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Ibn Hazm of Cordoba: The Life and Works of a Controversial Thinker (Handbook of Oriental Studies) (Handbook of Oriental Studies: Section 1; The Near and Middle East)

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 The Life And Works Of Controversial Thinker
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ibn Hazm
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abū muḤammad ʿaLī Ibn Ḥazm:  a biographical sketch1

abū muḥammad ʿalī b. aḥmad b. saʿīd b. Ḥazm b. ghālib b. Ṣāliḥ b. khalaf b. maʿdān b. sufyān b. Yazīd al-fārisī (mawlā or client of Yazīd b. abī sufyān b. Ḥarb al-Qurashī) al-Qurṭubī (b. cordoba 30 ramaḍān 384/7 november 994, d. montija [huelva] 28 shaʿbān 456/15 august 1064), tra-ditionist, genealogist, religious historian, theologian, philosopher, great theoretician of Ẓāhirism and the famous author of The Ring of the Dove. he is known by some, such as Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿasqalānī ((Ibn á¸Hajar al-Ê¿asqalÄnÄ«, LisÄn, vol. 5, p. 489.)), as al-Lablī as well as al-Qurṭubī, in allusion to the place of origin of his family, niebla (Labla), in the modern province of huelva.

Sources attribute an old Persian ancestry to Ibn Ḥazm, linked by clientship to the eastern umayyad dynasty. according to his disciple al-Ḥumaydī ((Al-Ḥumaydī, Jadhwa, vol. 2, p. 489 # 708.)), Ibn Ḥazm was “of persian origin,” and “his most distant ancestor to [embrace] Islam was called Yazīd, who was a client (mawlā) of Yazīd b. abī sufyān [Ṣakhr] b. Ḥarb b. umayya b. ʿabd shams;” in other words, of the brother of muʿāwiya, who would become caliph. Ibn khallikān adds that khalaf, the grandson of the foregoing, was the first of Ibn Ḥazm’s ancestors to come to al-andalus ((Ibn khallikÄn, WafayÄt, vol. 3, p. 325.)). It may be that this same khalaf was already settled in montija (huelva), for biographical dictionaries indicate that “his ancestors were from the estate of montija (Munt Līsham or Lishūn) in the district of el rincón or La zagüía (Iqlīm al-Zāwiya), belonging to the district of huelva, in the kūra (territory) of niebla (Labla), in the east of al-andalus.” ((said, Tabaqaat pp. 181–182; cf. also garcía sanjuán, Evolución histórica, pp. 85–86, 156.)) his grandfather saʿīd settled in cordoba, where both his son aḥmad and his grandson, abū muḥammad ʿalī Ibn Ḥazm, our author, would grow up and make their fortunes at court.

Ibn Ḥazm’s father was called abū ʿumar aḥmad b. saʿīd b. Ḥazm b. ghālib (d. dhū l-Qaʿda 402/may–June 1012),7 and he was vizier to the amirid state, specifically of al-manṣūr and his son al-muẓaffar.8 his biographers considered him a learned, cultured and honest man (min ahl al-ʿilm wa-l-adab wa-l-khayr).

he had, moreover, a good knowledge of rhetoric (balāgha), and complained of those who spoke badly or unclearly: “if in doubt about a word, leave it and choose another, the lan-guage is very rich,” he said. In him the author of The Ring of the Dove, then, must have had an early model for his passion for language.

on one occasion Ibn Ḥazm’s father, according to his son who was informed by some nobles who witnessed the event, was at a literary gathering organized by al-manṣūr when the amirid leader received a letter from a mother asking for mercy and for him to free her son, apparently imprisoned for some trivial offence. al-manṣūr, displaying his notorious bad temper, took a quill pen and ordered that he be crucified. however, he made a mistake as he wrote and, instead of writing yuṣlab, he scribbled yuṭlaq—in other words, “free him.”

al-manṣūr passed the note to his minister, Ibn Ḥazm’s father, who, on a corner of the document, wrote to the chief of police (ṣāḥib al-shurṭa) that he should free the prisoner  yuṭlaq). the sovereign asked him what he was writing, and Ibn Ḥazm’s father told him that he had put what he himself had ordered: that the prisoner should be freed. but al-manṣūr, surprised, realised his error and again wrote “crucify him,” but again made the same mistake and put “release him;” his minister, our author’s father, again confirmed the release of the prisoner. after a third error, al-manṣūr finally ordered the prisoner to be released—“much to my regret” (ʿalā raghmī) he admitted—interpreting what had happened as divine will.

this story illustrates both Ibn Ḥazm’s father’s desire for justice and his interest in the exactness of language, both attitudes which would be passed down to his son. he also recommended to his son some ideals of moderation and asceticism, and that he should accept the fickle-ness of fate, as in this verse of his father’s that Ibn Ḥazm used to repeat, no doubt because of the eventful life that befell him: “if you wish to be….

Ibn Hazm’s literalism: a critique of Islamic legal theory – THE LIFE AND WORKS OF A CONTROVERSIAL THINKER

ibn Ḥazm of cordoba (384/994–456/1064) is a well-known, yet poorly understood figure in Western scholarship on medieval islam. he has been the object of numerous studies dating back to the nineteenth century. originally published in german in 1884, ignaz goldziher’s The Ẓāhirīs: Their Doctrine and their History. A Contribution to the History of Islamic Theology is an important contribution to the study of Ẓāhirism, but gold-ziher lacked access to ibn Ḥazm’s legal works.2 most subsequent studies have focused either on his literary output, especially his Ṭawq al-ḥamāma, or on his theological views, especially his views of christianity and Juda-ism as expressed in his al-Fiṣal fī l-milal wa-l-ahwāʾ wa-l-niḥal and in his refutation of ibn naghrila.3 other studies have dealt with his classification of the sciences and his ethics.4 there have also been a number of stud-ies of his views on law, including his uṣūl and furūʿ, but many of these studies have generally focused on explicating his positions on specific legal debates or topics.5 in the arab world, on the other hand, there has

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