He is Muslim b. Hajjaj b. Muslim b. Ward b. Koshaz al-Qushayri1 al-Nishapuri. His Kunya is Abu Husayn. Allamah Zahabi states his affiliation with the Arab clan of Qushayr may be one born from fealty as opposed to lineage. Allamah Tuni, an eminent genealogist, says with certainty that it was fealty2. This is likely as Koshaz, the name of his great great grandfather is foreign which further supports the notion that he was of non-Arab descent.
He was born in 206 AH according to the prevalent view3 while Allm. Ibn Kathir opts for 204 AH4. It is undisputed that he died in 261 AH5 thus making him fifty-five at the time of death6. His place of birth and death was in Nishapur, the capital of Khurasan. His primary residence was in the very same city although he did travel frequently. In 220 AH, he travelled to the Hijaz for Hajj and returned soon after. He would later travel again to the Hijaz as well as Egypt, Syria, Iraq amongst other places. He would frequently visit Baghdad with his last trip to the city being in 259 AH7.
Imam Muslim was prudent man in that he unduly never harmed anyone either verbally or physically8. He seemed to avoid controversy wherever possible. He was respectful especially so of his teachers, however, that did not hinder him from the truth9. He was fair, upfront and made his position clear as is evident from his commendable treatment of Imams Bukhari and Zuhali (may Allah have mercy upon them both) at the height of their dispute10. Hafidh Zahabi affirms the evaluation of Imam Muslim’s teachers, peers, students and the following generations of experts in the field of Hadith and Rijal with the declaration that he was Sadiq (honest) . It is apparent from his work that he was a proactive person.
He first heard hadith from Yahya b. Yahya al-Timimi11 in 218 AH (aged 12)12 and thereafter many other scholars in Nishapur. In 220 AH (aged 14) he travelled to the Hijaz for Hajj where he had the opportunity to hear hadith from al-Qa’nabi. Before 230 AH he had travelled and learned from the scholars of Iraq, Syria, Hijaz, Egypt amongst many other places by which time he had become an authority in his own right. By his own admission, he knew three hundred thousand hadith at the very least. His last trip to Baghdad was in 259 AH.
A list of some 220 of his teachers is present in his Sahih with inclusions of such Muhaddithin as, Ishaq b. Rahwayyah, Qutaybah b. Sa’id, Ahmad b. Hanbal et al. This is by no means a comprehensive list; notable exemptions include figures such as Imams Bukhari, Zuhali (d. 258), Ali b. Madini (d. 234), Ali b. Ja’d (d. 230), Muhammad b. Abd al-Farra (d. 272) amongst others who were also his teachers. See Tahzib al-Kamal of Hafidh al-Mizzi for a fuller list.
He was one of the leading authorities of his time as such his students are numerous including notable figures such as Imams Abu ‘Isa Tirmidhi, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Khuzaymah, Ali b. Al-Hasan al-Hilali, Abu ‘Awanah amongst many more.
His status can be deemed from the statement of his teacher and the teacher of Imam Bukhari, Muhammad b. Bashshar who declares him to be one of the four Imams of Hadith at a time which can be considered the golden age of the field. He puts him on a par with Abu Zur’a of Rayy, Abd Allah al-Darimi of Samarqand and Muhammad b. Isma’il of Bukhara13.
He has outlined his approach to the study and propagation in his Muqaddima to his Sahih. His areas of expertise can be gauged by his written work. One merit he has over his teacher Imam Bukhari is that he had greater knowledge than him in the nomenclature of the scholars of Syria14.
His works include al-Jami’ al-Sahih, Musnad al-Kabir, Al-Asma’ al-Kunni, KItab al-‘Ilal, Kitab al-Tabaqat, Kitab al-Afrad al-Shamiyyin.
Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
6 Shawwal 1432
5 September 2011
- 1. This lineage of this clan links to Qushayr b. Ka'b b. Rabi'ah b. 'Amir b. Sa'sa'. See al-Ansab
- 2. Allm Tuni in Bukhari ka Akhri Dars. Mufti Umar Faruq Loharwi
- 3. Wafiyat al-A'yan 195/5; Jami' al-Usul 187/1
- 4. al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah
- 5. Wafiyat al-A'yan 136/2
- 6. al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah 34/11
- 7. Tarikh Ibn Khallikan
- 8. Dihlawi, Shah Abdul al-Aziz (1334) Bustan al-Muhaddithin. Karachi, Pakistan; H. M. Sa'id Company. p. 280
- 9. Siyar al-I'lam al-Nubala
- 10. Hady al-Sari.قد أنصف مسلم فلم يحدث في كتابه هذا و لا عن هذا. cf. Siyar I'lam al-Nubala 573/12
- 11. Siyar al-I'lam al-Nubala 558/12
- 12. Takirat al-Huffaz 588/2
- 13. Siyar al-I'lam al-Nubala 423/12; Takirat al-Huffaz 579/2; Tarikh Baghdad 16/2
- 14. Tahzib al-Tahzib 148/10