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[Biography] – Imam Muhammad bin Isa at-Tirmidhi [279H]

Compiled, Translated and Annotated
Abu Hibbaan & Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari

First Published 2000

His Birth and Lineage
He is The Imaam, The Haafidh, al-Allaamah, Muhammad bin Eesaa bin Soorah bin Moosaa bin adh-Dhihaak as-Silmee adh-Dhareer al-Baughee at-Tirmidhee, his name was Muhammad and his Kunyah was Abu Eesaa.

He was born in 209H.

Imaam Tirmidhee’s lineage is from Banee Saleem which is a branch of Banee Gheelaan. His grandfather whose name was Soorah, had a Marwazee origin and he for some reason moved to Tirmidh. Tirmidh is near the river Jeehoon of the area of Balkh.

His travels in search of hadeeth were very vast and expansive and during his search he travelled to Basrah, Koofah, Waasit, Reh, Khurasaan and Hijaaz.

His Teachers And Those Who He Narrated From

  • al-Imaam, Ameer al-Mu’mineen Fil-Hadeeth, a thorn in the hearts of Hanafee’s, Imaam Bukhaaree, who he acquired the knowledge of fiqh and hadeeth from as well as learning from his teachers,
  • Imaam Muslim,
  • Imaam Abu Daawood,
  • Qutaibah bin Sa’eed,
  • Abu Mus’ab Ahmad bin Abee Bakr az-Zuhree al-Madanee,
  • Ibraaheem bin Abdullah Harawee,
  • Ismaa’eel bin Moosaa as-Suddee,
  • Suwaid bin Nasr al-Marwazee,
  • Alee bin Hujr al-Marwazee,
  • Muhammad bin Abdul-Maalik bin Abee ash-Shawaarib,
  • Abdullah bin Mu’awiyyah Jamhee,
  • Muhammad bin Bishaar.

His Students And Those Who Narrated From Him

  • Muhammad bin Bishaar Bundaar,
  • Abu Moosaa Muhammad bin al-Muthnaa,
  • Ziyaad bin Yahyaa al-Hasaanee,
  • Abbaas bin Abdul-A’dheem al-Anbaree,
  • Abu Sa’eed al-Ashaju Abdullah bin Sa’eed al-Kandee,
  • Abu Hafs Amr bin Alee al-Falaas,
  • Ya’qoob bin Ibraaheem ad-Doorqee,
  • Muhammad bin Mu’amar al-Qaisee al-Bahraanee,
  • Nasr bin Alee al-Jahdhamiyyu,
  • Muhammad bin Mundhir Shakkar,
  • Makhool bin Fadhl,
  • Muhammad bin Mahmood bin Anbar,
  • Hamaad bin Shaakir,
  • Hushaim bin Kulaib Shaashee,
  • Ahmad bin Alee bin Hasnawiyyah,
  • Abul-Abbaas Mahbubee

And many more…

Imaam al-Muhadditheen Muhammad bin Ismaa’eel al-Bukhaaree narrates from Imaam Tirmidhee and mentions him in his ‘Saheeh’, as Imaam Tirmidhee himself has mentioned this.

His Works

  • Jaam’i at-Tirmidhee,
  • Kitaab al-Illal,
  • al-Illal, (this is at the end of Jaami at-Tirmidhee)
  • Shamail Tirmidhee,
  • az-Zuhd,
  • at-Taareekh,
  • Asmaa as-Sahaabah,
  • al-Asmaa al-Kunaa,
  • Kitaab Fil-Athaar al-Mawqoofah,
  • Kitaab Jarh Wa-Ta’deel.

The Scholars Praise For Imaam Tirmidhee
He was not a big man, he was weak and skinny. During the latter part of his life he became blind due to constant crying and Imaam Ibn Katheer said according to one statement he was born blind however the more well known reason for him losing his sight is the first one.

Abu Ya’ala al-Khaleel bin Abdullah al-Khaleelee al-Qazwaynee wrote in his book ‘Uloom al-Hadeeth’,

“All the scholars of hadeeth (muhadditheen) are agreed upon (his trustworthiness) Muhammad ibn Eesaa bin Soorah bin Shadaad al-Haafidh.”

Imaam Haakim said,

“I heard from Umar bin A’lk who said, ‘When Imaam Bukhaaree died he left no man behind him as Abu Eesaa in knowledge, memory, piety and righteousness, he would cry so much due to the fear of Allaah that he became blind and he remained alive for a number of years in this state.’”

Ibn Daqeeq as-Sa’eed said,

“The pronouncement of the word Tirmidh with Taa and Meem became so much so that it began reaching the level of tawatur.”

Ibn Hibbaan said in Kitaab ath-Thiqaat,

“Abu Eesa compiled the knowledge of hadeeth and authored books in this field and preserved them by his memory and re-itterated.”

Abu Sa’eed Idreesee said,

“Abu Eesaa’s memory was one of example.”

They say some scholars of hadeeth tested Abu Eesaa, so they recited 40 of their ghareeb (strange/odd) ahaadeeth to him. Then immediately Imaam Abu Eesaa at-Tirmidhee recited all 40 ahaadeeth back to them. Upon this they said,

“We have not seen a scholar of hadeeth like you.”

Idreesee narrates with his chain from Imaam Abu Eesaa who said,

“Once on the way to Makkah I wrote two parts of a hadeeth of a Shaykh. Coincidently I met him so I asked him to narrate the ahaadeeth, which he accepted. I had thought I had written the two parts but unfortunately I had both parts (of paper) in my hand without anything written on them. The Shaykh recited the ahaadeeth and he saw the two parts in my hand and said, ‘Are you not ashamed.’ So I explained the events and told him not to worry and your efforts are not wasted, ‘I have memorised all the ahaadeeth you have narrated.’ But he did not believe me and said, ‘Recite them.’ So I recited them. But he was still not saisfied and said, ‘You had memorised them from before.’ So I said, ‘Narrate some other ahaadeeth and we will see.’ So he narrated a further 40 ahaadeeth, and I recited them all back to him without the mistake of a single letter.”

Sam’anee said in al-Insaab,

“Imaam of his era without competition, the author.”

Imaam al-Mizzee said,

“al-Haafidh the author of al-Jaami and other works, one of the Haafidh Imaams.”

Imaam adh-Dhahabee said,

“al-Haafidh of the time, the author of Jaami, his trustworthiness is agreed upon.”

Haafidh Ibn Hajr said,

“One of the Imaams.”

Imaam Ibn Katheer said,

“He was an Imaam of his time from the Imaams who had high status’s.”

The Status of Jaami at-Tirmidhee
His Sunan has approximately 3956 Ahaadeeth. Some of the specialities of his Sunan are that it mentions the practices of the companions and sucessors, of the major scholars, critical analysis of the narrators, defects and grading of ahaadeeth.

The level of Imaam Tirmidhee’s fiqh can be appreciated from the chapter headings he uses in his Sunan.

Imaam Abu Eesaa Tirmidhee himself said,

“When I authored this work I presented it to the scholars of Hijaaz, A’raaq and Khurasaan, all of them read it and liked it. Whoever has this book in his house (i.e. Jaam’i Tirmidhee) then it is as if the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) is talking himself.”

Abu Nasr Abdur-Raheem bin Abdul-Haqq Yusoofee said,

“There are four types of ahaadeeth in Jaam’i Tirmidhee, (1) their authenticity is certain. (2) This type is upon the conditions of Abu Daawood and Nasaa’ee. (3) A type in which he has mentioned the defects and weakness of the hadeeth, (4) and about the fourth type he says himself, “I have not transmitted any such hadeeth in my book upon which a faqeeh did not act.”

Explanations of Sunan at-Tirmidhee

  1. A’aridah al-Ahwadhee Fee Sharh al-Jaami Lit-Tirmidhee, by Haafidh Abu Bakr bin Abdullah al-Ma’aroof Ibn al-Arabee. It has been printed in Egypt with many mistakes and there are two manuscripts of it, one in Madeenah and the second in a library in Bihaar.
  2. Sharh Jaami Lit-Tirmidhee, by Haafidh Abul-Fath Muhammad bin Sayyid an-Naas.
  3. Sharh Jaami Lit-Tirmidhee, by Zain-ud-Deen Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Ahmad Naqeeb al-A’raaqee, it reached a total of 20 volumes but got burnt during some fitnah.
  4. al-Urf ash-Shadhee Ala Jaami at-Tirmidhee, by Siraaj-ud-Deen Umar bin Raslaan, only a small part was explained.
  5. Sharh az-Zawaa’id Lit-Tirmidhee, by Allaamah Siraaj-ud-Deen Umar bin Alee al-Mulqin, this is an explanation of the additional ahaadeeth other than those in the two Saheehs and in Sunan Abee Daawood.
  6. al-Lab al-Libaab Feemaa Yaqool at-Tirmidhee Wa Fil-Baab, by Haafidh Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaanee, this is in one volume and a copy is in Madeenah. It is an extremely indespensible book in which he has explained the words and ahaadeeth with the sciences of Jarh Wa-Ta’deel when Imaam Tirmidhee says, “Wa Fil Baal An Fulaan…” about the ahaadeeth pertaining to fiqhee issues.
  7. Quwwat al-Mughtadee Ala Jaami at-Tirmidhee, by Allaamah Suyootee.
  8. Sharh Jaami at-Tirmidhee, by Haafidh Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaanee, as he has mentioned himself in Fath ul-Baaree.
  9. Sharh Jaami at-Tirmidhee, by Shaykh Abul-Hasan bin Abdul-Haadee as-Sindhee, an excellent explanation which the author did in the Haram (sanctuary) it is in 40 Juzz.
  10. Sharh Jaami at-Tirmidhee, by Allaamah Abu Tayyib Sindhee.
  11. Hidaayatul-Lu’zee Bi-Nukaat at-Tirmidhee, by Allaamah Abu Tayyib Shams ul-Haqq A’dheemabaadee, other than an explanation it has a very detailed and comprehensive analysis and discussion on the chains of Sunan at-Tirmidhee. It was not completed.

    Allaamah ash-Shaykh Ubaidullaah Rehmaanee said,

    “What pity the Allaamah was unable to complete this explanation during his life.”

  12. Tuhfatul-Ahwadhee Sharh Jaami at-Tirmidhee, by Allaamah ash-Shaykh Abul-A’la Abdur-Rahmaan Mubaarakpooree, this is one of the best explanations ever authored on Jaami at-Tirmidhee the first volume was printed in 1342H. Those who have consulted have always sighed in exclamation. It also includes answers and refutations of the Hanafee Madhhab and more so answers to the works and idea’s of Nimawee and his work Aathaar as-Sunan.
  13. al-Jaami as-Saheeh Wahuwa Sunan at-Tirmidhee Tahqeeq Wa Sharh, by Allaamah ash-Shaykh Abil-Ishbaal Ahmad Muhammad Shaakir, the first two volumes were published in 1356H. It was later published in 5 volumes the explainer however pased away and was thus unable to complete it.

    Shaykh Ubaidullah Rehmaanee said,

    “My heart supplicates dearly that this book is printed quickly in the manner of the previous volumes, it is an invalubale gift of knowledge for the scholars of Ahlul-Hadeeth.”

  14. & 15. Rashh as-Sihaab Feemaa Tark ash-Shaykh Mimaa Fil-Libaab and Takhreej Ahadeeth at-Tirmidhee Maa Fil-Libaab, by Allaamah al-Usaadh Faidh ur-Rahmaan ath-Thawree, these two books have integral scholarly points and great benefit.

His Death
The Imaam died on the 13th of Rajab in 279H in his city of Tirmidh.



[1] Sources for this biography are:

  • Sharh Illal at-Tirmidhee (1/11-14), by Haafidh Ibn Rajab
  • Seeratal-Bukhaaree (pgs-357-368) of Shaykh Muhammad Abdus-Salaam Mubaarakpooree A’dhamgharee, with additional notes by his son Shaykh Ubaidullah Rehmaanee wa Mubaarakpooreee.
  • Tadhkirratul-Huffaadh (2/154-155 no.658)
  • Subl as-Salaam Sharh Buloogh al-Maraam (1/88)
  • Tabaqaat al-Huffaadh (pg’s 282 no.634)
  • al-Jaami as-Saheeh Wahuwa Sunan at-Tirmidhee Tahqeeq Wa Sharh (1/77-91) of Allaamah ash-Shaykh Abil-Ishbaal Ahmad Muhammad Shaakir.
  • al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah (11/66-67) of Imaam Ibn Katheer,
  • Taqreeb at-Tahdheeb (pg.435 no.6206),
  • Tuhfa Ahlun-Nazar Fee Mastalah Ahlul-Khabar (pgs. 303-304),
  • Bustaanul-Muhadditheen (pgs. 290-295),
  • Usool al-Hadeeth Uloomuhu Wa Mastalahu (pgs.211-213), and
  • The Service To Ahadeeth By The Ahlul-Hadeeth Scholars of Pakistan and Hindh, by Allaamah Irshaad ul-Haqq al-Atharee.

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