Allamah Sayyid Abdul Karim Ibn Tawus
Sayyid Ghiyāthuddīn Abdul Karīm son of Ahmad son of Mūsā son of Tāwūs Hillī was born in the city of Karbalā in 638 Hegira. He spent his early youth in Hillah, and for further education by Iraq’s prominent Ulamā (Islamic scholars) he went to Baghdad and spent the rest of his academic life in that city.
Sayyid Abdul Karīm was a son of Sayyid Ahmad Son of Tāwūs, the compiler of the book ‘Iqbāl-ul-A’māl’. The family of ‘Tāwūs’ was a famous and trustworthy one; its members not only were educated and knowledgeable, but also widely respected by noble and common people alike for their virtue, piety, and devoutness as well as their spiritual journeys.
One of his sons, Sayyid Muhammad, was born in 670 H. in Baghdad. Another son, Sayyid Ali, became one of the outstanding Ulamā of his generation.
Sayyid Ali - as a promising scholar - received ‘Ijāzah’ (Authorization) from the great sage ‘Sayyid Abdul Hamīd son of Fakhār son of Ma’d’ to cite Riwāyāt (Narrations) at the same time that his father received such authorization.
Sayyid Abdul Karīm’s personality was evaluated by his fellow-student, Son of Dāwud Hillī in his book of ‘Rijāl’ as follows: “Sayyid Abdul Karīm and I spent our times together from our childhood; he was exemplary in his manners and way of living. I did not come across another person like him in mental alertness, sagacity and power of memory. He memorized the entire Qur’an when he was only eleven years old. At the age of four, he could learn to read and write in just forty days, and did not need the assistance of his teachers afterwards. His residence was the venue where the local intellectuals, Ulamā, and the elite used to hold erudite discussions. He became not only a Faqīh (an Islamic Jurisprudent), but also a poet, a genealogist and a man of letters.”
His Appointment to the Post of ‘Naqābat’ (Religious Chiefdom):
Among other honors of the family of ‘Tāwūs’ we can point out the position of Naqābat. A ‘Naqīb’ (Religious Chief) is a qualified and experienced authority in ‘Ijtihad’ (Religious Authority), who is, on one hand, knowledgeable and wise, and on the other hand devout and pious. He is entrusted with the care of “Sādāt” (descendents of the Prophet) in all their legal and other affairs, the orphans, or the poor.
During the period of the Abbasid Caliphate, this post was next only to the caliph in its societal importance.
In the family of Tāwūs, this post was held first by Abū Abdullāh Muhammad Tāwūs, and inherited by generations of his successors.
Sayyid Ali son of Mūsā highlights the post of Naqābat as one of his honors; this is while he had declined offers of ministerial and presidential posts before.
Sayyid Ghiyāthuddīn Abdul Karīm was taught by many Islamic dignitaries of his age who had eventually made him a great teacher. Some of his teachers are exemplified below:
1) His father: Ahmad son of Mūsā son of Tāwūs
2) His distinguished paternal uncle: Ali son of Mūsā son of Tāwūs
3) Sheikh Hasan son of Muhammad son of Hussein son of Tahhāl
4) Muhaqqiq Hillī
5) Khājeh Nasīreddīn Tūsī
6) Yahyā son of Saeed Qūmmī
7) Ibn-e Jahm Hillī
8) Sayyid Abdul Hamīd son of Fakhār son of Ma’d Mūsawī.
A few of his students are named below:
1) Ahmad son of Dāwūd Hillī
2) Abdul-Samad son of Abil-Jaish Hanbalī
3) Sheikh Ali son of Hussein son of Hammād Laithī.
Unfortunately only two titles of his compilations are available now:
1) ‘Farhat-ul-Ghary Be Sarhat-ul-Qory’
2) ‘Ash-Shaml-ul-Manżum fī Musannaf-il-Ulūm’
Sayyid Abdul Karīm passed away in the year 693 H. in Kauzemayn city. His pure body was taken to the holy city of Najaf and buried alongside the holy shrine of the first Imam of Shiites, i.e. Imam Amir-ul-Mu’minīn Hazrat Ali (A.S.).
Yet, in a book entitled “The History of Hillah” it is stated that Sayyid Abdul Karīm died in Hillah and his grave exists near that of his uncle, Sayyid Ali son of Tāwūs.