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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Biography of Imam Ibn Kathir - The Author of Tafsir Ibn Kathir.

He is the respected Imam, Abu al-Fida', `Imaduddin Ismail bin 'Umar bin Kathir al-Qurashi al-Busrawi - Busraian in origin; Dimashq in training, learning and residence. Ibn Kathir was born in the city of Busra in 701 H. His father was the Friday speaker of the village, but he died while Ibn Kathir was only four years old. Ibn Kathir's brother, Shaykh Abdul Wahhab, reared him and taught him until he moved to Damascus in 706 H. , when he was five years old.

Ibn Kathir's Teachers
Ibn Kathir studied Fiqh - Islamic jurisprudence - with Burhanuddin, Ibrahim bin Abdurrahman al-Fizari, known as Ibn al-Firkah (who died in 729 H). Ibn Kathir heard Hadiths from Isa bin al-Mutim, Ahmad bin Abi Talib, (Ibn ash-Shahnah) (who died in 730 H), Ibn al-Hajjar, (who died in 730 H), and the Hadith narrator of ash-Sham (modern day Syria and surrounding areas); Bahauddin al-Qasim bin Muzaffar bin Asakir (who died in 723 H), and Ibn ash-Shirzi, Ishaq bin Yahya al-Ammuddi, also known as Afifuddin, the Zahiriyyah Shaykh who died in 725 H, and Muhammad bin Zarrad. He remained with Jamaluddin, Yusuf bin az-Zaki al-Mizzi who died in 724 H, he benefited from his knowledge and also married his daughter. He also read with Shaykh al-Islam Taqiuddin Ahmad bin Abdul Halim bin Abdussalam bin Taimiyyah who died in 728 H. He also read with the Imam Hafiz and historian Shamsuddin, Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Uthman bin Qaimaz adh-Dhahabi, who died in 748 H. Also, Abu Musa al-Qarafai, Abu al-Fath ad-Dabbusi and Ali bin Umar as-Suwani and others who gave him permission to transmit the knowledge he learned with them in Egypt.

In his book, al-Mu'jam al-Mukhtas, al-Hafiz adh-Dhaliabi wrote that Ibn Kathir was, "The Imam, scholar of jurisprudence, skillful scholar of Hadith, renowned Fagih and scholar of Tafsir who wrote several
beneficial books." Further, in ad-Durar Al-Kdminah, al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said, "Ibn Kathir worked on the subject of the Hadith in the areas of texts and chains of narrators. He had a good memory, his books became popular during his life time, and people benefited from them after his death." Also, the renowned historian Abu al-Mahasin, Jamaluddin Yusuf bin Saifuddin (Ibn Taghri Bardi), said in his book, al-Manhal as-Safi, "He is the Shaykh, the Imam, the great scholar Imaduddin Abu Al-Fida'.

He learned extensively and was very active in collecting knowledge and writing. He was excellent in the areas of Fiqh, Tafsir and Hadith. He collected knowledge, authored (books), taught , narrated Hadith
and wrote. He had immense knowledge in the fields of Hadith, Tafsir, Fiqh, the Arabic language, and so forth. He gave Fatawa (religious verdicts) and taught until he died, may Allah grant him mercy. He was known for his precision and vast knowledge, and as a scholar of history, Hadith and Tafsir."

Ibn Kathir's Students
Ibn Hajji was one of Ibn Kathir's students, and he described Ibn Kathir, "He had the best memory of the Hadith texts. He also had the most knowledge concerning the narrators and authent icity, his contemporaries and teachers admitted to these qualities. Every time I met him I gained some benefit from him."

Also, Ibn al-Imad al-Hanbali said in his book, Shadharat adh-Dhahab, "He is the renowned Hafiz Imaduddin, whose memory was excellent, whose forget fulness was miniscule, whose understanding was adequate, and who had good knowledge in the Arabic language."

Also, Ibn Habib said about Ibn Kathir, "He heard knowledge and collected it and wrote various books. He brought comfort to the ears with his Fatwas and narrated Hadith and brought benefit to other people. The papers that contained his Fatwas were transmitted to the various (Islamic) provinces. Further, he was known for his precision and encompassing knowledge."

Ibn Kathir's Books
1 - One of the greatest books that Ibn Kathir wrote was his Tafsir of the Noble Quran, which is one of the best Tafsir that rely on narrations [of Ahadith, the Tafsir of the Companions, etc.]. The Tafsir by Ibn Kathir was printed many times and several scholars have summarized it.
2- The History Collection known as al-Bidayah, which was printed in 14 volumes under the name al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, and contained the stories of the Prophets and previous nations, the Prophet's Seerah (life story) and Islamic history until his time. He also added a book al-Fitan, about the Signs of the Last Hour.
3- at-Takmil fi Ma'rifat ath-Thiqat wa ad-Du'afa wal-Majahil which Ibn Kathir collected from the books of his two Shaykhs al-Mizzi and adh-Dhahabi; al-Kamal and Mizan al-I'tidal. He added several benefits regarding the subject of al-Jarh and at-Ta'dil.
4- al-Hadi was-Sunan fi Ahadith al-Masanid was-Sunan which is also known by, Jami` al-Masanid. In this book, Ibn Kathir collected the narrations of Imams Ahmad bin Hanbal, Al-Bazzar, Abu Ya`la al-Mawsili, Ibn Abi Shaybah and from the six collections of Hadith : the Two Sahihs [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] and the Four Sunan [Abu Dawud, at-Tirmizi, an-Nasai and Ibn Majah]. Ibn Kathir divided this book according to areas of Fiqh.
5-Tabaqat ash-Shafi'iyyah which also contains the virtues of Imam ash-Shafi'i.
6- Ibn Kathir wrote references for the Ahadith of Adillat at-Tanbih, f rom the Shafi'i school of Fiqh.
7- Ibn Kathir began an explanation of Sahih al-Bukhari, but he did not finish it.
8- He started writing a large volume on the Ahkam (Laws), but f inished only up to the Hajj rituals.
9- He summarized al-Baihaqi's 'al-Madkhal. Many of these books were not printed.
10- He summarized `Ulum al-Hadith, by Abu `Amr bin as-Salah and called it Mukhtasar `Ulum al-Hadith. Shaykh Ahmad Shakir, the Egyptian Muhaddith, printed this book along with his commentary on it and called it al-Ba'th al-Hathith fi Sharh Mukhtasar `Ulum al-Hadith.
11- As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, which is contained in his book al-Bidayah, and both of these books are in print.
12- A research on Jihad called Al-Ijtihad fi Talabi al-Jihad, which was printed several times.

Ibn Kathir's Death
al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said, "Ibn Kathir lost his sight just before his life ended. He died in Damascus in 774H." May Allah grant mercy upon Ibn Kathir and make him among the residents of His Paradise.

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