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Ab af Umar b.

Jam(735 words)
al-Salimi, Abdurrahman S.
Ab af Umar b. Jam b. Wsn al-Yahrsn (second half of the seventh/thirteenth-beginning of the
eighth/fourteenth century) was an Ib theologian and scholar. A native of the Yahrsn Berber tribe,
Ab af was born in the village of Wlagh at the northern end of the island of Jarba. According to Ibn
Tart (d. 1289/1872) he was taught by Ab al-Abbs al-Darjn (d. c.670/1271), the author of the
Kitb al-abaqt, in Bild al-Jard in southern Tunisia. After completing his education, Ab af
returned to teach at the congregational mosque of Tafarrjn near Wlagh and was buried there.
Despite the fact that little is known about his life, Ab af Umar b. Jam is well known for his
Muqaddimat al-tawd, an Ib creed (aqda) that is the Arabic translation of an original Berber text
by an unknown author. Ennami believes that this Berber text was written during the fifth/eleventh
century by members of the azzba alqa (a religious council of twelve recluses or clerks) who
had already produced a well known work of Ib jurisprudence known as the Dwn al-azzba; hence
this aqda was known as Aqdat al-azzba or Tawd al-azzba. The earliest of the Ib aqdas
date to the period following the collapse of the Rustamid immate (161296/778909) and consisted of
simple enunciations of the Ib creed designed for ordinary Ibs. The best known is al-Jannwuns
Aqdat nafsa, which is a century and a half older than that of Ab af. This has led some scholars to
believe that it was in fact al-Jannwun who wrote the originalin Arabicbut that it remained
unknown in southern Tunisia, Jarba (Jerba), or the Maghrib; it was subsequently translated into Berber
without any attribution of provenance, and so it happened that Ab af retranslated it into Arabic,
unaware of its origins. According to Cuperly, who has compared the Ab af and al-Jannwun texts,
the essential differences are in style and presentation rather than in content. However, because Ab
af quotes a supposed letter of Ibn Ib to the caliph Abd al-Malik b. Marwn in which the former
adopts dogmatic positions concerning the issue of Gods attributes and the vision of God that were not
clarified in Ib theology until after the third/ninth century, Cuperly has concluded that this is, in fact,
a composite work that evolved between the end of the third/ninth and the fifth/eleventh century.
The Muqaddimat al-tawd was widely used in Ib schools and formed a basic text of the syllabus. It
has been the subject of many commentaries, notably by: Amad al-Shammkh (d. 928/15212), with
an additional marginal gloss by Ab Sitta al-Qab (d. 1088/1679); Ab Sulaymn Dwd b. Ibrhm
al-Thalt (d. 967/155960); Umar b. Raman al-Thalt (d. 1183/1773); and Muammad Afayyish
(d. 1332/1914). The text, originally titled al-Nukta by Ab af, is sometimes referred to by other
names; al-Shammkh calls it al-Muqaddima, while al-Thalt uses al-Aqda. A comparison of these
commentaries indicates the evolving character of theological refutation between Islamic schools, which
can also be noted in other Muslim traditions.
Abdurrahman S. al-Salimi


Ab af Umar b. Jam, Muqaddimat al-tawd wa-shuruh, with commentaries of al-Shammkh
and Ab Sulaymn al-Thalt, ed. Ibrahm Afayyish al-Jazir, Cairo 1962; ed. S. al-Shaybn, Beirut
1392/1972. The commentaries of Umar al-Thalt and Muammad Afayyish are unpublished MSS in
GALS 2:357
Pierre Cuperly, Introduction l'tude de l'Ibadhisme et de sa thologie, Algiers 1984
Amr K. Ennami, Studies in Ibadism, Ph.D. diss., Cambridge University 1971
Fart Jubayr, al-Bud al-ar lil-aqda al-Ibiyya, Muscat 1987
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avec quelques remarques sur lorigine et lhistoire de la famille des Chammakhi, REI 8 (1954), 5975
Tadeusz Lewicki, Les Ibites en Tunisie au Moyen ge (Rome 1959), 116
Adolphe de Calassanti-Motylinski and Tadeusz Lewicki, Ab af Umar b. Jam, EI2
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l'honneur du XIV e congres des Orientalistes (Algiers 1905), 50545
Roberto Rubinacci, La professione di fede di al-annwun, AIUON n.s. 14 (1964), 55393
Sad b. al-jj b. Tart, Risla f tarjim ulam al-jazra wa-dhikr umarih min ban Samman
wa-ban l-Juld, MS at Slim b. Yaqbs library in Jarba, written in 1274/1864
Joseph Schacht, Bibliothques et manuscrits abadites, Revue Africaine 100 (1956), 37598.