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Abū Muḥammad ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad ibn Saʿīd ibn Ḥazm
Full name Abū Muḥammad ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad ibn Saʿīd ibn Ḥazm
Born November 7, 994
Córdoba, Al Andalus, Spain
Died August 15, 1064[1] 456 AH [2]
Manta Lisham, near Huelva, Spain
Era Medieval Philosophy
Region Andalusian Philosophers
School Islamic philosophy
Main interests Metaphysics (incl. Theology), Ethics

Ibn Hazm (in full Abū Muḥammad ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad ibn Saʿīd ibn Ḥazm, Arabic :أبو محمد علي بن احمد بن سعيد بن حزم) – sometimes with al-Andalusī aẓ-Ẓāhirī as well[3]; 7 November 994–15 August 1064[1] 456 AH[2]) was an Andalusian-Arab philosopher, litterateur, psychologist, historian, jurist and theologian born in Córdoba, present-day Spain.[4] He was a leading proponent of the Zahiri school of Islamic thought and produced a reported 400 works of which only 40 still survive, covering a range of topics such as Islamic jurisprudence, logic, history, ethics, comparative religion, and theology, as well as the The Ring of the Dove, on the art of love.[4]



Ibn Hazm was born into a notable family. His grandfather Sa'id and his father Ahmad both held high positions in the court of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham II[5] and were said to be of Persian descent.[6] Other scholars, however, believe that Iberian converts adopted such genealogies to better identify with the Arabs. They think there is evidence for a Christian Iberian family background of Ibn Hazm going back to Manta Lisham (near Sevilla).[6]


Ibn Hazm served as a minister in the Umayyad government, under the Caliphs of Córdoba, and was known to have worked under Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir, Hajib (Grand Vizier) to the last of the Ummayad caliphs, Hisham III. From the death of the grand vizier al-Muzaffar in 1008, however, the Caliphate of Cordoba became embroiled in a civil war that lasted until 1031 resulting in its collapse and the emergence of many smaller states called Taifas.[6] Ibn Hazm's father died in 1012 and Ibn Hazm continued to support the Umayyads, for which he was frequently imprisoned.[6] By 1031 Ibn Hazm retreated to his family estate at Manta Lisham and had begun to express his activist convictions in the literary form.[6]

According to a saying of the period, "the tongue of Ibn Hazm was a twin brother to the sword of al-Hajjaj" (a famous 7th century general and governor of Iraq)[6] and he became so frequently quoted that the phrase “Ibn Hazm said” became proverbial.[6]

He opposed the allegorical interpretation of religious texts, preferring instead a grammatical and syntactical interpretation of the Qur'an. He granted cognitive legitimacy only to revelation and sensation and considered deductive reasoning insufficient in legal and religious matters. He did much to revitalize the Zahiri madhhab, which denied the legitimacy of legal rulings based upon qiyas (analogy) and focused upon the literal meanings of legal injunctions in the Qur'an and hadith. Many of his rulings differed from those of his Zahiri predecessors, and consequently Ibn Hazm's followers are sometimes described as comprising a distinct madhhab.


  • Al Kitab al-Muhallā bi'l Athār (The Book Ornamented with traditions), only existing book of his legal rulings
  • Ihkam Al Ahkam fi Usul al Ahkam, usul al fiqh.
  • Mukhtasar al-Muhalla li Ibn Hazm, an abridgment of Ibn Hazm's fiqh manual.[7]

In classical Arabic literary tradition, the dove represented love, or romance, while the ring refers to a necklace. In essence, it is the "necklace of love". The book is meant to adorn one's love. It is inspired by 'ishq (defined by Hakim Bey as "crazed, hopeless passion"), and treats equally of desire both for males and females, but cautions the reader against breaking religious injunctions and praises remaining chaste.

Ibn Hazm also wrote more than ten books on medicine.

Among his translated works:

  • Al-Akhlaq wa al-Siyar fi Mudawat al-Nufus (Morals and Right Conduct in the Healing of Souls") [8]
  • Maratib al-`Ulum ("The Categories of the Sciences")
  • Al-Mujalla
  • Al-Fisal fi al-Milal wa al-Ahwa' wa al-Nihal ("The Separator Concerning Religions, Heresies, and Sects"). [9]

Detailed Critical Examination

In his Fisal (Detailed Critical Examination), a treatise on Islamic science, philosophy and theology, Ibn Hazm stressed the importance of sense perception as he realized that human reason can be flawed. While he recognized the importance of reason, since the Qur'an itself invites reflection, he argued that this reflection refers mainly to revelation and sense data, since the principles of reason are themselves derived entirely from sense experience. He concludes that reason is not a faculty for independent research or discovery, but that sense perception should be used in its place, an idea that forms the basis of empiricism.[10]

Scope of Logic

Ibn Hazm wrote the Scope of Logic on logic in Islamic philosophy, in which he stressed on the importance of sense perception as a source of knowledge.[11] He wrote that the "first sources of all human knowledge are the soundly used senses and the intuitions of reason, combined with a correct understanding of a language." Ibn Hazm also criticized some of the more traditionalist theologians who were opposed to the use of logic and argued that the first generations of Muslims did not rely on logic. His response was that the early Muslims had witnessed the revelation directly, whereas the Muslims of his time have been exposed to contrasting beliefs, hence the use of logic is necessary in order to preserve the true teachings of Islam.[12]


  1. ^ a b Ibn Hazm. The Ring of the Dove: A Treatise on the Art and Practice of Arab Love. Trans. A. J. Arberry. Luzac Oriental, 1997 ISBN 1-898942-02-1
  2. ^ a b USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts
  3. ^ A. R. Nykl. "Ibn Ḥazm's Treatise on Ethics". The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 40, No. 1. (Oct., 1923), pp. 30–36.
  4. ^ a b "Ibn Hazm." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 Oct. 2006
  5. ^ The court was under the effective rule of the Grand Vizier al-Mansur and his successor and son al-Muzaffar
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Ibn Hazm." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 Oct. 2006
  7. ^ Al-Dhahabi
  8. ^ In Pursit of Virture: (Al-Akhlâq wa’l-Siyar)
  9. ^ Ibn Hazm
  10. ^ Ibn Hazm, Islamic Philosophy Online.
  11. ^ Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, "The Spirit of Muslim Culture" (cf. [1] and [2])
  12. ^ Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman (1996), History of Islamic Philosophy, pp. 107-109, Routledge, ISBN 0415056675.


  • The Ring of the Dove by Ibn Hazm, translation and preface by A. J. Arberry ISBN 1-898942-02-1 [4]
  • al-Fasl fi al-milal wa-al-ahwa' wa-al-nihal, by Ibn Hazm. Bairut: Dar al-Jil, 1985
  • Abenházam de Córdoba y su Historia crítica de las ideas religiosas vols. 1–5, by Miguel Asín Palacios. Madrid, 1928–1932
  • Muslim writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible : from Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm, by Camilla Adang. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996. ISBN 90-04-10034-2
  • Ibn Hazm et la polémique islamo-chrétienne dans l´histoire de l´Islam, by Abdelilah Ljamai. Leiden: Brill, 2003. ISBN 90-04-12844-1
  • Kitab al-'axlaq wa-s-siyar ou Risala fi mudawat an-nufus wa-tahdib al-'axlaq wa-z-zuhd fi r-rada'il / Ibn Hazm al-'Andalusi ; introd., éd. critique, remarques par Eva Riad. Uppsala : Univ. ; Stockholm : Almqvist & Wiksell international (distr.), 1980. ISBN 91-554-1048-0
  • The Zahiris, Their Doctrine and Their History: a contribution to the history of Islamic theology by Ignaz Goldziher, trans. and ed. Wolfgang Behn. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1971.

External links

See also

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

IBN HAZM [Abu Mahommed `Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Hazm] (994-1064), Moslem theologian, was born in a suburb of Cordova. He studied history, law and theology, and became a vizier as his father had been before him, but was deposed for heresy, and spent the rest of his life quietly in the country. In legal matters he belonged first to the Shafi`ite school, but came to adopt the views of the Zahirites, who admitted only the external sense of the Koran and tradition, disallowing the use of analogy (Qiyas) and Taglid (appeal to the authority of an imam), and objecting altogether to the use of individual opinion (Ra`y). Every sentence of the Koran was to be interpreted in a general and universal sense; the special application to the circumstances of the time it was written was denied. Every word of the Koran was to be taken in a literal sense, but that sense was to be learned from other uses in the Koran itself, not from the meaning in other literature of the time. The special feature of Ibn Ilazm's teaching was that he extended the application of these principles from the study of law to that of dogmatic theology. He thus found himself in opposition at one time to the Mo`tazilites, at another to the Ash`arites. He did not, however, succeed in forming a school. His chief work is the Kitab ul-Milal wanNihal, or "Book of Sects" (published in Cairo, 1899).

For his teaching cf. I. Goldziher, Die Zahiriten, pp. 116 -172 (Leipzig, (1884), and M. Schreiner in the Journal of the German Oriental Society, lii. 464-486. For a list of his other works see C. Brockelmann's Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, vol. i. (Weimar, 1898), p. 400. (G. W. T.)

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