Al-Jahiz (D. 868/9) on the Virtues of ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (D. 661) and the Limit of Ijma’
Keywords:Al-Jahiz, Ijma', ‘Ali ibn Thalib
The study of al-Jahiz among researchers and historians of the classical Islam has shed more light not only on the man and his intellectual engagement but also on the general Islamic intellectual history, especially in the ninth century Bagdad, the capital city of the ‘Abbasid kingdom. This article examines how al-Jahiz, as an enthusiast debater, dialectician, and polemicist, engaged himself in debates concerning the virtues of ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib and his caliphate status. This is a literature study of al-Jahiz’s works, complemented by secondary relevant sources. This study reveals that in debating this particular issue which had been highly controversial by his time, al-Jahiz differed from both his fellow Mu‘tazila thinkers and hadith transmitters, and even argued against ijma’,the consensus argument, which was and is still regarded as undisputed argument by many Islamic law scholars. His intellectual bravery then allowed him to freely articulate his ideas and stand as an independent and original thinker.
Al-Baghdadi, ‘Abd Al-Qahir. 1928. Usul Al-Din. Istanbul: Matba‘a Al-Dawla.
Al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid. 2017. Faysal Al-Tafriqa Bayna Al-Islam Wa Al-Zandaqa. Beirut: Dar Al-Minhaj.
Al-Jahiz. n.d. Al-Jawabat Wa Istihqaq Al-Imama, in Rasail Al-Jahiz. Edited by ‘Abd Al-Salam Muhammad Harun. Beirut: Dar Al-Jayl.
———. 1938. Kitab Al-Hayawan, Ed. ʿAbd Al-Salam Muhammad Harun. Cairo: Maktabat Mustafa Al-Babi Al-Halabi.
Al-Jahiz, Abu ʿUthman ʿAmr bin Bakr. 1983. “Risala Fi ‘Ali Ibn Abi Thalib Wa Alihi Min Bani Hashim.” In Majmu‘ Rasail Al-Jahiz, edited by Muhammad Thaha Al-Hajiri. Beirut: Dar Al-Nahdha Al-‘Arabiyya.
———. 1998. Al-Bayan Wa Al-Tabyin. Cairo: Maktaba Al-Khaniji.
Al-Shafi’i, Muhammad ibn Idris. 1985. Diwan Al-Shafi‘I. Edited by Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Mun‘im Khafaji. Cairo: Maktaba Al-Kuliyyat al-Azhariyya.
Crone, Patricia. 2000. “Ninth-Century Muslim Anarchists.” Past & Present 167 (1): 3.
Ess, Josef Van. 2017. Theology and Society in the Second and Third Centuries of the Hijra. Leiden: Brill.
Ess, Josef van Van. 2006. The Flowering of Muslim Theology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Hanbal, Ahmad ibn. 2000. Fadail Amir Al-Mu’minin ‘Ali Ibn Abi Thalib. Cairo: Markaz Al-Thiba‘a wa Al-Nashr li Al-Majma‘ Al-‘Alami li Ahl Al-Bayt.
Husayn, Nebil. 2021. Opposing the Imam The Legacy of the Nawasib in Islamic Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pellat, Charles. 1969. The Life and Works of Jahiz Translations of Selected Texts. Edited by D. M. Hawke. London: Routledge.
Sánchez, José Ignacio. 2011. “Al-Jahiz’s Treatises on the Imamate.” University of Cambridge.
Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. 1997. Religion and Politics under the Early ‘Abbasids the Emergence of the Proto-Sunni Elite. Leiden: Brill.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.