Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (Arabic: جلال الدين السيوطي, romanizedJalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī) (c. 1445–1505 CE),[6][a] or Al-Suyuti, was an Egyptian Sunni ascetic polymath, Mujtahid and Mujaddid of the Islamic 10th century. A premier muhaddith, mufassir, faqīh, Arabic specialist, historian and philologist, who massively contributed to every Islamic science.[7]

Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti
جلال الدين السيوطي
جلال الدين السيوطي.png
Personal
Born3 October 1445 CE / 1 Rajab 849 AH
Died18 October 1505 CE / 19 Jumadi Ula 911 AH
ReligionIslam
RegionEgypt
DenominationSunni
JurisprudenceShafi'i[3][4]
CreedAsh'ari[1][2]
Main interest(s)Aqidah, Sharia, Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Hadith, Usul al-Hadith, Tafsir, Arabic grammar, Arabic Literature, Rhetoric, Seerah, Philology, Mathematics, Medicine
Notable work(s)Tafsir al-Jalalayn Tarikh Al Khulafa Khasais Kubra Khasais Sughra Mazhar Jami al Kabir Jami Al Saghir
Muslim leader
Influenced
Arabic name
Personal (Ism)‘Abd al-Raḥmān
Patronymic (Nasab)ibn Abī Bakr ibn Muḥammad
Teknonymic (Kunya)Abū al-Faḍl
Epithet (Laqab)Jalāl al-Dīn
Toponymic (Nisba)al-Suyūṭī, al-Khuḍayrī, al-Shāfi‘ī

He was described as one of the most prolific writers of the Middle Ages. His biographical dictionary Bughyat al-Wuʻāh fī Ṭabaqāt al-Lughawīyīn wa-al-Nuḥāh contains valuable accounts of prominent figures in the early development of Arabic philology. He was also an important authority of the Shafi'i school of thought (madhhab).

BiographyEdit

Early LifeEdit

Al-Suyuti was born on 3 October 1445 AD (1 Rajab 849 AH) in Cairo, Egypt.[8] He hailed from a Persian family on his paternal side. His mother was Circassian.[9] According to al-Suyuti his ancestors came from al-Khudayriyya in Baghdad.[10] His family moved to Asyut in Mamluk Egypt, hence the nisba "Al-Suyuti".[11][12] His father taught Shafi'i law at the Mosque and Khanqah of Shaykhu in Cairo, but died when al-Suyuti was 5 or 6 years old.[12][13]

EducationEdit

Al-Suyuti grew up in an orphanage in Cairo. He became a Ḥāfiẓ of the Qu'ran at the age of eight years, followed by studying the Shafi'i and Hanafi jurisprudence (fiqh), traditions (hadith), exegesis (tafsir), theology, history, rhetoric, philosophy, philology, arithmetic, timekeeping (miqat) and medicine.[12]

He then dedicated his entire life to master the Sacred Sciences under approximately 150 sheikhs. Among them were renowned scholars who were the leading scholars of each sacred Islamic science of their time.[14]

In his thirst for quest for knowledge, Al-Suyuti travelled to Syria, Hejaz (Mecca & Medina), Yemen, Iraq, India, Tunisia. and Morocco, as well as to educational hubs in Egypt such as Mahalla, Dumyat, and Fayyum.

TeachingEdit

He started teaching Shafi'i jurisprudence at the age of 18, at the same mosque as his father did.

Al-Suyuti became the head master of Hadith at the Shaykhuniyya school in Cairo, at the suggestion of Imam Kamal al-Din ibn al-Humam. In 1486, Sultan Qaitbay appointed him shaykh at the Khanqah of Baybars II, a Sufi lodge,[13] but was sacked due to protests from other scholars whom he had replaced. After this incident, he gave up teaching and was fed up of others being jealous of him.[15]

Avoiding Public LifeEdit

In his late forties, al-Suyuti began avoiding the public when he argued with the Sufis in the Baybarsiyyah lodge, he disagreed their claim to be Sufis and were not following the path of saints in terms of manners and ethics, he was thus dismissed.[16]

Ibn Iyas, in his book called Tarikh Misr, said that when al-Suyuti became forty years of age, he left the company of men for the solitude of the garden of al-Miqyas, close to the River Nile, where he abandoned his friends and former co-workers as if he had never met them before. It was at this stage of his life where he authored most of his 600 books and treatises.[17]

Rich and Influential Muslims and rulers would visit him with large sums of money and gifts but he rejected their offers and also refused the king many times when he ordered al-Suyuti’s to be summoned. He once said to the king's ambassador:[18]

“Do not ever come back to us with a gift, for in truth Allah has put an end to all such needs for us.”

Known incidentsEdit

Al-Suyuti had some backlash with some of his contemporaries especially by his own teacher Al-Sakhawi and his fellow student Al-Qastallani who were two major renowned muhaddithuns. Al-Suyuti was accused in a similar reason like Ibn Al-Jawzi but those accusations were later dropped.[19]

Defending Ibn ArabiEdit

His most famous clash was with one of his teachers, Burhan al-Din Ibrahim ibn Umar al-Biqai, who staunchly criticized Ibn Arabi in his book called Tallanbih al-Ghabi ila Takfir Ibn ‘Arabi translated in English 'Warning to the Dolt That Ibn Arabi is an Apostate', Al-Suyuti responded with a book called Tanbih Al-Ghabi fi Takhti'a Ibn ‘Arabi translated in English 'Warning to the Dolt That Faults Ibn ‘Arabi'. Both epistles have been made widely available. In his writing, Al-Suyuti presented that he considered Ibn ‘Arabi a Wali (Friend of Allah) whose books are prohibited to those who read them without first learning the sophisticated terms used by the Sufis. He quotes from Ibn Hajar's list in his book called Anba' al-Gh which mention the trustworthy and respected scholars who kept a positive opinion of Ibn Arabi or even recognized him to be an Awliyah.[20]

Creed & Spiritual LineageEdit

In terms of his theological positions, Al-Suyuti had a contempt feeling towards the science of speculative theology (kalam) and pushed for strict submission (tafwid) in the divine texts of ambiguous verses regarding God's attributes. He firmly opposed the use of logic in the Islamic sciences.[21] As mentioned before, Al-Suyuti adhered to the strict position of Tafwid al-Ma'na.[22]

"Consign [the meaning] of the ahadīth of attributes [to Allāh] and do not liken them to the creation (tashbih) nor negate them [the attributes of Allah]. If all other pursuits have passed except embarking upon. The solving of this problem, only then search for an interpretation [in accordance to the Arabic language]. Indeed the one who consigns [its meaning to Allāh] is saved from the burden of the one who interprets figuratively (ta'wil)."

Al-Suyuti was Ash'ari in his creed, as presented in many of his works. In Masalik al-Hunafa fi Walidayy al-Mustafa, translated in English 'Methods Of Those With Pure Belief Concerning the Parents of The Prophet ﷺ' he said:[23]

"The parents of the Prophet ﷺ died before he attained Prophethood, and there is no punishment for them. The Qur’an says

‘We never punish until We send a messenger [whom they reject]’ (al-Isra’ 17: 15).

Our Ash'arī Imams, among those in kalam, usul, and fiqh, agree on the statement that one who dies while da’wah has not reached him, dies saved. This has been explained by Imam Al-Shafi'i as follows: ‘some of the fuqaha' explained that the reason for the above is, such a person follows fitra (primordial disposition), and has not stubbornly refused nor rejected any Messenger.”

Al-Suyuti claimed to be a mujtahid (an authority on source interpretation who gives legal statements on jurisprudence, hadith studies, and Arabic language).[11]

“I did not mean that I was similar to one of the Four Imams, but only that I was an affiliated mujtahid (mujtahid muntasib). For, when I reached the level of tarjih or distinguishing the best fatwa inside the school, I did not contravene Al-Nawawi's tarjih. And, when I reached the level of ijtihad mutlaq, I did not contravene Al-Shafi’i’s school.”

Al-Suyuti claimed he reached the same level as the major Imams of Hadith and Fiqh.[24]

“When I went on hajj, I drank Zamzam Water water for several matters. Among them was that I reach the level of Sheikh Siraj al-Din al-Bulqini in fiqh, and in hadith, that of Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani.’”

He then made a bald public statement claiming there was no scholar on Earth more knowledgeable than him:

“There is no one in our time, on the face of the earth, from East to West, more knowledgeable than me in Hadith and the Arabic language, save Al-Khidr or the Pole of saints or some other wali - none of whom do I include into my statement - and Allah knows best.”

This brought huge attention and heavy criticism by scholars of his contemporaries as he was portrayed as some arrogant and egotistical scholar who viewed himself to be superior and wiser to others. However, Al-Suyuti defended himself stating he was only speaking the truth so that people can benefit from his vast knowledge and accept his rulings (fatwas).[25]

Al-Suyuti was a Sufi of the Shadhili order.[11] Al-Suyuti’s chain in Tasawwuf goes way back to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani. Al-Suyuti defended Sufis in his book entitled Tashyid al-Haqiqa al-Aliyya:[26]

“I have looked at the matters which the Imams of Shariah have criticized in Sufis, and I did not see a single true Sufi holding such positions. Rather, they are held by the people of innovation and the extremists who have claimed for themselves the title of Sufi while in reality they are not.’”

In his book entitled Tashyid, Al-Suyuti demonstrates a narrative chains of transmission by providing evidence that Hasan al-Basri did in indeed receive narrations directly from Ali ibn Abi Talib. This goes against the mainstream view amongst scholars of Hadith, despite also being a respected opinion of Ahmad Bin Hanbal.[27]

DeathEdit

Considered the greatest scholar of his century, he continued publishing books of his scholarly writings until he passed away on 18 October 1505 at the age of sixty two.[13]

In the beginning of his book called 'Al-Riyad al-Aniqa' translated in English 'The names of the Prophet' ﷺ He said:[28]

“It is my hope that Allah accepts this book and that through this book I shall gain the intercession of the Prophet ﷺ. Perhaps it shall be that Allah makes it the seal of all my works, and grants me what I have asked Him with longing, regarding the Honorable One.”

ReceptionEdit

Ibn al-ʿImād writes: "Most of his works become world famous in his lifetime." Renowned as a prolific writer, his student Dawudi said: "I was with the Shaykh Suyuti once, and he wrote three volumes on that day. He could dictate annotations on ĥadīth, and answer my objections at the same time. In his time he was the foremost scholar of the ĥadīth and associated sciences, of the narrators including the uncommon ones, the hadith matn (text), isnad (chain of narrators), the derivation of hadith rulings. He has himself told me, that he had memorized over two hundred thousand (200,000) hadiths." Adding that there was no scholar at his time who memorized this much.[29][30][31]

His admirers stated that Al-Suyuti writings reached as far as India during his time on Earth. His learning and more importantly his incredible prolific output were widely seen as miraculous signs from God due to his merit.[32]

WorksEdit

The Dalil Makhtutat al-Suyuti ("Directory of al-Suyuti's Manuscripts") states that al-Suyuti wrote works on over 700 subjects,[12] while a 1995 survey put the figure between 500[9] and 981. However, these include short pamphlets, and legal opinions.[11]

He wrote his first book, Sharh Al-Isti'aadha wal-Basmalah, in 866 AH, at the age of seventeen.[citation needed]

In Ḥusn al-Muḥaḍarah al-Suyuti lists 283 of his works on subjects from religion to medicine. As with Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi in his medicinal works, he writes almost exclusively on prophetic medicine, rather than the Islamic-Greek synthesis of medicinal tradition found in the works of Al-Dhahabi. He focuses on diet and natural remedies for serious ailments such as rabies and smallpox, and for simple conditions such as headaches and nosebleeds, and mentions the cosmology behind the principles of medical ethics.[33]

Al-Suyuti also wrote a number of Islamic sexual education manuscripts that represent major works in the genre, which began in the 10th-century in Baghdad. The most significant of these works is Al-Wishāḥ fī Fawāʾid al-Nikāḥ ("The Sash on the Merits of Wedlock"),[6] but other examples of such manuscripts include Shaqāʾiq al-Utrunj fī Raqāʾiq al-Ghunj, Nawāḍir al-Ayk fī Maʻrifat al-Nayk and Nuzhat al-Mutaʾammil.[34]

Major worksEdit

 
Shrine for Galal El-Dean al-Seyoti in Asiut
  • Tafsir al-Jalalayn (Arabic: تفسير الجلالين, lit.'Commentary of the Two Jalals'); a Qur'anic exegesis written by Al-Suyuti and his teacher Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli[12]
  • Dur al-Manthur (Arabic: درالمنثور) a famous and authoritative narration based tafsir.
  • Al-Itqān fi ‘Ulum Al-Qur’an (translated into English as The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qur'an, ISBN 9781859642412)
  • Al-Tibb al Nabawi (Arabic: الطب النبوي, lit.'Prophetic medicine')
  • Al-Jaami' al-Kabir (Arabic: الجامع الكبير, lit.'Large collection')
  • Al-Jaami' al-Saghir (Arabic: الجامع الصغير, lit.'Little collection' )
  • Sharh Sunan An-Nasaai, a famous commentary of Sunan al-Nasa'i[35]
  • Annotations Sunan Abi Dawood, a complete annotations of Sunan Abu Dawood written by the Hadith scientist Al-Suyuti[36]
  • Alfiyyah al-Hadith [37]
  • Tadrib al-Rawi (Arabic: تدريب الراوي) both in hadith terminology
  • Al-Ashbaahu Wan-Nadhaair, a famous authoritative book of the Shafi'i madhab[38]
  • History of the Caliphs (Tarikh al-khulafa)
    • The Khalifas who Took the Right Way, a partial translation of the History of the Caliphs, covering the first four Rashidun caliphs and Hasan ibn Ali
  • Tabaqat al-Huffaz, an appendix to al-Dhahabi's Tadhkirat al-huffaz
  • Nuzhat al-Julasāʼ fī Ashʻār al-Nisāʼ (Arabic: نزهة الجلساء في أشعار النساء), "An Anthology of Women's Verse'[39]
  • Al-Khasais-ul-Kubra, which discusses the miracles of Islamic prophet Muhammad
  •   Al-Muzhir. (Arabic Linguistics)[40]
  • Uqud Al Juman (Arabic Rhetoric)
  • Al-Faridah (Arabic Grammar)
  • The Book of Exposition (credited)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ (Arabic: جلال الدين عبد الرحمن بن أبي بكر بن محمد الخضيري السيوطي; Abū al-Faḍl ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Abī Bakr ibn Muḥammad Jalāl al-Dīn al-Khuḍayrī al-Suyūṭī (Brill 2nd)

BibliographyEdit

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  2. ^ In Masalik al-Hunafa' fi Walidayy al-Mustafa, he says: "The Prophet's parents died before he was sent as a Prophet and there is no punishment for them, since (We never punish until We send a messenger (whom they reject)( (17:15 ). Our Ash`ari Imams among those in kalam, usul, and fiqh agree on the statement that one who dies while da`wa has not reached him, dies saved. This has been defined by Imam al-Shafi`i.. . . Some of the fuqaha' explained that the reason is, such a person follows fitra or Primordial Disposition, and has not stubbornly refused nor rejected any Messenger"
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  19. ^ Ayub, Zulfiqar (2 May 2015). THE BIOGRAPHIES OF THE ELITE LIVES OF THE SCHOLARS, IMAMS & HADITH MASTERS Biographies of The Imams & Scholars. Zulfiqar Ayub Publications. p. 283.
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  29. ^ Al-Kawākib as-Sāyirah 1/228[verification needed]
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  33. ^ Emilie Savage-Smith, "Medicine." Taken from Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Volume 3: Technology, Alchemy and Life Sciences, pg. 928. Ed. Roshdi Rasheed. London: Routledge, 1996. ISBN 0415124123
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External linksEdit