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Christians and Christianity in the Sīra of Muḥammad

(6,368 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
The books on the Sīra (life and career) of Muḥammad feature a number of references to Christianity and Christian groups who came into contact, directly or indirectly, with the prophet of Islam. Such references include descriptions of encounters and disputations that Muḥammad had with Christians, sermons he delivered about Christianity, and letters that he sent to Christian rulers. Undoubtedly, there is a problem with the historicity of some or all of these encounters and stories in that no contemp…

Ibn ʿAsākir

(1,225 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū l-Qāsim ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥasan ibn Hibat Allāh Ibn ʿAsākir Date of Birth: 13 September 1105 Place of Birth: Damascus Date of Death: 25 January 1176 Place of Death: Damascus Biography Abū l-Qāsim ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥasan Ibn ʿAsākir is the most notable figure of the Sunnī ʿAsākir family, whose members occupied prestigious scholarly positions in Damascus for more than two centuries (11th-13th centuries). Ibn ʿAsākir was born in 1105. He started his pursuit of religious education at a very young age, accompanying his father and elder brother to the teaching circles …

Muways b. ʿImrān

(549 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū ʿImrān Muways b. ʿImrān was a Muʿtazilī scholar from Baṣra who flourished in the late second/eighth century and first half of the third/ninth. He studied with the theologian al-Naẓẓām (d. before 235/850), and was known for his close friendship with the littérateur al-Jāḥiẓ (d. 255/868). Several mediaeval sources give his first name, wrongly, as Mūsā, Muʾnis, or Yūnus. Muways was known for his legal theory concerning God’s delegation (tafwīḍ) to the scholars of the Muslim community, allowing them to determine by means of ijtihād (independent reasoning) the necessary laws and…
Date: 2019-11-11

al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī

(1,949 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū Saʿīd al-Ḥasan b. Yasār al-Baṣrī (21–110/624–728), famously known as al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī or al-Ḥasan b. Abī l-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī, was one of the most celebrated Successors (tābiʿūn) of the Companions of Muḥammad and enjoyed an acclaimed scholarly career and an even more remarkable posthumous legacy in Islamic scholarship. Al-Ḥasan was probably born in Medina. His mother was said to have been a maid to Umm Salama, one of Muḥammad’s widows. His father, who hailed from southern Iraq, was captured and sold into slavery at the time of the conquests…
Date: 2019-11-11

al-Faḍl b. al-Ḥubāb

(954 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū Khalīfa al-Faḍl b. al-Ḥubāb b. Muḥammad b. Shuʿayb al-Jumaḥī (206–305/821–917) was a well-known ḥadīth scholar and littérateur from Basra. He was renowned for his sense of humour and self-deprecation, and his company was often sought by governors and scholars, especially over meals. He loved poetry and is frequently cited in mediaeval books as having recited or transmitted many lines of poetry by pre-Islamic and early Islamic poets. He also developed and was known for speaking in rhymed prose (sajaʿ). According to some sources, al-Faḍl b. al-Ḥubāb was blind, but he pro…
Date: 2019-11-11

Abū Bishr Ḥawshab al-Thaqafī

(327 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū Bishr Ḥawshab b. Muslim al-Thaqafī al-Ṭayālisī (d. 131/749) was a traditionist and ascetic from Basra, a disciple of al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (d. 110/728), and a companion of the ascetic ʿAbd al-Wāḥid b. Zayd (d. after 150/767). Ḥawshab was a client (mawlā) of the famous Umayyad governor of Iraq, al-Ḥajjāj b. Yūsuf al-Thaqafī (d. 95/714), hence his nisba al-Thaqafī. Ḥawshab's profession was selling ṭaylasāns (scarf-like wraps worn around the head and neck) in the market of Basra, hence his other nisba, al-Ṭayālisī. He was also known as a storyteller (qāṣṣ), though he made a name for h…
Date: 2019-11-11

Aḥmad b. Ḥābiṭ

(698 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Aḥmad b. Ḥābiṭ (or Ḥāʾiṭ, or Khābiṭ) (d. 227–232/842–847) was a theologian from Basra, who is considered to have been a Muʿtazilī. He started his career as a student of the Muʿtazilī theologian al-Naẓẓām (d. before 235/850), but Ibn Ḥābiṭ's views on three issues distinguished—and distanced—him from his mentor and from mainstream Muʿtazilī theology. He asserted the divinity of Jesus (ʿĪsā) and the reincarnation of human and animal souls, and he held that animals, like humans, have prophets. Concerning the divinity of Jesus, Ibn Ḥābiṭ held that it was Jesus, not God, who cr…
Date: 2019-11-11

Abū Ḥafṣ al-Miṣrī

(276 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū Ḥafṣ al-Miṣrī (fl. fourth/tenth century), was a Muʿtazilī theologian. His full name is not known. Our knowledge of him is derived principally from a few Muʿtazilī sources and can be summarised as follows. He studied with the Muʿtazilī theologian Abū Bakr b. al-Ikhshīd (d. 326/938) in Baghdad. After that, he lived for some time in Basra, where he taught the views of the school of Ibn al-Ikhshīd; among his students there were Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Māzinī and Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Ḥabashī. The latter became…
Date: 2019-11-11

ʿAbdallāh b. ʿAwn

(400 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
ʿAbdallāh b. ʿAwn b. Arṭabān al-Muzanī (c. 66–151/686–768) was a prominent proto-Sunnī traditionist from Basra and is considered one of the founding fathers of Sunnī Islam. Reports suggest that he was born in the year 66/686, though the date might be later, given the many attempts in early Islam to push back a figure’s date of birth in order to validate his transmission of ḥadīth from individuals he otherwise could not have met. Ibn ʿAwn’s education began in his hometown of Basra, with notable scholars such as the semi-legendary al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (d. 110/728…
Date: 2019-11-11

Ibn ʿAsākir family

(2,048 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
The Ibn ʿAsākir family (Banū ʿAsākir) was prominent in mediaeval Damascus. It produced several notable Shāfiʿī scholars who occupied prestigious scholarly and judicial positions in Damascus and Syria and shaped intellectual and religious life there between the fifth/eleventh and eighth/fourteenth centuries. Even though each male member of the family was known by the name of Ibn ʿAsākir (along with an honorific peculiar to each), the reference when used on its own in mediaeval literature refers inva…
Date: 2019-11-11

Ibn al-Khallāl al-Baṣrī

(707 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū ʿUmar Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Ḥafṣ, known as Ibn al-Khallāl al-Baṣrī (b. before 300/912, d. after 377/988), was a Muʿtazilī scholar and judge. He was born in Basra, where he probably began his education in Muʿtazilī thought under the theologian Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-Ṣaymarī (d. 315/927). He then moved to Baghdad and became the disciple of Ibn al-Ikhshīd (d. 326/938), who was the leading figure of one of the branches of the Muʿtazila in the city that came to be known as the Ikhsīdid branch. In addition to theology, Ibn al-Khallāl studied Shāfiʿī law (fiqh) with Ibn al-Ikhshīd and became ch…
Date: 2019-11-11

ʿAmr b. ʿUbayd

(812 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū ʿUthman ʿAmr b. ʿUbayd b. Bāb (c. 80–144/699–761) was a traditionist and theologian who became famous as one of the founders of the Muʿtazilite school of theology. His family originated in the region of Kabul, in Afghanistan; his grandfather Bāb was captured there during the Islamic conquests and was relocated to Basra. ʿAmr's father worked as a weaver but also served in the Umayyad army in Iraq. ʿAmr followed his father in his profession as a weaver, and he joined the teaching circle of the cel…
Date: 2019-11-11

ʿAbbād b. Salmān

(939 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū Sahl ʿ Abbād b. Salmān (or Sulaymān) b. ʿAlī al-Ṣaymarī was a Muʿtazilī theologian who flourished in Basra in the third/ninth century. His nisba, al-Ṣaymarī, refers to his original home-town of Ṣaymara, near Khūzistān in the Jibāl region. ʿAbbād studied with Hishām al-Fuwaṭī (d. before 218/833), and his theology was part of a trend, started by his teacher, that was later marginalised in Muʿtazilī thought, especially that of Basra. His views can be reconstructed only on the basis of refutations of them in Sunnī and even some Muʿtazilī sources. ʿAbbād categorically rejected anthrop…
Date: 2019-11-11

Abū l-Hudhayl

(1,505 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Abū l-Hudhayl Muḥammad b. al-Hudhayl b. ʿUbaydallāh b. Makḥūl al-ʿAbdī al-ʿAllāf (c. 135–c. 227/752–842) was one of the most influential early Muʿtazilī theologians. He was born in Basra as a Persian mawlā (client) of the ʿAbd al-Qays clan and was introduced to Muʿtazilism as a student of several disciples of Wāṣil b. ʿAṭāʾ (d. 131/748), the founder of the Muʿtazilī movement. He may have also studied with his notable older contemporary Ḍirār b. ʿAmr (d. 200/815). During his lifetime, Abū l-Hudhayl was surpassed in popular as well as official appeal by several contempora…
Date: 2019-11-11

 Ta’rīkh madīnat Dimashq

(977 words)

Author(s): Mourad, Suleiman A.
Ta’rīkh DimashqTa’rīkhHistory of Damascus Ibn ʿAsākir Date: Between 1134 and 1176 Original Language: Arabic Description The parts of Ibn ʿAsākir’s Taʾrīkh that are relevant to Christian-Muslim relations are the following entries: ʿIsā ibn Maryam (Jesus), xlvii, pp. 347-524 (also edited by Mourad, Sīrat al-Sayyid al-Masīḥ); Yaḥyā ibn Zakariyya (John the Baptist), lxiv, pp. 168-218; Ḥawāriyyūn ʿIsā ibn Maryam (Disciples of Jesus), lxviii, pp. 55-71; and Maryam bint ʿImrān (Mary), lxx, pp. 75-122. In these entries one comes across the variety of Muslim opinions about t…