Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s Epistle on al-Hayūlā wa al-Sūrah: A Study and Editio Princeps


This article examines Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s work entitled al-Hayūlā wa al-Sūrah, whose subject pertains to a critique of the opinion held by certain philosophers prevalent at the time, such as Ibn Sīnā, who held that the “body” is composed of matter and form. The available copies of the work are introduced; its name, date of writing, and chronology in relation to the same author’s other works are established, being demonstrated to have been written by al-Rāzī. As the next step, the issues addressed by the text are identified. In this context, the definition and the reality of the body, and al-Rāzī’s critiques on the body as being composed of matter and form are discussed. In particular, those works of al-Rāzī’s that deal with these issues – namely, al-Mabāhis, al-Mulakhkhas, Javābāt ‘an Shukūk al-Mas’ūdī, al-Sharh al-‘Ishārāt, al-Hayūlā wa al-Sūrah, Lubāb al-‘Ishārāt, al-Sharh al-‘Uyūn al-Hikmah, and al-Matālib – are discussed from a chronological perspective, their contents regarding the issues at hand are compared, the development of proofs is shown, and tables demonstrating the change are presented. In the section where the content is discussed, although the importance of the subject with regard to philosophical thought and theological essences is touched upon, al-Rāzī’s thoughts on atomism have been particularly avoided. As we continued through the process of identifying al-Rāzī’s ideas, we found that throughout his career as a scholar, he criticized the notion of the body being composed of matter and form. We ascertained that instead of this definition, he saw the body as an entity with a single reality and essence, holding that accidents, such as occupying a certain space, being possessed of a volume, being extended and physically able to be pointed out, are attached to this essence and reality. We emphasized al-Rāzī’s idea that the body can be identified by the recognition of its accidental attributes in question. Finally, the text of the treatise was edited and translated into Turkish from Arabic.


Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī Ibn Sīnā al-Hayūlā wa al-Sūrah matter form body Islamic Philosophy Theology