Ibn Nadim

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Ibn Nadim (ca. 936 – 995), Shia Arab bibligrapher, researcher and author of the famous work “al-Fehrest” (Index) of Arabic books, the work which exists in a longer and shorter recension, is intended to be on index of all books written in Arabic either by Arabs or non-Arabs. Thereis not much information about his life, the earliest source which has noticed, is the book “Ma’lem al-Ulama” (written by Ibn Shahrashub (Imami Iranian theologian, preacher and jurist, d. 1192). Then other great scholars such as: Yaqut Hemawi, Ibn Njjar####(historian), Ibn Hajar Asqalani (Egyptian historian), Ibn Qefti (Egyptian writer), Zahabi and Safdi, all praised Ibn Nadim and wrote his biography. Among the available references, the book “Lesan al-Mizan” (written by Ibn Hajar) has the most complete biography of him. According to the scholars, Ibn Najjar and Zahabi, Ibn Hajar has criticized Ibn Nadim harshly. The information of this book is mostly according to the book “Index” and sometimes based on wrong spiteful information. Therefore we should refere to “Index” in order to better analyze his life and knowledge. According to the book, Ibn Nadim would not be an Arab, because he has not mentioned to any tribes which he was belonged. He was neither Iranian, because has not been written anything about the Iranian religions. It seems he was related to the group who lived in Mesopotamia, before Islam. There is not enough information about his education and masters. Ibn Nadim quoted from some scholars in Index; they must be his masters, the following are some of them: Sari Ibn Ahmad Kenedi, Ali Ibn Kateb, Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Haroun, Abul Fat’h Ibn Nahwi, Abu Dalf Yanbuei, Ibn Khammar and the most important: Abu Saeid Seyrafi, Abu Sulayman Manteqi Sajestani , Abul Faraj Isfahani, Abu Ubaydullah Marzbani and Yahya Ibn Uday. According to Index, Ibn Nadim had little acquaintance with Arabic literature, philosophy and the history of philosophy. Therefore we should not exaggerate his knowledge. There are different viewpoints on his religion, because of his various ideas in Index. The following religions are attributed to him:
- Hanafites (the followers of the Sunni school of theology, law and morality which grew up from the teachings of Abu Hanifa).
- Mu’tazila (name of a religious movement founded at Basra by Wasil Ibn Ata, subsequently becoming one of the most important theological schools of Islam).
- Shia


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