ʿABBĀD B. SALMĀN (or SOLAYMĀN) B. ʿALĪ AL-ṢAYMARĪ, ABŪ SAHL, Muʿtazili theologian of the 3rd/9th century. Although Ebn al-Nadīm calls him a Basran, his nesba indicates that he came from Ṣaymara in southwestern Jebāl. He must have been born before the year 200/816, for his teacher in Muʿtazili theology, Hešām b. ʿAmr Fovaṭī, appears to have died not later than 218/833. During the time of inquisition against upholders of the doctrine of the uncreated nature of the Koran, ʿAbbād debated with Sunni traditionalist motakallem (theologian) ʿAbdallāh b. Kollāb. This may indicate that he was present in Baghdad at the time. Most of his teaching career was probably spent in Baṣra, but he evidently maintained ties with his birthplace. Ṣaymara (q.v.) is described in the late 3rd/9th century as solidly Muʿtazili. The Muʿtazili scholar Abū ʿAbdallāh Ṣaymarī (d. 315/927), who came from there, originally supported the doctrines of ʿAbbād, though he was probably not a student of his. It is likely that the prevalence of Muʿtazilism in Ṣaymara was connected with the activity of ʿAbbād and that his teaching predominated there for some time after his death. The date of his death is not mentioned in the sources. Abū ʿAlī Jobbāʾī (235-303/849-50 to 916) evidently met him in Baṣra, for he described him as “skilled in kalām except for his craze (ǰonūn).” In his Ketāb fażīḥat al-moʿtazela, which appears to have been written about 250-60/864-74, Ebn al-Rāvandī referred to him as still alive. Barḏaʿī, a student of ʿAbbād, came to Baṣra shortly before the death of Jāḥeẓ in 255/868-69 (see Mortażla, al-Ḡorar wa’l-dorar, ed. Moḥammad Abu’l-Fażl Ebrāhīm, Cairo, 1373/1945, I, p. 199).

Like his teacher Hešām Fovaṭī, ʿAbbād represented a sideline in the development of the Basran Muʿtazili school; and many of his views were considered eccentric by the major branch. This main branch was represented then by Abū Yaʿqūb Šaḥḥām (d. after 256/870); his student Abū Yaʿqūb Jobbāʾī gained recognition as the undisputed leader of the Basran school and opened the later phase of Basran Muʿtazili doctrine. Only two Muʿtazili scholars are reported to have supported ʿAbbād’s doctrine after his death, his student Abu’l-Ḥasan Barḏaʿī and Abū ʿAbdallāh Ṣaymarī; but both eventually turned away from it. His views were, however, still much discussed in the early 4th/10th century. In his own time, the Baghdad Muʿtazili Abu’l-Ḥosayn Ṣāleḥī in particular argued positions opposite to many of his views.

Of the large number of books ʿAbbād is reported to have written, Ebn al-Nadīm lists the following titles: 1. K. al-Enkāṛʿan yaḵloq al-nās afʿālahom ; 2. K. Taṯbīt (read tafnīd?) dalālat al-aʿrāż; 3. K. Eṯbāt al-ǰozʾ allaḏī lā yataǰazzaʾ. Masʿūdī mentions a doxographical work (fi’l-maqālāt) by him (Tanbīh, p. 395). Abū ʿAlī Jobbāʾī refuted his book on the superiority (tafżīl) of Abū Bakr (over ʿAlī), and Abū Hāšem Jobbāʾī (d. 321/933) dictated a refutation of his K. al-Abwāb (or al-Alwān). A book by him entitled K. al-ʿAks was apparently refuted by Abu’l-Ḥosayn Ḵayyāṭ (J. Fück, “Neue Materialien zum Fihrist,” ZDMG 90, 1936, p. 302).

As described by Ašʿarī, specific views held by ʿAbbād entail merely verbal differences from general Muʿtazili doctrine. But there were also substantial points of difference. Like his teacher, Fovaṭī, ʿAbbād held that accidents (aʿrāż) have no validity in the proof of the existence of God and of the mission of the prophets. This led him, on the one hand, to deny that miracles, including the Koran, were a proof of prophethood. On the other hand, it closed the door for him to the common Muʿtazili proof of the existence of God and of the divine attributes. His proof of the existence of God was apparently based solely on the existence of bodies. The divine attributes (ṣefāt), which he rather defined as names (asmāʾ ), were to be known only through the consensus of the Muslim community. Although each of these names implied a meaning (e.g., ʿālem implied ʿelm “knowledge”), their meanings were not mutually related; and thus they could not be derived from each other. These names, however, were necessarily related to their meanings, so that God could not change them. ʿAbbād strictly maintained that God does nor create evil and thus denied, against the common Muʿtazili view, that disease and punishment created by God are evil, even metaphorically. He thus rejected the general Muʿtazili thesis that God is obliged to provide children and animals with a recompense (ʿevāż) in the hereafter for pains suffered. He held that the purpose of admonition (eʿtebār) of mankind was sufficient justification for God’s infliction of pain. Against the Basran school but in agreement with that of Baghdad, he asserted that creation (ḵalq) can be attributed only to God; man can not be said to create, but merely to perform, his acts. Prophethood was granted by God in reward (ǰazāʾ) for previous acts, not as an initial grace (ebtedāʾ), as common Muʿtazili doctrine affirmed. ʿAbbād also repudiated the general Muʿtazili thesis that a greater amount of reward will cancel (eḥbāṭ) a lesser amount of punishment deserved in the hereafter, or vice versa; he stated that only repentance can annul punishment for transgressions.


Ḵayyāṭ, al-Enteṣār, ed. H. S. Nyberg, Cairo, 1925, pp. 90-91.

Ašʿarī, Maqālāt al-eslāmīyīn, ed. H. Ritter, Istanbul, 1929-33, see index. Maqdesī, Badʾ V, p. 142.

Malaṭī, al-Tanbīh wa’l-radd, ed. S. Dedering, Istanbul, 1936, p. 32.

J. W. Fück, “Some Hitherto Unpublished Texts on the Muʿtazili Movement in Ibn-al-Nadīm’s Kitāb-al-Fihrist,” Professor Mohammad Shafiʾ Presentation Volume, Lahore, 1955, pp. 70f. Fehrest, p. 180.

ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, Fażl al-eʿtezāl wa ṭabaqāt al-moʿtazela, ed. Foʾād Sayyed, Tunis, 1974, pp. 285, 300, 308, 320.

Idem, Šarḥ al-oṣūl al-ḵamsa, ed. ʿAbd-al-Karīm ʿOṯmān, Cairo, 1384/1965, pp. 489f., 574f., 625, 754.

ʿAbd-al-Qāher Baḡdādī, Farq, ed. M. Badr, Cairo, 1910, pp. 147-48, 261-62.

Idem, Oṣūl al-dīn, Istanbul, 1346/1928, p. 261.

Ebn al-Mortażā, Ṭabaqāt, pp. 77, 84, 90, 101.

Ebn Ḥaǰar, Lesān al-mīzān III, pp. 229f.

A. S. Tritton, Muslim Theology, London, 1947, pp. 115-19.

W. M. Watt, Free Will and Predestination in Early Islam, London, 1948, pp. 81-83.

B. Weiss in ZDMG 124, 1947, pp. 35f.

(W. Madelung)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 13, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 1, pp. 70-71

Cite this entry:

W. Madelung, “'Abbad B. Salman,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/1, pp. 70-71, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abbad-b-salman (accessed on 10 January 2014).