Sharif Razi

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Muslim scholar
Abul-Hasan Muhammad ibn Al-Husayn Al-Musawi
Title al-Sharif al-Radi
Born 970 CE
Died 1015 CE
Era Islamic golden age
Jurisprudence Shia Jafari
Main interest(s) Tafsir, Arabic literature
Notable work(s) Peak of Eloquence (collection of Imam Ali quotations)

Abul-Hasan Muhammad ibn Al-Husayn Al-Musawi known in Arabic as al-Sharif al-Radi (Arabic: الشريف الرضي‎) or in Persian Sharif Razi (Arabic: شريف رضی‎) or Seyyed Razi (Arabic: سید رضی‎) (c. 970 – 1015 CE) was a Shi'ite Muslim scholar and poet who was born in Baghdad. He wrote several books on Islamic issues and interpretation of the Koran. His most famous book is Nahj al-Balaghah which is a collection of Imam Ali's sayings and speeches.

He founded a school named Dar ul-'Ilm (Arabic: دار العلم‎, literally "House of knowledge") in which he trained many students some of whom became themselves later professors. His grave is located in Kazmain, Iraq.

Some of his books are as follows:

Family and lineage[edit]

Father of Sayyid Razi: His father Abu Ahmed Husayn bin Musa was fifth in line of descendent from the 7th Imam, Musa al-Kazim and held the prestigious position of the "Naqib al-Nuqaba" of Iraq, a responsibility which required the managing of affairs of the Sadat's (Prophet's descendants) . He was given the title of "Tahir Awhad Dhu al-Manaqib" and died in 396 AH and was buried in the shrine of Imam Husayn in Karbala. At his death, Sayyid Razi, who had been acting as his father's deputy since 381 AH, officially became the Naqib al-Nuqaba" and held the position till his own death. His father's genealogy reads: Husayn bin Musa bin Muhammad bin Musa bin Ibrahim Mujab bin Imam Musa al-Kazim.[1] Al-Thalibi (d.429), in Yatimat al-dahr, a bibliography of poets and writers of Arabic, writes about the father of al-Razi: His forefathers were held in high respect by the people of Iraq. His father, Abu Ahmad for a long time occupied the post of Naqib of the Talibiyyin, a position that empowered him to look after the Sayyid of Abu Talib's lineage. At the same time he held the office of the Nazarat Diwan al-mazalim (headship of the highest court of appeal) as well as the office of the chief of hajjaj (pilgrims to the Holy Kabah). In the year 380/990 he relinquished these posts in favour of his son al-Syed al-Razi. Ibn Abi al-Hadid(d. 655 or 656/1257 or 1258), in his preface to the Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, confirms this statement saying: His father al-Naqib Abu Ahmad was held in high regard at the courts of Banu Abbas and the rulers of Al Dayalimah and was entitled as al-Tahir Dhu al-Manaqib.[2]

Sayyid Razi's Mother: His mother Fatimah also traced her lineage to the Prophet and was the daughter of Husayn bin Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Utrush bin Ali bin Hasan bin Umar al-Ashraf the son of the 4th Infallible Imam, Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-Abidin. She was a pious and noble lady, and was held in high esteem by scholars and other notables. At her request, the great scholar Shaykh Mufid compiled the book Ahkam al-Nisa which contains the fiqhi (religious ethics) rules for women. Her family had carved out an independent principality in Tabaristan on the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea. She died in Baghdad in 385 AH.[1]

His elder brother Sayyid Murtadha was great theologian and poet. Sayyid Murtadha's work (poems) are still being published in Cairo and Beirut and form part of the course of Arabic literature in the universities of those two cities. Sayyid Murtadha has a great place among the Shia Theologians with a nick-name Alum-ul-Hudda (standard or way mark of the true path of religion).[3]

Education and teaching[edit]

Al-Razi genius came to the notice of his family and teachers at a very young age. He started composing poetry at the age of nine. His wit and alertness of mind surprised all. He went to different teachers to study various branches of Islamic sciences, Arabic language and literature. He studied Sharh al-'Usul al-khamsah and Kitab al-'umdah under al-Qadi 'Abd al Jabbar al-Mutazili (b. circa. 325/936, d.415/lO25), and studied Arabic language and grammar under Abu Sa'id al-Hasan ibn 'Abd Allah ibn Marzban al-Sirafi (284-368/897-979), an expert of Arabic language and literature. He also went to study the language and literary sciences to Abu Muhammad al-'Asadi al-'Akfani, Abu al-Hasan 'Ali ibn 'isa al-Rummani (296-384/908-94), Abu al-Fath 'Uthman ibn Jinn; (330-392/942-1002) and Ibn Nubatah (335-94/946- 1004). He studied hadith under Muhammad ibn 'Imran al-Marzabani (d. 378/988) and Abu Masa Harun ibn Musa al-Tal'akbari (d. 385/995). His teacher in fiqh, besides al-Mufid, was Muhammad ibn al-Abbas al-Khwarizmi (d. 383/993). Abu Hafs 'Umar ibn Ibrahim al-Kinani was his teacher in qira'ah and the Quran. Most of his teachers were eminent scholars and writers of Arabic. He had started teaching at the young age of seventeen when he was himself studying. He completed his education at the age of twenty. Very soon he acquired fame as a scholar, commentator of the Quran, thinker and poet. His fame as a poet overshadowed his excellence in all other fields. Among his teachers a few other names may be mentioned: Abu 'Ali al-Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Farsi (307-77/919-87), a Mutazili; Abu al-Hasan al-Karkhi; 'Ali ibn 'Isa ibn Salih al-Rub'i (328-420/939-40-1029); and Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Ahmad al-Tabari (d. 393/1002-3), a faqih (scholar) of the Maliki school. In those days due to a climate of tolerance at least among scholars and students, the Shia and Sunni students used to attend classes of teachers belonging to different sects. A number of al-Radi's teachers were Sunni and Mutazili.[2]

Al-Sharif al-Razi had intimate friendly relations of mutual respect and love with eminent contemporary scholars, poets and writers professing different faiths, which was an indication of his broad humanism and tolerance. Sahib ibn 'Abbad (326-85/938-95), one of the most influential of Muslim prime ministers and a great scholar of his age, was a patron of scholars and poets.[2]


Peak of Eloquence (Arabic: Nahj al-Balaghah) Compilation of Ali ibn Abi Talib's, speeches, writings and sayings. Late Syed Razi compiled Nahj al-Balagha over a thousand years ago and before he made the efforts these jewels were scattered all over the Islamic literature. Other scholars were in the process of doing the same thing, but Allah gave Syed Razi the opportunity and the will to finish this enormous task. According to him certain words and expressions of Nahj al-Balagha are matchless in human expression by eloquent writers, Islamic thinkers and even the adversaries of Islam. These people have always accepted that some statements of the Nahj al-Balagha are superior to human expression and beyond the ordinary level of the human being's knowledge at that time. Mankind is indebted to the endeavors and initiatives of Syed Razi who left the Nahj al-Balagha for us.[4] Translation of Nahj al-Balagha[5] may be read in the languages:

Book compiled by Syed Sharif Razi
  • English Translation of Nahj al-Balaghah (Peak of Eloquence)
  • French: La voie de l’éloquence. Ed. Sayyid ‘Attia Abul Naga. Trans. Samih ‘Atef El Zein et al. 2nd ed. Qum: Ansariyan, n.d
  • German: Pfad der Eloquenz (in zwei Bänden). Trans. Fatima Özoguz. Bremen: Eslamica, 2007.
  • Romanian: Nahj al-balagha / Calea vorbirii alese. Trans. George Grigore. Cluj-Napoca: Kriterion, 2008.
  • Russian:Путь красноречия (Put' krasnorechiya). Trans. Abdulkarim Taras Cherniyenko. Moscow: Восточная литература (Vostochnaya literatura), 2008.
  • Spanish: La cumbre de la elocuencia. Trans. Mohammed ‘Alí Anzaldúa-Morales. Elmhurst: Tahrike Tarsile, 1988.
  • Persian & Urdu/Hindi. First Prominent Urdu Publisher is Tanzeem-ul-Makatib, Lukhnow, India and in Pakistan Mahfooz Book Agency, Martin Road, Karachi.

Offspring and death[edit]

Sayyid Razi's only son Abu Ahmad Adnan was also a prominent scholar of his time and after the death of his uncle Sayyid Murtadhā he was entrusted with the post of Naqib al- Nuqaba. He was given the title of his grandfather "Taher Dhu al-Manaqeb" by the Buhid ruler and was highly respected for his knowledge and nobility of character.[6]

Syed Razi died in the month of Mohurram 404 A.H. at the age of 45 years. Some biographists are of the opinion that the year of his death was 406 A.H. at the age of 47. His elder brother Sayyid Murtadhā and his Shaykh al-Mufīd were so grievously stricken that they could not lead the funeral service of that great man and the service was led by the Prime Minister Abu Ghalib Fukhrul Mulk.[3]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Nahjul-Balagha: Path of Eloquence by Yasin T. AlJibouri, published through.[7]