Muhammad ibn Muhammad at-Tarabulsi al-Hattab al-Ru'yani
1497 CE (902 AH)
Mecca, Mamluk Sultanate
1547 CE (954 AH)
Tajura, Tripoli, Ottoman Empire
|Era||(Beginning of Ottoman Caliphate era)|
|Region||Mecca and Tripoli (modern day Libya)|
|Notable work(s)||Mawahib al-Jalil|
Muhammad Abu 'Abd Allah ibn Muhammad at-Tarabulsi al-Hattab al-Ru'yani (May 21, 1497 – 1547 CE) (902 AH – 954 AH) (Arabic: محمد أبو عبدالله بن محمد الحطاب الرعيني), more commonly referred to in Islamic scholarship as al-Hattab or Imam al-Hattab, was a 16th-century CE Muslim jurist from Tripoli, the capital of modern day Libya. Al-Hattab was a scholar of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). His book Mawahib al-Jalil, which was one of first major commentaries on Khalil's Mukhtassar (Concise Text), is considered as one of the best and most thorough commentaries in the Maliki school of law.
Al-Hattab was born in Mecca on the 18th of Ramadan (the Muslim holy month of fasting) in 902 AH (May 21, 1497 CE). His lineage was from the Andalusian Ru'yani family, which immigrated from Andalusia to Tripolitania and was known for its scholars. His father of the same name Muhammad al-Hattab emigrated to Mecca with his entire family during the weakening of the Hafsid dynasty's rule in Tripoli before the conquest of North Africa by Habsburg Spain. Al-Hattab is sometimes referred to as al-Hattab al-Saghir (Al-Hattab the Younger) to differentiate him from his father, and was the oldest of his three children. He is also sometimes known as Hattab al-Abb (Hattab the Father), whilst his father is Hattab al-Jadd (Hattab the Grandfather), and his most famous son Yahya who was also a scholar is known as Hattab al-Ibn (Hattab the Son).
Al-Hattab initially studied under his father, who held a religious title in Mecca. He learned the Quran from a young age. He also studied hadith under the direct students of some of the most important scholars in Islamic history such as al-Suyuti, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and al-Sakhawi. Muhammad studied most of the other Islamic sciences from his father however, who was himself a respected scholar in his own right and a student of Al-Sakhawi. Al-Hattab took his fiqh (jurisprudence) in particular from his father, a field in which he was to later excel and become famous. He studied many texts under his tutelage including the Muwatta of Imam Malik, the Mudawwana of Sahnun, the Risala of Ibn Abi Zayd, the Tamhid of Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, the Muqaddimaat of Ibn Rushd, the Dhakira of al-Qarafi, the Sharh al-'Umda of al-Fakihani, the Mukhtassar of Khalil as well as many other prime texts of the Maliki school.
Al-Hattab later began a period of travel through the Islamic world both East and West. He spent a period of time studying in Egypt in particular but later moved back to Tripoli with his father. When he returned to Tripoli, his study circles became so popular that many Sufis in the city preferred to attend his lessons over their sessions of remembrance (dhikr). He spent much of his time taking care of his father during this period of his life. Al-Hattab died at a relatively young age, and there are different accounts as to where he actually died, whether in Mecca or in Tripoli.
His intellectual legacy is best embodied in his works of Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh). His Mawahib al-Jalil in particular is one of the important texts in Maliki fiqh and is widely regarded as the best commentary on the Concise Text of Khalil. Another of his famous works is Qurrat al-'Ayn, which is a short text that expounds on the Waraqat of Imam al-Juwayni, a key text in Usul (Islamic Legal Methodology).
- Nasir ud-Deen Muhammad al-Sharif, Al-Jawahir al-Ikliliya fi A'yaan 'Ulama Libya min al-Malikiyya (Amman: Dar al-Bayareeq, 1999), 144.
- Ahmed Mustafa al-Tahtawi, ed., Imam al-Hattab, Qurrat al-'Ayn li Sharh Waraqaat Imam al-Haramayn, (Cairo: Dar al-Fadhila, 2007), 9.
- Tahtawi, Qurrat al-'Ayn, 10.
- [Al Qawl al Wadhih fi Bayan al Jawarih, 22]