Ibn Wahb

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Personal Information
Full Name Abū l-Ḥusayn Isḥaq b. Ibrāhim b. Sulaymān
Death around the first half of the 4th/10th century
Scholarly Information
Works al-Burhan fi wujuh al-bayan, Asrar al-Qur'an, Al-Hujjah, Al-'Idah, Al-Ta'abbud

Abū l-Ḥusayn Isḥaq b. Ibrāhim b. Sulaymān (Arabic: ابو الحسین، اسحاق بن ابراهیم بن سلیمان) (d. around the first half of the 4th/10th century), commonly known as Ibn Wahb (Arabic: ابن وهْب), was a Shi'a Scholar of 4th/10th century and the author of al-Burhan fi wujuh al-bayan, one of the major works in 'Ilm al-bayan (Rhetoric).

Life

Although Ibn Wahb was raised in an erudite and literary family and he himself was a great literary figure, there is not much biographical information about him. In his book, he frequently mentioned his family members whom he had met and learned from. Based on these reports, it is surmised that he passed away at the end of 4th century and lived most of his lifetime in Baghdad.

He was undoubtedly a Shi'a as in his writings he mentioned concepts such as Taqiyya (dissimulation) 'Ismah (infallibility) Zahir and Batin (implicit and explicit) Ta'wil (hidden meaning) and so forth. He also mentioned some of the narrations from Shi'a Imams and addressed Imams (a) as al-A'immat al-sadiqin (the truthful Imams).

Many scholars namely Taha Husayn and 'Ali Hasan 'Abd al-Qadir recognized and endorsed Ibn Wahb as Shi'a.

Family

His ancestors, were official scribes of 'Abbasi caliphs since the time of Yazid b. Abi Sufyan in Damascus until 3rd/9th century in Baghdad. His ancestors are as follows: Ishaq b. Ibrahim b. Sulayman b. Wahb b. Sa'id b. 'Amr b. Hasin b. Qays b. Qabbal.

His grandfather, Sulayman was the prime minister of two 'Abbasi caliphs, Muhtadi and Mu'tamid. His father, Ibrahim lived until 264/877-8. It is reported that 'Abbasi caliph confiscated the properties of Ibrahim, Ibn Wahb's father, his grandfather Sulayman and his uncle Wahb.

Ibn Wahb had another uncle who was a poet and died in 285/898-9. His other uncle, 'Ubayd Allah, was one of the great literary figures of his time and worked at the court of Mu'tadid. 'Ubayd Allah's son, Qasim, inherited the position of his father at the court.

Works

Al-Burhan fi wujuh al-bayan, the most important book of Ibn Wahb

His major work on rhetoric, al-Burhan fi wujuh al-bayan, is one of the earliest and significant works in this field. Rhetoric works at his time was dealing with a broader sphere of knowledge in comparison to the common works in rhetoric in our time.

In this book, Ibn Wahb is clearly influenced by the Aristotelian ideas. Taha Husayn described this book a unique work which comprises of Arabic literature, Aristotelian rhetoric and poetic.

He had four other books which have been lost. He mentions the names of these books in al-Burhan. The titles of his lost works are as follows:

  • Asrar al-Qur'an
  • Al-Hujjah
  • Al-'Idah
  • Al-Ta'abbud

References

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