ʿABD-AL-ḤAMĪD B. ABUʾL-ḤADĪD, ʿEZZ-AL-DĪN ABŪ ḤĀMED B. HEBATALLĀH B. MOḤAMMAD B. MOḤAMMAD B. AL-ḤOSAYN AL-MADĀʾENĪ, Muʿtazilite scholar and man of letters. He was born in Madāʾen on 1 Ḏu’l-ḥeǰǰa 586/30 December 1190; his family was Shafeʿite, his father a judge. ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd came to Baghdad at an early age, for he mentions his presence as a boy (ḡolām) at a social gathering in the house of the librarian of the Neẓāmīya college there. This probably occurred while his elder brother , Abu’l-Barakāt Moḥammad (d. 598/1201), was scribe of the college endowments (kāteb al-woqūf). ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd evidently received his higher education in Baghdad. He studied language and grammar with Abu’l-Ḵayr Moṣaddeq b. Šabīb Vāseṭī (d. 605/1208), whom he mentions as teaching him in 603/1206-07. His teacher of speculative theology (kalām) was the Hanafite scholar Yūsof b. Esmāʿīl Lamḡānī (d. 606/1209), whom he describes as a staunch Muʿtazilite, preferring ʿAlī over all other Companions of the Prophet (in accordance with the doctrine of the Baghdad Muʿtazilite school). An important figure in ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd’s formation was Abū Jaʿfar Yaḥyā b. Moḥammad b. Abū Zayd, naqīb of Baṣra, an ʿAlid with whom he read extensively and whose views he frequently mentions in his Šarḥ nahj al-balāḡa. Abū Jaʿfar is described as mildly pro-ʿAlid but no Imamite; he held unbiased views and did not repudiate the Companions. ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd mentions the years 605/1208-09, 610/1213-14, and 611/1214-15 for their reading together. He also refers to his acquaintance with many other ʿAlids, including the prominent Imamite šarīfs Faḵ²ḵār b. Maʿadd Mūsavī (d. 630/1233) and his brother Moḥammad, Sunnite scholars such as the Hanbalites Ḡolām Ebn al-Monā and Ebn ʿĀlīa and the Shafeʿite traditionist and historian Ebn al-Naǰǰār (d. 643/1241-42) and ʿAlī b. Yaḥyā b. Beṭrīq Ḥellī (d. 642/1244-45); ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd refers to the latter as his friend (ṣadīq).

Nothing is known about ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd’s early career. Though he addressed the caliph Nāṣer in al-Qaṣāʾed al-sabʿ al-ʿalawīyāt, composed in 611/1214-15 in Madāʾen, there is no evidence that he held any official position under him or under his successor, Ẓāher. Only under the caliph Mostanṣer (623-40/1226-42), on whose order he wrote the eulogies al-Mostanṣerīyāt and for whose library he produced al-Falak al-dāʾer, did he rise to high public office. His brother, the Shafeʿite Asḥʿarite qāżī and ʿadl Movaffaq-al-dīn Abu’l-Maʿālī Qāsem, appears more prominently in the chronicles than he and at times acted as his sponsor in official circles. In 627/1230 ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd addressed a congratulatory qaṣīda to the vizier Šaraf-al-dīn Šarābī. According to Ebn al-Fovaṭī, ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd was first appointed secretary (kāteb) in the office of protocol (dār al-tašrīfāt), then in 629/1231-32 was transferred to the treasury (maḵzan), and then to the dīwān al-ḵelāfa. He was in this last office, according to his own testimony, in 632/1234-35 under the vizier Nāṣer-al-dīn Ebn al-Nāqed and in 633/1236, when he wrote al-Falak al-dāʾer. Later he was dismissed, but in Ṣafar, 642/July, 1244, under the caliph Mostaʿṣem, he was appointed auditor (mošref) of the province of Ḥella. Thereafter he held positions of intendant (ḵᵛāǰa) of the amir ʿAlāʾ-al-dīn Ṭabars, inspector (nāẓer) of the ʿAżodī hospital, and an unspecified “positron of financial trust” (amāna?). Between 1 Raǰab 644/12 November 1246 and 29 Ṣafar 649/23 May 1251, he composed his monumental Šarḥ nahj al-balāḡa; he dedicated it to the Shiʿite vizier Ebn al-ʿAlqamī, to whom he and his brother had close ties. The two brothers survived the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in Moḥarram, 656/January, 1258, in the house of this vizier. Naṣer-al-dīn Ṭūsī then put ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd, together with his brother, in charge of the libraries of Baghdad. According to another report, after the Mongol conquest ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd was appointed secretary of the salla (the archives of the dīwān al-zemām). He died in Jomādā II, 656/January, 1258.

Of ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd’s works, the following have been published or are known to be extant in manuscript. 1. Šarḥ nahj al-balāḡa is a commentary in twenty volumes on Nahj al-balāḡa (q.v.), the collection of speeches, letters, and sayings of ʿAlī made by the Šarīf Rāżī. It deals in great detail with grammatical, lexicographical, literary, theological, and historical topics and is particularly valuable for its extensive quotations from lost works, many of them concerning the history of the early caliphate. 2. Al-Falak al-dāʾer is a critical commentary on al-Maṯal al-sāʾer, the famous work of literary criticism by Żīāʾ-al-dīn Ebn al-Aṯīr, a contemporary of Ebn Abu’l-Ḥadīd. The latter received a copy of al-Maṯal al-sāʾer on 1 Ḏu’l-ḥeǰǰa 633/6 August 1236 and completed his commentary within fifteen days. Included in it is an analysis of Motanabbī’s poems for Sayf-al-dawla, the Sayfīyāt, which ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd had previously begun writing as a separate book. 3. Al-Qaṣāʾed al-sabʿ al-ʿalawīyāt comprises seven poems in praise of ʿAlī. Its description of the qualities and feats of ʿAlī comes close, in some places, to the views of the ḡolāt. These poems became popular among the Shiʿites, and several commentaries have been written on them. 4. A versification of Ṯaʿlab’s K. Al-Faṣīḥ, a work on linguistics; ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd completed his version in twenty-four hours. 5. A commentary on the orǰūza of Ebn Sīnā. In O. Ergin, Ibni Sina Bibliografyasi, Istanbul, 1956, p. 97, the contents are described as on logic; Brockelmann, GAL S. I, p. 823, is evidently mistaken in listing the work as a commentary on Ebn Sīnā’s medical poem, al-Manẓūma fi’l-ṭebb. A commentary on Faḵr-al-dīn Rāzī’s al-Āyāt al-bayyenāt, ascribed to ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd by Brockelmann (ibid., I, p. 923), does not exist (see P.. Voorhoeve, Handlist of Arabic Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Leiden, Leiden, 1957, p. 32).

In addition, the following titles are mentioned in the sources and in ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd’s extant works. 6. Al-ʿAbqarī al-ḥassān, an anthology of poetry, theology, history, including selections from the compiler’s own poetry and prose. 7. Al-Eʿtebār, a critical commentary on the K. al-Ḏarīʿa fī oṣūl al-šarīʿa of the Imamite Šarīf Mortażā, on oṣūl al-feqh. 8. Enteqād al-mostaṣfā, a critical commentary on Ḡazālī’s K. al-Mostaṣfā, on oṣūl al-feqh. 9. Naqż al-maḥṣūl, a critical commentary of Faḵr-al-dīn Rāzī’s K. al-Maḥṣūl, on oṣūl al-feqh. 10. Šarḥ al-moḥaṣṣal, a critical commentary on the K. al-Moḥaṣṣal of Rāzī on theological and philosophical doctrines. 11. Šarḥ moškelāt al-ḡorar, a commentary on the K. Ḡorar al-adella of the Muʿtazilite scholar Abu’l-Ḥosayn Baṣrī on theology. 12. Šarḥ al-Yāqūt, a commentary on the K. al-Yāqūt of the Imamite Ebrāhīm b. Nawbaḵt, on theology. 13. Naqż al-sofyānīya, a refutation on the K. al-Sofyānīya of Jāḥeẓ, in which the latter sets forth the views of the supporters of Moʿāwīya. 14. Glosses (ḥavāšī) on the K. al-Mofaṣṣal by Zamaḵšarī on grammar. 15. Al-Wešāḥ fi’l-ʿelm al-abī. 16. Dīwān of his poetry.

Because of his pro-ʿAlid leanings, Ebn Abu’l-Ḥadīd has often been considered a Shiʿite or a convert to Shiʿism. There is, however, no evidence that he ever belonged to any Shiʿite community. Brought up in a Shafeʿite family, he evidently adopted Muʿtazilite doctrine in his youth and upheld it in his writings throughout his life. His “Seven ʿAlid poems,” composed late in his youth, in which he extolled ʿAlī in extravagant terms, must be viewed as expressing temporary sentiments rather than firm convictions. In his Šarḥ nahj al-balāḡa he expresses his support of the thesis of the Muʿtazilite school of Baghdad that ʿAlī was the most excellent of the Companions of the Prophet. At the same time he rejects the Shiʿite doctrine that ʿAlī was appointed by Moḥammad as his successor and refutes the Shiʿite criticism of the conduct of the caliphs preceding ʿAlī. He has also been qualified as a “Jāḥeẓī Muʿtazilite.” This description is justifiable only in respect to his literary talents and interests, which he shared with Jāḥeẓ. In theological doctrine he had no specific affinities with this early Muʿtazilite scholar but evidently stood close to the school of Abu’l-Ḥosayn Baṣrī (d. 436/1044), which was, apart from the school of Abū Hāšem Jobbāʾī, the only Muʿtazilite maḏhab surviving in his time.


Ebn Ḵallekān, Wafayāt (Beirut) V, pp. 391f. (in the biography of Żīāʾ-al-dīn b. al-Aṯīr).

Ebn al-Fovaṭī, Talḵīṣ maǰmaʿ al-ādāb, ed. Moṣṭafā Javād, Damascus, 1962, I, pp. 190f.

Idem, Moʿǰez al-ādāb, quoted at the end of the Šarḥ nahj al-balāḡa, Cairo, 1321/1911, IV, p. 575.

(Pseudo-) Ebn al-Fovaṭī, al-Ḥawādeṯ al-ǰāmeʿa, ed. Moṣṭafā Javād, Baghdad, 1351/1932, pp. 47f., 332f., 336f.

Ebn Šāker Kotobī, Fawāt, ed. M. Moḥī-al-dīn ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd, Cairo, 1951, I, pp. 519-22.

Ebn Kaṯīr, al-Bedāya, Cairo, 1348-66/1929-47, XIII, pp. 199f.

Ḵᵛānsārī, Rawżat al-ǰannāt, ed. Asadallāh Esmāʿīlīān, Qom, 1390-92/1970-72, V, pp. 20-28.

M. Abu’l-Fażl Ebrāhīm, ed., Šarḥ nahj al-balāḡa I, Cairo, 1378/1958, intro., pp. 13-19.

Hans-Jürgen Kornrumpf, “Untersuchungen zum Bild ʿAlīs and des frühen Islam bei den Shiiten,” Der Islam 45, 1969, pp. 286-95.

Brockelmann, GAL I, pp. 282f.; ibid., S. I, p. 497.

(W. Madelung)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 14, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 1, pp. 108-110

Cite this entry:

W. Madelung, “'Abd-Al-Hamid B. Abu'l-Hadid,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/1, pp. 108-110; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abd-al-hamid-b-abul-hadid (accessed on 12 January 2014).