Qadi Muhammad ibn Bashir

(198/813), of Cordoba

The faqih Abu 'Abdullah ibn Harith said, "He is Abu 'Abdullah Muhammad ibn Sa'id ibn Bashir ibn Sharahil (or called Israfil) al-Ma'afiri. He originated from from the army of Baja. He was counted among the Arabs of Egypt. When he was young, he acted as a scribe for Qadi al-Mus'ab ibn 'Imran. Then he travelled to the east and met Malik and sat with him and listened to him. He studied in Egypt as well. Then he went to Andalusia and kept to his estate in Baja until he was summoned to become the qadi at Cordoba.

Another said that he related the Muwatta' from Malik.

Ahmad ibn Khalid said, "Ibn Bashir sought knowledge in Cordoba with its shaykhs. He wrote down a lot of it. Then he wrote to the Governor of Baja to ask his protection from an injustice he had received. Then he turned from that and went on hajj. He fulfilled the obligation and became well known."

Ibn al-Qutiyya said, "He wrote first to the Governor of his land. Then he disliked that and inclined to knowledge."

He said that Qadi al-Mus'ab asked him to write for him after he had come from the east.

He related that Malik used to say, "Look into these books and do not mix them with others," i.e. the Muwatta'.

Yahya ibn Yahya related a lot from him from Malik. Part of it is that he asked Malik about using the milk of the female donkey and he did not see any harm in it.

Praise for him

Yahya ibn Yahya was one of those with the greatest respect for Muhammad ibn Bashir and praised him most during his life and after his death."

He was asked about wearing the turban. He said, "It is the dress of the people of the east. They wore them from early times." It was said to him, "If you wore it, then the people would follow you." He said, "Muhammad ibn Bashir wore the silk-wool and he was not followed although Ibn Bashir was worthy of being followed."

Ibn al-Qutiyya mentioned him and said on him, "He was the best of the qadis in Andalusia and the most excellent and fairest of them."

'Abd al-Malik ibn Habib said, "Ibn Bashir was one of the best Muslims," and he described his justice and excellence.

He said, "He used lead us in the Jumu'a prayer with a wool-silk hat on."

Ibn Harith said, "One of the detailed reports which is without peer due to the extent of the consensus on it is that he was one of the notable qadis of guidance, one of those who possessed appositeness, beautiful methods, and opinion of weight, and he was unbending in the truth and supported it. There was no leniency in him for anyone nor sycophancy for any of the people of the Sultan. He only preferred the truth in his judgements. He was very intelligent and also possessed excellent cheerfulness and truthful estimation. He had strong perception."

Concerning his appointment as qadi and something of his life

Ibn al-Qutiyya said, "When al-Mus'ab ibn 'Imran died, the ruler al-Hakam asked for advice on whom to appoint to it. His ministers, fuqaha', and the men of judgement agreed with him that it should be Muhammad ibn Bashir, the scribe of al-Mus'ab. His probity and the fact that he alone enjoyed the trust of al-Mus'ab were well known. He was appointed qadi and exceeded al-Mus'ab, and was famous for virtue and justice and his traditions remained after him. He remained qadi until he died. His son Sa'id was appointed after him."

Ibn Harith said, "I saw in one of the books that when Ibn Bashir took it on, he turned aside on a road to a friend of his who was a man of worship. He stopped with him and spoke to him about his business and his dread that he was being sent for about the office of scribe which he had left."

His friend said to him, "I only think that he has sent for you to make you qadi. The qadi of Cordoba has died." Ibn Bashir said to him, "Since you have said it, what do you think? Advise me and give me some direction."

The man of worship said to him, "I will ask you about three things, so give a truthful answer to them. What is your love for eating good food, for wearing soft garments, and riding fine horses?"

Ibn Bashir said, "By Allah, I do not care except for what will repel my hunger, cover my nakedness and carry me."

He said to him, "This is one. What is your love for beautiful faces and similar appetites?"

Ibn Bashir answered, "By Allah, my self has never looked at this state nor have my thoughts fallen to it."

He said, "This is the second. What is your love for praise and lauding, and your dislike of dismissal and your love for authority?"

He said, "By Allah, I do not care in truth who praises me or blames me. I do not rejoice in authority nor am I adverse to dismissal." He said to him, "Accept the qadiship and there is no harm for you."

He mentioned that Ibn Bashir was appointed qadi in Cordoba twice. One of his brothers criticised him for being unyielding in the right of judgement and said, "I fear that you will be dismissed."

It was not very long until an event took place in which Ibn Bashir's inflexibility was shown and that was the reason for his dismissal. He went to his home town as he wished.

It was not very long before the post reached him from the ruler summoning him to Cordoba. On the road, he turned aside to consult a friend who was ascetic and met with him. He told him, "The Amir has sent for me and I think that he wants me to be qadi for a second time. What do you think?"

His friend said to him, "If you know that you will implement the truth on all parties, and that no censure of a critic will affect you in Allah, then I do not think that you can deny people your good. If you fear that you will not be just, then it is better for you to abandon the qadiship."

Ibn Bashir said, "As for the truth, I do not concern myself with whomever I impose it on if it is apparent to me." He said to him, "I do not think that you should deny people your good."

So he went to Cordoba and was appointed qadi for the second time.

One of them said, "The cause for his dismissal was that his authority was removed from some of the elite and he was prevented from judging them. He swore that he would divorce his wife three times, free his slaves and give as sadaqa what he owned to the poor if he ever then judged between two people. He was dismissed. When the ruler wanted to re-appoint him, he excused himself by those oaths he had made. The ruler insisted and so he set free, divorced his wife and gave sadaqa. The ruler sent him one of his slave-girls and some property to replace his property and slaves to replace his slaves."

Abu 'Abd al-Malik ibn 'Abd al-Barr said, "Muhammad ibn Bashir stipulated conditions with the ruler al-Hakam when he was appointed qadi. There were three guaranteed conditions. He said, 'If you abide by them, I will accept. If not, I will not accept. Judgement will be carried out on everyone between you and the guard of the market; if it appears to me that I lack the power, I will tender my resignation and you will discharge me; and my provision will be paid from the booty.' He guaranteed all of that for him."

Ibn Harith said, "Muhammad ibn Bashir, according to what one of the scholars told me, sometimes accepted a witness with him by his scrutiny and insight. Sometimes he relied on the attestation of integrity of the person's private life by reliable people."

He said, "He gave judgement in the locked gallery in the southern part of the mosque of Abu 'Uthman at the beginning of the western suburbs. When he went to judge there, he sat down alone with his pouch in front of him. He began to turn it around with his hand and the litigants would come to him according to his prearranged order. The litigants stood on their feet before him and presented their evidence without shouting, and he would decide between them."

His custom was to sit for the litigants from morning until noon. Then he would return to sit after Zuhr until 'Asr. He only looked at orally heard clear proofs. He wrote down the testimonies and did not listen to that at other than at that moment. No one went aside with him in the assembly of his supervision or his house. He did not read a letter from anyone about a question or a case nor did he visit him.

Ibn Waddah said, "When Muhammad ibn Bashir was appointed qadi, he made ten seals which people could use to present (a case) to him. They remained in his pouch itself until he died. When someone asked him for a seal to present a case, he asked him what he wanted it for. If he was close to Cordoba, he gave it to him, and commanded his scribe to write down his name, his house, and the house of the one who took the seal for it and empowered him to direct the seal to him when his name was near. He warned and threatened him. If he was far, he respected him according to his distance."

Yahya ibn Yahya said to Muhammad ibn Bashir, "Circumstances change with people and are not fixed. If the man is considered just with you and you pass judgement according to his testimony with sound investigation, and then a long time passes and he returns to testify with you, then investigate him again and demand that his integrity be proven if he makes you doubt; renew your investigation into him. Act by that and take testimony by that and out them on their guard about it."

Ibn Bashir took advice on his judgements from 'Abd al-Malik ibn al-Hasan Zunan al-Ghazi ibn Qays, al-Harith ibn Abi Sa'id, Isma'il ibn al-Bishr at-Tujibi, and Muhammad ibn Sa'id as-Sabba'i. Ibn Harith said, "When they disagreed about it, he wrote to Egypt to 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn al-Qasim and 'Abdullah ibn Wahb."

Qadi Aslam ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz said that Baqi ibn Makhlad said, "Muhammad ibn Bashir had fine methods in his judgement and subtle paths which no qadi before him in Andalusia had. He can only be compared to those of precedence in the early part of this community. I saw that he only had some scrolls. I found them very succinct, containing the core of the meaning without a lot of excess. There were very few lines which is different from the discussion which is brought now in our time."

One of them mentioned that Ibn Sama'a, the master of horses, complained to the ruler that Ibn Bashir was unjust to him.

He said, "I will put your words to the test immediately. Leave directly and go to him and ask permission to enter. If he gives you permission, your words are true and I will dismiss him. If he does not give you permission except for your case, I will be increased into my insight into him."

He went out towards him. When he asked for permission to see him, the doorman came out to him and said, "If you have a need, then mention it in the judgement assembly when the Qadi sits. As for the Qadi, there is no way to meet him." The ruler learned of that and confirmed him.

Qasim ibn Hilal said, "A man from the people of the desert from his acquaintances testified before Ibn Bashir. He needed to have his integrity proven. I went to him with Ibn Martanil and another man. He asked, 'What has brought you?' I said, 'To attest to the integrity of this man.' He said, 'There is no power nor strength except by Allah, the High, the Immense.' He opened his judgement with that."

Qasim said, "When I heard him, I murmured and he turned his face towards us and said to us, 'By Allah, there is no god but Him. Does he have your approval?' We said to him, 'By an oath, may Allah makes you thrive?' He said, 'By Allah, I will not write a name for him unless you swear that he is like that.'" They hesitated out of carefulness and left.

A man he had accompanied during the hajj testified in his presence. He had a position with him, but he did not accept his testimony. The litigant said to him, "Inform me why you do not accept, so that I can see if he can be proved just (for being a witness)." He said to him. "He is so-and-so, my friend. Proving him just will not help you with me."

The man heard about and he came to him in his assembly at the heads of the people and asked him about the reason for that. He said to him, "You and I were joined by upbringing and nurture, seeking knowledge and the path of the hajj. You know of my inward part what I know of your inward, so tell me the reason before the people so that I know it and admit before the assembly."

Ibn Bashir said, "You have spoken the truth. In all of that, I did not find that you had any injury in your deen. However, we came from the hajj and alighted in Egypt and began to listen to our shaykhs and reside there. You complained to me about celibacy and looked into buying a servant. You said to me, 'I have found a servant whose face is worth such-and-such and she has some skill.'

"I told you, 'You have no need of her craft. Sell it for goods and leave her. There is no need to add her.'

"You disobeyed me and bought her. When I saw that appetite had overcome you in ruining your property by being extravagant on her I feared that the like of that could lead you to the like of this testimony."

A friend of his called Abu al-Yasa' testified before him and he rejected his testimony. He blamed him for that and said, "In spite of my love for you and my special connection to you?" He said to him, "Scrupulousness, Abu al-Yasa'! Scrupulousness, Abu al-Yasa'!' He did not say more than that.

Two men of those who were well thought of testified with him regarding a slave whose master had died. They said that he had freed him and married him to his daughter and left him his property. He gave judgement based on their testimony. It was not long before one of the two witnesses was close to death. He sent for the Qadi saying that he wanted to see him. He went to him. When the witness saw him while he was in his distress, he knelt and began to pull him to him. The Qadi said to him, "What is wrong with you?" He said, "I am in the Fire unless you save me from it. The testimony which we testified to in your presence for so-and-so was baseless. Fear Allah and invalidate the judgement." Muhammad ibn Bashir did not do more than place his hands on his knees. Then he got up and said, "The judgement has been passed and you are for the Fire." Then he left him.

The faqih and qadi Abu al-Fadl 'Iyad, may Allah Almighty have mercy on him, said, "What Ibn Bashir did of carrying out the judgement was correct. His statement, 'You are for the Fire' without saying 'If Allah wills' was because he might have meant to be harsh by that towards those like him among the false witnesses. If not, then the will of Allah can lie in pardon for what is greater than this by Hs immense favour. That He accepts the repentance of his like and wipes out his evil actions by it is promised."

Concerning his clothing

Before he was appointed qadi, Bashir had parted his hair and it fell to his earlobes. He wrapped a red cloak around himself in the oldest form. He wore good garments with beautiful quality and he continued his manner of dress when he was qadi.

Ibn Waddah said, "Someone who saw Qadi Muhammad ibn Bashir informed me that he entered the door of General Mosque on Friday wearing a red cloak and with creaking sandals on his feet. He wore his hair parted. Then he stood up and gave the address and prayed in his garment. That is how he sat for judgement between the people. People ignored that out of respect for him. If anyone wanted to obtain anything from him from his deen, he found it harder to obtain than the Pleaides."

A foreign man came to his assembly for a need that he had. He asked one of those who sat how to go near him and he was directed to him. When he saw him wearing those clothes of his and the trace of the adornment on its edges with dye and the kohl and black on his face, he doubted his business and suspected the one who had guided him. He said, "People! A foreign man asks you about your qadi and you have mocked me. I ask you about a qadi and you show me a piper!"

They silenced him and said, "We have not lied to you." He was rebuked from every side. Ibn Bashir said to him, "Come and mention your need." The man did and he found with him what was more than he thought.

Zunan said, "I rebuked Muhammad ibn Bashir for letting his hair hang down and his wearing silk-wool and red dyed (clothes).

He said, "I have a sign in my business. Malik related to me that Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir was the master of the reciters and he had locks and that Hisham ibn 'Urwa was the faqih of this land (i.e. Madina) and he wore red dye and that al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr as-Siddiq used to wear silk-wool. Why do you censure the one who has a model in those people?"

Muhammad ibn 'Isa al-A'sha objected to Qadi Muhammad wearing those garments and always called him, "The company of ad-Dallal!" That was the name of a hermaphrodite in Madina. Eventually Ibn Bashir heard about that. He met him while al-A'sha was in an assembly in which it was possible to speak. Ibn Bashir inclined to him and said, "Abu 'Abdullah, evil is something which none is incapable of while good is only obtained by the people of beautiful patience. Whoever imposes praiseworthy discipline on himself should curb what is less than what reached me from you. It is more seemly for you." He was ashamed before him and stopped it after that.

Al-Mabsut reports that Yahya ibn Yahya said, "You will not find someone with intelligence who clings to what is censured in him. I saw Muhammad ibn Bashir wearing what was not known in his land, i.e. the silk-wool. He only wore it for forty days and then he left that since it was thought ugly and not for any other reason."

Concerning something of his specific judgements which indicate his firmness in the truth and the rest of his reports

Ahmad ibn Khalid said, "The first judgement that Ibn Bashir implemented was to write against the Amir al-Hakam about the mill of the bridge at the gate of Cordoba since he considered that the right of the claimant was established. The Amir did not have a defense, so he wrote about it and testified against himself. When a long time had passed, he bought it from him with a sound sale. That delighted al-Hakam after his disadvantage and he began to say, 'May Allah have mercy on Ibn Bashir! He was excellent in what he did to us in spite of our dislike since we had something ambiguous in our possession, so he made our possession sound for us.'"

Ibn Waddah said, "Ibn Bashir gave a judgement against Ibn Fatis the Wazir about a right which was proved with him, although he learned it by testimony against him. Ibn Fatis complained about that to the Amir and lodged a complaint against him. He sent to Ibn Bashir about that. He mentioned the complaint of Ibn Fatis to him about the judgement carried out against him without him offering a plea, which is his right according to the consensus of the people of knowledge.

"Ibn Bashir wrote back to him, 'Ibn Faris is not one of those who knows those who testified against him because he did not find a way to defame them and he could not avoid their injury. They would have abandoned their testimony as well as those who follow them and so the business of the people would have been lost.'"

Ibn Waddah said, "Sa'id al-Khayr, the uncle of the Amir al-Hakam had appointed a trustee who brought a legal action with Muhammad ibn Bashir on a claim against him. Sa'id had a document in his had which contained the testimony of a group of just witnesses. They had all died except for one witness from the people of acceptance along with the testimony of the Amir al-Hakam, his nephew. His uncle needed it in his case when the Qadi accepted the testimony of the other. He set down deadlines for his trustee on the second witness. Sa'id went to the Amir and told him that he needed his testimony.

"Al-Hakam had respect for his uncle and said, 'Uncle, please excuse me from this responsibility. You know that I am not one of the people of testimony in the sight of our judges since we are involved with the temptations of this world so that we are not pleased with it in ourselves. We do not want them to blame us for the like of that in us and we fear that we will be placed in a position of humiliation with this Qadi which we would ransom by our property, so take your litigation wherever the truth takes you. We have that which would injure you and more.'

"Sa'id pressed him in that and decided that he would send his testimony with two faqihs to convey it to the qadi. They took it to him. He said to them, 'I have listened to you both, so stand in right guidance.' The guardian of Sa'id al-Khayr advanced with boldness and confidence. He said, 'O Qadi, I hand you the testimony of the Amir on what is said.' He took the letter of testimony and looked at it again. Then he said, 'This testimony is not effective with me. Bring me another.'

"The trustee went to Sa'id and informed him. He rode immediately to al-Hakam and said, 'Our power is gone and our might is demeaned! Your Haruri [Kharijite] qadi dares to reject your testimony! That is what should not be tolerated from him!'

"He went on at length and tried to set him on Ibn Bashir while the Amir kept his head bowed. When he finished speaking, he said to him, 'Uncle, this is what we thought would happen. Now is the time for you to leave it. The truth is better for you. The Qadi is certainly sincere for Allah. He did what he did have to do and kept to it. If he had not done what he did, Allah would have changed our insight into him. May Allah reward him well from us and himself. By Allah, I will not oppose the Qadi afterwards in what he is cautious about himself.'"

He mentioned that one of the brothers of Ibn Bashir censured him in what came to him regarding that. He told him, "Impotent one! Don't you know that you offer pleas for the testimonies? Who would dare to refute the testimony of the Amir? If I had accepted it and not given a plea, I would have diminished the right of the one he testified against."

It is related that Muhammad ibn Bashir had a black slave-girl called Balagh in the time when he lived in Cordoba. She served him and he enjoyed her when he had the need. When he had slept with her and fulfilled his desire from her, he pushed his hand on her chest and said, 'Balagh! There is attainment (balagh) in you for the time being."

Ibn Harith said, "One night Amir al-Hakam spent the night with a concubine of his. She missed him in the night and could not find him. Her jealousy was aroused and she went out to follow his tracks. She found him standing under a tree in the garden praying, supplicating with great energy. When he went to his bed, he pressed him for the reason that necessitated that. She thought that something must have happened to him. He said, 'That was only because Muhammad ibn Bashir the Qadi has died and I am made fearful by his loss and cannot find anyone to replace him. I put him between me and Allah in the judgements of the people. I relied on him for someone reliable since my self was assured of his justice. I asked Allah Almighty and made supplication to Him with a prayer which demands an answer that He give me good consolation for him and provide me with a replacement for him.'"

Ibn Bashir died in 198.

Al-Hakam appointed his son Sa'id ibn Muhammad after him.

It is said that it was al-Faraj ibn Kinana.

Return to Home Page

Return to Index