Abu 'Umar Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn Ya'qub ibn Isma'il ibn Hammad ibn Zayd

(243/856 - 320/932), from Iraq

He originated from Basra and lived in Baghdad. He listened to his grandfather Ya'qub ibn Isma'il, Ahmad ibn Mansur ar-Rumadi, 'Amr ibn Marzuq, Muhammad ibn Ishaq as-San'ani, Abu 'Uthman al-Muqri', Muhammad ibn al-Walid al-Basri, al-Hasan ibn Abi'r-Rabi' al-Jurjani, Zayd ibn Akhzam, 'Uthman ibn Hisham ibn Dulham and others. He learned fiqh with his father's uncle's son, Isma'il ibn Ishaq.

Abu al-Hasan ad-Daraqutni, Abu Bakr al-Abhuni, Abu al-Qasim ibn Hababa, Yusuf ibn 'Umar al-Qawwas, Ja'far ibn Muhammad ibn al-Bahlul and Abu 'Ali al-Mu'adhdhin al-Maliki related from him.

Abu Ja'far al-Abhuri and others learned fiqh with him. The Imams of the school used to debate in front of him.

Praise for him

Abu al-Walid al-Baji said that he was reliable.

Abu Bakr al-Khatib said in his History, "He was excellent and reliable. People took vast knowledge of hadith from him not to mention the books of fiqh which Isma'il wrote as well as some tafsir. He compiled a great musnad, most of which was recited to people. People in Baghdad did not see any better assembly than his when he gave hadith. The scholars and the masters of hadith used to gather in the presence of his assembly so that he would sit for hadith while Abu al-Qasim ibn Mani' was on his sight. He was close in age and isnad to his father. Ibn Sa'id would be at his left and Abu Bakr an-Naysaburi in front of him and all of the huffaz around his seat."

He used to mention a hadith from his grandfather Ya'qub which he taught him when he was four years old, from Wahb ibn Jarir from his father from al-Hasan, "There is no harm in kohl for the one who is fasting."

Abu 'Abdullah ibn 'Arafa Niftawayh said in his History, "Abu 'Umar had no peer among the judges of intellect, forbearance, firmness and gave full value to many meanings with few good words, He had knowledge of the worth of people and their position. He showed good deliberation in judgements and remembered what had occurred at his hands."

Talha ibn Muhammad said, "When we went to excess in his description, we were still nearly incapable in what we mentioned of that."

Part of his good fortune is that intelligence and forbearance became a proverbial. His excellence was mentioned on the tongues of both the important and insignificant to the extent that when someone exaggerate a man's description, one would say, "It is as if he were Qadi Abu 'Umar ". When someone was filled with wrath, one would say, "Even if I had been Qadi Abu 'Umar, I would not have been patient!" There was also what is related of that in majesty, leadership and patience in disliked things. He bore every offence from his enemy. He thought of it as an error, if it came from his friend and he was kind with goodness to both young and old. He acted correctly with both relatives and people not related to him. He was affable to both his peers and followers. He spite of that, he increased in majesty and nobility for his entire life.

The Qadi said in his book, "Qadi Abu 'Umar was one of those whom the king boasted of. The time was good while he remained and the Muslims rejoiced in him."

He said in another place, "He was part of the adornment of time."

When Abu Ishaq ash-Shirazi mentioned him in this generation among the Imams of the Malikis, he said about him: "He was the chamberlain of Qadi Isma'il. Then he was appointed qadi after him. Then his son Abu al-Husayn was appointed after him. He used to say, "Isma'il by his chamberlain and Abu al-Husayn by his father and Abu 'Umar by himself.' The praise in all went back to Abu 'Umar."

He said, "Up until today, when people in Baghdad see a modest man who has splendour, beauty, awe, and gravity, they say, 'He is like Qadi Abu 'Umar.'"

Concerning his appointment as qadi and something of his life

We mentioned that he was first the chamberlain of Qadi Isma'il, the son of his father's uncle. When Qadi Isma'il died - and he was the qadi of all of Baghdad which was a position which none before him had had - the qadiship was divided was divided after him. His nephew, Yusuf ibn Ya'qub, the father of Abu 'Umar, was appointed over the eastern side and then, after a period, his son Abu 'Umar was appointed over the city of al-Mansur.

Abu Ja'far at-Tabari and Abu 'Abdullah Niftawayh said, "After this, Abu 'Umar was appointed to dealing with complaints and looking into matters which was connected to his office, and was qadi for cases between the people of Qutrabbul, Buzurjsabur, Maskin and the two Radhans. He sat in the General Mosque to judge. Then after Abu 'Umar was appointed to dealing with complaints and looking into matters, he was also made qadi of Madina as-Salam. No one before had had all of tis before him except Ibn Abi Dawud. He had been appointed qadi of the eastern side of the city. He used to judge disputes in it and had leadership in the city of al-Mansur. When Abu Hazm ash-Shafi'i, who had been Qadi of Karkh, died, Abu 'Umar moved to it and he continued in this office until 296. 'Abdullah ibn al-Mu'tazz rebelled and he was one of those who given homage. When his business was finished and Ibn al-Mu'tazz defeated and al-Muqtadir returned to his position, Abu 'Umar concealed himself and a great ordeal happened to him which we will mention later. The Sultan removed him from all the qadiships and dismissed his father because of him. His father died soon afterwards in 297. Abu 'Umar remained in his house until 301. When 'Ali ibn 'Isa ibn al-Jarrah became the wazir, he indicated him to al-Muqtadir and he apologised for him in his presence. He described him, saying the kingdom would be made good through his appointment, so he was pleased with him and appointed him to the eastern side and ash-Sharqiyya and a number of districts of the blacks, Syria, the Haramayn, Yemen and elsewhere."

Al-Farghani said, "The first time that he was pleased with him was in 299. Then his possessions were returned to him and his name was written on them and the name of as-Sawwafi was erased from them and it was bestowed on him. He rose in a group of the generals, the people of the Sultan and the just. He was in a great retinue and Ibn Mahran al-Warraq was in front of him. It was called out on him, "Supplicate to Allah for our upright Qadi!" He was praised.

"Then the days of the second wazirate of Ibn al-Furat, the qadiship of Wasit, Basra and its area was added to is qadiship. Cases came to him in 306. Then he appointed him qadi of the Qadis, and none of his family before him had been appointed to that." That was in 311 according to what al-Farghani said. Another said that it was 313.

Al-Farghani said, "He was granted that and he was appointed Head Qadi of the qadis and over both sides of the city, and his son Abu al-Husayn rode to ar-Rusafa and gave judgement in its mosque. He left his father in charge the judgement on the eastern side. He continued to be Head Qadi until he died."

The reason that he was appointed Head Qadi is that when al-Qahir rebelled against al-Muqtadir and al-Muqtadir was removed the second time and he wrote a letter of deposition, he gave it to Qadi Abu 'Umar. It was in his possession. When the business of al-Qadir ended and al-Muqtadir returned the second time to his state, the Qadi Abu 'Umar surrendered the letter of his deposition which he had to him. He guarded that for him.

Abu Ishaq ibn Jabir the Qadi said, "When Abu 'Umar was appointed qadi, we wanted to pursue him for error by what we knew of his lack of understanding."

The Qadi said, "I did not hear this attribute from his description except from the author of this story. Perhaps it was at the beginning of his affair.

He said, "We used to be asked for fatwa and we would say, 'Go to the Qadi.' We guarded what he judged. He defended the judgements with a defence better than the decision of judgements on what was obligatory and more subtle. Then we avoided the fatwas in those stories and we feared that we would be dismissed when we did not give fatwa. We gave fatwa and the fatwas were referred to him. He judged what the fuqaha' had judged. We did not come across any error in him."

Ibn al-Munjam and Ibn an-Nadim came to him once about something which was between them. Ibn al-Munjam said to him, "This one indicates his closeness with the Qadi."

Abu 'Umar said, "I do not deny it. That is due to a benefit he had with me which will not harm you. If the right is his, we will spare him the burden of being bold in it. If it is against him, we will surrender it to you without any judgement for him."

The most definite Qadi, Abu al-Qasim al-Mawardi, mentioned in his judgements: "Ibrahim ibn Batha' was the muhtasib in Baghdad. One day, he passed by the house of the Qadi of the Qadis, Abu 'Umar, at midday. There were many litigants watching at his house for him to come out. The sun was high over them, so he called for his chamberlain. He said, "Tell the Qadi about the great number of litigants and their injury by the long wait and the middle of the day, so he will come out to judge between them. If he has an excuse, then inform them and remove the harm they are suffering!"

Some of his reports

Abu Bakr al-Khatib mentioned that Qadi Isma'il used to want meet with Ibrahim al-Harbi. It was said to Isma'il, "If only you would meet him."

He said, "I do not go to the one who has a chamberlain."

That was mentioned to Isma'il. He removed the chamberlain from his door for some days. That was mentioned to Ibrahim so he went to him. When he entered, Abu 'Umar met him. He was standing in front of Isma'il. When Ibrahim removed his sandals, Abu 'Umar commanded a boy of his to remove them in a handkerchief of his. When the meeting between Isma'il and Ibrahim lasted a long time, and the knowledge which passed between them was admired by those present and Ibrahim wanted to leave, Abu 'Umar went ahead of the slave to place his sandals in front of him. When Ibrahim saw him wrapped in the handkerchief, he said to Abu 'Umar, "May Allah elevate your worth in this world and the Next!"

It is said that Abu 'Umar was seen in a dream, i.e. after his death. He was asked, "What did Allah do to you?" He replied, "The supplication of the righteous man, Ibrahim, met me, and I was forgiven," or words to that effect.

One of them said, "I came to the Qadi Abu 'Umar when Abu Nasr, his grandson, was before him, when he was a young man. He said to me, 'O, Abu Bakr!

              When the sons of men are born and their livers are upset from old age
                  And its faults are habitual, they are a crop whose harvest is nigh."

I said, "May Allah make the Qadi endure!"

He said, "Then what?"

As-Suli said, "The master of intelligence presented a paper of Qadi Abu 'Umar to ar-Radi, the Amir al-Mu'minin, in which he mentioned that a man brought his litigant to the assembly of Qadi Abu 'Umar to demand 100 dinars from him. The Qadi obliged the defendant to swear an oath since the other did not have a clear proof. So the litigant took the inkwell and wrote:

              I have the oath of an immoral person.
                  When I am in need and contracted in that state.
              Is there any objection in the one who is compelled
                  to defend by Allah what he cannot do.

"The Qadi commanded that the 100 dinars be brought and gave them to him.

"Ar-Radi was amazed at the manners of the man and the generosity of the Qadi. He bade me rise to the Qadi to seek out the man, I searched for him for some days until I found him. I brought him to him. He commanded 1000 dinars for him and five robes, a good mount, and closeness to the house of the Sultan. He then appointed him over Ahwaz."

One of them said, "I was in the presence of Abu 'Umar the Qadi in a group of his witnesses and companions with whom he was friendly. He called for a Yemeni garment and it is said that it was worth 50 dinars. All present in the assembly admired him. He said, "Boy! Bring the hat-maker!'

"He came and he said to him 'Cut it all into hats and make a hat for each of our companions.'

"Then he turned to them and said, 'You all admired it. If one had admired it, I would have given it to him. When you shared in admiring it, I did not find any way to give each of you something of it except by making it into hats, so each of you will have one of them.'"

Qadi Abu 'Umar is the one who washed al-Mu'tadid when he died and his father Yusuf prayed over him. He washed al-Muktafi and prayed over him.

His ordeal and his death

When the generals rose up against al-Muqtadir the first time under Muhammad ibn Dawud the Wazir and they killed his wazir, al-'Abbas ibn al-Husayn, Muhammad ibn Dawud sent to Qadi Abu 'Umar and his friend Qadi Ibn al-Muthanna among all the just witnesses to depose al-Muqtadir because he was too young and they did that. They wrote a letter in which they testified and gave homage to 'Abdullah ibn al-Mu'tazz. When that was not achieved, Ibn al-Mu'tazz was slain immediately and al-Muqtadir was back in control, then Qadi Abu 'Umar fell out of favour with the rest of those who fell out of favour with all his family. He was seized and handed over to Mu'nis, the servant, and all his property was confiscated and he experienced a great ordeal happened.

Qadi Abu 'Ali al-Hasan at-Tanukhi mentioned in his book with his isnad from Qadi Abu 'Umar: "When what happened of the business of 'Abdullah ibn al-Mu'tazz took place and I was imprisoned, and Ibn al-Muthanna the Qadi and Muhammad ibn Dawud ibn al-Jarrah the wazir were imprisoned with me in three adjoining rooms of the same house. I was in the middle between them. There was nothing I could do. We despaired of life. When the night covered us, I spoke to this one once, and to that one once, and they spoke to me from behind the doors. Each of us entrusted what he left to the others and we were awaiting execution at every moment.

"That night when the doors were locked and the guardians asleep, we were speaking behind the rooms when we sensed the sound of locks opening. We were alarmed and each of us returned to his place. The door opened on Ibn al-Jarrah and he was taken out and laid down to be slaughtered. He was saying, 'O people! A slaughter like that of a sheep! Where are the confiscations? Where are you with my property by which I could ransom myself?'

"No attention was paid to him. He was slaughtered and I could see him from the crack in the door. The night became day by the great number of candles. They carried off his head and threw his corpse into a well in the house and locked the doors. I was certain of execution and I devoted myself to reciting the Qur'an, supplication and weeping. It was only a short time before I head the locks opening. Then they came to the room of Qadi al-Muthanna and brought him out. They told him, 'The Amir al-Mu'minin says to you: "Enemy of Allah! By what did you allow the breaking of my homage and the deposition of my power?"'

"He said, 'Because I knew that he was not fit to be the imam.'

"They said, "The Amir al-Mu'minin commands that you be asked to repent of this disbelief. If you repent, we will return you to your place. If not, we will kill you.'

"He said, 'I seek refuge with Allah from disbelief. I did not do what necessitates disbelief!' They began to beguile him by the like of this. He did not repent of it. When they despaired of him, one of them left and then returned. Then he was lead out and slaughtered while I was looking. They carried off his head and threw his corpse into the well. My affair was lost for me and I turned myself to supplication and weeping.

"Then before dawn, there was the sound of locks opening. I said, 'I am the only one left and I am slain.' I submitted. They opened my door and took me to the courtyard. They said, 'The Amir al-Mu'minin says to you, "O doer, what moved you to depose my homage?"'

"I said, 'Error and wretched fortune. I repent to Allah Almighty for this wrong action.' I went on with the like of these words. One of them left and then returned. He said, 'Comply.'

"Then he pointed to me and said, 'There is no harm for you. The wazir (i.e. ibn al-Furat) has spoken about you.'

"I was calm. They brought me my socks, my shawl and my turban and I put them on. I was taken to Ibn al-Furat's house. The caliph's son was in the house. When he saw me, be began to speak to me and thought that my crime was terrible. I admitted that and washed my hands of it and apologised. He said, "The Amir al-Mu'minin has given me your blood, and I have purchased your crime from him for 100,000 dinars which I demand from you.'

"I said, 'By Allah, O wazir, I do not think that even part of it can be got together.'

"He motioned for me to be quiet and some of the notable scribes pulled me from behind and made me be quiet. I knew that he wanted to save my blood. I said, 'All that the Wazir commands will be obeyed, may Allah exalt him!'

"He said, 'Take him to my house.' I was taken. My business was confirmed for 100,000 dinars: half immediately and half in a deferred term written on the confiscations. He gave me a lot of food and I was shown in the bath-house and made comfortable. When I left the bath-house I saw my face in the mirror. Handfuls of my hair had turned white in the front of my beard and I had gone white overnight. I paid some 30,000 dinars and Ibn al-Furat took care of the rest for me. He took me to my house and saved my life. I remained in the house for two years while my door was shut on me. I did not see anyone nor did anyone see me except on rare occasions. I devoted myself to studying fiqh and investigation into knowledge until Allah opened a way."

As-Suli said, "Abu 'Umar the Qadi died on the 25 Ramadan in 320 when he was 79."

He was born in Basra at the beginning of Rajab, 243.

Historical Notes

al-Mu'tadid: the 'Abbasid caliph.

al-Muktafi: the next Abbasid caliph

al-Muqtadir: the brother of al-Muktafi who became Caliph in 295. He was appointed by the bureaucrats rather than the army and was very weak.

'Abdullah ibn al-Mu'tazz: the son of the Caliph al-Mu'tazz. The Jarrahids had wanted him to become Caliph rather than al-Muqtadir

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