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TitleShaykh al-Islām[1]
Jalal al-Din
Born3 October 1445 CE / 1 Rajab 849 AH
Died18 October 1505 CE / 19 Jumadi Ula 911 AH
Main interest(s)Aqidah, Sharia, Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Hadith, Usul al-Hadith, Tafsir, Arabic grammar, Arabic Literature, Rhetoric, Philology, lexicography, Seerah, History, Mathematics, Medicine
Notable work(s)Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Al-Dur al-Manthur, Al-Itqan fi 'Ulum al-Qur'an [ar], Al-Jami' al-Saghir, Tanbih al-Ghabi bi-Tabri'at Ibn 'Arabi
Muslim leader
Arabic name
Personal (Ism)'Abd al-Raḥmān
Patronymic (Nasab)ibn Abī Bakr ibn Muḥammad
Teknonymic (Kunya)Abū al-Faḍl
Epithet (Laqab)Jalāl al-Dīn
Toponymic (Nisba)al-Suyūṭī, al-Khuḍayrī, al-Shāfi'ī

Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (Arabic: جلال الدين السيوطي, romanizedJalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī; c. 1445–1505),[8][a] or al-Suyuti, was an Egyptian Sunni Muslim polymath of Persian descent.[9][10] Considered the mujtahid and mujaddid of the Islamic 10th century,[11] he was a leading muhaddith (hadith master), mufassir (Qu'ran exegete), faqīh (jurist), usuli (legal theorist), sufi (mystic), theologian, grammarian, linguist, rhetorician, philologist, lexicographer and historian, who authored works in virtually every Islamic science.[12][13][14] For this reason, he was honoured one of the most prestigious and rarest titles: Shaykh al-Islām.[15]

He was described as one of the most prolific writers of the Middle Ages and is recognized today as one of the most prolific authors of all Islamic literature. Al-Suyuti wrote approximately one thousand works.[16] His biographical dictionary Bughyat al-Wuʻāh fī Ṭabaqāt al-Lughawīyīn wa-al-Nuḥāh contains valuable accounts of prominent figures in the early development of Arabic philology. He was also in his time the leading authority of the Shafi'i school of thought (madhhab).[17]


Early life[edit]

Al-Suyuti was born to a family of Persian descent on 3 October 1445 AD (1 Rajab 849 AH) in Cairo in the Mamluk Sultanate.[10] According to al-Suyuti his ancestors came from al-Khudayriyya in Baghdad.[18] His family moved to Asyut, hence the nisba "al-Suyuti".[19][20] His father taught Shafi'i law at the Mosque and Khanqah of Shaykhu in Cairo, but died when al-Suyuti was 5 or 6 years old.[20][21]


Al-Suyuti grew up in an orphanage in Cairo. He became a Ḥāfiẓ of the Qu'ran at the age of eight years, followed by studying the Shafi'i and Hanafi jurisprudence (fiqh), traditions (hadith), exegesis (tafsir), theology, history, rhetoric, philosophy, philology, arithmetic, timekeeping (miqat) and medicine.[20]

He then dedicated his entire life to master the Sacred Sciences under approximately 150 sheikhs. Among them were renowned scholars who were the leading scholars of each sacred Islamic science of their time.[12]

In his thirst for quest for knowledge, Al-Suyuti travelled to Syria, Hejaz (Mecca & Medina), Yemen, Iraq, India, Tunisia, Morocco, and Mali as well as to educational hubs in Egypt such as Mahalla, Dumyat, and Fayyum.[12]


He started teaching Shafi'i jurisprudence at the age of 18, at the same mosque as his father did.

Al-Suyuti became the head master of Hadith at the Shaykhuniyya school in Cairo, at the suggestion of Imam Kamal al-Din ibn al-Humam. In 1486, Sultan Qaitbay appointed him shaykh at the Khanqah of Baybars II, a Sufi lodge,[21] but was sacked due to protests from other scholars whom he had replaced. After this incident, he gave up teaching and was fed up of others being jealous of him.[12]

Avoiding Public Life[edit]

In his late forties, al-Suyuti began avoiding the public when he argued with the Sufis in the Baybarsiyyah lodge, he disagreed their claim to be Sufis and were not following the path of saints in terms of manners and ethics, he was thus dismissed.[22]

Ibn Iyas, in his book called Tarikh Misr, said that when al-Suyuti became forty years of age, he left the company of men for the solitude of the garden of al-Miqyas, close to the River Nile, where he abandoned his friends and former co-workers as if he had never met them before. It was at this stage of his life where he authored most of his 600 books and treatises.[12]

Rich and Influential Muslims and rulers would visit him with large sums of money and gifts but he rejected their offers and also refused the king many times when he ordered al-Suyuti's to be summoned. He once said to the king's ambassador:[12]

"Do not ever come back to us with a gift, for in truth Allah has put an end to all such needs for us."


Al-Suyuti had some backlash with some of his contemporaries especially by his own teacher Al-Sakhawi and his fellow student Al-Qastallani who were two major renowned muhaddithuns. Al-Suyuti was accused for plagiarism which prolific writers were similarly accused of such as Ibn Al-Jawzi and Ibn Taymiyyah but those accusations were later dropped.[23]

Defending Ibn Arabi[edit]

His most famous clash was with one of his teachers, Burhan al-Din al-Biqa'i, who staunchly criticized Ibn Arabi in his book called Tanbih al-Ghabi ila Takfir Ibn 'Arabi translated in English 'Warning to the Dolt That Ibn Arabi is an Apostate', Al-Suyuti responded with a book called Tanbih al-Ghabi fi Takhti'at Ibn 'Arabi translated in English 'Warning to the Dolt That Faults Ibn 'Arabi'. Both epistles have been made widely available. In his writing, Al-Suyuti presented that he considered Ibn 'Arabi a Wali (Friend of Allah) whose books are prohibited to those who read them without first learning the sophisticated terms used by the Sufis. He quotes from Ibn Hajar's list in his book called Anba' al-Gh which mention the trustworthy and respected scholars who kept a positive opinion of Ibn Arabi or even recognized him to be an Wali.[23]

Creed & Spiritual Lineage[edit]

In terms of his theological positions, Al-Suyuti had a contempt feeling towards speculative theology (kalam) and pushed for strict submission (tafwid). He opposed the use of logic in the Islamic sciences.[24][25] He does, however, agree with Al-Ghazali's conservative view of kalam, which states that the science should be studied by scholars who meet the necessary requirements to administer the appropriate dosages as bitter medicine to people who are in dire need.[15]

Al-Suyuti was Ash'ari in his creed, as presented in many of his works. In Masalik al-Hunafa fi Walidayy al-Mustafa he said:[26]

"The parents of the Prophet died before he attained Prophethood, and there is no punishment for them. The Qur'an says

'We never punish until We send a messenger [whom they reject]' (al-Isra' 17: 15).

Our Ash'arī Imams, among those in kalam, usul, and fiqh, agree on the statement that one who dies while da'wah has not reached him, dies saved. This has been explained by Imam Al-Shafi'i as follows: 'some of the fuqaha' explained that the reason for the above is, such a person follows fitra (primordial disposition), and has not stubbornly refused nor rejected any Messenger."

Al-Suyuti claimed to be a mujtahid (an authority on source interpretation who gives legal statements on jurisprudence, hadith studies, and Arabic language).[19]

"I did not mean that I was similar to one of the Four Imams, but only that I was an affiliated mujtahid (mujtahid muntasib). For, when I reached the level of tarjih or distinguishing the best fatwa inside the school, I did not contravene Al-Nawawi's tarjih. And, when I reached the level of ijtihad mutlaq, I did not contravene Al-Shafi'i's school."

Al-Suyuti claimed he reached the same level as the major Imams of Hadith and Fiqh.[26]

"When I went on hajj, I drank Zamzam Water water for several matters. Among them was that I reach the level of Sheikh Siraj al-Din al-Bulqini in fiqh, and in hadith, that of Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani.'"

Al-Suyuti also claimed there was no scholar on Earth more knowledgeable than him:

"There is no one in our time, on the face of the earth, from East to West, more knowledgeable than me in Hadith and the Arabic language, save Al-Khidr or the Pole of saints or some other wali - none of whom do I include into my statement - and Allah knows best."

This brought huge attention and heavy criticism by scholars of his contemporaries as he was portrayed by them as an arrogant scholar who viewed himself to be superior and wiser than others. However, Al-Suyuti defended himself stating he was only speaking the truth so that people can benefit from his vast knowledge and accept his rulings (fatwas).[22]

Al-Suyuti was a Sufi of the Shadhili order.[19] Al-Suyuti's chain in Tasawwuf goes way back to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani. Al-Suyuti defended Sufis in his book entitled Tashyid al-Haqiqa al-Aliyya:[26]

"I have looked at the matters which the Imams of Shariah have criticized in Sufis, and I did not see a single true Sufi holding such positions. Rather, they are held by the people of innovation and the extremists who have claimed for themselves the title of Sufi while in reality they are not.'"

In his book entitled Tashyid, Al-Suyuti demonstrates a narrative chains of transmission by providing evidence that Hasan al-Basri did in indeed receive narrations directly from Ali ibn Abi Talib. This goes against the mainstream view amongst scholars of Hadith, despite also being a respected opinion of Ahmad Bin Hanbal.[26]


Considered the greatest scholar of his century, he continued publishing books of his scholarly writings until he died on 18 October 1505 at the age of sixty two.[21]


Ibn al-ʿImād writes: "Most of his works become world famous in his lifetime." Renowned as a prolific writer, his student Dawudi said: "I was with the Shaykh Suyuti once, and he wrote three volumes on that day. He could dictate annotations on ĥadīth, and answer my objections at the same time. In his time he was the foremost scholar of the ĥadīth and associated sciences, of the narrators including the uncommon ones, the hadith matn (text), isnad (chain of narrators), the derivation of hadith rulings. He has himself told me, that he had memorized over two hundred thousand (200,000) hadiths." Adding that there was no scholar at his time who memorized this much.[27][28][29]

His admirers stated that Al-Suyuti writings reached as far as India during his time on Earth. His learning and more importantly his incredible prolific output were widely seen as miraculous signs from God due to his merit.[22]


The Dalil Makhtutat al-Suyuti ("Directory of al-Suyuti's Manuscripts") states that al-Suyuti wrote works on over 700 subjects,[20] while a 1995 survey put the figure between 500[30] and 981. However, these include short pamphlets, and legal opinions.[19]

He wrote his first book, Sharh Al-Isti'aadha wal-Basmalah, in 866 AH, at the age of seventeen.[citation needed]

In Ḥusn al-Muḥaḍarah al-Suyuti lists 283 of his works on subjects from religion to medicine. As with Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi in his medicinal works, he writes almost exclusively on prophetic medicine, rather than the Islamic-Greek synthesis of medicinal tradition found in the works of Al-Dhahabi. He focuses on diet and natural remedies for serious ailments such as rabies and smallpox, and for simple conditions such as headaches and nosebleeds, and mentions the cosmology behind the principles of medical ethics.[31]

Al-Suyuti also wrote a number of Islamic sexual education manuscripts that represent major works in the genre, which began in the 10th-century in Baghdad. The most significant of these works is Al-Wishāḥ fī Fawāʾid al-Nikāḥ ("The Sash on the Merits of Wedlock"),[8] but other examples of such manuscripts include Shaqāʾiq al-Utrunj fī Raqāʾiq al-Ghunj, Nawāḍir al-Ayk fī Maʻrifat al-Nayk and Nuzhat al-Mutaʾammil.[32]

Major works[edit]

Shrine for Galal El-Dean al-Seyoti in Asiut
  • Tafsir al-Jalalayn (Arabic: تفسير الجلالين, lit.'Commentary of the two Jalals'); a Qur'anic exegesis written by Al-Suyuti and his teacher Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli[20]
  • Dur al-Manthur (Arabic: درالمنثور) a famous and authoritative narration based tafsir.
  • Al-Itqān fi 'Ulum al-Qur'an (translated into English as The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qur'an, ISBN 978-1-85964-241-2)
  • Al-Tibb al-Nabawi (Arabic: الطب النبوي, lit.'Prophetic medicine')
  • Al-Jaami' al-Kabir (Arabic: الجامع الكبير, lit.'Large collection')
  • Al-Jaami' al-Saghir (Arabic: الجامع الصغير, lit.'Little collection' )
  • Sharh Sunan al-Nasaai, a famous commentary of Sunan al-Nasa'i[33]
  • Annotations Sunan Abi Dawood, a complete annotations of Sunan Abu Dawood written by the Hadith scientist Al-Suyuti[34]
  • Alfiyyah al-Hadith [35]
  • Tadrib al-Rawi (Arabic: تدريب الراوي) both in hadith terminology
  • Al-Ashbaahu Wan-Nadhaair, a famous authoritative book of the Shafi'i madhab[36]
  • History of the Caliphs (Tarikh al-Khulafa)
    • The Khalifas who Took the Right Way, a partial translation of the History of the Caliphs, covering the first four Rashidun caliphs and Hasan ibn Ali
  • Tabaqat al-Huffaz, an appendix to al-Dhahabi's Tadhkirat al-Huffaz
  • Nuzhat al-Julasāʼ fī Ashʻār al-Nisāʼ (Arabic: نزهة الجلساء في أشعار النساء), "An Anthology of Women's Verse'[37]
  • Al-Khasais-ul-Kubra, which discusses the miracles of Islamic prophet Muhammad
  • Al-Muzhir (Arabic Linguistics)[38]
  • Uqud Al Juman (Arabic Rhetoric)
  • Al-Faridah (Arabic Grammar)
  • The Book of Exposition (credited)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Arabic: جلال الدين عبد الرحمن بن أبي بكر بن محمد الخضيري السيوطي; Abū al-Faḍl 'Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Abī Bakr ibn Muḥammad Jalāl al-Dīn al-Khuḍayrī al-Suyūṭī (Brill 2nd)


  1. ^ Sayyid Rami Al Rifai (3 July 2015). The Islamic Journal From Islamic Civilisation To The Heart Of Islam, Ihsan, Human Perfection. Sunnah Muakada. p. 37.
  2. ^ "Ahl al-Sunna: The Ash'aris - The Testimony and Proofs of the Scholars". almostaneer.com (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 28 January 2021.
  3. ^ Spevack, Aaron (2014). The Archetypal Sunni Scholar: Law, Theology, and Mysticism in the Synthesis of Al-Bajuri. State University of New York Press. pp. 99, 179. ISBN 978-1-4384-5371-2.
  4. ^ In Masalik al-Hunafa' fi Walidayy al-Mustafa, he says: "The Prophet's parents died before he was sent as a Prophet and there is no punishment for them, since (We never punish until We send a messenger (whom they reject)( (17:15 ). Our Ash`ari Imams among those in kalam, usul, and fiqh agree on the statement that one who dies while da`wa has not reached him, dies saved. This has been defined by Imam al-Shafi`i.. . . Some of the fuqaha' explained that the reason is, such a person follows fitra or Primordial Disposition, and has not stubbornly refused nor rejected any Messenger"
  5. ^ Barakat, E. R., & Haneef, M. A. (2006). "Must Money Be Limited to Only Gold and Silver?: A Survey of Fiqhi Opinions and Some Implications". Journal of King Abdulaziz University: Islamic Economics, 19(1).
  6. ^ Sookhdeo, Patrick. "Issues of interpreting the Koran and Hadith." Connections 5.3 (2006): 57-82.
  7. ^ Ali, Mufti. "Aristotelianisme Dalam Kacamata Para Tokoh Abad Tengah Penentang Logika." Al Qalam 24.3 (2007): 318-339.
  8. ^ a b Myrne, Pernilla (2018). "Women and Men in al-Suyūṭī's Guides to Sex and Marriage". Mamlūk Studies Review. XXI. The Middle East Documentation Center (MEDOC) at the University of Chicago: 47–67. doi:10.25846/26hn-gp87. ISSN 1947-2404.
  9. ^ Anna Kollatz; Miri Shefer-Mossensohn; Yehoshua Frenkel; Bethany J. Walker; Toru Miura; Christian Mauder (11 July 2022). The Mamluk-Ottoman Transition Continuity and Change in Egypt and Bilād Al-Shām in the Sixteenth Century, 2. V&R Unipress. p. 268. ISBN 978-3-8470-1152-1.
  10. ^ a b Meri, Josef W. (January 2006). Medieval Islamic Civilization, Volume 1 An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 784. ISBN 978-0-415-96691-7. The family of al-Suyuti, of Persian origin, settled during the Mamluk period in Asyut, in Upper Egypt (from where they derive their name).
  11. ^ Jaleel, Talib (11 July 2015). Notes On Entering Deen Completely Islam as its followers know it. EDC Foundation. p. 1031.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Zulfiqar Ayub 2015, p. 281
  13. ^ Esposito, John L. (21 October 2004). The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 307. ISBN 978-0-19-975726-8.
  14. ^ Abul Hasan Ali Hasani Nadwi (30 April 2019). Muslims in India. Claritas Books. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-905837-53-3.
  15. ^ a b Ghersetti, Antonella (18 October 2016). Al-Suyūṭī, a Polymath of the Mamlūk Period Proceedings of the Themed Day of the First Conference of the School of Mamlūk Studies (Ca' Foscari University, Venice, June 23, 2014). Brill. p. 44-259. ISBN 978-90-04-33452-6.
  16. ^ Jere L. Bacharach, Josef W. Meri (31 October 2005). Medieval Islamic Civilization An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 784-5. ISBN 978-1-135-45596-5.
  17. ^ Fancy, Nahyan (3 June 2013). Science and Religion in Mamluk Egypt Ibn Al-Nafis, Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrectio. Taylor & Francis. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-136-70361-4.
  18. ^ Geoffroy, E. (1960–2007). "al-Suyūṭī". In P. Bearman (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). ISBN 978-90-04-16121-4.
  19. ^ a b c d Meri, Josef W., ed. (2005). "Suyuti, Al-, 'Abd al-Rahman". Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. pp. 784–786. ISBN 978-1-135-45603-0.
  20. ^ a b c d e Oliver Leaman, ed. (2006). "Al-Suyuti". The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. pp. 618–920. ISBN 978-0-415-32639-1.
  21. ^ a b c Dhanani, Alnoor (2007). "Suyūṭī: Abū al-Faḍl ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī". In Thomas Hockey (ed.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. New York: Springer. pp. 1112–3. ISBN 978-0-387-31022-0.
  22. ^ a b c Mahdi Tourage, Ovamir Anjum 2017, p. 15
  23. ^ a b Zulfiqar Ayub 2015, p. 283
  24. ^ Mahdi Tourage, Ovamir Anjum 2017, p. 13
  25. ^ Ali, Mufti (2008). "A Statistical Portrait of the Resistance to Logic by Sunni Muslim Scholars Based on the Works of Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūtī (849-909/1448-1505)". Islamic Law and Society. 15 (2): 250–267. doi:10.1163/156851908X290600. ISSN 0928-9380. JSTOR 40377962.
  26. ^ a b c d Zulfiqar Ayub 2015, p. 284
  27. ^ Al-Kawākib as-Sāyirah 1/228[verification needed]
  28. ^ Hasan, Abu, Imām Jalāluddin Suyūţi - Biography and Works (PDF), www.sunniport.com, pp. 6–7, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04, retrieved 2016-01-04
  29. ^ Mahdi Tourage, Ovamir Anjum 2017, p. 14
  30. ^ Irwin, R. (1998). Julie Scott Meisami; Paul Starkey (eds.). Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature. Taylor & Francis. p. 746. ISBN 978-0-415-18572-1.
  31. ^ Emilie Savage-Smith, "Medicine." Taken from Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Volume 3: Technology, Alchemy and Life Sciences, pg. 928. Ed. Roshdi Rasheed. London: Routledge, 1996. ISBN 0-415-12412-3
  32. ^ Ghersetti, Antonella, ed. (2016). Al-Suyūṭī, a Polymath of the Mamlūk Period: Proceedings of the Themed Day of the First Conference of the School of Mamlūk Studies (Ca' Foscari University, Venice, June 23, 2014). Leiden. ISBN 978-90-04-33450-2. OCLC 956351174.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  33. ^ "SHARH SUNAN AN-NASAAI (AS-SUYUTI ET AS-SINDI)". sifatusafwa.com.
  35. ^ "USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts". Web Archive. 2 January 2008. Archived from the original on 2 January 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  36. ^ "AL-ASHBAAHU WAN-NADHAAIR - AS-SUYUTI (FIQH & USUL SHAFI'I)". sifatusafwa.com.
  37. ^ James Mansfield Nichols, 'The Arabic Verses of Qasmūna bint Ismāʿil ibn Bagdālah', International Journal of Middle East Studies, 13 (1981), 155-58.
  38. ^ Ghaffari, Talib (7 January 2011). "Writings of Imam Jalaluddin al-Suyuti". Maktabah Mujaddidiyah. Retrieved 23 November 2013.


External links[edit]