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[Biography] – Imam Suleiman bin al-Ash’at Abu Dawud [275H]

Compiled, Translated and Annotated
Abu Hibbaan & Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari

First Published 2000

His Birth and Lineage
He is al-Imaam, the firm, leader of the Huffaadh, Suleimaan bin al-Ash’at bin Ishaaq bin Basheer bin Shadaad bin Amr bin Imraan al-Azdee as-Sijastaanee and his kunyah is Abu Daawood.

Haafidh Ibn Hajr said,

“al-Haafidh, Thiqah (trustworthy), Haafidh, the author of the Sunan and others, from the major Scholars (Min Kibaar al-Ulama).”

Imaam Abu Daawood himself said,

“I was born in 202H and in 220H I prayed the funeral prayer of the famous scholar of hadeeth, Ghaffaan, in Baghdaad.”

Ibn Khalkaan said he is attributed to Sijastaan or Sijastaanah, which is a district of Basrah. However this according to Shaykh Taaj-ud-Deen Subkee is a mistake as he says,

“This is his mistake (ie Ibn Khalkaans) and what is correct is that his attribution it to a place inIndiawhich is between Sindh and Heraat and is near Qandahaar.”

Imaam adh-Dhahabee said,

“It has been established with conclusive evidence that he was a resident of the country of Sijastaan which is bordered by Makraan to one side and Sindh on the otherside and it is infront of Heraat. Some say he was a resident of a village called Sijastaan near the city of Basrah.”

His Education
He started learning at an early age and travelled to many cities in the search for learning Ahadeeth, he travelled to Hijaaz,Shaam,Egypt, A’raaq, theArabPeninsula, Thaghar, Khurasaan and many distance places.

He travelled to Baghdaad many times and the last time he visited it was in the year 272H after which he returned to Basrah where he resided for the remaining years of his life.

His Teachers and Those Who He Narrated From
Haafidh Ibn Hajr after looking at his Sunan estimated he had more than 300 teachers. He learnt and narrated hadeeth from:

  • Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal,
  • Abee Salamah at-Taboozkee,
  • Qa’anaabee,
  • Muhammad Ibn Katheer al-Abdee,
  • Muslim Ibn Ibraaheem,
  • Abdullaah bin Rajaa,
  • Abul Waleed at-Tiyaalisee,
  • Ahmad Ibn Yoonus,
  • Abu Ja’afar an-Nafeelee,
  • Sa’eed bin Suleimaan al-Waasitee,
  • Abu Taubah al-Halabee,
  • Safwaan bin Saaleh ad-Dimashqee,
  • Yahyaa Ibn Ma’een,
  • Ishaaq,
  • Ibn al-Madeenee,
  • Suleimaan Ibn Harb,
  • Qatan bin Naseer,
  • Abee Amr adh-Dhareer,
  • From the teachers of Bukhaaree and Muslim and many others.

His Students and Those Who Narrated From Him
He had many students from them include:

  • The two great scholars of hadeeth, Imaam Tirmidhee and Imaam Nasaa’ee,
  • His son Abu Bakr,
  • Harb Kirmaanee,
  • Abee Amr Ahmad bin Alee bin Hasan al-Basree,
  • Zakariyyah as-Saajee,
  • Abu Awaanah,
  • Abu Basheer ad-Daulaabee,
  • Alee bin Hussain bin Abd al-Ansaari,
  • Abu Tayyib Ahmad bin Ibraaheem bin Abdur Rahmaan al-A’shaanee,
  • Abu Bakr al-Khalaal,
  • Abu Saalim Muhammad bin Sa’eed Abu Usaamah,
  • Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Malik,
  • Abu Bakr an-Najaad,
  • The narrators of his Sunan, Sunan Abee Daawood:
    1. Abu Alee Muhammad Ibn Ahmad bin Amr Lulu’ee,
    2. Abu Sa’eed Ahmad Ibn Muhammad bin Ziyaad bin Bishr also known as Ibn al-Arabee,
    3. Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Bakr bin Muhammad bin Abdur Razzaaq bin Daasah at-Timaar al-Basree

And many more…

Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal narrated the hadeeth of A’teerah from him and he was very honoured by this as he was the only one who knew the hadeeth.

The hadeeth of A’teerah is the sheep the polytheist of Arabia used to slaughter in the month of Rajab in the days of ignorance for their idols.

His Works
Some of his works include:

  1. Sunan Abee Daawood
  2. an-Naaskh Wal-Mansookh
  3. Radd Alal-Qadariyyah
  4. al-Maraaseel
  5. Ahlul-Amsaar Fadhail Ansaar
  6. Musnad Maalik Ibn Anas
  7. Ma’arifah al-Awqaat Wal-Ikhwaat
  8. Badaa al-Wahee
  9. Kitaab ad-Du’aa
  10. Dala’il an-Nabuwwah

And many more…

The Scholars Praise of Imaam Abu Daawood
The following has been narrated concerning the Imaam:

Abu Bakr al-Khalaal said,

“Abu Daawood was the Imaam of his time, there was no one like him during his time in the verification of the sciences and identifying points.”

Ibn Dasaah said,

“Imaam Abu Daawood used to have one sleeve very loose and the other one normal. He was asked the reason for this he said, “The loose sleeve is to keep my books in and the other one is not in need so it is normal.”

His manner of speaking, behaving, characteristics, manners and habits resembled Imaam Ahmads, and Ahmads like Wakee, Wakee like Sufyaan, Sufyaan like Mansoor, Mansoor like Ibraaheem, Ibraaheem like Alqamah, Alqamah like Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood (radi-Allaahu ‘anhu) and Alqamah said,

“Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood (radi-Allaahu ‘anhu) resembled the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) in his speaking, character, manners and habits.”

Haakim Abu Abdullaah said,

“Imaam Abu Daawood without any opposition was the Imaam of Ahlul-Hadeeth of his time.”

Moosaa bin Haroon said,

“Abu Daawood was created for hadeeth in this world and for Paradise in the hereafter, I have not seen a better person than him.”

Haafidh Abu Taahir Silafee introduced this in poetry and said,

“Hadeeth and the knowledge of hadeeth softened with its splendeour,
For Imaam Abu Daawood the Imaam of Ahlul-Hadeeth,
Just like metal and its like softened,
For Daawood (alayhis-salaam) who was a Prophet of his time.”

He also wrote a short poem concerning the Sunan of Imaam Abu Daawood.

When Ibraaheem al-Harbee a great Muhaddith of that time saw Sunan Abee Daawood he said,

“Allaah Ta’ala softened the knowledge of hadeeth for Abu Daawood just as the metal was softened for Daawood (Alayhis salam).”

Muhammad Ibn Ishaaq Saaghaanee also said the same.

Abu Abdullaah bin Mandah said,

“There are four who extracted the authentic from the faulty and the errors from the correct ones (i.e. Ahaadeeth):- al-Bukhaaree, Muslim and after them Abu Daawood and Nasaa’ee.”

The Status of Sunan Abee Daawood
Ibn Daasah said,

“I heard Imaam Abu Daawood say, ‘I wrote five hundred thousand (500,000) ahaadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) and from them I compiled my Sunan which has four thousand and eight hundred ahaadeeth (4,800) and there is not a hadeeth in it upon which the people are agreed to its rejection.’”

According to the research and numbering of Shaykh Muhammad Muhi-ud-Deen Abdul-Hameed there are a total of 5274 ahaadeeth in Sunan Abu Daawood and this may be due to the additional 600 mursal narrations.

His Sunan was narrated in the city of Baghdaad and the people accepted it. When Imaam Abu Daawood completed his Sunan he presented it to Imaam Ahmad who praised it and liked it.

Muhammad Ibn Mukhlid said,

“When Abu Daawood wrote his Sunan he read it to the people, it became worthy to be followed after the Qur’aan by the people of Hadeeth (Ahlul-Hadeeth).”

Imaam Khattaabee said,

“The categorisation of Sunan Abee Daawood is good and there are more issues of fiqh than in the Saheehain (Bukhaaree and Muslim).”

Ibn al-Arabee said,

“Whoever has the book of Allaah and Sunan Abee Daawood then he does not need anything else in terms of knowledge.”

Yahyaa bin Zakariyyah bin Yahyaa as-Saajee said,

“The basis of Islaam is the Book of Allaah and its Pillar (i.e. of Islaam) is Sunan Abee Daawood.”

Haafidh Abu Taahir Salafee with his own chain narrates from Hasan bin Muhammad bin Ibraaheem Azdee, he narrates that,

“Hasan Ibn Muhammad said to me, “I saw the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) in a dream he said, ‘Whosoever wishes to act upon the Sunnah then he should read Sunan Abee Daawood.’“”

Explanations Of Sunan Abee Daawood
The following explanations of Sunan Abee Daawood have been written:

  1. Mu’alim as-Sunan of Abu Suliemaan al-Khattaabee (d.388H)
  2. Sharh Sunan Abee Daawood, by Imaam Nawawee (uncompleted).
  3. Shrah Tahdheeb as-Sunan Sharh Mukhtasar Sunan Abee Daawood, by Allaamah Ibn Qayyim.
  4. Sharh Sunan Abee Daawood, by Haafidh al-A’raaqee. (unprinted).
  5. Intihaa as-Sunan Wa-Iqtidha as-Sunan, by Shaykh Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Ibraaheem bin Hilaal al-Maqdisee. (Unprinted).
  6. Mirqaat as-Sa’ood Ilaa Sunan Abee Daawood, bi Imaam Suyootee.
  7. Fath al-Wadood Ala Sunan Abee Daawood, by Allaamah Abul-Hasan Muhammad bin Abdul-Haadee as-Sindhee.
  8. Ghaayatal Maqsood Sharh Sunan Abee Daawood of al-Allaamah Abu Tayyib Shams ul-Haqq Adheemabaadee wa Dhiyaanwee.
  9. A’un al-Ma’bood Sharh Sunan Abee Daawood.(same author as above).
  10. Faidh al-Wadood Ta’leeqaat Ala Sunan Abee Daawood of Shaykh Muhaddith Ataaullaah Haneef Bhojiaanee

And many more…

The Khaleefah’s brother had asked him to move to Basrah due to the fitnah of the Zanj so that Basrah may be filled with knowledge.

His Death
He was very pious, the one who feared Allaah and righteous. He died on Friday the 16th of Shawwaal in the year 275H in Basrah and was buried next to Imaam Sufyaan ath-Thawree.

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