Shaykh Muhammad ‘Alī Sabouni was born in the city of Aleppo in Syria in 1930. His father was one of the senior scholars of Aleppo. He received much of his initial and formal education in Arabic, inheritance and sciences of religion from his father, Shaykh Jameel. He memorised the Qur-aan in the primary schools and completed his higher secondary school while still young. Shaykh Sabouni studied under some of the leading scholars of the city. He follows the Hanafiyy school of thought and is well known for his Tafseer (commentary of Qur-aan).
Some of his most illustrious teachers were:
• Shaykh Muhammad Najeeb Siraajud-deen
• Shaykh Ahmad al-Shamaa’
• Shaykh Muhammad Sa‘eed al-Idlibee
• Shaykh Muhammad Raaghib al-Tabbaakh
• Shaykh Muhammad Najeeb Khayaatah
In addition he attended other lessons with other ‘Ulama’ in various masaajid. He continued his formal education in the government schools. After obtaining his primary school certificate he enrolled at the Madrasah Tijariyyah where he studied for one year. He was disappointed because the curriculum encouraged the (ribaa) interest based system.
Shaykh Sabouni left and instead he joined the famous Khasrawiyya school of Shari‘ah in Aleppo. Here he combined Islamic Studies and studies in the secular subjects. In 1949 he graduated with excellent results and the Ministry of Awqaaf (Endowments) sent him to further his studies at the famous al-Azhar University in Egypt. He graduated from the Faculty of Shari‘ah in 1952 and he completed his takhassus (specialisation) course two years later.
The honourable Shaykh returned to Aleppo where he taught Islamic education in various secondary schools for about eight years from 1955 to 1962, in the city.
It was at the Faculty of Shari‘ah at the Umm ul-Quraa’ University and at the Faculty of Education of the King ‘Abdul Azīz University both in Makkah, where he taught for an astounding 28 years. Many prominent scholars graduated under his guidance. Due to his academic work and his writing the University assigned some additional tasks to him. These included editing some classical for the Centre for Academic Research and Reviving the Islamic Heritage.
He edited Ma‘ani al-Qur-aan, the ancient tafseer by Imām Abū Jā‘far al-Nahhās (d. 949 CE/ 338AH).
This book was published in 6 volumes, a landmark achievement for Sabouni, for verifying the only surviving manuscript of the text.
Sahykh Sabouni worked as an advisor with the Muslim World League in the Council for Scientific Research in the Qur-aan and the Sunnah. He remained there for a few years after which he devoted himself entirely to writing and to research.
In 2007, the Organising Committee for the Dubai International Qur-aan Award chose Shaykh Muhammad‘Alī as- Sabouni as the personality of the Muslim World for his contribution to Islam. He was selected from a large list of other nominees and was approved by Prince Muhammad ibn Raashid Aal-Maktoom, Deputy of the Head of State of Dubai.
Shaykh Sabouni has written numerous books which has received world wide acclaim. His most popular works being Safwat-ut-Tafaaseer and Tafseer Aayat-al Ahkaam. Shaykh’s short and easy to understand style of tafseer has become renowned after the likes of Tafseers of Jalaalayn, Baydaawi, Ibn Katheer and Ibn Jozayy.
The honourable Shaykh even conducted some lessons in the Karaam of Makkah as well as a weekly lesson in one of the mosques of Jeddah in Tafseer. Shaykh Sabouni also recorded about 600 programmes for television broadcast.
1. The Muslim 500