The Archetypal Sunni Scholar

 Imam al-Bajuri : The Archetypal Sunni Scholar,
[A5] Paperback - 220 pages, New,
Compiled by Aaron Spevack,
In relation to Shaykh al-Imam Burhan al-Din Ibrahim al-Bajuri,
Published by Suny Press, USA.

Description :

Considers the work of nineteenth-century theologian Ibrahim al- Bājūrī and contests the notion of intellectual decline in Islamic thought from the thirteenth through nineteenth centuries.

This is a rare study of a late premodern Islamic thinker, Ibrahim al- Bājūrī, a nineteenth-century scholar and rector of Cairo’s al-Azhar University. Aaron Spevack explores al- Bājūrī’s legal, theological, and mystical thought, highlighting its originality and vibrancy in relation to the millennium of scholarship that preceded and informed it, and also detailing its continuing legacy.

The book makes a case for the normativity of the Gabrielian Paradigm, the study of law, rational theology, and Sufism, in the person of al- Bājūrī. Soon after his death in 1860, this typical pattern of scholarship would face significant challenges from modernists, reformers, and fundamentalists. Spevack challenges beliefs that rational theology, syllogistic logic, and Sufism were not part of the predominant conception of orthodox scholarship and shows this scholarly archetype has not disappeared as an ideal. In addition, the book contests prevailing beliefs in academic and Muslim circles about intellectual decline from the thirteenth through nineteenth centuries.


      “Spevack’s trailblazing book is a lucid survey and deep analysis of the works
       and ideas of al-Bājūrī. Spevack shows precisely how al-Bājūrī served as an
       ‘archetypal’ Sunni scholar. In the process, he succeeds in evoking the subtlety,
       sophistication, & dynamism of the postclassical Islamic traditions of theology,     
       mysticism, and jurisprudence.” — Robert Wisnovsky, McGill University.

       “Here is a readable and comprehensive introduction to the intellectual
        production of one of the last giants of the Sunni legal tradition in the 19th
        century. Sensitive to the scholar’s strong affiliation with a millennium-long
        tradition, this introduction will be appreciated by seasoned scholars and
        newcomers alike.” — Ahmad Atif Ahmad, University of California.

       “Spevack’s book is an important corrective to Eurocentric narratives of the
        nineteenth century that focus solely on Islamic thinkers whose main concern
        is with European ‘modernity’ and its challenges while breezily ignoring the
        continuing tradition of madrasah scholarship in the modern period.”
                                                          — Khaled El-Rouayheb, Harvard University.

Aaron Spevack is Assistant Professor of Religion at Colgate University. He translated and annotated Al-Ghazali on the Principles of Islamic Spirituality: Selections from The Forty Foundations of Religion—Annotated and Explained.

Shaykh al Islam Imam al-Bajuri : Imam Burhan 'ud-Din Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Bajuri, may Allah have mercy upon him, was the Imam and Shaykh of Al-Azhar, Egypt (d.1198-1277 H). His education began with the study of the Qur'an and its recitation [tajwid] under his father's tutelage in his hometown of Bajur a village in the province of Manufiyya in Lower Egypt.

Imam al-Bajuri studied with some of the most prominent scholars of his time, these included :

    *** Muhammad al-Amir al-Kabir al-Maliki, (d.1817),
    *** 'Abdullah al-Sharqawi al-Shafi'i, Shaykh al-Azhar 1793-1812 (d.1812),
    *** Dawud al-Qalawi (d. uncertain),
    *** Muhammad al-Fadali, (d.1821),
    *** Hasan al-Quwaysni Shaykh al-Azhar 1834-1838 (d.1838),
    *** Abu Hurayba al-Shintinawi al-Naqshbandi [sufi shaykh] (d.1852),

Scholars of diverse disciplines and madhhab affiliations studied with Al-Bajuri, coming from within and outside of Egypt. Interestingly al-Bajuri also had students who were the grandson and great grandson of Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab [al-Najdi]. They studied for over 8 years at Al-Azhar including with the most prominent jurist-theologian sufi scholars of their time. Their studying with top Azhari [sufi] scholars indicates that the political animosity between Ash'aris and Wahhabis / Atharis may not have been as clear cut or far reaching as some modern proponents of each school might assume. Indeed Gilbert Delanoue mentions that refutations of and reaction to Wahhabi ideology did not surface in Egypt until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, indicating the continuing strength and influence of Imam al-Bajuri and his predecessors views.

Over 20 completed works are listed to have been attributed to al-Bajuri not to mention a further 6 unfinished works. Sufism [tasawwuf] is treated in al-Bajuri's theological and legal works, especially in his Tuhfat al-murid. This list of his works includes his commentary on the Burda - a poem covering the biography [sira] of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, from a decidedly sufi perspective and commentaries on Ibn Hajr al-Haytami's [d.974/ 1566-67] and Ahmed al-Dardir's [d. 1201/1786] works on the Birthday [Mawlid] of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The latter is really a subject of jurisprudence, but is also tied to tasawwuf, as Sufis are often the most active proponets of Mawlid Celebrations.

Imam al-Bajuri was the shaykh of the shafi'is in his day and has written the best explanation of one of the most studied books in the Shafi'i school of thought, namely the Matn Abi Shuja'. He named it al-Iqna' Sharh Matn Abi Shuja'. Al-Bajuris literary output further illuminates the contours and textures of the archetypal scholar. He wrote on the core sciences, fiqh, usul al-din, and tasawwuf as well as their ancillary and supporting sciences.

His theological writings were deeply entrenched in Al-Sanusi's throught, along with other later Ash'aris like al-Taftazani (c.792/1390) and al-Razi. His Sufism is imbued with Ghazalian, Naqshbandi and a great of Shadhili thought, as mentioned by many references to Shadhili scholars, such as al-Busiri, al-Shadhili's forefather Abu Madyan [d.594/1198] and others. There was no science he didn't excel in and this can be seen through his wide range of work in various fields.

He passed away in 1858 after leaving his post as the Chief Shaykh of Al-Azhar, Cairo. The chronicles relate him as a deeply pious man devoted to seeking knowledge and seeking its benefits, as well as to educating others and benefiting them thereby. He is described as one whose tongue was always ''wet with praise'' of Allah and with the recitation of the Qur'an, which he would complete in a day and a night,or nearly so. His love for the Prophet and his Family is also noted, and it is said he would visit their tombs often.

Table of Contents :


---[1]. Al-Bajūrī’s Life and Scholarship :
------A Traditional Shaykh al-Azhar in an Era of Attempted Reform,
------Al-Bajūrī’s Character,
------Al-Bajūrī’s Works,
------Al-Bajūrī’s Commentaries and Their Predecessors,
------Al-Bajūrī’s Literary Sources and the Commentary Tradition.

---[2]. Al-Bajūrī’s View of Religion and Method in the Egyptian Milieu :
------The Archetype and Method,
------The Gabrielian Paradigm: Al-Bajūrī’s View of the Three Dimensions of Islam,
------The Ijmā’-Ikhtilāf Spectrum,
------The Egyptian Milieu.

---[3]. Al-Bajūrī in Dialogue with His Archetypal Predecessors :
------Al-Bajūrī’s Theological Predecessors,
------Al-Bajūrī’s Predecessors in Law,
------Al-Bajūrī’s Sufi Predecessors,
------The Independent Jurist-Theologian-Sufis and Their Affiliations.

---[4]. Al-Bajūrī’s Legal, Theological, and Mystical Thought :
------Al-Bajūrī on Law: Ijtihād and Taqlīd,
------Al-Bajūrī on Sufism: Its Goals, Methods, and Explanations or Exclamations,
------Al-Bajūrī on the Rational Sciences.

---[5]. Legacy and Conclusion :
------Al-Bajūrī’s Legacy.


Tuhfat al Murid sharh Jawharat al-Tawhid : Arabic by Imam al-Bajuri.

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