Jahm bin Safwan

Jahm ibn Ṣafwān (جَهْم بن صَفْوان) was an Islamic theologian who attached himself to Al-Harith ibn Surayj, a dissident in Khurasan towards the end of the Umayyad period, and who was put to death in 746 by Salm b. Aḥwaz.[1]


Of possible Persian[2] descent, he was born in Kufa, but settled down in Khurāsān in Tirmidh. He learned under al-Ja'd b. Dirham, a theologian from Harran in Syria. al-Ja'd b. Dirham was a teacher of the last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II, and is described as a Dahrī and Zindīq.[3] He was the first Muslim reported to have spoken about the createdness of the Qurʾān and reject Abraham's friendship with God and Moses' speaking to Him.[4] The name of Jahm b. Ṣafwān would later be ascribed - possibly spuriously - to the theological movement known as the Jahmiyya (see: Jahmites).[5]

Jahm worked as the assistant to Al-Harith ibn Surayj during the latter's revolt against the Umayyad governor Nasr ibn Sayyar. Jahm was killed during the first attempt to take Merv in 746, though the revolt greatly weakened Umayyad power and indirectly contributed to the success of the Abbasid Revolution.[6]


Establishing the positive content of Jahm's doctrines is difficult, as they are reproduced (in an abbreviated form) only in later polemical works that are impossible to verify. However, it is said that he taught that only a few attributes can be predicated to God, such as creation, divine power and action, whilst others such as speech cannot. Therefore, he believed that it was wrong to talk about the eternal word of the Qur'an, since God (according to Jahm) is not a speaker in the first place.[7]

Jahm was a proponent of extreme determinism, according to which a man acts only metaphorically in the same way in which the sun is said to set: according to Jahm, this is a linguistic convention rather than an accurate description, as it is actually God that makes the sun set.[8]


Jahm's doctrines about God and His Attributes were taken up in criticisms of the Mu'tazila, who were sometimes called Jahmites by their adversaries. The Mu'tazila believed that the Qur'ān is created, a tenet wherein they agreed with Jahm's recorded view.


Jahm b. Ṣafwān was heavily criticized by later scholars for his theological teachings. Many Hadith scholars wrote refutations of Jahm bin Ṣafwān's doctrines, particularly Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Bukhari, and al-Darimi.[9] The latter also wrote a large refutation of a prominent Jahmite by the name of Bishr b. Ghiyāt al-Mārisî wherein he declared him a Kafir (an unbeliever).[10]

See also

Jahm left no writings, but many Muslim scholars wrote about his doctrines and a few modern scholars have written studies of him.[11]


  1. ^ Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam p.83, Leiden 1974
  2. ^ van Ess, Joseph. "JAHM B. ṢAFWĀN – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  3. ^ Abdus Subhan, al-Jahm bin Safwan and his philosophy p.221 in: Islamic Culture 1937, W. Montgomery Watt, Early Discussions about the Qur'ān p.28 in: The Muslim World 1950, al-Dahabi, Mizan al-I'tidal 1:185
  4. ^ W. Madelung, The Origins on the Controversy concerning the Creation of the Qur'ān p.505 in: Orientalia hispanica sive studia F.M. Pareja octogenario dicata, Leiden 1974
  5. ^ W. Montgomery Watt, Encyclopedia of Islam II, q.v. Djahm b. Ṣafwān
  6. ^ G. R. Hawting, The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate AD 661-750, pg. 108. London: Routledge, 2002. ISBN 9781134550586
  7. ^ Clinton Bennett, The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies, p 126. ISBN 1441138129
  8. ^ P. W. Pestman, Acta Orientalia Neerlandica: Proceedings of the Congress of the Dutch Oriental Society Held in Leiden on the Occasion of Its 50th Anniversary, 8–9 May 1970, p 85.
  9. ^ They wrote respectively: al-Radd 'alā al-Zanādiqah wa'l-Jahmiyyah, Khaql Af'āl al-'Ibād wa'l-Radd 'alā al-Jahmiyyah wa-Ashāb al-Ta'tîl and al-Radd 'alā'l-Jahmiyyah
  10. ^ Refer to: Naqd 'Uthmān b. Sa'îd 'alā al-Mārisî al-Jahmî al-'Anîd fi Iftirā 'alā Allāh fî al-Tawhîd, Riyad 1999
  11. ^ Sources on the Jahmiyya are largely tendentious, as is the case with all heresiographies of the past. For modern studies see: Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi, Tarikh al-Jahmiyyah wa'l-Mu'tazilah, Yasir Qadhi, Maqalat al-Jahm b. Safwan wa Atharuah fi al-Firaq al-Islamiyya, and R.M. Frank, The neoplatonism of Ğahm ibn Safwân in: Le Muséon 1965 p.395ff
Abbasid Revolution

The Abbasid Revolution refers to the overthrow of the Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE), the second of the four major Caliphates in early Islamic history, by the third, the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258 CE). Coming to power three decades after the death of the Muslim prophet Muhammad and immediately after the Rashidun Caliphate, the Umayyads were a feudal Arab empire ruling over a population which was overwhelmingly non-Arab as well as primarily non-Muslim. Non-Arabs were treated as second-class citizens regardless of whether or not they converted to Islam, and this discontent cutting across faiths and ethnicities ultimately led to the Umayyads' overthrow. The Abbasid family claimed to have descended from al-Abbas, an uncle of the Prophet.

The revolution essentially marked the end of the Arab empire and the beginning of a more inclusive, multiethnic state in the Middle East. Remembered as one of the most well-organized revolutions during its period in history, it reoriented the focus of the Muslim world to the east.


Bahshamiyya (also known as "Ba Hashimiyya") is a school of Mu'tazili thought, rivaling the school of Abd al-Jabbar ibn Ahmad, based primarily on the earlier teaching of Abu Hashim al-Jubba'i, the son of Abu 'Ali Muhammad al-Jubba'i.

Hadith of Najd

The Hadith of Najd is a hadith with several chains of narration about three geographical locations, one of which is prophesied to be the source of calamities. While all Sunni Muslims accept the group of hadith as authentic, the exact location of the area referred to as "Najd" is disputed. Possible locations listed are the areas around Yemen, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.

Hisham ibn Hakam

Hisham ibn Hakam (Arabic:هشام بن حکم) or Abul Hakam Hisham ibn Hakam Kendi was a Shiite scholar of the second century of Hejri and a companion of Jafar al-Sadiq and Musa al-Kadhim. It was Hisham who defended the doctrine of Imamate based on wisdom and logic; a topic he proved himself to be fully competent for. His debates on different religious matters are alive till present days.

Islamic schools and branches

This article summarizes the different branches and schools in Islam. The best known split, into Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, and Kharijites, was mainly political at first but eventually acquired theological and juridical dimensions. There are three traditional types of schools in Islam: schools of jurisprudence, Sufi orders and schools of theology. The article also summarizes major denominations and movements that have arisen in the modern era.


ʿIlm al-Kalām (Arabic: عِلْم الكَلام‎, literally "science of discourse"), usually foreshortened to Kalām and sometimes called "Islamic scholastic theology", is the study of Islamic doctrine ('aqa'id). It was born out of the need to establish and defend the tenets of Islamic faith against doubters and detractors. A scholar of Kalām is referred to as a mutakallim (plural: mutakallimūn), and it's a role distinguished from those of Islamic philosophers, jurists, and scientists.The Arabic term Kalām means "speech, word, utterance" among other things, and its use regarding Islamic theology is derived from the expression "Word of God" (Kalām Allāh) found in the Qur'an.Murtada Mutahhari describes Kalām as a discipline devoted to discuss "the fundamental Islamic beliefs and doctrines which are necessary for a Muslim to believe in. It explains them, argues about them, and defends them" (see also Five Pillars of Islam). There are many possible interpretations as to why this discipline was originally called so; one is that the widest controversy in this discipline has been about whether the "Word of God", as revealed in the Qur'an, can be considered part of God's essence and therefore not created, or whether it was made into words in the normal sense of speech, and is therefore created.

List of philosophers born in the 1st through 10th centuries

Philosophers born in the 1st through 10th centuries (and others important in the history of philosophy), listed alphabetically:

Note: This list has a minimal criterion for inclusion and the relevance to philosophy of some individuals on the list is disputed.See also:

List of philosophers born in the centuries BC

List of philosophers born in the 1st through 10th centuries

List of philosophers born in the 11th through 14th centuries

List of philosophers born in the 15th and 16th centuries

List of philosophers born in the 17th century

List of philosophers born in the 18th century

List of philosophers born in the 19th century

List of philosophers born in the 20th century


Muʿtazila (Arabic: المعتزلة‎ al-muʿtazilah) is a rationalist school of Islamic theology that flourished in the cities of Basra and Baghdad, both now in Iraq, during the 8th to the 10th centuries.The adherents of the Muʿtazili school, known as Muʿtazilites, are best known for denying the status of the Qur'an as uncreated and co-eternal with God, asserting that if the Quran is the word of God, He logically "must have preceded his own speech".The philosophical speculation of the Muʿtazilites centred on the concepts of divine justice and divine unity. The school worked to resolve the theological "problem of evil": how to reconcile the justice of an all-powerful God with the reality of evil in the world. It believed that since God is just and wise, He cannot command what is contrary to reason or act with disregard for the welfare of His creatures.Muʿtazilites believed that good and evil were not always determined by revealed scripture or interpretation of scripture, but they were rational categories that could be "established through unaided reason";

because knowledge was derived from reason, reason, alongside scripture, was the "final arbiter" in distinguishing right from wrong. This part alone made them the enemy of those who follow the Hadith and Tafsirs.

The Muʿtazili school of Kalam considered the injunctions of God to be accessible to rational thought and inquiry and that reason, not "sacred precedent", is the effective means to determine what is just and religiously obligatory.The movement emerged during the Umayyad Caliphate and reached its height during the Abbasid Caliphate. After the 10th century, the movement declined. It is viewed as heretical by some Sunni scholars in modern mainstream Sunni theology for its tendency to deny the Qur'an being eternal.

In contemporary Salafi jihadism, the epithet or supposed allegations of being a Muʿtazilite have been used between rival groups as a means of denouncing their credibility.

Schools of Islamic theology

See Islamic schools and branches for different schools of thought; see aqidah for the concept of the different "creeds" in Islam; see Kalam for the concept of theological discourse.Schools of Islamic theology are various Islamic schools and branches in different schools of thought regarding aqidah (creed). According to Muhammad Abu Zahra, Qadariyah, Jahmis, Murji'ah, Muʿtazila, Batiniyya, Ash'ari, Maturidi, Athari are the ancient schools of aqidah.

The main split between Sunni and Shia Islam was initially more political than theological, but over time theological differences have developed. Still, differences in aqidah occur as divisions orthogonal to the main divisions in Islam along political or fiqh lines, such that a Muʿtazili might, for example, belong to Ja'fari, Zaidi or even Hanafi school of jurisprudence.

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