Ibn Abdak

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Personal Information
Full Name Muhammad b. Ali b. Abdak al-Jurjani
Teknonym Abu Ahmad
Epithet Ibn Abdak
Religious Affiliation Islam, Shia
Birth after 360/971
Place of Birth Jurjan
Studied in Nishabur, Isfahan, Balkh
Death after 360/971
Scholarly Information
Professors Abu Hashim al-Jubba'i, Abu l-Qasim al-Balkhi
Students al-Hakim al-Nisaburi, Abu Mansur al-Husyani

Abū Aḥmad Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. ʿAbdak al-Jurjānī (d. after 360/971), known as Ibn Abdak (Arabic: اِبنُ عَبدَك), was a Shiite theologian and traditionist.

Although there is no doubt that he was a Shiite and that he had a high status among the Shiites of Jurjan, it is not clear to which Shiite branch he belonged.

Several books are attributed to Ibn Abdak, but none of them are available today.

Biography

The birthdate of Ibn Abdak is not known. Ibn Abdak lived and passed away in Jurjan. The title Abdaki is taken from the name of his grandfather Abdak (a short form of Abd al-Karim).

It is reported that he studied under Muhammad b. Dawud Isfahani (d. 297/910). For some time, Ibn Abdak resided in Nishabur, where al-Hakim al-Nisaburi attended his teaching sessions. We also know that Ibn Abdak studied under Abu Hashim al-Jubba'i in Askar Mukram before 314/926. On his way back to Nishapur, he went to Isfahan and then travelled to Balkh and studied with Abu l-Qasim al-Balkhi (d. 317/929 or 319/931). According to Qadi Abd al-Jabbar, al-Balkhi would accept many of the criticisms of Ibn Abdak regarding his views and would revise his views accordingly.

Mastery of Theology

As it appears from the letter of Abu l-Qasim al-Balkhi to Abu Sahl Muhammad b. Abd Allah, Ibn Abdak was very successful in his study of theology. In this letter, al-Balkhi mentions that he met a youth called Ibn Abdak who had greater mastery of theology than all other people he had ever met.

Religious Affiliation

Ibn Abdak was known for being a Shiite. Al-Hakin al-Nisaburi, and following him other scholars of rijal, regarded him as the prominent figure of the Shiites of Jurjan and even called him "the leader of Shiites in his time." However, there is some ambiguity as to which Shiite branch he belonged to.

Evidence for His Twelver Shiite Inclinations

Al-Najashi mentions Ibn Abdak and uses the teknonym Abu Ja'far for him (probably because he had a son named Ja'far), and clearly states that he was a Twelver Shiite. He also mentions that he was a jurist and theologian and a prominent figure. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi also mentions Ibn Abdak in his al-Fihrist among the outstanding Imami theologians.

Evidence for His Zaydi Inclinations

A study of the hadiths narrated by Abu Talib al-Hasani from Ibn Abdak reveals the latter's inclination to Zaydi thoughts, such as a hadith that affirms the belief in the intermediary position (manzila bayn al-manzilatayn) and a hadith about Imam al-Sajjad (a) which in not in line with the Twelver Shiite view on infallibility. Also, according to two reports, Ibn Abdak praised Muhammad b. Zayd al-Da'i and Nasir al-Kabir (Utrush).

In this regard, Qadi Abd al-Jabbar's comment is noteworthy: "Ibn Abdak was confused with regard to the issue of imamate and did not have a fixed view."

On other theological matters, it could be said that Ibn Abdak was more inclined to Mu'tazilism.

Teachers and Students in Hadith

Among the hadith teachers of Ibn Abdak were:

Among those who narrated hadiths from Ibn Abdak were Abu Mansur al-Husyani and Bishr b. Muhammad al-Khatib.

In the View of Scholars of Rijal

Al-Hakim al-Nisaburi has described Ibn Abdak as a wise intellectual, without any remarks about his reliability. However, Ibn al-Jawzi and following him al-Suyuti have accused him of forgery. Al-Najashi and al-Tusi have praised him without any particular remarks about his trustworthiness.

Works

Although most sources do not mention Ibn Abdak's works, Imami bibliographers have attributed to him several works, which are not available today. These works are as follows:

  • Tafsir al-Quran, mentioned by al-Najashi and al-Shaykh al-Tusi. The latter has described it as a great work (though he has not mentioned it in his introduction to al-Tibyan where he gives a list of Quranic commentaries). Ibn Shahrashub also has mentioned this work in his Ma'alim al-ulama' and said that it was written in ten volumes.
  • A refutation of the Batiniyya, mentioned by al-Mas'udi. This work may have been the same work mentioned by al-Shaykh al-Tusi by the title al-Radd ala al-ismailiyya (Refutation of Ismailism). It is noteworthy that this book and its author seem to have been so well-known that al-Mas'udi has mentioned it in his al-Tanbih wa l-ishraf, the book he finished writing in 345/956.
  • Al-Kalam ala l-firqa al-muthbita li-ru'yat Allah ta'ali (Critique of the Sect That Believes in Seeing God Almighty)
  • Matali' al-hidaya (The Beginnings of Guidance)

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from ابن عبدک in Farsi Wikishia.