ABŪ RAŠĪD NĪSĀBŪRĪ, SAʿĪD B. MOḤAMMAD B. SAʿĪD B. ḤASAN B. ḤĀTEM, Muʿtazilite scholar. He is first mentioned as a theologian (motakallem) present at a literary disputation between Badīʿ-al-zamān Hamadānī and Abū Bakr Ḵᵛārazmī in Molqābād near Nīšāpūr in 383/993 (Yāqūt, Odabāʾ I, p. 105; Ebrāhīm Efendī Aḥdab, Kašf al-maʿānī wa’l-bayān ʿan rasāʾel Badīʿ-al-zamān, Beirut, 1921, p. 69). Thus he was probably born not later than 360/970. At first he adhered to the Baghdad school of the Moʿtazela, i.e., the doctrine of Abu’l-Qāsem Kaʿbī (d. 319/921), which was prevalent in Khorasan and Transoxania, and had a teaching circle in Nīšāpūr.
Abū Rašīd went to Ray, at a stage when he was already composing books, and studied with the Qāżī al-qożāt ʿAbd-al-Jabbār (d. 415/1025), famous head of the Basran Muʿtazilite school. This was some time before the death of the vizier Ṣāḥeb b. ʿAbbād in 385/995, since he is quoted as mentioning his own presence over a prolonged period at the receptions of the vizier, which were also attended by the Zaydī Imam Moʾayyad Boṭḥānī (Moḥallī, al-Ḥadāʾeq al-wardīya, mss., in the biography of Moʾayyad). ʿAbd-al-Jabbār honored him, evidently in recognition of his previous rank in scholarship, by addressing him, alone among his students, as “shaikh”; and he composed a book in answer to his numerous questions. Abū Rašīd now adopted the Basran doctrine of ʿAbd-al-Jabbār. At the request of the latter, he wrote his Dīvān al-oṣūl as a general textbook on kalām to be read and commented upon in teaching sessions. Later he left for Nīšāpūr and on the way stayed some time in Gorgān. In the anti-Muʿtazilite atmosphere of Nīšāpūr under the reign of Maḥmūd of Ḡazna, he soon felt compelled to leave. He returned to Ray, probably still in the lifetime of ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, and was recognized there as his vicar and, after his death, as his successor as head of the Basran Muʿtazilite school. He died in Ray at an unknown date.
Abū Rašīd is known to have written numerous theological works. His Ketāb al-masāʾel fi’l-ḵelāf bayn al-Baṣrīyīn wa’l-Baḡdādīyīn, in which he supports Basran doctrine and refutes Abu’l-Qāsem Kaʿbī’s Ketāb ʿoyūn al-masāʾel, has been published (ed. M. Zīāda and R. al-Sayyed, Beirut, 1979; partial ed. and tr.: A. Biram, Die atomistische Substanzlehre aus dem Buch der Streitfragen zwischen Basrensern und Bagdadensern, Leiden, 1902; analysis of the whole work: M. Horten, Die Philosophie des Abu Raschîd, Bonn, 1910). In this book Abū Rašīd mentions the following titles of other works by him: Ketāb al-ǰozʾ on the atom; Ketāb al-naqż ʿalā aṣḥāb al-ṭabāʾeʿ, in which he defended the existence of the vacuum against the Aristotelian denial; Ketāb al-taḏkera; Masāʾel al-ḵelāf baynanā wa bayn al-mošabbeha wa’l-moǰbera wa’l-ḵawāreǰ wa’l-morǰeʾa; Zīādāt al-šarḥ, a supercommentary to the commentary (šarḥ) of the Basran Muʿtazilite Abū ʿAlī b. al-Ḵallād, completed by ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, on Ebn al-Ḵallād’s Ketāb al-oṣūl. A text edited by M. ʿA. Abū Rīda (Fi’l-tawḥīd, Cairo, 1969) and tentatively identified by him as part of Abū Rašīd’s Dīvān al-masāʾel is most likely a supercommentary of a later unknown author on Abū Rašīd’s Zīādāt al-šarḥ. Another section of the same work is preserved in ms. B.M. Or. 8613 (described by A. S. Tritton, “Some Muʿtazilī Ideas about Religion,” BSOAS 14, 1952, pp. 612-22; for the identification see D. Gimaret, “Les Uṣūl al-Ḫamsa du Qāḍī ʿAbd al-Ğabbār et leur Commentaires,” Annales Islamologiques 15, 1979, pp. 72-73). A Ketāb al-tanbīh of Abū Rašīd is quoted by al-Ḥākem al-Jošamī in his Ketāb šarḥ ʿoyūn al-masāʾel. The Šarīf al-Mortażā wrote a supplement to a book by him on the varieties of accidents (Tatemma anwāʿ al-aʿrāż men ǰamʿ Abī Rašīd al-Nīsābūrī; see Ebn Šahrāšūb, Maʿālem al-ʿolamāʾ, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1353 Š./1934, p. 63). Abū Rašīd also transmitted Hadith. The renowned Muʿtazilite traditionist Abū Saʿd al-Sammām of Ray (d. 443-47/1051-56 ) related Traditions on his authority.
Al-Ḥākem al-Jošamī, Šarḥ al-ʿoyūn, in Fażl al-eʿtezāl wa ṭabaqāt al-Moʿtazela, ed. F. Sayyed, Tunis, 1974, pp. 368, 382f.
Ebn al-Mortażā, Ṭabaqāt, p. 116.
Lesān al-mīzān III, p. 42.
Sezgin, GAS I, pp. 626f.
(D. W. Madelung)
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 21, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 4, pp. 367-368
D. W. Madelung, “ABŪ RAŠĪD NĪSĀBŪRĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/4, pp. 367-368; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abu-rasid-nisaburi-said-b (accessed on 31 January 2014).