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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Abu al-Qasim Mahmud ibn Umar al-Zamakhshari, known widely as al-Zamakhshari (in Persian: محمود زمخشری‎), also called Jar Allah (Arabic for "God's neighbour") (18 March 1075 – 12 June 1144), was a medieval Muslim scholar of Persian origin,[1][2][3][4] who subscribed to the Muʿtazilite theological doctrine but later repented and converted to Sunni Islam, who was born in Khwarezmia, but lived most of his life in Bukhara, Samarkand, and Baghdad. He was a great authority on the Arabic language as well as a rationalist theologian.[5]


Al-Zamakhshari was born in Zamakhshar, Khwarezmia, on 18 March, 1075 CE.[6] He became a renowned scholar of the Muʿtazilite school[7] but later repented and converted to Sunni Islam just like Abu-l-Hasan Al-Ash'ari. He used Persian for some of his work, although he was a strong supporter of the Arabic language as well as an opponent of the Shu'ubiyya movement.[8] After losing one of his feet to frostbite, he carried a notarized declaration that his foot was missing due to accident, rather than a legal amputation for any crime.[9]

He is best known for Al-Kashshaaf, a seminal commentary on the Qur'an. The commentary is famous for its deep linguistic analysis of the verses, however has been criticised for the inclusion of Muʿtazilite philosophical views.[10]

For many years he stayed in Mecca, for which he became known as Jar-Allah ("God's neighbour"). He later returned to Khwarezm, where he died in 1144 at the capital Gorgan (in the present Gulestan Province, Iran).

He studied at Bukhara and Samarkand while enjoying the fellowship of jurists of Baghdad.


Al-Zamakhshari died in the Monday night of 8th Zulhijja, 538 AH/ 12 June, 1144 AD.


The author of more than fifty books,[11] Zamakhshari's fame as a scholar rests upon his commentary on the Qur'an. In spite of its Muʿtazilite theology it was famous among scholars.[8]

Works include:

  • Al-Kashshaaf ("the Revealer", Arabic: کشاف ) — A tafsir of the Qur'an)[12] It's one of the most studied Qura'nic commentaries, itself receiving more than 80 commentaries.[13]
  • Rabi al-Abrar[12]
  • Asas al-Balagha(Arabic:اساس البلاغه) — Literature[12]
  • Fasul-ul-Akhbar[12]
  • Fraiz Dar-ilm Fariz[12]
  • Kitab-Fastdar-Nahr[12]
  • Muajjam-ul-Hadud[12]
  • Manha Darusul[12]
  • Diwan-ul-Tamsil[12]
  • Sawaer-ul-Islam[12]
  • Muqaddimat al-Adab[14] مقدمه الادب (Arabic-Persian dictionary)
  • Kitab al-Amkinah wa al-Jibal wa al-Miyah (کتاب الامکنه والجبال والمیاه) (Geography))
  • Mufassal Anmuzaj (مفصل انموذج) (Nahw: Arabic grammar)
  • and more[12]

Zamakhshari and the Khwaresmian language

The greater part of the surviving vocabulary of the now extinct Iranian Kwaresmian or Chorasmian language is found in the form of interlinear glosses throughout a single manuscript (of ca. 596/1200) of Zamakhshari's Arabic-Persian dictionary, the Muqaddimat al-adab (Zamakhshari may himself have been a native speaker).[3] Some other manuscripts of this work also contain a few such glosses. Thus the Muqaddimat al-adab is a very important primary source for the study of this extinct language.

See also


  1. ^ Jane Dammen MacAuliffe, Quranic Christians: An Analysis of Classical and Modern Exegesis,Cambridge University Press, 1991, pg 51
  2. ^ By Norman. Calder, Andrew Rippin, Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature, Routledge, 2003, pg 119
  3. ^ a b Encyclopedia Iranica, "The Chorasmian Language", D.N.Mackenzie
  4. ^ "Zamakhshari" in Encyclopedia of Islam, by C.H.M. Versteegh, Brill 2007. Excerpt: "one of the outstanding scholars of later medieval Islamic times who made important contributions..despite his own Iranian descent, a strong proponent of the Arab cause vis-à-vis the Persophile partisans of Shabiyya."
  5. ^ Cyril Glassé and Huston Smith. The New Encyclopedia of Islam, pg. 489. Lanham: Rowman Altamira, 2003. ISBN 9780759101906
  6. ^ Wednesday 27 Rajab, 467 Anno Hegirae
  7. ^ Hodgson, Marshall G.S (1977). The Venture of Islam Volume 2: The Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods. USA: The University of Chicago Press. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-226-34684-7.
  8. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Zamakhsharī" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 951.
  9. ^ Samuel Marinus Zwemer, "A Moslem Seeker After God"
  10. ^ John Esposito, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, pg. 346. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 9780195125597
  11. ^ Kifayat Ullah, Al-Kashshaf: Al-Zamakhshari's Mu'tazilite Exegesis of the Qur'an, de Gruyter (2017), p. 24
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Salaam Knowledge
  13. ^ Kifayat Ullah, Al-Kashshaf: Al-Zamakhshari's Mu'tazilite Exegesis of the Qur'an, de Gruyter (2017), p. 28
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-08-31. Retrieved 2006-09-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-10-19. Retrieved 2006-09-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


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