Ibn Qutaybah

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Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muslim ibn Qutayba al-Dīnawarī al-Marwazī
Titleibn Qutaybah
Born828CE, 213 AH
Died15 Rajab 276 AH/ 13 November, 889
EraIslamic golden age
RegionAbbasid Caliphate
Main interest(s)politics, history, Tafsir, Hadith, Kalam and Arabic literature
Notable work(s)
  • Training of the Secretary
  • ‘Uyun al-akhbar
  • Gharīb al-Qur’ān
OccupationScholar of Islam

Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muslim ibn Qutayba al-Dīnawarī al-Marwazī better known simply as Ibn Qutaybah (Arabic: ابن قتيبة, romanizedIbn Qutaybah; c. 828 – 13 November 889 CE / 213 – 15 Rajab 276 AH)[3] was an Islamic[4] scholar of Persian descent.[5][6][7][8] He served as a judge during the Abbasid Caliphate, but was best known for his contributions to Arabic literature.[9][10] He was an Athari theologian[2][11] and polymath[12][13][14] who wrote on diverse subjects, such as Qur'anic exegesis, hadith, theology, philosophy, law and jurisprudence, grammar, philology, history, astronomy, agriculture and botany.


His full name is Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdullāh b. Muslim ibn Qutaybah ad-Dīnawarī. He was born in Kufa in what is now Iraq.[15][16] He was of Persian descent; his father was from Merv, Khorasan. Having studied tradition and philology he became qadi in Dinawar during the reign of Al-Mutawakkil,[10] and afterwards a teacher in Baghdad.[15][16] He was the first representative of the school of Baghdad philologists that succeeded the schools of Kufa and Basra.[17] He was known as a vocal opponent of "gentile" or shu'ubi Islam, i.e. openness to non-Islamic wisdom and values.[18]


He was viewed by Sunni Muslims as a hadith Master, foremost philologist, linguist, and man of letters. In addition to his literary criticism and anthologies, he was also known for his work in the problems of Tafsir or Qur'anic interpretation.[9] He also authored works on astronomy and legal theory.[16][19] His book Uyun al-Akhbar, along with the romantic literature of Muhammad bin Dawud al-Zahiri and Ibn Abi Tahir Tayfur, were considered by lexicographer Ibn Duraid to be the three most important works for those who wished to speak and write eloquently.[20][21]

There can be no government without an army,
No army without money,
No money without prosperity,
And no prosperity without justice and good administration.

— Ibn Qutaybah on good government.[22]

His work Taʾwīl mukhtalif al-ḥadīth was an influential early Atharite treatise that rebuked rationalists on the nature of Tradition. In his treatise, Ibn Qutayba censures the mutakallimūn (scholastic theologians) for holding contradictory and differing views on the principles of religion.[23]

Ibn Muṭarrif al-Ṭarafī (d. 1062 CE) gathered passages from Ibn Qutayba's Kitāb mushkil al-Qurʾān and Kitāb ghafīb al-Qurʾān and arranged them to be in the same order as the relevant Qurʾān chapters in a work called Kitāb al-Qurṭayn.[24]: 135 


He wrote more than 60 books,[25] including :

  • Gharīb al-Qur'an, (var., Mushkil al-Qur'an), lexical complexities in the Qur'an.
  • Ta’wīl Mukhtalif al-Hadīth, (The Interpretation of Conflicting Narrations), defence of hadiths against Mu'tazilite critics.[26]
  • Kitāb Adab al-Kātib (“Ibn Kutaiba’s Adab al-Kātib,” ed. Max Grünert, Leiden, 1900)
  • Kitāb al-Anwā’. (Hyderabad, 1956)[27]
  • Kitāb al-Ma‘ānī al-Kabīr fī Abyāt al-Ma‘ānī. 2 vols. (Hyderabad, 1949)
  • Kitāb al-Ma’ārif, short universal history, from Creation to the Jāhiliyya (pre-Islamic); with index of the Companions, famous jurists and masters of hadīth („Ibn Coteiba’s Handbuch de Geschichte“, ed., Ferdinand Wüstenfeld, Gottingen, 1850); (ed., Tharwat ‘Ukāshah, Cairo, 1960).
  • Kitāb al-Shi‘r wa-al-Shu‘arā’ (“Liber Poësie et Poëtarum,” ed., M. J de Goeje, Leiden, 1904)
  • Kitab ‘Uyūn al-Akhbār. 4 vols. (Cairo, 1925-30); biographic history of eminent figures.[28][29]
  • Kitāb al-Amwāl
  • Kitāb al-‘Arab wa ‘Ulūmuhā; history of Arab scholars
  • Kitāb al-Ashriba; alcoholic beverages.
  • Kitāb Dalā’il al-Nubuwwa, or A‘lām al-Nubuwwa on the Proofs of the Prophets.
  • Kitāb Fad.l al-‘Arab ‘alā al-‘Ajam, in praise of the Arabs over the Persians.
  • Kitāb I‘rāb al-Qur’ān, a philological commentary on the Qur'ān.
  • Kitāb al-Ikhtilāf fī al-Lafz wa al-Radd ‘alā al-Jahmiyya wal-Mushabbiha, a refutation of the Allegorizers and Anthropomorphists. (Egypt,several editions)
  • Kitāb al-Ishtiqāq
  • Kitāb Is.lāh. Ghalat, corrections of Gharīb al-H.adīth by al-Qāsim ibn Salām.
  • Kitāb Jāmi‘ al-Fiqh, jurisprudence, dispraised as unreliable by al-T.abarī and Ibn Surayj, as was Ibn Qutayba’s al-Amwāl.
  • Kitāb Jāmi‘ al-Nah.w al-Kabīr and Jāmi‘ al-Nah.w al-S.aghīr
  • Kitāb al-Jarāthīm, linguistics.
  • Kitāb al-Jawābāt al-H.ād.ira.
  • Kitāb al-Ma‘ānī al-Kabīr
  • Kitāb al-Masā’il wal-Ajwiba.
  • Kitāb al-Maysar wal-Qidāh, ('Dice and Lots').
  • Kitāb al-Na‘m wal-Bahā’im, cattle and livestock.
  • Kitāb al-Nabāt, botany.
  • Kitāb al-Qirā’āt, ('The Canonical Readings').
  • Kitāb al-Radd ‘alā al-Qā’il bi Khalq al-Qur’ān, ('Against the creationist claims about the Qur’an').
  • Kitāb al-Radd ‘alā al-Shu‘aybiyya, ('Refutation of a sub-sect of the ‘Ajārida ‘At.awiyya, itself a sub-sect of the Khawārij).
  • Kitāb al-Rah.l wal-Manzil.
  • Kitāb Ta‘bīr al-Ru’yā, ('Interpretation of Dreams').
  • Kitāb Talqīn al-Muta‘allim min al-Nah.w on grammar.
  • Kitāb ‘Uyūn al-Shi‘r, on poetry.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schmidtke, Sabine; Abrahamov, Binyamim (2014). "Scripturalist and Traditionalist Theology". The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-19-969670-3.
  2. ^ a b El Shamsy, Ahmed (2007). "The First Shāfiʿī: The Traditionalist Legal Thought of Abū Yaʿqūb al-buwayṭī (d. 231/846)". Islamic Law and Society. Brill Publishers. 14 (3): 324–325 – via JSTOR.
  3. ^ Joseph T. Shipley, Encyclopedia of Literature, Volume 1 - Page 37
  4. ^ "Ibn Qutaybah". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  5. ^ Rosenthal, Franz. "EBN QOTAYBA, ABŪ MOḤAMMAD ʿABD-ALLĀH". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  6. ^ Adamec, Ludwig W. (May 11, 2009). Historical Dictionary of Islam (Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements Series) (Second ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 259. ISBN 978-0810861619.
  7. ^ Camilla Adang, Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible: From Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm, BRILL (1996), p. 58
  8. ^ Arnold E. Franklin, This Noble House: Jewish Descendants of King David in the Medieval Islamic East, University of Pennsylvania Press (2012), p. 63
  9. ^ a b Abd Allah Abu Muhammad Abd Allah ibn Muslim al-Dinwari Ibn Qutaybah from The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford Reference, Copyright © 2013.
  10. ^ a b Christopher Melchert, "Qur'anic Abrogation Across the Ninth Century." Taken from Studies in Islamic Legal Theory, pg. 80. Ed. Bernard G. Weiss. Volume 15 of Studies in Islamic law and society / Studies in Islamic law and society. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2002. ISBN 9789004120662
  11. ^ Schmidtke, Sabine; Abrahamov, Binyamim (2014). "Scripturalist and Traditionalist Theology". The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-19-969670-3.
  12. ^ Michael Bonner, Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice, Princeton University Press (2008), p.8
  13. ^ Issa J Boullata, Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qu'ran, Routledge (2013), p. 61
  14. ^ Sean Anthony, The Caliph and the Heretic: Ibn Sabaʾ and the Origins of Shīʿism, BRILL (2011), p. 162
  15. ^ a b John C. Lamoreaux, The Early Muslim Tradition of Dream Interpretation, pg. 27. SUNY series in Islamic spirituality. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002. ISBN 9780791488607
  16. ^ a b c John C. Lamoreaux, "Sources on Ibn Bahlul's Chapter on Dream Interpretation." Taken from Augustine and His Opponents, Jerome, Other Latin Fathers After Nicaea, Orientalia, pg. 555. Ed. Elizabeth A. Livingstone. Volume 33 of Studia patristica. Peeters Publishers, 1997. ISBN 9789068318685
  17. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainThatcher, Griffithes Wheeler (1911). "Ibn Qutaiba". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 222.
  18. ^ Hoyland, Robert G. (2014). In God's Path The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire. Oxford University Press. pp. 217–8. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  19. ^ Introduction to The Unity of Science in the Arabic Tradition: Science, Logic, Epistemology , pg. 22. Eds. Shahid Rahman, Tony Street and Hassan Tahiri. Volume 11 of Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science Series The Unity of Science in the Arabic Tradition: Science, Logic, Epistemology and Their Interactions. New York: Springer Publishing, 2008. ISBN 9781402084058
  20. ^ Shawkat M. Toorawa, "Defing Adab by re-defining the Adib: Ibn Abi Tahir Tayfur and storytelling." Taken from On Fiction and Adab in Medieval Arabic Literature, pg. 303. Ed. Philip F. Kennedy. Volume 6 of Studies in Arabic language and literature. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005. ISBN 9783447051828
  21. ^ Shawkat M. Toorawa, "Ibn Abi Tayfur versus al-Jahiz." Taken from ʻAbbasid Studies: Occasional Papers of the School of ʻAbbasid Studies, pg. 250. Ed. James Edward Montgomery. Volume 135 of Orientalia Lovaniensia analecta. Peeters Publishers, 2004. ISBN 9789042914339
  22. ^ The Economist, 24 May 2008. London: Economist Group.
  23. ^ Schmidtke, Sabine; Abrahamov, Binyamim (2014). "Scripturalist and Traditionalist Theology". The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-19-969670-3.
  24. ^ Roberto Tottoli, 'The Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ of Ibn Muṭarrif al-Ṭarafī (d. 454/1062): Stories of the Prophets from al-Andalus', Al-Qantara, 19.1 (1998), 131–60.
  25. ^ Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch, Great books of Islamic civilization, Pakistan Hijra Council, 1989, p. 136
  26. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2009). Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World (Foundations of Islam series). Oneworld Publications. p. 166. ISBN 978-1851686636.
  27. ^ Online link.
  28. ^ See: Luisa Arvide, Relatos, University of Almeria Press, Almeria 2004 (in Arabic and Spanish).
  29. ^ Arvide Cambra, L.M. (2014), "Kitab 'Uyun al-Akhbar of Ibn Qutayba (828-889)", Advances in Education Research (Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Applied Social Science, ICASS 2014), vol. 51, pp. 650-653.


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