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Figure 1A: Dhul Kifl Masjid in Al-Kifl, Iraq. This entire complex is said to have on it the tomb of the Prophet Dhul Kifl.

The Poet Preacher [1]

He is the Insightful Linguist, the Zahid Jamal ud-Din, the Poet of the Age, Possessor of the Most Sublime Poetry in Praise of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the Blind Faqih as well as the fact that he was the Perfected Man of his Age.

Titled as Jamal ud-Din Abu Zakariyyah, he is Yahya ibn Yusuf ibn Yahya ibn Mansur ibn Al-Mu`ammar ibn `Abdus-Salam Al-Ansari As-Sarsari Az-Zarirani. Born in the year 588 AH in Baghdad, he recited the Qur’an to many teachers. He started with the students of Ibn `Asakir Al-Battaihi.

Imam As-Sarsari also listened to hadith from Shaikh `Ali ibn Idris Al-Ya`qubi the Zahid and learned a great deal. He was also a long time student of Shaikh `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani, accompanied him and travelled with him and became a successor. He took the oath and the khirqah from him.

Shaikh `Abdul Mughith Al-Harbi and others also gave Imam As-Sarsari permission to teach fiqh. When As-Sarsari completed with him, he also memorised the fiqh and the Arabic grammar and syntax.

Possessing great intelligence and composing poetry at a nearly daily rate, it is said that his poetry in praise of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, exceeds some 20 leather bound volumes or more.

Upon completion of Imam Al-Khiraqi’s Al-Mukhtasar, he then created a poetic rhyming text to summarise the text and also provide a few words of commentary. Imam As-Sarsari also created another metre known as Zawa’id ul-Kafi, which gave further details on fiqhi issues.

Besides this, he wrote metred poetry concerning the Arabic language and the other sciences as well. He was known for his grand piety, his immense exertion in deriving rulings and personal righteousness along with his constant recitation of the Qur’an.

Chaste, patient and forbearing, he loved to take the pathways of the indigent and he mixed with and befriended the downtrodden. He would often have gatherings and narrated texts with them and he also gave them dispensations in that regard.

Strong on the Sunnah and an opponent to those who opposed it, his poetry was replete with references to the foundations of the Sunnah, praise of its’ people, condemnation of its’ opposers. A long metre of poetry entitled, Lamiyyah, was compiled by the Imam with the subject being praise of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and his companions.

We have already made mention of some of the metre when giving biographies of the scholars of the school who mentioned it in their own words. One night, Imam Yahya As-Sarsari saw the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in a dream and was given the glad tidings of death upon the Sunnah.

Upon awakening from that dream, the Imam wrote a metre that was very long about theology and began by narrating that dream.

His students include Al-Hafiz Ad-Dumyati, who mentioned taking from him in his Digest, `Ali ibn Husain Al-Fakhri and others. Ijazah was given to Al-Qadi Sulaiman ibn Hamzah, Ahmad ibn `Ali Al-Jazari and Fatimah bint Al-Kamal in his knowledge.

During the time of Hulughu Khan and his unbelieving army’s entrance into Baghdad, the Shaikh was present therein. When some of his army entered his habitation, he fought and killed them. It is said that the amount of people the Imam killed were 8 in number. After that, he was killed, may Allah be pleased with him, as martyr and this was in the year 656 AH at the fortress of the Shaikh `Ali Al-Khabbaz at Al-`Aqabah.

During his funeral, the Imam was carried to his final resting place in Sarsar and interred. I had the opportunity to visit his grave when I was headed to Al-Hijaz once in the year 749 AH. Including among those killed in that year on that day from our pious companions was the Shaikh, the Zahid, the worshipper, Abul Hasan.

[1] The following biography narrated by Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali in his Adh-Dhail `ala Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, vol.4, pp. 212-213.