Al-Qasim ibn Sallam ibn `Abd Allah, Abu `Ubayd al-Harawi (d

Al-Qasim ibn Sallam ibn `Abd Allah, Abu `Ubayd al-Harawi (d

Al-Qasim ibn Sallam ibn `Abd Allah, Abu `Ubayd al-Harawi (d. 224), – Allah be well-pleased with him — one of the great early hadith masters and philologists, author of Gharib al-Hadith, Fada’il al-Qur’an, and many other works. A student of Hushaym, Ibn `Uyayna, Ghundar, Ibn al-Mubarak, Waki`, Ibn Mahdi, and others. He was one of `Abbas al-Duri’s shaykhs. Ishaq ibn Rahuyah said: “As Allah loves the truth, Abu `Ubayd is better versed and more knowledgeable in the Law than I.” Ibrahim al-Harbi said: “Abu `Ubayd was like a mountain into which the Spirit was breathed. He excelled in everything, except that the hadith was the specialty of Ahmad [ibn Hanbal] and Yahya [ibn Ma`in].”

                        `Abbas al-Duri said: “I heard Abu `Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam mention the vision of Allah [in the hereafter], the Footstool (kursi) where the two Feet are placed, our Lord’s laughter, and where He was [before creation], then he said: `All these are sound (sahih) narrations transmitted by the scholars of hadith and fiqh one from another; we consider them the truth and do not doubt them. But if it were asked: How does He laugh? or: How does He place His Foot? We reply: We do not explain this; nor did we ever hear anyone explain it.’”

                        Among his sayings: “He who follows the Sunna is like one who is grasping a hot coal. Such a day is, to me, preferable to striking sword-blows in the way of Allah Almighty.” Ibn Abi Ya`la relates from Ibn Abi al-Dunya the following account by Abu `Ubayd:

I visited Ahmad ibn Hanbal one day. When I entered his house he got up and embraced me, then he made me sit at the head of his gathering. I said: “O Abu `Abd Allah! Is it not said that the owner of the house, or chief of the gathering, is the most deserving of sitting at the head of his house or gathering?” He replied: “Yes, he sits there, and seats whom he wishes there.” I thought to myself: “Take benefit from what you just heard, O Abu `Ubayd.” Then I said: “O Abu `Abd Allah! If I were to come and see you according to what befits you, I would come and see you each and every day.” He replied: “Do not say that. I have brothers whom I do not see all year but once, and in whose love I trust more than in those I see every day.” I said to myself: “This is another one, O Abu `Ubayd.” When I got up to leave he got up with me. I said: “Please don’t, O Abu `Abd Allah.” He said: “Al-Sha`bi said: Part of the perfection of the visitor’s call is that he be accompanied to the door of the house [when he leaves], and to hold the reins of his mount for him.” I said: “O Abu `Abd Allah! From al-Sha`bi?” He said: “From Ibn Abi Za’ida, from Mujalid, from al-Sha`bi.” I said to myself: “O Abu `Ubayd, this is the third benefit for you.”

                        Ibn Abi Ya`la continues: “It is narrated from Abu Qilaba, from Ibn `Abbas, that the Prophet said — Allah bless and greet him: `Whoever holds the reins of someone’s mount not begging anything from him nor fearing him, his sins are forgiven.’1 Al-Sha`bi narrated that Ibn `Abbas held the reins of Zayd ibn Thabit’s mount, so the latter said: `You are holding them for me, you, the Prophet’s cousin — Allah bless and greet him?’ Whereupon Ibn `Abbas replied: `This is our practice with the `ulama’.'”2 It is also narrated that Ibn `Abbas would wait for Zayd to come out outside his door in order to take knowledge from him; and when Zayd died he said: “Thus is knowledge taken away.”

                        Abu `Ubayd must not be confused with his contemporary and philologist namesake Abu `Ubayda who is Ma`mar ibn al-Muthanna al-Taymi (d. ~210). He authored Majaz al-Qur’an and the lost Gharib al-Hadith as well as historical and lexicographical works. He is cited heavily in Qur’anic commentaries and al-Baghawi reports in his that he explained istawa as “He mounted” (sa`ida) in the verse {Then He established Himself over the Throne} (32:4).3 Pickthall followed that sense in his translation of the verse as “Then He mounted the Throne.”

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