Abu Mansur al-Maturidi

9th and 10th-century Muslim theologian
Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī
Tomb-shrine of Imam al-Māturīdī, Samarkand
Scholastic theologian, Jurist;
Leader of Guidance (Imām al-Hudā)
Shaykh al-Islām
Diver into the Sea of Knowledge
Aʿraf al-nās bi-madhāhib Abī Ḥanīfa
Venerated inSunnī Islam[1]
Major shrineTomb of Imam al-Māturīdī, Samarkand
Major worksKitab al-Tawhid
Ta'wilat Ahl al-Sunnah

Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī
Abu Mansur al-Maturidi.jpg
Born853 (238 H)[2]
Died944 (aged 90–91) (333 H)[2]
Samarkand, Samanid Empire
Muslim leader
Influenced by
  • the entire Māturīdī school

Abū Manṣūr Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Maḥmūd al-Ḥanafī al-Māturīdī al-Samarḳandī[1] (Persian: أبو منصور محمد بن محمد بن محمود الماتریدي السمرقندي الحنفي; 853–944 CE), often referred to as Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī for short, or reverently referred to as Imām al-Māturīdī by Sunnī Muslims, was a Persian Muslim scholar of Ḥanafī jurisprudence, scriptural exegete, reformer (mujaddid), and scholastic theologian (mutakallim), renowned for being the eponymous founder of the Māturīdī school of Islamic theology,[1][3][4][5][6] which became the dominant Sunnī school of Islamic theology in Central Asia,[1] and later enjoyed a preeminent status as the theological school of choice for both the Ottoman Empire and the Mughal Empire.[1]

He was from a place called Māturīd or Māturīt in Samarqand (today Uzbekistan), and was known during his lifetime as Shaykh al-Islām and Imām al-Hudā ("Leader of Right Guidance").[1] He was one of the two foremost Imams of the Ashʿarite school in his time, along with its founder Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī in matters of theological inquiry.[7] In contrast to his master al-Ashʿarī, who was a Shāfiʿī jurist, al-Māturīdī adhered to the eponymous school of jurisprudence founded by Abū Ḥanīfa al-Nuʿmān, and to his creed (ʿaqīdah) as transmitted and elaborated by the Ḥanafī Muslim theologians of Balkh and Transoxania.[1] It was this theological doctrine which al-Māturīdī codified, systematized, and used to refute not only the opinions of the Muʿtazilites, the Karramites, and other heterodox groups, but also non-Islamic theologies such as those of Chalcedonian Christianity, Miaphysitism, Manichaeanism, Marcionism, and Bardaisanism.[8]


Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī's epithet or nisba refers to Māturīd or Māturīt, a locality in Samarqand (today Uzbekistan).[1]


He studied under his teachers, Muhammad bin Muqatil al-Razi (d. 248 H/ 662 CE), Abu Nasr al-Ayadi "al-Faqih al-Samarqandi" (d. 260 H?), Nusayr bin Yahya al-Balkhi (d. 268 H/ 881 CE), and Abu Bakr al-Juzjani (d. 250 H?).[9][10][11][7] He narrated Abu Hanifa's Kitab al-Alim wa Mut'alim from Abu Bakr al-Juzjani, who narrated it from Muhammad ibn Muqatil ar-Razi (and Abu Sulayman al-Juzjani).[9][12][13]

His chains to Abu Hanifa are given as follows:[14][15]

  1. He took from Muhammad bin Muqatil al-Razi (d. 248 H), from Muhammad al-Shaybani (d. 189 H), from Abu Hanifa (d. 150 H).
  2. He took from Abu Nasr al-Ayadi (d. 260 H?),[10] Nusayr al-Balkhi (d. 268 H) and Abu Bakr al-Juzjani (d. 250 H?),[10] who all took from Abu Sulayman al-Juzjani (d. 200 H?),[10] who took from both Muhammad al-Shaybani and Abu Yusuf (d. 182 H), who both took from Abu Hanifa.
  3. He took from Muhammad bin Muqatil al-Razi and Nusayr al-Balkhi, who additionally both took from Abu Muti al-Hakam al-Balkhi (d. 199 H) and Abu Muqatil Hafs al-Samarqandi (d. 208 H), who both took from Abu Hanifa.
  4. He took from Abu Nasr al-Ayadi, who took from Abu Ahmad bin Ishaq al-Juzjani (died mid- third century), who took directly from Muhammad al-Shaybani, who took from Abu Hanifa.


Among his students: Ali bin Said Abu al-Hasan al-Rustughfani, Abu Muhammad Abdal-Karim bin Musa bin Isa al-Bazdawi, and Abu al-Qasim al-Hakim al-Samarqandi.[7]


Al‑Maturidi was born at Maturid, a village or quarter in the neighbourhood of Samarkand. Relatively little is known about the life of Maturidi, as the sources available "do not read as biographies, but rather as lists of works that have been enlarged upon by brief statements on his personage and a few words of praise."[16] What is evident, however, is that the theologian lived the life of a pure scholar, as "nothing indicates that he held any public office, nor that he possessed more disciples, popularity, or association with the Sāmānid court of Bukhārā than anyone else."[16] It is accepted, moreover, that Maturidi had two principal teachers, namely Abū Bakr al-Jūzjānī and Abū Naṣr Aḥmad b. al-ʿAbbās al-ʿIyāḍī (d. ca. 874–892), both of whom played significant roles in the shaping of Maturidi's theological views.[16] Maturidi is said to have lived the life of an ascetic (zāhid),[17] and various sources attribute numerous miracles (karāmāt) to him.[17] Although he is not usually considered a mystic, it is nevertheless very possible that Maturidi had some interaction with the Sufis of his area, as "Hanafite theology in the region could not always be sharply separated from mystical tendencies,"[17] and many of the most important Hanafi jurists of the area were also Sufi mystics.[17]


Maturidi defined faith (īmān) as taṣdīḳ bi ’l-ḳalb or "inner assent, expressed by verbal confession (ịḳrār bi ’l-lisān)."[18] For Maturidi, moreover, Islamic works (aʿmāl) are not a part of faith.[18] Additionally, Maturidi held that "faith cannot decrease nor increase in substance, though it may be said to increase through renewal and repetition."[18]

Maturidi supported using allegorical interpretation with respect to the anthropomorphic expressions in the Quran, though he rejected many of the interpretations the Mutazilites would reach using this method.[1] In other instances, Maturidi espoused using the traditionalist bilā kayf method of reading scripture, which insisted on "unquestioning acceptance of the revealed text."[1] Maturidi further refuted the Mutazilites in his defense of the Attributes of God "as real and eternally subsisting" in the Essence of God (ḳāʾima bi ’l-d̲h̲āt).[1] His chief theological divergence from Ashʿarī was that he held the attributes of essence and action to be "equally eternal and subsistent in the Divine Essence."[1] Thus, "he insisted that the expressions 'God is eternally the Creator' and 'God has been creating from eternity (lam yazal k̲h̲āliḳan)' are equally valid, even though the created world is temporal."[1] Furthermore, Maturidi staunchly defended the Beatific Vision (ruʾya, literally "vision [of God]") against the Mutazilites, but "consistently rejected the possibility of idrāk, which he understood as grasping, of God by the eyes."[1]

Contrary to popular assumption, Al-Maturidi was not a student of Al-Ash'ari. The historian al-Bayadi (d. 1078 H) emphasised this saying, "Maturidi is not Ash'ari's follower, as many people would tend to think. He had upheld Sunni Islam long before Ashari, he was a scholar to thoroughly explain and systematically develop Abu Hanifa's and his followers' school".[9][19]


When Maturidi was growing up there was an emerging reaction[20] against some schools within Islam, notably Mu'tazilis, Qarmati, and Shi'a. Maturidi, with other two preeminent scholars,[21] wrote especially on the creed of Islam, the other two being Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari in Iraq, and Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tahawi in Egypt.[22]

While Al-Ash'ari were Sunni together with Maturidi, he constructed his own theology diverging slightly from Abu Hanifa's school. Gimaret argued that Al-Ash'ari enunciated that God creates the individual's power (qudra), will, and the actual act,[23] which according to Hye, gives way to a fatalist school of theology, which was later put in a consolidated form by Al Ghazali.[24] According to Encyclopædia Britannica however, Al-Ashari held the doctrine of Kasb as an explanation for how free will and predestination can be reconciled.[25] Maturidi, followed in Abu Hanifa's footsteps, and presented the "notion that God was the creator of man's acts, although man possessed his own capacity and will to act".[26] Maturidi and Al-Ash'ari also separated from each other in the issue of the attributes of God,[27] as well as some other minor issues.

Later, with the impact of Turkic society states such as Great Seljuq Empire[28] and Ottoman Empire,[29] Hanafi-Maturidi school spread to greater areas where the Hanafi school of law is prevalent, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, South Asia, Balkan, Russia, China, Caucasus and Turkey.

Maturidi had immense knowledge of dualist beliefs (Sanawiyya) and of other old Persian religions. His Kitāb al-Tawḥīd in this way has become a primary source for modern researchers with its rich materials about Iranian Manicheanism (Mâniyya), a group of Brahmans (Barähima), and some controversial personalities such as Ibn al-Rawandi, Abu Isa al-Warraq, and Muhammad b. Shabib.[30][31]

Legacy and veneration

Although there was in the medieval period "a tendency to suppress Maturidi's name and to put Ashʿarī forward as the champion of Islam against all heretics,"[32] except in Transoxiana, Maturidism gradually "came to be widely recognised as the second orthodox Sunni theological school besides" Ashʿarīsm.[33] It is evident from the surviving fifteenth-century accounts of Maturidi's tomb in the cemetery of Jākardīza in Samarkand that the theologian's tomb was "visited ... and held in honor for a long time" throughout the medieval period.[34] This veneration of the theologian seems to have arisen out of traditions preserved by several later scholars which detailed Maturidi's wisdom and spiritual abilities. For example, Abul Muīn al-Nasafī (d. 1114) stated that Maturidi's spiritual gifts were "immeasurably plentiful"[17] and that "God singled him out with miracles (kāramāt), gifts of grace (mawāhib), divine assistance (tawfiq), and guidance (irshād, tashdīd)."[17]

Contemporary Salafism and Wahhabism, however, tends to be very critical of Maturidi's legacy in Sunni Islam due to their aversion towards using any rational thought in matters of theology, which they deem to be heretical,[1] despite this antagonism being a position that conflicts with the consensus of Sunnism throughout history.[1][35] As such, it is often said that mainstream "orthodox Sunnism" constitutes the followers of the theological traditions of Maturidi and Ashʿarī,[1][36] while Salafism and Wahhabism have often been interpreted by the proponents of the two major schools to be minority splinter theological traditions opposed to the mainstream.[1][35] Furthermore, the minor theoretical differences between the theological formulations of Maturidi and Ashʿarī are often deemed by their respective followers to be superficial rather than real,[36] whence "the two schools are equally orthodox" in traditional Sunnism.[36] The traditional Sunni point of view is summarized in the words of the twentieth-century Islamic publisher Munīr ʿAbduh Agha, who stated: "There is not much [doctrinal] difference between the Ashʿarīs and Māturīdīs, hence both groups are now called People of the Sunna and the Community."[37]


  • Kitab al-Tawhid ('Book of Monotheism')
  • Ta'wilat Ahl al-Sunnah or Ta'wilat al-Qur'an ('Book of the Interpretations of the Quran')
  • Kitāb Radd Awa'il al-Adilla, a refutation of a Mu'tazili book
  • Radd al-Tahdhib fi al-Jadal, another refutation of a Mu'tazili book
  • Kitāb Bayan Awham al-Mu'tazila ('Book of Exposition of the Errors of Mu'tazila)
  • Kitāb al-Maqalat
  • Ma'akhidh al-Shara'i' in Usul al-Fiqh
  • Al-Jadal fi Usul al-Fiqh
  • Radd al-Usul al-Khamsa, a refutation of Abu Muhammad al-Bahili's exposition of the Five Principles of the Mu'tazila
  • Radd al-Imama, a refutation of the Shi'i conception of the office of Imam;
  • Al-Radd 'ala Usul al-Qaramita
  • Radd Wa'id al-Fussaq, a refutation of the Mu'tazili doctrine that all grave sinners will be eternally in hell fire.

See also




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s MacDonald, D. B. (2012) [1936]. "Māturīdī". In Houtsma, M. Th.; Arnold, T. W.; Basset, R.; Hartmann, R. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition. Vol. 3. Leiden and Boston: Brill Publishers. doi:10.1163/2214-871X_ei1_SIM_4608. ISBN 9789004082656.
  2. ^ a b Nasir, Sahilun A. "The Epistemology of Kalam of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi." Al-Jami'ah: Journal of Islamic Studies 43.2 (2005): 349-365.
  3. ^ Rudolph, Ulrich (2016) [2014]. "Part I: Islamic Theologies during the Formative and the Early Middle period – Ḥanafī Theological Tradition and Māturīdism". In Schmidtke, Sabine (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 280–296. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199696703.013.023. ISBN 9780199696703. LCCN 2016935488.
  4. ^ Alpyağıl, Recep (28 November 2016). "Māturīdī". Oxford Bibliographies – Islamic Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0232. Archived from the original on 18 March 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  5. ^ Rudolph, Ulrich (2015). "An Outline of al-Māturīdī's Teachings". Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand. Islamic History and Civilization. Vol. 100. Translated by Adem, Rodrigo. Leiden: Brill Publishers. pp. 231–312. doi:10.1163/9789004261846_010. ISBN 978-90-04-26184-6. ISSN 0929-2403. LCCN 2014034960.
  6. ^ Henderson, John B. (1998). "The Making of Orthodoxies". The Construction of Orthodoxy and Heresy: Neo-Confucian, Islamic, Jewish, and Early Christian Patterns. Albany, New York: SUNY Press. pp. 55–58. ISBN 978-0-7914-3760-5.
  7. ^ a b c Gibril Fouad Haddad (2015). The Biographies of the Elite Lives of the Scholars, Imams and Hadith Masters. Zulfiqar Ayub. p. 141.
  8. ^ G. Vajda, Le témoignage d’al-Māturīdī sur la doctrine des Manichéens, des Daysanites et des Marcionites, in Arabica, xii [1966], 1–38, 113–28
  9. ^ a b c Akimkhanov, Askar Bolatbekovich, et al. "Principles of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, Central Asian Islamic theologian preoccupied with the question of the relation between the Iman/credo and the action in Islam." European Journal of Science and Theology 12.6 (2016): 165-176.
  10. ^ a b c d Çandur, Yasemin. Ebû Bekir Ahmed b. İshak el-Cûzcânî ve Cûzcâniyye. MS thesis. Uludağ Üniversitesi, 2015. p.6
  11. ^ Wan Ali, Wan Zailan Kamaruddin. "Aliran al-Maturidi dan al-Maturidiyyah dalam dunia Islam." Jurnal Usuluddin 8.1 (1998): 81-96.
  12. ^ Rudolph, Ulrich. Al-Māturīdī und die sunnitische Theologie in Samarkand. Vol. 30. Brill, 1997.
  13. ^ Çandur, Yasemin. Ebû Bekir Ahmed b. İshak el-Cûzcânî ve Cûzcâniyye. MS thesis. Uludağ Üniversitesi, 2015.
  14. ^ Aisyah, Dollah. Kaedah pentakwilan Al-Qur'an: Kajian perbandingan antara Al-Maturidi (M: 944) dan Al-Tabari (M: 923)/Aisyah binti [email protected] Abdullah. Diss. University of Malaya, 2015. p.75 - transmission diagrams A, B and C correspond to 1, 2 and 3 below.
  15. ^ Çandur, Yasemin. Ebû Bekir Ahmed b. İshak el-Cûzcânî ve Cûzcâniyye. MS thesis. Uludağ Üniversitesi, 2015. pp. 22-25 - the diagram on page 22 corresponds with 4 below, diagrams on pages 24 and 25 correspond to 2, 3 below respectively. The chain on page 23 was weakened by the researcher so has not been quoted.
  16. ^ a b c Ulrich Rudolph, Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand, trans. Rodrigo Adem (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2015), p. 125
  17. ^ a b c d e f Ulrich Rudolph, Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand, trans. Rodrigo Adem (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2015), p. 131
  18. ^ a b c Madelung, W., “al-Māturīdī”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs.
  19. ^ İskenderoğlu, Muammer. "Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand." (2016): 336-338.
  20. ^ Williams, J. A. (1994). The word of Islam. London: Thames and Hudson. p. 145.
  21. ^ Ali, A. (1963). Maturidism. In Sharif, p. 260. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
  22. ^ Ali, A. (1963). Maturidism. In Sharif, p. 259. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
  23. ^ Gimaret, D. (1980). The´ories de L’Acte Humain en The´ologie Musulmane. Paris: J. Vrin.
  24. ^ Hye, M. A. (1963). Ash'arism. In Sharif, p. 226. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
  25. ^ "Kasb". Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  26. ^ Shah, M. (2006). Later Developments. In Meri, J. W. (Ed.),Medieval Islamic civilization: an encyclopedia, (Vol. 1), (p. 640). New York:Routledge.
  27. ^ Lucas, S. C.(2006). Sunni Theological Schools. In Meri, J. W. (Ed.),Medieval Islamic civilization: an encyclopedia, (Vol. 1), (p. 809). New York:Routledge.
  28. ^ Hughes, A. (2004). Ash'arites, Ash'aria. In Martin, R. C. et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, (Vol. 1), (pp. 83–84). New York: Macmillan Reference USA
  29. ^ DeWeese, D. (2004). Central Asian Culture and Islam. In Martin, R. C. et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, (Vol. 1), (p. 139). New York: Macmillan Reference USA
  30. ^ See G. Vajda, "Le Témoignage d'al-Maturidi sur la doctrine des manichéens, des daysanites et des rnarcionites", Arabica, 13 (1966), pp. 1–38; Guy Mannot, "Matoridi et le manichéisme", Melanges de l'Institut Dominicain d'Etudes Orientales de Caire, 13 (1977), pp. 39–66; Sarah Stroumsa, "The Barahima in Early Kalam", Jarusalem Studies In Arable and Islam, 6 (1985), pp. 229–241; Josef van Ess, "al-Farabi and Ibn al-Rewandi", Hamdard Islamicus, 3/4 (Winter 1980), pp. 3–15; J. Meric Pessagno, "The Reconstruction of the Thought of Muhammad Ibn Shabib", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 104/3 (1984), pp. 445–453.
  31. ^ The Authenticity of the Manuscript of Maturidi's Kitäb al-Tawhid, by M. Sait Özervarli, 1997. (Retrieved on: 23 December 2008)
  32. ^ Macdonald, D. B., “Māturīdī”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (1913–1936), Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, R. Hartmann.
  33. ^ Madelung, W., “Māturīdiyya”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs.
  34. ^ Ulrich Rudolph, Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand, trans. Rodrigo Adem (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2015), p. 130
  35. ^ a b Thomas, David, “Al-Māturīdī”, in: Christian-Muslim Relations 600 – 1500, General Editor David Thomas.
  36. ^ a b c Macdonald, D. B., “Māturīdī”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (1913–1936), Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, R. Hartmann.
  37. ^ Munīr ʿAbduh Agha, Namudhaj min al-A`mal al-Khayriyya, p. 134

Further reading


  • Bazdawī, Uṣūl al-dīn, ed. H. P. Linss, Cairo 1383/1963, index s.v.
  • Abu ’l-Muʿīn al-Nasafī, Tabṣirat al-adilla, quoted in Muḥammad b. Tāwīt al-Ṭānd̲j̲ī, Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī, in IFD, iv/1-2 (1955), 1–12
  • Ibn Abi ’l-Wafāʾ, al-Ḏj̲awāhir al-muḍīʾa, Ḥaydarābād 1332/1914, ii, 130-1
  • Bayāḍī, Is̲h̲ārāt al-marām, ed. Yūsuf ʿAbd al-Razzāḳ, Cairo 1368/1949, 23
  • Zabīdī, Itḥāf al-sāda, Cairo n.d., ii, 5
  • Laknawī, al-Fawāʾid al-bahiyya, Cairo 1924, 195


  • M. Allard, Le problème des attributs divins dans la doctrine d’al-Ašʿarī, Beirut 1965, 419–27
  • M. Götz, "Māturīdī und sein Kitāb Taʾwīlāt al-Qurʾān," in Isl., xli (1965), 27–70
  • H. Daiber, "Zur Erstausgabe von al-Māturīdī, Kitāb al-Tauḥīd," in Isl., lii (1975), 299–313


  • Abū Manṣūr Muḥammad al-Māturīdī: Muslim theologian, in Encyclopædia Britannica Online, by The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica and Adam Zeidan

External links

  • (in English) Biography of Imâm Al Mâturîdî by Shaykh GF Haddâd
  • (in French) Biography of Imâm Al Mâturîdî by at-tawhid.net
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    • Abū Amr (Abū Yahyā) Hāfs al-Fard
    • Muḥāmmad ibn ʿĪsā (Burgūsīyya)
    • Abū ʿAbdallāh Ibnū’z-Zā‘farānī (Zā‘farānīyya)
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Salafi Theologians
(Wilayat al-faqih)
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Shia Islam
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(Hasan ibn
ibn al-
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Other sects
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    • Gaylān ibn Marwān
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    • Yūnus ibn Awn an-Namīrī
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    • Abū Muāz at-Tūmanī
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    • Abū Sawbān al-Murjī
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    • Sāleh ibn Umar
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    • Abū Shamr
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    • Muhammad ibn Ziyād al-Kūfī
Other Murjīs
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  • Ahmad ibn Hārb
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  • Mā’marīyya
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    • Abū Hāshīm Abdu’s-Salām ibn Muḥāmmad ibn Abdi’l-Wahhāb al-Jubbā'ī
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    • Abū’l-Huzayl Muḥāmmad ibn al-Huzayl ibn Abdillāh al-Allāf al-Abdī al-Bāsrī
      • Abū Ma‘n Sūmāma ibn Ashras an-Nūmayrī al-Bāsrī al-Baghdādī
  • Ikhshīdiyya
  • Nazzāmīyya
    • Ali al-Aswarī
    • Abū Bakr Muḥāmmad ibn Abdillāh ibn Shabīb al-Basrī
    • Hābītīyya
      • Ahmad ibn Hābīt
  • Sumamīyya
    • Sumāma ibn Ashras
  • Kā‘bīyya
    • Abū’l-Kāsīm Abdullāh ibn Ahmad ibn Māhmūd al-Balhī al-Kā‘bī
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