He is Muhammad `Abdul Latif ibn Muhammad Musa As-Subki Al-Azhari Al-Masri Al-Hanbali Al-Khalwati. Born in the village of Subuk Ad-Dahhak in the district of Al-Manufiyyah in Egypt, he came from a family of upright people and due to the village he came from, he had the title As-Subki.
Early Life and Learning
After the completion of the Qur’an at a young age, he enrolled in Al-Azhar University and began a process of intensive study for the better part of two decades. Upon completion of his work, he had memorised the six books of hadith (these being the collections of Imams Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and An-Nasa’ii) as well as books of fiqh.
The fiqh manuals included Al-Muqni` by Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah (d. 620 AH) and the summary Zad ul-Mustaqni` by Imam Musa al-Hajjawi (d. 968 AH) and built his fatawa upon Al-Kafi and Al-Mughni, both by Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah Al-Maqdisi (d. 620 AH).
A Momentous Time
The Imam lived in the time when communism came to Egypt and he sacrificed himself to fight against it and also the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood under the leadership of the charismatic Sayyid Qutb.
During the year 1344 AH, he was declared as marja` and also asked to join a panel of some of the most influential scholars of Egypt. These scholars included himself, the Maliki marja` Hassanain Muhammad Makhluf, another Maliki marja` by the name of Muhammad at-Tanikhi, the Shafi`ii marja` `Isa Manun and the Hanafi jurist, Mahmud Shaltut, who was Shaikh ul-Azhar.
Across the border, a war was waging that would precipitate the later foundation of the state of Israel and letters poured in across the Muslim world asking what the ruling on the matter was according to the four madhhabs.
Imam as-Subki was the first one to pronounce on the issue and received citations from the other scholars in support of his work. This was not the end of his tests. The next test came from a close friend of his, Mahmud Shaltut.
Shaikh ul-Azhar for some time, Shaltut had passed numerous rulings stating that the Prophet `Isa, peace be upon him, was dead and would not return, the Punishment of the Grave was not established, usury taken from the banks was valid and that singly narrated ahadith were not part of the creed.
Like the vast majority of Hanafi jurists in the Muslim West from the second to the seventh century AH, Shaikh Shaltut was Mu`tazilah in his theology; but saying this, whenever he was debated with and overwhelmed by an argument, he would change his position.
Imams like As-Subki, Muhammad Sa`id Ramadan Al-Bouti, Muhammad Al-Ahmadi Az-Zawahiri (also a Shaikh ul-Azhar) and countless others spent their precious time debating with the Mu`tazilah Imam so that he might be guided.
The end result was that according to an eye witness account of Imam Muhammad Sa`id Ramadan Al-Bouti, on his death bed, Shaikh Shaltut ordered all previous books of his to be destroyed and affirmed the entire creed of Muslim Orthodoxy. He then died a short time after that.
Later Life and Death
Imam Muhammad `Abdul Latif As-Subki gave rulings above the number of 100 and published more than 10 books on a range of subjects such as communism, feminism, crop destruction, nuclear energy, the Muslim Brotherhood, the flaws inherent in representative government in addition to the texts detailing the link between destruction of marriage, children born out of wedlock and the later incidents of juvenile and adult crime.
He breathed his last in the year 1388 AH and was gathered to his people and buried. The footprint he left still leaves on and the Hanbali veranda he taught at is still inhabited and has instructors teaching there today.