Chapter 4 The Professional Mobility of Qāḍī ʿAbd al-Jabbār between the Quest for Knowledge and the Confluence with Power

In: Professional Mobility in Islamic Societies (700-1750)
Author: Amal Belkamel

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Abstract

The professional mobility of the Muʿtazilī theologian and Qāḍī ʿAbd al-Jabbār al-Hamadhānī (d. 415/1025) and his connivance with scientific and political circles have contributed not only to his scientific success but also to his access to the highest function of chief judge (qāḍī al-quḍāt). After his training in ḥadīth in Hamadhān and theology in Basra – where he would have switched his Ashʿarī obedience to join the Muʿtazilī circle – he went to Baghdād to follow the teachings of Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Baṣrī (d. 369/980) who recommended him to Ibn ʿAbbād (d. 385/995), advisor and future vizier of the Būyid leaders Muʾayyid al-Dawla (d. 373/984) and Fakhr al-Dawla (d. 387/997). In a Shīʿī ideological and political context ʿAbd al-Jabbār, as a Sunnī scholar, was named qāḍī al-quḍāt of Rayy. His relationship to political power extended his legal authority to the provinces of Jurjān, Tabaristān and Hamadhān. Through the study of historical sources, this article examines how the social mobility have contributed to the professional advancement of this qāḍī and, also under the light of his spatial mobility, uncover his administrative and legal influence that has spread to other functions and other provinces. To what extent did his circle of knowledge help him in his professionalization and career advancement? How did political power enable his success, while leading – years later – to his removal? I will argue that even though the social mobility of ʿAbd al-Jabbār had allowed him to acquire theological knowledge and to reach the highest function of qāḍī al-quḍāt, it is for strategic reasons of power that he was deprived later of exercising this function.