A Māturīdite theologian and jurisprudent who flourished in the turn of the thirteenth century, al-Nasafī is best known for his jurisprudential textbooks and a creed that became subject to a number of commentaries by subsequent generations of theologians.
KeywordsLecture Note Nineteenth Century Major Part Strong Influence Systematic Treatise
Born in the city of Nasaf (the present-day Qarshi, or the Persian Nakhshab, in southern Uzbekistan), al-Nasafī was a famous jurisprudent and theologian who was active during the latter half of the thirteenth century. Apart from systematic treatises in jurisprudence (fiqh) and theology (kalām), he is also known to have written a volume of Qur’ānic exegesis (tafsīr). Al-Nasafī made the major part of his teaching career in Kirmān but came to Baghdad toward the end of his life and died there in 1310.
In theology, al-Nasafī is commonly characterized as a Māturīdite. He is best known as the author of a creed titled al-‘Umda fī al-‘aqā’id li ahl al-sunna and a commentary on the same creed titled al-I‘timād fī al-i‘tiqād. Both of these works bear a strong influence of Abū al-Mu‘īn al-Nasafī’s (d. 1114) Tabṣira al-adilla. As most Māturīdite theologians, al-Nasafī belonged to the Ḥanafite school of jurisprudence. His jurisprudential masterpiece is said to be the Kitāb al-manār fī uṣūl al-fiqh, which he appended with his own commentary titled Kashf al-asrār. Other famous jurisprudential works are an extremely concise treatise titled Kanz al-daqā’iq, a compendium of rulings that seems to have been directly based on his teaching activity in Kirmān and a book titled al-Wāfī, which developed from a commentary on Burhān al-Dīn al-Marghinānī’s (d. 1197) celebrated work Hidāya and to which al-Nasafī later appended a commentary titled al-Kāfī, also originating from lecture notes. Apart from these original compositions, al-Nasafī wrote commentaries on jurisprudential and theological works, including texts by Najm al-Dīn Abū Ḥafs al-Nasafī (d. 1142) and Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Samarqandī. His commentary on the Qur’ān is known as Madārik al-tanzīl wa ḥaqā’iq al-ta’wīl.
Although not a strikingly original thinker, al-Nasafī remains a considerable authority in jurisprudence. His jurisprudential works as well as his creed have been the subject of commentaries by a number of jurisprudents and theologians at least down to the eighteenth century, and the Kanz al-daqā’iq is known to have been used as a textbook in al-Azhar in the nineteenth century.
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