Muḥammad b.

Masarra al-Jabalī and his Place in Medieval Islamicate Intellectual History: Towards a Reappraisal

A Thesis Presented to The Division of Philosophy, Religion and Psychology Reed College

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Bachelor of Arts

J. Vahid Brown August 2006

Approved for the Division (Religion)

Steven M. Wasserstrom

Wihtout the indulgence and support of my wife Sara and my children, Asher, Sophia and Willow, and the unfailing assistance of my parents, this thesis could not have been written. Thank you all. I couldn’t have hoped for a better advisor and mentor than Professor Steve Wasserstrom, whose wisdom, learning and compassion have helped me in so many ways, the least of them academic. David Bikman and William McCants, thanks for many a fruitful discussion; you have both been of immense help. The library staff at Reed College has been, without exception, outstanding to work with; thanks especially to Sally Loomis and Mark McDaniel. To Drs James Winston Morris and Rafael Ramón Guerrero I am deeply indebted for generously sharing their works on Ibn Masarra with me. Thanks are also due to Kirstin Dane and Professor Vincent Cornell for their helpful correspondence. Sinéad Ward at the Chester Beatty Library was of great help in obtaining a microfilm of Ibn Masarra’s writings. Any and all shortcomings in the following pages are of course my own responsibility.

Table of Contents
Introduction....................................................................................................................... 1 Chapter One: A Review of the Literature ...................................................................... 5 Introduction..................................................................................................................... 5 Part 1: The Empedoclean Illusion (1857-1970).......................................................... 7 Part 2: New Sources, the Illusion Fades (1971-2006) ............................................. 29 Chapter Two: An Inventory of the Sources ................................................................. 37 Introduction................................................................................................................... 37 Sources for the Study of Ibn Masarra: A Chronological Survey .............................. 39 Chapter Three: A Preliminary Analysis....................................................................... 93 Introduction................................................................................................................... 93 The Empedoclean Illusion ........................................................................................ 94 Andalusī Sufism and the “Schools” of Almería and Murcia .................................. 104 Khawāṣṣ, ḥurūf and taṣrīf: Ibn Masarra as Theurgist ............................................ 108 Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 118 Appendix A .................................................................................................................... 119 Bibliography .................................................................................................................. 133

Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra al-Jabalī (269/883-319/931) has long been recognized as an important figure in Islamicate intellectual history, but the scholarly understanding of his place in that history has been largely based upon inadequate sources and unfounded conjecture. Since the mid-nineteenth century his primary significance was believed, on the slimmest evidence, to have been his introduction of PseudoEmpedoclean philosophy into Andalusī and subsequently Latin European thought. Since the 1970s, however, many new sources have come to light which unequivocally disprove this notion and invite a fundamental reappraisal of his role in the history of medieval Islamicate thought. This thesis will contribute to that reappraisal by providing a detailed history of the modern scholarship, identifying the new sources – many of them hitherto unknown to have any relevance to the study of Ibn Masarra – and highlighting the relationship of the data derived from these new sources to the regnant scholarly profile of Ibn Masarra. While not the Empedoclean sage he was thought to be, it will be seen that Ibn Masarra did play an important role in the early development of Islamicate theurgy and in the emergence of Sufism in al-Andalus.

For Willow, Sophia and Asher.

Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra al-Qurṭubī al-Jabalī (883-931 CE) has had, for a century and a half, a secure place in the standard histories of philosophy, of alAndalus and of Islamic mystical thought. Born in a time of great turmoil on the western edge of the Islamicate world, and ending his days in ascetic seclusion in a retreat in the mountains of Cordoba, Ibn Masarra has been credited with having decisively influenced such disparate thinkers as Judah Halevi, Thomas Aquinas and Marcilio Ficino. From a stray, thirteenth-century clue, it was conjectured that Ibn Masarra introduced the study of Pseudo-Empedocles, the philosophical proponent of a primal spirit-matter, into the Iberian Peninsula, from whence this Neoplatonic “system” radiated out to the principal thinkers and mystics of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, many of whom to varying degrees supposedly adopted elements of this new teaching. It is upon this role as PseudoEmpedoclean preceptor that Ibn Masarra’s modern fame has rested, and the modern scholarship on Ibn Masarra has been almost entirely focussed on explicating his PseudoEmpedoclean teaching. Yet this academic project began with guesswork and proceeded without any evidence and, in the recent past, many new sources, including some thought lost, have come to light. These new-found materials for the study of Ibn Masarra concur on at least one point; the Pseudo-Empedoclean Ibn Masarra described in our modern history books and encyclopedias never in fact existed. Fortunately, the new sources do more than overturn a century and a half of scholarship; they also provide the basis for a new and fundamentally different appreciation of our Cordoban sage. Ibn Masarra, as will be shown below, was a thinker

2 of great importance and wide influence. He was not important for the reasons once thought, however, nor did his influence lie in the directions once supposed. Just how far his influence extended is a question that requires further research. This thesis is intended, among other things, to provide a firm basis upon which such research can proceed. My goals in what follows are modest and straightforward. In the first chapter, I will explore just how and why Ibn Masarra came to appear to modern researchers as the Empedoclean philosopher that he never really was. Through a detailed review of the literature in European languages, as well as the major recent scholarship in Arabic, it will be seen that, while the slim evidentiary basis for connecting Ibn Masarra to Empedocles has been undermined, and sources more pertinent to an analysis of his thought and historical significance have been available for more than thirty years, he continues to be discussed in even the most recent reference works on Islamic studies and the history of philosophy in the context of the transmission of Pseudo-Empedocleanism. Though some specialist scholarship has begun to break with that tradition, attempting to evaluate Ibn Masarra through his own writings, many important sources for undertaking the required reassessment have been hitherto completely neglected. My second chapter will address this basic lacuna by providing a detailed chronological survey of the most important known sources for the study of Ibn Masarra. More than a dozen of these sources have never before been recognized as bearing upon the study of Ibn Masarra, and are identified as such here for the first time. 1 Many of


Many of these new sources were discovered while searching collections of digital Arabic texts, primarily, which has electronic versions of scores of classical Arabic works of history, biography, theology, Qur’an commentary, hadith studies, philosophy and indeed nearly every branch of inquiry native to classical Islamicate civilization. This bears emphasizing, as it is still extremely rare to find reference to online sources of Arabic materials in contemporary Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies literature, despite

3 these new sources suggest directions for research never before taken, and situate Ibn Masarra in contexts seldom before considered. Texts with particularly significant new details I have generally presented in translation. 2 With these new sources in hand, a very different picture of Ibn Masarra’s place in Islamicate history emerges, the broad outlines of which will be traced in chapter three. My third chapter will begin with a comprehensive evaluation of the standard scholarly account of Ibn Masarra, with emphasis on the Pseudo-Empedoclean connection. Specialist and reference works published as recently as this year continue to repeat obsolete and patently false descriptions of Ibn Masarra’s thought, a fact which warrants a detailed and point-by-point refutation of these accounts. Fortunately, there is now sufficient evidence to do this in what I hope will be a decisive manner, so that future studies of Ibn Masarra can proceed in more fruitful directions. After dispelling the Pseudo-Empedoclean illusion, I turn to two of the most important revelations arising from the sources described in the second chapter. First of all, it will be shown that Ibn Masarra was a widely-read and influential figure in the early development of Sufism in al-Andalus. His writings were studied by a tradition of mystics associated with the city of Murcia up through the thirteenth century, and this tradition included the most widely-known and influential Sufis to come out of al-Andalus. Previous studies of Ibn Masarra have neglected all but the most famous of these mystics – Muḥyī al-Dīn Ibn al-`Arabī – and so this trajectory of Masarrian influence has never been adequately studied or even considered.

the fact that Arabic digital media has progressed to a stage where it is now possible to make significant textual discoveries online. 2 With the exception of Ibn Masarra’s two long works, full translations of which, though a desideratum, are beyond the scope of this thesis.

4 It also emerges from our new sources that Ibn Masarra was famed in his homeland for hundreds of years, not as a transmitter of Greek philosophy, but as a master of the theurgical manipulation of the letters of the Arabic alphabet. Though an understudied topic in a largely understudied field, alphabetical theurgy was central to many traditions of Islamicate (and subsequently European) magic, and Ibn Masarra’s influence in the earliest developments of this occult science in al-Andalus puts him at the center of a current of thought which, though on the face of it quite obscure, was a medieval nexus of science, technology, religion and philosophy, involving Jews, Christians, Muslims and “pagans.” This important aspect of Ibn Masarra’s relationship to Islamicate intellectual history has never before been explored. The long-entrenched picture of Ibn Masarra’s significance, if not necessarily over-rated, has been at the very least misplaced. His undeserved notoriety in the history of a purported Pseudo-Empedoclean tradition has obscured what has turned out to be a very different claim to fame. A host of new sources has allowed for the beginnings of a new appreciation of this important thinker, and in my preminary analyses I hope to have indicated the key directions that future research might take in order to unearth further traces of Ibn Masarra’s impact. Many questions have been answered, but many more have in turn been raised by the new evidence. It is my hope that the following will have established a firm basis for the productive pursuit of those questions and, ultimately, for a richer understanding of early medieval Andalusī thought.

Chapter One: A Review of the Literature
As noted above, the bulk of the modern scholarship on Ibn Masarra begins with the premise that he had a certain relationship with writings attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles. As there has been, until relatively recently, a dearth of sources that could shed light on this issue, the precise nature of Ibn Masarra’s supposed relationship with Empedoclean or, more properly, Pseudo-Empdoclean writings has been a matter of speculation, and the scholarly speculations have been many and diverse. The most elaborate attempt to flesh out this picture was made by the great Spanish Islamicist Miguel Asín Palacios, and his monograph on Ibn Masarra, wherein the latter is presented as a thoroughgoing Pseudo-Empedoclean mystical philosopher, has long been the standard work on Ibn Masarra’s thought. 3 In the early 1970s, a series of publications completely undermined the legitimacy of this standard account, and from that point on the scholarship split off into two currents: on the one hand, those who remained unaware or unimpressed by the new data and continued to discuss Ibn Masarra as an Empedoclean sage, and, on the other hand, those who saw the implications of the new evidence and sought a more accurate picture of Ibn Masarra and his place in Islamicate history. I will therefore treat the history of the scholarship on Ibn Masarra in two separate sections; one, from the beginning of the Western encounter with Ibn Masarra up until 1971, will survey work that has largely taken the Pseudo-Empedoclean premise as its point of departure,


I refer to his Abenmasarra y su escuela, first published in 1914, reprinted in a revised and slightly expanded version in 1942 in vol. 1 of Asín’s Obras escogidas, and translated into English from the latter in 1978 by E.H. Douglas under the title The Mystical Philosophy of Ibn Masarra and His Followers.

6 while the other will review the work which has appeared since the revolutionary articles of S.M. Stern and J.W. Morris and the discoveries of M.K.I Ja`far. 4


I refer to Samuel M. Stern’s “Ibn Masarra, Follower of Pseudo-Empedocles – an illusion,” James Morris’ “Ibn Masarra: A Reconsideration of the Primary Sources” (hereafter “A Reconsideration”), and M.K.I. Ja`far’s discovery of two works of Ibn Masarra in the Chester Beatty Library, first reported in a 1972 article. My sincere thanks to Prof. Morris for kindly sending me a copy of his paper, which unfortunately was never unpublished.

7 Part 1: The Empedoclean Illusion (1857-1970) I will begin with the writers who have labored under what I will call, after S.M. Stern’s ground-breaking study, the Empedoclean illusion. The history of this scholarship and its focus on what has turned out to be a complete blind alley has all grown out of the somewhat unusual inter-relationships of a small handful of sources, and it will spare any potential confusion if I first briefly describe that textual nexus. The purported connection between Ibn Masarra and (pseudo-)Empedocles rests, in the final analysis, upon a single line, though there are five texts that have to be considered to properly understand the nature and significance of that one line. Most of what follows was put forward by Samuel Stern almost forty years ago as evidence nullifying Asín’s attempt to unearth a Masarran Empedocleanism; Stern’s devastating critique was largely unheeded, however, and his untimely death kept him from publishing the full refutation of Asín that he’d announced. 5 Stern had discovered that there was a sole independent witness to the Ibn Masarra-Empedocles link, Ṣā`id al-Andalusī’s (d. 1070) Ṭabaqāt al-‘umam, and that the context in which that link was made strongly indicated that Ṣā`id’s “remark about Ibn Masarra as a follower of Empedocles is not a considered judgement based on the study of


In his article, “Ibn Masarra, Follower of Pseudo-Empedocles – an illusion,” Stern alluded to “the full version of my study which I hope to publish” (p. 327). The “Illusion” article was originally a paper delivered at a conference of Orientalists in Lisbon in 1968; Stern died the following year and the article was prepared for publication in the conference proceedings by Stern’s friend Richard Walzer. In a note to the above-quoted announcement of a “full version of [Stern’s] study,” Walzer writes that “the full version of his [sc. Stern’s] study of Ibn Masarra has been found among the papers which he left unfinished and will be published in due course” (p. 327, asterisk note; Stern announced the monograph again at the end of his article “Anbaduklīs” in EI²). This “full version” was unfortunately never published, and its whereabouts today are unknown (though it may be among Stern’s papers kept at the library of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

8 texts, but a hasty and erroneous conclusion.” 6 Ṣā`id’s text, a brief historical encyclopedia of the philosophers and sages of the various nations, mentions Ibn Masarra in its notice on Empedocles. Stern showed that Ṣā`id’s only source for his information on Empedocles was the tenth-century philosopher al-`Āmirī’s Kitāb al-amad `alā l-abad (“On the Afterlife”), which he partly paraphrased and partly copied verbatim, save for interpolating the lines about Ibn Masarra. I provide below brief parallel excerpts to illustrate this, using Rowson’s translation of al-`Āmirī on the left and, on the right, a translation of Ṣā’id that will follow Rowson’s translation choices in order to indicate the similarities: al-`Āmirī: “[Luqmān] lived at the time of the prophet David; they were both residents of the land of Syria. It is said that Empedocles the Greek used to keep company with Luqmān and learn from his wisdom. But when he returned to the land of Greece, he spoke on his own authority about the nature of the world, saying things which, if understood literally, offend against (the belief in) the Hereafter. The Greeks attributed wisdom to him because of his former association with Luqmān; indeed, he was the first Greek to be called a Sage. A group of the Bāṭinites claim to be followers of his wisdom and speak of him with high esteem. They claim that he wrote in symbols whose hidden meanings are rarely comprehended.” 7 Ṣā`id: “Empedocles lived at the time of David, according to the scholars of the histories of nations. He learned wisdom from Luqmān in the land of Syria. Then he returned to the Greek land and spoke on his own authority about the creation of the world, saying things that appear literally to offend against (the belief in) the Hereafter; on this account some people parted company with him. A group of the Bāṭinites claim to be followers of his wisdom. They claim that he wrote in symbols whose hidden meanings are rarely comprehended. Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra al-Jabalī, the Bāṭinite of Cordoba, was indefatigably devoted to his philosophy and the study thereof.” 8


Stern, “Ibn Masarra, Follower of Pseudo-Empedocles – an Illusion,” p. 326. al-`Āmirī, p. 71.



As Stern rightly noted, there is nothing in this passage indicating a “considered judgement based on the study of texts”; Ṣā`id has simply copied out the passages on Empedocles from al-`Āmirī and, at the mention of Bāṭinīs, thrown in a dig at his wellknown fellow-countryman Ibn Masarra, a notorious Bāṭinī whose posthumous following had been persecuted in al-Andalus not long before the time of Ṣā`id’s writing. 9 Such, in any case, was the argument made by Stern. In the past forty years a great deal of additional primary source material relating to Ibn Masarra has come to light, all of which has only served to strengthen Stern’s argument. It was not Ṣā`id, however, who lent the fateful Empedoclean stamp to the Western encounter with Ibn Masarra, but a later author who copied and expanded upon Ṣā`id’s invention. In `Alī b. Yūsuf al-Qifṭī’s (d. 1248) Tārīkh al-ḥukamā’ (“History of the Sages”), a work with similar purposes to Ṣā`id’s, the entry on Empedocles copies the entry from Ṣā`id and fleshes out the reference to Ibn Masarra by copying verbatim (but without attribution) from Ibn al-Faraḍī’s (d. 1012) entry on Ibn Masarra in his Tārīkh `ulamā’ al-Andalus (“History of the Scholars of al-Andalus”). 10 Ibn al-Qifṭī’s work turned out to be Western scholarship’s introduction to Ibn Masarra; one can only
Ṣā`id al-Andalusī (Bu `Alwan ed.), pp. 72f. The English translation of the Ṭabaqāt by Salem and Kumar is riddled with errors and inaccuracies and should be used with caution. At this passage, they give “ibn Musrah” for Ibn Masarra. 9 Note, though, that the term “bāṭinī” did not necessarily have the same meaning for these two authors; in al-`Āmirī’s context, it was more or less equivalent to Ismā`īlī, whereas in Ṣā`id’s al-Andalus, it had at this stage a less particular referent, having the more general meaning of “esotericist.” In the earliest biographical source on Ibn Masarra, the Akhbār al-fuqahā wa’l-muḥaddathīn of Ibn Ḥārith al-Khushanī (d. 971), Ibn Masarra is identified with “the people of esoteric knowledge” (ahl al-`ilm al-bāṭin), and Ibn Masarra identifies himself with the same group in the same terms in his Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf (in Ja`far, ed., Min qaḍāyā al-fikr, p. 317; for the passage from al-Khushanī, see below, chapter two, entry under alKhushanī). 10 Morris, in “A Reconsideration,” p. 3n. 4, was the first to point out Ibn al-Qifṭī’s dependence on Ibn alFaraḍi for his information on Ibn Masarra. In Urvoy’s 1984 “Sur le debuts,” p. 711, this dependence is again noted, probably independently of Morris, whose work was never published.

10 speculate, but it may have turned out differently if it were Ṣā`id’s work that was discovered first, as it demonstrates no familiarity with Ibn Masarra’s life or thought as such, beyond claiming that he was an avid student of Empedocles. Ibn al-Qifṭī’s work appears to demonstrate such familiarity but, as Morris pointed out, “there is no reason to believe that al-Qifṭī had the least knowledge of Ibn Masarra apart from what he found in his two sources.” 11 Such, in sum, is the totality of the evidence for an Ibn Masarra-Empedocles connection. There is one independent claim of this connection – in Ṣā`id, writing more than a hundred years after Ibn Masarra’s death, and having no demonstrable first-hand knowledge of either Ibn Masarra or Empedocles. Ṣā`id’s account of this connection was then echoed, about two hundred years later, by Ibn al-Qifṭī, but this second instance adds nothing to the authority or probably veracity of Ṣā`id’s claim, as it is nothing more than a collage of two identifiable sources (Ṣā`id and Ibn al-Faraḍi) with obvious interpolations. Nor is it likely that the interpolated references to Ibn Masarra by Ibn al-Qifṭī are drawn from an alternative recension of Ṣā`id’s work, as his near-contemporary Ibn Abī Uṣaybi`a (d. 1270), in his `Uyūn al-anbā’ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbā (“Wellsprings of Knowledge on the Generations of Physician-Sages”), copies, verbatim and with attribution, Ṣā`id’s account of Empedocles, including his one line about Ibn Masarra but lacking Ibn al-Qifṭī’s embellishments. 12 It is thus upon this single fragile thread of evidence that the standard scholarly account of Ibn Masarra has been based for the past hundred and fifty years. I will return in chapter three to an analysis of the Empedoclean illusion, but must now proceed with the review of the secondary literature that pursued Ibn al-Qifṭī’s
11 12

Morris, in “A Reconsideration,” p. 3n. 4. ‘Uyūn al-anbā’, p. 61. (Note that in the Nizār Riḍā edition cited here, ‫ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺴﺮة‬is misprinted as ‫.)ﺑﻦ ﻣﺮة‬

11 fiction. The Western scholarship on Ibn Masarra began with the Italian scholar Michele Amari’s 1857 publication and Italian translation of a compilation of Arabic sources for Sicilian history, the Biblioteca arabo-sicula, which included the article on Empedocles from Ibn al-Qifṭī’s Tārīkh al-ḥukamā’. 13 As suggested above, this would fatefully determine the focus of the vast bulk of Western studies of Ibn Masarra up to the present. Two years after Amari’s publication, this passage from Ibn al-Qifṭī was seized upon by Salomon Munk as the keystone of his imaginative attempt at tracing the Empedoclean sources of the Andalusī Jewish philosopher Ibn Gabirol (d. ca. 1058). At the beginning of his Mélanges de philosophie juive et arabe (1859), Munk cites the following statement from the philosopher Shem Tob b. Joseph b. Falaqera’s introduction to his thirteenthcentury Hebrew translation of Ibn Gabirol’s Fons Vitae: Having studied the book composed by the learned Rabbi Salomon b. Gabirol and entitled The Source of Life, it appeared to me that the author’s doctrines followed the system of some ancient philosopher, such as the one exposed in the work of Empedocles about the Five Substances. 14 In pursuing Falaqera’s suggestion of Empedoclean reverberations in Ibn Gabirol, Munk used the passage from Ibn al-Qifṭī to argue that it was Ibn Masarra who introduced the writings of Empedocles to Spain, having collected them during his journeys through the East (though this latter assertion is not stated in Ibn al-Qifṭī or any other source), and that he was therefore Ibn Gabirol’s ultimate source for Empedocles’ writings. 15 Inasmuch as

Amari, Biblioteca arabo-sicula, pp. 613-15. Munk, Mélanges, p. 3; English trans. of this passage from De Smet, “The Influence of PseudoEmpedocles,” p. 226. 15 As pointed out by Morris, “Reconsideration,” p. 3n. 5, Munk’s statement that Ibn Masarra studied the works of Empedocles in the East actually contradicts what he knew from Ibn al-Qifṭī, who states that Ibn Masarra “fled” to the East because of persecution resulting from his excessive study of the philosophy of Empedocles in al-Andalus. (This statement in Ibn al-Qifṭī is yet another misdirection; he is copying Ibn al14


12 Ibn Gabirol’s putative Pseudo-Empedocleanism was to be argued throughout most of the twentieth century as the source for perceived Pseudo-Empedoclean influences in a bewilderingly long list of Andalusī and European thinkers, Munk’s crediting of Ibn Masarra as the fountainhead of all of these influences made him a rather prominent landmark on the map of Western philosophy. 16 Two years after Munk’s study, Reinhart Dozy published his massive Histoire des Musulmans d’Espagne, where again Ibn al-Qifṭī’s entry on Empedocles serves as the principal source for Ibn Masarra. Dozy also had two additional sources on Ibn Masarra: the Jadhwat al-muqtabis of al-Ḥumaydī (d. 1095) and the anonymous fourteenth-century history of Marrakesh, al-Ḥulal al-Mawshiyya. The former gives an exceedingly brief and unfriendly account of Ibn Masarra, while the latter includes a prophetic tradition regarding the conversion of Jews to Islam that the author claims was found among the writings of Ibn Masarra. The picture of Ibn Masarra that Dozy painted on the basis of these sources is even more far-fetched than Munk’s. As the themes of this fantastic portrait proved to be influential in subsequent literature, I quote him at some length:

Faraḍi, who records that it was said by a certain Khāṭib b. Maslama that Ibn Masarra “fled” al-Andalus on account of charges of heresy (zandaqa) made against him. Ibn al-Qifṭī lifts that line and adds to the end of it that Ibn Masarra was charged with heresy on account of his excessive study of Empedocles!). Morris also rightly observes that Munk’s use of Shahrastānī to define the Pseudo-Empedoclean system supposedly transmitted by Ibn Masarra anticipated the project carried out by Asín almost fifty years later. 16 As stated by Asín (Mystical Philosophy, pp. 129-45), the list of thinkers supposedly impacted by Ibn Masarra’s Pseudo-Empedocleanism includes Ibn Gabirol, Judah Halevi, Joseph b. Saddiq, Moses b. ‘Ezra, Samuel b. Tibbon, Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, Roger Bacon, William of Auvergne, Duns Scotus, Raymund Llull, Dante, Pico della Mirandola and Marcilio Ficino. Asín’s far-reaching claims for the influence of Ibn Masarran Pseudo-Empedocleanism were uncritically repeated in many standard twentiethcentury works on the history of philosophy, including Max Horten’s Die Philosophie des Islam in ihren Beziehungen zu den philosophischen Weltanschauung des westlichen Orients (1924, pp. 66, 237, 347); ‘Abd al-Rahman Badawi’s Histoire de la philosophie en Islam (1972, pp. 697f.); Corbin’s Histroire de la philosophie islamique (1964, vol. 1, pp. 305-11); Cruz Hernandez’s Historia del pensamiento en el mundo islamico (1981, vol. 1, p. 92); Isaac Husik’s History of Medieval Jewish Philosophy (1946, pp. 61-64); and Eliyahu Ashtor, The Jews of Moslem Spain (1984, vol. 3, p. 46). See De Smet, “Influence of the PseudoEmpedocles,” p. 230n. 14.

13 It appears to us that the Fatimids tried to found a lodge in Spain, and that they sent thither with that object the philosopher Ibn Masarra (883-931). This Ibn Masarra was a pantheist of Cordova, who had made an especial study of translations of certain Greek books attributed by the Arabs to Empedocles. Accused of impiety, and compelled to leave the country, he travelled in the East, where he familiarized himself with the doctrines of various sects, and seems to have joined the secret society of the Isma’ilites. We are led to believe this by his conduct after his return to Spain, for instead of flaunting his opinions, as he had done in his youth, he concealed them, and made great parade of piety and austerity. The heads of the secret society, we may suppose, had taught him that he must make a stalkinghorse of orthodoxy. Thanks to this mask and to his winning eloquence, he deceived the vulgar and at the same time attracted many pupils to his lectures, leading them step by step from faith to doubt, and from doubt to disbelief. He did not, however, succeed in duping the clergy, who, in just alarm, burned, not the philosopher himself – for this ‘Abd al-Rahman III would not allow – but his books. Though there is no direct evidence that Ibn Masarra was an Isma’ilite missionary, it is at any rate certain that the Fatimids made endeavors to found a party in Spain and to some extent succeeded. 17

While Dozy more accurately transmits the information found in al-Qifṭī – he does not have Ibn Masarra bring Pseudo-Empedoclean books to al-Andalus – his introduction of a hypothetical Ismā`īlī connection is entirely his own invention, having no basis in the sources that he used; it has not been borne out by subsequent research, though, as will be seen, it has been repeated by a number of writers. 18 Dozy’s (contradictory) ascription to

Dozy, Histoire des Musulmans d’Espagne, 2:127f. of the 2nd ed.; I quote from the English translation by Francis Griffin Stokes, published in London in 1913 under the title Spanish Islam, p. 409. Later in the work (p. 535 of the English trans.), Dozy makes the first reference in the scholarship to the Masarriyya, or the sect centered on the teachings of Ibn Masarra that existed in al-Andalus into the eleventh century. Dozy says nothing of the character of the sect other than to call it a “numerous sect” and to class it among a variety of “free-thinking” sectarian movements that were actively persecuted in al-Andalus in the early eleventh century. 18 In the monumental biographical dictionary of Khayr al-Dīn Ziriklī (1893-1976), al-A`lām, vol. 6, p. 223, Ibn Masarra is described as “an Ismā`īlī missionary” (min du`āt al-Ismā`īliyya). His referenced primary sources – al-Ḥumaydī and Ibn al-Faraḍī – do not make this claim, though Ziriklī also references an article on Ibn Masarra by Muḥammad al-Bahlī al-Niyāl in the April, 1953 issue of the Tunisian periodical al-


14 Ibn Masarra of pantheism and irreligiousness is also his own invention, and neither of these characterizations hold up in light of our sources. Dozy’s description of Ibn Masarra’s disingenuous asceticism is taken from al-Ḥumaydī, though this is a charge that only begins to be circulated in the late eleventh century, in the writings of Ibn Ḥayyān and al-Ḥumaydī, both of whom influenced a series of later Islamicate writers on Ibn Masarra. The earliest and most reliable sources on Ibn Masarra, none of which were available to Dozy, all concur with regard to the perceived authenticity of Ibn Masarra’s austerities. To his credit, though, Dozy correctly inferred from his sources that Ibn Masarra concealed his teachings from all but initiates, a point that is abundantly attested in the earliest sources and only vaguely hinted at in the material available to Dozy. In the last year of the nineteenth century, David Kaufmann published his Studien über Salomon Ibn Gabirol, wherein he reiterated and expanded upon Munk’s thesis that Ibn Masarra was the source for Pseudo-Empedoclean themes in medieval Jewish literature. Having discovered references to the Pseudo-Empedoclean “Book of the Five Substances” in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Kabbalistic works, Kaufmann attempted, with dubious results, to identify correspondences between this text and Ibn Gabirol’s Fons Vitae, arguing as well that Ibn Masarra introduced the “Five Substances” to alAndalus. Furthermore, in tracing a line of Pseudo-Empedoclean thought from Ibn Masarra, through Ibn Gabirol, to the thinkers of the Italian Renaissance, Kaufmann was led to conclude that Ibn Masarra had sown the seeds of enlightenment (“Aufklärung”)

Nadwa. I have not been able to consult this article, but it would appear that this must have been Ziriklī’s source for the Ismā`īlī link, in which case his source may very well have been influenced by Dozy with regard to that datum.

15 into the fanatical darkness of Umayyad Spain, seeds which were to begin to ripen in the Quattrocento. 19 All of the foregoing themes, supplemented by the newly-available sources of Ibn al-Faraḍi, Ibn Ḥazm and others, 20 were restated in Ignaz Goldziher’s introduction to his 1903 edition of Ibn Tūmart’s A’azz mā yutlab. There, after reviewing the evidence for the handful of “Mu`tazilī” thinkers in al-Andalus up to the mid-tenth century, he writes: These isolated Mu`tazilis had far less influence than a certain Cordoban sage, Muhammad b. `Abd Allah ibn Masarra (d. 319/931), upon his return from travels in the East. He had a number of disciples and apparently sought to propagate his doctrines. The Maghrebi texts that describe him as a Mu`tazili prove thereby that their authors hardly had any occasion to study the theories that characterize that dogmatic sect, and that this appellation was for them only a vague generic term, applicable to any independent spirit who resisted orthodox doctrine. In fact, Ibn Masarra had become subject to the influence of a Neoplatonism which was at that time very widespread in the East and which had its most complete form in the heterodox doctrines of the Isma`iliyya. His principle influence was the writings of Pseudo-Empedocles, whose influence is also found in the Fons vitae of a contemporary [sic] Jewish thinker, Avicebron. One can easily imagine the extent to which these doctrines were irreconcilable with Islam. Ibn Masarra, for his part, professed the scandalous system of allegorical Qur’an interpretation, then accepted by the Isma`iliyya. As Ibn Masarra gathered about himself a large circle of disciples, eleventh-century [sic] Spanish Islam was soon penetrated by a latent movement of free-thought (libre pensée), which was called the Masarriyya. This school appears to have fallen, purely out of a spirit of opposition to Islam, into the most ridiculous eccentricities (bizarreries). I have indicated elsewhere in a recent

For an assessment and criticism of Kaufmann’s work, as it related to Ibn Masarra and the putative Pseudo-Empedoclean current, see De Smet, “The Influence of Pseudo-Empedocles,” pp. 227f., and idem, Empedocles Arabus, ch. 1. 20 Between 1883 and 1895, the available sources on Ibn Masarra were greatly expanded by the publication of the ten volumes of the Bibliotheca arábico-hispaña, edited by Francisco Codera y Zaidan and Julián Ribera (who was Asín’s mentor), which included Ibn Bashkuwāl’s al-Ṣila (vols. 1-2), al-Ḍabbī’s Bughyat (vol. 3), Ibn al-Abbār’s Mu`jam (vol. 4) and Takmila (vols. 5-6), and Ibn al-Faraḍī’s Tārīkh `ulamā’ alandalus (vols. 7-8).


16 work that certain followers of the Masarriyya had taken the rising sun rather than the Ka`ba as their qibla or point of ritual orientation, and that they were therefore called the ahl al-tashriq. 21 Though Goldziher here copied a number of the errors of his predecessors, he adds some valuable new details as well. He follows Munk and Kaufmann as regards PseudoEmpedocles and uncritically follows Dozy on the fictional Ismā`īlī conspiracy, but makes a fresh contribution in drawing attention to Ibn Masarra’s Mu`tazilī reputation and to his allegorical interpretations of the Qur’ān, both of which are attested in the earliest sources. In dating the influence of Masarrī thought in Spain, though, he oversteps his sources; none of the Masarrīs listed in the works available to Goldziher lived past the tenth century, except for the group around Ismā`īl al-Ru`aynī, which is known to have been active only up to the beginning of the eleventh century (in Almería). 22 The practice of orienting eastward in prayer, though it is attributed to at least one known Masarrī, does not appear to have been associated especially with the Masarriyya prior to Goldziher, and there is certainly no mention of an “ahl al-tashrīq” in this context in any of the sources. The next scholar to turn to Ibn Masarra was Miguel Asín Palacios, whose 1914 Abenmasarra y su escuela remains to this day the fullest treatment of the subject in a European language. While it retains some value for its presentation of later sources

Goldziher, “Introduction,” pp. 68f. (my translation from the French). The last sentence refers to his 1901 article “Spottnamen der ersten Chalifen bei den Shî’iten,” p. 324n. 2, where he refers to two individuals identified in Ibn al-Faraḍī as enamored of turning to the point of the rising sun (or astronomical east) in prayer (mūla`an bi’l-tashrīq fi ṣalātihi) rather than the Ka`ba, one of whom – Muḥammad b. Aḥmad alKhawlānī – is also identified as a follower of Ibn Masarra. The other individual – Muslim b. Aḥmad alLaythī, known as Ṣāḥib al-Qibla – is not identified as a follower of Ibn Masarra in Ibn al-Faraḍī or elsewhere, nor is there any mention in these sources or Goldziher’s article of an “ahl al-tashrīq.” In mentioning Ibn Masarra in this note, Goldziher provides references to the relevant biographical notices in Ibn al-Faraḍī and al-Maqqarī, meaning that he was the most well-informed scholar on Ibn Masarra prior to Asín. 22 See Fierro, La Heterodoxia, pp. 167f. His sole source on al-Ru`aynī’s group was Ibn Ḥazm.


17 dealing with Pseudo-Empedocles, it is no longer to be considered of any value as an account of Ibn Masarra’s life or thought. It is neither possible nor desirable to go over each of Asín’s arguments here in detail, but as it is still often cited as the authoritative source on the subject, we must take some measure of the work. 23 Asín’s first two chapters provide general orientation to “Oriental Muslim” and “Spanish Muslim Thought in the First Three Centuries” respectively. 24 Both chapters are extremely outdated, both in scholarship and style. 25 The picture painted in these chapters of the state of Islamicate thought in the first three centuries of its history is very crude, often wrong, and described in terms that are never given any precision. Thus Mu`tazilism, which Asín equates with Qadarism, “represented the Greek-Christian position of Syria” within Islam, while Shi`ism “represented the Zoroastrian spirit.” 26 Sufism, Asín confidently states, “was a simple case of imitation, though much was

As the English translation of Asín’s monograph is the most readily-available and widely-known form of the text (Brill reprinted it as recently as 1997), I will refer to it in what follows (as Mystical Philosophy). A number of reviews of the translation at the time of its publication criticized the reissue of this work in English as “not worth the effort,” in Paul Walker’s words. (This is from the latter’s review in the JAOS, 1983, itself a rather scathing assessment of Asín’s original project. He writes, for instance, that “The Ibn Masarra who emerges from the overly learned pages of this study is a creature more probably, it would seem, of Asín Palacios’s scholarly imagination rather than a verifiable historical character” [p. 761f.].) Joseph van Ess is even more blunt; after (back-handedly) praising the translators for bringing Asín’s work to a larger audience, he writes: “Nur können jetzt auch viel mehr Wissenschaftler das feststellen, was vordem nur denjenigen auffiel, die Spanisch verstanden: die These, die in dem Buch vertreten wird, ist falsch” [“Now many more scholars can discover what before was apparent only to those who understood Spanish: that the thesis presented in this book is false.”] (Van Ess’ review in Die Welt des Islams, 1980, p. 109.) 24 Mystical Philosophy, pp. 1-14 (ch. 1), and 15-29 (ch. 2). 25 With reference to style, I note that Asín’s attitude to his subject was markedly more condescending than is considered acceptable today; his pages are full of cliches about Islam’s supposed “aridity” or “barrenness” and Muhammad’s less-than-Christlike ethical image. Thus, the contents of the Qur’an are deemed “exceedingly poor, philosophically speaking, in dogma and ethics” (p. 3); Qur’anic theology – that “very deficient creed” – could “hardly satisfy the mystical relation of the soul to its Creator” needed by the “more complex psychology” of non-Arabs, Arabs themselves being “of simple mentality” (ibid.); Muhammad was a “polygamous and warrior prophet [who] was not the type of spiritual perfection to inspire by imitation and example those who might wish to attain it,” (p. 10), and the religion he initiated was “arid and cold” (p. 11). This aspect of Asín’s writing is critiqued in Zayn Kassam-Hann, “M. Asín Palacios and His Approach to Islamic Thought,” pp. 56-9. 26 Ibid., p. 4 and 5.


18 conscious imitation, of oriental Christian monkhood.” 27 As is common even in much contemporary writing, Asín describes Muslim Spain as being uniquely “orthodox” and “intolerant” as compared with the rest of the Islamicate world, a prejudice which holds no water upon inspection. 28 Asín adopted a very loose usage for the terms “esoteric” and “bāṭinī,” an imprecision which, given the centrality of these terms in Asín’s analysis, goes a long way to undermining the usefulness of his book. “Bāṭinism” in particular is given so many senses as to effectively have none at all. Early on Asín states that their shared use of the allegorical method of interpreting the Qur’an “won for all of these sects the common name of Bāṭinīs.” 29 Now, the referent of “all of these sects” in this sentence is not entirely clear, but it either means the various Shi`ite sects described in the immediately-preceding paragraph or, what seems more likely, it refers to all of the groups described by Asín in this fifth sub-section of the chapter, including Mu`tazilīs, Qadarīs, all of the Shī`ī movements, and in general all of the “heresies in Islam [that] were born as a consequence of the ingrafting of the earlier religions and the Hellenic culture into that new social organism.” 30 He moves from here to an attempt at defining the term, but only confuses the matter further.

Ibid., p. 12. The question of the origins of Sufism and the decisive influences upon its early development is still very much a matter of debate, but Asín’s argument for unadulterated Christian influence is no longer a live option in that debate. One of the most recent attempts to address this question is Christopher Melchert’s “Baṣran Origins of Classical Sufism.” 28 See, e.g., ibid., p. 17, where Muslim Spain is called “the most orthodox of all the Islamic lands,” which “managed to suppress all attempts of innovation with the most violent intolerance.” At p. 18n. 10, the Shāfi`ī madhhab is called “more liberal than the Malikites,” but he gives no indication as to what sense in which the term “liberal” is to be understood here. One of the most concise refutations of this seldomlyquestioned assumption is Jorge Aguadé’s “Some Remarks about Sectarian Movements in al-Andalus.” On the issue more generally, see M. Fierro’s excellent study, La Heterodoxia en al-Andalus. 29 Mystical Philosophy, p. 5. 30 Ibid., p. 3. This “ingrafting” was necessitated, according to Asín, by the inherent poverty of the Qur’an and Muhammadan spirituality.


19 The term bāṭinī means the esoterics or defenders of the occult (bāṭin), secret, mystic or spiritual, that which is contained under the surface of the word. Actually, this method was not exclusively theirs [whose?]. All the heretics, philosophers, and independent thinkers employed it and thus permitted themselves to graft their religious ideas or their philosophical theories into the trunk of Islam. 31 While it is true that the usage of this term by Islamicate writers during the first centuries of Islam was variable, Asín’s construal here is impossibly broad and hopelessly vague. 32 At times Asín implies a clearly-defined and specific sect, as in his references to “the Bāṭinī school,” 33 though in the space of two pages this is made to variously mean Fāṭimī doctrine, the unknown doctrine of a crucified Andalusī claimant to prophecy, the Junaydian Sufism of Ibn al-A`rābī, and the “school” of Ibn Masarra. 34 After thus attempting to provide an intellectual-historical context for Ibn Masarra’s era, Asín proceeds in the third chapter to provide an account of his life. 35 In addition to some rather dubious ideas about “ethnic psychology” and “Spanish blood,” 36

Ibid., pp. 5f. Italics original, bracketed note mine. A standard discussion is Marshall Hodgson’s entry “Bāṭiniyya” in EI², 1:1098b-1100a. He distinguishes between, a) Ismā`īlīs and related Shī`ī groups, and b) “anyone accused of rejecting the literal meaning of [the sacred texts] in favour of the bāṭin.” In order to qualify as bāṭinī, Hodgson identified the four essential characteristics of bāṭin, ta’wīl, khāṣṣ wa-`āmm, and taqiyya, (roughly and respectively, an assumption of hidden meaning; an allegorical, figurative or symbolic approach to textual exegesis aimed at getting at this hidden meaning; a distinction between an elite adequate to the proper apprehension of this hidden meaning, and the masses which are inadequate to such; and the practice of dissimulation or arcanization aimed at keeping the hidden meaning from the masses and protecting the elite from persecution), all of which, as pointed out by Fierro, “Bāṭinism in al-Andalus,” p. 106, apply to Ibn Masarra. 33 Mystical Philosophy, p. 23n. 20, where the “school” in question is taught by the mystic Abū Sa`īd b. alA`rābī, an important contemporary of Ibn Masarra, author of a refutation of the latter, and teacher, at Mecca, of many of Ibn Masarra’s followers. In the previous note, Asín refers to an anonymous “false prophet” crucified during the reign of `Abd al-Raḥman II (on whom see Fierro, La Heterodoxia, pp. 70-74), saying that this person perhaps represents the only case “of the Bāṭinī school prior to that of Ibn Masarra,” but further in the same note states that “details are lacking as to the way his [sc. the false prophet’s] doctrine was related to the sects of the Bāṭinīs.” 34 These identifications occur at pp. 22-3; see previous note. 35 Ibid., pp. 30-42. 36 Ibid., p. 30, though this racism is found passim.


20 this chapter is marred by the lack of any distinction in the text between Asín’s conjectures and the details he’s drawing from actual sources. 37 Events, people and ideas are characterized by Asín in ways or terms that are unsupported by the texts found in his footnotes; to be of any use at all, then, every word of this chapter would have to be checked against the sources. 38 As Asín did not have access to a number of important sources for Ibn Masarra’s biography, I will not go through his account of Ibn Masarra’s life in any detail, but will simply observe that, on account of its unsupported conjecture, exaggerations, inaccuracies and lacunae with regard to sources, it is not to be considered a reliable account of the known facts of the life of Ibn Masarra. I have footnoted below the most important factual errors in this chapter. 39

Morris, in “A Reconsideration,” p. 1n. 1, after pointing out that Asín occasionally added qualifiers like “perhaps” and “it is probable,” makes the following remark: “Unfortunately, even the attentive reader, though, can scarcely be expected to recognize all the joints between ‘fact’ and fiction, or to judge the varying degrees of probability involved.” 38 Examples of this are ubiquitous; we are told at p. 32 that `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, our subject’s father, “dared to profess” his mu`tazilī views “only in the intimacy of his family,” though such a statement is not to be found in any of the sources. On the next page, Asín informs us that “The unlettered common people ... were scandalized to hear that for Ibn Masarra the punishments of hell had no reality.” This is historical fiction; the notion that Ibn Masarra denied the reality of the punishments of hell derives from a misreading on Asín’s part of one of his sources, while his portrayal of the scandalized masses is his own imagination entirely, having no basis whatsoever in the literature. The whole chapter is written in this way, and there is not space here to note every instance of these flourishes on Asín’s part. 39 At pp. 33f., Asín describes “three Spanish native leaders of renegade families [who] struggled to free themselves from the political religious authority of the caliphs [sic] of Cordova,” discussing them as contemporaries who led rebellions during the emirate of `Abd Allāh (r. 888-912 CE), when in fact only `Umar b. Ḥafṣūn (d. 918 CE) fits this description. There were two rebel leaders known as Ibn Qasī (d. 862 and 1151CE, respectively), neither of whom lived or led rebellions during this period. Ibn Marwān alJillīqī (d. 890) repented of his rebellion during the emirate of Muḥammad I (r. 852-886 CE), was granted clemency by the latter, and was quietly living out the last years of his life when `Abd Allah came to power. (On the preceding, see Makki, “The Political History of al-Andalus,” passim). Ibn al-A`rābī (d. 952), contrary to what is stated at p. 37n.16, was not a student of Sufyān al-Thawrī (d. 778). At p. 41, Asín states that only two titles of works of Ibn Masarra are known (from Ibn al-`Arabī, who refers to a Kitāb al-ḥurūf, and Ibn al-Abbār, who mentions a Kitāb al-tabṣira); Louis Massignon’s 1929 Recueil de textes inédits concernant l’histoire de la mystique en pays d’Islam, however, included a passage from Ibn Mar’a (d. 611/1214) that attributes to Ibn Masarra a Kitab tawḥīd al-mūqinīn, and Shams al-Dīn Qurṭubī’s (d. 671/1272) Tadhkira fī aḥwāl attributes to Ibn Masarra a Kitāb al-tabyīn (this latter reference was first noted by Addas, “Andalusī Mysticism,” p. 914; the death date of 1173 that she gives for Qurṭubī is incorrect). There are thus four titles mentioned in our sources, two of them corresponding to the texts found in the Chester Beatty manuscript.


21 The next three chapters represent the fruit of Asín’s attempt at reconstructing Ibn Masarra’s Pseudo-Empedoclean doctrine. Chapter three, though titled “The PseudoEmpedoclean Doctrine of Ibn Masarra,” is actually a selection of passages-in-translation from medieval Islamicate sources on Empedocles, principally Shahrastānī and Shahrazūrī; the latter copies Ṣā`id verbatim in mentioning Ibn Masarra, while the former does not mention Ibn Masarra at all. 40 The introduction to this chapter is highly misleading; Ibn Ḥazm and Ṣā`id are said to “frugally but sufficiently inform us about the relationships and general characteristics of his [sc. Ibn Masarra’s] system,” the “central axis” of these characteristics being “the doctrine of Empedocles.”41 After identifying Ṣā`id as a source that affirmed Ibn Masarra’s relationship of “impassioned defender” to Empedocles, Asín writes that “later oriental historians confirm this fact and give an outline of that philosophy at the same time.” 42 He thereby gives the impression that Shahrastānī, Shahrazūrī, Ibn Abī Uṣaybi`a and Ibn al-Qifṭī all “confirm” Ṣā`id on the Empedoclean connection, whereas in fact only the latter three refer to this, and they, as discussed above, simply copy from Ṣā`id, adding nothing that could be called confirmation. 43 These criticisms aside, the rest of this chapter provides a useful selection of passages-in-translation from the later Islamicate doxographical tradition on Empedocles, giving under seventeen headings a series of passages illustrative of what Asín believed to

Mystical Philosophy, pp. 43-57. Ibid., pp. 43f. 42 Ibid., p. 44. 43 For an English translation of the passage from Shahrazūrī, see Walbridge, Leaven of the Ancients, p. 44 (Walbridge notes the Ṣā`id dependence in ibid., p. 237f., n. 14).


22 be the major theses of the Pseudo-Empedoclean “system.” 44 Interestingly, Asín excludes the Book of Five Substances as a source for this, as it “represents a reflection of the doctrine of pseudo-Empedocles too late and indirect to be taken as a basis for his [sc. Ibn Masarra’s] exposition.” 45 The next chapter provides an exegesis of the “system” – or rather, the theorems – set out in the previous chapter, largely relying on pre-Islamic philosophical sources such as Plotinus, Philo, and Porphyry. 46 An evaluation of this chapter lies beyond my particular competence, though I would note that Asín’s frequent claims here that the pseudo-Empedoclean “system” had absorbed elements of “cabala” are plainly anachronistic. 47 The following chapter – “The Theological Doctrine of Ibn Masarra” – surveys the material regarding Ibn Masarra in the writings of Ibn al-`Arabī and Ibn Ḥazm, interpreting each piece of evidence in terms of the Pseudo-Empedoclean theorems set out previously. Unfortunately, Asín’s attempt at reconstruction here fails on every point. Asín assumed that an entire chapter of Ibn al-`Arabī’s Futūḥāt, where mention is made of Ibn Masarra, represented the teaching of the latter, whereas in fact it is simply a characteristic example of Ibn al-`Arabī’s own expressionistic theological visions,
But see U. Rudolph, Doxographie, p. 132, where, after noting that Asín’s thesis of a real connection between pseudo-Empedocles and Ibn Masarra has been proven false (with reference to Stern and the reviews of Radtke and Walker), he points out that there probably was never even a coherent “system” of Empedoclean teaching in the primary sources utilized by the second-order doxographers Shahrastānī and Shahrazūrī. [“Denn er behandelt Autoren wie Shahrastani und Shahrazuri, deren sekundärer Charakter ausser Frage steht, wie Primärquellen und entwickelt überdies mit grosser Phantasie ein pseudoempedokleisches “Weltbild,” das in dieser Geschlossenheit wahrscheinlich nie bestanden hat.”] The most important of such primary sources – the Ārā al-falāsifa – is edited and translated by Rudolph in ibid. 45 Ibid., p. 47n. 14. Asín’s reason for excluding the Book of the Five Substances is somewhat odd, as all of his sources on Empedocles are significantly later than Ibn Masarra. For the Book of the Five Substances, see De Smet, Empedocles Arabus, pp. 208ff. (though note that all reviewers have criticized this translation from the Hebrew as at least partially unreliable). Chapter three of De Smet’s work represents the fullest account of the Islamicate Empedocles. I return to the dubiousness of a Pseudo-Empedoclean “system” in chapter three. 46 Mystical Philosophy, pp. 58-72. 47 Again, Asín’s analysis of the pseudo-Empedoclean doctrine in these chapters is superceded by De Smet’s Empedocles Arabus.

23 showing marked variance from the teachings presented by Ibn Masarra in his own extant works. 48 With regard to the material in Ibn Ḥazm, Asín at one point goes so far as to argue with his source for misinterpreting Ibn Masarra, inasmuch as Ibn Ḥazm attributes to Ibn Masarra an idea at variance with Asín’s presentation of PseudoEmpedocleanism. 49 Asín’s widest miss of the mark comes at the end of the chapter, where he states that Ibn Masarra’s “bold denial of the rewards and punishments of the future life” is “an irrefutable confirmation that the Ṣūfī of Cordova professed the entire system of pseudo-Empedocles.” 50 For this purported “bold denial,” Asín’s sole reference is the entry on Ibn Masarra in Ibn al-Faraḍī’s Tārīkh `ulamā’ al-andalus, which he has completely misunderstood. 51 There, Ibn al-Faraḍī reports that Ibn Masarra “used to discuss human agency and the carrying-out of the threat” (wa kāna yaqūl bi’l-istiṭā`a wa’l-infādh al-wa`īd), refering to two well-known Mu`tazilī principles. 52 The principle of istiṭā`a has to do with the power or capacity of human agents to perform acts, which the Mu`tazila affirmed against their determinist opponents, while the second alludes to the Mu`tazilī principle of al-wa`d wa’l-wa`īd, “the promise and the threat,” one of the socalled “five principles” (al-uṣūl al-khamsa) of Mu`tazilī theology, which involves the

This error is often repeated in the post-Asín secondary literature; see, e.g., M. Cruz Hernández’s “Islamic Thought in the Iberian Peninsula,” pp. 778f., where almost all that he writes in describing Ibn Masarra’s thought is actually descriptive of the chapters in Ibn al-`Arabī’s Futūḥāt used by Asín, though without making any reference to that text. 49 Mystical Philosophy, p. 83. 50 Ibid., p. 93 and n. 54. 51 Though he references Ibn al-Faraḍī here, he may also have had in mind a passage in the Faṣl (aka Fiṣal) of Ibn Ḥazm, vol. 4, p. 199, that attributes to the late Masarrī leader Ismā`īl al-Ru`aynī the thesis that the spirit and not the body is resurrected, though Ru`aynī is then said to have taught that, at death, the spirit separates from the body and proceeds to either heaven or hell; thus, even this passage does not constitute a “denial of rewards and punishments of the future life,” except insofar as those would be embodied. It should be emphasized here that in this passage Ibn Ḥazm (or his anonymous Masarrī informant) clearly states that this thesis is Ru`aynī’s own invention (iḥdāth). 52 According to Tornero, “Nota Sobre el Pensamiento de Abenmasarra,” pp. 503f., this misunderstanding was based on Asín having misread the word infādh (carrying out, executing) as infād, taking the latter to mean “negation” (though the latter term is never given this meaning by the lexicographers).


24 belief that unrepentant Muslims guilty of grave sins will be eternally condemned to hellfire. 53 In other words, the phrase that Asín understood to mean that Ibn Masarra “denies physical rewards and punishments” indicates the exact opposite of such a denial! The seventh chapter is of much greater value, as it presents a wealth of data from Ibn Ḥazm about the Masarrīs living in the latter’s own time, which he reported on in his Faṣl fi’l-milal. 54 Asín describes and discusses a total of eight theses or beliefs attributed to these Masarrīs, though of course his attempts to relate these to the theorems of PseudoEmpedocles and Ibn Masarra’s “system” are baseless. 55 The final chapter, on “The Influence of Masarrian Ideas,” is entirely without merit, tracing as it does the purported influence of a doctrine which he has failed to prove even existed. 56 All of the new evidence that has accumulated since Asín’s monograph has only served to render his conjectural reconstruction all the more untenable. Brief mention must here be made of another “illusion” introduced by Asín, one which fortunately has had much less influence. In his 1919 Escatologia musulmana en Divina comedia, Asín began to father upon Ibn Masarra the origins of Ishrāqī thought, or the so-called “School of Illumination” associated with Suhrawardī Maqtūl (d. 1194). 57 There he writes:

On istiṭā`a, see L. Gardet, EI², s.v.; on wa`d wa’l-wa`īd, see U. Rudolph, EI², s.v Mystical Philosophy, pp. 95-118. Asín refers to this text as the Fiṣal throughout. 55 Morris, in “A Reconsideration,” pp. 27ff., though he did not know of the surviving texts of Ibn Masarra, judicially analyzes the Masarrī theses found in Ibn Ḥazm and underlines the precariousness of Asín’s conjectures with regard to this material. On most of the points where Morris expressed skepticism, the newly-available sources have borne him out. 56 Oddly enough, it is this weakest part of the book which has exerted the greatest influence, as it is these fictitious links of Pseudo-Empedoclean influence going back to Ibn Masarra that, of all of Asín’s arguments, have been most often repeated in subsequent scholarship. See De Smet, “The Influence of Pseudo-Empedocles,” passim. 57 On Suhrwardī and the ishrāqiyyūn, see Mehdi Aminrazavi, Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1996) and the works of John Walbridge listed in the bibliography, infra.


25 Should further proof of our thesis [of Islamic inlfluences on Dante’s Divine Comedy] be required, the poet’s philosophical system might be traced back to its actual sources in Islam, which are to be found not so much among the philosophers as in the works of the Illuministic Mystics, and of the Murcian Ibn Arabi in particular. The Illuministic, or Ishraqi and pseudo-Empedoclean school, was founded by Ibn Masarra of Cordova; and from Spain its ideas were transmitted to the so-called Augustinian scholastics, among others to Alexander Hales, Duns Scotus, Roger Bacon, and Raymond Lull. 58 Asín repeated this claim in a number of other works written after this, including his 1929 article “Dos filósofos de la Córdoba de los Califas: Abenmasarra y Abenhazam.” There, he refers to “la ideológia iluminista del cordobés Abenmasarra.” 59 Why he decided to make these plainly anachronistic statements in the years following the completion of his monograph on Ibn Masarra is unclear, as in that work he clearly identifies Suhrawardī’s oeuvre as “the fundamental work of the Ṣufi Ishrāqīs,” 60 though he does frequently characterize Ibn Masarra as “illuministic” in the general sense of employing extensive metaphors of light, and at one point writes (without any evidence whatsoever) that the diffusion of Ibn Masarra’s “innumerable books” “contributed in a very effective way to the continuing explosion of the illuminist (ishrāqī) and pantheistic heresies in oriental Islam.” 61 In any case, the notion that Ibn Masarra was an Ishrāqī, or even the progenitor of the “Ishrāqī school,” was repeated by a number of later writers, including Edward Jurji, who in 1937 wrote of Ibn Masarra as having “founded the Illuministic (Ishrāqī) and

Islam and the Divine Comedy (an abridged English trans. of Escatologia) , p. 264. At p. 13. 60 Mystical Philosophy, p. 137n. 48. 61 Ibid., p. 128. Asín’s belief – generally stated as fact – that Ibn Masarra used light metaphors is a consequence of his “reconstruction” from later sources; the surviving works of Ibn Masarra do not in fact use any of the “illuminist” metaphors imagined by Asín.


26 pseudo-Empedoclean school.” 62 Probably the most prominent author to echo this idea was Annemarie Schimmel, who refers in her Mystical Dimensions of Islam to the abovementioned article by Jurji and writes of Ibn Masarra as having “spoken about the purifying illumination.” 63

From the publication of Asín’s monograph until the appearance of Stern’s “Illusion” article, there were relatively few advances in the scholarship, in terms of both sources and analyses. By far, the majority of references to Ibn Masarra in this period assumed the soundness of Asín’s project and presented Ibn Masarra in the context of the Pseudo-Empedoclean illusion. This included, without exception, every major reference work or historical survey on Islam, al-Andalus, or philosophy in which Ibn Masarra was mentioned. 64 The first exception to this trend was A.E. `Affifi’s 1939 study of Ibn al`Arabī, where, with regard to the latter’s relationship to Ibn Masarra, he announced in the preface to have “arrived at a conclusion which is opposite to the theory held by [Asín] Palacios on the subject.” 65 Affifi took exception to Asín’s portrayal of Ibn al-`Arabī as an indirect disciple of Ibn Masarra, for whom, according to Asín, the latter was a decisive influence. He also called attention to the doubtfulness of Asín’s assumptions with regard to Ibn al-`Arabī’s writings that mention Ibn Masarra. As mentioned above, Asín treated

“The Illuministic Sufis,” pp. 99f. Reference to Jurji article at 250n. 36; “purifying illumination” at p. 264. 64 A list of some of the more important reference works and surveys that “uncritically repeated” Asín’s theses is given in De Smet, “The Influence of Pseudo-Empedocles,” p. 230n. 14, to which should be added Brockelmann’s 1937 entry in the GAS Supplementband (1:378f.), Fr. Copelston’s 1950 History of Philosophy (2:222), Lévi-Provençal’s 1953 Histoire de l’Espagne musulmane (3:485-7), M. Cruz Hernández’s 1957 Filosofía hispano-musulmana (1:221ff.), and Mahmud Makki’s 1962 Ensayo sobre las aportaciones orientales en la España musulmana (pp. 158ff.). (This list is by no means comprehensive, and is meant only to show the influence of Asín’s theses in the major works of synthesis in the first two thirds of the twentieth century.) 65 Mystical Philosophy of Muhyid Din-Ibnul Arabi, p. xiii.


27 an entire chapter from Ibn al-`Arabī’s Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya as wholly Masarrīan, on account of the fact that Ibn al-`Arabī refers to Ibn Masarra in this chapter and says that the latter discussed the same symbolism that is discussed in that chapter by Ibn al`Arabī. 66 With regard to this, Affifi noted: [Asín] Palacios unjustifiably attributes the whole theory expressed in this symbolism to Ibn Masarra, having no evidence for this beyond the fact that Ibnul `Arabi refers to Ibn Masarra in connection with this symbolism. The symbolism is one thing and the interpretation put on it by Ibnul `Arabi is another. Ibnul `Arabi borrowed many other symbolisms from Ṣūfīs and philosophers and interpreted them in the light of his own system. 67 In addition to this particular criticism, Affifi provides an overall critique of Asín’s work in an appendix to his study, which concludes as follows: What all this is intended to prove is (a) that we are still perfectly ignorant of Ibn Masarra’s mystical philosophy, i.e. if he ever had any; (b) that the evidence adduced by Monsieur [Asín] Palacios in support of his theory that Ibnu’l `Arabi was influenced by the mystical philosophy of Ibn Masarra or any of his School is so insufficient that we may be permitted to disregard it altogether; (c) that the only thing Ibnu’l `Arabī seems to have borrowed from Ibn Masarra is the divine Throne symbolism on which Ibnu’l `Arabī puts his own interpretation; and lastly (d) that the historical connection which Monsieur [Asín] Palacios assumes to have existed between the Ṣūfī School of Al Meria and that of Ibn Masarra is merely hypothetical. 68

The chapter of the Futūḥāt in question is chapter 13, “Concerning the Bearers of the Throne” (editions of the Futūhāt are many and pagination is various). 67 Affifi, op. cit., p. 76n. 1 (emphasis original). 68 Ibid., p. 183. As will be discussed later, Ibn al-`Arabī refers to Ibn Masarra as a source in at least two other works, apparently unknown to Affifi, and he was influenced by Ibn Masarra. Note also that on p. 180 Affifi anticipates Stern by rightly pointing out that Ṣā`id is ultimately the sole source for the Ibn MasarraEmpedocles connection, as Ibn al-Qifṭī and Ibn Abī Uṣaybi`a simply copy it from him.


28 Despite the relative cogency of Affifi’s rather devastating critique, it had much less influence than it probably deserved, and Asín’s presentation of Ibn Masarra was to remain otherwise unchallenged for another thirty years.

Of the few new contributions to our knowledge of Ibn Masarra made during these years, mention must be made of Louis Massignon’s 1929 publication of a passage from the thirteenth-century Sufi Ibn al-Mar’a’s (d. 611/1214) Sharḥ al-irshād, which paraphrases a teaching from an otherwise-unknown work of Ibn Masarra entitled Tawḥīd al-mūqinīn, and E. Lévi-Provençal’s article “A propos de l’ascète philosophe Ibn Masarra de Cordoue,” which undertook a reevaluation of the biographies of Ibn Masarra and his followers based upon all of the sources used by Asín with the addition of newly-edited portions of Ibn al-Abbār’s Takmila. 69 In 1955, an opportunity to advance the research considerably was temporarily lost, as Arthur Arberry published in that year a catalogue of the Arabic manuscripts in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, misidentifying two works of Ibn Masarra found in ms. 3168 in that collection as works of an Abū `Abd Allāh alJīlī. 70

Material not included in Codera’s 1886 edition of the Takmila was published in an “Appendice a la edición Codera de la ‘Tecmila’,” ed. M. Alarcón and A. González-Palencia, 1915. As pointed out by Morris, “A Reconsideration,” p. 6n. 11, Lévi-Provençal’s revised chronology for the life of Ibn Masarra “must be held in question.” Morris also called attention in the same place to the slightly ironic note struck by Levi-Provençal’s comment on the first page of his article that “On ne peut qu’admirer la maîtrise avec laquelle M. Asín sut tirer parti dans son ouvrage des sources indigentes ... qui s’offraient à lui pour définir et apprécier le système philosophique d’Ibn Masarra” [“One cannot but admire the mastery with which M. Asín makes such good use of sources so poor in what they have to offer with regard to defining and evaluating the philosophical system of Ibn Masarra.”] 70 Chester Beatty Library, vol. 1, p. 68. The Arabic words “al-Jabalī” and “al-Jīlī” differ orthographically by a single dot. Arberry doesn’t appear to have had the famous Sufi named al-Jīlī in mind, since he gave no death date after giving this name (he does so for every other individual that he’s able to identify), and he would have known that the kunya was different; the famous Sufi was named Abū Muḥammad. It should be


29 In 1970, two publications raised the first serious doubts about Asín’s project since Affifi’s work. In his article on Ibn Masarra in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, second edition, Roger Arnaldez provided a detailed summary of the available data and of Asín’s argument and reconstruction, pointing out throughout the entire article that none of Asín’s theses were susceptible of proof. He does not offer any alternative to Asín’s argument, but does emphasize its conjectural nature. 71 In an article published the same year, George Hourani likewise argued that Asín’s “attempt must be regarded as speculative, in view of the lack of a firm basis for comparison,” and reported that S.M. Stern had told him in 1966 about Ṣā`id’s dependence on al-`Āmirī, a dependence which revealed that Ibn Masarra’s connection to Empedocles is “a mere inference by Ṣā`id.” 72 These expressions of skepticism would be fully vindicated over the course of the next three years, which witnessed a series of publications that inaugurated a new phase in the study of Ibn Masarra.

Part 2: New Sources, the Illusion Fades (1971-2006)

This second phase in the history of the scholarship begins with the 1971 publication of Stern’s “Ibn Masarra, Follower of Pseudo-Empedocles – an illusion,” discussed at the beginning of the previous section. This article showed just how

noted that Arberry wasn’t the first to make this particular mistake; in an edition of Ibn al-`Arabī’s Futūḥāt used by Asín, references in the text to “Ibn Masarra al-Jabalī” are, at two places, printed as “Ibn Masarra al-Jīlī”; see Mystical Philosophy, p. 75n. 6 and 78n. 16. 71 On the other hand, it is also significant that the single most important Islamicist reference work still gives only Asín’s portrayal of Ibn Masarra, giving more than half of the article’s space to discussing PseudoEmpedoclean doctrine. 72 Hourani, “Early Growth,” p. 146n. 3.

30 precarious was the foundation upon which the edifice of Ibn Masarra scholarship had been built up to that point. The announcement by Muhammad Kamal Ibrahim Ja`far the following year that he’d discovered two of Ibn Masarra’s writings in the Chester Beatty Library would have sent that entire edifice crashing to the ground – had it been noticed. His discovery was announced in an obscure Libyan journal, and the wider academic world would take no notice of it until a considerable time after Ja`far published the texts in 1978. Even then, though, the new texts were almost entirely neglected for more than a decade. In 1973, unaware of Ja`far’s discovery, James Morris undertook a suberb reanalysis of the then-known primary sources for our knowledge of Ibn Masarra, including in an appendix photo-reproductions of all of this material. As noted above, he was the first to identify Ibn al-Faraḍī as Ibn al-Qifṭī’s source on Ibn Masarra’s biography, a discovery which added significant weight to Stern’s criticisms. Morris also gives an updated biography, comprehending a number of sources unavailable to Asín, and gives a judicious and skeptical reassessment of Asín’s theses with regard to Ibn Masarra’s teachings, as well as of the doctrines attributed to the Masarriyya by Ibn Ḥazm. 73 These three works, of Stern, Ja`far and Morris, when considered together, were remarkably ahead of their time – or perhaps it has rather been the case that Islamic studies has been remarkably slow in catching up to them. In any case, these publications provide all that is needed to dismiss once and for all the notion that Pseudo-Empedoclean doctrine was central to Ibn Masarra’s thought, and in fact they show that there is not a


Claude Addas, “Andalusī Mysticism,” p. 912, says of Morris’ paper: “The results of this inventory are somewhat surprising, showing that the picture painted of Ibn Masarra and his school by Asín Palacios and his predecessors is in fact considerably at variance with the information actually contained in the sources on which they basically relied.”

31 single piece of reliable evidence to link Ibn Masarra to Empedocles, pseudo- or otherwise. I will return to this issue in chapter three. These three works did not, it must be admitted, burst upon the field of Islamic studies in circumstances that would recommend their wide renown. Stern’s paper, as already mentioned, was published posthumously in a collection of conference proceedings, perhaps not the best forum for announcing a discovery that overturns a given field of research. Ja`far’s article was published in Arabic in the journal of a Tripolitan teachers’ college. Morris’ paper was never published at all, and was the fruit of a graduate seminar, though Morris did freely share his work with a number of subsequent researchers to take up the Ibn Masarra problem. Eventually, though, the importance of these scholars’ efforts for a re-evaluation of Ibn Masarra became relatively widely remarked. The critical reviews of the English translation of Asín’s monograph all brought renewed attention to Stern in the early 1980s, 74 though it was not until the end of that decade that the Western academy began to take notice of the fundamentallyimportant publications of Ja`far. The first such reference 75 that I have been able to identify is in Denis Gril’s 1988 study of the science of letters (`ilm al-ḥurūf) in the

Though note that Van Ess and Walker, in their reviews of 1980 and 1983, respectively, appear to know of neither Ja`far’s discovery (1972) nor publication (1978 and again in 1982) of Ibn Masarra’s writings. 75 It is possible that Claude Addas’ 1987 doctoral thesis, Ibn `Arabī ou la quête de Soufre rouge, contained the earliest reference to Ja`far’s publications, as the English-language translation of the subsequentlypublished book form of that thesis (Quest for the Red Sulfur, trans. Peter Kingsley, p. 58), published in 1993, refers to those texts at p. 58 and points out the damage that Ibn Masarra’s rediscovered texts do to Asín’s arguments. As I was unable to consult Addas’ thesis, I cannot verify this. M. Cruz Hernández notes, in the second edition of his Historia del pensamiento en el mundo islámico, vol. 2, p. 345n. 8, that Mahmud Makki had told him in 1979 of Ja`far’s work, but that due toa serious eye disease only later corrected by surgery he was unable to examine those texts or compare them against Asín’s reconstruction. In his 1992 El Islam de al-Andalus, however, he writes that “De los libros de este último [sc. Ibn Masarra] sólo nos quedan los títulos; su pensamiento fue reconstruido de modo admirable por Asin Palacios...” [“Of the latter’s [Ibn Masarra’s] books we have only the titles; his thought was admirably reconstructed by Asin Palacios...”] (p. 380). See also his article of the same year, “Islamic Thought in the Iberian Peninsula,” pp. 777ff., also following Asín to the letter.


32 thought of Ibn al-`Arabī, where he refers at some length to Ja`far’s editions of Ibn Masarra’s Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf and Risālat al-I`tibār, giving a synopsis of some of the main points of both treatises and underlining the influence that these works had on Ibn al`Arabī and on the development of `ilm al-ḥurūf generally. 76 This was followed by Michel Chodkiewicz’s 1991 review of Julian Baldick’s Mystical Islam, where, in the course of identifying certain “lacunes bibliographique” in the latter text, he notes that “regarding Ibn Masarra, the studies of Muḥammad Kamāl Ibrāhīm Ja’far, who has edited two of his rasā’il, add new elements and confirm the fragility of Asín’s ‘reconstruction,’ already strongly denounced by Stern,” with a footnote here pointing to Ja`far’s Libyan article (which does not, however, contain editions of the texts). 77 In the following year, Claude Addas – Chodkiewicz’s daughter – published her superb article on Andalusī mysticism prior to Ibn al-`Arabī (d. 1240), in which she refers to Ja`far’s 1978 edition of Ibn Masarra’s two surviving works and makes frequent reference to the texts themselves. 78 As will be seen, her estimation of Ja’far’s work as “putting an end to numerous controversies” was unfortunately premature. Her important re-assessment of the character of Ibn Masarra’s thought in this article will be further discussed in chapter three. Also in 1992, María Luisa Ávila and Luis Molina published, for the first time, Muḥammad al-Khushanī’s Akhbār al-fuqahā’ wa’l-muḥaddithīn, thereby making
Gril, “La science des lettres,” pp. 427f. Gril’s study is one of the best treatments of `ilm al-ḥurūf in the secondary literature, and has recently been translated into English by David Streight, in Chodkiewicz, ed., The Meccan Illuminations, vol. 2 pp. 107-219. 77 Chodkiewicz, Review, p. 167. My translation from the French: (“...sur Ibn Masarra, les recherches de Muḥammad Kamâl Ibrâhim Ja’far, qui a édité deux ses rasâ’il, apportent de nouveaux éléments et confirment la fragilité de la ‘reconstruction’ d’Asin, déjà dénoncée vertement par Stern”). Baldick discusses Ibn Masarra very briefly in his Mystical Islam, p. 70, noting only that his works are lost and that “Extremely dubious attempts have been made to reconstruct Ibn Masarra’s teachings and alleged influence on later thinkers.” 78 “Andalusī Mysticism,” pp. 916ff.

33 available the earliest biography of Ibn Masarra, a source which had never before been brought to bear in Ibn Masarra studies. Since that time, a steady stream of scholarship on the Andalus of Ibn Masarra’s time has emerged from the cohort of Spanish Islamicists centered in Madrid and Granada, a great deal of which naturally has direct bearing on the study of Ibn Masarra. 79 In 1993, the Spanish scholar Emilio Tornero, who’d written an article in 1985 defending Asín’s thesis against Stern, published in the Spanish journal al-Qantara an article that called attention to Ja`far’s discovery and provided a summary of the contents of the two texts of Ibn Masarra. 80 Yet despite the frequent references by Spanish Islamicists to these texts following the publication of Tornero’s article, one is still most likely to read, especially in Anglophone scholarship, that Ibn Masarra’s works are lost and that he was an Empedoclean mystic, and not simply in general or reference works, 81 but in specialist literature as well. 82

I have in mind here the prodigious efforts towards editing early Andalusī texts, applying quantitative research methods to these materials, and producing synthetic analyses, carried out by Maribel Fierro, Manuela Marín, María Luisa Ávila, Miguel Cruz Hernández, Rafael Ramon Guerrero, Emilio Tornero and other scholars of the School of Arabic Studies at Madrid and the Granada center of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas. For more on these centers and the history of Spanish Orientalism, see Penelas, “Hispano Arabic Studies,” passim. 80 “Noticia sobre la publicacion de obras ineditas de Ibn Masarra,” reprinted in English five years later as “A report on the publication of previously unedited works of Ibn Masarra,” in The Formation of alAndalus, vol. 2, part of Ashgate Publisher’s multi-volume Formation of the Classical Islamic World reprint series. 81 A representative but not comprehensive list of such simple recapitulations of Asín after 1974 follows: J. O’Callaghan’s 1975 History of Medieval Spain (pp. 160f.); J. Vernet’s 1978 La cultura hispanoárabe (pp. 32f.); M. Cruz Hernandez’s 1981 Historia del pensamiento en el mondo islamico (1st ed.); Majid Fakhry’s 2nd and 3rd editions of his History of Islamic Philosophy, 1983 and 2004, respectively (p. 269 of 3rd ed.); Lenn Goodman’s 1996 article, “Ibn Masarrah,” in the Routledge History of Islamic Philosophy (particularly egregious, since Ja`far’s 1978 publication is listed in the bibliography, yet Goodman writes, p. 279, that “of his [sc. Ibn Masarra’s] writings, only the titles from two [sic!] of them survive.”); T. Albertini’s 1997 “Islamic Philosophy” article in the Blackwell Companion to World Philosophies (pp. 122f.); V. Cantarino’s 2003 article “Ibn Masarra, Moḥammad,” in Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia; S.H. Nasr’s 2006 Islamic Philosophy (p. 311n. 52). I. Lapidus’ History of Islamic Societies, p. 312, in stating that Ibn Masarra “amalgamated neo-Platonic, Shi’i, and Sufi thought,” recapitulates Emilio García Gómez’s 1944 article, “Esquema de una biografía,” pp. 277f., who follows Asín but characterizes Ibn Masarra’s thought as a “fusion of the Plotinian system of pseudo-Empedocles ... with Mu`tazilī, Shī`ī and


34 A number of authors during this period put forth arguments against Asín’s interpretation of Ibn Masarra while still unaware that two of Ibn Masarra’s works had been found. The most prominent of these is Dominique Urvoy, who argued in an article on the beginnings of speculative philosophy in al-Andalus that Ibn Masarra should be considered primarily as a nonconforming ascetic rather than a philosopher. He writes there that, “sans doute,” the two lost works of Ibn Masarra “consisté essentiellement en de telles images [as found in Ibn al-`Arabī’s chapter on the bearers of the throne] plutôt qu’en démonstrations ordonnées.” 83 He argues that any apparent coherence to Masarrī thought as presented by Ibn Ḥazm has more to do with the latter’s systematic purposes than to any native coherence in Ibn Masarra’s thought. He restated this position in his monograph on Ibn Rushd:

Sufi elements” (my trans. from the Spanish). Of all the general and reference works published during this period, there are extremely few exceptions to this, of which the most notable are George Atiyeh’s 1998 entry on Ibn Masarra in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Joseph van Ess’s monumental Theologie und Gesellschaft im 2. und 3. Jahrhundert Hidschra, 1991-1995, both of which discuss Ibn Masarra’s thought with reference to the texts published by Ja`far. 82 The 1984 and 1991 works of D. Urvoy; E. Tornero’s 1985 “Notas sobre el pensamiento de Abenmasarra”; M.G. Carter’s 1989 review of J. Kraemer’s Humanism (pp. 304f.); W. Hallaq’s 1993 Ibn Taymiyyya (p. xiii); K.M.M. `Uwayḍa’s 1993 monograph, Ibn Masarra, so riddled with errors and typos as to be unusable; P. Fenton’s 1997 Philosophie et exégèse (p. 4); G. Elmore’s 1999 Islamic Sainthood (p. 99n. 141); M. al-Idrīsī’s 2000 monograph, Marḥala, which has an extensive section attempting (unsuccessfully, as will be shown in chapter three) to connect statements in Ibn Masarra’s extant writings to the pseudo-Empedoclean theorems set out by Asín; S. Stroumsa’s 2002 review of De Smet’s Empedocles Arabus (defending Asín, but cognizant of the Stern and Ja`far works; hers and other defenses from this period of Asín or the Empedoclean illusion in general will be discussed more fully in chapter three). Aside from the already-mentioned article by Claude Addas, the most important exception here is the work of Rafael Ramón Guerrero, who in the past two years has attempted a reassessment of Ibn Masarra’s thought; his work follows much the same lines as the first section of chapter three, below. My sincere thanks are due to Dr. Ramón Guerrero for kindly sharing with me copies of his works on Ibn Masarra that I was unable to obtain in the U.S. 83 “Sur le débuts,” p. 716. [“Without doubt, the lost works of Ibn Masarra (and we know only two titles: K. al-.Hurūf and K. al-Tabṣira) essentially consisted of such images [as the throne symbolism apud Ibn al`Arabī] rather than systematic arguments.”] On the following page he writes: “Dans son [sc. Ibn Masarra’s] oeuvre également apparaissent des éléments néo-platoniciens, mais qui ne sont pas développés pour eux-mêmes, la perspective de l’auteur étant autre.” [“In Ibn Masarra’s writings there also appear certain Neoplatonic elements, but these are not elaborated as such, our author having rather different purposes in mind.”] Urvoy made use of the recently-edited text of part five of Ibn Ḥayyān’s Muqtabas, which included a great deal of hitherto unknown information on the Masarriyya. His inference from the accounts in that text to the general character of Ibn Masarra’s own thought is plainly unwarranted.

35 [I]n their desire to stress the beneficial influence of Islam, both Ibn Hazm and Sa’id highlighted the work of the ascetic Ibn Masarra of Cordoba (269/883319/931) picking out every minor speculative element in a way that later led the Spanish Arabist Asin Palacios considerably to overestimate the work. While not lacking in coherence, this work can in no way be considered a reflection of Eastern thought (Mu’tazilism – the first school of Muslim theology, and Batinism – esoteric doctrines). 84 Urvoy is incorrect on all counts here – Ibn Masarra’s works are speculative, coherent, clearly reflect Mu`tazilī thought, and are explicitly esoteric. Yet due to the general neglect of the published texts of Ibn Masarra, this line of argument has nevertheless had a certain influence, as is apparent in Lawrence Conrad’s introduction to a collection of essays on Ibn Ṭufayl, where he writes that “the case for a distinctly Mu’tazilite ‘school’ in al-Andalus is controversial, and certainly the alleged connections with Ibn Masarra have little direct evidence to recommend them.” 85 As familiarity with Ibn Masarra’s writings increases, the frequency with which one meets such simple factual errors in the secondary literature is sure to diminish.

Clearly, the discovery of two of Ibn Masarra’s works and the publication of many important primary sources that touch upon his biography have completely changed our situation with regard to our understanding of Ibn Masarra and his place in Islamicate intellectual history. The regnant twentieth-century account, established by Asín, is


Ibn Rushd (Averroes), p. 4. I am at a loss as to what Urvoy might mean about Ibn Ḥazm and Ṣā`id stressing the beneficial influence of Islam in their discussions of Ibn Masarra; this appears to simply make no sense. I also do no know what he means by “this work,” unless this is a misleading translation of oeuvre on the part of Olivia Stewart, translator of the English edition. Characterizing the Mu’tazila as “the first school of Muslim theology” is a bit of a stretch. 85 “Introduction: The World of Ibn Ṭufayl,” p. 27, with reference to Urvoy’s Ibn Rushd.

36 unequivocally obsolete. Scholarship has only begun to assess the new data, or indeed to take note of its existence. The following two chapters aim to establish a foundation for a future reassessment of Ibn Masarra through an inventory and preliminary analysis of the relevant sources.


Chapter Two: An Inventory of the Sources
The foregoing literature review has demonstrated that the representation of Ibn Masarra in the current secondary literature is fundamentally inadequate; no study has yet been carried out that comprehends all of the currently-available primary sources, and many of the latter have never even been identified in the scholarship as having any relevance to the study of Ibn Masarra. My aim in this chapter is to remedy this particular lacuna by providing a detailed account of the Islamicate sources that will need to be analyzed by anyone wishing to reappraise the nature, significance and influence of Ibn Masarra’s thought. In the following chapter I will discuss the relationship that this body of sources has to the existing scholarship, and will offer a number of provisional observations on the significance that this material has for our understanding of Ibn Masarra. In what follows, the sources are discussed chronologically, in order of the authors’ death dates; it is certainly possible that in some cases this arrangement has inverted the chronological relationship of the actual time of authorship of particular works. 86 I have endeavored to provide the relevant page references to print editions for each item, but in some cases I was unable to consult a printed text and only provide

This is the case with Shushtarī and Ibn Sab`īn; though the latter lived longer, the former was Ibn Sab`īn’s disciple and his works were written subsequent to those of his master.


38 reference to online editions of the texts at 87 I have also sought to provide reference to important secondary literature relevant to each item, though in that regard no attempt has been made to be comprehensive. With some exceptions, 88 I have limited the following list to works that make direct reference to Ibn Masarra or his immediate family; there are of course many other texts from the period that are more generally relevant and, as I will discuss in the following chapter, some of the items on this list indicate likely fruitful avenues of future research that promise to turn up yet more references to Ibn Masarra.

The website has an unparalleled digital library of classical Islamicate materials (hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pages of text), and its search capabilities make it an indispensible tool of Islamisicist research. I discovered many of the new sources listed below via simple word searches on 88 Even though it does not mention Ibn Masarra, I include Ibn Waḍḍāḥ’s Kitāb al-bida` in the list on account of Fierro’s argument that its discussion of a particular “innovation” was written with Ibn Masarra in mind. See below. I also include reference to the works upon which Ṣā`id al-Andalūsī relied (and those which copied from him) for the Empedoclean connection.


39 Sources for the Study of Ibn Masarra: A Chronological Survey

Ibn Masarra, `Abd Allāh, Andalusī (d. 899) Apud Jayyānī, Alqāb al-ṣaḥaba (alwaraq pp. 5 and 9), who transmits two opinions from `Abd Allāh on the meaning of particular names. Apud Ibn Ḥazm, Muḥallā (alwaraq p. 2121), recording a ḥadīth with `Abd Allāh as one of its transmitters. These sources have been neglected in the scholarship. In the first source, our subject’s father is cited twice as a lexical authority:

It was narrated to us from Abū `Umar Aḥmad b. Muḥammad, who narrated from Sa`īd b. Naṣr, `Abd al-Wārith b. Sufyān and Abū al-Faḍl Aḥmad b. Qāsim, who narrated from Qāsim b. Aṣbagh, who narrated from `Abd al-Salām al-Khushanī and `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, who said: “`Amr b. `Alī al-Fallās told us that ‘aldānāj’ is the same as ‘al-dānā’’, which is Persian for scholar (`ālim).” (p. 5).

It was narrated to us from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad, from Sa`īd b. Naṣr, `Abd alWārith and Abū al-Faḍl al-Bazzār, from Qāsim b. Aṣbagh, from al-Khushanī and `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, who said: “we heard from `Amr b. `Alī al-Fallās, who said regarding Abū Bakr al-Ṣadīq, `Abd Allāh b. `Uthmān, that his nickname was `Atīq (Old Man), on account of his agéd appearance [or face]” (p. 9).

In the second source, Ibn Ḥazm records the following ḥadīth:

40 It was transmitted to us from `Abd Allāh Rabī`, who transmitted from Muḥammad b. Isḥāq b. al-Salīm, from Ibn al-A`rābī, from Abū Dā’ūd, 89 from `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, from Mu`ādh b. Hishām al-Dastawā’ī, from his father, from Qatāda, from `Ubayd Allāh b. Burayda, from his father, who said: [The Prophet] said “Do not address a hypocrite as ‘master’ (sayyid), for should he become [your] master your Lord will be displeased.” (p. 2121).

Ibn Waḍḍāḥ, Muḥammad, Andalusi (d. 900) Kitāb al-bida’ (ed. and trans. M. Fierro, Madrid, 1988), pp. 110-111. Though he doesn’t mention Ibn Masarra, Ibn Waḍḍāḥ, who was one of Ibn Masarra’s teachers and the leading Andalusī scholar of his generation, provides here a denunciation of ittibā’ āthār al-nabī, (“following in the footsteps of the prophet,” or seeking to pray in places visited by or significant to the life of the Prophet Muḥammad) possibly in view of Ibn Masarra, who is described as having done this in a notice on one of his followers in Ibn al-Abbār, Takmila (ed. Codera), pp. 99f., #339, Muḥammad b. Ḥazm al-Tanūkhī (copied in Maqqarī, Nafḥ al-Ṭīb, alwaraq p. 289). This notice is translated below, in the entry under Ibn al-Abbār. Secondary literature: See M. Fierro, “Una Refutación contra Ibn Masarra,” passim; eadem, “The Treatises against Innovation,” pp. 217-19.

This person should be identified, as he provides a link between `Abd Allāh b. Masarra and Ibn al-A`rābī. Given the short form of the citation of his name, I suspect this is the famous Abū Dā’ūd (d. 888), author of a Sunan, which is fully possible as Ibn al-A`rābī was around 28 years old at the time of Abū Dā`ūd’s death. Ibn al-A`rābī is credited as having ḥamala the Sunan Abī Dā’ūd, which usually in that context means memorized, but it could indicate transmission. In his Kitāb fīhi ma`nā al-zuhd, Ibn al-A`rābī transmits a number of ḥadīth from Abū Dā’ūd, but always with the interposition of one other transmitter (see index, s.v. Abū Dā’ūd; a brief biographical discussion by `Āmir Najjār is at pp. 39-43.) Finding out more about a possible connection between Abū Dā’ūd and `Abd Allāh b. Masarra would be a good direction for future research.


41 Ibn Masarra, Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh, Andalusī (d. 931) Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf wa ḥaqā’iquhā wa uṣūluhā, in Ja`far, Min qaḍāyā al-fikr alislāmī, pp. 311-44. 90 The longer of two works discovered by Ja`far in the Chester Beatty Library (in Ar. 3168), on the metaphorical, metaphysical and theurgical properties of the disconnected letters heading certain surahs of the Qur’an. Secondary literature: Summaries of contents in Ja`far, “Min mu’allafāt Ibn Masarra almafqūda”; Tornero, “Noticia sobre la publicacion de obras ineditas de Ibn Masarra,” trans. into English as “A report on the publication of previously unedited works of Ibn Masarra.” Studies in Ja`far, Min qaḍāyā fikr al-islāmī, pp. 285ff.; Gril, “La science des lettres,” pp. 427f.; Addas, “Andalusī Mysticism,” pp. 916ff.

Risālat al-i`tibār, in Ja`far, Min qaḍāyā al-fikr al-islāmī, pp. 348-60. 91 The second of two works discovered by Ja`far in the Chester Beatty Library, on the legitimacy of inference (i`tibār) and its equivalence with prophecy as a means to attaining knowledge of the cosmos and of divine unity. Secondary literature: See the secondary works cited for the Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf (except Gril, who does not discuss the Risāla in his article). There is an adequate English

Reprinted in idem, Min al-turāth al-falsafī l-Ibn Masarra, pp. 85-111; full text also reproduced in Idrisi, al-Marhala, and `Uwayda, Ibn Masarra. 91 Reprinted in idem, Min al-turāth al-falsafī l-Ibn Masarra, pp. 61-73; full text also reproduced in Idrisi, al-Marhala, and `Uwayda, Ibn Masarra.


42 translation of this work online, by the African Dominican scholar Joseph Kenny, along with an introductory essay and an edition of the Arabic text. 92

Kitāb tawḥīd al-mūqinīn, paraphrastic fragment apud Ibn al-Mar’a, Sharḥ al-irshād (detailed reference below, under Ibn al-Mar’a). Ibn Masarra said in his book Tawḥīd al-Muqinīn that the attributes of God are infinite in number and that God’s knowledge is, with respect to Him (`indihi), a Living One, a Knowing One, a Powerful One, a Hearer, an All-Seeing, a Speaker, and that His [attribute of] power is in the same manner living, knowing [etc...], and in such wise did he speak about all of the attributes, saying that this is divine unity (tawḥīd). 93 Thus has he made gods of each of the attributes. Similarly, in his saying that the attributes are infinite in number, he has made of God gods infinite in number – God save us!” Secondary literature: Brief discussion in Morris, “Reconsideration,” p. xxx. This source is often neglected in the scholarship.

Kitāb al-tabyīn, one ḥadīth from which apud Shams al-Dīn Qurṭubī’s al-Tadhkira (detailed reference below, entry under Qurṭubī).

At [accessed 31 July 2006]. Use this translation carefully, as at times it is exceedingly free and he often translates terms idiosyncratically. I did not notice any outright errors, however, and his liberties are generally for the sake of clarity in the English. 93 Cf. the second thesis attributed to the Sālimiyya in Ḥanbalī polemical literature: “Through a single attribute God comprehends that which He comprehends through all His attributes” (Böwering, Mystical Vision, p. 94). The Sālimiyya originated in the teaching of Sahl al-Tustarī, the only individual cited by name in Ibn Masarra’s writings. The second leader of the Sālimiyya, Ibn Sālim the younger, is credited with a radd work against Ibn Masarra. The relationship between Ibn Masarra and the Sālimiyya needs to be researched further.


43 Abū `Abd Allāh b. Masarra 94 mentioned in his Kitāb al-tabyīn this marfū` hadith 95 from Anas that was transmitted to Ibn Masarra by his father and Ibn Waḍḍāḥ: When the people of the fire are gathered together in ranks a man from the people of paradise will pass by them, and someone from the people of fire will call out, ‘Hey, So-and-so! Do you remember on such-and-such day a man gave you a drink of water? That was me.’ The man of paradise will say, ‘Yes, I remember,’ and the other will say, ‘so intercede for me on account of that’ and he will intercede for him. And a man from the people of the fire will call out, ‘Hey, So-and-so! Do you remember on such-and-such day a man gave you water for ablutions? That was me.’ The man of the people of paradise will say ‘Yes, I remember,’ whereupon the other will say ‘then intercede for me on account of that,’ and he will intercede for him. 96 Secondary literature: Aside from Addas’ identification of this source in her article “Andalusī Mysticism,” p. 914, this has been neglected in the scholarship.

Ḥadīth, found by the anonymous fourteenth-century author of al-Ḥulal al-Mawshiyya. This is a famous ḥadīth, long known in Western scholarship, which the anonymous authors says was found in one of Ibn Masarra’s books by a Cordoban faqīh. In summarizing the events of the Almoravid empire, the author recounts a journey through al-Andalus by the Almoravid amīr Yūsuf b. Tāshfīn in 495 AH (1101-2 CE), who travelled via the city of Lucena (al-Yusāna), a very powerful city, whose walls were the highest of all and which was inhabited exclusively by Jews. The reason for passing via this place was that one of the faqīhs of Córdoba found a book written by Ibn Masarra, the montagnard of Córdoba, in which a tradition dating back to the Prophet is mentioned, according to which the Jews undertook to
Misprinted in the text as ‫.ﻣﻴﺴﺮة‬ marfū` is a technical term in hadith literature meaning a tradition that can be traced back to the Prophet Muḥammad. 96 Also found in the Sunan of Ibn Māja, no. 3285, with slightly different wording.
95 94

44 convert to Islam by the fifth century of the Hegira [eleventh century of the Christian era] if their own prophet had not arrived as they expected. This was because it was found in the Torah that God said to Moses: ‘The prophet, the messenger whose name is Muḥammad, though him will undoubtedly appear justice and continuous light until the time arrives.’ The Jews believed that it would be one of their own people and that he would not come until the beginning of the fifth / eleventh century, and if not, that it would be him [Muḥammad]. The Cordoban faqīh quoted brought the case before the emir of the Muslims, who passed through the city in order to see what could be done. It is said that he took out a quantity of money for that purpose, and that the qāḍī Abū `Abd Allāh Muḥammad b. `Alī b. Ḥamdīn b. al-Taglibī gained Yūsuf’s agreement to their demand to be left [in peace]. 97 Secondary literature: See S. Baron, Social and Religious History of the Jews, 3:124; M. Salgado, “The City of Lucena,” pp. 156f.; Morris, “Reconsideration,” p. iv; Asín, Mystical Philosophy, p. 119n. 1.

Ḥadīth, which Tha`ālibī (d. 1468) says was found by Ibn Masarra in the Psalms: Abū `Abd Allāh b. Masarra said: I saw in a book which was said to be the Psalms (al-Zabūr), “Verily I will call my self-denying servants (`ubādī al-zāhidīn) on the Day of Resurrection, and will say to them: Indeed, I have not withheld the world from you in order to magnify your debasement, and in this day I desire that you should abundantly receive your full share. Form ranks then, and if any of you loved someone in this world, or if someone provided for your needs or gave you


As translated in Maíllo, “The City of Lucena,” pp. 156f.; all bracketed notes are Maíllo’s. The last sentence is slightly mistranslated, and should read: “It is said that on account of this [prophecy], he [sc. Yūsuf] demanded a certain sum of money from them [the Jews of Lucena], and that the qāḍī Abū `Abd Allāh Muḥammad b. `Alī b. Ḥamdīn b. al-Taglibī gained Yūsuf’s agreement to their request to be left [in peace].” This latter qāḍī, Ibn Ḥamdīn, initiated the auto de fé of al-Ghazālī’s works in Cordoba in 1109 CE.

45 to eat a morsel of food, for My sake and seeking My good pleasure, then take them by the hand and usher them into Paradise.” 98

Poetry. Ibn Masarra’s eloquence is lauded in many of our sources, and he was a noted poet as well. At least five of his poems have survived. Threnody for his brother. The earliest-recorded poem appears in Ibn al-Faraḍī, no. 23, which is the biographical notice on Ibn Masarra’s brother Ibrāhīm b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra. 99 There, after stating that Ibrāhīm died in Alexandria, Ibn al-Faraḍī records a poem that Muḥammad b. Masarra wrote in mourning for his lost brother. This entry, including the poem, is copied by Ibn Ḥayyan in al-Muqtabas V, p. 34.

In the Kitāb al-tashbīhāt. The next source to preserve Ibn Masarra’s poetry is the important anthology of Andalusī poets made in the eleventh century by Ibn al-Kattānī, the Kitāb al-tashbīhāt. This work, like Ibn Masarra’s own writings, was long thought

Cf. Ibn Kathīr (d. 1373), al-Nihāyat al-fitan wa’l-malāḥim, p. 224, where the identical matn is prefaced with “And some have related that the following was written in the Psalms of David.” Interestingly, Tha`ālibī follows this citation with a ḥadīth he cites as from al-Ghazzālī’s Iḥyā’ which is identical in meaning to the ḥadith from Ibn Masarra’s Kitāb al-tabyīn quoted in Qurṭubī’s Tadhkira (see above), though phrased like the matn in Ibn Māja, which is slightly different from Ibn Masarra’s version – a rather striking coincidence. Both of these ḥadīth seem to be variations on the “least of these” theme of Matthew 25:34-40; note especially the similarity of Mt 25:34 and the opening of this ḥadīth from Tha`ālibī; in the former, after the Son of Man comes and divides the people into two ranks, left and right, “then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” We have here the following identical elements: the time is the eschaton, there is division into ranks or lines, the speaker (God or ‘the Lord’) announces the bestowal of a special inheritance, and finally there is a distribution of end-time rewards for simple acts of kindness or generosity. (There are also more direct paraphrases of Mt 25:35ff. in the ḥadīth; see Muslim, ḥadīth no. 4661.) 99 The existence of this brother and of material about him in our sources has, to the best of my knowledge, been completely neglected in the scholarship. Ibn Masarra also had a paternal uncle named Ibrāhīm, who was a merchant and made a riḥla with Ibn Masarra’s father; this individual is discussed in Asín and much of the subsequent secondary literature.


46 lost and was only discovered in a unique manuscript in the late 1960s. 100 It preserves two short poems by Ibn Masarra, one in the section bāb al-ru’ūs wa’l-maṣlūb, and one in the section bāb fī dhamm al-dunyā wa dhikr al-mawt. 101 A somewhat loose translation of the latter poem follows:

Though death is our final and ultimate end we rush head-long towards it with galloping steps, The days and nights of the children of earth but swift steeds fate-bound for the house of death. 102

In al-Muqtabas. In addition to the poem for his deceased brother copied from Ibn alFaraḍī, Ibn Ḥayyān included in his Muqtabas another poem of Ibn Masarra having to do, like the previous one, with the evanescence of time and the certainty of death. 103

To Abū Bakr al-Lu’lu’ī. Finally, our sources record a poem that Ibn Masarra included in a letter to Abū Bakr al-Lu’lu’ī, 104 found in al-Ḥumaydī, 105 copied by Ibn Khāqān, 106

On the discovery, see Hoenerbach, Dichterische Vergleiche, pp. xiii-xiv. There is a fascinating tale surrounding this text. The manuscript was edited and published soon after its discovery (in 1966, by Iḥsān `Abbās), but was then stolen from the Ankara library where it was found, making its way via the black market to a London bookseller, who offered it for sale to an astonished Jan Witkam, then Keeper of the Oriental Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Leiden, who made films of the ms. and kept it in a vault at Leiden until it could be returned to Ankara via diplomatic courier from the Turkish Embassy at the Hague. For the full details, see Witkam, “Manuscripts and Manuscripts,” pp. 111-115 101 Kitāb al-tashbīhāt, pp. 222 (#466) and 271 (#603). I’m not familiar with the former category of poetic themes (lit. “heads/chiefs and the crucified”), but the latter chapter deals with poems that denigrate the physical world and/or meditate on death. German translations of these poems can be found in Hoenerbach, op. cit. I was unable to consult the 2001 Madrid doctoral thesis by Nafisa Mouffok, “Estudio y traducción de Kitáb al Techbihát de Ibn Al-Kattani.” 102 Kitāb al-tashbīhāt, p. 271, #603; also on, p.48. (Innama l'mawtu ghāyatun naḥnu nasa`a / khababan naḥwuha `alā'l-iqdāmi / innama l-laylu wa'nahāru maṭaya / li-bni al-arḍi naḥwa dāri himāmi.) 103 Muqtabas V, p. 32, Spanish trans. p. 36. 104 al-Lu’lu’ī (d. 348/959), one of the leading Andalusī scholars of his generation, was the teacher of both Muḥammad al-Zubaydī and Muḥammad b. Yabqā, both credited with authoring radd works against Ibn Masarra.


47 copied in turn by al-Maqqarī. 107 This poem expresses the wish that the author could have the recipient’s company on a rainy day. Qāḍī `Iyāḍ, Tartīb al-madārik, p. 406, has a very interesting variant; in his biographical notice on al-Lu’lu’ī, Qāḍī `Iyāḍ calls one or the other of them “one of his more famous pupils” (kāna min wujūhi talāmīdhihi), 108 has the poem written by Lu’lu’ī to Ibn Masarra, and gives a signicantly different wording in the poem itself, including a final line not found in any of the other sources which has the author declare to the recipient, “you are younger than me” (lit. “your years are fewer than mine”). Perhaps this is witness to an independent transmission of the poem, in which the wording and particulars of context became garbled. One the other hand, it is possible that this is a different poem entirely, modeled closely after Ibn Masarra’s but written by al-Lu’lu’ī; more information would need to turn up before this question could be settled. Modern scholarship has completely neglected Ibn Masarra qua poet, and none of the secondary literature refers at all to the poems found in Ibn al-Kattānī.

Ibn al-Ḥabbāb, Aḥmad b. Khālid, Andalusī (860-934) This prominent Cordoban contemporary of Ibn Masarra is credited with a booklet (saḥīfa) against Ibn Masarra in Ibn al-Faraḍī’s biographical notice on the latter, though

105 106

Jadhwat al-muqtabas, p. 59. Maṭmaḥ al-Anfus, p. 58. 107 Nafḥ al-Ṭīb, 1:47. 108 The intended referent of the pronoun here is obscure, and reading it as refering to Ibn Masarra is just as supportable as reading it as al-Lu’lu’ī. That is, Qāḍī `Iyāḍ is saying either that Ibn Masarra was one of alLu’lu’ī’s famous pupils, or al-Lu’lu’ī was a famous disciple of Ibn Masarra. I prefer reading it the former way (Ibn Masarra a pupil of Lu’lu’ī) but again, the text is ambiguous.

48 this is not known to be extant. At least six of the followers of Ibn Masarra, including several of his direct disciples, studied under Ibn al-Ḥabbāb. 109

Ibn al-A`rābī, Abū Sa`īd, Basran (860-952) This mystic and ḥadīth scholar is credited with a Radd `alā Ibn Masarra in Ibn alFaraḍī’s notice on Ibn Masarra, though it is not known to be extant. Himself a student of the famous mystics al-Junayd (d. 910), Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Nūrī (d. 907), and `Amr alMakkī (d. 909), Ibn al-A`rābī taught, at Mecca, many of the people identified as Masarrīs in our sources, as well as several of the people credited with radd works against Ibn Masarra. 110 Ibn Masarra may have met and even studied with him, as he was several times in Mecca during Ibn al-A`rābī’s lifetime.

Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Rāzī, Andalusī (888-955) Apud Ibn Ḥayyān, al-Muqatabas V, who quotes al-Razi’s Tārīkh on Ibn Masarra twice, at p. 15 (30 of Spanish trans.) and 19 (35); these are brief accounts of two separate occasions in which a caliphal decree against the Masarriyya was read out publicly to the people of Cordoba, with passing reference to a third such occasion (7 May 952, 20 June 956, and late November of 957). al-Rāzī states that in each instance the ṣāḥib al-madīna `Abd Allah b. Badr was designated to read out the decree, from the main mosque of Cordoba as well as that of the caliphal suburb al-Zahra, and that he was likewise
Maslama b. Qāsim al-Qurṭubī (d. 964), whom Fierro has convincingly argued was the author of the Ghāyat al-ḥakīm (the Picatrix), was also a student of Aḥmad b. Khālid. See Fierro, “Bāṭinism in alAndalus,” p. 88. 110 For a study of the Andalusī students of Ibn al-A`rābī, see M. Marín, “Abū Sa`īd Ibn al-A`rābī et le développement du Soufisme en al-Andalus.” Ibn al-A`rābī was also a teacher of Maslama b. Qāsim, possible author of the Ghāyat al-ḥakīm. See Fierro, “Bāṭinism in al-Andalus,” p. 88.

49 empowered by the Caliph to investigate and extirpate the sect by force. These notices do not provide any details about the teachings of Ibn Masarra, stating only that the Masarrīs were heretics and sectarians, having separated themselves from the community (fāraqū al-jamā`a). The Tārīkh of al-Rāzī is extant only in citation. Secondary literature: See Cruz Hernández, “La persecución,” passim; Fierro, Heterodoxia, pp. 132ff.; eadem, “Opposition to Sufism,” pp. 180f.; Safran, “Command of the Faithful,” pp. 190f.

Abū al-Ḥasan Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Sālim al-Baṣrī (d. 967) This famous Sufi is credited by Ibn al-Faraḍī with a radd work against Ibn Masarra. Along with his father, Ibn Sālim was the spiritual heir of Sahl al-Tustarī (d. 896), the only individual mentioned explicitly in the extant writings of Ibn Masarra. 111 Ibn Sālim was also the shaykh of Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī, author of the Qūt al-qulūb, one of the most influential works in the history of Sufism. His circle of mystics at Basra was thus an intellectual center of no small importance, like that of Abu Sa`īd Ibn al-A`rābī in Mecca. 112 With his father, Ibn Sālim was the co-founder of what became known as the Sālimiyya, a theological and mystical “school” that lived on mostly through al-Makkī’s

Aside from his brother Ibrāhīm, mentioned by name in Ibn Masarra’s threnody for him. I emphasize this as it indicates just how famous Ibn Masarra’s teachings had become during the last years of his life and the few decades that followed his death. We find that leading scholars all over the Muslim world – the master grammarian al-Zubaydī in al-Andalus (among other leading scholars there), Ibn al-A`rārī in Mecca, Abū al-Ḥasan b. Sālim in Basra – were discussing his teachings, meeting and teaching more and more of his Andalusī followers on their riḥlas to the East, and writing responses to his oeuvre. Though cloistered in a hermitage in the mountains of Cordoba, on the western end of the Islamicate world, Ibn Masarra was clearly a central figure in the vibrant intellectual currents of his time.


50 Qūt al-qulūb, and which drew the condemnations of some of the great Ḥanbalī polemicists, including Abu Ya`lā Ibn Farrā`, Ibn al-Jawzī and Ibn Taymiyya. 113 Secondary literature: In addition to the sources cited in the last note, see also Böwering, Mystical Vision of Existence, pp. 89ff.

Caliph `Abd al-Raḥman III al-Nāṣir, Andalusī (891-961) Caliphal decree against the Masarriyya, apud al-Muqtabas V, 25-30 [31-35 of Spanish trans.]. This text, preserved by Ibn Ḥayyān, refers at some length to the beliefs and practices of the Masarriyya, though of course the nature of the document demands a fair degree of skepticism on our part, inquisitors being rarely fair informants. With that caveat in mind, the decree is noteworthy in that it attributes to the Masarrīs the (Mu`tazilī) belief in the createdness of the Qur’an, states that they disputed the verses of the Qur’an and made distorted interpretations of the ḥadīth, said despicable things about the pious forebears (al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ) 114 , and withdrew from the community of the faithful to such an extent that they ceased returning the salām to Muslims (radda l-salām `alā l-muslimīn), giving

These enemies of the Sālimiyya record lists of doctrinal positions, analyzed in several places by Massignon; see his article “Sālimīya” in EI, first edition, and the section “Sahl al-Tustarī and the Sālimiyya School,” in his Essay on the the Origins of the Technical Language, pp. 199-203. The entry on the Sālimiyya in EI² by Berndt Radtke seems quite premature in its conclusions, as he discounts the Ḥanbalī evidence and claims that “the real doctrine of the school is to be sought in al-Makkī’s work.... It shows a thoroughly orthodox and quite ascetic piety.” He is also completely discarding here Massignon’s work on this school and the latter’s interesting suggestions for directions of research, which may well yet prove fruitful. Such research could be of especial relevance to the study of Ibn Masarra; Massignon in his EI entry notes that “The semi-Ismā`īlī school of Andalusian mystics of the sixth century – from Ibn Barradjān (d. 536 = 1141) and Ibn Kaysī [sic; read Qasī] to Ibn `Arabī – owes, as Ibn Taimīya has pointed out, several of its monist formulae to the Sālimīya.” 114 The implication of this is that the Masarriyya were Shi`itic in some way; such is the charge, though we have yet to find any positive evidence of this.


51 in reply only the traditional pre-Islamic greeting. 115 They strongly advocated completely withdrawing from the community and dissimulating their allegiance when among nonMasarrīs, and came to such hatred of the umma as to declare licit the spilling of other Muslims’ blood, the rape of their women and the enslavement of their children. The Caliph, losing night after night of sleep upon hearing news of these enormities, had this letter written and dispatched to all points of his realms, to be read in every mosque, urban and rural, so that no place would be left in his kingdom where the Masarrīs had not been declared enemies of the Faith. 116 Secondary literature: See Cruz Hernández, “La persecución,” passim; Fierro, Heterodoxia, pp. 132ff.; eadem, “Opposition to Sufism,” pp. 180f.; Safran, “Command of the Faithful,” pp. 190f.; Manzano Moreno, Review of The Caliphate in the West.

al-Khushanī, Muḥammad b. Ḥārith, Andalusī (d. 971) Ṭabaqāt al-`ulamā’ Ifrīqiyya (Ben Cheneb ed., 1:159-60) In a notice on an Andalusī faqīh, Abū Ja`far Aḥmad b. Naṣr (d. 317/929), Khushanī recounts an anecdote of personally attending a study session with this scholar in Qayrawān, in the course of which he had his first meeting with Ibn Masarra. Ibn Masarra, apparently on his way east, stops to sit with the circle, listening and watching, and Khushanī says that, though he didn’t know who Ibn Masarra was at the time, he recognized that he was a man of knowledge, being impressed by his precociousness and

To decline responding to the al-salāmu `alaykum greeting is to refuse to accept the Islamic legitimacy of the one giving the greeting; in other words, the charge here is that the Masarrīs considered non-Masarrīs to be non-Muslims. 116 Paraphrased from al-Muqtabas V, pp. 27-29.


52 his familiarity with the matters being discussed. When the shaykh Abū Ja`far ended the session, he turned to Ibn Masarra and said: “Young man (yā shāb), you have joined us just today; do you wish to discuss anything?” To which Ibn Masarra replied with great eloquence and beautiful language, saying, “I have come seeking only your light and support from your learning.” At this, Aḥmad b. Naṣr responded with equally eloquent praises. 117 After talking briefly with the youth, the shaykh said, “Young man, you have the attribute of those in the graves; may God have mercy on anyone with this attribute.” 118

Akhbār al-fuqahā’ wa’l-muḥaddithīn (p. 178, #209) This is an extremely important notice, being the earliest biography of Ibn Masarra, written by a contemporary who had actually met Ibn Masarra while in the latter’s youth (see above). Note that the two bāṭinīs that Khushanī likens Ibn Masarra to are Dhū’l-Nūn and a certain Abū Sa`īd al-Iskāf; 119 when Ibn al-Faraḍī copied that passage in his Tārīkh, he replaced this Abū Sa`īd with the famous Sufi Abū Ya`qūb al-Nahrajūrī. Asín and most subsequent authors, unaware that Ibn al-Faraḍī has altered his source on this point,

A somewhat paraphrastic translation of this notice can be found in Asín, Mystical Philosophy, p. 36n. 15. 118 Morris, “Reconsideration,” p. 24n. 35 understands this utterance to mean that Ibn Masarra was being respectfully praised for his ascetic qualities (or otherwordly precocity), and the context appears to me to support this reading. 119 I have thus far been unable to identify this person. None of the classical Sufi biographical dictionaries contain mention of an Iskāf (cobbler) or Askāf, nor do any of the texts on have an Iskāf/Askāf with the kunya of Abū Sa`īd. There was a noted Shī`ī ḥadīth transmitter and preacher/storyteller (qāṣṣ) of the later Umayyad period (late 7th-early 8th century) named Sa`d b. Ṭarīf al-Iskāf, who is credited in some places with transmitting what Modarressi calls “esoteric reports” (Hossein Modarressi, Tradition and Survival [Oxford: Oneworld, 2003]: 1:118ff.); this is the only instance I’ve yet found of a prominent “alIskāf” associated with the bāṭin. Modarressi does not record this individual’s kunya.


53 have taken that at face value and portrayed Ibn Masarra as having doctrinal affinities with Nahrajūrī, something we now know to be unfounded.

Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, Cordoban. The way (madhhab) of Muhammad b. Masarra with regard to his acts was asceticism and seclusion; intellectually, he followed the path of reflection and discovery; he was very accomplished in his command of `ilm and masterful in his meditations thereupon. With regard to the rectification of acts in accord with the path of fear [of God], the constant examination of conscience in accord with the reality of sincerity, and the cautioning against the signs of hypocrisy and the gates of imposture in accord with the inner meanings of unveiling and elucidation, he composed many books, similar to the discourses of his predecessors among the people of esotericism (ahl al-`ilm al-bāṭin) 120 such as Dhū’l-Nūn al-Akhmīmī, Abī Sa`id al-Askāf, and their colleagues among the people of that science. For people who meditate upon such things, he would write [these books] on the condition that they swear not to pursue any other branch of study. 121

Muhammad 122 says: The people are divided into two camps [with regard to Ibn Masarra]; one camp (firqa) goes so far as to hold him an imām in knowledge and asceticism on account of what has been manifested to them of the efficacy (barā`a) of his knowledge and the sincerity of his asceticism. The other camp denounces him as a heretic (al-bid`) on account of what has been manifested to them of his theological disputation (kalām) on the issue of the promise and the threat (al-wa`d wa’l-wa`īd) and his [esoteric] interpretations (ta’wīl) of verses of the Qur’an and for his refusal to passively adhere to the known sciences in al-

Ibn Masarra uses the same phrase in his own writings; see, e.g., the Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf, in Ja`far, ed., Min qaḍāyā al-fikr, p. 317. Used in this sense, Ibn Masarra’s status as a “bāṭinī” has nothing necessarily to do with Ismā`īlism, which was the implication of the term bāṭinī, when used by itself, in the Islamic East at that time. 121 This is one of many indications of Ibn Masarra’s esoteric teaching practices. See also the first notice under Ibn al-Abbār, below, regarding Ibn Masarra’s strictures about letting others have copies of his works. 122 That is, Khushanī himself.


54 Andalus. Muḥammad b. Masarra left his home in Cordoba and went to a place in the mountains thereof, where he withdrew from most of the people. He died during the month of Shawwal in the year 319.

Khushanī also has a notice on Ibn Masarra’s father `Abd Allāh, at p. 178, #209, as well as two of the latter’s students (at pp. 174, #203, and 309, #417). Secondary literature: This source, published in 1992 from a single, partially deteriorated manuscript has been largely neglected in the scholarship. Its importance for our understanding of Ibn Masarra has not been hitherto recognized.

al-Zubaydī, Muḥammad b. Ḥasan, Andalusī (d. 989) One of the most famous linguists and grammarians of his day, 123 Zubaydī is credited with a radd work against Ibn Masarra of which only Ibn Khallikān relates the title: Hatk sutūr al-mulḥidīn (“Rending the Veils of the Apostates”). His radd work is first mentioned by Ibn Bashkuwāl, who reports that Zubaydī transmitted this work to Muḥammad b. Qāsim al-Umawī al-Jāliṭī, who transmitted it to Abū Muḥammad b. Abī Zayd. 124 It is also mentioned by Dhahabī (see below under his entry). It is perhaps the only radd work from which any of its contents have been preserved, as Ibn Ḥayyān, in al-Muqtabas, cites some of Zubaydī’s criticism of Ibn Masarra’s grammar and attributes to him the opinion that Ibn Masarra’s teacheings went counter to the beliefs of Sunnīs. 125 (See below, under

Ibn Khallikān says of Zubaydī that “in his era he was foremost in grammar and linguistics, the most knowledgeable man of his age in i`rāb, lexicography and lexical obscurities, as well as biography and akhbār. He had no equal in al-Andalus during his time.” Wafayāt al-a`yān, 4:372, #651. 124 al-Ṣila, p. 157, in the biographical notice on al-Jāliṭī. 125 The bulk of the criticism cited by Ibn Ḥayyān centers on grammar, while the title related by Ibn Khallikān would indicate a theological focus; it is certainly possible that Zubaydī wrote about Ibn Masarra in more than one place.


55 Ibn Ḥayyān). These details raise the possibility that at least some of the radd literature produced against Ibn Masarra in the tenth century was not primarily focused on Ibn Masarra’s theology or “heretical” teachings, and may have pertained to Ibn Masarra’s take on any of the myriad other currents of Islamicate intellectual life (e.g., language, poetry, ḥadīth criticism, history, biography, etc.)

Muḥammad b. Yabqā b. Muḥammad b. Zarb, Andalusī (929-991) Called by Ibn al-Faraḍī “the greatest scholar of his age on issues relating to the madhhab of Mālik and his disciples,” 126 this chief qāḍī of Cordoba is credited with a booklet (ṣaḥīfa) in radd against Ibn Masarra. He is also identified by Ibn al-Faraḍī as the officiant at the funeral of the suspected Masarrī Rashīd b. Fatḥ al-Dajjāj (see below, entry under Ibn al-Faraḍī). He is credited with a radd work against Ibn Masarra in Qāḍī `Iyāḍ, Dhahabī’s Tārīkh al-Islām and Siyar a`lām al-nubalā’, al-Ṣafadī, al-Nubāhī, and Ibn Farḥūn (see below, entries under these authors). al-Nubāhī informs us that Qāḍī Ibn Zarb called the followers of Ibn Masarra to repent (i.e., instituted a campaign of forced recantation), and, in the year 351/962, 127 in a public ceremony outside the Eastern Mosque of Cordoba, burned all of the books and writings of Ibn Masarra that he’d found among the Masarrīs.

al-`Āmirī, Abū al-Ḥasan Muḥammad b. Yūsuf, Khurāsānī (d. 992)
Tārīkh `ulamā al-Andalus, pp. 387f., #1361; pp. 174f., #1363. The latest of the three public readings of caliphal decrees against the Masarriyya was in 346/957, so this date shows that the Masarrīs’ troubles were not over with the cessation of direct hostility from the Caliph. However, Qāḍī Ibn Zarb also read the funeral prayers over the suspected Masarrī Rashīd b. Fatḥ in 376 – more than twenty years after the auto de fé – a detail which certainly complicates any simple picture of the status of the Masarrīs in al-Andalus in the late tenth century. Morris emphasizes this point in his “Reconsideration,” p. xx.
127 126

56 Kitāb al-amad `alā l-abad (ed. and trans. E. Rowson, New Haven, 1988) pp. 70, 78, and 80. This source does not mention Ibn Masarra, but was Ṣā`id’s source (who was in turn alQifṭī’s source) for Empedocles and his association with Bāṭinism. See chapter one, above.

Ibn Abī Zayd, Abū Muḥammad, Qayrawānī (d. 996) Cited by Sezgin (1:481) as the author of a lost Radd `alā Ibn Masarra al-Māriq. Ibn Bashkuwāl names him in a biographical notice on the Cordoban Muḥammad b. Qāsim b. Muḥammad al-Umawī al-Jāliṭī (, p. 157) as having received from the latter the radd against Ibn Masarra written by Muḥammad al-Zubaydī. Secondary literature: See Morris, “Reconsideration,” p. iii, casting doubt on Sezgin (but note that Morris neglected the passage in Ibn Bashkuwāl mentioned above).

Ibn Abyaḍ al-Umawī, `Abd Allāb b. Muḥammad b. Naṣr, Toledan (d. 1008 or 9) This scholar is credited in Ibn Bashkuwāl’s Ṣila with having written a “large and comprehensive” book against Ibn Masarra which “contained many ḥadīth and proof-texts (shawāhid). This radd work is subsequently mentioned by Dhahabī, Ṣafadī and Suyūtī, the former two characterizing it, after Ibn Bashkuwāl, as “large and comprehensive.” Below is Ibn Bashkuwāl’s notice on this person: `Abd Allāh b. Muḥammad b. Naṣr b. Abyaḍ b. Maḥbūb b. Thābit al-Umawī alNaḥwī, Abū Muḥammad, originally from Ṭulayṭula (Toledo), but resident in

57 Cordoba. He transmitted from Abī Ja`far b. `Awn Allāh 128 , Abī `Abd Allāh b. Mufarrij, Khalaf b. al-Qāsim, `Abbās b. Aṣbagh, Abī al-Ḥasan `Alī b. Muṣalliḥ, Hāshim b. Yaḥyā, Abī Muḥammad b. Ḥarb, Abī Ghālib Tammām b. `Abd Allāh, and many others besides. He had ijāzas (diplomas) from Abū al-`Abbās Tamīm b. Muḥammad b. Tamīm al-Qayrawānī, 129 Abū al-Ḥasan Ziyād b. `Abd alRaḥman al-Lu’lu’ī al-Qayrawānī, Muḥammad b. al-Qāsim b. Mas`ada al-Ḥijārī, Abū Maymūna, and others. He devoted himself to the collecting and classification of ḥadīth. He was a cultured, erudite and noble man, and the people studied under him. He composed a book in refutation of Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, which contained many ḥadīth and proof-texts (shawāhid). It was a large and comprehensive (ḥafīl) book. Of those who transmitted from him, there was al-Qāḍī Abū `Umar b. Samīq(?), Ḥakam b. Muḥammad, Abū Isḥāq and his companion Abū Ja`far. He was born in Sha`ban, 329. He was laid to rest in the Abū al-`Abbās cemetary, and his funeral prayers were performed in the mosque by the Amīr Hishām b. `Abd al-Raḥman. He died in the year 399 or 400. (, p. 78)

Ibn al-Faraḍī, `Abd Allāh b. Muḥammad, Andalusī (962-1013) Tārīkh `ulamā al-Andalus (ed. F. Codera, Madrid, 1890-1892). Ibn al-Faraḍī is rich in information on Ibn Masarra, his family and his followers. The Tārīkh gives the following lengthy biographical notice on Ibn Masarra (pp. 327f., #1202; pp. 152f., #1204): 130 Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra b. Najīḥ, Abū `Abd Allāh, from Cordoba. He heard from 131 his father, Muḥammad b. Waḍḍāḥ and al-Khushanī. He went to

Who was also a teacher of Abū `Umar al-Ṭalamankī and a student of Ibn al-A`rābī, two other authors of radd works against Ibn Masarra. 129 See Moris, “Reconsideration,” p. iii, bottom paragraph, on this person. 130 Aside from the first few dozen entries - which match up - the numbers of the entries in Ibn al-Faraḍī in the edition are two higher than those in the printed editions. 131 That is, he was taught by.

58 the East in the latter days of Amīr `Abd Allāh. 132 I was told by al-Khaṭṭāb b. Maslama that he was accused of 133 heresy (zandaqa) and so he fled [al-Andalus] and traveled about in the East for a while, studying with the people of debate and the proponents of theological disputation and Mu`tazilism (ahl al-jadal wa aṣḥāb al-kalām wa’l-mu`tazila). Then he returned to al-Andalus and made a show of renunciation and asceticism, seducing the people by these manifestations until they swore allegiance to him and studied under him. It then became apparent to the people that his teachings were evil. So he founded his school and received into it thoughtful and knowledgeable people who continued to study in his presence until finally he won them over to his folly and they professed their belief in his creed. 134 He used to discuss human agency (istiṭā`a) and the carrying-out of the threat, and he had a distorted interpetation (ta’wīl) of much of the Qur’an. In addition, he discoursed on the rectification of acts and the examination of conscience in accord with the reality of sincerity in the manner of Dhū’l-Nūn al-Akhmīmī and Abī Ya`qūb al-Nahrajūrī. 135 Most of the people of the East denounced him (radda `alayhi), among them being Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Ziyād al-A`rābī 136 and Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Sālim al-Tustarī. 137 Aḥmad b. Khālid 138 wrote a booklet (ṣaḥīfa) in retutation of him, about which I was informed by Abū

Died 300 AH. The word could also mean “he was suspected of” (uttuhima). 134 Though it’s sometimes difficult to discern in Arabic texts where a quotation ends, it would appear that this has all been the report of al-Khaṭṭāb, as the whole passage has the same polemical tone. 135 Ibn al-Faraḍī is clearly drawing on Khushanī here, but he has substituted Abū Ya`qūb al-Nahrajūrī for Khushanī’s Abū Sa`īd al-Iskāf, possibly due to unfamiliarity with the latter (there is no mention of this alIskaf in any of the Andalusī biographical or historical literature that I have consulted, nor have I been able to conclusively identify him; see above, entry under al-Khushanī). Ibn al-Faraḍī has also implied a more significant relationship than that indicated by Khushanī; the latter wrote that Ibn Masarra’s writings on these matters were “like” (ka) the sayings or teachings (al-kalām) of Dhū’l-Nūn and al-Iskāf, while Ibn alFaraḍī says that Ibn Masarra discussed these things “in the manner of” or “after the fashion” (fī naḥw) of Dhū’l-Nūn and Nahrajūrī. In light of this, attempts to identify points of similarity between Nahrajūrī and Ibn Masarra (such as Asín’s, Mystical Philosophy pp. 40ff.) are superfluous. Even more improbable are statements of definite relationship, such as Fierro’s assertion that “during his riḥla to the East [Ibn Masarra] read books and was taught doctrines that were those of Dhū l-Nūn al-Miṣrī and Abū Ya`qūb al-Nahrajūrī” (“Bāṭinism in al-Andalus,” p. 104). 136 See above, entry under Ibn al-A`rābī. 137 See above, entry under Abū al-Ḥasan Aḥmad b. Sālim al-Baṣrī. Though not from Tustar, he was one of the two principal disciples of Sahl al-Tustarī (the other being his father, Ibn Sālim the elder). 138 See above, entry under Ibn al-Ḥabbāb.


59 Muḥammad al-Bājī. Ibn Ḥārith [al-Khushanī] said: The people are divided into two camps with regard to Ibn Masarra; one camp (firqa) goes so far as to hold him an imām in knowledge and asceticism. 139 The other camp denounces him as a heretic (al-bid`) on account of what has been manifested to them of his theological disputation (kalām) on the issue of the promise and the threat (al-wa`d wa’l-wa`īd) and his [esoteric] interpretations (ta’wīl) of verses of the Qur’an and for his refusal to passively adhere to the known sciences in al-Andalus. al-Bājī told me that Muḥammad b. Masarra died in the year 319. I was told by Muḥammad b. `Umar that he died in the first part of the month of Shawwal in the year 319. I found a note by Aḥmad b. Sa`d that said ‘Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra was born in the eve of Tuesday, in the first third of the night, on the seventh of Shawwal of the year 269. I found that in a note by his father.’ Some have said that he died on a Wednesday, after the `Aṣr prayer, and was buried on Thursday after the `Aṣr prayer, on the fifth of Shawwal, in the year 319. He lived to be fifty years and three months old. 140

Ibn al-Faraḍī gives biographical notices on the following members of Ibn Masarra’s family: `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, his father (pp. 179-81, #650; p. 80, #652). Ibrāhīm b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, his brother 141 (pp. 44f., #23; p. 6, #23). This entry contains a poem written by Ibn Masarra in mourning for Ibrāhīm’s death, and also states that Ibrāhīm “was not like his brother.” In the entry on a certain

Note that Ibn al-Faraḍī has left out the last half of this sentence from Khushanī, which stated that this camp held Ibn Masarra in such high esteem “on account of what had been manifested to them of the efficacy (barā`a) of his knowledge and the sincerity of his asceticism.” 140 This last statement conflicts with data given earlier in the notice; if he was born and died in the month of Shawwal, how did he live to be 50 years and three months old? The date and day of the week given for his birth are also off; the seventh of Shawwal, 269 AH, corresponds to Friday (not Tuesday), April 12, 883 CE. As to his date of death, the fifth of Shawwal, 319 AH, corresponds to Wednesday, October 19, 931. 141 Ibn al-Faraḍī also records a notice for an Aṣbagh b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra (pp. 156f., #257, p. 32), though his birthdate is given as 310 AH (922-3 CE), while `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, the father of Ibn Masarra, died in 286 (899), so it is unclear what familial relationship, if any, this person might have with Ibn Masarra.


60 Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā al-Zuhrī (#66), Ibn al-Faraḍī cites “a note written by Ibrāhīm b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra” for the man’s date of death. Another such note is cited by Ibn al-Faraḍī in the entry on a certain Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh al-Khurāsānī (#1392). Isḥāq b. Ibrāhīm b. Masarra, his cousin 142 (p. 143, #233; p. 29, #235). Muḥammad b. Isḥāq b. Ibrāhīm b. Masarra, his first cousin once removed (#1378; p. 177f., #1380). The Tārīkh provides notices on eight people known or suspected to be Masarrīs. These are all from the second generation of Masarrīs and none are described as having met Ibn Masarra; most would have been too young. Below are the names of these individuals, the references in Ibn al-Faraḍī, and some basic information from the notices. These people shared many of the same teachers, both in al-Andalus (most commonly Qāsim b. Aṣbagh) 143 and abroad (most commonly Ibn al-A`rābī), 144 and much can be learned from these entries about the interconnected social networks of Ibn Masarra’s followers and opponents.

The father of this person, Ibrāhīm b. Masarra, was `Abd Allāh b. Masarra’s brother and accompanied him on his first riḥla to the East. This information is found in the entry in Ibn al-Faraḍī on `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, which also identifies this Ibrāhīm as a merchant. As he was not a scholar, he is not listed independently in any of our biographical sources. 143 Qāsim was also a teacher of Maslama b. Qāsim, possible author of the Ghāyat al-ḥakīm. See Fierro, “Bāṭinism in al-Andalus,” p. 88. 144 Interestingly, Ibn al-Faraḍī identifies these two as the two great teachers of their age, Qāsim in the West and Ibn al-A`rābī in the East. In his entry on the former (#1068, 1070 on, he writes that in Qāsim’s day “the riḥla in al-Andalus was to Qāsim, and the riḥla in the East was to Abū Sa`īd al-A`rābī,” also pointing out the similarity of their dates (they both died in 340 AH, Qāsim being only two years older than Ibn al-A`rābī). They are both connected to Ibn Masarra in a myriad of ways; one of Qāsim’s shaykhs was `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, and he shared two other teachers with Ibn Masarra as well. As with Ibn alA`rābī, at least six followers of Ibn Masarra had Qāsim as one of their shaykhs. One of the authors of a radd work against Ibn Masarra, Muḥammad al-Zubaydi, was also a student of Qāsim. The richness of our biographical sources allows for many such networks to be discerned. The mapping of these social networks will be critical for furthering our understanding, not only of Ibn Masarra, but of the transmission of the occult sciences in early Islam, something which is currently a large gap in our knowledge.


61 Ābān b. `Uthmān b. Sa`īd al-Mubashshir b. Ghālib b. Fayḍ al-Lakhmī, Abū al-Walīd, from Shadhūna, d. 377 (p. 23, #54; p. 9, #54). “To him was ascribed belief in the school of Ibn Masarra.” Aḥmad b. Faraj b. Mantīl b. Qays, Abū `Umar, Cordoban, d. 344 (p. 39 #127; p. 16, #129). “To him was ascribed belief in the school of Ibn Masarra.” He made a riḥla to the East. Aḥmad b. Walīd b. `Abd al-Ḥamīd `Awsaja al-Anṣārī, Abū `Umar, known as Ibn Ukht `Abdūn, from Bajjāna, d. 376 (p. 51, #179; p. 21, #181). “To him was ascribed belief in the school of Ibn Masarra.” He made a riḥla to the East. “He was one of the people called to repent by the Qāḍī Muḥammad b. Yabqā.” 145 Rashīd b. Fatḥ al-Dajjāj, Abū al-Qāsim, Cordoban, d. 376 (p. 126f., #437; p. 55f., #439). “He was suspected of attachment to the school of Muḥammad b. Masarra.” He made a riḥla to the East. Muḥammad b. Yabqā presided at his funeral. 146 `Abd al-`Azīz b. Ḥakam b. Aḥmad [...] b. Marwān b. al-Ḥakam Amīr al-Mu’mīn, 147 Abū al-Aṣbagh, Cordoban, 310-387 (p. 233, #834; p. 104, #836). “He was well-known to have attached himself to the school of Ibn Masarra, but he was unconcerned [by this notoriety].” Muḥammad b. Mufarrij b. `Abd Allāh b. Mufarrij al-Mu`āfirī, Abū `Abd Allāh, known as al-Fannī, Cordoban, d. 371 (p. 376, #1329; p. 169, #1331). “He was a

145 146

See above, entry under Muḥammad b. Yabqā. This detail is significant inasmuch as Muḥammad b. Yabqā, the chief qāḍī of Cordoba, was also in charge of the burning of Ibn Masarra’s writings and the forced recantation of his followers, and is also credited with having written a radd work against Ibn Masarra. 147 Thus, he was a scion of the House of Umayya, and therefore very likely a person of great social prominence.

62 believer in the school of Ibn Masarra and missionized for it.” He made a riḥla to the East. 148 Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Ḥamdūn b. `Īsā b. `Alī b. Sābiq al-Khawlānī, Abū `Abd Allāh, known as Ibn al-Imām, Cordoban, 305-380 (p. 386 #1359; p. 174 #1361). “He was a believer in the school of Ibn Masarra and made no attempt to conceal this fact.” He oriented himself towards astronomical east during prayer. 149 Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. `Umar b. Khayr al-Qaysī, Abū `Abd Allāh, born in Jaen but resident at Cordoba, 303-382 (pp. 389f., #1364; p. 175, #1366). “To him was ascribed belief in the school of Ibn Masarra. Abū al-Mughīra b. Butrī said: ‘I knew Abū `Abd Allāh b. Khayr, and I swear that he did not believe in a single teaching of the school of Ibn Masarra.’” He made a riḥla to the East in 320 and a second one at a later date. Ibn al-Faraḍī also gives notices for ten individuals who studied under Ibn Masarra’s father `Abd Allāh (excluding Ibn Masarra himself, one of whose teachers was his father). These are entries no. 117, 214, 306, 602, 895, 1068, 1164, 1185, 1216 150 and 1232. Ibn al-Faraḍī provides information on two of the early opponents of Ibn Masarra. Muḥammad b. Yabqā b. Muḥammad b. Zarb b. Yazīd b. Maslama, Abū Bakr, Cordoban, 317-381 (pp. 387f., #1361; pp. 174f., #1363). He succeeded Muḥammad b. Isḥāq as the chief qāḍī of Cordoba. “I don’t know anything he transmitted other
This person is discussed further in Appendix A. This is the only Masarrī in our sources who is described as praying in this way. Goldziher thought that this was a distinctive practice of the Masarriyya on the basis of this notice; see chapter one, above. One other person is also identified as praying in this way in Ibn al-Faraḍī: Muslim b. Aḥmad al-Laythī, known (on account of his unusual prayer practices) as Ṣāḥib al-Qibla, d. 295 (Ibn al-Faraḍī, #1418, 1420 on He was an astronomer/astrologer and had as one of his students the important scholar Qāsim b. Aṣbagh, a person closely connected to Ibn Masarra via a large number of master-student relationships. 150 This person – Muḥammad b. Qāsim – is identified as a student of `Abd Allāh b. Masarra in the latter’s biographical notice but not in his own entry. He was an important scholar, a state functionary, and a teacher of many of Ibn Masarra’s followers.
149 148

63 than a booklet (ṣaḥīfa) in which he denounced the teachings of Muḥammad b. Masarra. I’ve read it several times.” Aḥmad b. Khālid b. Yazīd b. Muḥammad b. Sālim b. Sulaymān, Abū `Umar, known as Ibn al-Ḥabbāb, Cordoban, 246-322 (#94). 151 He made a riḥla to the East. “He was the imām of his time in fiqh, ḥadīth, and pious deeds.” Ibn al-Faraḍī also gives notices of two individuals connected to Ibn Masarra but not said explicitly to be his followers. These are `Uthmān b. Sa`īd b. Hishām b. `Abd al-Salām b. `Abd al-Ra’ūf, Granadan (d. 325 or 6), who is said to have corresponded with Ibn Masarra; 152 and `Abd Allāh b. Muṭarrif b. Muḥammad, known as Ibn al-Āmina, Cordoban (no dates given), who according to Ibn al-Faraḍī “made a riḥla in the year 311, accompanied by Aḥmad b. Sa`īd, Ibn Abī `Īsā, and Muḥammad b. Masarra.” 153 Finally, the Tārīkh `ulamā al-Andalus, in a notice on a man who died in the year 319, states that: “At the end of this same year died al-Ḥājib Mūsā b. Ḥudhayr, Muḥammad b. Masarra, and indeed so many famous people that this year was called the Year of the Illustrious Ones, as in it so many illustrious people died.” 154 Thus we now know that Ibn Masarra died in the `ām al-ashrāf, the Year of the Illustrious Ones. Secondary literature: Ibn al-Faraḍī has been used as a principal source for Ibn Masarra studies since the 19th century, so most of the secondary literature draws on him. The most extensive use of the Tārīkh is Asín, Mystical Philosophy.
His radd against Ibn Masarra is not mentioned in this notice but rather in the entry on Ibn Masarra. At least six of Ibn Masarra’s followers are identified in Ibn Faraḍī or Ibn al-Abbār as students of his; these are Ibn al-Imām al-Khawlānī, Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. `Umar al-Qaysī, Muḥammad b. Sulaymān b. Mawrūrī, Muḥammad b. Ḥazm Ibn al-Madīnī, Ilyās b. Yūsuf, and Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Khayr (the last was also a student of Ibn al-A`rābī). 152 Tārīkh, p. 253, #897, p. 113, #899. 153 Ibid., p. 395, #693, p. 84, #695. 154 Ibid., pp. 167f., #278; p. 34, #280. The biographical notice is of Aslam b. `Abd al-`Azīz. Note that in the text a line has been elided which states that Aslam was twice appointed to the post of chief Qāḍī of Cordoba.


Ibn al-Kattānī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan, Andalusī (d. 1029) Kitāb al-tashbīhāt min ash`ār ahl al-Andalus (ed. Ihsan ‘Abbas, Beirut, 1966), pp. 222 (#466) and 271 (#603) (also on, pp. 39 and 48). This important anthology of Andalusī poets contains two poems written by Ibn Masarra. See above, entry under Ibn Masarra This source has been neglected in the scholarship.

Talamankī, Abū ‘Umar, Maghribī (d. 1037) al-Radd `alā Ibn Masarra and (which may be identical to) Radd `alā al-bāṭiniyya. Whether these titles refer to one or two separate works, they are not known to be extant. Dhahabī (see below) mentions Talamankī in his entry on Wahb b. Masarra, where he mistakes this figure for Ibn Masarra, and refers to Talamankī’s refutation of Ibn Masarra as appearing in his “radd `alā al-bāṭiniyya.” 155 Talamankī is also credited with a “radd `alā Ibn Masarra” by Qāḍī `Iyāḍ and Ibn Farḥūn (see below). Neither of the latter two sources have been noticed in the scholarship. Dhahabī writes that Talamankī’s radd says of Ibn Masarra that the latter claimed prophecy and put forth that he heard voices that he could establish within himself as having come from God. Secondary literature: See Morris, “Reconsideration,” pp. 39f. and iii; Fierro, “The Polemic about the karāmāt al-awliyā,” p. 247; idem, “Bāṭinism in al-Andalus,” pp. 103f.


This is elaborated in Appendix A.

65 Ibn Ḥazm, Andalusī (d. 1064) al-Faṣl fi al-milal wa’l-ahwā` wa’l-niḥal, 5 vols. in 2 (Baghdad: Maktaba al-Muthanna, 1964; this is a reprint of the Cairo edition of 1899-1903, with Shahrastānī’s Milal wa’lniḥal printed in the margins); 2:126-127; 4:80; 4:198-200. These discussions of what Ibn Ḥazm was able to gather of the beliefs of the Masarrīs are described in detail, often with accompanying translations, in Asín’s Mystical Philosophy, chaper six. Secondary literature: Morris provides an analysis of the theses enumerated by Ibn Ḥazm in light of the biographical sources in “A Reconsideration,” pp. 27ff. Tornero makes a preliminary comparison between these theses and the texts of Ibn Masarra edited by Ja`far in his “Report on the Publication,” pp. 13ff. (145ff. of continuous pagination).

Risāla fī faḍā`il al-Andalus, in al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ al-Ṭīb (ed. Dozy), 1:121. Ibn Masarra is mentioned here as one of several Andalusīs notable for eloquence, “though we don’t approve of his teachings (madhhabahu),” writes Ibn Ḥazm. (See also below, under alMaqqarī.)

al-Muḥallā,, p. 2121 Here Ibn Ḥazm cites a ḥadīth (“don’t call a hypocrite sayyid”) tranmitted through `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, one link away from Abū Sa`īd Ibn al-A`rābī. (See above, entry on `Abd Allāh b. Masarra.) This source has been neglected in the scholarship.

66 Ṣā’id b. Aḥmad, Andalusī (d. 1070) Ṭabaqāt al-umam (ed. L. Cheiko, Beirut, 1912), 20-21. In the entry on Empedocles in this work, Ṣā`id claims that Ibn Masarra was a devotee of Empedocles’ writings. See chapter one, where the relevant passage is translated, and chapter three, where the scholarly account of Ibn Masarra based on this source is dismantled.

Ibn Ḥayyan, Abu Marwan Ḥayyan b. Khalaf, Andalusi (d. 1076) al-Muqtabas. al-juz` al-khamis (ed. P. Chalmeta Gendron, F. Corriente, and M. Subh, Madrid, 1979; trans. as Crónica del califa ‘Abdarrahman III an-Nasir entre los años 912 y 942 (al-Muqtabis V), M.J. Viguera and F. Corriente, Zaragoza, 1981). This important historical work devotes a greater number of pages to Ibn Masarra than any other early source. In a section on Caliph Nāṣir l-Dīn’s acts in defense of the sunna and the negation of heresy, Ibn Ḥayyān provides an account of the persecution of the Masarriyya during that caliph’s reign, citing two long passages from Aḥmad al-Rāzī’s Tārīkh, reproducing the text of a caliphal decree against Ibn Masarra, and including other material on Ibn Masarra from Ibn al-Faraḍī’s Tārīkh `ulamā al-Andalus. 156 The quotation of Ibn al-Faraḍī’s biographical entry on Ibn Masarra is particularly interesting, as it begins with a series of statements about Ibn Masarra not actually found in Ibn alFaraḍī or any other source. 157 I translate that section below:

156 157

Muqtabas V, pp. 20-36; Spanish trans., pp. 25-39. One wonders if the attribution of this passage to Ibn al-Faraḍī is due to a scribal error; immediately following the passage which I translate, Ibn Ḥayyān writes: “al-Qāḍī Abū al-Walīd [Ibn al-Faraḍī] returns to mentioning Muḥammad b. Masarra in his book Tārīkh al-`ulamā’ al-Andalus, where he says....”

67 In the book by Qāḍī Abī al-Walīd Ibn al-Faraḍī on the scholars of al-Andalus, [it says]: Abū `Abd Allāh Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra b. Najīḥ b. Marzūq, a client of obscure patronage. 158 It is said that he was a client of someone from Banī Hishām; that he was a client of a man from Jaen; and that he was a client of a man from Fez in North Africa. He had much knowledge of akhbār 159 and an extensive body of transmitted material. He was a master of wisdom (ma`rifa), an erudite philosopher, a physician, an astronomer, an astrologer, an outstanding man of culture, an incisive jurisconsult, an eloquent orator, a man wise in the skills of speech, Arabic and the study of language. [There follows a brief and technical account of Muḥammad b. Ḥusayn [sic] al-Zubaydī’s 160 criticism of Ibn Masarra’s skills as a grammarian, giving examples of errors that Zubaydī claims Ibn Masarra made in this regard, having to do with verb-forms and derivations.] He said 161 that the teachings (madhhab) of Ibn Masarra were at great variance from many of the well-known beliefs of Sunnism. He perished (halaka) in early Shawwal of the year 319 at the age of 56 and three months. 162 Among his poetry is the following: [here follows a poem by Ibn Masarra on the theme of death and time]. 163

This passage is one of our only sources to preserve a substantive criticism of Ibn Masarra, and no other source attributes anything close to mastery of medicine, astronomy or astrology to Ibn Masarra; nor is he elsewhere labeled a faylasūf, outside of the modern Western scholarship.
Following this is the actual biographical entry on Ibn Masarra from that work. If the first passage is not from Ibn al-Faraḍī, is it Ibn Ḥayyān’s own statement or is it drawn from still another source? 158 On the Muslim social practice of integrating non-Arab Muslims into the community via patronage from an Arab or already-integrated non-Arab Muslim, see EI², s.v. “Mawlā” (P. Crone). 159 Lit. “reports.” This can have several meanings; it could imply ḥadīth, historical anecdotes, or biographical information. 160 This is Muḥammad b. Ḥasan al-Zubaydī (d. 318/930), on whom see the entry above. It is not unlikely that his criticisms of Ibn Masarra transmitted here by Ibn Ḥayyān are from his otherwise lost radd work against Ibn Masarra, the Hatk sutūr al-mulḥidīn. 161 This is further citation of Zubaydī. 162 This is incorrect; Ibn Masarra was 50 lunar years old at his death. 163 Muqtabas V, pp. 30-32; Spanish trans., pp. 35f.

68 Secondary literature: See Cruz Hernández, “La persecución”; Fierro, Heterodoxia, pp. 132ff.; eadem, “Opposition to Sufism,” pp. 180f.; Safran, “Command of the Faithful,” pp. 190f.

al-Ḥumaydī, Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad b. Abū Naṣr, Andalusī (d. 1095) Jadhwat al-muqtabis fī dhikr wulāt al-Andalus 164 (ed. al-Tanji, Cairo, 1952), pp. 58-9, #83. This source provides an unfriendly biographical notice on Ibn Masarra, which was copied by Ibn Khāqān (who in turn was copied by al-Maqqarī) and al-Ḍabbī.

Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, Abū `Abd Allāh. He followed the way of asceticism and godly servitude and excelled therein, on account of which he was able to dupe the people. He had an eloquent way with words, and a precise mastery of the abstruse allusions of Ṣūfī teaching. 165 He authored works on hermeneutics (fī al-ma`āna), and is credited in that regard with writings from which we seek refuge in God – and God knows best about that. Abū Sa`īd b. Yūnis said that he transmitted ḥadīth. He died in the year 319. [al-Ḥumaydī then provides, on the authority of Abū Muḥammad `Alī b. Aḥmad, by way of Abū `Umar Aḥmad b. Ḥabrūn, a poem that Ibn Masarra wrote to Abū Bakr al-Lu’lu’ī. The gist of the poem is that Ibn Masarra expresses longing for Lu’lu’ī’s company on a gloomy and rainy day.]

Jayyāni, al-Ḥusayn b. Muḥammad (1035-1105?) Alqāb al-ṣaḥāba wa’l-tābi`īn fī al-musnadayn al-saḥīḥayn (ed. `Azab and Naṣṣār)

164 165

Also known as Jadhwat al-muqtabas fī tārīkh `ulamā’ al-Andalus. This is the earliest instance in our sources in which Ibn Masarra is connected to Ṣūfism.

69 At pp. 53f ( p. 5), a report on a lexical obscurity is given as transmitted from Qāsim b. Aṣbagh, from Muḥammad b. ‘Abd al-Salām al-Khushanī and ‘Abd Allāh b. Masarra; “the latter two said: we heard from ‘Amr b. ‘Ali al-Fallās, that “al-dānāj” is “aldānā’” in Persian, which means a learned one (al-`ālim).” A report with the same chain is given at p. 72 ( p. 9), this time having to do with the identification of the laqab ‘Atīq. See above, section on Ibn Masarra, `Abd Allāh. This source has been neglected in the scholarship.

Ibn Khāqān, Abū Naṣr al-Fatḥ b. Muḥammad b. `Ubayd Allāh, Andalusī (d. 1134) Maṭmaḥ al-anfus wa masraḥ al-ta’annus fi mulaḥ ahl al-Andalus (Istanbul, 1302AH), p. 58. This source provides a short biographical notice on Ibn Masarra, drawn entirely from Ḥumaydī but converting the latter’s short report into rhymed prose. (See above, entry under Ḥumaydī).

Abū Bakr Ibn al-`Arabī, Andalusī (d. 1148) Kitāb al-‘awāṣim min al-qawāṣim (ed. ‘Ammar Talibi, in ‘Ārā Abī Bakr b. al-`Arabī alkalāmiyya, 2 vols. [Algiers, 1974], 2:493). Here, Abū Bakr Ibn al-`Arabī (the Mālikī faqīh, not the famous mystic) mentions Ibn Masarra briefly as one of two people belonging to a misguided party (qawm min alḍalāl), who were persecuted in al-Andalus. The other person mentioned is Maslama b. Qāsim, whom Fierro has argued was the author of the Ghāyat al-ḥakīm (the Picatrix).

70 Secondary literature: Fierro, “Bāṭinism in al-Andalus,” p. 102.

Qādī `Iyāḍ b. Mūsā, Andalusī (1083-1149) Tartīb al-madārik wa taqrīb al-masālik, online at This source, while largely derivative of earlier sources, does present some interesting new information. At p. 406 `Iyāḍ cites a poem very similar to the one that Ibn al-Faraḍī records as being addressed by Ibn Masarra to Abū Bakr al-Lu’lu’ī. Here, however, the poem is clearly attributed to al-Lu’lu’ī, addressed to Ibn Masarra. There is also an ambiguous sentence right before the poem, which says “and he was one of his more famous students,” the intended referents of the pronouns here being unclear. On the same page, `Iyāḍ cites a poem written by al-Lu’lu’ī to Abū Bakr [Muḥammad b. Yabqā] b. Zarb, who is identified as al-Lu’lu’ī’s student (Ibn Yabqā wrote a radd work against Ibn Masarra and officiated as the chief qāḍī of Cordoba over the persecution of the Masarrīs in the late tenth century). At p. 478f., he gives a biographical notice on Muḥammad al-Zubaydī, crediting him with a book in radd against Ibn Masarra. At p. 500, there’s a notice on Muḥammad b. Yaqbā b. Zarb, and credits him as well with a kitāb radd `alā Ibn Masarra. At p. 552 is a biography of Abū Bakr al-Talamankī, attributing to him also a book radd `alā Ibn Masarra. This source has been neglected in the scholarship.

Ibn Bashkuwāl, Khalaf b. `Abd al-Mālik, Andalusī (d. 1183)

71 al-Ṣila fī akhbār a’immat al-Andalus (ed. F. Codera, Madrid, 1882 [vol. 1 of Bibliotheca Arabic-Hispana], pp. 142, #332; 211, #470; 393-4, #809, and on, pp. 78 and 157. Ibn Bashkuwāl provides the sole notice on `Abd al-Wahhāb b. Mundhir, son of the Cordoban chief qāḍī Mundhir b. Sa`īd, that names him as a Masarrī. Entries #332 and #470 are notices on his two brothers, Ḥakam b. Mundhir and Sa`īd b. Mundhir, respectively, though Ibn Bashkuwāl does not identify them as Masarrīs (they are identified as such in Ibn al-Abbār and Ibn Ḥazm). Ibn Bashkuwāl also provides two notices regarding men who wrote works against Ibn Masarra.

`Abd al-Wahhāb b. Mundhir, Abū `Āṣim, Cordoban. He was a pious ascetic (nāsikan `afīfan), disliking the company of men and very devoted to prayer and remembrance of God (exalted be He). He had views about certain things having to do with theology, on account of which he was accused of i`tizāl (i.e., of being a mu`tazilī). He was associated with the school of Ibn Masarra al-Jabalī. He deviated from the way of the Mālikī fuqahā’, and they consulted about this matter. He would spend entire days in prayer in the Badr Mosque in the inner city. He died at the end of Rabi` al-Awwal, 436. He’s mentioned in Ibn Ḥayyān.” pp. 393f., #809 ( p. 121). Secondary literature: On this Masarrī, see Asín, Mystical Philosophy, p. 105; Morris, “Reconsideration,” p. xiv.

`Abd Allāh b. Muḥammad b. Naṣr b. Abyaḍ b. Maḥbūb b. Thābit al-Umawī alNaḥwī, Abū Muḥammad, originally from Ṭulayṭula (Toledo), but resident in

72 Cordoba. He transmitted from Abī Ja`far b. `Awn Allāh 166 , Abī `Abd Allāh b. Mufarrij, Khalaf b. al-Qāsim, `Abbās b. Aṣbagh, Abī al-Ḥasan `Alī b. Muṣalliḥ, Hāshim b. Yaḥyā, Abī Muḥammad b. Ḥarb, Abī Ghālib Tammām b. `Abd Allāh, and many others besides. He had ijāzas (diplomas) from Abū al-`Abbās Tamīm b. Muḥammad b. Tamīm al-Qayrawānī, 167 Abū al-Ḥasan Ziyād b. `Abd alRaḥman al-Lu’lu’ī al-Qayrawānī, Muḥammad b. al-Qāsim b. Mas`ada al-Ḥijārī, Abū Maymūna, and others. He devoted himself to the collecting and classification of ḥadīth. He was a cultured, erudite and noble man, and the people studied under him. He composed a book in refutation of Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, which contained many ḥadīth and proof-texts (shawāhid). It was a large and comprehensive (ḥafīl) book. Of those who transmitted from him, there was al-Qāḍī Abū `Umar b. Samīq(?), Ḥakam b. Muḥammad, Abū Isḥāq and his companion Abū Ja`far. He was born in Sha`ban, 329. He was laid to rest in the Abū al-`Abbās cemetary, and his funeral prayers were performed in the mosque by the Amīr Hishām b. `Abd al-Raḥman. He died in the year 399 or 400. (, p. 78) This notice has been neglected in the scholarship.

Muḥammad b. Qāsim b. Muḥammad b. al-Umawī, Abū `Abd Allāh, known as alJāliṭī (al-Jāliṭa is a village in the environs of Cordoba). He transmitted from Abī `Ubayd al-Jubayrī, Abī `Abd Allāh al-Rabāḥī(?), Abī Bakr al-Zubaydī, Abī Bakr b. al-Aḥmar al-Qurashī, and others. He made a riḥla to the East and performed the ḥajj in the year 270. He studied with the communities of scholars [on his journey]. In Qayrawān he took transmissions from Abī Muḥammad b. Abī Zayd, Abī al-Ḥasan al-Qābisī. Abū Muḥammad b. Abī Zayd 168 received from him the transmission of al-Zubaydī’s book in refutation of Ibn Masarra, which

Who was also a teacher of Abū `Umar al-Ṭalamankī and a student of Ibn al-A`rābī, two other authors of radd works against Ibn Masarra. 167 See Moris, “Reconsideration,” p. iii, bottom paragraph, on this person. 168 Sezgin, GAS 1:481, vi, says without citing a source that an Abū Muḥammad Ibn Abī Zayd wrote a radd `alā Ibn Masarra al-Māriq, but see Morris, “Reconsideration,” p. iii.


73 Muḥammad b. Qāsim had received from the author himself, Abū Bakr alZubaydī. [The rest of the notice praises his knowledge and character, says he specialized in fiqh, and notes that he was killed in Corboba during the “Berber Revolt,” around the end of the first decade of the 11th century CE (beginning of the 5th century AH).] (, p. 157.) This notice, neglected in the scholarship, shows that polemical works on Ibn Masarra continued to be studied and transmitted into the 11th century.

al-Ḍabbī, Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā (d. 1203) Bughyat al-multamis fī tārīkh rijāl ahl al-Andalus (ed. F. Codera and J. Ribera, Madrid, 1884 [vol. 3 of Bibliotheca Arabic-Hispana]), p. 78, # 163. This source gives a brief notice on Ibn Masarra that copies al-Ḥumaydī’s report verbatim save for one insignificant variation.

Ibn al-Mar’a b. Dahhāq, 169 Andalusī (d. 1214) Sharḥ al-irshād 170 (fragment ed. L. Massignon in Recueil de textes inédits concernant l’histoire de la mystique en pays d’Islam, Paris, 1929), p. 70. This is the sole witness to a book of Ibn Masarra titled Tawḥīd al-Mūqinīn, from which Ibn al-Mar’a picks out for criticism a doctrine of the divine attributes.
Cornell, “Axial Intellect,” p. 57n. 63, believes that “Dahhāq” is an incorrect reading of “Dahhān,” and cites one 17th-century source (Ibn Maryam’s al-Bustān fī dhikr al-awliyā’ wa’l-`ulamā’ bi-Tilimsān) that has the name this way. He also says that dahhāq is “meaningless in Arabic.” On the first point, the much earlier writers Dhahabī (d. 1348), Lisān al-Dīn Ibn al-Khaṭīb (d. 1374), and Ibn Farḥūn (d. 1397) all have his name as Ibn Dahhāq. Also, the word dahhāq is not meaningless in Arabic; see al-Khalīl b. Aḥmad’s Kitāb al-`Ayn, s.v. d-h-q, which defines dahhāq as full, filled up (as do modern dictionaries). 170 A commentary of Imām al-Ḥaramayn al-Juwaynī’s (d. 1085) Kitāb al-irshād ilā qawāti` al-adilla fī uṣūl al-i`tiqād, which sets out Juwaynī’s theology (Paul Walker has recently translated Juwaynī’s work, as A Guide to Conclusive Proofs for the Principles of Belief, Reading, UK, 2000).


Ibn Masarra said in his book Tawḥīd al-Mūqinīn that the attributes of God are infinite in number and that God’s knowledge is, with respect to Him (`indihi), a Living One, a Knowing One, a Powerful One, a Hearer, an All-Seeing, a Speaker, and that His [attribute of] power is in the same manner living, knowing [etc....], 171 and in such wise did he speak about all of the attributes, saying that this is divine unity (tawḥīd). Thus has he made gods of each of the attributes. Similarly, in his saying that the attributes are infinite in number, he has made of God gods infinite in number – God save us!

al-Ḥamawī, Yāqūt b. ‘Abd Allāh (1179?-1229) Irshād al-arīb ilā ma’rifat al-adīb, online at At p. 859 is a biography of Muḥammad b. Ismā`īl the grammarian, whose teachers are listed as Ibn Waḍḍāḥ, Muḥammad b. ‘Abd al-Salām al-Khushan, Muṭarrif b. Qays, ‘Abd Allāh b. Masarra, and Muḥammad b. ‘Abd Allāh b. al-Ghāzī. This student of Ibn Masarra’s father is also noted as such in Ibn al-Faraḍī, #1230 ( #1232) This source has been neglected in the scholarship.

Muḥyi al-Dīn Ibn al-‘Arabī, Andalusī (d. 1240) Along with Ibn Ḥazm, Ibn al-`Arabī was Asín’s primary source for information on the thought of Ibn Masarra. Ibn al-`Arabī clearly held Ibn Masarra in high regard, and refers to him and his works in at least four places. The material from the Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya has been described in detail, often with accompanying translations, in Asín, Mystical


Cf. the second proposition attributed to the Sālimiyya by Ibn al-Farrā’ (in Böwering, Mystical Vision, p. 94): “Through a single attribute God compehends that which He comprehends through all His attributes.”

75 Philosophy, chapter six and passim. I include below the brief reference to Ibn Masarra in the Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam and the longer passage from the Kitāb al-mīm wa’l-wāw wa’l-nūn.

al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya, 4 vols. (Cairo, 1293AH and many subsequent reprints of the Bulaq ed.), pagination varies, but: 1293AH ed., 1:191 and 194, 2:767; 1329AH ed., 1:147 and 149, 2:581.

Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam (ed. `Afīfī, 1:84; trans. Austin, p. 95) faṣṣ on Abraham. It was because Abraham attained this rank by which he was called the Intimate [of God] that hospitality became a [sacred] act. Ibn Masarra put him with Michael [the Archangel] as a source of provisions, provisions being the food of those provided. Food penetrates to the essence of the one being fed, permeating every part. So also with God, although in His case there are no parts but only Divine Stations or Names through which His Essence is manifest. 172

Kitāb al-mīm wa’l-wāw wa’l-nūn (ed. and trans. Charles-André Gilis, Beirut, 2002), 56f.

Among the levels of the mysteries of letters is the case, in some languages, where the last letter [in the name of a letter] is the same as the first, such as in ‘mīm,’ ‘wāw,’ and ‘nūn’ in Arabic. This is among the levels of mystery having to do with the pronunciation of the letters, and is not among those levels of mystery relating to script. Our discussion of these mysteries will follow the way of Ibn Masarra al-Jabalī and others, though not in accordance [with his treatment of] their theurgic properties (khawāṣṣ), for discussion of the theurgic properties of things leads in most intances to accusations against the theurgist and the denial of


This is Austin’s translation; the bracketed additions are his.

76 [the existence and/or efficacy of such properties]. 173 As for such accusations, they may be against [the theurgist’s] piety, such that one among the party of unveiling and being 174 will be labelled a sorcerer or unbeliever. Yet while charged with infidelity, such a one may have spoken only of the mysteries that the True One has deposited in the things of His creation, and have been made by God a trustee over such mysteries. The people, though, attribute the operative effects to these existent things and so declare him an infidel. Thus do they grossly err before God, inasmuch as they have not been faithful with respect to their responsibility to consider closely this matter of ours, and have failed to inquire of us regarding it. It is on account of this ignorance that they make accusations of infidelity.

With respect to their denials [of the efficacy of theurgy], this is on account of the fact that the experimenters 175 in these matters must know well the formulae of operation, the appropriate times and instruments etc., and any omission or deficiency in this regard will immediately result in the nullification of the intended effects of the operation. So, rather than admitting a misstep on their part in the procedure, or aknowledging that they were not in a suitable state and subsequently purifying their souls, they instead say “so-and-so lied, for I carried out the experiment as they said and found that no effect was produced.”

It is on any account best for the people of our path to observe silence about the sciences of astral-spiritual theurgy. 176 Indeed, it is forbidden to them to explain these matters in such a manner as to be comprehensible to both the elite and the masses, since the unscrupulous could thereby attain the means to pursue their wicked ends. I have set down in my books with regard to these matters only such

The Arabic sentence here is very terse and requires some elaboration in translation; a literal translation would be: “This inasmuch as the discussion of the theurgic properties of things leads to accusations against the master/author of it and the denial of it in most instances.” 174 I.e., a wujūdī Sufi. 175 Reading mujarrabīn (“experimenters”) for mujrimīn (“criminals,” “reprobates”), which doesn’t make sense here. Whether the error is a lapsus calami in the single autograph ms. or a result of a typographical error in Gilis’ edition is unclear. Orthographically the difference is very small. 176 al-‘ulūm al-‘amaliyya al-ruḥāniyya

77 hints as my trusted followers can understand, and that none besides them can attain to. Thus I am not concerned by the denials and accusations against me, so long as I am secure in my religion.

al-Qifṭī, `Alī b. Yūsuf (d. 1248) Tārīkh al-ḥukamā` (aka Akhbār al-‘ulamā` bi-akhyār al-ḥukamā`) (ed. J. Lippert and A. Mueller, Leipzig, 1903), pp. 16f. This source copies Ṣā`id al-Andalusī’s report on Empedocles, including Ṣā`id’s claim that Ibn asarra was an avid reader of Empedoclean works, and adds biographical details about Ibn Masarra that al-Qifṭī drew from Ibn al-Faraḍī. For discussion of this source, see above, beginning of chapter one, and below, chapter three, section on the Empedoclean Illusion.

Ibn al-Abbār (d. 1260) al-Takmila li-kitāb al-ṣila ([1] ed. F. Codera, Madrid 1886 [vols. 5-6 of Bibliotheca Arabic-Hispana]; [2] ed. al-Husani, Cairo, 1955; [3] “Appendice a la edición Codera de la ‘Tecmila’ de Aben al-Abbar,” ed. M. Alarcón and A. González-Palencia, pp. 147-690 in Miscelanea de Estudios y Textos Árabes, Madrid, 1915). Each of these editions or appendices contains information on followers of Ibn Masarra not found in the others; Asín only knew the first. The biographical notices on Masarrīs in Ibn al-Abbār are unique for several reasons. First of all, this is the only source that clearly describes a number of disciples actually living with Ibn Masarra and following his ascetic path at his direction; the individuals identified as Masarrīs in Ibn al-Faraḍī almost

78 all were born too late to have met Ibn Masarra. Secondly, most of these individuals do not appear to have been part of the scholarly mainstream in Cordoba and its environs, as most of them are not listed in other biographical sources, 177 which is again in contrast to the Masarrīs mentioned in Ibn al-Faraḍī, who were very much intergrated into the international Islamicate education networks, and were many of them members of the scholarly elite in al-Andalus. Finally, Ibn al-Abbār is the only witness to a Kitāb akhbār Ibn Masarra wa aṣḥābihi, probably Ibn al-Abbār’s main source for his information on Ibn Masarra’s followers. I provide below translations of all of the notices on Ibn Masarra’s followers. Note that I have opted not to translate ṣaḥaba, a third person masculine past tense transitive verb; this verb literally means “he was or become a companion, an associate, a comrade, a friend,” 178 but in this context it means something like “he was a personal disciple of [so-and-so] and was trained through his spiritual companionship and example.” In the early history of Sufism (or perhaps proto-Sufism), prior to the development of institutional orders (ṭarīqāt) with clearly defined rules defining master-disciple relationships, it was through this suḥba or spiritual companionship that individuals sought guidance and training from recognized “holy people.” Ḥayy b. `Abd al-Malik, a Cordoban, he ṣaḥaba Muḥammad b. Masarra from early on, was his intimate associate, and lived for a long time in [Ibn Masarra’s] monastic retreat (muta`abbad) in the mountains, coming and going between there [and Cordoba]. Since Ibn Masarra wouldn’t allow his Kitāb al-tabṣira 179 to go

A fact easily ascertained by consulting the extremely useful index compiled by Manuela Marín, “Nómina de sabios de al-Andalus (93-350/711-961),” in eadem, ed., Estudios Onomástico-biográficos de al-Andalus, vol 1, pp. 22-158. 178 As per the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 4th ed. (Urbana, IL: Spoken Language Services, 1994). 179 There appears to be a scholarly consensus that this refers to the Risālat al-i`tibār. See the arguments in Ja`far, Min qaḍāyā al-fikr, pp. 289-294.

79 out to anyone unless they’d spent a good long while correcting copy of it, Ḥayy schemed to get his own copy, and, taking it without Ibn Masarra’s permission, he made his own copy of the text and then returned the original. Later he showed his copy to Ibn Masarra who, upon seeing it, exclaimed: ‘May God prevent you from obtaining any benefit from the study of that book!” From that time, [Ibn Masarra] would not let out a copy of that book to anyone. (p. 37, #113)

Khalīl b. `Abd al-Malik, a Cordoban, he ṣaḥaba Muḥammad b. Masarra al-Jabalī, studied the latter’s books and mastered them. He went to great lengths in asceticism and God-wariness (al-wara`), performing many acts in that regard. His manner of spiritual counsel was to make mention of the righteous forebears (al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ). He died in 322 or 3. (p. 56, #186).

Muḥammad b. Wahb, a Cordoban, known as al-Ṣayqal, he ṣaḥaba Muḥammad b. Masarra al-Jabalī, and was younger than him. He accompanied [Ibn Masarra] on the pilgrimage. He was virtuous, distinguished and diligent. He died in [...] in 321. (p. 97, #326)

Muḥammad b. Sulayman al-`Akkī [?], known as Ibn Mūrūrī [?], he heard from Aḥmad b. Khālid. 180 He ṣaḥaba Muḥammad b. Masarra al-Jabalī, and studied his books assiduously. He was of the people of piety and asceticism. He died in [...] 357. (p. 102, #347)

Muḥammad b. Ḥazm b. Bakr al-Tanūkhī, originally from Toledo but resident in Cordoba, he was known as Ibn al-Madīnī. He heard from Aḥmad b. Khalid and others. He ṣaḥaba Muhammad b. Masarra al-Jabalī since early on and had a special position among [Ibn Masarra’s] entourage while on the pilgrimage, remaining a close companion upon their return. He was of the people of Godwariness and solemn penitence (inqibāḍ). He related of Ibn Masarra that when the latter was living in Medina, he followed in the traces of the Prophet (yatatabba`a athār al-nabī) 181 (blessings). A Medinan pointed out to him the
180 181

Author of a radd work against Ibn Masarra. See above, entry under Ibn Waḍḍāḥ

80 house of Māriyya, mother of Ibrāhīm and concubine of the Prophet. He went and saw that it was a fine and well-proportioned house set amidst gardens in the eastern part of Medina. Through the middle of the house ran a wall from which extended a sleeping terrace [or platform] made of thick wood. It was accessed by an elegant exterior staircase. Upon the terrace was a bench (saqīfa) where the Prophet used to sit during the summer. I saw Abī `Abd Allāh [b. Masarra] measure by hand-spans the complete dimensions of one of the rooms in the house. I asked him to explain this after our return - he was living on the mountain from that time (sākin fī l-jabal min dhalik) - and he said, “this house (bayt) in which you now see me was constructed after the dimensions of that one, without adding or subtracting from its lenghth or width.” (pp. 99-100, #339) 182

Ṭarīf, client of the wazīr Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Ḥudayr, Cordoban, he lived in the environs of Rota until his death. He received the books of Muḥammad b. Masarra al-Jabalī, though he never met him. He was of the people of asceticism and virtue. (p. 85, #281)

Muḥammad b. Faḍl Allāh b. Sa`īd, Abū `Abd Allāh, Cordoban, received teachings from al-Rabbāḥī and studied Arabic linguistics (`ilm al-`arabiyya). Sa`īd b. `Īsā al-Aṣfar transmitted from him. Ibn al-Dabbāgh and Ibn `Īyād said that he was the son of Mundhir, but this is incorrect; he was the son of the brother of Mundhir b. Sa`īd al-Qāḍī al-Ballūṭī. He received the books of Ibn Masarra alJabalī, along with his cousins Ḥakam and Sa`īd, sons of Mundhir. 183 (p. 113, #389)

Takmila, Ḥusaynī ed. (Cairo, 1955)

Aḥmad b. Ghānim, known as al-Madīnī, Cordoban. He accompanied Abā `Abd Allāh b. Masarra al-Jabalī on the Ḥajj in the year 311, for two years, and then accompanied him again on two further pilgrimages after the first. He remained

182 183

Copied in Maqqarī, Nafḥ al-Ṭīb (, p. 289). On the last two, see Ibn Bashkuwāl, #332 and 470; and ibid., #809, for a sibling of these, `Abd alWahhāb, called a Mu`tazilī and a follower of Ibn Masarra.

81 with Ibn Masarra upon their return, and then performed an additional two pilgrimages – so in total he performed the Ḥajj five times. Then he returned and remained in his home until his death (the mercy of God be upon him). He was a faqīh, a scholar, wary of God (wara`an), a pious recluse (nāsikan), a striver [in religion]. This from the book Akhbār Ibn Masarra wa aṣhābihi. (p. 11, #8).

Aḥmad b. Abī Ḥāmid, Cordoban, a city where he heard from the Shaykhs thereof. He travelled to the East and studied there as well. He ṣaḥaba Abā `Abd Allāh b. Masarra. He was a God-wary faqīh, rich in an abundance of virtues and pious deeds. He died in the year 345. (p. 13, #17).

Ayyūb b. Sulayman b. Ismā`īl al-Ṭulayṭulī (the Toledan). He lived in Cordoba and ṣaḥaba Muḥammad b. Masarra al-Jabalī, and was his intimiate associate from early on and for many years. He died in 343. (p. 199, #529)

Ayyūb b. Fatḥ, Cordoban. He journeyed with Muḥammad b. Masarra and accompanied him into the Ḥijāz and performed the Ḥajj with him. He received his books from him personally. He was a man of many pious acts, perseverant, and practiced hermitism and asceticism. He died in 345. (p. 199, #530)

Ilyās b. Yūsuf al-Ṭulayṭulī. He lived in Cordoba and heard from Aḥmad b. Khālid, 184 among others. He and his brother `Awn were among the companions (aṣḥāb) of Muḥammad b. Masarra al-Jabalī. He died in 321. 185 (p. 211, #562)

Aḍḥā d. Sa`īd, Cordoban. He followed the teachings (madhhab) of Ibn Masarra. He received his books but never met him. He was of the people of virtue and solemn penitence (inqibāḍ), and was well-educated in the Qur’ān. (p. 211, #565)

“Appendice a la edición Codera”

184 185

Author of a radd work against Ibn Masarra. For the brother, see below; for reasons I can’t discern, Morris, “Reconsideration,” p. vii, says that these brothers were “both possibly of Jewish ancestry.”


`Awn b. Yūsuf al-Ṭulayṭulī. He lived in Cordoba and, along with his brother Ilyās b. Yūsuf, was among the companions (aṣḥāb) of Muḥammad b. Masarra alJabalī.”

Shushtarī, Abū al-Ḥasan `Alī b. `Abd Allāh (d. 1269). Qaṣīda nūniyya, apud Dīwān Abī l-Ḥasan al-Shushtarī, pp. 73-6. This poem by Ibn Sa`bīn’s principal disciple includes Ibn Masarra in the long list of Ibn Sab`īn’s “spiritual forebears.” 186 The list begins with “all of the Hermeses” (p. 74, last line), then Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, al-Ḥallāj, al-Shiblī, al-Niffarī, Ibn Jinnī, 187 Qaḍīb al-Bān, 188 al-Shūdhī, Suhrawardī al-Maqtūl, Ibn Qasī, Ibn Masarra (p. 75, bottom), Ibn Sīnā’, al-Ṭūsī (= al-Ghazālī), Ibn Ṭufayl, Ibn Rushd, Shu`ayb Abū Madyan, Ibn al-`Arabī al-Ṭā’ī, `Umar b. al-Fāriḍ, al-Ḥarrālī, 189 al-Umawī, 190 and finally Ibn Sab`īn. 191 Secondary literature: Massignon, “Ibn Sab`īn,” pp. 123f. (but without mentioning Ibn Masarra); Cornell, “The Way of the Axial Intellect,” pp. 54ff.; Massignon, Passion of alHallāj, 3:313f.
As Cornell says, “The Way of the Axial Intellect,” p. 55. While Cornell notes that Ibn Masarra is mentioned in this poem, it has otherwise been neglected in the Ibn Masarra scholarship. 187 Abū al-Faṭh `Uthmān b. Jinnī (d. 1002), a famous grammarian and linguist. Massignon, Passion 2:313, has `Abd Allāh b. Badr al-Habashī, the disciple of Ibn al-`Arabī, in the place of Ibn Jinnī here in his listing of the people mentioned in this poem. The text of the poem (in Dīwān Abī’l-Ḥasan al-Shushtarī, p. 75, ln. 10) clearly refers to Ibn Jinnī and makes no apparent reference to Habashī. Massignon also has Ibn al-Fāriḍ in a different place, between Suhrawardī and Ibn Qasī (whom Massignon always refered to as Ibn Qaysī). 188 Qaḍīb al-Bān al-Mawsilī (d. 1174), a famous Sufi and miracle-worker. 189 Abū’l-Ḥasan `Alī b. Aḥmad b. al-Ḥasan b. Ibrāhīm al-Ḥarrālī (d. 1241), (called Ḥarrālī after a village near Murcia) a maghribī Sufi who died in Syria while on a riḥla to the East. 190 Massignon, Passion 2:314, identifies this person as Shaykh `Adī (d. 1166), a Sufi who became a central figure of the Yazīdī religion; I have no idea as to how or why Massignon made this connection, as I could not find the nisba “Umawī” associated with that shaykh. (Qaḍīb al-Bān was an associate of Shaykh `Adī, so it is perhaps the former’s presence in the list that led Massignon in this direction.) 191 I concur with Cornell, “The Way of the Axial Intellect,” p. 55n. 52, that Massignon “is incorrect in interpreting this list as Ibn Sab`īn’s chain of doctrinal transmission (nasab). Rather, it is an inventory of those philosophers and Sufis who were thought to be on a similar path.”


Ibn Abī Uṣaybi`a (d. 1270) `Uyūn al-anbā’ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbā’ (ed. Nizār Riḍā, Beirut, 1965), p. 61. This source copies Ṣā`id al-Andalusī’s notice on Empedocles, including the statement that Ibn Masarra was a devotee of the latter’s writings.

Ibn Sab`īn, Andalusī (d. 1270) al-Risālat al-faqīriyya, apud Rasā’il Ibn Sab`īn, pp. 1-22. At pp. 14f., Ibn Sab`īn expresses his disagreement with (literally, he takes refuge in God from) Ibn Masarra’s letter theurgy (taṣrīf Ibn Masarra al-Jabalī fī al-ḥurūf), his understanding of the divisions of certain surahs of the Qur’an, the audacity of his legal judgements and his manner of connecting certain parts of the Qur’an to other parts. Note, however, that this occurs in the course of a long list of people and ideas that begins with the verb “I take refuge [in God from]” (a`ūdha), and a number of these people figure prominently (and positively) in Ibn Sab`īn’s works; the list includes Aristotle and his theology (though he says that “he didn’t err in that regard but to a small extent”), the “the doubtful [teachings] of the Peripatetics; the perplexity of Abī Naṣr [al-Fārābī]; the falsities of Ibn Sīnā on certain matters; the confusion of al-Ghazālī and his feebleness; the inconsistency of Ibn Ṣā`igh [Ibn Bājja]; the wavering of Ibn Rushd; the Talwīḥāt of alSuhrawardī, author of Ḥikmat al-Ishrāq; the adulterations of [or to] the school of Plato,” as well as the enigmas (rumūz) of Ja`far al-Ṣādiq, the sixth Shī’ī Imām, the theopathic locutions (shaṭaḥāt) of certain claimants of “messengership,” Ibn Masarra’s theurgy etc., Ibn Qasī’s approach to the divine names and attributes, and various errors on the part of

84 Ibn Barrajān and al-Niffarī. Most of these people are named in the qaṣīda of Shushtārī that describes Ibn Sab`īn’s spiritual forebears (see above, entry under Shushtārī). Thus, taking exception with certain teachings does not amount for Ibn Sab`īn to a blanket dismissal of a given thinker. In any case, Ibn Sab`īn was not known for his irenic qualities. 192 As to his “taking refuge” from Ibn Masarra’s theurgical use of letters, this has to be understood as Ibn Sab`īn taking exception to the character and not the fact of such theurgy, as he himself was an unapologetic theurgist who made use of the letters in his operations. 193 Secondary literature: Taftāzānī, Ibn Sab`īn wa falsatuhu al-ṣūfiyya, pp. 75ff. (and see index, s.v. [sic] ‫)ابن مسرﻩ‬

al-Fatḥ al-mushtarak, apud Rasā’il Ibn Sab`īn, 247-58. At pp. 253f., Ibn Sab`īn discusses sīmīyā’ (letter-magic) and refers to Ibn Masarra as having had a doubful approach to this practice. "As for letter-magic (sīmīyā), it has five divisions. First, there is the specious sort, this being that which was mentioned by Maslama al-Majrīṭī, author of the Rasā'il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā. 194 Then, there is a doubtful division, this being that which Ibn Masarra claimed to have attained. Then there are the sound (saḥīḥ)
Ibn Sab`īn was famously iconoclastic, and was hounded out of town after town for his controversial teachings. One Moroccon critic, `Abd al-Ḥaqq al-Bādisī (d. 1311), accused him of arrogance, writing that “he believed that no one before him had understood Sufism correctly” (Cornell, “The Way of the Axial Intellect,” p. 43). See also Ibn Sab`īn’s unfriendly “portraits” of various thinkers translated by Massignon, “Ibn Sab`īn,” pp. 125-8, where he makes such acerbic statements as this: “Quant à Ghazālī? Langage sans méthode, sonorité sans élocution, pot-pourri mélangeant les contraires, divagation à couper le souffle.” 193 As Cornell writes in ibid., p. 62: “For Ibn Sab`īn, these letters [that appear disconnected at the beginning of certain surahs of the Qur’an] comprised formulas of incantation or adjuration (ḥurūf al-qasam) that conferred paranormal powers on those who knew how to use them.” See also Taftāzānī, Ibn Sab`īn, pp. 84ff. 194 Maslama al-Majrītī was a famous astronomer to whom was attributed several works dealing with the occult sciences, including the Rasā’il mentioned by Ibn Sab`īn here, but more famously the Ghāyat alḥakīm (the Picatrix), which Fierro has argued was written by Maslama b. Qāsim al-Qurṭubī (see her “Bāṭinism in al-Andalus,” passim). There is no doubt as to the spurious nature of these attributions to alMajrīṭī. The Rasā’il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā’, regardless of their authorship, do deal with linguistic theurgy.

85 divisions [of letter magic]. When described by the faqīh, it is called miracle (karamāt); when mentioned by the sage (al-ḥakīm), it is named theurgy (taṣrīf); and when mentioned by the intimate of God (al-muqarrab) it is called enchantment [or trial, or temptation; fitna]. This source has been neglected in the scholarship.

Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Aḥmad Qurṭubī, Andalusī (d. 1272). al-Tadhkira fī aḥwāl al-mawtā wa umūr al-ākhira. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, n.d., p. 341. This source contains a reference to a Kitāb al-tabyīn of Ibn Masarra, which Qurṭubī states contained a ḥadīth regarding intercession, transmitted from Ibn Waḍḍāḥ and Ibn Masarra’s father. See above, entry under Ibn Masarra, Muḥammad.

Ibn Khallikān, Kurdish (d. 1282) Wafayāt al-a`yān wa anbā` abnā’ al-zamān (ed. Ahsan ‘Abbas, Beirut, n.d.), vol 4, p. 372, #651. In a biographical notice on Muḥammad al-Zubaydī, he mentions a book written by the latter against Ibn Masarra and his followers entitled “Hatk sutūr al-mulḥidīn.” This is the sole known source to give the title of this work.

Ibn `Adhārī [or `Idhārī], Marrākushī (d. 1312) al-Bayān al-mughrib fī akhbār al-maghrib (ed. R. Dozy, Leiden, 1848), vol. 1, pp. 201f. Ibn `Adhārī records an anecdote that has the historian al-Khushanī encountering Ibn Masarra at the majlis of Aḥmad b. Naṣr in Qayrawan when Ibn Masarra was still a young

86 man (shāb); the story is flattering of Ibn Masarra. This is copied from al-Khushanī, Ṭabaqāt al-`ulamā’ Ifrīqiyya (see above, under Khushanī).

Dhahabī, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad, Damascene (d. 1348) Dhahabī appears to have copied most of his information on Ibn Masarra and related figures from Ibn al-Faraḍī, but there are some exceptions (see Appendix A, below), inviting a careful comparison of his notices with earlier sources to see if he transmits any other unique details. Here I will simply identify the relevant notices and their location in the editions of the texts. Tārīkh al-Islām, online at (all page references are to this version). At p. 2202 is a biographical entry on `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, having much of the same data as Ibn alFaraḍī, but nothing apparently verbatim. The entry on Muḥammad b. Masarra begins at p. 2414. At p. 2473 is an entry on Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Sa`īd b. Mūsā b. Ḥudayr, Abū ‘Umar al-Qurṭubī, with two listed teachers, `Abd Allāh b. Masarra and Ibn Waḍḍāḥ. At p. 2519 is a notice on Muḥammad b. Ismā`īl al-Qurṭubī, a grammarian known as alḤakīm, with four teachers listed, one of them `Abd Allāh b. Masarra. At p. 2648 is an entry on Ismā`īl b. Badr b. Ismā`īl b. Ziyād Abū Bakr al-Qurṭubī, with five teachers listed, one of them being `Abd Allāh b. Masarra. At p. 2758 is a bio of Muḥammad Mufarrij, known as al-Bāqī, Abū Sa`īd b. al-A’rābī among his teachers, and is called a devotee of the school of Ibn Masarra. At p. 2794 is a bio of the Cordoban Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Ḥamdūn b. `Īsā, known as Ibn al-Imām, “of the school of Ibn Masarra.” At pp. 2809f. is a bio of Muḥammad. b. Yabqā b. Zarb, where he is credited with a kitāb radd `alā Ibn Masarra. At p. 2812 is a bio of Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. `Umar,

87 whose teachers included Aḥmad b. Khālid al-Ḥabbāb and Ibn al-A`rābī, and says he was suspected/accused of being of the school of Ibn Masarra. At p. 2896 is a bio of Ibn Abyaḍ al-Umawi, crediting him with a radd `alā Muḥammad b. ‘Abd Allāb b. Masarra, calling it “large and comprehensive.” At p. 2930 is an entry for Muḥammad b. Qāsim b. Muḥammad, Abū `Abd Allāh al-Umawī al-Qurṭubi al-Jāliṭi, saying he transmitted alZubaydī’s radd work against Ibn Masarra to Abū Muḥammad b. Zayd.

Siyar a`lām al-nubalā’, online at At p. 1989 is a biographical entry on Wahb b. Masarra, on which see below, Appendix A. At p. 2018 is a bio of Isḥāq b. Ibrāhīm b. Masarra (d. 354AH), in which Dhahabī gives the following brief notice on Muḥammad b. Masarra: “As for the ascetic Muḥammad b. ‘Abd Allāh b. Masarra the Andalusī, who composed Sufi books, he died in 329. He was charged with qadar.” 195 At p. 2094 is a brief bio of Ibn Yabqā b. Zarb, crediting him with a radd `alā Ibn Masarra. At p. 2095 is a brief bio on al-Zubaydī, crediting him with a radd `ala Ibn Masarra. All of this has been neglected in the scholarship. 196

Ṣafadī, Khalīl b. Aybak 197 (d. 1363) Kitab al-wāfī bi’l-wafayyāt, online at


I.e., he taught a doctrine of the freedom of the human will to act, against what was an increasingly orthodox determinism. 196 With the exception of Fierro and Zanon, “Andalusies en dos obras de al-Dhahabi,” p. 187, where they note that Dhahabī confused Wahb b. Masarra for Muḥammad b. Masarra in the Siyar; see Appendix A, below. 197 He was a student of Dhahabī.

88 This source mentions Ibn Abyaḍ al-Umawī as the author of a radd work against Ibn Masarra, saying it was “large and comprehensive” (p. 2476). He also gives a bio, at p. 237, for Muḥammad b. Ismā`īl Abū `Abd Allāh, Cordoban grammarian (d. 331AH), who studied with ‘Abd Allāh b. Masarra (and Ibn Waḍḍāḥ, Khushanī, and two others). At p. 657 is a brief entry on Ibn Yabqā b. Zarb (d. 381AH), crediting him with a radd work against Ibn Masarra.

Anon. (al-Ḥulal) (completed in 783/1381) al-Ḥulal al-mawshiyya fi dhikr al-akhbār al-marrākushiyya (ed. Allouche, Rabat, 1936), p. 65. This source reproduces a ḥadīth that was purportedly found among Ibn Masarra’s writings, having to do with the conversion of the Jews to Islam. See above, entry under Ibn Masarra.

al-Nubāhī (d. 1392) Tārīkh quḍāt al-Andalus (ed. E. Lévi-Provençal, Cairo, 1948), p. 78 This source provides details in its notice on Ibn Yabqā b. Zarb of the latter’s efforts against the Masarriyya, including his radd book against them, the forced-recantation proceedings that he initiated against them, and the burning of Ibn Masarra’s books. See above, entry under Muḥammad b. Yabqā.

89 Ibn Farḥūn, Ibrāhīm b. ‘Alī, Medinan 198 (d. 1397) al-Dībāj al-mudhhab fī ma’rifat a`yān `ulamā al-madhhab, online at At p. 141ff., Ibn Farḥūn gives a biographical entry for Muḥammad b. ‘Abd Allāh b. Yahyā, known as Abū `Īsā (d. 339), who went on a riḥla with Muḥammad b. Masarra, Aḥmad b. Ḥazm, and Aḥmad b. `Ibāda al-Ru`aynī. This information is unique to this source. At p. 143, he mentions Muḥammad b. Yabqā b. Zarb and his radd work against Ibn Masarra. At p. 24f. is an entry for Abū ‘Umar al-Talamankī and attributes to him a radd work against Ibn Masarra. This source has been neglected in the scholarship.

Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī, Egyptian (d. 1449) Lisān al-Mīzān, online at At p. 174 Ibn Ḥajar gives a biographical notice on the famous Masarrī Ismā`īl al-Ru`aynī, with a brief discussion of the major doctrinal issues surrounding Ru`aynī and his sect, including the death of the spirits, the rulership of the Throne, the acquisition of prophecy, Ru`aynī’s claims to imāmat, etc. On the teachings of al-Ru`aynī, our best source is Ibn Ḥazm’s Faṣl. See above, entry under Ibn Ḥazm. Ibn Hajar also transmits Dhahabī’s error with regard to Wahb b. Masarra (see below, Appendix A). This source has been neglected in the scholarship.


But from an Andalusī family.

90 al-Tha`ālibī, `Abd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad (d. 1470) al-`Ulūm al-fākhira fī al-naẓar fī al-‘umūr al-‘ākhira (Cairo, 1327AH), p. 34. This source quotes a ḥadīth from Ibn Masarra: Abū `Abd Allāh b. Masarra said: I saw in a book which was said to be the Psalms (al-Zabūr), “Verily I will call my self-denying servants (`ubādī al-zāhidīn) on the Day of Resurrection, and will say to them: Indeed, I have not withheld the world from you in order to magnify your debasement, and in this day I desire that you should abundantly receive your full share. Form ranks then, and if any of you loved someone in this world, or if someone provided for your needs or gave you to eat a morsel of food, for My sake and seeking My good pleasure, then take them by the hand and usher them into Paradise. 199 See above, entry under Ibn Masarra. Aside from Morris’ inclusion of this passage in his “Reconsideration” paper, p. xxxvii, this source has been neglected in the scholarship.

al-Suyūṭī, `Abd al-Raḥmān b. al-Kamāl, Egyptian (d. 1505) Bughyat al-wu’āt fī ṭabaqāt al-lughawiyyīn wa’l-nuḥāt (Cairo, n.d.), p. 289. al-Suyūṭī gives the following notice on one of the authors of a radd work against Ibn Masarra:

Cf. Ibn Kathīr (d. 1373), al-Nihāyat al-fitan wa’l-malāḥim, p. 224, where the identical matn is prefaced with “And some have related that the following was written in the Psalms of David.” Interestingly, Tha`ālibī follows this citation here with a ḥadīth he cites as from al-Ghazālī’s Iḥyā’ which is identical in meaning to the ḥadith transmitted from Ibn Masarra in Qurṭubī’s Tadhkira, though phrased like the matn in Ibn Maja, which is slightly different from Ibn Masarra’s version – a rather striking coincidence.


91 `Abd Allah b. Muḥammad b. Naṣr b. Abyaḍ Abū l-Ḥasan, Toledan, he was a grammarian and ḥadīth transmitter. He lived in Cordoba and transmitted from Tamīm b. Muḥammad al-Qayrawānī, Abī Ja`far b. `Awn Allah, and al-Qāḍī Abū `Umar b. Samīq. He composed a refutation of Ibn Masarra. He died in Cordoba in 400 or 399. He’s mentioned by al-Ṣafadī.

al-Maqqarī, Aḥmad b. Muḥammad, Algerian (d. 1633) Nafḥ al-ṭīb min ghuṣn al-Andalus al-raṭīb (ed. R. Dozy et al., Leiden, 1855-1861), 1:47 (alwaraq, p. 289); 1:560 (alwaraq, p. 706). The first passage is a biographical entry on Ibn Masarra which Maqqarī copies, with attribution from Ibn Khāqān. The second is the account of Muḥammad b. Ḥazm alTanūkhī and Ibn Masarra’s measuring of the house of Māriyya, the concubine of the Prophet Muḥammad, taken from Ibn al-Abbār. This text also includes the risāla of Ibn Ḥazm; at p. 576 (on, in the course of enumerating a host of notable Andalusī scholars of various branches of study, Ibn Ḥazm turns to those who labored in the field of rhetoric/eloquence (balāgha) and its various branches, including “`Amr, Sahl, and Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra, in his own way (fī ṭarīqihi allatī salaka fīhā), though we did not approve of his teaching (madhhabahu).”

Chapter Three: A Preliminary Analysis
For such an early period of Islamicate history, our sources on Ibn Masarra are relatively abundant, as the preceding inventory has shown. Long known to be an important figure in Islamicate intellectual history, Ibn Masarra can now receive the attention he deserves, free of the accumulated speculations and conjectures of the past century and a half of scholarship. In this concluding chapter I will identify which avenues in the existing secondary literature are decisively closed by our new sources and which remain open, and will evaluate in the light of the sources the adequacy of recent attempts at assessing Ibn Masarra’s significance. While the larger project of a full reappraisal must be left for the future, I will also offer some preliminary observations in this direction, and will highlight directions that future research might fruitfully pursue.

94 The Empedoclean Illusion The most persistent element of the twentieth-century representation of Ibn Masarra is his putative relationship with writings attributed to Empedocles. Most fully elaborated by Asín Palacios, some of the basic problems with this picture were pointed out forty years ago by S. M. Stern, and, as shown in chapter one, a number of scholars have more recently dismissed the Empedoclean or Pseudo-Empedoclean connection as baseless. Nevertheless, this remains the regnant academic account of Ibn Masarra, represented in nearly every basic reference work on the history of Islamic thought or alAndalus. Some scholars have defended this account against Stern’s criticisms; some have even defended it since the publication of Ibn Masarra’s writings. Before anything else, then, the Pseudo-Empedoclean question must be resolved. Fortunately, our sources allow us to finally do so. Probably the single most devastating fact with regard to this question is that there is no such thing as Pseudo-Empedocleanism, at least not in the Islamicate context. There are no discrete pseudepigrapha attributed to Empedocles, and thus there is no PseudoEmpedocles properly speaking. 200 More to the point, disparate ideas and precepts are attributed to Empedocles in a heterogeneous variety of Islamicate texts, sometimes introduced with a “he said” (qāla), sometimes not. As shown by De Smet, the “PseudoEmpedoclean” doctrine constructed by Munk, Kaufmann and Asín is a myth, amounting to an unwarranted construal of a host of Neoplatonic and even Gnostic ideas as “Pseudo-


Note also that neither al-`Āmirī nor Ṣā`id refer to any books or writings of Empedocles; al-`Āmirī attributes to a “party of Bāṭinīs” the claim that “lahu rumūz,” that Empedocles communicated in riddles or symbols, but it is not specified how he communicated them. See Kitāb al-Amad, ed. Rowson, p. 71.

95 Empedoclean.” 201 Most of the information on Empedocles in the early Islamicate doxographical tradition goes back to a single source, the Ārā’ al-falāsifa of PseudoAmmonius. 202 Some sources, however, attribute to Empedocles statements contradictory to those attributed to him in other sources, so that, while it is possible to identify some central themes of the Arabic Empedocles, 203 there is not a self-consistent “system” of Empedocles across the various sources. 204 Granting that Asín’s Pseudo-Empedoclean doctrine is a baseless myth, what about the Ārā al-falāsifa – is there any basis for connecting the Empedoclean teachings in that text to Ibn Masarra? Fortunately, with Ibn Masarra’s writings in hand, this question can be unequivocally answered in the negative. First of all, the cosmology attributed to Empedocles in that source is at significant variance from the cosmology adumbrated by Ibn Masarra in his surviving works. In the Ārā al-falāsifa and the works dependent upon it, Empedocles is credited with a cosmology that begins with a Primal Matter (al-`unṣur al-awwal), a simple intelligible thing (or, in other passages, composed of Love [maḥabba] and Conquering [ghalaba], roughly corresponding to the ancient Empedoclean doctrine of the twin forces of Love and Hate) from which originated, in an emanative process, the Intellect, the Universal Soul (al-nafs al-kulliyya), Nature (alṭabī`a), and Secondary Matter, which together make up the five primary constituents of the cosmos. Ibn Masarra, however, presents a much different hierarchy, having the basic
De Smet, Empedocles Arabus, first chapter. Ed. U. Rudolph, Die Doxographie des Pseudo-Annonios, pp. 33-79. Rudolph provides a German translation (pp. 80-111), and De Smet gives a French translation of the passages on Empedocles in Empedocles Arabus, pp. 157-9. 203 As De Smet does, in ibid., chapter three; he argues that the apparent homogeneity in a number of the sources is due to their shared dependence on the Ārā al-falāsifa (or the latter’s Urtext). 204 As noted in chapter one, Rudolph, Doxographie, p. 132, had already pointed out that the PseudoEmpedoclean doctrine reconstructed by Asín was based on late, derivative treatments of Empedocles in Shahrastānī and Shahrazūrī, and that the primary sources provide no basis for Asín’s “großer Phantasie” of “ein pseudo-empedokleisches ‘Weltbild’.”
202 201

96 features of a more widespread Neoplatonic cosmology. In his Risālat al-i`tibār, Ibn Masarra identifies the first created thing with the Intellect, (al-`aql), not Primary Matter, and equates the Intellect with the Qur’anic Throne. 205 Beneath this is the sphere of Soul (fulk an-nafs), followed by the spheres of the seven heavens, beneath which is our world, composed of the four natures of fire, air, water and earth. 206 Thus, one of the only characteristic ideas by which the Arabic Empedocles is distinct from the widespread Neoplatonism of the tenth century – that the first created thing was Prime Matter – is flatly contradicted by Ibn Masarra. Nor is this the only point of divergence between Ibn Masarra and the Arabic Empedocles. In terms of soteriology, the Ārā al-falāsifa describes a process whereby a person makes him-/herself receptive of the divine emanation. Near the bottom of the cosmic hierarchy, a human being humbles him-/herself (taḍarra`a) before the entity immediately above it, which in turn humbles itself before the next level, on up the chain of being, until the Creator (al-bārī’) causes Its light to flow (sāḥa) to the humbly supplicating Intellect, which has the light flow to the humbly supplicating Soul, on down the chain to the supplicating person. 207 The person relates only to the immediatelysuperior link in the chain, and is entirely receptive, not actively climbing the chain of emanative being. In contrast to this, the Risālat al-i`tibār directly addresses the question of the permissibility of inductive inference, of going from the lowest being and thinking one’s way to the highest (as opposed to prophecy, which proceeds from the highest to the


The cosmological and cosmogonic discussions in the Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf are more various; at one point the divine Will (irāda) is identified as the first creation, at other times Arabic letters are discussed as the building blocks of creation, but in no case does Ibn Masarra’s statements conform to those of the Arabic Empedocles on these matters. 206 Min qaḍāyā al-fikr, pp. 351ff. 207 Doxographie, ed. Rudolph, p. 71 (sec. XXII).

97 lowest). The entire treatise is devoted to the defense of this sort of inference, and in the course of it Ibn Masarra describes a process whereby a person reflects inferentially from a plant all the way to the Creator, going from link to link up the chain of being, stating that by this path (ṭarīqa) one can acquire “a light which shall never be extinguished.” 208 He even affirms the equality of this process with the sending down of prophetic revelation, identifying the former as the ascending and the latter as the descending arcs of the same soteriological process. 209 Aside from the fact that one ends up receiving divine light in both processes, the soteriology of the Ārā clearly has nothing in common with Ibn Masarra’s; the former involves a passive reception of a top-down emanation, while the latter involves an active, bottom-up climb by the intellectual wayfarer. Another example of Ibn Masarra’s lack of harmony with the Arabic Empedocles can be seen in their differing accounts of what causes a plant to grow. As mentioned above, the Risālat al-i`tibār describes an inferential ascent process that begins with consideration of a plant. Ibn Masarra has a hypothetical thinker consider how nourishment moves upwards through a plant, how the plant is divided into different parts, such as the branches, leaves, fruits and so forth, and how the four elements of water, earth, fire and air are perfectly harmonized and distributed in these various parts. The thinker considers whether any of these particular elements is responsible for this movement of nutriment, division into parts and harmony of material:
208 209

Min qaḍāyā al-fikr, p. 351. Ibid., p. 350. Ibn Masarra writes: “Thus the world and all its creatures and signs are steps (daraj) by which those who reflect climb (yataṣa``ad) to that which is above, the great signs of God. For one who ascends (mutaraqq) must ascend from the lowest to the highest. Thus they ascend with an intellectual climb (bi-taṣ`id al-`uqūl) from their lowly station until they reach their goal in such exalted signs as the attributes of the prophets. Thus when they think, they understand; when they understand, they become deserving of the truth (al-ḥaqq), in accordance with what the messengers – blessings be upon them – related, and as they described the truth from God. So it [sc. the intellectual ascent] agrees with it [sc. prophecy] and confirms it. There is no difference between them when you really approach the matter; they are exactly the same (fahuwa huwa).” This point is reiterated in the same treatise in similar terms at p. 359.

98 So he considered water, but it did not have the necessary attributes. He considered earth, and it too had to be excluded. He considered fire, and found that it had to be denied. He observed air, and it too had to be denied. So he was forced in his thinking to go beyond these things, seeking for what, as witnessed by its nature, could necessitate this. His heart's understanding fled to what is above these things, since what harmonizes them with their differences and exerts control over their natures must be above them, encompassing them and being exalted above and greater than them. 210 From here the thinker proceeds up the chain of being, finding along the way that the harmonization of the elements in the plant is controlled by the sphere of the Soul. In direct contradiction to this is the following thesis regarding plant life attributed to Empedocles in Ibn Rushd’s Talkhīs Kitāb al-Nafs (Middle Commentary on the De Anima): Plants grow, decay, and are nourished by means of this principle [sc. the soul], even as animals have sensation by means of the sensory soul; and nothing is nourished without having this aspect of soul. Empedocles was not correct when he attributed these activities in the plants to the elements. He said that the branches of plants grow upward because of the fire in them, since fire moves upward, while the growth of its roots is downward because of the earth in them. Were the issue as he thought, the fiery part of the plant would be separate from the earthy part, and the plant would thereby perish. There has to be something which mixes these parts together, and this is the part which moves them everywhere in the plant. 211 This example gives eloquent testimony to the definite lack of congruence between Ibn Masarra and the Arabic Empedocles. On the identical question, in identical terms, Ibn Masarra parts company with Empedocles (and agrees with Ibn Rushd). Both Ibn Masarra

210 211

Ibid., p. 353. Trans. by Ivry, Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima, p. 57.

99 and Ibn Rushd conclude that the elements cannot be harmonized by themselves and require a supra-lunar or supra-elemental force to control them. Both authors identify soul as this force that harmonizes the elements in plants and fosters their life, as against the account of Empedocles that Ibn Rushd gives, according to which the elements themselves are responsible for this, a view that Ibn Masarra explicitly rejects in the Risālat al-i`tibār. We thus find that it is not simply that Ibn Masarra never mentions Empedocles in his extant works, nor is it true that his works simply show no apparent “influence” of the Arabic Empedocles. On the contrary, he differs radically from the Arabic Empedocles on fundamental issues treated by both. 212 We can therefore dismiss the argument sometimes made in defense of the Empedoclean connection that Ṣā`id al-Andalusī may have had access to other, no longer extant writings of Ibn Masarra. 213 It would be simply absurd to assume that Ṣā`id may have had access to works of Ibn Masarra that directly contradict those that we have. 214


I noted a number of other instances of this in comparing the texts, but the foregoing three examples are sufficient to prove that there is a philosophical gulf between Ibn Masarra and the Arabic Empedocles. 213 This argument is put forward by Tornero, “Notas sobre el pensamiento de Abenmasarra,” p. 505, and Stroumsa, Review of Empedocles Arabus, p. 95. Peter Kingsley, in his enigmatic Ancient Philosophy Mystery, and Magic, pp. 381f., lambasts Stern as cynical and his argument against Asín as “highly implausible and, at the very least, over-simplistic,” noting that “in the absence of supporting evidence,” Stern’s critique is “purely speculative.” This is simply incorrect; Stern’s critique was based precisely on supporting evidence, evidence proving that Ṣā`id cribbed his account of Empedocles from al-`Āmirī, which, in the absence of any supporting evidence, made Asín’s argument appear for what it was: purely speculative. Kingsley’s argument is made all the more surprising by the fact that he had a copy of and makes refernce to Morris’ unpublished “Reconsideration” paper, and knew of the discovery and publication of the two works of Ibn Masarra, even having some familiarity with their contents; he refers to two places in the Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf where Ibn Masarra supposedly “refers repeatedly, and most respectfully, to ‘philosophers’ with a very obvious Neoplatonic (or rather Gnostic, Hermetic, and Platonic) background.” While Ibn Masarra does refer to anonymous falāsifa and cites their opinions, Kingsley fails to mention the passage in the Risālat al-i`tibār, p. 357, where Ibn Masarra refers to the philosophers as that group of “insolents with no clear and straightforward intention, who went wide of the mark, losing themselves in ridiculous fallacies (turruhāt).” He thus had in hand all the “supporting evidence” he could have needed to confirm Stern’s critique. (NB: Kingsley’s bibliography misidentifies Morris’ “Reconsideration” paper as an unpublished Oberlin College thesis, when in fact it was the result of a 1972 graduate seminar at Harvard under the direction of Muhsin Mahdi.) 214 It is often overlooked, but it should be emphasized in this connection that Ṣā`id does not even claim that Ibn Masarra wrote anything about Empedocles; he simply calls him a Bāṭinī and says he was devoted to the

100 Even if we did not have the conclusive evidence set forth above, it must not be forgotten that Ṣā`id was a student of Ibn Ḥazm. Ṣā`id made a single passing reference to Ibn Masarra, while his mentor refers to Ibn Masarra in a number of his works, devoting special attention in his Faṣl fī l-milal to an account of the beliefs of the Masarrīs living in his day. In the latter work he states that he was shown some of Ibn Masarra’s writings by certain of his informants. In other words, we know that a contemporary and countryman of Ṣā`id, under whom he studied, had extensive first-hand knowledge of Ibn Masarra and some familiarity with his writings, and nowhere made any reference to Empedocles or writings attributed to the latter. In addition to the argument about no-longer-extant books that Ṣā`id may have had, it has sometimes been argued that Ibn Masarra’s treatment of the attributes of God puts him in the philosophical company of the Arabic Empedocles, who also discussed the attributes. 215 This argument has nothing to recommend it; obviously, discussing the divine attributes is hardly the exclusive province of Empedocles. This was a preoccupation of Mu`tazilism generally, as well as being a central concern of Islamicate Neoplatonism. 216 Both of these currents of thought figure prominently in Ibn Masarra’s works and in the notices on him in the Islamicate biographical tradition. The thrust of the Arab Empedocles’ view of the divine attributes (that divine unity requires the attributes of God to be identical with His essence and to not have independent existence) is

study of Empedocles’ philosophy. Note also that, contrary to what Stroumsa writes in her review of Empedocles Arabus, p. 95, Ṣā`id does not attribute any ideas to Ibn Masarra, so there is no question of waiting on texts of Ibn Masarra that may or may not contain such ideas. 215 Stroumsa is the most recent writer to make this argument. In her review of De Smet’s Empedocles Arabus, p. 95, refering to De Smet’s statement that the extant works of Ibn Masarra present no positive links to the Arab Empedocles, she writes: “The validity of this claim itself is questionable; the Divine attributes, which intrigued Ibn Masarra [...] may have served as just such a positive link.” 216 The latter point is well made, with extensive references, by De Smet, in Empedocles Arabus, pp. 72ff.

101 indistinguishable from that found in late Neoplatonism, so the fact of Ibn Masarra’s interest in this issue – which is actually attested only vaguely, in a hostile account in Ibn al-Mar’a 217 – proves nothing more than his familiarity with Neoplatonic thought. On the face of it, this passage actually distances Ibn Masarra from the doctrine of the attributes in the Arab Empedocles; Empedocles, as mentioned above, was said to have taught that the attributes of God are not separate entities but names of His Essence, since the absolute unity of the Godhead require the exclusion of there being a multiplicity of real existences in His being. 218 Ibn al-Mar’a, on the other hand, charges Ibn Masarra with having upheld the independent reality of an infinity of divine attributes, and thus of postulating an infinity of gods. 219 While he certainly says nothing of this sort in any of his extant writings, Ibn Masarra does say that the teachings of the ancient philosophers on the issue of the divine names is at variance with what is set forth in prophecy. 220

In the fragment edited by Massignon, Ibn Mar’a writes that “Ibn Masarra said in his book Tawḥīd alMuqinīn that the attributes of God are infinite in number and that God’s knowledge is, with respect to Him (`indihi), a Living One, a Knowing One, a Powerful One, a Hearer, an All-Seeing, a Speaker, and that His [attribute of] power is in the same manner living, knowing [etc....], and in such wise did he speak about all of the attributes, saying that this is divine unity (tawḥīd). Thus has he made gods of each of the attributes. Similarly, in his saying that the attributes are infinite in number, he has made of God gods infinite in number – God save us!” It may be that Ibn Mar’a is attributing to Ibn Masarra here some manner of doctrine of the unity of the attributes, but it has apparently been so distorted by the polemical context as to render any judgement about how this treatment may have appeared in the actual Tawḥīd al-Muqinīn impossible. As presented by Ibn al-Mar’a, it does not appear to have much in common with the Arab Empedocles’ doctrine of the unity of attributes, on which see De Smet, Empedocles Arabus, pp. 72ff. The charge of making the attributes into so many gods is actually a frequent attack in the polemical literature made by supporters of the doctrine of the unity of attributes against opponents of that doctrine, the latter upholding the distinct reality of the attributes. For an overview of this conflict, see H. A. Wolfson’s (now rather dated) Philosophy of the Kalam, ch. 2. 218 See, e.g., al-Āmirī, Kitāb al-Amad, p. 78; Ārā al-falāsifa, p. 37 (sec. V). 219 See second-to-last note. Asín attempted to find a Neoplatonic doctrine of the transcendence of the One from real attributes in Ibn Ḥazm’s report that the Masarrīs believed that divine knowledge was a created and contingent entity (see Mystical Philosophy, p. 83). 220 Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf, in Ja`far, Min qaḍāyā al-fikr, p. 315, where, in the course of commenting on the inner meanings of the basmala, he writes: “From the name of divinity together with the names al-raḥmān and al-raḥīm it is learned that the universal intellect is immersed in the universal soul, and that the universal soul is immersed in the body of the world, according to the teachings of the philosophers and the ancient nations that were astray – the people of natural disposition who arrived at knowledge of divine unity without prophecy (though their knowledge in that regard that had to do with the divine names was


102 Regardless of Ibn Masarra’s position with regard to divine attributes, this issue cannot in any case serve as the “positive link” to Empedocles that Stroumsa suggests. Many of Ibn Masarra’s contemporaries took a position similar to the Arab Empedocles on the divine attributes, but no one has suggested for any of these figures that they were devotees of Empedoclean writings. 221 While only one source – Ṣā`id – implies (but does not say explicitly) that Empedocles may have been Ibn Masarra’s source for his approach to the divine attributes, an abundance of our sources link him instead to Mu`talizī and Bāṭinī thought, two currents very much concerned with the attributes and divine transcendence. In sum, Ibn Masarra’s connection to Empedocles must be considered, as Stern suggested long ago, an illusion. There is not a consistent teaching of “PseudoEmpedocles” in the Arabic sources, but rather a diverse and sometimes contradictory body of ideas attributed to him in the doxographical literature. On central themes of Empedoclean thought as represented in that literature, it has been shown that Ibn Masarra was in complete disagreement. The fact that Empedocles is credited in the Arabic sources with teaching the unity of the attributes of God cannot be used to prove anything, as, a) this same teaching is found in many other sources and currents of thought in early Islamic history; b) Ibn Masarra is associated with these latter currents by a number of authors in the early biographical tradition and by his own writings; and c), none of our sources actually represent Ibn Masarra as clearly holding a doctrine of the unity of attributes, though two second-hand sources vaguely imply that. There is thus no

different from what prophecy has elucidated in most comprehensive arguments and with the clearest proofs).” 221 (Except for the Mu`tazilī Abū al-Hudhayl al-`Allāf, whom Ṣā`id connects to Empedocles in the same place where he mentions Ibn Masarra.) This position on the unity of the attributes with the divine essence is a basic feature of most forms of Islamicate negative theology, so any list of thinkers through the 10thcentury who shared this position with the Arabic Empedocles would be impossibly long. One will find extremely ample coverage of this issue in the learned tomes of Josef van Ess’ Theologie und Gesellschaft.

103 evidence in favor of the Empedoclean connection, and a decisive body of evidence against it.

104 Andalusī Sufism and the “Schools” of Almería and Murcia

In her article on Andalusī mysticism up to the time of Ibn al-`Arabī, Claude Addas identified two main theses in Asín’s scholarship that influenced most later writing on Ibn Masarra; the first was the Empedoclean illusion, while “the second thesis was that Andalusī Sufism subsequent to Ibn Masarra, from Ismā`īl al-Ru`aynī to Ibn `Arabī by way of Ibn al-`Arīf and Ibn Qasī, sprang from the Masarrī school and itself represented the continuation of this school.” 222 Elsewhere she noted that Asín had “no document or any other source of information to support this thesis, or rather hypothesis.” 223 While it is true that Asín’s suggestion of Ibn Masarra’s influence on Andalusī Sufism was conjectural, we now have a number of sources relevant to this issue, and the question needs to be re-examined. Asín’s argument, set out in the eighth chapter of his monograph on Ibn Masarra, posited that the “continuity of the mystic spirit of Ibn Masarra in the heart of Spanish Sufism was found in the enormous influence exercised by the esoteric center which existed in the school of Almería.” 224 While the existence of this “school of Almería” has been called into serious question, 225 Asín in any case had in mind here the twelfth-


“Andalusī Mysticism,” pp. 912f. Addas leaves Ibn Barrajān out here, though he’s an important figure in Asín’s hypothetical “continuation” of the school of Ibn Masarra. 223 Quest for the Red Sulphur, p. 57. 224 Mystical Philosophy, p. 120. This sentence is repeated almost verbatim in Corbin’s History of Islamic Philosophy, p. 225. Corbin follows Asín very closely, though at times he exaggerates Asín’s claims or distorts Asín’s characterizations. Thus, Corbin writes that Ibn al-`Arabī “was strongly influenced by Ibn Masarrah’s school of Almería, which propagated the teaching of Ismaili and Shiite missionaries.” The latter half of this sentence represents a claim not made by Asín, though Asín is Corbin’s sole source for the school of Almería. 225 See Addas, “Andalusī Mysticism,” pp. 919ff. In addition to the fact that the sources do not treat the figures in question in a uniform manner or refer to them as a “school,” Addas shows that sources unavailable to Asín contradict most of the details of his description of the relationships pertaining between these Sufis. Asín had Ibn al-`Arīf the leader of the “school,” with both Ibn Barrajān and Ibn Qasī as his

105 century Andalusī `ulamā (not all of whom were identified as Sufis in the earliest sources) Abū al-`Abbās Ibn al-`Arīf (d. 536/1141), Abū al-Ḥakam Ibn Barrajān (d. 536/1141), Abū Bakr al-Mayūrqī (d. 537/1142) and Ibn Qasī (d. 546/1151), founder of the murīdīn movement. 226 Their purported “enormous influence” lay mainly, for Asín, in the influence that he supposed all of them to have had on Muḥyi al-Dīn Ibn al-`Arabī (d. 1240), who was in turn the most influential Andalusī Sufi in history. 227 None of the sources that have become available in recent years have yielded any confirmation of Asín’s hypothesis, as no direct link between Ibn Masarra and any of these figures has emerged. 228 It would appear, then, contra Asín, that Ibn Masarra’s importance in the history of Andalusī Sufism does not consist in his relationship to these twelfth-century mystics and revolutionaries. Significant evidence has emerged, however, that Ibn Masarra was of some importance to a network of Andalusī Sufis who all died during the thireenth century and who exerted a much more far-reaching influence than any of the Sufis highlighted by Asín. Though not a part of Asín’s argument, some scholars have refered, somewhat loosely, to a Sufi “school of Murcia,” with Ibn al-`Arabī, Ibn Sab`īn (d. 1270) and Abū

disciples; in fact, Ibn Barrajān was Ibn al-`Arīf’s shaykh, and the latter was decidedly not the shaykh of Ibn Qasī, with whom he had serious and fundamental disagreements. 226 Asín considered the first three individuals in this list to constitute the “school of Almería” proper, with Ibn Qasī and his movement being “its filial” (p. 122). 227 Asín frequently characterized Ibn al-`Arabī as having been fundamentally influenced directly by Ibn Masarra’s writings, so it is a bit unclear as to why he felt the need to posit, admittedly lacking “proper documents” (p. 122), a chain of Masarrian influence on Ibn al-`Arabī via the “school of Almería.” Addas, “Andalusī Mysticism,” p. 927, argues that any such influence was minor. On the other hand, Addas confirms (pp. 918f.) that Ibn Masarra played a greater role in Ibn al-`Arabī’s thought, being cited by him at least four times, in two of which Ibn al-`Arabī explicly says that he approaches a particular question in the manner or after the teachings of Ibn Masarra. 228 However, there are two indirect links to Ibn al-`Arīf. Ibn al-Mar’a, who had seen and discussed in writing at least one of Ibn Masarra’s works (the Kitāb tawḥīd al-mūqinīn), also wrote a commentary on one of Ibn al-`Arīf’s writings (the Maḥāsin al-majālis). Secondly, Ibn al-`Arīf was a disciple of `Abd al-Bāqī b. Muḥammad b. Aṣbagh (d. 502/1109), who in turn was a student of al-Talamankī, the author of a radd work against Ibn Masarra.

106 `Alī Ibn Hūd its chief representatives. 229 Our new sources have established a continuous tradition of study or awareness of Ibn Masarra’s works by the Sufis associated with the school of Murcia. Ibn al-Mar’a (d. 1214), who taught in Murcia, knew of at least one of Ibn Masarra’s writings and commented on it in one of his own works. 230 The great Murcian mystic Ibn al-`Arabī likewise knew Ibn Masarra’s works, refers to them at least four times, 231 praised his writing on the ḥurūf, and attributes to Ibn Masarra a discussion of the divine throne not found in the extant works, indicating that Ibn al-`Arabī may have known other works of Ibn Masarra as well. These details have long been known; what the scholarship on Ibn Masarra has not yet taken into account is the fact that at least two other thirteenth-century “school of Murcia” Sufis also knew Ibn Masarra’s teachings. Ibn Sab`īn, who was a student of Ibn Aḥlā (d. 1247), Ibn al-Mar’a’s principal disciple, refers in two of his works to Ibn Masarra and his teachings on the ḥurūf, while Ibn Sab`īn’s chief disciple Abū al-Ḥasan al-Shushtarī (d. 1269) mentions Ibn Masarra in a poem that lists the spiritual forebears of his master. 232 All of these figures are connected to one another, either through master-disciple relationships, social networks, or mutual citation – hence the appelation “school of Murcia.” While there may be some similar emphases, the various thinkers associated with this school do not have a great deal in common on the doctrinal or philosophical level. 233 The fact that, despite their doctrinal or philosophical differences, three


Joel Kraemer defends the notion of “the Sufi school of Murcia” in his article “The Andalusian Mystic Ibn Hūd and the Conversion of the Jews,” p. 68 and n. 34. See also my “Andalusī Mysticism: A Recontextualization,” in The Journal of Islamic Philosophy 2 (2006), forthcoming. 230 This is of course the Kitāb tawḥīd al-mūqinīn, cited by Ibn al-Mar’a in his Sharḥ al-Irshād. 231 See chapter two, entry under Ibn al-`Arabī. 232 See the entries under these two in chapter two. 233 With the exception of a certain preoccupation with mystical ontology, for which these figures are sometimes refered to as “wujūdī Sufis.” Ibn Sab`īn actually coined the phrase “waḥdat al-wujūd” (unicity of being) in its technical, panentheistic sense, and while the phrase is often fathered on Ibn al-`Arabī, any

107 generations of these interconnected mystics refer to Ibn Masarra and cite his writings is proof that he remained a figure of importance and prominence three centuries after his death, and that his writings were continuously transmitted during this time. Thus, while the Masarriyya may have been somewhat short-lived, Ibn Masarra nevertheless turned out to be a significant influence on Andalusī Sufism at the time of its greatest flowering.

usage of it in his writings has yet to be found. On this, see W. Chittick, “Rumi and wahdat al-wujud,” passim.

108 Khawāṣṣ, ḥurūf and taṣrīf: Ibn Masarra as Theurgist

One of the most significant revelations to emerge from our new sources is that Ibn Masarra, though not the vastly-influential bearer of Pseudo-Empedocleanism he was long thought to be, was in fact of considerable importance in another field – letter magic. It is in the context of letter magic that he is most often cited in the Islamicate sources, and there is every indication that, at least through the thirteenth century, his fame rested primarily in his accomplishments as an alphabetical theurgist. That this is where his lasting influence lied is all the more remarkable in that the modern scholarship has rarely connected Ibn Masarra to it. 234 In fact, nearly ever modern writer to comment on the character of Ibn Masarra’s Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf has explicitly discounted any magical or theurgical significance it may have had. 235 In the light of the sources, that judgement needs to be re-assessed. Islamicate linguistic theurgy, though of immense importance in the history Sufism and in Islamicate intellectual history generally, is a greatly understudied topic. There are a number of studies of closely related issues, such as the disconnected letters of the
Important but brief exceptions are D. Gril’s “Science of the Letters,” pp. 140f., and Fenton’s “Judaism and Sufism,” p. 204. Our sources lend support to Gril’s hunch that Ibn Masarra “looks very much like the founder” of Andalusī `ilm al-ḥurūf. Fenton is right to emphasize that “scholars have overlooked the fact that Ibn Masarrah ... laid significant emphasis on the mystical role of the Arabic alphabet,” but his assertion that there is “little doubt as to an initial Jewish influence on the Muslim ‘science of letters’” has yet to satisfy the burden of proof. Aside from the question of “influence,” however, it is indisputable that `ilm alḥurūf and Kabbalistic letter-magic are historically intertwined. Fenton’s assertion may rest on an assumption of antiquity for the Sefer Yeṣira, a foundational text for Jewish letter-magic long thought to have been written in the first few centuries of the Common Era but which Steven Wassertrom has demonstrated to be post-Islamic; see his “Sefer Yeṣira and Early Islam: A Reappraisal,” and “Further Thoughts on the Origins of Sefer Yeṣira.” 235 Thus Addas, in “Andalusī Mysticism,” p. 917, draws a distinction between two “trends” in `ilm al-ḥurūf – the “cosmological, alchemical and even divinatory kind” and that leading to “knowledge of metaphysical truths” – and identifies Ibn Masarra’s work with the latter. Tornero, in “A Report on the Publication,” p. 5 (p. 137 of continuous pagination), writes of the Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf that “Ibn Masarra’s goal is neither magical interpretation nor foretelling the future.” This judgment is seconded by Fierro, in “Bāṭinism in alAndalus,” p. 104.

109 Qur’an, 236 the notion of khawāṣṣ (sympatheia; occult properties), 237 and `ilm al-ḥurūf (science of the letters) in general, 238 but almost no attention has been given to the importance of `ilm al-taṣrīf or taṣarruf, the science of theurgy, in Islamicate history. 239 It is therefore not surprising that Ibn Masarra has not hitherto been recognized as a key figure in the history of linguistic theurgy, though this is strongly indicated by a number of our new sources. There is, to begin with, the evidence of Ibn Masarra’s own work, the Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf wa ḥaqā’iquhā wa uṣūluhā. While it is true that this work treats the disconnected letters of the Qur’an as keys to cosmological mysteries, this does not preclude, as most scholars seem to have assumed, a theurgical application of this information. 240 Like the similar Sefer Yeṣira, written not long before Ibn Masarra’s own time, the Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf addresses the theoretical basis rather than the practical application of linguistic theurgy. Both texts describe how the letters of the alphabet were

See, e.g., A. Jeffery, “The Mystical Letters of the Koran”; A. Jones, “The Mystical Letters of the Qur’an”; EI², s.v. “al-Kuran,” 4.d, “The Mysterious Letters” (by A. T. Welch); Encyclopedia of the Qur’ān, vol. 3, s.v. “Mysterious Letters” (K. Massey). 237 See M. Ullmann, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, 393ff.; P. Kraus, Jābir b. Ḥayyān, pp. 61ff.; T. Fahd, La Divination Arabe, pp. 214-245. See also EI², s.v. “Khāṣṣa,” (M. Ullmann) and s.v. “Khawāṣṣ al-Kur’ān” (T. Fahd). 238 Such as the studies of D. Gril, “Science of Letters”; P. Lory, “La science des lettres”; T. Fahd, La Divination Arabe, index s.v. ḥurūf (`ilm al-). The essential bibliographic study of the sources of Islamicate magic remains Manfred Ullman’s Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, and there are numerous references there to works on `ilm al-ḥurūf. Emilie Savage-Smith provides a good survey of the secondary literature on Islamicate magic in her “Introduction” (pp. xiii-li) to Magic and Divination in Early Islam. 239 P. Kraus, in has magnificent Jābir ibn Ḥayyān study, provides a sophisticated and abundantly-sourced analysis of this but solely with respect to the Jabirian corpus, which includes a Kitāb al-taṣrīf; see esp. pp. 223-236. The only study of taṣrīf / taṣarruf in the history of Sufism is Fritz Meier’s “Kraftakt und Faustrecht des Heiligen,” though Meier was primarily interested in exploring taṣarruf and its shades of meaning in Naqshbandī literature from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries and does not discuss the earlier, formative period. The most recent major study to bear upon this history would appear to be D. A. Pielow’s Die Quellen der Weisheit: dies arabische Magie im Spiegel des Uṣūl al-Ḥikma von Aḥmad `Alī alBūnī (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1995), which I have unfortunately not been able to consult. 240 See for instance the passages mentioning Ibn Masarra in Ibn al-`Arabī’s Kitāb al-mīm wa’l-wāw wa’lnūn, where he describes a situation in which a practical theurgist, for the sake of esotericism, will “have spoken only of the mysteries that the True One has deposited in the things of His creation.” Cf. al-Kindī’s De Radiis stellarum, fundamentally a work of metaphysics, lacking any recipes or magical procedures, yet foundational for Islamicate (and subsequently European) astral theurgy.

110 the primordial materials used by God in the creation of the world. While neither text gives directions for how precisely to use the knowledge of these letters and their cosmological and cosmogonic functions in theurgical permutations, both texts were recognized in the Islamicate context as having precisely this sort of practical application. 241 The title of the work also bears witness to its theurgical significance. The issue of khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf is a staple of Islamicate magical literature, and there are many works in this vein with titles similar to Ibn Masarra’s. 242 In Hājjī Khalīfa’s seventeenth-century encyclopedia, the Kashf al-ẓunūn, khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf are identified as central to linguistic theurgy: The science of theurgic operation by means of the Greatest Name of God (`ilm altaṣarruf bi’l-ism al-a`ẓam): Abū’l-Khayr 243 referred to it as a branch of the discipline of [Qur’an] commentary. He said: “No one among the people had obtained knowledge thereof except for the Prophets and Saints, and so the latter did not categorically define it. This inasmuch as the unveiling of this science is fundamentally forbidden, for such would bring about the corruption of the world and the disruption of the hierarchical order of humanity.” 244 Among the classifications [of this science] is divination.
Sefer Yeṣira was used in a wide range of theurgical and magical operations; for one important application, see Moshe Idel, Golem (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1990): 9-26. Note that Idel treats the text as having originated in late antiquity, whereas it has been demonstrated to be post-Islamic; see Steven Wasserstom, opera cit. 242 As Ullmann notes, in his EI² “Khāṣṣa” article: “Muḥammad b. Zakariyyā’ al-Rāzī, ‘Djābir b. Ḥayyān,’ Ibn al-Djazzār, Abu ‘l-`Alā’ Zuhr, `Alī b. Aydamir al-Djildakī and others wrote books with the title Khawāṣṣ al-ashyā’ (and the like). [...] Further, abstract entities were also believed to possess mysterious forces: al-Būnī, al-Djīlī, al-Nadrumī and others wrote about the khawāṣṣ of letters and numbers, of the names of Allāh and of the verses of the Kur’ān.” More information on the authors of magical and theurgical khawāṣṣ works mentioned here can be found in Ullmann’s Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam. See also T. Fahd’s EI² “Khawāṣṣ al-Kur’an” article, which also lists important works on the theurgic properties of Qur’anic letters and surahs. 243 `Iṣām al-Dīn Aḥmad b. Muṣtafa b. Khalīl, Abū’l Khayr Tāshköprüzāde, author of the Miftaḥ al-Sa`āda, which is frequently quoted by Hājjī Khalīfa with regard to magic and the occult.


On this esotericism, cf. Ibn al-`Arab ’s reference to Ibn Masarra in his Kit b al-m m wa’l-w w wa’l-n n, p. 56: “Our discussion of these mysteries will follow the way of Ibn Masarra al-Jabal and others, though not in accordance with his treatment of their theurgic properties (khaw ṣṣ), for discussion of the theurgic

111 The science of theurgic permutation by means of letters and Names (`ilm al-taṣrīf bi’l-ḥurūf wa’l-asmā’): Abū’l-Khayr said: “This is the noble science of obtaining control of the occult properties (khawāṣṣ) corresponding to letters of names, gotten by proceeding in accordance with determined procedural conditions and with special exercises. The object and goal of this science is obvious. It is said that under this science are one hundred and forty-eight other sciences. The works of Shaykh Aḥmad al-Būnī and al-Bisṭāmī 245 are famous in this field.” 246 Another piece of evidence that places Ibn Masarra in a theurgical context is the codex in which his two surviving works were discovered. Chester Beatty Arabic number 3168 comprises the following seven works. Natā’ij al-qurba wa-nafā’is al-ghurba, by Fakhr al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm al-Khabrī al-Fārisī (d. 622/1225). 247 Transcribed from author’s autograph, copy dated, at Cairo, 5 Rajab 687 (5 August 1288).

properties of things leads in most intances to accusations against the theurgist and the denial of the existence and/or efficacy of such properties.” And, further on in the same passage: “It is on any account best for the people of our path to observe silence about the sciences of astral-spiritual theurgy. Indeed, it is forbidden to them to explain these matters in such a manner as to be comprehensible to both the elite and the masses, since the unscrupulous could thereby attain the means to pursue their wicked ends. I have set down in my books with regard to these matters only such hints as my trusted followers can understand, and that none besides them can attain to.” 245 ‘Abd al-Raḥman b. Muḥammad al-Bisṭāmī, d. 1454, author of a number of still-unpublished works on jafr and letter-magic (see Fahd, Divination, pp. 228f. and notes thereon, all to mss. in Turkish libraries; see also the several mss. of his works in R. Mach’s Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts (Yahuda Section) in the Garrett Collection, Princeton University Library [Princeton, 1977], pp. 446ff.). According to Bisṭāmī, the theurgic formulas for using the disconnected letters of the Qur’an originated in a book written by Adam entitled Sifr al-khafāyā, “the Book of Secrets,” “sifr” operating here as a transliteration of the Hebrew sefer. See Hamdan, “Ghazali and the Science of Ḥurūf,” p. 192. Ḥājjī Khalīfa (who knew Bisṭāmī’s work) also lists a Sifr al-khafāyā in his Kashf al-ẓunūn, saying it was “the first book on the science of letters.” He also lists separately a Sifr Ādam fī `ilm al-ḥurūf, which was “written on twenty-one leaves from the olive trees of Paradise,” and which the Byzantine Emperor Romanos (Armānūs al-ḥakīm) sought from the Muslim King Nāṣir in the year 337/948 (on, p. 491). (There were three Byzantine emperors around this time named Romanos and dozens of Muslim potentates named Nāṣir, but I was unable to match any of them to this date; Emperor Romanos I was deposed in 944, and Romanos II came to the throne in 959.) Interestingly, between the Sifr al-khafāyā and the Sifr al-Ādam fī `ilm al-ḥurūf, Ḥajjī Khalīfah lists the Sifr Idrīs, “on which Ibn Sab`īn wrote a commentary.” 246 Kashf al-zunun, vol. 1, pp. 288f. 247 al-Khabrī was a well-known Sufi and author of widely-respected works on Sufi topics. He studied with many of the great shaykhs of his day, including, in Damascus, Ibn `Asākir (d. 1223) the great ḥadīth scholar and historian of Damascus. He lived the last years of his life in the hermitage of Dhū’l-Nūn in

112 Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf, by Ibn Masarra. Risālat fī al-ḥurūf, by Sahl b. `Abd Allāh al-Tustarī (d. ca. 896). Risālat al-i`tibār, by Ibn Masarra. al-Lum`at al-nūrāniyya, 248 by Abū l-`Abbās Aḥmad b. `Alī al-Qurashī al-Būnī (d. 622/1225). Copy dated 2 Jumada al-Thani 686 (15 July 1287). Nuzhat al-qulūb wa bughyat al-maṭlūb, by Abū al-Ḥasan `Ali b. `Abd Allāh al-Shādhilī (d. 656/1258). Dated 4 Jumada al-Thani 686 (17 July 1287). Risālat fī’l-ḥurūf, anonymous. Colophon signed by the copyist, `Uthmān b. Yūsuf b. Muḥammad b. Arslān al-Ḥanafī alḤarīrī, Cairo, 686-7 (1287-8). Four of these works deal with `ilm al-ḥurūf. The Risālat al-ḥurūf of Sahl al-Tustarī is cited by Ibn Masarra in his book on the topic, and indeed it appears to be Ibn Masarra’s source for some of his letter theory. The Lum`at al-nūrāniyya is a famous work on linguistic theurgy by the undisputed master of this discipline, Muḥyi al-Dīn Aḥmad alBūnī (d. 1225). The most famous work of the latter, the Shams al-Ma`ārif, often quotes Abū al-Ḥasan al-Shādhilī, connecting the author the sixth item in this codex with taṣrīf as

Qarāfa (Cairo’s “City of the Dead”). See Aḥmad Nuwayrī’s Nihāyat al-arab fī funūn al-adab, p. 3583; and Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-islām, p. 4576. 248 Ch. Pellat’s article on al-Būnī in EI² describes this as a “more or less accurate extract” from al-Būnī’s most famous work, the Shams al-ma`ārif. It would appear that the latter may very well be a collection of shorter works of al-Būnī compiled after his death. Kruk, in “Harry Potter in the Gulf,” p. 48n. 6, refers to the above-mentioned study on al-Būnī by D. A. Pielow and states that the latter “pointed out that the name of Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, who lived later than al-Buni, is repeatedly mentioned in Buni’s Shams alma’arif.... This might indicate that at least this work was compiled posthumously.” A comprehensive survey of al-Būnī’s oeuvre would certainly represent a dramatic advance in the scholarship on Islamicate magic.

113 well. We thus find that the only surviving works of Ibn Masarra traveled as sections in a collection dealing primarily with `ilm al-ḥurūf and its theurgical applications. 249 The most compelling argument for situating Ibn Masarra within the history of linguistic theurgy emerges from the history of the study of his works by the Andalusī mystics discussed in the previous section. This reception history consistently and explicitly identifies Ibn Masarra as a taṣrīfī mystic and discusses his writings in terms of letter magic. It needs to be emphasized in this connection that ḥurūfī theurgy was a central preoccupation of the school of Murcia, and the subsequent history of this “science” is ultimately derivative from the works and theories of these writers – the only group of writers known to have studied Ibn Masarra’s writings continuously over the course of several generations. 250 This tradition, as noted above, began with Ibn al-Mar’a and his response to Ibn Masarra’s Kitāb tawḥīd al-mūqinīn. Ibn al-Mar’a does not refer to Ibn Masarra’s works on letter-magic, but that by no means indicates his lack of interest in the topic. In addition to commentaries on the works of earlier mystics, Ibn al-Mar’a is also credited with a work in exposition of the divine names, a subject closely-related and often intertwined with letter-magic. 251 More importantly, we have a very interesting report on


It is likewise significant that this codex was copied in the thireenth-century, a period in which the majority of our references to Ibn Masarra as a theurgist also originate. It was during this period that Ibn al`Arabī and Aḥmad al-Būnī both wrote their influential works on letter magic, making this the golden age of that occult science. 250 The important exception to this would be the tradition of radd literature againt Ibn Masarra, all of which emerged from a closely-knit network of scholars; as we have little to no idea as to the content of these works, it is impossible at this stage to say whether or to what extent these polemical works were based on actual familiarity with Ibn Masarra’s writings. These scholars, in any case, had much less impact on Islamicate intellectual history than did e.g. Ibn al-`Arabī or al-Būnī. 251 Ibn al-Mar’a’s work on the Names is titled in our sources the Sharḥ al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā; the title of one of the sections in al-Būnī’s Shams al-Ma`ārif al-Sughrā is Fī sharḥ al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā wa khawāṣṣuhā (a later section is entitled Fī asrār wa khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf). However, there are also many works with similar titles in Islamic history that do not have theurgical or magical emphases at all.

114 Ibn al-Mar’a from Ibn al-Khaṭīb that very clearly connects him with theurgy. The latter writes:

Ibn al-Mar’a was proficient in parlor tricks (ḥiyal) 252 and knew many humorous anecdotes, with which he would entertain his companions. He also knew how to do strange things with the occult properties (khawāṣṣ) and things of that sort, and he revealed some of that to many witnesses, some of whom saw him perpetrate in that regard some abominable things forbidden by the divine law. On account of this some of the people were disgusted with him and a controversy arose. Our shaykh, the just qāḍī Abū Bakr b. al-Murābiṭ, was among those who denounced him. I was informed about this from someone who witnessed this condemnation. Ibn al-Mar’a got free of this by relocating to Murcia. 253

The next author from the Murcian tradition to cite Ibn Masarra was Ibn al-`Arabī. Of the four presently-known references to Ibn Masarra by Ibn al-`Arabī, two of them refer to the Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf. In Ibn al-`Arabī’s Kitāb al-mīm wa’l-wāw wa’l-nūn, he writes: Among the levels of the mysteries of letters is the case, in some languages, where the last letter [in the name of a letter] is the same as the first, such as in “mīm,” “wāw,” and “nūn” in Arabic. This is among the levels of mystery having to do with the pronunciation of the letters, and is not among those levels of mystery relating to script. Our discussion of these mysteries will follow the way of Ibn Masarra al-Jabalī and others, though not in accordance [with his treatment of]


This term is sometimes applied to forms of illicit sorcery that involve creating illusions with the help of jinn or shayāṭin. In this context though it probably means magic tricks, legerdemain. 253 Lisān al-Dīn b. al-Khaṭīb, Iḥāṭa fī akhbār Gharnāṭa,, p. 66. Massignon, Passion, 2:316, in a characteristically tantalizing yet un-sourced statement, writes of Ibn al-Mar’a that he had a “way involving the isqāt al-wasā’it, the legal observances, and alphabetical talismans (Qādī Ibn al-Murābit, in Malaga, stupidly accused him of cabalistic marvels, like Hallāj, like Itfīhī).” Clearly he is at least partly relying on Ibn al-Khaṭīb here, but one wonders if he had another source that more explicitly connected Ibn al-Mar’a to letter magic. (The source keyed to this sentence by Massignon deals only with the condemnations of Ḥallāj and Iṭfīḥī for magical practices, making no mention of Ibn al-Mar’a.)

115 their theurgic properties (khawāṣṣ), for discussion of the theurgic properties of things leads in most intances to accusations against the theurgist and the denial of [the existence and/or efficacy of such properties]. As for such accusations, they may be against [the theurgist’s] piety, such that one among the party of unveiling and being will be labelled a sorcerer or unbeliever. 254 This passage is completely unambiguous in its association of Ibn Masarra with linguistic theurgy. We lack the evidence to be sure, but it is certainly possible that, similar to what Ibn al-`Arabī describes here, some of the early opposition to Ibn Masarra may have related to his teachings on the ḥurūf. In any case, this work, in light of the far-reaching influence of Ibn al-`Arabī and the growing popularity of letter magic from this period on, ensured Ibn Masarra a famous name in the ranks of ḥurūfī theurgists. This status was reinforced later in the same century by Ibn Sab`īn, in whose oeuvre letter magic was much more central than it was for Ibn al-`Arabī. 255 In both of his presently-known references to Ibn Masarra, Ibn Sab`īn treats him solely as a letter theurgist. In his Fatḥ al-mushtarak, Ibn Sab`īn includes the “doubtful” form of letter magic (sīmīyā) “that Ibn Masarra claimed to have attained” as one of five divisions of letter magic generally. In his Risālat al-faqīriyya, he again criticizes “the alphabetical theurgy of Ibn Masarra al-Jabalī” (taṣrīf Ibn Masarra al-Jabalī fī al-ḥurūf). In both of these cases Ibn Sab`īn speaks negatively of Ibn Masarra’s letter-magic, but prior to further research, it should not be assumed that these criticisms indicate a complete lack of


A lengthier translation, including more of the surrounding context, is provided in chapter two, under the section “Muḥyi al-Dīn Ibn al-`Arabī.” 255 Ibn al-Khaṭīb calls him “a master of the names [c.f. Heb. “ba’al shem”], to whom is credited many works on letter magic (sīmīyā) and theurgy (taṣrīf).” Iḥaṭa, quoted in Taztāzānī, Ibn Sab`īn, p. 84.

116 influence or similarity between the approaches to linguistic theurgy taken by these two mystics. 256 Given the continuous familiarity with Ibn Masarra’s writings on the part of the generations of mystics known as the school of Murcia, and considering the enormous influence that these people had on later developments in linguistic theurgy (not to mention theosophical Sufism), 257 a further search of the letter-magic literature for references to Ibn Masarra is clearly a desideratum. This area of Islamicate literature is one of the most neglected in the field, and discoveries of important new connections are nearly inevitable. In particular, it would be interesting to know if al-Būnī knew Ibn Masarra’s writings directly; if so, references to Ibn Masarra would likely be legion in the later Islamicate literature on this topic, as so much of it was beholden to al-Būnī’s massive oeuvre. While future research is sure to further enrich our understanding of Ibn Masarra, enough evidence has accumulated for us to say with some confidence that, in

To take an example more or less at random, one can see a similarity in their general definitions of the onto-cosmological status of the letters. According to `Abd al-Raḥam al-Bisṭāmī, Ibn Sab`īn, in the introduction to his commentary on the Kitāb Idrīs (“The Book of Hermes/Enoch”), writes: “Know that the letters are the treasure-houses of God, in which are His mysteries, His names, His knowledge, His creative command, His attributes, His power and His intention.” Similar statements are made throughout Ibn Masarra’s Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf, such as this: “The people of esoteric knowledge (ahl al-`ilm al-bāṭin) assert that the letters which appear at the beginning of the surahs are the source of all things, and from them God’s knowledge is made manifest, as are the Prophets. Sahl b. `Abd Allāh al-Tustarī has said that they are the primordial dust, which is the root principle of all things at the beginning of their creation. God’s creative command is composed of the letters, and God’s dominion is manifested through them.” (Ja`far, Min qaḍāyā al-fikr, p. 317). 257 This trajectory has also been completely neglected. The commentarial traditions on Ibn al-`Arabī’s and, to a lesser extent, Ibn Sab`īn’s works, represent international, centuries-long endeavors involving scores of authors writing in every Islamicate language. Anyone writing a commentary on the Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam or the Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya (and there are legions of both) would have occasion to comment on Ibn Masarra, as he is mentioned in both. To take just a single example that happens to be at hand, Da’ūd Qayṣarī (d. ca. 1350), in his commentary on the Fuṣūṣ, briefly discusses Ibn Masarra when he comes to the relevant passage in the faṣṣ on Abraham. Qayṣarī calls Ibn Masarra a “fully realized Shaykh” (al-shaykh almuḥaqqiq), a term of the highest praise in the Akbarian tradition, and then goes on to quote passages from the Futūḥāt that make further reference to Ibn Masarra. Shushtarī’s poem on Ibn Sab`īn’s spiritual forebears has also drawn the attention of commentators, including Ibn `Ajība, and his works might also yield further discussion of Ibn Masarra. See his Īqāẓ al-himam fī sharḥ al-ḥikam and his Futūḥāt alilāhiyya, published together, both of which comment at various places on this poem (I skimmed both of these works but did not spot any reference to Ibn Masarra; further research is needed).


117 addition to his contributions to early Andalusī Sufism, Ibn Masarra has a place of honor in the history of Islamicate theurgy.

118 Conclusion

For more than a hundred and fifty years, conjecture and supposition have obscured Ibn Masarra’s true historical significance and given him a false fame. The mark on the history of Western philosophy that, as an Empedoclean sage, he was thought to have made, we now know to have been utter fiction. He was not, however, without importance in Islamicate intellectual history, and the preceding pages have demonstrated his central role in the interrelated currents of early Sufism and Islamicate magic. The beginnings of a new appreciation of Ibn Masarra have thus emerged, and the sources for a complete reappraisal have been identified. Much work remains to be done, and it is hoped that this thesis will serve, in however small a capacity, as a foundation for those future endeavors.


Appendix A Wahb b. Masarra: A Case of Mistaken Identity

In the definitive twentieth-century dictionary of Muslim biography, Khayr al-Dīn Ziriklī’s (1893-1976) A’lām, there is the following entry for a certain Wahb b. Masarra: Wahb b. Masarra (d. 346/957), Wahb b. Masarra b. Mufarrij b. Ḥakīm [sic], Abū al-Ḥazm al-Tamīmī al-Hijāzī [sic], Mālikī faqīh, of the people of Guadalajara [...]. He died in the region of his birth. He wrote a Kitāb fī’l-sunna wa ithbāt al-qadr wa’l-ru’yā [“a book about prophetic tradition and the affirmation of free will and spiritual vision,” though this sentence bears a variety of readings]. Ibn Ḥajar al`Asqalānī said: ‘He spoke of things having to do with qadr [i.e., he affirmed a certain amount of freedom of human will, which was perceived as a heretical denial of the omnipotence and omniscience of God], so they censured him on account of that, and the community followed this judgement with regard to his writings.’ 258

Ibn Ḥajar’s (d. 1449) notice is a bit shorter than Ziriklī indicates. In his Lisān alMīzān, he writes: Muḥammad b. Mufarrij al-Qurṭubī: Ibn al-Faraḍī says, “he was forsaken because he proselytized for the heresy (turika li-annahu kāna yad`u ilā bid’a) of Wahb b. Masarra.” Wahb was a Qadirite. 259

Ziriklī has misunderstood Ibn Ḥajar here, since the latter says that it was Muḥammad b. Mufarrij, and not Wahb b. Masarra b. Mufarrij, who was forsaken by the
258 259

Ziriklī, A`lām, 8:125, 3rd column; on, p. 1317. Lisān al-Mīzān, on, p. 984.

120 people, a report from which Ziriklī has gotten the mistaken idea that Wahb’s works were abandoned. But Ziriklī is not alone in his error; Ibn Ḥajar has his information from a mistaken report in Dhahabī (d. 1348), one which Dhahabī gives twice in similar form, once in his Tārīkh al-Islām [=TI], and once in his Siyar A`lām al-Nubalā’ [=SAN]. The entry in SAN is somewhat longer, and includes two pieces of information about Ibn Masarra not found in TI. Otherwise the two reports give almost identical information. Below I translate the passage from SAN, noting wherever additional or variant information is found in TI. Wahb b. Masarra b. Mufarrij b. Bakr, Abū al-Ḥazm al-Tamīmī al-Andalusī alHijārī [TI= al-Hijāzī] al-Mālikī, guardian of knowledge (al-ḥāfiẓ) and master of various branches of study. He was born in the ‘60s of the third century. He studied in Cordoba with Muḥammad b. Waḍḍāḥ al-Ḥāfiẓ, `Ubayd Allāh b. Yaḥyā b. Yaḥyā, Aḥmad b. al-Raḍī [sic; read al-Faraḍī], and Abū `Uthmān al-A`nāqī. In Guadalajara (a city that fell to the enemies) he studied with Muḥammad b. `Azra [sic: read `Udhra] and Abū Wahb b. Abī Nukhīla. He transmitted the Musnad of Ibn Abī Shayba from Ibn Waḍḍāḥ. He was a leading scholar [ra’s; TI= ḥāfiẓ] of jurisprudence and a man of great insight in studies of hadith and hadith-biography, pious and godfearing. The young men of his homeland sought him out. He composed a number of [TI= good] works. He spread in Cordoba the [jurisprudential and hadith-related] principles of Ibn Waḍḍāḥ which he had learned from the great scholar himself. Among those who studied with him were Abū Muḥammad al-Qal`ī, Abū `Abd alRaḥīm b. al-`Ajūz [TI= Aḥmad b. `Ajūz, the father of Shaykh `Abd al-Raḥīm], Muḥammad b. `Alī b. al-Shaykh [TI adds “al-Sibtī”], Abū `Umar Aḥmad b. alJasūr and Aḥmad b. al-Qāsim al-Tāhiratī. He also took on as disciples those two guardians of knowledge (ḥāfiẓayn), Ibn `Abd al-Barr and Ibn Ḥazm. He was in error (kāna minhi hafwa) on account of statements about qadr [i.e., he affirmed free human will] – we seek refuge in God! Abu Walīd b. al-Faraḍī said:

121 ‘Muḥammad b. Mufarrij al-Qurṭubī 260 was forsaken because he proselytized for the heretical innovation (turika li-annahu kāna yad`u ilā bid’a) of Wahb b. Masarra.’ Among the things that have come down to us from Ibn Masarra is his saying that the paradise from which our father Adam was expelled was not a heavenly paradise (jannat al-khuld) but rather an earthly one (jannat fi’l-arḍ). In such wise did he obstinately descend to the depths of depravity! Ṭalamankī, in his refutation of the Bāṭinīs (raddihi `alā bāṭiniyya), tells us that Ibn Masarra claimed prophecy and alleged that he heard voices that he could establish within his soul as having come from God. I say: this is not among the kinds of the assumption of prophecy, but is rather among the species of error and stupidity. He died in his home town after returning there from Cordoba, in the middle of Sha`ban in the year 346.

The only constant in all of these passages is a statement that supposedly goes back to Ibn al-Faraḍī, which runs: “He [or specifically Muḥammad b. Mufarrij al-Qurṭubī] was forsaken for proselytizing for the heretical innovation of Wahb b. Masarra.” In fact, Ibn al-Faraḍī wrote no such thing. Here is his entry for Wahb b. Masarra from his Tārīkh `ulamā al-Andalus (ed. Codera, Madrid, 1890-1892, and online at

1516 [1518 on]: Wahb b. Masarra b. Mufarrij b. Ḥakam al-Tamīmī, of the people of Guadalajara. His kunya is Abū al-Ḥazm. In Cordoba he studied with Muḥammad b. Waḍḍāḥ, `Ubayd Allāh b. Yaḥya, Aḥmad b. Ibrāhīm al-Faraḍī al-A`nāqī, Sa`d b. Mu`ādh, Abū Ṣāliḥ Ayyūb b. Sulaymān, Aslam b. `Abd al-`Azīz, Muḥammad b. Walīd, Ibn Abī Tamām,

So TI; the quotation from Ibn al-Faraḍī in SAN does not include the name, and simply begins “turika liannahu...”


122 Muḥammad b. `Umar b. Lubāba, Ṭāhir b. `Abd al-`Azīz, Aḥmad b. Khālid, Ibn Ayman, Muḥammad b. Qāsim, Qāsim b. Aṣbagh, and Ibn Khushanī. In Guadalajara he studied with Abī Wahb b. Abī Nukhīla, Muḥammad b. `Udhra, `Alī b. al-Hasan, and Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm Ḥayyūn. He was a guardian of knowledge (ḥāfiẓ) in jurisprudence and a man of great insight in studies of hadith and hadith-biography, pious and godfearing. People would journey from the seaport to study with him. He spread in Cordoba the principles of Ibn Waḍḍāḥ that he had studied from him. He transmitted, among other works, the Mudawwana 261 and the Musnad of Ibn Abī Shayba. The whole community (jama`a) of Cordoba and other towns studied with him, and he later returned to his home town. I have this information from ‘Abd Allāh b. Muḥammad al-Tughrī, who reported the names of those men from whom [Wahb] transmitted material. From a number of [Wahb’s] disciples, with whom I corresponded, I have the following: Wahb b. Masarra – God rest his soul – died on Sunday night, the fourteenth of Sha`ban, of the year 346, in Guadalajara.

This was obviously Dhahabī’s primary source for the bulk of his information on Wahb; witness the verbatim quotation of the sentence “He was a guardian of knowledge (ḥāfiẓ) in jurisprudence and a man of great insight in studies of hadith and hadithbiography, pious and godfearing.” The names of Wahb’s teachers given in Dhahabī can all be found in this report, and the date of death is consistent. What’s missing is the critical passage about someone proselytizing for his heresy. As noted above, Dhahabī names this proselytizer in his Tārīkh al-Islām – Muḥammad b. Mufarrij al-Qurṭubī – and in Ibn al-Faraḍī one finds the following entry for this same individual:


The important Mālikī fiqh text by Saḥnūn b. Sa`īd al-Tanūkhī (d. 854).

123 1329 [1331 on]: Muḥammad b. Mufarrij b. `Abd Allāh b. Mufarrij alMu`āfirī, of the people of Cordoba. His kunya is Abū `Abd Allāh, and he was known as al-Fannī. He studied with Qāṣim b. Aṣbagh and others. On his journeys to the east, he studied with Ibn al-A`rābī in Mecca and, in Baṣra, with `Abd al-Mālik b. Muḥammad b. Baḥr b. Shādhān al-Jallāb. In Basra he also met Abū Ja`far Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Naḥḥas, and transmitted from him his works on Qur’anic readings and lexicography, the abrogating and abrogated verses, and other subjects. He was the first to introduce the transmission of these books into al-Andalus. He was an adherent of the school of Ibn Masarra and proselytized for it (yu`taqida madhhab Ibn Masarra wa yad`u ilayh). Since he had little information to transmit, the people left off (taraka al-nās) taking [transmitted material] from him. He died on Saturday night, the sixth of Ramadan of the year 371.

The “Ibn Masarra” mentioned in this report, for whom Muḥammad b. Mufarrij was a missionary, is without doubt our Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Masarra (d. 319/931), not Wahb. Clearly, Dhahabī has mistakenly conflated the Ibn Masarra mentioned in this entry with Wahb b. Masarra, a completely orthodox transmitter of hadith whose good reputation is otherwise universally upheld in the literature. We can also say without doubt that this entry of Ibn al-Faraḍī’s on Muḥammad b. Mufarrij was Dhahabī’s ultimate source for his confused statements about Wahb. First of all, as already noted, Dhahabī mentions this fellow by name in Tārīkh al-Islām. Secondly, it is extremely rare to find individuals described in the literature as open missionaries for Ibn Masarra; Ibn al-Faraḍī says this of only two other people (Muḥammad al-Qaysī alQurṭubī and `Abd al-`Azīz b. al-Imām al-Qurṭubī), and in neither case does he use the verb da`a. Third, and most importantly, this entry describes Muḥammad b. Mufarrij as having been forsaken, abandoned, turika, though the verb here is active rather than

124 passive; it’s passive in Dhahabī. Note, though, that Dhahabī has gotten this detail mixed up as well, since Ibn al-Faraḍī does not state that Ibn Mufarrij was forsaken on account of his adherence to or missionary work for the teachings of Ibn Masarra, but rather due to the fact that he had little that people wanted to learn from him (kāna qalīl al-`ilm ḥaddath).

Though thus full of misunderstandings, Dhahabī’s report is actually quite significant for the study of Ibn Masarra. Interestingly, Dhahabī has been almost completely neglected in the scholarship on Ibn Masarra, 262 despite the fact that he mentions him or his father at least eleven times in TI and thrice in SAN, not counting the entries on Wahb. Most of these instances follow earlier sources, principally Ibn alFaraḍī, but the new information in these entries on Wahb invites a careful comparison to see if his works hold other revelations for our knowledge of the Masarriyya.

Dhahabī’s report contributes three important pieces of information with regard to Ibn Masarra (the fact that Muḥammad b. Mufarrij was a follower and open supporter of Ibn Masarra has long been known; see Asin, Mystical Philosophy, p. 97; Ibn Masarra’s “qadarism,” or his affirmation of free will, is also mentioned in earlier sources, including Ibn Ḥazm). First of all, Dhahabī informs us that: “Among the things that have come down to us from Ibn Masarra is his saying that the paradise from which our father Adam was expelled was not a heavenly paradise (jannat al-khuld) but rather an earthly one
With the exception of Fierro and Zanon, “Andalusíes en dos obras de al-Dhahabī,” p. 187, who note in passing that Dhahabī has confused Wahb for Muḥammad b. Masarra in this case. They do not discuss the content of these notices in Dhahabī, however. Fierro discusses some of this content in two articles, cited below.

125 (janna fī’l-arḍ).” 263 No other known source on Ibn Masarra attributes this thesis to him, nor does he discuss this in either of his two extant writings. There is, however, a lengthy discussion and refutation of this thesis in Ibn Ḥazm’s Faṣl, where it is attributed to Mundhir b. Sa`īd. 264 Mundhir b. Sa`īd (d. 355/966) was a Mu`tazilī and proponent of the Ẓāhirī legal madhhab, though even with these two strikes against his orthodoxy (in the Andalusī context) he was appointed supreme qāḍī of Cordoba by Caliph `Abd al-Raḥman III, the highest magistracy in the kingdom. 265 Three of his sons and one of his nephews are recorded in the early literature as adherents of Ibn Masarra, and his son Ḥakam was one of Ibn Ḥazm’s principal sources for the doctrines of the Masarriyya.266 These details make Dhahabī’s ascription of this thesis to Ibn Masarra quite plausible; at the very least, it was probably a belief of the later Masarriyya. 267

Secondly, Dhahabī provides us with an additional independent confirmation that Abū `Umar al-Ṭalamankī (d. 1038) wrote a radd work denouncing the teachings of Ibn Masarra, and Dhahabī is the only witness to this work being a radd `alā bāṭiniyya. In the

See Q 2:36f., where Adam, Eve and Iblīs (Lucifer) are told to “get down ... to earth”, the basis for the orthodox understanding of Eden (`Adn) as heavenly. 264 Kitāb al-faṣl fī milal, vol. 4, pp. 82f., in the chapter “al-kalām fī khalq al-janna wa’l-nār” 265 See Asín, Mystical Philosophy, Appendix II, no. VII. Cf. Fierro, `Abd al-Rahman III, pp. 128ff., where she notes that Mundhir denied the charges of Mu`tazilism and that “he was in charge of the persecution against the Masarris, who were often accused of Mu`tazilism.” This would appear to be purely inferential, as Mundhir is not named in the sources as participating in the actual persecution, though he was the qāḍī of Cordoba during part of the period in question (952-957). Ibn Ḥayyān’s sources, in Muqtabas V, refer rather to caliphal viziers being given this responsibility, in particular al-wazīr ṣāḥib al-madīna, `Abd Allāh b. Badr (pp. 24f.). 266 Mundhir’s sons Ḥakam, Sa`īd, and `Abd al-Wahhāb are all identified as Masarrīs (the first two in Ibn alAbbār, the latter in Ibn Bashkuwāl), as is his nephew Muḥammad b. Faḍl Allāh b. Sa`īd (in Ibn al-Abbār). 267 For more on the Islamic theological approach to the question of the status of the “janna” from which Adam was expelled, see al-Shiblī (d. 1367), Kitāb al-Ākām, pp. 201-204; Shiblī cites Ibn Ḥazm and refers to Mundhir and his views as well. Shiblī observes that “the majority of commentators have held that [the paradise from which Adam was expelled] was in heaven and was the Paradise of refuge (jannat al-ma’wī), in accordance with the outward sense of the verses [of the Qur’ān] and the prophetic traditions,” p. 202.


126 introduction to his translation of Khushanī’s Ṭabaqāt al-`ulamā’ Ifrīqiyya, Ben Cheneb reported that a manuscript in the Khaldunian Museum of Tunis gave an extensive bibliography of Ṭalamankī’s work, among which was a “kitāb yashtamil `alā ashyā’ fīhi kashf madhhab Muḥammad b. Masarra ajzā’ kathīra” (“a book comprising many sections, among which was an exposé of the school of Muḥammad b. Masarra”). This datum was repeated by Asín (Mystical Philosopy, p. 99) and Morris (“Reconsideration,” p. iii). Until Fierro spotted these lines of Dhahabī, the note by Ben Cheneb was the sole piece of evidence known to modern scholars that Ṭalamankī wrote such a work. 268 Recently, though, I have discovered two additional witnesses to this work, one earlier and one later than Dhahabī. In his Tartīb al-madārik, Qāḍī `Iyāḍ (d. 1149) gives the following biographical notice for this man:269 Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. `Abd Allāh b. Abī `Īsā (aka Lubb) b. Yaḥyā b. Muḥammad b. Quzalmān 270 al-Mu`āfirī, from Ṭalamanka, on the eastern coast of al-Andalus; he lived in Cordoba and studied with the scholars thereof, including Ibn Mufarraj, Ibn `Awn Allāh, 271 Abī Muḥammad al-Qal`ī, Ibn `Īsā, Abī al-Qāsim Khalaf b. Muḥammad, Zakariyyā b. Khālid, Ibn Nāṣir al-Sibtī, Ibn Nu`mān alAnṭākī, Ibn Zarb, 272 Ḥusayn Bunādil(?), al-Zubaydī, 273 `Abbās b. Aṣbagh, Muḥammad b. Khalīfa, Maslama b. Batrī, Ibn Jandal, and Ibn Balkāwashī(?). He made a riḥla to the East and met with the communities of scholars [in the cities thereof]. [Names various Eastern teachers, and a handful of people who
Fierro, “The Polemic about the karāmāt al-awliyā’,” p. 247 and n. 103. Fierro doesn’t allude to the fact here that the line in question has been mistakenly associated by Dhahabī with Wahb instead of Muḥammad b. Masarra. She discusses this source again in “Bāṭinism in al-Andalus,” p. 103. 269 Though not mentioned in this notice, one of Ṭalamankī’s students was Ibn Ḥazm. 270 Possibly a misprint for Qarluman, which is how Cornell spells it, Mirrors of Prophethood, p. 182, top of chart. 271 This important scholar, a student of Ibn al-A`rābī, also taught `Abd Allāh b. Muḥammad b. Naṣr b. Abyaḍ al-Umawī, another author of a radd work against Ibn Masarra (not known to be extant). 272 Muḥammad b. Yabqā b. Zarb (d. 381/991), also credited with having written a work in radd `alā Ibn Masarra (not known to be extant). 273 al-Zubaydī (d. 379/988) also wrote a work against Ibn Masarra, entitled Hatk sutūr al-mulḥidīn (not known to be extant).

127 transmitted from him]. He specialized in the sciences of the holy law (`ulum alshari`a) and mastered [the study of] the Qur’an and ḥadīth. He composed many works, large and small, such as his Kitāb al-dalīl ilā ma`rifa al-jalīl, in one hundred sections, a commentary on the Qur’an, a Kitāb al-bayān fī i`rāb alQur’ān, a book on the excellent qualities of Mālik (faḍā’il Mālik), a biographical work on men named in the Muwaṭṭa’ [of Mālik], a Kitāb al-radd `alā Ibn Masarra, a Kitāb al-wuṣūl ilā ma`rifat al-uṣūl, and others. [A number of remarks by other scholars in praise of Aḥmad’s knowledge and personal qualities are quoted; one man called him a “sword unto the heretical innovations”]. He lived and taught in Cordoba, and subsequently in the towns of Almeria, Ilbīra, and Saraqusṭa. Then he retired to his native Ṭalamanka, living in seclusion and dying there at the beginning of Muharram of the year 429 (some say Dhu’l-Hijja, 428), having lived to be nearly ninety, still of sound mind. He was born in 340. 274

The other witness to this radd is the Dībāj al-Mudhahhab of Ibn Farḥūn (d. 1397), where, in a brief biographical notice on Ṭalamankī, he attributes to him a kitāb al-radd `alā Abi Masarra, an obvious mistake for Ibn Masarra. 275 In any case, Dhahabī’s reference to this text is important in that it refers to the actual contents, and not simply the title, of a refutation of Ibn Masarra. While nearly a dozen such radd works are known – all of which were written within a hundred years of the death of Ibn Masarra – none have survived, and none of the references to these works, except for Dhahabī here, provide any information about their contents. 276 Dhahabī’s citation also raises the possibility that Ṭalamankī wrote about Ibn Masarra in more than one work. Dhahabī’s citation refers to

Tartīb al-madārik, on, p. 552. The mistake may be a typo exclusive to the online text of the work at; I have been unable to consult a printed edition. 276 Ibn Abyaḍ al-Umawī’s radd work was said by Ibn Bashkuwāl to have been large, containing many ḥadīth and proof-texts; we are not told anything of the nature of the contents, however. It is possible that Ibn Ḥayyān preserves something of al-Zubaydī’s radd work; see chapter two, entries under Muḥammad alZubaydī and Ibn Ḥayyān.


128 a radd `alā bāṭiniyya, while the other sources refer to a radd `alā Ibn Masarra, though neither of these are necessarily book titles. That Dhahabī knew more of this work than simply the title is also an indication that at least one radd work against Ibn Masarra was still in circulation in the fourteenth century.

The third piece of new information provided by Dhahabī is Ibn Masarra’s claim to prophecy, which Dhahabī transmits from Talamankī. This can be seen as support for Ibn Ḥazm’s report that Ibn Masarra taught “the possibility of man acquiring the gift of prophecy (iktisāb al-nubuwwa), in the sense that, when he reaches the goal (ghāya) of purification and spiritual limpidity of the soul, he attains the status of the prophet.” 277 Ibn Ḥazm was told this by Masarrīs, and he goes on to say that the passages of Ibn Masarra’s works which these Masarrīs showed him tended to confirm this. Ibn Masarra’s surviving works do not contain claims to prophecy or to hearing divine voices, nor do any of the other sources attribute such claims to him. Their plausibility, however, in light of Ibn Ḥazm’s report, is high. Note that Ibn Masarra’s Kitāb khawāṣṣ al-ḥurūf is of a genre of occult-science literature that was very much concerned with the acquisition of prophecy. Perhaps more importantly, both of the surviving works of Ibn Masarra refer to the possibility of the human intellect reaching the same truths as prophecy, which is obviously relevant to Ibn Ḥazm’s comment.

For ease of reference, I give below the Arabic texts translated and discussed above.


Faṣl 4:199, following Asín’s trans., Mystical Philosophy, p. 91.

‫921‬ ‫‪Dhahabī, Siyar a`lām al-nubalā`, p. 1989 on‬‬ ‫وهﺐ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺴﺮة‬ ‫اﺑﻦ ﻣﻔﺮج ﺑﻦ ﺑﻜﺮ أﺑﻮ اﻟﺤﺰم اﻟﺘﻤﻴﻤﻲ اﻷﻧﺪﻟﺴﻲ اﻟﺤﺠﺎري اﻟﻤﺎﻟﻜﻲ اﻟﺤﺎﻓﻆ ﺻﺎﺣﺐ اﻟﺘﺼﺎﻧﻴﻒ.‬ ‫وﻟﺪ ﻓﻲ ﺣﺪود اﻟﺴﺘﻴﻦ وﻣﺌﺘﻴﻦ.‬ ‫وﺳﻤﻊ ﺑﻘﺮﻃﺒﺔ ﻣﻦ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ وﺿﺎح اﻟﺤﺎﻓﻆ وﻣﻦ ﻋﺒﻴﺪ اﷲ ﺑﻦ ﻳﺤﻴﻰ ﺑﻦ ﻳﺤﻴﻰ وأﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﺮاﺿﻲ وأﺑﻲ ﻋﺜﻤﺎن اﻷﻋﻨﺎﻗﻲ‬ ‫وﻗﺪ ﺳﻤﻊ ﺑﻮادي اﻟﺤﺠﺎرة ﻣﺪﻳﻨﺔ ﺻﺎرت ﻟﻠﻌﺪو ﻣﻦ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻋﺰرة وأﺑﻲ وهﺐ ﺑﻦ أﺑﻲ ﻧﺨﻴﻠﺔ.‬ ‫وﻗﺪ ﺣﺪث ﺑﻤﺴﻨﺪ اﺑﻦ أﺑﻲ ﺷﻴﺒﺔ ﻋﻦ اﺑﻦ وﺿﺎح.‬ ‫وآﺎن رأﺳﺎ ﻓﻲ اﻟﻔﻘﻪ ﺑﺼﻴﺮا ﺑﺎﻟﺤﺪﻳﺚ ورﺟﺎﻟﻪ ﻣﻊ ورع وﺗﻘﻮى دارت اﻟﻔﺘﻴﺎ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﺑﺒﻠﺪﻩ وﻟﻪ ﺗﻮاﻟﻴﻒ وأوﺿﺎع أﺣﻀﺮوﻩ‬ ‫إﻟﻰ ﻗﺮﻃﺒﺔ وأﺧﺮﺟﺖ إﻟﻴﻪ أﺻﻮل اﺑﻦ وﺿﺎح اﻟﺘﻲ ﺳﻤﻌﻬﺎ ﻣﻨﻪ ﻓﺴﻤﻌﺖ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ وﺳﻤﻊ ﻣﻨﻪ ﻋﺎﻟﻢ ﻋﻈﻴﻢ وازدﺣﻤﻮا ﻋﻠﻴﻪ.‬ ‫أﺧﺬ ﻋﻨﻪ أﺑﻮ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ اﻟﻘﻠﻌﻲ وأﺑﻮ ﻋﺒﺪ اﻟﺮﺣﻴﻢ أﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﻌﺠﻮز وﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻋﻠﻲ ﺑﻦ اﻟﺸﻴﺦ وأﺑﻮ ﻋﻤﺮ أﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﺠﺴﻮر‬ ‫وأﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﻘﺎﺳﻢ اﻟﺘﺎهﺮﺗﻲ وﺣﻤﻞ اﻟﺤﺎﻓﻈﺎن اﺑﻦ ﻋﺒﺪ اﻟﺒﺮ واﺑﻦ ﺣﺰم ﻋﻦ أﺻﺤﺎﺑﻪ وﻗﺪ آﺎن ﻣﻨﻪ هﻔﻮة ﻓﻲ اﻟﻘﻮل ﺑﺎﻟﻘﺪر‬ ‫ﻧﺴﺄل اﷲ اﻟﺴﻼﻣﺔ.‬ ‫وﻗﺎل أﺑﻮ اﻟﻮﻟﻴﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﻔﺮﺿﻲ ﺗﺮك ﻷﻧﻪ آﺎن ﻳﺪﻋﻮ اﻟﻰ ﺑﺪﻋﺔ وهﺐ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺴﺮة.‬ ‫وﻣﻤﺎ ﻧﻘﻞ ﻋﻦ اﺑﻦ ﻣﺴﺮة أﻧﻪ آﺎن ﻳﻘﻮل ﻟﻴﺴﺖ اﻟﺠﻨﺔ اﻟﺘﻲ أﺧﺮج ﻣﻨﻬﺎ أﺑﻮﻧﺎ ﺁدم ﺑﺠﻨﺔ اﻟﺨﻠﺪ ﺑﻞ ﺟﻨﺔ ﻓﻲ اﻷرض.‬ ‫ﻓﻬﺬا ﺗﻨﻄﻊ وﺗﻌﻤﻖ ﻣﺮذول.‬ ‫ﻗﺎل اﻟﻄﻠﻤﻨﻜﻲ ﻓﻲ ردﻩ ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺒﺎﻃﻨﻴﺔ اﺑﻦ ﻣﺴﺮة ادﻋﻰ اﻟﻨﺒﻮة وزﻋﻢ أﻧﻪ ﺳﻤﻊ اﻟﻜﻼم ﻓﺜﺒﺖ ﻓﻲ ﻧﻔﺴﻪ أﻧﻪ ﻣﻦ ﻋﻨﺪ اﷲ.‬ ‫ﻗﻠﺖ: ﻟﻴﺲ هﺬا ﻣﻦ ﻗﺒﻴﻞ ادﻋﺎء اﻟﻨﺒﻮة ﺑﻞ ﻣﻦ ﻗﺒﻴﻞ اﻟﻐﻠﻂ واﻟﺠﻬﻞ.‬ ‫ﺗﻮﻓﻲ ﺑﺒﻠﺪﻩ ﺑﻌﺪ رﺟﻮﻋﻪ ﻣﻦ ﻗﺮﻃﺒﺔ ﻓﻲ ﻧﺼﻒ ﺷﻌﺒﺎن ﺳﻨﺔ ﺳﺖ وأرﺑﻌﻴﻦ وﺛﻼث ﻣﺌﺔ.‬

‫.‪Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, p. 2599 on‬‬ ‫وهﺐ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺴﺮة ﺑﻦ ﻣﻔﺮج ﺑﻦ ﺑﻜﺮ: أﺑﻮ اﻟﺤﺰم اﻟﺘﻤﻴﻤﻲ اﻷﻧﺪﻟﺴﻲ اﻟﺤﺠﺎزي. ﺳﻤﻊ ﺑﻘﺮﻃﺒﺔ: ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ وﺿﺎح، وﻋﺒﻴﺪ اﷲ‬ ‫ﺑﻦ ﻳﺤﻴﻰ ﺑﻦ ﻳﺤﻴﻰ، وأﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﺮاﺿﻲ، واﻷﻋﻨﺎﻗﻲ. وﺑﺒﻠﺪﻩ ﻣﻦ: أﺑﻲ وهﺐ ﺑﻦ أﺑﻲ ﻧﺨﻴﻠﺔ، وﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻋﺰوة. وآﺎن‬ ‫ﺣﺎﻓﻈﺎ ﻟﻠﻔﻘﻪ، ﺑﺼﻴﺮا ﺑﻪ وﺑﺎﻟﺤﺪﻳﺚ واﻟﻌﻠﻞ واﻟﺮﺟﺎل ﻣﻊ ورع وﻓﻀﻞ. دارت ﻋﻠﻴﻪ اﻟﻔﺘﻴﺎ ﺑﻤﻮﺿﻌﻪ، وﻟﻪ أوﺿﺎع ﺣﺴﻨﺔ.‬ ‫ً‬ ‫ً‬ ‫واﺳﺘﻘﺪم إﻟﻰ ﻗﺮﻃﺒﺔ وأﺧﺮﺟﺖ إﻟﻴﻪ أﺻﻮل اﺑﻦ وﺿﺎح اﻟﺘﻲ ﺳﻤﻊ ﻣﻨﻬﺎ، ﻓﺴﻤﻌﺖ ﻣﻨﻪ. وﺳﻤﻊ ﻣﻨﻪ ﻋﺎﻟﻢ ﻋﻈﻴﻢ. أﺧﺬ ﻋﻨﻪ:‬ ‫أﺑﻮ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ اﻟﻘﻠﻌﻲ، وأﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﻌﺠﻮز واﻟﺪ اﻟﺸﻴﺦ ﻋﺒﺪ اﻟﺮﺣﻴﻢ، وﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻋﻠﻲ اﺑﻦ اﻟﺸﻴﺦ اﻟﺴﺒﺘﻲ، وأﺑﻮ ﻋﻤﺮ أﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ‬ ‫ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﺠﺴﻮر، وأﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﻘﺎﺳﻢ اﻟﺘﺎهﺮﺗﻲ، وﺁﺧﺮون. وﺗﻮﻓﻲ ﻓﻲ ﺑﺒﻠﺪﻩ ﺑﻌﺪ رﺟﻮﻋﻪ ﻣﻦ ﻗﺮﻃﺒﺔ ﻓﻲ ﻧﺼﻒ ﺷﻌﺒﺎن،‬ ‫وﺳﻤﻊ ﻣﻨﻪ اﻹﻣﺎﻣﺎن: أﺑﻮ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﺣﺰم، واﺑﻦ ﻋﺒﺪ اﻟﺒﺮ ﻣﻦ أﺻﺤﺎﺑﻪ. وﺣﺪث ﺑﻤﺴﻨﺪ اﺑﻦ أﺑﻲ ﺷﻴﺒﺔ. وﻗﺪ آﺎﻧﺖ ﻣﻨﻪ هﻔﻮة‬ ‫ﻓﻲ اﻟﻤﻌﺘﻘﺪ ﻓﻲ اﻟﻘﺪر، ﻧﺴﺄل اﷲ اﻟﺴﻼﻣﺔ ﻓﻲ اﻟﺪﻳﻦ. ﻗﺎل اﺑﻦ اﻟﻔﺮﺿﻲ: ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ اﻟﻤﻔﺮج اﻟﻘﺮﻃﺒﻲ ُﺮك ﻷﻧﻪ آﺎن ﻳﺪﻋﻮ‬ ‫ﺗ‬ ‫إﻟﻰ ﺑﺪﻋﺔ وهﺐ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺴﺮة.‬

‫‪Ibn Ḥajar, Lisān al-Mīzān, p. 984 on alwaraq‬‬

‫031‬ ‫ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻣﻔﺮج اﻟﻘﺮﻃﺒﻲ: ﻗﺎل اﺑﻦ اﻟﻘﺮﺿﻲ: ﺗﺮك ﻷﻧﻪ آﺎن ﻳﺪﻋﻮ إﻟﻰ ﺑﺪﻋﺔ وهﺐ ﺑﻦ ﻣﻴﺴﺮة اﻧﺘﻬﻰ. ووهﺐ آﺎن‬ ‫ﻗﺪرﻳﺎ‬ ‫ً‬

‫.7131 .‪Ziriklī (b. 1893), A`lām, p‬‬ ‫وهْﺐ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺴ ﱠة )00 - 643 ﻩ 00 - 759 م( وهﺐ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺴﺮة ﺑﻦ ﻣﻔﺮج ﺑﻦ ﺣﻜﻴﻢ، أﺑﻮ اﻟﺤﺰم اﻟﺘﻤﻴﻤﻲ اﻟﺤﺠﺎزي: ﻓﻘﻴﻪ‬ ‫َ َﺮ‬ ‫َ‬ ‫ﻣﺎﻟﻜﻲ، ﻣﻦ أهﻞ )وادي اﻟﺤﺠﺎرة( ﻋﺮﻓﻪ اﻟﻴﺎﻓﻌﻲ ﺑﻤﺴﻨﺪ اﻷﻧﺪﻟﺲ. اﺳﺘﻘﺪم ﺑﻜﺘﺒﻪ إﻟﻰ ﻗﺮﻃﺒﺔ. وآﺎﻧﺖ اﻟﺮﺣﻠﺔ إﻟﻴﻪ ﻓﻲ أﻳﺎﻣﻪ.‬ ‫وﺗﻮﻓﻲ ﺑﺒﻠﺪﻩ. ﻟﻪ آﺘﺎب ﻓﻲ )اﻟﺴﻨﺔ وإﺛﺒﺎت اﻟﻘﺪر واﻟﺮؤﻳﺔ( ﻗﺎل اﺑﻦ ﺣﺠﺮ اﻟﻌﺴﻘﻼﻧﻲ: ﺗﻜﻠﻢ ﻓﻲ ﺷﺊ ﻣﻦ اﻟﻘﺪر، ﻓﻌﺎﺑﻮا ﻋﻠﻴﻪ،‬ ‫وﺗﺒﻌﻪ ﺟﻤﺎﻋﺔ ﻋﻠﻰ ﻣﻘﺎﻟﺘﻪ‬

‫872 .961 .‪Ibn al-Faraḍī, Tārīkh `ulamā al-Andalus, alwaraq p‬‬ ‫1331- ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻣﻔ ﱢج ﺑﻦ ﻋﺒﺪ اﷲ ﺑﻦ ﻣﻔ ﱢج اﻟﻤ َﺎﻓﺮي: ﻣﻦ أهﻞ ﻗﺮﻃ َﺔ؛ ﻳﻜﱠﻰ: أ َﺎ ﻋﺒﺪ اﷲ، وﻳﻌﺮف: ﺑﺎﻟﻔﻨﻰ.‬ ‫ُ ْ ُﺒ ُ َﻨ ﺑ‬ ‫ُ َ ﺮ ُﻌ ِ ِ ّ‬ ‫ُ َﺮ‬ ‫ﺳﻤﻊ: ﻣﻦ َﺎﺳﻢ ﺑﻦ أﺻ َﻎ وﻏﻴﺮﻩ. ورﺣﻞ إﻟﻰ اﻟﻤﺸ ِق ﺑﻤ ﱠﺔ: ﻣﻦ اﺑﻦ اﻷﻋﺮاﺑ ّ، وﺑﻤﺼﺮ: ﻣﻦ ﻋﺒﺪ اﻟﻤﻠﻚ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ‬ ‫ﻲ‬ ‫ْﺮ ﻜ‬ ‫َ ْﺒ‬ ‫ﻗ‬ ‫ََِ‬ ‫ﺑﺤْﺮ ﺑﻦ ﺷﺎذان اﻟﺠ ﱠب، وﻟﻘﻰ ﺑﻬﺎ أﺑﺎ ﺟﻌﻔﺮ أﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ اﻟﻨ َﺎس، ﻓﺮ َى ﻋﻨﻪ ﺗﺄﻟﻴﻔﻪ: ﻓﻲ إﻋﺮاب اﻟﻘﺮْﺁن، وﻓﻲ:‬ ‫ُ‬ ‫َو‬ ‫ﱠﺤ‬ ‫ﻼ‬ ‫َ‬ ‫اﻟﻤ َﺎﻧﻲ، واﻟ ﱠﺎ ِﺦ واﻟﻤﻨ ُﻮخ وﻏﻴﺮ ذﻟﻚ. وهﻮ: أول ﻣﻦ أد َﻞ هﺬﻩ اﻟﻜﺘﺐ اﻷﻧﺪُﺲ، رواﻳﺔ. وآﺎن ﻳﻌﺘﻘﺪ ﻣﺬهﺐ اﺑﻦ ﻣﺴ ﱠة‬ ‫َ َﺮ‬ ‫ْ َﻟ‬ ‫َ ْﺧ‬ ‫ﺴ‬ ‫ﻨﺳ‬ ‫َﻌ‬ ‫وﻳﺪﻋﻮا إﻟﻴْﻪ.‬ ‫َ‬ ‫وآﺎن: ﻗِﻴﻞ اﻟﻌﻠﻢ. ﺣ ﱠث، وﺳﻤﻊ ﻣﻨ ُ، ﺛﻢ ﺗﺮك اﻟﻨﺎس اﻷﺧﺬ ﻋﻨﻪ. و ُﻮﻓﻲ: ﻓﻲ ﻟﻴﻠﺔ اﻟﺴﺒﺖ ﻟﺴﺖ ََﻮْن ﻣﻦ ﺷﻬﺮ َ َﻀﺎن‬ ‫رﻣ‬ ‫ﺧﻠ‬ ‫ﺗ ﱢَ‬ ‫َ َُِ ﻪ‬ ‫َﺪ‬ ‫َﻠ‬ ‫ﺳﻨﺔ إﺣﺪى وﺳﺒﻌﻴﻦ وﺛﻼث ِﺎﺋﺔ.‬ ‫ِﻣ ٍ‬

‫.991 .‪Ibn al-Faraḍī, Tārīkh, alwaraq p‬‬ ‫8151- َهﺐ ﺑﻦ ﻣﺴ ﱠة ﺑﻦ ﻣ َ ﱢج ﺑﻦ ﺣ َﻢ اﻟﺘﻤﻴﻤﻲ: ﻣﻦ َهﻞ َا ِي اﻟﺤ َﺎ َة؛ ﻳ َ ﱠﻰ: أ َﺎ اﻟﺤﺰْم.‬ ‫ِﺠ ر ُﻜﻨ ﺑ َ‬ ‫أ ِود‬ ‫َﻜ‬ ‫ُﻔ ﺮ‬ ‫َ َﺮ‬ ‫و‬ ‫ﺳﻤﻊ ﺑﻘﺮﻃ َﺔ: ﻣﻦ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ و ﱠﺎح، وﻋﺒﻴْﺪ اﷲ ﺑﻦ ﻳﺤﻴﻰ، وَﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ إﺑﺮاهﻴﻢ اﻟﻔﺮﺿﻲ، واﻷﻋ َﺎﻗ ّ، و َﻌﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻣ َﺎذ،‬ ‫ُﻌ‬ ‫َ ْﻨ ِﻲ ﺳ‬ ‫أ‬ ‫َُ‬ ‫ﺿ‬ ‫َ ِ َ ُ ْ ُﺒ‬ ‫وَﺑﻲ ﺻﺎﻟﺢ أ ﱡﻮب ﺑﻦ ﺳﻠﻴﻤﺎن، وأﺳَﻢ ﺑﻦ ﻋﺒﺪ اﻟﻌﺰﻳﺰ، وﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ وِﻴﺪ، واﺑﻦ أﺑﻲ ﺗﻤﺎم، وﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻋﻤﺮ ﺑﻦ ُﺒﺎﺑﺔ،‬ ‫ﻟ‬ ‫َﻟ‬ ‫ْﻠ‬ ‫ﻳ‬ ‫أ‬ ‫و َﺎهﺮ ﺑﻦ ﻋﺒﺪ اﻟﻌﺰﻳﺰ، وَﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﺧﺎﻟﺪ، واﺑﻦ أﻳ َﻦ، وﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ َﺎﺳﻢ، و َﺎ ِﻢ ﺑﻦ أﺻ َﻎ، واﺑﻦ اﻟﺨﺸﻨﻲ.‬ ‫ُ َِ ّ‬ ‫َ ْﺒ‬ ‫ﻗﺳ‬ ‫ﻗ‬ ‫َ ْﻤ‬ ‫أ‬ ‫ﻃ‬ ‫وﺳﻤﻊ ﺑ َا ِي اﻟ ِ َﺎرة: ﻣﻦ أﺑﻲ َهﺐ ﺑﻦ أﺑﻲ ُﺨﻴﻠﺔ، وﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻋﺬرة، وﻋﻠﻲ ﺑﻦ اﻟﺤﺴﻦ، وﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ إﺑﺮاهﻴﻢ ﺑﻦ ﺣ ّﻮن.‬ ‫َﻴ‬ ‫ّ‬ ‫ﻧ‬ ‫و‬ ‫َ ِ َ ِﻮ د ﺤﺠ‬ ‫وآﺎن: َﺎ ِﻈﺎ ﻟﻠﻔﻘﻪ، ﺑ ِﻴﺮا ﺑﺎﻟﺤﺪﻳﺚ ﻣﻊ ورع وﻓﻀﻞ. وآﺎﻧﺖ اﻟﺮﺣﻠﺔ إﻟﻴﻪ ﻣﻦ اﻟ ّﻐﺮ آﻠﻪ ﻟﻠﺴﻤﺎع ﻣﻨﻪ. واﺳﺘﻘﺪم إﻟﻰ‬ ‫ُْ ْ ِ َ‬ ‫ﺜ‬ ‫َﺼ ً‬ ‫ﺣﻓ ً‬ ‫ﻗﺮﻃ َﺔ، وأﺧ ِﺟﺖ إﻟﻴﻪ أﺻﻮل ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ و ﱠﺎح اﻟﺘﻲ ﺳﻤﻊ ﻓﻴﻬﺎ. وﻗ ِئ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ: اﻟﻤ ﱠو َﺔ، وﻣﺴ َﺪ اﺑﻦ َﺑﻲ ﺷﻴ َﺔ وﻏﻴﺮ َِﻚ‬ ‫ذﻟ‬ ‫أ َ ْﺒ‬ ‫ُ ْﻨ‬ ‫ُﺪ ﻧ‬ ‫ُﺮ‬ ‫ﺿ‬ ‫ُ ْ ُﺒ ُ ْ ﺮ‬ ‫ﻣﻦ رواﻳﺘﻪ.‬

‫,6151 ‪Note that in the printed edition, these two entries from Ibn al-Faraḍī are numbered 1329 and‬‬ ‫.‪respectively‬‬


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