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The Imam Abu Bakr Al-Qaffal “Al-Kabir” Ash-Shashi

He is the scholar of Quranic exegesis (tafsir), the master of Hadith, the Usuli, the Grammarian and poet, the Imam of the Shāfi’is and the Mujahid Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Isma’il Ash-Shāshī, well known as “Al-Qaffāl Al-Kabīr”. He is heavily relied upon in works of fiqh produced by the Imams of the Shafi’i school. He is known as “Al-Qaffal Al-Kabīr – or the older Qaffāl” because of Al-Qaffāl As-Saghīr (the younger) who is Abu Bakr Abdullah ibn Ahmad Al-Marwazi, also a Shāfi’i jurist and born some 400 years after our Qaffāl.

Al-Qaffāl Ash-Shāshī was born in the year 291 A.H corresponding with 904 CE in the city of Ash-Shāsh. Ash-Shāsh is what is currently known as Tashkent Uzbekistan.

He began his studies by going to Khurasān, then to ‘Iraq, then to the land of the two Harams, Medinah and Makkah. It is said that he finished his studies in Shām (Greater Syria). Some of the major scholars he studied beneath were Imam Abu Bakr Ibn Khuzaymah, the author of the famous Sahīh, Imām Ibn Jarīr At-Tabarī the Imām of tafsīr, fiqh and hadīth, said to have had his own school of law that is now deceased. He also studied beneath the jurst and specialist in Hadīth Abul-Qāsim Al-Baghawī, May Allah have mercy upon them all. Amongst his students were great masters of law and hadith, the most famous of them is Abu Abdullah Al-Hākim the author of the Al-Mustadarak ‘Alas-Sahihayn. Also the famous Abu Abdullah ibn Mandah the author of Kitāb At-Tawhīd and Kitāb Al-Imān, as well as the famous Sufī and scholar Abu Abdullah As-Sulamī, the Jurist Abu Abdullah Al-Halīmī, Abu Nasr ibn Qatādah, as well as many other greats, may Allah have mercy upon them all.

The scholars of old have praised him for his immense knowledge and dedication to Islām. Al-Hākim said of him, “He was the most knowledgable of the people of wara’ An-Nahr (the area north of ‘Iraq) within his era. He traveled extensively for knowledge of law and hadith.” Al-Imam Abu Is-Hāq Ash-Shīrāzī said of him, “He was a great Imam! He had many great works such as a commentary upon Imam Ash-Shafi’ī’s risālah as well as works on fiqh (such as Mahāsin Ash-Shari’ah). He was the greatest Shāf’i jurist north of Iraq.” As-Sam’anī stated that he also wrote a book entitled “Dalā’il An-Nubuwwa”. Ibn As-Salāh said that he was one of the most knowledgable in the madh-hab of Imam Ash-Shāfi’ī and he collected and uplifted the knowledge of the school. Imam An-Nawawī said in his Tahthīb, “Ash-Shāshī mastered tafsir, hadith, Usūl, Kalām, and the sciences.” Adh-Dhahabi and As-Subkī labeled him as an Imam in all of the sciences adding that he was an ascetic (zāhid), pious, as well as one who fought with his sword and pen in Jihād. As-Subki reports from Al-Halīmī that he took part in the Jihād against the Romans, and that he also wrote incredible poetry and songs for the Mujāhidīn. A famous poem recorded by Imām Al-Bayhaqi reads:

قال أبو بكر البيهقي في ” شعب الإيمان ” : أنشدنا أبو نصر بن قتادة ، أنشدنا أبو بكر القفال : أوسـع رحـلي على من نزلوزادي مبـاح على من أكل
نقـدم حـاضر مـا عندنـاوإن لم يكن غير خبز وخـل
فأمـا الكـريم فيرضى بـهوأما اللئيم فمن لم أبــــل

Imam Al-Qaffāl Ash-Shāshī died in the month of Thul-Hijjah in the year 365 A.H (976 CE) in the city of Ash-Shāsh. His tomb still stands today in Tashkent, may Allah have mercy upon him.

This answer was collected from Shafiifiqh.com which was a repository of Islamic answers as per the Shafi’i madhhab. The website no longer functions. At its peak, many ‘ulama were involved with the site including Shaykh Mawlana Taha Karaan, Shaykh Abdul-Fattah ibn Abdullah, and Shaykh AbdurRagman Khan.

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