Taj al-Din as-Subki

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

by David W. Myhram

provided courtesy Hani al-Khatib


Taj al-Din al-Subki, the author of the Mu`id al-Ni`am wa Mubid al-Niqam, belongs to a large family of al-Subkis, whose members during the seventh and eighth century A.H. made themselves renowned, not only for their learning, high positions as qadis, jurisconsultants, professors, preachers, and writers, but also for their high personal qualities. As the family name al-Subki shows and historical records prove, the family of these times came from one of the two villages Subk in lower Egypt, namely the Subk in the province of Sharkiyya, near Memphis. Here, as we know, the father of the author, Taqi al-Din al-Subki, was born. Mubarak says that Allah had bestowed special favours on this village in allowing it to give to the world two such men as Taqi al-Din and his son Taj al-Din [1].

The family, however, carried its pedigree back to the time of the Prophet, and claimed to be descendants of the tribe of Khazraj, or one of the two dominating tribes of the old city of Yathrib, the later Medina, who became the followers, supporters, and champions of [the Prophet] Mohammad. Hence the members of the Subki family call themselves al-Khazraji.

The pedigree of Taj al-Din, as constructed from native biographers, is thus carried back through some sixteen generations to the time of the Prophet. It runs as follows:

Taj al-Din Abu Nasr `Abd al-Wahhab ibn Taqi al-Din `Ali ibn Zain al-Din `Abd al-Kafi ibn Diya’ al-Din `Ali ibn Tam­mam ibn Hamid ibn Yahya ibn `Omar ibn `Othman ibn `Ali ibn Sawar ibn Sasawar ibn Salim al-Ansari al-Khazraji al-Subki.

This learned and distinguished family of scholars and high officials of the 7th and 8th century A.H. we find divided into three lines, descending from the great grandfather of the author. The family genealogical table can be construc­ted as follows:

Dia’ al-Din `Ali ibn Tammam al-Subki, the great grandfather of the author, was a qadi according to Ibn Habib.

Zain al-Din Abu Muhammad `Abd al-Kafi al-Subki, the grandfather of the author, was also a qadi and traditionist. He moved away from the village Subk, the family home, and settled in Cairo, where he worked as a teacher of traditions. He died at al-Mahalla 735 A.H.

Taqi al-Din `Ali ibn `Abd al-Kafi al-Subki, the father of the author was one of the most famous men of his time. He and his son, our author, were no doubt the greatest among all the Subkis. Taqi al-Din was born in Subk 673 A.H., but as his father moved over to Cairo, he received his education there. His teachers besides his own father were Taqi al-Din Abu bint al-`Izz, `Alam al-Din al-`Iraqi, Taqi al-Din al-Sa’igh, al-Dimyati, `Ala’ al-Din al-Baji, Sayf al-Din al-Baghdadi, the great grammarian Abu Hayyan, Taj al-Din Ibn `Ala’. He became famous as one of the greatest scholars and teachers of his time. He was equally renowned as traditionist, jurisconsult, interpreter of al-Qur’an, theologian, philosopher, logician and grammarian. He also enjoyed a high reputation for his personal qualities and virtue. For many years he was professor at the great schools of learning in Cairo, as al-Mansuriyya, al-Hakkariyya and al-Saifiyya. In 739 A.H. he was called to Damascus to take the office of head qadi, an office which he held for 16 years. At the same time he was professor at the higher schools of learning, in Damascus as al-Ghazzaliyya, al-`Adiliyya the great, al-Atabakiyya, al-Mansuriyya, al-Shamiyya al-Barraniyya, and the tradition school al-Ashrafiyya. Taqi al-Din also wrote a number of books. He died at Cairo 756 A.H.

Baha’ al-Din Ahmad al-Subki, head qadi, teacher and writer, the oldest brother of the author, was born in Cairo 719 A.H. He studied Arabic grammar with Abu Hayyan, the principles of law with al-Isfahani, and theology with his father, Taqi al-Din. When his father was called to Damascus, although only 30 years of age, he was already teaching at al-Mansoriyya, al-Saifiyya, and al-Hakkariyya. Later be also taught at the chapel of al-Shafi`i, al-Khashabiyya, and al-Shaykhuniyya. For some time he was president of the judicial court of Cairo. In the year 763 he was called to Damascus against his own will to take the place as head qadi, after his brother Taj al-Din, who had been removed. In Damascus he also taught at al-Ghazzaliyya, al-`Adiliyya, and al-Nasiriyya. The following year, however, he returned to Egypt and became president of the military court. He also continued his work as a teacher and turned out many famous scholars. Baha’­ al-Din was as famous as a teacher and author of commentaries as he was for his piety, kindness and friendship. He was known as a faithful attendant of the services at the mosque and he made many pilgrimages. On one of those pilgrimages he died at Makka in Rajab 773 A.H.

Jamal al-Din al-Husayn al-Subki, qadi and teacher, the elder brother of the author, was born in Cairo 722 A.H. As his brother Baha’ al-Din he studied with Abu Hayyan and al-Isfahani. He came with his father to Damascus in 739, where he studied traditions with al-Mizzi and al-Dahabi and law with al-Naqib. Then he went back to Cairo, and here he taught at al-Hakkariyya, but he returned to Damascus, where he devoted himself to teaching. In the beginning of 745 he supplied for his father as head qadi and taught at the same time at al-`Udrawiyya and al-Shamiyya al-Barraniyya. He died 755 A.H., a month before the death of his father.

Sadr al-Din Yahya al-Subki, qadi and teacher, the grand-uncle of the author, had studied with the famous Sadid al-Din al-Tarmanti, professor at al-Fadiliyya in Cairo, and also with Zahir al-Din al-Tarmanti, teacher at al-Qutbiyya and the chapel of al-Shafi`i. He was qadi at al-Mahalla and afterwards teacher at al-Saifiyya until he died, 725 A.H.

Sadid al-Din `Abd al-Barr and `Abd al-Latif al-Subki, the cousins of the father of the author, we only know by name, except that the former had held the position of qadi.

Baha’ ­al-Din Abu al-Baqa’ Muhammad al-Subki, head qadi, professor and preacher, the second cousin of the author was born at Cairo 707 A.H. He studied with Qutb al-Din al-­Sanbati, Majd al-Din al-Zankaluni, Zain al-Din ibn al-Kinani, `Ala’ al-Din al-Qunawi, his grandfather Sadr al-Din, his uncle Taqi al-Din, Abu Hyyan and Gamal al-Din al-Qazwini. He began to teach in Cairo, but when his uncle Taqi al-Din went to Damascus, he followed him. In Damascus he became famous as a teacher at al-Atabakiyya, al-Zahiriyya al-Barraniyya, al-Rawhiyya, and al-Qimariyya. Later he held the office of head qadi in Damascus and was at the same time professor at al-Ghazzaliyya and al-`Adiliyya. But already in 765 he returned to Cairo as judge of the military court, and for seven years he was qadi over the whole of Egypt. After that he taught at the chapel of al-Shafi`i and al-Mansuriyya. In 775 he again came to Damascus and was once more head qadi and professor at al-Ghazzaliyya al-`Adiliyya. He also taught at the tradition school al-‘Ashrafiyya. A month before his death he was made preacher at the Great Mosque. He died 777 A.H.

Taqi al-Din Abu al-Fath Muhammad al-Subki, traditionist ­and professor; the third cousin of the author. Was born in 704 A.H. He studied in Cairo with his grandfather Sadr al-Din and his uncle Taqi al-Din, also with Qutb al-Din al-­Sanbati and Abu Hayyan. He taught first in Cairo, then he came to Damascus and became professor at al-Shamiyya al-Juwwaniyya, where he lectured on traditions. He died 744 A.H.

Wali al-Din `Abdullah al-Subki, head qadi, professor, and preacher, the second nephew of the author, was born in Cairo 735 A.H. He studied with his father Baha’ al-Din and with al-Mizzi in Damascus. Then he taught at al-Shamiyya al-Juwwaniyya, al-Rawahiyya, al-Atabakiyya, and al-Qimariyya. He supplied as head qadi and was head of the customhouse. In 777 he was appointed head qadi of Damascus, preacher of the great mosque and professor at the tradition school. He died 785 A.H.

Badr al-Din Muhammad al-Subki, head qadi professor and preacher, younger brother of the preceding, another second nephew of the author, was born 741 A.H. He studied, with his father Baha’ al-Din and others. He distinguished himself in several branches of learning. First he taught in Damascus at al-Rawahiyya and al-Atabakiyya. Afterwards he supplied for his father as head qadi of Cairo and taught traditions at al-Mansuriyya. When his father became head qadi of Damascus he took his place as teacher at the chapel of al-Shafi`i and at al-Mansuriyya. In the year 779 he was called to Damascus to take the office of head qadi after Ibn Jama`a. After a year, however, he must give up this office in favour of his predecessor and during three years he was kept out of any public office. From 784 to 789 he again held the office of head qadi, but again he was removed. After the death of Ibn Jama`a he became preacher at the Great Mosque and professor at al-Ghazzaliyya. The following year he was called to Cairo as head qadi, but was twice displaced from this office. During, the course of 18 years he was, thus head qadi four times for a period of eight years and a half together. At last be taught at the chapel of al-Shafi`i. He died 803 A.H.

The Subkis, as these notes on the lives of the different members show, were a most remarkable family. At least a dozen of them were famous for their learning and excellence of character. They held the highest civil positions of the Moslem world as head qadis of Cairo and Damascus, preachers at the great mosque in Damascus and professors of the great schools of learning in both cities. Of most lasting fame however among all the Subkis are Taqi al-Din and his son Taj al-Din, our author. Taj al-Din is perhaps second to his father as a practical scholar and teacher, but as an author he excels even his father in lasting fame, especially on account of his two famous works Jam` al-Jawami` and al-Tabakat.


The author, Taj al-Din Abu Nasr `Abd al-Wahhab al-Subki, according to Ibn Ayyub, al-Ghazzi, and Ibn Shuhba was born in Cairo. Mubarak and al-Suyuti use the indefinite term, al-Misri, the Egyptian, and Ibn Hajar omits the place of birth altogether. The native biographers also disagree in regard to the year of his birth. Ibn Ayyub, Ibn Hajar, and al-Ghazzi give the year 727 A.H., Ibn Shuhba gives the same year but remarks that “others say 728.” Mubarak and al-­Suyuti give 729 A.H. as the year of the birth of Taj al-Din. Most authorities agree, however, that he was 44 years of age when he died, and as his death occurred 771, the year 727 is most likely to be regarded as the year of his birth.

Taj al-Din received his first education in Cairo. The native biographers always put his own father in the first place as the teacher of his son. A long list of teachers with whom Taj al-Din studied at Cairo is given: Yunus al-Dabusi, `Ali Yahya ibn Yusuf al-Misri, `Abd al-Muhsin al-Sabuni, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn `Abd al-`Aziz al-Sa`bi, Fath al-Din ibn Sayyid al-Nas, Salih ibn Muhaqar, `Abd al-Qadi ibn al-Mutuk, and the qadi `Abd al-Ghaffar al-Sa`di.

Taj al-Din, however, received his higher education in Damascus, where he followed his father in the year 739 A.H., being then a boy of some 12 years of age. In Damascus he continued to study with his father, but he also studied with other famous teachers in that city. Thus he studied traditions and Arabic grammar with Jamal al-Din al-Mizzi (654-742 A.H.), the greatest traditionist of his time, also famous as jurisconsultant and philologian, for 23 years and a half professor and head of the tradition school al-Ashrafiyya in Damascus. He also studied with the great historian, theologian, and writer Shams al-Din Abu `Abdullah al-Dhahabi (673-748 A.H.), professor in traditions at the chapel Umm al-Salih in Damascus. Ibn Hajar adds Zainab bint al-Kamal and Ibn al-Yarr, and al-Ghazzi adds Taqi al-Din Ibn Rafi`, al-Najm al-Qahafazi and al-Hajjar to the list of teachers in Damascus. But next to his father the teacher that seems to have had the greatest influence over Taj al-Din and who apparently put a great deal of confidence both in his character and ability was the famous jurisconsultant Shams al-Din ibn al-Naqib, 662-745 A.H., professor at al-Shamiyya al-Barraniyya in Damascus. Under him he did not only study but also began to teach himself, as al-Naqib entrusted him with part of his own work as teacher and legal counsellor. Yet Taj al-Din was only 18 years of age when al-Naqib died.

Besides hearing lectures and receiving instruction from those eminent teachers he also carried on investigations of his own, and as the biographers put it “he studied by him­self” and perfected himself in the knowledge and mastery of the different branches of learning “until he was skilled in the knowledge of jurisprudence, traditions, grammar and poetry.”

Then began, his public career as a jurisconsultant, teacher and writer. “He began to teach, gave decisions on legal questions, traditioned, carried on researches and occupied himself with literary compositions.”

Taj al-Din, before he held any public office, taught for some years in the higher schools of learning in Damascus, as al-Taqwiyya, al-Dimaghiyya, al-Nafa`siyya, al-Qimariyya, the tradition school al-‘Ashrafiyya, al-`Aziziyya, al-Shamiyya al-Barraniyya, al-`Adiliyya, and al-Masruriyya.

In the year 754 A. H., Taj al-Din held the office of Muwaqqi al-Dast, which seems to be his first public office. The same year he supplied the office of head qadi for his father, taking the place of his brother Jamal al-Din, who died that year.

In the year 756, after having supplied the office for two years, he was, by the request of his father, officially invested with the office he supplied, and was thus appointed head qadi of Damascus for the first time in the month Rabi` I. Thus at the age of only 28 years he reached one of the most honoured and important civil offices of the country. This office he held with short intervals until he died. He got into difficulties, as the biographers put it, again and again on account of his decisions as head qadi, was removed and then reinstated.

In the year 759, after having held the office for three years, he got into some trouble and was removed as head qadi for the first time. According to Ibn Habib the second cousin of Taj al-Din, Baha’ al-Din, took his place as head qadi. After two months, however, he was reinstated into the office. The same year he was also made professor at al-Aminiyya.

In the year 763 Taj al-Din was removed from the office of head qadi for the second time. His brother Baha’ al-Din, who held office at that time in Cairo, was called to Damascus, and against his own will he was made head qadi in the place of his removed brother. Taj al-Din himself went to Cairo, where he took the place of his brother as professor of Shafi`ite law, and he also became preacher at the mosque al-Tuluni.

Taj al-Din did not stay long in Cairo. The same year he returned to Damascus and began to teach at al-Shamiyya al-Barraniyya, al-Aminiyya, the tradition school al-Ashrafiyya and al-`Udrawiyya, which schools, as the biographers put it, “flourished under his hands.”

The following year or 764 he was again reinstated as head qadi, which office he now held for the third time. At the same time he was also appointed preacher at the Great Mosque and made professor at al-Nasiriyya al-Juwaniyya.

In the year 769, or five years later, he had to pass through the greatest trial of his life. He was then accused of dishonesty, removed from his offices in disgrace and kept imprisoned in the castle for about 80 days. The biographers always refer to this as the great trial of his life, so great a trial indeed, that no qadi before him ever experienced anything like it. They also intimate that it had something to do with his qadi-ship, as he had trouble again and again on account of his discharge of that office.

The only biographer, as far as the editor has been able to ascertain, that gives the reasons for this removal the third time and the imprisonment is Ibn Hajar.

The statement runs as following:

Wa kana min aqwa al-asbab fi `azlih al-marra al-akhira anna al-sultan lamma rasama bi-akhdhi zakawat al-tujjar fi Jumada al-Uola sanat 69 wajada `inda al-awsiya’ jumlatan mutakaththiratan lakinnaha surifat bi qalam al-qadi bi wusulat laysa fiha ta`yyin ism al-qabid fa-urida min nazir al-aytam an ya`tarifa annaha wasalat lil-qadi [Perhaps it is an error for lil-qabid, ed.] fa imtana`a. Qala: al-amr ila `azl al-qadi.

The translation of this passage would be:

And was the strongest cause for his removal the last time that the sultan, when he had ordered the levying of taxes from the merchants in Jumada II, the year 69 [of course 769 is meant, ed.], found with the executors a large sum, which in the receipts was ordered to be paid out in the handwriting of the qadi, but there was no indication there, as to the name of the receiver. Then he asked from the Inspector of the orphans if he knew that it had come to the qadi. Then he denied. He said: The affair is a cause for the dismissal of the qadi.

Wustenfeld construes the causes of Taj al-Din’s removal from office as being a legal decision, which he had given and which he refused to take back. Brockelmann makes the cause the accusation of “Veruntreuuing von Mundelgeldern.”

The passage is not altogether clear, but evidently Taj al-Din was accused of embezzlement of public money, over which he as qadi had control.

The biographers, however, agree that he was innocent of the charge brought against him, as also further development of the case would show. At the time, however, he was disgracefully dismissed as head qadi, as preacher and as professor. He was also kept in prison for about 80 days.

His offices were given to his enemy Siraj al-Din al-Balqini. But if Taj al-Din had enemies who tried to find excuses for ruining him, he also had friends, who believed in his honesty and innocence and hence exerted themselves in behalf of his exoneration and re-establishment. His friends in Cairo were especially active in the defence of Taj al-Din. They prevailed upon the Na’ib of Egypt, Ali al-Masidini, to send for Taj al-Din and also for his brother Baha’ al-Din. Delegates were also sent to Damascus for the pur­pose of bringing them to Cairo. At first only his brother responded and Taj al-Din remained in Damascus, but when his offices were given to al-Balqini, he also went to Cairo. Here he was received with the greatest respect and enthusiasm. “The people rejoiced over his deliverance,” says Ibn Shuhba, “because he was dear to them for his modesty and gracious­ness of disposition.”

Taj al-Din stayed only a short time in Cairo and then he returned to the scene of battle and disgrace, Damascus. Now “the people of Syria,” as the biographers say, took up the cause of Taj al-Din and exposed the wrong done to him. As a matter of fact, he was exonerated of the charge brought against him, and those that had wronged him must humiliate themselves before him. But he took no revenge. He was kind and forgave all those that had wronged him.

After his exoneration he was first re-instated as preacher at the Great Mosque. The inhabitation and re-instatement of Taj al-Din annoyed al-Balqini to the extent that he gave up his office as head qadi, left Damascus together with his family, and settled in Cairo. Now Taj al-Din was re-instated into the office of head qadi, which office he now held for the fourth and last time. He was also made professor at al-Shamiyya. This was in the year 770 A.H.

Taj al-Din only held these offices until the following year. That year a dire plague, following on a severe famine, swept over Syria and carried off multitudes of the inhabitants. Among the victims of this plaque was Taj al-Din. He had preached as usual on Friday the 3rd day of Dhul Hijja, then he fell ill on Saturday, the following day, and died on Tues­day evening, the 9th day of Dhul Hijja, in the year 771 A.H. (July 2, 1370 A.D.) at his country home at Nairab, near Damascus. He was buried in the family tomb at the foot of the Qasiun. At his death he was thus only a man of about 44 years of age. [May Allah pour oceans or mercy upon his grave!]



Taj al-Din, as all we know about the events of his life, personality, public offices, and literary works would indicate, no doubt was one of the most prominent men of his time. He certainly was not only a man of superior intellectual abilities and great learning, but also an active and efficient practical man, a great worker. At the same time he was a man of absolute integrity, enthusiastic, zealous, highanimous and kindhearted.

His intellectual qualities, as we have seen, were unusually ­early developed, and what is more unusual also early recognized. Thus he had, before he was eighteen years of age, proved himself in possession of such a knowledge of law, such a power of judgment and such an amount of teaching ability, that the great al-Naqib submitted legal cases to him for decision and also handed over to him the performance of some of his own duties. He was only 25 when he first supplied the office of head qadi for his father, and at 28 he was appointed to the same office, being one of the highest offices of the country.

As the biographers state and his works prove Taj al-Din was a keen and ready thinker, a man of a clear and discerning mind. He would take in the position in a moment. He was noted for his command of the Arabic language, his great power of expression. He was a brilliant speaker, eloquent, forceful, fiery, bold, persuasive and convincing. He was an excellent improvisor, an art much admired by the Arabs, and a great debator. No one of his age could compete with him as a debator, no one could excel him in arraying arguments.

Taj al-Din was a thorough scholar. His learning included most of the different branches of the sciences of his time, such as Arabic grammar, interpretation of al-Qur’an, traditions and Arabic literature, but his special field seems to have been al-fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence. Thus he enjoyed great fame as a jurisconsultant, equally skilled and experienced. So great an authority in questions of law he was in fact that he himself once wrote to the Na’ib of Syria, a modest man as he was: “I am today on the whole the mujtahid – a supreme authority on matters of law – of the world” [2]. This statement, according to the biographers, was never challenged. His work on the principles of law – Jam` al-Jawami` – is also held to he the best ever written on the subject and remains up to this time the standard text book for the study of Shafi`ite law at the great Islamic University of Cairo.

Taj al-Din also seems to have enjoyed great fame as an authority on Arabic books and writers. Thus Hajji Khalifa again and again quotes him as an authority in regard to the authorship of some book, as authority on works of law and as making comments and criticisms on books. He also gives longer or shorter quotations from his own works.

Taj al-Din obviously was a man of great activity, a hard worker. His researches, learning, eloquence and literary skill he put into practical use in the discharge of his duties as head qadi, as teacher in a number of schools, as preacher, and as a writer of books. Thus he was not only a great scholar but also an able judge, a successful teacher and a copious but conscientious author.

Taj al-Din was without doubt a man with a strong sense of duty and an equal strong sense of right and wrong. His character was one of unquestionable honesty and integrity. He was carried by unselfish motives and lofty aspi­rations.

We will also have to regard Taj al-Din as a pious man. His great ideal was Omar II, known for his piety, not to say bigotry. He was obviously inclined towards religious mysticism. Thus he speaks with great deference of the Sufis, and those he put forward as the benefactors of the world.

Taj al-Din was a man of no compromise. He is set in his own ideas and clings to his own school. He was a pillar of the Shafi`ite orthodoxy. He has no regard, no patience and no promise mercy for “the heretics.” He opposes bitterly every kind of innovation in religious as well as in social life. But he is also just as uncompromising in his ideas and sense of moral right or wrong most outspoken in matters of neglect, shortcomings or wrongdoings, wherever found, whoever is concerned, high or low, friend or enemy. He is most exacting in regard to the discharge of duty, a stern advocate of simplicity, and he denounces fiercely and mockingly extravagance and luxury. He seems to have been absolutely set, stern and unyielding in what he considered right or wrong, unflinching in his outspokenness, seemingly unmoved by any considerations, any influence. In the great trials of his life, trials that natu­rally would come to a man of such qualities, he also manifests resolute courage and unshaken perseverance.

On the other hand, stern, unyielding and courageous, a fighting spirit as he truly was, he had the reputation of being a friendly, sympathetic and kindhearted man. This combination of a strong sense of justice and a kind heart would be apt to make him, what he in fact appears to have been, a champion of the humble, the needy, the wronged the oppressed.

A man like Taj al-Din would naturally make many enemies and many friends. The bold and unflinching manner in which he, now fiercely denounces, now ridicules the vanities, inefficiency, extravagances, and wrongdoings of those in authority, as rulers, judges, scholars, would make enemies among the higher classes. His care for the neglected, op­pressed and wronged would ensure him gratitude and affection. He would be as feared and hated on the one hand, as he would be honoured and loved on the other. The just and good would admire and support him; the bad and crooked would hate and fight him.

No wonder that his life was a stormy one. No wonder, that uncompromising as he was, he got into trouble again and again on account of his decision in legal cases. No wonder that he was displaced from office so many times. But on the other hand, a man of Taj al-Din’s ability and high moral qualities would not be easily gotten rid off, and he would be apt to be recognized and promoted. Hence most of the native biographers sum up, as it were, the story of his life by quoting Ibn Kathir: “There came to him trials and difficulties, as had not come to a qadi before him, and there came to him high positions, as had not come to any one before him.”


Taj al-Din al-Subki has the fame of having been a copious writer in comparison to the shortness of his life. As noted before, he was only 44 years of age when he fell a victim to the plague. Yet he has composed a large number of books. These books made him noted as a writer during his lifetime, and some of them have ensured to his name a lasting fame, or as the native biographers have it “his works were studied during his lifetime and after his death.” His works, of course, represent the different branches of learning and also the offices, to which he devoted himself. They comprehend the subjects of jurisprudence, biography, tradi­tions, Arabic grammar, etc. Some are written in prose, others in verse. The writings of Taj al-Din, which the editor has been able to trace, larger and smaller, in all 31 in number, are given below. The grouping is, however, inadequate and may be arbitrary. Some of the smaller treaties might just as well have been put under another heading than that under which they are found. But, as it was impossible to arrange literary compositions of the author in chronological order, and as some grouping was desirable, the following was adopted as a matter of convenience.

Jurisprudence (al-fiqh):

1. Jam` al-Jawami` fi Usul al-Fiqh, in seven books and intro­ductions, completed 760 A.H. at Nairab near Damascus, a compendium of the principles of law. This is perhaps the most famous of the authors many works. It remains up to this day the standard work on Shafi`ite law and is used as a textbook at the study of law at the great Islamic University of Cairo. It is the only work of Taj al-Din that so far has been printed [as of the time this book was first published: 1908 C.E./1308 A.H.].


The following commentaries have been written on the Jam` al-Jawami`:

1) Tashnif al-Musami` bi-Jam` al-Jawami`, by Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi (d. 794).

Abridgment of this: al-Ghaith al-Hani, by Abu Zar`a al-`Iraqi (d. 826).

2) Sharh Jam` al-Jawami`, by Jalal al-Din al-Mahhalli (d. 864), written 827, one of the most famous commentaries on the author’s work, printed in Cairo 1308 A.H., and used with the Jam` al-Jawami` itself as a text book at the University of Cairo.

Notes on the commentary by al-Mahalli:

(1) Kitab al-Durar al-Lawami`, by Kamal al-Din ibn Abi Sarif (d. 907), written 906 A.H.

(2) Hashiya fi Jam` al-Jawami`, by Abu Yahiya Zakariyya al-Ansari (d. 926).

(3) al-Ayat al-Bayyinat, by Shihab al-Din al-Sabbaj al-`Ibadi (d. 992), a work on the errors made by al-Mahalli in his commentary on the Jam` al-Jawami`. Printed in 4 volumes, Bulaq, 1289 A.H.

(4) Hashiya fi Sharh Jam` al-Jawami`, by `Abd al-Rahman al-Bannani (d. 1198). Printed in 2 volumes, Bulaq 1285, Cairo 1309 A.H.

(5) Badr al-Din ibn Hatib al-Takhariyya, pupil of al-Mahalli, (d. 893).

(6) Muhammad ibn Dawud al-Bazilli (d. 925).

(7) Qutb al-Din `Isa al-Safawi al-‘Ighi, from Mekka, (d. 955).

(8) `Isa ibn Muhammad al-Barawi; MS Paris 806 (740 pp.).

(9) Nasir al-Din Muhammad al-Maliki al-Luqani.

(10) `Ali ibn Ahmad al-Najjar al-Sha`rani.

(11) Muhammad ibn Barri al-`Adawi (d. 1193).

Other commentaries and commentators on the Jam` al-Jawami` itself:

3) al-Buruq al-Lawami` fi ma Urida `Ala Jam` al-Jawami`, by Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Ghazzi (d. 808), a severe criticism on the Jam` al-Jawami`, put together into 32 questions. Taj al-Din wrote a new book in his own defence – Man` al-Mawani` – against this commentary.

4) `Izz al-Din Abu Bakr al-Kanani (d. 819).

5) Shihab al-Din al-Raula al-Muqaddasi (d. 844).

6) Burhan al-Din al-Kabakibi al-Kudsi (d. 850).

7) Ibn al-`Abbas al-`Adawi.

8) Shihab al-Din al-Ghazzi (d. 822).

9) Shihab al-Din al-Kurani (d. 893).

10) `Abd al-Barri al-Halabi, the Hanafite, (d. 921).



The Jam` al-Jawami` has been put into verse by following authors:

1) Shihab al-Din `Abd al-Rahman al-Tukhi (d. 893).

2) Rida al-Din al-Ghazzi (d. 925).

A commentary on this versification by the author’s son Badr al-Din al-Ghazzi (d. 984).

3) al-Kawkab al-Sati`, versification by Jalal al-Din al-­Suyuti (d. 911).

A commentary by the author on his versification called Sharh al-Kawkab al-Sati`.

Taj al-Din himself wrote two books on the Jam` al-Jawami`:

2. Man` al-Mawani` `An Su’alat Jam` al-Jawami`, about 400 pages, written as a reply to the criticism on the Jam` al-Jawami` by Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Ghazzi (d. 808) in a work called al-Buruq al-Lawami` fi ma Urida `Ala Jam` al-Jawami`. Taj al-Din takes up and answers 33 (Paris MS gives only 32) questions, stated at the beginning of the book.

3. Sharh Jam` al-Jawami`, a commentary on his own legal work, completed in 770 A.H., or the year before Taj ­al-Din died.

Other books on al-fiqh are the following:

4. Tawshih al-Tashih fi Usul al-Fiqh, completed in 761 A.H.

5. Tarshih al-Tawshih wa Tarjih al-Tashih, an enlarged edition of the former work.

6. Raf` al-Hajib `an Mukhtasar ibn al-Hajib, a commentary on the work by Jamal al-Din ibn al-Hajib (d. 646), containing the principles of Malikite law, and being an abridged edition of that authors larger work al­-Muntaha. Brockelmann does not mention this commen­tary, neither among the works of Taj al-Din, nor among the other commentaries on this work. Taj al-Din refers to this work of him in the Mu`id al-Ni`am wa Mubid al-Niqam. On this work by Taj al-Din notes have been written by `Izz al-Din Ibn Jama`a (d. 819) and by the brother of the author Baha’ al-Din al-Subki (d. 773).

7. Tarjih Tashih al-Khilaf, 1600 verses of the measure rajaz, in which Taj al-Din, following the outlines made by his father and also adding a new chapter, corrects the mistakes made by al-Nawawi in his works on al-fiqh.

8. Sharh Minhaj al-Usul Ila `Ilm al-Usul, a commentary on the work of al-Baidawi (d.685). Taj al-Din refers to this work in the Mu`id al-Ni`am as a work of his own. Brockelmann does not mention this book among, the works of Taj al-Din. According to Ibn Ayyub the work had been begun by the father of Taj al-Din and then completed by himself.

9. Sharh al-Saif al-Mashur fi `Aqidat al-Usul Abi Mansur al-Maturidi, a commentary on the work of that Hanafite jurisconsultant.

10. Sharh Tanbih fi al-Fiqh lil-Shirazi, Taj al-Din being one of the numerous commentators on this work.

11. Qasida on al-Ash`ari, 56 verses of the measure kamil, explaining the differences between the principles of Abu Hanifa and those of al-Ash`ari. [The other Qasida on al-Ash`ari comes under the heading Biography, next, ed.]

12. Kitab al-Fatawi, an edition of a work of his father, containing answers to questions of law.

13. Kitab al-Ashbah wal-Naze’ir [3], a work on legal questions, according to Ibn Najim (d. 970), the best work written on the subject.

14. al-Qawa`id al-Mushtamila `Ala al-Ashbah Wal-Naza’ir, a work by Taj al-Din, mentioned by Ibn Shuhba and Ibn Ayyub, but whether this is a different work from al-Ashbah itself the editor has not been able to determine.

15. Jalab Halab (?) – written J-l-b H-l-b – also given by Ibn Shuhba and Ibn Ayyub, consists of answers to questions on law, raised by Shihab al-Din al-Adra`i from Halab (d. 783).


The most extensive and beside the Jam` al-Jawami` the most famous works of Taj al-Din are his Tabaqt al-Shafi`iyya: Classes of Shafi`ites – or biographies of illustrious Shafi`ite jurisconsultants from the time of the great al-Shafi`i down to the author’s own time. Taj al-Din wrote three different works on this same subject, a large work called al-Tabaqt al-Kubra, a more condensed edition, called al-Tabaqt al-Wusta, and a still more condensed edition called al-Tabaqat al-Sughra. These Tabaqat by Taj al-Din have the fame of being the best biographies on Shafi`ite scholars ever written, but strange enough, none of them have yet been published.

16. al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, or the great Tabaqat, is a very copious work. The MSS, however, are scattered and more or less fragmentary. The illustrious Shafi`ite juris­consultants, whose lives and works are treated, are divided into seven Tabaqat or classes:

I.        Those who were pupils of al-Shafi`i

II.     Those who died between 200 and 300 A.H.

III.   Those who died between 300 and 400 A.H.

IV.  Those who died between 400 and 500 A.H.

V.     Those who died after 500 A.H.

VI.  Those who died after 600 A.H.

The Paris MSS show the scope of this great work. Paris 2100, a MS of 442 pages, contains only the first of the seven classes. Paris 2101, which must be a part of the last volume of the work, devotes 150 pages to one man, or to Taqi al-Din, the father of the author.

17. al-Tabaqat al-Wusta, or the middle (sized) Tabaqat, the same biographies as in al-Tabaqat al-Kurbra in abridged form, completed 754 A.H. The work, beside an index, consists of three parts:

I.   1. al-Shafi`i and immediate pupils.

2. Those having the name Ahmad.

3. Those having the name Muhammad.

4. The rest in alphabetical order.

II.  Women, who had distinguished themselves in the knowledge of Shafi`ite law.

III. Traditions gathered from al-Tabaqat al-Kubra.

18. al-Tabaqat al-Sughra, or the small Tabaqat, completed 760, appears to be simply an abridgement of al-Tabaqat al-Wusta. The plan is practically the same; only al-Tabaqat is very condensed, consisting in fact mostly of names and dates. Yet the Brit. Mus. MS contains 300 large pages.

The following compositions by Taj al-Din may also be put under this head, although they would be more accurately classed as eulogies than as biographies:

19. Kitab Manaqib al-Shaikh al-Imam Abu Bakr ibn Qauwam, an eulogy over the virtues and good deeds of the pious Abu Bakr ibn Qauwam (584-656 A.H.). It is in fact an extract from a work by the nephew of Abu Bakr, Muhammad ibn Qauwam (d. 718), to which Taj al-Din had prefaced an introduction. It may have had a place in al-Tabaqat al-Kubra.

20. Qasida of the measure kamil, an eulogy on al-Ash`ari, the theologian, philosopher, and jurisconsultant (d. 324) and the validity of his doctrines.

21. Qasida, 22 verses of the measure basit, dedicated to Salah al-Din al-Safadi (d. 764).


On the subject of traditions Taj al-Din has edited one of his fathers works:

22. Tashhidh al-Adhan [4], a revised edition of his fathers work on traditions Qadr al-Imkan fi Hadith al-I`tikaf.


On Arabic grammar and related subjects Taj al-Din wrote the following:

23. Tarshih al-Nahw, a treatise on Arabic grammar.

24. al-Alghaz, a book on the science of enigmatical language. Hajji Khalifa does not give the exact title of Taj al-Din’s book but takes it up among works on `Ilm al-Alghaz. Ibn Shuhba names Taj al-Din’s book Alghaz. It may be the Qasida of which there is a MS in Leiden, “carmen hoc aenigmata continet.”

25. Qasida, 37 verses of the measure wafir, on the significa­tions of the word `ain.


Other writings by Taj al-Din not classified above are the following:

26. al-Durar al-Lawami`, according to Ibn Shuhba, a work by Taj al-Din, but the editor has not been able to trace it.

27. al-Ta`un, a treatise on the plague, where Taj al-Din discusses the question whether it is consistent with true piety to attempt to evade the plague or not.

28. Ad`iya Ma’thura [not Mantura, as Brockelmann has it, ed.], the invocations with which Taj al-Din closed his large biographical work al-Tabaqat al-Kubra.

29. A Prayer, composed by Taj al-Din in Cairo 764 A.H. and published by Taj al-Din al-Malihi.

30. A Certificate, given by Taj al-Din 767 A.H. in Damas­cus to Muhammad ibn `Ali al-`Asha’ir in regard to the mastery of his work Jam` al-Jawami`.

31. Mu`id al-Ni`am wa Mubid al-Niqam, the work here edited.

Source: This biography is a reproduction of the section titled “II. THE AUTHOR” of the following book:

al-Subki, Taj al-Din `Abd al-Wahhab ibn `Ali, Kitab Mu`id An-Ni`am Wa-Mubid An-Niqam = The Restorer of Favours and the Restrainer of Chastisements: the Arabic text with an introduction and notes edited by David W. Myhram, 1st AMS ed. (New York: AMS Press, 1978). Reprint of the 1908 ed. published by Luzac, London, which was issued as v. 18 of Luzac’s Semitic text and translation series. [ISBN: 0404112919]

Notes regarding the reproduction of the material here:

1. Almost all the footnotes were totally irrelevant: Some referred to the page number in the accompanying Arabic original. Others referred to the names and numbers of the various manuscripts of the book Mu`id al-Ni`am. Others gave bibliographical references to the works of Muslim scholars (Hajji Khalifa, Ibn Hajar, etc.), but the names of the books in the bibliography are written in the editor’s native language: Swedish! This made it both difficult and useless to reproduce here. Whoever is interested in the references can check them out in the book itself. I kept only the couple of “important” notes left. Some other “short” footnotes were incorporated into the text in [square brackets with “, ed.” in them].

2. The last page of the book had an “errata” indicating 4 typos in the print. But I found more than 100 mistakes in the above section only! I tried to correct them, but I failed to do so whenever it was not clear what the intended word was. This proved a sensitive issue when it came to the (mis)spelling of a couple of names. I hope someone familiar with the names of scholars mentioned here, can proof-read the above and correct any mistakes in it.

3. I slightly altered the transliteration convention into a more understandable one. The hardcopy has letters with dots under them and slashes over them to indicate various Arabic letters that have no equivalent in English. This was very difficult to reproduce on HTML.

4. I changed the word “Muhammedan” into the more appropriate word “Islamic.”

5. Some words the editor used in English have a more familiar Arabic equivalents. Examples are:

Traditionist = Muhaddith (similarily, Tradition = Hadith, and Traditioned = Haddatha or taught the science of Hadith)

Jurisconsultant = faqih or Mufti

Interpreter = Mufassir

Theologian = Mutakallim

Philologian or Philologist = Lughawi (expert in the knowledge of language)

Relevant Footnotes:

[1] From this statement it would seem as if also our author was born at Subk. Some native biographers indeed only use the general term Egypt in denoting the birthplace, while others distinctly state that he was born in Cairo.

[2] Not a mujtahid on “Eheschliessungen,” as Wustenfeld has it. See Wustenfeld, Der Imam el-Schafi`i. Abhandl. Der Konigl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaft. zu Gottingen, Band 36

[3] Whether Leiden 1843, the only MS known of a work on this subject, really is the work of Taj al-Din, as Brockelmann states, is difficult to determine, at least from the description given in the catalogue, as the first part of the MS is wanting.