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 Kitāb ʿalā Abī Qurra l-Naṣrānī

(155 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Against (Theodore) Abū Qurra the Christian Abū Mūsā ʿĪsā ibn Ṣubayḥ al-Murdār Date: Early 9th century Original Language: Arabic Description The work is mentioned by Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 207. It was a refutation of one or more works of Theodore Abū Qurra (q.v.), the leading early 9th c. Melkite theologian and bishop of Ḥarrān. If it was written after Abū Qurra's death, it would have appeared in the decade leading up to 841. Significance It shows the cogency and accessibility of Abū Qurra's arguments and responses to points made by Muslims, and may have served to pu…

 Bayān madhhab al-Naṣārā

(212 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
An explanation of the doctrine of the Christians Al-Ashʿarī Date: Unknown, between 932 and 935 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is lost, and its original title is unknown. All that is known is this brief description of it in a list of al-Ashʿarī’s late works by Ibn Fūrak, which Ibn ʿAsākir incorporated into his list ( Tabyīn, p. 135; McCarthy, Theology, p. 227, no. 84). As the reference indicates, it set out what were in all likelihood the main Christian teachings of the Trinity and Incarnation, possibly going into details about the differen…

 Risāla ilā baʿḍ aṣdiqā’ihi alladhīna bi-Ṣaydā min al-Muslimīn

(1,222 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
‘Letter to one of his Muslim friends from Sidon’; ‘Letter to a Muslim friend’ Paul of Antioch Date: Uncertain; about 1200 Original Language: Arabic Description Paul’s Letter to a Muslim friend is one of the most accomplished and disconcerting works from the history of Christian-Muslim relations that is known. Although it is quite short, comprising 24 pages in Khoury’s edition, and it has the appearance of being friendly and reasonable, beneath its irenic surface it reveals a logic that threatens to subvert the whole basis of Islam. In response to a request from an unnamed friend, …

 Kitāb rafʿ ʿĪsā, ʿalayhi al-salām

(238 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
The raising on high of Jesus, peace be upon him Abū l-Mundhir Hishām ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Sāʾib al-Kalbī Date: Before 819 or 821 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is not extant. It would have been concerned with Q 4:157-58, where it is stated that Jesus was not killed or crucified but that ‘God raised him up to himself’, rafaʿahu Allāh ilayhi. Like the works among which it is listed by Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 109, e.g. Kitāb Adam wa-wuldihi, ‘Adam and his children’, Kitāb ʿĀd al-ūlā wa-l-akhīra, ‘ʿĀd, the beginning and the end’, and Kitāb aṣḥāb al-kahf, ‘The companions of the …

Radd ʿalā l-Naṣārā

(98 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Unknown author Date of Birth: Unknown; mid or late 12th century Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown; mid-13th century Place of Death: Unknown; probably North Africa Biography Nothing is known about this author apart from the details divulged by the work associated with him – that he was active in Ifrīqiya in the mid-13th century. Primary Sources of Information - Secondary Sources of Information M. de Epalza, ‘Notes pour une histoire des polémiques anti-chrétiennes dans l’Occident musulman’, Arabica 18 (1971) 99-106, p. 105 Works on Christian-Muslim Relations [Ra…

 Kitāb fī l-nubuwwa

(264 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
About prophethood Abū l-Hudhayl Muḥammad ibn al-Hudhayl ibn ʿUbayd Allāh ibn Makḥūl al-ʿAbdī l-ʿAllāf Date: Early 9th century Original Language: Arabic Description The work is lost. It is mentioned only in passing by ʿAbd al-Jabbār (Tathbīt, ed. ʿA.K. ʿUthmān, Beirut, 1966, p. 511), together with works of this kind from other authors, including al-Jāḥiẓ (q.v.) and Muḥammad ibn Shabīb (q.v.), in the context of a discussion about miracles of Muḥammad. ʿAbd al-Jabbār refers simply to ‘their books which they composed…


(237 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
The explanation Ibn Khallād Date: Unknown; before about 950 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is lost. It was a commentary on Ibn Khallād’s own Kitāb al-uṣūl and, according to ʿAbd al-Jabbār in his Tathbīt (p. 198), like that earlier work it contained polemic ( al-masāʾil lahum wa-l-radd ʿalayhim) against the Christians. The Sharḥ was presumably noteworthy to the later Muʿtazilī because it contained more elaborate versions of the arguments from the work on which it was a commentary, and maybe also additional arguments borrowed from ot…

Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Sayyār ibn Hānī l-Naẓẓām

(518 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Al-Naẓẓām Date of Birth: Latter part of 8th c. Place of Birth: Basra Date of Death: 836 or 845 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Al-Naẓẓām was born in Basra and lived there until 818, when he was called to Baghdad by al-Maʾmūn. In Basra he is said to have studied under Hishām ibn al-Ḥakam, Abū l-Hudhayl (q.v.) and Ḍirār ibn ʿAmr (q.v.). He in turn was teacher of al-Jāḥiẓ, who regarded him as the most impressive theological and legal scholar of his day, and also probably of Muḥammad ibn Shabīb. Little is known about his…

 Shifāʾ al-ghalīl fī bayān mā waqaʿa fī l-Tawrāt wa-l-Injīl min al-tabdīl

(570 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Assuaging thirst in explanation of the alterations that have occurred in the Torah and Gospel Al-Juwāynī Date: Unknown, probably in the years before 1058 Original Language: Arabic Description The Shifāʾ itself gives no hint about the circumstances of its composition, though M. Allard suggests that a likely place would have been Baghdad, where debates between Muslims, Jews and Christians were frequent, and that the date would have been sometime between 1048, when al-Juwaynī probably arrived in Baghdad (Walker and Eissa, A guide to conclusive proofs, p. xxiii, narrow this down to…


(335 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
‘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; 5 (1979) 299-317; 6 (1980) 259-99; 7 (1981) 299-307; 10 (1984) 273-92; 13 (1987) 173-80; 15 (1989) 169-74 Biblioteca de al-Andalus             J. Lirola and J.M. Puerta (eds), Biblioteca de al-Andalus, Almería, 2004-6 BL             British Library BNF             Bibliothèque Nationale de France Brockelmann, GAL             C. Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, 2 vols and 3 supp…

Abū Bakr ʿAbdallāh ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿUbayd ibn Abī l-Dunyā

(280 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Ibn Abī l-Dunyā Date of Birth: 823 Place of Birth: Baghdad Date of Death: 894-95 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Ibn Abī l-Dunyā was known as a literary scholar and ascetic. He was tutor to the future caliphs al-Muʿtaḍid (r. 892-902) and al-Muqtafī (r. 902-908) as well as other ʿAbbasid princes, and was known for his pious life. He spoke out strongly in favor of upright living and against what he saw as moral evils.   He is credited with more than 100 works, among which Kitāb dhamm al-dunyā, 'Reproach of the world', and Kitāb al-taqwā, 'Piety', indicate the kind of interest that might l…

Ibn Mattawayh

(314 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan ibn Aḥmad ibn Mattawayh Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown, possibly mid 11th century Place of Death: Rayy Biography Little is known about Ibn Mattawayh’s life, except that he was a student of ʿAbd al-Jabbār (d. 1025) (q.v.) in Rayy, and disseminated his master’s teachings. His position towards the end in lists of ʿAbd al-Jabbār’s students suggests he was one of the youngest, but there does not appear to be ancient support for the date of his death, given as 1075 by Houben in his edition of the Majmūʿ, and as 1076 by ʿUthmān (on these…

 Kitāb ʿalā l-Naṣārā fī l-naʿīm wa-l-akl wa-l-shurb fī l-ākhira wa ʿalā jamīʿ man qāla bi-ḍiddi dhālika

(172 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Against the Christians on felicity and eating and drinking in the hereafter, and against whoever teaches in opposition to this Ḥumayd ibn Saʿīd ibn Bakhtiyār Date: Mid-9th c. Original Language: Arabic Description The work is mentioned by Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, p. 220 (margin). It was evidently a defense of the Islamic view of paradise as a place of sensory pleasures in response to Christian attacks, such as can be found in the near-contemporary Syriac Legend of Sergius Baḥīrā (q.v.) and the Book of Treasures by Job of Edessa (q.v.), in which it is argued on grounds of physical…

 Al-Radd ʿalā l-Naṣārā

(1,241 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Refutation of the Christians Abū ʿUthmān ʿAmr ibn Baḥr al-Fuqaymī l-Jāḥiẓ Date: mid-9th c., possibly before 847 Original Language: Arabic Description This work is usually referred to by later authors as simply al-Radd ʿalā l-Naṣārā. Al-Jāḥiẓ himself once refers to it as kitābunā ʿalā l-Naṣārā ( Kitāb al-ḥayawān, ed. Hārūn, iv, p. 28), but he also refers to kitābī ʿalā l-Naṣārā wa-l-Yahūd ( Kitāb al-ḥayawān, i, p. 9). These both appear to be descriptions rather than titles, and the latter can plausibly be taken as an account of the scathing criticisms of both…

 Maqāla fī baʿth nubuwwa Muḥammad min al-Tawrāt wa-l-falsafa

(256 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Treatise on the dispatch of the prophetic mission of Muḥammad from the Torah and philosophy ʿAlī ibn Riḍwān Date: Unknown; before about 1060 Original Language: Arabic Description The work is lost, and is known only from Ibn Abī Usaybiʿa’s list of ʿAlī’s works ( ʿUyūn al-anbaʾ, p. 567). Its title indicates that it was an apology for the prophethood of Muḥammad, and thus an example of dalāʾil al-nubuwwa works, though with the particular feature of philosophical arguments in addition to the traditional biblical proof-texts. Since the latter came only from the Tora…

 Kitāb al-tamhīd;

(961 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Kitāb al-tamhīd fī l-radd ‘alā l-Mulḥida wa-l-Mu‘aṭṭila wa-l-Rāfiḍa wa-l-Khawārij wa-l-Mu‘tazila; Kitāb fīhi tamhīd al-dalā’il wa-talkhīṣ al-awā’il; Kitāb tamhīd al-awā’il wa-talkhīṣ al-dalā’il The Introduction Al-Bāqillānī Date: Before 975 Original Language: Arabic Description At the beginning of the work al-Bāqillānī indicates that he wrote the Kitāb al-tamhīd at the request of an amīr, though he does not name him. Abū Faḍl ʿĪyāḍ says that this was ʿAḍūḍ al-Dawla, and that al-Bāqillānī wrote the work for the amīr’s son, who was his tutee (in Tamhīd, ed. al-Khuḍayrī and …

 Al-radd ʿalā l-mutanaṣṣir

(178 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
‘Refutation of the convert to Christianity’ Ibn ʿAbd al-Rafīʿ Date: Unknown; before 1333 Original Language: Arabic Description The work has not survived, and is only known from a passing reference in the 16th-century author al-Zarkashī’s Taʾrīkh al-dawlatayn, p. 57 (in the 1966 edition, p. 70, the title is given as Al-radd ʿalā l-muntaṣir, ‘Refutation of the victorious one’, though this is presumably a misprint). Who this convert was, and whether he was an individual or a representative of a whole group of former Muslims, cannot be ascertained. The book may …

Ibn al-Rifʿa

(156 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Najm al-Dīn Abū l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Rifʿa Date of Birth: 1247 Place of Birth: Cairo Date of Death: 1310 Place of Death: Cairo Biography Ibn al-Rifʿa was a leading Shāfiʿī jurist in Mamluk Cairo, acknowledged for his unrivalled learning in Hadith and fiqh by, among others, his student Taqī l-Dīn al-Subkī (q.v.), father of the historian of the Shāfiʿī law school, Tāj al-Dīn al-Subkī. He is known mainly for his commentaries on earlier law codes. Primary Sources of Information Al-Subkī, Ṭabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya, 6 vols in 3, Cairo, 1906, v, p. 178 Ibn Ḥajar al-Asqalānī, Al-durar al…

 Kitāb al-futūḥ al-kabīr wa-l-ridda

(292 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Kitāb al-ridda wa-l-futūḥThe Great book of conquests and apostasy wars Sayf ibn ʿUmar Date: Possibly late 8th c. Original Language: Arabic Description In the section on the assassination of the Caliph ʿUthmān, the work contains a brief account, on the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās, of the way in which Paul corrupted Christian doctrines by persuading three of his followers, Yaʿqūb, Nasṭūr and Malkūn, of the divinity of Jesus, and sending them into disagreement over the nature of God. Only al-Muʾmin, 'the believer', resisted…

Saʿīd ibn Ḥasan al-Iskandarānī

(252 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Biography Saʿīd ibn Ḥasan was originally a Jew of the Alexandrian community. He converted to Islam in May 1298 as a result of a dramatic recovery from illness (Weston, ‘The Kitāb masālik an-naẓar’, pp. 379-80). He grew intolerant of Judaism and Christianity, and joined in the calls being made at various levels of Egyptian society for all synagogues and churches to be closed, and for those built since the coming of Islam to be destroyed. The evidence from Masālik al-naẓar is that Saʿīd had no particularly thorough education, not even in his former faith, and he was no exper…
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