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CSI'S Monday Majlis: Livnat Holtzman

How Sunni was the Qadiri Creed? An Alternative Reading in the Sources

The CSI Monday Majlis is a Monday evening, online event, where invited speakers present on aspects of their current research

Event details

Dear Colleagues,
We’d like to invite you to the next online Monday Majlis of the Centre for the Study of Islam, Exeter:
Monday the 6th of February, 17:00-18:30 (UK time)
Livnat Holtzman, How Sunni was the Qadiri Creed? An Alternative Reading in the Sources

Registration is required. Register please on this link:

The Qādirī creed (al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī) is a series of documents and books issued by the Abbasid caliph al-Qādir bi-llāh (r. 381/991-422/1031). In the years 408/1017-8 and 409/1018-9, the caliph issued two documents. In the year 420/1029, the caliph issued three books. None of these documents and books (henceforth “the Qādirī creed”) have survived. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Swiss scholar Adam Mez (d. 1917) located a concise text of 770 words in Ibn al-Jawzī’s (d. 597/1201) al-Muntaẓam fī taʼrīkh al-rusul wa-l-mulūk and identified it as the Qādirī creed (al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī). This text cites the various elements of the Sunni credo, denounces the Muʿtazilī and Shiʿi doctrines, and reflects the caliph’s commitment to Sunnism. Mez’s translation of the text was published posthumously in 1922 and translated into English in 1937. Since the publication of the text, modern scholarship has regarded it as the Qādirī creed. Moreover, al-Qādir’s authorship of this text was never questioned.

In the following presentation, I challenge the identification of the text as the Qādirī creed and examine al-Qādir’s alleged role as the author of the creed. Al-Qādir was indeed the eponymous author of the Qādirī creed, but his role as an author was not as exclusive as the previous studies considered. Moreover, I claim that the text which is available in Ibn al-Jawzī’s al-Muntaẓam is not the Qādirī creed but the Qādirī-Qāʾimī creed or the IQQ (initials of al-iʿtiqād al-qādirī wa-l-qāʾimī). This text was authored by an anonymous author at the request of al-Qādir’s son and successor, al-Qāʾim bi-amr Allāh (r. 422/1030-467/1075). The Qādirī creed and the IQQ were authored for different reasons. While the Qādirī creed led to an escalation in conflict in the relationships between Sunnism and Shiʿism, the IQQ version was meant to reconcile between different wings within the Sunni community, namely the Ḥanbalīs and the Ashʿarīs. These two trends of Islamic traditionalism were divided on the question of how to interpret the divine attributes (ṣifāt Allāh). The caliph al-Qāʾim summoned the disputing parties to his palace to arbitrate their doctrinal differences and forced them to sign his version of the Qādirī creed (the IQQ) as a symbol of their reconciliation.
My findings are included in a forthcoming article which will be published by Brill as part of a volume entitled Rulers as Authors (eds. Maribel Fierro, Sonja Brentjes and Tilman Seidensticker).

Livnat Holtzman is Associate Professor in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. She specializes in Islamic traditionalism and the Ḥadīth. Her publications include Anthropomorphism in Islam: The Challenge of Traditionalism (700-1350) (Edinburgh University Press 2018) and articles and book chapters on the religious thought of traditionalist thinkers like Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Abū Yaʿlā, Ibn al-Jawzī, and Ibn Taymiyya and his pupil Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya. She is currently working on the gestures, physical mannerisms, and the body language of the Prophet Muḥammad as reported in the Ḥadīth and other literary genres.

In the spirit of the label ‘Majlis’ and also to make the talks even more interesting, we are experimenting with a new format presenting the topic discussed by our speaker as embedded in their own research journey. Please come and enjoy the talks and the discussions. If you’d like to be included in the CSI (Centre for the Study of Islam (Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter) mailing list, please contact the CSI Manager: Sarah Wood (
We’ll be happy to welcome you!