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Ibn al-Salah

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Title: Ibn al-Salah  
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Ibn al-Salah

Muslim scholar
Abū `Amr `Uthmān ibn `Abd al-Raḥmān Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Kurdī al-Shahrazūrī
Title "the shaikh of the Shafi'i scholars."
Born 1181 CE/577 AH
Died 1245 (aged 63–64)/643
Main interest(s) tafsir, hadith, Shafi'i fiqh
Notable work(s) Introduction to the Science of Hadith

Abū `Amr `Uthmān ibn `Abd al-Raḥmān Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Kurdī al-Shahrazūrī (1181 CE/577 AH – 1245/643), commonly known as Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ, was a Shafi'i hadith specialist and the author of the seminal Introduction to the Science of Hadith. He was originally from Sharazor, was raised in Mosul and then resided in Damascus, where he died.[1]

Early life


Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ was born in the year 1181 CE/577 AH in Sharazor.[1]


He first studied fiqh with his father in Sharazor,[1] located in the south-eastern part of what is currently referred to as Iraqi Kurdistan. He then occupied himself in Mosul for an unknown period of time, studying under a number of local religious scholars.[1] He studied in a number of cities, including: Baghdad, Hamedan, Naysabur, Merv, Aleppo, Damascus and Harran.[1]

Ibn Khallikan said that he had heard that Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ had repeatedly read al-Muhathab, one of the primary texts of the Shafi'i Madh'hab, "before his mustache had grown."[2] He read Sahih al-Bukhari upon two of his teachers, al-Mayyad ibn Muhammad al-Tusi and Mansur ibn 'Abd al-Mun'im al-Furawi, as well as Al-Sunan al-Kubra, by al-Bayhaqi, upon the latter.[3]

Scholarly career

al-Dhahabi described Ibn al-Ṣalāh as "the shaikh of the Shafi'i scholars."[4]

Scholastic specialization

While Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ was most recognized for his contribution to the field of hadith, he was well-grounded in a variety of disciplines. Ibn Khallikan described him as being from amongst the exemplary scholars of Quranic exegesis, hadith and jurisprudence, participating in a number of religious disciplines and producing sound religious verdicts.[2] Al-Fasi described him as being "a master in both jurisprudence and hadith, and other than that."[3] He was also described by al-Dhahabi as "strong in the Arabic Language"[2] and as "the shaikh of the Shafi'i scholars."[4] Ibn al-Hajib described Ibn al-Salah as being broad in his knowledge of both primary issues (al-usul) and peripheral (al-furu`).[1]


Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ held several positions throughout his life, primarily in the field of education. He taught at the Salahiyyah School in Jerusalem, and then, following the destruction of its city walls, moved to Damascus and taught at the Rawahiyyah School for some time following its inception.[1] Following the foundation of Dar al-Hadith Ashrafiyyah, he became its shaikh and was the first to teach and give verdicts there in the year 530 AH.[1] It was here that he dictated his work Introduction to the Science of Hadith to his students.[1] He was then appointed a teacher at the al-Shamiyyah al-Sughara School.[2]


Ibn al-Salah had a number of students, some of whom achieved prominence in their own right; from them:[1]

  • Ibn Khallikan
  • Ibn Razin
  • Kamal Ishaq
  • Kamal Salar
  • Shams al-Din `Abd al-Rahman Nuh al-Maqdisi
  • Shihab al-Din Abu Shamah

Theological position

Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ avoided association with problematic ideologies in regards to creed. He abstained from interpreting religious texts in a manner inconsistent with their apparent intent, or ta'wil, as he did the entrapments of those immersed in rhetoric, both issues "distancing one from authenticity in creed".[5] Al-Dhahabi described Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ as: "Firm in his religiosity, salafi in his generality and correct in his denomination. [He] refrained from falling into common pitfalls, believed in Allah and in what Allah has informed us of from His names and description."[2] In another of his works, Tadhkirat al-huffaz, al-Dhahabi said of him: "I say: he was salafi, of sound creed, abstaining from the interpretations ta'wil of the scholars of rhetoric, believing in what has been textually established, without recourse to unjustified interpretation or elaboration."[6]

Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ himself clarified his position on another common stumbling block, philosophy, describing it as: "The basis of foolishness and degeneration, a topic of confusion and misguidance which is motivated by perversion and blasphemy. Whomsoever engages in philosophy, has been blinded in his insight into the great aspects of the Sharia corroborated by evidences."[2] Due to his insistence no one was allowed to read the subjects of rhetoric or philosophy in Damascus, a matter which the leaders supported.[1]


Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ died on Monday, September 18, 1245 CE/643 AH, at the age of 66. His funeral prayer was performed at the congregational mosque of Damascus, to a crowd so large it required a second prayer to accommodate. He was buried in the Sufiyyah graveyard, now the location of a hospital, a mosque and other buildings.[2]


Ibn al-Salah had a number of works the most notable named below in addition to others on individual issues.[1]

  1. Introduction to the Science of Hadith – perhaps his best known work;[7]
  2. Ishkalat 'ala al-Wasit,[2] also called Mushkil al-Wasit[1] – which comprised brief comments on various subjects primarily in the first fourth of al-Wasit in Shafi'i fiqh which appeared in a large, single volume[1]
  3. Al-Amaali – the transcription of the hadith he read aloud to his students, complete with the chains of narration;[8]
  4. Siyanah Sahih Muslim – an explanation of Sahih Muslim of which only the beginning segment is published which al-Nawawi referred to in his own explanation[1][9]
  5. Numerous fatawa, or religious rulings,[3] described by Abu Shahbah as having "much benefit"[1]
  6. Fawa`id, or benefits, from his travels[3] which consisted of a number of volumes of unusual points of interest in various disciplines which he collected during his travels to Khurasan[1]
  7. Adab al-Mufti wa al-MustaftiThe Etiquette of the One Giving a Verdict and of the One Seeking a Verdict[1]
  8. Nukat `Ala al-Muhadhdhab[1]
  9. Tabaqat al-Fuqaha al-Shafi`iyyah a collection of lesser known Shafi`i scholars of jurisprudence which al-Nawawi abridged and added to. Ibn al-Salah died before completing this work.[1]


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