Imam Tirmidhi

Imam Tirmidhi had lost his sight towards the latter portion of his life. Once whilst on a journey, at a certain point he bowed his head. When asked as to why he did this, he replied: “Is there not a tree here whose branches hang over in such a manner that it harms those who are passing by.” They answered in the negative. He was quite shocked when he heard this as he distinctly remembered there being a tree and was worried as to whether his memory was failing him or not. He stopped the caravan immediately and asked his companions to enquire from the locals whether a tree had existed there or not. “If it is established that no tree existed then I will stop narrating the Hadith of the Prophet (s) due to my weak memory.” On inquiry it was shown to them that a tree had previously existed over there but due to it being a hindrance to travelers it was removed.

Imam Tirmidhi had a large number of students from all over the world. The most famous amongst them were Haysam ibn Kulaib, Abul Abbaas and Muhammed ibn Ahmed Shah Abdul `Aziz describes Imam Tirmidhi in the following words: “His memory was unique and his piety and fear of Allah ta’la was of a very high caliber. He would cry so much out of the fear of Allah, that towards the end of his life he lost his sight.”

According to Ibn Taymiyya and Shah Waliullah, Imam Timidhi was an independent Jurist (Mujtahid). Moulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri is of the opinion that he was a Shafi`i.

In the year 279 A.H. in a village called Bawag at the age of 70 , Imam Tirmidhi left this temporary abode for the everlasting life of the hereafter. May Allah swt fill his grave with light. The enormity of his sacrifices and the extent to which he served the religion can never be fully comprehended.

Many books of hadith were compiled before Imam Tirmidhi decided to compile his Al-Jami`. Dawud Tayalisi and Ahmed ibn Hanbal had compiled books consisting of both authentic and weak hadith. Later Imam Bukhari compiled his Sahih and omitted all weak narrations from it. His main objective was to derive masa’il / laws from the relevant hadith. Later Imam Muslim compiled his book with a primary focus on the isnad (different chain of narrators). Imam Nasa’i's aim was to mention the discrepancies of the hadith whilst Abu Dawud prepared a book which became the basis for the fuqaha. Imam Tirmidhi had combined the styles of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Nasa’i by mentioning the discrepancies regarding the narrators and also making his compilation a basis for the jurists.

The Special characteristics of al-Jami` ut-Tirmidhi

1. It is a Sunan and a Jami`.

2. Only 83 hadith are repeated.

3. Imam Tirmidhi omits the major portion of the hadith and only mentions that part which is relevant to the heading. (title)

4. After mentioning a hadith he classifies it narration (whether it is authentic or weak, etc.)

5. He specifies the narrators names, e.g. if the narrators kunya (honorific name) was mentioned, he would then mention his proper name and vice versa.

6. One hadith in Tirmidhi is a thulaathiyaat i.e. the transmitters of the hadith betwen Imam Tirmidhi and the Prophet (s) are only three.

7. Every hadith in Tirmidhi al-Jami` is “ma’mul bihi” (practised upon by the jurists.)

8. He explains the different madhahib together with their proofs.

9. He gives an explanation to all difficult ahadith.

10. His book has been set out in an excellent sequence, hence to look for a hadith is very easy.

11. There is no fabricated hadith in the entire book.

The conditions of Imam Tirmidhi in the selection of hadith

According to the commentators of Al-Jami Imam Tirmidhi maintained the following conditions throughout the compilation of his book.

1. He never narrated hadith from those who fabricated hadith. 2. Allama Tahir Muqaddisi mentions that al-Jami` ut-Tirmidhicontains four types of hadith:

[1] Those ahadith that conform with the conditions of Bukhari and Muslim.

[2] Those ahadith that conform with the conditions of Abu Dawud and Nasa’i.

[3] Those ahadith that have certain discrepancies either in the sanad or matan.

[4] Those weak hadith that some fuqaha have relied on.

3. Imam Tirmidhi accepts a hadith which is narrated with the word “a’n” provided both the narrators are contemporaries. 4. After mentioning a weak hadith, he explains the state of its weakness. 5. A mursal hadith is accepted by Imam Tirmidhi when it is supported by a chain of narrators which is not broken.

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