Short Biography of Imam Ibn Majah
Almighty Allah has chosen some people to be the knowledge torchbearers leading the Muslim community to the straight path and guiding its way in light of the instructions of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). They are the religious scholars who devoted their life for teaching people the religion of Allah. They are the inheritors of Prophets and the most beloved ones to Allah the Almighty.
One of the leading figures of knowledge is the outstanding scholar of Hadith Ibn Majah Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Yazid ibn Majah Al-Rabi Al-Qazwini. In the following lines, we will try to shed some light on the life of this great personality.
Ibn Majah was an eminent scholar and memorizer of Hadith. He reminds us of his ancestor Salman Al-Farisi (R.A.) who was born in the Persian lands and crossed through different places searching for the true religion. He abandoned the Magus beliefs and traveled to the Levant where he met Christian monks and adopted Christianity. Then, he was informed by one of the monks about the oncoming of the last Prophet (S.A.W.) who will appear in Arabia. Salman (R.A.) did not slacken, and continued his way until he reached Madinah and waited there until the migration of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) to follow him and accept Islam. Our scholar, Ibn Majah, was a diligent seeker as well, but a seeker of the knowledge of Hadith.
Ibn Majah’s Birth and Early Life:
Abu Abdullah ibn Majah was born in 209 AH (824 CE) in Qazwin (Qazvin, Iran) in a practicing family of knowledge. His home city was conquered during the Caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan (R.A.) in 24 AH and became a center of knowledge. It presented great religious scholars like Al-Hafizh Ali ibn Muhammad At-Tanafisi, Al-Hafizh Amr ibn Rafi Al-Bajali and Ismail ibn Tawbah.
Imam Ibn Majah was born during the Caliphate of Al-Mamun, whose rule witnessed a rising prosperity in all branches of knowledge. Ibn Majah rose up fond of knowledge, specially the religious sciences. He memorized the Quran and commenced seeking the religious sciences such as Fiqh, Hadith, Tafsir, etc. at an early age. He found in himself a special attachment to Hadith. He applied himself for narrating Hadith and frequented the circles of Hadith Scholars in his home city, including the above mentioned scholars. His soul yearned for traveling for seeking knowledge, just as his ancestor Salman (R.A.) did, and as it was the custom of all seekers of Hadith at that time. He made his first journey for seeking Hadith at the age of 22.
Ibn Majah’s Pursuit of Knowledge:
Ibn Majah travelled to plentiful places and learned at the hands of the Scholars of Hadith at his time. He journeyed to Khurasan, Basra, Kufa, Baghdad, Damascus, Makkah, Madinah, Egypt, and other places. In each territory he visited, Imam Ibn Majah would remain with its scholars until he acquire their full knowledge. Among his famous Teachers (Sheikhs) were:
1- Ibrahim ibn Al-Mundhir Al-Hizami
2- Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Numayr
3- Harmalah ibn Yahya
4- Al-Hafizh Al-Hilwani Al-Khallal
5- Ismail ibn Musa Al-Fazari
6- Jabarah ibn Al-Mughallas
7- Abdullah ibn Muawiyah
8- Hisham ibn Ammar
9- Muhammad ibn Rumh
10- Dawud ibn Rashid
11- Musab ibn Az-Zubairi
12- Abu Bakr ibn Abu Shaybah
13- Abu Musab Az-Zuhri
And many others.
After arduous journeys that took more than fifteen years, Ibn Majah returned back to his homeland where he was devoted for compilation and dissemination of knowledge. He stayed in his homeland teaching and narrating Hadith to his students. He was frequented by masses of students who came from everywhere to learn at his hands and narrate Hadith from him. Among his students were:
1- Muhammad As-Saffar
2- Is-Haq ibn Muhammad
3- Sulayman Al-Qazwini
4- Ibn Sibawayh
5- Ali ibn Ibrahim Al-Qattan
6- Ali ibn Said Al-Ghaddani
7- Ibrahim ibn Dinar Al-Jarshi
8- Ali ibn Ibrahim ibn Salamah
9- Jafar ibn Idris
And many others.
Ibn Majah’s Writings:
Imam Ibn Majah wrote numerous books topped by his well-known book of Hadith ‘As-Sunan’. This book received high praise from the scholars of Hadith for his special approach and the fact that it included authentic Hadiths not found in the other books of Sunan or the Sahihs of Al-Bukhari and Muslim. He also compiled a great book in Tafsir, as mentioned, in Al-Bidayah wa An-Nihayah, but unfortunately it was lost. He also wrote a book of history that covered the era of the Prophet (S.A.W.) to his time. This book remained long after his demise, as stated by At-Tahir Al-Maqdisi and Ibn Khallikan but it was also lost.
Ibn Majah’s Death:
After a lifetime full of learning, teaching and compiling books in Hadith and other religious sciences, Imam Ibn Majah passed away in the 22th of Ramadan, 273 AH (887 CE).
Scholars’ Praise of Ibn Majah:
Abu Yala Al-Khalili said:
“Scholars are in agreement that Ibn Majah is a great trustworthy scholar whose views are valid for argument. He has full awareness of Hadith and he was an excellent memorizer of hadiths. In addition, he compiled in different branches of knowledge including Sunan, Tafsir (exegesis of the Quran) and history. He was well versed in these areas.”
Al-Hafizh Al-Mizzi said:
“Ibn Majah is a memorizer of Hadith and compiler of ‘As-Sunan’. He had many beneficial writings and numerous scientific journeys.”
Al Hafizh Adh-Dhahabi said:
“Muhammad ibn Yazid (Ibn Majah) is a great memorizer of Hadith and eminent exegete of the Quran. He wrote in Hadith, history and Tafsir. He was the peerless memorizer of Hadith in Qazwin.”
Adh-Dhahabi also said:
“Ibn Majah was a great memorizer and honest critic of Hadith, and his knowledge was so extensive.”
Al-Hafizh ibn Hajar said:
“Ibn Majah was one of the leading scholars, and a memorizer of Hadith. He wrote in Hadith, Tafsir and history.”
May Allah confer His mercy upon Ibn Majah and reward him all the best for his scientific journey, circles of knowledge and useful compilations!
Book: Biographies of the Imams of Hadith by E-Da’wah Committee