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A Footnote to the Composition History of Maqālāt al-islāmiyyīn: The Internal Parallels in al-Ashʿarī’s Material on the Shia

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Abū l-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī’s (d. 324/935-6) Maqālāt al-islāmiyyīn wa-khtilāf al-muṣallīn is our largest single source of information on early kalām. Since the mid-twentieth century, scholars have proposed various composition histories for the work, all of which involve the claim that the present Maqālāt was not originally conceived as a single, integral text. These composition histories are intended to account for formal features, such as the present Maqālāt’s structural unevenness and large amounts of internal repetition, and for certain features of content, such as the apparent commitment, or absence thereof, of its different parts to the theological positions of the Traditionalists. The chronology of its composition also has a bearing on the nature of its relationship to the slightly earlier Maqālāt firaq ahl al-qibla of Abū l-Qāsim al-Balkhī al-Kaʿbī (d. 319/931). This article, based on a detailed analysis of the internal parallels within al-Ashʿarī’s material on the Shia, examines some previously overlooked evidence relevant to the Maqālāt’s composition history.

Affiliations: 1: University of ZurichSwitzerland


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