NAWBAḴTI FAMILY, a notable Shiʿite family of Persian descent, many of whose members, like their eponymous ancestor Nawbaḵt and his son Abu Sahl Fażl, ranked among the local illuminati of Baghdad, served as advisors and administrators for the ʿAbbasid court, and gained fame as Shiʿite theologians and locum tenants of the twelfth Imam of Shiʿite Islam.

The namesake of the Nawbaḵti house was a Zoroastrian astrologer named Nawbaḵt Fāresi Majusi Monajjem (fl. mid-2nd/8th cent.; his name was also transcribed as “Nēbaḵt”; see, e.g., Ṭabari, III, p. 296; tr., XXVIII, p. 267; Boḥtori, III, p. 1840; V, p. 12), who served the ʿAbbasid caliph Abu Jaʿfar al-Manṣur (r. 136-58/754-75) as a trusted astrological advisor throughout his caliphate.  The significance of the name’s apparent meaning (“of new fortune”) is not entirely clear.  If Nawbaḵt indeed converted to Islam as Muslim accounts claim (see below), perhaps the astrologer adopted this name as a result of his conversion.  It is significant that Nawbaḵt’s name contains little trace of his Zoroastrian past, unlike the theomorphic name of his son Abu Sahl b. Nawbaḵt, which the latter revealed to Manṣur as being Ḵᵛaršēd-māh (Sun-Moon), Ṭaymāḏāh, Mābāḏār (Māh-bādān? see Gignoux, p. 110, no. 525), and Ḵosrevā Behšād before the caliph renamed him Abu Sahl (Justi, p. 226a; Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa, I, p. 152; Ebn Qefṭi, p.  409; Ebn al-ʿEbri, p. 125; Najāši, p. 407; and Nawbaḵt’s invocations of the sun and moon in Tanuḵi, VII, p. 217).  From two panegyrics of the poet Boḥtori (206-84/821-97) composed for the astrologer’s descendant, Esḥāq b. Esmāʿil Nawbaḵti, we also learn that the family traced their lineage back to the hero of Persian epics, Gēv son of Gōdarz (Boḥtori, I, p. 247, v. 18; III, p. 1840, v. 14).

The astrologer Nawbaḵt’s fealty to al-Manṣur predated his caliphate.  An account related on the authority of one of Nawbaḵt’s grandsons, Abu Sahl Esmāʿil b. ʿAli b. Nawbaḵt, places the astrologer’s first meeting with the future caliph in the jail of Ahvāz, where Nawbaḵt predicts al-Manṣur’s future rise to power and his destiny to rule as caliph.  After al-Manṣur assumes the caliphate, Nawbaḵt presents himself to the caliph and converts to Islam at his hands, serving thereafter as a court astrologer (Tanuḵi, VII, pp. 216-17; Ḵaṭib Baḡdādi, XI, pp. 245-46; cf. Masʿudi, Moruj, sec. 3446).  Another account, recorded by Balāḏori (d. 279/982), places the future caliph’s first encounter with Nawbaḵt at the astrologer’s native town of Rāwa.  Passing by Rāwa on his way to join the revolt of ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moʿawia (q.v.) against the Umayyads, al-Manṣur was informed that a skilled astrologer named Nawbaḵt resided in the town, which led him to consult this Nawbaḵt regarding his future.  Nawbaḵt portended that, though the dominion of the Arabs (molk al-ʿarab) would one day be his, he would meet misfortune after joining Ebn Moʿāwia; both portents soon turned out to be true (Balāḏori, pp. 183-84, reading ‘Rāwa’ for ‘Rāwi’; cf. Ebn Ṭāwus, p. 210). 

Al-Manṣur maintained an entourage of astrologers in his employ and was the first caliph to do so by reputation; hence, though the circumstances depicted in the stories of Nawbaḵt’s entrance into Manṣur’s entourage may be dubious, the fact of his service is beyond doubt.  Nawbaḵt served the caliph alongside a retinue of other prominent astrologers, such as Ebrāhim Fazāri, Māšāʾ-Allāh, ʿOmar Ṭabari, and ʿAli b. ʿIsā Osṭorlābi, all of whom were entrusted with overseeing the construction and planning of the caliph’s most ambitious projects (Yaʿqubi, pp. 238, 241; tr., pp. 9, 12; Masʿudi, Moruj, sec. 3446; Ḏahabi, VII, p. 409; cf. Pingree, p. 104).  Historians frequently single out Nawbaḵt as the most skillful (aḥḏaq) of Manṣur’s astrological coterie (Ṯaʿālebi, p. 370; cf. Ebn al-ʿEbri, p. 125).  As such, Nawbaḵt’s horoscopes for al-Manṣur during his caliphate correspond to decisive events of his reign.  Most famous is Nawbaḵt’s horoscope determining the most propitious day to found the new royal city of Baghdad (Ebn Faqih, p. 338; Ḵaṭib Baḡdādi, I, p.. 375; cf. Nawbaḵt’s prognostication of the city’s future glory in Ebn Faqih, p. 290; Ḵaṭib, I, p. 376; Ṯaʿālebi, p. 370).  The polymath Biruni (d. after 442/1050) even preserves the actual horoscope drawn up by Nawbaḵt, which recommends 30 July 762 as the most propitious date for inaugurating the city’s construction (Āṯār, pp. 270-71; tr., pp. 262-63).  This horoscope is likely to be the most authentic trace of Nawbaḵt’s writing to have survived to our day, although a Resāla fi sarāʾer aḥkām al-nojum (Epistle on the secrets of astrology) attributed to Nawbaḵt is also extant in a hitherto unpublished manuscript (Ullmann, p. 303, n. 3).  In 145/762-63, Nawbaḵt issued another famous horoscope assuring the caliph of his victory over the rebel ʿAlid Ebrāhim b. ʿAbd-Allāh and predicting the rebel’s impending death.  Certain of the veracity of his star-reading, Nawbaḵt volunteered to be detained until the news of victory arrived, even agreeing to be executed if proven mistaken.  He was in prison when news of the accuracy of his prognostications was received (Ṭabari, III, 317; tr., XXVIII, p. 291).  According to another, slightly ribald tale, al-Manṣur’s trust of Nawbaḵt’s prognostications was so great that once the caliph even rushed out of the privy at the urgent beckoning of the astrologer.  The caliph’s decision to heed his astrologer proved wise, for the privy’s exit immediately collapsed behind him (Rāḡeb Eṣfahāni, I, pp. 300-301).


Nawbaḵt’s astrological expertise earned him wealth and influence through his long, storied relationship with al-Manṣur and placed Nawbaḵt’s progeny in an ideal position to leave an imprint on several spheres of the high culture of the ʿAbbasid period, in particular belle-lettres, astrology, ʿAbbasid statecraft, and, eventually, Twelver Shiʿism.  Nawbaḵt’s service to Manṣur was richly rewarded; the caliph granted Nawbaḵt a tract of land measuring 2,000 jaribs south of Baghdad near the Jawbar Canal as an eqtāʿ (Ṭabari, III, p. 318, tr., XXVIII, p. 291; Ṯaʿālebi, p. 370), ensuring that Nawbaḵt’s career left a profound legacy for his descendants with far-reaching consequences.

Astrology.  When Nawbaḵt’s prognostications proved less reliable, al-Manṣur appointed as his replacement his son, Abu Sahl Fażl b. Nawbaḵt, in 158/775. Abu Sahl b. Nawbaḵt accompanied the caliph on ḥajj pilgrimage at least once (Ebn Qefti, p. 439; Ebn al-ʿEbri, p. 125) and continued to serve as a court astrologer to al-Manṣur’s successors well into the reign of Hārun al-Rašid (r. 169-93/786-809), where one finds mention of him working in the Ḵezānat al-ḥekma (Treasury of wisdom), Hārun al-Rašid’s private library, translating works from Middle Persian into Arabic (Ebn al-Nadim, II, p. 234; tr. Dodge, II, p. 651; tr. Tajaddod, p. 492).  Ebn al-Nadim lists the titles of seven works attributed to Abu Sahl b. Nawbaḵt, which, as Van Bladel notes (p. 43), “marks him as an expert not only in astrology but also in ancient history.”  Most emblematic of this wide-ranging erudition is a long excerpt quoted by Ebn al-Nadim from Abu Sahl’s Ketāb *at-Thmkʾn fi’l-mawālid (Book of the *Tohmagān on nativities; see Ebn al-Nadim, II, pp. 131 ff.; tr. Dodge, pp. 572-75; tr. Tajaddod, pp. 434-37; cf. van Bladel, pp. 41-62 for the reconstruction of this work’s title).

Many astrologers arose from the progeny of Nawbaḵt.  In the mid-3rd/9th century, the poet Ebn al-Rumi (221-83/836-96) could still panegyrize his Nawbaḵti patrons as the most knowledgeable people in the science of the stars (aʿlam al-nās be’l-nojum … ʿelman; Ebn al-Rumi, I, p. 149, v. 1; V, pp. 1954-55, vv. 8-15).  Three of Abu Sahl’s sons served at the court of al-Maʾmun (r. 198-218/813-33) as astrologers: ʿAbd-Allāh b. Abi Sahl Nawbaḵti, Esmāʿil b. Abi Sahl Nawbaḵti, and Abu’l-ʿAbbās Fażl b. Abi Sahl Nawbaḵti (Ebn al-ʿEbri, p. 237; Ebn Ṭāwus, pp. 125, 131-32; Ebn Ṭayfur, pp. 299-300; cf. Eqbāl, p. 15-24, tr., p. 33-39).  Esmāʿil Nawbaḵti, for example, was among the infamous entourage of astrologers to give a false prognosis of the longevity of al-Wāṯeq before his death in 232/847.  Bedridden by his illness, the court astrologers predicted the caliph would reign 50 more years; al-Wāṯeq died a mere ten days later (Ṭabari, III, p. 1364; tr., XXXIV, p. 53; Ebn al-ʿEbri, p. 245 gives his name erroneously as Hasan b. Sahl Nawbaḵti, conflating the names of Ḥasan b. Sahl, the brother of Fażl b. Sahl Ḏu’l-Riāsatayn, and Esmāʿil b. Nawbaḵt, as first noted in Eqbāl, pp. 17-18; tr., p. 36).

The works of these court astrologers of the Nawbaḵt family have not survived, but the works of other members of the family do, albeit often only in part.  Ḥasan b. Sahl b. Nawbaḵti wrote a Ketāb al-anwāʾ (Ebn al-Nadim, II, pp. 150, 239), fragments of which are cited in the extant works of his contemporary Ebn Ḵaṣib (d. 252/866) and of the 5th/11th-century astrologer Ebn Abi’l-Rejāl.  Extracts of an otherwise unknown work attributed to him known as Ketāb aḥkām al-mawālid appear in Chester Beatty 5399, fols. 184-206 (Ullmann, p.  308).  Two works of Abu’l-Ḥasan Musā b. Ḥasan b. Moḥammad b. ʿAbbās b. Esmāʿil b. Abi Sahl b. Nawbaḵt (fl. 4th/10th cent.), more widely known as Ebn Kebriāʾ, survive in two unique manuscripts.  An edited version of the first treatise, composed in 324/935 and entitled al-Ketāb al-kāmel, was published in 1982.  The manuscript itself is kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale (ed., p. 26; cf. van Ess, 2011, pp. 222-23).  The second treatise, Ketāb al-azmena wa’l-dohur, exists in a manuscript held by the Istanbul University Library.  An edited version by Ana Labarta was published in 2005.  Najāši (p. 407) speaks of Ebn Kebriāʾ as an erudite astrologer and a deeply pious Shiʿite (ḥosn al-eʿteqād, ḥosn al-ʿebāda wa’l-din, etc.; Eqbāl, p. 239) and claims that he wrote many astrological treatises (laho moṣannafāt fi’l-nojum); however, he mentions only one work of Ebn Kebriāʾ by name, namely the Ketāb al-kāfi fi aḥdāṯ al-azmena.  Ana Labarta, the editor of Ebn Kebriāʾ’s surviving treatises, has reasonably postulated that this work mentioned by Najāši is in fact a larger work, which at one time subsumed the two treatises that survive in manuscript (Kāmel, ed. Labarta, pp. 26-27; cf. Samsó, pp. 260-62; van Ess, 2011, pp. 223-24). Attempts by scholars to delineate the familial relationship between Ebn Kebriāʾ and his better-known Nawbaḵti motakallem kinsman, Ḥasan b. Musā (see below), have produced little fruitful results (see van Ess, 2011, pp. 222-23).  Ebn Kebriāʾ otherwise appears as transmitter of historical reports about the deputies of the Twelfth Imam during the minor occultation [on which, see ISLAM IN IRAN vii] (e.g., see Ṭusi, pp. 372, 385-86; cf. Eqbāl, p. 239; tr., p. 275).

ʿAbbāsid belle-lettres and administration.  Land grants in Baghdad and Noʿmāniya given by al-Manṣur to Nawbaḵt continued to serve his descendants as a key source of wealth from the 2nd/8th to 4th/10th centuries.  Yaʿqūbi (d. after 292/905) notes in his geography that the Nawbaḵti family residences lay near Noʿmāniya on the Upper Zāb (p. 321; tr., p. 100), a residence that became key destination for literati seeking patronage (cf. Ṣafadi, XXI, pp. 168-69; Ebn al-Rumi, VI, pp. 2266-77; McKinney, pp. 334-35, 520).  The Nawbaḵtiya quarter of Baghdad located near the Thorn Bridge (qanṭarat al-šawk), said to have been a part of al-Manṣur’s original eqṭāʿ granted to Nawbaḵt (Ebn Faqih, p. 303; Ṭusi, p. 386), was frequented by Abu Nowās and other poets (ʿOmari, I, p. 392; Abu’l-Faraj Eṣfahāni, XVIII, pp. 347-48).  The Nawbaḵtiya quarter also included a cemetery containing the graves of Qorayš and other notables (Ebn Ḵallekān, II, p. 127; Hamaḏāni, p. 400), the grave of Ḥosayn b. Ruḥ, the third special vicegerent of the Twelfth Imam, and the mansion of ʿAli b. Aḥmad Nawbaḵti (Ṭusi, p. 386).

The Nawbaḵtis’ vast wealth earned them reputations as generous patrons of ʿAbbasid-era intellectuals, and their salons offered a space where élites, literati, and intelligentsia could intermingle.  The sons of Abu Sahl Fażl b. Nawbaḵt (ʿAbd-Allāh, Fażl, Solaymān, and Esmāʿil) were among the staunchest supporters of the poet Abu Nowās throughout his career (ca. 140-98/755-813; Kennedy, pp. 11-12; Eqbāl, pp. 21-24; tr., pp. 40-43).  Notoriously, numerous (though not all) accounts of Abu Nowās’s death lay the blame at the feet of the Nawbaḵti family, claiming that they conspired to poison him either because of an invective against them that he had composed or had been falsely ascribed to him.  Abu Nowās, of course, commonly impugned his patrons in good fun, the Nawbaḵtis included (e.g., Jāḥeẓ, p. 63; tr., p. 61).  According to Abu Heffān (pp. 34-36), the alleged invective went too far by mentioning the mother of Esmāʿil b. Abi Sahl by name; but modern scholars have dismissed these accounts as spurious.  However, Abu Nowās did indeed breathe his last breath in the house of his Nawbaḵti patrons, who played a key role in preserving his poetry (Kennedy, pp. 26-27, 106-7).  According to Ḥamza Eṣfahāni (d. after 350/961), the Nawbaḵtis’ collection of Abu Nowās’s poetry proved indispensable for the collection of his Divān (apud Wagner, p. 313).

As an affluent family and, presumably by reputation, one of considerable managerial skill when it came to matters of wealth, the Nawbaḵtis first enter into the nitty-gritty ʿAbbasid politics as auditors and administrators.   Among the first of the Nawbaḵtis to succumb to the tidal pull of ʿAbbasid administrative concerns is Abu Sahl Esmāʿil b. ʿAli b. Esḥāq b. Abi Sahl Nawbaḵt (d. 311/923).  Abu Sahl is remembered primarily for his contributions to Shiʿite theology (see below), but he also dedicated a great deal of his wealth to patronizing poets, most notably Ebn al-Rumi (221-83/836-96; see Masʿudi, Moruj, sec. 3380; McKinney, pp. 94-95 and passim) and Boḥtori (206-84/821-97; see Boḥtori, III, p. 1840; Ṣuli, 1987, pp. 65, 120; Eqbāl, pp. 196-99; tr., pp. 233-36 and passim), and to holding regular sessions attended by theologians (Ebn al-Nadim, I, p. 634, laho majles yaḥżoroh jamāʿa men al-motakallemin; tr. Dodge, I, p. 439; tr. Tajaddod, p. 330).  Abu Sahl Nawbaḵti’s first recorded dealings with the ʿAbbasid administrations were negative.  The vizier Qāsem b. ʿObayd-Allāh b. Solaymān (288-91/901-4) imprisoned Abu Sahl during the reigns of al-Moʿtażed (r. 279-89/892-902) and al-Moktafi (r. 289-95/902-8) after a fellow theologian, Abu’l-ʿAbbās Moḥammad b. ʿEmrān Ḥalabi, testified against him and denounced him as a leader of the Shiʿites (Marzobāni, p. 424).  Abu Sahl’s plight during the vizierate of Qāsem b. ʿObayd-Allāh was the same as that of many other prominent Shiʿites and ʿAlids, whom the vizier indiscriminately rounded up and imprisoned, likely in response to Qarmaṭi revolt in Kufa in 278/891 (cf. Hussain, pp. 110-18).  Abu Sahl was released upon the vizier’s death in 291/904 (Tanuḵi, VII, p. 275; Ṭusi, p. 257) and benefited from the profound sea change marked by the appointment of the Shiʿite vizier Abu’l-Ḥasan Ebn al-Forāt during the reign of al-Moqtader (r. 295-320/908-32).  In Rabiʿ II 311/June 923 we find for the first time that Abu Sahl Nawbaḵti was working, somewhat late in his life, as the auditor of the wealth of the former vizier Ḥāmed b. ʿAbbās in the Mobārak district of Wāseṭ, after having been appointed by Ebn al-Forāt during his third vizierate (Helāl Ṣābeʾ, pp. 40-41; Hamadāni, pp. 229-30; Najāši, p. 31; cf. Sourdel, II, pp. 424-25).

Of Abu Sahl’s sons, Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAli Nawbaḵti was mostly remembered as a transmitter of his father’s works (Ḵaṭib, XIII, p. 261; Ḏahabi, VII, p. 234), but his other son, Abu Yaʿqub Esḥāq Nawbaḵti, followed the political path that his father took late in life and became embroiled in the politics of ʿAbbasid administration.  Esḥāq b. Esmāʿil rose to prominence as a tax-farmer with control over Wāseṭ and the irrigation of the Euphrates during the caliphate of al-Moqtader (Meskawayh, I, p. 271; tr., IV, pp. 307-8; Helāl Ṣābeʾ, p. 338).  The wealth he derived therefrom seems to have been considerable, which made him a target for the notorious ʿAbbasid fines (moṣādarāt) that the court would use to extort money from its affluent officials and appointees in order to fill the coffers of the treasury, especially during the vizierate of Aḥmad Ḵaṣibi (313-14/925-27; Meskawayh, I, p. 144; tr., IV, pp. 161-62).  The vizier ʿAli b. ʿIsā had charged Esḥāq with providing the revenues for the pay of the eunuch general Moʾnes Moẓaffari and his troops, which provided him with some leverage in the politics of the ʿAbbasid court (Meskawayh, I,  p. 160; tr., IV. p. 180).

After al-Moqtader was deposed and executed in 320/932, Esḥāq Nawbaḵti proved instrumental in convincing Moʾnes to appoint al-Moqtader’s brother, Moḥammad al-Qāher (r. 320-22/932-34), rather than the deceased caliph’s son, Abu’l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad. Esḥāq’s reasoning was that al-Qāher would avoid the pettiness and excessiveness of the politics of the ḥaram, whereas al-Moqtader’s son would, like his father, be dominated and manipulated by the internecine squabbles of the domestic intrigues (Meskawayh, I, pp. 241-42; tr., IV. p. 272; Ebn al-Aṯir, ed. Tadmori, VI, p. 772; ed. Tornberg, VIII, p. 244; Ketāb al-ʿoyun IV, pp. 261-62).  Historians often portray Esḥāq as the author of his own death (kā’l-bāḥeṯ ʿan ḥatfehe be-ẓelfeh), given that the caliph al-Qāher, whose candidacy he so fervently favored, eventually chose to execute him cruelly; the caliph had him buried alive by casting him into a well bound in fetters.   Al-Qāher’s rationale for the act seems to have been capricious.  He apparently thought that Esḥāq had humiliated him when he was a mere ʿAbbasid prince, by outbidding him in an auction for a singing girl of exceptional beauty, named Zina (Meskawayh, I, pp. 284-85; tr., IV, p. 323; Ebn al-Aṯir, ed. Tadmori, VI, p. 30; ed. Tornberg, VIII, pp. 295-96).  Indeed, the first sign of Esḥāq’s future troubles with the new caliph came with al-Qāher’s proscription of singings girls (taḥrim al-qiān) and his orders for the arrest of all effeminates, singers, and singing slave-girls (man ʿorefa be’l-ḡanāʾ men al-rejāl wa’l-maḵāniṯ wa’l-jawāri al-moḡanniāt; Meskawayh, I, p. 269; tr., IV, p. 307).  Esḥāq’s residence in Baghdad’s Nawbaḵtiya quarter along the banks of the Tigris River was a direct target of this policy; he himself was arrested, though his dependents fled, and ʿAli b. ʿIsā was given Esḥāq’s former administrative appointments (Meskawayh, I, p. 270, tr., IV, pp. 307-8).

Despite the potential hazards of the ʿAbbasid court, the Nawbaḵtis’ reputation as men of great wealth with a knack for managing finances continued to ensure that their skills would be sought out by the court.  Abu Ṭāleb ʿAli b. ʿAbbās Nawbaḵti (d. 324/935-36; Ṣuli, Awrāq II, p. 76; tr., I, p. 131; d. 329/940-41 according to Yāqut, Eršād IV, p. 1778, who gives his patronymic as Abu’l-Ḥasan), also known for transmitting the materials of Boḥtori and Ebn al-Rumi, was one such member of the Nawbaḵti family.  He often appears in the ʿAbbasids’ employ as a liquidator of wealth, converting properties into cash.   In 317/929, acting as the locum tenant (wakil) of al-Moqtader, he oversaw the sale and distribution of the contents of the ʿAbbasid treasury, as well as estates and properties (al-żiāʿ wa’l-amlāk), to pay the soldiery upon al-Moqtader regaining the office from al-Qāher (Meskawayh, I, p. 200; tr., IV, pp. 224-25; Hamaḏāni, p. 263). He reprised the same function again upon al-Qāher’s second accession to the caliphate in 320/932, when he, alongside Esḥāq b. Esmāʿil, acted as the overseer of the sale of the properties for al-Moqtader’s mother, Šaḡab, prior to her execution (Meskawayh, I, pp. 244-45; tr., IV. p. 276; Ketāb al-ʿoyun, p. 263).

ʿAli Nawbaḵti’s son, Abu ʿAbd-Allāh Ḥosayn b. ʿAli Nawbaḵti (282-326/895-938), exceeded all other Nawbaḵtis in gaining power and influence in ʿAbbasid affairs.  Ḥosayn b. ʿAli’s career began as an administrator of powerful tax-farmers, such as the Baridis, whose affairs in Wāseṭ, Ṣelḥ, and Mobārak he had managed early in his career, despite his later antipathy against the family (Hamadāni, p. 288; Meskawayh, I, p. 327; tr., IV, p. 370).  He seems to have acquired most of his skills as a close protégé (ṣaniʿa) of Esḥāq b. Esmāʿil Nawbaḵti (Meskawayh, I, p. 362; tr., IV, p. 408).  Ḥosayn b. ʿAli’s most prominent role in ʿAbbasid administration, however, was during the reign of al-Rāżi (r. 322-29/934-40), when he served as a confidant and secretary to the governor of Wāseṭ and Baṣra, Ebn Rāʾeq (Ṣuli, Awrāq II, p. 87; tr., p. 149; cf. Meskawayh, I, p. 335; tr., pp. 377-78).  Chroniclers such as Meskawayh were keen to see Ḥosayn b. ʿAli’s administrative acuity and political savoir-faire as the true driving force between Ebn Rāʾeq’s rise to power as the first supreme commander (amir al-omarāʾ) of the ʿAbbasid caliphate, thus enabling Ebn Rāʾeq to assume control of both the financial and the military might of the empire in 324/936.  Ḥosayn b. ʿAli served Ebn Rāʾeq thereafter as his vizier, although by that time the office existed only in name (Ṣuli, Awrāq II, p. 87; tr., I, p. 131; Meskawayh, I, p. 360; tr., IV, p. 405; Ṣafadi, XII, pp. 455-56).  The downfall of Ḥosayn b. ʿAli came about because of his betrayal by his ambitious protégé, Abu Bakr Ebn Moqātel, who successfully plotted to replace his mentor as Ebn Rāʾeq’s most trusted administrator.  Ebn Moqātel took advantage, on the one hand, of Ebn Rāʾeq’s difficulties during his conflict with the governors of Ahvāz, the Baridis, whom Ḥosayn b. ʿAli sought to hound until the Baridis’ power had been broken, and, on the other hand, Ḥosayn b. ʿAli’s sudden decline in health.  Bribing Ḥosayn b. ʿAli’s son-in-law, ʿAli b. Aḥmad, with false promises of power, Ebn Moqātel purportedly succeeded in portraying Ḥosayn’s illness as fatal when he had in fact recovered.  Ebn Rāʾeq sought to restore Ḥosayn b. ʿAli upon hearing reports from the physician Senān b. Ṯābet that he had recuperated, but, with the aid of Ḥosayn’s perfidious son-in-law, Ebn Rāʾeq was convinced by Ebn Moqātel that Ḥosayn was too ill to ever return to office (Meskawayh, I, pp. 361-63; tr., IV, pp. 407-9; Hamadāni, p. 309; Ebn al-Aṯir, ed. Tadmori, VII, pp. 59-60; ed. Tornberg, VIII, pp. 331-32; cf. Mottahedeh, p. 94).  The absence of Ebn Rāʾeq’s most trusted and able advisor eventually led to his downfall in 326/938 at the hands of Bačkam, a Turkish amir who replaced Ebn Rāʾeq as the supreme commander (amir al-omarāʾ); this marks an end to any notable record of the involvement of the Nawbaḵti family in ʿAbbasid politics.

Twelver Shiʿism.  The Nawbaḵt family is renowned for its loyalty to the Imami Shiʿites and their Imams, but this loyalty’s origins are difficult to trace with precision.  Early historians predicate Nawbaḵt’s conversion upon his entering into the service of al-Manṣur as the caliph’s client (mawlā) and court astrologer, but these historians make no mention of Nawbaḵt’s sectarian proclivities, Shiʿite or otherwise.  By the reign of Hārun al-Rašid, however, the Nawbaḵtis’ sectarian loyalties are easy to discern when, for example, the poet Abu Nowās, while lampooning Esmāʿil b. Abi Sahl for avarice, also accuses him of hardline Shiʿism (ramāho be’l-boḵl wa-nassabaho ela’l-rafż; Abu Heffān, p. 34).  A spurious tradition also has two grandsons of Nawbaḵt, Hārun and Moḥammad b. Abi Sahl b. Nawbaḵt, seeking explicit sanction of Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādeq concerning their practice of astrological craft (Ebn Ṭāwus, p. 2, 100; on the chronological impossibility of this tradition, see Eqbāl, pp. 19-20; tr., p. 38; cf. Capezzone, pp. 429-39).  Abū Ḥayyān Tawḥidi (d. 414/1023) alone records a curious account that attributes Nawbaḵt’s Shiʿite conversion to his legendary astrological acuity.  According to this account, determined to discern the true religion, Nawbaḵt writes on two slips of paper, one bearing, “religion (al-din), Islam, Moḥammad, and his family,” and the other, “Zoroastrianism and adoration of the sun (al-majusiya wa-maḥabbat al-šams).”  After asking a Muslim man to bury the two slips of paper in the ground, thus concealing their location, Nawbaḵt looks to the stars and perceives an astral boon in the east.  This observation convinces him that the paper with true religion written thereon would be in the easterly facing hole; so he unearths the paper slip and finds Islam and Moḥammad’s name written on it, thereby resolving to become a Shiʿite Muslim (Abu Ḥayyān, VII, p. 167).  

There exists little evidence for the Nawbaḵtis playing a role in the leadership of Imami Shiʿism prior to Abu Sahl Nawbaḵti’s rise to prominence as a theologian and patron of theological learning and disputation.  Abu Sahl’s rise must have been directly related to his ability to set the trajectory and theological agenda for the Imami Shiʿites through his patronage of theological learning and the numerous theological works that he himself authored on topics such as the imamate, jurisprudence, refutations of non-Twelver Shiʿite and non-Muslim sects, and other theological miscellanea.  His efforts to articulate a rationalist Shiʿite theology were indispensable for the articulation of key Imami doctrines on the occultation (ḡayba) and deputyship (sefāra) of the Hidden Imam more broadly, and even presaged the eventual rapprochement between Shiʿism and Moʿtazelite rational theology.  Unfortunately, none of Abu Sahl’s works appears to be extant, except for excerpts from two works on the imamate: the Ketāb al-tanbih fi’l-emāma and al-Anwār fi tawāriḵ al-aʾemma (Anṣāri, p. 582).  The most lasting monument to the theological influence of the Nawbaḵti family on the formation of Twelver theological orthodoxy survives in the work of Abu Sahl’s nephew, Abu Moḥammad Ḥasan b. Musā Nawbaḵti (d. between 300/912-13 and 310/922-23).  Ḥasan b. Musā’s intellectual and scholarly interests ranged broadly, encompassing not only theology but also philosophy and astronomy, and he was claimed by both the Twelver Shiʿites and the Moʿtazelites.  For posterity, his most important works have proven to be his two works on heresiology, namely his Feraq al-Šiʿa and his Ketāb al-arāʾ wa’l-diānāt (see ĀRĀʾ WA’L-DĪĀNĀT, a work, which, though apparently no longer extant, is quoted extensively in later sources; see van Ess, 2011, pp. 224-30, and passim; Madelung, 2012).

There are less-known contributions of Nawbaḵt’s descendants as well.  Ḵaṭib Baḡdādi mentions a work known as al-Radd ʿala’l-ḡolāt by an otherwise unknown Ḥosayn b. Yaḥyā Nawbaḵti, of which he quotes a section on the Esḥāqiya of Esḥāq Aḥmar Naḵāʿi (d. 286/899; Ḵaṭib, VII, pp. 410-11; on its relation to Ḥasan b. Musā’s Feraq al-Šiʿa, see van Ess, 2011, pp. 245-46).  As a general rule, the theologians hailing from the Nawbaḵti family are associated with the alignment of the Moʿtazela’s rationalist theology with Shiʿite belief because of the long shadows cast by the giants Abu Sahl and Ḥasan b. Musā.  Suprisingly, this tendency all but disappears in the last known theological contribution of a Nawbaḵti, namely, the Ketāb al-Yāqut of the otherwise unknown Abu Esḥāq Ebrāhim b. Nawbaḵti (fl. 5th/11th cent.?; cf. Madelung, 1970, p. 15, n. 1), which is only preserved in the commentary thereon written by ʿAllāma Ḥelli (d. 726/1325) and titled Anwār al-malakut fi šarḥ al-Yāqut (Eqbāl, pp. 166-77; Schmidtke, pp. 48-49).

The Nawbaḵtis’ political power and influence over the burgeoning Twelver orthodoxy often intersected.  Louis Massignon, citing the Nawbaḵtis’ “violent hatred” of Ṣufism, portrays Abu Sahl as the person responsible for the controversial Sufi Ḥosayn b. Manṣur Ḥallāj (d. 309/922) first coming to the attention of ʿAbbasid authorities and his subsequent arrest, trial, and execution (Massignon, I, pp. 329-30).  However, the evidence for this is virtually non-existent.  Once Ḥallāj arrived in Baghdad, he found his most sympathetic audience among the Shiʿites, and Twelver works even claim that Ḥallāj purported to be Hidden Imam’s representative (wakil Ṣāheb-al-Zamān; Ṭusi, p. 401).  As a leading figure of the Shiʿites of Baghdad, Abu Sahl exchanged letters in correspondence with Ḥallāj after the latter first sought to gain Abu Sahl’s loyalty and support.  Abu Sahl took the opportunity to expose Ḥallāj as a fraud and charlatan (Massignon, I, pp. 401-2), his letters and mockery of Ḥallāj and his “miracles” became famous (cf. Tanuḵi, I, p. 161; Ḵaṭib, VIII, p. 702; Ṣuli, 1999, p. 226).  Yet, none of these points to Abu Sahl or any other Nawbaḵti playing a prominent role behind the machinations leading to Ḥallāj’s execution in 309/922 during the vizierate of Ḥāmed b. ʿAbbās, as postulated by Massignon.

The most conspicuous convergence of political power in the ʿAbbasid administration and religious influence over the Twelver Shiʿites transpires, rather, during the deputyship of the third locum tenant (safir) of the Hidden Imam, Abu’l-Qāsem Ḥosayn b. Ruḥ b. Abi Baḥr Nawbaḵti (d. 326/938).  Ebn Rūḥ’s tenure as the Hidden Imam’s representative of the Twelver community coincided with the reigns of those caliphs (i.e., al-Moqtader, al-Qāher, and al-Rāżi) under whom the Nawbaḵt family enjoyed some of its most powerful positions in the ʿAbbasid administration, and other Shiʿite families in Baghdad, such as the Banu Besṭām and Banu Forāt, were at the apogee of their power as well.  Most accounts portray Ebn Ruḥ’s succession to the second locum tenant of the Hidden Imam, Abu Jaʿfar Moḥammad b. ʿOṯmān ʿAmri (d. 305/917), as telescoped by his long service as the latter’s protégé and confirmed by his daughter, Omm Kolṯum, who testified that her father had explicitly appointed Ebn Ruḥ as his successor and her husband, Aḥmad b. Ebrāhim Nawbaḵti, as the chief secretary of the Holy See, though this view is not entirely uncontested (Ṭusi, p. 391; Eqbāl, pp. 212-22; cf. Abdulsater, p. 315).

Ebn Ruḥ’s tenure as safir marked a significant watershed during the minor occultation marked by the resumption of communications from the Hidden Imam, allowing Ebn Ruḥ to pursue assiduously a consolidation of the Twelver religious hierarchy, doctrine, and religious law.  Ebn Ruḥ achieved his legal reforms in concert with the jurists of Qom (Ṭusi, p. 390), but most instrumental was a talented jurist and protégé of Ebn Ruḥ named Abu Jaʿfar Moḥammad b. ʿAli b. Abi ʿAzāqer Šalmaḡāni (Ṭusi, pp. 303, 408).  His greatest challenge arose, however in the wake of anti-Shiʿite sentiments following the Qarmaṭi attacks on Baghdadi ḥajj pilgrims (cf. Halm, p. 182), when in 312/929 ʿAbbasid authorities imprisoned Ebn Ruḥ on the charge that he owed past-due taxes and, more seriously, that he had entered into correspondence with Qarāmeṭa to urge them to besiege Baghdad (ʿArib, p. 122; Ḏahabi, VII, p. 522; Eqbāl, pp. 218-21).  During Ebn Ruḥ’s imprisonment, his protégé Šalmaḡāni assumed the full authority, going so far as to issue the Hidden Imam’s decrees in his own handwriting (Ṭusi, p. 324), thus bypassing Ebn Ruḥ as the sole intermediary between the Imam and his community and leaving at least some of the faithful with the impression that Šalmaḡāni had access to the knowledge of the unseen (Ṭusi, pp. 304, 323-24; Eqbāl, pp. 222-24).  Reports of Šalmaḡāni disseminating heretical ideas soon surfaced.  The second safir’s daughter, Omm Kolṯum, wrote the imprisoned Ebn Ruḥ that Šalmaḡāni had been teaching a prominent Shiʿite family of Baghdad, the Banu Besṭām, and that the spirit of Imam ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb incarnated itself in Ebn Ruḥ, the spirit of Moḥammad in her father the second safir, and the spirit of Fāṭema in Omm Kolṯum herself (Ṭusi, pp. 403-5, 408).

Ebn Ruḥ moved quickly against Šamalḡāni once word of the scandal reached him in prison.  From the confines of his cell in the palace of the caliph al-Moqtader, he issued a rescript (tawqiʿ) from the Twelth Imam denouncing his former protégé as an apostate in Ḏu’l-Ḥejja 312/March 925, just prior to his release from detention that same year (Ṭusi, pp. 307, 410).  Significantly, Ebn Ruḥ’s rescript contains no mention of Šalmaḡāni’s heresy, merely his apostasy (Ṭusi, pp. 410-11; cf. Hussain, p. 130).  Šalmaḡāni rebuffed Ebn Ruḥ’s issuance of the Twelfth Imam’s rescript by claiming to be the Hidden Imam’s true safir (Ṭusi, p. 307; Ebn al-Aṯir, ed. Tadmori, VII, p. 26).   Ebn Ruḥ’s estranged protégé Šalmaḡāni had benefited from the protection of powerful benefactors highly established within the ʿAbbasid administration, but these benefactors’ support increasingly waned, especially after the execution of Abu’l-Ḥasan Forāt and his son Moḥassen in 312/924.  Eventually, Šalmaḡāni was forced to flee and seek refuge with the Hamdanids far from Baghdad, where the vizier Abu’l-Qāsem Ḵāqāni had pursued him and arrested many of his followers (Ebn al-Aṯir, ed. Tadmori, VII, p. 27; ed. Thornberg, VIII, p. 290; cf. Hussain, pp. 130-31).  When Šalmaḡāni’s last protectors, Ḥosayn b. Qāsem b. ʿObayd-Allāh b. Wahb (vizier during 319-20/931-32) and the Banu Besṭām, were exiled or arrested by the caliph al-Qāher (Meskawayh, I, p. 267; tr., IV, pp. 303-4), he unwisely challenged Ebn Ruḥ to a mutual imprecation (mobāhala) to determine who indeed was the Hidden Imam’s true representative (Ṭusi, p. 307).  Whereas Šalmaḡāni’s support in Baghdad had fallen into shambles, Ebn Ruḥ exited prison with his networks of patronage and influence essentially intact.  Ebn Ruḥ in particular leveraged his considerable influence with the philo-Alid vizier Abu ʿAli Moḥammad Ebn Moqla (Ṭusi, p. 406; cf. Meskawayh, I, p. 225; tr., IV, p. 253; Hussain, p. 126).  Ebn Ruḥ attempted to capture and litigate Šalmaḡāni during the caliphate of al-Moqtader, but he was only successfully apprehended by Ebn Moqla during the caliphate of al-Rāżi.  The letter of Šalmaḡāni detailing his guilt accuses him of virtually every known doctrine of the Shiʿite extremists (ḡolāt; Yāqut, Eršād I, pp. 108 ff.), although the curious claim of Ebn Ḥawqal that he was a dāʿi for the Fatimids does not appear (Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 211; tr., II, p. 290).  The houses of Šalmaḡāni and his followers were ransacked for evidence for a trial. Found guilty for heresy and apostacy, Šalmaḡāni was executed, though he denied his guilt of such heresy throughout his interrogation and only affirmed his claim to be a representative (bāb) of the Mahdi.  The authorities ordered the bodies of him and his followers to be crucified and burned in Baghdad in 323/934 (Masʿudi, Tanbih, pp. 396-97; Ebn al-Aṯir, ed. Tornberg, VIII, pp. 290-94; ed. Tadmori, VII, pp. 26-27; Ḏahabi, VII, pp. 466-67).  At a later date, Ebn Ruḥ repaid Ebn Moqla for his aid in dispatching this rival, intervening on his behalf with his fellow Nawbaḵti, Ḥosayn b. ʿAli, to see Ebn Moqla restored to his office in 325/936 (Ṣuli, Awrāq II, p. 76; tr., I, p. 131).

Ebn Ruḥ’s dispute with Šalmaḡāni marks an important moment for the Nawbaḵti family insofar as his rivalry with the third safir threatened to unravel the achievements of Ebn Ruḥ and his fellow Nawbaḵti theologians in terms of organization and legal and doctrinal reforms for the community, on the one hand, and, on the other, exemplifies the importance of the Nawbaḵtis’ networks of patronage in Baghdad and Ebn Ruḥ’s deft ability to wield and navigate them. Šalmaḡāni’s defection, however, left its scars.  Controversy surrounded the works that he composed under Ebn Ruḥ’s tutelage, such as his Ketāb al-awṣiāʾ, Ketāb al-taklif, and Ketāb al-ḡayba.  He also continued to transmit while hiding under the protection of the Hamdanids in Maʿlaṯā (Najāši, p. 379).  This controversy threatened to make Ebn Ruḥ’s efforts all for naught.  One dismayed Shiʿite exclaimed, “Our houses are filled with his books!” (Ṭusi, p. 379; cf. Masʿudi, Tanbih, p. 397; Najāši, pp. 378-79).  Ebn Ruḥ remedied this crisis by giving a blanket endorsement of all of Šalmaḡāni’s works composed prior to his rescript (Ṭusi, pp. 373, 379, 408-9; Eqbāl, pp. 222-38).

The Nawbaḵti theologians were rationalists steeped in the theological debates of their Moʿtazelite contemporaries; however, this does mean that they were necessarily keen to extirpate the supra-rational and esoteric elements from Imami Shiʿism. For this reason, though their embrace of theological rationalism prefigures the like of Shaikh Mofid (d. 413/1022) and Šarif Mortaża (d. 436/1044), the Nawbaḵtis are often portrayed as supporting views at variance with those of later Shiʿi-Moʿtazli thinkers.  When examining our best source for their systematic opinions and their impact on Twelver theology, Shaikh Mofid’s Awāʾel al-maqālāt, a nuanced picture emerges.  Modern scholars have adduced a passage from Mofid’s Awāʾel to argue that the Nawbaḵtis rejected the idea that the Imams performed miracles (e.g., McDermott, p. 113; Modarressi, p. 44).  Mofid, however, notes that the Banu Nawbaḵt differed from the majority (al-jomhur) on the issue, but his text is vague.  Mofid’s record of the Nawbaḵtis’ rejection of the position espoused by him (viz., Imams may perform miracles but that such performance is not rendered necessary by reason) is not necessarily tantamount to a denial of the Imams’ miracles outright.  A more likely possibility is that the Banu Nawbaḵt rejected the notion that such miracles were merely a divine grace as opposed to a rational necessity intrinsic to the Imamate, thus conforming to the parallel assertions of the Moʿtazela with regards to prophecy (Mofid, pp. 40-41; cf. the “pro-miracle” position of the rationalist Ebn Qeba Rāzi, quoted in Modarrassi, pp. 136-38, 141-43). 

Other views of the Nawbaḵti theologian Mofid are:

(a) In agreement with the adherents to the doctrine of the transmigration of souls (aṣḥāb al-tanāsoḵ), the Banu Nawbaḵt regarded prophecy and imamate as conferred not by grace (tafażżol) but rather by virtue of the Imams’ intrinsic merit (esteḥqāq; pp. 33-35);

(b) against the majoritarian position, they asserted the Imams’ deputies can only be appointed by explicit statement (naṣṣ), like the Imams themselves (p. 36);

(c) against the majoritarian opinion, but in accord with Mofawweża and the extremists (ḡolāt), the Banu Nawbaḵt believed that the Imams’ knowledge necessarily encompassed all crafts (ṣanāʾeʿ) and languages (loḡāt), just as they regarded the performance of signs and miracles as rationally and logically necessary to the office of the imamate (pp. 38, 40-41);

(d) against the majoritarian opinion, they denied the occurrence of miracles at the hands of the safirs and bābs (p. 41);

(e) they denied that the Imams heard the speech of angels (pp. 41-42);

(f) they espoused a view contrary to Mofid’s affirmation of the wholeness (salāmat) of the Qurʾan (wa-hāḏā’l-maḏhab be-ḵelāf mā sameʿnāho ʿan bani Nawbaḵt … men al-ziāda fi’l-Qorʾān wa’l-naqṣān fihi; p. 56);

(g) they believed that the rewards of some righteous deeds were received in this life (fi dār al-donyā) and thus would not be rewarded as a portion (naṣib) in the hereafter (p. 57);

(h) they espoused the mutual cancellation (taḥābot) of good and evil deeds (p. 57; cf. van Ess, 1991-99,  IV, p. 64, n. 35; Schmidtke, p. 232 n. 47)

(i) they admitted the possibility that an unbeliever could know and obey God thus procuring divine rewards in this life and also rejected the majoritarian position on mowāfāt, namely, that a man who died an unbeliever never truly believed at any moment in his life (p. 58; cf. Kohlberg, 1983).

Overall, the above list shows that the Nawbaḵtis aligned Imami beliefs with Moʿtazilite theology in a way that exalted the status of the Imams and demystified the position of the Imams’ deputies.  In particular, the positions espoused by the Nawbaḵtis on the Imams’ deputies during the minor occultation can be viewed as emblematic of their attempts to counter rogue claimants to charismatic, esoteric bābship (see BĀB), such as Ḥallāj and Šalmaḡāni, and to appropriate theological rationalism for their burgeoning vision of Twelver orthodoxy.



Primary sources.

Abu’l-Faraj Eṣfahāni, Ketāb al-Aḡānī, ed. Moḥammad Abū Fażl Ebrāhim, 24 vols., Cairo, 1927-74.

Abu Ḥayyān Tawḥidi, al-Baṣāʾer wa-l-ḏaḵāʾer, ed. Wadad Qāżi, 9 vols. in 5, Beirut, 1988.

Abu Heffān Mehzami, Aḵbār Abi Nowās, ed. ʿAbd-al-Sattār Aḥmad Farrāj, Cairo, 1953.

Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā Balāḏori, Ansāb al-ašrāf III, ed. ʿAbd-al-ʿAziz Duri, Beirut 1978.

ʿArib b. Saʿd Qorṭobi, Ṣelat Taʾriḵ al-Ṭabari, in Abu Jaʿfar Ṭabari, Taʾriḵ al-omam wa’l-moluk, ed. Moḥammad Abu Faẓl Ebrāhim, 11 vols., Beirut,  1960-77, XI, pp. 10-184.

Walid b. ʿObayd Boḥtori, Divān, ed. Ḥasan Kāmel Ṣayrafi, 4 vols., Cairo 1963-64.

Šams-al-Din Moḥammad Ḏahabi, Taʾriḵ al-Eslām wa wafayāt al-mašāhir wa’l-aʿlām, ed. Baššār ʿAwwād Maʿruf, 17 vols., Beirut 2003.

Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa, ʿOyūn al-anbāʾ fi ṭabaqāt al-aṭebbāʾ, ed. August Müller, 2 vols., Königsberg, 1884.

Ebn Abi Ṭāher Ṭayfur, Taʾriḵ Baḡdād, ed. and tr. Hans Keller, as Sechster Band des Kitâb Baġdâd von Aḥmad ibn abî Ṭâhir Ṭaifûr, Leipzig, 1908.

Ebn al-Aṯir, al-Kāmel fi’l-taʾriḵ, ed. Carolus Johannes Tornberg, 13 vols., Beirut, 1965; ed. ʿOmar ʿAbd-al-Salām Tadmori, 11 vols., Beirut, 1997.

Ebn al-ʿEbri (Bar Hebraeus), Moḵtaṣar taʾriḵ al-dowal, Beirut, n.d.

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Ebn Fażl-Allāh ʿOmari, Masālek al-abṣār fi mamālek al-amṣār I, ed. Aḥmad Zaki Bāšā, Cairo, 1924.

Ebn al-Ḥawqal, Ketāb ṣurat al-arż, ed. Johannes H. Kramers, BGA 2, Leiden, 1873, repr. Leiden, 1967; tr. Johannes H. Kramers and Gaston Wiet, as Configuration de la terre, Paris and Beirut, 1964.

Ebn Ḵallekān, Wafayāt al-aʿyān wa anbāʾ abnāʾ al-zamān, ed. Eḥsān ʿAbbās, Beirut, 8 vols., 1994.

Ebn Kebriāʾ (Abu’l-Ḥasan Musā), al-Ketab al-kāmel, ed. and tr. Ana Labarta, as al-Kitab al-Kamil/Horóscopos históricos, Madrid, 1982.

Idem, Ketāb al-azmena wa’l-dohur, ed. Ana Labarta, as Kitab al-Azmina wa’l-duhur/Tratado de astrología mundial, Valencia, 2005.

Ebn al-Nadim, Ketāb al-fehrest, ed. Ayman Foʾād Sayyed, 2 vols. in 4, London 2009; tr. Bayard Dodge, as The Fihrist of al-Nadim, 2 vols., New York, 1970; tr. Reżā Tajaddod, as Ketāb al-fehrest, Tehran, 1967.

Ebn al-Qefṭi, Taʾriḵ al-hokamāʾ, ed. Julius Lippert, Leipzig, 1903.

Ebn al-Rumi, Divān, 6 vols., ed. Ḥosayn Naṣṣār, Cairo, 1973-81.

Ebn Ṭāwus (ʿAli b. Musā), Faraj al-mahmum fi taʾriḵ ʿolamāʾ al-nojum, Najaf, 1368/1948-49.

Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-Malek Hamadāni, Takmelat Taʾriḵ al-Ṭabari, in Abu Jaʿfar Ṭabari, Taʾriḵ al-omam wa’l-moluk, ed. Moḥammad Abu Faẓl Ebrāhim, 11 vols., Beirut, 1961, XI, p. 185-489.

Helāl b. Moḥassen Ṣābeʾ, Ketāb al-wozarāʾ, ed, ʿAbd-al-Sattār Aḥmad Farrāj, as al-Wozarāʾ, aw, Toḥfat al-omarāʾ fi taʾriḵ al-wozarāʾ, Cairo, 1958.

ʿAllāma Ḥasan b. Yusof b. Moṭahhar Ḥelli, Anwār al-malakut fi šar al-Yāqut, ed. Moḥammad Najmi Zanjāni, Tehran, 1959.

Abu ʿOṯmān ʿAmr b. Baḥr Jāḥeẓ, Ketāb al-boḵalāʾ, ed. Moḥammad Ṭāhā Ḥājeri, Cairo 1948;. tr. Robert B. Serjeant, as The Book of Misers, Reading, UK, 1997.

Ferdinand Justi, Iranisches Namenbuch, Marburg, 1895; repr., Hildesheim, 1963.

Abu Bakr Ḵaṭib Baḡdādi, Taʾriḵ Madinat al-Salām wa-aḵbār moḥaddeṯehā wa-ḏekr qoṭṭānehā al-ʿolemāʾ men ḡayr ahlehā wa’l-wāredehā, ed. Baššār ʿAwwād Maʿruf, 17 vols., Beirut, 2001.

Ketāb al-ʿoyun wa’l-ḥadāʾeq fi aḵbār al-ḥaqāʾeq IV, ed. ʿOmar Saʿidi, Damascus, 1972.

Moḥammad Marzobāni, Moʿjam al-šoʿarāʾ, ed. ʿAbd-al-Sattār Aḥmad Farrāj, Cairo, 1960.

Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAli Masʿudi, Moruj al-ḏahab wa maʿāden al-jawhar, ed. Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille, revised new ed. by Charles Pellat, 7 vols., Beirut, 1966-79; tr. Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille, as Les Prairies d’or, revised and corrected by Charles Pellat, 3 vols., Paris, 1962-71.

Idem, al-Tanbih wa’l-ešrāf, ed. Michaël J. de Goeje, Leiden, 1893.

Abu ʿAli Aḥmad Meskawayh, Tajāreb al-omam, ed. and tr. H. F. Arnedroz and D. S. Margoliouth, as The Eclipse of the ʿAbbāsid Caliphate: Original Chronicles of the Fourth Islamic Century, 7 vols., Oxford, 1920-21.

Shaikh Moḥammad b. Moḥammad Mofid, Awāʾl al-maqālāt fi’l-maḏāheb wa’l-moḵtārāt, ed. Fażl-Allāh Zanjāni, Tabriz, 1951.

Aḥmad b. ʿAli Najāši, Ketāb al-rejāl, ed. Musā Šobayri Zanjāni, Qom, 1971.

Ḥasan b. Musā Nawbaḵti, Ketāb feraq al-Šiʿa, ed. Helmut Ritter, Istanbul, 1931; tr. Moḥammad-Jawād Maškur, as Tarjama-ye feraq al-Šiʿa-ye Nawbaḵti, Tehran, 1974; tr. idem, as “An-Nawbaẖti: les sectes šiʿites,” Revue de l’histoire des religions 153, 1958, pp. 68-78, 176-214; 154, 1959, pp. 67-95, 146-72; and 155, 1960, pp. 63-78; tr. Stanislav Mikhailovich Prozorov, as Shiitiskie sekti, Moscow, 1973.

Rāḡeb Eṣfahāni, Moḥāżarāt al-odabāʾ wa moḥāwarāt al-šoʿarāʾ wa’l-bolaḡāʾ, ed. Riāż ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid Morād, 5 vols., Beirut, 2004.

Ṣalāḥ-al-Din Ḵalil b. Aybak Ṣafadi, Ketāb al-wāfi be’l-wafayāt XII, ed. Ramażān ʿAbd-at-Tawwāb, Wiesbaden, 1979; XXI, ed. Moḥamamd Ḥojayri, Wiesbaden, 1988.

Abu Bakr Moḥammad b. Yaḥyā Ṣuli, Ketāb al-awrāq, ed. James Heyworth-Dunne, 3 vols., London 1934-36, repr. Beirut, 1982-83; tr. (of vol. 2) Marius Canard, as Akhbâr ar-Râdî billâh wa’l-Muttaqî billâh (Histoire de le Dynastie Abbaside de 322 à 333/934 à 944), 2 vols., Algiers, 1946-50.

Idem, Aḵbār Boḥtori, ed. Ṣāleḥ Aštar, Beirut, 1987.

Idem, Qesm men Aḵbār al-Moqtader Be’llāh al-ʿAbbāsi, ed. Ḵalaf Rašid Noʿmān, Baghdad, 1999.

Abu Jaʿfar Moḥammad b. Jarir Ṭabari, Tāriḵ al-rosol wa’l-moluk, ed. Michaël Jan De Goeje et al., 15 vols., repr., Leiden, 1964; tr. by various scholars as The History of al-Ṭabari, 40 vols., Albany, New York, 1985-2007; XXVIII, tr. Jane Dammen McAuliffe, as ʿAbbāsid Authority Affirmed: The Early Years of al-Manṣūr a.d. 753-763/136-145, Albany, 1995; XXXIV, tr. Joel L. Kraemer, as Incipent Decline: The Caliphates of al-Wāthiq, al-Mutawakkil, and al-Muntaṣir a.d. 841-863/a.h. 227-248, Albany, 1989.

Abu Manṣur Ṯaʿālebi, Ketāb ḡorar al-siar, ed. Sohayl Zakkār, Beirut, 1996 (misattributed by the editor to Ḥosayn b. Moḥammad Marʿaši; on the attribution of the work to Ṯaʿālebi, see the notices of Bilal Orfali in JAL 40, 2009, pp. 297-98).  

Abu ʿAli Moḥassen Tanuḵi, Nešwār al-moḥażara wa aḵbār al-moḏākara, ed. ʿAbud Šalaji, 8 vols., Beirut, 1971-73.

Moḥammad b. Ḥasan Ṭusi, Ketāb al-ḡayba, ed. ʿAbd-Allāh Ṭehrāni and ʿAli Aḥmad Nāṣeḥ, Qom, 2008.

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Idem, Moʿjam al-boldān, 7 vols., Beirut, 2010. 


Hussein Ali Abdulsater, “Dynamics of Absence: Twlever Shiʿism during the Minor Occultation,” ZDMG 161/2, 2011, pp. 305-334.

Ḥasan Anṣāri, “Abu Sahl Nawbaḵti,” in Dāʾerat al-maʿāref-e bozorg-e eslāmi V, Tehran, 1973, pp. 579-83.

Kevin van Bladel, “The Arabic History of Science of Abū Sahl ibn Nawbakht (fl. ca 770-809) and Its Middle Persian Sources,” in David Reisman and Felicitas Opwis, eds., Islamic Philosophy, Science, Culture, and Religion: Studies in Honor of Dimitri Gutas, Leiden, 2012, pp. 41-62.

Glen van Brummelen, “The Astronomical System in Mūsā ibn Nawbakht’s Astrological Treatise, the Kitāb al-Kāmil,” Centaurus 41/3, 1999, pp. 213-43.

Leonardo Capezzone, “The Alids, Scientific Knowledge and Historiographic Concerns, with Special Reference to Astronomy,” Oriento Moderno, N.S. 18, 1999, pp. 429-39.

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Josef van Ess, Theologie und Gesellschaft im 2. und 3. Jahrhundert Hidschra: Eine Geschichte der religiösen Denken im frühen Islam, 6 vols. Berlin, 1991-99. 

Idem, Der Eine und das A Der Eine und das Andere: Beobachtungen an islamischen häresiographen Texten, Berlin, 2011, pp. 219-59.

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Etan Kohlberg, “Muwāfāt Doctrines in Muslim Theology,” Studia Islamica 57, 1983, p. 47-66.

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Idem, “al-Ḥasan b. Mūsā al-Nawbakhtī: Shiʿi Theologian or Philosopher?” in Michael Cook et al., eds., Law and Tradition in Classical Islamic Thought: Studies in Honor of Professor Hossein Modarressi, New York, 2012.

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Martin J. McDermott, The Theology of al-Shaikh al-Mufīd (d. 413/1022), Beirut 1978.

Robert McKinney, The Case of Rhyme Versus Reason: Ibn al-Rūmī and His Poetics in Context, Leiden 2004.

Hossein Modarressi Tabatabai, Crisis and Consolidation in the Formative Period of Shiʿite Islam: Abū Jaʿfar ibn Qiba al-Rāzī̄ and His Contribution to Imāmite Shīʿite Thought, Princeton, 1993.

Roy Mottahedeh, Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society, New York, 2001.

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Sabine Schmidtke, The Theology of al-ʿAllāma al-Ḥillī (d. 726/1325), Berlin, 1991.

Dominique Sourdel, Le vizirat ʿabbāside de 749 à 936 (132 à 324 de l’hégire), 2 vols., Damascus, 1959-60.

Manfred Ullmann, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, Leiden, 1972.

Ewald Wagner, Die Überlieferung des Abū Nuwās-Dīwān und seine Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1958.

Aḥmad b. Abi Yaʿqub b. Wāżeḥ Yaʿqubi, Ketāb al-boldān, ed. Michaël J. de Goeja, BGA 7, Leiden 1892; tr. Moḥammad-Ebrāhim Āyati, as al-Boldān, Tehran, 1968.

(Sean W. Anthony)

Last Updated: May 24, 2013