Ibn Asroon (1099–1189): Saladin’s Kurdish judge of Damascus, poet

By Yasin Aziz: 

Ibn Khalikan

Ibn Khalikan

Ibn Asroon was Saladin’s Kurdish judge of Damascus. He studied jurisprudence, poetry and prose; he was an able poet, essayist and writer.  In his youth he studied under the guidance of many noted scholars including Murtada Sharazouri a Kurdish scholar, Saruji, Ibn Abbas Mzrati and Ibn Asad Al Mahani, a Kurdish scholar in Baghdad. He went to Wasit, a town south of Baghdad where Abu Ali Fariqi  was a Kurdish Judge of the town and a poet.

Ibn Asroon became a tutor in Mousil in 1154 AD during the time of the Zanjid dynasty and then he went to Aleppo. He wrote books on jurisprudence including one about the Shafaite sect, covering the foundation of Islamic law. He went to Damascus and became the Judge of Damascus when Kamal al Din Sharzouri left the post in 1174AD.   A few well- known writers of Damascus wrote about him, including Emad al Din Esphahani and Abu Tahir Askandarni who wrote a history of the city. Ibn Asroon was also a poet and here are a few examples of his work:

I aspire for the long life,

It looks as if the hours are going towards the final stroke so fast

When they pass, they are showing me the bench where my coffin is

Am I waiting to pass the sad hours of my misery?

Until I spend all the hours of my being alive?

In another poem, he says:

For Love

I always hope to see my love, although I have no doubt

I have to leave so early in a hurry on the horse of my honour.

Our life will end when the time comes at last.

We will not feel the bitter taste of losing each other.

You ask me how I am since last time we met.

God will protect you from my heart’s desire; I sensed when I left

Tears of sadness have been streaming down always everyday of life.

For my eyes have never been acquainted with sleep until I meet you again.

In the following poem, he says:

The times passed, they never turn back,

There are times that we can never wait for anymore

Life is the days and time resulted in the adding of the two:

The first keeps decreasing and the other is adding up life’s hours to finish.

Ibn Asroon was a judge for several years in Sultan Saladin’s era. In the last 10 years of his life, he went blind from cataracts but, on the orders of the Sultan, he kept his post until he died in 1189 AD.

From Ibn Khalikan, ‘Wafayati al Ayian w Anba al Zaman’  volume 1 page 32–36

Yasin Mahmoud Aziz is from Halabja and lives in the UK.  He is the author of ‘Dum Dum Castle’ and two books in Kurdish and he is planning several more books. ‘A Few Days Life of Revolution in Halabja’ is due to be published later this year. Email: yasin2111@hotmail.com

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