Ibn Mattawayh, al-Tadhkira fi ahkam al-jawahir wa-l-a'rad. Edited by DANIEL GIMARET. 2 vols. Cairo: IFAO, 2009. Pp. 818. 89 [euro] (paper).
Kausalitat in der mu'tazilitischen Kosmologie: Das Kitab al-Mu'attirat wa-miftah al-muskilat des Zayditen al-Hasan ar-Rassas (st. 584/1188). By Jan Thiele. Islamic Philosophy, Theology, and Science, vol. 84. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Pp. x + 155 + 57 (Arabic). $136.
A good case can be made that Islamic theology ('ilm al-kalam) is the most neglected field of classical Islamic studies. Only a handful of scholars have made delving into this difficult field their life's work. Even with today's signs of growing interest, the place of theology in the intellectual life of medieval Muslims is far from appreciated by many Islamicists, not to mention the interested public. A necessary condition for progress is the publication of reliable editions of theological works representing the various traditions. While the pace of publication has markedly picked up in recent years, many important texts remain in manuscript and the quality of available editions is distressingly uneven. Two recent contributions to the library of published theological texts are particularly welcome for they not only enrich the body of kalam scholarship, but each in its own way provides a key to unlocking the rich treasure house of Mu'tazili thought.
Already known for several outstanding editions of theological works, Daniel Gimaret has given us--despite the handicap of serious loss of vision-a superb complete edition of one of the most valuable surviving works of Basran Mu'tazill kalam, al-Tadhkira fi ahkam al-jawahir wa-l-a'rad of Ibn Mattawayh (fl. first half fifth/eleventh century), a student of the qadi 'Abd al-Jabbar (d. 415/1025). An earlier effort to publish this work in Egypt (Cairo, 1975) did not extend beyond the first part of this large treatise. It is emblematic of the snail's pace of kalam studies that more than three decades passed before a complete edition of this essential work has become available.
Ibn Mattawayh's Tadhkira is in a very literal sense sui generis. In the preface to his edition (in both French and Arabic) Gimaret mentions as the only comparable treatise al-Masa'il fi al-khilaf bayn al-basriyyin wa-l-baghdadiyyin, a work on a far smaller scale of another student of 'Abd al-Jabbar, Abu Rashid al-NIsaburi (fl. first half fifth/eleventh century) (complete edition by Ma'n Ziyada and Ridwan al-Sayyid, Beirut, 1979). To this one might add the pertinent parts, still unpublished, of al-Hakim al-Jishumi's (d. 494/1101) Shark al-'uyun. What we have in Ibn Mattawayh's Tadhkira is a comprehensive treatise on what is known as the subtle (latif daqiq), that is, advanced, questions of Basran Mu'tazill kalam, more specifically the teaching of the followers of Abu Hashim al-Jubba'i, the Bahshamiyya. Theology proper for the Basran Mu'tazills addresses the two large question of God's unity (tawhid), a topic that involves His existence and nature, and God's justice ('adl) in all His actions (i.e., theodicy), which for the Mu'tazilis requires human freedom. By contrast, latif al-kalam deals with the created universe, everything other than God. Ibn Mattawayh's treatise is thus structured in terms of basic Basran Mu'tazili ontology, which distinguishes between atoms (jawahir) and their aggregates, including organisms such as human beings, and the various accidents (a'rad) that may inhere in these atoms. There was considerable dispute among the Basran Mu'tazills about the identification of these accidents. Ibn Mattawayh works with a list of twenty-two, both physical, such as color (lawn) and dryness (yubusa), and mental, e.g., belief (i'tiqad) and intention (irada). There is, however, no impermeable barrier between theology proper and the metaphysical and physical subjects dealt with in latif al-kalam, which means that even a fairly introductory work on theology inevitably raises questions that belong to latif al-kalam, such as the relation of bodies to space which figures in the standard proof of God's existence. Conversely Ibn Mattawayh not infrequently broaches questions of ethics. Even a short summary of...