Ahmad ibn Baqi ibn Makhlad

(260 - 324/935), of Andalusia

Abu 'Abdullah. Their wala' belonged to a woman from the people of Jaen.

He listened to his father in particular when he was young. His father died when he was fourteen.

He was ascetic, excellent and skilled. He was consulted in judgements along with 'Ubaydullah ibn Yahya at the end of the reign of 'Ubayd Allah and then after him. He was appointed to distribute the zakat and to lead the prayer. Then he was appointed qadi of the group as well as being in charge of the prayer and the khutba. That was in 314.

Some of his virtues and reports

Abu 'Abd al-Malik ibn 'Abd al-Barr said, "Ahmad ibn Baqi was intelligent, forbearing, grave, following good behaviour, lenient, easy. He was stern in some cases, although leniency predominated him. There was not a qadi in Andalusia equal to him in gravity and tranquility. He was able to contain his wrath and master himself where others were incapable of doing so. He perceived by his intellect what others did not perceive due to his great memory. Many things were mentioned to the shaykhs about the excellence of his talent. They deferred to his opinion in them. He was respected before he was appointed qadi. Notable people sat with him and questioned him, and it was as if birds were on their heads due to their great respect for him. In spite of that, he was mild-tempered and balanced in matters. Whoever saw him loved him."

It was mentioned that he had great memory of the Qur'an and much recitation of it. He stood to recite it at the ends of the night and day. He devoted himself to his recitation of the copy of the Qur'an in spite of the power of his memory, following the method of his father Baqi. He had firm knowledge of its tafsir and its meanings and great recognition of the differences of the scholars regarding it.

It was mentioned that one day he recited Surat Yusuf to the Caliph an-Nasir and he commented on it ayat by ayat. He related what the people had said on it until he finished the sura. He was mild-mannered, forbearing and patient. He repaid evil with good.

Ibn Harith mentioned him and said, "He was appointed qadi. He was a quick worker, unique, with good conduct, beautiful guidance and praiseworthy positions. He gravity which surpassed the people of his time as well possessing a judicious mind and perfect wakefulness. I sat with him for a time. I saw that he had all these lofty qualities."

He said, "He was eloquent in his speech and unaffected in it. He had a good writing style and tongue, surpassing the best men of his time. I heard the governor of the time, al-Hakam, mention him, and he mentioned the one who described his equanimity, full discharge (of his duties) and his great unsurpassed humility. His qualities were the same as the qualities of his father in sociability, forbearance and pardoning people."

His son said, "I was in his presence when someone came to him to tell him about a man who had presented a paper against him to the Amir al-Mu'minin. My father began to pray for the complainer to repent and feared wrong action for him.”

One of the great men of Cordoba died and he walked to his house. He told one of those who walked with him, “He used to insult when he was alive, but today he is more in need of enduring it. I testify to you that he is free of what he did [to me.]”

The chamberlain Ibn Musa said, "I asked him one day about his lineage and his wala'. He said, "Our wala' belongs to a woman from the people of Jaen.'"

Al-Hakam used to be amazed at his justice and humility.

This chamberlain used to say, "Allah has blessed us, the company of the companions of the Sultan, the sons of this world, with Ahmad ibn Baqi. He makes us incline to seeking the Next World and selling this world."

Ibn Qasim mentioned him and said, "He was one of the most intelligent of the people of his time and the greatest in gravity. He was the best in character, the greatest in protecting himself and in withdrawal [from people], and the one with the most self-restraint."

Ibn Qasim mentioned him and said, "He was one of the most intelligent of the people of his time and the greatest in gravity. He was the best in character, the greatest in protecting himself and in withdrawal [from people], and the one with the most self-restraint."

His son Ahmad mentioned from him that when a guest knocked at his door at night, he did not sacrifice any of the animals at all for him. He said, "The night protects this chicken." He restricted his guest's meal to what was present of honey, cheese, olives and the like. He used to write down the conditions (in contracts) and was very skilled in them and was famous for that. His testimony was not attached to a document until he had read it.

Ahmad ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Jabbab was the master of documents. Ahmad ibn Baqi commanded that he write for him. He used to check his documents. Ibn al-Jabbab said one day, "Why does Ibn Baqi presume that he knows more about documents than I do?"

Ibn Baqi heard about that. He concealed it in himself until Ibn al-Jabbab wrote some documents and brought them to Ibn Baqi. Ibn Baqi exerted his utmost effort and criticised him in some places and clarified them. He said to him, "Change them."

He changed them and brought them. He also criticised him in them. Ibn al-Jabbab sent to him, "I admit that you know more about documents than I do, so spare me your excessive scrutiny. If not I swear that I will not write a document."

Ibn Baqi left him alone after that.

As-Sadafi said, "Ahmad ibn Baqi was one of the shrewd ones."

Ahmad ibn 'Abdu Rabbih said, "The wonders of this world are three: the sea, Ahmad ibn Baqi, and Musa (i.e. Ibn Hadid al-Faradi).

He mentioned that the nephew of this Musa said to him, "Uncle, Allah has helped us with Ahmad ibn Baqi since he inclines to the path of asceticism and leaves this world for us. If he were to incline to it, we would be distracted by ourselves"

Ibn Harith said, "It was mentioned that Ahmad ibn Baqi had rare fatwas he issued while he was young with the shaykhs which raised his esteem. That was when Amir 'Abdullah sent for the fuqaha' to consult them on a fatwa. They included Ahmad ibn Baqi. He was young at that time. He asked them about captives from the companions of Ibn Hafsun al-Muntazi who had been sent. The shaykhs gave the fatwa that they should be killed. They said, 'They are the people of sedition and corruption.'

"Ibn Baqi was silent. He was told, 'Speak!'

"He said, 'The shaykhs have spoken.'

"He was told, 'You must speak.'

"He said, 'I think that they should be imprisoned and investigated. If they are among the people initiating the evil and abetting it and among those who attacked the Muslims, their blood can be to shed and my opinion is the same as your opinion. If they are those whom Malik ibn Hafsun seized, forced and compelled to evil to without it being known that they helped him, do not kill them. They are to be left in the state in which they were before the power of Ibn Hafsun.'

"He accepted his opinion. They went to jail and were investigated. He found those who did not deserve to be executed and they were set free. The business of Ibn Baqi was elevated in the eyes of the Amir by that."

His behaviour while he was qadi

It was mentioned that he did not beat anyone with a whip while he was qadi - and he had about ten aides - except for one man who it was agreed was dissolute.

One day he commanded that a man be imprisoned when he had done what necessitated flogging. When they took him, he said to those around him, "Request that I release him so that I will not spend the night worried about him." They did that and he commanded that he be brought back. He said to him, "If it were not for the wish of those who made a request on your behalf, I would have imprisoned you for a long time."

A woman was overbearing in his assembly and annoyed him by her arrogance in her quarrel against her husband. The Qadi looked at her and said to her, "Desist or else I will punish you."

She was somewhat contrite but then reverted to her prior state.

He had compassion for her and said to her, "You are unfair." He said it three times. Then he told her, "Haven't I alarmed you?"

This was his punishment with which he threatened her.

Part of what he did was that to implement clear matters in which there was no doubt. He went slowly in that in which there was doubt. He was slow in carrying it out until its truth was clear to him or until the litigants moved to reconciliation and mutual satisfaction or he made an excuse about the proof.

He was spoken to about that He was told, "You are censured for leniency and being lengthy in litigation."

He said, "I seek refuge with Allah from leniency which leads to weakness and from strength which falls into pride."

Then he began to mention the corruption of the time and the stratagems of the impudent ones.

Part of what he did was that to implement clear matters in which there was no doubt. He went slowly in that in which there was doubt. He was slow in carrying it out until its truth was clear to him or until the litigants moved to reconciliation and mutual satisfaction or he made an excuse about the proof.

He was spoken to about that He was told, "You are censured for leniency and being lengthy in litigation."

He said, "I seek refuge with Allah from leniency which leads to weakness and from strength which falls into pride."

Then he began to mention the corruption of the time and the stratagems of the impudent ones.

Another time, he said to the one who censured him for taking a long time, "When one is lengthy with someone with a false case, he becomes dull and loses heart and leaves the quest and is content with little. The time is corrupt and there are many false witnesses. I think that slow deliberation is better. Then I remember the hadith of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, about Muhayyisa and Huwayyisa and that when the matter was doubtful to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, he paid the blood-money of the slain person himself."

The asker said to him, "Do you apply this actively if you give reconciliation yourself?"

"No," he replied, "that is for the ruler who is in control of the treasury."

Ibn 'Abd al-Barr said, "When he was appointed qadi, he appointed shaykhs for his service who were exact and asked that they be provided for from the treasury. He was granted that."

He had forgiveness, and turned aside and pretended to ignore what he doubtedly recognised in transmitted reports. If they had been ascribed to others, they would have been counted among the curiosities of the reports of the stupidity. But he had a purpose and position in that. Allah knows best what his secret was in it.

One of them is that Asbagh ibn 'Isa ash-Shaqqaq said, "I was riding with the Qadi Ahmad on one of the streets of the city when a drunken man appeared before us, walking in front of us like an imbecile. The Qadi began to rein his animal in and go slowly in his way so that he might save himself. He did not have any of it. He stopped facing us. When we came near to him and joined him, he leaned towards the Qadi, He said to me, 'Poor wretch! I think this man is afflicted in his intellect!'

"I replied, 'A great affliction.'

"He began to seek refuge with Allah from his ordeal. He asked him for wage for him by his affliction. Then he went on and did not turn to him."

A man was brought with the smell of intoxicants on him and he commanded that his breath be smelled. His scribe testified against him that he had the smell of alcohol. Dislike appeared in the face of the Qadi. He said to the other, "Smell him." He said, 'I do not know what his smell is." His face beamed. He said, Nothing is proven against you."

Ibn Harith said, "I do not know of any reason for those of the qadis who were indulgent in the hadd for intoxicants and their overlooking it except that its hadd-punishment was not stipulated by a text of the Book nor was it a sunna. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, commanded that the man who had drunk wine be beaten with sandals and the ends of clothes. Then the Companions. may Allah be pleased with them, exerted their ijtihad in that afterwards in the time of Abu Bakr. It is related that when Abu Bakr died, he said, "Nothing remains in myself except the hadd-punishment of wine. It is something which the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not do. It is something that we thought correct after him."

One of his companions mentioned: "While he was going along in the eastern part of Cordoba with a group of his companions, fuqaha' and others, he came to a bridal group in the courtyard of one of the houses. They had gathered around some pipers who were playing among a great number of people. A jester stood in the middle of them who had come out to amuse them. He was called 'Abd al-Khaliq. He had put a turban around his tall hat [to look like a faqih or qadi] and had a full white false beard and cloak. He was leaning on a staff telling them jokes. Suddenly the retinue of the Qadi arrived uexpectedly. They stopped the pipes and covered up the instruments and were stupefied. They did not speak. Their jester standing in the midst of them did not utter a word out of fear of the Qadi. The Qadi did not disapprove of his form and his place in their midst appearing like a qadi warning them, or he pretended to be cunning in their business. He greeted them and their group. He said, 'Shaykh, you have done well to admonish this group. May Allah reward you and thank you for your action! Look to their right guidance and reckon your wage with Allah! May Allah give you and us success in what pleases Him!'

"He greeted them and went on his way. Later they returned to their business and began to pray for him and praise him.

"One of his companions said to him, "Your good opinion of people is excessive. You stood at a idle group and you praised the position of the one who misguides them and you commanded him to do what will increase him in misguiding them. It would be more fitting for you to do other than that to him and to them.'

"He said, 'I seek refuge with Allah that I do what you say! You are wrongdoers in my opinion. I did not object to a state or see or hear harm from an aged shaykh with good behaviour in whom good is expanded. I do not doubt that the assembly was looking to him out of desire for dutifulness and that he was calling them to good. If I had known what you say, I would have done otherwise.'"

It was mentioned that he was going along one day when one of his aides came across a girl carrying a singing-lute i a case. They took it from her. The girl shouted. The Qadi asked, "What do you have to do with this?" They said, "In this case is a lute which must be broken!"

He said, "What do you have to do with a lute or that whenever you find a covered lute, you must break it?" They said, "It is a musical lute and a worthless instrument," and brought it out of its case.

When he looked at it, he said, "I only see a beautiful mute form with fine craftsmanship. I do not hear any hint of diversion from it." They said, "That appears when its strings are touched." They began to move them with their fingers until they sounded. He said, "Stop! It is full of the shaytans!

Then he looked at dungheap near him. He said, "Put it on a dungheap. The dungheap is the refuge of the shayatin. They are more entitled to it." They did that. He went on his way. Then the girl picked up her lute and departed.

One of the reports about when he was qadi is that two men debated with him and he saw soundness and clinging to the path in one of them. The other was one of those who could express his argument well. The Qadi said to the one who had what was sound, "If only you would delegate someone to speak on your behalf. You do not know what to say and I think that your companions drives for the argument."

He said to him, "It is only the truth I say, whatever is in it."

He said, "O Allah, forgiveness! How often one is killed by the truth! Al-Ahnaf said, 'Truthfulness in some places in a miracle.'"

The messenger of the chamberlain, Musa ibn Hadid, came to him one day. He conveyed to him his greetings and said, "He says to you: 'You know my love for you, and my concern for your reasons. What you know has happened to so-and-so, and I have testified with a clear just proof and yet you delay judgement against him.'"

He told the messenger, 'Convey my greetings to the chamberlain and tell him, "Your love is for the sake of Allah. So-and-so and others are equal in the truth. By Allah, I will not judge against him until his business is as clear with me as the sun is clear. Uncertainty has come to me regarding his business. No one will protect me from him if he contends with me in litigation before Allah Almighty.'"

The messenger conveyed his words to the chamberlain. He said, "We will continue in blessing as long as this man and his like are among us!"

It was mentioned that he was in an assembly of his investigation which was jammed with fuqaha', witnesses, and litigants until an idiot known as Ibn Shams ad-Duha came to him. He was from those with houses and wealth. He said, "Qadi of the Muslims! I want to command my guardian so-and-so to plant small jars for me in my village so that they will grow into large jars for me and I will have profit."

There was no one in the assembly who did not laugh except for the qadi. He was silent and wept. Then he said, "My son, the one who put this on your tongue has wronged you."

Then he said to the people of his assembly, "Alas for your laughter and your mocking him. We belong to Allah and to Him we return with little acquisition and failing intellect. Weeping for this is more appropriate and fitting. There is nothing between us and the removal of well-being except distraction from gratitude for it. O Allah, let down its veil on us and guard our intellects by Your gnosis and provide us with good righteous pure offspring to delight our eyes!" All who were present were ashamed.

Some of his excellent words in the khutba is that one day he went on at length in supplication. When he reached his words, "Make your supplication sincere for Allah," he was silent for it for a time to enable people to make supplication by his supplication. Then he said, "O Allah, this group of Your slaves has called on You, those who strive for Your reward, and meet in Your courtyard, out of fear of Your punishment and desire for Your reward and hope for Your praise. Before them are the wrong actions which Your knowledge encompasses and Your preservation contains. In this assembly, bring them a mercy by which Your Garden is demanded and protect them from Your punishment by it. Amen, O Most Merciful of the Merciful. You have power over all things."

Many of the orators imitated his method by including this silence at the end of the second khutba during the supplication right up until today in Andalusia.

An-Nasir continued to acknowledge the right of Ahmad ibn Baqi and respect him until Ahmad died while he was still qadi and in charge of the prayer. That was on Monday night, 3 Jumada al-Ula 324 when he was 64.

He was born at the beginning of the Day of Sacrifice in 260. He was qadi for about ten years.

Historical Notes

Ibn Hafsun: he rebelled against the Umayyads after becoming a brigand for a time. He settled in the ruins of the old Bobastro castle and had great success until defeated by 'Abdullah at the Battle of Poley after which he went back to Bobastro until his death, still in rebellion.

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