Imam Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi or Abu 'Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abu Bakr al-Ansari al-Qurtubi (Arabic: أبو عبدالله القرطبي) was a famous mufassir, muhaddith and faqih scholar from Cordoba of maliki origin. He is most famous for his commentary of the Quran, Tafsir al-Qurtubi.
He was born in Córdoba, Spain in the 13th century. His father was a farmer, and died during a Spanish attack in 1230. During his youth, he contributed to his family by carrying clay for use in potteries. He finished his education in Cordoba, studying from renowned scholars ibn Ebu Hucce and Abdurrahman ibn Ahmet Al-Ashari. After Cordoba’s capture in 1236 by King Fernando I, he left for Alexandria, where he studied hadith and tafsir. He then passed to Cairo, and settled in Munya Abi'l-Khusavb where he spent the rest of his life. Known for his modesty and humble lifestyle, he was buried in Munya Abi'l-Khusavb, Egypt in 1273. His grave was carried to a mosque where a mausoleum was built under his name in 1971, still open for visiting today.
He was very skilled in commentary, narrative, recitation and law; clearly evident in his writings, and the depth of his scholarship has been recognized by many scholars. In his works, Qurtubi defended the Sunni point of view, criticizing mutazilah, imamiyya, rafiziyya and kerramiyya sects frequently. Albeit being of Maliki origin, a very common school in north Africa and Spain, he has rejected bigotry and does not accept imitation as a method. Although not strictly against the Sufi sect, he has pointed out superstitions associated with Sufism in his works. He has clearly and openly criticized government officials, pointing out their errors, their tendency towards corruption and their damaging actions to religion for personal desire.
He is particularly cited in support of the reality of possession by Jinn and the Devil (Shaitan). Commenting on the Qur'an (al-Baqara, verse 275), he wrote:
This verse contains proof against those who deny the possession by way of Jinn, claiming that it is a result of natural causes, as well as those who claim that Shaitan does not enter humans nor does he touch them.
Tafsir al-Qurtubi: the most important and famous of his works, this 20 volume commentary has raised great interest albeit its volume, and has had many editions. Contrary to what its name implies, the commentary is not limited to verses dealing with legal issues, but is a general interpretation of the whole of Quran with a Maliki point of view. Any claims made about a verse are stated and thoroughly investigated.
al-Tadhkirah fī Aḥwāl al-Mawtá wa-Umūr al-Ākhirah (Reminder of the Conditions of the Dead and the Matters of the Hereafter): a book dealing with the topics of death, the punishments of the grave, the endtimes and the day of resurrection