Imam Tirmidhi

Imam Tirmidhi

Imam Tirmidhi (209 – 279 H)

 

Imam Tirmidhi was born in the year 209 A.H. during the reign of the Abbasid Khalifa Ma’mun al-Rashid. The Abbasid Caliphate, despite its brilliant contributions to Islam, brought along with it many thorny problems. Greek Philosophy had a free flow into the Islamic world. This was fully sanctioned by the government until eventually it declared the Mu’tazila school of thought as the state religion. Anyone who opposed the Mu’tazila school of thought would be opposing the state. With the influence of Greek philosophy infiltrating within the people, many Muslims began attempting to reconcile between reason and revelation. As a result they deviated themselves and misled many innocent weak Muslims away from Allah and His Prophet (s). Many scholars of Islam had come to the fore in order to defend the Shari`ah. Forgeries and interpolations in Hadith by rulers who wished to fulfil their personal motives was common. In the first century `Umar bin Abdul `Aziz (r) initiated a movement for the compilation of the holy hadith of the the Prophet (s) as there was a fear of it being lost. Eventually this gigantic task was undertaken by six towering scholars of Islam. One of them was Imam Abu `Isa Muhammed ibn `Isa Tirmidhi

Having grown up in an environment of learning, together with possessing many great qualities naturally drove Imam Tirmidhi to dedicate his life totally towards the field of Hadith. He obtained his basic knowledge at home and later travelled to far off lands in search of this great science. He studied Hadith under great personalities such as Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim and Imam Abu Dawud. In some narrations Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim are his students as well.

Once Imam Bukhari mentioned to him “I have benefited more from you than you have benefitted from me.” Musa ibn `Alaq once said: “When Imam Bukhari passed away, he left no one in Khurasan who compared with Abu `Isa Tirmidhi in knowledge, memory, piety and abstinence.” According to `Abdullah ibn Muhammed Al-Ansari, Imam Tirmidhi’s Al-Jami` is more beneficial than the works of Bukhari and Muslim since their compilations can only be understood by a very deep sighted scholar whereas Al-Jami` can be understood by both the scholar and the layman.

Imam Tirmidhi said that he compiled this book and presented it to the learned of Hijaz, Iraq and Khurasan and they were pleased with it. Who ever has this book in his home, it is as though he has the Prophet (s) speaking to him there.

His remarkable memory:

Imam Tirmidhi had an exceptionally remarkable memory. If he heard something once he never forgot it. Once on his way to Makkah, Imam Tirmidhi met a scholar of hadith (muhaddith) from whom he had previously copied two chapters of hadith. Thinking that he had the notes with him he asked the scholar if he would allow him to read out these two chapters so that he could correct any errors. After realizing that he did not have those notes with him he took a blank piece of paper and read out the entire two parts from memory. When the muhaddith realized what he was doing he rebuked Imam Tirmidhi saying: “Have you no shame, why are you wasting my time.” Imam Tirmidhi assured him that he had committed all the ahadith to memory. The scholar was not convinced, even though Imam Tirmidhi had recited all the hadith from memory. Imam Tirmidhi requested him to recite to him some other hadith. The scholar recited forty ahadith which Imam Tirmidhi thenrepeated without making a single error, thus showing his remarkable power of committing hadith to memory.

Another incident has been recorded by Hakim ul-Ummat in his Al-Misk-us-Zaki, depicting the profound memory of Imam Tirmidhi. He writes:

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