Al-Qadi Abu Shuja’ Al-Asbahani and His Matn Ghayat at-Taqrib

By Abu Layth

He was the Qadi (judge), Imam, scholar of high repute, the ascetic (zahid), a tenacious Faqi(jurist), a righteous and humble ruler (wazir). All such characteristics have been attributed to him by his contemporaries and biographers throughout the ages, such as in the Tabaqat Ash-Shafi’yyah of Qadi ibn Shuhbah, the Tabaqat of As-Subki, and within the many works of the scholars that are commentaries and supra-commentaries upon his famous”Ghayat At-Taqrib”.

His agnomen (kunya) is Abu Shuja’ as well as Abu Tayyib. His full name is Shihabud-Din Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥusayn [and it reads Al-Hasan in some works] ibn Aḥmad al-Aṣfahānī.

Al-Hafith Abu Tahir As-Silafi once reported a hadith from him in his Mu’jam As-Safr up to Uthman ibn ‘Affan (radiya Allahu Anhu) that the Prophet Muhammad (upon him blessings and peace) said, “Whomever builds a masjid for Allah (the Exalted) the mighty and majestic…Allah will build something like it for him in Jannah!”

Abu Tahir As-Silafi [died 576 A.H] said after reporting this narration,

“This Qadi Abi Shuja’ is from the most impeccable men of his time! He studied and taught the school of Imam Ash-Shafi’i for 40 years in Basrah. He mentioned this [hadith] to me around 500 A..H. and he lived for an extremely long time after that. I asked him about when he was born and he told me 434 A.H. in Basrah, and that his father was born in ‘Abadaan and his grandfather was from Asbahan.”1

His biographers mention that when he was the Wazir (vizier), he was just and cared for justice for all. While being a wazir, he would not leave his house until he prayed and recited much of the Qur’an. After retiring from his position of wazir, he traveled to Medinah and became an ascetic, divorcing the needs of this world. He became the custodian, cleaning and arranging the Masjid of the Prophet Muhammad (upon him blessings and peace)until he died! Imam Al-Bayjuri in his Hashiyah states that Imam Abi Shuja’ died in 488 A.H. and that his grave is near the grave of the Ibrahim, the son of the Prophet Muhammad (upon him blessings and peace) at Al-Baqi’. This date was also professed by Ibn Al-Athir as well. However, 488  is disputed by the witnessing of Abu Tahir As-Silafi of the the Qadi at 500 A.H.! [See معجم البلدان ج4/ص74 and طبقات الشافعية الكبرى ج6/ص15]

Sidi Omar Qureshi in his class on the Matn of Abi Shuja’ stated that Abi Shuja’ died in 593 A.H. putting his lifespan at nearly 160 years old! He accepts this opinion though states that some say he died in 488 A.H. Al-Azhar University, has his death at 593 as well2 Allah knows best the truth of his death!

His Works:

Qadi Abi Shuja’s most renown work is known as Mukhtasar Abi Shuja’ or Ghayat Al-Ikhtisar and also Ghayat At-Taqri(also called the Matn of Abi Shuja’). This work is considered one of the most useful and widely studied Shafi’i primers in the Muslim world today. Several commentaries have been written on it and we shall mention these later.  Another famous work he wrote was the commentary upon Imam Al-Mawaardi’s Al-Iqna’.

The Matn (Ghayat At-Taqrib) & Its Versification and Commentaries

The Matn of Abi Shuja’ has also been versified, so the student can memorize it with ease. The most famous of versifications is Sharaf al-Dīn Yaḥyā al-ʿAmrīṭī’s (989H) versification in 1225 (and in some 1220) lines, entitled Nihāyat al-tadrīb fī naẓm Ghāyat al-taqrīb (نهاية التدريب في نظم غاية التقريب).

You can download it from ShafiiFiqh.com by clicking the following link:

نهاية التدريب في نظم غاية التقريب Nihayat At-Tadrib of Al-‘Amriti – 1.17 MB, Downloaded 180 times

Less popular attempts for versification include but are not limited to works by:

  • Aḥmad al-Ibshīṭī (883H)
  • ‘Abd al-Qādir ibn al-Muẓaffar (892H)
  • Nashr al-Shuʿā ʿalā Matn Abī Shujāʿ, by al-Dusarī (931H)
  • Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al-Sallam (931H)

The versification has a commentary Tuḥfat al-Ḥabīb by Shaykh al-Fashanī.

Commentaries and Meta-commentaries upon Ghayat At-Taqrib of Abi Shuja’:

al-Iqnā‘, Aḥmad bin Muḥammad (931H), with its meta-commentary Tashnīf al-Asmā’ bi Ḥalli Alfāẓ Abī Shujā‘, by Aḥmad bin Muḥammad (931H).

Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar Abī Shujā‘, by Aḥmad al-Akhṣāṣī (889H)

Tuḥfạt al-Ḥabib, by Ibn Daqīq al-‘Īd (702H)

Kifāyat al-Akhyār, by Taqiyud Din al-Husnī (829H) : Kifayat Al-Akhyar Sharh Ghayat Al-Ikhtisar (150)

Al-Nihāyah fī Sharḥ al-Ghāyah, by Walī al-Dīn al-Baṣīr (972H)

Al-Iqnā‘ fī Ḥall Alfāẓ Abī Shujā‘, by Muḥammad al-Khaṭīb al-Shirbīnī (977H). It has numerous meta-commentaries:

Taqrīrāt, by al-Bājūrī (1277H) and Shaykh ‘Iwaḍ

al-Bujairmī (1221H)

al-Mudābighī (1170H)

al-Ajhūrī (1190H)

al-Nabrāwī

Fatḥ al-Qarīb al-Mujīb, by Ibn Qāsim al-Ghazzī (918H). Fathul-Qarib Al-Mujib Fi Sharh Alfaath At-Taqrib – 478 KB, Downloaded 665 times

It has numerous meta-commentaries:

al-ʿAzīzī

al-Qalyūbī (1069H)

al-Barmāwī (1106H)

al-Bājūrī (1277H)

Qūt al-Ḥabīb al-Gharib, by al-Nawawī al-Jāwī

We ask Allah the Exalted to bless the efforts and works of Qadi Abi Shuja’ and make them a light for the Ummah until the hour. Amin!

Stamp salah 'ala al-Nabi

  1. You can read some of this quote from Tabaqat Ash-Shafiyyah Al-Kubra here: http://www.al-eman.com/Islamlib/viewchp.asp?BID=401&CID=35#s5 []
  2. http://193.227.11.162:8080/dspace/handle/123456789/381 []
[Taken, with permission, from shafiifiqh.com]

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