al-JUBBA'I, Abu 'Ali Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Wahhab, one of the most celebrated of the
Mu'tazila [q.v.]. Born at Jubba in Khuzistan, he attended the school at Basra of Abu Ya'qub
Yusuf al-Shahham who at that time occupied the chair of Abu 'l-Hudhayl al-'Allaf. He succeeded
al-Shahham, and it can be said that he was able to add a final brilliance to the tradition of the
masters, while at times he refreshed it and opened the way to new solutions. He died in

He thus holds a place in the line of the Basra Mu'tazila who, especially over the question of
human actions, differ from the Baghdad Mu'tazila. In Basra itself, he was particularly at variance
with al-Nazzam (whom he opposed) and al-Jahiz, but he also differed from the two lines of
thought of al-Asamm and 'Abbad although these were closer to his own. The two last-mentioned
both combined the influence of Mu'ammar with the tradition of Abu 'l-Hudhayl; and the two
former added to the Basra teaching influences deriving from Baghdad (school of al-Murdar).

Al-Jubba'i had two pupils who later became celebrated: his son Abu Hashim (cf. below), and
Abu 'l-Hasan al-Ash'ari [q.v.] who, after breaking away, was to devote himself to refuting
Mu'tazilism and to become the 'founder' of the so-called school of the Ash'ariyya [q.v.]. The
traditions of the 'ilm al-kalam take pleasure in recounting the dialogue reputed to have brought
al-Ash'ari and his teacher into conflict on the subject of the fate of the 'three brothers'-one
pious, one impious and one who died infans. In this issue was posed the problem of the rational
justification of the divine Decree. Al-Jubba'i, it is said, was unable to reply, and al-Ash'ari left
him. W. Montgomery Watt has reminded us that the wish to 'justify' absolutely the divine
Decree in respect of every human destiny seems to derive perhaps from the Baghdad Mu'tazila
rather than from the Basra school (Free will and predestination in early Islam, 137).

However that may be, no complete work of al-Jubba'i has survived until the present time. We
know that he left a Kitab al-usul, to the refutation of which al-Ash'ari devoted several treatises (cf.
in|the bibliography of McCarthy, Luma', Appendix iii, nos. 16, 61, 65, 78), and various
polemical works against Ibn al-Rawandi and al-Nazzam. But one of the best available sources
allowing us to evaluate his tendencies is still the Maqalat al-Islamiyyin of al-Ash'ari (see particularly
Cairo ed., ii, 181-5, 196, 199-201, 243, etc.).

The teaching given by al-Jubba'i followed after the reaction by Caliph Mutawakkil which
dates from 235/850. Mu'tazilism is no longer the official doctrine. Certain tendencies of
al-Jubba'i are linked with the best traditions of the school, others already proclaim the
solutions of the Ash'ari kalam. On the one hand, he maintains the validity of 'aql (reason) as a
criterion, and he continues to affirm the identity of the divine attributes and the divine essence;
on the other hand, however, he tends to introduce once again the mystery of the divine Will
and its action upon the world.-Two examples: (1) those of the Baghdad Mu'tazila, followed with
certain modifications by al-Shahham, who adopted the idea of 'acquisition' (kasb, iktisab), applied
it only to involuntary human actions, God being, in their view, in no way the 'cause' of free
human actions; for al-Jubba'i, on the contrary, God retains Supreme Power even over the
actions which man performs freely. But, unlike the later Ash'ari solution, he refuses to apply the
theory of the kasb to free actions; and he calls man the 'creator' (khaliq) of his actions, in the
sense that man acts, or his actions proceed from him, with a determination (qadar) which comes
from God.-(2) 'Abbad objected to any association of God with evil, and for example refused to
speak of sharr or qabh as sickness or weakness; according to al-Jubba'i, they can be called 'evils',
provided that this term is taken metaphorically. Similarly, he offers personal solutions to the
problem of 'divine aid' (tawfiq) and 'divine favour' (lutf), which do not destroy the voluntary
character of the action. What is more, foreshadowing certain Ash'ari theories, he breaks away
from the Mu'tazila tradition of allotting merit and demerit according to an exact, rational
criterion, and maintains that God grants to whom He will His favour or good-will gratuitously
(the problem of tafa··ul).

Al-Jubba'i was no doubt one of the Mu'tazila whom al-Ash'ari took the greatest pains to refute,
all the more since he knew him better; but this did not happen without his influence being felt,
and we have already noted al-Jubba'i putting forward certain Ash'arite arguments. This
complex relationship between al-Ash'ari and his former teacher helps, we feel, to explain the
paradox of Ash'arism in its infancy: claiming kinship with the 'Ancients', particularly Ibn
Hanbal, but rejected, no less than Mu'tazilism, by contemporary Hanbalites.

Abu Hashim 'Abd al-Salam, son of al-Jubba'i, d. 321/933. He was a contemporary of al-Ash'ari,
and one of the very last Mu'tazila to exercise a direct influence on Sunni thought. He conducted
a school, his disciples being called bahshamiyya, or even, by their enemies, Jammiyya [q.v.]
(mentioned in al-Baghdadi). The Mu'tazili influence, though opposed by the official Sunnism,
continued to affect the Shi'a, and Ibn 'Abbad al-Talaqani (326-85/938-95), vizier of the Buyid
princes Mu'ayyid al-Dawla and Fakhr al-Dawla, recognized Abu Hashim as his master.

The works of Abu Hashim have not survived, and we know almost nothing of the author himself
except from later polemical works. He was known chiefly for his theories of 'modes' (ahwal), a
sort of con-|ceptualism which was to exert great influence on the falsafa on the one hand, and
on the later kalam on the other. It was on the question of the relationship between the divine
attributes and the divine essence that the problem was raised. Anxiety to safeguard the absolute
Unity of God led the Mu'tazila, and even al-Jubba'i, to 'extenuate' (ta'til) the reality of the
attributes to the point of turning them into simple denominations. Abu Hashim made use of the
grammatical notion of hal, 'state' of the verb in relation to the agent, to define the degree of
reality of mental concepts, and thence the degree of reality of the divine attributes. According to
an observation of L. Massignon (Passion d'al-HallaJ, 556), he compares 'les modes [ahwal]
d'inherence des attributs divins en Dieu avec les modalites [id.] d'insertion des concepts en notre
esprit'. Now, as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi was to say (Muhassal, 38), the hal is the 'state' established in
our mind by the meaning according to which the idea is received, and it is intermediate
'between existence and non-existence'.

From the human concept to the divine attribute there is thus, for Abu Hashim, a constant
interplay between the logical (and noetic) and the metaphysical. Just as the kasb of al-Shahham
(rejected by al-Jubba'i) was later taken up and transformed by the Ash'aris, so the hal of Abu
Hashim was later adopted in terms of their own perspectives by al-Ash'ari, no doubt by Baqillani,
and certainly by Juwayni, master of al-óhazzali in kalam. What is more, it is not inopportune to
turn to Abu Hashim's theses to explain the semi-conceptualism of Ibn Sina and his commentator
the Shi'i Nasir al-Din al-Tusi.-Al-Jubba'i and his son thus exerted on Muslim thought an
influence which far surpassed the direct role of Basra Mu'tazilism, considered as an independent
(L. Gardet)


Houtsma, Zum Kitab al-Fihrist, in WZKM, iv, 224

Ibn Khallikan, nr 393, 618

Arnold, al-Mu'tazilah, 45 ff.

Shahrastani, Milal (ed. Cureton), 54 ff.

Baghdadi, Fark, 167

Steiner, Die Mu'taziliten, 82 ff.

Horten, Die Modustheorie des Abu Hashim, in ZDMG, lxiii, 308 ff.

idem, Die philosophische Systeme der spekulativ. Theologen im Islam, 352 ff., 403 ff. (and ref.)

Abu 'l-Hasan al-Ash'ari, Kitab al-Luma', ed. and English tr. R. J. McCarthy, Beirut 1953,
29-30/41-2 and ref. in art.

idem, Maqalat al-Islamiyyin, ref. in art.

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Muhassal, Cairo n.d., 38

Ibrahim BaJuri, Hashiya ... 'ala Jawharat al-tawhi·, Cairo 1352/1934, 64

L. Massignon, Passion d'al-HallaJ, Paris 1922, s.vv. Jubba'i and Abu Hashim

L. Gardet and M. M. Anawati, Introduction a la theologie musulmane, Paris 1948, index

W. Montgomery Watt, Free will and predestination in early Islam, London 1948, 83-7, 136-7.

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Source: from the Encyclopedia of Islam --© 1999 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands