ABU’L-HOḎAYL AL-ʿALLĀF, MOḤAMMAD B. AL-HOḎAYL B. ʿOBAYDALLĀH B. MAKḤŪL AL-ʿABDĪ (ca. 135-227/752-841?), early Muʿtazilite theologian of universal reputation. He seems to have been of Persian descent, a mawlā of ʿAbd-al-Qays. The greater part of his life was spent in Baṣra, where he must have been much impressed by the theology of Żerār b. ʿAmr (ca. 110-200/728-815). The later school tradition did not acknowledge any relationship between him and this productive motakallem and, rather, referred to a certain ʿOṯmān b. Abī ʿOṯmān Ḵāled al-Ṭawīl, a pupil of Wāṣel b. ʿAṭāʾ, as Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s teacher. However, a non-Muʿtazilite source (Malaṭī, al-Tanbīh wa’l-radd ʿalā ahl al-bedaʿ wa’l-ahwāʾ, ed. S. Dedering, Istanbul, 1936, pp. 31.6ff./ed. Kawṯarī, Cairo, 1949, p. 38, bottom) mentions in this respect two other disciples of Wāṣel, Bešr b. Saʿīd and Abū ʿOṯmān Zaʿfarānī, about whom we know little. All three are introduced mainly to secure the connection with Wāṣel without referring to Żerār; Abu’l-Hoḏayl had attacked the latter because of his compromising attitude towards the determinism of Jahm b. Ṣafwān (d. 128/726), and Żerār had been rejected by the consensus of the school (cf. J. van Ess, in Der Islam 44, 1968, pp. 9f.). For a similar reason Abu’l-Hoḏayl clashed with Ḥafṣ al-Fard, who had come to Baṣra from Egypt but did not stay long in his circle, obviously because he did not like Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s deviation from Żerār’s ideas. Both wrote books on predestination against each other (fi’l-maḵlūq; see ibid., p. 24f.).

Abu’l-Hoḏayl disagreed no less with Abū Bakr Aṣamm, who had created a maǰles of his own at Baṣra in Żerār’s later years. Using the Persian colloquial, he called him a donkey-driver (ḵarbān) and mocked his doctrine of the nonexistence of movement (cf. Malaṭī, Tanbīh, p. 31.9ff./39.6ff.; Qāżī ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, Fażl al-eʿtezāl, ed. F. Sayyed, Tunis, 1974, p. 262, 18ff.). In his earlier years he may have had discussions with the sceptic and dualist Ṣāleḥ b. ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs, who had held lectures on religion at Baṣra and who was crucified as a zendīq at the order of the caliph Mahdī in 167/783 (cf. Brockelmann, GAL S. I, pp. 110f.). Such stories, however, are often stereotypes which show the influence of a later, glorifying, Muʿtazilite tradition (see Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 258.5ff.; Šarīf al-Mortażā, Amālī, ed. M. A. Ebrāhīm, I, p. 144.8ff.; Fehrest [Tehran2], p. 204.7ff.). It is possibly in this connection that Mahdī (158-69/775-85) had Abu’l-Hoḏayl brought to Baghdad (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 254.11ff.). However, in view of Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s youth, this report appears doubtful when it goes on to say that the people of Baṣra gathered in revolt and that Abu’l-Hoḏayl calmed them down.

Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s position at Baṣra apparently was not prominent. In contrast to his pupil and nephew Abū Esḥāq Naẓẓām, he did not succeed in entering the houses of the Basran bourgeoisie (for an exception, see the story in Šarīf al-Mortażā, Amālī I, p. 179.20ff., where he appears together with one of the ašraf of ʿAbd-al-Qays). While Żerār b. ʿAmr was admitted to the circle of the Barmakids in the time of Hārūn al-Rašīd (170-93/786-809), Abu’l-Hoḏayl did not get access to the court until he was almost seventy, in the days of Maʾmūn, when the caliph transferred his court from Marv to Baghdad (about 204/819). The account of the debate by thirteen scholars in the presence of Yaḥyā b. Ḵāled Barmakī (d. 190/805) on the definition of love, in which he is said to have participated and which would prove an earlier presence in the capital, is apocryphal (cf. Masʿūdī, Morūǰ VI, pp. 368ff.). He was introduced to Maʾmūn by his fellow-Muʿtazilite Ṯomāma b. Ašras (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 257.8), but he was not well received at first. Maʾmūn was under the influence of Bešr al-Marīsī and other “Murjiʾite” theologians who could boast of continuing the tradition of Żerār b. ʿAmr. Abu’l-Hoḏayl claimed to have told the caliph that he had not come to receive money but to convince him of two errors: (a) that human actions were created by God and (b) that God could commit injustice; this combination, in spite of all polemical distortion, points to Bešr Marīsī’s doctrine (cf. Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 227.16ff.). He seems to have succeeded in winning the caliph over (see the poem cited in Ebn al-Mortażā, Ṭabaqāt, p. 49.6f.). Yet Bešr Marīsī remained influential until the end of his life (in 218/833), especially in connection with the meḥna (Der Islam 44, 1968, pp. 33ff.). We hear of debates between the two (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 259.11f.), but they seem to have been a match (Jāḥeẓ, Ḥayawān, Cairo, 1938-45, p. 166.6ff.). During this period Abu’l-Hoḏayl obviously received a large salary, which he is said to have distributed among his followers (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 255.6f.; Jāḥeẓ, Boḵalāʾ, ed. Ṭ. Ḥāǰerī, Cairo, 1958, p. 135.18ff.). We have no information about his relation with Moʿtaṣem (218-27/833-42), but he was probably too old to exert any further influence. He had lost his sight and no longer possessed the mental vitality to follow the arguments of his opponents (Fehrest [Tehran2], p. 204.6f.). When he died, the caliph Wāṯeq is said to have arranged a memorial service (ǰalasa le’l-taʿzīya); the Supreme Qāżī, Ebn Abī Dowād, prayed over his bier according to the Shiʿite rite because of his pro-Hashemitic leanings (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 263.14ff.; but see below, under “Politics”). Abū Tammām (d. 231/845 or 232/846) is reported to have composed a marṯīa in his honor (Ebn al-Mortażā, Ṭabaqāt al-moʿtazela, p. 132.2f.) which is, however, not preserved in his dīvān. The date of his death is controversial, like that of his birth: Ḵayyāṭ chose 227/841-42, according to Masʿūdī (Morūǰ VII, p. 232). Other dates are 226, 235, 236, even 239; the latter three would, however, not fall in the reign of Wāṯeq and can be explained, at least in part, through misspellings or as a result of calculations on the basis of different birth dates and a reputed age of 100 or 104 years.

Abu’l-Hoḏayl was a prolific writer, although less so than Żerār b. ʿAmr. Much of his output consisted of polemical works, sometimes without definite titles, against the Jews and the Christians, the Zoroastrians and other dualists, the scepticism of the “sophists,” the erǰāʾ of Abū Šamer and the Ḡaylānīya (i.e., their denial of eternal punishment and their definition of faith), the “predestinarianism” of Ḥafṣ al-Fard, Żerār b. ʿAmr, Jahm b. Ṣafwān, and Abū Ḥanīfa, and the Shiʿite view on the imamate professed by Hešām b. al-Ḥakam. Six writings were directed against his pupil Naẓẓām, the only Muʿtazilite whom he attacked (list of titles in Fehrest [Tehran2], p. 204.20ff.). These literary pieces correspond to disputations, recorded in the biographical sources, with Naẓẓām (cf. Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 263.9ff., and Jāḥeẓ, Ḥayawān III, p. 60.5ff.), whom he seems to have only barely tolerated in his old age (cf. Ebn ʿAbd Rabbeh, ʿEqd, Cairo, 1940-53, II, p. 412.13ff.); with Abū Šamer (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 257.1ff.) and his successor Kolṯūm b. Ḥabīb b. Onayf (cf. Jāḥeẓ, al-Borṣān wa’l-ʿomyān, ed. M. M. al-Ḵūlī, Cairo, 1972, p. 246.3); with Ḥafṣ al-Fard (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 262.2ff.) and the predestinarian Borḡūṯ from Sīrāf (ibid., p. 257.12ff.); with the Manichean Noʿmān b. al-Monḏer, who was executed under Mahdī (Šarīf al-Mortażā, Amālī I, p. 181.11ff.); with Zoroastrians (ibid., p. 181.5ff. and Ebn al-Mortażā, Ṭabaqāt al-moʿtazela, p. 74.9f.; also Fehrest [Tehran2], p. 204.12ff.) and Jews (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 263.4ff.); and with Shiʿites such as Hešām b. al-Ḥakam, whom he met during his pilgrimage at Mecca (see Ḵayyāṭ, Enteṣār, ed. A. N. Nader, Beirut, 1957, p. 103.18ff.), and ʿAlī b. Mīṯām (Mofīd, al-Foṣūl al-moḵtāra I, pp. 5.17ff., 52.8ff.; 3rd ed., pp. 6.1ff., 55.5ff.). In a famous speech, parts of which have been preserved, he argued before the caliph Maʾmūn against the astrologers (cf. Qāżī ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, Taṯbīt dalāʾel al-nobūwa, ed. ʿAbd-al-Karīm ʿOṯmān, Beirut, 1966, p. 539.1ff., and Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 259.8ff.). Some of these reports may be only actualized kalām, polemics turned into anecdotes, rather than accounts of real events. (See, as a rather conspicuous example, the dialogue reported in Damīrī, Ḥayāt al-ḥayawān I, p. 120.7f. s.v. berḏawn.) Pro-Shiʿite sources like Masʿūdī’s Morūǰ depict Hešām b. al-Ḥakam as the winner of the debate (VII, p. 232f.). Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s meetings with ʿAlī b. Mīṯām are not recorded by Muʿtazilite sources at all.

Abu’l-Hoḏayl used to spice his speeches with numerous quotations from poetry (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 257.5ff.) and referred to such examples of Persian wisdom literature as the Jāvīdān ḵerad (cf. Abū Ḥayyān Tawḥīdī, al- Baṣāʾer wa’l-ḏakāʾer, ed. E. Kaylānī, Damascus, 1964-66, III, p. 178.7ff.; and Ḥoṣrī, Jamʿ al-ǰawāher, ed. ʿA. M. Beǰāwī, Cairo, 1372/1953, p. 91.2ff.); but he himself was not a poet like Naẓẓām, nor had he the latter’s succinct and refined language. His forte was his irony; he was a true dialectician in trying always to have the laugh on his side.

To what extent he also was a systematic theologian is much more difficult to determine. His main systematic work was his Ketāb al-ḥoǰǰa, in which he seems to have developed the concept of the five principles (al-oṣūl al-ḵamsa) and treated all sorts of theological problems (quotations in Moḥammad Ṭūsī, Tebyān, Naǰaf, 1957-63, V, p. 35.11ff. and Baḡdādī, Farq [Cairo2], p. 124; also Malaṭī, Tanbīh, p. 31.8f./39.1ff.). This text was still studied by the Shafeʿite jurist Ebn Sorayǰ (d 306/918) under the Muʿtazilite Barḏaʿī (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 301.9f.). The heresiographical reports are incoherent, as usual. The main attempt at reconstruction is by R. M. Frank, who has treated Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s theology in The Metaphysics of Created Being according to Abû l-Hudhayl al-ʿAllâf (Istanbul, 1966) and “The Divine Attributes according to the Teaching of Abû l-Hudhayl al-ʿAllâf” (Le Muséon 82, 1969, pp. 451-506). His main results can be summarized as follows:

1. The structure of being. All created being is ultimately corporeal; things are agglomerates of atoms (ǰawāher) held together through the accidents (aʿrāż) of composition (taʾlīf), juxtaposition (eǰtemāʿ), contiguity (momāssa), and conjunction (moǰāmaʿa). Things are thus not entirely reduced to the accidents, as Żerār had believed, but they do not have an essence of their own. Their oneness consists in that spatial unity alone; their physical properties are not the aspects of an independent nature, but are mere accidental phenomena which can be replaced by others. Moreover, the atom has no actuality in itself; not even God can strip it of all accidents. There are basic accidents inherent in every single atom; these are movement or rest, contiguity or isolation, and being (kawn)—obviously an adaptation of the five modes of being in Plato’s Parmenids. (For the late occurrence of the modes, see e.g., the enumeration in the Peri archōn of the philosopher Damascius, who emigrated for some time to the court of Ḵosrow I when Justinian deprived him of his chair at Athens in 529; ed. A. Rule, Paris, 1889, sec. 221.) The accidents thus form the reality of the thing; color is “the thing’s being created colored.” Prior to its actual existence in the world, a thing simply does not exist. There is no being in potentia. Some accidents may endure over a succession of moments, such as composition, life, color, etc.; others are instantaneous, such as movement, which means a thing’s “transference from the first place and its departure from it.” Movement is thus not understood as a physical phenomenon with a certain continuity, but as a change taking place in a composite of atoms and accidents (Frank, Metaphysics, pp. 13ff., 39ff.).

2. Anthropology. Man is defined as “this visible body which eats and drinks” (cf. Qāżī ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, Moḡnī, Cairo, 1960-65, XI, p. 310.5f., following Kaʿbī), i.e., a “hollow material aggregate which has no existential unity of interiority” (Frank, Metaphysics, p. 28). It is true that Abu’l-Hoḏayl uses the terms nafs (soul) and rūḥ (spirit), but their place in the system is obscure. He is unclear on whether the spirit is a function of the body (an accident) or part of the body. The same has to be said for life (Moḡnī, loc. cit.). The five senses are “accidents distinct from the body and the soul,” whereas intelligence (ʿaql) is sense perception insofar as it is intelligible (maʿqūl; cf. Ašʿarī, Maqālāt, p. 480.9). Man’s power of acting (qodra, esteṭāʿa) contributes most to the unity of human existence; it is a permanent accident which characterizes man as fundamentally moral. Only actions which are within his reach and truly intended are his own. Involuntary acts do not belong to him, since they are not executed by man, but by God. Power is thus the nexus between will and act. Although permanent, it is not simply the soundness of the body, as Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s contemporary Bešr b. al-Moʿtamer believed, but “the act of Being of the agent, insofar as he is about to realize his act. As such its actuality is terminated prior to the realization of the act” (R. M. Frank, in Atti del II. Congresso di Studi Arabi e Islamici, Naples, 1967, p. 317ff.). This corresponds to its character as choice (eḵtīār) between two alternatives, between an action and its contrary, both of which present themselves as an idea (ḵāṭer) in his mind. Freedom is entirely understood in the context of moral decision, not as spontaneity in creating new things.

Will presupposes knowledge which may be either innate (żarūrī) or acquired through thought and reflection. Sense perception is innate, and also the natural knowledge of God and the perception of good and evil, together with the moral demand that the good be pursued and evil avoided. Moral responsibility and the knowledge of God, however, appear only at the moment of maturity (bolūḡ), when the intelligence reaches its perfection (kamāl). There is thus something like a natural obligation (taklīf) for every adult apart from revelation. Even an unbeliever may obey God with the good deeds, although he does not come closer to God and will be punished for his unbelief (cf. Ḵayyāṭ, Enteṣār, sec. 47; for the entire context, Frank, Metaphysics, p. 27ff.; for knowledge and sense perception, also M. Bernard in Stud. Isl. 36, 1972, pp. 30ff.).

3. God and His attributes. Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s main concern, like that of his predecessors, Jahm b. Ṣafwān and Żerār b. ʿAmr, is to uphold the perfect unity of God. Although he affirms the ontological reality of the attributes to a greater extent than his predecessors, he takes care not to introduce any division or plurality into God’s being. God is not different from His attributes; the statements “God is knowing,” “God is omnipotent,” etc., bear the same meaning. The attributes are merely distinguished by their objects, ad modum intelligendi. There is obviously not yet any distinction between “attributes of essence” and “attributes of action” (Frank, “Attributes,” pp. 459ff.). As in Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s anthropology, mere being forms God’s essence. Although “His act of knowing is He” (cf. Ašʿarī, Maqālāt, p. 484.5), He is not Mind. Therefore, Abu’l-Hoḏayl does not speculate on God knowing Himself. God knows “the totality of things,” but God is not part of this totality; Abu’l-Hoḏayl assumes that the reality of objects is external to the being of the knower, and thus avoids any risk that this totality might imply plurality in God’s being (Frank, “Attributes,” pp. 466f.).

Likewise, God’s omnipotence comprises the possible only insofar as it “is really subject to God’s efficient causality and from eternity, co-extensive with what He knows He will actually create” (ibid., p. 482). There is nothing like a kósmos noētós which will be realized through God’s power, just as things do not exist in potentia. As the world is finite, so are the possibilities (maqdūrāt) which will be realized. The possibilities which are not realized, however, according to Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s concept of the will as a choice between alternatives, form a series of non-realized contraries which is equally finite. Thus Abu’l-Hoḏayl arrived at the theory that the number of things subject to God’s power is limited. This was at the same time an argument against the dualists who believed in the eternity of the world (dahrīya); for if the totality of possibilities has an end, it should also have had a beginning, namely in creation. But the theory had one disturbing consequence; at a certain moment all movement in paradise (and hell) must cease and be converted into a state of eternal consummation. This was not a completely isolated doctrine, since there are parallels in Origen’s concept of apocatastasis. But since the normal concept of the heavenly pleasures presupposed movement, the idea was shocking for most of Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s contemporaries and was attacked even inside the “school” by Abū Mūsā Mordār, Jaʿfar b. Ḥarb, and Hešām Fowaṭī. Muʿtazilite tradition claims that Abu’l-Hoḏayl ultimately gave up this idea. There are, however, reports that some of his pupils like Šaḥḥām and Yaḥyā b. Bešr Arraǰānī stuck to it, the latter probably even after Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s death (cf. Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 255.8ff. and Abū Rašīd [?], Fi’l-tawḥīd [in reality a commentary on Šarḥ al-oṣūl al-ḵamsa by Ebn Ḵallād], ed. Abū Rīda, Cairo, 1969, pp. 265.6f., 269.9; for the entire complex, see Frank, “Attributes,” pp. 437ff.; S. van den Bergh in EI2 I, p. 2; H. Davidson in JAOS 89, 1969, p. 378; A. Ivry, al-Kindī’s Metaphysics, Albany, 1974, p. 164).

Abu’l-Hoḏayl did not take the finiteness of possibilities to be a limitation of God’s omnipotence; he tended to attribute in other cases a wider range of power of God than did many of his colleagues. Theoretically, at least, God is able to suspend the laws of nature, causality, etc. (van Ess, Die Erkenntnislehre des ʿAḍudaddīn al-Īcī, Wiesbaden, 1965, pp. 214f.), a doctrine rejected by his pupil Naẓẓām and the later Baghdad school. He countered Mordār’s and Jaʿfar b. Ḥarb’s criticisms, saying that “wrong, injustice, and lying lie within the power of God . . . He, however, has not done this, because of His wisdom and mercy. It is unthinkable (moḥāl) that He do any of this.” God is not limited by His “nature” or any other intrinsic restriction of His power, but by the fact that He has created mankind with a view to man’s well-being; “that He do evil is unconceivable because of His absolute self-sufficiency (ḡenā) and the total absence in Him of any deficiency (naqṣ)” (Frank, “Attributes,” p. 489). It is for the same reason that He always does what is morally most fitting (awlā) and that He can not leave undone what is most salutary (aṣlaḥ) for mankind (ibid., pp. 486ff.). God’s power works through His will and His creative fiat. These, however, in contrast to human action, are simultaneous with that realization. This means that they are temporal and, as such, can not be attributes in the normal sense. On the other hand they are too closely connected with His knowledge and power to be considered created. Abu’l-Hoḏayl defined them as “a kind of hypostasis, temporal and contingent, but uncreated” and existing nowhere (lā fī makān), and thus immaterial. In this respect the creative fiat has to be distinguished from another aspect of God’s speech, i.e., revelation, especially the Koran. The Koran is not a hypostasis, but created, originally in lawḥ maḥfūẓ, and subsequently in recitation, in writing, and in memory. In all these realizations it remains essentially the same, because speech may exist simultaneously in a plurality of substrata. Speech is not identical with the sound of the voice; what is meant by it is rather the meaningful combination of the elements of articulation (ḥorūf). It thus presupposes mainly the order of the material substrate which, in itself, may differ in kind. Therefore, on each occasion one hears or recites the very Speech of God. Yet it always remains intrinsic to God, bound to a substrate. Abu’l-Hoḏayl does not discuss the problem of how revelation exists in God’s knowledge (ibid., pp. 490ff.).

4. Epistemology. We know that Abu’l-Hoḏayl reflected on the different methods of argumentation and their deficiencies, and in defining them he used juridical terminology (eǰrāʾ al-ʿella fi’l-maʿlūl, etc.; cf. Maqdesī, Badʾ I, p. 52.9ff. and the corresponding anecdote in Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 259.11ff.). In the juridical evaluation of actions he was a rigorist insofar as he did not admit the existence of neutral acts (mobāḥ “allowed”). All deeds are either an act of obedience (ṭāʿa) or a sin, the criterion being their intention (cf. Ebn ʿAqīl, Ketāb al-fonūn, ed. G. Makdisi, Beirut, 1970, I, pp. 55f., sec. 65). He was apparently not a practicing lawyer, and we do not have any individual fatwā from him, as we do in the case of his pupil Naẓẓām. He dealt, however, with Hadith (isolated examples in Taʾrīḵ Baḡdād III, p. 366.14ff.), although he used rather severe standards of veracity. For him a Hadith is a variety of normal information (ḵabar), and its veracity is not so much guaranteed by the character of the transmitter as by the number of transmitters. Probability is achieved with four informants (just as the Koran prescribes four witnesses in the case of adultery); certainty, or tawātor in the terminology of Hadith, presupposes at least twenty witnesses (the number being derived by analogy with Koran 8:65). In the case of religious traditions, at least one of the witnesses should be a candidate for paradise (men ahl al-ǰanna), i.e., a sincere believer. This meant that a non-Muslim account (such as the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, which is false according to testimony of the Koran) can never measure up against a Muslim one, and furthermore, that ultimately a true religious tradition is sui generis (cf. van Ess, Erkenntnislehre, pp. 412f.).

5. Politics. Abu’l-Hoḏayl wisely abstained from the stereotyped questions about right and wrong in early Islam history which served as a shibboleth for determining one’s political position. Hi did not decide whether Abū Bakr or ʿAlī deserved the successorship of the Prophet, although he seems to have thought that the succession from Abū Bakr to ʿOmar and ʿOṯmān was justified (cf. Malaṭī, Tanbīh, p. 33.14f./41.9ff.; more generally in Qāżī ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, Moḡnī XX, p. 115.6ff.). He considered inconclusive one of the well-known Hadiths adduced in support of ʿAlī’s claim (Moḡnī XX, part 1, p. 153.15ff.). Similarly, he abstained from judgment concerning the murder of ʿOṯmān and the civil war. In the latter case he applied (or took over from Wāṣel) the comparison with the leʿān, where, in a trial about paternity, husband and wife pronounce a curse against each other and the truth remains undiscovered. Here, as in the case of the combatants in the Battle of the Camel, testimony can not be accepted unless only one adversary testifies (cf. Moḡnī XX, part 2, p. 58.3f.; Nāšeʾ, Oṣūl al-neḥal, ed. van Ess in Frühe muʿtazilitische Häresiographie, Beirut, 1971, sec. 88ff. and p. 45; Nawbaḵtī, Feraq al-šīʿa, ed. H. Ritter, Istanbul, 1931, p. 13.14ff.). In spite of all this reserve, some stories depict him as an Imamite (e.g., Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 263.19ff.; Damīrī, Ḥayāt al-ḥayawān, s.v. berḏawn). He is said to have retraced “genealogy” of his doctrine via ʿOṯmān Ṭawīl and Wāṣel to Abū Hāšem to his father Moḥammad b. al-Ḥanafīya to ʿAlī, and from ʿAlī to the Prophet to Gabriel and to God Himself (cf. Fehrest, p. 202.3ff.). All this has to be treated with caution (cf. W. Madelung, Der Imām al-Qāsim ibn Ibrāhīm, Berlin, 1965, pp. 31ff.). One of the Hadiths he transmitted speaks for solidarity with the Qorayš, but only as long as they remain righteous themselves; otherwise a rebbelion is justified or even recommended (Taʾrīḵ Baḡdād III, p. 367.2f.).

Later Muʿtazilites, especially at Baṣra, tended to consider Abu’l-Hoḏayl the founder of Kalām (see, for Jobbāʾī, Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 258.17; for the vizier Ebn al-ʿAmīd [d. 360/970], Yāqūt, Odabāʾ VI, p. 73.18ff.). Jobbāʾī called him the greatest Muslim after the Companions and the two founding fathers of the school, Wāṣel b. ʿAṭāʾ and ʿAmr b. ʿObayd (Fażl al-eʿtezāl, p. 294, bottom). His skill of argumentation remained proverbial (e.g., Ḵāledīān, al-Toḥaf wa’l-hadāyā, ed. S. Dahhān, Cairo, 1956, p. 103, bottom; Maʿarrī, Lozūmīyāt, Beirut, 1381/1961, I, p. 155.4). During his own lifetime his reputation had been controversial. Bešr b. al-Moʿtamer, head of the competing Baghdad branch, has called him a showman (cf. Fehrest, ed. J. Fück, in Muhammad Shafi Presentation Volume, Lahore, 1956, p. 59.12ff.). Kalām, both in technique and in its basing of religious truth on a broad philosophical substructure, had already reached its first peak with Żerār b. ʿAmr. Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s reputation profited from the renaissance that his ideas enjoyed under Jobbāʾī, who took them over from Abu’l-Hoḏayl’s youngest pupil, Šaḥḥām. Jobbāʾī used them against the Baghdad Muʿtazilites, who stood in the tradition of Naẓẓām. It is significant that much more original material, excerpts and quotations, are preserved from Naẓẓām than from Abu’l-Hoḏayl. There is no doubt, however, that Abu’l-Hoḏayl was one of the great original thinkers of early Islam. With faithfulness towards the wording of the Koran and with the freshness of approach characteristic of a newcomer on the battlefield of competing religions and movements, he shaped most issues for the next generations.


A. S. Tritton, Muslim Theology, London, 1947, pp. 83f.

H. S. Nyberg in EI2 I, pp. 127-29.

Abu’l-Yosr Pazdavī, Oṣūl al-dīn, ed. H. Linss, Cairo, 1383/1963, index.

Abū Yaʿlā b. al-Farrāʾ, Moʿtamad fī oṣūl al-dīn, ed. W. Z. Ḥaddād, Beirut, 1974, index (al-ʿAllāf).

Baḡdādī, al-Melal wa’l-neḥal, ed.

A. N. Nader, Beirut, 1970, index.

Ṣafadī, al-Wāfī bi’l-wafayāt, Istanbul, 1931-74, V, pp. 161ff.

Idem, Nakt al-hemyān, Cairo, 1911, pp. 277ff.

ʿA. M. Ḡorābī, Abu’l-Hoḏayl al-ʿAllāf, awwal motakallem eslāmī taʾaṯṯara bi’l-falsafa, Cairo, 1949.

W. M. Watt, Free Will and Predestination, London, 1948, index.

Idem, The Formative Period of Islamic Thought, Edinburgh, 1973, index.

A. N. Nader, Le système philosophique des Muʿtazila, Beirut, 1956, index.

H. Laoust, Les schismes dans l’Islam, Paris, 1965, pp. 102f.

(J. van Ess)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, pp. 318-322

Cite this entry:

J. van Ess, “ABU’L-HOḎAYL AL-ʿALLĀF,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, pp. 318-322; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-hodayl-al-allaf-mohammad-b (accessed on 31 January 2014).