Al-Muʾtaman ibn Hūd in Context: Kingship and Philosophy in al-Andalus (10th-11th Centuries)

In: Studia Islamica
Miquel Forcada University of Barcelona Barcelona Spain

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In the Islamic world, the idea of the “philosopher-king” became a relevant theme particularly from the tenth century onwards. Al-Fārābī, the political philosopher of Islam par excellence, discussed the perfect city ruled by the philosopher-king along the lines of Plato. Although al-Fārābī’s political thinking is susceptible to various interpretations, it contains a key idea that was most particularly significant for his readers: that human beings must seek perfection and the utmost happiness in theoretical life, but that utmost perfection and felicity are only possible within the virtuous city ruled by the philosopher-king. In al-Andalus, al-Muʾtaman ibn Hūd, king of Saragossa (r. 474/1081-478/1085) seems to follow these ideals. Al-Muʾtaman was a philosopher and a mathematician when he ascended the throne. Given that the scholars of his time and of the generations that followed criticised him for his religious beliefs and philosophical opinions, it may well be that he attempted to rule as a philosopher-king. This article presents, on the one hand, a study of the personal and intellectual biographies of al-Muʾtaman, and on the other, an analysis of the relationship between the rational sciences and the society that generated a king of his calibre, focusing above all on its intrinsic complexity and its roots (the intellectual legacy of Umayyad Cordova). In this way, the article provides insights into the relationship between knowledge and power and, more particularly, into the legitimising role of secular knowledge inside religiously oriented societies.


In the Islamic world, the idea of the “philosopher-king” became a relevant theme particularly from the tenth century onwards. Al-Fārābī, the political philosopher of Islam par excellence, discussed the perfect city ruled by the philosopher-king along the lines of Plato. Although al-Fārābī’s political thinking is susceptible to various interpretations, it contains a key idea that was most particularly significant for his readers: that human beings must seek perfection and the utmost happiness in theoretical life, but that utmost perfection and felicity are only possible within the virtuous city ruled by the philosopher-king. In al-Andalus, al-Muʾtaman ibn Hūd, king of Saragossa (r. 474/1081-478/1085) seems to follow these ideals. Al-Muʾtaman was a philosopher and a mathematician when he ascended the throne. Given that the scholars of his time and of the generations that followed criticised him for his religious beliefs and philosophical opinions, it may well be that he attempted to rule as a philosopher-king. This article presents, on the one hand, a study of the personal and intellectual biographies of al-Muʾtaman, and on the other, an analysis of the relationship between the rational sciences and the society that generated a king of his calibre, focusing above all on its intrinsic complexity and its roots (the intellectual legacy of Umayyad Cordova). In this way, the article provides insights into the relationship between knowledge and power and, more particularly, into the legitimising role of secular knowledge inside religiously oriented societies.


Over history, there are many examples of kings who excelled in sponsoring the sciences and philosophy. The history of Islamic civilisations contains a vast number of this kind of rulers. Some of them can be considered as “enlightened despots”, others were merely “collectors” who accumulated scholars in much the same way as they might accumulate horses or palaces, and a tiny minority possibly deserve the epithet “philosopher-king” according to Plato’s ideal of governance. Generations of philosophers discussed this topic and, from time to time, rulers who knew Plato well, like Marcus Aurelius or Julian the Apostate, tried to appropriate the qualification for themselves. In the Islamic world, the idea of the “philosopher-king” became a relevant theme in political philosophy particularly from the tenth century onwards.2 Al-Fārābī, the political philosopher of Islam par excellence, discussed the perfect city ruled by the philosopher-king along the lines of Plato and other Greek philosophers in several works that exerted a strong influence in later times.3 Although al-Fārābī’s political thinking is complex and susceptible to various interpretations, it contains a key idea that was most particularly significant for his readers: that human beings must seek perfection and the utmost happiness in theoretical life, but that utmost perfection and felicity are only possible within the virtuous city ruled by the philosopher-king.4 These topics were discussed by other philosophers as well. However, the main concern of this article is not the theory of the philosopher-king, but the historical embodiment of the notion. Theory is not the same as practice, as Sarah Stroumsa has shown in her analysis of how the personal lives and intellectual expectations of the philosopher-courtiers differed from their ideals,5 even if they served learned patrons. However, there were rulers who were sincerely concerned with the rational sciences, for many reasons: not the least being that some of them were philosophers themselves. In al-Andalus, al-Muʾtaman ibn Hūd, king of Saragossa (r. 474/1081-478/1085), was undoubtedly one such ruler. His commitment to the rational sciences was not equalled by any other king of al-Andalus and, possibly, by no other king in the whole of the Islamic world. Al-Muʾtaman enjoyed a thorough education in philosophy and the sciences. He said openly that he followed Plato, and it is highly probable that he knew al-Fārābī and the Ikhwān al-Ṣafā. He not only paid others to do science but did science himself, creating outstanding results such as the Kitāb al-Istikmāl, “the book of the perfection”, or “completeness”, which is credited with being the most important mathematical treatise ever composed in al-Andalus. Al-Muʾtaman was a philosopher when he ascended the throne, and given that the religious scholars and the chroniclers of his time and the generations that followed criticised him for his religious beliefs and philosophical opinions, it may well be that he attempted to rule as a philosopher-king. As we will see below, the image of the Abbasid caliph al-Maʾmūn as a promoter of philosophy and the sciences was echoed in al-Andalus during the fifth/eleventh century as a model of excellent governance. Al-Muʾtaman, who knew in all probability the story of al-Maʾmūn, appears to us as a reformer who could put this model into practice.

This article presents, on the one hand, a study of the personal and intellectual biographies of al-Muʾtaman, and on the other, an analysis of the relationship between the rational sciences and the society that generated a king of his calibre, focusing above all on its intrinsic complexity and its roots. In cultural and sociopolitical terms, like many other similar political units of the period of the party kings the kingdom of Saragossa drew on the legacy of Umayyad Cordova. This study may provide helpful insights into the relationship between knowledge and power and, more particularly, into the legitimising role of secular knowledge inside religiously oriented societies.

1 Science and Religion in al-Andalus according to Ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī

A well-known passage by Ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī (d. 685/1286) preserved in al-Maqqarī’s Nafḥ al-ṭīb summarizes the complex history of the relationship between the rational disciplines and the society of al-Andalus:6

All sciences are well considered and studied in al-Andalus, except philosophy and astrology, but these two sciences are of profound interest to aristocrats who do not show towards them the same fear plebeians seem to feel. For whenever people say about a man, “so and so reads philosophy”, or “he works in astrology”, he will be considered a heretic (zindīq), his spirit will be chained, and if he makes a mistake he will be stoned to death or burnt before news about him reaches the sultan, or it will be perhaps the sultan himself who orders him to be killed so as to gain the favor of the mob. Quite often their kings are the ones who ordain the burning of books concerning these subjects when they find them, and this is the way al-Manṣūr b. Abī ʿĀmir tried to win the hearts of his subjects when he started to promote himself, although in secret he still cultivated these sciences, according to al-Ḥijārī, but God knows best.

What Ibn Saʿīd says is neither trivial nor uncertain but incomplete. The actors missing from this passage are the religious scholars, mostly members of the Mālikī school in al-Andalus, who for the most part were opposed to the practice of the disciplines that they deemed as heterodox, particularly astrology and philosophy. Their remarkable influence on the common people justifies to a large extent the reaction of the mob explained by Ibn Ṣaʿīd al-Maghribī, even though the actual historical evidence of the combined action of the religious scholars and the mob is relatively scarce, with the exception of the period of the emir ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II (r. 206/822-238/852).7 However, the episode of al-Manṣūr ibn Abī ʿĀmir (r. 371/981-392/1002), who became the de facto ruler of al-Andalus via a complicated coup after the caliphate of al-Ḥakam II (r. 350/961-366/976) is a good example of this situation: Ibn Saʿīd overlooks that al-Manṣūr did not exactly seek the support of the mob, but rather cultivated the religious scholars and their followers because they could legitimize his coup in the eyes of the mob.8

The contrast that Ibn Saʿīd makes between aristocrats and experts in the rational sciences on the one hand and common people and religious scholars on the other is only a general snapshot of a complex situation that raises many questions. For example: why did some aristocrats promote the rational sciences? Why did religious scholars react against them? Why were there religious scholars like Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī or Ibn Rushd who were nevertheless notable experts in the rational sciences? How did this tension influenced the intellectual and cultural histories of al-Andalus? A closer examination of al-Muʾtaman, one of these aristocrats alluded to generically by Ibn Saʿīd, will shed more light on these questions.

2 The Rulers and the Rational Sciences in al-Andalus Up until the Time of al-Muʾtaman

The Umayyads

The reigns of al-Ḥakam I (r. 180-206/796-822) and ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II (r. 206/ 822-238/852) represented the true beginning of a scientific culture in al-Andalus.9 The two emirs promoted a policy which aimed to strengthen the Umayyad court by imitating Abbasid practices. It is possible that ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II encouraged his courtiers to read the books on the rational sciences that he had imported from Baghdad because he aspired to imitate his contemporary al-Maʾmūn. His aims in doing so would have been, first, to reduce the influence of the religious scholars who surrounded him, and second, to include astrology as a vehicle for legitimizing his reign.10 The emir did not succeed but the vitality of the rational sciences in Cordova was not extinguished during the period of reaction that followed, between the mid-third/ninth and the early fourth/tenth centuries.11 During the time of the caliph ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III (r. 300/912-350/961), the rational sciences experienced a renewed momentum that was due to many factors, but significantly to the sponsorship of the caliph and his son al-Ḥakam II (r. 350/961-366/976) while still a prince.12 ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III sponsored medicine, probably because it was a helpful discipline and well accepted by the religious scholars.13 There are no references to the practice of astrology in the palace, probably because ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III did not want to provoke the anger of the religious scholars, as we will see below. However, experts in the rational sciences worked in Cordova in this time,14 and a considerable number of them were preceptors of the young princes.15 It should come as little surprise that his successor, al-Ḥakam II, became the most learned king in the history of al-Andalus and crossed certain red lines that his father had respected. He was interested in knowledge of all kinds, including alchemy and astrology. Under his rule, astrology returned to the palace and flourished in al-Andalus together with other rational disciplines like mathematical astronomy and logic.16 The caliph did not live to see the reaction of the religious sectors, which came to the fore abruptly soon after his death, when al-Manṣūr seized the power as we have seen above. The reasons behind the actions of the caliphs ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III and al-Ḥakam may have been different from the ones that motivated emirs al-Ḥakam and ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II given that the caliphs controlled the religious lobby reasonably well.17 However, they needed their support and had to treat them carefully. The religious and political rival of the Umayyad caliphate was a Shiite dynasty, the Fatimids, who had created a new kingdom centered in present-day Tunis in 297/910. Its capital, Qayrawān, irradiated a double influence over the Andalusīs; on the one hand, the religious influence of the Fatimid propaganda, on the other the scientific and intellectual influence of the philosophical circles, mostly led by Jewish scholars.18 ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III took several steps in order to isolate al-Andalus from the Fatimid influence. He adopted external signs of legitimation such as proclaiming himself caliph or building a city-palace that imitated Raqqāda, the city-palace near Qayrawān. He also implemented a complex religious policy which, as shown by Fierro, permitted the religious pluralism of Sunnite scholars, but officialized Mālikism in order to project in Cordova the myth of Medina as the cradle of Islam.19 In this context, the status as learned kings and protectors of the sciences added an external element of legitimation that could serve these rulers well in their opposition to their rivals, who, as imams, were supposed to be “all-knowers” particularly of the esoteric (bāṭinī) sphere of wisdom.20 In consequence, the subtle and apparently contradictory policy of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III included, on the one hand, the tolerance of rational disciplines and, as suggested by Maribel Fierro, the secret fostering of an “Umayyad esotericism”21 led by Maslama ibn Qāsim, which could contrast with the esoteric knowledge of the imam; and on the other hand, it included the public persecution of the followers of Ibn Masarra in order to please the religious scholars.

The Party Kings

The rational sciences were deeply rooted in the learned elites of Cordova and they resisted the period of al-Manṣūr and his sons. When the Party Kings created their own courts, they replicated the cultural ambiance of al-Ḥakam II’s palace, including the wide practice of astrology and other unorthodox disciplines of the ancients. We do not know much about why the Party Kings sponsored the sciences. Probably, their main reasons were merely prestige, medical care, and an unlimited faith in astrology. The kings who did most to sponsor the sciences in this era, like Mujāhid of Denia, al-Maʾmūn ibn Dhī l-Nūn of Toledo and al-Muʿtamid ibn ʿAbbād of Seville, were mostly concerned with the disciplines that were eminently practical like medicine, astronomy and astrology or their variants.22 None of these kings was as concerned with pure theoretical sciences as al-Muʾtaman.

In the records of the Party Kings we find hardly any episodes like the opposition of the religious scholars to the astrologers and thinkers who surrounded ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II, or the expurgation of the library of al-Ḥakam II. If this was possible, it was to a large extent because the pressure had diminished. No other city in al-Andalus had a body of religious scholars as numerous and influential as Cordova during the Umayyad period. The new courts had to create new governing bodies and so they tried to attract religious scholars of prestige, who were generously rewarded.23 Some of them were considered ʿulamāʾ al-ṣalāṭin (“scholars of the sultans”),24 an expression which might be liberally translated as “scholars who sold out to the rulers”, and suggests strongly that they were liable to tolerate the deeds of kings who were religiously suspect. The Party Kings were generally criticized for their lack of religiosity in their personal and public lives by their contemporaries and by posterity,25 particularly by religious thinkers with strong personalities. It is no coincidence that these scholars of note, namely Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456/1064), Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr (d. 463/1071), al-Bājī (474/1081),26 and, later, Abū Bakr ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 543/1148),27 reflected at length on the admissibility of the rational sciences. They were complex intellectuals, and most of them knew well theology.28 They took a relatively Salomonic stance: while they rejected astrology and the like, they accepted the sciences insofar as they might be helpful for human life, and even for fulfilling religious duties, in the understanding that religion was the superior, and ultimately the only relevant, knowledge.29 These conclusions appear in several works but most particularly in the “classification of the sciences” written by Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr30 and Ibn Ḥazm31 with one eye kept on the philosophers and the other on religion. These classifications reflect the concern of the religious scholars with the place of rational knowledge in the formation of elites in an era in which the rational sciences were spread among cultivated people.

The reflection on the primacy of reason or faith seems to have been relatively frequent in the learned circles of the second half of the 5th/11th century, as three important references suggest. The first is the linguist and logician Ibn Sīda (d. 458/1066), who summarized the doctrine of Ibn Ḥazm and his like in three verses.32 The second is ʿAbd Allā ibn Buluqqīn (r. 465/1073-483/1090), the Zirid king of Granada, a good example of the Party Kings who had some scientific culture and were eager believers in astrology.33 His memoirs, written in Aghmāt where he had been exiled by the Almoravids, contain a chapter in which he justifies his beliefs in a context that was hostile to the rational sciences.34 The text starts by affirming that knowing God by means of reason is necessary, but then goes on to say that scientific thinking is insufficient for knowing not just divine affairs but also the workings of the world, and affirms the primacy of religion over rational knowledge.35 The section ends with a refutation of astrology, which is clearly at odds with the indications of the king’s belief in astrology which appear frequently in the body of his memoirs, and, more significantly, with specific sections on astrology appearing at the end of the book. In one of them, the author describes his own horoscope,36 which according to him gave extremely precise predictions, and goes on to speak at length about astrology, which he considers a sound science in spite of some limitations. The most interesting text appears after this chapter, and following another which, interestingly, deals with wine consumption. ʿAbd Allāh includes the answer given to him by an unknown astrologer when he objected that astrology was a baseless science.37 The reply focuses on religion. The astrologer says that his science is perfectly compatible with religion since he investigates God’s will, inasmuch as the destiny of persons is determined by the specific configurations of the heavens that God has created. All in all, the memoirs reflect the arguments and counterarguments that might have been exchanged at the courts of the Party Kings and in their scholarly circles, and also what these rulers expected from the rational sciences. Rather naively, from his exile in Aghmāt, ʿAbd Allāh tries to sort out the contradictions of his discourse with a preliminary declaration that might please the religious scholars: religion lies above science.

The third case consists of the verses purportedly written by al-Waqqashī (d. 489/1095). One version of them, given by Ibn Ṭufayl,38 says:

It saddens me that the sciences of human being are only two:
One which deals with an unattainable truth,
Another that addresses vanities and gives no profit.

The author was an expert in religious and rational sciences who taught Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī and a physician-philosopher of note, Abū l-Ṣalt al-Dānī (d. 529/1134). According to the linguist and philosopher Ibn al-Sīd (d. 521/1127),39 a legal scholar of Valencia complained to him about the impiety of these verses, which had possibly been written in this city where al-Waqqashī lived for some time in difficult circumstances.40 The story told by Ibn al-Sīd happened in all probability after al-Waqqashī’s death. Ibn al-Sīd wrote a text in defense of al-Waqqashī41 in which he explained to his interlocutor that, according to al-Fārābī, religion and philosophy are parallel paths that finish at the same end. This is a plausible interpretation of al-Fārābī42 even though it is inconsistent with the verses, which say that there is no path at all. However, the defense of Ibn al-Sīd was all the more pertinent in view of the context in which this text was written, that is, Valencia under the Almoravids. The gist of the verses is understood neatly by Ibn Ṭufayl, who regards them as an expression of intellectual impotence that symbolizes the inability of a generation to build a sound philosophical project.43 Be this as it may, for the purposes of this article we must consider that the scepticism of al-Waqqashī was a personal and relatively original opinion generated by a debate that concerned many sectors of the Andalusī intellectual society. We will see below (§10) how al-Muʾtaman argued with al-Bājī with regard to reason and faith, philosophy and religion.

In the era of the Party Kings, there is only one salient episode of persecution of religious beliefs influenced by rational thinking. It seems that in Toledo there was a faction of religious scholars who were favorable to the rational sciences, among them Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, and another that opposed them. This latter party accused Ibn Ḥātim al-Ṭulayṭūlī (d. 464/1072), a member of the first group, of heresy.44 Even though the king al-Maʾmūn ibn Dhī l-Nūn of Toledo protected the rational sciences, he was unable to protect him, possibly because the religious scholars who led an anti-philosophy party of sorts enjoyed solid popular support.45 Ibn Ḥātim escaped from Toledo but, when trying to reach Saragossa, he was captured in Cordova by the troops of the king of Seville, al-Muʿtamid ibn ʿAbbād, who killed Ibn Ḥātim possibly as a sign of support for the rivals of the king of Toledo. There would have been many possible reasons for this episode; one of them was the Crusade of Barbastro against the Banū Hūd,46 which was considered as a resounding wake-up call for Muslim minds (cf. below §4). Coincidence or not, the persecution of Ibn Ḥātim al-Ṭulayṭūlī started in 457/1064, the same year as the crusade. Coincidence or not, another subject of al-Maʾmūn ibn Dhī l-Nūn, Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī (d. 462/1070),47 said that the state of the sciences of the ancients was better than ever when he wrote his Ṭabaqāt al-umam, in 460/1068,48 but warned of an imminent danger: as the kings turned their attention to the threat posed by the Christians, they were losing interest in the sciences.49

3 The Abbasid al-Maʾmūn in al-Andalus

As is well known, one of the most conspicuous scholar-kings of Islam was the Abbasid caliph al-Maʾmūn (r. 813-833). His relationship with the rational sciences is particularly complex but it is hard to deny that he used these sciences for political reasons. As caliph, al-Maʾmūn faced a crisis of legitimacy due to the killing of his brother and former caliph, al-Amīn. In order to strengthen his position, he took two measures connected with the rational sciences. On the one hand, he adopted what Gutas calls the “Zoroastrian ideology”,50 a policy followed by the Abbasids since al-Manṣūr, which involved the translation into Arabic of philosophical and scientific books considered by the Persians as a vital part of their religious and cultural legacy. This policy had other implications as well. First, it could attract the Aramaic speakers who considered themselves as heirs of the Babylonians, the founders of the sciences.51 Second, since astrology (a rational science for most of the scholars of that time) was a key part of the Persian legacy, it could help to legitimize the Abbasid position, because the people believed that they were caliphs by decree of the stars.

On the other hand, al-Maʾmūn tried to conquer the monopoly over religious discourse. The religious scholars had established themselves as authorities on the strength of their own ability to interpret the religious sources and the consensus that these opinions obtained among the believers (for the sake of clarity, we will name them “traditional scholars”). In order to achieve his goal, al-Maʾmūn purged the traditional scholars by instituting the miḥna, a legal procedure in which the religious scholars were asked about the createdness of the Koran.52 This doctrine was held by the Muʿtazilīs, the most conspicuous school of rationalist theologians, but was rejected by the “traditional scholars”. Thus, it is interpreted that al-Maʾmūn was a Muʾtazilī and that this was one of the main reasons why he fostered the translation of scientific texts and the practice of the rational sciences.53 The rationale behind this assumption is that the spreading of rationalist thinking would have strengthened the authority of the caliph, who had serious difficulties in controlling the “traditional scholars” because, among other reasons, they had popular support. In contrast, the scholars akin to the rational disciplines were newcomers in the public arena and were therefore easier to control by the power who had given them authority.54

The shadow of al-Maʾmūn appears and reappears until the fifth/eleventh century in connection with the Umayyads and their idealization. There is a significant passage in the first part of the second book of Muqtabis by Ibn Ḥayyān (d. 469/1075): the description of how the emir ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II sent the astrologer ʿAbbās ibn Nāṣiḥ to Baghdad to procure books on rational sciences, and then encouraged the Cordovans to read them. Now, this passage has come down to us in an incomplete form in the only manuscript of the section of al-Muqtabis that contains it. As shown by Molina,55 a version of this text appears in a Syrian encyclopaedia on geography and history, Masālik al-abṣār fi mamālik al-amṣār by Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-ʿUmarī (d. 749/1349),56 who borrowed heavily from Ibn Ḥayyān in his section on the Andalusī Umayyads. The two versions read as follows (in italics, the literal coincidences between the two).

According to al-Muqtabis, the author of the first version is an obscure scholar named Muḥammad ibn Ḥafṣ ibn Faraj, who wrote the excerpt some time during the fourth/tenth century.60 The intermediary between him and Ibn Ḥayyān is al-Ḥasan Ibn Mufarrij (b. 343/954-5 or 348/959/60, d. after 1038-9),61 a well-known historian from Cordova whose works were frequently quoted by later authors. Regardless of their differences, the two versions may be read as complementary. On the one hand, it would not be unreasonable to believe that in the version of Muqtabis II/1 that has come down to us, a pious hand would have erased the passages in which the emir is placed on a par with al-Maʾmūn, Hārūn al-Rashīd, and above Aristotle, Plato, Hippocrates and Ptolemy. It is unlikely that Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-ʿUmarī would have wanted to idealize the emir to such an extent, given that no other Umayyad ruler, not even al-Ḥakam II, is treated in the same way. On the other hand, it seems that the Syrian historian plays down the role played by the secondary characters in the story of the emir’s education in order to focus the reader’s attention on the main character. It well might have been that the second version was written by Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-ʿUmarī, or an intermediate author, in order to make the first version more attractive to the reader. Be this as it may, both texts agree in linking ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II with al-Maʾmūn (the first version implicitly, and the second explicitly) since both echo two of the stories that contribute the most to the legend of al-Maʾmūn: his search for books in Byzantium and the spreading of the rational sciences among his subjects.62 It is difficult to decide whether ʿAbd al-Raḥmān’s imitation of al-Maʾmūn actually happened or was merely an exaggeration by later authors; in fact, the two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. There are three circumstances that underline the relevance of the relationship between the Umayyad emir and the Abbasid caliph. Firstly, the Umayyads and the Andalusī scholars knew very well what was going on in Baghdad. Secondly, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II had good reasons for imitating al-Maʾmūn as we have seen (above §2). Thirdly, it seems that the emir was relatively competent in the rational sciences; or (what comes more or less to the same thing) most people believed that he was. This aspect is well attested in a passage from his great-great grandson, al-Ḥakam II. The caliph extols the competence of his predecessor in not only religious and literary disciplines but also in philosophy, astronomy and astrology,63 thus showing that al-Ḥakam considered ʿAbd al-Raḥmān as an intellectual model. For our purposes, these texts about ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II are relevant because they show that the scholarly circles of the fourth/tenth century contained supporters of a ruler who was able to implement some kind of rational governance according to the memories left by the early Abbasid rulers. This ideal reached the times of the Party Kings. It seems no coincidence that a historian like Ibn Ḥayyān, who idealized the epoch of the Umayyads, should revive this passage in a book that another al-Maʾmūn, al-Maʾmūn ibn Dhī l-Nūn of Toledo, could possibly read.64

Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī described at length what the Baghdadi al-Maʾmūn did for the sciences.65 He “culminated what his ancestor al-Manṣūr started”, and so “the reign wisdom (dawlat al-ḥikma) was established in his epoch”. The narrative of Ṣāʿid not only mentions the well-known topics of the search for books, their translation and their diffusion among the people, but adds an interesting element to the myth of al-Maʾmūn – the interreligious and intercultural cooperation. Ṣāʿid describes Maʾmūnid Baghdad as a society in which the Muslims worked together with the members of other confessions, translating, studying, philosophizing and doing science for the good of the community, which prospered thanks to their activity. In this regard, it is significant that Ṣāʿid held the Jewish scholars in great esteem.66 The stories about al-Maʾmūn are echoed in the passage in which Ṣāʿid explains that al-Ḥakam II imported books from Eastern Islam until he had amassed as many works as the Abbasids. He did this because he had an intense love for science and wanted to acquire the virtues associated with it; he aspired to raise himself to the level of the rulers who belonged to the ahl al-ḥikma, “people of wisdom”, i.e., the philosopher-kings.67 Interestingly, this model of excellence appears slightly before the episode in al-Manṣūr’s “burning” of the books, which precedes the warnings addressed by Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī to the rulers of his time.68 Also interesting is the fact that Ṣāʿid was well informed about al-Muʾtaman because he was personally acquainted with his right-hand man, the Jew Abū l-Faḍl Ḥasdāy ibn Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy.69

4 Al-Muʾtaman’s Scientific and Philosophical Breeding-Ground70

From Cordova to Saragossa (Late 10th Century-Early 11th Century)

An important precondition for a king such as al-Muʾtaman to appear in the annals of history is that he lives in a society that possesses a rich intellectual substrate. Saragossa had such a substrate, because it inherited the scientific legacy of the Caliphate of Cordova. In the 3rd/9th and the 4th/10th centuries, there were many scholars in Saragossa and the surrounding region.71 A great many of them travelled to Eastern Islam in search of knowledge and then returned to their homeland, although some eventually settled in Cordova, the capital of the caliphate.72 Nearly all of them were religious scholars and only one was a philosopher, Saʿīd ibn Fatḥūn, nicknamed al-Ḥammār (the muleteer), who lived in Cordova during the last decades of the 4th/10th century. We do not know where he learnt philosophy; it may not have been in Saragossa or in his region, where the traces of the practice of the rational sciences are very weak until the end of the Umayyad caliphate. At the beginning of the 5th/11th century, the Caliphate began the final period of its existence. Life in Cordova became particularly difficult, and many scholars migrated to other cities. According to Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī,73 two Jews, Marwān ibn Janāḥ (d. ca. 1040) and Manāḥim ibn al-Fawwāl, and a Muslim, Ibn al-Kattānī (d. 1029) moved to Saragossa during this period. All were notable scholars with a similar intellectual profile, physician-philosophers of vast culture who were particularly concerned with logic.74 According to the scarce and incomplete information given by the sources, they would have been the foundational core of the rich activity in the rational sciences that was to develop in Saragossa in the following decades. Ibn Janāḥ complained of the ignorance of the people in Saragossa75 because he missed the brilliant intellectual life he had left behind in Cordova. However, after the foundation of an independent kingdom by the dynasty of the Tujībids (r. 409/1018-430/1039), Saragossa became the centre of a flourishing culture fostered by the new rulers. Still governors of Saragossa for the Ummayyads, the Tujībids attracted some of the most important poets from Cordova.76 The first Tujībid king, al-Mundhir ibn Yaḥyā (r. 409/1018-412/1021(2)) invited Abū l-Futūḥ al-Jurjānī (d. 431/1039) to Saragossa in order to teach his son. Al-Jurjānī had arrived in al-Andalus from Baghdad and lived at that time in Denia.77 Al-Jurjānī spent only a few months in Saragossa and probably exerted little influence on the learned circles of this city, but the fact that he was summoned to the Tujībid court is significant in itself. Besides being an expert linguist, he was also a philosopher who excelled in the field of logic, which he taught to Ibn Ḥazm. If we consider the education of logic in al-Andalus during the transition from the 4th/10th to the 5th/11th century, we can conclude that a major part of the legacy of Baghdad reached Saragossa at the beginning of the 5th/11th century, via al-Jurjānī and Ibn al-Kattānī.78

Even though we know little of the internal life of the scholarly communities of Saragossa, there is some evidence to suggest that the locals and the migrants were integrated in a rich cultural, scientific and philosophical life encouraged by the court, in which the Jews played a notable role and personal contacts were frequent. Ibn Gabirol, born in Málaga to a family of Cordovan refugees, was educated in Saragossa under the aegis of Yĕqutiel ibn Ḥasan (d. 430/1039), a prominent member of the Jewish community of Saragossa and at the same time a minister of the Tujībids.79 Ibn Gabirol knew Ibn Janāḥ because he dedicated a poem to him written in Aramaic;80 Ibn Janāḥ knew Abū l-Futūḥ al-Jurjānī, because he asked him about the Persian etymologies of some names mentioned in Kitāb al-Talkhīṣ.81 What we do not know is who taught Ibn Gabirol, unless it was the three migrants from Cordova, Marwān ibn Janāḥ, Manāḥim ibn al-Fawwāl and Ibn al-Kattānī. It is possible, however, that in Saragossa there were other teachers able to train a scholar like him – or else, patrons like Yĕqutiel ibn Ḥasan who could afford to bring them to Saragossa.

The Banū Hūd

Within the context of the Party Kings, no dynasty did more than the Hūdids (r. 430/1039-503/1110) for the rational sciences, at least for mathematics and philosophy. As is well known, the Hūdids replaced the Tujibids and al-Muqtadir ibn Hūd (r. 439/1047-474/1081), who ruled Saragossa for almost four decades, was the most prominent king of the dynasty. A late source, the epistle on the virtues of al-Andalus written by al-Shaqūndī (d. 629/1231), preserved in al-Maqqarī’s Nafḥ, says that al-Muqtadir was a learned king who knew philosophy, mathematics and astronomy.82 Even though this assertion is often taken at face-value in the secondary bibliography, it is difficult to accept its veracity because no other source corroborates it.83 What al-Shaqundī seems to describe is a transference between al-Muqtadir and his son al-Muʿtaman, possibly because the father was more important than the son. The recognition that should be granted to al-Muqtadir is that he realized the relevance of rational knowledge. Not only did he promote it, but he chose a mathematician-philosopher as his main heir. What we find in the sources regarding al-Muqtadir is, on the one hand, evidence of his sponsoring of poets, and on the other, his interest in the religious sciences. This latter aspect stems mostly from the fact that he summoned one of the most prominent religious scholars of the epoch, Abū l-Walīd al-Bājī (d. 474/1081) to Saragossa, at an unknown date.84 Many courts demanded al-Bājī’s services. He was a fearsome polemicist who had been summoned to Mallorca in order to reply to Ibn Ḥazm, because no local scholar could refute his arguments. Al-Bājī debated with Ibn Ḥazm and humiliated him.85 Little is known about the services he performed at the Saragossan court with the exception of the episode of the letters of the “monk of France”. In the name of the king, al-Bājī held an epistolary polemic with an unknown Christian priest who sought to convert al-Muqtadir, possibly in the 1070s.86 We also know that he taught the Saragossans religious sciences and had outstanding disciples such as al-Ṣadafī (d. 514/1120) and Abū Bakr al-Ṭurtūshī (d. 520/1126).87 The interest in recruiting a scholar of this caliber may have been twofold. On the one hand, the surrounding Christian kingdoms were threatening Saragossa; al-Muqtadir had to endure a crusade preached by the Pope against Barbastro between 457/1064 and 458/1065, in which nobles from virtually all the centres of power of both sides of the Pyrenees and beyond took part.88 The loss of Barbastro was reported with anguish by several Muslim authors.89 Al-Muqtadir called the Muslims to jihād and, although there are no sources that confirm this, al-Bājī may have played the role of a symbolic religious leader at the service of al-Muqtadir and Islam.90 On the other hand, al-Bājī may have been recruited to counterbalance the image projected by the philosophical activity developed under al-Muqtadir. It is well known that this activity existed, and more importantly, that most people were aware of it. Indirect but consistent evidence of the extent of the scientific activity carried out in the palace is provided by the library of the Hūdids. According to Haskins and Burnett,91 the Hūdids collected a large library on scientific and philosophical matters that ended up in Rueda de Jalón, the last stronghold of the dynasty after the conquest of Saragossa by the Almoravids in 503/1110. Books from this library were in the “armarium rotense” from which Hugh of Sanctalla took the manuscripts that he translated for the bishop Michael of Tarazona at the beginning of the 6th/12th century. Some decades later, when the Hūdids exchanged the fortress of Rueda de Jalón for lands in Castile, the remains of this library may have ended up in the hands of the Toledan translators and their patrons. The contents of this library may thus be deduced approximately from the titles that were translated, particularly those that were found in the “armarium rotense”. However, some of the books that could have been in this library may be seen directly in the bibliography of al-Istikmāl:92 an important list of twenty mathematical, astronomical, optical and logical treatises, Greek translations into Arabic and original works written up to the time of Ibn al-Haytham (d. 430/1040). Since al-Muʿtaman was both a mathematician and a philosopher, we may reasonably surmise that the library also contained a large number of books on philosophy and other rational disciplines and that most of these books were brought to Saragossa by him.

5 The Time of the Banū Hūd and the Legacy of Cordova

Two outstanding scholars of Cordovan origin who arrived in Saragossa around the mid-5th/11th century played an important role in Hūdid Saragossa: Abū l-Ḥakam al-Kirmānī (d. 458/1066) and Abū ʿAmr Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy (d. after 431/1040). Although very different from one another, their personal and intellectual biographies have two important features in common. Both were educated in the Cordova of the late Umayyad period under the influence of two prominent experts in the rational sciences who had marked an era in that city; both arrived in Saragossa after spending some time in other places where they were able to broaden their education. Abū l-Ḥakam al-Kirmānī had been a disciple of Maslama al-Majrīṭī (d. ca. 398/1007),93 the best astronomer and mathematician of the Umayyad caliphate and a master able to create an influential school of experts in these matters.94 Al-Kirmānī was a competent physician who did not fear surgery and an expert in geometry and arithmetic, though weak in mathematical astronomy and logic.95 When he left Cordova, he spent some time in Ḥarrān in the Mashriq, and then returned to al-Andalus. He settled in Saragossa, where he brought with him the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity. The second scholar is Abū ʿAmr Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy, the son, and therefore in some way the disciple, of Hasdāy ibn Shaprūṭ (d. ca. 364/975).96 This latter had been the leader of the Jewish community of Cordova under ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III and was responsible for its flourishing culture. As regards his scientific curriculum, he was a court physician, an expert in pharmacology, a logician and a man with a thorough interest in astronomy who was well connected with the Jewish scholars of Qayrawān, particularly with Dunash ibn Tamīm. Abū ʿAmr Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy lived in Granada and Albarracín until he settled in Saragossa, where he was welcomed by the ubiquitous Marwān ibn Janāh, who knew him from the time when both lived in Cordova.97 He possibly served at the court of the Banū Hūd although the sources remain silent on this question. Though he is only credited with having been a poet, he was in all probability acquainted with several disciplines, as were other members of the Jewish communities with the same social status. He deserves our attention here because he represents the link between his father, Ḥasdāy ibn Shaprūṭ, and his son Abū l-Faḍl Ḥasdāy ibn Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy. To the same generation belongs ʿAbd Allāh ibn Aḥmad al-Saraqusṭī (d. 448/1056-7), a skilled mathematician and physician98 who taught these matters in Saragossa. He was connected to the school of Maslama since he knew one of his direct disciples.

Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy and al-Muʾtaman, who both appear to have been born in the the 1040s or slightly earlier, are members of a next generation of scholars devoted to the rational sciences which included at least two other authors. One is Abū Jaʿfar Aḥmad ibn Jawshan, a geometer whom Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī mentions as a member of the same generation as al-Muʾtaman.99 The other is the well-known philosopher Ibn Paqūda, who was probably somewhat older than the other three since it is possible that he was active from the decade of the 1050s onwards.100 We know little about their relations, either with each other or with the members of the preceding generation. On the grounds that Sāʿid al-Andalusī mentions that Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy knew al-Kirmānī well,101 it is said that he could be his teacher.102 The influence of the Ikhwān al-ṣafāʾ on Ibn Paqūda’s Duties of the heart is considered to represent some kind of connection between this author and al-Kirmānī, because the latter brought the Rasāʾil to Saragossa.103 Ibn Paqūda knew well the works of Ibn Gabirol.104 Be this as it may, it seems relatively clear is that Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy, al-Muʾtaman, ibn Jawshan and Ibn Paqūda grew up and were educated in Saragossa, where they could read the Rasāʾil Ikwhān al-Ṣafāʾ. As is well known, this work deal extensively with perfection and salvation through rational knowledge, the classification of the sciences that organizes knowledge according to a precise hierarchy105 and the Platonic philosopher-king.106

They were therefore the first generation of scientists and philosophers that the city generated from the Cordovan legacy, preceded slightly by the singular case of Ibn Gabirol. This generation, quantitatively and qualitatively relevant for a city like Saragossa, reveals that the city had become an active focus for the practice and the teaching of the rational sciences in its own right. A wealth of brilliant minds flourished during the first half of the 5th/11th century and, interestingly, they were mostly Jews:107 Abū Jaʿfar ibn Ḥasdāy, Moshe Sefaradí, Abraham Bar Hiyya and, though less directly connected with this area, Moshe ben Ezra and Yehuda Ha-Levy; among the Muslims were Ibn Bājja, and, tangentially, Ibn al-Sīd.

6 Abū l-Faḍl Ḥasdāy ibn Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy: The Education of the Court Jews

Abū l-Faḍl Ḥasdāy ibn Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy was a member of the Jewish community who had an ample knowledge of philosophy, sciences, language and literature, and was the secretary of al-Muqtadir, al-Muʾtaman and al-Mustaʿīn.108 We know that he was closely associated with al-Muʾtaman because he wrote several letters for him,109 and organized one of the most important political events of al-Muʾtaman’s reign, the wedding of the king’s son to the daughter of the king of Valencia.110 Since Abū l-Faḍl and al-Muʾtaman were outstanding scientists and philosophers, it is very likely that they also collaborated in these fields.

Abū l-Faḍl Ḥasdāy ibn Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy is a paradigmatic example of the “court Jews” who were so relevant in the high spheres of power in al-Andalus,111 particularly during the time of the Party Kings; indeed, he was the grandson of the founder of this class, Ḥasdāy ibn Shaprūṭ, and the son of one of their members. These top civil servants owed their status to their training and skills – particularly in Arabic language and literature, the essential prerequisites for holding the higher posts at court.112 Scientific training was also necessary, as we see in the biographies of Ibn Shaprūṭ (whose familiarity with the caliph ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III stemmed largely from the fact that he was his physician), Samuel ha-Nagid (993-1056), and his protégé Isaac ben Barukh Albalia (1035-1094). The historian Ibn Ḥayyān speaks at length about the scholarly capacities of Samuel ha-Nagid, emphasising his skills in language and literature, which were equivalent in Arabic and Hebrew.113 At the end of the section, he says:114

He added to this [the knowledge of Arabic language and his literary skills], an excellence in the mathematical disciplines of the sciences of the ancients, in which he was at the head of their adepts (muntaḥilūna) due to his precise knowledge of the stars (maʿrifa nujūmiyya). He also knew geometry and logic well. In dialectics, he was superior to all those who mastered it. In spite of his sagacity, he was discreet, hated the exchange of insults, and reflected calmly; he was a book collector.

The excerpt shows that the instrumental side of the rational sciences could be as important as the scholarly side. Samuel and his like were well trained in logic and dialectics; these skills helped them to deal prudently with the daily quarrels of political life and to face down the antipathy and envy of the Muslim courtiers.115 They knew mathematical disciplines because this knowledge was helpful for someone dealing with public finances but also because astrology was omnipresent in Andalusī courts. More precisely, the Zirids, whom Samuel served as a kind of prime minister, and the ʿAbbādids, whom Isaac ben Barukh Albalia served in many capacities including that of court astrologer,116 were enthusiastic believers in astrology and probably considered it to be a strategic discipline, as did many other rulers in al-Andalus.117 Their use of rational knowledge in worldly affairs did not preclude their condition as scholars and committed knowers of the rational sciences in their own right. Ibn Ḥayyān expresses this fact, saying that Samuel “was at the head” of the “adepts” (muntaḥilūna) of the “mathematical disciplines of the sciences of the ancients”, thus treating the scholars of rational sciences as if they were some kind of religious sect that followed a few selected spirits and Samuel was one of the higher priests. Although none of them left a large oeuvre this was not because of their lack of talent but above all because public service left them little time to pursue a fully-fledged scholarly career. The most salient feature of these scholars is their status as moral and political leaders of their communities who were particularly committed to the promotion of knowledge, at both a general and a particular level. Following on from the example of Ḥasdāy ibn Ḥasdāy, Samuel ha-Nagid made the Jewish culture of Granada flourish again, and Albalia appears to have done much the same in Seville. At a particular level, they were concerned with the education of their progeny and protégés, as is shown in the case of Samuel ha-Nagid by the passage from Ibn Ḥayyān quoted above, which goes on to explain how he educated his son:118

[Samuel ha-Nagid/Ismāʿīl ibn Naghrāla] had encouraged his son Yūsuf, who bore the kunya Abū Ḥusayn, to read books. For him he brought together masters and writers from all directions, who instructed him and taught him. The art of writing was also part of this. Thus he prepared him for his first job, namely being secretary to [Buluqqīn], the son of his master, who was the candidate to take [his master’s] place. This served as a preparation for the basics of his work. When Ismāʿīl [Samuel] died on the above-mentioned date, Bādis approached Yūsuf. Bādis showed himself to be satisfied with him as a replacement for his father at [Bādis’] service.

Even the sons of the most important Jewish courtiers could lose their position unless they were as able and skilled as their fathers had been. The fathers, therefore, provided their sons with the best possible education which, although focused on the linguistic and literary knowledge that was the very basis of the secretarial arts, encompassed many other disciplines, particularly the rational sciences.119 Although somewhat anecdotal, the information reviewed thus far conforms a relatively consistent account of this kind of education, inasmuch as all the evidence refers to a fairly homogeneous class of people who shared the same cultural and historical roots, faced the same social challenges, and knew one another. It is thus reasonable to believe that Abū ʿAmr ibn Ḥasdāy, the son of Ibn Shaprūṭ, who knew Samuel Ha-Nagid very well since he lived in Granada for some time and dedicated a poem to him,120 provided his son with an elite education of this kind – at least, as much as he could, since Abū ʿAmr ibn Ḥasdāy seems to have passed away shortly after the birth of Abū l-Faḍl Yūsuf.121

Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, who knew Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy personally, describes the training of the latter in detail in the section devoted to the sciences in Jewish communities.122 He learned Arabic language and literature; arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music;123 and logic, which is described as a kind of intermediary phase in which Ḥasdāy exercises himself in research and speculation. On this basis, Ḥasdāy “elevated himself” to another step, natural philosophy, which encompassed the study of Aristotle’s Physics and afterwards On the Heavens. Ṣāʿid does not continue the account of Ḥasdāy’s training because he says that he left him at this precise moment of the process, in the year 558/1162-3.124 Ṣāʿid gives further insights into his intellectual competence:125 he was, together with al-Muʾtaman and Ibn al-Nabbāsh al-Bajjānī,126 the outstanding expert of al-Andalus in natural philosophy and metaphysics (al-ʿilm al-ilāhī), and also in the theoretical sciences.127 The fact that Ḥasdāy was also a physician, or at least, that he had a better than average knowledge of medical theory and practice acquired by reading treatises on medicine, is mentioned in passing by Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa,128 and is confirmed by a letter addressed to a physician from Lleida nicknamed al-Burdhuqūn129 written in a satirical manner.130

7 Al-Muʿtaman. A Biographical Sketch

Our knowledge about al-Muʾtaman is limited because little information about him is extant in the sources and no biographical study has gathered this information altogether.131 One reason for this is that al-Muʾtaman was a king who ruled for a few short years in a space and time, the 5th/11th century al-Andalus of the Party Kings (mulūk al-ṭawaʾif), in which there were literally dozens of rulers. Another reason is that al-Muʾtaman was overshadowed: first by the Istikmāl, because for most Arabic historians he was merely the man who wrote it;132 and second by several other men who, like his father al-Muqtadir or the poet and adventurer Ibn ʿAmmār, were considered by posterity to be greater and more brilliant than al-Muʾtaman. However, he was an outstanding figure of his time. Ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī, one of the rare authors who speaks positively of al-Muʿtaman, extols his role as a sponsor of “men of letters, poets and scientists”, and considers him the best of those who succeeded his father, a ruler who “protected his kingdom and fought his enemies”.133 Al-Muʾtaman’s biography may be synthesized as follows. He was born in the late 1030s or early 1040s. He received a thorough education. By the 1060s, al-Muʾtaman stood out for his skills in mathematics and philosophy. He possibly assisted his father, al-Muqtadir, in the ruling of the kingdom while his brother, al-Mundhir, was appointed governor of Denia, conquered by al-Muqtadir in 468/1076; al-Muʾtaman succeeded his father in 474/1081 and spent the following years fighting against his brother and his Christian neighbors with the assistance of the famous Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, “el Cid”. He died relatively young, in 478/1085. All in all, the policy of al-Muʾtaman was similar to that of other competent kings, beginning with his father al-Muqtadir. Most of his deeds and virtues were also typical of a philosopher-king. He was intelligent enough to surround himself with able collaborators like Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy and el Cid. This is the virtue that al-Fārābī describes as “exploiting the acts of those who possess the particular virtues and the arts of those who practise the particular arts”.134 He was also a military leader according to the Christian chronicles.135 The ability to wage war is also included among the set of virtues of the philosopher-king.136 What distinguished the conduct of a philosopher-king from that of an able ruler, but not a philosopher-king, were deeds like writing of the Istikmāl, and anecdotal, yet significant, acts such as ordering Ḥasdāy to write a letter to a learned king like Abū ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Ṭāhir of Murcia, in order to praise a book that he had received from him, describing the virtues of the work in detail.137 The best evidence to affirm that al-Muʾtaman acted as a kind of “philosopher-king” is to be found in the way he spoke about his philosophical opinions as we will see below.

8 Al-Muʾtaman: The Education of a Philosopher

We know of al-Muʾtaman’s philosophical and scientific training via Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, who seemingly borrowed this information from Ḥasdāy ibn Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy. As we have seen in the previous section, Sāʿid considers al-Muʾtaman as one of the three greatest experts of al-Andalus in natural philosophy and metaphysics. In another passage, Ṣāʿid says that al-Muʾtaman was a brilliant mathematician who stood out from other scholars of his generation for his skills in philosophy.138 Al-Muʾtaman seemingly followed the same syllabus as Ḥasdāy ibn Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy since he knew mathematical disciplines, logic, natural philosophy and metaphysics. We can thus reasonably suppose that al-Muʾtaman became a philosopher in his twenties because al-Muʾtaman received an education similar to that of a young “court Jew”. In a society in which the interreligious borders were so fluid, and in a court ruled by a learned king like al-Muqtadir who appreciated the rational sciences, such a thing was possible. It is also possible that the young Ḥasdāy influenced the young prince as a preceptor of sorts, since Ibn Bassām says that the Hūdids protected him from the very beginning of his career.139

The other evidence about al-Muʿtaman’s knowledge and skills is his Kitāb al-Istikmāl, a complex book on mathematics organized according to logical categories.140 Even though the work has come down to us incomplete, a later version written by Ibn Sartāq (fl. Marāgha, eighth/fourteenth century)141 shows that it was planned as an encyclopedia of all the mathematical disciplines (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music and statics).142 It may be thus considered as a manual for the training of scholars that presents a thorough exposition of a state-of-the-art which comprises the legacies of both the ancients and the moderns, with the addition of new contributions. It is therefore a work that attains its full significance in connection with a community of learners, and so we may reasonably suppose that this potential public existed both, in Saragossa and beyond it. According to the introduction of Ibn Sartāq’s version,143 the Istikmāl is the work of a philosopher who knows that he will not attain human perfection without a thorough knowledge of the rational sciences from arithmetic to metaphysics, in the conviction that only the knowledge validated by the demonstrative method of Aristotle leads towards this perfection.

This idea appears recurrently in the works of the Islamic philosophers, and most particularly in al-Fārābī.144 Had al-Muʾtaman and the scholars who surrounded him studied al-Fārābī? There is no direct evidence of this, but Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī gives enough grounds to believe that this was the case. First, when he mentions how Ḥasdāy learned the rational sciences he says that the secretary “took an interest in the sciences according to their order”, meaning that he learned according to the order established by the philosophers in their classifications of the sciences.145 Second, Ṣāʾid extols al-Fārābī’s main work on the classification of the sciences, Iḥsāʾ al-ʿulūm, because he considers it the best book ever written on this topic and an indispensable guide for “the students of all the sciences”.146 Third, Ṣāʿid proves to be not only well acquainted with al-Farābī’s oeuvre but also a sincere admirer of the author.147 This section of Ṭabaqāt is possibly the first mention of al-Fārābī in al-Andalus, apart from some possible traces in Maslama ibn Qāsim’s Ghāyat al-ḥakīm.148 Now, Ṣāʿid was an astronomer and, probably, an astrologer. Neither Ṣāʿid himself nor any other source credits him with being a philosopher, or with a knowledge of philosophical disciplines at the same level as Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy and al-Muʾtaman. One of the reasons for this is that the philosophical background of Toledo, where Ṣāʿid learned from al-Waqqashī, and in general, of any other city of the period, lagged far behind that of Saragossa. The contrast between Ṣāʿid and a later philosopher who was also trained by al-Waqqashī, Abū Ṣalt al-Dānī (d. 529/1134), is notable, given that Abū Ṣalt makes only scarce and indirect references to al-Fārābī.149 It is therefore possible that Ṣāʿid encountered al-Fārābī, or gained a more thorough knowledge of his work, in Saragossa under the guidance of Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy, whom Ṣāʿid considered to be the outstanding philosopher of the time. Be this as it may, it is difficult to believe that Ṣāʿid did not speak at length with Ḥasdāy about the ideas of al-Fārābī and other related issues. It should be considered, in addition, that al-Fārābī was read widely in Saragossa. His influence appears in the works of Ibn al-Sīd written when he lived in this city under the reign of al-Mustaʿīn (r. 478/1085-503/1110), the son of al-Muʾtaman.150 In Saragossa, Ibn al-Sīd held a dispute on grammar with a young Ibn Bājja (d. 533/1138-9),151 in which he accused Ibn Bājja of introducing the logic of the philosophers into the theory of grammar; Ibn Bājja learned logic from the books of al-Fārābī, which he commented upon extensively at the beginning of his career.152

9 The Portrait of a Philosopher

The memoirs of ʿAbd Allāh ibn Buluqqīn contain a moral depiction of al-Muʾtaman borrowed from a reliable first-hand witness:153

He was a wise man who had studied the books. Since he knew above all astrology,154 he could see that his death was near. His status as king did not make him happy and adopted an ascetic attitude towards most mundane affairs. A high officer in his army who was one of those who attended his council told me that [al-Muʾtaman] used to show [the attendants] his treasures, treasures that no other king could have collected. As they congratulated him for this, he said: “what will I do with that. Life is short and from that I cannot take to my tomb but a shroud”. These words used to trouble them until he died.

This passage is somewhat contradictory, possibly because ʿAbd Allāh was unaware of the subtle irony of the officer. If we believe that al-Muʾtaman is sincere, this is a portrait of a true philosopher. However, the repeated use of the past habitual in the story of the treasury suggests that al-Muʾtaman meant to convey in public an image of asceticism in order to show the moral superiority expected of a wise man. ʿAbd Allāh’s apparently sincere belief that al-Muʾtaman was a true scholar who knew some kind of esoteric knowledge indicates that al-Muʾtaman actually succeeded in his particular strategy of communication, and there is no legend without a foundation in history. Moreover, one aspect of this moral and intellectual portrait is true: the fact that a king had a reputation for knowing things that, for a current Muslim believer, only God knew, indicates that al-Muʾtaman was not afraid to defy the religious conventions. A story that conveys the same moral appears in the most famous Sirāj al-mulūk, the speculum principes written by Abū Bakr al-Ṭurṭūshī (d. 520/1126).155 Al-Ṭurṭūshī reports that a Christian anchorite from a Christian country “close to al-Andalus” visited al-Mustaʿīn ibn Hūd, who might be either the grandfather of al-Muʾtaman or the latter’s son.156 The king showed him his possessions and riches and asked him his opinion about his kingdom. The anchorite replied that, unless the king could build a cover that offered complete protection for the kingdom and himself from the angel of death, all these possessions counted for nothing. It is possible that the story of the anchorite has a literary precedent because it seems an inverse parallel of the famous anecdote of Alexander the Great and Diogenes given by many sources.157 However, we should not forget that the story narrated by ʿAbd Allāh was purportedly based on actual facts, and that al-Muqtadir did receive a “monk”.158 The veracity of both stories remains to be proved but both might have been in some way true. Al-Muʾtaman could claim that he was like Diogenes/Socrates or a blend of Diogenes/Socrates and Alexander. Abū Bakr al-Ṭurṭushī knew the Hūdids very well because he had been their subject during many years; so he might well have fabricated a story that reversed the sense of the account told by al-Muʾtaman’s general to ʿAbd Allāh. While al-Muʾtaman was a “philosopher” who knew what others could not, al-Mustaʿīn was a conventional and infatuated king, ignorant enough to be admonished by a Christian ascetic, that is, by someone who is not even a Muslim. The story, written after the end of the dynasty, seems to have a symbolical dimension that would fit well either with the al-Mustaʿīn I who founded the dynasty or with al-Mustaʿīn II who lost it. As we will see immediately below, al-Ṭurṭūshī did not by any means admire al-Muʾtaman.159

10 Al-Muʾtaman on Philosophy and Religion

Plato and the Quran

Another relevant story about al-Muʾtaman is given by one of the most important religious scholars of the 6th/12th century, Abū Bakr ibn al-ʿArabī, based on his master al-Ṭurṭūshī, who refers in turn what his master al-Bājī told him:160

The faqīh al-Ṭurṭūshī informed me that al-Bājī informed him that he [al-Bājī] was one day in the courtyard [of the palace] of Aḥmad ibn Hūd [al-Muqtadir] waiting for his permission. His son al-Muʿtaman, who used to claim to be a philosopher and argued with [al-Bājī],161 told him: “Have you read the Education of the soul (Adab al-nafs) by Plato”. He replied: “what I have read is the Education of the soul by Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh, God’s blessings and peace upon him”. Said Abū Bakr:162 what I have read of Plato is Rebukes of the soul (Zajr al-nafs); al-Bājī, may God be satisfied with him, intended for adab Muḥammad what the Islamic law took from the Koran and the sunna about the guidance and enlightenment provided by traditions (sunan).

Much like the story of ʿAbd Allāh, this story is apparently credible163 and also shows that al-Muʿtaman not only espoused philosophy as a way of life but longed to make others aware of the choice he had made. In fact, he challenged the highly reputed al-Bājī to learn philosophy. The reference to Plato says a great deal about al-Muʾtaman’s intentions, because Plato is the philosopher who dealt with the soul after death and with the political order. Al-Ṭurṭūshī mentions a book entitled Zajr al-nafs, which is a well-known Hermetic work.164 It is uncertain whether this book was also attributed to Plato, or whether al-Ṭurṭūshī mistaken, or whether he did not refer to a book but merely said that all that Plato wrote about the soul was literally a zajr for a pious soul: an intimidation that causes fear. The title Adab al-nafs, “education of the soul”, suggests that it is not a specific Platonic dialogue but a symbolic label for Plato’s teachings, in much the same way as “adab Muḥammad” denotes Islamic religion.

Some further insights into this discussion can be obtained from an anonymous chronicle of al-Andalus, seemingly written between the second half of the 8th/14th century and the beginning of the next, Dhikr bilād al-Andalus. According to it, al-Muʿtaman was:165

an expert in mathematical sciences and a corruptor of religion who professed the return to the world (rajʿa ilā al-dunyā)

The expression “return to the world” possibly alludes to Plato’s doctrines on transmigration and reincarnation of the souls, themes that were discussed in depth by the Islamic philosophers and theologians.166 In this setting, it is possible to believe that Adab al-nafs might have been Phaedo, since it was translated into Arabic and spoke at length of transmigration (tanāsukh).167 Transmigration was problematic not only for religious but also for al-Fārābī168 and for the Aristotelian philosophers in general. A man like al-Muʾtaman could have been accused by a pious Sunnite of any heresy whatsoever, including Shiism.169 The belief in transmigration was one of the worst sins that a philosopher could commit, as we see in the case of al-Rāzī, harshly criticized for this reason.170 The Andalusis, either religious men like Ibn Ḥazm or scientists like Ṣāʿid, held that al-Rāzī believed in transmigration171 and so al-Muʾtaman could have been charged with the same crime, even if he rejected this doctrine. The gist of this short sentence is not the readings of al-Muʾtaman, but the memory he left. Even though there are almost no references in the sources to his attitude towards religion and the religious, the fact that Dhikr bilād al-Andalus considers him as a “corruptor of religion” indicates that there were many stories of this kind that posterity preferred to silence.

The Testament of al-Bājī

Al-Bājī expounded his opinions on the rational sciences in a book which seems to have been written at the end of his life, Waṣiyya li-waladayhi (“testament for his two sons”). It is a moral guide personally addressed to the sons of the author and by extension to any Muslim. The book expresses the general attitude towards the sciences mentioned above (cf. §2). On the one hand, al-Bājī rejects astrology and divination without further arguments,172 but accepts the practice of astronomy, including mathematical astronomy, for knowing the position of the stars and computing times for prayer. On the other hand, al-Bājī says that one of the things that his sons must necessarily avoid is the reading of books on philosophy and logic because they lead the naïve believer astray if he is not prepared for refuting the philosophers.173 The section mostly describes how al-Bājī isolated his sons from the rational sciences and how he dealt with the infatuated “experts” in these disciplines:

If I had known that you had enough criteria and knowledge and capacity for analyzing and assessing, I would have exhorted you to read it [philosophy and logic] and I myself would have ordered you to study them so as you could ascertain [all what follows]: their weakness and the weakness of he who firmly believes in them; the feeble mind of he who is led astray by them; that [philosophy and logic] are the ugliest lies and forgeries; the various tricks and funny stories with which the one who does not know them is led to perdition.

For this reason, if one of these who pretend to know is scrutinized, he is found bereft of knowledge and very far from attaining it, and pretending that he conceals his science when he is concealing an ignorance that, nevertheless, betrays him, because he craves to ask for assistance [of his ignorance] from the person who really helps him [to show him as ignorant].

I have seen in Baghdad and elsewhere a person who acted in this way, despising, rejecting and belittling [any one], and even though he was a mere beginner, he wanted to change your mind with the knowledge of his master about this world, weak and absurd, and about the other, stupid and reprehensible.

As for the people of our country who occupy themselves in this way, they only know of [this knowledge] the name because it came to them but a [vague] reference [of the knowledge].

Instead of a scholarly discussion on reason and faith, what al-Bājī gives here is an almost posthumous settling of scores with al-Muʾtaman, to whom he refers implicitly. Al-Bājī pays him back with an eloquent omission of his name and deep contempt. An intense sense of helplessness and profound disappointment with the Hūdids appears in the passages of al-Waṣiyya devoted to telling his sons that they should keep themselves as far as possible from power.174 It should be noted that the four texts analyzed in this section and the precedent one match each other reasonably well, even though they were written in different places and epochs, and convey a consistent narrative about a situation whose complexity is only insinuated.

11 Philosophy and Kingship in a Complex Kingdom

Contemporary chroniclers agree that al-Muʾtaman was a philosopher in his own right and there are few reasons for believing otherwise, if it were not for the exaggerated emphasis that al-Muʾtaman himself placed on his status as a philosopher. However, it is relatively irrelevant whether he actually studied Euclid, Menelaos, Ptolemy, Plato, Aristotle and so on himself, or whether he was taught or briefed about them by his preceptors and assistants; or whether he personally wrote the Istikmāl or had others do the work. What is relevant is, on the one hand, that al-Muʾtaman loudly announced to whoever could hear him that he had been able to become a philosopher; on the other, that he did not study and work in isolation but in a circle of scholars in which the influence of the Jewish experts was, to say the least, significant. Even though it is difficult to believe that he publicly proclaimed himself to be a philosopher-king, he had good reasons for doing so. The kingdom of Saragossa was a land with many borders. At the peak of its expansion under al-Muqtadir, the direct and most often hostile neighbours were Toledo, Seville, Castile, Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia. As for foreign policy, the philosopher-king was an asset in the ideological war against the Christians that was running in parallel with the conventional war. The image of the philosopher-king governing a learned society was strong enough to neutralize any claim of moral or religious superiority from the Christians, who were well aware that their scientific culture was inferior. As we see in the translations of Hugh of Sanctalla,175 or in the naïve assessments of ʿAbd Allāh ibn Buluqqīn, the esoteric side of the rational sciences could impress anyone and inculcate the belief that he who mastered it had some kind of ineffable power.

The philosopher-king was also an asset for domestic policy. Governing Saragossa required large amounts of gold and silver to bribe rivals and even greater amounts of prudence, cunning, and political skill. The rulers of Saragossa, either Tujībids or Hūdids, could not miss any chance for improving the governance and so, more than any other court of the period, they employed people of any origin if they believed them (rightly or wrongly) to be sufficiently able. Yĕqutiel ibn Ḥasan is the first Jewish minister to appear in the history of al-Andalus after the Umayyad caliphate.176 He was followed, under the Hūdids, by Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy and his father by Abū ʿAmr.177 A general of the Tujībids was of Christian origin,178 as were two ministers of the Hūdids, the courtier and poet Ibn Ghundishalb179 and Ibn Ruyūluh. There were also the numerous soldiers of Christian origin who fought for the Hūdids, foremost among them el Cid Campeador. With the exception of el Cid, all the names given above are metonyms of two communities that were very active in the kingdom of Saragossa. The coexistence between these groups and the Muslims is often described as exemplary but the real situation may have been more complex, particularly when the winds of the Reconquista began to blow more strongly. Ibn Ruyūluh tried to betray al-Muʾtaman.180 It is possible that the Muslims of Saragossa slaughtered a number of Mossarabs at the beginning of the crusade of Barbastro.181 When the city was recovered in 457/1065, the Muslim troops killed so many Christians that Ibn Ḥayyān said that the Muslims had acted as wildly as the Normans.182 The situation of the Jews seems to have been more peaceful. However, the pogrom of Granada in 459/1066, after which a number of Jews from that city emigrated to the area of Saragossa,183 showed that the situation could change dramatically for the worse. In general, most Andalusis opposed the presence of the Jews in the court, particularly some religious scholars like Ibn Ḥazm,184 who criticized the Party Kings for placing their trust in the Jewish courtiers. The stories and contradictory data surrounding the purported conversion of Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy indicate, on the one hand, that even Saragossa was affected by the latent racism that characterized the higher strata of society where Jews competed with Muslims for coveted positions, and that on the other, his religion was problematic both for himself and for the Muslims alongside whom he lived.185

It is doubtful whether the conscience of Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy, who probably also preferred the adab of Plato to the adab of any prophet, would have suffered intimately for his religious beliefs. However, it is less doubtful that he would prefer the multireligious society of al-Maʾmūn described by Ṣāʿid.186 Scholars like al-Muʾtaman and Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy could know as well as al-Maʾmūn that the universal language and values of the philosophers were a good remedy for the conflicts deriving from religion and ethnicity. The Jewish community may well have been particularly receptive to this idea.187 Actually, Ibn Gabirol, with his Yanbūʿ al-ḥayāt, and Ibn Paqūda, with his al-Hidāya ilā farāʾiḍ al-qulūb, built a rational ethic that went beyond the borders of religion. The Arabized Christian members could also appreciate the idea, even if they were not scholars.

12 The Problem of Legitimacy

The Party Kings were de facto rulers whose legitimacy was often questioned. The situation of the Hūdids in this regard was particularly delicate since they replaced a dynasty which had earned its power being the governors appointed by the Umayyads. Sulaymān ibn Hūd al-Mustaʿīn, the founder of the dynasty, received Saragossa from the notables of the city, who preferred him to ʿAbd Allāh ibn al-Ḥakam, a member of the Tujībids who had killed the last king of this dynasty, al-Mundhir ibn Yaḥyā.188 In other words, the legitimacy of the Hūdids came from the base of the pyramid rather than from the top. Their custom of dividing the kingdom between sons weakened the stability of the dynasty and therefore added yet more power to society at large, as shown by the popular revolt against al-Muqtadir that temporarily removed him from power and his replacement by Sulaymān, the son of his brother Yūsuf, the governor of Lleida.189 The Party Kings applied several strategies to convey an external image of legitimacy190 and the Hūdids in particular used all of them:

  1. i. A real or feigned connection with the Umayyads. Sulaymān ibn Hūd obtained this by sheltering the last caliph, Hishām III (r. 418/1026-422/1031, d. 428/1036), who died as his guest in Lleida.191

  2. ii. The building of palaces that evoked the Umayyad period. Al-Muqtadir, after defeating the Christian crusaders in Barbastro, began to erect the splendid Aljafería, inspired by the mosque of Cordova.192

  3. iii. The adoption of elaborate nicknames that resembled those of the caliphs.

  4. iv. The support of renowned religious scholars whose opinions could influence not just other religious scholars but the common people as well (al-Muqtadir and al-Bājī).

  5. v. The symbolic use of poetry and knowledge for propaganda. The Party Kings paid poets who extolled them, and physicians, astrologers and the like who not only carried out important functions for the kings but also projected their image as wise men, even among those who rejected the rational disciplines. Since everybody knew that these scholars were well paid, the promotion of letters and sciences conveyed a desirable image of wealth.

For a dynasty whose members were so preoccupied by legitimacy, the idea of a king whose right to rule ultimately stemmed from his own intellectual merit was particularly alluring. The ideological substrate had been sufficiently paved with the scientific and philosophical activity carried out since the early fifth/eleventh century and people of different mindsets might be receptive to the message either out of personal conviction or on the strength of the symbolic attraction of wisdom mentioned in the previous section.

Conclusions: al-Muʾtaman, the Corruptor of Religion

None of the sources mention even the slightest conflict regarding unorthodox sciences or beliefs in the kingdom of Saragossa. However, there must have been religious scholars who were against these matters. The arrival of al-Bājī in Saragossa may have induced them to mobilize the common people against the rational sciences. In this context, the disputes with al-Bājī, which al-Muqtadir tolerated, seem to have a two-fold purpose: first, to draw red lines against a possible anti-philosophical party, and second, to spread the rational sciences and their ideological implications as al-Maʾmūn and ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II had purportedly done. Al-Bājī seems to have been just one of the members of the Saragossan elites with whom al-Muʾtaman discussed his ideas and ideals. Al-Bājī’s qualms and insults, together with the “sense of helplessness” alluded to above, are the best evidence that it was al-Muʾtaman who won their particular dispute without the necessity of instituting a miḥna. It seems no coincidence that al-Bājī spent the last period of his life working for courts in other cities and that two of his most outstanding disciples also left Saragossa.193

The crusade of Barbastro and the pogrom of Granada194 seem to have been turning points in the engagement of the court with the rational sciences. In the years following these events, al-Muʾtaman and Abū l-Faḍl Ibn Ḥasdāy were young but fully-fledged philosophers. Possibly assisted by Abū l-Faḍl Ibn Ḥasdāy and others, al-Muʾtaman began to build his reputation as a politically significant philosopher-king. The purpose of these philosophers may have been the construction of the ideal city but it is more realistic to believe that they were merely trying to preserve the preexisting model of governance. The Party Kings could consult astrologers, philosophize and, more importantly, choose their collaborators and allies; they could collect taxes without the hindrances of religious law and preserve a reasonable level of harmony between the religious communities they governed. All this was put in jeopardy by the events of Barbastro and Granada. Though imperfect, this rather informal model of governance had proved successful in the kingdom of Saragossa. The Platonic form of governance, with its stress on autocracy and rule by the best, provided an essential ideological framework for the practices of the Party Kings; it could justify virtually anything if everybody believed in the intellectual and moral superiority of power. Al-Muʾtaman spent most of his short reign extinguishing the fires that were burning everywhere. This is probably why we know so little about what caused the suspicion among the religious minds: very little was done, and it was better that what little was done should sink into oblivion.

Nevertheless, al-Muʿtaman’s policy was successful. Even though al-Mustaʿīn, his successor, had to deal with an even more complicated situation, he ruled a state that was essentially the same as in his father’s time. Abū l-Faḍl Ibn Ḥasdāy remained at the court and Saragossa continued to be a leading focus of the rational sciences. The seeds of this legacy, preserved in the library of Rueda de Jalón and in the minds of those who were trained in Saragosa and its area of influence, proved all the more fertile. Ibn Bājja, a satellite of the Hūdids and a friend of the Banū Ḥasdāy, became the first philosopher of note in al-Andalus and paved the way for the emergence of Ibn Ṭufayl and Ibn Rushd. The Jews of Aragon and the surrounding areas continued to produce and transmit science and philosophy both in al-Andalus-Sefarad and abroad; the Christians translated the books of the Banū Hūd, and the consequences of this translation work are well known.


This article has been commissioned as part of the project FFI2017-88569-P, “Ciencia y sociedad en el Mediterráneo Occidental: el Calendario de Córdoba y sus tradiciones”, Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad.


H. Daiber, “Philosopher-King”, in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, ed. G. Bowering (Princeton: Princeton U.P., 2013), 413-414.


On the “philosopher king” and the complex typology of the rulers of excellence given by al-Fārābī, see M. Galston, Politics and Excellence: The Political Philosophy of Alfarabi (Princeton: Princeton U.P.), 97-108 passim; for a complementary approach that contrasts theory and practice, see S. Stroumsa “Philosopher-King or Philosopher-Courtier? Theory and Reality in the Falāsifa’s Place in Islamic Society”, in Estudios onomástico-biográficos de al-Andalus, 13. Identidades Marginales, ed. C. de la Puente (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas [henceforth CSIC], 2003), 433-459, at 441-447. The relationship between philosophy and religion is one of the main issues at stake in al-Fārābī’s political philosophy in general and in his construal of the philosopher-king in particular. The opinions of al-Fārābī are complex and often contradictory, as we may see by comparing the studies of M. Campanini and Ch.E. Butterworth: “Alfarabi and the Foundation of Political Theology in Islam” (Campanini), “Alfarabi’s Goal: Political Philosophy, not Political Theology” (Butterworth), both in Islam, the State, and Political Authority, ed. A. Afsaruddin (New York: Palgrave, 2011), 35-52 and 53-74, respectively. However, as Butterworth remarks, al-Fārābī affirms the superiority of philosophy over religion in many instances.


M. Galston, Politics and Excellence, 56-94, especially 56-59.


Stroumsa, “Philosopher-King”, 439 ff.


Al-Maqqārī, Nafḥ al-ṭīb, ed. I. ʿAbbās (Beirut: Dār Sādir, 1988), 1, 221; trans. J. Samsó 1979, “The Early Development of Astrology in al-Andalus”, Journal for the History of Arabic Science 3 (1979): 228-243, at 228. In a similar text (al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ, 3, 185-186), Ibn Saʿīd deals with the same issue mentioning authors who were persecuted by the Almohads in the late sixth/twelfth century for practicing philosophy: the well-known Ibn Rushd and a scholar named Ibn Ḥabīb; he also adds the example of an astrologer who lived in Seville in the seventh/thirteenth century. These texts are commented upon further by: J. Samsó, Las ciencias de los antiguos en al-Andalus (Almería: Fundación Ibn Ṭufayl, 2011), 77-78; L.I. Conrad, “Introduction: the World of Ibn Ṭufayl”, in The World of Ibn Ṭufayl, ed. L.I. Conrad (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 1-37, at 9-12; M. Fierro, “Religious dissension in al-Andalus”, al-Qanṭara 22 (2001): 463-487, at 475.


M. Forcada, “Astronomy, Astrology and the Sciences of the Ancients in Early al-Andalus (2nd/8th-3rd/9th centuries)”, Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 16 (2004-2005): 1-74, at 38-42.


On the elimination of heterodox books from the library of al-Ḥakam II, see M. Fierro 1987, La heterodoxia en al-Andalus durante el periodo omeya (Madrid: Instituto Hispano-Árabe de Cultura, 1987), 161 ff, M.G. Balty-Guesdon, Médecins et hommes de science en Espagne Musulmane (IIe/VIIIe-Ve/XIe s.), doctoral dissertation, Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Lille: Université de Lille, 1992), 234 ff and J. Safran, “The politics of book burning in al-Andalus”, Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies, 6 (2014): 148-168, at 151-154.


Samsó, Las ciencias, 49 ff; M. Forcada, “Astronomy, Astrology and the Sciences of the Ancients in Early al-Andalus (2nd/8th-3rd/9th centuries)”, Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 16 (2004-2005): 1-74.


M. Forcada, “Books from Abroad: the Evolution of Science and Philosophy in Umayyad Al-Andalus”, Intellectual History of the Islamicate World 5 (2017): 55-85, at 59-60.


Forcada, “Books”, 62-64.


Forcada, “Books”, 73-76.


M.G. Balty-Guesdon, Médecins, 159-171 and 204-216; M. Forcada, Ética e ideología de la ciencia. El médico filósofo en al-Andalus (siglos X-XII) (Almería: Fundación Ibn Ṭufayl, 2011), 175-178.


Forcada, “Books”, 64-66. It is worth noting the case of Maslama ibn Qāsim, as studied by M. Fierro, “Bāṭinism in al-Andalus. Maslama b. Qāsim al-Qurṭubī (d. 353/964), author of the Rutbat al-Ḥakīm and the Ġāyat al-Ḥakīm (Picatrix)”, Studia Islamica 84 (1996): 87-112, and G. de Callataÿ, “Magia en al-Andalus: Rasāʾil Ijwān al-Ṣafāʾ, Rutbat al-Ḥakīm y Gāyat al-Ḥakīm (Picatrix)”, al-Qanṭara 34 (2013): 297-344. There is little doubt that he not only wrote two most famous treatises on magic and alchemy, Ghāyat al-ḥakīm and Rutbat al-ḥakīm, but also brought the Epistles of the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ to al-Andalus.


Forcada, “Books”, 71. One of them was Maslama ibn Qāsim.


Forcada, “Books”, 78-81.


M. Fierro, ʿAbd Al-Rahman III: The First Cordoban Caliph (London: One World, 2005), 105-131.


The best example of this dual influence is the work of the philosophized mystic Ibn Masarra (d. 319/931); see S. Stroumsa, Andalus and Sefarad: On Philosophy and Its History in Islamic Spain (Princeton: Princeton U.P., 2019), 48 ff and the bibliography mentioned there.


Fierro, ʿAbd Al-Rahman III, 125-131; Fierro, “Heresy and Political legitimacy in al-Andalus”, in Heresy and the Making of European Culture. Medieval and Modern Perspectives, ed. A.P. Roach and J.R. Simpson (Farnham: Routledge, 2013), 52-76, at 60-70.


Forcada, “Books”, 71.


M. Fierro Plants, “Mary the Copt, Abraham, Donkeys and Knowledge: Again on Bāṭinism during the Umayyad Caliphate in al-Andalus”, in Differenz und Dynamik im Islam. Festschrift für Heinz Halm zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. H. Biesterfeldt and V. Klemm (Würzburg: Ergon-Verl, 2012), 125-144; Fierro, “Heresy”, 63.


See Samsó, Las ciencias, 125 ff. for a thorough account of the scientific activity of these locales. Several remarks are in order. The flourishing scientific activity of the period depended to a large extent on the sponsorship of the party kings. Agriculture, a relatively new discipline in this context, was a sort of spin-off of medicine and botany. The practice of mathematical astronomy depends heavily on astrology, because the more accurately one knows the configuration of the heavens, the more accurate one’s horoscope would be. For this reason, the remarkable theoretical progress achieved in medicine, agronomy and astronomy should be understood as progress in disciplines that were eminently practical, even though the astronomers discussed theoretical issues like cosmology at length. The contributions to mathematics which were not intended to be practical – for example, the geometry of Ibn al-Ṣamḥ, Ibn Sayyid and Ibn Muʿādh – were generally made outside the networks of sponsorship, with the notable exception of al-Muʾtaman, who was a sponsor and an expert at the same time.


B. Soravia, “Les ʿulamāʾ andalous au V siècle de l’Hégire, antagonistes ou courtisans des mulūk al-ṭawaʾif”, in Saber religioso y poder político en el Islam (Granada: Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, 1994), 285-301, at 293-298.


Soravia, “Les ʿulamāʾ”, 298-300.


F. Clément, Pouvoir et légitimité en Espagne musulmane à l’époque des taifas (Ve/ XIe siècle). l’Imam fictif (Paris: Harmatann, 1997), 86 ff.


On them, see respectively Fierro, HATA, III Fiqh, nos. 415, 431, 444.


Fierro, HATA, I Corán, no. 554.


M. Fierro, “La religión”, in Historia de España R. Menéndez Pidal, vol. VIII/1 Los Reinos de Taifas, coord. M.J. Viguera (Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1996), 399-496, at 399-422. The theologian and polymath Ibn Ḥazm was actually the greatest of them all and knew the rational disciplines well. Abū Bakr ibn al-ʿArabī, a disciple of al-Ghazālī, had some knowledge of philosophy and devoted long sections of his Kitāb al-ʿAwāṣim min al-qawāsim to criticizing the philosophers, the astrologers, and so on; see Abū Bakr ibn al-ʿArabī, al-ʿAwāṣim wa-l-qawāsim (ed. ʿAmmār Ṭālibī, Cairo: Maktabat Dār al-Turāth, 1997), esp. 1, 81 ff. As Abū Bakr ibn al-ʿArabī says in the autobiographical Mukhtaṣar Tartīb al-riḥla, ed. Saʿīd al-Qāḍī, Maʿa al-qāḍī Abī Bakr ibn al-ʿArabī (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī), 189-190, he studied several mathematical disciplines, read Euclid’s Elements and knew how to use an astronomical table and an astrolabe.


We lack a general study of how these scholars understood the rational sciences. Nevertheless, we have several partial approaches: J. Vernet, La cultura hispanoárabe en Oriente y Occidente (Barcelona: Ariel, 1978), 33-35; Balty-Guesdon, Médecins, 457-473 passim; Fierro, “La religión”, 409; M. Forcada, “Ibn Bājja and the Classification of the Sciences in al-Andalus”, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 16 (2006): 287-307, at 289-292; Forcada, Ética e ideología, 110-119 passim; M. Forcada, “Astrology in al-Andalus during the 11th and 12th Centuries: Between Religion and Philosophy”, in From Mashaʾallah to Kepler: The Theory and Practice of Astrology in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ed. Ch.Burnett and D. Greenbaum (Ceredigion: The Sophia Trust, 2015), 149-176, at 148-157; R. Ramón Guerrero, “Ibn Ḥazm de Córdoba y el valor de las ciencias”, Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval 25 (2018): 55-66.


Al-Bājī, Jāmiʿ bayān al-ʿilm, ed. Abū l-Ashbal al-Zuhayrī (Cairo: Maktabat Ibn al-Jawzī, 1994), 787-798.


Ibn Ḥazm, Marātib al-ʿulūm, ed. I. ʿAbbās, Rasāʾil Ibn Ḥazm (Beirut: al-Muʾassasa al-ʿArabiyya li-l-Dirasāt wa-l-Nashr, 1983), 4, 61-90.


D. Cabanelas, Ibn Sīda de Murcia, el mayor lexicógrafo de al-Andalus (Granada, Universidad de Granada, 1966) 1966; 72-73; Forcada, Ética, 201-202.


From several passages of his memoirs we know that he had a superficial knowledge of theology, philosophy, medicine, astronomy and astrology; see ʿAbd Allāh ibn Buluqqīn, Kitāb al-Tibyān, ed. E. Lévi-Provençal (Cairo: Dār al-Maʿārif, 1955), 6-10 and 179-193. Little more is known about the scientific training of the Party Kings. Ibn al-Kardabūs (d. 573/1177) says that al-Muʿtamid of Seville could do calculations with an astrolabe; see Ibn al-Kardabūs al-Iktifāʾ fī ajbār al-khulafāʾ, ed. Ṣ. ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-Gāmidī (Medina: Ŷāmiʿa al-Islāmiyya bi-l-Madīna al-Munawwara, 2008), 2, 1261-1262.


The issue of the Almoravids’ treatment of the rational sciences is beyond the scope of this article. For our purposes it is enough to say that, as religious reformers who followed strict Malikism, they opposed the practice of astrology, philosophy and the like.


ʿAbd Allāh Tibyān, 6-9.


ʾAbd Allāh, Tibyān, 179-181. The horoscope was cast for the fourth anniversary of the king. See on it J. Samsó, On Both Sides of the Straits of Gibraltar. Studies in the History of Medieval Astronomy in the Iberian Peninsula and the Maghrib (Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2020), 166-169.


ʾAbd Allāh, Tibyān, 188-191; see Forcada, Astrology in al-Andalus, 156-158, for an analysis of this section.


Ibn Ṭufayl, Risālat Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, ed. L. Gauthier (Beirut: Imprimerie Catholique, 1936), 12.


On him, see below §8.


The conquest of Valencia by el Cid, in which he had to mediate between the conquerors and the conquered.


The text is edited, translated and studied in M. Asín Palacios Miguel Asín Palacios, “La tesis de la necesidad de la revelación en el islam y la escolástica”, Al-Andalus 3 (1935): 345-389; see moreover D. Serrano “Ibn al-Sīd al-Baṭalyawsī (444/1052-521/1127): de los reinos de taifas a la época almorávide a través de la biografía de un ulema polifacético”, Al-Qantara 23: 53-92, at 76-79 passim and Forcada, Ética, 201-206.


See Campanini, “Alfarabi”, mentioned above on n. 3.


Ibn Ṭufayl, Risālat Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, 12, lines 5-7.


On this complex episode, see M. Fierro “El proceso contra Ibn Ḥātim al-Ṭulayṭulī (años 457/1064-464/1072)”, in Estudios onomástico-biográficos de al-Andalus, 6, ed. M. Marín (Madrid: CSIC, 1994), 187-216; see moreover Soravia, “Les ʿulamāʾ”, 290-293.


Fierro, “El proceso”, 201-202.


Fierro, “El proceso”, 212.


As is well known, Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī was a judge and astronomer who carried out a great deal of astronomical activity in Toledo. He was possibly also an astrologer. His Ṭabaqāt al-umam is our best source of information on the rational sciences in al-Andalus between the early fourth/tenth century and the second third of the fifth/eleventh; see Fierro, HATA, 6 Historia, no. 257.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Tabaqāt al-Umam, ed. Ḥ. Bū ʿAlwan (Beirut: Dār al-Ṭalīʿa, 1985), 157.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Tabaqāt, 165.


D. Gutas, Greek Thought Arabic Culture. The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ʿAbbasaid Society (2nd-4th/5th-10th centuries) (London: Routledge, 1998), 75 and 28 ff. about the “Zoroastrian ideology”.


Gutas, Greek Thought, 43.


See, for instance, M.Q. Zaman, Religion and Politics under the Early ʿAbbāsids. The Emergence of the Proto-Sunnī Elite (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 106-112, T. El-Hibri, Reinterpreting Islamic Historiography. Hārūn al-Rashīd and the Narrative of the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1999), 95-142 and J.A. Nawas, Al-Maʾmūn, the Inquisition and the Quest for Caliphal Authority (Atlanta: Lockwood Press, 2015), 78-79.


For an analysis of this question, see D. Gutas, Greek Thought, 75-83. Gutas follows up a line of interpretation given in R. Paret, Der Islam und das griechische Bildungsgut (Tubingen: J.B.C., Mohr, 1950), esp. 21-27, echoed in F. Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage in Islam (London: Routdledge, 1992), 4-5, nuanced in P.S. van Koningsveld, “Greek Manuscripts in the Early Abbasid Empire. Fiction and Facts about their Origin, Translation and Destruction”, Bibliotheca Orientalis 55 (1998): 345-372, at 361-362 and 368, and questioned in G. Saliba, Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2007), 52 ff.


Gutas, Greek Thought, 82-83.


Molina, “La ‘historia de los omeyas en al-Andalus’ en los Masālik al-abṣār”, al-Qanṭara 25 (2005): 123-139, at 128-129 and 137-138.


Ibn Fadl Allāh al-ʿUmarī, al-abṣār fi mamālik al-amṣār, ed. K.S. al-Jubūrī and M. al-Najm (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿilmiyya, 2010), 24, 366, ls. 1-16.


Ibn Ḥayyān, Muqtabis, 2/1, 278, ls. 3-12; English translation in Forcada, “Books”, 55 and Spanish translation in M. ʿA. Makkī and F. Corriente, Crónica de los emires Alḥakam I y ʿAbdarraḥmān II entre los años 796 y 847 = (Almuqtabis II-1) (Zaragoza: Instituto de Estudios Islámicos y del Oriente Próximo, 2001), 169-170.


Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-ʿUmarī, Masālik, 24, 366, ls. 1-12; Spanish translation in Molina “La historia”, 137. Molina says that this second version was written by al-ʿUmarī on the basis of the first version.


I read zakat ṣiḥḥatuhu instead of zakat ṣīḥatuhu given in the edition.


On this scholar, see M. Crego Gómez, “Acerca de una fuente de Ibn Ḥayyān en un texto inédito del Muqtabis II-l”, al-Qanṭara 26 (2005), 269-271. He is a source in the same volume of al-Muqtabis on the astrologers of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II. Interestingly, he tells a story of something that a ruler should never do: Muḥammad, the son of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II, killed his astrologer, al-Ḍabbī; see moreover J. Samsó “Sobre el astrólogo ʿAbd al-Wāḥid b.Isḥāq al-Ḍabbi (fl. c.788-c.852)”, Anaquel de Estudios Árabes 12 (2001): 657-670, at 664-665. Muḥammad ibn Ḥafṣ borrowed the story from the well-known man of letters Ibn ʿAbd al-Rabbihi (d. 328/940), one of the leaders of the Cordovan courtiers who rejected astrology and philosophy.


M. Penelas, “Ibn Mufarriŷ al-Qubbašī”, in BA, 4, 210-213.


See respectively two relevant sources written in the fourth/tenth century: Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-Fihrist, ed. A.F. Sayyid (London: Furqan Foundation, 2009), 2/1, 141-142; al-Masʿūdī, Murūj al-dhahab, ed. Ch. Pellat (Beirut: Publications de l’Université Libanaise, 1966-1974), 5, 214.


Ibn Ḥayyān, Muqtabis, 2/1, 279. The source is an autographic text of al-Ḥakam II transmitted by one of the most famous religious scholars and biographers of the fourth/tenth century, Ibn al-Faraḍī (d. 403/1013). The passage is translated in Forcada, “Astronomy”, 10.


B. Soravia, “Ibn Ḥayyān, historien du siècle des taifas. Une relecture de Ḏaḫīra, I/2, 573-602”, Al-Qanṭara 20 (1999), 99-117, at 106-108. Ibn Ḥayyān sought the favor of al-Maʾmūn ibn Dhī l-Nūn and dedicated to the Toledan ruler his work on history.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 127-137.


See the section devoted to them in Ṭabaqāt, 200-207.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Tabaqāt, 162-163; see Forcada, “Books”, 73 ff.


See above §2.


See below §§6-8.


The cultural, scientific and philosophical life of Saragossa and its region is out of the scope of the present study. The subject is addressed in many works, namely: J. Vernet, “El valle del Ebro como nexo entre Oriente y Occidente”, Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona 23 (1950): 249-286; J. Bosch Vilà, El Oriente árabe en el desarrollo de la cultura de la Marca Superior (Madrid: Instituto Egipcio de Estudios Islámicos, 1954); J. Bosch Vilà, “El reino de Taifas en Zaragoza: algunos aspectos de la cultura árabe en el valle del Ebro”, Cuadernos de Historia Jerónimo Zurita 10-11 (1960), 7-67; M. Grau, “Contribución al estudio del estado cultural del valle del Ebro en el siglo XI y principios del XII”, Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona 27 (1957-1958): 227-272, Balty Guesdon, Médecins, 325 ff., J. Lomba, El Ebro: puente de Europa. Pensamiento musulmán y judío (Saragossa: Mira Editores, 2002); G.T. Beech, The Brief Eminence and Doomed Fall of Islamic Saragossa (Saragossa: Instituto de Estudios Islámicos y del Oriente Próximo, 2008); Forcada, Ética, 219 ff.; Stroumsa, Andalus, esp. 108-115. The following section adds further insights into the issue and stresses the personal connections in order to give a full account of this phenomenon, without which al-Muʾtaman and his work cannot be understood.


Vernet, “El valle del Ebro”, 264.


Bosch Vilà, El Oriente, 20-26.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 204.


Manāḥim ibn al-Fawwāl is virtually unknown except for Ṣāʾid’s reference. He says that he wrote an introduction to logic and natural philosophy entitled Kanz al-Muqill. The other two were outstanding personalities of this era. The work and influence of Ibn Janāh in medicine have been the object of recent studies that also contain complete references to the bibliography written on him: M.G. Mechbal, “Fuentes andalusíes en el Kitāb ʿUmdat al-ṭabīb de Abū l-Jayr al-Išbīlī: problemas en su identificación”, Miscelánea de Estudios Árabes y Hebraicos. Sección Árabe-Islam 62 (2013), 47-69, at 52-58; G. Bos, F. Käs, G. Mensching and M. Lübke, “Ibn Ǧanāḥ on the Nomenclature of Medicinal Drugs. The Rediscovered Kitāb al-Talḫīṣ and its Significance for the History of Arabic Pharmacognosy”, Iberia Judaica 7 (2015), 95-110; Paul B. Fenton, “Jonah Ibn Ǧanāḥ’s Medical Dictionary, the Kitāb al-Talḫīṣ: Lost and Found”, Aleph 16 (2016), 107‑43; G. Mensching, M. Lübke, G. Bos and F. Käs: “Marwān ibn Ǧanāḥ: el Talḫīṣ y sus términos iberorrománicos”, in Atti del XXVIII Congresso internazionale di linguistica e filologia romanza, ed. R. Antonelli, M. Glessgen and Paul Videsott (Strasbourg: Éditions de Linguistique et de Philologie, 2018), 1, 741-748. The recent edition of the pharmacological treatise entitled Kitāb al-Talkhīṣ (G. Boss, F. Käs et al., Marwān ibn Janāḥ, On the nomenclature of medicinal drugs (Kitāb al-Talkhīṣ), Leiden: Brill, 2020) shows Ibn Janāh to have been a competent pharmacologist concerned with the names of the species in several languages and well acquainted with earlier pharmacological sources; it is worth noting that he personally asked other colleagues and experts for information. A relevant issue for our purposes is that Marwān ibn Janāḥ was not only well connected with the Jewish circles of knowledge in Cordova, but also with the Muslim circles, since he was a disciple of the physician Ibn Juljul (Bos et al., “Ibn Ǧanāḥ”, 96). Ibn al-Kattānī, in turn, belonged to a medical family of Cordova and served the Umayyads. Even though we will deal with him below, it should be noted at this point that he was an expert in logic. His recently edited medical work, Kitāb al-Shajara (J. Coullaut Cordero and M.C. Vázquez de Benito, El “Libro del árbol” de Ibn al-Kattani: un tratado médico andalusí, Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, 2019), shows hints of Ibn al-Kattānī’s interest in logic.


Bosch Vilà, “El reino”, 26.


Grau, “Contribución”, 242-243.


Bosch Vilà, El Oriente, 28-29; on al-Jurjānī, see M.L. Ávila, “al-Ŷurŷānī, Abū l-Fatūḥ”, BA, 7, 679-82, Balty-Guesdon, Médecins, 265-266 passim and G. Boss, F. Käs et al., Marwān ibn Janāḥ, 159-160.


Balty-Guesdon, Médecins, 222-224; R. Ramón Guerrero, “Aristotle and Ibn Ḥazm. On the Logic of the Taqrīb”, in Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba. The Life and Works of a Controversial Thinker, ed. C. Adang, M. Fierro, and S. Schmidtke (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 403-416; J. Lameer, “Ibn Ḥazm’s Logical Pedigree”, in Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba. The Life and Works of a Controversial Thinker, 417-428; Forcada, “Books”, 79-81. Ibn al-Kattānī studied logic with about ten teachers, some of them notable scholars like Maslama al-Majrīṭī and Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdūn al-Jabalī. This latter studied in Baghdād with Abū Sulaymān al-Sijistānī. In their turn, al-Jurjānī learned logic from Abū Bishr Mattā ibn Yūnus; Ibn Ḥazm learned from Ibn al-Kattānī and al-Jurjānī.


N. Roth, “Ibn Gabirol, Solomon”, in Medieval Jewish Civilization. An Encyclopedia, ed. N. Roth (New York, Routhledge, 2003), 355-363, at 356.


Roth, “Ibn Gabirol”, 355.


Bos et al., “Ibn Ǧanāḥ”, 102.


Al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ, 3, 193.


The references to the education of the Hūdids are indirect. Ibn al-Abbār, al-Ḥulla al-siyarāʾ, ed. Ḥ. Muʿnis (Beirut: Dār al-Maʿārif, 1985) 2, 146, says that al-Muẓaffar, the king of Lleida, could compete with his brother al-Muqtadir in “courage and adab”; Ibn Bassām, al-Dhakhīra fī maḥāsin ahl al-Ŷazīra, ed. I. ʿAbbās (Beirut: Dār al-Thaqāfa, 1978-79), 3/ 1, 470-473 gives a baroque epistle by Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy for al-Muqtadir, written as if the author was a daffodil. Obviously, this literary refinement could only be appreciated by a sophisticated and educated spirit. Ibn Saʿīd al-Maghrībī, Mughrib fī ḥulā al-Maghrib, ed. Sh. Ḍayf (Beirut; Dār al-Maʿārif, 1993), 2, 436-437, gives a poem written by al-Muqtadir. Like other kings of the time, al-Muqtadir may have had some scientific and philosophical education.


Ibn Khaqān, Qalāʾid al-ʿiqyān, ed. Ḥ.S. Kharyūsh (Amman: Maktaba al-Manār, 1989), 600, emphasizing the joy of al-Muqtadir regarding his recruit.


On the biography of al-Bājī, see M. Fierro, A. Hernández and J. Haremska, “Al-Bāŷī, Abū l-Walīd”, BA, 1, 233-243.


On this episode, which may have been invented by the same al-Bājī, see Fierro, “La religion”, 471-479 and D. Sarrió Cucarella, “Corresponding across Religious Borders: Al-Bājī’s Response to a Missionary Letter from France”, Medieval Encounters 18 (2012) 1-35, in which the main bibliography about the issue is referenced. This episode is considered to have been another of the religious reactions that followed the crusade of Barbastro.


On them, Fierro, HATA, II Ḥadīth, no. 426 and III Fiqh, no. 602.


A. Ubieto Arteta, Historia de Aragón. La formación territorial (Saragossa: Anubar, 1981), 54 ff and A. Ferreiro, “The Siege of Barbastro, 1064-65: A Reassessment”, Journal of Medieval History 9 (1983): 129-44.


M. Marín, “Crusaders in the Muslim West: the View of Arab Writers”, The Maghreb Review 17 (1992): 95-102; E. Lapiedra, “La epístola sobre la caída de Barbastro de Abū Muḥammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr al-Namarī, secretario de ʿAlī Ibn Muŷāhid: Retórica y política a finales del s. XI”, in Dénia, poder i el mar en el segle XI: el regne taifa dels Banū Muğāhid, coord. F. Franco Sánchez and, J.A. Gisbert Santonja (Denia: Universidad de Alicante, 2019), 211-222.


He did something similar when Alfonso VI of Castile put the Party Kings in serious jeopardy at the end of the 5th/11th century; see Ibn al-Abbār, Ḥulla, 2, 98.


Ch. Haskins, Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science (Cambridge: Harvard U.P., 1924), 70-71; Ch. Burnett, “The Translating Activity in Medieval Spain”, in The Legacy of Muslim Spain, ed. S.Kh. Jayyusi (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 1036-1058, at 1041.


J.P. Hogendijk, “Al-Muʾtaman ibn Hūd, 11th Century King of Saragossa and Brilliant Mathematician”, Historia Mathematica 22 (1995), 1-18, at 16.


Ibn al-Kattānī was also a disciple of Maslama, who taught him logic and probably mathematical disciplines as well.


Samsó, Las ciencias, 80 ff.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt al-Umam, 171-172.


On the biography of the Banū Ḥasdāys, see: Sarah Stroumsa, “Between Acculturation and Conversion in Islamic Spain. The Case of the Banū Ḥasday”, Mediterranea. International journal for the transfer of knowledge 1 (2016): 9-36; A. López López, “Ibn Ḥasdāy, Abū l-Faḍl”, BA, 3, 303-309.


S. Munk, Notice sur Aboul-Walid Merwan ibn Djanaʾh et sur quelques autres grammairiens hébreux du Xe et du XIe siècle (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1851), 72-73. Ibn Janāh seems to say that Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy arrived in Saragossa a long time after him. The Tujībids were still ruling since Ibn Janāh passed away at more or less the same time as this dynasty.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 175.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 181.


D. Lobel, A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue: Philosophy and Mysticism in Baḥya ibn Paqūda’s Duties of the Heart (Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania University Press, 2007), 1-4, based on Moshé ben Ezra, K. al-Muḥāḍara wa-l-mudhākara. Ibn Paqūda belonged to the generation that followed Ibn Janāh, who died ca. 1040 or somewhat later.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Tabaqāt, 178.


Echoes of the Ismaili doctrines had been noticed in works by Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy; see J. Vernet, “Natural and Technical Sciences in al-Andalus”, in Jayyusi, Legacy, 937-951, at 946-948.


For recent studies about al-Kirmānī and the Ikhwān, and the influence of the Rasāʾil on Ibn Paqūda, see Lobel, A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue, 2-3 passim and R. Cordonnier, “Influences directes et indirectes de l’Encyclopédie des Ikhwān al-Ṣafā’ dans l’Occident chrétien”, Le Muséon 125 (2012), 421-466.


Lobel, A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue, 3-7 passim.


About these issues, see G. de Callataÿ, “The Classification of Knowledge in the Rasāʾil”, in The Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ and their Rasāʾil. An Introduction, ed. N. El-Bizri (Oxford: Oxford University Press – The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2008), 58-82, and C. Baffioni, “From Sense Perception to the Vision of God: A Path Towards Knowledge According to the Iḫwān Al-Ṣafāʾ”, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 8 (1998), 213-231.


On the Platonic influence on the political thinking of the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ, see: C. Baffioni, “Al-Madīna al-fāḍila in al-Fārābī and in the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ: A Comparison”, in Studies in Arabic and Islam, ed. Stefan Leder et al. (Leuven: Peeters, 2002), 3-12; C. Baffioni, “The ‘General Policy’ of the Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ: Plato and Aristotle Restated”, in Words, Texts and Concepts Cruising the Mediterranean Sea, ed. R. Arnzen and J. Thielmann bī (Leuven-Paris: Peeters, 2004), 575-592; C. Baffioni, “Prophecy, Imamate, and Political Rule among the Ikhwan al-Safaʾ”, in Islam, the State, and Political Authority, 75-92. See moreover Abbas Hamdani, “The Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ: Between al-Kindī and al-Fārābī”, in Fortresses of the Intellect. Ismaili and Other Islamic Studies in Honour of Farhad Daftary, ed. O. Alí-de-Unzaga (London-New York: I.B. Tauris-The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2011), 189-212, esp. 199-201, where the author shows that the Ikwhān’s characterization of the ideal ruler is very similar to the description given by al-Fārābī and Ibn Rushd due to the influence of Plato’s Republic.


Grau, “Contribución”, 248-256; J. Samsó, “Traduccions i obres científiques originals elaborades en medis jueus”, in La Ciència en la història dels Països Catalans, ed. J. Vernet and R. Parés (Valencia, 2004), 297-325.


On Abū l-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdāy, see Stroumsa, “Between Acculturation”, 25-27, and López López, “Ibn Ḥasdāy, Abū l-Faḍl”. For an analysis of the role played by the author within the intellectual life of Saragossa, see D. Wirmer, Vom Denken der Natur zur Natur des Denkens. Ibn Bāǧǧas Theorie der Potenz als Grundlegung der Psychologie (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), 64-77. It is worth noting that Ibn Bājja knew well the Banū Ḥasdāys.


Ibn Bassām, Dhakhīra, 3/1, 464-468.


Ibn Khaqān, Qalāʾid, 54 and 199; Ibn ʿIdhārī, al-Bayyān al-Mughrib, ed. G. Colin and E. Lévi-Provençal (Beirut: Dār al-Thaqāfa, 1983), 3, 303-304; al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ, 1, 64.


N.A. Stillman, “The Emergence, Development and Historical Continuity of the Sephardi Courtier Class”, Espacio, Tiempo y Forma, Serie III, H.ʾʾ Medieval 6 (1993): 17-30 1993; N.A. Stillman, “Court Jews”, in Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (Leiden: Brill, 2010,; on Samuel, see particularly R. Brann, Power in the Portrayal. Representations of Jews and Muslims in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Islamic Spain (Princeton-Oxford: Primceton University Press, 2002) 24 ff.


A. Schippers, “Literacy, Munificence and Legitimation of Power during the Reign of the Party Kings in Muslim Spain”, in Tradition and Modernity in Arabic Language and Literature, ed. J.R. Smart (Richmond: Curzon, 1996), 75-86.


The text is preserved by Ibn al-Khaṭīb, al-Iḥāṭa fī akhbār Gharnāṭa, ed. M.ʿA. ʿInān (Cairo: Dār al-Maʿārif, 1973-77) 1, 446-447; cf. the analysis and translation by A. Schippers, “Literacy”, 78-80 and Brann, “Power”, 36-38.


Ibn al-Khaṭīb, Iḥāṭa, 1, 446, line 17-447, line 3; my translation.


See Stroumsa, “Between Acculturation”, 24-26, on the invectives suffered by Abū l-Faḍl Ibn Ḥasdāy for his religion; and Brann, “Power”, 34-35, for a similar story about Ibn Shaprūṭ.


Balty-Guesdon, Médecins, 315 and 354.


It is difficult to believe that Samuel did not speak about astrology with the Zirid kings. The generic and unusual expression maʿrifa nujūmiyya (lit. “stellar knowledge”) given by Ibn Ḥayyān suggests that the author referred to both astronomy and astrology. Samuel wrote two poems on astronomy that indirectly bear testimony to his knowledge of astrology; both of them are studied and translated in J. Rodriguez-Arribas, “Science in Poetic Contexts: Astronomy and Astrology in the Hebrew Poetry of Sepharad”, Miscelánea de Estudios Árabes y Hebraicos. Sección Hebreo 59 (2010), 167-202, at 172-174 and 188. The fatalistic tone of the last verses of one of these poems strongly suggests that the author believed that astrology was a science for ascertaining the fate predetermined by God, much as we see in ʿAbd Allā’s memoirs. Further evidence derives from a third poem in which Samuel gives the date of birth of his son Joseph detailed to the minute: that is, the time needed in order to cast a precise natal horoscope.


Trans. Schippers, “Literacy”, 80.


This concern with education might benefit people outside the family circle, particularly if they were able scholars like Albalia, whose training owed so much to Samuel ha-Nagid, and Ibn Gabirol, who was protected by Samuel when he moved to Granada.


Stroumsa, “Between Acculturation”, 22.


Stroumsa, “Between Acculturation”, 24. So it seems that the son grew up and was educated according to his class within the networks of protection that existed in the Jewish aristocratic families.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 205-206; see an echo of this passage in Ibn Bassām, Dhakhīra, 3, 1, 457-458. Ibn Bassām mentions neither Ṣāʿid nor the scientific and philosophical matters that Ḥasdāy learned, but one of the elements that he preserves from Ṣāʿid’s reference is the fact that Ḥasdāy learned these matters “according to an order”.


While Ṣāʿid says that Ḥasdāy was proficient in the first three mathematical disciplines, he was not as good in music.


This date is the best evidence we have for Ḥasdāy’s date of birth. Since Ṣāʿid says that he was then a young man, he was probably born during the 1040s or slightly earlier. The same chronological reasoning applies to al-Muʾtaman, also considered a young man by Ṣāʿid.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 185.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 198. He was a physician-philosopher who excelled in the knowledge of politics and ethics.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 172.


Abī Uṣaybiʿa, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī tabaqāt al-aṭṭibāʾ, ed. N. Riḍā (Beirut: Dār Maktabat al-Ḥayāt, 1965), 499.


This is a name of Romance origin that comes from the Latin, perdicōne, meaning partridge chick.


Ibn Bassām, Dhakhīra, 3, 1, 475 ff. The letter was written “ʿalā lisān al-ʿĀfiya”, i.e., claiming that Ḥasdāy was a man nicknamed al-ʿĀfiya, about whom the text says that he was an astrologer from Lleida who had lost an eye. Previously, the text says that al-Burdhuqūn was known for having lost a testicle. What is relevant for our purposes is that this letter is full of references to medicine and other sciences. We lack the monograph that this interesting letter deserves but there are partial analyses in Vernet, La transmisión, 25-31 and “Natural and Technical Sciences”, 947-948.


A full biography of al-Muʾtaman is out of the scope of this article. There are nevertheless several summaries in the secondary bibliography about the history of al-Andalus like A. Turk, El reino de Zaragoza en el siglo XI de Cristo (V de la Hégira) (Madrid: Instituto Egipcio de Estudios Islámicos en Madrid, 1978), 123-144 and M.J. Viguera, Aragón musulmán (Saragossa: Librería General, 1981), 163-166. In their turn, historians of mathematics have dealt with al-Muʾtaman as a mathematician: A. Djebbar, “Deux mathématiciens peu connus de l’Espagne du XIe siècle: al-Muʾtaman et Ibn Sayyid”, in Vestigia Mathematica: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Mathematics in Honour of H.L.L. Busard, ed. M. Folkerts and J.P. Hogendijk, Jan P (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1993), 79-91; A. Djebbar “Al-Muʾtaman, Yūsuf”, Biblioteca de al-Andalus [henceforth BA], ed. J. Lirola and J.M. Puerta Vílchez (Almería: Fundación Ibn Ṭufay, 2004-2012), 6, 601-604; D. Lamrabet, Introduction à l’histoire des mathémathiques maghribines (Rabat: Driss Lamrabet, 2014), 75-77; J.P. Hogendijk, “al-Muʾtaman ibn Hūd”, in Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, ed. H. Seinen ((Dordrecht: Springer), 2, 262-263). About the Istikmāl, see the seminal article by J.P. Hogendijk, “Discovery of an 11th-Century Geometrical Compilation: The lstikmāl of Yūsuf al-Muʾtaman ibn Hūd, King of Saragossa”, Historia Mathematica 13 (1986), 43-52. For a thorough bibliography on al-Muʾtaman and the Istikmāl, see M. Fierro, Historia de los autores y transmisores de al-Andalus, [henceforth HATA], XI. Astrología. Astronomía. Matemáticas. Meteorología, no. 59.


See, for instance, Ibn Khaldūn, Kitāb al-ʿIbar, ed. Kh. Shiḥāda (Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 2000), 4, 209; al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ al-aʿshāʾ (Cairo: Dār al-Kutub al-Khadiwiyya), 5, 255; Ibn al-Afkānī, Irshād al-qāṣid, ed. ʿA.M. ʿUmar (Cairo: Dār al-Fikr, 1990), 189.


Ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī, Mugḥrib, 2, 437.


Al-Fārābī, Taḥsīl al-saʿāda, trans. M. Mahdi, Alfarabi’ s Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1962), 36.


Even though the Castilian chronicles were mainly interested in el Cid and therefore stress how much al-Muʾtaman depended on him, their account of the battles of Almenar and Morella reveal that al-Muʾtaman was an active leader. Particularly in Almenar, we find two leaders working together and consulting one another, and a king giving orders to el Cid. See on this question, Gesta Roderici, ed. A. Bonilla y San Martín, “Gestas de Rodrigo el Campeador”, Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 59 (1911), 161-257, at 193-200; Alphonse X, Primera Crónica General, ed. R. Menéndez Pidal (Madrid, 1906), 535.


On war as a necessary skill of a king and as a way to attain “supreme happiness”, see al-Fārābī, Taḥsīl al-saʿāda, trans. Mahdi, 37.


Ibn Bassām, Dhakhīra, 3/1, 465-466.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 181.


Ibn Bassām, Dhakhīra, 3/3, 457-458: “he appeared in the horizon of Saragossa under the protection of the state of Ibn Hūd [al-Muqtadir]”.


Jan P. Hogendijk, “Al-Muʾtaman”, 7-8.


On this version, see A. Djebbar, “La rédaction de L’istikmāl d’al-Muʾtaman (XIe s.) par Ibn Sartāq, un mathématicien des XIIIe-XIVe siècles”, Historia Mathematica 24 (1997): 185-192, and J.P. Hogendijk, “The Lost Geometrical Parts of the Istikmāl of Yūsuf al-Mu’taman Ibn Hūd (11th Century) in the Redaction of Ibn Sartāq (14th Century): an Analytical Table of Contents”, Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Sciences 53 (2003): 19-34. Ibn Sartāq gives a version of the Istikmāl which, while rendering accurately the content of the original, modifies its presentation (see Hogendijk, “The Lost Geometrical Parts”, 29-33 for an example). On the life and works of Ibn Sartāq, see I. Fazlıoğlu, “What Happened in Iznik? The Shaping of Ottoman Intellectual Life and Dāwūd Qayṣarī”, Nazariyat. Journal for the History of Islamic Philosophy and Sciences 4 (2017): 1-61, especially 7-5 and 16-17.


Ahmed Djebbar, “Les activités mathématiques en Al-Andalus et leur prolongement au Maghreb (IX-XV s.)”, in Actes de la VII Trobada d’Història de la Ciencia i de la Tècnica, coord. J.Batlló, P. Bernat, Roser Puig (Barcelona: Societat Catalana d’Història de la Ciència i de la Tècnica, 2003), 87-112, at 98. R. Rashed, Les Mathématiques infinitésimales du IXe au XIe siècle ((London: Al-Furqân Foundation, 1996), 1, 978-979) compares the work to the mathematical sections of Ibn Sīnā’s Shifāʾ.


Djebbar, “La rédaction” 188-191. We must surmise that Ibn Sartāq retained the essential ideas of the al-Muʾtaman’s introduction.


We have mentioned above (§5) the influence of Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ over Saragossan scholars. Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, who is the best source about the intellectual life of al-Muʿtaman and Abū l-Faḍl Ḥasdāy ibn Yūsuf ibn Ḥasdāy, mentions only briefly the Epistles. In contrast, as we will see next, he places great emphasis on the importance of al-Fārābī.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Tabaqāt, 205.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 138.


Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt, 137-139.


R. Ramón Guerrero, “Textos de al-Fārābī en una obra andalusí del siglo XI: el Gāyat al-ḥakīm de Abū Maslama al-Maŷrīṭī”, Al-Qanṭara 12 (1991): 3-17.


J. Puig Montada, “Abū l-Ṣalt Umayya Ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Ibn Abī l-Ṣalt al-Dānī: su obra y su formación”, in Dénia, poder i el mar, eds. F. Franco Sánchez and J.A. Gisbert Santonja (Alicante-Dénia-Madrid: Universidad de Alicante et al., 2019), 223-234, at 229-230.


A. Elamrani-Jamal, “Ibn al-Sīd al-Baṭalyūsi et l’enseignement d’al-Fārābī”, Bulletin d’études orientales 48 (1996): 155-161; R. Ramón Guerrero, “El neoplatonismo de Ibn al-Sīd de Badajoz”, in Coexistence and Cooperation in The Middle Ages, ed. A. Musco and G. Bussoto (Palermo: Biblioteca dell’Officina di Studi Medievali, 2014), 1221-1232, esp. 1229-1231, and the bibliography given at 1221-23.


A. Elamrani-Jamal, Logique aristotélicienne et grammaire arabe (Paris: Vrin, 1983), 181-186.


As is well known, Ibn Bājja was probably the greatest (indirect) disciple of al-Fārābī in al-Andalus. For a summary about al-Fārābī’s influence on Ibn Bājja, see J. Puig Montada, “Ibn Bâjja [Avempace]”, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,, especially §3. Logic and §7. Ethics and Metaphysics. See moreover Wirmer, Vom Denken der Natur, 3 passim.


ʿAbd Allāh, Tibyān, 78-79.


Al-āthār; this term may be interpreted as either “written predictions” or “influences of the stars” or even something like indications provided by some magic knowledge or clairvoyance. All these notions fit in the text.


Abū Bakr al-Ṭurtūshī, Sirāj al-mulūk, ed. M.F. Abū Bakr (Cairo, Al-Dār al-Miṣriyya al-Lubnāniyya, 1994) 1, 88-89.


The editor of Sirāj (88, n. 8) says he is the grandfather, without further explanation.


G. Cary, The Medieval Alexander (Cambrige: Cambridge U.P., 1956), 146-147. Interestingly, the earliest source in Christian Europe is a work written by a Jew from Aragon, Mosé Sefardí/Petrus Alphonsi (d. ca. 1121), Disciplina Clericalis, ed. A. González Palencia (Madrid: CSIC, 1948), 76-78, where the philosopher is Socrates.


On the relationship between the story of the anchorite and the story of the monk of France mentioned above, see Fierro, “La religion”, 490-1, n. 147.


Coincidentally or not, al-Ṭurṭūshī left al-Andalus in 476/1083-4, while al-Muʾtaman was ruling; again, coincidentally or not, al-Muʾtaman is not mentioned in Sirāj, which nevertheless mentions his grandfather, father and son.


Ibn al-ʿArabī, ʿAwāsim, 1, 108.


Ar. jādhabahu dhayla al-ḥadīṭhi: “he contended with him in pulling the tail of the discourse”. See a similar expression in Lane, Lexicon, sv. jadhaba, form VI tajādhabū aṭrāfa al-kalāmi, meaning “they contended together in discourse”.


This Abū Bakr may be either al-Ṭurṭūshī or Ibn al-ʿArabī. Even though identifying the author in this case is relatively unimportant, the lines that precede the excerpt quoted here mention an Abū Bakr who is undoubtedly al-Ṭurṭūshī.


Again the story has a symbolic dimension: the source and the two transmitters were three of the most conspicuous Mālikī scholars of al-Andalus.


Ibn al-ʿArabī, ʿAwāsim, 1, 108, n. 10. On the book, see K. van Blaedel, The Arabic Hermes. From Pagan Sage to Prophet of Science (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2009), 226-229.


Dhikr bilād al-Andalus, ed. ʿA. Būbāya (Beirut, Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya), 255.


A discussion of how the Islamic scholars dealt with these issues is beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, for a general approach to the issue, see D. Gimaret, “Tanāsukh”, in The Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd edition), ed. P.J. Bearman (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 10, 181-183 and M.A. Amir-Moezzi, “Rajʿa”, Encyclopedia Iranica, online edition, 2005, About the philosophers on transmigration, P. Walker, “The doctrine of metempsychosis in Islam”, in Islamic studies presented to Charles J. Adams, ed. W. Hallaq and D. Little (Leiden: Brill, 1991), 219-238.


R. Arnzen, “Plato’s Timaeus in the Arabic Tradition. Legends-Testimonies – Fragments” in Il Timeo. Esegesi greche, arabe, latine, ed. F. Celia and A. Ulacco (Pisa: Pisa U.P., 2015), 181-267; G. Moseley, “Found in Translation: An Arabic Phaedo Fragment (107d6-108c1) in Ruhāwī’s Adab al-ṭabīb and the Late Antique Transmission of Plato”, Mnemosyne 71 (2018): 976-992. However, this sentence does not modify the explanation about Plato’s Adab al-nafs given above.


Walker, “The Doctrine”, 222-224.


The expression “return to the world” may also allude to Shiite beliefs, either in the sense or transmigration or in the sense of the return of the Hidden Imam.


Walker, “The Doctrine”, 224-226.


S. Stroumsa, Maimonides and His World. Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker (Princeton: Princeton U.P.), 144-145.


Al-Bājī, Waṣiyya, 33-34.


Al-Bājī, Waṣiyya, 25-26.


Al-Bājī, Waṣiyya, 46-47. Al-Bājī goes beyond the usual topic of the abstention of the religious scholar from power.


Hugh of Sanctalla mostly translated works on astrology and esoteric disciplines.


N. Roth, Jews, Visigoths, and Muslims in Medieval Spain: Cooperation and Conflict (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 87-88.


S. Stroumsa, “Between Acculturation”, 24.


F.J. Simonet, Historia de los mozárabes de España (Madrid: Establecimiento Tipográfico de la Viuda e Hijos de M. Tello, 1897-1903), 660.


C. Aillet, Les mozarabes. Christianisme, islamisation et arabisation en Péninsule Ibérique (IXe-XIIe siècle) (Madrid: Casa de Velázquez, 2010) 63.


ʿAbd Allāh, Tibyān, 78.


C. de Ayala Martínez, “Fernando I y la sacralización de la Reconquista”, Anales de la Universidad de Alicante. Historia Medieval 17 (2011): 67-115, at 109-110. The story appears in a Christian chronicle of the 7th/13th century, Anales Compostelanos, which dates the killing to 25 January 1065. The account is ambiguous enough to doubt whether the events actually happened; and if they did occur, it is unclear whether al-Muqtadir washed his hands of the affair because of the popular reaction, or whether he inspired it, or whether he protected the Mossarabs from the mob.


Ibn ʿIdhārī, Bayān, 3, 227.


B.A. Catloss, The Victors and the Vanquished: Christians and Muslims of Catalonia and Aragon, 1050-1300 (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 2004), 32.


A. García Sanjuán, “Violencia contra los judíos: el pogromo de Granada del año 459 H/1066”, in Estudios onomástico-biográficos de al-Andalus, 14. De muerte violenta: política, religión y violencia en al-Andalus, ed. M. Fierro (Madrid: CSIC, 2004), 167-206, at 175 ff; on Ibn Ḥazm against the Jews and Judaism, see R. Brann, Power in the Portrayal. Representations of Jewish and Muslim in Eleventh and Twelfth-Century Islamic Spain, (Princeton: Princeton U.P., 2002), 54 ff.


Stroumsa, “Between Acculturation”, 25-31.


See above §3.


It is worth noting that this idea was deeply rooted in the memory of the Banū Ḥasdāy. The founder of the dynasty, Ḥasdāy ibn Shaprūṭ (d. ca. 975), grandfather of Abū l-Faḍl, encouraged the Jews of Cordova to learn the rational sciences because this knowledge facilitated the acculturation of the Jewish elites in the Muslim society; see N.A. Stillman, “The emergence, development and historical continuity of the Sephardi courtier class”, in: Espacio, Tiempo y Forma, Serie III, Historia Medieval 6 (1993), 17-30, at 19-20.


Ibn ʿIdhārī, Bayyān, 3, 180 and 222.


Ibn ʿIdhārī, Bayyān, 3, 223; see Turk, El reino, 76 and Clément, Pouvoir, 160-161.


M.J. Viguera, “El poder político”, in Historia de España R. Menéndez Pidal, vol. VIII/1, 135-150, at 141-148.


Turk, El reino, 68-69; Viguera, Aragón, 146.


S. Calvo, “El arte de los reinos taifas: tradición y ruptura”, Anales de Historia del Arte, special issue (2011), 69-92, at 75-76.


On al-Ṭurtūshī, see above §9. As for al-Ṣadafī, he moved from Saragossa to Valencia at an unknown date and travelled to the Mashriq in 481/1088. He returned in 490/1097, when the Almoravids had already conquered most of al-Andalus. However, one of al-Bājī’s sons remained in the city.


It is worth noting that, according to the Arab historians, the main reason for the pogrom was the hatred inspired by the Banū Naghrāla, the Jewish family which de facto governed the kingdom (Ibn ʿIdhārī, Bayyān, 3, 265-266); in addition, Abū l-Faḍl Ibn Ḥasdāy’s father served at the court of Granada and knew the Banū Naghrāla well; see Stroumsa, “Between Acculturation”, 22.

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