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Early Mamlūk Ashʿarism against Ibn Taymiyya on the Nonliteral Reinterpretation (taʾwīl) of God’s Attributes

Hoover, Jon


Associate Professor


Ayman Shihadeh

Jan Thiele


Modern research on theological production in the early Mamlūk sultanate of Egypt and Syria has focused primarily on the prolific Ḥanbalī theologians Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 751/1350).2 This does not mean, however, that they were generally representative of early Mamlūk theological discourse. On the contrary, they expressed highly controversial views that others sought to marginalize and quell, even by state sanction. In 698/1298 religious scholars in Damascus charged Ibn Taymiyya with ascribing bodily characteristics to God in his al-Ḥamawiyya al-kubrā,3 a fatwa that he had written for the people of Ḥamāh.4 Ibn Taymiyya emerged victorious over his detractors, but the charge of corporealism (tajsīm) in God’s attributes emerged again in 705/1306 when the Mamlūk viceroy in Damascus subjected him to three hearings before the leading religious scholars of the day. These hearings were inconclusive, and Ibn Taymiyya was thus summoned to the Mamlūk capital Cairo soon thereafter for a hearing that convicted him of corporealism and other doctrines deemed reprehensible. He was imprisoned and subjected to further hearings in Egypt before returning to Damascus in 712/1313.5 More than three decades later, in the late 740s/1340s, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya also came under attack for Taymiyyan views on God’s attributes and other theological matters from the Shāfiʿī Chief Judge of Damascus Taqī l-Dīn al-Subkī (d. 756/1355)


Hoover, J. (2020). Early Mamlūk Ashʿarism against Ibn Taymiyya on the Nonliteral Reinterpretation (taʾwīl) of God’s Attributes. In A. Shihadeh, & J. Thiele (Eds.), Philosophical Theology in Islam: Later Ashʿarism East and West (195-230). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers.

Acceptance Date Nov 3, 2019
Online Publication Date May 6, 2020
Publication Date May 23, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 17, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 7, 2021
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
Pages 195-230
Series Title Islamicate Intellectual History
Series Number 5
Book Title Philosophical Theology in Islam: Later Ash?arism East and West
ISBN 9789004426603
Public URL
Publisher URL


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