ESḤĀQ AḤMAR NAḴAʿI (d. 286/899), full name: Esḥāq b. Moḥammad b. Abān Abu Yaʿqub al-Naḵaʿi al-Aḥmar al-Baṣri, a prominent Shiʿi extremist active in Iraq, founder of the Esḥāqiya ḡolāt sect, and the alleged author of a number of texts. Three of the works attributed to him (see below) are partially preserved in later quotations, whereas two, titled Ketāb aḵbār al-sayyed and Ketāb majāles Hešām, are lost. Esḥāq himself was a follower of the ḡolāt sect called ʿAlyāʾiya, who allegedly worshipped ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb as a god who had sent Moḥammad as his prophet; they were also said to have worshipped Ḥasan, Ḥosayn, and Fāṭema (Saʿd al-Qommi, pp. 59-60; Kašši, nos. 591, 1014; Rāzi, p. 307; Šahrastāni, I, p. 179; Ṭusi, pp. 411, 428; Ḥāʾeri, II, pp. 30-31; Ebn Ḥazm, p. 66; ʿAsqalāni, II, p. 71-75; Halm, 1978, p. 245-46; idem, “ʿUlyāʾiya”; idem, 1982, pp. 278-82).
Esḥāq was probably close with the Noṣayris, with whom he shared some of his fundamental teachings; perhaps this is why numerous excerpts from his works have been preserved in the Noṣayri written tradition, his name appears in the chains of transmitters in Noṣayri texts, and one Noṣayri author counts his followers as monotheists (Ḥasan b. Šoʿba al-Ḥarrāni, p. 58). However, Esḥāq eventually split from this group, perhaps because of his rivalry with the Noṣayri leader Moḥammad b. Noṣayr (Ṭabarāni, Majmuʿ, pp. 130, 195, 205; Moḥammad b. Noṣayr, “Akwār,” pp. 34, 58, 63-65; Ḥasan b. Šoʿba al-Ḥarrāni, pp. 34-35; Friedman, p. 9-10).
Esḥāq’s ideas as described by the heresiographers resemble those of the ʿAlyāʾiya’s; thus, he is said to have believed in the divinity of ʿAli, who had dispatched Moḥammad as his messenger; he taught the successive incarnations of God in the form of the Imams, which is an idea adopted by some early ḡolāt groups (Ḵaṭib al-Baḡdādi, p. 380; Ebn Jawzi, p. 593; ʿAsqalāni, II, p. 73; Halm, 1982, pp. 278-82; on God’s successive incarnations in ḡolāt thought, see pseudo-Joʿfi, 2004, pp. 130, 136, 176; Saʿd Qommi, p. 56; Nowbaḵti, p. 40; Ašʿari, p. 11; Modarressi, 1993, p. 21; Tucker, pp. 42, 107).
Several excerpts from Esḥāq’s four alleged works―Ketāb al-ṣerāṭ (different from the Ketāb al-ṣerāṭ attributed to Mofażżal al-Joʿfi), Bāṭen al-taklif, Ketāb al-ṣalāt, and Ketāb al-tanbih―have survived in the works of later Noṣayri authors Ḥasan b. Šoʿba al-Ḥarrāni (passim), ʿAli b. Ḥamza al-Ḥarrāni (p. 258), Jelli (p. 164), and Ebn Noṣayr (Meṯāl, p. 211). Although the excerpts are too few to give a comprehensive idea about the contents of the works, the doctrines they contain clearly echo some of the ideas attributed to the ḡolāt by heresiographers. Thus, some of the passages state that Moḥammad was God’s servant (ʿabd) who created the world on His behalf, which resembles the teachings of the mofawweża branch of the golāt. Some elaborate on the notion that religious obligations are in reality names of persons, and true worship is to know (maʿrefa) these persons, an idea which was expressed in ḡolāt literature and attributed to them by their critics. Finally, some of the passages speak of the positive and negative aspects of singing and homosexual intercourse (lewāṭ), which echoes the numerous accounts stating that the ḡolāt allowed sexual contact between men (Ḥasan b. Šoʿba al-Ḥarrāni, 167-168; Nowbaḵti, p. 39). The Ketāb al-ṣerāṭ was refuted by Nahiki and Fayyāż in works which are now lost (Nowbaḵti, pp. 38-39; ʿAbd-al-Qāher Baḡdādi, p. 246; Saʿd al-Qommi, pp. 51, 60-61; pseudo-Joʿfi, 2007, p. 40; Kašši, nos. 512-13; Ṣaffār, pp. 546-55; Ašʿari, p. 10; ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, p. 73; Abu Tammām, p. 77; Modarressi, pp. 21-28; on the refutations of the Ketāb al-ṣerāṭ, see, Masʿudi, III, pp. 265-66; Ebn Ḥazm, p. 66; ʿAsqalāni, II, p. 73).
Esḥāq is listed as one of the transmitters of a short treatise titled Ādāb ʿAbd-al-Moṭṭaleb, whose ideas regarding ʿAli and God resemble those of Esḥāq and the Esḥāqiya. Thus, the treatise states that ʿAli is God and Moḥammad is his prophet, and that through the knowledge of God the believer may attain to the rank of the prophets (Ādāb, pp. 261-87; cf. Ebn Jawzi, p. 191).
Esḥāq had a group of followers called after him Esḥāqiya, who likewise professed his ideas about ʿAli’s divinity and his relation to Moḥammad, and held that whoever possesses the knowledge of Moḥammad’s descendants is a prophet. The Esḥāqiya were active in Madāʾen and in the 10th century probably migrated to Syria (Ebn Jawzi, pp. 191, 593; ʿAsqalāni, II, p. 71; Šahrastāni, I, pp. 192-93; Ḵaṭib al-Baḡdādi, p. 380). They had strained relations with the Noṣayris (Ṭabarāni, Ḥāwi, pp. 59, 63, 74; idem, Dalāʾel, p. 153), and, according to some accounts, they were extirpated by the Noṣayris in the 13th century (Halm, 1978, pp. 252-53; Friedman, p. 53).
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Last Updated: October 1, 2012