KETĀB AL-NAQŻ (or Ketāb-e naqż), a Twelver Shiʿite polemical work in Persian produced in Ray in the third quarter of the twelfth century (1161-) by Naṣir-al-Din Abu’l-Rašid ʿAbd-al-Jalil b. Abi’l-Ḥosayn Qazvini Rāzi.

Qazvini Rāzi was a leading religious scholar of the Twelver Shiʿite community of his birthplace Ray (Naqż, 1980, p. 34), who presided over at least one madrasa (pp. 137-38) and held preaching sessions (majles) in different venues in the city (pp. 106, 138, 451).  His elder brother Awḥad-al-Din Ḥosayn was also a “mofti and the elder (pir)” of that community (p. 3).  Qazvini was a reputed preacher (wāʿeẓ) known for his “captivating discourse” (kalām ʿaḏb) as well as an “oṣuli” (no doubt in the sense of a theologian, i.e., an expert of oṣul al-din) (Rāfeʿi, III, p. 132; Montajab-al-Din, p. 87).  He is known to have authored five works other than the Naqż, none of which is known to be extant, namely: al-Barāhin fi emāmat Amir-al-Moʾmenin (written in 537/1142-43); Tanzih ʿĀʾeša (written in 533/1138-39); Meftāḥ al-rāḥāt fi fonun al-ḥekāyāt (called Meftāḥ al-taḏkir in Montajab-al-Din, p. 87; see Naqż, editor’s Introd., p. xvii); al-Soʾālāt wa’l-jawābāt, in 7 volumes; and a small polemical work against the Ismaʿilis (written in Persian “a year before” the Naqż; Naqż, pp. 115, 177, 239, 295, 376, 475, 641; Montajab-al-Din, p. 87) 

As its title indicates, the Naqż (Refutation) is a refutation against a polemical work impugning the Twelver Shiʿites, entitled Baʿż fażāʾeḥ al-Rawāfeż (some of the ignominies of the Shiʿites).  Since Qazvini cites sections of the Baʿż fażāʾeḥ and refutes it one by one, the Naqż is in fact a composite text that comprises not only Qazvini’s own refutation but also what seems to amount to a large portion of the Baʿż fażāʾeḥ al-Rawāfeż.  The Baʿż fażāʾeḥ al-Rawāfeż was written also in Ray by an anonymous author who was a defector from the Twelver Shiʿite community (Naqż, 1980, p. 14; see p. 373 n. 2, for the falsehood of the identification of the author with a certain Šehāb-al-Din Tawāriḵi Šāfeʿi of the Maššāṭ family; the author’s legal and theological affiliations will be discussed below).  Qazvini knew the identity of his opponent (Naqż, pp. 5, 141 n. 1), but kept him anonymous throughout his refutation, calling him mockingly by such appellations as “Ḵvāja-ye Now-Sonni” (Master New Sunnite, “Ḵvāja-ye Now-mosalmān” (Master New Muslim), or “Ḵvāja-ye Enteqāli” (Master [Allegiance] Switcher; see, e.g., Naqż, pp. 52, 63, 69).  The Baʿż fażāʾeḥ al-Rawāfeż was completed in Moḥarram 555/Jan.-Feb. 1160, and Qazvini was writing his refutation already in 556/1161 (Naqż, pp. 36, 646) as the representative of the Twelver Shiʿite community of Ray, at the suggestion of the Naqib Šaraf-al-Din Moḥammad b. ʿAli Mortażā, “the leader of the sayyeds and the Shiʿites” (moqaddam-e sādāt wa Šiʿa) of the city (Naqż, pp. 5-6, 35).  In the text itself, Qazvini simply calls his work a refutation (naqż) (p. 646) and mentions no title as such.  However, already during the second half of the twelfth century, Montajab-al-Din b. Bābuya in his Fehrest called the book Baʿż maṯāleb al-Nawāṣeb fi naqż Baʿż fażāʾeḥ al-Rawāfeż (Some of the disgraces of the haters of the Prophet’s Family in refutation of some of the ignominies of the Shiʿites), fuller and rather widely known “title” whose origin is not known (Montajab-al-Dīn, p. 87; see also Kanturi, p. 586). 

Both the Baʿż fażāʾeḥ al-Rawāfeż and Qazvini’s refutation were composed in the context of an intense factional strife as shown, for example, by Qazvini’s frequent use of such strong phrases as “Ḵākaš be-dahān!” (May he be stifled!) in his refutation.  Moreover, it is evident that the intended audience of both works included the common people to whom they were expected to be read aloud; Qazvini clearly states this regarding the Baʿż fażāʾeḥ al-Rawāfeż (Naqż, pp. 2, 3; cf. p. 100).  Correspondingly, the subjects disputed over in the two texts are by no means limited to scholastic topics in theology, but cover a wide range of topics pertaining to political and social life of the time.

The basic strategy of the author of the Baʿż fażāʾeḥ in his polemics is to speak as the representative of Sunnism as a whole and to represent the Twelver Shiʿites as a misguided sect to be set against it (e.g., Naqż, pp. 4, 117; see also p. 613 for Qazvini’s sarcasm about this stance).  Against that, Qazvini highlights the Ashʿari identity of his opponent (e.g., Naqż, pp. 20, 102-3, 505-6; the opponent’s affiliation to the Shāfiʿi school of law, on the other hand, is not problematized as such; see, e.g., pp. 105, 455).  He lumps the Ashʿaris with the traditionalists, calls them “the people upholding predestination and anthropomorphism” (ahl-e jabr wa tašbih), and opposes them altogether to “the people upholding [God’s] justice and oneness” (ahl-e ʿadl wa tawḥid), by which he means groups adhering rationalist approaches to key dogmatic questions (e.g., Naqż, pp. 8, 490; see also pp. 238, 550-51).  At the same time, Qazvini identifies himself only with the rationalist “oṣuli” trend within the Twelver Shiʿism, represented as forming a part of the “people upholding justice and oneness,” and dissociates himself from the traditionalist  Aḵbāris  (also called Ḥašwis pejoratively) within his own sect (e.g., pp. 235, 272, 501, 529; he even curses the Aḵbāris along with the ones he calls “Mojabberān” [the proponents of predestination] on p. 619).  Qazvini thus deliberately shifts the nature of the polemics from those between the Sunnites and Twelver Shiʿites to those between the traditionalists (including the Ashʿarites) and the rationalists (including the oṣuli Twelver Shiʿites).  Qazvini’s redefinition of the parties of the polemics was clearly motivated by the relatively recent memory of the persecutions of the Ashʿarites by the Saljuq authorities during the reign of Sultan Masʿud (r. 1134-52), in which anti-rationalist aspects in Ashʿarism were problematized from a rationalist standpoint (see Madelung, 1971, pp. 131-36 for the persecutions; Qazvini mentions them on pp. 142-43, 206, 449-51, 550).  Defining his opponent as Ashʿari and himself as rationalist, Qazvini poses as representing a theological position purportedly authorized by the Saljuq authorities (see Shimoyama for further details about the positioning of the two polemicists).

The order in which different subjects are disposed in the Baʿż fażāʾeḥ al-Rawāfeż (as preserved in the Naqż) appears to be based merely on association, at the best.  This also applies to the latter portion of the text (Naqż, pp. 481 ff.), where the author enumerates sixty-seven “ignominies” of the Twelver Shiʿites in a row.  Since Qazvini also tends to switch the focus of argument in his counter-arguments, the Naqż as a whole lacks any clear overarching logical structure and its different subjects are dispersed rather randomly throughout the text.

Dogmatic, constitutional, and juridical issues disputed over by the two polemists are many and diverse.  The status of ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb and other Twelver Shiʿite imams (e.g., Naqż, pp. 167-84, 531-34, 639-44); that of Abu Bakr, ʿOmar b. al-Ḵaṭṭāb and other Companions as well as the Prophet’s wives (e.g., pp. 114-16, 234-61, 293-301, 481-82); the Mahdi (e.g., pp. 463-81); differences in jurisprudence and Hadith (e.g., pp. 29-31, 38-41, 597-602); taqiya (dissimulation of one’s faith; e.g., pp. 18-22, 460-62); and temporary marriage (pp. 553-55) are some of the issues that are disputed over.  At the same time, Qazvini’s above-mentioned strategy to counterpose the traditionalists against the rationalists resulted in his insistence on returning to and highlighting the dogmatic differences between the two groups on the slightest pretexts. The differences Qazvini thus emphasizes again and again include those concerning the question of free will versus predestination, of reason versus revelation, and of God’s justice, especially if God imposes on humans anything that is beyond their ability (e.g., see pp. 8-9, 105, 143, 393; Madelung, 1971, pp. 134-35, esp. n. 67). 

Some of the attacks by the author of the Baʿż fażāʾeḥ concern the situations of the Twelver Shiʿite communities in the past and at his own time.  In some places, he mocks the Twelver Shiʿites for the lowly social backgrounds and despicable morals of their members (e.g., Naqż, pp. 436, 582-84, 587-88, 593).  In others he warns his audience of the recent surge in the power of the Twelver Shiʿites who, he claims, had been kept insignificant by the wise policy of the earlier Saljuq (and other) authorities (e.g., Naqż, pp. 31, 34, 63, 78-79, 113).  Both lines of attack spur Qazvini to enumerate illustrious families and personages in the past and at his own time that were purportedly affiliated to his sect (rulers: pp. 214-16; viziers and state officials: pp. 216-21; sayyeds: pp. 223-26, 398-400; scholars: pp. 39-41, 144-46, 209-13; poets: pp. 227-32, etc.), as well as the sect’s achievements such as founding madrasas (pp. 34-38) or writing books (pp. 38-39).  Further, the criticisms of Twelver Shiʿite manāqebḵvāns (reciters of virtues) by the author of the Baʿż fażāʾeḥ not only offer precious information about those propagandists who eulogized ʿAli and other Shiʿite figures on the street, but also invite Qazvini’s no less useful counter criticisms of fażāʾelḵvāns (reciters of merits), the Sunnite counterparts of the manāqebḵvāns (pp. 64-65, 74, 108-12, 577).

Both authors make reference to the dogmas, practices and situations of the third parties when discussing various issues.  References to the Ismaʿilis are the most substantial among them (e.g., Naqż, pp. 117-39, 301-17), since a tactic that Qazvini and his opponent shared is to highlight the purported affinity their respective opponents had with the Ismaʿilis in general and the Nezāris in particular, whom both polemists regarded as the heretical group par excellence.  References to the practices of a third party also include the references that Qazvini makes to those contemporaneous Sunnites who performed the mourning rituals on the day of ʿĀšurāʾ and those who made the visitations to ʿAlid shrines (Naqż, pp. 370-73, 587-90, 592).  Repeated mentions of the geographical distribution not only in Ray but also in Iran at large (and occasionally beyond) of different confessional groups (including the Twelver Shiʿites) are yet another feature of the Naqż, which makes this text rich in toponyms and other geographical information of the time (e.g., pp. 194-202, 436-38, 458-60; see Karimān for a work that has used such data). 

Qazvini’s flattering references to the Saljuqs as the protector of the true religion (e.g., pp. 37-38, 393), along with his basic strategy mentioned above, show that he found it relevant to pay homage to the authority of the Saljuqs as the ruling dynasty even in the context of an intra-urban factional strife as late as in the 1160s (see also pp. 82, 201; note, however, that Qazvini’s treatment of the Saljuqs is not necessarily consistent, see, e.g., pp. 52, 335, 390, 474).  Qazvini’s characterization of the Turks more generally as the ḡāzis (pp. 63, 108, 166), Ḥanafis, thereby implying their adherence to one or another form of rationalism (pp. 137, 550), and even as the soldiers of the Mahdi’s army on his return (p. 477) also indicates that he was mindful of the power of Turkish warlords and tried not to antagonize them at least.  The author of the Baʿż fażāʾeḥ, on the other hand, does not appear to be appreciative of the attitudes of the Turkish ruling class of his days; he appears even critical of it in some places (Naqż, pp. 63, 113; see also Shimoyama, p. 134).  Likewise, the ways they evoke the attitudes of the earlier Saljuq sultans and dignitaries towards the Twelver Shiʿites are contrastive.  While Qazvini highlights their favorable attitudes and implies the enduring cordial relationship between the Saljuq authorities and the Twelver Shiʿites, his opponent emphasizes their efforts to check the power of the Twelver Shiʿites as the desirable practice discontinued in his days (e.g., Naqż, pp. 34-38, 108, 141-42, 261-62).

A number of major urban centers on the Iranian Plateau in the late Saljuq period experienced violent internal strife between (or among) factions with confessional labels.  Yet, little is known about the concrete circumstances of those disturbances.  The Naqż is unique in this context as an internal source that not only documents the contents and milieu of a dispute in a concrete and detailed manner but also offers an insight into how the religious scholars presented the points of dispute (some of them quite abstract) to incite the lay followers of their factions.

As a source for the study of the history of Twelver Shiʿism, the Naqż can be regarded as a text that documents the outlook and situations of the rationalist wing of the sect about one to one and a half centuries after it had gained the upper hand of the traditionalists at the time of scholars such as Shaikh Abu ʿAbd-Allāh Mofid (d. 413/1022), Šarif Mortażā (d. 436/1044), and Shaikh Ṭusi (d. 460/1067; Madelung, 1980, pp. 20-21; Qazvini himself states that the traditionalists are only a marginal existence in his days, see pp. 286, 568-69). The exceptionally rich variety of the subjects it comprises makes the Naqż a rare treasure trove helpful for elucidating religious, political and social situations of the Twelver Shiʿites at the time.

That said, it must also be noted that the Naqż, because of its polemical nature, requires especially cautious handling of the information it presents.  It cannot be naively expected that the purported facts the two polemists present as the basis of their attacks and counter-attacks can always be trusted to be real facts.  This difficulty, unfortunately, becomes exacerbated especially when the Naqż offers unique information, exactly because of its uniqueness.

The Naqż was edited and published twice by Jalāl-al-Din Ḥosayni Moḥaddeṯ Ormavi.  The first edition was published on the basis of five manuscripts in 1952, and the second edition on the basis of eight manuscripts (including the five used for the first edition) in 1980.  An earlier project by Moḥammad Qazvini and ʿAbbās Eqbāl to publish an edition of this text was forestalled by the Iranian government because of Moḥammad-Reżā Pahlavi’s marriage in 1939 with the Sunnite princess of Egypt, Fawzia Foʾād (Naqż, intro., p. 30 n. 1).  The recent Qom edition published on the occasion of a conference commemorating Qazvini (Kongra-ye bozorgdāšt-e ʿAbd-al-Jalil-e Rāzi Qazvini) in book and digitized formats reproduces the text of Moḥaddeṯ’s second edition, with some amendments, new paragraphing, indices, etc.  Moḥaddeṯ also published studies and commentaries on the book on different occasions.  His work in this area culminated in the publication of the Taʿliqāt-e Naqż (in 2 vols., 1980), a condensed version of which is appended to the recent Qom edition.




Jalāl-al-Din Ḥosayni Moḥaddeṯ Ormavi, ed., as Ketāb al-naqż maʿruf ba Baʿż maṯāleb al-Nawāṣeb fi naqż fażāʾeḥ al-Rawāfeż, Tehran, 1952; 2nd ed., Tehran, 1980; rev. by Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Derāyati, pub. in the series Majmuʿa-ye āṯār-e Kongra-ye bozorgdāšt-e ʿAbd-al-Jalil Rāzi Qazvini I,  Qom, 2012-13.  

Moḥammad-Kāẓem Raḥmati, Pāsoḵ-e naḡż: bāznevisi-e Ketāb-e naqż aṯar-e Šayḵ Nasir-al-Din ʿAbd-al-Jalil Qazvini, Tehran, 2002-2003. 



Jalāl-al-Din Ḥosayni Moḥaddeṯ Ormavi, Moqaddama-ye Naqż wa taʿliqāt-e ān, Tehran, 1956-57.  

Idem, Kelid-e Naqż wa taʿliqāt-e ān yā fehrest-e Baʿż maṯāleb al-Nawāṣeb wa moqaddema wa taʿliqāt-e ān, Tehran, 1957-58.  

Idem, Taʿliqāt-e Naqż, 2 vols., Tehran, 1980. 


Primary sources.  

Eʿjāz-Ḥosayn Nisāburi Kanturi, Kašf al-ḥojob wa’l-astār ʿan asmāʾ al-kotob wa’l-asfār, ed. Moḥammad Hedāyat Ḥosayn b. Welāyat-Ḥosayn, Calcutta, 1935.  

Montajab-al-Din ʿAli b. Bābuya Rāzi, al-Fehrest, ed. Jalāl-al-Din Moḥaddeṯ Ormavi and Moḥammad Samāmi Ḥāʾeri, Qom, 1987.  ʿAbd-al-Karim Rāfeʿi, al-Tadwin fi aḵbār Qazvin, ed. ʿAziz-Allāh ʿOṭāredi, 4 vols., Beirut, 1987. 



Alessandro Bausani, “Religion in the Saljuq Period,” in John Andrew Boyle, ed., The Cambridge History of Iran V: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, Cambridge, 1968, pp. 283-302.  

Jean Calmard, “Le Chiisme imamite en Iran à l’époque seldjoukide d’après le Kitāb al-naqż,” Le monde iranien et l’Islam 1, 1971, pp. 43-67.  

ʿAli Darvišāni, Barrasi-e tawṣifi-e sāḵtār-e dasturi-e Ketāb-e “Naqż,” ed. Ḥosayn Puršarif, Majmuʿa-ye āṯār-e kongra-ye bozorgdāšt-e ʿAbd-al-Jalil Rāzi Qazvini III, Qom, 2012-13.  

Ḥosayn Karimān, Ray-e bāstān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1966-71.  

Wilferd Madelung, “The Spread of Māturīdism and the Turks,” in Actas do IV Congresso de Estudos Árabes e Islâmicos, Coimbra-Lisboa 1968, Leiden, 1971, pp. 109-68.  

Idem, “Imāmism and Muʿtazilite Theology,” in Tawfiq Fahd, ed., Le Shîʿisme imâmite, Paris, 1979, pp. 13-29.  

Marijan Molé, “Les Kubrawiya entre Sunnisme et Shiisme aux huitième et neuvième siècles de l’Hégire,” REI 29, 1961, pp. 61-142.  

Ḥosayn Puršarif, ed., Majmuʿa-ye maqālāt-e Kongra-ye bozorgdāšt-e ʿAbd-al-Jalil Rāzi Qazvini, 2 vols., Majmuʿa-ye āṯār-e kongra-ye bozorgdāšt-e ʿAbd-al-Jalil Rāzi Qazvini IV-V, Qom, 2012-13.  

Ḥādi Rabbāni and Zahrā Ejrāyi, eds., Šenāḵt-nāma-ye ʿAbd-al-Jalil wa Naqż (a collection of published journal articles and book chapters), Majmuʿa-ye āṯār-e Kongra-ye bozorgdāšt-e ʿAbd-al-Jalil Rāzi Qazvini II, Qom, 2012-13.  

Ḏabiḥ-Allāh Ṣafā, Tāriḵ-e adabiyāt dar Irān II, Tehran, 1994-95, pp. 984-88. 

Biancamaria Scarcia Amoretti, “Informazioni di tipo onomastico nel Kitāb al-naqḍ (XII sec.),” in Cahiers d’onomastique arabe 1982-1984, Paris, 1985, pp. 65-72.  

Idem, “L’Imamismo in Iran nell’epoca selgiuchide: a proposito del problema della ‘communità’,” in G. Scarcia, ed., “La bisaccia dello Sheikh: Omaggio ad Alessandro Bausani islamista nel sessantesimo compleanno,” special issue, Quaderni del Seminario di Iranistica: Uralo-Altaistica e Caucasologia dell’Università degli Studi di Venezia 19, 1981, pp. 127-39.  

Tomoko Shimoyama, “Logical Framework of The Book of Refutation (Kitāb al-naqḍ): Concerning the Supression of Ashʿarī Theological School Since 537/1142-3” (in Japanese), Oriento: Bulletin of the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan 42/2, 1999, pp. 129-45.  

Moḥammad-ʿAli Solṭāni, ʿAbd-al-Jalil Rāzi Qazvini: ruzegār wa ketāb-e vey, Majmuʿa-ye āṯār-e Kongra-ye bozorgdāšt-e ʿAbd-al-Jalil Rāzi Qazvini VI, Qom, 2012-13.

(Kazuo Morimoto)

Originally Published: February 20, 2015

Last Updated: March 16, 2015

Cite this entry:

Kazuo Morimoto, "KETĀB AL-NAQŻ," Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2015, available at (accessed on 16 March 2015).