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Al-Imam al-Faqih Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hajar al-Haytami

He is al-Azhari in scholarship, al-Ash’ari in doctrine, al-Junaidi in the tasawwuf path

Source : / 20 Sep 2013

Shihab al-Din Abu al-’Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Hajr al-Haytami al-Makki al-Ansari. He is al-Azhari in scholarship, al-Ash’ari in doctrine, al-Junaidi in the tasawwuf path, a Hadith master, and a brilliant scholar of in-depth applications of Sacred Law. He was born in the end of 909 H in Abu Haytam, western Egypt. He was the Shāfi‘ī Imām of his time.

His father passed away whilst his grandfather was still alive. His nurturing was then handed over to the two shayks of his father, al-‘Arif al-Kamil Muhammad al-Sarawi well know as Ibn Abi al-Hamail (932 H) and al-‘Arif al-Kamil the student of Ibn Abi Hamail, Shams al-din Ahmad al-Shanawi, among the foremost student of Shaykh al-Islam al-Sharf al-Munawi.

Shaykh Ahmad al-Shanawi had sent him to Tanta for his primary education and memorization of the holy Qur’an. Thereafter, in the beginning of the year 924 H, he was granted an admission into ka’bat al-ilmi al-Jami’ al-Azhar. He was under the tutelage of the students of Shaykh al-Shanawi in the al-Azhar, together with the companion of the honorable scholars of al-Azhar.

He studied under many well known students of al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, the utmost among them, Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari (926 H). Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami mentioned, “Whenever I met Qadi Zakariyya, he would supplicate for me, “May Allah give you deep understanding of din (religion).”” He was given authority to issue fatwa (legal verdict) at the end of 929 H.

Among his other teachers were ‘Abd al-Haq al-Sinbāti (931 H), Shihab al-din Ahmad al-Ramli (958 H), Nasir al-din al-Tablawi (966 H), Abu al-Hasan al-Bakri (952 H) Shihab al-din ibn al-Najjar al-Hanbali (949 H) and other great scholars of his time.

He was a master in the field of Tafsir, Hadith, Kalam, Fiqh, Usul, Fara’idh and Arithmetic, Nahw, Sarf, Ma’ani, Mantiq, Bayan, Tasawwuf, and was blessed with an excellent memory retention, for which he was well-known.

He went to Makkah 933 H, together with his shaykh al-Bakri. He stayed in Makkah till the year 934 H. During this period, he had desire to write a treatise in fiqh. However, he suppressed this desire till he met Imam al-Haris ibn Asad al-Muhasibi radiyaLlah ta’ala ‘anhu in dream, who commanded him to author a book. He accepted this glad tiding with joy and thanked Allah ta’ala and began authoring his book.

When he returned from Makkah, he abridged Matn al-Raudhah and wrote a commentary on it encompasses the discussion on Sharh al-Raudh, al-Jawahir, and many other commentaries of al-Minhaj and al-Anwar. In the year 937 H, he once again accompanied his Shaykh on hajj. He brought together with him in this journey, the commentary of Mukhtasar al-Raudhah that he compiled. In this journey, he had the opportunity to gather additional notes for this commentary from the books of Yemeni ‘ulama. The scholars saw this kitab when he reached Egypt and they gave it great importance. Some of them requested him to make a copy of it, however, an envious person amongst them stole the kitab and Imam Ibn Hajar had never seen the kitab again. This cause intense grief to him, although, he handed over the matter to Allah ta’ala, remained patient and sought reward from Allah ta’ala. However, Allah ta’ala replaced for him something better than that commentary.

In the year 940 H, he stayed in Makkah for a period, involved himself in writing, issuing fatwa and teaching. Whilst in Makkah, he wrote a commentary on Idhah al-Nawawi, then Sharh al-Irshad with two commentaries, then Sharh al-‘Ubab. He gathered in this commentary all the different opinions in the madhhab,while scrutinizing, criticizing, and explaining the preferred opinion. Furthermore, he solved the intricate problem, encompassing all the books of the madhhab.

Thereafter, he authored his monumental work; Tuhfat al-muhtaj bi sharh al-Minhaj, a commentary on al-Imām al-Nawawi’s Minhaj al-talibin whose ten volumes represent a high point in Shāfi‘ī scholarship

Among his famous student are Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Umar ibn Ahmad al-‘Amudi, Malik al-muhaddithin Jamal al-din al-Hindi, al-Imam al-‘Allamah Abu al-Sa’adat, Shaykh al-mashaikh al-Burhan ibn al-Ahdab and others.

The Imām passed away in the year 974 H and was buried in al-Ma’la, Makkah close to the grave of Ibn al-Zubair radiyaLlahu ‘anhu. Among his karamah was that some of his companions saw him in the dream and enquired of his condition. He replied, “We are in the illiyyin (lofty station).” May Allah ta’ala fill his grave with light and coolness and may He grant us the tawfiq to follow the path of our pious predecessor.


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