Al-Haafidh Imam Ibn Hajar Asqalani


Al-Haafidh Shihabuddin Abu'l-Fadl Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Muhammad, better known as Ibn Hajar due to a fame of his forefathers, al-Asqalani due to his origin (Arabic: ابن حجر العسقلاني) (February 18, 1372- d. February 2, 1449 852 H [1]), was a medieval Shafiite Sunni scholar of Islam who represents the entire realm of Sunni world in the field of Hadith

Early Life and Studies

He was born in Cairo in 1372, the son of the Shafi'i scholar and poet Nur al-Din 'Ali. Both of his parents died in his infancy, and he and his sister, Sitt al-Rakb, became wards of his father's first wife's brother, Zaki al-Din al-Kharrubi, who enrolled Ibn Hajar in Qur'anic studies when he was five. Here he excelled, learning Surah Maryam in a single day, and progressing to the memorization of texts such as the Quran, then the abridged version of Ibn al-Hajib's work on the the foundations of fiqh. When he accompanied al-Kharrubi to Mecca at the age of 12, he was considered competent to lead the Tarawih prayers during Ramadan. When his guardian died in 1386, Ibn Hajar's education in Egypt was entrusted to hadith scholar Shams al-Din ibn al-Qattan, who entered him in the courses given by al-Bulqini (d.1404) and Ibn al-Mulaqqin (d.1402) in Shafi'i fiqh, and Zayn al-Din al-'Iraqi (d.1404) in hadith, after which he travelled to Damascus and Jerusalem, to study under Shams al-Din al-Qalqashandi (d.1407), Badr al-Din al-Balisi(d.1401), and Fatima bint al-Manja al-Tanukhiyya (d.1401). After a further visit to Mecca, Medina, and Yemen, he returned to Egypt. Ibn Hajar Al-Asqallani acquired the title of Commander of the Faithful in the Sciences of Hadith thus Al-Haafidh, and is without equal in his field, bar none.

Following His Marriage in 1397

In 1397, at the age of twenty-five, he married Anas Khatun, who was a hadith expert in her own right, holding ijazas from Zayn al-Din al-'Iraqi. She gave celebrated public lectures to crowds of ulema, including al-Sakhawi. Ibn Hajar went on to be appointed to the position of Egyptian chief-judge (Qadi) several times, authoring more than fifty works on hadith, history, biography, Quranic exegesis (tafsir), poetry and Shafi'i jurisprudence. In 1414 (817 A.H.), Ibn Hajar commenced the enormous task of assembling his Fath al-Bari, the most valued Sunni commentary of Sahih Bukhari. When it was finished, in December 1428 (Rajab 842 A.H.), a celebration was held near Cairo, attended by the ulema, judges, and leading Egyptian personalities. Ibn Hajar read the final pages of his work, afterwhich poets recited eulogies and gold was distributed. It was, according to historian Ibn Iyaas d. 930H, 'the greatest celebration of the age in Egypt.' However, a point of controversy concerning the work was that Ibn Hajar deemed the leader of the troops that killed Shia Imam, Husain ibn Ali (d.680) at Karbala, Umar ibn Sa'ad d. 65H, to be trustworthy source of information. [2]

Sheikh ul-Islam, Imam Ibn Hajar passed away after Isha prayers on February 2, 1449 at the age of seventy-nine. His funeral in Cairo was attended by an estimated fifty thousand people, including the sultan and the caliph.

His Works

1)Fath al-Bari
2)al-Durar al-Kamina - a biographical dictionary of leading figures of the eighth century
3)Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (an abbreviation of Tahdhib al-Kamal, the encyclopedia of hadith narrators by al-Mizzi)
4)al-Isaba fi tamyiz al-Sahaba (the most widely-used dictionary of Companions)
5)Bulugh al-Maram min adillat al-ahkam (on Shafi'i fiqh).