NAWBAḴTI, ḤASAN b. Musā Abu Moḥammad, 4th/10th century theologian and philosopher in Baghdad, d. between 300/912-3 and 310/922-3. The son of a sister of Abu Sahl Esmāʿil b. ʿAli b. Nawbaḵt (b. 235/849-50, d. 311/923-4), who was a leader of the Shiʿites and a government official, Ḥasan’s father according to Ritter (p.8) was Musā b. Kebriāʾ, whose ancestry is traced back through six generations to Caliph Manṣur’s astrologer Nawbaḵt; this genealogy is repeated by Labarta (p.21), though many authorities are silent about his father’s family. The Banu Nawbaḵt claimed descent from the Kayanian hero, Gēv the son of Gōdarz.

Ḥasan took great interest in translations from Greek, and is said to have been in contact with the most noteworthy translators of his time, ʿOṯmān Demašqi, Esḥāq b. Ḥonayn b. Esḥāq, and Ṯābet b. Qorra (Ebn al-Nadim, p. 225); his meeting with Ṯābet is recounted by Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa (I, p. 216). One of his numerous lost works was an epitome of Aristotle’s On Generation and Corruption (Ketāb eḵteṣār al-kawm wa’l-fasād le-Aresṭāṭālis). But his most important contributions were in the history of religions, a field in which he was a pioneer among authorities writing in Arabic. He himself mixed some tenets of the Muʿtazilites regarding the nature of God with the basic Imamite Shiʿism traditions in his family. His one extant work is the Ketāb feraq al-šiʿa (Book of Shiʿite Sects; ed. Ritter; Persian and French translations by Maškur; and Russian translation by Prozorov), which gives an account of many early Shiʿite sects. The lost Kitāb al-emāma was allegedly not finished. He attacked extremist Shiʿites in the Ketāb al-radd ʿalā al-ḡolāt (see Ritter, p. 27 for fragments collected from Ebn al-Jawzi’s Ketāb fi tablis Eblis). Perhaps his most influential work was the Ketāb al-ārāʾ wa’l-diānāt (Book of Opinions and Religions; see Ritter, pp. 22-27 for fragments collected from Ebn al-Jawzi’s Ketāb fi tablis Eblis). In this work he discusses Greek, Indian, Sabian and Magian beliefs, as well as the ideas of several Islamic thinkers. This book was used by ʿAbd-al-Jabbār, Šahrastāni and Ebn al-Mortaḍā (see ABŪ ʿĪSĀ AL-WARRĀQ).

On astronomy his lost works are the Ḥojaj ṭabiʿiya mostaḵraja men kotob Aresṭāṭālis fi al-radd ʿalā man zaʿama anna al-falak ḥayyon nāṭeqon (Physical Arguments Derived from The Books of Aristotle on Opposition to Those Who Believe that the Sphere is a Rational Living Being), which was perhaps directed against Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses, though, of course, Plato and his followers are other possible targets; and the Ketāb al-radd ʿalā Baṭlameyus fi hayʾat al-falak wa’l-arḍ (Book of opposition to Ptolemy concerning the configuration of the sphere and the earth), which certainly seems to be directed against the Planetary Hypotheses.

Following the lead of his ancestors, several of whom practiced and wrote on astrology (including his father if he was indeed Abu Ḥasan Musā b. Kebriāʾ), Ḥasan wrote two works on astrology; a work seemingly in favor of it was the Ketāb al-radd ʿalā Abi ʿAli al-Jobbāʾi fi raddehe ʿalā al-monajjemin (Book of Opposition to Abu ʿAli al-Jobbāʾi Concerning His Opposition to the Astrologers), as well as one apparently against some aspects of astrology at least, the Ketāb al-radd ʿalā al-monajjemin (Book of opposition to the astrologers).



Brockelmann, GAL, S I, pp. 319-20.

Ebn Abi Oṣaybeʿa, ʿOyun al-anbāʾ fi ṭabaqāt al-aṭebbāʾ, I, p. 216.

Ebn al-Nadim, Ketāb al-fehrest, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1988, pp. 225-26.

J. L Kraemer, “al-Nawbakhtī, al-Ḥasan b. Mūsā,” EI2 VII, p. 1044.

A. Labarta, Musā ibn Nawbajt, Al-Kitāb al-Kāmil, Madrid, 1982.

Wilferd Madelung, “Bemerkung zur imamitishen Firaq-Literatur,” Der Islam 43, 1967, pp. 37-52.

Idem, Religious Schools and Sects in Medieval Islam, London, 1985.

Moḥammad Jawād Maškur, Tarjamat Feraq al-šiʿa, Tehran, 1946.

Idem,"An-Nawbaẖti. Les sectes ši’ites,” Revue de l’histoire des religions 153, 1958, pp. 68-78 and 176-214; 154, 1959, pp. 67-95 and 146-172; and 155, 1960, pp. 63-78.

Stanislav Mikhailovich Prozorov, Shiitiskie sekti, Moscow, 1973.

Helmut Ritter, ed., Ketāb feraq al-šiʿa, Istanbul, 1931. Sezgin, GAS I, pp. 539-40; VI, p. 176; and VII, pp. 154-55.

(David Pingree)

Originally Published: July 20, 2002

Last Updated: July 20, 2002