Abu 'Imran al-Fasi

(d. 403/1012), prominent Maliki faqih of Qayrawan

His full name was Musa ibn 'Isa ibn Abi Hajj ibn Wulaym ibn al-Khayr al-Ghafjumi. Ghafjum is a branch of the Zanata tribe. However, as-Samantari said that it is part of the tribe of Hawara. His family came from Fes and were well-known there. They were known as the Banu Abu Hajj. He lived in Qayrawan and obtained leadership in knowledge there.

He learned fiqh in Qayrawan with Abu'l-Hasan al-Qabisi, and he listened there to Abu Bakr ad-Duwayli and 'Ali ibn Ahmad al-Lawwati as-Susi. He travelled to Cordoba where he studied fiqh with Abu Muhammad al-Asili. He listened to Abu 'Uthman Sa'id ibn Nasr, 'Abdu'l-Warith ibn Sufyan, Ahmad ibn Qasim and others. Then he travelled to the east and went on hajj and went to Iraq and listened to Abu'l-Fath ibn Abi'l-Fawaris, Abu'l-Hasan 'Ali ibn Ibrahim al-Mustamli, Abu'l-Hasan ibn al-Khadr, Abu Ahmad al-Fardi, Abu't-Tayyib al-Muhammadi, Abu'l-'Abbas al-Kawkhi, Abu'l-Hasan ibn al-Hammami al-Muqri', Abu'l-Husayn ibn ar-Radk, Abu'l-Hasan ibn al-Muhamali, Abu 'Abdullah ibn Bakr ar-Razi, Abu'l-Qasim as-Safri, Abu 'Abdullah al-Ja'fi the Qadi, Abu Ahmad ibn Jami' ad-Dahhan, Hilal al-Haffar, Abu'l-Husayn ibn al-Mufaddal al-'Attar and others. He studied the usul with Qadi Abu Bakr al-Baqillani and met a group of scholars.

In Makka he listened to Abu Dharr. Then he left out naming him because of something which occurred between them. They mentioned that the reason for their friendship and love was that when Abu 'Imran returned from Iraq and found Abu Dharr at Sara outside of Makka while his books were in Makka with his storekeeper. He asked for them from his storekeeper but he would not let him. He wanted one of them them, so he became friendly with Abu Dharr. When he simply decided to take it without consulting him and his storekeeper refused to let him, he was vexedwith Abu Dharr and he spoke harshly to him and that lead to bad feelings between them.

In the Hijaz he also listened to Abu'l-Hasan ibn Abi Firas, and Abu'l-Qasim as-Saqati; and in Egypt to Abu'l-Hasan ibn Abi Jidar, Ahmad ibn Nur al-Qadi, 'Abdu'l-Wahhab ibn Misr and Ibn al-Washa. Then he returned to Qayrawan and settled there. He remained Imam in the Maghrib.

People studied with him and a large group of those we mentioned among the companions of Abu Bakr and others studies with him, like 'Atiq as-Susi. Abu Muhammad al-Fahsili, Muhammad ibn Tahir ibn Tawus and a group of peopel from Fes and Ceuta and some Andalusians. His fatwas went to the east and the west and people were interested in his position. He used to sit for discussion in his house from morning to Dhuhr. He did not say anything but that it was written from him until he died, may Allah have mercy on him.

His Virtues and Reports

Hatim ibn Muhammad said, "Abu 'Imran was one of the most knowledgeable of people and one with the greatest memory. He had the most comprehensive memory of the Maliki school as well as memory of the hadiths of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and recognition of its meanings. He used to recite the Qur'an in the seven readings. He was known for his generosity as well as his knowledge of the men and examination of their character. People from all parts of Maghrib and Andalusia took from him. Those who did not meet him asked for an ijaza. He left about 100 pages of hadiths.

He mentioned that al-Baqillani used to admire his memory and said to him, "Would that both you and 'Abdu'l-Wahhab ibn Nasr were both in my school. At that time he was in Mosul to meet for the knowledge of Malik. He said, "You have memorised him and support him. If Malik had seen you both, he would have been happy with both of you."

Ibn 'Ammar mentioned him in his Risala and said that he was an Imam in every science, effective in the usul, and possessed both excellence and imamate.

When he went to Baghdad, word spread that a Maliki faqih from the people of the Maghrib had arrived. People said, "We only see him with Qadi Abi Bakr al- Baqillani. At that time he was the shaykh of the Malikis in Iraq and the Imam of the people. A group of the people of Baghdad went to the assembly of Qadi Abu Bakr; andhis companions and Abu 'Imran were with him. Questions were discussed. Then a Shafi'i man asked him a question about a particular matter and Abu 'Imran answered with a sound straightforward answer, and the asker asked him for his proof for it. Shaykh Abu 'Imran bowed his head in silence and a youth of people of Baghdad who was one of the Malikis raised his head. He said to the asker, "May Allah put your right. This is one of our great shaykhs, and it is boorish to oblige him to argue from the beginning. However I will serve him in support of this matter and I will represent him in it. The evidence for the soundness of what the Shaykh answered, may Allah protect him, is such-and-such and such-and-such." The Shafi'i opposed him in it and then the Malki dismissed his objection until he had clarified the evidence. When he had spoken comprehensively on the question, the Shafi'i came to him and kissed his head, saying, "You did well, my master and beloved. By Allah, you are the support of the school when you helped him." There were other questions discussed in that gathering.


There was a question in Qayrawan about the unbelievers and whether they recognise Allah or not. There was great dispute in it between the scholars and that controversy passed on to the common people. The extent of the discussion between them on it reaced the point that some of them attacked others in the markets and left trading to fight. The most intent of them on that was a man who rode a donkey. He went from one to another and he did not leave either a mutakallim or faqih without asking him and debating with him. Someone said "You should go to Abu 'Imran. He will cure you of this question."

So the people of the market went to the door of his house and asked permission to enter, which he gave them. They said to him, "May Allah make you thrive. You know that when something happens to the common people, they flee to their scholars. This question has reached the point about which you have heard, and all we do in the markets talk about it."

He said to him, "If you are silent and listen well, I will tell you what I know." They said to him, "We only want a clear answer from you in accordance with our understanding." He told them "Success is by Allah." Then he said, "Only one of you should speak to me and the rest should listen."

So he indicated one of them and askedhim, "What would you think about this case? You meet a man and ask him, 'Do you know Abu 'Imran al-Fasi?' and he replies, 'I know him.' You say, 'Describe him to me.' He says, 'He is a man who sells vegetables, grain and oil in the market of Ibn Hisham and lives at Sabra.' Does he know me?" "No," he replied. He said, "Now if you were to meet another man and ask him, 'Do you know Abu 'Imran al-Fasi?' and he replies, 'Yes,' and then you say to him, 'Describe him to me,' and he says, 'He is a man who studies and teaches knowledge. He gives fatwa to the people, and lives near as-Sammat.' Does he know me?" "Yes," he replied. Abu 'Imran continued, "The first did not know me?" "No," he replied. The shaykh said to him, "That is who the unbeliever is when he says that the God he worships has a partner and a child and that He is a body and is worshipped in this manner. He does not know Allah and does not describe Him properly. By his worship he only intends the one with this quality who begets. He is different from the believer who says He worships Allah, the Unique who did not beget and was not begotten and nothing is equal to him. This person recognises Allah and describes him property and intends by his worship the the One who is rightfully the Lord. Glorious is He and exalted very much above what the wrongdoers say." So the group got up and said, "May Allah repay you well for your knowledge. You have healed what is in ourselves." They made supplication for him, and did not delve into the queston after that meeting.

Abu 'Imran died in 403 and was born in 368 according to what al-Jayni related from Abu 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Barr. Abu 'Amr al-Muqri said that he died at the age of 65.

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