Qadi 'Abdullah ibn Ghanim

(d. 190/806) Qadi in Qayrawan

Ibn al-Fardi said: He is 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar ibn Ghanim. His kunya was Abu 'Abdu'r-Rahman.

Abu'l-'Arab at-Tamimi said, "He was firm, reliable, a just faqih in his judgement."

Abu 'Ali ibn Abi Da'id said in The Book of the Clear Words on the News of the Maghrib, "Ibn Ghanim was a perfect and eminent man of fiqh. He had clear language, fine eloquence, and insight into Arabic and the transmission of poetry. Beautiful verses were composed by him, although he had a stammer. His father was known among the Arabs of North Africa and their sons before the arrival of the 'Abbasid partisans."

Another said, "He was one of the people of knowledge, the deen, intellect, scrupulousness, humility, eloquence and purity of style."

Ibn Ghanim listened to Ibn An'am and Khalif Abu 'Imran and he travelled to the Hijaz, Syria and Iraq. He listened to Malik, and relied on him, and to Sufyan ath-Thawri. 'Uthman ibn ad-Dahhak, Isra'il ibn Yunus, Da'ud ibn Qays and others. Al-Qa'nabi and others listened to him."


Ibn 'Imran said, "Malik esteemed Ibn Ghanim. When Ibn Ghanim came, Malik sat him at his side and asked him about the news of the Maghrib. When Malik's people saw him, they said, 'The Maghribi has distracted him from us.' When he was appointed a qadi, Malik informed his companions of that and was happy about it."

It is said that Malik offered to marry his daughter to him and have him live with him. He refused to reside there and said to him, "If you send her to the Qayrawan, I will marry her."

He had what heard from Malik written down and devoted himself to that. There are questions from him in the collection and he listened to the Muwatta'.


He said, "A man brought a document to Asad in the handwriting of Ibn Ghanim. Asad began to show it and tap it with his finger. He said, 'There is no one who has more fiqh than he does.'"


Sulayman ibn 'Imran said, "Ibn Ghanim was perfect, complete, eloquent, very clear, with good correct reading. If it had not been for his stutter, no one would have matched the fluency of his tongue."

Ma'mar said, "Ibn Ghanim read the books of Abu Hanifa to us one Friday. When news of his death reached Ibn Ghanim, he exclaimed, 'We belong to Allah and to Him we return,' and he asked for mercy on him. Then he said, 'I used to support him.'"


Ibn Ghanim said, "When I went with al-Bahlul ibn Rashid to Sufyan ath-Thawri, he said, 'Let the one of you with the most eloquent tongue read. When I hear ungrammatical Arabic, it does something to my heart,' so I read to him until we left him. He did not correct me in a single letter."

His Qadiship

Ash-Shirazi said, "The khalif Harun ar-Rashid appointed Ibn Ghanim qadi of North Africa. It is said that the Amir of North Africa, Rawh ibn Hatim al-Muhallabi, appointed him. Ibn Farrukh, the faqih, indicated that he should be the qadi after he himself refused the appointment."

It is reported that Abu Yusuf told Rawh when he went to the Qayrawan, "There is a young man in the Qayrawan called 'Abdullah ibn Ghanim. He knows fiqh, so appoint him qadi of North Africa."

He was appointed qadi in Rajab, 171, when he was 42 years old while Malik was still alive When Malik heard about his appointment, he was happy about it and told his companions about that. When Ibn Abi Hassan came to him, he asked Ibn Abi Hassan about that and he told him about it. He said to him, "There is no one better than him."

Harun ar-Rashid corresponded with him, and his qadiship was considered as originating from him.

Ibn Ghanim's companions argued about his appointment as qadi. Some of them said, "It originates from the 'Abbasid partisans below the Amir al-Mu'minin." Abi 'Uthman ibn 'Uthman al-Ma'afiri stated that his wife would be divorced and his slaves set free if anyone other than the Amir al-Mu'minin had appointed Ibn Ghanim.

Then he went to Ibn Ghanim and told him what he had sworn. He said to him, "Abu 'Uthman, what is the bride-price of your wife?" He said, "200 dinars." He said, "What is the price of your slaves?" He said, "100 dinars." He said, "Take it. Your wife is clear of you and your slaves are free."


Ibn Ghanim remained qadi until he died. His appointment lasted about nineteen years.

When he was qadi, Ibn Ghanim used to send this same Abu 'Uthman to Malik with his questions. When matters of dispute came to him, he took Malik's answers on them. He used to write to Ibn Kinana for the answers which he had from Malik. He also wrote to Abu Yusuf.


Ibn Ghanim used to wear the best clothes. He appointed a day for the lawsuits of the women in which he would sit to investigate them. On that day he would wear skins and coarse and tattered clothes and would keep his eyes on the ground. Someone who did not know him would not have doubted that he was blind and remove the curtain and book from him.

He used to pray night-prayers. When he had finished and sat in the final tashahhud, he mentioned each litigant for whom he intended to judge to his Lord and said, "O Lord, so-and-so is fighting so-and-so and he claims such-and-such against him, but he rejects his claim. I asked him for a clear proof and he brought a clear proof to testify on behalf of what he claimed. Then I asked him for testimony [by witnesses] and he brought me those who testified to that. I asked about them secretly and they were mentioned and I am about to take what is due him from his friend as it is clear to me that he is owed that. If I am correct, make me firm. If I am not correct, then avert me. O Allah, do not leave me! O Allah, make me safe!" He continued to mention the litigants to his Lord until he had gone through all of them.


Ibn Ghanim is the one who made a waqf of the protected areas at the ports of North Africa for the murabitun who defended them.


When Ibn Ghanim sat, the litigants would hand him earthenware on which their cases were written. One day he found a piece of earthenware which contained the case of the mule-drivers. He summoned them and they told him that Abu Harun, the client of Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab the elder, the man in power, had purchased some mules from them for 400 dinars, but had not paid them anything. Ibn Ghanim closed his office and went to Ibrahim who had given him leave to come to him without permission. When the Qadi came, he cleared his throat. Then he said to him, "Come in," and he went in and did as he usually did.

Ibrahim asked him, "What is the story?" He mentioned the case of the wronged parties to him, so he summoned Abu Harun who admitted it. He said, "Leave it until the kharaj-tax comes in. I have sent for it."

Ibn Ghanim said, "I will not go until you pay them their money." He did not go until he had paid them.


Amir Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab summoned Ibn Ghanim one day and read him the letter of ar-Rashid and ordered him to summon a man called Hatim al-Abzari. He said that Faraj, the client of the Amir al-Mu'minin, is owed a debt of 10,000 dinars by him. He had commanded Ibrahim to take it and send it with a Khorasani messenger to him. He said to him at the end of the letter, "Summon Ibn Ghanim the Qadi and summon the one who is sought that he might tremble in fear." When Ibrahim finished reading the letter, he asked Ibn Ghanim, "Have you heard what it contains?" He replied, "Yes."

Ibn Ghanim said, "And am I summoned to say something about what the letter contains?" Ibrahim said, "Why else would I command your presence then?"

He said, "The first thing in that is that the messenger should confirm with two witnesses that the Amir al-Mu'minin appointed him to take the money if it is sound, and that the money belongs to the Amir al-Mu'minin or his client." The messenger said, 'Would the Amir al-Mu'minin write what is false?'

He said, 'I seek refuge with Allah! The Amir al-Mu'minin is too noble to take money which is not lawful for him, but things can become disordered below him.' The Khorasani said, 'What do you say, Amir?' He said, 'What the Qadi says.' He endured it and Ibn Ghanim got up and brought al-Abzari with him. Ibrahim said, 'Allah is with him! How penetrating his insight is and how effective his resolve!"


One day Ibn Ghanim was riding with the Amir Ibrahim and Ibrahim's animal was a faster walker, so Ibn Ghanim turned his beast around and returned to his house. Ibrahim criticised him for that. Ibn Ghanim said, "May Allah put the Amir right! The carrying out of the judgements of the Qadi is according to his rank. If I assisted you and spurred my animal on, my turban would have fallen off and the children would have played with it!"

He rode with him another time and Ibrahim crossed a field, so Ibn Ghanim did not ride with him.

He came to him one day while Ibrahim was holding a jar which contained a little oil. He said, "How much do you think this is worth, Qadi?" He said, "A small amount. How much is it?" Ibrahim said, "Such-and-such a price." Ibn Ghanim said, "What is it?" He said, "Poison." He said, "Can I see it?" Ibrahim gave him the jar and he deliberately hit it in the assembly and broke it.

One day Ibrahim invited him to go up the minaret and he refused. He said, "We will violate the sanctity of the Muslims!" He did not climb up with him.


He came to Ibrahim one day when a letter from Harun ar-Rashid had come to him. Ibrahim read his letter and then gave it to Ibn Ghanim who read it and returned it to Ibrahim. Ibrahim said to him, "Let me have your letter to read." He said, "I will not do it." Ibrahim said to him, "So why did you read my letter?" He said, "You gave it to me and extended your hand with it, so I did not want to refuse it. The Amir al-Mu'minin has concealed for me in his letter what I do not want anyone to see."

Ibrahim said to him, "Don't you know that Ibrahim, the Amir of North Africa, will kill 'Abdullah, the Qadi?" He said, "He mentioned that, but you are not that Amir. It is your son. I am not that Qadi. He is another one." It happened that the report was confirmed later in the case of Abu'l-'Abbas 'Abdullah ibn Talib the Qadi. The Amir Ibrahim ibn Ahmad ibn Ibrahim killed him after this. He was poisoned in prison.


Ibn Ghanim said, "I was in the assembly of Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab when Ibrahim entered. The others in the room stood up for him. Then Ibrahim sat down in anger and said to me, 'Abu 'Abdu'r-Rahman, what kept you from standing as your brothers stood?' I said, 'Amir, Malik informed me from Nafi' that Ibn 'Umar said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Whoever wants men to present themselves to him standing should take his seat in the Fire."' Ibrahim bowed his head and was silent."


Riyah ibn Yazid az-Zahid passed by Ibn Ghanim the qadi. He had a measure of oil in his hand. Ibn Ghanim said to him, "I will carry it for you." Riyah said, "As you like." So he picked up the measure for him and he went with him through the assemblies of the people. He went through the stores of the merchants until he reached his house." Riyah said to him, "I did this because it has reached me that you are self-important, and I wanted to abase you." Ibn Ghanim blessed him for it.


Riyah ibn Yazid would come every Friday to Ibn Ghanim and make supplication for him. He was thin and fine-veined. One day he came to make supplication for him and made Ibn Ghanim laugh. Riyah continued his supplication and Ibn Ghanim continued to laugh until Riyah got up. His companions censured Ibn Ghanim for that and said to him, "Is someone like Riyah laughed at?" Ibn Ghanim told them, "Let me be. My worry is that if my enemy knew the blessing we have in him, he would want to stop him doing what you saw," or words to that effect.

Then on the following Friday, Riyah came and began to supplicate for Ibn Ghanim with more friendliness and humility than he had had. When he had given his supplication, Ibn Ghanim said to him, "May Allah repay you with good, Abu Yazid." Riyah said to him, "I knew that what came from you was provoked by the enemy in order to cut off what blessing we have in it."


One day he passed by the market when al-Bahlul ibn Rashid was buying some meat from a butcher. Ibn Ghanim dismounted and embraced him and brought his animal near to him so he could mount it to demonstrate his respect for him. Al-Bahlul refused, and Ibn Ghanim entreated him. He said to him, "I have bought some meat." He said, "Shall I carry it for you?" Al-Bahlul said, "I have too much esteem for you that you go walking." He said, "I will ride behind you."

So al-Bahlul rode on the saddle and the qadi rode behind him on the rump of the animal and carried the meat. They went through the town until they reached the house of al-Bahlul and the people were amazed at his humility and honour.

About his generosity and forbearance

Al-Basri said, "He mentioned that one of Ibn Ghanim's son came to him from his teacher and Ibn Ghanim asked him about the sura he had learned. He recited it to him and he did it well, so he gave him about twenty dinars. When the child took them to the teacher, he refused them and thought badly of the child. He brought them to Ibn Ghanim and Ibn Ghanim said to him, 'Perhaps you think that they are too few?' He said, 'No.' Ibn Ghanim said to him, 'One letter of what you taught him is equal to this world and what it contains.'"


He mentioned that Ibn Ghanim gave a judgement against a man called Ibn Zur'a. That infuriated Ibn Zur'a and he met Ibn Ghanim on the road to his estate and cursed him. He said to him, "O doer, o son of a woman doer" and went to great lengths in that. Then after that Ibn Ghanim met him on the road to his estate and Ibn Ghanim greeted him and took him with him to his garden. He bought some food and sat with him. Ibn Zur'a asked for forgiveness and admitted his error to him. He said, "I did not do this so that I could argue with you in the presence of Allah. Yet if you get anything disliked from me in this world, that will not be the case."

Another source says: "The army lodged in the house of Ibn Zur'a after he had abused him and they filled it with weapons. He went to Ibn Ghanim. When he got near the door, he remembered what he had done and said, "Can I ask for his help after I have abused him?" So he left, and when his situation became oppressive for him, he went back to him. When he got near, he went away. Then he came back yet again. When Ibn Ghanim saw him, he said, 'Welcome, Ibn Zur'a,' and made room for him. He said to him, 'What has brought you?' and he told him. Ibn Ghanim said, 'Boy, bring my cloak and sandals!' He put them on and went to the Amir. He asked him to remove the army from his house and he did so."

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