Allah's Names and Attributes (Al-Asma' wa al-Sifat)

Imam al-Bayhaqi (577 - 660H)

Ahmad ibn al-Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abd Allah ibn Musa, Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi al-Naysaburi al-Khusrawjirdi al-Shafi`i al-Ash'ari, the jurisprudent imam, hadith master, authority in the foundations of doctrine (usul), scrupulous and devoted ascetic, defender of the School both in its foundations and its branches.

Al-Bayhaqi took fiqh from the imam Abu al-Fath Nasir ibn al-Husayn ibn Muhammad al-Naysaburi, among others. He took kalam (speculative theology) from the two Ash'ari imams Ibn Furak and Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi, the third generation of Ash'ari's students. He took hadith from al-Hakim and was his foremost pupil al-Sayyid Abu al-Hasan Muhammad ibn al-Husayn ibn Dawud al-Naysaburi al-Hasib, imam of Khurasan's hadith scholars and others of renown. Al-Dhahabi said of the imam, "His sphere in hadith is not large, but Allah blessed him in his narrations for the excellence of his method in them and his sagacity and expertise in the subject-matters and narrators."

"If al-Bayhaqi had wanted to found a school of Law for himself he would have been able to do so."


Al-Bayhaqi is the last of those who comprehensively compiled the textual evidence of the Shafi`i school including the hadith and the positions of the Imam and his immediate companions in a number of books including the twenty-volume "Knowledge of Sunnas and Reports" and "The Expanded Reference of Shafi`i Law". Imam al-Haramayn Ibn al-Juwayni said, "Al-Shafi`i owes a huge debt for al-Bayhaqi's works which established his school and his sayings." Al-Dhahabi comments, "If al-Bayhaqi had wanted to found a school of Law for himself he would have been able to do so."

The imam penned treasures of Islamic knowledge, including "The Major Work of the Prophet's (s) Sunna" in ten volumes, "The Divine Names and Attributes", the seven-volume "Signs of Prophethood", the foremost book exclusively devoted to the person of the Prophet (s), the fourteen-volume "The Branches of Belief", and "The Major Book of Asceticism", narrations of the Companions and early Sufis.

Al-Bayhaqi lived frugally in the manner of the pious scholars. He began fasting perpetually (sawm al-dahr) thirty years before his death acording to the practice of several of the Companions, the Salaf and others such as al-Nabawi.


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