Memorandum on the Question Posed by the Jew about Divine Fate (Zikr Su’al al-Yahudi min al-Qadha’ wa-al-Qadr)


This short manuscript contains manzumah (replies in verse) to questions about fate, destiny, and predestination. The work is anonymous. This eternally vexed area in metaphysics was said to have been raised by an unnamed Jewish religious scholar of predestinationist tendencies. The author of this work sets out arguments against strict determinism by those he calls ahl al-sunnah (orthodox thinkers). He brings to bear in rebuttal verses and quotations from several sources, two in particular, which he quotes at length. The first of them is by Ibn Lubb al-Gharnati and is sometimes titled Taqyid fi Masa’il al-Qadha’ wa-al-Qadr (Inquiry into the issue of divine destiny). The second manzumah is attributed to Jahm ibn Safwan, a controversial personality of early Islam. This is a doubtful ascription, first because Ibn Safwan is not known to have left any literary traces, and second because he himself was excoriated by the ahl al-sunnah. The primacy of divine destiny over free will has been a subject of debate and discussion since the birth of Islamic philosophy. The main text of the manuscript is accompanied by marginal notes and comments at the end.

Last updated: August 24, 2016