Jaʿfar b. Ḥasan b. ʿAbd al-Karīm b. al-Sayyid Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Rasūl al-Barzanjī, al-Ḥusaynī al-Madanī al-Shāfiʿī, “Zayn al-ʿĀbidīn” (الإمام السيد جعفر بن حسن بن عبد الكريم بن السيد محمد بن عبد الرسول البرزنجي الحسيني المدني الشافعي). He was born in the Islamic month of Sha'aban 1128 AH/1716 CE in the city of Medina in present day Saudi Arabia. His father was the lecturer of the Al-Ṣiddīq Mosque in Medina and overseer of its endowments; while his great-grandfather hailed from Shahrazūr in Kurdish Iraq, and spent years seeking knowledge in Hamadān, Baghdad, Damascus, Istanbul, and Cairo, before settling in Medina.
Education and Scholarship
Al-Barzanjī studied first under his father and his father’s paternal uncle, and then under other scholars of Medina. He was a polymath who mastered various disciplines, including: the memorization of the Quran, its canonical readings, morphology, syntax, logic, rhetoric, inheritance, calligraphy, arithmetic, law, jurisprudence, metaphysics, philosophy, geometry, astronomy, literature, scholastic theology, lexicography, biography, Prophetic tradition (Ahādith) criticism, and Koran exegesis.
Occupation and Speciality
Al-Barzanjī excelled especially in oratory and composition, and quickly became well known as a sermonizer, imam, and teacher in the Mosque of the Prophet Muḥammad in Medina beginning in the Islamic month of Ramadan in the year 1159 AH/1746 CE. He lectured in the law of the four Sunni schools of Jurisprudence (Madhāhib), and was qualified to provide legal opinions (Fatwā) according to them all. He later assumed the post of Highest Juridical Authority (Muftī) of the Shāfites in Medina, serving therein until his death.
His Lifestyle and Disposition
Al-Barzanjī practiced worldly renunciation (Zuhd) for more than twenty years. Nonetheless, his custom was to wear the clothing of the scholars. He attracted many students from Medina and abroad due to the breadth of his scholarship, the excellence of his lectures and his skill in scholarly debate. He is described as having had a thin frame and a strong voice. He was also proficient in a number of languages, which permitted him to be consulted on difficult matters by scholars from all over the world.
His Death and Descendents
He died in 1177 AH/1764 CE, and was buried in the cemetery of Al-Baqi' in the city of Medina. His descendents continue to live in the city of Medina to this day.
His authored works, many of which have since been lost, include:
- The Jewelled Necklace of the Resplendent Prophet’s Birth ('Iqd al-Jawhar fī Mawlid al-Nabiy al-Azhar)
- The Story of the Prophetic Birth (Qiṣṣat al-mawlid al-nabawī)
- The Story of the Heavenly Ascent (Qiṣṣat al-miʿrāj)
- The Rose Branch: Traditions Regarding The Mahdi (al-Ghuṣn al-wardī fī akhbār al-Sayyid al-Mahdī)
- The Virtuous Traits of the Master of the Martyrs, Our Master Ḥamzah (Manāqib Sayyid al-Shuhadāʾ Sayyidinā Ḥamzah)
- The Abundant Harvest: the Virtuous Traits of ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jaylānī (al-Janiy al-dānī fī manāqib al-Sheikh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jaylānī)
- The Remover of Gloom: Regarding the Companions of the Master of the Non-Arabs and the Arabs (Jāliyat al-karab bi aṣḥāb Sayyid al-ʿAjam wa al-ʿArab)
- An Epistle Regarding the Names of the People of Badr and the People of Uḥud (Risālah fī asmāʾ al-Badriyīn wa al-Uḥudiyīn)
- The Fragrance of Repose: Regarding the Conquest of Jittah-Jī (al-Nafḥ al-farajī fī fatḥ al-Jittah-jī)
- The Picking of Flowers: Regarding the Results of Voyage and Travel (Iltiqāṭ al-zahr min natāʾij al-riḥlah wa al-safar)
- al-Ziriklī, al-Aʿlām (1997), 2:123.
- al-Anṣāri, Tuḥfat al-muḥibbīn wa wa al-aṣḥāb fī maʿrifat mā li al-Madaniyīn min al-ansāb (1970), 89.
- al-Murādī, Silk al-durar fī aʿyān al-qarn al-thānī ʿashar (1291–1301), 2:9.
- Murshid, Ṭaybah wa ẓikrayāt al-aḥibbah (1416), 1:48-49.
- Kaḥḥālah, Muʿjam al-mu’allifīn (1993), 1:490.
- al-Baghdādī, Hadiyyat al-ʿārifīn (1951–55), 1:255-256.
- Brockelmann, Geschichte der Arabischen Litteratur (1937–43), II:503, S II:517-518.
- For his great-grandfather, Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Rasūl, see al-Ziriklī, ibid., 6:203-204.
- al-Baghdādī, ibid., 2:302-303; Kaḥḥālah, ibid., 3:292.
- Brockelmann, ibid., II:511.
- Othman (translator), The Barzanjī Mawlid – The Jewelled Necklace of the Resplendent Prophet’s Birth (2009), Manaqib.