The full name of Imam Muslim is Abu’l-Husain ‘Asakir-ud-Din Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naisaburi. “Muslim,” as his nasba shows, belonged to the Qushayr tribe of the Arabs, an offshoot of the great clan of Rabi’a. He was born in Naisabur (Nishapur) in 202/817 or 206/821. His parents were religiously minded persons and as such he was brought up in a pious atmosphere. This left such an indelible impression on his mind that he spent the whole of his life as a God-fearing person and always adhered to the path of Righteousness. He was in fact a saint of high calibre. His excellent moral character can be well judged from the simple fact that he never indulged in backbiting, a very common human failing.
Imam Muslim travelled widely to collect traditions in Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, where he attended the lectures of some of the prominent Traditionists of his time: Ishaq b. Rahwaih, Ahmad b. Hanbal, ‘Ubaydullah al-Qawariri, Qutaiba b. Sa’id, ‘Abdullah b. Maslama, Harmalah b. Yahya, and others.
Having finished his studies, be settled down at Nishapur. There he came into contact with Imam Bukhari, and was so much impressed by his vast knowledge of Hadith and his deep insight into it that he kept himself attached to him up to the end of his life. He was an ardent admirer of another great-teacher of Hadith, Muhammad b.Yahya al-Dhuhali and attended his lectures regularly, but when the difference of opinion between Muhammad b. Yahya and Imam Bukhari, on the issue of the creation of the Holy Qur’an, sharpened into hostility, Imam Muslim sided with Imam Bukhari and abandoned Muhammad b. Yahya altogether. He was thus a true disciple of Imam Bukhari.
He wrote many books and treatises on Hadith, but the most important of his works is the collection (Jami’) of his Sahih Some of the commentators of Ahadith are of the opinion that in certain respects it is the best and most authentic work on the subject. Imam Muslim took great pains in collecting 300,000 Traditions, and then after a thorough examination of them retained only 4000, the genuineness of which is fully established.1
He prefixed to his compilation a very illuminating introduction, in which he specified some of the principles which he had followed in the choice of his material.
Imam Muslim has to his credit many other valuable contributions to different branches of Hadith literature, and most of them retain their eminence even to the present day. Amongst these Kitab al-Musnad al-Kabir ‘Ala al-Rijal, Jami’ Kabir, Kitab, al-Asma’ wa’l-Kuna, Kitab al-Ilal, Kitab al- Wijdan are very important.
His Methods of Classification and Annotation
Muslim’s Sahih comes next to it. However, in certain respects the latter is considered superior to the former. Imam Muslim strictly observed many principles of the science of Hadith which had been slightly ignored by his great teacher Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on both of them). Imam Muslim considered only such traditions to be genuine and authentic as had been transmitted to him by an unbroken chain of reliable authorities and were in perfect harmony with what had, (been related by other narrators whose trustworthiness was unanimously accepted and who were free from all defects.
Moreover, Imam Bukhari, while describing the chain of narrators, sometimes mentions their kunya and sometimes gives their names. This is particularly true in case of the narrators of Syria. This creates a sort of confusion, which Imam Muslim has avoided.
Imam Muslim takes particular care in according the exact words of the narrators and points out even the minutest difference in the wording of their reports.
Imam Muslim has also constantly kept in view the difference between the two well-known modes of narration, haddathana (he narrated to us) and akhbarana (he informed us). He is of the opinion that the first mode is used only when the teacher is narrating the hadith and the student is listening to it, while the second mode of expression implies that the student is reading the hadith before the teacher. This reflects his utmost care in the transmission of a hadith.
Imam Muslim has taken great pains in connecting the chain of narrators. He has recorded only that hadith which, at least, two reliable tabi’in (successors) had heard from two Companions and this principle is observed throughout the subsequent chain of narrators.
Imam Muslim had a very wide circle of students, who learnt Hadith from him. Some of them occupy a very prominent position in Islamic history, e.g. Abu Hatim Razi, Musa b. Harun, Ahmad b. Salama, Abu ‘Isa Tirmidhi, Abu Bakr b. Khusaima, Abu ‘Awana and Hafiz Dhahabi.
Imam Muslim lived for fifty-five years in this world. Of this short span of his life he spent most of his time in learning Hadith, in Its compilation, in its teaching and transmission. He always remained absorbed in this single pursuit and nothing could distract his attention from this pious task. He died in 261/875, and was buried in the suburbs of Nishapur.
Hadith is the great wealth of Islamic literature. This is the collection of pearls of wisdom from orations and actions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
There are hundreds of companions of the Prophet who preserved this knowledge through oral transmission. Later tens of scholars spent their lives in searching, recording and refining this treasure. There are more than 14 famous compilations of Hadith out of which six books called Al-Sihah Al-Sittah are on the top of authenticity and popularity. These are: Jame Al Sahih by Imam Bukhari, covering 7274 Hadiths; Jame Al Sahih by Imam Muslim covering 7190 Hadiths; Sunan Abi Dawood by Sulaiman bin Ash’ath covering 4,800 Hadiths; Sunan Abi Majah by Ibn Maajah Rubaii covering 4,000 Hadiths; Jame Al Tirmizi by Abu Eisa Tirmizi and Sunan Al Nasaii by Ahmad bin Shoeb.
The first two compilations are considered the most authentic sources of Hadith. Whenever we study we find occasionally the phrase Rawaho Shaikhan. It means that this Hadith has been attested by Imam Bukhari as well as by Imam Muslim. Thus Imam Muslim is the second champion of Hadith science.
Imam Muslim belonged to the Qushayr tribe of the Arabs, an offshoot of the powerful clan of Rabee’ah.
Imam Muslim was born in 202 AH. He belonged to a very religious family and was raised in a pious society. He learned the Holy Qur’an and took basic Islamic education from his parents. He started higher studies at an early age of 14. Nishapur, with great personalities like lmaam Rahiwe and lmaam Zohri was a seat of learning in those days.
Imam Muslim was a man of high caliber much interested in Hadith. After completing his education at home he traveled extensively in Hijaz, Egypt, Syria and Iraq collecting Hadith and attending discourses of leading scholars like Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ishaq bin Rahwaih, ‘Ubaydullah Al-Qawariri, Qutaiba bin Sa’id, Abdullah bin Maslama, Imam Shafeii’s disciple Harmalah bin Yahya and others. He visited Baghdad several times and had the opportunity of delivering lectures there. His last visit to Baghdad was two years before his death.
After collecting Hadith he settled at Nishapur where he came into contact with Imam Bukhari. Seeing his vast knowledge and deep insight into the Hadith of the Prophet (peace and mercy of Allah be upon him) Muslim remained attached with Imam Bukhari until the end of imam Bukhari’s life.
It is said that he collected about 300,000 Hadith from hundreds of narrators. He began the tiresome task of refining the collected material.
Imam Muslim was very strict in examining the Hadith from all aspects. Thus he extracted approximately 4,000 for his book, which is divided into 43 books, containing a total of 7,190 narrations. According to Munthiri, there are a total of 2,200 Hadiths (without repetition) in Sahih Muslim. According to Muhammad Amin, there are 1,400 authentic Hadiths that are reported in Al-Sihah Al-Sittah. It took Imam Muslim long years to compile this book. Abu Saimah, one of his colleagues was so much attracted that he remained with him assisting in compiling work for 15 years.
He was so cautious that he used the word Haddathna with the Hadith, which had been recited to him by his own teachers and assigning the word Akhbarna to what he had read out to them.
He added a long introduction, in which he explained the principles which he had followed in the choice of materials for his book; and which should be followed in accepting and relating any Hadith. Upon completing his manuscript he presented it to Abu Zar’ah of Rayy, the reputed scholar of Hadith for verification and accepted his comments.
The Sahih Muslim has been acclaimed as the most authentic collection of traditions after that of Sahih Bukhari, and preferred for its detailed arrangement. More than 30 commentaries have been written by many leading scholars. Abdur Rahman Siddiqui translated Sahih Muslim into Urdu and Abdul Hameed Siddiqui into English.
Besides Sahih Muslim he wrote many other books on the science of Hadith. Ibn Al-Nadeem mentions five books by him on the subject. Most of them like the following retain their eminence to the present day:
Al-Kitab Al-Musnad Al-Kabir Ala-al-Rijal; Al-Jami’ Al-Kabir; Kitab-al-Asma’ wal-Kuna; Kitab-Al’Ilal and Kitab-ul-Wijdan.
He taught Hadith at Nishapur and many of his students later became famous and rose to prominence in the realm of Hadith like Imam Abu Eisa Tirmidhi, Abu Hatim Razi, Musa bin Harun, Ahmad bin Salamah, Abu Bakr bin Khuzaimah, Abu `Awanah and Hafiz Dhahbi. Surprisingly his teachers included Imam Bukhari and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and his student was Imam Abu Isa Tirmizi.
Imam Muslim adhered strictly to the path of righteousness. His excellent character can be well judged from the simple fact that he never ever indulged even in backbiting. He had a remarkable memory.
Imam Muslim died at the age of 57 in 261 AH and was buried in the suburbs of Nishapur. May Almighty Allah grant him the best reward.
Imam Muslim (RA)
NAME AND BIRTH:
His name was Abul-Hussain Muslim-bin-Hajjaj al Nishapuri. He was born in a distinguished family of Arab Muslims in Khorasan which was a famous town of Russia. Imaam Muslim was born in 817 A.D. corresponding to the Islamic year 204 A.H. His forefathers occupied prominent positions during the time of the four Caliphs. He travelled to many places with the object of learning Hadith, and after completing his studies in the various centres of learning, he settled at Nishapur. He spend the rest of his life teaching Hadith.
Imaam Muslim started his studies at the very early age of fourteen years. In the year 218 A.H. the atmosphere in Nishapur, his birthplace, was of a religious and knowledge type. Nishapur had great personalities in this period such as lmaam Rahawey and lmaam Zuhri. After travelling widely in search of Hadith, he settled in Nishapur as mentioned above. Imaam Muslim was much impressed by the vast knowledge of Imaam Bukhari (R.A.), in the field of Hadith and the deep insight he possessed on this subject. He therefore attached himself to Imaam Bukhari (R.A.) up to the end of his life. Imaam Muslim was also an admirer of another great teacher of Hadith, Muhammed bin Yahya al Dhuli. He attended his lectures regularly. He visited Baghdad several times and had the opportunity of delivering lessons there. His last visit to Baghdad was two years before his death.
IMAAM MUSLIM’S TEACHERS:
Imaam Muslim (R.A.) apart from attending the lessons of Imaam Bukhari regularly, also attended the lectures of lmaam Ahmad bin Hambal, Abdullah al Qarri, Qutaiba bin Said, Abdullah bin Maslama and other great Muhaditheen.
IMAAM MUSLIM’S STUDENTS:
Imaam Muslim (R.A.’s) most noted students are Hatim Razi, Ahmad bin Salmah, Abu Isa Tirmidhi, Abubaker bin Khuzaima and other great scholars.
CHARACTER AND KNOWLEDGE:
Imaam Muslim R.A. adhered strictly to the path of righteousness. He was in fact a great saint of a very high calibre. His excellent character can be well judged from the simple fact that he never ever indulged in backbiting, a very common human failing. He had a remarkable memory. Ishaq bin Rahawey said of Imaam Muslim; ” I wonder what this person is going to be?” This was said in his youth. Ishaq Kausar once addressed lmaam Muslim (R.A.) and said; “Your presence in the Muslim community will always keep it in good.” Abu Saimah who was a colleague of lmaam Muslim was so attached to him that while lmaam Sahib was busy compiling the Sahih Muslim, he remained in lmaam Sahib’s company for fifteen years. He never told a lie nor did he ever use vulgar words.
Sheikh Abdul Latief says Imaam Tirmidhi and Imaam Muslim were followers of the Shafee school of thought, although they were both Mujtahids. Moulana Abdur-Rashid says that Imaam Muslim was a Maliki. The fact is what was said by Sheikh Tahir Jazari that Imaam Muslim is not a Maliki nor a Hanifi nor a Shafi, but his compilation of the Sahih Muslim shows that he was more inclined towards the Shafee school of thought.
Allamah Nawawi (R.A.) says that the Ummat have accepted the Bukhari Shareef and Muslim Shareef as the Kitabs, which follow the Quraan in authenicity. Although the Bukhari is regarded as holding a higher position than the Sahih Muslim for specific reasons, the sequence applied in Muslim is much better than that of Bukhari. It is known as Al-Jam As Sahih because it contains the eight different subjects on Hadith.
AL-JAM AS SAHIH MUSLIM:
Imaam Bukhari (R.A.) concentrated his efforts on compilation of authentic hadith as well as deduction of Laws from Hadith. This is the most difficult part to understand in the Bukhari. i.e how he deduced Laws from the Hadith. Imam Muslim concentrated his efforts only on the compilation of authentic Hadith.