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Article

Elizabeth Heath

Ahmad Baba was one of the best-known Islamic scholars and writers of his time. Born into the prestigious Aqit family near Tombouctou (Timbuktu) in 1556, he was educated in Islamic theology and law. After completing his studies, he began writing books and treatises on theology, Islamic jurisprudence, history, and Arabic grammar. Over the course of his life he wrote more than fifty-six works. More than half of these are still in existence, and several are still used by West African ulama (scholars). Ahmad Baba also was a great collector of books; he amassed a library containing thousands of volumes. At this time, Tombouctou, ruled by the Songhai empire, was renowned throughout the Islamic world as a center of learning.

In 1591 the sultan of Morocco invaded Tombouctou. Ahmad Baba and other scholars refused to serve the Moroccan rulers and, by some accounts, instigated a 1593 rebellion against ...

Article

Islamic scholar and historian from present-day Mauritania. His name is also spelled Sidi Ahmed ould al-Amin al-Shinqiti. The nisba (name extension indicating place of origin) al-Shinqiti does not refer to the town Chinguetti (Shinqit), but was given to him during his stay in the Arab world. All bidan (Moors) going abroad to the Arab world have the nisba al-Shiniqiti added to their names, no matter from which region or town of the so-called Bilad Shinqit (“The lands of Chinguetti”; present-day Mauritania, Western Sahara, and the Azawad region in northern Mali) they come from. In the Arab world they are generally called shanaqita and their country is known as Bilad Shinqit, even if locally different names were circulating in precolonial times.

Ahmad was born around 1863 64 in the Gibla region of what is today southwestern Mauritania Trarza and belonged to a scholarly family He was from one of the Idaw ...

Article

jurist, historian, and litterateur, was born in the city of Sabta (present-day Ceuta) to an Arab family with origins in the Yemen. ‘Iyad's training in the various branches of Islamic learning was remarkably thorough. He undertook his early education in Sabta at the hand of several scholars, including the jurist ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Isa and the faqih ‘Ali Abu Ishaq al-Fasi. He then traveled to al-Andalus, and there exists notice that he studied there with no fewer than a hundred scholars, among them several leading figures of the age, including the traditionist Abu ‘Ali al-Sadafi of Murcia (d. 1120/21), the jurist Abu al-Walid ibn Rushd of Cordoba (d. 1126), and the religious scholar and jurist Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi of Seville (d. 1148).

Unlike many of his fellow North Africans it appears that Iyad never made the journey to ...

Article

John Calvert

Ibn Khaldoun (1332–1407), a prominent Arab scholar of the medieval period, is best known for the Muqaddima, the introduction to his universal history, which contains one of the world’s earliest expositions of the historical craft. During his life, Ibn Khaldoun served various rulers of North Africa and Egypt as political adviser, teacher, and magistrate. His career was marred by his involvement in a number of political intrigues. While some modern scholars regard Ibn Khaldoun as a political opportunist, others see him as a selfless man who sought a philosopher-king capable of resurrecting the fortunes of the Islamic world, which had been weakened as a result of its division among a number of tribally based dynasties, an Islamic world too long dominated by its tribes.

Ibn Khaldoun was born to an old Yemeni family that had migrated to Seville during the Muslim conquest of Spain in the ...

Article

Russell Hopley

jurist, was born in the Tunisian city of al-Qayrawan to a family originally from the region of Qabis (modern- day Gabès). His full name was Abu ʾl-Hasan ʿAli b. Muhammad b. Khalaf al-Maʿrifi al-Qabisi.

A close companion and cousin of Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d. 996), al-Qabisi received his early education at the hand of several Maliki scholars from al-Qayrawan, including Abu ʾl-Abbas al-Ibyani (d. 971), Ibn Masrur al-Dabbagh (d. 969), and Darras al-Fasi (d. 967). Of these, it was perhaps Ibn Masrur who played the greatest role in al-Qabisi’s intellectual formation. Ibn Masrur was himself a disciple of the eminent Maliki jurist Abu Said al-Tanukhi Sahnun, and he thus represents an important link in the transmission of orthodox Malikism between its early forebears in al-Qayrawan and its subsequent articulation by figures such as Ibn Abi Zayd and al-Qabisi.

Al Qabisi undertook the journey to the cultural and intellectual capitals ...

Article

Russell Hopley

777 855 jurist and religious scholar was born in al Qayrawan in southern Tunisia to an Arab family that originated in Syria His full name was Abu Saʿid ʿAbd al Salam ibn Saʿid ibn Habib ibn Hassan ibn Hilal ibn Bakkar ibn Rabiʿa al Tanukhi He received the nickname Sahnun while a young boy apparently in reference to a certain type of bird known for its cleverness His father most probably emigrated to North Africa in the mid eighth century as a soldier in the Muslim army that brought Ifriqiya the region encompassed by present day Tunisia and northwestern Libya under the control of the ʿAbbasid caliphate of Baghdad In return for his military service he was granted a small tract of land to live on and cultivate in the Sahel region of Tunisia and it was to this agrarian lifestyle that Sahnun would remain attached throughout his life ...

Article

North African scholar of Islamic law, theology, and mysticism, and leader and founder of the Sanusiyya brotherhood (tariqa), was born on 22 December 1787 in Wasita, near Mostaghanem in western Algeria. He was a sharif, or descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised and educated in his early years by his paternal aunt Fatima, and then by the leading scholars of nearby Mazuna and Mascara.

Sometime between 1805 and 1809 al-Sanusi moved to Fez, Morocco, to pursue more advanced studies at the Qarawiyyin Mosque, the celebrated university. There he studied the traditional curriculum with many of Morocco’s most prominent scholars of the time and quickly achieved academic distinction in their courses. He became an avid practitioner of Sufism and an active member in a number of several turuq (Ar. sing. tariqa mystical way or organization including the Shadhiliyya the Nasiriyya ...

Article

Stephen Cory

Moroccan Maliki legal scholar, was born and lived in Fez, where he became a noted expert in the study of hadith and qurʾanic exegesis until he was exiled to Marrakesh toward the end of his life. He is also known as Abu al-Hasan ʿAli ibn Hirzihim. He is best remembered as a vocal critic of the Almoravid regime in Morocco and a proponent of the teachings of the noted scholar, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, whose works the Almoravids had banned. Ibn Hirzihim was also influential in the early scholarly career of Abu Madyan, who would become one of the most famous Sufi saints in North Africa during the late medieval period. Better known as Sidi Harazem, Ibn Hirzihim is the patron saint of a spring located near Fez and, as such, his name is used to market drinking water in Morocco to this day.

ʿAli Ibn Hirzihim was born into a ...

Article

Salah Trabelsi

Tunisian historian and Islamologist, has devoted the best part of his career to teaching and researching medieval Maghreb and Mediterranean history. His profile is that of an atypical intellectual. After a long career teaching in primary and secondary schools, Mohamed Talbi took and passed the Arab Studies competitive examination. On the eve of Tunisia’s independence, he joined the Institute of Higher Education of Tunis. In 1955 he became the first dean of the School of Letters and Human Sciences of Tunis. He also chaired the school’s history department before devoting his full energies as director of the scientific journal Les Cahiers de Tunisie. He was born in the city of Tunis and spent most of his life there.

In 1968 Talbi defended his PhD thesis at the Sorbonne. Entitled L’émirat aghlabide 186–296, 800–909: Histoire politique (Paris: Adrien Maisonneuve, 1966; English trans. The Aghlabid Emirate, a Political History: 184/860–296/909 ...

Article

jurist, was born Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Walid ibn Khalaf ibn Sulayman Ayyub al-Qurashi al-Fihri al-Turtushi in the Spanish Andalusian city of Tortosa. Turtushi, frequently referred to as Ibn Abi Randaqa, completed his early education in Saragossa as a pupil of the prominent theologian Abu al-Walid al-Baji (d. 1081), under whose tutelage he was introduced to the various branches of the Islamic sciences. After obtaining his ijaza from al-Baji, Turtushi traveled to Seville, where he attended lectures given by the polymath religious scholar Abu Muh.ammad Ibn H..azm (d. 1064).

In 1084 Turtushi departed Al-Andalus, Spain, and made the voyage east, both to undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca and to complete his formal training with scholars in the great cultural centers of the Islamic east, including Basra, Damascus, and Baghdad. In the latter city he was able to study fiqh and h.adith with the Shafʿi scholar Abu Bakr al Shashi ...

Article

David S. Powers

Maliki scholar, jurist, and mufti, was born in Jabal Wansharis (Ouarsenis), a mountain massif in the Central Algerian Tell, 31 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of Algiers. When Ahmad was five years old, his father moved the family to Tlemcen, where he studied the Qurʾan, Arabic language, and Maliki law and jurisprudence with distinguished scholars.

In 1469 at the age of forty al Wansharisi incurred the wrath of the Zayyanid sultan Muhammad IV who ordered that his house be ransacked and plundered Leaving everything behind al Wansharisi fled to Fez where he was welcomed by the scholarly community receiving food and shelter from the jurist Muhammad al Sughayyir He moved into a house near the Muʿallaq mosque in the Sharratin quarter of Fez al Qarawiyyin and was appointed professor of Maliki law at the Madrasa Misbahiyya His knowledge of the law was proverbial He who has not studied with al ...

Article

Christine D. Baker

early Islamic historian and geographer, was born in Baghdad in the ninth century. Although commonly known as al-Yaʿqubi, his full name was Abu al-ʿAbbas Ahmad ibn Abi Yaʿqub ibn Jaʿfar ibn Wahb ibn Wadih. Little is known of his birth, early history, family, or background. He was a bureaucrat, trained as a katib, a member of the secretarial class, in Baghdad. He is believed to have been raised in Armenia. He later served under the Tahirids, a Persian dynasty of governors of Khurasan who served the Abbasid caliphate, before settling in Egypt. His precise date of death is uncertain.

Although not much detail is known about his life, al-Yaʿqubi is recognized for his historical writings, which are known for eschewing some of the dominant historiographic trends of the time. They are an example of an early proto-Shiʿi perspective on Islamic history. Three of his works survive, the Taʾrikh al-Yaʿqubi ...