al-Maʾmūn (r. 198/813–218/833) and the Miḥna

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Modern studies of the miḥna have focused on al-Ma’mun’s claim to spiritual authority. Basing itself on Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s interrogations and al-Ma’mun’s miḥna letters, this study focuses on a different aspect, the clash between the muḥaddithūn and the mutakallimūn. Decades before the miḥna erupted these trends debated several religious issues, primarily, whether theological speculations could attain the authoritative status of tenets of faith. Due to this controversy the muḥaddithūn denied the mutakallimūn the status of reliable scholars of hadith and law. The miḥna was a reaction to the muḥaddithūn’s hounding of the mutakallimūn. It was initiated by al-Ma’mun, who decided to interrogate all jurists and scholars of hadith about the createdness of the Qur’ān. The purpose of this policy was to degrade the muḥaddithūn and to raise the mutakallimūn to the position of intellectual and religious leadership.
Original languageEnglish GB
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology
EditorsSabine Schmidtke
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic) 9780191756924
ISBN (Print) 9780199696703
StatePublished - 3 Mar 2014


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