EBN ŠAHRĀŠŪB, ABŪ JAʿFAR (or Abū ʿAbd-Allāh) ZAYN-AL-DĪN (or ʿEzz-al-Dīn, Rašīd-al-Dīn) MOḤAMMAD b. ʿALī b. Šahrāšūb b. Abī Naṣr b. Abi’l-Jayš (b. Sārī, Māzandarān; d. Aleppo, 22 Šaʿbān 588/2 September 1192), the most illustrious Imami scholar of the 12th century. He was also called, though rarely, Ebn Kīā-Kay from the Persian name of his ancestor Abū Naṣr, (not his grandfather Šahrāšūb, pace Scarcia Amoretti) meaning “great sovereign” (Āqā Bozorg, n.d., p. 4, citing Ebn Edrīs Ḥellī). Ebn Šahrāšūb left Saljuq Persia, apparently driven by religious motives, and after several journeys settled in Aleppo, which, since the Hamdanid period, had become one of the great intellectual centers of Shiʿism. It was there and in Iraq in particular that he became celebrated as an Imami theologian, jurist, apologist, and preacher. He died in Aleppo at the age of nearly 100 years and was buried near the city on Jabal al-Jawšan, in the vicinity of the mašhad of Moḥsen, son of the third Imam, Ḥosayn b. ʿAlī. He is mentioned by authors of later biobibliographical dictionaries as a fine scholar and man of virtue. They refer to his physical beauty, his impressive demeanor, and especially the eloquence and effectiveness of his sermons. He was praised almost as much by the authors of different types of Sunni ṭabaqāt (Ḏahabī, I, p. 413; Ebn Ḥajar ʿAsqalānī, V, p. 301; Soyūṭī, I, p. 241). This reverence no doubt resulted from his moderate attitudes; his Shiʿite convictions rarely went beyond expressing love for the Ahl-al-Bayt and defending a “rationalist” and conciliatory imamism, opinions generally shared by Sunnis. In fact, he seems to have been characterized by a certain willingness to reduce doctrinal differences between Shiʿites and Sunnis; from a very young age he followed the teachings of such illustrious Sunnis as Abū Ḥāmed Ḡazālī (d. 505/1111), Jār-Allāh Zamaḵšarī (d. 538/1144), and the latter’s student Ḵaṭīb (or Aḵṭab) Ḵᵛārazmī (d. 568/1172; Aʿyān al-šīʿa VI, p. 28; Modarres, VIII, p. 58; Tafrešī, p. 323). In his writings, particularly the Manāqeb āl Abī Ṭāleb, he did not hesitate to cite such Sunni authorities as Ebn Baṭṭa ʿOkbarī (d. 387/997) and Ebn Mardawayh (Mardūya ) Eṣfahānī (d. 410/1020), and also very frequently to cite contemporaries such as Abu’l-Fażl Ošnohī (d. ca. 550/1155), Abu’l-Fatḥ Naṭanzī (d. ca. 550/1155), and Abu’l-ʿAlāʾ Hamaḏānī (d. 569/1173), when they agreed with his own convictions (Ebn Šahrāšūb, Manāqeb, Najaf, I, pp. 32 ff.). Besides, the fact that he had received a robe of honor (ḵelʿa), as well as his laqab Rašīd-al-Dīn, from the ʿAbbasid caliph al-Moqtafī (530-55/1136-60), who was impressed by his sermons, shows clearly that at the very least those sermons in no way contradicted the opinions of Baghdad authorities (Ḏahabī, I, p. 413; Ḥorr ʿĀmelī, IV, p. 14; Qomī, I, p. 328).
Among his numerous Shiʿite masters, whom he listed at the beginning of the fifth chapter of the Manāqeb, were the two Ṭabresīs (Ṭabarsīs), Abū Manṣūr and Abū ʿAlī, respectively authors of Eḥtejāj and Majmaʿ al-bayān, as well as the celebrated Persian commentator on the Koran Abu’l-Fotūḥ Rāzī (Manāqeb, Najaf, I, pp. 189-90). But the man whom he considered his master par excellence and to whom he was linked by the teaching of his father and, especially, of his grandfather, was the Šayḵ-al-Ṭāʾefa Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammad (not Naṣīr-al-Dīn, pace Scarcia Amoretti) Ṭūsī (d. 460/1068). Among Ebn Šahrāšūb’s disciples were some of the most illustrious Imami scholars of the 13th century, such as Tāj-al-Dīn Ḥasan Darbī, Najīb-al-Dīn Moḥammad Sūrāwī, and Ebn Zohra Ḥalabī (Ebn al-Fowaṭī, IV/1, no. 443; Soyūṭī, I, p. 242; Modarres, VIII, pp. 59-60).
Seventeen titles of works by Ebn Šahrāšūb are known, all written in Arabic. The author himself mentioned twelve of them in his Maʿālem al-ʿolamāʾ (ed. 1934, p. 106; ed. 1961, p. 119). The first is the Manāqeb āl Abī Ṭāleb, a doctrinal work, apologetic in nature, which was very widely used by later Imami authors; according to al-Ḏarīʿa (XXII, pp. 318-19), the final part of the work, dealing with the Mahdī, is missing in every accessible version, including the manuscript dating from 777/1375-76. Al-Malāḥem wa’l-fetan by Ebn Ṭāwūs (d. 664/1266) is apparently the only source in which excerpts of the missing portion have been preserved (Kohlberg, p. 251, no. 357). The Manāqeb has been published in several editions, the two best being those of M. Borūjerdī (2 vols., Tehran, 1316-17/1898-99) and a group of Imami scholars (3 vols., Najaf, 1375-76 /1956).
A second work is the Maʿālem al-ʿolamāʾ, a recapitulation of the Rejāl of Najāšī and especially the Fehrest of Abū Jaʿfar Ṭūsī, with 300 additional notices. The especially interesting chapter on Shiʿite poets was compiled, according to ʿAbbās Eqbāl, between 573/1177 and 581/1186 and added to the rest of the volume later. The best editions are those of Eqbāl (Tehran, 1352-53/1934) and scholars at Najaf (1380/1961).
According to the author himself, he wrote the Motašābeh al-Qorʾān (2 vols., Tehran, 1369/1949, with the marginal notes of Shaikh Ḥasan Moṣṭafawī) to complete his al-Asbāb wa’l-nozūl, now lost.
The Maṯāleb al-nawāṣeb is a doctrinal discussion in which the author violently attacks the “enemies of the Ahl-al-Bayt” without, however, designating them by name; it is still unpublished (to the list of manuscripts given in al-Ḏarīʿa XIX, p. 76, should be added the manuscript in the Nāṣerīya Library, Lucknow).
The other eight works in the author’s list appear to have been lost: al-Asbāb wa’l-nozūl ʿalā maḏhab āl al-Rasūl, al-Maḵzūn al maknūn fī ʿoyūn al-fonūn, al-Ṭarāʾeq fi’l-ḥodūd wa’l-ḥaqāʾeq (also called Aʿlām al-ṭarāʾeq . . ., al-Aʿlām wa’l ṭarāʾeq), Māʾedat al-fāʾeda (or Māʾedat al ʿāʾeda), al-Meṯāl fi’l-amṯāl, al-Ḥāwī (or al-Ḥāwī le’l-fatāwī), al-Awṣāf, and al-Menhāj. The following five titles have been cited by biographers of Ebn Šahrāšūb: al-Arbaʿūn fī manāqeb sayyedat al-nesāʾ Fāṭemat al-Zahrāʾ, Bayān al-tanzīl (one of the sources for Majlesī’s Beḥār al-anwār; cf. Sbath, p. 11, no. 205), Ansāb āl Abī Ṭāleb, Šarḥ foṣūl ḵamsīn Ebn MaʿaṭtÂ (a work devoted to grammar; Modarres, VIII, p. 59), and al-Enṣāf.
Bibliography: (For cited works not given in detail, see “Short References.”)
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Mīrzā Moḥammad Tonokābonī, Qeṣaṣ al-ʿolamāʾ, Tehran, n.d., pp. 428-29.
(Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi)
Originally Published: December 15, 1997
Last Updated: December 6, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 1, pp. 53-54