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Khorasan (Central Asia) and the Scholars of Hadith

by Minhaj

Khorasan (Central Asia) is a special place in the world. Many of the well known scholars of Hadith were born there.
Imam Malik (RA) rightly said that: Knowledge is a tree whose roots and trunk are in Mecca, branches are in Madina, leaves are in Iraq and fruits are in Khorasan (Central Asia). In this article we present brief biographies of well-known scholars of Hadith.


Imam Bukhari was born in 194 AH Bukhara (Present day Uzbekistan), where he grew up us an orphan. His passion for collecting Prophetic narrations took him to the farthest corners of Islamic world, allowing him to narrate from thousands of teachers. He compiled Sahîh al-Bukhârî which is universally acknowledged as the most authentic book after the Holy Qur’ân. Students who narrate hadith from Imam al-Bukhari include such luminaries in the field as Imam Muslim, at-Tirmidhi,an-Nasai and Ibn abi ad-Dunya. He passed away on a Thursday night , the night of Id’ al Fitr in the year 256 AH.

Imam Muslim was born in 204 AH in Nishapur(present day Iran).Imam Muslim started his studies at an early age and traveled in search of knowledge to the Hijaz, Egypt, Syria and Iraq where he learned hadith from over 220 major scholars of the age. His hadith collection Sahih Muslim is well known for its high quality of editorial layout and its concentration of hadith transmission is most often ranked second after Bukhari’s.

Sulayman b.al-Ash ab b.Ishaq b.Bashiral-Azadi as-Sijistani, Popularly Known as Abu Dawud, was born in 202 AH/8I7 CE in Sijistan, Persia (located in present day Iran). During his life, he traveled in search of Knowledge of hadith, which took  him to Baghdad, the Hijaz (Western Arabia), Egypt, Al-Jazirah, Nishapur, Syria and Isfahan. His journey in search of Prophetic narrations resulted in his studying under many of the Prominent hadith scholars of the day, including Imam Ahmed b.Hanbal and Shuyukh of Imam al-Bukhari  and Imam Muslim.

At-Tirmidhi and an-Nisai are among Imam Abu Dawud’s students. He is known for his compilation of 4,800 hadith in his book entitled as-Sunan Abu Dawud, about which he commented, “I wrote down 500,000 hadith from the Prophet ,of Which I selected those which are in As-Sunan.”
The Imam passed away in 275 AH in the city of Basra during the lunar month of Shawwal.

Muhammad b.Isa b.Surah b.Musa, also known as Abu Isa as-Sulami at-Tirmidhi was born in 209AH/824 CE in Termez which is in Present-day Uzbekistan.
He traveled to Central Asian countries, Medina and Mecca in search of Knowledge and became a hadith master and an imam. He was student of al-Bukhari, Ishaq b.Rahawayh and others, he compiled a book of hadith called Al-Jami al-Kabir which is also known as Sahih at-Tirmidhi. It is considered one of the “Six Sahih”Collections of hadith: Bukhari, Muslim Abu Dawud, Nasai, at- Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah (this order is the most popular ranking of these collection). Additionally Imam At-Tirmidhi wrote on other topics including history and the Prophetic traits. His book Ash-Shamail an-Nabawiyya (The Characteristics of the Prophetﷺ) provides a detailed description of the Prophetﷺ. Imam At-Tirmidhi also composed a book on hadith methodology called Al-Ilal (The Discrepancies).
After contributing tremendously to the teaching and preservation of Islam Imam At-Tirmidhi passed away in Termez in the year 279 AH/892 CE.May Allah  fill his grave with light.

IMAM IBN MAJAH Muhammad b.Yazid ar-Rubi, also known as Abu Abdullah b.Majah al-Qazwini was born in Qazvin, Persia (Present-day Iran) in the year 209AH/824 CE.

He was a hafiz (hadith master), Imam and Quranic exegete (muffassir). He traveled in search of sacred knowledge to Basra, Baghdad, Syria, Cairo, the Hijaz and Rayy. He studied under many great scholars. Imam Ibn Majah had many students of his own as well. His collection of hadith called the Sunan ( Prophetic Examples) is counted among the “Six Sahih” Collections of hadith: Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nasai, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah. The Imam passed away in 273 AH /886 CE. May God have mercy on him.

IMAM AL-BAYHAQI Ahmed b.al-Husayn b.Ali also known as Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi was born in Khasrajand a village around Bayhaq which is close to Nishapur, Persia (present-day Iran) in 384AH/994CE.

Raised in Bayhaq he traveled in search of sacred knowledge to Baghdad, Kufa, Mecca and other cities. Among his numerous teachers in jurisprudence was Imam Abu al-Fath Nasir b.al-Husayn b.Muhammad al-Qurashi al-Umari al-Marwaziash-Shafi an-Naysaburi. His teachers in hadith include al-Hakim an-Naysaburi as well as al-Hakim’s teacher as-Sayyid Abu-Hasan Muhammad b.al-Husayn b.Dawud al-Alawi al-Hasani an-Naysaburi al-Hasib. He wrote extensively on sciences of Hadith, Quranic exegesis, fiqh and other subjects. Among his famous books are Al-Asma wa’s-Sifat (The Divine Names and Attributes) and Dala’il al-Nubuwwah (The Signs of Prophethood).He passed away in Nishapur on 458 AH.

Ahmed b.’Abdullah b.Ahmed b.Ishaq b.Musa b.Mahran al-Asbahani is Known as Abu Nu’aym. He was born in 336 AH/948 CE in Isfahan (present day Iran) into a scholarly family. At a very young age he began studying hadith with his father who himself was a hadith scholar. Imam Abu Nua’ym later went on to study hadith from numerous teachers including at-Tabarani, Abu ash- Shaykh al-Hakim and al-Ajurri.

Imam Abu Nuaym’s chains of transmission are known for two unique characteristics:

  • First,he possesses some chains that none of his contemporaries acquired as he is the only one of them to have received his chains from so many scholars. (The drawback to this however is that some of these scholars are otherwise unheard of so the chains of narration he possesses from these particular scholars are unverifiable).
  • Secondly, because of his very long life and his early start in learning hadith his chains of narration are unusually short. Since short chains are highly sought after by scholars of hadith many wished to study with Imam Abu Nuaym; his students include al-Khatib,al-Malini,and his brother Abu Ali al-Hasan.

Muhammad b.Abdullah b.Hamdawayh b.Na’im ad-Dabi also known as Abu Abdullah Al Hakim an Naysaburi,was born in Nishapur, Persia (in present-day Iran) in the year 32I AH/933 CE. He traveled to Iraq in the year 34I AH/952 CE in search of knowledge of prophetic traditions. He also traveled to the Hijaz among other lands acquiring hadith transmissions from about 2,000 hadith scholars. Among his teachers was Imam Daraqutni who also narrated hadith from him .

Imam al-Hakim was appointed as a judge in 359AH/969 CE due to this he was given the nickname “al-Hakim”(the Magistrate). He was among the most knowledgeable of scholars with regards to distinguishing authentic hadith from inauthentic ones. It was said that the he had no peer in hadith knowledge in Khurasan, the Hijaz, Syria, Iraq, Rayy, Tabristan and Transoxiana.

Muhammad b. Hibban b.Ahmad b. Mu’adh was born in Bust, Sijistan located in present day Afghanistan. It is said that he was a historian, a scholar of Islam (alim), a geographer and a scholar of hadith (muhaddith). He traveled in search of knowledge to Khurasan, Sham, Egypt, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula and Nishapur. He later returned to his native city of Bust and then served as a judge in Samarqand for a period of time. He was one of the most prolific writers. Among his books is Al-Musnad as-Sahih. He wrote other works in hadith, encyclopedism, biography and history. Imam Ibn Hibban(RA) passed away in the city in which he was born i.e. Bust in the year 354 AH/965 CE.

Please watch this speech by Shaykh ul Islam Dr. Tahir ul Qadri

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