ʿABD AL-JABBĀR . Beginning his discussion of the eleventh generation of the Mu'tazilah, the biographer of al-Jushamī al-Bayhaqī (d. 494/1100) states:
Belonging to this generation, and in fact the foremost of them and the leader of them with regards to his excellence, is Chief Judge Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAbd al-Jabbār ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ʿAbd al-Jabbār al-Hamadhānī.… I cannot conceive of any expression which will convey his status regarding his excellence or his elevated rank in [this] discipline [namely kalām ]. He is the one who tore kalām open and spread it out, producing its major works as a result of which kalām spread far and wide reaching the East and the West. In these works, he put down the detailed arguments (daqīq ) as well as the major theses (jalīl ) of kalām in an entirely novel manner. (Sharḥ al-'uyūn, 365)
ʿAbd al-Jabbār (Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAbd al-Jabbār ibn Aḥmad al-Hamadhānī, Qāḍī al-Quḍāt) was born in the town of Asadābād in the district of Hamadhān around 320/932. He began his study of the ḥadīth (traditions of the Prophet), fiqh (religious law) and other religious sciences with local scholars in Asadābād and Qazwīn. In 340/951 he departed for Hamadhān and five years later went to Isfahan to study there. Soon afterwards he moved to the intellectual center of Basra, where he participated in debates and study-circles as an Ash'arī mutakallim and adherent of the Shāfi'ī legal school. According to al-Jushamī, he subsequently "recognized the truth and was guided," that is to say, he abandoned Ash'arī kalām and embraced Mu'tazilī kalām, becoming a student of Abū Isḥāq ibn ʿAyyāsh (his dates are not known). He later moved to Baghdad to study under Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Baṣrī (d. 369/979) who, like Abū Isḥāq ibn ʿAyyāsh had studied under the famous Mu'tazilī master, Abū Hāshim al-Jubbā'ī (d. 321/933), the leader of the Bahshamīya (namely the Mu'tazilīs who inclined towards the views of Abū Hāshim). After several years of study during which he also taught and compiled several works, ʿAbd al-Jabbār took leave of Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Baṣrī in 360/970, departing for Rāmhurmuz where he began to teach and to dictate his magnum opus —al-Mughnī fī uṣūl al-dīn. Soon after, he joined the retinue of the Mu'tazilī-leaning Būyid official al-Ṣāḥib ibn al-'Abbād. In 367/977, al-Ṣāḥib ibn al-'Abbād became vizier to the Būyid ruler Mu'ayyad al-Dawla and then appointed his protégé, ʿAbd al-Jabbār, to the position of Chief Judge (qāḍī al-quḍāt ) of Rayy and its environs. Intellectually curious, and himself a poet and scholar, al-Ṣāḥib ibn al-'Abbād had collected a vast library and gathered a distinguished group of philosophers, theologians, and literatteurs to his court in Rayy. ʿAbd al-Jabbār implies at the end of al-Mughnī that he profited from his participation at al-Ṣāḥib ibn al-'Abbād's court gatherings. ʿAbd al-Jabbār held the position of Chief Judge until the death of his patron in 385/995. Subsequently, the Būyid ruler Fakhr al-Dawla seized al-Ṣāḥib's property, dismissed his appointees, and confiscated their properties. Fakhr al-Dawla had ʿAbd al-Jabbār arrested, allegedly because of his refusal to recite the funeral prayer for al-Ṣāḥib ibn ʿAbbād. It is likely that ʿAbd al-Jabbār was released shortly afterwards. After the death of Fakhr al-Dawla in 387/997, Rayy was nominally ruled by his minor son Majd al-Dawla (actual control was wielded by his regent mother al-Sayyida). ʿAbd al-Jabbār was on good terms with Majd al-Dawla and wrote his Kitāb al-Majd for him. In 389/999 he went to Mecca on pilgrimage and was greeted with honor during his passage through Baghdad. This was due not only to his prestige as judge and author but also because ʿAbd al-Jabbār was considered the leader of the Bahshamīya Mu'tazilah after the death of his teacher Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Baṣrī in 369/979. On his return, he taught in Baghdad for some time and also in Qazwīn. During his later years in Rayy, ʿAbd al-Jabbār may have had the opportunity to meet Ibn Sīnā during the philosopher's stay there in 403–405/1013–1015. The majority of historical sources state that ʿAbd al-Jabbār died in 415/1024.
As a result of his longevity, ʿAbd al-Jabbār was a teacher to many students in Rayy and other locations. Some students were Imāmī or Zaydī Shīʿah, indicative of the spread of Mu'tazilism among these Muslim denominations. Among the more prominent of his students were Abū Rashīd al-Nisābūrī (his death year is not known), who studied with him in Rayy and assumed the leadership of the Bahshamīya on ʿAbd al-Jabbār's death; the Shīʿī Imāmī scholar al-Sharīf al-Murtaḍā (d. 436/1044), who studied ʿAbd al-Jabbār during his stay in Baghdād in 389/999; Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad ibn Mattawayh (dates unknown), Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Baṣrı (d. 432/1040), the Zaydī scholar Aḥmad Abū Hāshim al-Ḥusaynī also known as Mānakdīm Shishdev (d. 425/1034), and the Zaydī imām al-Mu'ayyad billāh Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Āmilī (d. 411/1020)
ʿAbd al-Jabbār scholarship extends over several of the Islamic religious sciences: Qurʾān commentary (tafsīr), prophetic tradition (ḥadīth), biography, theology (kalām), principles of jurisprudence (uṣul al-fiqh), and law. Most of his works have not survived. As a result of the Zaydī embrace of Mu'tazilism, Mu'tazilī texts continued to be studied in Yemen, where they held sway, resulting in the preservation of some of the works of ʿAbd al-Jabbār and his students. These works were rediscovered in the late 1950s and many of them have been published.
The most significant of these is ʿAbd al-Jabbār's al-Mughnī fī abwāb al-tawḥīd wa l-'adl, which may be translated as "What one needs to know regarding God's unity and justice." Fourteen of the twenty volumes of al-Mughnī have been recovered. It is the most comprehensive text on classical Mu'tazilī kalām and preserves the doctrines, discussions, and differences of earlier generations, most significantly Abū ʿAlī al-Jubbā'ī and his son Abū Hāshim al-Jubbā'ī. The work is divided into two sections: the first discusses God's unicity (tawḥīd), namely, a detailed presentation of the argument that the world is temporally created by an eternal Creator-God, the attributes of this Deity, and a refutation of the views of non-monotheists.
The second section treats God's justice (ʿadl ), explaining that God's acts cannot be evil; that the Qurʾān is God's created speech; that persons of sound mind have free will and are under obligation (taklīf) to God to fulfill duties that can generally be known by reason and that, as acts of kindness (luṭf), God has specified in the guidance He has provided to human beings in revelation through the institution of prophecy and teachings of prophets; that this guidance, as well as the endowment of reason and free will are necessary in order for God to be just; that by fulfilling these obligations human beings have the opportunity to earn a reward, namely Paradise, or by rejecting them to be condemned to Hell; that pain and suffering in the world which is not the result of human action is created purposefully by God in order to remind human beings of their obligations and thereby prevent the extreme harm of being condemned to Hell—in this sense they also constitute acts of kindness; and, that God will compensate minors and mentally incompetent individuals, and generally any person who is incapable of fulfilling obligations placed on them.
In the Mughnī, the section on God's justice also includes the remainder of the "five principles of the Mu'tazila," including, "the promise and the threat," "the intermediate position," and the "command to enjoin established and commonly-known virtuous action and to prohibit reprehensible action" which is the basis of the institution of post-prophetic leadership and political authority (imāma ).
The only comprehensive biography of ʿAbd al-Jabbār is ʿAbd al-Karīm ʿUthmān's Qāḍī l-Quḍāt ʿAbd al-Jabbār b. Aḥmad al-Hamādhānī. Beirut, 1968. Al-Jushamī's Sharḥ al-'uyūn, a biographical dictionary of the Mu'tazila, is an important source of information about ʿAbd al-Jabbār and his students. Al-Jushamī's text is published in al-Balkhī, Abū l-Qāsim; ʿAbd al-Jabbār, Qāḍī; al-Jushamī, al-Ḥākim's Faḍl al-i'tizāl wa ṭabāqāt al-mu'tazila, edited by Fu'ād Sayyid, Tunis, 1974. The intellectual and social environment at the Būyid court is the subject of Joel L. Kraemer's Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam: The Cultural Revival during the Buyid Age, Leiden, 1992. ʿAbd al-Jabbār's short treatise on the five principles of the Mu'tazila (Kitāb uṣul al-khamsa ) is available in English translation in Richard C. Martin, Mark R. Woodward, and Dwi S. Atmaja's Defenders of Reason in Islam: Mu'tazilism from Medieval School to Modern Symbol, Oxford, 1978. For a general overview of the Basrian Mu'tazilı worldview see Richard M. Frank's "Several Fundamental Assumptions of the Baṣra School of the Mu'tazila," Studia Islamica 33 (1971): 5–18. ʿAbd al-Jabbār's rationalist ethics is the subject of George F. Hourani's Islamic Rationalism: the Ethics of ʿAbd al-Jabbār, Oxford, 1971. ʿAbd al-Jabbār's views on the nature of the Qurʾān, namely the Mu'tazilī perspective that it is created rather than eternal, is discussed in J.R.T.M. Peters'sGod's Created Speech: A Study in the Speculative Theology of the Mu'tazilī Qāḍī l-Quḍāt Abū 1-Ḥasan ʿAbd al-Jabbār ibn Aḥmad al-Hamadhānī, Leiden, 1976. ʿAbd al-Jabbār's epistemology is the subject of Marie Bernard's Le problème de la connaissance d'après le Mugnı du cadi ʿAbd al-Jabbār. Algiers, 1982. ʿAbd al-Jabbār's views on man's obligation, suffering, God's kindness, reward, and compensation are discussed in Margaretha Heemskerk's Suffering in the Mu'tazilite Theology: ʿAbd al-Jabbār's Teaching on Pain and Divine Justice, Leiden, 2000.
Alnoor Dhanani (2005)
"ʿAbd Al-Jabbār." Encyclopedia of Religion. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/abd-al-jabbar
"ʿAbd Al-Jabbār." Encyclopedia of Religion. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/abd-al-jabbar
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.