ABU’L-ṬAYYEB ṬĀHER B. ʿABDALLĀH B. ṬĀHER ṬABARĪ ĀMOLĪ, jurisconsult, judge (qāżī), and professor of legal sciences; he was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the leading Shafeʿites of 5th/11th century Baghdad. Born in Āmol in Ṭabarestān in 348/959-60, Ṭabarī began his studies at age fourteen, somewhat late by the standards of the time. In 371/981 he went to Gorgān and then to Nīšāpūr to study, but finally settled in Baghdad, where he became a student of the famous traditionist Dāraqoṭnī (d. 385/995) and Abū Ḥāmed Esfarāyīnī (d. 406/1015), among others. In 436/1044-45 Ṭabarī was appointed qāżī in Baghdad, occupying the important post in Karḵ left vacant by the death of Ṣaymarī. Ṭabarī’s position in the intellectual tradition of the century has been clearly established by G. Makdisi: The Shafeʿite leadership began with Abū Ḥāmed, was then assumed by Ṭabarī, and continued under two of Ṭabarī’s students, the biographer and faqīh Abū Esḥāq Šīrāzī (d. 476/1083) and Abū Naṣr b. al-Ṣabbāḡ (d. 477/1084), who were rivals during the establishment of the Madrasa Neẓāmīya in 459/1066-67. Other important students of his were the great historian and biographer, Ḵaṭīb Baḡdādī and Ebn ʿAqīl.

In addition to his qualities as a jurist, Ṭabarī had another side to his character which did not fail to delight his biographers. His affability and sense of humor are reflected in numerous anecdotes reported by them, and he is even said to have given a fatwā in verse. The sources also record a long exchange of verses between Ṭabarī and Abu’l-ʿAlāʾ Maʿarrī on the occasion of the poet’s visit to Baghdad (longest extract in Ebn Ḵallekān [Beirut], II, p. 512). Ṭabarī died in 450/1058 at the age of 102, still productive and said to be in full possession of his mental and physical powers, continuing to take part in the solemn processions of the dīvān in the Dār al-Ḵelāfa.

Ṭabarī was the author of a number of works on legal subjects, two of which survive. These are the Šarḥ moḵtaṣar al-mozanī and Rawżat al-montahā fī mawled al-emām al-Šāfeʿī, a work that was used by Sobkī for its list of Shafeʿite disciples. Long extracts of his taʿlīqa, or his opinions on problems in feqh, are reproduced by Sobkī and constitute a valuable source for his doctrine. The fame of his works among Iraqi Shafeʿite authors is reflected in the fact that they often refer to him simply as “the Qāżī.”


ʿAbbādī, Ketāb ṭabaqāt al-foqahāʾ al-šāfeʿīya, ed. Vitestam, Leiden, 1964, p. 114.

Ebn al-ʿEmād, Šaḏarāt al-ḏahab, Cairo, 1350/1931, III, pp. 283-85.

Abū Esḥāq Šīrāzī, Ṭabaqāt al-foqahāʾ, Baghdad, 1356/1937, pp. 106-07.

Sobkī, Ṭabaqāt1 III, pp. 176-97.

G. Makdisi, Ibn ʿAqīl et la résurgence de l’Islam traditionaliste au XIe siècle, Damascus, 1963, pp. 202-04 and index.

Idem, “Muslim Institutions of Learning in Eleventh Century Baghdad,” BSOAS 22, 1961, pp. 1-56. Sezgin, GAS I, p. 502.

(J. Wakin)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 4, p. 390

Cite this entry:

J. Wakin, “ABU’L-TAYYEB ṬABARĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/4, p. 390; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-tayyeb-tabari (accessed on 2 February 2014).