Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn 'Abdus ibn Bashir

(d. ca. 250) of North Africa

His origins were foreign. Abu Sa'id al-Misri said, "He was one of the clients of Quraysh."

He was one of the great companions of Sahnun and the imams of his time. He was one of four Muhammads who were lived at the same time and were imams of the school of Malik. Their likes were not joined together at any other time. Two were Egyptian: Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam and Ibn al-Mawwaz, and two were from Qayrawan: Ibn Sahnun and Ibn 'Abdus.

His place in knowledge and excellence

Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Tamim said, "Muhammad ibn 'Abdus was reliable, an imam in fiqh, right-acting, ascetic, outwardly fearful, with scrupulousness and humility in that. Among people, he was the most like Sahnun in character in understanding and his asceticism in his clothes and food. He had a sound book, excellent writing, and knew what the people of Madina disagreed on and what they agreed about."

Hammad the Qadi said, "I did not see the like of Ibn 'Abdus in both zuhd and fiqh." Muhammad ibn Bistam said the like of that.

Ahmad ibn Ziyad said, "I do not think that there was his like among the Tabi'un," i.e. in excellence and zuhd. That is excessive praise.

Ibn Harith said, 'He preserved the school of Malik and the transmitters among his companions. He was a faqih and an imam, a man with ample deduction, good talent, worship and religious practices, humble. It is said that his supplication was answered. He made invocation against [the governor] Ibn al-Aghlab known as Abu al-Gharaniq and his answer was recognised."

Ibn Harith said, 'He was an equal of Muhammad ibn al-Mawwaz. He wrote a noble book called al-Majmu'a on the school of Malik and his adherents. He died before he had finished it. He was the contemporary of Muhammad ibn Sahnun and their neighbour. He grew with them in the presence of Sahnun, may Allah have mercy on him.

He also wrote the Book of Tafsirs. He wrote a book in which he did commentary on some fundamentals of knowledge: like an explanation of the Book of murabaha, an explanation of the muwada'a, an explanation of the book of pre-emption and the Book of turnover.

Ahmad ibn Ziyad said, "I saw him one day when he had begun to explain on the basis of the li'an divorce. When he had spoken extensively, he understood that the one to whom he was speaking still did not understand him. He stopped speaking and remarked, "This business will die with its people." He meant excellent fiqh.

Once he was mentioned in the presence of Qadi Himas. They preferred him to Muhammad ibn Sahnun. Hamas said, "Ibn 'Abdus used to teach us legal questions. When I was unsure about their interpretation, he would continue to explain them until we understood them and he made it easy by doing that. If he did not see that we had grasped it, that would distress him.

Luqman said, "It reached Ibn 'Abdus that Muhammad ibn Sahnun said one day, "They are speaking about fiqh and it may be that if one of them is asked about the name of Abu Hurayra, he would not recognise it."

Ibn 'Abdus sometimes said to one of his companions. 'Understand this question. It will help you more than knowing the name of Abu Hurayra."

In one variant of Himas, "I prefer this to knowing the name of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri."

He alluded to Ibn Sahnun because his knowledge of the men.

Ibn Talib had great respect for Ibn 'Abdus. He knew his worth and he relied on him in his judgement and he sought counsel with him at every moment.

Sulayman ibn 'Imran used to say to Ibn Talib, "If Ibn 'Abdus dies, then what will you do?"

Luqman said, "Ibn Talib sent to Ibn Sahnun and he turned him over to Ibn 'Abdus. Ibn Talib used to say, 'O Allah, make me go on as You made Muhammad ibn 'Abdus go on. I was guided by him in my deen.'" He used to praise him.

Ibn Habib said, "I used to ask Sahnun about questions that had happened. If he excused himself, then it would go to Ibn 'Abdus."

A group of the companions of Sahnun and those after them learned fiqh and his brother asked for his ijaza for the Majmu'a. He wrote his book in the school which is called al-Majmu'a.' It consisted of about fifty volumes.

He had four sections on the commentary of the questions of the Mudawwana. We mentioned them and the Book of Scrupulousness, the Book of the Qualities of the Assemblies of Malik in four sections. Some of these words are ascribed to al-Majmu'a.

One day Muhammad ibn 'Abdus went to Sahnun and his son Muhammad, Abu Dawud, 'Abdullah ibn at-Tayyiba, 'Abdullah ibn al-Firyabi and a group of his great companions were with him. He gave them a question, and continued with them in the answer. He said, "What do you say?" Sahnun said, "Tell me."

He said, "One of our companions said such-and-such on it and other of them said such-and-such. He mentioned the answer and the disagreement." Sahnun said, "Yes, look to the one who studies while you have abandoned studying."

Al-Abyani related that Ibn 'Abdus continued to study for seven years and only left his house for the Jumu'a.

His asceticism

Ibn al-Lubbad mentioned that Muhammad ibn 'Abdus prayed the Subh prayer with the wudu' he had done for the night prayer for thirty years: fifteen were because of his study and fifteen because of his worship.

We related from someone else that he dreamt that it was said to him, "Churn and make cheese" He took the dream to one of the people of knowledge who told him, "You are encouraged to act." He asked, "What action is better than what I am doing?" (in writing the book al-Majmu'a)

Then he devoted himself to worship and action, and brought him before a year.

Ahmad ibn Nasr said, "When I went to Muhammad ibn 'Abdus, I found him sitting with his legs drawn up, wrapped in his garment, humble, withdrawing from the front of his bed. He would not have been recognised by someone who had not been informed that he had a gathering."

Another said, "When I heard him praying, I knew that he was one of those feared Allah Almighty."

He used ride on a covering.

Hamas said, "We criticised him for that and we said to him, 'People are looking to you and coming to you.' We continued to talk to him until he purchased a low saddle like a pack saddle. Some of the covering were better than it."

Muhammad ibn Bistam said, "The gathering of Ibn 'Abdus took place in a corner of the mosque. When a asker came, he would not recognise him until it was asked, 'What is it?'"

Sometimes there was a coarse handkerchief on his head and he rode between the saddle baskets when he went to his home.

When he came from the hajj, he avoided speaking on questions so that the door of opinion would not be opened to him which might show him some decrease in his hajj.

Muhammad ibn Bistam said, "I was in my house on a winter night when there was a knock at the door. I went out and there was Muhammad ibn 'Abdus. He was wearing a wool jubbah and a fur hat. He said to me, 'Muhammad, I have not slept tonight out of my sorrow for the poor people of the community of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. This is 100 dinars of gold - the proceeds of my estate for this year. Beware of letting the night pass while any of it remains with you.' Then he left."

Abu al-Fadl al-Mumsi said, "A man prayed behind Muhammad ibn 'Abdus. When he heard his recitation, the man fell down. When Ibn 'Abdus finished, the man stood up to finish his prayer. Ibn 'Abdus said to him, 'You! Do not pray until you have performed a compete wudu'.' He replied, 'I have not lost my senses.' Ibn 'Abdus said to him, 'Are you not ashamed to cut off your obligatory prayer without being unconscious?'"

Sahnun asked him to be scribe among the group of those he asked to be scribe when he was first appointed. So he wrote as a scribe for a time. Then he objected to an influence in the Diwan from what others did. He retired from the position as scribe and swore, 'I will not be a scribe." So Sahnun excused him."

It is said, "He fled to Susa. He was the master of investigation into testimonies for Sahnun."

What is related from him in the question of faith

Al-Maliki mentioned in his History that there was no one with more fiqh among his companions than his son and Ibn 'Abdus. The people formed into two parties between them: the Muhammadiyya and the 'Abdusiyya, Each party was partisan for his master. When the question of 'If Allah wills' occurred in belief, something on it was related from Ibn 'Abdus and it was thought to be repugnant. The companions of Ibn Sahnun referred to the 'Abdusiyya as the 'Shukukiyya'.

Abu al-Hasan al-Qabisi related that a man knocked at the door of his house and he asked him about the question. Ibn 'Abdus said "I am a believer." He said to him, "With Allah?" He replied, "I have told you. I do not know what my seal will be." The man spat in the face of Muhammad ibn 'Abdus and that man went blind immediately.

That which is sound is that Ibn 'Abdus said, "I believe that I am a believer with Allah at this moment, and I do not know how He will seal it for me."

Ahmad ibn Abi Sulayman said, "I said to him, 'People are speaking about you and they claim that you have doubts about yourself and say, "I do not know. I hope that I am a believer, Allah willing."'

"He said, 'By Allah, I did not say that at all, May Allah not reward the one who relates that about me, I do not doubt at all that I am a believer with Allah. The treatise of Muhammad ibn Sahnun was read to us. I do not consider any statement in it truer than when I say, "Do not speak about this."

"I said to him, 'Sahnun says that this is innovation.'

"He replied "By Allah, I fear that it will be disbelief.'"

Himas related the like of this from him.

Ad-Dawudi said, "He mentioned that to Ibrahim ibn 'Abdullah al-Qalanisi. He said, "Ibn 'Abdus did not speak like that. He said to him, 'Whoever is not a believer with Allah is unbeliever with Allah.'"

Ibn Abi Sulayman thought that he said to him, "We are believers with Allah," and he alluded to his statement.

His death

Ibn 'Abdus died in 260 according to what Ibn Harith and others said. Others said that it was in 261. His brother led his funeral prayer.

He was born in 202 in the same year as Ibn Sahnun. It is said that it was a year after him according to the disagreement about the birth of Ibn Sahnun. Allah knows best.

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