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 Dalā’il al-nubuwwa

(305 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Proofs of prophethood Al-Wāsiṭī Date: Unknown, before 919 Original Language: Arabic Description The only reference to this work is given by ʿAbd al-Jabbār, Tathbīt, pp. 352-53. He names al-Wāsiṭī among others who wrote to expound and defend the prophethood of Muḥammad by adducing references from books of the Bible, though he does not give actual titles. He explains that al-Wāsiṭī and the other authors, among them Ibn Qutayba (q.v.), Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā ibn al-Munajjim (q.v.) and al-Zuhayrī (q.v.), wrote in response to Q 2…

 Ḥujaj al-milla l-Ḥanīfiyya wa-jawāb kull suʾāl

(417 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
‘Proofs for the Ḥanīfī community and an answer to every question’ Ḥujaj al-milla l-Ḥanīfiyya wa-jawāb kull suʾāl Date: 1455 Original Language: Arabic Description While not excessively long, at 63 folios Ḥujaj al-milla is not insubstantial, though according to Fritsch, Islam und Christentum, pp. 36-38, it is of questionable quality because it repeats many familiar issues and themes from earlier times. A note indicates that it was written in 1455 for Mehmed II, only two years after he had conquered Constantinople. The work comprises three parts, in the first of which Christia…

 Legal judgement

(279 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Unnamed work on Muslims acting as witnesses to dhimmī marriages Ibn ʿAbd al-Rafīʿ Date: Unknown; before 1333 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is only known from a brief mention by al-Zarkashī, Taʾrīkh al-dawlatayn, p. 56. He details the circumstances in which it was written as follows. Ibn ʿAbd al-Rafīʿ was in competition with Abū ʿAlī ʿUmar al-Hāshimī (q.v.), the judge in charge of the administration of marriage law in Tunis, over which of them was senior. When the latter sanctioned the practice of Muslims acting as witnesses …

 Al-muḥīṭ bi-l-taklīf

(454 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
The comprehensive work on the [divine] imposition ʿAbd al-Jabbār Date: Between 990 and 1025 Original Language: Arabic Description This work, which postdated the Mughnī and was effectively an epitome of it, was framed as a digest of what was enjoined (or 'imposed') by God as necessary for a believer to know. It has not survived intact, though parts are accessible in fragmentary form, preserved in Arabic and Hebrew characters (see Schmidtke, pp. 396-406). It forms the basis of Ibn Mattawayh's Kitāb al-majmūʿ fī l-muḥīṭ bi-l-taklīf, ‘The comprehensive, on the all-embracing concern…

Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Isḥāq ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Bishr al-Ḥarbī

(211 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Ibrāhīm ibn Isḥāq al-Ḥarbī Date of Birth: 811 Place of Birth: Merv Date of Death: 898 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Al-Khāṭib al-Baghdādī and Ibn al-Qifṭī report al-Ḥarbī recalling that most of his maternal uncles were Christians. He moved from his home town to Baghdad, and there he was a student of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal. Like his teacher, he was an opponent of Muʿtazilī doctrines, particularly the created-ness of the Qurʾān. He was known as a philologist and collector of Hadith, and in his personal life as a man of piety and forbearance. Among al-Ḥarbī’s works are 24 collections of ḥadī…

 Kitāb al-milal wa-l-niḥal

(1,243 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Religions and sects Al-Shahrastānī Date: Unknown; before 1153 Original Language: Arabic Description The Kitāb al-milal wa-l-niḥal is a comprehensive survey of the Muslim and non-Muslim religious and intellectual groupings known in al-Shahrastānī’s time. It is a definitive example of Muslim heresiography, setting the groups and sects’ teachings in hierarchical order to show how far they conform to the fundamental principles of orthodoxy or, in the majority of cases, fail to do so. The Milal is clearly a work of al-Shahrastānī’s maturity, though an exact date cannot be…


(1,824 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Masʿūdī Date of Birth: Unknown; probably before 893 Place of Birth: Baghdad Date of Death: September 956 Place of Death: Cairo Biography Despite the continuing popularity of his Murūj al-dhahab, little is known about al-Masʿūdī’s life apart from the information found in his own surviving works, Murūj al-dhahab itself and the later Tanbīh wa-ishrāf. He was born in Baghdad, sometime just before about 893 according to intimations in the latter work (the exact date is not given). He studied with many leading authorities, i…

 Al-radd ʿalā al-Naṣārā

(298 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Refutation of the Christians Al-Qaḥṭabī Date: Unknown; before about 940 Original Language: Arabic Description All that has survived from this work is a list of the names of 60 Christian sects, as given by Ibn al-Nadīm ( Fihrist, p. 405), who also supplies its generic title. It is unclear whether al-Qaḥṭabī  went on to describe each sect, in the way that al-Nāshiʾ al-Akbar (q.v.) does in his work from the same period, or whether he merely listed the names as part of a general description of Christianity that may have focused on teachings or some major sects. Van Ess ( Häresiographie, pp. 81-83)…


(1,486 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Christian-Muslim Relations, a Bibliographical History 2 ( CMR 2) is the second volume of a general history of relations between Christians and Muslims as this is recorded in written sources.  Volume 1 covers the years 600 to 900, this volume carries the history from 900 to 1150, volume 3 takes it on to 1200, and volume 4, which is currently in preparation, takes it further from 1200 to 1500.  It is hoped to continue the history through the five hundred years from 1500 to 2000 in further volumes in the …


(849 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn Ismāʿīl ibn Isḥāq al-Ashʿarī Date of Birth: 873 Place of Birth: Basra Date of Death: 935 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Al-Ashʿarī was a descendant of the leading Companion of the Prophet, Abū Mūsā l-Ashʿarī. Born in Basra, he became a student of Abū ʿAlī l-Jubbāʾī (q.v.), the leader of the Basra Muʿtazila in the later 9th century, and followed his teacher’s intellectual lead throughout his early life. But then, at the age of about 40 according to the accounts, he had a decisive change of heart; he turned against Muʿtazilī princip…

 Kitāb al-majmūʿ fī l-muḥīṭ bi-l-taklīf

(688 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
The comprehensive, on the All-embracing concerning the [divine] imposition Ibn Mattawayh Date: Unknown, possibly early 11th century Original Language: Arabic Description The Majmūʿ is a commentary on ʿAbd al-Jabbār’s Al-muḥīṭ bi-l-taklīf, which probably dates from after 990, since it is not mentioned in the list of completed works in the Mughnī, which was finished in that year. This suggests that Ibn Mattawayh’s commentary is likely to have been written sometime in the early 11th century. Like the Mughnī, the Muḥīṭ is a systematic presentation of doctrine essentially struc…


(232 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Zakariyyā Yaḥyā ibn Ibrāhīm ibn ʿUmar al-Raqilī Date of Birth: Unknown; probably mid-14th century Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: 1405 Place of Death: Unknown Biography Little is known about Abū Zakariyyā Yaḥyā l-Raqilī, whose laqab is also given as al-Raqīlī and al-Rāqilī. He came either from Spain or Morocco, and probably not long before 1360 converted from Judaism to Islam. In typical manner, he then wrote against his former coreligionists. Al-Raqilī is best known for his rejection of Judaism, Taʿyīd al-milla (‘Confirmation of the community’), which he wrote in 1…

Ibn Jamāʿa

(266 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Badr al-Dīn Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad ibn Jamāʿa Date of Birth: 1241 Place of Birth: Ḥamā, Syria Date of Death: 1333 Place of Death: Cairo Biography Ibn Jamāʿa was one of the most distinguished Shāfiʿī jurists of his time. He served as chief qāḍī in both Damascus and Cairo, and established his family as a leading power in legal circles in Mamluk society. He distinguished himself so much as a scholar that in mid-life he was appointed imām of the al-Aqṣā mosque in Jerusalem, and in 1288 qāḍī of Jerusalem. Then in 1291 he was called to Cairo as grand qāḍī and head of the Sufi fraternities. Changes …

List of Abbreviations

(743 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
AB —  Analecta Bollandiana ʿAbd al-Jabbār Tathbīt —  ʿAbd al-Jabbār,  Tathbīt dalāʾil al-nubuwwa, ed. ʿA.-K. ʿUthmān, 2 vols, Beirut, 1966 Assemani,  BO — J. Assemani,  Bibliotheca orientalis clementino-vaticana, 3 vols, Rome, 1719-28 Baumstark,  GSL — A. Baumstark,  Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, Bonn, 1922 BHG — F. Halkin (ed.),  Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca, Brussels, 1957 ‘Bibliographie’ — R. Caspar et al., ‘Bibliographie du dialogue islamo-chrétien’,  Islamochristiana 1 (1975) 124-81; 2 (1976) 187-249; 3 (1977) 255-86; 4 (1978) 247-67; …

 Kitāb al-radd ʿalā ahl al-adyān

(104 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Refutation of the followers of the religions Abū l-Hudhayl Muḥammad ibn al-Hudhayl ibn ʿUbayd Allāh ibn Makḥūl al-ʿAbdī l-ʿAllāf Date: Early 9th century Original Language: Arabic Description It is mentioned by Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 204. It was presumably a general refutation of non-Muslim religions, including Christianity. Significance Given Abū l-Hudhayl’s stature, it may have contained original arguments, as well as stock points from contemporary polemic. Manuscripts - Editions & Translations - Studies - Keywords Chronological Category: 800-900 Dynasty/Ruling elite: A…

Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Baṣrī

(545 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī ibn Ibrāhīm al-Baṣrī, al-Khāghidhī, al-Juʿal Date of Birth: Unknown, probably early 10th century (dates ranging from 902 to 921 are given) Place of Birth: Basra Date of Death: 19 June, 980 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Abū ʿAbdallāh was born in Basra sometime early in the 10th century. In his youth he came under the influence of Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāʾī (d. 934) (q.v.), the leader of the Basra school of the Muʿtazila, and Abū Hāshim’s pupil Ibn Khallād (q.v.), who was his own teacher in Muʿtazilī theology. He mo…


(564 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Maʿālī ʿAbd al-Malik ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn Yūsuf al-Juwāynī, Imām al-Ḥaramayn Date of Birth: 17 February 1028 Place of Birth: Bushtanikān near Nīshāpūr Date of Death: 20 August 1085 Place of Death: Bushtanikān Biography Al-Juwaynī studied under his own father, and when the latter died in 1046-47 he took his place as teacher. But he was forced to leave Nīshāpūr after a few years to escape the Seljuk vizier’s hostility towards Shāfiʿīs and Ashʿarīs. For 15 years between about 1048 and 1063 he moved from place to place, including…

 Kitāb al-radd ʿalā l-Naṣārā

(130 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Kitāb al-radd ʿalā l-NaṣārāRefutation of the Christians’ Abū ʿAmr Ḍirār ibn ʿAmr al-Ghaṭafānī l-Kūfī Date: mid to late 8th c. Original Language: Arabic Description The work is lost, and is known only from Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 215. It would have been an attack on one or more of the Christian beliefs as Muslims understood them. Given Ḍirār's concerns about the being of God, it possibly included a demonstration that the Trinity, with its implication of multiplicity in the Godhead, cannot be defended in reason. Significance It may have been one of the earliest Muslim theological…

 Kitāb darak al-bughyā fī waṣf al-adyān wa-l-ʿibadāt

(239 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
The attainment of desire in description of the religions and religious observances Al-Musabbiḥī Date: Unknown; before 1030 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is lost. It is mentioned by Ibn Khallikān, Wafayāt al-aʿyān, iv, p. 378, who says that it comprised a substantial 3,500 pages. Its title indicates that it aimed to provide exhaustive accounts of the religions known to its author, and so it must have included the major Christian sects known in the Islamic world – the Melkites, Jacobites and Nestorians – as well…


(598 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn al-Ṭayyib ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Bāqillānī Date of Birth: Unknown, about 941-42 Place of Birth: Basra Date of Death: 5 June 1013 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Although the date of al-Bāqillānī’s birth is not known, from details of his later life it is possible to say that he was probably born just after 940 (Allard, Le problème des attributs divins, p. 291). He studied under scholars who had been students of al-Ashʿarī (q.v.), and the intellectual promise he showed brought him to the attention of the Būyid amīr ʿAḍud al-Dawla, who att…
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