al-BAQILLANI (i.e. the greengrocer), the qadi Abu Bakr Muhammad b. al-tayyib b.
Muhammad b. Dha'far b. al-qasim, in most of the sources Ibn al-Baqillani, but in popular usage
(and Ibn khallikan) simply al-Baqillani, Ash'ari theologian and Maliki jurisprudent, said to have
been a major factor in the systematising and popularising of Ash'arism.
The date of his birth is unknown. He died on t3 Dhu'l-qa'da 403/5 June 1013. Born in Basra,
he seems to have spent most of his adult like in Baghdad. Visits to Shiraz and the Byzantine court
are mentioned, and for a time he exercised the office of qadi outside the capital. He studied usul
al-din under disciples of al-Ash'ari and is said to have attracted many to his own lectures. Various
anecdotes are related to illustrate his skill in disputation. qadi, writer, disputant, lecturer--these
headings sum up his life as we know it from our rather inadequate sources.
A list of his works (to which the editors add three titles) is given by the qadi 'Iyad. Six of these
fifty-two works are known to be extant. The I'dhazal-qur'an, printed several times, is regarded as a
classic work on the subject. The Tamhid is the earliest example we have of a complete manual of
theological polemic. The Insaf contains two parts: a version of the Sunni creed with brief
explanations, and a detailed discussion of the increation of the qur'an, the qadar, the vision of
God, and intercession (shafa'a). The Manaqib (incomplete) is a defence of the Sunni position
regarding the Imamate (Caliphate). The Intisar (incomplete) is chiefly concerned with textual
integrity of the qur'an. The theme of the Bayan (incomplete) is the apologetic miracle which
vindicates the claim to prophethood.
Study of these works does not enable us to define precisely the author's contribution to the
development of Ash'ari kalam. For we do not know enough about the work of his contemporaries
and predecessors, e.g. Ibn Furak, Abu Ishaq al-Isfara'ini, and al-Ash'ari himself. Thus it is now
clear that much of what once might have been attributed to al-Baqillani already existed in
al-Ash'ari's Kitab al-qluma'. Ibn Taymiyya called al-Baqillani 'the best of the Ash'ari mutakallimun,
unrivalled by any predecessor or successor' (Shadharat, iii, 169), but this praise is not disinterested.
Ibn khaldun's assertions (Muqaddima, iii, 40), and the affirmations of Macdonald (Development of
Muslim Theology etc., t00-t01), seem to be unwarranted, since al-Baqillani certainly did not
introduce the doctrines of atomism and accidents. There is evidence of some originality in his
discussion of the apologetic miracle. But the main virtues of his works appear to be those proper
to careful and industrious compilation. His metaphysic is not profound, but he was clearly aware
of the cardinal apologetic importance of such questions as the validity of tradition and the
possibility of the apologetic miracle. Undoubtedly he did much to propagate Ash'arism, and he is
mentioned fairly frequently by later writers.
Ibn 'Asakir, Tabyin kadhib al-muftari etc., Damascus 1347/19t8-9, t17-tt6
Ibn khallikan, 580
Ibn Farhun, K. al-dibadj, t44-5
Ibn al-'Imad, Shadharat, a. 403 (III, 168-170). II. Extant Works -- 1) K. al-Tamhid. Cf.,
Brockelmann, S I, 349 (and read: 'Atif 1tt3)
ed. by al-Khudayri and Abu Ridah, Cairo, 1366/1947, based only on Paris ms., omits several
important chapters found in both Istanbul mss. t) al-Insaf. Ed. by Shaykh al-Kawthari, Cairo,
1369/1950. 3) I'dhaz al-qur'an. Cf. loc. cit., for mss. and editions. 4) Manaqib al-A'imma.
Damascus, al-£ahiriyya, no. 66 under Ta'rikh. 5) al-Bayan 'an al-Farq etc. Tübingen, M a VI 93.
6) al-Intisar li'l-qur'an. Kara Mustafa Paâa, Istanbul
and cf. Cairo ed. of Tamhid, t58, note 6. There is an annotated English translation of the
parts of the I'dhaz which deal with poetry: G. E. von Grunebaum, A Tenth-Century Document of
Arab Literary Theory and Criticism, Chicago, 1950. III. General -- Tritton, Muslim Theology,
Anawati et Gardet, Introduction a la theologie musulmane, 154-6
R. J. McCarthy, The Theology of al-Ash'ari, references passim, and useful for comparative study.
A full-length study of al-Baqillani is being prepared for publication.
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Source: from the Encyclopedia of Islam --© 1999 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands