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 Kitāb al-awsaṭ fī l-maqālāt

(715 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Fī l-maqālātThe middle way among the teachings, On the teachings Al-Nāshiʾ al-Akbar Date: Probably before 893 Original Language: Arabic Description The work has not survived intact, but has come down as a series of excerpts preserved by the 13th-century Coptic author Abū l-Faḍāʾil al-Ṣafī ibn al-ʿAssāl from a copy of the work made in 923 by Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī (q.v.). Since Yaḥyā lived in Baghdad and would have been aware of authors active there rather than as far away as Egypt, it is likely that the work was written before 893 while al-…

 Risāla fī l-radd ʿalā l-Naṣārā

(526 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Letter of refutation against the Christians Ibn Jazla Date: Unknown, but soon after 1074 Original Language: Arabic Description The letter is lost. According to a description given by Ibn Khallikān ( Wafayāt, v, p. 310), who says he had read it and thought it an excellent work, the letter contained praise of Islam and criticism of both Christianity and Judaism. In particular, it presented evidence for the truth of Islam, and predictions from the Torah and Gospel for the sending of Muḥammad, which Jews and Christians hid and refused to bring to light. Arguments of this kind, apparently ba…

Mānkdīm Shashdīw

(335 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Ḥusayn Aḥmad ibn Abī Hāshim al-Ḥusaynī l-Qazwīnī, Mānkdīm (also vocalized as Mānkadīm, Mānkedīm and Mānakdīm) Shashdīw Date of Birth: Unknown; latter part of 10th century Place of Birth: Qazwīn, possibly Lanjā Date of Death: 1034 Place of Death: Rayy Biography Born in the area of Qazwīn (he is called al-Qazwīnī in some biographical sources), Mānkdīm Shashdīw traced his lineage back to the Imām Ḥusayn. He was a follower in Lanjā of the Qāsimī Zaydī Imām Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Muʾayyad bi-llāh (d. 1020), who was a pupil of ʿAbd al-…

Abū ʿAmr Ḍirār ibn ʿAmr al-Ghaṭafānī l-Kūfī

(689 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Ḍirār ibn ʿAmr Date of Birth: unknown, c. 730 Place of Birth: possibly Kūfa Date of Death: unknown, c. 800 Place of Death: possibly Basra Biography Ḍirār does not figure prominently in biographical works, and little is known for certain about his life. He is associated with scholars who flourished in the late 8th century and is identified among the participants in a debate before Yaḥyā l-Barmakī in the reign of Hārūn al-Rashīd. His date of death can therefore be given roughly as 800, and since he is said to have lived to about 70, he was probably …

Abū Dāwūd Sulaymān ibn al-Ashʿath al-Sijistānī

(217 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Dāwūd al-Sijistānī Date of Birth: 817 Place of Birth: Sijistān (eastern Iran) Date of Death: 889 Place of Death: Basra Biography Abū Dāwūd is best known as the compiler of the Kitāb al-sunan, one of the six Sunnī canonical collections of ḥadīth. He came from the province of Sijistān in eastern Iran, and after much traveling settled in Basra, where he came to be deeply respected for his learning in his subject.  Among his pupils was the ḥadīth compiler Abū ʿĪsā Muḥammad al-Tirmidhī, whose collection was also accepted as one of the canonical siḥāḥ sitta. Primary Sources of Information Al-Kha…

Al-Mu’ayyad bi-llāh

(297 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-Ḥusayn Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Hārūnī l-Buṭḥānī, al-Mu’ayyad bi-Llāh Date of Birth: 944 Place of Birth: Āmul, Ṭābaristān Date of Death: 1020 Place of Death: Langā Biography The Imām al-Mu’ayyad bi-llāh came from a family of Iranian Imāmī Shīʿīs, though he and his brother came under Zaydī influence. He first studied fiqh and Baghdad Muʿtazilī kalām with his uncle in Baghdad, and also Basra Muʿtazilī kalām with the leader of the Basra school, Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Baṣrī (d. 980; q.v.). Through the latter, he would have come to know leading intellectuals of the …

Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn Shabīb al-Basṛ ī

(368 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Muḥammad ibn Shabīb Date of Birth: Unknown, probably late 8th c. Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown, mid-9th c. Place of Death: Unknown Biography Ibn Shabīb was probably born in Basra, but is often mentioned in connection with events in Baghdad. It is generally agreed that he was a student of Ibrāhīm al-Naẓẓām (q.v.), and so he must have known al-Jāḥiẓ (q.v.), who was another of al-Naẓẓām’s students. Since al-Naẓẓām was called from Basra to Baghdad in 818, Ibn Shabīb must have studied under him befor…

 Kashf al-ghimma fī aḥkām ahl al-dhimma

(165 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
‘Removing obscurity, on the regulation of the people of protection’ Ibn Jamāʿa Date: Unknown; before 1333 Original Language: Arabic Description The work has not survived, and is known only from a listing in I. Bāshā, Īḍāḥ al-maknūn fī l-dhayl ʿalā kashf al-ẓunūn, 2 vols, Istanbul, 1947, ii, p. 362. It presumably discussed the regulations governing the conduct of dhimmīs in Islamic society, and may have advocated a systematic implementation against individuals and groups who were thought to be advancing beyond their legal status. Significance The Kashf is one example among a numb…

Abū Sulaymān al-Sijistānī

(556 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Sulaymān Muḥammad ibn Ṭāhir ibn Bahrām al-Manṭiqī al-Sijistānī Date of Birth: Unknown; about 912 Place of Birth: Sijistān Date of Death: Uncertain; about 985 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Abū Sulaymān was born in the Persian province of Sijistān sometime in the early 10th century. From the little that is known about him, it seems that his first experiences of learning were in the provincial royal court, but as a young man he travelled to Baghdad where he studied under the Christian Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī (q.v.) and, according to some acco…

Ḥumayd ibn Saʿīd ibn Bakhtiyār

(282 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Ḥumayd ibn Bakhtiyār Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown, possibly mid-9th c. Place of Death: Unknown Biography Ibn al-Nadīm lists Ḥumayd ibn Saʿīd among theologians who may have been Muʿtazilī or Murji'ī. Since many of these died in the early 10th century, Ḥumayd would appear to have died at the same time. However, Van Ess ( TG iv, p. 132) identifies him as the Ḥumayd ibn Saʿīd ibn Ḥumayd ibn Baḥr who is mentioned by Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī as being imprisoned under the Caliph al-Wāthiq (842-47), which means that he may have lived half a century earlier than the F…

 Risāla fī nubuwwat Muḥammad

(984 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Letter on the prophethood of Muḥammad Abū ʿĪsā Aḥmad ibn al-Munajjim Date: Just before 908 Original Language: Arabic Description This work has not survived, and while there are good reasons to think that it was actually written as part of a protracted correspondence between members of the al-Munajjim family and the Christians Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (q.v.) and Qusṭa ibn Lūqā (q.v.), its existence is confirmed mainly by circumstantial evidence. The one accessible manuscript that contains the surviving correspondence of which this was probably a part relates that a Muslim…

 Jawāb ʿan kitāb malik al-Rūm

(359 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Reply to the letter of the Byzantine emperor Abū l-Ḥasan ibn al-Munajjim Date: About 935 Original Language: Arabic Description Elsewhere in the Tathbīt (p. 343), ʿAbd al-Jabbār refers to a reply which Abū al-Ḥasan wrote to a letter ( kitāb) from the Byzantine emperor. In his letter, which was written after the Byzantine capture of Melitene in 935, the emperor rejoiced at the misfortunes brought on the Islamic state by the Carmathians, and especially their attacks on Mecca and murder of pilgrims. This emperor would have been Constanti…

Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī

(406 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijzī Date of Birth: Unknown Place of Birth: Sijistān Date of Death: Unknown, after 971 Place of Death: Sijistān Biography Personal information about Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī (or al-Sijzī) is very scanty. He was an Iranian and belonged to the Ismāʿīlī Shīʿā, of which he was a leading dāʿī and theologian in the mid-10th century. It is known that he became involved in a feud between leading Ismāʿīlīs in the earlier decades of the century, when he wrote a refutation of Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī (d. 934) (q.v.), who had questioned a work of his fr…

 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…

 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…

 Jawāmīʿ akhbār al-umam min al-ʿArab wa-l-ʿajam

(159 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Compilations of reports on Arab and foreign nations Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī Date: Before about 1068 Original Language: Arabic Description This work is also lost and is only known from two references in al-Andalusī’s Ṭabaqāt al-umam about its accounts of ancient Persian dynasties (ed. Bū ʿAlwān, p. 60) and the migration of pre-Islamic Arab tribes north from the Arabian peninsula (p. 125). It was evidently a descriptive work, maybe a history of pre-Islamic times. There is a possibility that it included accounts of Christian communities, or of Christian beliefs among the groups it described. Si…


(541 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
Abū l-ʿAlāʾ Aḥmad ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn Sulaymān al-Maʿarrī Date of Birth: 973 Place of Birth: Maʿarrat al-Nuʿmān, northern Syria Date of Death: 1058 Place of Death: Maʿarrat al-Nuʿmān Biography A. Abel, ‘La “Réfutation d’un Agarène” de Barthélémy d’Édesse’, Studia Islamica 37 (1973) 5-26, p. 25, mentions in passing that al-Maʿarrī wrote a work called Risālat al-Masīḥiyya, which he dedicated to one of his correspondents, the Būyid vizier Abū l-Qāsim al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī l-Maghribī (d. 1027). He does not cite a source for this information, and this title d…


(1,482 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
front cover illustration: This shows the Gate of the two Baptisms at the Mar Behnam Monastery near Mosul. The overall design and decoration bear close similarities to the Mausoleum of Imām ʿAwn al-Dīn in Mosul, built by the Shīʿī ruler Badr al-Dīn Lu’lu’ in 1248. [NEW PAGE]----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CONTENTS Foreword Abbreviations Herman G.B. Teule, Christian-Muslim religious Interaction 1200-1350. A historical and contextual Introduction Daniel G. Köni…

ʿAbdallāh al-Asīr

(380 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
ʿAbdallāh the captive Date of Birth: Unknown; possibly early 13th century Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: Unknown; possibly late 13th century Place of Death: Unknown; possibly France Biography The figure of ʿAbdallāh al-Asīr is only known from a few references in the Kitāb miftāḥ al-dīn of the Tunisian scholar Abū l-Qasim Muḥammad ibn Sirāj al-Qaysī (q.v.), written about 1308. Al-Qaysī was taken captive by Christians in Spain and held in Lerida, where he participated in debates with Christian monks. He wrote the Kitāb miftāḥ al-dīn at this time and, as part of his argument…

 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 …
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