'Isa ibn Miskin ibn Mansur ibn Jurayh ibn Muhammad al-Ifriqi

(d. 295) of North Africa


His origins were Persian. He was appointed over the Quraysh among the people of the coast.

Abu al-'Arab said, "He listened to all the books of Sahnun and his son. In the Maghrib, he listened to others. In Syria, he listened to Abu Ja'far al-Ayli. In Egypt, he listened to al-Harith ibn Miskin, Abu at-Tahir, ar-Rabi', Muhammad ibn al-Mawwaz, Muhammad ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman al-Barqi, Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Hakam, Muhammad ibn Sanjar and Yunus as-Sadafi. He listened to 'Ali ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz and others.


His virtues

Ibn Duhaym said, "He was one of the people of fiqh and scrupulousness. He was grave and serious."

Abu al-'Arab said, "He was reliable, trustworthy, righteous with good behaviour and humility. He wrote many books on fiqh and traditions: the sound ones. He was like Sahnun in his gravity and manner. He was awe-inspiring."

Another said, "He was a man of righteousness, excellent, long in his silence, constantly praising Allah, kind-hearted, with abundant tears, much compassion, and masterful in all sciences: hadith, fiqh, language, and the names of the men [in traditions], their kunyas, and those who were strong or weak. He was eloquent and had very good poetry."

Abu Bakr al-Maliki said, "'Isa relied on Sahnun, and he used to imitate him in all his matters, his qualities, his asceticism, his opposition to the people of innovations, good adab and clear manliness."

Abu 'Ali ibn al-Basri said, "If we had devoted a book to his virtues and excellent qualities, his asceticism and his justice, we would be unable to properly describe him. In addition to that, he had great knowledge language and composed poetry."

Ibn Harith said, "Ibn Miskin was one of the people of skilful excellence, sound scrupulousness, and long silence. It is said that his supplication was answered."

Ibn al-Jazzar said, "His place in asceticism, scrupulousness, tranquillity, gravity, fear of his Lord, justice in his judgements, deliberation in his phrases and articulation was such that an eloquent man would find himself inadequate to describe. In addition to that, he was a faqih, a man of knowledge and eloquence."

Abu al-Hasan al-Kanisi said, "'Isa ibn Miskin brought me into a room filled with books. Then he said, 'All of them are riwaya. There is no foreign word in them but that I have kept a testimony for it from an Arabic word.'"

One of them said, "I saw with many of the people of knowledge, but I did not see anyone like him and there was no one similar to them except for those before him of the Tabi'un."

When he attended the assembly of Muhammad ibn Sahnun, Muhammad commanded him to give the adhan, the iqama and pray. When Muhammad was asked for fatwa, he said, 'Abu Musa! Give the fatwa!'"

Muhammad ibn Sahnun looked at him one day and said, "People of questions! This man is the best of you, the most excellent of you and your Imam!"

When the people of Madina and the people of Iraq were contending about their men, it was said to the people of Iraq, "Do you have the like of 'Isa ibn Miskin?" They could not reply and they said, 'That is the best of us and the best of you.'"


His appointment of qadi and his behaviour


Ibn Miskin said, "When Sahnun died, I was grieved by his death. I dreamt that he removed a sword which was girded on his shoulder and girded it on me. I said, 'Sahnun was an excellent man. By Allah, I will follow in his tracks.' I interpreted it as knowledge. After forty years, I my dream came true and was afflicted by being made a qadi."

'Isa said, 'I was in the house on Jumu'a in Raqqada (i.e. while he was qadi) when there was a man at the door. I opened it to him and he greeted me, then he said to down and asked me, 'How are you?' "I asked, 'How can you ask about someone when his state has reached what you see?'

"He said, 'It will be nine.'

I asked, 'This one?' meaning the ruler.

"He said, 'This one will leave. This one will pass.'

"I asked, 'Where?'

"He replied, 'He will be at sea.' Then he left.

"I said, 'Nine days.' They passed. Then 'nine months,' and they passed. I was installed for nine years." He remarked, "It was al-Khidr."

Ibn Harith said, "Ibrahim b. Ahmad b. al-Aghlab had chosen Yusuf b. 'Umar to be qadi. He said to him, 'If I show you someone who is better than me in the aspect which you desire will you excuse me?' 'Yes,' he replied. He indicated Ibn Miskin to him.

"Ibrahim b. Ahmad sent for him at the coastal district and he was brought to him. He offered him the position but he was averse to accepting it.'"

Tamim ibn Khayran said, "When the scholars consulted Ibrahim on the one he should appoint as qadi, they disagreed on whom it should be. 'Isa was mentioned to him. Hamdis said, 'By Allah, commander, he was our companion with Sahnun. Allah has joined all of the qualities of good in him.'

"He set for him at the coast. He came and found Hamdis and the others in the assembly. Ibrahim said to him, "Do you know why I have sent for you?' "No,' he replied.

"He said, "We will consult you about a man who contains all the qualities of good. I want to appoint him qadi and I want him to sort out the muddled state of this community and he refuses.'

"He replied, 'He must be appointed.' He said, 'He refuses.'

"He said, 'He should be compelled to that.' He answered, 'He refuses.'

"He said, 'He should be flogged.' He said, 'Get up! You are him!'

"He said, 'I am not the one whom you have decribed.'

"He refused. The governor took the hem of his clothes and brought his sword near his throat and pulled 'Isa towards him as if to slaughter him."

Hamdis said, "I got up from my place so that I would not be struck by his blood. He kept at him until he was appointed."

Hamdis said, "I got up from my place so that I would not be struck by his blood. He kept at him until he was appointed."

Ibn Abi Sa'id said, "Ibrahim ibn Ahmad appointed him qadi after the people agreed about him in spite of the difference between their schools and his refusal to accept. Therefore Ibrahim frightened him and swore harsh oaths to him that if he do not take the appointment, he would kill him!"

"He was appointed and resided in Raqqada. He did not act in it nor go out except to the mosque.

"It is said that Ibrahim said, "By Allah, I will appoint over you one about whose excellence, asceticism, knowledge and scrupulousness you do not disagree!" and he sent for him."

Someone else said, "It is said that the ruler Ibrahim said to him, 'If you do not accept, then I will appoint Ibn 'Abdun!' He feared that if he appointed Ibn 'Abdun, innovation would appear and the people of the Sunna would be abased."

It is said that when Ibn al-Aghlab sent for him, the messenger found his garments coarse. When he brought him, he told Ibn al-Aghlab, "He is not fit to be qadi because he is dull and wears coarse garments." He told him, "Point him out to me before he comes to me."

He brought him in where he could see him. He was wearing a wool jubbah and a wool turban. When he reached him, Ibn al-Aghlab said to him, "The people have agreed on you."

He said to him, "Fear Allah! Do not appoint my like over this land!" He said, "Go. You will not return to your home except with my permission."

The scholars and shaykhs who had indicated him gathered and he said to them, "You indicated a shaykh in a garment of beauty!"

They told him, "If you want to have a proof with Allah, then appoint him. His like has not been seen." He summoned him and alarmed him (and he mentioned the like of what preceded). When he saw from him what left him powerless, he wanted to be hard to him in the preconditions.

He said, "Grant me the preconditions I want."

He said, "I will ask to resign every month."

He said, "Yes."

"Write it down," he demanded. He did that.

He said, "I will compel you to the truth as well as your nephews, your army, the poor and rich people. All are in the same degree." "Yes," he agreed.

"Write it down," he demanded. He did so.

He said, "Do not send for me nor will I congratulate you nor console you nor bid you farewell nor meet you. When you do not grant me a precondition, I will retire myself." "Yes," he said.

He sent him a gift and clothes, but he refused to accept them.

Ibn Harith said, "'Isa ibn Miskin said to Ibn al-Aghlab, 'I am a man of long silence and few words. I am not active in my matters nor do I know the people of the city.'

"The governor answered him, 'I have an energetic client who is trained in judgements. I will join him to you so he can be your scribe. He will promulgate your words for you in all matters. Act on what pleases you of his words and reject what you dislike.'

"He joined 'Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Mufarraj, known as Ibn al-Banna', to him."

Al-Mukhbir said, "Often I would come to his assembly when he was silent and did not speak. Ibn al-Banna' would be giving judgement."

Ibn al-Banna' said, "I went to the governor, Ibrahim, one day. He said, 'I have heard that you speak to the litigants and decide while 'Isa remains silent. I think that he has not accepted the qadiship.' He replied. 'He has accepted, but I spare him it.'

"He said, 'Go. Do not tell anyone what is between you and me. When the litigants are present, then decide between them by other than his school so that you can see the truth of the matter.'

"I did that. 'Isa commanded me to dismiss them. He said to me, 'Judge between them!' I said what I said to them the first time. He repeated the same thing to me. I did the like of what I had done before. "He commanded them and they came before him. He decided between them based on his school. I told that to the governor. He praised Allah and prostrated out of gratitude to Him."

Al-Kharrat said, 'He had another scribe who was called Ibn Ziryab. He was put in charge of the books. One day he disappeared from the assembly. They needed to look in the books, but Ibn al-Banna' did not know what to do in it until it was well into the day and the people of the case separated.

"Ibn Ziryab came and looked in the books. He brought the case out from it. Then he apologised for the delay since he had been to a wedding with Abu al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abdus. He mentioned the right that they owed Ibn 'Abdus and that he could not do other than attend.

"'Isa exclaimed, 'We only thought that you had an excuse due to an illness or something serious in your house when you were doing this! Take him to prison!'

"When he had been in prison for a time, he sent for him and told him, 'You are in the employ of the Muslims! Yet you invalidate what you were hired for and occupy yourself with the presence of foods! Do not do it again! Go back to your place!'"

He mentioned that he used to stand up in the night and mention the stories of the litigants with him one by one and ask Allah to take him to what was correct in them.

Once he passed by the prison and one of those in prison let him hear what he disliked. One of those present spoke to him about that and said, "Who can endure this?" He said, "From where did he speak to me?" "From the prison," came the reply. He told them, "What is more than this? We took his morsel so should we then forbid him to weep?" or words to that effect.

He considered that one of the Iraqis who had given testimony had his uprightness as a witness questioned since he drank nabidh. 'Isa said, "I have investigated it and I consider him right to believe that it is allowed since there is no consensus on it." He confirmed his testimony.

One of the sharifs among the people who was in charge of a trust went to 'Isa ibn Miskin for judgement. He was someone whom 'Isa used to respect. He began to ask him about what he had accepted. Then he shouted, saying, "Qadi! My opponent has come to you while I am still outside!" He shouted a second and a third time. 'Isa did not see anyone but him. He ordered that he be brought him and asked him, "Who is your opponent?"

"This one," he declared pointing at the trustee.

He asked him, "Has there been any quarrel between you two before this?"

"No," he stated.

He commanded the man to be detained. He said, "When our trustee and the one who helps obtain our right comes to us, you want to harm him and crush him!" He said, "I have benefits." "You will bring them from prison," he retorted.

When he had been in prison for a time, he commanded that he be brought out and his benefits be brought present.

He said, "While 'Isa was at the Raqqada mosque one day, he heard some people shouting by Allah and then by him. He said to those around him, 'See who those are.' They said, 'It is the spoils of Tunis.' He commanded that they be held.

The one who had taken them as booty complained to the governor Ibrahim, He sent to him about releasing them. He told his scribe, 'Write to him: "O people, why is it that I call you to rescue and you call me to the Fire? ..." to "Allah sees His slaves." (40:41)'

"When Ibrahim read it, he said, 'This man fights us by Allah. We have no need of them. Let them be.'"

One day Ibn al-Aghlab sent for Ibn al-Banna' and the messenger made a mistake and summoned 'Isa. That was after the governor Ibrahim had come from a journey in which 'Isa did not bid him farewell nor meet him when he came.

When the messenger came to 'Isa, he came and found Ibrahim in a garden. When Ibrahim saw him, he said to him first, 'By Allah, I did not send for you! I only wanted Ibn al-Banna'!"

'Isa left that place of his and did not go to the governor nor greet him. Ibrahim said, "People! Have you seen the like of this qadi? I was absent and he did not bid me farewell. I came and he did not meet me or congratulate me. I sent after another and the messenger erred with him, so I apologised to him and he went after he had seen me without a greeting! Bring him back!"

He came back and Ibrahim repeated that to him. 'Isa said to him, "The governor is too noble to give me a promise and write a contract against himself and then break it. When the burden was removed from me, then the opposition to what he wrote about laying aside the obligation is part of what I must not do nor is it allowed. As for my going back after seeing him without greeting him, I saw him sitting in other than the assembly of people. If he had let me, I would have greeted him. When he spoke to me first without the greeting, I thought that it was his dislike for me coming to this place, so I departed to support that."

It was said to the governor Ibrahim when he went to excess in his praise of him and boasting of him, "He is a sham." He said, "If what appears from him testifies to his inward, there was not the like of him among the devout of the tribe of Israel. If it is showing off and sham, we have neither seen nor reached anyone who was more devoted to his appetite and himself than him, especially with power and leadership. He is unique in either case."

He said, "In his period, Ibn Miskin did not take any wage for the qadiship, He did not ask anyone for help in any of his affairs. Sometimes water would be brought for him and he would spill it out and then get water for himself."

A man came to him one day and found some of his dough in a frying pan which was about to burn while Ibn Miskin was praying. The man turned it over for him. When he finished the prayer, he commanded that it be given as sadaqa and did not eat it.

A man came to him and found him getting water. He swore that he would be the one to get water himself. He left him until he had gotten the water. Then he took it and put it into the cistern. Then he got water for himself.

He used to live on flour which was brought to him from his house (and he made his own bread) and some vegetables which used to come to him from the desert. If nothing came to him, he waited for it. Sometimes he would wait for two or three days.

He was very ascetic in his qadiship. He did not have this style of contraction before he was qadi. When he retired, he returned to what he had of good friendship, noble company and brotherhood.

He was asked about his excessive constriction. He said, "I was tested by a stubborn tyrant. I feared that he would send some of his food to me or invite me to it, and I would not be safe, therefore I compelled myself to do that in order to prevent his food from coming to me."

He finished the food he had with him in Raqqada. He remained for three days without eating anything until he kept to his bed out of weakness. The messenger came to him at the end of the third day.

He said, "He remained in Raqqada for nine years and he did not eat any figs in that time except for once when a measure was purchased for him, or any watermelon except for one small one."

He was asked about his excessive constriction. He said, "I was tested by a stubborn tyrant. I feared that he would send some of his food to me or invite me to it, and I would not be safe, therefore I compelled myself to do that in order to prevent his food from coming to me."

He finished the food he had with him in Raqqada. He remained for three days without eating anything until he kept to his bed out of weakness. The messenger came to him at the end of the third day.

He said, "He remained in Raqqada for nine years and he did not eat any figs in that time except for once when a measure was purchased for him, or any watermelon except for one small one."

'Isa did not come down to Qayrawan. He appointed Sulayman ibn Salim to judges its cases. He allowed him to look in 100 dinars. Then he dismissed him and appointed him qadi of Sicily. Then he appointed Ibrahim ibn al-Khashshab in his place. He asked Abu Bakr ibn al-Lubbad to be his scribe. He used to act according to his opinion. Ibn al-Khashshab did not have fiqh. He put Abu al-Qasim at-Tarazi in charge of market inspection.

Abu Bakr ibn al-Lubbad said, "I saw Ibn Miskin at the funeral of one of the wives of Governor Ibrahim. He was sitting in the cemetery when Governor Abu al-'Abbas came. The people rose and greeted him while 'Isa remained seated. He did not move his legs. When he looked at him, he said, "Qadi! Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah.' He replied, 'And peace upon you, the mercy of Allah and His blessings.'

"Then he left, When his father Governor Ibrahim came, people leapt to him while 'Isa remained as he was without moving his legs. When the governor saw him, he went towards him and when he was opposite him, he said, 'Peace be upon you, qadi.' He returned the greeting to him. Then he got down and 'Isa went in front to lead the prayer for her."

The governor once sent for him to Tunis. One of its people wanted him to stay with him. He lodged him in an excellent house. He went to a room which was black from smoke. Its door was under the steps, and he went into it and spread out a mat on it and a skin and clothes.

He was asked about that. He said, "The men of the Sultan come to me and they sit for a long time when they find a good place. Here, whichever of them comes will greet me and then depart. So I will be spared from them."

Ibn Harith said, "The Qadi said (and I quoted his handwriting I think), "I heard one of the shaykhs relate that a man was standing at a butcher's when a man threw something at him. He swerved from the object and fell, was carried away and died. His heirs litigated against the thrower before 'Isa ibn Miskin. They confirmed that he had thrown it.

"'Isa granted them judgement for killing after the oath. When they went to swear, Ibn Miskin told them, 'You will swear fifty oaths by Allah that he served from the object and fell because he swerved and he died from his fall."

Ibrahim used to delight in the fact that he was his qadi. One day one of his servants said to him, "I have given you good advice that even the qadis have never given you!" Ibrahim said to him, "Not even 'Isa ibn Miskin?"


Concerning his supplication being answered and its proofs


It is mentioned that he supplicated against Qadi Ibn 'Abdun when he was extravagant. He said, "O Allah, afflict him in the beginning of the way." An ulcer erupted on his face, He was afflicted by it and died because of it.

A Christian met him and greeted him and shook his hand while 'Isa did not know that he was a Christian. He learned that later. He said, "O Allah, cut off his right hand and take revenge from him!" That night thieves alighted on him. He fought them and they cut off his hand."

Al-Kanisi related from someone who accompanied 'Isa on the way to the hajj. He said, "I went out one night from the company to relieve myself. When I returned to the company, there was wall which prevented me from reaching them untilt he morning when the drums were beaten. I mentioned that to 'Isa and he said, 'I do not spend the night but that I go around the company and say, 'O Allah, protect us by Your eye which does not sleep and guard us by Your protection which is not moved! O Allah, I entrust my deen, myself, my family, my children and my property to You! You do not fail your trusts, O Most Merciful of the Merciful!"'"

He said, "While his companions were reading to him, an arrival informed them that Abu al-'Abbas ibn al-Aghlab had written a document about the creation of the Qur'an and had commanded that it be read out on the minbars. That made him and his companions weep. They spent the night in sorrow because of it. In the morning, 'Isa told them, 'The period of this man is finished.' The news came that he had died that night."

'Isa ibn Miskin sometimes spoke about premonitions before they occurred. It is said that he kept the company of Abu Kharija, the companion of Malik ibn Anas and learned that from him.

It is said that Allah used to make that flow on his tongue.

One of his companions said, "While we were listening to him, a little girl came to him, He embraced her and wept. He said, 'It is as if I were at al-Jilawaza while they are stripping her to seek a payment instalment.' On that day, Sahlun and Muhammad ibn 'Abbas, the scribe, were in the gathering."

One of them who had attended said, "One day some time after this, I left the office of Sahlun while 'Abbas was with them. They were serving 'Ubaydullah, may Allah curse him. There was a tall woman at his door stripped of her clothes. It was that girl. I returned to Sahlun and Ibn 'Abbas and told them the report and they remembered it. I said to them both, 'She is naked at your door.'

"Sahlun went out barefoot and went to 'Ubaydullah. He wrote a paper for her and that she could go to her place and he sent a gift to her. She refused and returned to her place."

One of his companions said, "'Isa went out one day to al-Munsatir, He passed by a hot spring in the place where al-Mahdiyya is today. He wept. He said, "Here a city will be built and the wrong actions of the jinn and men will rest on its builder. Then he drew his sword and a scroll. He said, 'O Allah, I testify that I came to it fighting.'"

It is related from him that he met with al-Khidr.

'Abdullah ibn al-'Ari related that he said, "I met with al-Khidr twice. He came to me in my house and said "I give you the good news that you will be freed of what you are in."


Concerning his journey and the beginning of his quest


'Isa said, "My father used to frequent all he could of those known for right action. He got their supplication for me. My quest began in 224."

He listened to the shaykhs of North Africa: Sahnun and those after him.

He travelled to the east twice. In those journeys, he met those whom we mentioned.

In his first journey, he did not listen to Ibn Sanjar. He returned because of him the second time.

He said, "When I entered Egypt, I heard a caller calling: 'Whoever reads well should come to the house of 'Abdullah ibn Sanhar. He will read a musnad by Ibn al-Amir.'

"I informed the caller of my place in reading, and I saw that as an opportunity. I used to write all of it at night and read it in the day until its text was completed as well as the oral transmission. It was not many days after this that Ibn Sanjar died."


His scrupulousness, asceticism, worship, and his humility


Ash-Shirazi said, "I saw 'Isa wearing an old wool jubbah patched with cotton rags. When he was the qadi, he would ride a donkey with a woman's saddle and hang the jug from the saddle."

His scribe, the faqih Abu 'Ali ibn al-Banna', became ill. He was living with him in the same house. He was ill for four months but 'Isa did not visit him nor stop at his bed nor inquire about his state. That was conveyed to Ibn al-Banna' and he criticised hi, for it.

They decided to speak to 'Isa ibn Miskin about that. Abu Sa'id ibn Muhammad ibn Sahnun and others went to him regarding that. They said to him, "Ibn al-Banna' is close to the shaykhs and has been made a tongue and scribe for you. He is with you in the same house and he has been ill for four months, yet you have no stopped with him even one day nor asked him who he is!" He told them, "Allah is the One to ask for help."

When he was pressed, he stated, "I am in a land subject to illegal force. Allah will not see me walking in it alone in any place where I was not compelled."

He was never seen at all walking in other than the path to his house except to the mosque except for the day when the mother of governor Ibrahim died. He sent for him to pray over her. He did not find any way to avoid that.

Abu al-'Arab said, "I was with him at the coast. He charged a man to buy some oil and he brought some for him with a good source from a Christian. He told him that he added to ten cafizs to that he bought when he learned who it was for. That was when he was no longer qadi.

"He bowed his head for awhile and then raised it. He said, 'Thanks be to Allah for your effort. Perhaps you will complete your business by taking his oil to him and bringing me back my same dinars. If not, leave him the oil and take a dinar from him and give it away as sadaqa.'

"Then the man did that, 'Isa did apologised to him so that nothing would occur to himself. He said to him, 'I feared that my heart would incline to the Christian when I remembered his haste for my need, so I put it under the judgement of the words of the Almighty, "You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day…" (58:22)'"

One day he wanted some meat and so it was bought for him. He liked it. He was told it was foddered and he refused to eat. He was asked about that and said, "The foddered animal, in our opinion, is left to graze on the olives and crops of the people."

As-Sidri said, "'Isa came in the evening in the mosque. I stood up and took the mat to spread it out for him He did not sit on it. He sat on the earth. When he found it unrolled, he would sit on it."

One of his companions said, "'Isa wanted to go out to a certain place. I went to bring out his bags and I only found two vessels. One contained vinegar and the other contained oil. He told me, 'Pour the vinegar into the oil.' I did that. He said, 'This is lighter.' He carried one vessel rather than two. Then I looked at an aperture in the room, There was a small vessel in it which had a skin sealed in it.' He said, 'Leave it where you found it.' I asked him about it and he avoided answering.

"So I pressed him and he said, 'I was with this man (i.e. Ibrahim the governor) and he saw me in pain. He questioned me and I told him that I felt inner wind. He said, 'I will give you a remedy to stop it.' He commanded this for me, so I asked to be excused. He said, 'I know your school. Take it and send me a dirham for its price!' I left him and sent some dirhams to him and Allah spared me from it."

He related that Ibn Dabus, his chamberlain, said, "I came to him on Thursday or Friday and I said, 'Today he will be free, so I can keep his company.' I knocked on his door and he opened to me alone. I stopped. He was wrapped in his garment, washing his house. He said to me, 'My brother, what has brought you?' I replied, 'I wanted to keep your company, but I see you are busy. Let me fetch water for you while you wash or you get water while I wash.' He said, 'My brother, I have sat down without any occupation.' He came to the door. That was while he was the qadi."


His aphorisms in prose and poetry


He used to say:

"The noblest wealth is abandoning desires."

"One of the most difficult of matters is knowledge of what is concealed."

"Whoever is guarded from his appetites has his worth protected."

"Whoever lets his eye run free has a lot of grief."

"The true essences of men are known through the vicissitudes of circumstances."

"Quests are made easy by excellent deliberation."

"The good intention is accompanied by success."

"Livelihoods abase the people of knowledge."

"Proper manners towards yourself will spare you what you dislike towards others."

"Come near the people in their intelligence and you will be safe from their dangers."

"Leave people this world and they will leave you your Next World."


Part of his poetry is:

            When I was old, every calamity came to me.
              All of me increases in its imperfection.
           I greet the earth when I want to stand.
                If I walk, my right hand has a staff accompanies me.

Part of his poetry is his elegy for his leg:

           Time has struck me on the thigh bone.
               It used to make me a strong walker.
           It took me to the fuqaha' and I covered the distance
               to distant lands for my need.
           When a young man's foot is injured one day
               and his illness is protracted, he becomes used to eating.
           He goes to his room to sit and in the evening,
               he is alone and apart from the brothers.

Ibn Abi Sa'id also quoted him:

           By my life, O my youth, if I had found you,
                I would return you by all that my right hand owns.
           If this world and what is in it had been given to me as a reward for you,
                I would not have given you.
           I lost you, so I lost the delight of my sleep
                and my pleasant life when I lost you.
           I mourned you and I lamented for you for a while.
                Mourning was not enough when I lamented you.

The rest of his reports, his asking to resign as qadi and his death


When he came to Qayrawan, he came on a donkey which had a padded saddle on it. People stood up for him. He said, "Take your places, may Allah have mercy on you! People only rise for the Lord of the Worlds."

When a woman saw him on a donkey, a donkey saddle and a woman's saddle with the shaykhs of the Qayrawan around him, she said, "Look at what a qadi and what a form!" He heard her. He said to her, "By Allah, you said it to them!"

It is reported the Book of al-Mu'arrib (and I also quoted it from Abu'l-Walid al-Baji) is that Sahl ibn Ibrahim said, "We were with 'Isa ibn Miskin. We listened to him. Every day a shaykh would come to him who was a friend of his from his youth. 'Isa did not go out until he had eaten. One day he came to 'Isa before he went out. He was told that and summoned him. The shaykh said to the messenger, 'Tell him I am fasting.'

"He said, 'Ask him, "Is it voluntary or obligatory?"'

"'Voluntary,' he replied.'

"Get up with me,' he said.

"When the shaykh returned, we questioned him. He said, 'He told me, "Your reward in bringing joy to your Muslim brother by breaking your fast with him is better than your reward for fasting today."'

"So he broke his fast with him. We asked, 'Did he not tell you to make up today's fast?'

"'No,' he said, ''he did not mention it.'"

As for making it up, that is obligatory without any means to avoid it. He did not mention since he knew, and Allah knows best, that that is not part of hidden knowledge which must be clarified

Part of what he did in other than the period when he was qadi was that in the morning, he recited his hizb of the Qur'an. Then he sat for the students until 'Asr. After 'Asr, he called for his daughter and his nieces and taught them the Qur'an and knowledge.

One of them said, "I came to 'Isa and found him sitting on a bench while a servant of his was bringing olives which the beast was pressing. He was reading out a hadith of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, from its beginning. He was asked about that. He said, 'I review my hadith so that I will not forget it.'"

Ibn Hammud as-Sadusi said, "Ibn Miskin demanded something of me in a debate and I said, 'Allah is between me and him.' Someone came to me in a dream and told me, 'Do not curse the man of righteousness.'"

He asked to be dismised as qadi and was relieved. He returned to his house on the coast where he remained until he died. There was something wrong with his thigh and kept to his bed.

He died in 295. He was born in 214.

When he spoke about the days when he had been qadi, he used to say, "I was suffering my affliction" and "I was in the days of that inquisition!"

When the governor Ibrahim delegated and left his power and went to perform jihad, 'Isa ibn Miskin went to him and said, "Allah has released you from what you were in so relieve me of what you brought me into. I am old and my body is weak.” He released him and he went to his estate.

Ibrahim said, "How admirable his state is! At the end of his life, he is as he was at the beginning of it!"

He was appointed qadi for eight years and eleven months.

When news of his death reached the Qayrawan, one of their men said, "Your faces are dark with sorrow for him."

Another said, "What is the matter with North Africa? They find knowledge after 'Isa, but they do not find the like of his scrupulousness, asceticism and good manners!"

Another said, "That is a man for whose death North Africa is grieved."


Historical Notes

Raqqada: the capital of the Aghlabids, about ten miles outside of Qayrawan.

'Ubaydullah: the founder of the Fatimids in North Africa who broke the power of the Abbasids there. He was an Isma'ili who claimed descent from Fatima. He called himself 'al-Mahdi'.

al-Mahdiyya: the capital of the Fatimids, founded by 'Ubaydullah, on the east coast of Tunisia.


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