ABU’L-ʿALĀʾ HAMADĀNĪ, ḤASAN B. AḤMAD B. ḤASAN B. MOḤAMMAD B. SAHL B. SALAMA AL-ʿAṬṬĀR, saintly specialist in the science of Koran readings (qerāʾāt) and Tradition, born in Hamadān in 488/1090 and died in 569/1173. Abu’l-ʿAlāʾ pursued his education in Hamadān, Isfahan, Khorasan, Baghdad, and Wāseṭ, hearing eminent traditionists of his time and mastering grammar, Koranic sciences, literature, genealogy, and history. He was regarded as the leading scholar of Hamadān, and was famed not only for his learning but for his ascetic life and piety. He made it a practice to guard his spiritual life from possible corruption by avoiding all entanglements which might put him under a pecuniary obligation to anyone. Thus he sought no patronage or support from the rulers of his time, nor did he accept gifts offered to him, even an appointment to the staff of a madrasa or rebāṭ. Though he insisted on working in his own house, his reputation spread all about the Islamic East and apparently students flocked to him. The caliph Moqtafī wrote asking his prayers and addressing him as “the saintly father.” In this context Yāqūt states that he was known and honored among all ranks of society and became the spiritual guide of the leading men of his age. Stories of his deeds and miracles are told, and poems were composed in his honor (see especially Yāqūt).

In scholarship he concentrated his mature work on the sciences of Tradition and Koran reading. A number of his works survive (Brockelmann, GAL S. I, p. 724; Sezgin, GAS I, p. 12 notes his commentary on the Koran readings of Yaʿqūb b. Esḥāq; Sezgin’s work has not yet reached the century of Abu’l-ʿAlāʾ). In his time he was considered the greatest authority on Koran readings in Iraq. Ebn al-Jazarī says that he was to the easterners what al-Dānī was to the Maḡrebīs (Ṭabaqāt al-qorrāʾ I, Cairo, 1351/1932-33, pp. 204-06). Descriptions of two manuscript works of his on this subject, Ḡāyat al-eḵteṣār fi’l-qerāʾāt al-ʿašr le-aʾemmat al-amṣār and al-Hādī elā maʿrefat al-maqāṭeʿ wa’l-mabādeʾ, and indications of his place in this field may be found in O. Pretzl, “Die Wissenschaft der Koranlesung,” Islamica 6, 1933-34, pp. 1-47, 230-46. For a description of a MS of the commentary (above) and a MS of his Ketāb al-tamhīd fī maʿrefat al-taǰwīd bearing an eǰāza in Abu’l-ʿAlāʾ’s hand, see Ahmet Ateş, Oriens 5, 1952, pp. 36-37 and Plate I.


Yāqūt, Odabāʾ III, pp. 24-26.

Ebn al-Jawzī, Montaẓam X, Hyderabad, 1358/1939, p. 248.

Soyūṭī, Boḡyat al-woʿāt I, Cairo, 1384/1964, pp. 494-95, no. 1027.

Ḏahabī, Maʿrefat al-qorrāʾ al-kabīr II, Cairo, 1969, pp. 434-36, no. 29.

Ebn ʿEmād, Šaḏarāt al-ḏahab IV, Cairo, 1350-51/1931-32, pp. 231-32.

Ḵᵛānsārī, Rawżāt al-ǰannāt, Tehran, 1947, pp. 221-22.

Kašf al-ẓonūn (Istanbul), pp. 114, 1106, 1189, 1387, 1773, 2026.

Bağdatli Ismail Paşa, Īżāḥ al-maknūn (Keşf-el-zunun zeyli) I, Istanbul, 1947, p. 715.

Ebn al-Aṯīr (repr.) XI, p. 411.

The following are cited in Kaḥḥāla, III, pp. 197-98 but were unavailable to the writer: Aʿyān al-šīʿa XX, pp. 468-70.

Yāfeʿī, Merʾāt al-ǰanān III, Hyderabad, 1338-39/1919-21, pp. 389-90.

(L. A. Giffen)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, p. 253

Cite this entry:

L. A. Giffen, “ABU’L-ʿALĀʾ HAMADĀNĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, p. 253 an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-ala-hamadani-hasan-b (accessed on 31 January 2014).