Badr al-Din al-Ayni

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Badr al-Din al-'Ayni (Arabic: بدر الدين العيني‎‎) born 762 AH (1360 CE), died 855 AH (1453 CE)[1][2] was a Sunni Islamic scholar of the Hanafi madh'hab. Al-'Ayni is an abbreviation for al-'Ayntābi, referring to his native city.

Badr al-Din al-'Ayni
Born 26 Ramadan 762 AH/ 30 July, 1361
Gaziantep, Gaziantep Province, Southeastern Anatolia Region, now Turkey
Died 855 AH/1453 (aged 93)
Era Medieval era
Region Cairo
Religion Islam
Denomination Sunni
Jurisprudence Hanafi[3][4]


He was born into a scholarly family in 762 AH (1360 CE) in the city of 'Ayntāb (which is now Gaziantep in modern Turkey).[5] He studied history, adab, and Islamic religious sciences, and was fluent in Turkish. There is some evidence that he also knew at least some Persian.[6] In 788 AH (1386 CE) he travelled to Jerusalem, where he met the Hanafi shaykh al-Sayrāmī, who was the head of the newly established Zāhiriyah madrasah (school) and khānqah (Sufi retreat.) Al-Sayrami invited al-'Ayni to accompany him home to Cairo, where he became one of the Sufis of the Zāhiriyah.[7] This was a step upward for the young al-'Ayni, as it represented entry into "an institution with ties to the highest level of the ruling elite."[8]

He established a good reputation and initially met with favor. However, after al-Sayrāmī died in 790 AH (1388 CE), al-'Ayni became involved in a personality conflict with the amir Jārkas al-Khalīlī, who tried to run him out of Cairo.[9] Al-'Ayni later described al-Khalīlī as arrogant and dictatorial – "a man pleased by his own opinion."[10] He was saved from expulsion by one of his teachers, Siraj al-Din al-Bulqini, but prudently decided to leave for a time anyway.[11]

From Cairo he went to teach in Damascus, where he was appointed muhtasib (overseer of sharia in the marketplace) by the amir,[12] and returned to Cairo some time before 800 AH (1398 CE.)

Once back in Cairo, al-'Ayni strengthened his social and political position by associating with several amirs, making the Hajj with the amir Tamarbughā al-Mashtūb.[13] He also had the patronage of the powerful amir Jakm min 'Awd, who was dawadār (literally "inkstand-holder": a secretary or confidential advisor) to the Sultan Barqūq.[14] After the death of Barqūq, al-'Ayni became the muhtasib of Cairo, displacing the scholar al-Maqrīzī. According to al-Maqrīzī (an interested party) it was Jakm who obtained the post for al-'Ayni;[15] however, the historian Ibn Taghribīrdī states that it was a cooperative effort by Jakm and two other amirs, Qalamtāy al-'Uthmānī and Taghribīrdī al-Qurdamī.[16] In any case, this was the beginning of a lifelong feud between the two 'ulama' : "From that day on, there was hostility between the two men until they both died."[16]

Al-'Ayni and al-Maqrīzī succeeded each other as muhtasib of Cairo several times over the next few years, probably a reflection of the power struggle between Jakm min 'Awd and al-Maqrīzī's patron, Yashbak al-Sha'bānī.[17] Neither held the post for very long. In the reign of al-Nasir Faraj, Barqūq's son and successor, al-'Ayni was appointed to the "lucrative and prestigious"[18] post of nāzir al-ahbas (overseer of pious endowments.) He would be dismissed from and reappointed to this post several times, finally securing it for good in the reign of the Sultan Mu'ayyad Shaykh and keeping it until he was ninety-one.[19]

Al-'Ayni's prestige grew as he aged. Mu'ayyad Shaykh named him ambassador to the Qaramanids in 823 AH (1420 CE.) Later in life he would be called upon to lecture on learned topics before the Sultan, sometimes reading history aloud in Arabic and explaining it in Turkish for the Sultan's benefit.[20] The Sultan al-Ashraf Barsbāy is reported to have said "Islam is known only through him"[21] and law lā al-'ayntābi la-kāna fī islāmina shay', "If not for al-'Ayntabi there would be something suspect in our Islam."[22] Barsbāy sometimes sent al-'Ayni as his representative to greet foreign dignitaries, apparently because of his fluency in several languages.[23]

Barsbāy often turned to al-'Ayni for advice on legal matters,[24] and named him chief Hanafi qadi (judge) in 829 AH (1426 CE.)[23] He was dismissed from this post after three years; by his own report, both he and the chief Shafi'i qadi, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, were dismissed at the same time because their constant feuding was distracting them from their duties; though he adds that this was a calumny spread by his enemies at court. He was later reappointed.[25]

In the reign of Barsbāy's successor, al-Aziz Jaqmaq, al-'Ayni was dismissed as chief Hanafi qadi again. He withdrew from court and concentrated on his scholarly writing.[26] In 853 AH (1449 CE) he was dismissed as nāzir al-ahbas, probably because of failing memory.[27] He died in 855 AH (1451 CE) at the age of ninety-three, having outlived all his children, and was buried in his own madrasah in Cairo.


  • Umdat al-Qari[2]
  • al-Binaya Sharh al-Hidaya
  • al-Sayf al-Muhammad fī Sīrat al-Malik al-Mu'ayyad (a biography of the Sultan Mu'ayyad Shaykh)
  • 'Iqd al-Jūman fī Ta'rikh Ahl al-Zamán
  • ar-Rad al-Waafir (Arabic: الرد الوافر‎‎)
  • Nukhab al-Afkar fi Tahqiq Mabani al-Akhbar fi Sharh Ma`ani al-Aathar
  • Sharh Sunan Abu daud - published in Pakistan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b Abdal-Hakim Murad – Contentions 8
  3. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2009). Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World (Foundations of Islam series). Oneworld Publications. p. 85. ISBN 978-1851686636. 
  4. ^ Gibb, H.A.R.; Kramers, J.H.; Levi-Provencal, E.; Schacht, J. (1986) [1st. pub. 1960]. Encyclopaedia of Islam (New Edition). Volume I (A-B). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. p. 791. ISBN 9004081143. 
  5. ^ Al-'Ayni, al-Sayf al-Muhammad fī Sīrat al-Malik al-Mu'ayyad, ed. Falūm Muhammad Shaltūt (Cairo, 1967.)
  6. ^ Anne F. Broadbridge, "Academic Rivalry and the Patronage System in Fifteenth-Century Egypt", Mamluk Studies Review,Vol. 3 (1999), Note 4.
  7. ^ Ibn Taghrībirdī, al-Nujūm al-Zāhirah fī Mulūk Misr wa-al-Qahirah (Beirut, 1992.)
  8. ^ Broadbridge, p.87.
  9. ^ Al-Sākhawī, al Daw' al-Lami‘ li-Ahl al-Qarn al-Tasi‘ (Cairo, date not given.)
  10. ^ Ibn Taghrībirdī, quoting al-'Ayni in al-Nujūm al-Zāhirah fī Mulūk Misr wa-al-Qahirah (Beirut, 1992), 4:207.
  11. ^ Al-'Ayni, al-Sayf al-Muhammad, editor's introduction, p. li.
  12. ^ Al-'Ayni, 'Iqd al-Jumān fī Ta'rikh Ahl al-Zamán, ed. 'Abd al-Rāziq al-Tanrāwi al-Qarmūt (Cairo, 1985.)
  13. ^ Ibn Taghrībirdī, al-Manhal al-Sāfi al-Muhammad fī Sirat al-Malik al-Mu'ayyad, ed. Muhammad Muhammad Amin (Cairo, 1984), 1:417.
  14. ^ Ibn Taghrībirdī, al-Manhal al-Sāfi, 4:313-22.
  15. ^ al-Maqrīzī, Kitāb al-Sulúk li-Ma'rifat Duwal al-Mulúk, ed. Sa'id Āshūr (Cairo, 1973), 3:2:740.
  16. ^ a b Ibn Taghribīrdī, al-Nujūm, 15:287.
  17. ^ Broadbridge, pp.89–90, "The Muhtasib Incident".
  18. ^ Broadbridge, p.91.
  19. ^ Ibn Taghribīrdī, History of Egypt 1382–1467, trans. William Popper, University of California (Berkeley, 1958.)
  20. ^ Al-Maqrīzī, Kitāb al-Sulūk, 4:2:698.
  21. ^ Al-Sakhāwi, "al-I'lān bi-al-Tawdīh li Man Damma Ahl al-Tārikh," edited and translated by Franz Rosenthal in A History of Muslim Historiography (Leiden, 1952.)
  22. ^ Ibn Taghribīrdī, al-Nujūm, 15:287; trans. Broadbridge, p. 96.
  23. ^ a b Al-'Ayni, 'Iqd al-Jumān, 2:21.
  24. ^ al-Sakhawi, al-Daw' , 10:134.
  25. ^ Al-'Ayni, 'Iqd al-Jumān, 372.
  26. ^ al-Sakhāwi, al-Daw' , 10:133.
  27. ^ Ibn Taghribīrdī, History of Egypt 1382–1467, trans. Popper, 19:118.

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