A Brief Biographical Sketch of Imām Athīr al-Dīn al-Abharī
By Mohammad Mustafa Ali (4th Year Alim Student, DarusSalam Seminary)
Imām Athīr al-Dīn al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar b. al- Mufaḍḍal al-Abharī al-Samarqandī was a scholar of the Islāmic Sciences. His ascription, al-Abharī, is traced back to the Persian city of Abhar, which is geographically situated between the cities of Qazvin and Zanjan. He was renowned for his mastery and expertise in the field of logic, as well as for his proficiency in astronomy, philosophy, and mathematics.
He was born in Mosul and moved to Erbil in AH 626. He was the pupil of Kamāl al-Dīn Ibn Yūnus for whom it is said: “Among the scholars, there no one like Kamāl al-Dīn.”
Abharī was a scholar of great virtue. He was incredibly studious and highly proficient in the subjects that he mastered.
Ibn al-Ṣalāh praised Imām al-Abharī. In describing his virtue and status, he said regarding him:
“He is a man whom Allāh created as a scholar and leader in the Islāmic Sciences. No one should ask regarding his ability nor his merit; verily, he is beyond that.”
Ibn al-Mustawfā said:
“When Imām al-Abharī was asked about logic and philosophy, he would explain in detail. At times, he would even simplify certain points so that the other scholars would be able to teach their communities. He was one of a kind.”
Imām al-Abharī continues to be known for his contributions in the subjects of mathematics and geometry. His accomplishments have even been recognized by Columbia University. In 1898, seven hundred years after Imām al-Abharī passed away, an English mathematician published a proof for Euclid’s fifth postulate and his proof was the same as the imām’s.
Many erudite scholars studied under Imām al-Abharī. From them are:
– Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Aṣfahānī, who authored a commentary on the Maḥṣūl.
– Abū ʿAbd Allāh Zakariyyā al-Qazwīnī, the author of Ajāʾib al-Makhlūqāt and Athār al-Bilād.
– Ibn Khallikān, the author of Wafayāt al-Aʿyān.
Imām al-Abharī authored many works. From them are:
– al-Īsāghojī. This is an intermediate textbook in the subject of logic. In the work, he presents the subject’s fundamental principles in concise and lucid passages. The scholars, generation after generation, have accepted this book. It has been commentated on many times while featuring as a cornerstone work in syllabi throughout the Muslim World. This text is studied here at DarusSalam Seminary.
– Mukhtaṣar fī ʿIlm al-Hayʾah.
– Zubdat al-Kashf.
– Risālah fī al-Isṭiralāb.
– Hidāyat al-Ḥikmah.
– Tanzīl al-Afkār fī Taʿdīl al-Asrār.
– Kashf al-Ḥaqāʾiq fī Taḥrīr al-Daqāʾiq.
– Mukhtaṣar al-Kulliyyāt al-Khams.
Imām al-Abharī passed away in AH 663. He left behind a rich legacy of timeless contributions to the subjects of logic, philosophy, and mathematics.
– al-Bābānī, Ismāʿīl b. Muḥammad Amīn. Hadiyyat al-ʿĀrifīn Asmāʾ al-Muʾallifīn wa Āthār al-Muṣannifīn. Istanbul: Wakālat al-Maʿārif, 1951.
– Ibn Khallikān, Aḥmad b. Muḥammad. Wafayāt al-Aʿyān. Beirut: Dār Ṣādir, 1994.
– Wikipedia (Arabic Site). 2020. Athīr al-Dīn al-Abharī. Wikipedia Foundation. Last modified December 11, 2019, 02:51. https://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/أثير الدين الأبهري
– al-Ziriklī, Khayr al-Dīn b. Maḥmūd. al-Aʿlām. Beirut: Dar al-Malayin, 2002.