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By Richard M. Frank

The instructing of the basrian institution of the Mu'tazila within the Classical interval

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Additional resources for Beings and Their Attributes: The Teaching of the Basrian School of the Mu'Tazila in the Classical Period (Environmental Analytical and Physical Chemistry Series)

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Van Ess, "The Beginnings of Islamic Theology," in The Cultural Context of Medieval Learning edited by J. Murdoch and E. D. Sylla (Cambridge, 1975), PP. 87 ff. 3. The place of al-A'ari within the tradition that bears his name and most particularly the relationship of his teaching to that of his successors in the classical period are rather complex and, in the present state of kalâm studies, less clear to see than are those of abû Hâim to his successors within the Mu`tazilite tradition. The thought of al-A'arî was much less highly elaborated than was that of abû Hâim, and his foremost followers (al-Bâqillânî, Ibn Fûrak, and abû Ishaq* al-Isfarâ'înî) were consequently more divided in their interpretation and treatment of his doctrine than were those of abû Hâim in dealing with his.

If, however, the expression is fundamentally metaphorical (magaz*), then it can be reduced to a strict, nonmetaphorical expression (haqiqa*). The reduction to a strict form is, indeed, necessary if we are to have a fully intelligible statement of what it is we understand concerning God's being and if what is understood and expressed in the formulation is to be examined and judged critically. 22 In the example, al-Gubba'i's* question is basically what does it mean to say that God is knowing and what does it mean to say that Zayd is knowing and his reply is that for God to be knowing is that He be Himself-that the divine essence be itselfand that for Zayd to be knowing is that there exist in him a contingent act of knowing that is an entity other than and separable from him.

8 This process is fixed already as a formalized principle in the teaching of abû l-Hudhayl and Ibn Kullâb and in their different conceptions of the kind of being denoted by these nouns is laid the foundations of the differences in the conception of the attributes that characterizes the doctrines of their respective followers. During the middle and later decades of the third/ninth century a number of abû l-Hudhayl's disciples, among them Hiâm al-Fuwati* and abû Ya`qûb as-Sahham*, the master of al-Gubba'i*, continued to pursue their investigations along much the same lines as had abû l-Hudhayl, with some revisions, innovations, and modifications of various degree and significance.

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