BaṭAlyawsī, Abu Muhammad Abdallah Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Sīd al-°

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BAṬALYAWSĪ, ABU MUHAMMAD ABDALLAH IBN MUHAMMAD IBN AL-SĪD AL-° (1052–1127), Arab grammarian, philosopher, and author. He was born in Badajoz (Arabic: Baṭalyaws), Spain, is known to have lived in Saragossa for some time, and died in Valencia. His main philosophical work is the Kitāb al-Ḥadāʾiq ("The Book of Circles") which was translated independently into Hebrew, in whole or in part, three times. The book was quoted widely by Jewish religious philosophers down to the beginning of the 17th century. It is composed of seven chapters in each of which an explanation is given of a statement of the neoplatonic philosophers. The separate chapters center on the following themes:

(1) The procession of existing things from the First Cause imitates an imaginary circle. The explanation of this statement is that from God, the cause of all causes, all existing things emanate in hierarchically descending order, that is, the ten intellects, the soul, form, and matter. Then minerals, plants, animals, and man come into being in hierarchically ascending order. The souls of men are also arranged in ascending order from the vegetative, vital, rational, philosophic to the prophetic which contacts the divine and closes the circle. According to this doctrine, the soul of the prophet is intrinsically superior to that of the philosopher. (2) Man's knowledge imitates an imaginary circle. This may be understood in two ways. First of all, man begins his quest for knowledge with mathematics, and then rises to physics and metaphysics. He then descends to politics and reaches himself once again. Secondly, he descends from himself to the knowledge of animals, plants, minerals, the four elements, matter and then rises to contemplate form, the soul, and the Active *Intellect in which man's rationality has its source. (3) The individual soul may conceive the forms which are in the universal intellect. (4) Number is composed of imaginary circles in each of its stages. (5) The attributes of God should be expressed negatively. (6) The Creator knows Himself alone. (7) The soul is immortal. I. Brill's assertion that the work was wrongly ascribed to al-Baṭalyawsi is without foundation. The substitution of quotations from the Koran and Islamic traditional literature by citations from the Bible and Talmud is standard practice in the medieval Hebrew translations from Arabic which Moses ibn *Tibbon followed in his translation. Some quotations from the Koran are translated and introduced by the formula: "One of the founders of the religions says …"


D. Kaufmann, Die Spuren al-Batlajusis in der juedischen Religionsphilosophie (1880); I. Brill, in: je, 2 (1925), 593; A. Palacios, in: Al-Andalus, 5 (1940), 45–154; G. Vajda, in: Semitic Studies… Immanuel Loeb (1947), 202–4; A. Altmann, in: Studies in Mysticism and Religion Presented to Gershom G. Scholem (1967), 6ff. add bibliography: eis2, 1 (1960), 1092 (includes bibliography).

[Lawrence V. Berman]