'Ali b. Muhammad al-Hilli
|Full Name||Ali b. Muhammad b. Ali al-Hilli|
|Well-Known As||Ibn Sakun|
|Religious Affiliation||Twelver Shi'a|
|Place of Birth||Hillah|
|Residence||Hillah, Baghdad, Medina|
|Studied in||Hillah, Baghdad|
|Scriber of Emir of Medina|
ʿAlī b. Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Ḥillī (Arabic: علي بن محمد بن علي الحلي), (b. around 530/1135-36 – d. around 600/1203-4) known as Ibn Sakūn, was a Shi'ite faqih, Muhaddith (hadith scholar), and scriber. He was not only an expert in nahw (Arabic syntax), lughat, literature and bilaghat (rhetoric), but also he mastered Shi'ite fiqh; he later even taught fiqh. Ibn Sakun wrote corrections on al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, al-Misbah al-kabir and al-Misbah al-saghir written by al-Shaykh al-Tusi and al-Amali written by al-Shaykh al-Saduq. It is narrated that Ibn Sakun also compose poems.
Although the majority of Shi'ite scholars believe 'Ali b. Muhammad was a Shi'ite Muslim, there are disagreements on his religion as well.
Lineage and Birthplace
'Ali b. Muhammad was called Ibn Sakun as his ancestor was called Sakun (or Sukun). A number of recent sources have mentioned this name as al-Sakuni as well. His father was a notable scholar and a hadith narrator of his time. 'Ali b. Muhammad spent his childhood and adolescence in Hillah where his ancestors lived for generations. His kunya was Abu l-Hasan.
Probably Ibn Sakun learn elementary knowledge in his childhood and adolescence from his father. He moved to Baghdad in his young ages to continue education where he lived and learned nahw (Arabic syntax) from Ibn Khashab and lughat from Ibn 'Assar. 'Ali b. Muhammad was admired for his expertise in literature and his talent in memorizing vocabularies.
In that time, Ibn Sakun learned nahw, lughat, literature and rhetoric as well as Shi'ite fiqh. As he mastered those knowledge he started teaching them later. The exceptional handwritten works left from 'Ali b. Muhammad are most probably written when he was staying in Baghdad.
His Relationship with Government
Although Ibn Sakun had a successful scientific life, he left Baghdad and moved to Medina where he was appointed as scriber (katib) in the court of Emir of Medina. After some time he left Medina and moved to Syria (Levant) where he served in the court of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi.
Yaqut al-Hamawi, the scholar in the time of 'Ali b. Muhammad, accused him of being a follower of Nusayriyya. Although Ibn Najjar regarded 'Ali b. Muhammad a religious man who practiced vigil and worshiped God, he agreed with Yaqut al-Hamawi. Accordion to a number of scholars, followers of Nusayriyya are regarded infidels. However Shi'ite rijal experts brought evidences to reject this idea.
Ibn Sakun also composed poems; his talent in composing poem is obvious regarding the poems of him stated in available sources. Yaqut stated that Ibn Sakun wrote pleasant poems, but he did not mention any poem of him. However Ibn Najjar brought some of Ibn Sakun's poems in his work. All Together, only thirty verses of Ibn Sakun's poems are stated in sources. Twenty five of them are narrated by Ibn Najjar and two verses which are in praise of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) are stated by the author of A'yan al-Shi'a narrated from al-Tali'a fi shu'ara al-Shi'a, written by al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Samawi.
Yaqut al-Hamawi has narrated from a poet in the time of Ibn Sakun that, he has written books, but no book or risala from him are stated in the sources of his time. It is said, the works left from him are actually correction of others' books and the author was not himself.
Here are the manuscripts attributed to Ibn Sakun:
- Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, which is very different from the famous and common version of this book.
- Al-Misbah al-saghir, written by al-Shaykh al-Tusi.
- Al-Amali, written by al-Shaykh al-Saduq; an exquisite version of this book handwritten by Ibn Sakun himself finished in 563/1167-68 was kept in the library of al-Muhaddith al-Qummi.
Last Years of His Life
There are no information on the biography of last years of Ibn Sakun especially about his life after the death of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi. A number of recent researchers concluded from the content of Ibn Sakun's biography that he lived poorly and homelessly and without a family all his life.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from علی بن محمد حلی in Farsi Wikishia.