EBN ḴĀLAWAYH (Ḵālūya), ABŪ ʿABD-ALLĀH ḤOSAYN b. Aḥmad b. Ḥamdān Hamaḏānī, philologist and Koran scholar. He was born in Hamadān and traveled in 314/926 to Baghdad while still a young man, where he studied the linguistic sciences under both Basran and Kufan masters, principally the Basrans Ebn Dorayd and Abū Saʿīd Sīrāfī, the Kufans Abū Bakr Anbārī and Abū ʿOmar Zāhed Ḡolām Ṯaʿlab, and Nefṭawayh of the mixed school. He also received instruction in qerāʿāt from Ebn Mojāhed and in Hadithfrom Moḥammad b. Maḵlad ʿAṭṭār and Abū Bakr Nīšābūrī. After moving to Aleppo and crossing swords with Motanabbī and Abū ʿAlī Fāresī, he acquired great prestige as a teacher, enjoying the special favor of Sayf-al-Dawla Ḥamdānī, the amir of Allepo, and tutoring his sons. When Sayf-al-Dawla died in 350/967, Ebn Ḵālawayh probably remained in Aleppo until his own death in 370/980, though a visit to the Yemen is mentioned. Sources differ on his religious allegiance, some calling him a Shafiʿite and others claiming he was a covert Imami (Krenkow’s postscript in Ebn Ḵālawayh, Ketāb eʿrāb, pp. 245-48; Spitaler, p. 824; Sezgin, VIII, pp. 178-80).

Ebn Ḵālawayh was a considerable figure in literature, philology, and Koranic scholarship; at least a dozen of his works survive in manuscript, and many others are attested through quotations or subsequent refutations. Of those published, the best known are his recension of the Dīvān of Abū Ferās, a grammatical analysis of thirty suras of the Koran (Eʿrāb ṯalāṯīn sūra), and a list of rare words and anomalies, generally called the Ketāb laysa because almost every chapter begins with the formula “there is not” (laysa) in the speech of the Arabs anything of the form ‘x’ other than ...” This may have been a special preoccupation of his, since he occasionally invokes the same phrase in his Koranic commentary; regarding its originality, note that a similar expression, laysa fiʿl-kalām, is already attributed to Farrāʾ (d. 200/822) by Ebn al-Sekkīt (d. 243/867; see Abū ʿAlī Fāresī, p. 121).


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

Abū ʿAlī Fāresī Naḥwī, al-Baḡdādīyāt, ed. S. ʿA. Šangāwī, Baghdad, 1983.

Ebn Ḵālawayh, Ketāb laysa fī kalām al-ʿArab, ed. A. ʿA-G. ʿAṭṭār, 2nd. ed., Cairo, 1399/1979 (it is likely that the published versions of this work are incomplete; see M. J. Moḥammad, Beirut, 1986, pp. 50-51 for other editions).

Idem, Moḵtaṣar šawāḏḏ al-Qorʾān, ed. G. Bergsträsser as Ibn Ḫālawaih’s Sammlung nichtkanonischer Koranlesarten, Bibliotheca Islamica 7, Leipzig 1934.

Idem, Dīvān Abī Ferās, ed. S. Dahhān, 3 vols., Beirut, 1944, repr. Beirut, 1959, 1966.

Idem, Ketāb al-rīhá, ed. J. Kratschkovsky, Islamica 2, 1926, pp. 331-43.

Idem, Ketāb eʿrāb ṯalāṯīn sūra men al-Qorʾān al-karīm, ed. F. Krenkow, Cairo, 1360/1941; ed. M. M. Fahmī as Ketāb al-ṭārīqīya fī eʿrāb ṯalāṯīn sūra men al-Mofaṣṣal, Cairo, 1991.

Idem, Šarḥ Maqṣūrat Ebn Dorayd, ed. in M. J. Moḥammad, Beirut, 1986.

F. Krenkow, “The Iʿrāb of Thirty Surahs by Ibn Khālaweyh,” Islamic Culture 10, 1936, pp. 248-59.

M. J. Moḥammad, Ebn Ḵālawayh wa johūdoh fi’l-loḡā, Beirut, 1986.

M. Sayyedī, “Ebn-e Ḵālūya” in DMBE III, pp. 403-05.

Sezgin, GAS I, p. 18; VII, p. 356; VIII, 274; IX, pp. 169-71, 247.

A. Spitaler, “Ibn Khālawayh” in EI ² III, pp. 824-25.

(Michael G. Carter)

Originally Published: December 15, 1997

Last Updated: December 6, 2011

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