EBN MATTAWAYH (Mattūya), ABŪ MOḤAMMAD ḤASAN b. Aḥmad b. Mattawayh, Muʿtazilite theologian of the Basran school, a student of Qāżī ʿAbd-al-Jabbār (d. 415/1025). Where Ebn Mattawayh lived and the date of his death are not known. Wilferd Madelung has established that his Majmūʿ was written rather soon after ʿAbd-al-Jabbār’s death and that the late date sometimes given for Ebn Mattawayh’s death as 468/1075 or 469/1076 has no foundation.

Two works of his survive and are being published: a complete treatise of Muʿtazilite theology and a treatise on the “fine points” of theology. His Ketāb al-majmūʿfi’l-moḥīṭ be’l-taklīf is, as D. Gimaret has shown in his preface to the second volume, an independent, explicative, and sometimes critical rewriting of ʿAbd- al-Jabbār’s al-Moḥīṭ fi’l-taklīf. The first of the two parts of Ebn Mattawayh’s al-Taḏkera fī aḥkām al-jawāher wa’l-aʿrāż has been published (ed. S. N. Loṭf and F. Badīrʿūn, Cairo, 1975). The first volume is a treatise on the “physics,” or natural philosophy, of the Muʿtazilite world view: substances, atoms, bodies, their various properties (colors, tastes, odors, sounds, heat and cold, speech and language), existence and nonexistence, the basic accidents (akwān), etc.; and on all the auxiliary matters that form the background and supposition for arguments in the greater questions of theology: the eternity and justice of God, creation, the temporality of the Koran, man’s power, moral responsibility (taklīf), etc. According to the editors of the first part, the second and final part, fi’l-ḥayāt, which would be the “biology” of the theologian’s world view, was being prepared for publication. The Taḏkera might be usefully read in conjunction with a treatise on the same subject by another disciple of ʿAbd al-Jabbār, Abū Rašīd Saʿīd b. Moḥammad b. Saʿīd Nīšābūrī, al-Masāʾel fi’l-ḵelāf bayn al-Baṣrīyīn wa’l-Baḡdādīyīn (Beirut, 1979).

Ebn Mattawayh was one of the Muʿtazilites who favored ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭāleb. Ebn Abi’l-Ḥadīd cites three times Ebn Mattawayh’s Ketāb al-kefāya (now lost), showing him to hold ʿAlī superior to Abū Bakr (I, p. 8), and even saying that ʿAlī was protected from sin and error (maʿṣūm) although, contrary to the Imami position, this was not necessary for his imamate (VI, pp. 376-77)—maʿṣūmīya (protection from sin) necessarily being a quality of the Prophet during the time of his mission (VII, p.10).


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

Ebn Abi’l-Ḥadīd, Šarḥ Nahj al-balāḡa, Cairo, 1389/1960.

Ebn al-Mortażā, Ṭabaqāt al-Moʿtazela, Wiesbaden, 1961, p. 119.

Qāżī ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, al-Moḥīṭ be’l taklīf le’l Qāżī ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, jamʿ al-Ḥasan b. Aḥmad b. Mattawayh, ed. Um-al-Sayyed ʿAzmī, Cairo, 1965. (This edition of vol. I is better than the edition of the same volume by J. Houben: Ketāb al-majmūʿ fīl-moḥīṭ be’l-taklīf le’l-Qāżī ʿAbd al-Jabbār ; II, ed. D. Gimaret, Beirut, 1981.)

Ḥākem Jošamī, Šarḥ al-ʿoyūn, in Fażl al-eʿtezāl, Tunis, 1393/1974, p. 389.

W. Madelung, “Ibn Mattawayh,” in El ², S., p. 393.

Ṣ. Mowaḥḥed, “Ebn Mattawayh” in DMBE IV, p. 580. Sezgin, GAS I, p. 627.

(Martin McDermott)

Originally Published: December 15, 1997

Last Updated: December 6, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 1, p. 39