Brief Biography of Imaam Muslim
Biography of Imam Muslim
Compiler of Sahih Muslim
As his nisbah shows, Imaam Muslim belonged to the Qushayr tribe of the Arabs, an offshoot of the mighty clan of Rabee’ah. His tribe had taken an important part in the history of Islaam after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him). Haydah of Qushayr is mentioned in the Isabah as one of the companions, while Qurra Ibn Hubayrah, another Qushayree, was appointed by the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) as walee in charge of the alms of his people. Ziyaad Ibn â€˜Abdur-Rahmaan al-Qushayree is said to have killed a vast number of Byzantine troopers at the Battle of the Yarmook, in which he lost one of his legs.
After the great Islamic conquests, various families of Qushayrees migrated from Arabia and settled in the new provinces, some in the west, and others in the east. Kulthoom Ibn ‘Iyaad and his nephew Balj Ibn Bishr, who had served as governors of Africa and Andalus (Spain) respectively, settled down in a district near Qurtuba, Andalus (Cordoba, Spain). Another Qushayree family made their residence at nearby al-Beera, Andalus (Elvira, Spain). Others headed east, and settled in Khurasaan. Among them was one Zuraarah, who served as provincial governor for a time. His son ‘Amr, and grandson Humayd Ibn ‘Amr, settled down at Neesaaboor. From them our author was probably descended: the son of al-Hajjaaj, who was himself a hadith scholar of no mean repute.
His full name was Abul-Hussain Muslim-bin-Habaj al Nishapuri. Very little is known about Imaam Muslim’s early life. It is said that he was born in 202 A.H. / 817 C.E., and that having learnt and excelled in the usual disciplines at a precocious age, focused his attention on hadith. In its pursuit he travelled widely, visiting all the important centres of learning in Persia, Iraq, Syria and Egypt. He attended the lectures of most of the great hadith scholars of his day, including Ishaaq Ibn Raahawayh, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, ‘Ubaydullaah al-Qawaarifee Shuwayh Ibn Yoonus, ‘Abdullaah Ibn Maslamah, and Hamalah Ibn Yahyaa. He settled down at Neesaaboor, earning a living from a small business, and devoted the remainder of his time to the service of the Prophetic Sunnah.
Imaam Muslim started his
studies at the very early age of fourteen years. In the year 218 A.H. the
atmosphere in Nishapur, his birthplace, was of a religious and knowledge type.
Nishapur had great personalities in this period such as lmaam Rahiwe and lmaam
Zohri. After travelling widely in search of Hadith, he settled in Nishapur as
mentioned above. Imaam Muslim was much impressed by the vast knowledge of Imaam
Bukhari (R.A.), in the field of Hadith and the deep insight he possessed on this
subject. He therefore attached himself to Imaam Bukhari (R.A.) up to the end of
his life. Imaam Muslim was also an admirer of another great teacher of Hadith,
Muhammed bin Yahya al Dhuli. He attended his lectures regularly. He visited
Baghdad several times and had the opportunity of delivering lessons there. His
last visit to Baghdad was two years before his death.
IMAAM MUSLIM’S TEACHERS:
Imaam Muslim (R.A.)
apart from attending the lessons of Imaam Bukhari regularly, also attended the
lectures of lmaam Ahmad bin Hambal, Abdullah al Qarri, Qutaiba bin Said,
Abdullah bin Maslama and other great Muhadith.
IMAAM MUSLIM’S STUDENTS:
(R.A.’s) most noted students are Hatim Razi, Ahrnad bin Salmah, Abu Isa Tinnizi,
Abubaker bin Khuzaima and other great scholars.
CHARACTER AND KNOWLEDGE:
Imaam Muslim R.A.
adhered strictly to the path of righteousness. He was in fact a great saint of a
very high calibre. His excellent character can be well judged from the simple
fact that he never ever indulged in backbiting, a very common human failing. He
had a remarkable memory. Ishaq bin Rahwi said of Imaam Muslim; ” I wonder what
this person is going to be?” This was said in his youth. Ishaq Kausar once
addressed lmaam Muslim (R.A.) and said; “Your presence in the Muslim community
will always keep it in the good. ” Abu Saimah who was a colleague of lmaam
Muslim was so attached to him that while lmaam Sahib was busy compiling the
Sahih Muslim, he remained in lmaam Sahib’s company for fifteen years. He never
told a lie nor did he ever use vulgar words.
Sheikh Abdul Latief says Imaam
Tirmidhi and Imaam Muslim were followers of the Shafee school of thought,
although they were both Mujtahids. Moulana Abdur-Rashid says that Imaam Muslim
was a Maliki. The fact is what was said by Sheikh Tahir Jazari that Imaam Muslim
is not a Maliki nor a Hanifi nor a Shafi, but his compilation of the sahih
Muslim shows that he was more inclined towards the Shafee 000school of thought.
(R.A.) says that the Ummat have accepted the Bukhari Shareef and Muslim Shareef
as the Kitabs, which follow the Quraan, in authenicity although the Bukhari is
regarded as holding a higher position than the Sahih Muslim for specific
reasons, the sequence applied in the Muslim is much better than that of Bukhari.
It is known as Al-Jamah as Sahih because it contains the eight different
subjects on Hadis.
AL-JAMAH AS SAHIH MUSLIM:
Imaam Bukhari (R.A.) concentrated his efforts on compilation
of authentic hadith as well as deduction of Laws from Hadith. This is the most
difficult part to understand in the Bukhari. How he deduced Laws from the Hadis,
Imam Muslim concentrated his efforts only on compilation of authentic Hadith.
Imam Muslim travelled widely to collect traditions in Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, where he attended the lectures of some of the prominent Traditionists of his time: Ishaq b. Rahwaih, Ahmad b. Hanbal, ‘Ubaydullah al-Qawariri, Qutaiba b. Sa’id, ‘Abdullah b. Maslama, Harmalah b. Yahya, and others.
Having finished his studies, be settled down at Nishapur. There he came into contact with Imam Bukhari, and was so much impressed by his vast knowledge of Hadith and his deep insight into it that he kept himself attached to him up to the end of his life. He was an ardent admirer of another great-teacher of Hadith, Muhammad b.Yahya al-Dhuhali and attended his lectures regularly, but when the difference of opinion between Muhammad b. Yahya and Imam Bukhari, on the issue of the creation of the Holy Qur’an, sharpened into hostility, Imam Muslim sided with Imam Bukhari and abandoned Muhammad b. Yahya altogether. He was thus a true disciple of Imam Bukhari.
He wrote many books and treatises on Hadith, but the most important of his works is the collection (Jami’) of his Sahih Some of the commentators of Ahadith are of the opinion that in certain respects it is the best and most authentic work on the subject. Imam Muslim took great pains in collecting 300,000 Traditions, and then after a thorough examination of them retained only 4000, the genuineness of which is fully established.1
He prefixed to his compilation a very illuminating introduction, in which he specified some of the principles which he had followed in the choice of his material.
Imam Muslim has to his credit many other valuable contributions to different branches of Hadith literature, and most of them retain their eminence even to the present day. Amongst these Kitab al-Musnad al-Kabir ‘Ala al-Rijal, Jami’ Kabir, Kitab, al-Asma’ wa’l-Kuna, Kitab al-Ilal, Kitab al- Wijdan are very important.
His Methods of Classification and Annotation Muslim’s Sahih comes next to it. However, in certain respects the latter is considered superior to the former. Imam Muslim strictly observed many principles of the science of Hadith which had been slightly ignored by his great teacher Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on both of them). Imam Muslim considered only such traditions to be genuine and authentic as had been transmitted to him by an unbroken chain of reliable authorities and were in perfect harmony with what had, (been related by other narrators whose trustworthiness was unanimously accepted and who were free from all defects.
Moreover, Imam Bukhari, while describing the chain of narrators, sometimes mentions their kunya and sometimes gives their names. This is particularly true in case of the narrators of Syria. This creates a sort of confusion, which Imam Muslim has avoided.
Imam Muslim takes particular care in according the exact words of the narrators and points out even the minutest difference in the wording of their reports.
Imam Muslim has also constantly kept in view the difference between the two well-known modes of narration, haddathana (he narrated to us) and akhbarana (he informed us). He is of the opinion that the first mode is used only when the teacher is narrating the hadith and the student is listening to it, while the second mode of expression implies that the student is reading the hadith before the teacher. This reflects his utmost care in the transmission of a hadith.
Imam Muslim has taken great pains in connecting the chain of narrators. He has recorded only that hadith which, at least, two reliable tabi’in (successors) had heard from two Companions and this principle is observed throughout the subsequent chain of narrators.
His Students Imam Muslim had a very wide circle of students, who learnt Hadith from him. Some of them occupy a very prominent position in Islamic history, e.g. Abu Hatim Razi, Musa b. Harun, Ahmad b. Salama, Abu ‘Isa Tirmidhi, Abu Bakr b. Khusaima, Abu ‘Awana and Hafiz Dhahabi.
His Death Imam Muslim lived for fifty-five years in this world. Of this short span of his life he spent most of his time in learning Hadith, in Its compilation, in its teaching and transmission. He always remained absorbed in this single pursuit and nothing could distract his attention from this pious task. He died in 261/875, and was buried in the suburbs of Nishapur.
1 It is essential to remove one of the serious misgivings under which so many Orientalists and westernised Muslim scholars are labouring. When they are told that Imam Muslim selected 4,000 ahadith out of a total collection of 300,000, they think that since quite a large number of ahadith were unreliable, therefore, these were rejected, and then jump to the conclusion that the whole stock of hadith is spurious and should be rejected outright. This betrays utter ignorance of the critics even about the elementary knowledge of hadith. Matn (text) is not the basis on which is calculated the number of ahadith. Hadith is counted on the chain of transmission. Thus when we say that Imam Muslim collected 300,000 ahadith and included only 4,000 in his compilation, it does not imply that he rejected the rest of the whole lot of the Prophet’s sayings being unreliable. What this means is that the words and deeds of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) were transmitted to Imam Muslim through so many chains of transmission out of which he selected 4,000 chains as most authentic and narrated the text on their authority. A text (matn) which is transmitted through one hundred isnads is in Hadith literature treated as one hundred traditions. For example, the text of the first hadith in Bukhari (The Actions Are Based on Intention) is counted as a selection of one out of 700 ahadith since it has been transmitted through such a large number of isnads.
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