Who were Ar-Razi and Zamakhshari? Were they great scholars of Islam? I have heard some negative things particularly about Ar-Razi. The reason I ask is that I am reading the translation of Muhammad Asad and he quotes Ar-Razi and Zamakhsari numerous time? Please comment and is Muhammad Asad’s works an acceptable translation? Thank you.
Question from United States of America
Abu al-Qasim “Jarallah” Mahmoud Ibn `Umar Al Zamakhshari was born on March 8th, 1075 C.E. in al-Jurjaniya, Khwarezm. Zamakhshari is renown for his great scholarship of the Qur’an and his magnificent mastery of the Arabic language. Scholars of all ranks and schools of thought have tremendous regard for him even though they may have not agreed with some his ideas. As such, his works hinted evidence of Mu’tazilite theology, yet his mind clearly steered his concepts and opinions. His monumental work al-Kashaf `an Haqa’iq al-Tanzil wa `Uyun al-Aqawil fi Wujuh al-Ta’wil, is celebrated for its genius and linguistic depth. It was completed in 1134 C.E. Before that he wrote al-Mufassal, which was also highly acclaimed. Though he traveled around a lot he stayed in Makkah for such a long period of time that earned the nickname “Jarallah” (i.e. neighbor of God).2
On June 14, 1144 C.E. he passed away where he was born in al-Jurjaniya. His piety and closeness to God can be witnessed in his very own words in the “Golden Necklaces.”
When you go to the mosque, walk with reverence; and when you pray, fill your heart with humility. Think of the power of the glorious King, and do not forget what is written concerning the temptations of the devil. Consider before what all-powerful sovereign you kneel, and what deceitful enemy you have to combat. Verily, no one can maintain himself on a firm foundation in this difficult world, except it be the man who is loyal to noble principles and fortified by his profession of faith; the faithful who sighs in fear of chastisement, contrite, repentant, eager in the pursuit of reward, who spurs his horse into the arena of obedience, and disciplines his spirit in the practice of submission.
Did I say to you that our country is destined to mourning? That will become true when an unjust sovereign rules. Tyranny is heavier than the horse’s hoofs, more destructive than the unchained torrents, more deadly than the poisoned winds of Yemen, more devastating than the plague. Tyranny prevents prayers rising to heaven and prevents the blessings of heaven from falling upon the earth. Flee far from the abode of this menace, even if you are one of the highest nobles of the land, the most illustrious because of your wealth and your children. Fear lest the birds of ruin fatten on the land, and earthquakes or lightenings destroy its inhabitants.
Do not pride yourself on the nobility of your birth, for that belongs to your father; join to your hereditary virtues those which you have acquired recently. By this union you will be truly noble. Do not feel elated over the nobility of your father, if you can not draw pride from that which is in yourself; for the glory of ;your ancestors is vain if you have not a personal glory. There is the same difference between the fame of your ancestors and your own fame that there is between your food of yesterday and of to-day; for the feast that has passed can not calm the hunger of to-day, and still less can it provide for the days which follow.3
One of the most eminent scholars in the history of Islam is Abu `Abd’Allah Muhammad Ibn Umar Ibn Al-Husayn Fakhr Ad-Din Al-Razi. He was born in Rayy, Iran in 1149 (C.E.) and was the author of one of the most important explanations of the Qur’an, Mafatih al-Ghayb (i.e. Keys to the Unseen) also known as al-Tafsir al-Kabir(i.e. the Ultimate Commentary). He was a philosopher of the highest caliber and this was evident in his works. His commentary on the Qur’an is replete with arguments and counter-arguments sometimes without conclusion.5 This was typical of his style for he even argued an opinion that opposed his so well that he was practically labeled a heretic for being such a good devil’s advocate. These techniques were part of his passion for debate. Wherever he traveled he presented argumentation with the most renowned scholars. All this earned him a reputation both negative and positive, nevertheless highly respected. By some he was considered theMujadid (i.e. Reviver) of his era because of his recognized brilliance. He wrote many books and became rich and famous, which created envy in others even towards his intelligence. He never completed Mafatih al-Ghayb but a student (or two) of his completed the work so well that the difference can barely be made between the teacher and the student. In 1209 (C.E.) near Herat, Khwarezm al-Razi died. His very person was monumental to the growth of Islamic knowledge and enlightenment.
I hope I have clarified the issue.
God knows best.