whom May There Be Peace; Oneness (Al-Tawḥīd) and a Refutation of the Mushabbihah.


I have read [what was written] in the handwriting of Abū Aḥmad Yaḥyā ibn ‘Alī [al-Munajjim], that Abū al-Qāsim al-Balkhī said:

After [the time of] Wāṣil ibn ‘Aṭā’, the leaders of the Mu‘tazilah who


254. As the Shaykh Abū Sa’id al-Sīrāfī was one of the principal teachers of the author of Al-Fihrist and was evidently associated with the heretical scholars, it is likely that al-Nadīm also had Mu‘tazilī tendencies, even if he was not officially a member of that sect, which had lost some of its popularity by the tenth century.


255. For this tribe, see “Bāhila,” Enc. Islam, I, 576; Qutaybah, Ma‘ārif, p. 39; Pellat, Le Milieu baṣrien, p. 186.




composed books and made known the the i‘tizāl were: [256] Abū al-Hudhayl, al-Naẓẓām, Mu‘ammar ibn ‘Abbād, Hishām al-Fūtī ibn ‘Amr, Bishr ibn al-Mu‘tamir, Thumāmah, al-Jāḥiẓ. Then after those: Bishr ibn Khālid, ‘Alī al-Aswārī, ‘Īsā ibn Sabīh, Ja‘far ibn Ḥarb, Ja‘far ibn al-Mubashshir, al-Qāsim al-Dimashqī, al-Iskāfī [Abū Ja‘far], ‘Isā ibn al-Haytham, Abū Shu‘ayb al-Ṣayrafī, al-Shaḥḥām, al-Adamī, Abū Zufar, [257] Muḥammad ibn Suwayd, Abū Mujālid, Abū al-Ṭayyib al-Balkhī, Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī al-Makkī, [258] Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Khayyāṭ, al-Shaṭawī, Muḥammad ibn Sa‘īd Nīsābūr, [259] Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb, al-Manānī, [260] al-Balkhī, [261] al-Ḥārith al-Warrāq, al-Ṣaymarī.


The Names of a Group of Theologians

It has not been confirmed whether they belonged to the Mu‘tazilah or the Murji’ah. They were:


Ḥumayd ibn Sa‘īd ibn Bakhtyār, the Theologian

   Among his books there were:

Creation of the Qur’ān; Superiority (Al-Faḍl), about refuting the Mushabbihah; Denial of the Formation of Matter from God (al-Tajsim ‘an Allāh); [262] Refutation of Yūsha‘ Bakht, Maṭrān Fāris; [263] Refutation of the Magians; Refutation of Adherents of the Dogma of Material Substances and Their Eternity (al-Ajrām wa-Azalīyatuhā); Ḥirrāt Ahl al-Falak; [264] Proofs of Change in the Ḥadīth (Ithbāt al-Taḥrif fī al-Ḥadīth); Correlation of the Sciences (Iḍāfat al-‘Ulūm); against the


256. Cf. this list of names with Fück, ZDMG, New Ser., XV, No. 2 (1936), 307–8.


257. This was very likely Abū Zufar al-Hudhayl ibn al-Hudhayl.


258. This might also have been the scholar Abū Zufar Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī al-Makkī.


259. Murtaḍā, p. 93, says that he was the imam of Nīsābūr.


260. This was probably a converted Manichaean, so that the name must be kept separate from the one which precedes it and which refers to a scholar of Muslim ancestry named Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb al-Jubbā’ī.


261. This name may indicate that Abū al-Qāsim al-Balkhī included his own name in this list of his. For other possibilities, see al-Balkhī in the Biog. Index.


262. Cf. Baghdādī (Seelye), p. 158 top.


263. The words “Maṭrān Fāris” are not correctly written in the Tonk MS, but they evidently refer to the metropolitan bishop named Yusha‘ Bakht; see Fück, ZDMG, New Ser., XV, No. 2 (1936). 308, 313.


264. Ḥīrrāt may be a plural form for “rain clouds,” or the word may be some other, such as ḥazzāt (“particular times” or “particular conditions”). Ahl al-falak almost certainly means “astronomers.”




Christians, with reference to ease, food, and drink in the hereafter (fī al-na‘im wa-al-akl wa-al-shurb fī al-ākhirah) and against all speaking in opposition to these things; The Theologians of the People of Islām (Mutakallimūn Ahl al-Islām); Answer of the Heretic of al-Baṣrah (Jawāb al-Mulḥid al-Baṣrī), Who Cursed the People of the Sects and Sought Islām; [265] How Some of the Muslims Made Innovations in the [Qur’ānic] Readings and Their Significations (Fīmā Aḥdath Ba‘d al-Muslimīn min al-Qirā’āt wa-Wujūhiha).


Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Karīm

   He was one of the theologians. Among his books there were:

The Created [the Qur’ān], against Burghūth; Knowledge (Al-Ma‘rifah).


Abū ‘Affān al-Raqqī

   His name was ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Muslim and he was one of the theologians. Among his books there were:

Against Burghūth, about the resemblances (al-musāwāh) between him and the heretics (al-mulḥidūn); the questions which arose between him and al-Iskafī in the session of Ibn Abī Da’ūd; Al-Tawallud, against al-Iskafī.


Al-Wāsiṭī [266]

   Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Zayd al-Wāsiṭī was one of the important and eminent theologians. He learned from Abū ‘Alī al-Jubbā’ī, to whom he was related. In his prime he had a strong voice [267] and many associates (pupils). It is said that he was one of the theologians of Baghdād, being counted among them, which is the truth, though he lived at al-Faṣīl. [268]



265. Fück, ZDMG, New Ser., XV, No. 2 (1936), 298–321, omits this title.


266. At this point the Fltigel text recommences, after omitting rnost of Chap. V, sect. 1. MS 1934 also starts at this point. The Tonk MS continues without a break, indicating that it must have been copied before the two halves of Al-Fihrist became separated.


267. Both the Tonk MS and MS 1934 have ‘ālī, indicating that the voice was “exalted” or “strong.”


268. See Yāqūt, Geog., IV, 431, l. 20, for a region near al-Rayy with this name. It may, however, refer to some now forgotten place near Baghdād.





He was one of the most lighthearted persons in God’s world and so he composed a poem in which he lampooned Nafṭuwayh, saying:

His intention is to see no man who is evil,

So let him refrain from seeing Nafṭuwayh,

Whom Allāh burns with half his name

And causes the rest to be calling to him. [269]

A refreshing remark of his about Nafṭuwayh was, “Whoever wishes to go the limit in ignorance, let him learn theology according to the school of al-Nāshī, [270] law according to the code of Da’ūd ibn ‘Alī, and grammar according to the system of Nafṭuwayh.” Then he went on to say, “Nafṭuwayh presents theology according to the school of al-Nāshī, law according to the code of Dā’ūd and he himself is Nafṭuwayh, so accordingly he is the consumation of ignorance.”


He died four years later than Abū ‘Alī [al-Jubbā’ī died], it is said in the year three hundred and six [A.D. 918/19]. Among his books there were:

Sublimity of the Qur’ān, about its order and composition; The Imamate, which was well done.


Among the Pupils (Aṣḥāb) of al-Wāsiṭī

   Abū al-‘Abbas . . . . [271] Among his books there was Refutation of the BookWill Is an Attribute of Being.” [272]



Ibn al-Ikhshīd

   He was Abū Bakr Aḥmad ibn ‘Alī ibn Ma‘jūr al-Ikhshād, [273] one of the Mu‘tazilah. He was honored, virtuous, and pious. He



269. The point of this poem is that nafṭ is “naphtha,” giving the idea of burning, while wayh signifies “come along.”


270. The Flügel edition of Al-Fihrist, p. 172, n. 6, says that this was al-Nāshī al-Akhbar.


271. Here there is a word inserted which is very likely confused with the word for “book” (kitāb) preceding the title at the end of the sentence.


272. This was a book written by al-Najjār; the Flügel edition gives the title clearly.


273. Both forms of spelling, Ikshid and Ikhshād, are used in connection with the scholar mentioned here. Brockelmann, Islamic Peoples, p. 159, says that al-Ikhshīd was an honorary title. Ṭabarī, Annales, Part III, pp. 2184, 2190, 2193, 2196, says Ibn al-Ikhshād was governor of Tarsus, A.D. 898–900.





owned an estate from which he derived his wealth, over half of its revenue going to learning and its scholars (people). He had a good literary style and was learned in Arabic and the law, writing a number of books about the law.


His house was by Sūq al-‘Aṭash, on a street known as Darb al-Ikhshād. [274] Because of his love of learning and his piety, he used to say to his estate agent, “Don’t tell me anything about the property, so as to embitter my last breath, for it does not enrich me [for the hereafter]. Let me be, that I may devote myself to learning and the life hereafter.”


Abū Bakr died on Sunday, the eighth day before the end of Sha‘bān [the eighth Muslim month], during the year three hundred and twenty-six [A.D. 937/38]. Among his books there were:

Knowledge, about the sources, which he did not finish; [275] The Beginner; [276] Transcription of the Qur’ān; Consensus of Opinion (Al-Ijmā‘); Refutation of al-Khālidī, about al-irjā‘; Abridgment of the “Commentary” of al-Ṭabarī. [277]



   He was Abū al-Ḥusayn ‘Abd al-Wāḥid ibn Muḥammad al- Ḥuṣaynī, one of the pupils (aṣḥāb) of Abū ‘Alī al-Jubbā’ī, from whom he learned. Among his books there were: -------------.


Among the Pupils of Ibn al-Ikhshīd

   Abū al-‘Alā’, Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā [al-Rummānī], Abū ‘Imrān ibn Rabāḥ, and Abū ‘Abd Allāh al-Ḥabashī. [278]



274. Sūq al-‘Aṭash was a shopping district near the Mukharrim Quarter of Baghdād on the East Side of the Tigris; see Le Strange, Baghdad, pp. 221-24. Darb al-Ikhshād was probably an alley nearby, where the family of the scholar lived. For the form of the name see preceding note. At this point there is an omission in MS 1934 up to the account of Ibn Rabāḥ (see n. 281).


275. The Tonk MS has al-ma‘rifah (“knowledge”). Flügel gives al-ma‘ūnah (“assistance”).


276. In reference to grammar, this would be translated The Subject.


277. See Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, in the Bibliography.


278. This final name is taken from the Tonk MS; Flügel gives al-Ḥunashī.





The Names of the Theological Books Which Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā Composed [279]

  He was al-Rummānī, and as this Abū al-Ḥasan has already been mentioned in the chapter on the grammarians and language students, we shall cite in this passage only the names of his books about theology. Among these there was the book -----------.


Among the Mu‘tazilah about whom we know nothing except his being mentioned there was:



Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Ayyāsh

   He was a Mu‘tazilī. Among his books there was Refutation of the Book of lbn Abī Bishr, [280] about Elucidation of the Proof.



Al-Ḥasan ibn Ayyūb, One of the Theologians

   Among his books there was a book addressed to his brother ‘Alī ibn Ayyūb — a refutation of the Christians, with an exposition of the corruption of their treatise (doctrine) and a confirmation of the prophecy.



Ibn Rabāḥ [281]

   Abū ‘Imrān Mūsā ibn Rabāḥ is a theologian of the school of thought of Abū ‘Alī al-Jubbā’ī. He studied under the direction of Abū Bakr Ibn al-Ikhshīd of al-Ṣaymarī and other theologians. It is said that he is living in our own time, in a city of Egypt, being over eighty years old. His birth was and among his books there are: ----------.



Ibn Shihāb

   Abū al-Ṭayyib Ibrāhīm ibn Muḥammad ibn Shihāb learned from al-Balkhī and al-Khayyāṭ, as well as from others in addition to them. He died after three hundred and fifty [A.D. 961/62] of old age. His birth was ---------- and among his books there was Sessions of the Legal Authorities and Their Controversies, nearly four hundred pages in length.



279. This was probably the Mu‘tazilī heretic ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā Abū al-Ḥasan al-Rummānī. He should not be confused with the great vizier, ‘Alī ibn ‘Isā Abū al-Ḥasan.


280. This was the name of the great theologian al-Ash‘arī, one of whose well-known books was Elucidation of the Proof (“Īḍāḥ al-Burhān”).


281. After a break (see n. 274) MS 1934 resumes the text, beginning with Ibn Rabāḥ.





Ibn al-Khallāl al-Qāḍī (the Judge)

   Abū ‘Umar Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥafṣ al-Khallāl came from al-Baṣrah, where he was born. He fell in with al-Ṣaymarī and Abū Bakr Ibn al-Ikhshīd, learning from them both. He was judge of the city of Ḥarrah, which is al-Ḥadīthah, later there being turned over to hm the judgeship of Takrīt, where he is up to the present time. [282] Among his books there were:

Sources; Allegorical Interpretation.


Abū Hāshim and His Pupils

   Abū Hāshim ‘Abd al-Salām ibn Muḥammad al-Jubbā’ī arrived at the City of Peace [Baghdād] during the year three hundred and fourteen [A.D. 926/27]. He was intelligent, of good understanding and with penetrating discernment. He was also industrious and capable in theology, defending it. He died during the year three hundred and twenty-one [A.D. 933]. Among his books there were:

The large compendium; the large book, Subjects (Abwāb); the small book, Subjects (Abwāb); the small compendium; Man; Compensation (Al-‘Iwaḍ) (or Accident [Al-‘Araḍ]); Military Questions; Refutation of Aristotle in connection with “De Generatione et Corruptione”;  Al-Ṭabā’i‘; Legal Interpretation.


Ibn Khallād al-Baṣrī

   Abū ‘Alī Muḥammad ibn --------- ibn Khallād was one of the pupils (aṣḥāb) of Abū Hāshim. Going to him at al-‘Askar, [283] he learned from him and became outstanding among his pupils.



Among Those Who Learned from Abū Hāshim, but Have No Books Which Are Known

   A man known as Qashūr, [284] whose name was Ibn Sahalwayh, surnamed Abū al-Qāsim, and ‘Abd Allāh ibn Khaṭṭāb, known as ‘‘The Camel [285] of ‘Ā’ishah.”



282. For al-Ḥadīthah and Takrīt, see Yāqūt, Geog., I, 861; II, 222; “Ḥadītha,” Enc. Islam, II, 194.


283. For several places with this name, see “al-‘Askar,” Enc. Islam, I, 488; Yāqūt, Geog., III, 675–77. The Flügel edition adds that he wrote a book entitled Sources (Al-Uṣūl).


284. Qashūr is a rnedicine and qushūr, another possibility, means “skins.”


285. The Tonk and 1934 MSS have maḥmal or ḥaml. Ḥaml means “embryo in the womb.” But jamal (“camel”), perhaps having some reference to the Battle of the Camel, seems the most likely word.





Al-Baṣrī, Known as al-Ju‘al

   He was Abū ‘Abd Allāh al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī --------- ibn Ibrāhīm, known as al-Kāghidī, [286] and was one of the people of al-Baṣrah, where he was born. His teacher was Abū al-Qāsim ibn Sahalwayh, nicknarned Qashūr. He belonged to the school of thought of Abū Hāshim, the leadership of whose associates (pupils) culminated with him during his lifetime. He was virtuous, a legal authority and a theologian, lofty in intelligence, exerting enlightened influence, and learned in his school of thought, disseminating mindfulness [of God] in the districts and cities, especially in Khurāsān.


He interpreted the law in accordance with the codes of al-‘Irāq, studying under Abū al-Ḥasan al-Karkhī. In this connection we shall mention his books on theology, and later we shall list his books about the law in the chapter on the legal authorities, if Allāh so wills.


He also studied under Abū Ja‘far al-Ṣaymarī al-’Abbādani, [287] known as ‘Sahak Lām.” [288] He was a pupil (associate) of Abū ‘Alī ibn Khallād and studied under Abū Hāshim ‘Abd al-Salām ibn Muḥammad. His birth was during the year three hundred and eight [A.D. 920/21] and he died in the City of Peace [Baghdād] in the year three hundred and sixty-nine [A.D. 979/80]. [289] Among his books there were:

Refutation of the Statement of [Ibn] al-Rāwandī that Substance Cannot Be Created from Nothing; also his rebuttal to the refutation of al-Razī, replying to the statement of al-Balkhī [290] — This was against al-Rāzī; Refutation of the Book of al-Rāzī, about [the idea that] it would be impossible (not fitting) for Almighty God to act after there was another agent of action; The Reply, concerning the two questions of the Shaykh Abū Muḥammad al-Rāmahurmuzī; statement [on the subject] that God Almighty exists and that there is nothing else besides Him, until He has created the created; The Faith; Confirmation; Knowledge (Al-Ma‘rifah).




286. Al-kāghidī or al-kāghidhī is “the paper worker.”


287. The Flügel version spells this name al-‘Abbādātī, apparently an error.


288. The nickname “Sahak Lām” means “Strong Smell,” given to him because he had a public latrine by his house; see Khallikān, III, 629.


289. Flügel gives an incorrect date; see Murtaḍā, pp. 105–6.


290. This was probably Abū al-Qāsim al-Balkhī.



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