Haafiz Abul-Qaasim Ali Ibn Asaakir [ra]

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Imaam Haafiz Ibn ‘Asaakir (r.a.) was born in Damascus in the year 499 Hijri and passed away in the year 571 Hijri in Damascus also.

He is known for his extensive travel in the search of knowledge.

His renown work: Taareekh Dimashq which is a Biography of all the ‘Ulamaa who lived or came to Damascus is a collection in 80 volumes!!

Imaam Ibn Khallikaan says regarding him: ” He was the Muhaddith of Shaam ( Syria ) in his time and also a great Shaf’ee Scholar.

He became engrossed with the field of Hadith until he became famous in it. He exerted himself in its quest until he managed to gather that which others could not. He traveled to different parts and met many ‘Ulamaa. And he was the travel companion of Haafiz Abu Sa’d Al-Sam’ani (r.a.).

He was a very pious ‘Alim, who gathered between the mutun (texts of the Ahadith) and the Asaneed (the chains of narrators).

He was a master in the analysis of Hadith and he wrote many books of which is: Tareekh Dimashq in 80 volumes in which he has included some very strange and rare articles.

Once my Ustaadh , Haafiz Abu Muhammad Al-Munzhiri (r.a.) while discussing this book of Haafiz ibn ‘Asaakir ( r.a.) said: ” I am certain that he ( Ibn ‘Asaakir ) intended compiling this work of his from the time he reached the age of understanding and from that time he must have began gathering substance for it. Otherwise, life is too short for one to start such a work after reaching fame.”

Haafiz Zhabi (r.a.) states that Haafiz Ibn ‘Asaakir (r.a.) started his journey for the search of knowledge in the year 520 Hijri. He returned to his home: Damascus in the year 533.

He traveled to more than 40 cities and thus he was able to write a book by the name: Al-Arba’een Al-Buldaniyyah which is a collection of 40 Ahadith on 40 different topics which he narrates from 40 different Ustaads who lived in 40 different cities at that time. As well as each Hadith being reported by a different Sahabi !!!

This shows the extent of his travel! His ustaads amount up to more than 1380!

Haafiz Abul-‘Alaa Al-Hamazhani (r.a.) says: “Haafiz Ibn ‘Asaakir use to be called “fire spark” in Baghdad because of his intelligence and sharpness.”

Imaam AbulMawaahib ibn Sarsari (r.a.) says: “I once asked him if he had seen anyone else like himself? He humbly said: ” Do not say such a thing for verily Almighty Allah has said: ” And do not hold yourself as purified” ( Surah Najm.). So I said to him: ” but Allah has also said: “And mention the bounty of your lord.”( Surah Duha)

He then replied: “If anyone claimed that my eye did not see the like of me he would not be a liar”!!!

Then Abulmawaaghib said: “And I also say that I didn’t see anyone equal to him nor anyone who had what knowledge he had including his steadfastness that for 40 years he performed salaah in the first saff except if he had any valid excuse, and he made I’tikaf in Ramadaan and the first 10 days of Zhul Hijjah for 40 years!

He also refused to accept any major post despite being fully eligible for it. And he maintained upon himself the quality of Comanding with good and forbidding from evil.”

Sheikh Abdul-Wahaab ibnul-Ameen says: “I was once walking with Haafiz Ibn ‘Asaakir and Haafiz Al-Sam’aani in the search for knowledge and Mashaayikh when we met a certain Sheikh. So Haafiz Sam’aani stopped that Sheikh so as to hear a certain book of Hadith from him. When he searched his bag for that particular book he could not find it and this saddened him. So Haafiz Ibn ‘Asaakir asked him which book it was. He replied: Kitaabul Ba’thi Wanushoor of Ibn Abi Dawood. So Ibn ‘Asaakir said to him : “Do not fear, and he then recited the entire book from his memory”!!

Now it may be understood why the scholars praised Hafiz Ibn ‘Asaakir (r.a) to such an extent.

His Ustaadh, Imaam Abul Fadhl Al-Tusi (r.a.) says: “I don’t know of any other person entitled to be called a “HAAFIZ” of Hadith.

Imaam Ibnu Najjaar (r.a.) says: “he was the Imaam (leader) of all the Muhadditheen of his time.

Imaam Nawawi (r.a.) describes him as: “The Haafiz of Syria, Instead the Haafiz of the entire world.”!!!

May Allah fill his grave with noor and may he grant him lofty status in the Akhirah. And may Allah grant us the ability to follow in the footsteps of such ‘Ulamaa. Ameen.

There are many lessons to be learnt from the life of hafiz Ibn ‘Asaakir (r.a.):

Such as his extreme love for ‘Ilm, his steadfastness in acts of worship.
This proves to us that a student of deen should also devote his time and effort towards the other acts of worship. This infact brings noor and barakah into the knowledge as well as in the life of such a person.
Imagine only one of this great Imaam’s books : Tareekh Dimashq, in 80 volumes which has just recently been published, was prepared and written by him together with other compilations. We today are unable even read it !!