His full name is Ahmad ibn Muhammad, Abu ’l-Muntaha Shihab al-Din. He was born in Magnisia (Maghnisa), a town in present-day western Turkey (Al-A’lam 1:234). Very little is known about the life of this great scholar. His date of birth, among other aspects of his life, also seems to be unknown. It is likely that he was born in the very early part of the eleventh century, given that his death was either in 1090/1679 (Mu’jam al-Mu’allifin 2:159; Kashf al-Zunun 5:162) or in 1000/1592 (Al-A’lam 1:234). It is clear however, that he lived around the turn of the first millennium.
Some sources state that he completed his commentary of Al-Fiqh al-Akbar in 989 ah or a year earlier. If this is the case, then it is most likely that the opinion of the Ottoman biographer Muhammad Tahir Barusehli that his death was in 1000 ah is more accurate, and, accordingly, he was born in the early tenth century. This means a difference of ninety years between the two dates of death, and a period of a hundred and one years between the completion of the commentary and his death date given by the others. Zirikli prefers the opinion of Barusehli and disregards that of Haji Khalifa (Al-A’lam 1:234).
‘Allama Maghnisawi was an accomplished jurist of the Hanafi school and a master in the science of Qur’an Recitation (muqri’). Aside from his commentary on Al-Fiqh al-Akbar, he authored many books, including Izhar al-Ma’ani fi Sharh Hazr al-Amani (The Explanation of the Meanings: An Exposition of the Assessment of Aspirations), a commentary of Shatabi’s Qasida in qira’a (Qur’anic recitation) in Turkish, and the Qasida Nuniyya on Islamic theology (Osmanli Müellifleri 228). With the exception of his commentary on Shatabi’s Qasida, all his other works were in Arabic.