Page images

also dialectics. From Baghdad he proceeded to Wasit and read the Koran under the tuition of Abû Ali ’l-Fâriki (vol. I. p. 376), the kâdi of that city, by whom he was instructed also in the Fawaid al-Muhaddab. In the year 523 (A.D. 1129) he himself gave public lessons at Mosul, after which he resided for some time at Sinjar whence he proceeded to Aleppo, A. H. 545: from that he removed to Damascus, when Nûr ad-din Mahmûd Ibn Zinki got possession of that city in the month of Safar, A. H. 549 (April-May, A. D. 1154). He then opened a class in the western corner of the great mosque, and was appointed administrator of the endowments ( wakfs ) possessed by the mosques. He then returned to Aleppo, where he settled. A great number of works were composed by him to elucidate the doctrines of the sect to which he belonged; of these may be mentioned the Safwat al-Mazhab (quintessence of the Shafite doctrines), extracted from the (Imâm al-Haramain's) Nihâyat al-Matlab, in seven volumes; the Kitab al-Intisar (vindication of the Shafites), in four volumes; the Kitâb alMurshid (the guide, a work on the secondary points of law), in two volumes; and the Kitāb az-Zaria fi Marafat as-Sharia (means of acquiring a knowledge of the law). He composed also the Tafsir (explanation), a work forming four volumes treating of the points in which his sect differs from the others; the Makhaz anNazar ( point of view); a short treatise on the dividing of inherited property; and a work entitled al-Irshad al-Mughrib fi Nusrati 'l-Mazhab (plain directions for the defence of the Shafite sect); this last however he did not complete, as it was stolen from him with other property at Aleppo. The number of students who followed his lessons and profited by his tuition was very great.

His merit having at length rendered him conspicuous, he obtained the esteem and favour of Nûr ad-din, lord of Syria, who erected colleges in Aleppo, Emessa, Hamât, 359 Baalbek, and other cities, for the express purpose of having him to teach in these places. (At different periods) he filled the post of kâdi at Sinjar, Nisibin, Harrân, and elsewhere in Diår Bakr; he then returned to Damascus, A. H. 570 (A. D. 1174-5), and three years afterwards, he was appointed to fill the same functions in that city when the kâdi Diâ ad-din as-Shahrozûri gave in his resignation; an act of which I shall state the motive in the life of Kamâl ad-din Muhammad as-Shahrozûri. Ten years before his death he lost his sight, but continued to hold his office, the duties of which were discharged by his son and deputy, Muhi ad-din Muhammad. At that time, he composed a short treatise



to prove that the place of kâdi could be lawfully held by a blind man; a point in opposition with the doctrine of as-Shâfi on the subject: I have read, it is true, in the Kitâb az-Zawáid, a work composed by Abû ’l-Hasan al-Imrâni (3), the author of the Kitab al-Bayân, that, in one point of view, it is lawful; this is, however, quite an extraordinary opinion, and I never found it advanced in any other work but his. (Speaking of this subject I must mention that a letter fell into my hands, addressed to al-Kâdi ’l-Fadil at Cairo from the sultan Salah ad-din at Damascus; it was wholly in that prince's handwriting and, among other passages, it contained one relative to Sharaf ad-din's blindness and his opinion that the post of kàdi could be lawfully filled by a blind man, although all the other jurisconsults declared the contrary—“you will therefore,” says the writer, “have an interview with the shaikh Abû 't-Tahir Ibn Auf al-Iskan“ darâni, and ask him what are the traditions on this subject, and if they au6thorise it or not.”—But after all, there can be no doubt of his eminent merit. The hafiz Ibn Asâkir mentions him in the History of Damascus, and the kâtib Imâd ad-din makes his eulogium in the Kharida and pronounces him the last of the muftis : he gives also some verses composed by him. The two which follow were recited to me by one of our shaikhs, with the remark that he had heard Ibn Abi Usrûn repeat them very often, but that he did not know if they were his own or not; they are given, however, as that doctor's by the kâtib in the Kharida :

I hope for a lengthened life; and yet every hour the dead pass by me, as their biers are borne rapidly along. Am I not as they, except that I must pass a few more sad nights to complete the time of my existence ?

The following lines also are quoted as his in the same work:

I always hope to meet my beloved, and yet I know full well that I must quit her shortly after. Mounted on the steeds of Mortality, we rush, as if with emulation, towards the goal of death. O that we both might expire together! neither of us then would taste the bitter loss of the other.

O thou who askest me how I have been since thy departure! God preserve thee from what

my heart has felt since our separation. Tears of grief swore never to cease flowing from my eyes, and sleep swore never to visit them till I met thee again.

The time which has passed is gone for ever, and that which is to come exists not. Thy life is only the present moment; the days of man form two sums, one increasing, the other diminishing.


Ibn Abi Usrûn was born at Mosul on Monday, the 22nd of the first Rabi, A. H. 492 (February, A. D. 1099); he died at Damascus on the eve of Tuesday, 360 the 11th of Ramadân, A. H. 585 (October, A. D. 1189). He was buried in the madrasa which bears his name and which he himself had founded within that city : I have often visited his tomb. On his death (one of his female relatives) received a letter of condolence from al-Kâdi ’l-Fadil, in reply to one wherein she announced to him this event: his participation in her grief was expressed in the following terms: “I have received the letter of the honourable lady for whose “ welfare may God provide ! may He preserve her for the happiness of her “ family; may He smooth for her the path leading to spiritual welfare, and “make her words and actions proceed from the wish to gain his favour.” contained also this passage: “I shall only add—and what I mention is a dimi“nution in the strength of Islamism, and a breach in the frame of human

society, so great as nearly to cause its ruin !-I mean that which God decreed concerning the death of the imâm Sharaf ad-din Ibn Abi Usrûn, may the


upon him !—the loss sustained in him by the world at large; “ the affliction of the pious—and the joy of the foes to religion. For he was a “ land-mark set up in the tracts of science, and he counted among the last rem

nants of a holy race now passed away. And God knoweth my grief for his “ death, my desolation in the world now deprived of the blessing of his presence,


my sadness in losing the abundant merits of his charitable pray“ers.Hadithi means belonging to the Haditha of Mosul, a village on the east bank of the Tigris near (the mouth of) the Upper Zàb. It must not be confounded with another place of the same name, the Haditha of an-Núra, which is a fortress on an island in the Euphrates, at some parasangs' distance from alAnbar. The former lies at the most eastern extremity of the territory called the Sawâd, and is the one meant by the jurisconsults when they say, in their books : “ The land of Sawâd extends in longitude from the Haditha of Mosul to Abbâ

dân, and in latitude from al-Kâdisiya to Hulwân."

" divine mercy


(1) There are seven authorised readings of the Koran, named after seven great doctors who first taught them and whose lives are given by Ibn Khallikân; three more readings were afterwards admitted, and Yakûb Ibn Ishak al-Hadrami, the author of one of them, is considered as the eighth reader. I have not yet been able to discover the names of the two others.

(2) Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn al-Husain al-Mazrafi, a teacher of the koranic readings and a calculator of the division of inheritances (al-Faradi), inhabited Mazrafa, a village lying between Baghdad and Okbara. He was born at Baghdad, A. H. 439 (A. D. 1047-8), and died praying, A. H. 527 (A. D. 1132).-(Tab al-Kurra, fol. 145.)

(3) Saad Ibn Yahya Ibn Abi 'l-Khair al-Imrâni, a native of Yemen and the author of the Bayan, or elucidation of the secondary points of the law, was a doctor of the sect of as-Shafi, and held a high reputation for his knowledge of the law, dogmatic and scholastic theology, and the science of grammar. None possessed a better acquaintance than he with the works of Abû Ishak as-Shirazi, and he was surpassed by none in piety and devotion. Students came from all countries to study under him ; but it is said that he sometimes combined with the Shafite doctrines certain principles borrowed from the school of Irak, the great imåm of which was Abu Hanifa. He was born A. H. 489 (A. D. 1096), and died A. H 588 (A. D. 1162-3). The following works were composed by him : the Bayan, in ten volumes; the Zawaid, or additions to Abů Ishak as-Shirazi's Muhaddab, in two volumes; the Kitab as-Sawal, questions on the obscure points of the Muhaddab; an abridged collection of fatwas; an abridgment of al-Ghazzali's Ihya olùm ad-din; the Intisar, or aid, a refutation of the Kadarites. He composed the Bayan in somewhat less than four years and the Zawdid in about five.- (Tab. as-Shaf.)- In the autograph MS. of Ibn Khallikån, his surname is given as Abu 'l-Husain; in the Tabakat as-Shafiyin, as Abu 'l-Khair; and in the Tabakat al-Fokaha, as Abû 'l-Hasan, which is also that found in the other manuscripts of Ibn Khallikân's work.


Abû 'l-Faraj Abd Allah Ibn Asaad Ibn Ali Ibn Isa, generally known by the appellation of Ibn ad-Dahhàn al-Mausili (son of the Mosul oil-merchant), entitled also al-Himsi (native of Emessa) and surnamed al-Muhaddab (1), was a jurisconsult of great abilities, a learned scholar and a fine poet. His verses are remarkable for the elegance of their turn and the beauty of their thoughts. Poetry became his ruling passion, and it was to it that he owed his reputation. His poetical works are all of great merit and form a small volume. Mosul was his native place, but poverty forced him to take the resolution of going to Egypt, that he might pay his court to as-Sâlih Ibn Ruzzîk, the lord of that country (see his life, vol. 1. page 657). Obliged, by the insufficiency of his means, to leave his wife behind him, he addressed the following lines to the sharif Diâ ad-din Abû Abd Allah Zaid Ibn Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Obaid Allah al-Hu nakib or chief of the sharifs at Mosul :

aini, the An afflicted female, bathed in tears for my departure, hoped to detain me by declaring my project the result of folly. Her entreaties were urgent, and when she saw me deaf to her

prayers, the tears which fell from her eyes wounded me to the heart. She perceived the camels already loaded,—and the moment of separation had united the lamenters and those for whom they were lamenting,—when she said: “Who will save me from starva“ tion in thy absence ?”—“God," I replied, “and thy patron Ibn Obaid Allah. Fear “not for want of sustenance; there is one whose beneficence is ample, like the showers " of the Pleiades ; him I have asked to shed abundance upon thy place of dwelling."

When the sharif read these verses, he immediately undertook to provide for the poet's wife, and he furnished her with every thing she required as long as her husband was absent. As for Ibn Asaad, he went to Egypt and recited to as-Salih Ibn Ruzzik the poem composed in his praise, and rhyming in K, of which some verses have been already given (vol. 1. page 658). He afterwards underwent various vicissitudes of fortune and became at length a professor at Hims (Emessa), where he fixed his residence. It was for this reason that he re- 361 ceived the surname of al-Himsi. The kâtib Imâd ad-din speaks of him in the Kharida : “When I was in Irak,” says he, “my constant desire was to meet him, “ for I had read his admired kasîdas and was struck with the beauty of his ideas; “his poem rhyming in K had already circulated throughout all the literary “ world, and was itself a written proof that none of his contemporaries had at“ tained to such a degree of excellence as he.” After this eulogium he continues: “A slight lisp only served to display the perfection of his style, and the

very impediment in his speech only showed off better his command of lan

guage.” Farther on he says: “When the sultan Salah ad-din arrived at “ Emessa and encamped outside the city, this Abû ’l-Faraj came out to us, and “I presented him to the sultan, saying: “This is the man who said in his poem

on Ibn Ruzzik :

•What! shall I praise the Turks in hopes of their bounty? Why! the Turks have always left poetry in neglect.'

“On this the sultan made him a present, and observed at the same time that “ he did so in order to prevent him at least from saying that he was neglected.” The

poet then celebrated the praises of the sultan in a kasida of which each verse ends in the letter ain; it is in this poem that we find the following passage:

I shall say to her (2) whom religious scruples prevented from replying to my salutation: “Why then didst thou shed my heart's blood without feeling compunction? Thy pro

« PreviousContinue »