Al-Imâm Ibn AbdilBarr:
The Exceptional Star that Shone from the Islamic Maghreb

He is Abu 'Umar Yuusuf bn Abdillaah bn Muhammad bn 'AbdilBarr bn 'Aasim An-Namaree, Al-Andalusee, Al-Qurtubee, Al-Maalikee, the Imam, Al-‘Allaamah, Shaykul Islam, the Haafiz of the Islamic Maghrib and author of numerous outstanding works.

[Translator's Note: An-Namaree is an ascription to An-Namir bn Qaasit, a large and renowned tribe. Andalus was a Muslim state in parts of what are today Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and France. Al-Qurtubee is an ascription to the city of Cordoba, which was estimated to be the most populous city in the world and the intellectual centre of Europe during ibn ‘AbdilBarr’s time.]

He was born in the year 368AH in Rabeeu'l-Aakhir while some said Jumadal-Ulaa. He started seeking knowledge around 390AH, he met the elders, had a long life, blessed with uluw sanad (shorter chains), and was centre of attraction for countless students. He compiled and authored, he spoke about narrators, many rides will be needed to convey his works and the scholars of his time bowed to his knowledge.

He missed narrating from his father, the Imam Abu Muhammad who died relatively young at the age of fifty in the year 380. He was a faqeeh, a worshipper, a mujtahid, and learnt fiqh from Is'haaq bn Ibraheem At-Tajaybee (d.354) and Abu 'Umar bn Hazm, the historian.

Abu ‘Umar learnt from Abu Muhammad 'Abdullaah bn Muhammad bn 'AbdilMu'min, Muhammad bn AbdilMalik bn Dayfoon, Abul Qaasim AbdulWaarith bn Sufyaan, Saeed bn Nasr, the Mawla of An-Naasir lideeniLlaah and others.

Among those who learnt from him were Abu Muhammad bn Hazm, Abul 'Abaas bn Dalhath, Abu Muhammad bn Abi Quhafah, Al-Haafiz Abu 'Alee Al-Ghasanee, Al-Haafiz Abu 'Abdillaah Al-Humaidee among others.

He got permission to narrate from Abul Fath, the companion of Al-Baghawee, Al-Haafiz Abdul-Ghanee bn Saeed and others from the people of Misr, and from Haram, Abul Fath 'Ubaydullaah As-Saqatee.

Al-Humaidee said: Abu 'Umar, the jurist, Haafiz, a scholar of recitation and differences, sciences of hadeeth and narrators, he tended toward the opinion of Ash-Shafi’ee.

Abu 'Alee Al-Ghasanee said: There is no one like Qaasim bn Muhammad and Ahmad bn Khaalid Al-Jabaab but Ibn AbdilBarr is not inferior to them or is he lacking when compared to them. He was from Namir bn Qaasit, he learnt and preceded others, he accompanied Abu 'Umar Ahmad bn AbdilMalik, the faqeeh and Abul Waleed bnl Fardee. He persevered in the study of hadeeth and was enthralled by it, he became so proficient in it that he outclassed those who came before him among the men of Andalusia.

Notwithstanding his precedence in the sciences of athar, his profound insight in fiqh and deep understanding, he still had a colossal comprehension of genealogy and antiquity especially of his native land.

He was in the west for a time before moving to eastern Andalusia, so he stayed in Daaniyah (present day Alicante province, Spain), Valencia and Shatiba (Jatiba) where he died. It has been mentioned that he was judge in present day Lisbon (capital of Portugal) for a while.

I (Imam Adh-Dhahabee) say: He was an Imam of the religion, reliable, dexterous, distinguished, resourceful, a person of Sunnah and 'Itibaa, it was said that he was once a dhahiri then turned towards the Maliki school with a soft spot for the fiqh of Imam Ash-Shafi'ee and he was not reproached for this because he reached the level of the imams, the Mujtahidoon. Whoever reads his works will accept his status because of his extensive knowledge, robust understanding, and torrential brainpower.

Abu Qaasim bn Baskwaal said: Ibn Abdil-Barr, the Imam of his time, the matchless of his era... and the scholars of the East wrote to him.

Abu 'Alee said I heard Abul Waleed Al-Baajee say: there is no one in Andalusia like Abu 'Umar in hadeeth and he was the most proficient from the people of the West (Maghrib).

Abu 'Alee Al-Ghasanee said: Abu 'Umar compiled At-Tamheed...where he arranged Muwatta on the alphabetical order of the teachers of Imam Maalik, a book no one preceded him on such undertaking and it was in seventy volumes.

Ibn Hazm said: I don’t know any match for him regarding the understanding of hadeeth, how can I be better than him?

Abu Abdillaah bn Abil-Fath: Abu 'Umar was the most knowledgeable person from Andalus regarding the Sunan, Athaar and the differences of the scholars of various regions. He was a dhahiri for a long time, and then reverted to Qiyaas without blind-following of anyone except that he tended towards the opinions of Ash-Shafi'ee.

Al-Humaydee said: Abu 'Umar is a faqeeh, haafiz, versatile, a scholar of recitation and differences, the sciences of hadeeth and narrators with extensive reach. He did not leave Andalus and he tended towards the opinions of Ash-Shafi'ee.

He died at the age of ninety five years and five days on Friday night in the month of Rabee'ul Aakhir 463AH. He was the Haafiz of the West during his time and it is the same year that the Haafiz of the East, Abu Bakr Al-Khateeb died too.

I (Imam Adh-Dhahabee) say: With respect to the fundamentals of the religion, he was upon the beliefs of the Salaf, he never delved into Kalam thereby following the ways of his teachers, may Allaah have mercy on them all.

Al-Imaam Adh-Dhahabee then narrated the hadeeth of 'Ubadah bn Saamit “We took covenant with the Prophet…” with a connected sanad containing Abu 'Umar ibn Abdil-Barr.

Some of his works include:

Al-Isti’yaab fi ma’rifatil As’haab (The Comprehensive Compilation of the Names of the Prophet's Companions).

Al-Ajwiba al-Mû`iba ("The Comprehensive Answers");

Al-`Aql wal-`Uqalâ' ("Reason and the People of Wisdom");

Ash`âr Abî al-`Atâhiya ("The Poems of Abû al-`Atahiya");

Al-Bayân fî Tilâwat al-Qur'an ("The Exposition Concerning the Recitation of the Qur'ân");

Al-Farâ'id ("The Laws of Inheritance");

Al-Iktifâ' fî Qirâ'at Nâfi`in wa Abî `Amrin ("The Sufficiency in the recitation of Nâfi` and Abû `Amr");

Al-Inbâh `an Qabâ'il al-Ruwâh ("Drawing Attention to the clans of the Narrators");

Al-Insâf fî Asmâ' Allâh ("The book of Fairness on the Names of Allâh");

Al-Intiqâ' fî Fadâ'il al-Thalâthat al- A'immat al-Fuqahâ' Mâlik wal-Shâfi`î wa Abî Hanîfa ("The Exclusive Exceptional Virtues of the Three Great Jurisprudent Imâms: Mâlik, Shâfi`î, and Abû Hanîfa").

Al-Istidhkâr li Madhhab `Ulamâ' al- Amsâr fîmâ Tadammanahu al- Muwatta' min Ma`ânî al-Ra'î wal-Athâr ("The Memorization of the Doctrine of the Scholars of the World Concerning the Juridical Opinions and the Narrations Found in Mâlik's Muwatta'");

Jâmi` Bayân al-`Ilmi wa-Fadlihi wamâ Yanbaghî fî Riwâyatihi wa Hamlih ("Compendium Elucidating the Nature of Knowledge and Its Immense Merit, and What is Required in the Process of Narrating it and Conveying it");

Al-Kâfî fî Madhhab Mâlik ("The Sufficiency in Mâlik's School of Jurisprudence");

Al-Kunâ ("The Patronyms");

Al-Maghâzî ("The Battles");

Al-Qasd wal-Umam fî Nasab al-`Arab wal-`Ajam ("The Endeavors and the Nations regarding the Genealogies of the Arabs and Non-Arabs");

Al-Shawâhid fî Ithbât Khabar al-Wâhid ("The Supporting Evidence for Maintaining Lone-Narrator Reports [as a source for legal rulings]");

Al-Tamhîd limâ fîl-Muwatta' min al- Ma`ânî wal-Asânîd ("The Facilitation to the Meanings and Chains of Transmission Found in Mâlik's Muwatta'"); and

Al-Taqassî fî Ikhtisâr al-Muwatta' ("The Detailed Study in the Abridgment of the Muwatta'").


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