Taftāzānī, Al-

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TAFTĀZĀNĪ, AL- (ah 722791?/13221389 ce), more fully Saʿd al-Dīn Masʿūd ibn ʿUmar al-Taftāzānī; master of a range of intellectual disciplines including theology, philosophy, metaphysics, logic, grammar, and rhetoric, as well as fundamental principles of jurisprudence and Qurʾanic exegesis. Born in Taftāzān, Khorasan, he is renowned for the breadth and quality of his scholarship, though little is known about his personal life. His writing career started at the age of sixteen, and before his death his works were known and studied from the eastern part of the Muslim world to Egypt in the West. Al-Taftāzānī's eminence in scholarship was noticed and recognized in his lifetime by the Mongol rulers, especially the famous Timur Lenk (Tamerlane), by whom he was personally honored.

Al-Taftāzānī's best-known work is probably his commentary on the creed of al-Nasafī (d. 1142 ce), Shar al-ʿaqā˒id al-Nasafīyah, still studied in major Muslim seminaries. His work on the fundamental principles of Islamic law, Shar al-talwī ʿala al-tawīd li-matn al-tanqī fī uūl al-fiqh, was published in Beirut in 1983. Because he wrote commentaries on anafī as well as Shāfiʿī works of jurisprudence his biographers differed as to which school of law he belonged to. The same was true in terms of his theological position. His commentary on al-Nasafī's ʿAqā˒id (written in 1367) led some to consider him a Matūrīdī in view of his apparent espousal of their doctrines: for example, he viewed creation (takwīn) as eternal and an essential attribute of God, accepted the doctrine of free will, viewed the Qurʾān as an expression of God's eternal self-speech (a position also adopted by the later Ashʿarīyah), and rejected the possibility of actually seeing God in the afterlife. Despite these apparent Māturīdī leanings, his Maqāid and Shar al-Maqāid (written in 1383) reveal him to be an Ashʿarī. Clearly his was a mediating position in which he demonstrated independence of thought and a resistance to legal or doctrinal classification.


Brockelmann, Carl. Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, vol. 2. 2d ed. Leiden, 1949. See also the supplement to volume 2 of the first edition. Leiden, 1938.

Elder, Earl Edgar, trans. A Commentary on the Creed of Islam: Saʿd al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī on the Creed of Najm al-Dīn al-Nasafī. 2 vols. Translated with introduction and notes. New York, 1950.

Ibn Khaldūn. Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History. 2d ed. Translated by Franz Rosenthal. Princeton, 1967. See volume 3, pages 117, 315.

Storey, C. A. "Al-Taftāzānī." In The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Leiden, 19131934.

Taftāzānī, Masʿūd ibn ʿUmar al-. Maqāid al-ālibīn fī uūl al-dīn, and Shar al-Maqāid. Istanbul, 1887.

Taftāzānī, Masʿūd ibn ʿUmar al-. Shar al-ʿaqā˒id al-Nasafīyah fī uūl al-dīn wa-ʿilm al-kalām. Edited and introduced by Claude Salāma. Damascus, 1974. For further bibliographical references, see Salāma's introduction.

Wadi Z. Haddad (1987)