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This article examines the cosmological theories of the so-called Dahrīs and Zindīqs from their pre-Islamic roots until the fourth/tenth century, when they and their Muʿtazilite opponents ceased to be the predominant exponents of what we call natural science. Both Dahrīs and Zindīqs were empiricists, some in a dogmatist and others in a sceptical vein; both drew on ideas of pre-Islamic Greek and Iranian origin; and both left a deep imprint on the cosmology and epistemology of the Muʿtazilites (to whom we owe practically all our knowledge about them). Their beliefs can be followed well past the fourth/tenth century, but henceforth it was mostly as components of philosophy and (at least in post-Mongol Iran) of Sufism that they attracted attention.

Islam, the Ancient Near East and Varieties of Godlessness

Collected Studies in Three Volumes, Volume 3


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