Al-Fakhr al-Razi

Al-Fakhr al-Razi



by Dr.G.F. Haddad

 Muhammad ibn `Umar ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Husayn1 Abu `Abd Allah al-Qurashi, al-Bakri, al-Taymi, al-Tabaristani al-Shafi`i, known as Ibn al-Khatib and as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (543-606), Shaykh al-Islam, the imam of the learned scholars of kalam and the foundations of belief, a major jurist of the Shafi`i school, specialist of usul, Sufi, commentator of the Qur’an, philologist, genealogist, heresiographer, logician, and physician. “An ocean that contains more pearls than the ocean.” The principal spokesman of Ahl al-Sunna in his time, he refuted all the sects with which he came into contact, particularly the multifarious groups of the Mu`tazila, Shi`a, and Hashwiyya as well as  the Jews and Christians. A student of his father Khatib al-Rayy Diya’ al-Din `Umar and Majd al-Din al-Jili al-Maraghi principally, then Abu Muhammad al-Baghawi and Kamal al-Din al-Simnani, he memorized early on Imam al-Haramayn’s work in kalam entitled al-Shamil. He began his scholarly career in poverty and died at sixty-three at the height of fame and wealth, poisoned, it is said, by the Karramiyya2 of Herat who were envious of his great following among the princes of Khurasan.

 A superb teacher, al-Razi could debate and preach in both Arabic and Persian, and he answered gracefully and at length the questions of the scholars of all four schools in Herat. He would often break into emotional states while preaching, moving to tears whoever listened to him. He was expelled from Khwarizm and Transoxiana by the Mu`tazila and returned to his native Rayy where he authored a series of works which achieved widespread fame in a short time. Among them:3

  1. Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, also known as Mafatih al-Ghayb, among the greatest commentaries of Qur’an in Islam, in twelve to thirty volumes depending on the edition, he spent the last fifteen years of his life working on it and did not finish it. The commentator Abu Hayyan criticized its prolixity in acerbic terms.4
  2. `Isma al-Anbiya’.
  3. Bahr al-Ansab.
  4. Kitab al-Mantiq al-Kabir.
  5. Al-Mahsul wa al-Muntakhab, in which he amended Abu al-Husayn Muhammad ibn `Ali al-Basri al-Mu`tazili al-Shafi`i’s (d. 463) al-Mu`tamad fi Usul al-Fiqh.
  6. Al-Arba`in.
  7. Nihaya al-`Uqul
  8. Al-Bayan wa al-Burhan fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Tughyan
  9. Al-Mabahith al-`Imadiyya fi al-Matalib al-Ma`adiyya
  10. Al-Mabahith al-Mashriqiyya.
  11. Ta’sis al-Taqdis fi Ta’wil al-Sifat, a methodical refutation of the anthropomorphists. Ibn Taymiyya attacked it in a book entitled al-Asas Radd al-Ta’sis.
  12. Irshad al-Nuzzar ila Lata’if al-Asrar.
  13. Al-Zubda.
  14. Al-Ma`alim fi Usul al-Din, a commentary on Abu al-Ma`ali al-Juwayni’s Luma` al-Adilla.
  15. Al-Ma`alim fi Usul al-Fiqh
  16. Sharh Asma’ Allah al-Husna
  17. Sharh Nisf al-Wajiz li al-Ghazzali
  18. Sharh al-Isharat.
  19. Al-Mulakhkhas fi al-Falsafa.
  20. Al-Matalib al-`Aliyya.
  21. Al-Milal wa al-Nihal.
  22. Sharh Kulliyyat al-Qanun fi al-Tibb.
  23. Manaqib al-Shafi`i.
  24. Sharh Siqt al-Zand li Abi al-`Ala’.
  25. Al-Tariqa al-Baha’iyya fi al-Khilaf. Siraj al-Din al-Ghaznawi translated it into Arabic from its original Persian.
  26. Sharh Mufassal al-Zamakhshari.
  27. `Uyun al-Hikma.
  28. The spurious Asrar al-Nujum on magic and divination, falsely attributed to the Imam.5


 Imam al-Razi said in his “Testament” (wasiyya):

 I have explored the ways of kalam and the methods of philosophy, and I did not see in them a benefit that compares with the benefit I found in the Qur’an. For the latter hurries us to acknowledge that greatness and majesty belong only to Allah, precluding us from involvement into the explication of objections and contentions. This is for no other reason than because human minds find themselves deadened in those deep, vexing exercises and obscure ways [of kalam and philosophy].

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