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Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā Abū Muḥammad al-Bajalī

(526 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Kūfa Date of Death: 825 Place of Death: Medina Biography Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā was remembered as an agent and defender of the Shīʿī Imamate against the claims of the Sunnī caliphs and their cohorts; as a secretary for encounters between Imāms and various interlocutors; and as a respected companion of Imāms, particularly ʿAlī l-Riḍā, and ḥadīth transmitter in the Shīʿī tradition. It is primarily the ḥadīth sayings transmitted in his name that are remembered by historians and authors. The biographical references to Ṣafwān’s life do n…

An anonymous treatise about the excellences of ʿAlī

(84 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
Unknown author Date of Birth: Possibly 14th century Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Possibly 14th century Place of Death: Unknown; possibly Yemen Biography Nothing is known about the author of this treatise, though it can be inferred that he was a Shīʿī and was active in Yemen in the 14th century. Primary Sources of Information Secondary Sources of Information Works on Christian-Muslim Relations An anonymous treatise about the excellences of ʿAlī David Bertaina

 An anonymous treatise about the excellences of ʿAlī

(1,180 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
- An anonymous treatise about the excellences of ʿAlī Date: Probably 14th century Original Language: Arabic Description This treatise consists of a collection of historical reports ( akhbār) about the excellences of ʿAlī, and forms the second part of the 14th-century Yemeni author Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan al-Daylamī’s Irshād al-qulūb fī l-mawāʿiẓ wa-l-ḥukm (‘Guidance of hearts through exhortations and wisdom’). The book as a whole is composed of two volumes, and there is some debate about the authenticity of the second, which is dedicated to the vi…

Unknown author

(170 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
The Debate of Theodore Abū Qurra Date of Birth: Unknown, early 9th c.? Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown, late 9th c.? Place of Death: Unknown Biography The identity of the author or redactor of a text purporting to be the account of a debate between Theodore Abū Qurra (q.v.) and Muslim scholars before the Caliph al-Maʾmūn (q.v.) is unknown. Whether such a debate ever in fact took place is a matter of dispute (see below). It can be suggested that a 9th-century Melkite Christian, probably a monk or cleric, composed a dialogue that had reference to an actual historic…

Elias of Nisibis

(2,106 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
Elias of Nisibis (b. 364/974–5, d. 438/1046–7) was the most significant theologian writing in Christian Arabic during the fifth/eleventh century. He served as metropolitan archbishop of Nisibis (present-day Nusaybin, Turkey) for the East Syriac (“Nestorian”) Church of the East from 399/1008 to 438/1046. He was born in Shīnāyā (hence his nickname Bar Shīnāyā), near the Tigris, south of the Great Zab River. He was ordained a priest in 384/994 by Yuḥannā b. ʿĪsā (d. 401–2/1011), a bishop who would la…
Date: 2020-09-16

Chapter 3. Encounter and inquiry. Trajectories of interaction

(7,537 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
  Introduction In the 9th century, a prominent Muslim scholar from Baghdad named Ibn Abī l-Dunyā (d. 894/5) edited and published a work containing 24 aphorisms that recounted Muslim inquiries addressed to Christian monks regarding the spiritual life. In one report, a group of Muslims noticed a monk walking on a mountain. They asked him where he was going, to which he replied that he was searching for the good life. The Muslim party suggested that he had left behind the good life in the city, with it…

 Mujādalat Abī Qurra maʿa l-mutakallimīn al-muslimīn fī majlis al-khalīfa l-Maʾmūn

(2,839 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
Mujādalat Abī QurraThe Debate of Abū Qurra with Muslim scholars at the court of the Caliph al-Maʾmūn, The Debate of Abū Qurra Unknown author Date: Unknown; after 829 Original Language: Arabic Description The text of a disputation between Theodore Abū Qurra (q.v.) and Muslim scholars before the ʿAbbasid Caliph al-Maʾmūn is preserved in at least 31 manuscripts in two different recensions, one Melkite and one Syrian Orthodox. Since Theodore Abū Qurra was the Melkite Bishop of Ḥarrān, it would follow that the Melkite recension is …

 Jawāb al-Riḍā ʿan suʾāl Abī Qurra ṣāḥib al-jāthlīq

(390 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
Al-Riḍā’s reply to the question of Abū Qurra, companion of the patriarch Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā Abū Muḥammad al-Bajalī Date: 817-825 Original Language: Arabic Description The original title, if there was one, and the length of the full work are unknown. Mentioned as a ḥadīth attributed to Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā, this page-long text is preserved in the ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā by Ibn Bābawayh al-Qummī (d. 991/2). The content includes a short discussion between the Imām ʿAlī al-Riḍā (d. 818) and a friend of the patriarch, a Christian named John (Yuḥannā) Abū Qurra. Abū Qurra asks Ṣafwān to introduce hi…

 Kitāb al-Ṣafwānī

(476 words)

Author(s): Bertaina, David
The Book of Ṣafwān’ Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā Abū Muḥammad al-Bajalī Date: 817-25 Original Language: Arabic Description A brief portion from the work called Kitāb al-Ṣafwānī is preserved in al-Majlisī’s, Biḥār al-anwār (‘Oceans of lights’) from Ibn Shahrāshūb’s (d. 1192) Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib. It is a paragraph-long discussion between the Imām ʿAlī l-Riḍā and a Christian named Ibn Qurra. The title is ambiguous. It may refer generically to a work of Ṣafwān ibn Yaḥyā, since he is named as the source for several other discussions in the same chapter in al-Majlisī…