Islamic Studies Fakhr al-Din al-Razi
by
Frank Griffel
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 August 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0214

Introduction

Fakhr al-Din Muhammad ibn ‘Umar al-Razi (b. c. 1149–d. 1210) was one of the most important philosophers and theologians of the post-classical period of Islam, that is, the period after al-Ghazali (d. 1111). In philosophy, Fakhr al-Din rearranged the structure of the philosophical summa in the Islamic East and thus also the curriculum of philosophical studies. His work completes the process of integrating the discourse of Aristotelian philosophy (falsafa) into Muslim rationalist theology (kalam), a process that began with the works of Ibn Sina (Avicenna, d. 1037). Original in his own thinking, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi was influenced by the systematic philosophy of Ibn Sina but developed an alternative that aimed at avoiding philosophical realism and essentialism. In theology he adopted teachings of Ibn Sina and “the falasifa” (meaning the teachings of Ibn Sina and his followers) and did not shy away from accepting suggestions made by Mu’tazilite authorities, particularly Abu Husayn al-Basri (d. 1044) and his successors. Fakhr al-Din’s works were widely studied, particularly during the 13th and 14th centuries. His commentaries on Ibn Sina’s works, in which he often keeps a critical distance to falsafa, became the subject of super-commentaries that are among the most influential texts in Arabic philosophy and Islamic theology. Even more influential, however, was his monumental Qur’an commentary Mafatih al-ghayb (Keys to the unknown), in which, through a well-structured rationalist analysis, he aims at resolving most questions that are brought up in the text of revelation. With the caveat that the study of post-classical Muslim philosophy and theology is not far advanced, we can nevertheless say that Fakhr al-Din al-Razi was the most influential theologian in the period between 1150 and 1450 and the most influential writer of philosophy within the Ash’arite tradition.

General Overviews

Despite his importance for post-classical Islamic intellectual history, the study of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi is not well advanced. Monograph studies on him are still rare. Among those available, Celan 1996 (cited under Teachings on Theology) and Arnaldez 2002 are descriptive while Shihadeh 2006 and Jaffer 2015 (cited under Qur’an Commentary) are more analytic works. Many of his texts, among them his most important book on philosophical theology, al-Matalib al-‘aliya (The elevated [also: advanced] subjects), were only edited in the last quarter of the 20th century and have hardly been studied. His Muhassal afkar al-mutaqaddimin wa-l-muta’akhkhirin (Summary of the thoughts of ancients and later scholars) was available in print much earlier (since 1905) and was used as a textbook of theological instruction at al-Azhar seminary in Cairo and other places of Muslim theological education. This triggered an interest in him by European scholars of the early 20th century, manifest in Horten 1910 (cited under Treatments of Philosophy) and Horten 1967 (cited under Teachings on Theology), and by historians of Muslim theology, as found in works such as Gardet and Anawati 1946. A number of monograph studies are available in Arabic, of which the most comprehensive is al-Zarkan 1963. A general introduction, and a monograph devoted to the life and works, that would provide a synthesis of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s teachings is, however, still a desideratum.

  • Anawati, Georges C. “Fakhr al-Din al-Razi.” In Encyclopeadia of Islam. 2d ed. Vol. 2. Edited by Bernard Lewis, Charles Pellat, Joseph Schacht, et al., 751–755. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1965.

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    A more detailed treatment than Griffel 2011 with reports of his most important works. In light of more recent research, however, often outdated.

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  • Arnaldez, Roger. Fakhr al-Dîn al-Râzî: Commentateur du Coran et philosophe. Paris: J. Vrin, 2002.

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    Discusses Fakhr al-Din’s life, the issues brought up in al-Munazarat fi bilad ma wara’a l-nahr (Disputations with scholars in Transoxania), and presents his Qur’an commentary and two of his philosophical works, al-Mabahith al-mashriqiyya (Eastern investigations) and the commentary on Ibn Sina’s Pointers and Reminders, offering paraphrastic summaries.

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  • Dughaym, Samih. Mawsu’at mustalahat Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Beirut: Maktabat Lubnan, 2000.

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    Dictionary of important terms used by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi with key quotations from his works in which these terms are explained and/or used.

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  • Gardet, Louis, and Georges C. Anawati. Introduction à la théologie musulmane: Essai de théologie comparé. Paris: J. Vrin, 1946.

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    Among other sources relies on Fakhr al-Din’s Muhassal afkar al-mutaqaddimin wa-l-muta’akhkhirin (Summary of the thoughts of ancients and later scholars) and introduces that work in a separate chapter.

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  • Griffel, Frank. “Fakhr al-Din al-Razi.” In Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy. Vol. 2, Philosophy between 500 and 1500. Edited by Henrik Lagerlund, 665–672. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A brief introduction to Fakhr al-Din’s life and works. Griffel aims to determine his position within larger developments in Islamic philosophy and theology.

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  • Shihadeh, Ayman. “From al-Ghazali to al-Razi: 6th/12th Century Developments in Muslim Philosophical Theology.” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 15.2 (2005): 141–179.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0957423905000159Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A study of the general atmosphere and the questions with which 12th-century Islamic philosophy and theology were concerned. It starts with al-Ghazali (d. 1111) and explains the attitude of his two followers, Sharaf al-Dīn al-Mas’udi (d. after 1186) and Ibn Ghaylan al-Balkhi (d. c. 1190), and how Fakhr al-Din differed from them.

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  • Shihadeh, Ayman. The Teleological Ethics of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.

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    Most thorough of the five monographs on Fakhr al-Din. Focuses on his theory of human actions and of ethical value and obligations, but also offers much information about his teachings in other fields. Includes a biography of Fakhr al-Din, a chronology of his writings, and an edition of his late work Dhamm ladhdhat al-dunya (Disregarding the pleasures of this world).

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  • al-Zarkan, Muhammad Salih. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi wa-araʼuhu al-kalamiyya wa-al-falsafiyya. Cairo: Dar al-Fikr,c. 1963.

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    Still the most comprehensive attempt to document Fakhr al-Din’s life and his works though not always reliable. Includes an extensive and very valuable bibliographical survey of Fakhr al-Din’s works, listing 194 extend as well as lost writings.

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Life

Shihadeh 2006 (cited under General Overviews), Celan 1996 (cited under Teachings on Theology), Arnaldez 2002 (cited under General Overviews), and al-Zarkan 1963 (cited under General Overviews) contain important treatments of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s life. The most detailed treatment is Griffel 2007. Fakhr al-Din was born in January or February of 1149 or 1150 in the city of Rayy, which is today part of the southern suburbs of Tehran. His father was a prominent member of the city’s scholarly elite and was known as the “preacher of Rayy,” which is why Fakhr al-Din is often referred to as Ibn al-Khatib, “the preacher’s son.” His father studied with al-Ansari (d. 1118), himself a student of al-Juwayni (d. 1085) and a conservative rival of al-Ghazali among Ash’arite theologians in Nishapur. Fakhr al-Din went to Nishapur for studies and then joined Majd al-Din al-Jili, an important teacher at a madrasa in Maraghah in northeastern Iran, who introduced him to philosophy. After having taught at various places in Iran, Fakhr al-Din went about the years 1180 to Transoxania (the region around Bukhara and Samarkand) and Khwarezm (the former Oxus Delta south of the Aral Sea), where he served the increasingly powerful dynasty of the Khwarezmshahs. Sometime before 1195 Fakhr al-Din moved from the Kwarezmshahs to their rivals the Ghurids in today’s Afghanistan, where he also received rich patronage. He taught at a madrasa in Herat, where he died in 1210.

  • Diya’ al-Din Makki. Nihayat al-maram fi dirayat al-kalam. Facsimile. Edited by Ayman Shihadeh. Tehran: Miras-i Maktub, 2013.

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    The only extent text written by Diya’ al-Din Makki (d. c. 1163), Fakhr al-Din’s father, here printed in a facsimile of an autograph manuscript of the second volume of the book from an Indian library. Shihadeh adds an English introduction on the life and scholarly tradition of Fakhr al-Din’s father.

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  • Endress, Gerhard. “Reading Avicenna in the Madrasa: Intellectual Genealogies and Chains of Transmission of Philosophy and the Sciences in the Islamic East.” In Arabic Theology, Arabic Philosophy: From the Many to the One: Essays in Celebration of Richard M. Frank. Edited by James E. Montgomery, 371–422. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2006.

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    Contextualizes Fakhr al-Din within a group of scholars in the 12th and 13th centuries who studied and wrote about Avicenna. Offers valuable information on his students and their networks.

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  • Griffel, Frank. “On Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s Life and the Patronage He Received.” Journal of Islamic Studies 18.3 (2007): 313–344.

    DOI: 10.1093/jis/etm029Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A thorough study of the early sources on Fakhr al-Din’s life. Griffel makes the point that he was not persecuted by rulers, as earlier literature had suggested; rather, quite the opposite, he was courted by the major dynasties of his day often against the opposition of its populace.

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  • Kholeif, Fathallah. A Study on Fakhr al-Din al-Razi and His Controversies in Transoxania. 2d ed. Beirut: Dar el-Machreq, 1966.

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    Edition and annotated English translation of al-Munazarat fi bilad ma wara’a l-nahr (Disputations with scholars in Transoxania), Fakhr al-Din’s most important autobiographical work.

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  • Kraus, Paul. “The Controversies of Fakhr al-Din Razi.” Islamic Culture 12.2 (1938): 131–150.

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    An analysis of al-Munazarat fi bilad ma wara’a l-nahr (Disputations with scholars in Transoxania) that focuses on the evolution of Fakhr al-Din’s thought and includes reflections on his personality and character.

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  • Street, Tony. “Concerning the Life and the Works of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi.” In Islam: Essays on Scripture, Thought and Society: A Festschrift in Honour of Anthony H. Johns. Edited by Peter G. Riddell and Tony Street, 135–146. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1997.

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    A study of Fakhr al-Din’s life focusing on his testament (wasiya), dictated close to the end of his life, and on al-Munazarat fi bilad ma wara’a l-nahr (Disputations with scholars in Transoxania). Includes a full translation of Fakhr al-Din’s testament and examines whether Ibn Taymiyya was right when he claimed that at the end of his life Fakhr al-Din turned away from rationalism.

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Teachings on Logic

Fakhr al-Din’s two most important works in philosophy are al-Mabahith al-mashriqiyya (Eastern investigations) and al-Mulakhkhas fi l-hikma wa-l-mantiq (The compendium on philosophy and logic). They were both written at a relatively early stage in his career around 1184. Only the latter work includes a part on logic, which has been edited in 2002 (the rest of the Mulakhkhas is as yet unedited). There he also refers to another work, al-Mantiq al-kabir (The major book on logic) (al-Zarkan 1963, no. 43, cited under General Overviews), which has yet to be found. Fakhr al-Din produced an important revision of Avicennan logic that still has to be fully analyzed. The available studies on Fakhr al-Din’s logic are mostly based on sources other than al-Mulakhkhas (The compendium), namely, on his commentary on Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders) and his works in theology, and should be read in conjunction with Ibrahim 2012 and Ibrahim 2013 (both cited under Teachings in the Natural Sciences and Their Methods), which clarify and continue Falaturi 1969.

  • El-Rouayheb, Khaled. Relational Syllogism and the History of Arabic Logic, 900–1900. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004183193.i-296Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Includes a study of Fakhr al-Din’s objections to Aristotelian syllogistics based on his commentary to Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders) and on al-Mulakhkhas (The compendium).

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  • Falaturi, Abdoldjavad. “Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s Critical Logic.” In Yadnamah-yi Irani-yi Minorsky. Edited by Mujtaba Minuvi, 51–79. Tehran: Intisharat-i Danishgah-i Tihran, 1969.

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    An early contribution to the study of Fakhr al-Din’s epistemology based on a wide range of sources. Fakhr al-Din rejects the Aristotelian foundations of Ibn Sina’s epistemology and claims that concepts cannot be arrived at by definitions but are evident and immediately perceivable.

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  • Street, Tony. “Fahraddin ar-Razi’s Critique of Avicennan Logic.” In Logik und Theologie: Das Organon im arabischen und lateinischen Mittelalter. Edited by Dominik Perler and Ulrich Rudolph, 101–116. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2005.

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    Identifies Fakhr al-Din as the initiator of an important change in Arabic logical works about whether modal propositions (when they are used as premises in syllogisms) always allow for temporal change in the subject (dhati) or whether they can also be read as statements that are true only so long as they describe the subject (wasfi).

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Treatments of Philosophy

Fakhr al-Din deals with philosophical questions in many of his works and it is often difficult to distinguish a philosophical treatment from a theological one. Eichner 2009 shows that his two comprehensive presentations of philosophical subjects, al-Mabahith al-mashriqiyya (Eastern investigations) and al-Mulakhkhas fi l-hikma wa-l-mantiq (The compendium on philosophy and logic) revolutionized the study of philosophy in Islam. Embedded within the tradition of interpreting Ibn Sina, Fakhr al-Din presents philosophy and the natural sciences no longer in books that mirror the divisions of the Aristotelian corpus; rather, he develops his own major and minor divisions of the subdisciplines of philosophy. His divisions are based on a systematic reflection on the subject matter of the subdisciplines of philosophy and the natural sciences. First appearing in al-Mabahith al-mashriqiyya (Eastern investigations), the system is further developed in al-Mulakhkhas fi l-hikma wa-l-mantiq (The compendium on philosophy and logic), which, other than al-Mabahith, also includes logic. These divisions were adopted in most of the later comprehensive treatments of philosophy up to the 15th century, including the major kalam works of madrasa education by al-Baydawi (d. c. 1316) and ‘Adud al-Din al-Iji (d. 1355).

  • Eichner, Heidrun. “Dissolving the Unity of Metaphysics: From Fakhr al-Dīn al-Razi to Mulla Sadra al-Shirazi.” Medioevo 32 (2007): 139–197.

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    An early and more limited version of Eichner 2009, focusing on the divisions of the philosophical subdiscipline of metaphysics/philosophical theology (ilahiyyat).

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  • Eichner, Heidrun. “The Post-Avicennian Philosophical Tradition and Islamic Orthodoxy: Philosophical and Theological summae in Context.” Habilitationsschrift, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, 2009.

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    Unpublished Habilitationsschrift (2nd PhD dissertation) that reconstructs the divisions of philosophical and theological summae from Ibn Sina (d. 1038) up to ‘Adud al-Din al-Iji (d. 1355) with an appendix on Mullah Sadra (d. 1640). The study uses numerous unedited sources.

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  • Horten, Max. Die philosophischen Ansichten von Rázi und Tusi. Bonn, Germany: P. Hanstein, 1910.

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    Analytical German paraphrase of Fakhr al-Din’s Muhassal afkar al-mutaqaddimin wa-l-muta’akhkhirin (Summary of the thoughts of ancients and later scholars) and his Ma’alim usul al-din (Guideposts of theology). Horten rearranges the former work to stress its systematic philosophical character. Includes Horten’s paraphrase of Nasir al-Din Tusi’s critical commentary on Fakhr al-Din’s Muhassal.

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  • Ibn Khaldun. The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History. Translated by Franz Rosenthal. 3 vols. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1958.

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    Includes important characterizations of Fakhr al-Din’s role in the development of the scholarly disciplines of logic, metaphysics/philosophical theology (ilahiyyat), rational theology (kalam), and jurisprudence (fiqh).

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  • İskenderoǧlu, Muammer. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi and Thomas Aquinas on the Question of the Eternity of the World. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

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    A comparative study of the positions of Fakhr al-Din and Thomas Aquinas on whether the world is pre-eternal or created in time, based mostly on al-Matalib al-‘aliya (The elevated subjects).

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  • Janssens, Jules. “Ibn Sina’s Impact on Fakhr al-Din ar-Razi’s Mabahith al-Masriqiyya, with Particular Regard to the Section Entitled al-Ilahiyyat al-mahda: An Essay of Critical Evaluation.” Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosophica medieval 21 (2010): 259–285.

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    Similar to Eichner 2007 and Eichner 2009, Janssens studies the divisions of one of Fakhr al-Din’s philosophical works (al-Mabahith al-mashriqiyya) and puts it in conversation with Avicenna’s oeuvre.

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  • Maʻsumi, M. Saghir Hasan. Imam Razi’s ʻIlm al-akhlaq: English Translation of His Kitab al-nafs waʼl-ruh wa sharh quwahuma. New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 1992.

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    One of only three philosophical texts by Fakhr al-Din translated into English. This is a translation of his monograph on nafs (soul), ruh (spirit), and their faculties.

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Teachings on Theology

Philosophy and theology are often difficult to distinguish in the works of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi and many discussions in his most important work on theology, al-Matalib al-‘aliya (The elevated subjects), are entirely philosophical. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi is one of the most important proponents of the tradition of rationalist theology (kalam) in Islam. He was a member of the Ash’arite school of kalam and opposed Mu’tazilism as well as Karramism. However, he studied these competing theological schools in detail and his doxographic reports of their opinions are of great value. He also shows clear influence from Mu’tazilite thinkers. Despite being often critical of al-Ghazali, his major commitments in theology mirror that of his predecessor in that he studied the works of Ibn Sina and other philosophers very closely and aimed at applying solutions developed within the Aristotelian tradition of philosophy to the theological problems at hand. Like al-Ghazali he rejected Ibn Sina’s position that God creates out of His essence without choosing between alternatives. He thus rejected Ibn Sina’s teaching of a pre-eternal world and that God does not know individuals. Many of his teachings in theology, however, still need to be studied closely. It seems that he also followed al-Ghazali in his position that some aspects of God’s creation cannot be sufficiently determined so that one or more explanations of certain phenomena (such as the human soul) may be valid. Studies of Fakhr al-Din’s theology are mostly limited to individual subjects without developing or analyzing his overall theological project.

  • Abrahamov, Binyamin. “Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s Philosophical Justification of Visiting Tombs.” Al-Masaq 11 (1999): 109–120.

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    Based on a passage in al-Matalib al-‘aliya (The elevated subjects), Abrahamov clarifies Fakhr al-Din’s position on an issue that will later become important in Ibn Taymiyya’s (d. 1328) criticism of Ashʿarite theology and the Wahhabi critique of it in the 18th century and after.

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  • Abrahamov, Binyamin. “Religion versus Philosophy: The Case of Faḫr al-Din al-Razi’s Proof for Prophecy.” Oriente Moderno 80 (2000): 415–425.

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    Discusses a controversial passage in Fakhr al-Din’s al-Matalib al-‘aliya (The elevated subjects) in which he teaches that prophecy can be verified by comparing the prophets’ messages with what is already known through reason.

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  • Abrahamov, Binyamin. “Fahr al-Din al-Razi on the Knowability of God’s Essence and Attributes.” Arabica 49 (2002): 204–230.

    DOI: 10.1163/157005802753778825Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Discusses different positions held by Muslim theologians on whether humans can fully understand God’s essence and attributes and focuses on al-Ghazali and Fakhr al-Din. Abrahamov sees a similar pattern of early acceptance but later denial.

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  • Celan, Yasi. Theology and Tafsir in the Major Works of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, 1996.

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    Most comprehensive study of Fakhr al-Din’s theology based on a wide range of Fakhr al-Din’s works, some studied in manuscript. Discusses Fakhr al-Din’s review of argument for and against the world’s pre-eternity as well as his positions on God’s attributes, divine predestination, prophecy, and resurrection in the afterlife.

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  • Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Traité sur les noms divins. Translated by Maurice Gloton. Preface by Pierre Lory. Beirut, Lebanon: Les Editions Al-Bouraq, 2000.

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    French translation of Fakhr al-Din’s book on the divine names, Lawami’ al-bayyinat fi al-asma’ wa-l-sifat (Book of striking explanations on [God’s] names and attributes), one of only two theological works translated into a European language. First published in two volumes in 1986–1988.

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  • Gimaret, Daniel. Théories de l’acte humain en théologie musulmane. Paris: J. Vrin, 1980.

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    Includes a chapter on Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s teachings about human actions that makes his dependence on the theory of “motives” (dawa’i’), developed by the Mu’tazilite Abu l-Husayn al-Basri (d. 1044), evident.

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  • Heer, Nicolas. “The Priority of Reason in the Interpretation of Scripture: Ibn Taymiya and the Mutakallimun.” In Literary Heritage of Classical Islam: Arabic and Islamic Studies in Honor of James A. Bellamy. Edited by Mustansir Mir, 181–195. Princeton, NJ: Darwin, 1993.

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    Based on a key passage in Fakhr al-Din’s Ta’sis al-taqdis (Laying the foundation for understanding God’s transcendence) and Ibn Taymiyya’s (d. 1328) understanding of it, Heer determines Fakhr al-Din’s position in cases in which the outward wording of revelation (zahir) clashes with what is known to be true from reason.

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  • Horten, Max. Die spekulative und positive Theologie des Islam nach Razi (1209†) und ihre Kritik durch Tusi (1273†). Hildesheim, Germany: Olms, 1967.

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    German translation of the second part (rukn 3 and 4) on ilahiyyat (“speculative theology”) and sam’iyyat (“positive theology”) in Fakhr al-Din’s Muhassal (Summary) together with Nasir al-Din al-Tusi’s commentary. Includes a 150-page dictionary of philosophical terms in Arabic covering the language of post-classical Islamic philosophy from Ibn Sina to Mullah Sadra. Originally published Leipzig, 1912.

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  • Madelung, Wilferd. “The Late Mu’tazila and Determinism: The Philosopher’s Trap.” In Wilferd Madelung: Studies in Medieval Muslim Thought and History. Edited by Sabine Schmidtke, 245–257. Text 2. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2013.

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    Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s acceptance of the Mu’tazilite teaching of Abu l-Husayn al-Basri that all human actions have motives leads him into “the philosopher’s trap,” in which all events are causally determined by God, which, in turn, leads to the implication that God Himself has no free will.

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  • Shihadeh, Ayman. “The Mystic and the Sceptic in Fakhr al-Din al-Razi.” In Sufism and Theology. Edited by Ayman Shihadeh, 101–122. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007.

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    Studies Fakhr al-Din’s commitment to Sufism and his understanding thereof as well as the question at what point during his lifetime he turned toward Sufism.

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Treatment of Islamic Law

This is one of the least researched aspects of Fakhr al-Din’s oeuvre. Fakhr al-Din wrote an influential textbook on the methods of Islamic jurisprudence, al-Mahsul fi ʿilm usul al-fiqh (The gist from studying the method of jurisprudence), which only became available in print in 1979–1981. With the exception of his position that considerations of maslaha (public benefit) can be a source in Islamic law, which is treated in Opwis 2010 and Emon 2010, this work has been little studied.

Teachings in the Natural Sciences and Their Methods

Few publications have appeared on this subject despite the fact that large portions of his two influential textbooks in philosophy, al-Mabahith al-mashriqiyya (Eastern investigations) and al-Mulakhkhas fi l-hikma wa-l-mantiq (The compendium on philosophy and logic) are devoted to the natural sciences. Ibrahim 2012 and Ibrahim 2013 are based on both books and deal with the methods of the natural sciences (i.e., epistemology) rather than its practice. Mourad 1939 is a study on a branch of the natural sciences that was important for Fakhr al-Din but that today would no longer be considered a science.

  • Ibrahim, Bilal. “Freeing Philosophy from Metaphysics: Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s Philosophical Approach to the Study of Natural Phenomena.” PhD diss., McGill University, 2012.

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    A thorough study of Fakhr al-Din’s theory of predication based on demonstrative knowledge that argues for the central role of the natural sciences in Fakhr al-Din’s scholarly project.

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  • Ibrahim, Bilal. “Fahr al-Din ar-Razi, Ibn Haytam and Aristotelian Science: Essentialism versus Phenomenalism in Post-classical Islamic Thought.” Oriens 41 (2013): 379–431.

    DOI: 10.1163/18778372-13413407Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Analyzes Fakhr al-Din’s critique of Aristotelian demonstrative science and his rejection of definitions as reflections of ontological realities. Includes the influence of Fakhr al-Din critique on later works of kalam.

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  • Morrison, Robert G. Islam and Science: The Intellectual Career of Nizam al-Din al-Nisaburi. London: Routledge, 2007.

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    Foundational study on post-classical science in Islam. Due to Fakhr al-Din’s central position therein and his strong influence on al-Nisaburi (d. c. 1329) it has much to say about his method and his teachings in the natural sciences.

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  • Mourad, Youssef. La physiognomonie arabe et le Kitab al-firasa de Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939.

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    Arabic edition and French translation of Fakhr al-Din’s Kitab al-Firasa (Book on physiognomy), including a study of how physiognomy, the assessment of a person’s character or personality from his or her outer appearance, has been dealt with in Arabic literature.

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Commentaries on Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders)

One of his early works in philosophy is Fakhr al-Din’s commentary on Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders). It is the first full commentary on the work. The book is a thorough reexamination of Ibn Sina’s philosophy that aims at reconstructing the latter’s arguments and, at times, at rejecting them. Wisnovsky 2013, Wisnovsky 2014, Shihadeh 2014a, and Shihadeh 2014b show that Fakhr al-Din wrote an even earlier work related to Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat. His commentary is part of a longer tradition of critical reading and evaluating the work in the 12th century, which it incorporates. Fakhr al-Din’s commentary became the subject of super-commentaries by al-Amidi (d. 1233) and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (d. 1274). It was most often studied together with the latter. This scholarly analysis, in turn, gave rise to works that would aim at deciding which writer of the two had the better arguments. These are introduced in Wisnovsky 2014. The confrontation with Nasir al-Din al-Tusi led to the not always accurate impression that Fakhr al-Din attacks Ibn Sina’s positions, while al-Tusi defends them. A number of studies, such as Mayer 2003 and Heer 1992, examine positions taken by Fakhr al-Din and their criticism by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi.

  • Heer, Nicholas. “Al-Razi and al-Tusi on Ibn Sina’s Theory of Emanation.” In Neoplatonism and Islamic Thought. Edited by Parviz Morewedge, 111–125. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

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    Brief analysis of Fakhr al-Din’s criticism of Ibn Sina’s teachings on emanation in his commentary on the sixth namat of al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders) as well as Nasir al-Din al-Tusi’s response to it.

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  • Marmura, Michael E. “Fakhr al-Fin al-Razi’s Critique of An Avicennan Tanbih.” In Historia philosophiae Medii Aevi: Studien zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters. Edited by Burhard Mojsisch and Olav Pluta, 627–637. Amsterdam: B. R. Grüner, 1992.

    DOI: 10.1075/zg.142Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines Fakhr al-Din commentary to the opening passage (tanbih) to the section on psychology in Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders). This is the famous passage on the flying man. Fakhr al-Din draws out its implications and formulates several objections to Ibn Sina’s notion of knowledge of one’s self.

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  • Mayer, Toby. “Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi’s Critique of Ibn Sina’s Argument for the Unity of God in the Isharat and Nasir al-Din at-Tusi’s Defense.” In Before and after Avicenna: Proceedings of the First Conference of the Avicenna Study Group. Conference held at Yale University, New Haven, CT, in 2001. Edited by David C. Reisman and Ahmed H. Al-Rahim, 199–218. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003.

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    Very clear reconstruction of Fakhr al-Din’s rejection of Ibn Sina’s argument for God’s unity in the second part of the 4th namat of his al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders), including al-Tusi’s rebuttal of Fakhr al-Din’s rejection.

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  • Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, and Mehdi Aminrazavi, eds. An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia. Vol. 3, Philosophical Theology in the Middle Ages and Beyond. London: I. B. Tauris, 2010.

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    Includes Robert Wisnovsky’s English translation of Fakhr al-Din’s commentary on the first half of the 4th namat in Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders), covering Fakhr al-Din’s acceptance and his reconstruction of Ibn Sina’s proof for God’s existence, as well as Majid Fakhry’s English translation of three passages from al-Mabahith al-mashriqiyya (Eastern investigations).

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  • Shihadeh, Ayman. “Avicenna’s Corporeal Form and Proof of Prime Matter in Twelfth-Century Critical Philosophy: Abu l-Barakat, al-Mas’udi and al-Razi.” Oriens 42 (2014a): 364–396.

    DOI: 10.1163/18778372-04203004Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Reconstruction of a debate between Sharaf al-Din al-Mas’udi and Fakhr al-Din on how and whether Avicenna’s proof of hylemorphism is sound and defensible. Based on Fakhr al-Din’s Jawabat al-masa’il al-bukhariyya (Responses to the problems from Bukhara) and his commentary on Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders).

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  • Shihadeh, Ayman. “Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s Response to Sharaf al-Din al-Mas’udi’s Critical Commentary on Avicenna’s Isharat.” Muslim World 104 (2014b): 1–61.

    DOI: 10.1111/muwo.12037Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Presentation and edition of Jawabat al-masa’il al-bukhariyya (Responses to the problems from Bukhara), Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s reaction to an earlier, critical commentary on Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders) by Sharaf al-Din al-Mas’udi (d. after 1186).

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  • Wisnovsky, Robert. “Avicennism and Exegetical Practice in the Early Commentaries on the Isharat.” Oriens 41 (2013): 349–378.

    DOI: 10.1163/18778372-13413406Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Offers a good introduction into the commentary activity on Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders) in the 12th century that culminates in Fakhr al-Din’s commentary.

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  • Wisnovsky, Robert. “Towards a Genealogy of Avicennism.” Oriens 42 (2014): 323–363.

    DOI: 10.1163/18778372-04203003Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Looks into the genesis of Fakhr al-Din’s commentary on Ibn Sina’s al-Isharat wa-l-tanbihat (Pointers and reminders) as well as Nasir al-Din al-Tusi’s super-commentary on it and illustrates the importance of these two books by offering translations from later Muslim philosophical works that aim at judging between them.

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Qur’an Commentary

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s monumental Qur’an commentary Mafatih al-ghayb (Keys to the unknown), also known as al-Tafsir al-kabir (Grand commentary), is most often read and quoted in the thirty-two-volume edition prepared in Cairo in 1933–1934 or its several reprints. It is his most influential work and has been studied throughout the centuries. The book is one of the most important representatives of Qur’an commentary (tafsir) in Islam. It combines traditional elements of tafsir literature (lexicographic clarifications and historical context of the revelations) with theological and philosophical discussions of the Qur’an’s teachings. Among all of Fakhr al-Din’s works, it is the one best researched, with three monographs Celan 1996 (cited under Teachings on Theology), Lagarde 2008, and Jaffer 2015 contributing to the study of its method. Lagarde 1996 provides a helpful index to the work and a concordance of several early editions.

  • Gramlich, Richard. “Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razis Kommentar zu Sure 18, 9–12.” Asiatische Studien 33 (1979): 99–152.

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    Deals with general issues of the Qur’an commentary, such as its dating and whether Fakhr al-Din himself or his students completed it, and translates into German the long commentary on Q 18.1–12 on the subject of the wondrous deeds of holy people (karamat al-awliya’).

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  • Jaffer, Tariq. Razi: Master of Qur’anic Interpretation and Theological Reasoning. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

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    Monograph on Fakhr al-Din’s exegetical techniques in his Qur’an commentary, including a discussion of theological issues that result from them, such as the relationship between reason and revelation and Fakhr al-Din’s rationalist interpretation of the nature of the soul and of prophecy.

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  • Jomier, Jacques. “Les Mafatih al-ghayb de l’imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi: Quelques dates, lieux, manuscripts.” MIDEO 13 (1977): 253–290.

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    Analyzes the evidence for a chronology of the different parts of Fakhr al-Din’s Qur’an commentary.

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  • Lagarde, Michel. Index du Grand Commentaire du Fahr al-Din al-Razi. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1996.

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    Index of names, names of groups, and places that are mentioned in Fakhr al-Din’s Qur’an commentary. An index of technical terms gives a rough guide to where subjects are treated.

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  • Lagarde, Michel. Les secrets de l’invisible: Essai sur le Grand Commentaire de Fahr al-Din al-Razi, 1149–1209. Beirut: Albouraq, 2008.

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    Rich study on a range of topics that appear in the Qur’an commentary presented according to Lagarde’s analysis of how Fakhr al-Din believed the Qur’an conveys its message through the unveiling of secrets (asrar) and the placing of subtle details (daqa’iq) and nuances (lata’if) as well as through its organization (nazm).

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  • McAuliffe, Jane Dammen. “Fakhr al-Din al-Razi on ayat al-jizyah and ayat al-sayf.” In Conversion and Continuity: Indigenous Christian Communities in Islamic Lands: Eighth to Eighteenth Centuries. Edited by Michael Gervers and Ramzi Jibran Bikhazi, 104–119. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1990a.

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    Examines Fakhr al-Din’s commentaries on Q 9:29, which mentions the collection of jizya (poll tax) from unbelievers, on Q 2:256, “no compulsion in religion,” and Q 9:5, the so-called sword verse, and what these commentaries say about Muslim relations with non-Muslims.

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  • McAuliffe, Jane Dammen. “Fakhr al-Din al-Razi on God as Khaliq.” In God and Creation: An Ecumenical Symposium. Papers presented at the Ecumenical Symposium in Comparative Religious Thought, held at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, 26–28 April 1987. Edited by David B. Burrell and Bernard McGill, 276–296. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990b.

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    Detailed analysis of Fakhr al-Din commentaries on Q 2:21 and Q 96:1–2.

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