6 The Caliph al-Qādir bi-llāh and the Qādirī Creed

In: Rulers as Authors in the Islamic World
Livnat Holtzman
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The Qādirī creed (al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī) is a series of documents and books issued by the Abbasid caliph al-Qādir bi-llāh (r. 381/991–422/1031). In the years 408/1017–1018 and 409/1018–1019, the caliph issued two documents. In the year 420/1029, the caliph issued three books. None of these documents and books (henceforth “the Qādirī creed”) have survived. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Swiss scholar Adam Mez (d. 1917) located a concise text of 770 words in Ibn al-Jawzī’s (d. 597/1201) al-Muntaẓam fī taʾrīkh al-rusul wa-l-mulūk and identified it as the Qādirī creed (al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī). This text cites the various elements of the Sunni credo, denounces the Muʿtazilī and Shiʿi doctrines, and reflects the caliph’s commitment to Sunnism. Mez’s translation of the text was published posthumously in 1922 and translated into English in 1937. Since the publication of the text, modern scholarship has regarded it as the Qādirī creed. Moreover, al-Qādir’s authorship of this text was never questioned. The following study challenges the identification of the text as the Qādirī creed and examines al-Qādir’s alleged role as the author of the creed. Al-Qādir was indeed the eponymous author of the Qādirī creed, but his role as an author was not as exclusive as the previous studies considered. Through a large-scale reading in the sources, this study presents the interface between the religious dimension in al-Qādir’s personality and the Qādirī creed, reconstructs the content of the original Qādirī creed which is no longer extant, identifies the possible source of this creed, and analyses the text that Ibn al-Jawzī quoted, the text which was assumed to be the Qādirī creed.

The abbreviated text in Ibn al-Jawzī’s al-Muntaẓam is identified here as the Qādirī-Qāʾimī creed or the IQQ (initials of al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī wa-l-qāʾimī). This text was authored by an anonymous author at the request of al-Qādir’s son and successor, al-Qāʾim bi-amr Allāh (r. 422/1030–467/1075). The Qādirī creed and the IQQ were authored for different reasons. While the Qādirī creed led to an escalation in conflict in the relationships between Sunnism and Shiʿism, the IQQ version was meant to reconcile between different wings within the Sunni community, namely the Ḥanbalīs and the Ashʿarīs. These two trends of Islamic traditionalism were divided on the question of how to interpret the divine attributes (ṣifāt Allāh). The caliph al-Qāʾim summoned the disputing parties to his palace to arbitrate their doctrinal differences and forced them to sign his version of the Qādirī creed (the IQQ) as a symbol of their reconciliation.


The Qādirī creed (al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī; also known as al-risāla al-qādiriyya) is a series of documents and books issued by the Abbasid caliph al-Qādir bi-llāh (r. 381–422/991–1031). In the years 408/1017–1018 and 409/1018–1019, the caliph issued two documents. As will be demonstrated in Section 1 of this article, at least one of these documents was a voluminous book. In the year 420/1029, the caliph issued three books. None of these documents and books (henceforth “the Qādirī creed”) have survived. An extant version of the Qādirī creed, a concise text of 770 words, is found in Ibn al-Jawzī’s (d. 597/1201) monumental chronicles, al-Muntaẓam fī taʾrīkh al-mulūk wa-l-umam. This concise text, which cites the various elements of the Sunni credo and denounces the Muʿtazilī and Shiʿi doctrines, reflects the caliph’s commitment to Sunnism. At the time of its issuance, the Qādirī creed was perceived as the definitive expression of the fundamentals of Islamic traditionalism. As such, the creed was venerated by both the scholarly elite and the masses.1

During the reign of al-Qādir’s son and successor, al-Qāʾim bi-Amr Allāh (r. 422–467/1030–1075) the Qādirī creed maintained its status as an icon of traditionalism. The concise format of this creed (also known as al-iʿtiqād al-qādiri wa-l-qāʾimī i.e. the Qādirī-Qāʾimī creed) was publicly reaffirmed on at least two occasions. In 432/1040–1041, al-Qāʾim summoned the prominent religious scholars and the notables of Baghdad to his palace to sign the document as a symbol of their allegiance to “the [correct] faith of the Muslims” (iʿtiqād al-muslimīn).2 Al-Qāʾim sought to reconcile between the ultra-traditionalists, who were mainly represented by the Ḥanbalīs, and the “middle-of-the-road” traditionalists, namely the Ashʿarīs. Al-Qāʾim’s creed reaffirmed the status quo in which Sunni Islam is represented by both the Ḥanbalīs and the Ashʿarīs. The Ashʿarīs did not give that document much credence; however, the Ḥanbalīs of Baghdad, the most vociferous adherents of Islamic traditionalism, regarded the symbolic event in al-Qāʾim’s palace as an official verification of their dominance in the public sphere. In the long run, the creed failed in lowering the tension between these two groups. In addition, in 460/1068, and as part of their vigorous campaign against the Ashʿarīs,3 the Ḥanbalīs pressured the caliph to publicly reaffirm the creed. At this time, the caliph gave a copy of the creed to the leader of the Ḥanbalīs, the sharīf Abū Jaʿfar (d. 470/1077–1078). The sharīf arranged public readings of the creed in the great mosque near the Baṣra Gate in Baghdad to demonstrate the caliph’s unshakable support of Ḥanbalism.

During the reign of al-Qāʾim’s grandson and successor, al-Muqtadī bi-Amr Allāh (r. 467–487/1075–1094) the creed lost its iconic stature as the hallmark of Islamic traditionalism. We learn about this loss of stature from a meeting between the sharīf Abū Jaʿfar and the caliph that occurred in the caliphal palace in 469/1077.4 Abū Jaʿfar admonished al-Muqtadī for not displaying the creed and reading it in public events. Abū Jaʿfar claimed that in the times of the caliph’s grandfather and great-grandfather, the creed was a highly venerated document, while in his era the creed sank into oblivion. According to the sharīf Abū Jaʿfar, al-Qādir and al-Qāʾim announced that their faith was based on the principles of the Sunni community (ahl al-sunna wa-l-jamāʿa) and the first generations of Islam (al-salaf). Abū Jaʿfar added that the text was unanimously confirmed by the scholars of Iraq and Khurāsān. Furthermore, Abū Jaʿfar claimed that the creed was read aloud in the caliphal court and the caliphal bureaus (al-dawāwīn) throughout Iraq and Khurāsān, while “the people of Khurāsān and the pilgrims carried it with them back home to all four corners of the earth”.5 The caliph did not respond directly to the sharīf’s admonition; therefore, we can assume that the creed was not removed from its container and not read publicly to the masses. In other words, in al-Muqtadī’s times the creed was no longer revered.

Abū Jaʿfar’s appeal to al-Muqtadī is the last mention of the creed in the historical sources. Later historians such as Ibn al-Athīr (d. 630/1233) and Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373) were informed of the creed and its content due to its inclusion in Ibn al-Jawzī’s well-studied al-Muntaẓam. While these historians drew their information on the creed from Ibn al-Jawzī, they were not particularly interested in the creed and its history. If any other sources on the creed existed, Ibn al-Athīr and Ibn Kathīr did not mention them. The creed’s almost complete absence from the theological writings of the later traditionalist scholars clearly indicates that the creed no longer occupied a place in the traditionalist thought. Unlike other traditionalistic creeds, the Qādirī creed (or at least, its surviving summary) was neither glossed nor discussed in later theological treatises, and its impact on the traditionalist thought is almost untraceable.

The Qādirī creed—a celebrated emblem of traditionalism—came to the attention of Western scholars only in the beginning of the 20th century when the Swiss scholar Adam Mez (d. 1917) discovered the Qādirī creed in the manuscript of al-Muntaẓam. Mez identified the creed’s anti-Muʿtazilī tone, translated the creed (except its closing paragraph) into German, and provided a brief description of the text. This partial translation and its sketchy analysis appear in Mez’s history of the Abbasid caliphate entitled Die Renaissance des Islams, a work which was published posthumously in 1922, and translated into English in 1937.6

The discovery of the Qādirī creed by Mez passed almost unnoticed. Nonetheless, Louis Massignon mentioned the creed in his monumental 1922 work on the Sufi mystic al-Ḥallāj (d. 309/922).7 Thirty-six years later, in 1958, Henri Laoust noted the resemblance between the Qādirī creed and the Ibāna, a creed authored by the Ḥanbalī theologian Ibn Baṭṭa (d. 389/997).8 Other than these two brief references, the Qādirī creed remained terra incognita for Western scholarship until 1963 when George Makdisi shed light on its role in the political arena of 5th/11th century Baghdad. Makdisi, who coined the term “the Sunni revival” to denote the campaign of reawakening Islamic traditionalism in the Abbasid caliphate, marked the issuance of the Qādirī creed as the onset of this revival.9 Makdisi identified the anti-Ashʿarī slant of the creed and provided a thorough analysis of the text in both his 1963 and 1997 monographs on the Ḥanbalī polymath Ibn ʿAqīl (d. 513/1119).10 After Makdisi drew the attention of Western scholarship to the centrality of the creed in Abbasid politics, the creed was referenced in modern histories of 5th/11th century Baghdad. These later publications include Erika Glassen (1981), Joel Kraemer (1992), John J. Donohue (2003), Eric J. Hanne (2007), and Hugh Kennedy (2010). These publications added to the description of the political affairs in which the Qādirī creed played a decisive role.

All the above-mentioned researches have taken the text that Mez discovered in Ibn al-Jawzī’s al-Muntaẓam at face value and regarded it as the creed that the caliph al-Qādir authored. In other words, these researches assumed that (a) the text quoted by Ibn al-Jawzī was the Qādirī creed, and (b) that al-Qādir indeed authored this text. In this article, I examine these two assumptions. I ask two pivotal questions: Is al-Qādir the author of the creed? And, is the text quoted by Ibn al-Jawzī the creed that al-Qādir wrote? To answer these two questions, this article (a) presents the interface between the religious dimension in al-Qādir’s personality and the Qādirī creed, (b) reconstructs the content of the original Qādirī creed which is no longer extant, (c) identifies the possible source of this creed, and (d) analyses the text that Ibn al-Jawzī quoted, the text which was assumed to be the Qādirī creed. Previous studies which focused on al-Qādir’s political activity, provided minimal attention to his religiosity.11 Therefore, a new reading of the generic descriptions of this caliph provided by the biographical sources was required. The outcome of this large-scale reading in the sources leads me to propose three key alternative viewpoints. First, I see “the Qādirī creed” as a series of documents and books issued by al-Qādir in the Hijrī years 408/1017–1018, 409/1018–1019 and 420/1029. Second, I see the brief text that is preserved in Ibn al-Jawzī’s al-Muntaẓam as an abbreviated version of an independent text that drew from the Qādirī creed. Third, although previous scholarship speculated that the Qādirī creed was the outcome of a collaboration between al-Qādir and the ʿulamāʾ of his times,12 there was barely any attempt to reconstruct a methodology which enables researchers to seriously examine this collaboration. To remedy this situation, I propose such a methodology here.

This article comprises five parts which elucidate the goals I establish here. Section 1 discusses the events that led to the issuance of the two documents in the years 408/1017–1018 and 409/1018–1019. Section 2 discusses the three books that were issued in the year 420/1029. Section 3 deploys the tools of isnād-analysis to mine the biographical sources for information on the caliph’s religious persona and the scholarly network that surrounded him. Section 4 presents the public reading of the creed in 432/1040–1041. A doctrinal dispute which occurred between the Ḥanbalī scholar Abū Yaʿlā Ibn al-Farrāʾ (d. 458/1066) and the Sunni community led to this reading. I elaborate on this dispute and its connection to the content of clause 1 of the surviving summary of the Qādirī creed in Ibn al-Jawzī’s al-Muntaẓam. Section 5 proposes an alternative reading of this summary of the creed, and connects the summary to the documents and books that the caliph authored. In addition, Section 5 discusses the identity of the author of the original Qādirī creed. In sum, this article broadens and deepens our previous understandings and discussions about the Qādirī creed and attempts to improve upon them.13

1 The Two Documents Issued in 408/1017–1018 and 409/1018–1019

Al-Qādir bi-llāh, Aḥmad b. Isḥāq b. Jaʿfar al-Muqtadir bi-llāh, the 25th caliph of the Abbasid dynasty reigned for forty-one years and three months, from 381/991 to 422/1031. Al-Qādir ruled in a period in which the status of the Abbasid caliphate was in decline. Similar to his immediate predecessors, al-Qādir, ruled under the tutelage of the Buwayhids, a Shiʿi dynasty of Iranian descent who assumed control of Baghdad and ruled the caliphate de facto from 334/945 to 447/1055.14 The Buwayhid amīr Bahāʾ al-Dawla deposed al-Qādir’s uncle, the ruling caliph al-Ṭāʾiʿ (r. 363–381/974–991) thus paving al-Qādir’s way to the throne. During his first decade of rulership, al-Qādir complied with Bahāʾ al-Dawla’s wishes and married the amīr’s daughter. However, approximately in the year 390/1000 al-Qādir exercised more freedom than he previously did. In 394/1003, he refused to appoint a Shiʿi as chief judge. The death of Bahāʾ al-Dawla in 403/1012 led to the establishment of al-Qādir’s alliance with Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin of Ghazna, the powerful sultan in the eastern Islamic lands (r. 388–421/998–1030). The support of Maḥmūd of Ghazna enabled al-Qādir to act without opposition on behalf of Sunnism and against Shiʿism and Muʿtazilism.15

In his capacity as the patron of Sunnism, al-Qādir promulgated “the Qādirī creed”, a series of formal documents and books which the Muslim historians like Ibn al-Jawzī considered his most meaningful achievement. In these texts, the caliph revealed his traditionalistic policy and ordered that several steps be implemented according to this policy. These steps are specified below. Some of these texts were read aloud in his court. George Makdisi considered this series of documents and books as separate from the creed itself. Makdisi, who regarded the summary of the Qādirī creed as the actual creed, dubbed these documents “edicts” or “epistles”. According to Makdisi, these epistles were later combined into one text known as the Qādirī creed.16 I address Makdisi’s assumption in Section 5.

As least one of the two documents that the caliph issued in 408/1017–1018 and 409/1018–1019 was a voluminous book. The full text of the document that was written in 408/1017–1018 unfortunately was not recorded in the Arabic sources. This document’s contents are summarized in Sharḥ uṣūl iʿtiqād ahl al-sunna wa-l-jamāʿa mina l-kitāb wa-l-sunna wa-ijmāʿ al-ṣaḥāba (‘A Commentary of the Principles of the Sunni Faith according to the Quran, Ḥadīth and the Consensus of the Prophet’s Companions’) by the traditionalist scholar Abū l-Qāsim al-Lālakāʾī (d. 418/1027) from Baghdad.17 According to al-Lalākāʾī, in 408/1017–1018 al-Qādir demanded that “the scholars of the Muʿtazila who were Ḥanafīs” (fuqahāʾ al-muʿtazila al-ḥanafiyya) retract iʿtizāl, the rationalistic doctrines of Muʿtazilism. These scholars hurried to comply with the caliph’s command and publicly disavowed their allegiance to these doctrines. The caliph was not satisfied with this superficial expression of repentance, and further prohibited any engagement in kalām. Specifically, he prohibited both teaching and conducting public debates (al-tadrīs wa-l-munāẓara) on Muʿtazilism, Shiʿism (rafḍ) and “other dogmas that contradicted Islam” (al-maqālāt al-mukhālifa lil-islām). The caliph required that both the Muʿtazilī and Ḥanafī scholars sign a written retraction. He further threatened that any scholar who violated his orders would be given “exemplary punishments that serve as a warning for people like them”.18

According to al-Lālakāʾī, al-Qādir’s document became formal state policy.19 Al-Qādir entrusted the implementation of this policy to his long-serving chamberlain (ḥājib) Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. ʿAbd al-Ṣamad (also known as Ibn Abī ʿAlī, d. 415/1024). However, as public disorders escalated, Ibn Abī ʿAlī regretted the actions that he performed in fulfilling al-Qādir’s orders against the rebels, and he requested and received authorization to be relieved of his role in this mission. However, according to Ibn al-Jawzī, in 409/1018–1019, Ibn Abī ʿAlī re-assumed his official role, re-imposed severe steps against both the Shiʿi and Sunni rebels, and restored order in Baghdad.20 According to al-Lālakāʾī, the chamberlain implemented this policy in Jumādā al-Ākhira 413/ September 1022.21

Meanwhile in Khurāsān, the sultan Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin, who was al-Qādir’s ally and nominal subordinate, faithfully fulfilled the honorific titles yamīn al-dawla (“the right hand of the preordained ruling dynasty”) and amīn al-milla (“the custodian of the religion”) which the caliph had granted to him. In these roles, the sultan ruthlessly persecuted members of heretical sects. The sultan’s activity against these sects was part of his large-scale military campaign against the Buwayhids. Al-Lālakāʾī’s brief report, which Ibn al-Jawzī included verbatim in his al-Muntaẓam, proves that the sultan’s contemporaries viewed his successful military campaigns to dethrone the Buwayhids as waging a holy war against Shiʿism.22 According to al-Lālakāʾī, the sultan fought Muʿtazilīs and Shiʿis, and extended his campaign against all religious dissent. We learn that the sultan slaughtered members of two so-called heretical sects: the Ismāʿīliyya and the Qarāmiṭa (a branch of the Ismāʿīliyya). In addition, the sultan implemented more severe measures against these sects which included imprisonment, exile, and even crucifixion. Another effective punishment was excommunication: The sultan ordered that the heretics be cursed in the mosques and banished from their homes.23

Al-Lālakāʾī’s valuable report is probably the earliest account on the sultan’s actions against the heretics of Khurāsān. However, this report posits a question mark on the identification of the groups that the sultan persecuted. In addition to the above-referenced sects, al-Lālakāʾī mentioned that the sultan ruthlessly pursued the mushabbiha and jahmiyya. These were names of opprobrium which did not refer to sects per se. The jahmiyya in this case are identified with the Muʿtazilīs who, from as early as the second half of the 3rd/9th century, were branded as the followers of Jahm b. Ṣafwān (an innovative and controversial theologian who was executed in 128/746 by the Umayyads).24

Unlike the indisputable identification of the jahmiyya as Muʿtazilīs, I hesitate to determine who in fact were the mushabbiha (i.e. proponents of tashbīh, literally comparing God to His creation) in al-Lālakāʾī’s report. The rationalists (Muʿtazilīs, Ashʿarīs etc.) used this name to denote the traditionalists who promoted anthropomorphic ideas through the means of Ḥadīth transmission and public preaching. However, it is unlikely that the sultan who took the traditionalist stance would have used the term mushabbiha to describe the teachers of Ḥadīth (the muḥaddithūn) of Khurāsān. Perhaps the sultan targeted popular preachers or muḥaddithūn who described God in a blunt anthropomorphic language; however, there is no support in the sources to indicate that the muḥaddithūn of Khurāsān were persecuted on the grounds of their supposedly anthropomorphic teachings. Another possibility is that the sultan persecuted the Karrāmiyya, a sect which promoted extreme anthropomorphism through rationalistic argumentations. I raise this noteworthy possibility because the sultan was sympathetic to the Karrāmīs at the onset of his career, but he subsequently retracted Karrāmī doctrines.25 Waging war against the Karrāmīs could have served as proof of the sultan’s retraction of heretical doctrines. However, with the absence of any corroborating evidence of the sultan’s presumed persecution of the Karrāmīs, I suggest that al-Lālakāʾī’s remark that the sultan persecuted the mushabbiha was a slip of the tongue made by either al-Lālakāʾī, or one of the scholars who dictated his book.26

While the sources and particularly al-Lālakāʾī’s brief account provide a detailed picture of the document issued in the year 408/1017–1018 and the events that followed its issuance, the information about the other documents of the Qādirī creed is meagre and incomplete. The second document, issued in 409/1018–1019, was “a book arranged according to the doctrines of the Sunna” (kitāb bi-madhāhib al-sunna).27 We note that the word kitāb indicates all types of documents, including a brief message and a voluminous work. Here we rely on the description of this kitāb to determine that it was indeed a book.

The earliest details of this book come from al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī (d. 463/1071). This illustrious scholar of Ḥadīth was also an historian. He was a contemporary of al-Qādir, and his succinct entry on al-Qādir in his voluminous Taʾrīkh Baghdād contains rare details about the caliph and his environment. According to al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, al-Qādir authored “a book on uṣūl”. By uṣūl al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī meant the theological dogmas otherwise known as “the principles of religion” (uṣūl al-dīn) rather than “the principles of jurisprudence” (uṣūl al-fiqh). This book contained a section on “the virtues of the Prophet’s companions” (faḍāʾil al-ṣaḥāba) which was an obligatory topic in Sunni creeds, and was organized “according to the conventional arrangement of the doctrine of the traditionalists” (ʿalā tartīb madhhab ahl al-ḥadīth). Apparently, al-Qādir included in his book both the virtues of the Umayyad caliph ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (r. 99–101/717–720), and the condemnation of the Muʿtazila and other advocates of the doctrine of the createdness of the Quran (khalq al-qurʾān).28

The Damascene historian, Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī (d. 748/1348) who relied in his historical writing on al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s Taʾrīkh Baghdād added that al-Qādir’s book included other principles of the Sunni dogma (ilā ghayr dhālika min uṣūl al-sunna).29 The book was launched in a public reading that occurred in the caliphal palace on the 17th of Muḥarram 409/5th June 1018 in the gathering place of the ceremonial procession (mawkib).30 Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī testified that the book was read publicly every Friday in al-Mahdī mosque, which was the principle mosque of Baghdad (located in al-Ruṣāfa quarter).31 In addition, he mentioned that people flocked to hear the reading of the book.32 Both Ibn al-Jawzī and al-Dhahabī completed al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s account: they claimed that al-Qādir’s book was read every Friday in the section in al-Mahdī mosque that was dedicated to the study circle (ḥalqa) of the muḥaddithūn. These readings occurred throughout al-Qādir’s lengthy reign.33 According to Ibn al-Jawzī, the book contained the following sentence: “Whoever says that the Quran is created is a heretic whose blood may be lawfully shed”.34 Ibn al-Jawzī did not quote directly from the book which was no longer extant. This quotation comes from the summarized version of the Qādirī creed, which Ibn al-Jawzī obtained. I elaborate on this point in Section 4.

2 The Three Books That Were Issued in 420/1029

In the decade that passed after the issuance of al-Qādir’s document and book, the tensions increased between Sunnis and Shiʿis in Baghdad and the eastern parts of the caliphate. In his account of the year 420/1029, Ibn al-Jawzī elaborated on two major events: The attack that the sultan Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin of Ghazna launched on the city of Rayy, and the issuance of three books by the caliph. The interests of both the caliph and the sultan overlapped in the attack on Rayy, because during this attack the sultan deposed Majd al-Dawla (r. 387–420/997–1029), the Buwayhid amīr of Rayy and the Jibāl (the Persian speaking area of Iraq). In the violent attack on the city, many inhabitants of Rayy were slaughtered and the city’s riches were looted by the sultan’s army. Naturally, in conquering Rayy the sultan was driven by his ambition to control as vast a territory as possible. Already in 409/1018–1019, the sultan raided India and ransacked the treasures of that country’s temples.35 Indeed, the sultan’s empire stretched “from northwestern Persian to the Punjab in India and from Khwārizm and the middle stretches of the Oxus River to Makrān and the Arabian Sea shores”.36 However, the sultan also used this military campaign to prove himself a zealous Muslim.

The sultan’s religious zeal emanated from the religious affiliation of his family: His father was a fervent admirer of the Karrāmiyya. Maḥmūd himself was a Ḥanafī. However, anecdotes about his scandalous habits, such as performing ablution with wine instead of water, circulated in Khurāsān.37 The sultan’s enthusiasm to annihilate heresy in Rayy and elsewhere was probably part of his inner process of seeking tawba (atonement). In the long run, this process served him well. The Ḥanbalī theologian Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) who discussed the sultan’s sins and misgivings in depth, concluded his discussion of the sultan with these words: “The above-mentioned king Maḥmūd b. Subuktikīn repented when he became aware of the Prophet’s teachings. He became one of the best and most righteous kings. He was among the fiercest fighters against the innovators, particularly the Shiʿis. He ordered that they and their likes would be cursed in his country.”38

The sultan aspired to expand his control on the region and replenish his treasury. However, in a letter addressed to the caliph, he concealed these earthly and materialistic motivations and claimed that he had acted on religious grounds. The sultan’s letter to the caliph arrived sometime in the beginning of 420/1029. In this letter, which Ibn al-Jawzī quoted in its entirety, the sultan reported on his smashing success in applying the caliph’s doctrinal policy in the city of Rayy. “God has swept away (azāla) the hand of the oppressors from this region and cleansed it (ṭahharahā) of the activity of the infidel Bāṭiniyya (Ismāʿīliyya) and the evil-doing innovators”—the sultan wrote in his letter to the caliph. The sultan mentioned that the Muʿtazila and the extreme Shīʿa (al-ghāliya) were among the groups that were either annihilated or banished from Rayy. In the concluding paragraph of this letter, the sultan reported on the treasures that he confiscated from Majd al-Dawla’s treasure-house. Apart from gold dinars, jewels, and fine clothes, “[f]ifty loads of books were carried off, but as for the books of the Muʿtazila, the philosophers and the extremist Shīʿīs, they were all burnt underneath the scaffolds constructed for crucifying heretics, because these books contained the principles of heresies (uṣūl al-bidaʿ).” The sultan concluded his letter to the caliph with the following zealous statement: “Hence this region has been cleansed of the Ismāʿīlī propagandists and the notables of the Muʿtazila and Shīʿa. The Sunna gained victory. I hereby expounded the facts of what God enabled me to perform, as one of the protectors of this victorious dynasty.”39 The sultan’s religious zeal was undoubtedly fueled by the caliph’s unyielding message to fight the heretics as he expressed in his documents and books.

The second important event in Ibn al-Jawzī’s description of the year 420/1029 is the issuance of three consecutive books by the caliph.40 As mentioned previously, the internal state in Baghdad was unstable due to the rising tension between Sunnis and Shiʿis. The reading of these three books therefore occurred in the caliphal palace and not in any public venue. George Makdisi provided the details of these three books—based on Ibn al-Jawzī’s account—in both his 1963 and 1997 monographs on Ibn ʿAqīl. My contribution in the following account adds details from other sources which were not included in Makdisi’s description and highlights previously neglected points.

On Monday, 18th Shaʿbān 420/1st September 1029, the watermills on al-Rufayl canal ceased operating after the Euphrates River dried up. These mills, which provided Baghdad’s entire flour supply, were a major source of income for the caliph.41 The cessation of the mills’ operations resulted in a fee increase for the millers: For grinding one bag (kāra)42 of flour, the millers demanded three dinars instead of one dinar.43 This additional burden on the Baghdadian households also contributed to the already unstable situation in Baghdad.44 Still, the caliph chose this day of all days to summon the members of the religious and judiciary elite to his palace. The notables (al-ashrāf; the descendants of the Prophet), judges (quḍāt), witness-notaries (shuhūd) and jurisconsults (fuqahāʾ), all gathered in his court for the reading of “a lengthy book” (kitāb ṭawīl). Ibn al-Jawzī emphasized that the caliph himself composed this book (ʿamalahu al-khalīfa al-Qādir bi-llāh). Judging from the brief description of its content, the book was rather eclectic: it contained a section of homiletic exhortation or admonition (al-waʿẓ), a section which specified the superiority of the “doctrine of the Sunna” (madhhab al-sunna) over the doctrine of the Shīʿa, and a section which attacked the Muʿtazila.45

From the meagre description of the first book issued in the year 420/1029, al-Qādir apparently was well-versed in the Ḥadīth. In this kitāb—in the absence of the text itself we have to rely on Ibn al-Jawzī’s description—al-Qādir cited historical reports (akhbār) which quoted the Prophet and his companions attacking the Muʿtazila.46 It is noteworthy that the Muʿtazila emerged only in the 2nd/8th century; however, Ḥadīth material which quoted the Prophet and the ṣaḥāba condemn the advocates of free will and the deniers of predetermination (the Qadariyya, the forerunners of the Muʿtazila) circulated in abundance in Baghdad and elsewhere. Part of this material was regarded as authentic (ṣaḥīḥ) despite its obvious anachronistic nature. However, even material of a dubious source which was minimally acceptable (ḍaʿīf) made its way into the canonical Ḥadīth compilations and became part of the traditionalist curriculum.47 By quoting this material, al-Qādir positioned himself among the adherents of traditionalism.

A month later, on Thursday 20th Ramadan/2nd October 1029, a similar event occurred in the caliphal palace. This time, the city’s lower-class pietists, namely the popular preachers (wuʿʿāẓ) and the ascetics (zuhhād) were invited to join the notables and the more esteemed members of the religious and judiciary establishment as the caliph’s guests. Al-Qādir’s secretary (kātib, was de facto the most senior official in the caliphal court), Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Ḥājib al-Nuʿmān (d. 421/1030)48 read yet another “lengthy book” (kitāb ṭawīl) which the caliph authored.49 Another month passed, and again the caliph summoned the same audience to his palace. This gathering occurred on Monday, 1st Dhū l-Qaʿda/11th November 1029, and this time, the book that was read to the audience—the third book of 420/1029—was “a very lengthy book” (kitāb ṭawīl jiddan). Although Ibn al-Jawzī remarked that this new book replicated (wa-uʿīda fīhi) a major part of the previous book,50 the new book seemingly polished and refined the message that al-Qādir wished to convey.

Previous scholarship on the Qādirī creed emphasized that the three books of 420/1029 revealed the caliph’s intent to annihilate the Shīʿa and the Muʿtazila which he defined as heretical sects.51 However, by piecing together the scanty details in the sources, more information about these books is revealed. Added to the indispensable narrative of Ibn al-Jawzī are the following accounts of Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī and Ibn Kathīr from Damascus, and the account of Abū Muḥammad al-Yāfiʿī (d. 768/1367), a Yemenite scholar who was primarily active in Mecca. These three authors who flourished in the Mamluk period read Ibn al-Jawzī and clarified certain lacunae in his account. We may assume that they consulted other sources which are no longer extant. A combined reading in the available sources enables us to reconstruct the design of these books and to obtain a deeper understanding of al-Qādir’s motivation in writing them.

We know that al-Qādir summoned two distinctive groups to the readings of his books in his court. As previously noted, al-Qādir summoned Baghdad’s intellectual elite and members of the religious and judiciary establishment for the first reading, because he wanted these prominent figures of the Sunni community to renew their commitment to his anti-Shiʿi anti-Muʿtazilī policy. For the second and third readings, he also summoned the lower-class pietists. Why did he summon these pietists? Obviously, these lower-class citizens were also required to declare their allegiance to the caliph’s policy. As Ibn al-Jawzī recounted, these two groups remained in the caliphal court “after dusk until the reading of the book was complete.”52 Thereafter, the bulky books were passed through the audience for the participants to declare their allegiance in writing. Each attendee signed the book, stating that he was present during the reading and that he personally heard (samāʿ) the book’s contents.53 The signing process, however, was just part of the reason for assembling the preachers and ascetics.

The main reason for opening the reading sessions to a wider audience was al-Qādir’s expectation that the preachers and ascetics would spread his teachings in Baghdad’s mosques, marketplaces, and other venues in which teaching took place. I draw this conclusion from the term samāʿ (audition, hearing) which is mentioned in connection to al-Qādir’s reading sessions. Samāʿ was generally used in the context of the transmission of Ḥadīth. Samāʿ was an efficient teaching technique, in which the teacher dictated (imlāʾ) a text to his student, and the student in turn recited this text to the teacher. Participating in a samāʿ session was among the means to acquire a license to teach certain material.54 In the case of the caliph’s three books, samāʿ possibly indicates that the gatherings in the caliphal court were learning sessions in which al-Qādir’s secretary read the books slowly to allow the attendees to memorize the text and even take notes.

A fervent supporter of the caliph’s policy who attended the sessions in the caliphal palace was the leader of the Ḥanbalīs of Baghdad, the sharīf Abū Jaʿfar (d. 470/1077–1078). Indeed, both Ibn al-Jawzī and Ibn Kathīr emphasized that the sharīf was entitled to recite the Qādirī creed in the mosque near the Basra Gate “because he heard it directly (li-samāʿihi lahu) from the author (muṣannif) of the creed, the caliph al-Qādir.”55 The sharīf (born in 411/1020–1021)56 was merely eight years old in 420/1029, when the al-Qādir arranged for the three samāʿ sessions in his palace. While he could have participated in the sessions, it is unlikely that he was among the scholars who signed their names in al-Qādir’s book. Even so, his alleged participation in the samāʿ in the caliphal palace gave him the highest credentials as a certificated reciter of the Qādirī creed. With this aura, he arranged recitations of the creed during the period of al-Qādir’s successor, the caliph al-Qāʾim bi-Amr Allāh.

The scene at the second and third readings is noteworthy for another reason. The sources tell us that the concluding part of both books comprised a homiletic exhortation or admonition (waʿẓ) and a reference to the moral duty of every Muslim to “command right and forbid wrong” (al-amr bi-l-maʿrūf wa-l-nahy ʿan al-munkar).57 The caliph’s secretary read these parts to an audience of preachers and ascetics whose daily occupation was to admonish their listeners. The scene in the caliphal court therefore reflected a role-reversal: instead of passively listening to the preacher or the ascetic admonishing and warning the caliph of God’s wrath in the Hereafter, the caliph himself preached to the preachers.58 In the second and third readings, the caliph emerged as a religious authority who executed his vision of educating the masses by writing his books and assigning them to the preachers.

The second and third books were ardent treatises against the Muʿtazila and the Shīʿa, and these works included positive declarations on the components of the true faith of the traditionalists. The Muʿtazilīs, as the proponents of the doctrine of the createdness of the Quran (khalq al-qurʾān), are declared sinners and morally corrupt (tafsīq, declaring someone as fāsiq) according to one version and heretics (ikfār, declaring someone as kāfir) according to another version. The Shiʿis are depicted as disobedient, because they insult the Prophet’s companions and refuse to acknowledge the leadership of the first and second caliphs of Islam Abū Bakr (d.11/634) and ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (d. 23/644). As a traditionalist scholar, al-Qādir addressed this long-time Sunni-Shiʿi controversy on the Prophet’s inheritance and legacy. Ibn al-Jawzī informs us that his book “quoted a great number of historical reports” about the events that occurred while the Prophet lay on his deathbed. By quoting these reports, the caliph conveyed the implied message that the sources support the Sunna and contradict the Shiʿi fundamental claim that Abū Bakr and ʿUmar robbed ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (the fourth caliph, d. 40/661) of his rightful leadership of the early Islamic community.59 Furthermore, in his books al-Qādir elaborated on the virtues (faḍāʾil) of Abū Bakr and ʿUmar,60 a recurrent anti-Shiʿi theme in traditionalistic treatises.61

Two of al-Qādir’s books depicted the triumph of traditionalism in a section which described a debate between a muḥaddith and a mutakallim. This historical debate occurred during the reign of the caliph al-Maʾmūn (r. 198–218/813–833) who adopted the Muʿtazilī doctrine of the createdness of the Quran as his official policy. Al-Maʾmūn instituted the infamous procedure of miḥna (so-called inquisition) to enforce this doctrine on the muḥaddithūn. The protagonists of the debate that al-Qādir described in his book were the muḥaddith ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Yaḥyā al-Makkī al-Kinānī (d. 240/854–855) and the Murjiʾī mutakallim Bishr al-Marīsī (d. 218/833). Bishr stood out as the unbeatable star debater during the discussions held in al-Maʾmūn’s palace. Ibn al-Jawzī described this part of the books as the ḥikāya (story) of what occurred between al-Kinānī and al-Marīsī, while later historians referred to it as a qiṣṣa (story).62 Both terms allude to the entertaining nature of this text—ḥikāyāt and qiṣaṣ were genres of oral literature. As such, they were performed by skillful storytellers who applied rhetorical devices like mimicry and pantomime in their performances.63 Ibn al-Jawzī saw the qiṣṣa and ḥikāya as indispensable parts of the religious homily (khuṭba).64

Al-Qādir therefore seasoned the religious education that he wished to impart to the masses with some entertainment by recounting a fascinating story that occurred two centuries earlier. Al-Kinānī whose appearance was grotesque came from Mecca to the court of al-Maʾmūn to refute the doctrine of the createdness of the Quran (khalq al-qurʾān). Al-Marīsī, his contestant in the debate was a frequent visitor to al-Maʾmūn’s court. In fact, al-Marīsī was the one who introduced to al-Maʾmūn the doctrine of the createdness of the Quran. As an experienced mutakallim, al-Marīsī’s victory in the debate was supposed to be guaranteed. However, al-Kinānī astonished the audience by presenting an argument which al-Marīsī could not refute. As a trained debater, al-Marīsī recovered in a split second and tried to create a distraction (ḥayda) instead of providing a straightforward answer (ḥāda ʿan al-jawāb). The audience witnessed al-Marīsī’s downfall. He failed in his maneuver, and al-Kinānī was proclaimed the winner. During the reign of al-Qādir, a text entitled Kitāb al-Ḥayda wa-l-iʿtidhār (‘The book of distracting and apologizing’) which was named after al-Marīsī’s maneuver and defeat circulated in Baghdad. We know this because al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī read this text around the time of al-Qādir’s gatherings. The book was attributed to al-Kinānī himself who allegedly dictated his account of the debate to his followers; however, the attribution of the surviving text of Kitāb al-ḥayda to al-Kinānī remains much in doubt.65

As there are no further details about the content of al-Qādir’s books, it is impossible to determine whether the relevant sections of the debate were identical to Kitāb al-Ḥayda. However, judging from the extant version of Kitāb al-ḥayda66 we can safely assume that the sections describing the debate in al-Qādir’s books were both entertaining and educational. When performed by a skilled preacher, al-Qādir’s book was used as tool to incite the Sunni audience to attack the Muʿtazilīs. In sum, al-Qādir’s books provided the Baghdadian preachers ample material to include in their sermons.

However, one misfortunate preacher who tried to preach in the spirit of the caliph’s books nearly lost his life. On Friday 19th Dhū l-Qaʿda 420/29th November 1029—a week after the third reading, the caliph sent a preacher on his behalf to the Barāthā mosque (Barāthā was a village situated in the western frontier of Baghdad). The caliph formally requested the preacher to go to this mosque which served as “a haven for Shiʿis”, replace the Shiʿi preacher, “and bring forth (wa-yuẓhira) the Sunna”. While ascending the preacher’s pulpit (minbar), the Sunni preacher Abū Manṣūr Ibn Tammām pounded the pulpit with the scabbard (ʿaqb) of his sword, as was customary in the Sunni mosques. The Shiʿi audience was abhorred and gravely offended by this act. The preacher began his sermon by denouncing the Shiʿi doctrine of walāya (the devotion to ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib). He could only utter: “God, forgive the Muslims and those who claim that ʿAlī is Your friend (mawlā)”, and the Shiʿi audience started stoning him with bricks. The preacher, who was severely injured, was removed from the mosque by four Turkish soldiers from the caliph’s army who came to his rescue. The caliph was extremely disturbed by this incident and wrote a lengthy letter to his wazīr Abū ʿAlī Ibn Mākūlā (murdered in 422/1031). In this letter, the caliph emphasized that the preacher was sent (unfidha) to the Barāthā mosque to deliver “a sermon of correct content” (khuṭba qawīma) as opposed to the abominable content of Shiʿi sermons.67

The preacher’s misfortunes did not end with this incident. Several days after the unsuccessful sermon, thirty men with torches invaded his house, removed him and his family members from the house, stripped them of their clothes, and violated them. Seniors in the caliph’s administration and the commanders of the army (al-iṣfahlāriyya or al-iṣbahlāriyya)68 appealed to the caliph’s secretary not to send the preacher again to the mosque, and their request was granted. The secretary did not send any preacher to the mosque for several weeks. Finally, on the first day of ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā (the Feast of Immolation, 9th Dhū al-Ḥijja 420/19th December 1029), the caliph and the notables of the Shiʿi community made a reconciliation. Although “the caliph was furious that his written and oral commands were not obeyed”, he was appeased by the Shiʿi notables who promised that the perpetrators of the horrible crime against the preacher and his family would be banished from the mosque. The Shiʿi notables further declared that they forgave the preacher for his miserable performance in the mosque.69

3 The Pious Caliph

The incident in the Barāthā mosque reflects the inevitable gap between the caliph’s religious rhetoric and his need to apply a policy of pragmatic realism. Although the Shiʿis attacked a symbol of the caliph’s authority, the caliph accepted a somewhat feeble apology from the Shiʿi notables who represented the aggressors. In this case, the caliph’s acceptance of the so-called religious sensitivities of the Shiʿi community signified the caliph’s recognition of his limited power over the Shiʿis. The caliph’s pacifying attitude contradicted the vehement language in which he described the Shiʿis in his letter to his wazīr Ibn Mākūlā. The letter was obviously sent before the reconciliation with the Shiʿis: “This [incident] is an attack on the religion of God. This attack was meant to destroy the divine law (sharīʿa) of our leader the Messenger of God and to violate God’s sovereignty (rubūbiyya). There is a pressing need to show our extreme resentment to the hideous crime that these promiscuous heretics performed. Let us join forces to hunt them down, innocent and culpable alike. It is permitted to shed the blood that must be shed and break the arms and legs that must be detached from their bodies”.70 This citation comes from the highly-detailed version of the caliph’s letter as preserved in Ibn al-Jawzī’s al-Muntaẓam. Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī tersely summarized this impassioned paragraph. According to him, the caliph merely wrote: “It is high time to take revenge”.71

The caliph’s letter provides a glimpse into his religious persona, but it does not seem to reveal anything new. The caliph appears here as the zealot we expected him to be. However, his zeal was only one aspect of his religiosity. Later historians crowned al-Qādir as “the head of all caliphs” (raʾs al-khulafāʾ).72 They did so both because of the issuance of the Qādirī creed with its straightforward message against Shiʿism and Muʿtazilism, and also because they regarded al-Qādir as a genuine religious scholar of the Shāfiʿī school of law.73 This point will be elaborated in the discussion of the Muslim scholars’ description of al-Qādir, here in Section 3. Al-Qādir’s initiative to issue a creed and demand that the ʿulamāʾ of Baghdad sign it was extraordinary, as Muhammad Qasim Zaman explains in his insightful analysis of al-Qādir’s reign. According to Zaman, although former Abbasid caliphs intervened in religious affairs,74 al-Qādir was the first Abbasid caliph to articulate an elaborate religious message with several layers of theological content, and to reclaim religious authority for himself and his successors.75 Reconstructing al-Qādir’s religious persona is therefore an essential piece in the attempt to solve the mystery of the authorship of the Qādirī creed.

The earliest historical account of al-Qādir is the brief biographical entry which appears in al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s monumental history of Baghdad. His description of al-Qādir was duplicated by later Baghdadī historians like Ibn al-Jawzī and Ibn al-Athīr, who nonetheless added their insights to al-Qādir’s place in the history of Islam.76 A contemporary of al-Qādir, al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s description of al-Qādir is based on his personal impressions. “I met al-Qādir bi-llāh on several occasions—al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī testified—his skin was fair, and his body was well-built. He used to dye his thick and long beard.”77 Dyeing one’s beard in red was (and still is) an external sign of one’s devoutness, as recommended by the Prophet and the Salaf, the pious ancestors of the first generations of Islam.78 Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī enumerated additional signs of devoutness connected to al-Qādir. Thus, the caliph was described as a modest man, who manifested his profound obedience to God by practicing tahajjud, namely the performance of voluntary prayers during the night. The caliph was also well-known for his frequent deeds of charity. In terms of dogma, he was—as we have already seen—a traditionalist who followed “the path of the people of Ḥadīth” and held “the right belief” (ṣiḥḥat al-iʿtiqād).79

Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī was an eyewitness to al-Qādir’s funeral which was held in the caliphal mausoleum (turba) in al-Ruṣāfa quarter in Baghdad. In 422/1031, while al-Qādir lay on his deathbed, Baghdad was plagued by numerous upheavals (fitan) and gang attacks. In the last days of al-Qādir’s rule, the city’s notables (al-ashrāf) sought refuge in the caliphal palace (dār al-khilāfa), bringing their valuables with them.80 The eighty-six-year-old caliph passed away on Monday night, the 11th Dhū al-Ḥijja 422/29th November 1031. The notables of Baghdad, judges, jurisprudents, and other pillars of society (al-amāthil) were present, while the city gates were guarded to prevent the invasion of the rioting gangs.81 Al-Qādir was buried in the palace the next night. Al-Qādir’s son and successor al-Qāʾim bi-Amr Allāh led the prayer which was held in the presence of the city’s notables in the palace. A year later, on Friday night, 25th Dhū al-Qaʿda 423/2nd November 1032, al-Qādir’s coffin was transported by night by means of al-ṭayyār (literally, a swift horse), which served as the recreational and funeral boat of the caliphs. The coffin was lowered from the boat to the shore at Bāb al-Ṭāq. This time, the funeral procession was ceremonious, and included a large group of pilgrims from Khurāsān who stopped in Baghdad on their way to Mecca. A group of men carried al-Qādir’s coffin as it passed through the streets of Baghdad on its way to the caliphal mausoleum in al-Ruṣāfa.82

Al-Qādir was an extremely devout man who was admired by his subjects. Like many caliphs and rulers before him, al-Qādir was the subject of laudatory poems.83 Naturally, the admiration for al-Qādir was also expressed in anecdotes praising his virtues and deeds. Ibn al-Jawzī and Ibn al-Athīr collected several anecdotes about the caliph. The most noteworthy of these anecdotes was recounted by al-Ḥusayn b. Hārūn (d. 476/1084), a judge from al-Karkh, a suburb southwest of Baghdad. “There was an orphan in al-Karkh—recounted the judge—who has not yet come of age. A guardian was appointed for him. The orphan owned a nice piece of valuable property, a prosperous shop. A friend of the caliph’s secretary, Ibn Ḥājib al-Nuʿmān, desired this property, and so Ibn Ḥājib al-Nuʿmān ordered me to declare the orphan as legally mature”. This declaration meant that the orphan was entitled to sell the property to the friend of the caliph’s secretary without the intervention of his guardian. The judge refused to obey the caliph’s secretary, and so the secretary sent his servant to bring the judge to the palace. The secretary intended to rebuke the judge and force him to comply with the secretary’s wishes. On their way to the palace, the judge asked the servant to stop near the graves of holy men, among whom was the famous ascetic Maʿrūf al-Karkhī (d. 200/815–816). Visiting this highly venerated grave and supplicating near the grave was a common practice among the people of Iraq. The judge therefore prayed near the grave and asked God to release him from the secretary’s unethical request. An old man who sat near one of the graves asked the judge what distressed him, and the judge confided in the elder. Thereafter, the judge continued his journey to the palace to meet with the angry secretary. Amid the secretary’s reproach, his servant brought him a letter from the caliph ordering him to apologize to the judge for the incident. “And then I knew that the old man whom I met in the graveyard was al-Qādir bi-llāh”—concluded the judge in his story.84 In this elaborate narrative, al-Qādir is disguised as an old ascetic passing his days in solitude in the vicinity of dead saints. This disguise enables him to control his administration and state affairs with calmness and wisdom. Despite the apparent hagiographic nature of this narrative, there is no reason to doubt its authenticity. This narrative presents an altogether different persona than the raging caliph who waged war against the infidels, as we saw previously in the case of the Barātha mosque.

The importance of the Baghdadi historians—al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Ibn al-Jawzī, Ibn al-Athīr—notwithstanding, other historians contributed to the depiction of al-Qādir’s persona. Thus, for example, the detailed description of al-Qādir which appears in Taʾrīkh al-khulafāʾ (‘The history of the caliphs’) by the illustrious Quran exegete and Ḥadīth scholar, Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī (d. 911/1505), is a tapestry of paragraphs copied from al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī and other historians, ornamented with al-Suyūṭī’s original insights. Al-Suyūṭī described al-Qādir as an expert in law who composed books (tafaqqaha wa-ṣannafa), a true scholar, one of the luminaries of his times (min aʿlāmihim). “Suffice it to say that Taqī al-Dīn ibn al-Ṣalāḥ considered him as one of the scholars of the Shāfiʿiyya.”—declared al-Suyūṭī—“Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ included al-Qādir in his book on the generations of the Shāfiʿīs.”85 Ibn al-Ṣalāh is the leading Ḥadīth expert Taqī l-Dīn Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ al-Shahrazūrī (d. 643/1245). The entry that he wrote about al-Qādir in Ṭabaqāt al-fuqahāʾ al-shāfiʿiyya (‘The generations of the Shāfiʿī jurisprudents’) is an accurate summary of al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s entry.86 And so, al-Suyūṭī copied from Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ who copied from al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī. To conclude this chain of duplicated material, Ibn al-ʿImād’s (d. 1089/1679) entry on al-Qādir which appears in his monumental biographical history Shadharāt al-dhahab fī akhbār man dhahab (‘Beads of Gold, Information and Anecdotes on Past Generations’) is copied from al-Suyūṭī.87

Al-Qādir’s profound relations with the ʿulamāʾ of Baghdad are reflected in several reports. A significant report is found in Muʿjam al-udabāʾ (‘The dictionary of littérateurs’) by the renowned traveler and prolific historian Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī (d. 626/1229).88 Yāqūt read this report in an unidentified collection by an anonymous scholar from Basra. According to this report, al-Qādir bi-llāh approached the four leaders of the Sunni schools and requested that each one summarize for him the laws of his school. One of the four imams was the Shāfiʿī imām Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī al-Māwardī (d. 450/1058) also known as aqḍā al-quḍāt (the supreme of all judges).89 Al-Māwardī is revered for his treatise on politics and governance entitled al-Aḥkām al-sulṭāniyya (‘The rules of governance’). Al-Māwardī was savant in Muʿtazilī kalām. Due to his close connection with the Buwayhids, the traditionalists suspected that he was a committed Muʿtazilī. These slanderous rumors that were spread by al-Māwardī’s rivals did not influence the caliph who held al-Māwardī in great esteem. At the request of the caliph, al-Māwardī composed Kitāb al-iqnāʿ (‘The book of persuasion’, a summary of Shāfiʿī law).90 In addition, each of the other three scholars, the Ḥanafī imam Abū l-Ḥusayn al-Qudūrī (d. 428/1037),91 the Mālikī judge Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb b. Muḥammad b. Naṣr (d. 422/1031), and a Ḥanbalī scholar whose name remains unknown, composed a summary of his particular school of law.92 The four books were sent to the caliph, and after reading them, the caliph sent the following message to al-Māwardī: “May God guard your religion for you, as you have guarded our religion for us”.93 Although this report was deliberately crafted and disseminated by al-Māwardī’s followers to clear his name from suspicion of Muʿtazilism,94 the text elucidates for us the profundity of the connections between al-Qādir and the ʿulamāʾ of his times, and al-Qādir’s commitment to Shāfiʿism.

The image of al-Qādir as the pious caliph was nurtured by later historians who had only a few anecdotes about al-Qādir to rely upon. According to their descriptions, al-Qādir dressed in the clothes of a commoner and withdrew to the sanctified graves of saints for lengthy retreats. However, the caliph arranged for exquisite food—including roasted chickens and sweets—to be brought to him while in seclusion.95 Ibn al-ʿImād described al-Qādir as “one of the poorest caliphs” (min afqar al-khulafāʾ). When al-Qādir died, he did not bequeath any money or valuables. His son and successor al-Qāʾim bi-Amr Allāh requested the notables and soldiers of Baghdad to renew their oath of allegiance (bayʿa) to the caliphate. The Turkish troops refused to pledge allegiance to the caliph until they were paid “the oath money” (māl al-bayʿa). Al-Qāʾim tried to appease the angry Turks who rebelled against him. “Al-Qādir did not leave any money”—al-Qāʾim said. Thereafter, al-Qāʾim was forced to sell an inn and a garden to pay their salaries. Al-Dhahabī added that these two assets were all that remained of the riches of the caliphate.96

When adding up all the components of al-Qādir’s personality and conduct, it is evident that the Muslim historians strove to strengthen al-Qādir’s image as an ascetic (zāhid). To this end, later historians provided several anecdotes that drew a direct line from al-Qādir to the famous ascetics in Islamic history. One of these anecdotes is the testimony of one Abū l-Ḥasan al-Abharī (whom I unfortunately could not identify), a messenger who was sent to the caliph on behalf of the Buwayhid amīr Bahāʾ al-Dawla. As the messenger entered the caliphal palace, he heard al-Qādir recite a poem in a singsong voice.97 The following literal translation of the poem was arranged according to the version which Ibn al-Athīr quoted:98

  1. Divine decree preordained the fate of every creature. It is God who guarantees your provisions to you.

  2. Alas! You worry (tuʿnā) about worldly matters that will be annihilated (yafnā), and desert what might have enriched you. You act as if you are certain of the outcome of events.99

  3. Have you not seen how the inhabitants of this world perish? Prepare yourself to the day in which you will depart this world, the day which is about to arrive (ḥāʾin).100

  4. You should know, oh cursed man (lā abā laka),101 that whatever riches you accumulated, it is not yours to keep. Rather, you merely serve as the keeper of treasures that someone else will inherit someday.

  5. You, an inhabitant of this world! Do you not inhabit a house which will remain empty when Maniyya (death) comes?

  6. Maniyya will inevitably come into realization, as you very well know. At the same time, you tend to forget it.

  7. One day, when Maniyya comes, she will neither consult the person whose soul she claims, nor will she ask for permission to enter his house.102

The messenger, Abū l-Ḥasan al-Abharī, was duly impressed. He congratulated the caliph for his recitation, and remarked that the caliph conducted his life in accordance with this poem. The caliph rejoined: “Oh, Abū l-Ḥasan. It is God who grants us with the ability to praise Him and thank Him. It is He who leads us to the road of salvation. Haven’t you heard the words of al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (the famous ascetic, d. 110/728). Somebody asked him about the people of disobedience, and he said: ‘They care little about God, they disobey Him. Had they exalted Him, He would have protected them from being disobedient.’ ”103 The setting of this scene implies that the caliph composed the poem. However, according to Ibn Kathīr the poem was attributed to Sābiq al-Barbarī (d. 100/718–719), an ascetic and a poet who was a favorite of the Umayyad caliph ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (r. 99–101/717–720), another caliph known for his pietism.104

The caliph’s rejoinder indicates that he did not recite the poem to himself, unaware of the presence of the amīr’s messenger. On the contrary, through the recitation of the poem the supposedly powerless Sunni caliph delivered two harsh messages to his powerful patron, the Shiʿi Buwayhid amīr. On a moral level, the poem called for the disassociation from worldly pleasures. This message is in line with al-Qādir’s zuhd. On a theological level, the poem expressed the belief in divine predetermination (al-qaḍāʾ). This doctrine—a hallmark of Islamic traditionalism—stood in stark contrast to the Muʿtazilī dogma of free will (al-ikhtiyār), which the Shiʿis embraced. By reciting this poem, the caliph insinuated that the Buwayhid amīr’s over-reliance on his own power was just a façade, and that God’s decree would eventually overtake him. In other words, the caliph who seemed powerless and dependent on the Buwayhids predicted that the end of the Buwayhids was near. Coming from the caliph, the poem—an eloquent seven-verse qaṣīda in the kāmil meter—became a Sunni manifesto against Shiʿism.

Al-Qādir’s claim for religious authority was widely supported by the Sunni community of Baghdad, as we see from alleged prophecies about his rule that circulated in Iraq. The case of these prophecies is somewhat complex and requires an introductory explanation. The prophecies appear in the succinct biographical entry of al-Qādir which was authored by al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī. The author, first and foremost a Ḥadīṭh scholar, was more interested in the ḥadīth material attached to al-Qādir’s name than in al-Qādir’s biography. Based on the methodology of isnād-analysis (a combined analysis of chains of transmitters and biographical details mined from the prosopographical literature and the chronicles), I will demonstrate that these prophecies were undoubtedly invented by the muḥaddithūn who personally knew al-Qādir. These muḥaddithūn were responsible for the circulation of the prophecies in the guise of legitimate Ḥadīth material. The transmission process of this material (illustrated in Appendix A) reflects the way that al-Qādir’s contemporaries perceived the caliph’s role and stature in the history of Islam.

Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī quoted two enigmatic ḥadīth-units that circulated among the scholarly elite of Baghdad and alluded to al-Qādir’s reign. These ḥadīth-units which supposedly predicted al-Qādir’s ascendance to the throne three hundred years before the actual event occurred, did not pique the curiosity of modern historians and accordingly were never analyzed. One of these texts is attributed to the seventh-century tābiʿī Abū l-Jald al-Jawnī (death date unknown; full name: Jīlān b. Farwa). According to Abū l-Jald, the people of Islam (this umma, nation or early Islamic community) would have twelve righteous caliphs until the Day of Resurrection. Two of these caliphs were family members of the Prophet: one would live (yaʿīshu) thirty years, while the other would live forty years.105 Obviously, al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī understood this prophecy as alluding to al-Qādir, who was a descendent of the Prophet’s uncle. One must admit however that this prophecy does not refer exactly to al-Qādir; he lived eighty-six years and ruled forty years.106

More noteworthy is the second ḥadīth that al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī quoted: a prophecy attributed to the Prophet’s cousin, ʿAbdallāh b. ʿAbbās (d. 68/686–688), whose father ʿAbbās b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib (d. 32/653) was the eponymous ancestor of the Abbasid dynasty. In this ḥadīth, Ibn ʿAbbās purportedly enumerated his “progeny” (walad): the first Abbasid caliph, al-Saffāḥ (“the blood thirsty” or “generous”, r. 132–136/750–754), the second, al-Manṣūr (“the victorious over his enemies”, r. 136–158/754–775), and the third, al-Mahdī (“the rightly guided”, r. 158–169/775–785). After the fourth caliph,107 al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī paraphrased text and tersely remarked: “and he (i.e. Ibn ʿAbbās) mentioned more personas (i.e. the following twenty caliphs)”. According to al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Ibn ʿAbbās concluded the list of caliphs by referring to an unnamed caliph whom he described as “the believer whose life God will prolong, the perfumed, delightful and luminous youthful who will rule for forty years”.108

This intriguing text is preceded by an isnād (See Appendix A). From this isnād we learn that al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī heard this ḥadīth from the Ḥanafī judge Abū l-Qāsim ʿAlī b. al-Muḥassin b. ʿAlī al-Tanūkhī (d. 447/1055), also known as ʿAlī b. Abī ʿAlī al-Muʿaddal al-Baṣrī. Al-Tanūkhī, a copious muḥaddith, was one of al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s many Ḥadīth teachers. In fact, dozens of texts that al-Tanūkhī taught were incorporated in Taʾrīkh Baghdād.109 Al-Tanūkhī’s grandfather and father were Muʿtazilīs, and thus his name was tainted by rumors that he nurtured Shiʿi and Muʿtazilī inclinations.110 These rumors did not affect al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī: as a close disciple and companion of al-Tanūkhī, al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī considered him a reliable authority of Ḥadīth.111 And so, when al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī heard from al-Tanūkhī the enigmatic ḥadīth on the unnamed pious caliph, he had no reason to doubt its veracity.

However, later historians and scholars of Ḥadīth labeled this extraordinary ḥadīth as “fabricated” (mawḍūʿ) after identifying another scholar—and not al-Tanūkhī—as the fabricator. Thus, in his Kitāb al-Mawḍūʿāt, a compilation of fabricated Ḥadīth, Ibn al-Jawzī stated: “This ḥadīth is the creation of Abū l-Ḥusayn al-Shaybānī. In this ḥadīth he no doubt referred to al-Qādir.” Ibn al-Jawzī’s evaluation of this ḥadīth as fabricated was unequivocally accepted by other scholars.112 Who was Abū l-Ḥusayn al-Shaybānī, the so-called liar who allegedly forged a ḥadīth which presented al-Qādir as the pinnacle of the Abbasid dynasty? Before answering this question, I must clarify that my interest lies mainly in the circle in which this ḥadīth was propagated, and not in the veracity of the text. Clearly, Ibn ʿAbbās was unable to accurately prophesy the names and characteristics of the Abbasid caliphs. The crux of the matter is who among al-Qādir’s contemporaries crafted this ḥadīth as a vehicle of glorifying the pious caliph who acted as the patron of traditionalism.

Abū l-Ḥusayn ʿUmar b. al-Ḥasan b. ʿAlī al-Shaybānī, also known as Ibn al-Ushnānī (“the son of the potash seller”, d. 339/951 at the age of 79) was a Ḥanafi judge in several places in Syria. He also spent some time in Baghdad where he assumed the position of muḥtasib, the regulator of the market-place (taqallada al-ḥisba).113 Ibn al-Jawzī had solid reasons to identify Ibn al-Ushnānī as the fabricator of this ḥadīth, because Ibn al-Ushnānī was labeled as a “liar” (kadhdhāb) by the illustrious Ḥadīth scholar Abū l-Ḥasan al-Dāraquṭnī (d. 385/995). Al-Dāraquṭnī, a leading expert in the biographies of muḥaddithūn, was known for the vitriolic judgment he passed on his teachers and colleagues. Al-Dāraquṭnī was also a former student of Ibn al-Ushnānī. According to al-Dāraquṭnī, he once caught Ibn al-Ushnānī teaching a fabricated ḥadīth. Ibn al-Ushnānī tried to appease al-Dāraquṭnī by sending him “all kinds of favors and gifts” (anwāʿ mina l-birr). We cannot tell whether al-Dāraquṭnī received the gifts; in any event, he made this anecdote known and tarnished Ibn al-Ushnānī’s name forever.114 It seems that al-Dāraquṭnī’s judgment inspired Ibn al-Jawzī to accuse Ibn al-Ushnānī of forging the text which praised al-Qādir.

This hasty accusation was untenable. Ibn al-Ushnānī could not have forged the abovementioned ḥadīth unless he was a gifted fortuneteller: al-Qādir, the subject of this ḥadīth’s prophecy, was born in 336/947, which means that he was three years old when Ibn al-Ushnānī died. It is highly unlikely that Ibn al-Ushnānī predicted that al-Qādir the infant would be a caliph of moral virtues whose righteous reign would be lengthy. Al-Qādir was not even in line for the throne until he was forty-five years old, and that time period was decades after Ibn al-Ushnānī’s death. As I have already remarked, al-Qādir ascended the throne on account of the efforts of the Buwayhid amīr Bahāʾ al-Dawla. However, there is a slight possibility that Ibn al-Ushnānī indeed fabricated this ḥadīth, but that his intention was to praise the caliph al-Muqtadir, al-Qādir’s grandfather, who reigned for twenty-four years (from 295/980 to 320/932). Al-Muqtadir appointed Ibn al-Ushnānī as the judge of west Baghdad, a post that Ibn al-Ushnānī did not hold onto for more than three days.115 Apparently, if Ibn al-Ushnānī forged this ḥadīth, his goal would have been to praise al-Muqtadir, and not al-Qādir.

As previously noted, al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī included the ḥadīth on al-Qādir in Taʾrīkh Baghdād because he perceived the text as authentic and legitimate. The introductory isnād of this ḥadīth indicates that the text circulated among the elite judges and other members of the judicial system in Baghdad. We are able therefore to identify the scholar who presumably heard this text from Ibn al-Ushnānī, altered it so that the text alluded to al-Qādir, and transmitted it in turn to al-Tanūkhī. This scholar was Abū Isḥāq al-Ṭabarī (d. 393/1002–1003, full name: Ibrāhīm b. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Muqriʾ al-Muʿaddal). He was the most senior among the professional witness-notaries (shaykh al-shuhūd) in the courts of Baghdad. Abū Isḥāq al-Ṭabarī who was affiliated with the Mālikī school of law, transmitted Ḥadīth and enjoyed the reputation of a reliable transmitter (thiqa). Although al-Ṭabarī was not a descendant of Quraysh, he was the first Quran reciter who was appointed as the leader of the prayer in al-ḥaram al-sharīf (“the noble sanctuary”) in Mecca during the pilgrimage.116

Al-Ṭabarī’s home served as a gathering place for scholars of Quran and Ḥadīth (wa-dāruhu majmaʿ ahl al-qurʾān wa-l-ḥadīth). Al-Tanūkhī was one of his companions, and transmitted Ḥadīth on al-Ṭabarī’s authority.117 Assuming that the ḥadīth praising al-Qādir started circulating in 381/991 upon al-Qādir’s ascendance to the throne, al-Ṭabarī could be the muḥaddith responsible for the promulgation of this text. He heard this ḥadīth from Ibn al-Ushnānī, but probably doctored it to praise the promising new caliph, and not his grandfather al-Muqtadir. The year 393/1002–1003 which is al-Ṭabarī’s year of death marks the upper limit of his oral transmission of the text. We therefore may assume that the ḥadīth praising al-Qādir was presented in the gatherings that occurred in al-Ṭabarī’s house. The timeframe of 381–393/991–1003 represents the first decade of al-Qādir’s long term of office, and that was two decades before al-Qādir was designated as the patron of Sunnism.

Another point to consider is the circulation of this ḥadīth among the traditionalists in Baghdad and its suburban villages. Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī could have heard this text anytime between 397/1006 (when he was five years old) to 447/1055 (al-Tanūkhī’s death). Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī nurtured a lifetime companionship with al-Tanūkhī, and even led the prayer at his funeral. The two men first met during al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s early childhood. Apparently, one of the many posts that al-Tanūkhī occupied as a judge was in Darzījān, on the west bank of the Tigris river south of Baghdad. Darzījān was al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s hometown.118 I cannot tell whether al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī heard this ḥadīth from al-Tanūkhī in Baghdad. Judging from the phrase akhbaranā (literally, “he informed us”) which appears in the beginning of the isnād, I assume that al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī recited the text to al-Tanūkhī, and al-Tanūkhī confirmed the accuracy of the recitation.119 The chain of transmitters attached to this ḥadīth indicates that al-Tanūkhī purposefully taught the text as an indirect eulogy of the caliph, and so he was responsible for the circulation of the laudatory ḥadīth in Baghdad and its environs. Al-Ṭabarī, the narrator who was responsible for the pro-Qādir version of the ḥadīth, and the anonymous participants in his academic circles knew the caliph personally. Some of these participants were—like their host—holders of official posts in his administration. This Sunni community saw no harm in harnessing the literary conventions of Ḥadīth to praise their admired caliph, a fellow-believer known for his pious conduct. The fact that this text is preserved in Taʾrīkh Baghdād attests to its acceptability in the circle of religious scholars who were associated with the caliph’s administration.

4 The Public Reading in the Year 432/1040–1041

None of the texts that al-Qādir authored exist today. According to Makdisi, these epistles or books were combined into one text known as the Qādirī creed (al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī).120 An abbreviated version of the Qādirī creed is found in Ibn al-Jawzī’s report on the events that occurred in the Hijrī year 433/1041–1042.121 This text was prepared at the request of al-Qādir’s son and successor, the caliph al-Qāʾim bi-Amr Allāh and was accordingly entitled al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī wa-l-qāʾimī (“The Qādirī-Qāʾimī creed”).122 As far as I was able to determine, the primary sources did not identify the scholar who authored this abbreviated version of the creed. I refer to this abbreviated text, which is not the original creed attributed to al-Qādir, as the IQQ (initials of al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī wa-l-qāʾimī).123

Ibn al-Jawzī, a prolific historian and theologian who affiliated himself to the Ḥanbalī school of law, received the IQQ from his teacher Muḥammad b. Nāṣir al-Salāmī (d. 550/1155; for the chain of transmitters of the IQQ, see Appendix B; for a translation of the complete text of the IQQ, see Appendix C). Al-Salāmī—a professional memorizer (ḥāfiẓ) of the Quran—received the text from Ibn Abī Yaʿlā (Abū al-Ḥusayn Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. al-Farrāʾ; murdered in 526/1131), the author of Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila (‘The classes of the Ḥanbalīs’, a biographical dictionary of Ḥanbalī scholars). Ibn Abī Yaʿlā’s father, the renowned Ḥanbalī theologian Abū Yaʿlā Ibn al-Farrāʾ (d. 458/1066), was directly associated with the IQQ. In the elaborate biographical entry that Ibn Abī Yaʿlā wrote about his father, Ibn Abī Yaʿlā recounts that his father Abū Yaʿlā and a group of traditionalist scholars from various schools of law were summoned to the caliphal palace in 432/1040–1041. They were summoned in order to attend a ceremony that was held under the auspices of the caliph al-Qāʾim bi-Amr Allāh.124 This ceremony occurred thirteen years after the issuance of the three books which were attributed to al-Qādir. These scholars signed the IQQ, and thus declared that they all shared one belief and acted according to the same doctrinal principles. I cannot determine whether Abū Yaʿlā obtained a copy of the document that he signed, because the sources did not address this question. Based on all the information I possess, I presume that Abū Yaʿlā (or someone else) summarized the document from memory in his notes after the ceremony. Nonetheless, the IQQ or its summary, which later made its way to Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, is not included in the elaborate biographical entry that Ibn Abī Yaʿlā wrote about his father.125

Because the events that preceded the ceremony in al-Qāʾim’s palace are directly connected to the content of the IQQ, I survey them here.126 In 429/1037–1038, three or four years before the ceremony in al-Qāʾim’s court, Abū Yaʿlā—a former rationalist who repented and became an ultra-traditionalist—published his controversial compilation of Ḥadīth that described God in an anthropomorphic language (aḥādīth al-ṣifāt). Abū Yaʿlā’s compilation, Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt li-akhbār al-ṣifāt (‘Invalidating the metaphorical interpretation of the anthropomorphic Ḥadīth’) was written in order to attack the Muʿtazilīs and Ashʿarīs who interpreted these problematic texts metaphorically (taʾwīl). Abū Yaʿlā had good intentions: he wanted to support the Ḥanbalī dogma that no anthropomorphic expression in the scriptures should be interpreted, and that the sacred texts should be accepted at face value without questioning their content (bi-lā kayfa). However, in his enthusiasm to cite every ḥadīth that was relevant to the subject, Abū Yaʿlā included in his book hair-raising anthropomorphic descriptions such as the description of God laughing until His uvula is seen. The inclusion of such material of dubious sources gave the impression that Abū Yaʿlā supported a literal reading of the anthropomorphic texts, and that he was in fact an anthropomorphist (mushabbih) and a corporealist (mujassim).127

Abū Yaʿlā’s book was a cause of embarrassment to his fellow Ḥanbalīs, as it fell to the hands of their rivals the Ashʿarīs like a ripe plum. In other words, the attack on Abū Yaʿlā was an internal affair of the Sunni community in Baghdad. This is the appropriate opportunity to clarify that in the context of Islamic theology, “traditionalism” is an umbrella-term that covers any worldview which adheres to the Quran, the Ḥadīth, and the consensus of previous Sunni generations (al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ). Under the category of “traditionalism” one finds the Ḥanbalīs, a distinct group which followed the teachings of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal (d. 241/855) and his disciples. One might say that (almost) every Ḥanbalī was a traditionalist;128 however, not every traditionalist was a Ḥanbalī. As an all-inclusive term, “traditionalism” refers to ultra-traditionalists like Ibn Baṭṭa and his Ḥanbalī followers, but also to moderate or “middle-of-the-road” traditionalists with rationalistic tendencies like the Ashʿarīs.129

The public image of the Ḥanbalīs of Baghdad—both the scholars and the laymen—was that of vulgar anthropomorphists (ḥashwiyya). The Ashʿarīs—traditionalists who applied rationalistic argumentations in the theological discourse—harshly criticized the Ḥanbalīs for indiscriminately and randomly including anthropomorphic Ḥadīth material in their curricula. The Ashʿarīs also accused the Ḥanbalīs of circulating preposterous and fabricated fables about God in the guise of aḥādīth al-ṣifāt.130 This unflattering image of the Ḥanbalīs was reinforced by systematic treatises that the Ashʿarī scholars authored. One of these treatises was Mushkil al-ḥadīth aw taʾwīl al-akhbār al-mutashābiha (‘The Problematic Ḥadīth material or the figurative interpretation of the ambiguous Ḥadīth material’) by the Ashʿarī theologian Ibn Fūrak (d. 406/1015–1016). Although Ibn Fūrak’s book was not directed against the Ḥanbalīs, they felt otherwise because it attacked—among others—“the anthropomorphists” (al-mushabbiha), a name of opprobrium that the Ḥanbalīs endured for centuries.131

Ibn Fūrak’s treatise was so popular that it triggered the composition of Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt. In the introduction of Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt, Abū Yaʿlā testified that he composed his book at the request of his disciples who were concerned by Ibn Fūrak’s figurative reading of the anthropomorphic Ḥadīth material. Moreover, they were concerned by the ramifications that Mushkil al-ḥadīth might exert on the Ḥanbalī community.132 At the request of his disciples, Abū Yaʿlā toiled to prove that the Ḥanbalīs were neither anthropomorphists nor rationalists, as they never applied a literal reading (ʿalā ẓāhir) or a figurative reading (taʾwīl) on the anthropomorphic texts. To dispel the accusations of anthropomorphism directed at the Ḥanbalīs from the Ashʿarīs, Abū Yaʿlā presented his novel “in-between” approach of reading the anthropomorphic texts. According to Abū Yaʿlā, one should accept the anthropomorphic description as denoting a divine attribute, even though the meaning of this attribute is inaccessible to human reason. In Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt, Abū Yaʿlā declares:

We do not assert [that God has] a laughter which includes the opening of the mouth, and grinning while showing the teeth. We do not assert [that God has] molars and uvula, which are body organs and parts. What we assert is an attribute (ṣifa), even though we do not grasp its meaning. It is precisely the same as we assert [that God has] face and hands; that He hears and sees.133

Abū Yaʿlā’s attempt to save the Ḥanbalīs’ face failed. His book proved exactly what the rivals of the Ḥanbalīs claimed: that the Ḥanbalīs were anthropomorphists. Consequently, Abū Yaʿlā caused embarrassment to the heterogenous Ḥanbalī scholarly community. Beneath the surface tension brewed between the ultra-traditionalistic Ḥanbalīs whose rigid acceptance of the anthropomorphic Ḥadīth was problematic, and other Ḥanbalīs who were more open to rationalistic perspectives. Abū Yaʿlā who once composed a book that can only be defined as a rare example of “Ḥanbalī kalām”, moved to the other end of the theological spectrum and became an ultra-traditionalist.134 The historian Ibn al-Athīr reported briefly that due to the publication of his book, Abū Yaʿlā was denounced by his fellow Ḥanbalīs, “because the material in his book about the divine attributes indicated that he supported corporealism”.135 Abū Yaʿlā’s case, an evidently internal Ḥanbalī affair, soon involved scholars of other schools of law. Some scholars of Ḥadīth attacked Abū Yaʿlā for including in his book Ḥadīth which was “frail” (wāhī) and fabricated (mawḍūʿ). Others claimed that Abū Yaʿlā’s book “expressed corporealism (tajassum)”.136 The caliph al-Qāʾim decided to intervene and restore order in the Sunni community. The caliph intended to intervene before the intellectual discussion about the authenticity of the so-called aḥādīth al-ṣifāt (Ḥadīth material on the divine attributes that includes anthropomorphic descriptions of God) that Abū Yaʿlā included in his book spread among the lay people and deteriorate into riots. The caliph’s first act of intervention involved sending a message of reconciliation to the Ḥanbalī public.

On Friday, 9th Jumādā al-Ūlā 429/17th February 1038, al-Qāʾim’s close friend, the respectable Shāfiʿī sheikh and ascetic Abū l-Ḥasan Ibn al-Qazwīnī (d. 442/1050–1051) visited the crowded al-Manṣūr Mosque in Baghdad with the intention of speaking to the Ḥanbalīs about Abū Yaʿlā’s book.137 This mosque, a stronghold of the Ḥanbalīs in Baghdad, welcomed Ḥanafīs but did not tolerate the presence of Shāfiʿīs.138 Ibn al-Qazwīnī was an exception: The sixty-nine year old Shāfiʿī scholar was a charismatic hedonist who had the aura of a performer of miracles (ṣāḥib karāmāt).139 The Ḥanbalī worshippers who were present in the mosque screamed with excitement, as they flocked to Ibn al-Qazwīnī.140 This charismatic scholar sat next to the minbar and observed the behavior of the worshippers carefully. The scene that unfolded indicated that the Ḥanbalī community was not unanimously supportive of Abū Yaʿlā and his book. An old preacher (wāʿiẓ) by the name of Abū ʿAlī al-Tamīmī Ibn al-Mudhhib (d. 444/1052) ascended the minbar, holding a book in his hand.141 The title of the book is unknown, but we can reasonably assume that it was Abū Yaʿlā’s Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt. Ibn al-Mudhhib recited Ḥadīth from the chapter on the beatific vision (aḥādīth al-ruʾya). This recitation was tedious, because Ibn al-Mudhhib read the various versions of the same ḥadīth which quoted the Prophet promising the believers: “You will see your Lord”. As this ḥadīth was attributed to dozens of the Prophet’s companions,142 Ibn al-Mudhhib was in fact quoting the same Prophetic saying repeatedly. A young Ḥanbalī, Rizq Allāh Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (d. 488/1095), mostly known as Abū Muḥammad Ibn al-Tamīmī, lost his patience at the unvaried recitation and shouted: “Just recite one ḥadīth from each chapter (bāb)!” The old Ibn al-Mudhhib paid no attention to him and continued his monotonous reading. Ibn al-Tamīmī stood up, pushed worshippers aside in the packed mosque, and approached the minbar. Finally, he ascended the minbar, seized the book from Ibn al-Mudhhib’s hand, leafed through it and started reciting other aḥādīth al-ṣifāt. We assume that Ibn al-Tamīmī quickly read the text, skipping the controversial Ḥadīth with the blunt anthropomorphic descriptions. When Ibn al-Tamīmī finished reading, he turned to Ibn al-Qazwīnī and said: “Perhaps the ascetic sheikh wishes to recite a ḥadīth so the study circle (jamāʿa) here will pass it on, while attributing it to you?” Ibn al-Qazwīnī was reluctant to teach Ḥadīth, but seized the opportunity to preach against delving in theological matters: “Tell them on my behalf—Ibn al-Qazwīnī requested from Ibn al-Tamīmī–that the Quran is the word of God, that arguing over theological matters is an undesirable innovation, and that the mutakallimūn (speculative theologians) go astray.”143

My description of this event is based on Ibn al-Jawzī’s account which is the only source to have provided a detailed account of the incident in al-Manṣūr mosque. As far as I understand, Ibn al-Qazwīnī entered the stronghold of the Ḥanbalīs with one purpose: to calm the heated atmosphere and to advise the Ḥanbalīs to avoid discussion in aḥādīth al-ṣifāt. As revealed subsequently, Ibn al-Qazwīnī was one of Abū Yaʿlā’s supporters, but the message that he conveyed was “to let sleeping dogs lie.” As Abū Yaʿlā’s book served the enemies of the Ḥanbalīs, it would have been wiser not to use it in public gatherings, such as the prayer service in al-Manṣūr mosque.

The message that Ibn al-Qazwīnī conveyed corresponded with Ibn al-Tamīmī’s viewpoint. Although he was merely twenty-eight years old at the time of the incident in the mosque, Ibn al-Tamīmī was already a pragmatic and farsighted politician. He wanted to prevent a rift between the Ḥanbalīs and the majority of the Sunnis in Baghdad, as he knew that the caliph wished to prevent dissention among the Sunnis and keep the peace in the city. Ibn al-Tamīmī was among the few Ḥanbalīs who were open to rationalistic views. He was a former student of Abū Yaʿlā (probably when the latter was in the “rationalistic” period of his career).144 He thought that the rigid acceptance of the anthropomorphic Ḥadīth that characterized the ultra-traditionalism of Abū Yaʿlā and his followers harmed the Ḥanbalīs. In fact, he was quoted as saying: “Abū Yaʿlā defecated on us Ḥanbalīs to such a degree that water will never wash his excrement away”.145 In the long run, Ibn al-Tamīmī’s pragmatism served him well: He became the Head of the Ḥanbalīs in Baghdad (raʾīs al-ḥanābila), and was appointed as the caliph’s envoy in special missions.146

Ibn al-Qazwīnī’s visit to the Ḥanbalī mosque was supported by the caliph al-Qāʾim, who, like his father al-Qādir, highly regarded Abū Yaʿlā’s scholarship.147 Al-Qāʾim wished to restore order and resolve the dispute among the Sunni scholars of Baghdad. In the meantime, Abū Yaʿlā’s Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt became immensely popular and well-studied. The popularity of the book led to an increase in the criticism of the Ashʿarīs and the other traditionalists who abhorred its content.148 Hearing the voices and realizing that Ibn al-Qazwīnī’s mission to calm the atmosphere failed, the caliph al-Qāʾim asked Abū Yaʿlā to send him his book. After reading the book, the caliph returned it to Abū Yaʿlā (probably after consulting his advisors about its content), and thanked Abū Yaʿlā for his scholarly work and his previous books.149

In 432/1040–1041, the caliph invited Abū Yaʿlā and “a large crowd” (al-jamm al-ghafīr) of traditionalists (ahl al-ʿilm) to his palace for a public reading of the Qādirī creed. The caliph ensured that the highly prestigious scholars (aʿyān al-fuqahāʾ) were invited. The purpose of the public reading was to prove that Abū Yaʿlā accepted the Sunni articles of faith as specified in the Qādirī creed.150 The text that was read was not the original creed that al-Qādir wrote at the time, but a different text dubbed al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī wa-l-qāʾimī (“The Qādirī-Qāʾimī creed”).151 Nevertheless, it was presented to the participants as al-risāla al-qādiriyya or al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī.152 As will be demonstrated here, this text concentrated on the bone of contention between Abū Yaʿlā and the Ashʿarīs. The text was prepared for the reading at the caliph’s court which was meant to publicize Abū Yaʿlā’s atonement concerning the anthropomorphic material that he included in his Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt. This atonement was intended to lead to a reconciliation between Abū Yaʿlā and the other traditionalists. It is noteworthy that Abū Yaʿlā’s son, the historian Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, provided a precious firsthand account of this reading, which both Makdisi and Haddad accurately summarized. However, we are now able to connect this reading with a crucial point in the IQQ that has remained obscure until now. For this purpose, we first need to consider the public reading at the caliphal palace. One of Abū Yaʿlā’s friends, whose name was not specified, described the ceremony in detail, as follows.

According to this anonymous eyewitness, Abū Yaʿlā arrived at the court accompanied by Ibn al-Qazwīnī (wa-kāna ṣuḥbatuhu al-shaykh al-zāhid Abū l-Ḥasan al-Qazwīnī).153 Ibn al-Qazwīnī most likely played a pivotal role in orchestrating the reconciliation between Abū Yaʿlā and the other traditionalists. The guests, who were experts of Ḥadīth and Islamic jurisprudence, were divided between those who were in favor (muwāfiq) of Abū Yaʿlā and his book, and those who were against (mukhālif) him. One of the officials of the caliphal court, who is described as “the reciter in the signing ceremony” (qāriʾ al-tawqīʿ) stood up. He held a book (ṣaḥīfa) in his hand. This book was the Qādirī creed, and he read it aloud. After the reading, each scholar present at the ceremony signed his name on the text of the creed “although they adhered to different doctrines (ʿalā ikhtilāf madhāhibihim)”. Thus, the creed became a contract, and its content “became as binding as a stipulating condition” (wa-juʿilat ka-l-sharṭ al-mashrūṭ).154 The first to sign the creed was Ibn al-Qazwīnī. He added the following sentence near his signature: “[I confirm that] this [book conveys] the beliefs of the People of the Sunna, which are my beliefs upon which I rely.” Abū Yaʿlā was next to sign the document. The Shāfiʿī judge Abū l-Ṭayyib al-Ṭabarī (d. 450/1058),155 who represented Abū Yaʿlā’s opponents, was next to sign the creed. Thereafter, all the other participants signed their names on the Qādirī creed.156 Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, Ibn al-Qazwīnī turned to Abū Yaʿlā and asked him: “Just as you wished it to be (ka-mā fī nafsika).” And Abū Yaʿlā replied: “I praise God who in His grace enabled me to bring forth the truth (iẓhār al-ḥaqq).” Ibn al-Qazwīnī said: “I am not yet satisfied with what happened. I plan to go to al-Manṣūr mosque and dictate aḥādīth al-ṣifāt there.” And he fulfilled his word and dictated aḥādīth al-ṣifāt for several successive Friday prayer sessions (jumaʿan mutarādifāt). Ibn Abī Yaʿlā emphasized: “He did so to support Abū Yaʿlā’s book.”157

The reason for Ibn al-Qazwīnī’s dissatisfaction with the ceremony in the caliphal palace lies in understanding what occurred there. Haddad, who provided a balanced account on the Abū Yaʿlā affair, claimed that the reconciliation that the caliph forced on the Sunni scholarly community “did reveal the credal position of the caliph and his support of Abū Yaʿlā.”158 This observation sounds logical enough. True, the caliph summoned parties in dispute to his palace to arbitrate their doctrinal differences and force them to sign his version of the Qādirī creed (here, the IQQ) as a token of their reconciliation. However, he did not side with Abū Yaʿlā. On the contrary, the caliph forced Abū Yaʿlā to accept the Ashʿarī methodology of figurative interpretation, the taʾwīl. The historical sources are silent about this point; however, this assumption (which was never raised by previous studies) is clarified when we examine the first paragraph (here, clause 1) of the IQQ. This text, which according to Ibn al-Jawzī was the text that Abū Yaʿlā and the other scholars were forced to sign, reveals a more nuanced picture.

Clause 1 occupies almost one page of the two and a half pages of the IQQ. This clause directly addresses the question of the divine attributes. At first glance, clause 1 offers a standard traditionalistic narrative of God’s essence and attributes which corresponds with other traditionalistic creeds.159 However, the wording of this clause does not correspond with the typical traditionalistic terminology. The author of this text used the kalāmic terminology when he described God as “omniscient by His eternal knowledge which is unattainable (ʿālim bi-ʿilm azalī ghayr mustafād)”.160 Clause 1 seems to be the product of an imaginative mind which is not entirely committed to the exact wording of the Quran and the Ḥadīth. Thus, for example, in clause 1 God does not simply sit on His throne,161 but “created the throne not because He needed it. He sits enthroned on high as He pleases. His sitting is not for resting, not like the sitting of the creatures that He created, a sitting which is meant for resting. He is the director of heaven and earth. He is the director of all there is on land and the sea. There is no director but He.”162 The author of this lovely passage did not merely paraphrase Q 20:5 “the Merciful sits enthroned on high”, as most traditionalists did in their creeds,163 but added his personal touch to the Quranic verse. Moreover, the author reflected upon the purpose of God’s enthronement. He arrived at the conclusion—which reminds us of the Ashʿarī (following the Muʿtazilī) taʾwīl—that this sitting on the throne was a metaphor of His rule over the world.164

Elsewhere, in clause 1, the IQQ addressed the topic of the divine attributes and provided the following declaration which corresponded with the Ashʿarī stance:

[God] should be described only by the attributes that He used to describe Himself, or the attributes that His Prophet used to describe Him. And this should be known: every attribute by which He described Himself or by which His Prophet described Him is used in the actual and proper meaning of the attribute and not in its figurative meaning (ṣifa ḥaqīqiyya wa-lā majāziyya).165

The stance that the divine attributes are real “existents” or “things” was shared among all the traditionalists, Ḥanbalīs and Ashʿarīs alike. While Ḥanbalīs, or ultra-traditionalists in general, eschewed the sophisticated-kalāmic wording, the Ashʿarīs used this wording to express their fundamental acceptance of the divine attributes. The above quoted sentence therefore expresses a traditionalistic idea while using the vocabulary of the kalām. This Ḥanbalī and Ashʿarī acceptance of the divine attributes defied the Muʿtazilī position of negating the distinct existence of God’s attributes.166 In summary, the caliph made Abū Yaʿlā sign a hybrid-document which both supported a figurative reading of aḥādīth al-ṣifāt (see the interpretation of God’s sitting on the throne) and negated it (see the use of ṣifa ḥaqīqiyya wa-lā majāziyya). This twofold approach is identical to the Ashʿarī reading of these texts.

Yet, there was another subtle message that the caliph wished to convey. By making all the traditionalists—both Ḥanbalīs and Ashʿarīs alike—sign the document “although they adhered to different doctrines (ʿalā ikhtilāf madhāhibihim)”, the caliph signaled that the Sunni community had finally—after centuries of disputes involving creed—reached a consensus (ijmāʿ). We learn that the iconic Qādirī creed symbolized consensus from the reaction of one of the participants.167 While leaving the assembly in the caliphal palace, this participant quoted the following Prophetic ḥadīth: “a group of my nation (umma) will always prevail on the basis of the truth (ʿalā l-ḥaqq ẓāhirīn) until the Day of Resurrection”.168 In the traditionalistic curriculum, this ḥadīth was linked with the concept of ijmāʿ, the utopic idea that in matters of dogma, the scholars of the Sunna were on the same page.169

By adding his signature to the Qādirī creed, Abū Yaʿlā paid the price for the ijmāʿ that the caliph demanded: he apparently retracted from the blunt anthropomorphic stance that was attributed to him (he himself did not think that Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt reflected an anthropomorphic stance), and withdrew to the warm embrace of the traditionalistic consensus. Abū Yaʿlā’s retort to Ibn al-Qazwīnī that we quoted earlier (“I praise God who in His grace enabled me to bring forth the truth”, iẓhār al-ḥaqq) in fact echoes the Prophetic ḥadīth on the consensus.170 At this stage of his career, Abū Yaʿlā was against taʾwīl,171 but he was compelled to sign a document which forthrightly applied taʾwīl and used the Ashʿarī vocabulary.

In 445/1053–1054, Abū Yaʿlā attended the caliphal palace by the invitation of the grand vizier (raʾīs al-ruʾasāʾ) Abū l-Qāsim ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan, also known as Ibn al-Muslima (murdered in 450/1059).172 In addition to the leading religious scholars of Baghdad, Ibn al-Muslima invited Baghdad’s rich and influential citizens (ahl al-dunyā) to a special assembly. Ibn al-Muslima who was a pro-Ashʿarī declared: “The Quran is the word of God. The anthropomorphic texts in the Ḥadīth (akhbār al-ṣifāt) should be transmitted exactly as they are.” This formula was accepted by both Ḥanbalīs and Ashʿarīs. Thereafter, Ibn al-Muslima forced a reconciliation between the two parties, namely Abū Yaʿlā and his followers, and the entire Sunni community, which was dominated by the Ashʿarīs.173

The scandal around Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt refused to die even after Abū Yaʿlā’s death. In 475/1082–1083, Abū Bakr ʿAtīq al-Bakrī (d. 476/1083), a zealous Ashʿarī preacher, used Abū Yaʿlā’s book in his sermons against the Ḥanbalīs.174 Centuries after Abū Yaʿlā’s death, two famous Ḥanbalī theologians—Ibn al-Jawzī and Ibn Taymiyya—wrote harsh refutations of Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt. They argued that Abū Yaʿlā’s insufficient knowledge of Ḥadīth and inconsistent approach towards the anthropomorphic Ḥadīth led to a disastrous outcome for the Ḥanbalīs.175 The historian and Ḥadīth expert Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī, who was not a Ḥanbalī, arrived at the same conclusion. He argued that Abū Yaʿlā had poor knowledge of prosopography (ʿilm al-rijāl), which was essential for the process of authenticating or invalidating Ḥadīth material. Abū Yaʿlā’s inadequate education in the Ḥadīth led him to include fabricated material in Ibṭāl al-Taʾwīlāt.176

As I indicated in the beginning of this Section 4, the IQQ that Abū Yaʿlā signed was not the original creed that al-Qādir authored, but a different text. We detected an obvious Ashʿarī trait of this text; however, the IQQ cannot be regarded as an Ashʿarī text per se. The IQQ “speaks” in two different voices and for two different audiences. I consider these voices in Section 5 of this article. Moreover, the author of the IQQ remains anonymous unless new textual evidence is discovered. The author of the Qādirī creed, namely the original text that gave birth to the IQQ, is identifiable. This point is also elaborated in Section 5.

5 The Two Voices of the IQQ

In Section 1 of this article, I mentioned Makdisi’s thesis about the document that I call here the IQQ. Makdisi believed that (a) the IQQ was the actual Qādirī creed; (b) that it was a summary of the series of documents and books that al-Qādir authored, and (c) that in addition to its anti-Muʿtazilī anti-Shiʿi slant, it had an anti-Ashʿarī tone.177 Makdisi identified the text as a document in which the caliph “gave his support to the doctrine of the traditionalists” and “a traditionalist manifesto”.178 Makdisi was more cautious in his observations than Laoust who referred to the IQQ—which he also considered as “la Qādirīya”, the Qādirī creed—as a Ḥanbalī creed.179 Laoust’s observation was adopted by subsequent researchers, who in turn also referred to the IQQ as the original creed authored by al-Qādir.180

Based on my reading of the sources, I wish to refine these observations. I see the Qādirī creed as the books that al-Qādir authored—with or without the help of others. However, and as opposed to Makdisi and Laoust, I claim that the IQQ cannot be the Qādirī creed. Ibn al-Jawzī regarded the al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī wa-l-qāʾimī (“The Qādirī-Qāʾimī creed”, the IQQ) as a revised version of the creed that was prepared by an anonymous scholar during al-Qāʾim’s reign.181 As I have shown in Section 4, clause 1 in the IQQ presents an unequivocal Ashʿarī approach to the interpretation of the anthropomorphic expressions in the Quran and the Ḥadīth.182 However, the IQQ speaks also in another voice. Here I elaborate on my understanding of the IQQ. First, let us examine the IQQ (for an updated translation of this text, see Appendix C).

The IQQ comprises five clauses enumerating the articles of faith which the Muslim believer must adhere to. Each of these five clauses is identifiable by its opening phrase. The first paragraph begins with “a person should know that …” (yajibu ʿalā l-insān an yaʿlama anna). Accordingly, the following clauses open with “and [he should] know that …” (wa-yaʿlama anna). The articles of faith in the IQQ present the following theological themes: (1) God’s oneness, sovereignty, essence and attributes;183 (2) the Quran is the divine speech, and as such it is uncreated (ghayr makhlūq);184 (3) the quiddity of faith and its connection to divine predetermination;185 (4) the veneration of the Prophet’s companions and the first five caliphs;186 (5) the circumstances which allow takfīr, namely declaring one as a heretic.187

On the one hand, the IQQ presents the core of al-Qādir’s theological message, namely a rejection of the Muʿtazilī doctrine of the createdness of the Quran and a condemnation of the Shiʿi schism. On the other hand, the IQQ—which is an extremely brief text—omits the literary parts that al-Qādir’s books contained. There is no trace of the homiletic exhortation or admonition (waʿẓ) found in the original books. The IQQ makes no mention of the entertaining debate between ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Kinānī and Bishr al-Marīsī and the historical reports about the events that occurred while the Prophet lay on his deathbed. A faint reminder of these literary parts could be clause 4 in the IQQ which refers to the Prophet’s companions as “the best of all human beings after the Prophet”.188

The text which Ibn al-Jawzī quotes as the IQQ is paraphrased, and by no means can be regarded as the original creed on which Abū Yaʿlā and the leading scholars of Baghdad signed in the ceremony that occurred in al-Qāʾim’s palace. The evidence that corroborates this assumption is hidden in the last part of the IQQ. The closing paragraph189 declares that the creed presents the official dogma of the Sunnis (ahl al-sunna wa-l-jamāʿa). The text promises salvation to whomever follows the path that this creed leads to. Before the closing paragraph, we read the phrase thumma qāla—“then he said”—which is a common formula denoting an omission of text.190 This phrase indicates that Ibn al-Jawzī (or the teacher who transmitted this text to him) in fact summarized the version of the IQQ, and did not quote it verbatim. Unfortunately, there is no way to retrieve the parts of the IQQ that Ibn al-Jawzī omitted, because Ibn al-Jawzī’s text is the earliest and most complete version of the IQQ.

Although the IQQ was written during the reign of the caliph al-Qāʾim, it presents the core of al-Qādir’s traditionalistic message: first, the IQQ presents an attack on all four sects that deviated from the mainstream Sunni Islam in its formative period; second, it defines Sunnism “explicitly and positively”.191 The four sects that the IQQ attacks are the Muʿtazila, the Shīʿa, the Murjiʾa and the Khawārij.192 I will focus here on al-Qādir’s anti-Muʿtazilism and anti-Shiʿism which is most apparent in clauses 2 and 4 of the IQQ. Clause 2 which states that “the Quran as the word of God, is uncreated” (al-qurʾān ghayr makhlūq), is a direct response to the Muʿtazilī dogma of the createdness of the Quran. In addition, clause 2 emphasizes that all four temporal manifestations of the Quran are uncreated “because this is the exact word that God spoke, and this word is uncreated”. The four temporal manifestations of the Quran are as follows: the Quran in its recited form (matlūwan), its memorized form (maḥfūẓan) which resides in people’s hearts, its written form (maktūban) and its audibly pronounced form (masmūʿan). This paragraph draws a direct line to al-Qādir’s books, because similar to these works the text declares: “Whoever says that the Quran is created in any of the abovementioned forms, is a heretic whose blood may be lawfully shed if he refuses to publicly repent when requested to do so (baʿda l-istitāba minhu).”193 This statement expresses the kernel of traditionalism as expressed in previous creeds. Thus, we read an identical statement in the creed of the Ḥanbalī leader Ibn Baṭṭa al-ʿUkbarī of Baghdad (d. 387/997).194

Clause 4 is a direct response to the Shiʿi array of accusations against the Prophet’s companions and especially against the first two caliphs of Islam.195 This paragraph outlines the Sunni decorum—which became a professed doctrine—according to which the Muslim “must love all the Prophet’s companions” and to publicly attest to their moral virtues. Among these ṣaḥāba, the clause promotes the veneration of the first two caliphs Abū Bakr and ʿUmar, and the third caliph ʿUthmān b. ʿAffān (r. 23–35/644–656). All three caliphs were hateful figures in the eyes of the Shiʿis. The clause also mentions ʿAlī, the laudable fourth caliph who was venerated by Sunnis as the Prophet’s kinsman and respected on his own merits. Respect and love are reserved also for the ten ṣaḥāba who were promised paradise while they were still alive (al-ʿashara al-mubashsharūn bi-l-janna).196 Another prominent figure whom the Shiʿis detested and the Sunnis revered was the first Umayyad caliph, Muʿāwiya (r. 41–60/661–680), a bitter rival of ʿAlī. Clause 4 demands that the Sunni believer “will only sing Muʿāwiya’s praise”. Praising Muʿāwiya was a common theme in the traditionalistic creeds. Aḥādīth describing Muʿāwiya’s virtues circulated in Baghdad prior to the composition of the Qādirī creed.197

The Sunni decorum stood in contrast to the public behavior of the Shiʿis who manifested their disdain and disrespect towards the above-mentioned historical figures (apart from ʿAlī). The IQQ warns the Shiʿis of the consequences of their offensive behavior. Thus, it declares: “Whoever blasphemes our lady ʿĀʾisha (the Prophet’s third and most beloved wife, d. 58/678) has no part in Islam.”198 This warning is directed at the Shiʿis whose view of ʿĀʾisha was unfavorable, to say the least.199 The honorable forefathers and foremothers of the Islamic community had their fair share of quarrels. Centuries after these quarrels occurred, they remained a cause of constant embarrassment to the Sunnis. There were also Sunnis who believed that Abū Bakr and ʿUmar maltreated ʿAlī. These Sunnis were called mutashayyiʿūn (Sunnis partial to the Shīʿa). In view of this phenomenon, the IQQ warns the Sunni “to never meddle in any matter that instigated quarrels among them” (lā yadkhulu fī shayʾin shajara baynahum), namely among these honorable historical figures. This creed demands the Sunni “to invoke God to have mercy upon all of them”.200

The IQQ also manifests its anti-Muʿtazilī slant in clauses 1 and 3. In contrast to clause 4, these clauses address the doctrinal differences between the Sunni traditionalism and Muʾtazilism. Clause 3 which discusses faith (īmān) stands in stark contrast to the Muʿtazilī (and also the Shiʿi) belief in free will. In this clause, the creed declares:

A person knows neither what God has predetermined for him (before he was born) nor in what state will the course of his life be sealed. For this reason, he should say: ‘I am a believer, if God so wills. I hope that I am a believer’. Using this form of expression denoting exception (istithnāʾ) and hope (rajāʾ) will not harm the believer. This formulaic saying does not mean that the believer has doubts regarding his faith. By saying ‘I hope that I am a believer’ he only means that he has no knowledge of what will become of him in the end and what God has predetermined for him.201

This statement reflects the traditionalistic belief in predetermination. Man has no choice between belief and heresy, as God has already predetermined whether he will be a believer or a heretic. The formulaic statement “I hope that I am a believer” usually appears in Ḥanbalī creeds.202 This formula represents the Ḥanbalī voice of the IQQ. The Ḥanbalī slant of the IQQ is also evident in Clause 5 which declares that one who willingly neglects his daily obligatory prayers is liable to capital punishment. As Melchert has already observed, the Ḥanbalīs perceived the one who neglected his daily prayer as a culprit. This Ḥanbalī position disagreed with the other three schools of law. The Ḥanafī position did not consider the neglect of the prayer as a capital offense. The Shāfiʿīs and the Mālikīs considered a lesser punishment for the one who offended the duty of prayer.203

Returning to al-Qādir and his creed, the question remains: Was the caliph al-Qādir the author of the texts entitled al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī? In the process of collecting the material for this article, I did not expect to find any new piece of evidence to lead us to the author or authors of the Qādirī creed. The great scholars of the twentieth century already combed through Ibn al-Jawzī’s al-Muntaẓam and other historical sources, and so there was no expectation of discovering the identity of the author or authors of the creed. However, a cryptic footnote in the 1982 revised edition in English of Massignon’s magnum opus on al-Ḥallāj eventually led me to hitherto neglected pieces of evidence.204 Massignon pointed on two passages written by the Damascene scholars Ibn Taymiyya and Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī. These passages were also presented in a 2007 article by the Saudi scholar ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Muḥammad Āl ʿAbd al-Laṭīf. This Saudi scholar was oblivious to Massignon’s footnote. In the same manner, Āl ʿAbd al-Laṭīf’s article did not reach the attention of Western scholars. Finally, in his 2019 monograph on Ibn Taymiyya Farid Suleiman mentioned these two passages. Apparently, Suleiman was oblivious of Massignon and Āl ʿAbd al-Laṭīf’s previous treatment of these passages.205

A thorough check in the writings of Ibn Taymiyya and his foremost disciple Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 751/1350), led to similar passages with additional details. These passages recounted the following story: while composing his creed, the caliph al-Qādir relied on a book entitled Kitāb al-Sunna which was penned by a marginal Shāfiʿī scholar by the name of Abū Aḥmad al-Karajī. Massignon speculated that in 402/1011–1012 al-Karajī redacted his creed from a creed penned by al-Qādir’s spiritual guide, Abū Ḥāmid al-Isfarāyīnī (d. 406/1016).206 This speculation is erroneous because al-Karajī died at around 360/970–971, forty-eight years before the alleged redaction of the creed. This historical error does not diminish Massignon’s achievement in locating the passages about al-Karajī in the works of al-Dhahabī and Ibn Taymiyya.207 Āl ʿAbd al-Laṭīf cited the entire available data on al-Karajī; however, his reading was linear and provided no insights to clarify the exact role of al-Karajī in the composition of the Qādirī creed.208

The following description reconstructs the “Damascene narrative”, namely the narrative on the authorship of the creed which al-Dhahabī, Ibn Taymiyya, and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya promoted. This reconstruction is based on a cross-reading in the writings of these three authors. It is noteworthy that the leading historians of Baghdad, namely al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī and Ibn al-Jawzī did not mention al-Karajī. To my dismay, the source from which the three Damascene scholars drew the following narrative is untraceable. This source remains “a missing link” in the mystery of the authorship of the Qādirī creed.

In the background of the “Damascene narrative” stands Abū Ḥāmid al-Isfarāyīnī, the head of the Shāfiʿī school (shaykh al-shāfiʿiyya) in Baghdad. Al-Isfarāyīnī was an influential scholar, “respected by kings and laymen alike”.209 He was a frequent visitor in the caliphal court where he participated in legal and doctrinal debates (majālis al-jadal), although he did not care much for this pastime. “If we wanted to sincerely respect God—he said to one of his companions—we would have kept our silence rather than prolonged our debate”.210 In other words, al-Isfarāyīnī practiced kalām but despised this occupation. As one of al-Qādir’s spiritual advisors, al-Isfarāyīnī was involved in al-Qādir’s efforts to restore the caliphal authority.211 He could not have been involved in the writing of the books that comprised the Qādirī creed, because he died two years before the issuance of al-Qādir’s first book.

Al-Isfarāyīnī however is mentioned in a brief passage in al-ʿUlūw lil-ʿalī al-ghaffār (‘The aboveness of God the Most-High and Much-Forgiving’), which is Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī’s theological treatise of the divine attribute of aboveness. In this passage, al-Dhahabī identifies the source from which al-Qādir drew his creed.212 According to al-Dhahabī, towards the end of al-Isfarāyīnī’s life, the caliph “wrote” (kataba) a creed which was originally composed (allafa) by Abū Aḥmad al-Karajī.213 We must not be mistaken to think that composing the creed was a combined effort of the caliph and the marginal Shāfiʿī scholar. As said before, al-Karajī died half a century before the composing of the Qādirī creed. Al-Dhahabī in fact tells us that al-Karajī’s book found its way to the caliph, and he decided to copy and publish it as his creed. The process which involved the duplication of al-Karajī’s book is lacking in the sources. Al-Dhahabī merely indicates that the caliph “made people unite around” his creed (wa-jamaʿa al-nās ʿalayhā).214 This sentence obviously refers to the public gatherings in which the scholars of Baghdad were required to sign the creed. Al-Dhahabī further refers to clause 1 of the IQQ as the text that al-Karajī composed. Obviously, for al-Dhahabī the IQQ is identical to the Qādirī creed.

Al-Dhahabī mentioned that the caliph wrote his creed in the twilight of al-Isfrāyīnī’s life as part of al-Dhahabī’s trial to explain several inadequate statements that the IQQ contained in clause 1. According to al-Dhahabī, this clause was tainted with kalāmic terminology which the caliph drew directly from al-Karajī’s book. In other words, the IQQ which was intended to be the emblem of traditionalism concealed rationalistic concepts. In clause 1, the creed declares that:

[God] should be described only by the attributes that He used to describe Himself, or the attributes that His Prophet used to describe Him. And this should be known: every attribute by which He described Himself or by which His Prophet described Him is used in the actual and proper meaning of the attribute and not in its figurative meaning (ṣifa ḥaqīqiyya lā majāziyya).215

Al-Dhahabī was an ultra-traditionalist: He did not approve of kalām and believed that every traditionalist scholar should have recourse to the Quran and the Ḥadīth.216 He resented the use of this terminology which was the hallmark of the kalāmic discourse, and rejected the idea that metaphysical topics such as the divine attributes (ṣifāt Allāh) could be discussed at all. In fact, al-Dhahabī accused al-Karajī (or rather, al-Karajī’s book) of spreading ideas which made no sense and had the potential of damaging the souls of the believers.217 By mentioning al-Isfarāyīnī’s absence from the caliphal court at the time that the caliph received al-Karajī’s book, al-Dhahabī implicitly criticized the caliph’s associates. Obviously, a scholar of al-Isfarāyīnī’s caliber would have attempted to prevent the infiltration of such dangerous ideas as the essence of the divine attributes into the caliphal court. However, al-Isfarāyīnī’s successors in the caliphal court were unaware of the malicious content of al-Karajī’s book. Summing up his severe judgment of al-Karajī and his book, al-Dhahabī concluded: “It would have been better that he (i.e. al-Karajī) kept quiet and did not refer to ‘the actual and proper meaning of the attribute’ (ṣifa ḥaqīqiyya). Our way is to confirm the Creator’s attributes and transmit the texts exactly as we received them.”218

Al-Dhahabī seemed to be the only scholar who had any information about al-Karajī, although this information is partial and sketchy. Furthermore, al-Dhahabī did not disclose the sources from which he drew his information on al-Karajī. In his biographical dictionaries Siyar aʿlām al-nubalāʾ and Tadhkirat al-ḥuffāẓ, al-Dhahabī recounts that al-Karajī came from the beautiful town of al-Karaj (“al-Karaj al-gharrāʾ” situated in al-Jibāl, the Persian speaking area of Iraq).219 However, it is unknown whether he lived there or elsewhere in his adulthood. The brief list of his teachers suggests that his formative years were spent in Khurāsān, as all his teachers were Persian.220 His father, however, was a disciple of the fairly prominent muḥaddith from Mosul, ʿAlī b. Ḥarb al-Ṭāʾī (d. 265/878–879). Al-Karajī was best known as al-Mujāhid (“The Warrior”), al-Ghāzī (“The Raider”) and al-Qaṣṣāb (“The Butcher”) “because he shed the blood of many infidels in the raids (al-ghazawāt)”.221 These ghazawāt remain unspecified. Al-Dhahabī credited several books to al-Karajī, which al-Dhahabī could have seen or read; however, these books no longer exist. One of these books is Kitāb al-Sunna, which al-Qādir copied and publicized as the Qādirī creed.222 Despite al-Karajī’s description as an author of several books, he left no mark on Islamic traditionalism as his work was not cited by later generations. Al-Karajī’s marginality is implied in al-Dhahabī’s remark: “I was not successful in retrieving the year of his death. It seems that he lived approximately until 360/970–971, but God only knows”.223

Al-Dhahabī’s acquaintance, Ibn Taymiyya, apparently thought otherwise. According to Ibn Taymiyya, al-Karajī (or the variant al-Karkhī) was “the well-known religious leader (imām) who lived in the 4th/10th century”.224 According to Ibn Taymiyya, al-Karajī was a prominent scholar and religious leader “in these areas” (tilka al-nawāḥī).225 Elsewhere, Ibn Taymiyya determined: “He was one of the most distinguished and knowledgeable sheikhs. His language was that of extreme truthfulness” (wa-lahu lisān ṣidq ʿaẓīm).226 We cannot determine whether Ibn Taymiyya meant that al-Karajī’s prominence was restricted to al-Jibāl or extended to Baghdad. Anyway, his rare description of al-Karajī and his book was duplicated by his disciple Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya. According to both scholars, al-Qādir’s creed was copied from al-Karajī’s Kitāb al-Sunna. Thus, for instance Ibn Taymiyya wrote: “The imam al-Qādir wrote the well-known Qādirī creed, while the lion’s share of this text is copied from a text composed by the sheikh Abū Aḥmad al-Karajī.”227 Elsewhere, Ibn Taymiyya clarified that the caliph wrote the Qādirī creed “which is attributed to him, but originally, it was composed (jamʿ) by the sheikh Abū Aḥmad al-Qaṣṣāb.”228 Two additional variants of these two sentences appear in other works of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya. Unfortunately, the editors of the printed editions of these works conjectured that there was a typographical error in these sentences, as it was illogical that the caliph would write a creed which was the composition of another author. The editors therefore amended the variants of these sentences to read as though al-Karajī composed the creed for the caliph (katabahā lil-khalīfa).229

None of the three Damascene authors who mentioned al-Karajī and his contribution to the Qādirī creed provided additional details about Kitāb al-Sunna and its author. Furthermore, while these three authors identified the IQQ with the Qādirī creed, they did not mention the scholars who were involved in the preparation of the IQQ. As stated previously, the IQQ is the subsequent abbreviated creed which was redacted from the Qādirī creed in the days of his son and successor, the caliph al-Qāʾim bi-amr Allāh.


The Qādirī creed was a series of documents that played a pivotal role in the history of the Sunna. The creed conveyed several religious messages and set new goals for the caliphate. First, it marked the emancipation of the Sunni caliph al-Qādir bi-llāh from the patronage of the Shiʿi Buwayhid emirs. Second, the creed announced the Abbasid caliph’s intolerance towards the Shiʿis in general. Third, the Qādirī creed targeted the rationalistic elements within the Sunna and marked them as heretics. In al-Qādir’s times, these elements were mostly the Muʿtazila. Al-Qādir’s documents and books influenced his ally and nominal subordinate, the sultan Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin, to launch a fierce military campaign in Rayy against the deviators from Sunnism.

Al-Qādir expected that the anti-Muʿtazilī anti-Shiʿi message of the documents and books that he authored would be spread throughout Baghdad and its environs. To this end, he organized two reading-sessions. The first session included the intellectual elite of Baghdad, who were compelled to sign one of al-Qādir’s books as an indication of their commitment to his policy. The second session was a didactic dictation (samāʿ) of his book to the lower-class of preachers and pietists. These functionaries were expected to spread the caliph’s message in the mosques and other public venues. One recorded case of a Sunni preacher who was tempted to deliver the caliph’s anti-Shiʿi message in a Shiʿi mosque had disastrous implications on the sensitive equilibrium of the Sunni-Shiʿi coexistence in Baghdad.

This article emphasized the need to differentiate between the Qādirī creed (namely, the books and documents that al-Qādir wrote) and the Qādirī-Qāʾimī creed (here, the IQQ). In contrast with previous research, it was established here that the IQQ–as preserved in Ibn al-Jawzī’s al-Muntaẓam—was not the Qādirī creed. This was a different text, a subsequent text that was authored by anonymous authors at the request of the caliph al-Qāʾim bi-Amr Allāh, al-Qādir’s son and successor.

While the Qādirī creed led to an escalation in conflict in the relationships between Sunnism and Shiʿism, the IQQ version was meant to reconcile between different wings within the Sunni community, namely the Ḥanbalīs and the Ashʿarīs. These two trends of Islamic traditionalism—the ultra-traditionalistic Ḥanbalīs and the rationalism-leaning Ashʿarīs—were divided on the question of how to interpret the divine attributes (ṣifāt Allāh). The caliph al-Qāʾim sought to restore the status quo between the Ḥanbalīs and the Ashʿarīs. The caliph summoned the disputing parties to his palace to arbitrate their doctrinal differences and forced them to sign his version of the Qādirī creed (the IQQ) as a symbol of their reconciliation. The surviving version of the IQQ presents elements of the Ashʿarī figurative reading (taʾwīl) of the divine attributes with a silent acceptance of the anthropomorphic expressions in the Quran. This acceptance was shared by both the Ashʿarīs and the Ḥanbalīs. Our observation that the IQQ has a clear Ashʿarī tone negates the assumption of previous studies that the IQQ was a pro-Ḥanbalī anti-Ashʿarī document.

Finally, this article examined the role of al-Qādir in writing the Qādirī creed. By cross-reading the sources, it is evident that al-Qādir’s contemporaries considered him as a religious authority, a scholar committed to the Shāfiʿī school of law. This assertion is based on an examination of several aspects of al-Qādir’s piety, and an examination of a hagiographic ḥadīth that the scholars who surrounded al-Qādir composed in his honor. By applying the methodology of isnād-analysis, we reconstructed the dissemination of this hagiographic text in Baghdad and its environs. As for the writing of the Qādirī creed, we learned from a narrative promoted by three Damascene scholars of the Mamluk period, that al-Qādir, who was known as a “bookish scholar” came across a book entitled Kitāb al-Sunna. This book was penned by Abū Aḥmad al-Karajī, a marginal Shāfiʿī scholar who died fifty years before the issuance of the Qādirī creed. Since both the Qādirī creed and Kitāb al-Sunna no longer exist, there is no way of knowing whether al-Qādir merely copied the entire book or portions of it, or whether he only relied on this book in the writing of his creed. Either way, al-Qādir or his men presented the outcome as his creed. While we still recognize al-Qādir as the eponymous author of the Qādirī creed, we now realize that his role as an author was not as exclusive as the previous studies considered. Moreover, until new textual evidence is revealed, there is no way to determine whether the surviving text of the IQQ resembled the original Qādirī creed and Kitāb al-Sunna.

Appendix A: The Prophecy on al-Qādir bi-llāh’s Reign Which Is Attributed to ʿAbdallāh b. ʿAbbās (d. 68/686–688)

(Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād v, 63–64)

Appendix B: The Chain of Transmitters of the IQQ

Appendix C: A Translation of the iʿtiqād qādirī-qāʾimī (IQQ)

Note: The following text is my translation of the IQQ. I divided the text into clauses and indicated the location of each paragraph in the printed edition of al-Muntaẓam.

This translation resolves linguistic difficulties that appear in the German translation of Adam Mez, and the English translations of Salahuddin Khuda Bukhsh and D.S. Margoliouth. In my translation, I benefitted from George Makdisi’s French translation. For references to these translations, please refer to footnote 6 within this article. The Quranic verses are quoted here from N.J. Dawood’s translation of the Quran, The Koran with a Parallel Arabic Text, 1st edition 1956, London: Penguin Classics, 2000.

[An opening statement]

(Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 279, l. 17–280, l. 1) This is the creed of the Muslims. Whoever opposes it, is a deviating heretic.

[Clause 1: God’s Oneness, Sovereignty, Essence and Attributes]

(Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280 l. 1–8) A person should know that God to Whom might and majesty belong, is one. “He has no associate. He begot none, nor was He begotten. None is equal to Him.” (Q 112:3–4). “He did not take a female companion. He did not have a son”.230 He had no associate ruling with Him in His kingdom. He is the first, and as such He always existed. He is the last, and as such He will always exist. He is omnipotent. There is nothing He is incapable of doing. “When He wishes a thing, He need only to say ‘Be!’ and it is”.231 He is self-sufficient. He needs nothing. “God: There is no god but Him, the Living, the Eternal One. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him”. (Q 2:255) “He gives nourishment to all and is nourished by none.” (Q 6:14) He is never bothered by His solitude. He never needs the company of another. He needs nothing. Age and time did not beget Him. How can they change Him, when He is the one who created age and time, night and day, light and dusk, heaven and earth and all the creatures therein? He created land and sea and all the creatures therein. He created everything whether alive or dead, whether animate or inanimate.

(Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, l. 8–12) Thereafter, He remained by Himself. Nothing was with Him; nothing is with Him. No space encompasses Him. He created everything by His power. He created the throne not because He needed it. He sits enthroned on high as He pleases. His sitting is not for resting, not like the sitting of the creatures that He created, a sitting which is meant for resting. He is the one who directs heaven and earth. He directs all the creatures on the land and in the sea. There is no director but Him. There is no protector but Him. He provides for them. He makes them ill and then makes them well. He makes them die and then He resurrects them. All His creatures are powerless, including the angels, the prophets, and the apostles.

(Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, l. 12–16) He is omnipotent by His potence. He is omniscient by His eternal knowledge which is unattainable. He hears-all by His attribute of hearing. He sees-all by His attribute of seeing. He knows the meaning of these two attributes through His own self. None of His creatures knows the essence of these two attributes. He speaks by His divine speech, not through a created organ like the organ of speech that the creatures have. He should be described only by the attributes that He used to describe Himself, or the attributes that His Prophet used to describe Him. And this should be known: Every attribute by which He described Himself or by which His Prophet described Him is used in the actual and proper meaning of the attribute and not in its figurative meaning.

[Clause 2: The Quran is the Divine Speech, and as such it is Uncreated]

(Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, l. 16–21) A person should know that the word of God (kalām Allāh) is uncreated. God spoke His word by the attribute of speech. He revealed His word to His Prophet through the mediation of Gabriel: Gabriel heard the divine speech coming from God, and then recited His words to Muḥammad. Muḥammad in turn recited the word of God to His companions. The companions recited the word of God to the Islamic community (al-umma). The word of God does not become created when the creatures recite it, because this is the exact word that God spoke, and this word is uncreated. It is uncreated in every [temporal] form, whether recited, or retained in memory, or written or heard. Whoever says that the Quran is created in any of the abovementioned forms, is a heretic whose blood may be lawfully shed if he refuses to publicly repent when requested to do so.

[Clause 3: The Quiddity of Faith and Its Connection to Divine Predetermination]

(Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, l. 21–281, l. 7) A person should know that faith (īmān) consists of speech (qawl), works (ʿamal), and intention (niyya). You profess your faith by saying with your tongue that you believe; you perform the works with your limbs and other body organs; you confirm your intention. Faith increases and decreases. Faith increases when an act of obedience is performed; it decreases when an act of disobedience is performed. Faith comprises divisions and sub-divisions. Its most sublime division is the profession of faith: “There is no deity but God”. The most inferior part of faith is to remove obstacles from the road (imāṭat al-adhā ʿan al-ṭarīq).232 Chastity is a subdivision of faith. Forbearance and faith are like the head and the body. A person knows neither what God has predetermined for him (before he was born) nor in what state will the course of his life be sealed. For this reason, he should say: ‘I am a believer, if God so wills. I hope that I am a believer’. Using this form of expression denoting exception (istithnāʾ) and hope (rajāʾ) will not harm the believer. This formulaic saying does not mean that the believer has doubts regarding his faith. By saying ‘I hope that I am a believer’ he only means that he has no knowledge of what will become of him in the end and what God has predetermined for him. Everything a person does to gain God’s favor and please Him, be a deed of obedience, a religious duty, a habitual practice, or a supererogatory deed—everything comes from faith and is attributed to faith. Faith never reaches an end, because neither the supergatory deeds nor the One to whom service and obedience is rendered (lil-matbūʿ) by performing the religious duties reach an end.233

[Clause 4: The Veneration of the Prophet’s Companions and the First Five Caliphs]

(Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, lines 7–16) A person must love the Prophet’s companions. He should love all of them. We know that they are the best of human beings after the Prophet. The best and noblest of them after the Prophet are Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq, then ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb, then ʿUthmān b. ʿAffān and then ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib. A person should testify that the ten ṣaḥāba who were promised paradise indeed arrived in paradise. A person should ask God to have mercy upon the wives of the Prophet. Whoever blasphemes our lady ʿĀʾisha has no part in Islam. A person should only sing Muʿāwiya’s praises. A person should never meddle in any matter that instigated quarrels among them (i.e. the ṣaḥāba). He should ask God to have mercy upon all of them. God said: “Those that came after them say: ‘Forgive us, Lord, and forgive our brothers who embraced the Faith before us. Do not put in our hearts any malice towards the faithful. Lord, You are compassionate and merciful.’ ” (Q 59:10) He said regarding them: “We shall remove all hatred from their hearts, and they shall take their ease on couches face to face, a band of brothers.” (Q 15:47)

[Clause 5: The Circumstances which Permit Takfir, namely Declaring One as a Heretic].

(Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281 lines 16–21) A person should never declare another believer a heretic just because the individual failed to perform one of the religious obligations (farāʾiḍ). This ruling does not apply to any of the five obligatory daily prayers (al-ṣalāt al-maktūba). A person who fails to perform one of these mandatory prayers and the prayer that follows it is a heretic. He will be declared a heretic when the following conditions are met: He is healthy (both physically and mentally), unoccupied at the time of the prayer, and lacks any justified cause to neglect the prayer. Even if he admits that the prayer is obligatory [but fails to perform it], he is considered a heretic. The Prophet said with regards to this matter: “The difference between a believer and a heretic is the negligence of the prayer (tark al-ṣalāt).” Therefore, whoever fails to perform the prayer, is considered a heretic. He will remain a heretic until he repents and performs it again. If he dies before repenting and performing the prayer, or even before having in his heart the intention of performing the prayer, he remains a heretic. No prayers should be said on his grave. In the Day of Resurrection, he will stand in the congregation of Pharaoh, Haman, Korah and Ubayy b. Khalaf (a bitter enemy of Muḥammad. The Prophet killed him in the battle of Uḥud in 3/625). As for the other religious duties and works, one should never be declared a heretic because he failed to perform them, even if this person is sinful enough to deny the obligation to perform them.

[Closing Statement]

(Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281 line 21–282 line 5) Then he (the caliph) said: This is the doctrine of the Sunnis (ahl al-sunna wa-l-jamāʿa). Whoever adheres to this doctrine, is on the side of the glorious truth, he is guided by the religion and he walks on the right path. For such a person, we may hope for immunity from hellfire and admission into paradise, if God so wills! The Prophet said: “The meaning of religion is to act in good faith” (al-dīn al-naṣīḥa). The companions asked: “Oh, Messenger of God, to act in good faith towards whom?” And he retorted: “Towards God, His book, His messenger, the leaders of the Muslims, and the commoners.”234 The Prophet also said: “When God sends a warning to a believer concerning the latter’s religious behavior, this warning is a part of God’s grace. If the believer pays heed to this warning, he will be praised. If he does not pay heed, then this warning will serve as proof sent from God against him. His sins will be multiplied and God’s wrath towards him will multiply accordingly.”235 May God make us thankful for His favors and mindful of His grace! May God let us adhere to the Sunna! May He forgive us and all the Muslims.


This research was supported by THE ISRAEL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (grant ISF 162/19). I wish to thank Maribel Fierro who first asked me whether al-Qādir indeed authored the creed, and then assigned me the task of writing this article. I also wish to express my deepest gratitude to Tilman Seidensticker and Yaacov Lev for their insightful comments and helpful suggestions.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 279–282 (the year 433/1041–1042). A partial version of this text appears in Mirʾāt al-zamān, the chronicles penned by the historian Shams al-Dīn Abū l-Muẓaffar Yūsuf b. Qizoghlu (d. 654/1256), mostly known by his sobriquet Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, namely the grandson (sibṭ) of Ibn al-Jawzī. Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 442. As far as my investigation went, Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī contributed no additional details to the case of al-Qādir and his creed. At least in this case, his account merely replicates his grandfather’s account. I nevertheless provided references to Mirʾāt al-zamān in the footnotes throughout this article.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 279; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 442 (the year 433/1041–1042). See below in Section IV of this article.


Holtzman, Ibn ʿAqīl 661–662; Holtzman, Anthropomorphism 274–276.


The events that preceded the sharīf’s admonition are known as the fitna (the riots) of Ibn al-Qushayrī. For these events and the sharīf’s admonition, see Holtzman, Ibn ʿAqīl. 672–675.


Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xvi, 60–61; Ibn Rajab, Dhayl i, 42 (the biography of the sharīf Abū Jaʿfar); Laoust, La profession xcvi, n. 225; Holtzman, Ibn ʿAqīl 673. On the structure of the ʿAbbasid administration and the system of al-dawāwīn (sing. dīwān), see Donohue, The Buwayhid dynasty 143–144.


Mez, Die Renaissance 198–201. For an English translation of the creed, see Mez, The Renaissance 207–209. This translation was prepared by Salahuddin Khuda Bukhsh and D.S. Margoliouth. See also my translation in Appendix C. For a French translation of the creed, see Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 304–308. On the discovery of the creed by Adam Mez, see Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1997) 15. An Arabic translation of Mez’s book was prepared by Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Hādī Abū Rayda in 1939 (part 1 of the book) and 1940 (part 2). The book was published under the title al-Ḥaḍāra al-islāmiyya fī l-qarn al-rābiʿ al-hijrī aw ʿaṣr al-nahḍa fī l-islām. The translator cited the Qādirī creed from Ibn al-Jawzī’s al-Muntaẓam. Mits, al-Ḥaḍāra al-islāmiyya, 382–384.


Massignon, La passion (1922) ii, 640 note 3.


Laoust, La profession xcvi, note 225.


Makdisi, The Sunnī Revival 155–168.


Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 299–310; idem, Ibn ʿAqil (1997) 8–16.


An exception is the description of al-Qādir by Massignon in The passion of al-Hallaj ii, 135–139. The unpublished 2002 doctoral dissertation by Udjang Tholib also provides a description of al-Qādir: Tholib, The reign of the caliph al-Qādir Billāh 111–115.


Zaman, Religion and politics 146–147; Kennedy, The late ʿAbbasid pattern 392–393; Hanne, Abbasid politics 50.


Holtzman, Ibn ʿAqīl 661–666, 673–674; Holtzman, Anthropomorphism 272–278.


Kennedy, The late ʿAbbasid pattern 362–363; Kraemer, Humanism in the renaissance of Islam 53; Melchert, Māwardī, Abū Yaʿlā and the Sunni revival 39–40. The arrival of the Seljuks in Baghdad in 447/1055 ended the Shiʿi influence of the Buwayhids. This event is one of the markers of the “Sunni revival”: Makdisi, The Sunni revival 155.


The most coherent surveys on al-Qādir’s era and rule are Kennedy, The late ʿAbbāsid pattern 390–393; Donohue, The Buwayhid dynasty 279–287; Hanne, Putting the caliph in his place 55–82.


Makdisi, Ṭabaqāt 381; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997) 8.


Al-Lālakāʾī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl ii, pt. 4, 723. Ibn al-Jawzī’s description of the events of the Hijrī year 408/1017–1018 is sourced in Sharḥ al-uṣūl: Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 125–126. The same passage appears also in one of Ibn Taymiyya’s epistles on the Ashʿarīs. Ibn Taymiyya, Kitāb al-radd, al-Fatāwā al-kubra vi, 650. On the other hand, Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī’s account is partial and less informative than his grandfather’s: Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 264.


Al-Lālakāʾī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl ii, pt.4, 723; Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 125; Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 121; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 300; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997) 8.


fa-ṣāra hādhā sunnatan fī l-islām, literally, “this became the habitual way in Islam”. Al-Lālakāʾī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl ii, pt. 4, 723; Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 125–126 (the year 408/1017–1018). See also Hanne, Abbasid Politics 66, fn. 67.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 167; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 316 (the year 415/1024–1025).


Al-Lālakāʾī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl ii, pt.4, 723.


Bosworth’s comment that the sultan’s “campaign against the Buwayhids was retrospectively justified by propaganda denouncing the Būyids for their Shīʿism” is inaccurate. Bosworth, Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin. Al-Lalākāʾī was a contemporary of the caliph al-Qādir and the sultan Maḥmūd. Al-Lālakāʾī’s assumption that the sultan acted out of religious motives was not presented retrospectively, but at the time of the above-mentioned events.


Al-Lālakāʾī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl ii, pt. 4, 723; Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 125. Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī’s account does not mention the severe measures that the sultan implemented upon the members of the Ismāʿīliyya and the Qarāmiṭa: Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 264.


van Ess, Theology and society ii, 556–572.


Bosworth, The Ghaznavids 186–187; Holtzman and Ovadia, On Divine Aboveness 239–240.


Al-Lālakāʾī dictated Sharḥ al-uṣūl to his disciples in Rabīʿ Awwal 416/May 1025. The Sufi shaykh, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī b. Zakariyyāʾ al-Ṭuraythīthī (d. 498/1104–1105), who received an ijāza to teach Sharḥ al-uṣūl, was four years old at the time of this dictation. Al-Ṭuraythīthī dictated his version of Sharḥ uṣūl in Muḥarram 477/May 1084, and inserted texts that he himself authored. Sharḥ uṣūl iii, 379; al-Ghāmidī, introduction to Sharḥ uṣūl i, pt. 1, 88–89, 112. One of these texts is al-Lālakāʾī’s report on al-Qādir. Ibn al-Jawzī methodically studied al-Lālakāʾī’s Sharḥ uṣūl with Abū l-Barakāt Saʿd Allāh (d. 557/1162) who was al-Ṭuraythīthī’s disciple. Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xviii, 153–154.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād v, 62–63 (the biography of al-Qādir); Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 300; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997), 8.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād v, 62–63 (the biography of al-Qādir).


Al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxviii, 29 (the year 409/1018–1019). See also Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xiv, 354 (the biography of al-Qādir). According to Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Qādir “composed many books of various disciplines” (wa-ṣannafa kutuban kathīratan fī funūnin) which were read publicly every Friday in al-Mahdī mosque. Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 378 (the biography of al-Qādir).


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 128; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 269 (the year 409/1018–1019).


For the location of this mosque see Micheau, Baghdad in the Abbasid Era 231.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād v, 62–63 (the biography of al-Qādir).


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xvi, 354 (the biography of al-Qādir); al-Dhahabī, Siyar xv, 128–354 (the biography of al-Qādir); Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 128 (the year 409/1018–1019). Ibn Kathīr copied this passage from Ibn al-Jawzī: Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xv, 576 (the year 409/1018–1019); Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 301; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997) 8; Glassen, Der mittlere Weg 11. Laoust’s description of the reading of the book is inaccurate to say the least. He apparently confused the reading of 409/1029 with the reading which occurred in 433/1041–1042: Laoust, La profession xcvi.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 128; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 269 (the year 409/1018–1019).


Al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxviii, 29; Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xv, 576 (the year 409/1018–1019). Ibn al-Jawzī and Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, however, describe an unsuccessful raid on India that occurred in the year 406/1015–1016: Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 112; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 242–243. In this case, Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī’s description is much richer in details than his grandfather’s.


Bosworth, Maḥmūd b. Sebüktegin.


Ibn Taymiyya, Minhāj iii, 416–417.


Ibn Taymiyya, Minhāj iii, 429–430.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 194–196; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 349–351; al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxviii, 266–267 (the year 420/1029). See a briefer account in: Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 171 (the year 420/1029). Ibn al-Athīr, by the way, mentioned books on astronomy and astrology (al-nujūm) among the books that were burned. The sultan’s letter was fully translated by Bosworth, The Imperial Policy 70–72; idem, The Ghaznavids 53. The above quotation from the letter follows Bosworth’s translation while providing necessary corrections.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197–198; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 352 (the year 420/1029); Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 301–303; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997) 8–9; Glassen, Der mittlere Weg 11.


The mills on the Rufayl canal were called “the Mills of Patrikios”, named for an ambassador from Byzantium who built them: Lassner, The topography of Baghdad 75–76, 186, 248 note 9.


The medieval lexicographers define the term kāra thus “as much clothes as a man can carry on his back in a bundle; a well-known base-unit used for food”: Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʿArab v, 3954 (k.w.r.). According to Hinz, one kāra of wheat equals 240 raṭl, or 97.5 kg: Hinz, Islamische Maße und Gewichte 41. Hinz relies here on the 8th/14th century historian Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-ʿUmarī, Masālik iii, 164. Hinz’s definition is mentioned in Wörterbuch der Klassischen Arabischen Sprache i [kāf] 432 f.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197 (the year 420/1029).


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 198–200 (the year 420/1029).


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 352; al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xviii, 268; Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xv, 626 (the year 420/1029); Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 302; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997) 8; Glassen, Der mittlere Weg 11.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197; al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxviii, 268; Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xviii, 626 (the year 420/1029); Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 301; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997) 8; Glassen, Der mittlere Weg 11. Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī’s account on the reading events in al-Qādir’s palace is meagre and adds nothing to his grandfather’s rich account. I therefore did not refer to it further in my description of the reading events of the year 420/1029. Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt, xviii, 352 (the year 420/1029).


See, for example, the chapter on predetermination in Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ 1065 (kitāb al-qadar, bāb kull shayʾ bi-qadar, ḥadīth 2656) and Abū Dāwūd, Sunan 513 (kitāb al-sunna, bāb fī l-qadar, ḥadīth 4710). An important Ḥadīth collection that circulated in Baghdad since the second half of the 10th century is Abū Bakr al-Ājurrī’s Kitāb al-sharīʿa. In this collection, see the chapter on “those who deny the existence of free will” (fī l-mukadhdhibīn bi-l-qadar), 197–201, and the chapter in which the Prophet warns the ṣaḥāba to refrain from debating with “the advocates of free will” (ahl al-qadar), 252. Most of the material in these chapters is of dubious origin, but nonetheless it was repeatedly quoted in traditionalistic treatises. Al-Lālakāʾī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl i, pt. 2, 114–150.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 210.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197; al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxviii, 268; Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xv, 626.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197.


Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 301–303; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997), 8–9; Glassen, Der mittlere Weg 11.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 198.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197–198; al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxviii, 268; Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xv, 626; al-Yāfiʿī, Mirʾat al-Jinān iii, 27 (the year 420/1029).


Ṣiddiqī, Ḥadīth 31, 86; Brown, Ḥadīth 43; Sellheim, Samāʿ.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xvi, 106; Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xvi, 15 (the year 460/1067–1068).


According to Ibn Rajab, Dahyl i, 37 (the biography of the sharīf).


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197–198; al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxviii, 268; al-Yāfiʿī, Mirʾat iii, 27 (the year 420/1029).


For the description of caliphs listening to preachers, see Jones, The power of oratory 163–168.


A refutation of Shiʿi claims by means of quoting Ḥadīth material appears in al-Ājurrī, Kitāb al-sharīʿa 564–587.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197–198.


Al-Ājurrī, Kitāb al-sharīʿa 635–675; Al-Lālakāʾī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl iv, pt. 7, 1237–1353.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 197; al-Dhahabī, ʿIbar ii, 238; al-Yāfiʿī, Mirʾat al-Jinān iii, 27 (the year 420/1029). Merlin Swartz, a leading expert in the writings of Ibn al-Jawzī observed that Ibn al-Jawzī differentiated between qiṣṣa and ḥikāya. Ibn al-Jawzī dedicated the term qiṣṣa for stories of significant events that are connected to the ancient prophets (Adam, Noah, Hūd, Ṣāliḥ, Abraham etc.) who preceded Muḥammad and the story of Muḥammad’s revelation. In contrast, the term ḥikāya is reserved for the stories of Muslim saints and pious men who played a central role in the history of Islam. Swartz, Arabic rhetoric 43–44, 59 note 53. Obviously, the later historians who referred to the story of the debate between al-Kinānī and al-Marīsī as a qiṣṣa were less sensitive than Ibn al-Jawzī to the subtle difference between these two terms.


Moreh, Acting and actors, medieval 53–54.


Swartz, Arabic rhetoric 40–41.


On Kitāb al-ḥayda, see the elaborate description and analysis of van Ess, Theology and society iii, 546–550.


Al-Kinānī, Al-Ḥayda wa-l-iʿtidhār.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 198–199; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 352–353 (the year 420/1029); Glassen, Der mittlere Weg 22. The editor of al-Dhahabī’s Taʾrīkh al-Islām entitled the letter “a letter to the sultan Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin”: al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxviii, 269. On Abū ʿAlī Ibn Mākūlā, see Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 221.


These are two Arabicized variants of the Persian isfahsālār. Steingass, Persian-English Dictionary 58. On the history of this title, see Elisseeff, La titulature 167–169.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 200–201; Glassen, Der mittlere Weg 22–23.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 199.


Al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxviii, 269 (events of year 420).


Al-Suyūṭī, Taʾrīkh al-khulafāʾ 634. The same passage is quoted by Ibn al-ʿImād, Shadharāt v, 111–112.


Al-Suyūṭī, Taʾrīkh al-khulafāʾ 634; Ibn al-ʿImād, Shadharāt v, 112.


The two obvious examples of caliphal intervention in the religious life are al-Maʾmūn and the miḥna, and the caliph al-Rāḍī (r. 322–329/934–940) and the decree he issued in 323/935, in which he condemned Ḥanbalism and Shiʿism.


Zaman, Religion and Politics 146–147.


For a balanced assessment of these historical sources, see Hanne, Putting the caliph 46–51.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād v, 62. This passage was duplicated by later historians, for example Ibn al-ʿImād, Shadharāt v, 110.


Juynboll, Dyeing the hair and beard.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād v, 62.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 215; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 373 (the year 422/1031). The palace was situated near the Tuesday Market (Sūq al-Thulāthāʾ). Lassner, The topography of Baghdad 104.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 217; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 375 (the year 422/1031).


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād v, 62–63. Some gaps in al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s narrative are filled in by Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 229; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 380–381 (the year 423/1031–1032). On al-ṭayyār, see Agius, Ships 303–304. Jacob Lassner speculated on the reason for arranging this specific route for the procession, without mentioning the obvious reason—fear that the rioters would disrupt the procession—or commit criminal or violent acts. Lassner, The topography of Baghdad 175–176. Apart from a minor misreading of Ibn al-Jawzī, Lassner’s observations about this route are insightful and important. On al-Qādir’s funeral, see also Hanne, Putting the caliph 78–79.


Several scholars composed laudatory poems for al-Qādir including Manṣūr b. al-Qāḍī (d. 440/1048–1049), a judge from Herat, and Abū Bakr al-Quhistānī (d. after 435/1054), a well-known littérateur and poet: Yāqūt, Muʿjam al-udabāʾ vii, 189–191; v, 116–121. Abū l-Qāsim ʿAlī b. Jalabāt (death date unknown), an esteemed poet from Aleppo composed a qaṣīda in the ṭawīl meter praising al-Qādir. Several verses of this poem are preserved in the encyclopedia of poetry that al-Qādir’s contemporary, the prominent scholar Abū Manṣūr al-Thaʿālibī (d. 429/1039) wrote: al-Thaʿālibī, Yatīmat al-dahr iii, 105.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xiv, 354 (the year 381/991–992, al-Qādir’s enthronement); Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 378–379 (the year 422/1031, al-Qādir’s death); Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 198 (the year 422/1031, al-Qādir’s death). For a full translation of the anecdote, see Tholib, The reign of the caliph al-Qādir Bi-llāh 113–114.


Al-Suyūṭī, Taʾrīkh 641; Ibn al-ʿImād, Shadharāt v, 112.


Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ, Ṭabaqāt i, 324–325.


Ibn al-ʿImād, Shadharāt v, 110–112.


Yāqūt, Muʿjam al-udabāʾ v, 407–408. For Melchert’s reading of this report, see: Melchert, Māwardī, Abū Yaʿlā, and the Sunni revival 45–46.


For al-Māwardī’s biography, see Melchert, Māwardī, Abū Yaʿlā, and the Sunni revival 41–48.


Al-Māwardī, al-Iqnāʿ fī l-fiqh al-shāfiʿī.


Al-Qudūrī, Mukhtaṣar al-Qudūrī fī l-fiqh al-ḥanafī.


In his well-reasoned analysis, Melchert suggested that the Ḥanbalī scholar was none other than Abū Yaʿlā Ibn al-Farrāʾ (d. 458/1066): Melchert, Māwardī, Abū Yaʿlā, and the Sunni revival 45–46.


Yāqūt, Muʿjam al-udabāʾ v, 408.


Yāqūt, Muʿjam al-udabāʾ v, 407.


Al-Dhahabī, Siyar xv, 128–129 (the biography of al-Qādir).


Ibn al-ʿImād, Shadharāt v, 112.


The caliph “recited the following verses in a singsong voice” (yunshidu hādhihi l-abyāt yatarannamu bihā). This lovely description is found only in Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xv, 438. The other sources which quote this anecdote merely remark that the caliph recited the poem.


The earliest version of the poem is included in Ibn al-Jawzī’s biographical entry of al-Qādir: Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xiv, 355–356; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 380. Ibn al-Athīr’s version is slightly different. To the best of my judgment, his version is more comprehensible than Ibn al-Jawzī’s: Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 198–199. The differences between the two versions are indicated in footnotes 99 and 100. Two additional versions, which slightly deviate from Ibn al-Athīr and Ibn al-Jawzī’s versions, are Ibn al-ʿImād, Shadharat v, 110–111; Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xv, 438–439.


Ibn al-Jawzī’s version is different: “You desert (taghnā) the provisions you were sufficiently given (takfā), and desert what you are incapable (taʿyā) of”: Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xiv, 356. Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī’s version is identical to Ibn al-Athīr’s version: Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 380.


In Ibn al-Jawzī’s version, instead of ḥāʾin, the word indicated is khāʾin (traitor, disloyal): Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xiv, 356. See also Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 380. Using this word here requires linguistical creativity which is unnecessary in this unsophisticated poem.


lā abā laka literally means “may you have no father!” While this expression is understood as a curse, it in fact denotes compassion: Lane, Lexicon i, 10–11.


Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 198–199. For a different translation, see Tholib, The reign of the caliph al-Qādir Bi-llāh 112.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xiv, 356; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 380.


Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya xv, 438. Two verses from a poem that al-Qādir composed are recorded in his biography by al-Ṣafadī, Wāfī vi, 151.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād v, 64.


This ḥadīth is quoted by the Shāfiʿī-Ashʿarī scholar of Ḥadīth, Abū Bakr al-Bayhaqī (d. 458/1066) in his work on the signs foretelling the Prophet’s arrival: al-Bayhaqī, Dalāʾil vi, 523.


The text mentions the fourth caliph, but instead of naming him al-Hādī (“the guide to truth”, r. 169–170/785–786), he called him al-Jawād bi-badhlihi (“the most generous”). This can be a slip of a pen.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād v, 63.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād xiii, 604–605, xvii, 273–276. For the identification of al-Tanūkhī as a Ḥanafī, see Massignon, The passion of al-Hallaj ii, 127. Al-Tanūkhī’s father, al-Muḥassin b. ʿAlī al-Tanūkhī (d. 384/994) was the well-known author of the compilation of anecdotes entitled al-Faraj baʿda al-shidda (‘Deliverance after hardship’).


Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī dismissed these rumors with the following straightforward observation: “He grew up under Buwayhid rule, when the state was overflowing with these two heresies (Shiʿism and Muʿtazilism)”: al-Dhahabī, Siyar xvii, 650.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād xiii, 604–605, xvii, 273–276.


Ibn al-Jawzī, Mawḍūʿāt 624, ḥadīth 1847 (kitāb al-mustabshaʿ mina l-mawḍūʿ ʿalā l-ṣaḥāba); al-Dhahabī, Tartīb al-Mawḍūʿāt 322.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād xiii, 92. For the identification of Ibn al-Ushnānī as Ḥanafī, see: Massignon, The passion of al-Hallaj i, 439–440.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād xiii, 93; al-Dhahabī, Siyar xii, 407.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād xiii, 92.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād vi, 511.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād vi, 511.


Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād xiii, 604–605, xvii, 273–276.


akhbaranā ʿAlī b. Abī ʿAlī, literally means: al-Tanūkhī informed us. In practice, it means that al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī recited the text to al-Tanūkhī, and that other people were present in the room during the recitation. According to one approach, any attempt to differentiate between the terms of Ḥadīth transmission like ḥaddathanā and akhbaranā is futile: Juynboll, Ḥadīth xxxi. On the other hand, in his manual of the science of Ḥadīth transmission al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī quoted the following saying attributed to Muḥammad b. Idrīs al-Shāfiʿī (d. 204/820): “When you recite to the teacher, say akhbaranā. When he recites to you, say ḥaddathanā”: al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Kifāya ii, 252.


Makdisi, Ṭabaqāt 381; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997) 8.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 279–282 (the year 433/1041–1042). Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī quoted a summary of the creed which holds merely 200 words. As his version does not contribute to our knowledge of the creed, I did not refer to it. Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xviii, 442 (the year 433/1041–1042).


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xvi, 106; Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt xix, 200 (the year 460/1067–1068).


The only reference to the term al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī wa-l-qāʾimī appears in Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xvi, 106 (the year 460/1067–1068).


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 263, 281 (the biography of Ibn al-Tamīmī). According to Ibn al-Jawzī, this event occurred “in the year four hundred thirty something (fī sanati nayyifin wa-thalāthīn wa-arbaʿamiʾa)”: Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 279 (the year 433/1041–1042). For the biography of Abū Yaʿlā, see Melchert, Māwardī, Abū Yaʿlā, and the Sunni revival 48–50.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 259–307.


In addition to my reading of the primary sources, I consulted the publications of Makdisi and the unpublished 1969 doctoral dissertation of Haddad. Although I disagree on certain points in these scholars’ reading of the primary sources, their investigations remain indispensable. The case of Abū Yaʿlā and Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt is compellingly described in Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1962) 342–346 and Haddad, Al-Qāḍī Abū Yaʿlā 80–103. Haddad’s doctoral dissertation was approved many years before the manuscript of Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt was retrieved and published. Nevertheless, Haddad’s account is vivid and generally accurate. I am grateful to Rev. Steven Blackburn, Library Director at the Hartford Seminary, who located this dissertation for me.


Abū Yaʿlā, Ibṭāl 213, 218; Holtzman, Does God Really Laugh? 186–188. For a basic summary of the approaches that the different trends in Islamic theology followed regarding the anthropomorphic descriptions of God in the Qurʾān and the Ḥadīth, see Holtzman, Anthropomorphism.


The controversial Ḥanbalī theologian Ibn ʿAqīl (d. 513/1119) cannot be defined as “traditionalist”, as he was attracted to Muʿtazilī kalām in his early career and applied rationalistic hermeneutical devices in his writing, even after he retracted his views on Muʿtazilism: Hoover, Ḥanbalī theology 631.


Abrahamov, Islamic Theology 2–13; Abrahamov, Scripturalist and traditionalist theology 270.


Swartz, A Medieval critique 121–126. This publication includes a full translation of Ibn al-Jawzī’s Kitāb akhbār al-ṣifāt.


Ibn Fūrak, Mushkil 65, 70. On Ibn Fūrak’s methodology in this book, see Holtzman, Anthropomorphism 242–248.


Abū Yaʿlā, Ibṭāl 41–42.


Abū Yaʿlā, Ibṭāl 218; Holtzman, Does God Really Laugh? 187.


Abū Yaʿlā’s book of Ḥanbalī kalām is Kitāb al-muʿtamad fī uṣūl al-dīn.


Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 228 (the year 429/1037–1038).


Al-Dhahabī, Siyar xviii, 90 (the biography of Abū Yaʿlā).


Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 228 (the year 429/1037–1038).


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 263 (the year 429/1037–1038); On al-Manṣūr mosque, see Madelung, The Spread of Māturīdism 133, footnote 60; idem, Religious Trends 35.


Al-Dhahabī, Siyar xvii, 609–613; al-Subkī, Ṭabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya v, 260–266 (the biography of Ibn al-Qazwīnī).


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 263.


As a muḥaddith, Ibn al-Mudhhib failed to gain the appreciation of his peers. He was criticized for his inaccurate transmission of Ḥadīth: he often forgot the names in the chain of transmitters (isnād) and distorted the content (matn). Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī who participated in Ibn al-Mudhhib’s classes, described a scene in which he, al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, contradicted Ibn al-Mudhhib and forced him to correct his notes: al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrikh Baghdād viii, 395. Al-Dhahabī gathered evidence from several sources regarding Ibn al-Mudhhib’s unprofessional conduct: al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxx, 88–90. Ibn al-Jawzī, however, dismissed al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s criticism of Ibn al-Mudhhib. According to Ibn al-Jawzī, who did not appreciate al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī but nevertheless had to rely on his works, genuine scholars do not consider such minor mishaps sufficient to slander a muḥaddith’s reputation: Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 336–337. Concerning the identification of Ibn al-Mudhhib, although in a different context, see Melchert, Māwardī, Abū Yaʿlā, and the Sunnī revival 40, note 40.


On ḥadīth al-ruʾya, see Holtzman, Anthropomorphism 68–119. The extant copy of Ibṭāl al-taʾwīlāt contains several aḥādīth al-ruʾya—not as many as one might have expected—which Abū Yaʿlā examined and interpreted: Abū Yaʿlā, Ibṭāl 281–295.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 263; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 342–345.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 335–337 (the biography of Ibn al-Tamīmī).


Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 378 (the biographical entry of Abū Yaʿlā in the events of the year 458/1065–1066); Swartz, A Medieval critique 125, note 183. Haddad doubted whether Ibn al-Tamīmī indeed made these comments about Abū Yaʿlā: Haddad, Abū Yaʿlā 82–83.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xvii, 20 (Ibn al-Tamīmī’s biography). Ibn al-Tamīmī was not an enemy of Abū Yaʿlā, as the two led the Ḥanbalī protest in Baghdad in the year 447/1055. The sources tagged this protest as “a riot” (fitna). The protest was ignited by a dispute between the Ḥanbalīs and the Shāfiʿīs over al-jahr bi-l-basmala, namely reciting the basmala out loud in the beginning of a prayer. The Ḥanbalīs who saw the basmala as a formula separate āya, did not recite it in prayer, while the Shāfiʿīs recited the basmala. The Ḥanbalī protesters tried to prevent a Shāfiʿī muezzin from reciting the basmala when he called for prayer, but he refused: Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 325; al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxx, 23 (events of the year 447/1055–1056).


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 259 (the biography of Abū Yaʿlā).


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 263.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 263–264; Haddad, Abu Yaʿlā, 86. According to al-Dhahabī, the caliph who read Abū Yaʿlā’s book was al-Qādir: al-Dhahabī, Siyar xviii, 90 (the biography of Abū Yaʿlā). Melchert accepted al-Dhahabī’s report: Melchert, Māwardī, Abū Yaʿlā, and the Sunni revival 50. I point on the obvious chronological discrepancy in al-Dhahabī’s report: in 432/1040–1041, al-Qādir was dead for ten years.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 263–264.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xvi, 106 (the year 460/1067–1068).


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 263, 281.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 263, 281.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 264.


On him, see al-Dhahabī, Siyar xvii, 668–671; Chaumont, al-Ṭabarī; Melchert, Māwardī, Abū Yaʿlā, and the Sunni revival 43.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 264.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 264.


Haddad, Abū Yaʿlā 90.


See, for example, the creed attributed to Ibn Baṭṭa. Ibn Baṭṭa, Ibāna 151.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, lines 12–13 (the year 433/1041–1042).


Ibn Baṭṭa, Ibāna 51.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, lines 9–11 (the year 433/1041–1042).


See, for example, the creed attributed to Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal and the traditionalistic creed attributed to Abū l-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī (d. 324/935). Watt, Islamic Creeds 37, 41; Holtzman, Anthropomorphism 197, 234–235.


Gimaret, Dieu 78–79.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280. This sentence is paraphrased by Ibn Abī Yaʿlā in his father’s biography: Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 281. The terminology of the actuality of the divine attributes (ḥaqīqat al-ṣifāṭ) was later adopted by Ibn Taymiyya: Holtzman, Anthropomorphism 336–337. The vast literature about the ḥaqīqa wa-majāz dichotomy is aptly summarized in Suleiman, Ibn Taymiyya und die Attribute Gottes 145, note 716.


For a lucid summary of the problem, see Gilliot, Attributes of God. The Ashʿarī double-layered position towards the divine attributes is described in Makdisi, Ashʿari and the Ashʿarites 51–52.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā names this participant Abū l-Qāsim ʿAbd al-Qādir b. Yūsuf: Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 264. I could not locate the biography of this person, and so I have no idea who he was. Makdisi identified this person as Yūsuf b. Muḥammad b. Yūsuf al-Khaṭīb al-Hamadhānī (d. 468/1076), whose kunya was also Abū l-Qāsim: Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 346, note 2.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 264.


For an enlightening review of the various interpretations of this ḥadīth and its connection to ijmāʿ see al-Nawawī, Sharḥ xiii, 65–67 (kitāb al-imāra, bāb lā tazālu ṭāʾifa min ummatī ẓāhirīn ʿalā l-ḥaqq, ḥadīth 1920).


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 264.


For Abū Yaʿlā’s denial of taʾwīl, see the brief passage that appears in his biography: Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 281.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xxx, 31, 250–252. On Ibn al-Muslima’s brutal murder, see Massignion, The passion of al-Hallaj ii, 150–157. Massignion’s account is tinted by several inaccuracies and unfounded assumptions, but nonetheless it is valuable and insightful.


Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila ii, 265. See also Holtzman, Anthropomorphism 169, 189–206.


Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil viii, 428; al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxxii, 171–172 (the year 475/1082–1083); Ephrat, Religious Leadership 41–42.


Swartz, A Medieval Critique 122–125; Ibn Taymiyya, Darʾ vii, 32–37.


Al-Dhahabī, Taʾrīkh al-Islām xxx, 462 (the biography of Abū Yaʿlā).


Makdisi, Ṭabaqāt 381; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 299–310; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqil (1997) 8–16.


Makdisi, Institutionalized Learning, 76; Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1997) 8–10.


Laoust, La profession de foi d’Ibn Baṭṭa xcvi, note 225.


Sourdel, al-Ḳādir Bi’llāh; Kraemer, Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam 62; Schmidtke, Creeds; Cook, Commanding Right 122–123.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xvi, 106 (the year 460/1067–1068).


My conclusion supports Nagel’s assumption that the IQQ (which Nagel perceived as the Qādirī creed) expressed commitment to Ashʿarism: Nagel, Die Festung des Glaubens 120.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, lines 1–16.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, lines 16–21.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, line 21, 281, line 7.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, lines 7–16.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, lines 16–21.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, line 8.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, line 21, 282, line 5.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, line 21.


Kennedy, The late ʿAbbasid pattern 392–393.


Clause 5 attacks the Murjiʾa and Khawārij. In contrast to the common Murjiʾī view, this clause states that faith (īmān) is not equivalent to Islam, and that negligence of the prescribed obligatory prayer (al-ṣalāt al-maktūba) entails takfīr, namely declaring one as a heretic. Against the Khawārij, clause 5 states that the negligence of other ritualistic duties does not entail takfir: Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, lines 16–21. Cf. Ibn Baṭṭa, Ibāna 49.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, lines 18–21. Cf. Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 128 (the year 409/1018–1019).


Ibn Baṭṭa, Ibāna 50.


For the Shiʿi accusations against Abū Bakr and ʿUmar, see Kohlberg, Some Imāmī Shīʿī views.


The ten ṣaḥāba include the Prophet, the four righteous caliphs, and five other prominent members of the muhājirūn, the Meccans of Quraysh who emigrated with Muḥammad to Medina. For one of the several versions of the ḥadīth on the ten ṣaḥāba, see al-Ājurrī, Kitāb al-sharīʿa 836, ḥadīth 1769.


Muʿāwiya is described in these aḥādīth as showing his respect to the Prophet’s family: al-Ājurrī, Kitāb al-sharīʿa 924–925, ḥadīth 1960–1961.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, lines 11–12. Cf. Ibn Baṭṭa, Ibāna 13–15.


Dakake, The charismatic community 216–217, 226–227.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, lines 12–13.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 281, lines 3–5.


This saying is attributed to Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal. Ibn Baṭṭa, Ibāna 48–49.


Melchert, Māwardī, Abū Yaʿlā, and the Sunni revival 54.


Massignon, The passion of al-Hallaj ii, 136.


Suleiman, Ibn Taymiyya und die Attribute Gottes 76–78.


Massignon, The passion of al-Hallaj ii, 136, note 84.


Massignon’s mistake is understandable given the fact that he did not locate any biographical data on al-Karajī. A similar mistake was made by Alī b. Muḥammad al-Dakhīl Allāh, who edited Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s al-Ṣawāʿiq al-mursala. See below at the end of Part V.


Āl ʿAbd al-Laṭīf, Al-Iʿtiqād al-Qādirī 243–245, 258–262.


Al-Dhahabī, Siyar xvii, 194; Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 112 (the biography of al-Isfarāyīnī). Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī was one of al-Isfarāyīnī’s disciples: al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, Taʾrīkh Baghdād vi, 20.


Al-Dhahabī, Siyar xvii, 195.


Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl (1963) 195–200, 229; Massignon, The passion of al-Hallaj ii, 144–147; Gilliot, Al-Isfarāyīnī, Abū Ḥāmid.


Al-Dhahabī, ʿUlūw 239–240. Massignon who read this text by al-Dhahabī (probably in manuscript form) determined that al-Isfarāyīnī who was al-Qādir’s spiritual guide composed the original creed from which al-Karajī redacted his creed: Massignon, The passion of al-Hallaj ii, 136, note 84. I did not find any trace of Massignon’s unequivocal ruling in al-Dhahabī’s text.


Al-Dhahabī, ʿUlūw 239.


Al-Dhahabī, ʿUlūw 239–240.


Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam xv, 280, lines 14–16.


Holtzman and Ovadia, On Divine Aboveness 260–264.


Al-Dhahabī, ʿUlūw 239.


Al-Dhahabī, ʿUlūw 239. See also Holtzman, Anthropomorphism 169, 189–206. One wonders whether al-Dhahabī encodes here his criticism on Ibn Taymiyya who adopted the terminology of ṣifa ḥaqīqiyya while delving in theology. On the relationships between al-Dhahabī and Ibn Taymiyya, see: Bori, al-Dhahabī.


Al-Dhahabī, Siyar xvi, 214; al-Dhahabī, Tadhkira i, 939.


Al-Dhahabī lists several teachers: Muḥammad b. al-ʿAbbās al-Akhram (d. 301/913–914) of Iṣfahān, Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm al-Ṭayālisī (d. 313/925–926) of Kirmānshāh, and ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad b. Salm (d. 291/903–904) of Iṣfahān: al-Dhahabī, Siyar xvi, 214; al-Dhahabī, Tadhkira i, 939.


Al-Dhahabī, Siyar xvi, 213; al-Dhahabī, Tadhkira i, 938.


Al-Dhahabī, Tadhkira i, 939.


Al-Dhahabī, Tadhkira i, 939.


Ibn Taymiyya, Darʾ vi, 252.


Ibn Taymiyya, Bayān i, 179–180.


Ibn Taymiyya, Bayān iv, 271–272.


Ibn Taymiyya, Ṣafadiyya ii, 162; Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Ṣawāʿiq iv, 1286.


Ibn Taymiyya, Bayān Talbīs i, 179–180; iv, 270–271.


Ibn Taymiyya, Darʾ vi, 252; Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Ṣawāʿiq iv, 1286.


For this ḥadīth, see: Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Musnad al-Imām Aḥmad xxviii, 151. The ḥadīth is attributed to the ṣaḥābī Tamīm al-Dārī (d. 40/660–661).


This sentence paraphrases Q 3:47 and Q 16:40.


This topic appears in most Ḥadīth compilations. Cf. the following Prophetic ḥadīth which is attributed to the ṣaḥābī Abū Hurayra (d. ca. 58/678): ‘The Messenger of God said: ‘A man who sees a thorny twig on the road and removes it, walks on the road, is expected [to obtain] God’s grace and forgiveness’ ”: al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 599, ḥadīth 2472 (kitāb al-maẓālim, bāb man akhadha al-ghuṣn).


wa-lā yakūnu lil-īmāni nihāyatun abadan li-annahu lā nihāyata lil-faḍāʾili wa-lā lil-matbūʿi fī l-farāʾiḍi abadan. Al-matbūʿ (literally: the one who is followed) is obviously an epithet of God.


Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 54 (kitāb al-īmān, bāb bayān anna al-dīn al-naṣīḥa).


Al-Bayhaqī, Shuʿab ix, 505.


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