EBN AL-JONAYD (or al-Jonaydī), ABŪ ʿALĪ MOḤAMMAD b. Aḥmad Kāteb Eskāfī, Imami jurist. His nesba indicates that he came from Eskāf, or Eskāf Bani’l-Jonayd, a district of Nahrawān between Baghdad and Wāseṭ east of the Tigris (Yāqūt, Boldān I, p. 252). He could not have been born much later than 290/903, since he transmitted from the Wāqefī scholar Ḥomayd b. Zīād, who died in 310/922. It is not known how closely Ebn al-Jonayd associated with the excommunicated Imami scholar Moḥammad b. ʿAlī Šalmāḡānī (executed in 322/934), whom he no doubt met in Baghdad, but Ebn al-Jonayd did transmit a statement from Šalmāḡānī about his relations with Ḥosayn b. Rūḥ, the third wakīl of the Hidden Imam (Ṭūsī, Ḡayba, Najaf, 1385/1965, p. 241). Ebn al-Jonayd was employed as a secretary (kāteb), most likely in the service of the Buyids in Baghdad, for among his writings are mentioned the Jawābāt Moʿezz-al-Dawla, evidently containing answers to questions about religion of the Buyid Moʿezz-al-Dawla (344-56/945-67), and a Jawāb Soboktegīn al-ʿAjamī (Answer to Soboktegīn al-ʿAjamī), a Shiʿite general of Moʿezz-al-Dawla (Meskawayh, II, pp. 247-49). Shaikh Mofīd, who transmitted his books from Ebn al-Jonayd, probably met him in Baghdad. Later he was active in the Imami community in Nīšāpūr. According to a Ḥanafite scholar quoted by Shaikh Mofīd (al-Masāʾel al-Ṣāḡānīya, p. 249), he came there in 340/951-52 claiming to be in contact with the Hidden Imam. Though Shaikh Mofīd denies any knowledge that Ebn al-Jonayd made such a claim, the report may be corroborated by a statement of Ṭūsī that Ebn al-Jonayd was in possession of money and a sword which the Twelfth Imam had bequeathed to a slave girl. Connected with his activity in Nīšāpūr appears to be a book mentioned among his works, Ketāb naqż mā naqażahu’l-Zajjājī al-Naysābūrī ʿalā Abī Moḥammad al-Fażl b. Šāḏān, in which he defended the prominent Imami scholar of Nīšāpūr, Fażl b. Šāḏān (d. 260/973-74) who, like himself, is said to have applied analogy (qīās) in feqh. He later returned to Baghdad, though some late sources indicate he died in Ray in 381/991, in which case, he may have been attracted to this town by the vizier Ṣāḥeb b. ʿAbbād, who gathered around himself numerous Shiʿite scholars. There is a remote possibility that Ebn al-Jonayd may be the same Abū ʿAlī Eskāfī, a propagandist (dāʿī) for Ebn ʿAbbād’s religious ideas, mentioned by Abū Ḥayyān Tawḥīdī (p. 467).

Ebn al-Jonayd was noted among Imami jurists in particular for his reliance on the principle of analogy (qīās), which was almost universally rejected by Imami legal tradition. Ṭūsī praised the excellent composition of his books, but added that they were disregarded because of his use of qīās. In later Imami works he is often associated with Ḥasan b. ʿAlī b. Abī ʿAqīl ʿOmānī, who flourished a generation earlier than he and is considered the first scholar to have systematized Imami feqh through ejtehād. Ebn al-Jonayd’s feqh doctrine is said to agree frequently with that of his predecessor, although the latter did not openly advocate the use of qīās. It is unknown whether there were any real relations between the two scholars. Ebn al-Jonayd polemically endorsed the use of qīās in a Ketāb kašf al-tamwīh wa’l-elbās ʿalā aḡmār al-šīʿa fī amr al-qīās and of ejtehād in a Ketāb eẓhār mā satarahū ahl al-ʿenād men al-rewāya ʿan aʾemmat al-ʿetra fī amr al-ejtehād. He evidently gained some followers in the Imami communities during his lifetime though he was opposed from the beginning by other scholars. His contemporary Ebn Bābūya (Bābawayh; d. 381/991) wrote a Resāla elā Ḥammād b. ʿAlī al-Fāresī fi’l-radd ʿala’l-Jonaydīya dealing with the question of the number of days of the month of Ramażān. Shaikh Mofīd composed a refutation of some Masāʾel that Ebn al-Jonayd had sent to the Imami community in Egypt, and in his al-Masāʾel al-Sarawīya criticized Ebn al-Jonayd’s reliance on presumption (ẓann), analogy, and isolated (āḥād) traditions of the Imams. Some later authors highly commended his legal scholarship without, however, condoning his use of qīās. ʿAllāma Ḥellī regularly quoted his legal views in his Ketāb moḵtalef al-šīʿa, relying on a copy of Ebn al-Jonayd’s al-Moḵtaṣar al-Aḥmadī available to him.

None of the numerous writings of Ebn al-Jonayd seems to be extant. The most extensive list of their titles is given by Najāšī on the basis of Ebn al-Jonayd’s own fehrest of his books. His magnum opus was the Ketāb tahḏīb al-šīʿa le-aḥkām al-šarīʿa, a comprehensive work on feqh in twenty volumes. An abridged version of it was entitled al-Moḵtaṣar al-aḥmadī fi’l-feqh al-moḥammadī. A number of works classified in his fehrest under kalām appear to belong to the category of apologetics rather than speculative theology. He also composed a Ketāb ʿalam al-najāba fī ʿelm al-ketāba, apparently a handbook for secretaries. It is unlikely that he was the author of a book on the similes of the Koran (Ketāb al-amṯāl), which Ebn al-Nadīm attributes to an Ebn al-Jonayd (Fehrest, p. 38), since Ebn al-Nadīm lists the book again in the entry on a different Ebn al-Jonayd (Fehrest, p. 185) and the title was not contained in Ebn al-Jonayd’s own fehrest. He also transmitted Shiʿite collections of traditions.


Bibliography: (For cited works not given in detail, see “Short References.”)

Abū Ḥayyān Tawḥīdī, Aḵlāq al-wazīrayn, ed. M. T. Ṭanjī Damascus, 1385/1965.

al-Ḏarīʿa IV, pp. 510-11; XX, pp. 177-78.

Ebn Šahrāšūb, Maʿālem al-ʿolamāʾ, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1353/1934, pp. 87-88.

Fehrest, p. 196.

M.-B. Ḵᵛānsārī, Rawżāt al-jannāt IV, ed. A. Esmāʿīlīān, Qom, 1390-92/1970-72, pp. 145-52.

Meskawayh, Tajāreb II. Shaikh Mofīd, al-Masāʾel al-Sarawīya, in ʿEddat rasāʾel le’l-Šayḵ... al-Mofīd, Qom, 2nd ed., pp. 22-25.

Idem, al-Masāʾel al-ṣāḡānīya, in ibid., pp. 249-54.

Aḥmed b. ʿAlī Najāšī, Rejāl, Tehran, n.d., pp. 24, 41, 112, 131, 153, 299-302.

A. Pākatčī, “Ebn-e Jonayd” in DMBE III, pp. 258-62.

Abū Jaʿfar Tṟusī, Fehrest kotob al-šīʿa, ed. A. Sprenger, Calcutta, 1853-55, pp. 267-69.

(Wilferd Madelung)

Originally Published: December 15, 1997

Last Updated: December 6, 2011

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Vol. VIII, Fasc. 1, pp. 31-32