Biography of Hafiz Ibn Kathir

Author of Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Book of the End: Great Trials and Tribulations

By the Honored Shaykh `Abdul-Qadir Al-Arna’ut, may Allah protect him.

He is the respected Imam, Abu Al-Fida’, `Imad Ad-Din Isma il bin ‘Umar bin Kathir Al-Qurashi Al-Busrawi – Busraian in origin; Dimashqi 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 Burhan Ad-Din, Ibrahim bin `Abdur-Rahman 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); Baha Ad-Din Al-Qasim bin Muzaffar bin `Asakir (who died in 723 H), and Ibn Ash-Shirdzi, Ishaq bin Yahya Al-Ammuddi, also known as `Afif Ad-Din, the Zahiriyyah Shaykh who died in 725 H, and Muhammad bin Zarrad. He remained with Jamal Ad-Din, Yusuf bin Az-Zaki AlMizzi who died in 724 H, he benefited from his knowledge and also married his daughter. He also read with Shaykh Al-Islam, Taqi Ad-Din Ahmad bin `Abdul-Halim bin `Abdus-Salam bin Taymiyyah who died in 728 H. He also read with the Imam Hafiz and historian Shams Ad-Din, Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Uthman bin Qaymaz 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. Continue reading

The Glad Tidings Given to Imam Ahmad Before the Great Trial

Farhia Yahya

Its known that Allah `azza wa jall chooses from amongst Mankind those whom He wishes in order that they may carry out certain tasks. He chooses people and then He strengthens them, prepares them and builds their character, inner power and faculty of mind so they can fulfill the Qadr. Sometimes, in order to best prepare them, Allah subhanahu wa taala sends them glad tidings ahead of their trial.

Below are some incidents translated from Imam al-Maqdisis book Kitab Mihnat al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal where he has gathered many narrations that speak of the bushra (glad tidings) given by Allah to Imam Ahmad before the great Mihna (trial) and after.

It is narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Marwadhi that he said:

I was sitting one day on an arched bridge (al-Tabanain) when I was approached by two men who were escorting a bedouin man on a camel of his. They stopped by me and said, This is him, here he is sitting. The bedouin said to me, Are you Ahmad ibn Hanbal? I said, No, I am his friend, what do you need? He said to me, I want him. So I said, Shall I take you to him? He said, Yes, by Allah.

So I led the way in front of him until I reached the door of Abu Abdillah (Ahmad ibn Hanbal) whereupon I knocked the door and they said, Who is it? I said, I am al-Marwadhi. They said, Come in so I said, I and the one with me? They said, (Yes) You and the one with you. When he saw Abu Abdillah, the bedouin said, Yes, by Allah three times ” and he greeted him. He (Ahmad) said, What do you need?He said, I am the messenger of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam).He said, Woe to you, what are you saying? He said, I am a bedouin man, between my village and al-Madinah is 40 miles and my family sent me to al-Madinah to purchase some wheat and dates for them. Night fell over me so I prayed Isha in the Mosque of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) then I lied down. As I was sleeping, a person came to me and shook me saying, Will you carry out a task for the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam)?I said, Yes, by Allah!So he seized my left arm by his right hand and took me to the wall of the grave of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). He stood me at the head (of the grave) and I said, O Messenger of Allah Then I heard a caller from behind the wall saying, Will you carry out a task for us?I said, Yes, by Allah. Yes, by Allah.So he said, Go forth until you reach Baghdad (or al-Zawraa” al-Marwadhi was unsure which), and when you reach Baghdad ask for the house of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. When you meet him, say The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) sends you his salaam and he says to you: Indeed Allah will test you with a great test, and surely he shall place you in a trial, but I have asked Him to make you patient therein, so do not worry. Continue reading

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal: Life and Madhab


Imam Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal al-Shaibani, Abu Abdullah, was conceived in Merv in current day Turkmenistan. His mother carried him in her womb, on route to Baghdad, where he was born in the year 164 AH. His father passed away when he was little more than years old, and thereafter he was raised by his mother.


He was a distinguished child known for his piety, cleanliness and asceticism. Once, his uncle sent him with several documents containing information about some people to the Caliph’s office. Ahmad took those papers and did not see his uncle for a long time. When his uncle eventually met him, he asked him about the documents and discovered that Ahmad ” who was then a boy” did not deliver them. When asked why, Ahmad replied: “I wouldn’t hand in those reports, and I have thrown them in the sea!” To this, his uncle replied: “This little boy fears Allah so much! What then of us?” Thus, Ahmad refused to act as an informant, even on behalf of his uncle, due to the fear of Allah that had been instilled in his heart from such a young age.

Youth and Education

He started his career by learning jurisprudence (Fiqh) under the celebrated Hanafi judge, Abu Yusuf, the renowned student and companion of Imam Abu Hanifah. He then discontinued his studies with Abu Yusuf, in the pursuit of Hadith, travelling around the Islamic Khilafa, at the tender age of 16. As a student, he was held in awe by his teachers, to the same degree that they would respect their own.. Ibn al-Jawzi states that Imam Ahmad had 414 Hadith masters whom he narrated from. Imam al-Shafi’i was from the most beloved of Ahmad’s teachers, held in high esteem by him for his deep insight into jurisprudence. Al-Shafi’i equally admired Ahmad, for his expertise in jurisprudence and Hadith. He would often say to Imam Ahmad: Tell us if you know of an authentic Hadeeth so that we may act on it. What demonstrates Imam Ahmad’s love and admiration for al-Shafi’i is that when the latter would pass by him riding a mule, Imam Ahmad would follow al-Shafi’i on foot to enquire about various issues of jurisprudence. The great affectopm and regard between the two Imams is clearly reflected in the resemblance between the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of jurisprudence.

Imam Ahmad did not suffice himself with seeking knowledge, but he also adorned it with actions, by making Jihad, performing the guard duty at Islamic frontiers (Ribat) and making Hajj five times in his life, twice on foot. Continue reading

Scholars of Each Century

This list is not conclusive and there are many scholars not mentioned with in this list.

Scholars of the 1st Century AH

The Scholars of the 1st Century AH (7th Century AD)

The scholars below are organised both according to chronological dating. These scholars are Orthodox in the sense that their creed, understanding of the foundations of fiqh was correct. Without this, no scholar could be included in the ranks as an Orthodox father or mother in the true sense of the word.

  • Shaikh ul-Islam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq
  • Shaikh ul-Islam `Umar al-Faaruq
  • Imaam `Uthmaan Ibn `Affaan al-Ghani
  • Imaam Asadullah `Ali ibn Abi Taalib al-Murtadaa
  • Umm il-Muminin `Aisha as-Siddiqa
  • Imaam `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud
  • Imaam al-Hasan ibn `Ali
  • Imaam al-Hussain ibn `Ali
  • Imaam Anas ibn Maalik

Shaikh ul-Islam Abu Bakr as-Siddiq

53 BH-13 AH/ 572-635 AD. He was the first khalifa [11-13 AH/632-634 AD] of Islam. All of the Sahaaba unanimously agreed upon his appointment. Of the 10 directly promised the Jannah by the Prophet Muhammad SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM, he is amongst them, in addition to his being the best friend of the Prophet Muhammad SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM . He SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM spoke of Abu Bakr RAA in the following way, ‘There is no one after the prophets and messengers that the sun has set or risen on more virtuous than Abu Bakr.’ He missed the presence of the Messenger of Allah SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM so much that he died of grief, but someone had also put poison in the soup that he drank. He breathed his last at the age of 63 years. He had ruled for 2 years, 3 months and 10 days.

Shaikh ul-Islam `Umar al-Faaruq

The second khalifa [13-23 AH/634-644 AD] of the Muslims and the second of ten to be promised the Paradise by the Prophet Muhammad SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM . In his time as khalifa, he had some 1,036 cities taken over and 4,000 masjids built, two of them being in Basra and its’ sister city, Kufa. He also set up inns and soup kitchens for the poor as well as destitute travellers. Pensions for soldiers and other public service workers were established. Al-Faaruq was known for his sagacity, his justice and uncompromising scrupulousness. His hatred for corruption and evil caused tremendous admiration for him from the Muslims. This only brought enmity from the kuffar, however. He was martyred at 63 years of age while leading the Fajr prayer by a Parsee named Abu Lu’lu al-Majusi. He left behind his wife and 13 children. He had ruled for 10 years, 6 months and 5 days.

Imaam `Uthmaan Ibn `Affaan al-Ghani

The third khalifa [23-34 AH/644-655 AD] of the Muslims and the third to be promised the Paradise by the Prophet SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM. Al-Ghani was also known as Dhun-Nurain (the possessor of the two lights) due to his marriage to two of the Prophet Muhammad SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM ’s daughters. A very shy man, but an adept statesman and scholar of letters, the third khalifa was a hard working man. It was under his supervision that the Qur’an was given a hard back spine, a cover as well as a universal postal system being established. He was murdered by a member of the Khawaarij named Himaar while in his home reading the Qur’an at the age of 86 years. He had ruled for 11 years 11 months and 19 days.

Imaam Asadullah `Ali ibn Abi Taalib al-Murtadaa

The fourth khalifa [34-38 AH/655-659 AD] of Islam and a master of Arabic grammar and theology, al-Murtadaa had one of the shortest tenures as khalifa, but his bravery through the annals of Islam is legendary. In addition to being the fourth of the ten promised the Paradise by the Messenger of Allah SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM , Imaam `Ali RAA was also married to the youngest and most cherished daughter of the Prophet SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM, Faatima az-Zahra RAA, a leader of the women of Paradise. He was murdered at the age of 63 years by Ibn Muljum, an assassin from the ranks of the Khawaarij, while opening the door to the masjid for the Fajr prayer. His body is buried somewhere in Kufa in Iraaq. There are two grave sites, due to the fact that at the time of his burial, the Khawaarij were searching for his body so that they might mutilate it. He had ruled for 4 years and 8 months.

Umm il-Mu’minin `A’isha as-Siddiqa

The favourite wife of the Prophet Muhammad SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM and the most knowledgeable of the women Sahaabiyaat, she narrated some 2,210 or more ahaadith. In addition to mastering the sciences of tafsir and fiqh, she was a Qaadiya with her own court in Iraaq when she visited as well as Madinah. She died at the age of 77 years.

Imaam `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud

One of the most senior most Sahaaba and a master of the Qur’an in its’ recital, memorisation and understanding of the events of its revelation. Ibn Mas`ud RAA was the judge and elder of the growing community of Kufa in Iraaq, the sister city of Basra.

Imaam al-Hasan ibn `Ali

The eldest son of Imaam `Ali ibn Abi Taalib RAA and the fifth khalifa after his father, al-Hasan was the chief negotiator between Mu`awiyah ibn Abi Sufyaan and the other Muslims and prevented an all out civil war amongst the Muslim community. The year he completed the negotiations is called ‘the Year of Jama`ah (togetherness),’ a time of peace and jubilation for Muslims. Due to this act, Allah would guide the khalifas of the Ummayyads for 100 years with few disturbances or insurrections. Every khalifa was succeeded after the natural death of the other. This was not the case with the Abbassids. Named by the Prophet Muhammad SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM himself, the names al-Hasan and that of his brother al-Hussain, were not popularly known amongst the Arabs. These names were referred to by the Prophet SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM as two fragrances from the Paradise. Upon retiring to Madinah, it is reported that he was poisoned by his wife who accepted an unscrupulous bribe. He is buried in al-Madinah the radiant. He had been the fifth khalifa and had fulfilled the prophecy made by the Messenger of Allah SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM that the khilaafa system after him would be 30 years. The six months, and the rest of the days of his khilaafa came to 30 years, exactly the number that had been prophesied.

Imaam al-Hussain ibn `Ali

Known as the master of the martyrs and one of the leaders of the Paradise and a fragrance of the Paradise. Imaam al-Hussain was an Imaam that campaigned for the rights of Muslims and also opposed some of the corruption that he saw amongst some members of the military of the khalifa of the time. A righteous man and scholar of Islam, al-Hussain was murdered by a rogue element in the army of the then khalifa, Yazid ibn Mu`awiyah. He is buried in Karbala.

Imaam Anas ibn Maalik

One of the great muftis of the Sahaaba and a man of sharp intellect and wisdom, he taught Imaam Abu Hanifa RH briefly and had resided in Kufa. Continue reading

Shah Abdul Hannan – Usul al Fiqh

Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan was born in 1939 in the city of Mymensingh, Bangladesh. He completed his Masters in Political Science in 1961 and joined the civil service of Pakistan in 1963. He held many appointments and retired as the Secretary of the Govt. of Bangladesh in 1998.

At different times he held charges of Social welfare Ministry, Banking Division and Internal Resource Division of the government of Bangladesh. While in civil service, he was involved with establishing the first Islamic bank in Bangladesh. Banking act was amended to facilitate Islamic banking and two more Islamic banks were allowed to function when he was deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank (central bank).

Currently, he is the Chairman of Islamic Economic Research Bureau, Director of the Islamic Bank Bangladesh Ltd. and adviser to Bangladesh Institute of Islamic Thought (BIIT). He was active in Islamic works from his student days. He undertook Arabic courses in Islamic Foundation, Dhaka from 1972-74. He was an ardent student of Islamic Sciences and studied in particular tafsir hadith commentary, usul-al-fiqh, Islamic economic and banking. Continue reading