Was Qutb al-Din al-Razi al-Tahtani a Sunni or a Shi‘i?: An Examination of Bio-bibliographical Sources


Quṭb al-Dīn al-Rāzī al-Taḥtānī (d. 766/1365) was one of a triumvirate of scholars allegedly associated with Shīʿism – the other two being al-ʿAllāma al-Ḥillī (d. 726/1325) and Badr al-Dīn al-Tustarī (d. 732/1332) – who played an important role in shaping and transmitting Avicennan thought. Through their adjudicative commentaries on Ibn Sīnā’s (d. 428/1037) al-Ishārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt, al-Taḥtānī, al-Ḥillī, and al-Tustarī created a narrative that pitted Sunnī scholars critical of Ibn Sīnā and Avicennism – exemplified by Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210) – in opposition to their Twelver Shīʿī defenders and interpreters – exemplified by Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (d. 672/1274). This understanding of post-Avicennan Arabic and Islamic philosophy is informed by the assumption that these three scholars were all, in fact, Shīʿīs. Many bio- bibliographical sources, however, claim that al-Taḥtānī was not. This article examines the sources for his life, paying particular attention to the question of his sectarian a liation. It reveals that Sunnī and Shīʿī scholars relied on different sources for and relayed different information about al-Taḥtānī’s life. Ultimately, it claims that the evidence suggests that he was a Sunnī.


Qutb al-Din al-Razi al-Tahtani Philosophy Postclassical Era Avicennism Biographical Dictionaries