The first of a series for the Message International Magazine, in which I attempt to examine one great personality from our rich and vibrant scholarly tradition, along with some information on one of their major literary works, explained in the context of the historical era they lived in. It is my hope that presenting glimpses from our tradition in light of these three aspects (the personality, the text, and the historical context that produced both) will make for a more holistic and comprehensive understanding of our tradition and go a long way towards building Islamic literacy and a more robust connection with our heritage.
Imām Al-Qurtubī [died 671H/1272CE]: Abū ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abūbakr al-Ansārī al-Khazrajī al-Qurtubī, also known as “the Shaykh of the Qur’anic commentators,” was a prolific scholar born and raised in Andalus whose learning and expertise extended to a broad varietyof subjects, including not only the Islamic sciences but the social and cultural issues of his era. He was a beneficiary of the rich and vibrant intellectual heritage of Cordoba, where he had access to someof the world’s most renowned scholars, numerous schools and the biggest public libraries in the world. He also lived during a period of constant conflict with the neighboring Christian kingdoms. In 627H his own fatherwas killed defending their farm from invading Crusader armies, and al-Qurubīwas forced to carry his body home and provide him a proper burial. At the age of 25, he was compelled to leave the region altogether with the fall of Cordoba in633H/1236CE. Continue reading