Imam Abu Bakr al-Qaffal ash-Shashi occupies a special place among the estimated geniuses who grew up and earned the highest title “Imam” in the Islamic world as Imam al-Bukhari, Imam at-Termizi, Imam al-Maturidi and others. His contemporaries estimated him with the honorable title “Hazrati Imam” (His Excellency Imam). His full name was Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Ismail al-Qaffal ash-Shashi but in the historical sources written in Arabic, he is honoured by adding the word “al-Kabir” (the Great) to his name. The genius was a famous artisan as he was a well-known master in making locks (padlocks) and keys, and this peculiarity earned him the title “al-Qaffal” meaning “the master of locks and keys”. A famous historian Abu Sa’dAbdulkarim ibn Muhammad Sam’ani wrote in his book “Al-ansab” (A Book about Ancestors) the following about this matter: “Al-Qaffal is a title given to him due to his profession as a master of locks. Imam Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Qaffal ash-Shashi was from Shash and was famous for his skill in making locks and keys. He was a leading figure of his time as an imam and incomparable expert in the fields of law, hadith, style and linguistics. His name was known both in the East and the West”.

In the book written by a historian Shamsuddinaz-Zahabi, Qaffal ash-Shashi was acknowledged as a scientist not only in Maveraunnahr but also in Khorasan: “Among the scholars of Khorasan Imam Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Ismail ash-Shashi ash-Shafi’i was genius and imam in the science of kalam, style and law. He was also known with the title “KattaQaffal” (A great master of locks and keys). He was an imam of his time and created a number of books”.

According to the opinion of Sheikh Muhyiddin an-Navavi, if the name “Qaffal ash-Shashi” is mentioned, we must understand the great Imam we know — Imam Abu Bakr al-Qaffal ash-Shashi (an older Shashi). His name is often mentioned in the works dealing with tafsir, hadith, style and kalam.

If the QaffalMarvazi is mentioned, we must understand another scientist (a little Qaffal), an expert in the law who lived after Qaffal ash-Shashi. We meet his name only in the books about fiqh (law).

To make the long story short we can say that Qaffal ash-Shashi is one of our greatest ancestors who visited several foreign countries with the purpose of receiving knowledge, had consultations with the leading specialists of different branches of science, both religious and secular. Therefore, he was estimated with the honorable title in the Islamic world “Hazrati Imam” — “Hastimam”.

Mufti Ziyavuddin ibn EshanBabakhanhonouredQaffal ash-Shashi in the following lines: “Imam al-Qaffal played an important role for the spread of the religious sciences, the Arabic language, the main principles and rules of Muslim law". Many citations were borrowed in literature by different authors from the works of Imam Qaffal ash-Shashi written in the fields of tafsir, hadith and Muslim law. These scientific acknowledgements denote that Qaffal ash-Shashi was one of the geniuses in the fields of the above-mentioned sciences. A well-known mosque in Tashkent called “Hastimam” is an example of deep respect and honor given to the personality and spirit of the greatest Imam Qaffal ash-Shashi.


✍️Farrux Saydullaev, 

International scientific research centre of

Imam Termizi Head of International Relations

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