The celebrated theologian, “Shaheed Awwal” (First Martyr)
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 9th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 786 AH, the celebrated theologian, Shaikh Mohammad bin Jamaleddin al-Makki al-Ameli, was cruelly martyred in Damascus at the age of 52, and became known as “Shaheed Awwal” (First Martyr). Born in the Jabal Amel region of Lebanon, on reaching 16 years of age, he travelled to Iraq, and studied under the students of the celebrated Allamah Hilli, amongst them the Allamah's son, Fakhr ul-Muhaqqeqin.
At the age 21, as a full-fledged scholar he returned to his homeland and was certified to narrate hadiths by several scholars of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, as well as the Sunni theologians of Mecca, Medina, Bayt al-Moqaddas, Damascus, and Baghdad. He also built good relations with Sultan Ali ibn al-Mu'ayyad of the Sarbadaran Movement of Khorasan in northeastern Iran. This aroused jealousy in some circles, and he was unjustly accused of heresy during the unstable rule of Sultan Barquq, the Circassian slave who became ruler of Egypt and Syria.
On the fatwa of a pseudo scholar, the venerable Shaikh was imprisoned under torture for a year, before being martyred by the sword. His body was then hung, stoned, crucified, and burned. During imprisonment, he wrote in only 7 days the famous book “al-Lummat ad-Damishqiyya” (The Damascene Glitter), which is still taught in seminaries in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, India, and Pakistan.
Amazingly, this valuable book was subject to a commentary two centuries later by another great jurisprudent of the same region, Zayn ad-Din al-Juba'i al-Ameli, who suffered the same fate as the author, and was thus called “Shaheed Thani” (Second Martyr). Other books of the First Martyr include “Durou”, “Dhikra”, “Bayan”, “Alfiyah” and “Qawa'ed”.