Abu Muhammad 'Abdullah ibn Farrukh al-Farisi

d. 175 AH

The faqih of the Qayrawan in his time

The faqih of the Qayrawan in his time. Abu Bakr al-Maliki mentioned in the Book of the Meadows of the Slaves that he was born in Andalusia in 125. Then he moved to North Africa where lived at the Qayrawan and its vicinity. Sulayman ibn 'Imran mentioned roughly the same in what Ibn al-Jazzar related from him in Kitab at-Ta'rif.


His name was 'Abdus in Andalusi and a man among those who were known for it called him by that name in the mosque of the Qayrawan. He said to him, "I beseech you by Allah to remember me in this land." Then he travelled to the east and met a group of scholars and hadith scholars like Zakariya' ibn Abi Za'ida, Hisham ibn Hassan, 'Abd al-Malik ibn Jurayh, al-A'mash, ath-Thawri, Malik ibn Anas, Abu Hanifa and others. He listened to them and studied fiqh with them.


Abu Bakr said, "He relied on Malik ibn Anas in hadith and fiqh and his being his companion is well-known. He studied fiqh with him. But he inclined to investigation and deduction. Sometimes he inclined to the position of the people of Iraq in what seemed to him to be clearly correct. Then he moved to North Africa and resided in the Qayrawan and taught people knowledge and related hadith to them. People learned from him. Then he travelled a second time and went to Egypt where he died there as we will mention.


Ibn al-Jazzar said in his book, The Tabaqat of the Judges, "Ibn Farrukh was a faqih of great scrupulousness who travelled in search of knowledge. He corresponded with Malik ibn Anas in questions which he answered.


Ibn Harith said, "Ibn Farrukh was one of the shaykhs of North Africa and one of those who travelled to Malik. He listened to him and corresponded with him and Malik answered him. Sahnun used to say of him, 'He did not state the fundamental principles (usul). He was asked about a question and would answer it with different statements about it.'"

Praise of him in knowledge, intellect and the deen

Abu Bakr said, "He was a virtuous, excellent man of great scrupulousness, humble, and someone regal in appearance. He did not fear the censure of any critic in Allah, and kept himself apart from the people of innovations. He memorised hadith and fiqh."

Abu al-'Arab said, "He was one of those who travelled to seek knowledge. He met Malik, Sufyan ath-Thawri and others. He used to correspond with Malik who answered his questions for him. He was a reliable man in his hadith and he asked to be exempt from being a qadi."

Ibn Abi Maryam said, "He was the most pleasing of people on the earth in my opinion."

Muslim related from him in his Sahih.

Al-Bukhari said, "Ibn Abi Maryam listened to 'Abdullah ibn Farrukh. He was both recognised and unknown. He was a Khurasani man who lived in the Maghrib."


'Abdullah ibn Wahb said, "Ibn Farrukh came to us in 196 after the death of al-Layth ibn Sa'd. We hoped that he would remain after him, but it was only a short time before he died. I charged myself to go to his funeral only if I could stand over his grave to supplicate for him."


Al-Maliki said, "It was a great misfortune when he died in Egypt among the people of knowledge. They said, 'We hoped that he would be a successor to al-Layth.' They respected him and believed that he was an Imam."

He said, "Malik ibn Anas respected and esteemed him."

At-Tahawi related that Ibn Farrukh came to Madina and he put on his garments and went to the grave of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and greeted him. Then he went to Malik. When Malik saw him, he met him with the greeting and rose for him. He almost never did that with most people. Malik had a place in his assembly where he sat and al-Makhzumi was at his side which was known. Malik did not invite anyone to sit in him, but he made him sit in it and asked him about his situation and when he had come.

He informed him that he had arrived at that very moment.

Malik said, "You have spoken the truth. If you had come earlier, I would have known it and I would have come to you."

Malik did not answer a question when 'Abdullah was present without saying, "Abu Muhammad, answer!" He would answer and Malik would say, "It is as he has said."

Then Malik turned to his companions and said, "This is the faqih of the Maghrib."


According to another report, he went to Malik and sat with him on a bench. A questioner from the people of the Maghrib came to him with some questions on felonies which were read to him. Malik said, "Answer them, Abu Muhammad! They are the people of your land." Ibn Farrukh said, "In your presence?" He answered, "Yes, I adjure you."

The case was about when a man was struck on his head and groins, and the meninex of his brain was injured and lost his intellectual faculty as well as his sight, hearing and teeth, and his testicles dropped until they reached his knees. Ibn Farrukh said, "There is blood-wit for the hearing, the sight, the intelligence and the teeth. He should sit in a tub which has cold water in it on a cold night. If his testicles contract and return to their place, there is nothing owed for them. If they do not, there is full blood-wit for them. If only one testicle contracts, there is half of the blood-wit for them." The questioner said [to Malik], "And os this your answer, Abu 'Abdullah?" He replied, "This is my answer." Ibn Farrukh related this story about him and Malik.


Abu al-'Arab said that Abu 'Uthman al-Mu'afiri said, "I went to Malik with some questions from Ibn Ghanim and he asked me, 'What does the pale one (meaning al-Bahlul ibn Rashid) say about them? What does the Persian (meaning Ibn Farrukh) say about them?' Then he wrote out the answers and he wrote at the end of the letter, "The deen of Allah is easy when its limits are established."


Ibn Harith said, "The fact that Malik asked about his position and the position of al-Bahlul in the question indicates that he knew that they were the people of fatwa of the Qayrawan in his time. He did not ask about the position of Ibn Ziyad and Ibn Ashras because they were not at the Qayrawan. They were at Tunis engaged in the the debate of Ibn Ghanim and 'Ali ibn Ziyad."


Al-Bahlul ibn Rashid respected Ibn Farrukh and imitated him in what he had in matters of the deen. He mentioned that he debated Zafar ibn al-Hudhayl in the assembly of Abu Hanifa. Zafar made light of him for being a North African, but Ibn Farrukh continued with him in debate until he had stopped him. Abu Hanifa said to Zafar, "Allah did not lighten what you had."

His asceticism, worship, scrupulousness, and establishing the truth

Ibn Qadim said, "Ibn Farrukh performed a lot of night prayers. His night prayer was done at the end of the night."

Ahmad ibn Yazid said, "When the army took their stipends, 'Abdullah ibn Farrukh locked up his store for those days until what was in their hands had been spent."


Ibn Qadim said, "The people sought blessing in the company of Ibn Farrukh and they sat waiting for him on the road when he left his house. They walked with him and took the opportunity seek supplication and admonition from him until he reached the mosque. He said to whoever was with him, 'Enter, may Allah have mercy on you.' He did not enter until none of them remained with him."


Al-Jadali related that Rawh ibn Hatim sent to Ibn Farrukh to appoint him qadi. When he came to him, he told him, "It has reached me that you were thinking of rebelling against us." He replied, "Yes." That was hard on Rawh. Then Ibn Farrukh said, "That was with 217 men, the number of the companions of Badr, each of them better than me." Rawh said, "We hope that you will never attack us."

Then he offered him the qadiship and he refused. He sat him in the mosque and commanded the litigants to speak to him. He began to weep and said to them, "Have mercy on me, Allah will have mercy on you."


Another mentioned that when he refused, he commanded that he be bound and carried to the roof of the mosque. He was asked, "Do you accept?" He said, "No." He was about to be thrown off. When he saw their resolve resolution, he said, "I accept."

He sat in the mosque with guards. Two litigants came to him. He looked at them and wept for a long time. Then he raised his head and said to them, "I ask you by Allah to release me from yourselves. Do not be the first to give me an evil omen." They had mercy on him and left him. The guards informed Rawh about that and he said, "Go to him and tell him, 'Indicate to us whom we should appoint, or accept it yourself.'"

He said, "It should be 'Abdullah ibn Ghanim. I think that he is a young man who has uprightness and is concerned with the questions with which a qadi deals, so you must have him. He knows the proper measure of judgement." So Ibn Ghanim was appointed. Ibn Ghanim used to ask his advice in many of his affairs and judgements. Ibn Farrukh was apprehensive about that. He said to him, "Nephew! I did not accept a governor, shall I then accept a minister?" Ibn Ghanim persisted with him and pressed him. When Ibn Farrukh saw that, he went to Egypt to flee from that out of scrupulousness, and he died there.


He was one of the people most adverse to becoming a qadi. He used to say, "I asked Abu Hanifa, 'What kept you from accepting the office of qadi?' He told me, 'Ibn Farrukh, there three sorts of qadis: a man who swims well and swims through the sea for a long time. He might well swim, but he might become exhausted and drown. Then there is a man who is not a strong swimmer and he swims a little and then drowns. Then there is a man who cannot swim, but throws himself into the water and drowns immediately.'"


Sahnun said, "Ibn Ghanim and Ibn Farrukh disagreed about a man who an unjust ruler appoints as qadi. Ibn Ghanim permitted his appointment but Ibn Farrukh rejected it. They wrote about that to Malik. When Malik read the letter, he asked the messenger, 'Has Ibn Ghanim been appointed?' He answered, 'Yes.' Malik said, 'We belong to Allah and to Him we return. Did he not flee? Did he not run away until his authority was cut off? The Persian was right and the one who claims that he is an Arab was wrong."


Yazid ibn Hatim, the governor, asked him about the blood of fleas on clothes and whether one was allowed to pray in them. He told him, "I do not see any harm in it." Then he said in the presence of his messenger, "They ask us about the blood of fleas and they do not ask us about the blood of the Muslims which is spilled!"


He once went out to led the prayer in a funeral, and Ishaq, the son of the governor Yazid ibn Hatim, was there. He had set his dogs upon a gazelle to chase it by that. When he went, he asked him to stop and said, "Young man, I saw you do such-and-such now. I do not like for you to do that because the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade it."

Ishaq accepted that from him and told him, "You have spoken the truth, Abu Muhammad. May Allah repay you well. By Allah, I will never do that again."


Ibn Qadim said, "Ibn Farrukh washed the dead of weak people with humility and did not delegate that to anyone else, and he himself would carry them to their graves."

Concerning his journeying and seeking knowledge

Al-Maliki mentioned that he travelled early on and met the shaykhs and fuqaha'.

He said, "He listened to Abu Hanifa about many questions which were not recorded. It is said that it amounted to about nineteen thousand questions."

He said, "In his journeys, he met Malik and studied fiqh with him. He listened to him, and as for his previous report with Malik, that was in his second journey after he left the Qayrawan."


He mentioned that he said, "A brick fell from the highest part of the house of Abu Hanifa and landed on on my head when I was with him, and it bled. He said, 'Choose blood-money or three hundred hadiths.' I said, 'The hadiths,' and he gave me hadiths."


He said, "When I came to Kufa and there was a lot of dictation from what had been heard from al-A'mash, I asked about him. I was told, 'He is angry with the people of hadith and he swore that he would not let them listen for a time.

"I used to go often to the door of his house hoping to get in contact with him. Then one day his door opened and a slave-girl came out of it. She asked me, 'What are you doing at the door?' I told her my news. She asked, 'Where is your country?' I answered, 'North Africa.' She was more friendly towards me and said, 'Do you know the Qayrawan?' I replied, 'I am one of its people.' She asked, 'Do you know the house of Ibn Farrukh?' I said, 'I am him.' She looked at me intently and said, ''Abdullah?' I said, 'Yes.'

"She was a slavegirl whom we had sold when she was young. Then she went to al-A'mash and said to him, 'My master whom I told you about is at the door.' He commanded that I be admitted and I went in and he gave me a room in front of his house and I listened to him and he gave me hadiths."

His taking on the Sunna following it, and the rest of his reports

Abu al-'Arab said, "Ibn Farrukh wrote to Malik to inform him that there were a lot of innovations in his land. He asked him to write some words for them to use to refute them."

Malik wrote to him saying to him, "If you think that of yourself, I fear that you will slip or be destroyed. Only the one who is exact and knows what he is saying to them should refute them. Then they will be unable to twist it for him. There is no harm in such a person doing it. As for someone else, I fear that he will speak to them and err, and then they will carry on in their error or take something from him and so be increased in persistence in that."


Muhammad ibn Sahnun said, "The Mu'tazilites laid claim to Ibn Farrukh with us. One of my father's friends told me that. He kept the company of Abu Kharija."

He added, "Abu Kharija stayed with him and I asked him about Ibn Farrukh and what he was accused of. He said, 'Who said this? By Allah, there is no god but Him! With these two eyes, I have not seen a young man worship Allah more than Ibn Farrukh!'

"Then he said, 'By Allah, I was with him when he was asked about the Mu'tazilites. He said to the one who had asked, 'What is your question about the Mu'tazilites? The curse of Allah is upon the Mu'tazilites before the Day of the Deen, on the Day of the Deen, and after the Day of the Deen and for the entire length of all time.' He said to him, 'And when there are right-acting people among them?' He replied, 'Woe to you! Is there a right-acting man among them?'



Sahnun said, "One of the companions of al-Bahlul died, and he, Ibn Ghanim and Ibn Farrukh were present. They prayed over him. Then the funeral of Ibn Sakhr, the Mu'tazili, arrived. They said to Ibn Ghanim, 'The funeral!' He replied, 'Every living thing dies. Bring me my animal.' The like of it was said to Ibn Farrukh and he said the same thing. The like of it was said to al-Bahlul and he said the same thing. They left without praying over him. That was part of what Ibn Farrukh was known for."


Before this, he had thought about attacking the unjust ruler when a number of those who commanded the correct and forbade the bad had gathered who equalled the number of the people of the Battle of Badr. Then he went to Egypt and the people made a party of him. He turned to the one who had made him a party and said, "I testify that I have retracted what I said about attacking the unjust rulers. I repent to Allah of it."

He made a rendezvous with some people in the days of al-'Akki to attack him. Al-'Akki was a bad man. When they were meant to gather at the gate of Tunis, Ibn Farrukh went to the allotted place and they followed. The only ones to fulfill the agremment were Muhammad ibn Manuta of the people of Madina and Abu Muhriz the Qadi, one of the Iraqis. So he went back.


Sahnun said, "I went with my brother Habib who used to listened to Ibn Farrukh. When I saw him joking with the students, my heart was changed with his love."


He mentioned that a man invited him and gave him food and then gave him nabidh to drink. He used to hold the opinion of the people of Iraq regarding it. He drank it and then his face went red. The one who had invited him said, "Did you not tell us that good deeds fall from the face of a man when his face goes red from nabidh?" Ibn Farrukh said to him, "We have no need of your food."

His death

He, may Allah have mercy on him, died in Egypt after he had returned from the hajj. That was in 175, and 176 is said. He was buried in the Muqattam.

'Abdullah ibn Wahb said, 'Ibn Farrukh came to us in 176 when he was 55. It is said that he was sixty years old. He dyed his hair with henna. He was there a short time before he died, may Allah Almighty have mercy on him.

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