The Famous Muslim Scholars and Literary Figures
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
The narrator of Hadith, grammarian, and lexicographer, Abu-Bakr Mohammad Anbari
On 4th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 513 AH, the narrator of Hadith, grammarian, and lexicographer, Abu-Bakr Mohammad Anbari, was born. After acquiring other sciences, he started lecturing and groomed a large number of scientists. He has left behind a large number of compilations, including the book: “Manshour al-Fawayed”.
Egyptian philosopher and poet, Abdur-Rahman Badawi
On February 17, 1917 AD, Egyptian philosopher and poet, Abdur-Rahman Badawi, was born in the village of Sharabass, some 150 km from Cairo. He has been called the "master of Arab existentialism." and authored more than 150 works. He wrote fluently in his native Arabic, English, Spanish, French and German, and read Greek, Latin and Persian. From 1950 to 1956 he taught at Ibrahim Pasha University. As a member of a 1954 committee to draft a new Egyptian constitution, he clashed with President Jamaal Abdun-Nasser, who dissolved the committee in 1956. From 1956 to 1958 he was a cultural attaché in Switzerland. He described leaving Nasser's Egypt to teach at Sorbonne University in Paris as escaping "the big jail". He later moved to Libya as university professor, and in 1973 when his students demanded freedom of expression, he was imprisoned by Mu’ammar Qadhafi, who publicly burned his personal library. After release he moved to Kuwait from 1975 to 1982. He died in 2005 at the age of 88.
Thabet ibn Qurra al-Harrani
On February 18, 901 AD, the Sabean scholar and mathematician, Thabet ibn Qurra al-Harrani, died. He greatly contributed to such important mathematical discoveries as the extension of the concept of number to (positive) real numbers, integral calculus, theorems in spherical trigonometry, analytic geometry, and non-euclidean geometry. In astronomy he was one of the first reformers of the Ptolemaic system, writing the book “Concerning the Motion of the Eighth Sphere”. Including observations of the Sun, eight complete treatises by Thabet on astronomy have survived. In mechanics he was a founder of statics. He wrote “The Book on the Beam Balance” in which he finds the conditions for the equilibrium of a heavy beam. He was from Harran, presently under the control of Turkey although historically and culturally it is part of Mesopotamia. He belonged to the Sabian creed of star-worshippers, while some say he followed the Mandean creed that considers Prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) to be the principal figure and last messenger of God. Thabet was invited to Baghdad by the Iranian scientists, the Banu Musa brothers, and translated scientific texts from Greek and Syriac into Arabic. It is not known whether or not he became a Muslim, but his sons accepted Islam. His grandson, Ibrahim ibn Sinan, was a mathematician and astronomer who studied geometry and in particular tangents to circles for making sundials. He also made advances in the theory of integration. Thabet ibn Qurrah is said to have translated more than 130 books, and has left behind valuable compilations of his own.
The Moroccan exegete of the Holy Qur’an and literary figure, Abul-Fayz Hamdoun ibn Abdur-Rahman al-Faasi
On 7th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 1232 AH, the Moroccan exegete of the Holy Qur’an and literary figure, Abul-Fayz Hamdoun ibn Abdur-Rahman al-Faasi, passed away at the age of 58. He was born in Fez and during the Hajj pilgrimage to holy Mecca, met and conferred with prominent Shi’ite Muslim scholars such as the celebrated Ayatollah Sheikh Morteza Ansari Dezfuli. He authored several books on theology, Qur’anic sciences, logic, etc.
The Arabic grammarian, philologist, and religious scholar, Sheikh Abu’l-Baqa Abdullah ibn Hussein Baghdadi al-Ukbari
On 9th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 216 AH, the Arabic grammarian, philologist, and religious scholar, Sheikh Abu’l-Baqa Abdullah ibn Hussein Baghdadi al-Ukbari, passed away. Though blinded by smallpox, he authored some 60 books on various subjects such as literature, theology, and exegesis of the Holy Qur’an.
The prominent judge, historian, and literary figure, Ibn Khallikan
On 11th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 608 AH, the prominent judge, historian, and literary figure, Ibn Khallikan, was born in the Iraqi city of Arbil in a Kurdish family. He was educated in Damascus and Aleppo and lived for several years in the Egyptian capital Cairo. He served as the Chief Judge in Damascus, where he passed away in Rajab 681 AH, and was laid to rest in the foothills of the Qassiyoun Mountain. His most important works include the famous biographical dictionary in several volumes, titled “Wafiyaat al-Ayaan wa-Anba Abna az-Zamaan", which means Deaths of Eminent Men and History of the Sons of the Epoch.
The prominent Sunni jurisprudent Ahmad Ibn Mohammad ibn Hanbal ash-Shaybani
On 12th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 241 AH, the prominent Sunni jurisprudent Ahmad Ibn Mohammad ibn Hanbal ash-Shaybani, died at the age of 77. His father was an officer of the Abbasid regime in Khorasan and he was born in Baghdad. His principal teacher was Mohammad Ibn Idris Shafeie, who was also a prominent jurisprudent. Ibn Hanbal’s famous work is the “Musnad”, which among other hadith contains several narrations on the unsurpassed merits of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), although out of fear of the Abbasid regime, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, did not directly meet Imam Mohammad at-Taqi (AS) and Imam Ali an-Naqi (AS) – respectively the 9th and 10th Heirs of the Prophet.
The Spanish Muslim scholar, Yousuf ibn Abdullah, popularly known as “Ibn al-Abdul-Bir”
On 25th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 368 AH, the Spanish Muslim scholar, Yousuf ibn Abdullah, popularly known as “Ibn al-Abdul-Bir”, was born in Qortaba, a city in Spain which is called Cordova today. A jurist of the Sunni Malekite School of jurisprudence, he has written about the unrivalled merits of Imam Ali (AS) and other members of the Ahl al-Bayt. Among his books is “al-Istiab”, on the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
The historian and hadith scholar, Shamseddin Mohammad ibn Ahmad ibn Osman ibn Qaymaz at-Turkmani
On 29th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 673 AH, the historian and hadith scholar, Shamseddin Mohammad ibn Ahmad ibn Osman ibn Qaymaz at-Turkmani, known popularly as adh-Dhahabi from his father's profession of goldsmith, was born in Damascus. He travelled around Syria, Hijaz and Egypt to collect hadith, and penned down the history of Islam and the biographies of prominent figures until the year 704 AH. His works include “Tarikh al-Islam al-Kabir” (Major History of Islam), and “Siyar A'laam an-Nubala” (Lives of Eminent Figures) in 23 volumes, which is a unique encyclopedia of biographical history. He was of Turkic origin and died in Damascus in 748 AH at the age of 75.
The Iraqi Poet, Sheikh Kazem Tamimi al-Baghdadi al-Uzri
On 1st of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 1211 AH, the Iraqi Poet, Sheikh Kazem Tamimi al-Baghdadi al-Uzri, passed away at the age of 80 years. He has left behind a famous ode titled al-Uzriyyah, in admiration of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) and His Infallible Household, which covers more than 500 couplets.
The famous calligrapher Abu’l-Hassan Ali ibn Hilal Ibn al-Bawwab
On 2nd of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 413 AH, the famous calligrapher Abu’l-Hassan Ali ibn Hilal Ibn al-Bawwab, passed away in Baghdad. He reputedly invented the cursive “Rayhani” and “Muhaqqaq” scripts. He refined several of the calligraphic styles invented a century earlier by the famous Ibn Muqlah, including the “Naskhi” and “Tawqi” scripts, and collected and preserved for his students numerous original manuscripts of that master. Ibn al-Bawwab, which means “son of the doorkeeper”, was from a poor family, but he received a thorough education in law and memorized the holy Qur’an. Ibn al-Bawwab’s interest in calligraphy was inspired by Mohammad ibn Asad and was developed under Mohammad ibn Samsamani, both of whom were students of Ibn Muqlah. Altogether, Ibn al-Bawwab produced 64 copies of the Qur’an by hand. One of the most beautiful in the “Rayhani” script is in the Laleli Mosque in Istanbul. Ibn al-Bawwab was recognized as a master in his own time; his school of calligraphy lasted until Baghdad fell to the Mongol invaders more than two centuries after his death.
The exegete of the Holy Qur’an, Mohammad Mostafa Imadi, popularly known as Abu as-Saud
On 5th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 982 AH, the exegete of the Holy Qur’an, Mohammad Mostafa Imadi, popularly known as Abu as-Saud passed away. He was born in the vicinity of city of Istanbul, in western Turkey. He was fluent in Turkish, Persian, and Arabic languages and wrote poetry in both Persian and Arabic. He also focused upon the social topics of his community. He has left behind numerous books, including “Tafsir Abi as-Saud”, “Du’a Namah”, and “Qanoun Namah”.
The grammarian, Mohammad ibn Hassan ibn Miqsam
On 27th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 354 AH, the grammarian, Mohammad ibn Hassan ibn Miqsam, passed away. He wrote on has left compilations on the science of grammar as well as an exegesis on the holy Qur’an titled “al-Anwaar fi Tafsir al-Qur’an”.
The Muslim historian and historiographer, Abdur-Rahman ibn Mohammad Ibn Khaldun
On March 19, 1406 AD, the Muslim historian and historiographer, Abdur-Rahman ibn Mohammad Ibn Khaldun, passed away in Cairo at the age of 74 years. He was born in Tunis into an affluent Spanish Arab family that had settled in North Africa because of Christian onslaughts. He is regarded as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology, and economics. He travelled widely around Egypt, North Africa and Spain, where the Sultan of Granada sent him on a mission to the Christian King of Castile, Pedro the Cruel. He returned to Egypt, whose Mamluk ruler sent him to negotiate with the fearsome Turkic conqueror, Amir Timur, during the siege of Damascus. In his autobiography, Ibn Khaldun has written on his discussions with Timur, who asked him in detail about North Africa and Spain. Among his many works is a voluminous universal history, but his fame rests on the "Muqaddemah", which is considered a unique work.
The poet and scholar of Fatemid Egypt, Abu’l-Hassan Ali bin Mohammad at-Tahami
On 9th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 416 AH, the poet and scholar of Fatemid Egypt, Abu’l-Hassan Ali bin Mohammad at-Tahami, died in prison. After death he appeared in a dream of one of his friends, and when asked about his fate in afterlife, said God has forgiven his faults and shortcomings for the sake of the moving elegy he wrote in memory of his infant son. It is probable that since he was a staunch follower of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), he had tried to visualize the patience and sufferings of Imam Husain (AS) in Karbala on the martyrdom of the 6-month infant Ali Asghar by an arrow in the state of acute thirst.
The Syrian literary figure, and historian, Shams od-Din ibn Toloun Dameshqi
On 12th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 953 AH, the Syrian literary figure, and historian, Shams od-Din ibn Toloun Dameshqi, passed away at the age of 73. Born in Damascus, he spent a lifetime studying, compiling books, and lecturing. After studying the sciences of his day, he learnt the science of hadith. He is one of the few Islamic figures to write an autobiography. He authored a large number of books on exegesis of the Holy Qur’an, Qur’anic sciences, hadith, jurisprudence, grammar, medicine, and mysticism. In addition, he was also well-versed in history, geography, and literature, especially poetry. One of his books is “as-Safinat-at-Tolouniyah”.
The acclaimed Muslim scholar and literary figure, Mirza Fazl Ali Iravan “Safa”
On 13th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 1278 AH, the acclaimed Muslim scholar and literary figure, Mirza Fazl Ali Iravan “Safa” was born in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz. He mastered the exegesis of Holy Qur'an, philosophy, and mathematics. Later, after completion of his studies at the Islamic seminary of holy Najaf in Iraq, he attained the status of Ijtehad. During the Constitutional Movement in Iran, he joined the freedom-seekers and was persecuted and tortured by the Qajarid regime. In addition to his vast scientific knowledge, he maintained a unique taste in writing poems, in both Persian and Arabic. He has left behind numerous books, including “Hada’eq al-Arefin”, and “Mesbah al-Hoda”.
The well-known Arabic lexicographer and grammarian, Abul-Abbas Ahmad Ibn Yahya
On 17th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 291 AH, the well-known Arabic lexicographer and grammarian, Abul-Abbas Ahmad Ibn Yahya, passed away, after being accidentally hit by a horse as he was walking home from the mosque, while deeply engrossed in a book. Among his works, mention can be made of the book: “E’raab al-Qur’an”.
The famous Egyptian hadith scholar, lexicographer, and exegete of the holy Qur'an, Jalaleddin Suyuti
On 19th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 911 AH, the famous Egyptian hadith scholar, lexicographer, and exegete of the holy Qur'an, Abdur-Rahman Jalaleddin Suyuti, passed away in Cairo at the age of 62 years. He was prolific writer and among his works mention could be made of the two exegesis of the holy Qur'an titled “Tafsir al-Jalalayn” and “Dur al-Manthur” respectively, in which he has acknowledged the unrivalled merits of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt. Some of his other works are “al-Itqaan fi Uloum al-Qur’an” which means The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qur’an, the two books on hadith titled “al-Jaame' al-Kabeer” and “al-Jaame' as-Sagheer” and the “Tarikh al-Khulafa” (History of the Caliphs), in which he has exposed the true nature of many of the tyrannical caliphs of the Omayyad and Abbasid dynasties.
The North African Islamic scholar, al-Faasi
On 20th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 737 AH, the North African Islamic scholar, Abu Abdullah Mohammad ibn al-Haaj al-Abdari al-Faasi, passed away. He wrote the book titled “Madkhal ash-Shara ash-Shareef ala'l-Madhaheb” (Introduction to Islamic Jurisprudence According to the Schools of Thought). The book was published in 4 volumes of over 300 large pages each. It treats many different subjects. His views are very much influenced by the Iranian scholar al-Ghazali's Ihya’ Uloum ad-Din. He spent much of his life in Tunis and Egypt and, for some time, taught at the Universities of Fez in Morocco. He was buried in Arafa in Egypt.
The acclaimed Muslim physician, philosopher, and geographer, al-Qayrawani
On 21st of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 320 AH, the acclaimed Muslim physician, philosopher, and geographer, Ahmad bin Ja'far bin Ibrahim Ibn al-Jazzar al-Qayrawani, was born in Qayrawan in what is now Tunisia. He lived during the rule of Fatemid Shi'ite dynasty of North Africa, and was known in Europe by the Latinized name Algizar. He authored several books on grammar, history, jurisprudence, medicine, prosody, etc. His book on medicine titled “Zaad al-Musafer”, which was translated as “The Viaticum” in Latin, and later translated into Greek and Hebrew as well. It has been copied, recopied, and printed in France and Italy till the sixteenth century, and was used in Europe as a medical education text, along with “al-Qanoun fi't-Tibb” (The Canon of Medicine) of the famous Iranian Islamic genius, Abu Ali ibn Sina. Ibn al-Jazzar also wrote a book on sleep disorders and another one on forgetfulness and how to strengthen memory titled “Kitab an-Nisyaan wa-Ṭuruq Taqwiyat az-Zakira”. He also wrote books on pediatrics, sexual disorders, leprosy, therapeutics, and animals.
The literary figure, and lexicographer, Matrazi
On 21st of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 610 AH, the Mu'tazzalite scholar, literary figure, and lexicographer, Burhan od-Din Nasser bin Abdus-Seyyed Matrazi, passed away at the age of 74 in his homeland Khwarazem in Central Asia which was part of ancient Iran. He is known as successor of the famous Iranian exegete of Holy Qur'an, hadith scholar, and lexicographer, Jarallah Zamakhshari, who died in the year that Matrazi was born. His famous book on lexicography is titled “al-Maghreb fi Lughat al-Fiqh”. He wrote numerous other books including a commentary on the Arabic literary masterpiece “Maqamaat Hariri”.
The Shafe’i Sufi scholar, Abu Talib al-Makki
On 6th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 386 AD, the Shafe’i Sufi scholar, Mohammad ibn Ali, known popularly as Abu Talib al-Makki, passed away in Baghdad. He was hadith expert and jurist as well, and author of “Quwwat al-Qulub” (The Nourishment of Hearts), a book used by the Iranian Shafe’i scholar, Abu Hamed Ghazali, as a source for some of the chapters of his work “Ihya Uloum ad-Din” (Revival of Islamic Knowledge).
The renowned Spanish Muslim poet and hadith scholar, al-Ishbili ash-Shafe’i
On 9th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 699 AH, the renowned Spanish Muslim poet and hadith scholar Shehab od-Din Abu’l-Abbas Ahmad bin Farah al-Ishbili ash-Shafe’i, passed away in Syria at the age of 74 years. He was born in Seville, which the Arabs used to call Ishbiliya and was taken prisoner in 646 AH at the age of 21 years by the Christian forces of Ferdinand III of Castile. He, however, managed to escape and afterwards went to Egypt. In Cairo he attended the classes of prominent ulema and later left for Syria to continue his studies. In Damascus, he lectured as a hadith scholar and groomed several students. He has left behind numerous poems and books of hadiths including “Mukhtasar Khilafiyat al-Bayhaqi”, which is a summary of the work of Iranian Sunni Hadith compiler al-Bayhaqi.
The Hadith scholar, Abdul-Karim Ibn Ahmad al-Halabi
On 27th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 1178 AH, the Hadith scholar, Abdul-Karim Ibn Ahmad al-Halabi, passed away. He was from Aleppo as his surname suggests, and though he went blind, he wasn’t demoralized and remained a prominent scholar. He has left behind numerous compilations, including “Ad’iyat as-Safar” or supplications to God for safety while on journey.
The acclaimed Arabic poet, Ibn ar-Roumi
On 28th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal in 283 AH, the acclaimed Arabic poet, Ali ibn al-Abbas ibn Jurayj, known popularly as Ibn ar-Roumi, passed away at the age of 62. Born in Baghdad he was the son of an Iranian mother and a half-Roman Muslim father, which explains his surname Ibn Roumi. By the age of twenty he earned a living through his poetry which would culminate in his masterpiece Diwan. His political patrons included the Taherid ruler of Khorasan, Obaydallah ibn Abdullah, the Abbasid Caliph's Persian minister, Ismail ibn Bulbul, and the politically influential Nestorian family Banu Wahd. He was a Shi'ite Muslim. He died of illness, although some have suggested that poison may have been the cause.
Noted linguist and man of letters of Islamic Spain, Abu Bakr az-Zubaidi
On 1st of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Akher 379 AH, noted linguist and man of letters of Islamic Spain, Abu Bakr az-Zubaidi, passed away. He authored the books “Lahn al-Aamma” (Errors of Language of Common People), and “Tabaqaat an- Nahwiyeen wa’l-Loghawiyeen” (Who is Who of Arabic Grammar and Linguistics). In the latter work, compiled in Spain, he has cited the sermons of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), as unrivalled masterpieces of eloquence, decades before the compilation of “Nahj al-Balagha” by Seyyed Razi in Baghdad.
The biographer and poet,Ibn Saiyid an-Naas
On 1st of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Akher, 661 AH, the biographer and poet, Mohammad bin Abi Bakr al-Ishbili al-Andalusi, popularly known as Ibn Saiyid an-Naas, was born in the Egyptian capital Cairo. He was a member of a distinguished Spanish Muslim scholarly family of Seville, which was forced to leave their homeland for Tunis because of the city’s occupation by the Christians. He studied in Cairo and in Damascus, the capital of Syria, under such prominent ulema as the historian-theologian, Ibn Asaker (author of the voluminous History of Damascus), before becoming a teacher of hadith in the Zaheriyya School of the Egyptian capital. He composed a biography of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) entitled “Uyoun al-Asar fi Fonoun al-Maghazi, ash-Shama’el wa’s-Siyar”. He also wrote a number of Qasidas or panegyrics in praise of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
The renowned Iraqi hadith scholar and historian, Ibn Mani al-Baghdadi
On 4th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani,230 AH, the renowned Iraqi hadith scholar and historian, Mohammad Ibn Sa’d Ibn Mani al-Baghdadi, passed away. He was a student of the celebrated historian, Mohammad bin Omar al-Waqedi. Ibn Sa’d is famous for his voluminous book “at-Tabaqaat al-Kubra”, which is a biography of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), the early Muslims, and the subsequent scholars and elites. Among his other books, mention could be made of “Akhbar an-Nabi”, and “Horouf al-Qur’an”.
The lexicographer and exegete of Holy Qur'an, Abul-Hassan Ali ibn Abdus-Samad Shafei
On 12th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 643 AH, the lexicographer and exegete of Holy Qur'an, Abul-Hassan Ali ibn Abdus-Samad Shafei, passed away. He was born in Sakha in Egypt, and is popularly known as Sakhavi. He left for Shaam or Greater Syria for completion of his studies and took up residence in Damascus. He has left behind numerous books in the field of cantilation, religious principles, and hadith, including the books “Jawaher”, and “Safar as-Sa’adah”.
The famous Spanish Muslim poet, Ahmad ibn Mohammad Ibn Darraj al-Qastalli
On 16th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 421 AH, the famous Spanish Muslim poet, Ahmad ibn Mohammad Ibn Darraj al-Qastalli, passed away at the age of 74 in his native Spain. He was from Castile as is clear from his surname 'Qastalli', and played a vital role in promotion of Arabic poetry in the Iberian Peninsula with his new style. His poems, in addition to their high literary and artistic value, are a reliable source of the developments in Islamic Spain. Today these poems have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, English and other languages, as the Arabic heritage of Europe.
The acclaimed Arabic literary figure and poet, Baar’e al-Baghdadi
On 17th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 524 AH, the acclaimed Arabic literary figure and poet, Hussain bin Mohammad Baar’e al-Baghdadi, passed away at the age of 81. He is considered an authority on grammar and lexicography, and later in life went blind. He has left behind his Diwan of poetry.