Short Biography of Imam At-Tirmidhi (writer of Hadith Book Jami At-Tirmidhi)
At-Tirmidhi’s full Name and Lineage:
His full name is Muhammad ibn Eisa ibn Sawrah ibn Musa ibn Ad-Dahhak At-Tirmidhi Al-Bughi As-Sulami, from the well-known Arab tribe of Sulaim ibn Mansur. He is the compiler of the well-known book of Hadith “Jami At-Tirmidhi” which is distinguished by At-Tirmidhi’s unique approach of the classification and verification of Hadiths. Imam At-Tirmidhi is one of the outstanding scholars of Hadith who spent their lives in narrating and verifying the Hadiths of the Prophet (S.A.W.). Amr ibn Alak said:
“When Muhammad ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari died, he did not leave behind anyone in Khurasan like Abu Eisa (At-Tirmidhi), in terms of knowledge and God-fearing.”
At-Tirmidhi’s Birth and Early Life:
Abu `Eisa was born in the beginning of 209 AH (824 CE) in Tirmidh (now Surxondaryo Region in Uzbekistan). His grandfather was from Marw. Scholars differed whether he was born blind or not but the correct view is that he was not born so but he lost his eyesight in his old age because of his abundant study of Hadith. Ibn Kathir said:
“It appears from the state of At-Tirmidhi that blindness happened to him after he travelled, heard (Hadiths), wrote, argued and compiled (Hadith books). Abu Eisa was exceptionally distinguished by his matchless capacity of memorizing Hadiths."
Ibn Al-Imad Al-Hanbali said:
“He (At-Tirmidhi) ex-celled all his peers, and was a prodigy in memorization and proficiency.”
Imam At-Tirmidhi devoted his whole life for learning and studying Hadith. He travelled a lot and learned under the greatest scholars of Hadith, such as Imam Al-Bukhari who left a great effect upon our scholar Abu Eisa At-Tirmidhi.
At-Tirmidhi’s Pursuit of Knowledge:
Imam At-Tirmidhi was bent on learning Hadith. He travelled to numerous places and narrated Hadiths from many persons. He travelled to Al-Hijaz, Basra, Kufah, Baghdad, Ar-Rayy and Khurasan.
Al-Hafiz Al-Mizzi said:
“He toured the cities and heard from a great number of people from Khurasan, Iraq, Al-Hijaz and other places.”
It is narrated that he took Hadith from more than 200 narrators of Hadith.
The numerous journeys of Imam At-Tirmidhi helped him get high Isnad (chain of narrators). He took Hadiths from some of the teachers of both Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim, the teachers of Imam Al-Bukhari that Muslim did not narrate from, and the teachers of Imam Muslim that Imam Al-Bukhari did not narrate from. Not only that, he narrated Hadith from 42 narrators that the five Imams of Hadith (Imam Al-Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Abu Dawud, Imam An-Nasai and Imam Ibn Majah) did not narrate from. Also, he narrated Hadiths along with five scholars of Hadith (Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, An-Nasai and Ibn Majah) from the same 9 narrators of Hadith.
Hadith was not the sole knowledge that Imam At-Tirmidh acquired, he was an encyclopedic scholar. He was versed in other branches of knowledge, such as Fiqh, Islamic History, Arabic language and other sciences. He was renowned for his excellent understanding and deduction of the Fiqh rulings from Hadiths.
The great scholar Abu Al-Hasan An-Nadawi said:
“He (At-Tirmidhi) was the first to broach what is called nowadays “Comparative Fiqh” and he had a great merit that the Muslim community has to admit. His efforts saved a lot of the Islamic heritage of the schools of Fiqh from loss.”
At-Tirmidhi’s Teachers (Sheikhs):
Among his well-known teachers were:
1 - Ibrahim ibn Ismail ibn Yahia
2 - Abu Ishaq At-Tabari
3 - Ibrahim ibn Hatim Al-Harawi
4 - Ibrahim ibn Harun Al-Balkhi
5 - Ibrahim ibn Yaqub Al-Jawjajani
6 - Muhammad ibn Bashshar ibn Bindar
7 - Muhammad ibn Al-Muthanna
8 - Qutaybah ibn Said Al-Baghlani
9 - Ali ibn Hajar Al-Mirwazi
10 - Muhammad ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari
11 - Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj An-Naysaburi
12 - Ahmad ibn Mani Al-Baghawi
13 - Mahmud ibn Ghaylan Al-Mirwazi
14 - Abdullah ibn Abdur-Rahman Ad-Darimi
15 - Ishaq ibn Rahawih
And many others.
A great deal of Hadith narrators learned at the hands of Imam At-Tirmidhi and took Hadith from him, including:
1 - Abu Al-Abbas Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Mahbubi Al-Mirwazi
2 - Abu Said Ash-Shashi
3 - Abu Dharr Muhammad ibn Ibrahim At-Tirmidhi
4 - Abu Muhammad Al- Hasan Al-Qattan
5 - Abu Hamid Ahmad ibn Abdullah Al-Mirwazi
6 - Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Aamer As-Samarqandi
7 - Ahmad ibn Yusuf An-Nasafi
8 - Al-Hasan ibn Yusuf Al-Farabri
9 - Ar-Rabi ibn Hayyan Al-Bahili
And many others.
1 - Al-Jami Al-Mukhtasar min As-Sunan an Rasulillah, known as “Jami At-Tirmidhi”
2 - Al-Ilal As-Sughra- Az-Zuhd
3 - Al-Ilal Al-Kubra
4 - Ash-Shamail An-Nabawiyyah wa Al-Fa-dail Al-Mustafawiyyah
5 - Al-Asmaa wa Al-Kuna- Kitab At-Tarikh
After a life replete with knowledge-seeking, travelling for narrating Hadiths and teaching and explaining Hadith, Imam At-Tirmidhi passed away on Monday 13th of Rajab, 279 AH (892 CE) in Bugh (a village lies in his hometown Tirmidh) at the age of 68.
Scholars’ Praise of At-Tirmidhi:
Abu Sad Al-Idrisi said:
“Muhammad ibn Eisa At-Tirmidhi, the blind memorizer of Hadith, is one of the leading scholars of the knowledge of Hadith. He compiled the book Al-Jami, At-Tawarikh and Al-Ilal in a proficient and scientific way. He was an example of the memorization of Hadith.”
“There is no dispute that he (At-Tirmidhi) was the Imam of his age. He also said, He was one of the leading Imams of Hadith.”
Ibn Al-Athir Al-Jazari said:
“He was one of the prominent memorizing scholars of Hadith. Also, he was well-informed of Fiqh.”
Abu Al-Fida said:
“He was a leading memorizer of Hadith, and he was blind. He was one of the well-known proficient scholars of Hadith.”
Ibn Kathir said:
“He (At-Tirmidhi) was one of the Imams of this matter (Hadith) at his time.”
Al-Hafiz Abu Al-Hajjaj Al-Mizzi said:
“He (At-Tirmidhi) was one of the prominent memorizing Imams (of Hadith) by whom Allah has benefited Muslims.”
May Allah confer mercy upon him and reward him all the good for his efforts in pre- serving the Sunnah of the Prophet and narrating it to people!
Book: Biographies of the Imams of Hadith by E-Da’wah Committee