Imām al Hāfidh Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalānī
His Name and Lineage:
The full name of the famous Imām, al Hāfidh Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalānī is Abū al Fadl, Shihabuddīn Ahmad bin ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Ahmad al Kinanī ash Shāfi’ī.
Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalānī was born on 10th Sha’bān, 773 H. in Egypt, where he grew up also.
He memorized the Qur’ān at the age of nine years and also memorized Al-Hawi, the book Muktasar of Ibn al Hajib, and other books. He traveled to Makkah and listened to the teaching of its ‘ulemā. He admired the knowledge of Hadīth and began to acquire it from the great mashāyikh in Hījāz, ash Shām, Egypt and stayed with az Zain al ‘Irāqī for ten years. He also studied under al Balqinī, Ibn al Mulaqqin and others. Many eminent mashāyikh of his time approved his knowledge and allowed him to give religious verdicts and teach.
He had learned the two sources (Qur’ān and Hadīth) from al ‘Izz bin Jama’a, the language from al Majd al Fairūzabādī, the ‘Arabic from al ‘Amarī, literature and poetry from al Badr al Mushtakī and writing from a group of professors. He also recited some parts of the Qur’ān in all the seven styles of recitation before at Tanūkhī.
He occupied himself with the promotion of the knowledge of hadīth, so he dwelt in its study, teaching, writing and giving fatāwa (religious verdicts). He also taught the tafsīr, the hadīth, the fiqh (jurisprudence) and preached at many places like Al Azhar, Jāmi’ ‘Amr and others. He also dictated to his students from his memory. Many highly educated people and distinguished scholars traveled to him to acquire from his vast knowledge.
Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalānī authored more than 150 books – most of them being in the studies of Hadīth – which flourished during his lifetime, and the kings and princes exchanged them as gifts. His book most worthy of mentioning is Fath al Bārī – the commentary of Sahīh al Bukhārī, which he had started in the beginning of 807 H., after finishing its introductory part in 813 H., and completed the whole commentary in Rajab 842 H. After the completion of the commentary, he held a party attended by the Muslim dignitaries and spent 500 dinār on it. Then some kings requested for it and paid 300 dinār.
Ibn Hajar became the Qādī of Egypt, then ash Shām was also added to his jurisdiction which he held for more than twenty-one years. He was against holding the office of the qādī at first, until the Sultān assigned to him a special case, then he accepted to represent al Bakinī when he begged him very much to preside for him as qādī. Then he presided for others until he was assigned to hold the office of Chief Qādī on 12 Muharram, 827 H. He then left, but he had to take the office left of the Chief Qādī, for seven times until he led it finally in 852 H. which is the year he died in.
As concerns his personality, al ‘Asqalānī was humble, tolerant, patient and enduring. He was also described to be hilarious, steadfast, prudent, ascetic. selfless, generous, spender in charity and a person praying and fasting voluntarily. On the other hand he was said to be used to telling of humorous anecdotes. He had also good manners of dealing with all the Imām whether highly or lowly placed, and with all those who sat with him whether old or young.
Ibn Hajar died after the ‘Isha prayer on Saturday, 8th Dhul Hijja 852 H.
May Allāh reward him generously.
(Alternate Spelling: Asqalaanee, Asqalanee)