Ibrahim an-Nazzam

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Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm Ibn Sayyār Ibn Hāni‘ an-Naẓẓām (Arabic: أبو إسحاق بن سيار بن هانئ النظام‎) (c. 775 – c. 845) was a Mu'tazilite theologian and poet. He was a nephew of the Mu'tazilite theologian Abu al-Hudhayl al-'Allaf, and al-Jahiz was one of his students. His theological doctrines were not accepted by his contemporaries and his works are lost except for a few fragments.[1]


While most of the Mu'tazila were followers of the Hanafite school of jurisprudence, with a minority preferring the Shafi'ite rite, Nazzam was entirely different. He was famous for his strong rejection of analogical reason, which was accepted by both the Hanafites and Shafi'ites; of juristic preference, a pillar of Hanafite though; of binding consensus, accepted by all of Sunni Islam; and of the Hadiths reporting prophetic traditions, accepted by the majority of Muslims in multiple sects. In Nazzam's view, only the Qur'an and pure reason were valid sources of Islamic law.


Nazzam's rejection of consensus as a valid source of law was primarily due to his rationalist criticism of the first generation of Muslims, whom he viewed as possessing defective personalities and intellects.[2] Shi'ite theologians Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid and Sharif al-Murtaza held Nazzam's book Kitab al-Nakth in which he denied the validity of consensus for this reason in high esteem.[3] Modern scholarship has suggested that this interest was motivated by the desire of Shi'ite theoligans to impugn the character of the first three leaders of the Rashidun Caliphate, Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman.[2]


  1. ^ van Ess, Josef (1993). "al-Naẓẓam, Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm Ibn Sayyār Ibn Hāniʾ". In C. E. Bosworth et al. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. 7: Mif–Naz (New ed.). Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 1057a–58b. ISBN 90-04-09419-9.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b Devin J. Stewart, "Muhammad b. Dawud al-Zahiri's Manual of Jurisprudence." Taken from Studies in Islamic Law and Society Volume 15: Studies in Islamic Legal Theory. Edited by Bernard G. Weiss. Pg. 107. Leiden: 2002. Brill Publishers.
  3. ^ Josef van Ess, Das Kitab al-nakt des Nazzam und seine Rezeption im Kitab al-Futya des Gahiz. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Reprecht, 1971.