BI 55

Faḍl al-iʿtizāl wa-ṭabaqāt al-muʿtazila


Authors: Abū al-Qāsim al-Balkhī, al-Qādi ʿAbd al-Jabbār, al-Ḥakim al-Jushamī

Editors: Ayman Fouad Sayyid, Fouad Sayyid 

Beirut, 2017. 608 pp, 6 figs, ISBN 9783879977055

BI 55

This edition contains a collection of three early texts on the Muʿtazila written by eminent members of that movement that elucidate its history and the main tenets and principles. They also present the adherents of this theological school of thought, ordered into twelve “classes” (ṭabaqāt). 

Up to the middle of the twentieth century, researchers of the Muʿtazila had to rely on outside sources, often written by opponents in the aim of refuting the ideas and principles of the movement. In the early 1950s, the Egyptian Ministry of Education, under Minister Taha Husayn, sent a delegation of scholars to Yemen to search for manuscripts and bring back copies for the National Library of Egypt (Dār al-Kutub al-Miṣriyya) in Cairo. Among the most important manuscripts that became known at that time were some Muʿtazili texts. The collection of this volume presents parts of the Kitāb al-Maqālat of Abū l-Qāsim al-Balkhī, a text entitled Faḍl al-iʿtizāl wa-ṭabaqāt al-muʿtazila attributed to al-Qādi ʿAbd al-Jabbār, and parts of the Sharḥ ʿuyūn al-masāʾil by al-Ḥākim al-Jushamī.

Abū al-Qāsim al-Balkhī (d. 319/931) was in his lifetime an eminent leader of the Baghdad group. Of the many writings attributed to him, only three works are extant: Kitāb al-Maqālat, ʿUyūn al-wasāʾil wa-l-jawābāt, Qabūl al-akhbār wa-maʿrifat al-rijāl. 

al-Qādi ʿAbd al-Jabbār (d. 415/1024) belonged to the most prominent members of the late Muʿtazila and a leader of the school of Basra. A prolific writer, a number of his works have come down to our time, among them al-Mughnī fī al-abwāb al-ʿadl wa-l-tawḥīd, Tathbīt dalāʾil al-nubuwwa, and the Uṣūl al-khamsa.


al-Ḥākim al-Jushamī (d. 494/1100) was a well-known exponent of the Basrian school of which he was a well-known exponent. Among his extant writings are al-Tahdhīb fī l-tafsīr, Sharḥ ʿuyūn al-masāʾil, and al-Taʾthīr wa-l-muʾaththir.

The edition of this one-volume collection was prepared by Fouad Sayyid who had been a member of the Egyptian scholarly mission to Yemen in 1952. At that time, he was the head of the manuscript department of the National Library of Egypt. Unfortunately, he could not bring it to publication. The editor of this updated version is his son Ayman Fouad Sayyid who prepared the text for publication, the indices and the new introduction. A well-known expert of medieval Islamic history, he is professor at  al-Azhar University.