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 Kitāb ghurar al-adilla

(1,163 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Ghurar al-adillaThe finest of proofs Abū l-Ḥusayn al-Baṣrī Date: Between 1025 and 1044 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is no longer extant, though some idea of its contents can be gained from other works. It was written in response to criticisms leveled at the Taṣaffuḥ al-adilla, so it would have been written in Baghdad after this major work, and probably sometime towards the end of Abū l-Ḥusayn’s life, in the 1030s or early 1040s. Whether the Ghurar al-adilla was structured like the Taṣaffuḥ al-adilla is impossible to say. Some of its contents can be identified …

 Al-radd ʿalā ahl al-adyān

(207 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Refutation of the followers of the faiths Abū Zakkār Yaḥyā ibn Nuʿmān Date: early 9th c. Original Language: Arabic Description ʿAlī l-Ṭabarī mentions in his Kitāb al-dīn wa-l-dawla (ed. Mingana, p. 124) that Abū Zakkār's work included the point that no one who converted to Islam did so as a result of witnessing a miracle.  He also refers to 'an uncle of mine who was one of the learned and eloquent men among Christians' (pp. 44-45), surely the same person, arguing with respect to the claim that the Qurʾan's literary qualit…

 Risāla fī iftirāq al-milal fī l-tawḥīd wa-annahum majmūʿūn ʿalā l-tawḥīd wa-kull qad khālafa ṣāḥibahu

(314 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Epistle on the difference between the communities about divine oneness and that they all accept divine oneness even though they all disagree with each other Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī Date: Mid-9th c. Original Language: Arabic Description The work is lost. Its title, which is listed by Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 319, indicates that it was a demonstration of the underlying unity of religions despite the apparent disagreement between them. It very probably included a discussion about the Trinity and how this was at base an expression of d…

 Al-masā'il al-Baghdādiyyāt

(312 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Al-BaghdādiyyātBaghdad questions Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāʾī Date: Before 933, and if written after Abū Hāshim’s move to Baghdad late in his life, not much earlier Original Language: Arabic Description According to al-Juwaynī ( Al-shāmil fī uṣūl al-dīn, ed. A.S. al-Nashshār, F. Budayr ʿAwn and S. Muhammad Mukhtār, Alexandria, 1969, p. 471), this lost work consisted of a series of Questions in which views of the Baghdad school of the Muʿtazila were discussed. Extracts in later works show that many of these were concerned with difference…

 Radd al-Naṣārā

(101 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
‘Refutation of the Christians’ Al-Dimyāṭī Date: Unknown; before 1306 Original Language: Arabic Description The work has not survived, and is known only from Ḥajjī Khalīfa ( Kashf al-ẓunūn, 2 vols, Istanbul, 1941-43, col. 838). It probably presented at least some of the traditional Muslim arguments against Christian doctrines and the authenticity of the Bible, and may also have included arguments in favor of the prophethood of Muḥammad. Significance It is not possible to say what this was. Manuscripts - Editions & Translations - Studies - Keywords Chronological Category: 1300-1350

 Dalāʾil al-nubuwwa

(124 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Proofs of prophethood Abū Bakr ʿAbdallāh ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿUbayd ibn Abī l-Dunyā Date: Before 894 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is listed among Ibn Abī l-Dunyā’s works in MS Damascus, Dār al-Kutub al-Ẓāhiriyya – Majmūʿa 42, fols 57-59, and, based upon this, is mentioned by al-Munajjid, ‘ Muʿjam muṣannafāt Ibn Abī al-Dunyā’, p. 586. It would have been an example of the ‘proofs of prophethood’ genre, and it may have listed and commented on biblical proof verses and also refuted arguments from Christians. Significance It presumably employed similar arguments to thos…

List of Abbreviations

(549 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
ABAnalecta Bollandiana 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 Brockelmann, GAL — C. Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, 2 vols and 3 supplements, Leiden, 1937-49 BSOASBulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies BZByzantinische Zeitschrift CSCOCorpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium DOPDumbarton Oaks Papers EI2 — Encyclopaedia of…

Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdallāh al-Iskāfī

(403 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Al-Iskāfī Date of Birth: Unknown, probably mid-8th c. Place of Birth: Iskāf Date of Death: 854 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Al-Iskāfī’s name goes back to the town of Iskāf, between Baghdad and Wāsiṭ. His family originated in Samarqand. He was a Baghdad Muʿtazilī, and a follower of Jaʿfar ibn Ḥarb (d. 850), who encouraged him in his studies contrary to his parents’ wishes. He was greatly admired by the Caliph al-Muʿtaṣim (maybe for the ingenuity that is exemplified in his arguments against Christianity, as is sh…

ʿAbd al-Kāfī ibn Abī Yaʿqūb

(342 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū ʿAmmār ʿAbd al-Kāfī ibn Abī Yaʿqūb Yūsuf ibn Ismāʿīl ibn Yūsuf ibn Muḥammad al-Tanāwutī al-Wārglānī Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Tanāwut near Wārglān (Ouargla in present-day Algeria) Date of Death: Unknown; before 1174 Place of Death: Wārglān Biography ʿAbd al-Kāfī ibn Abī Yaʿqūb was born in a village of the Sahara oasis of Wārglān sometime in the later 11th or early 12th century. He studied there before moving to Tunis, where he continued to study for some years before returning home. In Wārglān his reputation for learning attracted students a…


(211 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad ibn Zayd (or Yazīd) al-Wāsiṭī Date of Birth: Unknown; probably mid 9th century Place of Birth: Wāsiṭ Date of Death: 918-19 Place of Death: Unknown; possibly al-Faṣīl Biography Almost nothing is known about al-Wāsiṭī apart from the information given by Ibn al-Nadīm, who identifies him as a student and relative of the leading Basran Muʿtazilī Abū ʿAlī l-Jubbāʾī (q.v.), dying four years after him. He settled at al-Faṣīl (which Dodge, p. 430, suggests may have been an outlying village of the capital) and wa…

 Kitāb ithbāt nubuwwat Muḥammad

(448 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Confirmation of the prophethood of Muḥammad Abū l-Ḥasan ibn al-Munajjim Date: Unknown, before 939 Original Language: Arabic Description Writing in the late 10th century, ʿAbd al-Jabbār (q.v.) ( Tathbīt dalāʾil al-nubuwwa, ed. ʿA-.K. ʿUthmān, Beirut, 1965, p. 352) mentions a work by Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā ibn al-Munajjim, together with works by Ibn Qutayba (q.v.), al-Wāsiṭī (q.v.) and al-Zuhayrī (q.v.), that was written in response to Q 21:105-7, in which a link can be made between earlier revelations, the Qurʾan and Muḥammad. The w…


(136 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū ʿAlī ʿUmar ibn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Date of Birth: Unknown; mid-13th century Place of Birth: Unknown; North Africa Date of Death: 1317 Place of Death: Tunis Biography Al-Sakūnī was a Mālikī jurist and theologian who was active in the Maghreb. He lived for much of his life in Tunis, where he probably died. He was known for a work on the Muʿtazilī Qur’an commentary of al-Zamakhsharī, and other works on orthodox Muslim belief. Primary Sources of Information Ḥajjī Khalīfa, Kashf al-ẓunūn, 2 vols, Istanbul, 1941-43, cols 485, 1482, 1483 Al-Baghdādī, Hadiyyat al-ʿārifīn. Asmāʾ al-muʾal…

 Maqāla fī l-radd ʿalā Afrāʾīm wa-Ibn Zurʿa fī l-ikhtilāf fī l-milal

(295 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Treatise in refutation of Ephraim and Ibn Zurʿa concerning the difference between religions ʿAlī ibn Riḍwān Date: Unknown; before about 1060 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is lost and is known only from the list of Ibn Riḍwān’s works in Ibn Abī ʿUṣaybiʿa, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, p. 566. It was written against two of Ibn Riḍwān’s contemporaries, the Jewish doctor, Afrāʾīm ibn al-Zaffān, who was his own pupil in Cairo ( ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, pp. 567-68), and the Baghdad Jacobite doctor, Abū ʿAlī ʿĪsā ibn Zurʿa (d. 1008) (q.v.), whose reputation and works he presumab…

Abū l-Ḥasan ibn al-Munajjim

(303 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā ibn ʿAlī ibn Yaḥyā ibn Abī Manṣūr ibn al-Munajjim al-Nadīm Date of Birth: 875 Place of Birth: Probably Baghdad Date of Death: 939 Place of Death: Probably Baghdad Biography Abū l-Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā was the son of Abū Aḥmad Yaḥyā ibn ʿAlī ibn al-Munajjim (855-912/13) and the grandson of Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn Yaḥyā (815-88) (q.v.), who may both have taken part in written exchanges with the Christians Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (q.v.) and Qusṭā ibn Lūqā (q.v.). Ibn al-Nadīm remarks on Abū l-Ḥasan Aḥmad’s refinement (which would be expected from a companion of …

The letter from the people of Cyprus

(451 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Biography Nothing is known about the person responsible for this letter apart from what the letter itself and the circumstances in which it was sent disclose. He was a Christian, and was based in Cyprus in the early 14th century when the letter was sent. However, he knew Arabic well and had intimate knowledge of the Qur’an, and in addition he knew the Arabic letter that Paul of Antioch, the Melkite bishop of Sidon (q.v.), had composed sometime around 1200, and was familiar with leading Muslim scholars in Damascus. His origins may therefore not have been on the island but somewhere in Syria. The l…

 Al-ibāna ʿan uṣūl al-diyāna

(296 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Al-ibāna ʿan uṣūl al-diyānaThe elucidation concerning the principles of religion Al-Masʿūdī Date: Unknown; before 943 Original Language: Arabic Description The work has not survived. Its title, which recalls the work of Abū l-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī from slightly earlier in the 10th century, suggests that it was an investigation into the true religion, and in turn a refutation of alternative forms. The references to it in the Murūj and Tanbīh bear this out. In Murūj, vi, pp. 23-24, al-Masʿūdī says that in this work he listed the disagreements between a number of Muslim gro…

 Al-aqwāl al-qawīma fī ḥukm al-naql min al-kutub al-qadīma

(1,173 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
‘Just words on the permissibility of quoting from the ancient books’ Al-Biqāʿī Date: 1475 Original Language: Arabic Description Al-Biqāʿī felt driven to write this defense as a result of the criticisms he was receiving about his use of the Bible in his Qur’an commentary (see Saleh, In defense of the Bible, pp. 24-33, for the complex of events that led up to the decision). He began it in Cairo in 1469 and continued to work on it in Damascus until its full publication in 1475. It comprises a brief preface and introduction, followed by eight chapt…

 Kitāb al-radd ʿalā l-Naṣārā

(85 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Refutation of the Christians Abū Mūsā ʿĪsā ibn Ṣubayḥ al-Murdār Date: early 9th century Original Language: Arabic Description This work is mentioned by Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 207. It presumably contained arguments similar to those in other Muslim works on this subject written at the time. Significance It may have contributed arguments to later works. Manuscripts - Editions & Translations - Studies - Keywords Chronological Category: 800-900 Dynasty/Ruling elite: Abbasids Genre & Source Type: Kalam, Refutations Muslims: Mutazilis David Thomas

Al-Qaffāl al-Shāshī

(298 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn Ismāʿīl al-Qaffāl al-Kabīr al-Shāshī Date of Birth: 903-4 Place of Birth: Tashkent (Shāsh) Date of Death: August 976 Place of Death: Tashkent Biography Abū Bakr al-Qaffāl was regarded as one of the leading exponents of Shāfiʿī jurisprudence of his day, and was known for his erudition in a range of scholarly disciplines. He travelled widely from his native Shāsh in search of knowledge, and as a young man he was a student of the great historian al-Ṭabarī (d. 923) (q.v.). After abandoning Muʿtazi…


(750 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Muhammad al-Qaysi Date of Birth: Unknown; mid-13th century Place of Birth: Unknown; possibly Tunis Date of Death: Unknown; shortly after 1310 Place of Death: Probably Tunis Biography Almost everything that is known about the figure of Muḥammad al-Qaysī is derived from the Arabic text and Aljamiado adaptations of his work, Kitāb miftāḥ al-dīn. This has been extensively researched by van Koningsveld and Wiegers, and what is said here relies heavily upon their findings. The Arabic text of al-Qaysī’s work is intimately connected with events that took place in the early 14th century in no…
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