Great Islamic Scholars and Some of Their Views

Great Islamic Scholars and
Some of Their Views
Heading the list of references on the Ahl al-Sunnah
are the Islamic scholars who authored the six great
hadith books collected together and known as the
al-Kutub as-Sitta (Six Books).
Imam al-Bukhari
Born in Bukhara in 194 AH he was raised by his
mother following the death of his father Ismail ibn
Ibrahim; he too had been a great religious scholar of
the time. He began studying the hadiths at the age
of seven and at ten years of age, he had memorized
a staggering 70,000 hadiths. He received instruction
from well-known scholars in Makkah, Madinah,
Nishapur and Basra; it is for this reason that his
name began to become known beyond his
hometown. Many famous Islamic scholars, including
Muslim, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Sa‘id, have
regarded his works as an absolutely trustworthy
reference and made use of his ideas in their own
studies and their own writings. He has been
regarded by all as the greatest expert on hadiths
who has ever lived.
Imam al-Bukhari studied over 600,000 traditions;
only 7,275 of these were examined as part of his
own work. This work, the result of sixteen years of
intellectual labor, is regarded as the most reliable
collection of hadiths in the history of Islam. Titled al-
Jami‘ al-Sahih, it was later abridged by Imam az-
Zubaidi under al-Tajrid al-Sarih (Summarized Sahih
al-Bukhari), which contains more than 2,000 hadiths.
Imam al-Bukhari died in 256 AH, leaving behind a
work that would act as a guide for Muslims for many
centuries to come. His place in the honored tradition
of the Islamic scholars is engraved in stone and his
mighty efforts can never be erased.
Imam Muslim
Imam Muslim was born in Nishapur in 204 AH, and
began studying the hadiths in his early teens. Like all
great scholars, he was not afraid to set out on
voluminous journeys to seek knowledge and
wisdom; he carried out profound inquiries into the
subject by visiting Iraq, Hijaz, Egypt, and Damascus.
He benefited from sources of hadiths and other
related works on the tradition of Allah’s Final
Messenger (saas). Wherever he went, his efforts
increased him in knowledge and he openly stated
that he was most influenced by the work of Imam al-
Bukhari.
In his works on the subject of the hadiths, Imam
Muslim employed his skills by relaying the sayings
and actions of the Prophet (saas) exactly as they
had been narrated, not altering a single letter in
case this led to misunderstandings amongst the
believers. He collected an impressive 300,000
authentic hadiths and retained only 3,030 of them in
his famous collection (Jami‘) known as Sahih Muslim.
This book is now regarded as the second most
trustworthy collection of hadiths after the Sahih al-
Bukhari. His Sahih has served the Islamic world for
hundreds of years as the second volume of the al-
Kutub as-Sitta.
His teacher Abdul Wahhab al-Farra’ is reported as
saying this about him:
“Muslim is a scholar of the people and a repertory of
knowledge. I know nothing about him that is not
good.”
Imam al-Tirmidhi
Imam al-Tirmidhi was born in 209 AH in Termez
(Tirmidh), in Transoxiana. Despite receiving
instruction in Khorasan, Iraq, and Hijaz, his main
education took place in Bukhara; this was also the
birthplace of Imam al-Bukhari. Indeed, he received
instruction in the hadiths from al-Bukhari and
Muslim.
Al-Tirmidhi did not restrict himself to collecting
traditions, but also contributed to the development
of the knowledge of Hadith. His Sunan al-Tirmidhi
contains 3,962 hadiths. This book is regarded as
another of the most reliable works on the subject.
The greatest difference between the Sunan al-
Tirmidhi and other hadith collections is its orderly
arrangement of subjects. Every topic, great or small,
is considered separately in such a way that no
confusion can arise between them. His ability to
collate works and then organize them in a manner
which makes the search for knowledge easier for the
Muslim reader is one of his greatest qualities. Al-
Tirmidhi also wrote the first book about the life of
the Companions.
Abu Dawud
Abu Dawud was born in 202 AH. Like al-Bukhari and
Muslim, he traveled to almost all of the Islamic lands
of his time and was taught by more than fifty
scholars. He made use of the works of al-Bukhari
and Muslim. When he completed his own works,
other people researching the hadiths made use of
the works of Abu Dawud. He was appreciated by the
Islamic ulama on many matters and pointed out as a
scholar acting with his knowledge.
From a total of 500,000 hadiths, he included 4,800 in
his work known as the Sunan Abu Dawud. In
selecting hadiths, he gave pride of place to those
concerning rulings and matters of legality. His works
have also received widespread acceptance among
researchers from different schools.
Imam al-Nasa’i
Imam al-Nasa’i was born in Khorasan in 225 AH. He
traveled through the centers of Islamic learning and
received instruction on hadiths from a great many
scholars. His works have survived down to the
present day and are still used as reference books all
over the world by Muslims and non-Muslim studiers
of the Islamic traditions.
On his arrival in Damascus from Egypt he was
subjected to pressure from the Umayyad
administration and was martyred as the result of this
horrid torture. His tomb is said to lie between the
hills of Safa and Marwah, although this is not an
established fact by any means.
His work al-Mujtaba is considered a more delicate
and intricate collection than others on the subject of
the hadiths; it is the third volume in the al-Kutub as-
Sitta.
Ibn Majah
Ibn Majah was born in Qazwin in 209 AH. Like other
scholars of hadith, he traveled to Khorasan, Basra,
Makkah, Damascus and Egypt in order to reach a
high standard in the science of hadith studies. As
well as the Sunan Ibn Majah, he also wrote other
texts on history and tafsir. His most well-known book
is regarded as the sixth volume in the al-Kutub as-
Sitta. Some scholars, however, regard Imam Malik’s
al-Muwatta’ as the sixth volume.
Of the 4,341 hadiths in the Sunan ibn Majah, 1,339
are used only by Imam Maja in his own work and by
nobody else in their respective works.
Imam al-Ghazali
Hujjat al-Islam Abu Hamed Muhammad ibn
Muhammad al-Ghazali is one of the greatest figures
in fiqh and tasawwuf in the entire history of Islam.
He was born in Tus, modern-day Iran, in 450 AH
(1058 CE). Although his father was not well-off, great
pains were taken by his noble parents to make sure
he was provided with a good upbringing.
Having completed his studies in Tus, al-Ghazali
moved to Gurgan to continue his education. The
shaking of political authority in Anatolia also
affected al-Ghazali. As a result, he migrated to
Nishapur, becoming the student of the famous
scholar Abu al Ma‘ali al-Juwayni. Following the death
of his teacher, he was appointed by Nizam al-Mulk
Tusi as chief professor in the Nizamiyya madrassah.
Within a short space of time, al-Ghazali was able to
make his voice heard among the people, and the
number of his students began rising with every
passing day.
He left the madrassah as the result of an illness he
suffered in 488 AH, and spent the next decade away
from the public gaze. Immediately after this period
he returned to his students in Baghdad and began
teaching them from his own work, Ihya’ al-‘Ulum al-
Din. When the unity of the Muslims in Anatolia
wavered, he was recalled to Tus by the Seljuk vizier.
Under the patronage of Sultan Sanjar, all available
opportunities were placed at his disposal over the
next twelve years. He continued to occupy himself
with learning and preaching until the last day of his
life in 505 AH (1111 CE).
Imam al-Ghazali’s ideas represented a turning point
in the history of Islamic thought. In the late years of
his life, he waged a struggle against those ideas
which were intrinsically opposed to those of the Ahl
al-Sunnah and he eliminated several tendencies
which he strongly believed would lead Muslims onto
the wrong road.
Al-Ghazali wrote in one of his books:
“As we have said on the subject of the title of
Muslim, there is an example and a sign in the
essence of marafat (cognizance), and this is
understood by those possessing it. Nobody apart
from those who have no dealings with this world,
who do not actively occupy themselves with it and
who spend their lives seeking and desiring nothing
but Allah can seek this truth. This is a long and
difficult endeavor. Let us therefore indicate that
which is the food of all. This is the creed of the Ahl
al-Sunnah. For those who hold this belief in their
hearts, it will be the seed of bliss and
salvation.”

posted by Team Napres

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