The following biography is an adapted version of the biography provided by ‘Imaad Ibn Saabir Al-Mirsee in his checking of Ibn Rajab's book Adh-Dhull wal-Inkisaar Lil-‘Azeez-il-Jabbaar. He has researched and compiled this biography using nine sources of reference that contain Ibn Rajab’s biography.
His Name and Lineage:
He is the Imaam, the Haafidh Zayn-ud-Deen ‘Abd-ur-Rahmaan Ibn Ahmad Ibn ‘Abd-ir-Rahmaan Ibn Rajab Ibn Al-Husain Ibn Abeel-Barakaat Mas’ood As-Salaamee Al-Baghdaadee, who then became Ad-Dimashqee Al-Hanbalee, better known as Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbalee. Rajab was the nickname of his grandfather, ‘Abd-ur-Rahmaan. It is also held that it was a nickname given to him because of his being born in the month of Rajab. Ibn Rajab became famous and well known by that name, may Allaah have mercy on him.
He was born in Baghdaad in the year 736H according to the most correct opinion found in the discussions presented by those who recorded his biography.
His Early Youth and His Search for Knowledge:
Allaah prepared for Ibn Rajab an environment of firm knowledge. His way of life based on acquiring knowledge and producing actions was established for him since his early youth. Because of this, the Haafidh gained much benefit from that. He himself explains that he received the authorization and religious approval from some of the major scholars (of his time) during his youth.
This indicates the degree of zeal and aspiration his family and especially his father – who was from the major scholars of his time – had towards acquiring knowledge. He studied at the hands of many different shaikhs such that some researchers of his biography have counted them to number close to forty.
The checker of Ibn Rajab’s book Sharh ‘Ilal At-Tirmidhee has counted Ibn Rajab’s teachers to be thirty-six. However, he did not add to that, his father or Ibn An-Naqeeb or An-Nawawee (Ahmad Ibn ‘Abd-il-Mu’min). So with this, the number of his teachers reaches close to forty as we have stated previously.
Here is a List of Some of the Shaykh’s Most Distinguished Teachers:
- Muhammad Ibn Abee Bakr Ibn Ibraaheem Shams-ud-Deen Ibn An-Naqeeb Ash-Shaafi’ee (d. 745H)
- ‘Alaa-ud-Deen Ahmad Ibn ‘Abd-il-Mu’min Ash-Shaafi’ee As-Subkee, who later became An-Nawawee (d. 749H)
- Shams-ud-Deen Muhammad Ibn Abee Bakr Ibn Ayyoob, Shaikh-ul-Islaam, better known as Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (d. 751H)
- Jamaal-ud-Deen Abu Sulaimaan Dawood Ibn Ibraaheem Al-‘Attaar (d. 752H)
- Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ibraaheem Al-Maidoomee (d. 754H)
- ‘Uthmaan Ibn Yoosuf Ibn Abee Bakr An-Nuwairee Al-Maalikee (d. 756H)
- Muhammad Ibn Isma’eel Ibn Ibraaheem, better known as Ibn Al-Khabbaaz (d. 757H)
- Salaah-ud-Deen Abu Sa’eed Khaleel Al-‘Alaa’ee (d. 761H)
- Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al-Qalaanisee (d. 765H)
Ibn Rajab’s Students:
The Haafidh, (رحمه الله), taught many students. Amongst the most famous of them were:
- Dawood Ibn Sulaimaan Ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Mawsilee Al-Hanbalee (d. 844H)
- Abul-Fadl Ahmad Ibn Nasrullaah Ibn Ahmad (d. 844H)
- ‘Alaa-ud-Deen Abul-Hasan ‘Alee Ibn Muhammad Ibn ‘Abbaas Al-Ba’alee, better known as Ibn Al-Lahaam (d. 803H)
- ‘Abd-ur-Rahmaan Ibn Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Misree Al-Hanbalee, better known as Az-Zarkashee (d. 846H)
The Scholars’ Praise For Him:
Ibn Qaadee Shuhbah said of him in his biography, as is stated in Al-Jawhar-ul-Munaddad (pg. 48):
“He read and became proficient in the various fields of science. He engrossed himself with the issues of the (Hanbalee) madh-hab until he mastered it. He devoted himself to the occupation of knowledge of the texts, defects and meanings of the Hadeeth. And he withdrew himself in seclusion in order to write.”
Ibn Hajr said of him in Inbaa-ul-Ghamr:
“He was highly proficient in the scientific disciplines of Hadeeth in terms of the names of reporters, their biographies, their paths of narration and awareness of their meanings.”
Ibraaheem Ibn Muhammad Ibn Muflih (d. 884H) said of him:
“He was the Shaikh, the great scholar, the Haafidh, the one who abstained from the worldly life. He was the Shaikh of the Hanbalee madh-hab and he wrote many beneficial books.”
The Written Works of Imaam Ibn Rajab:
The Haafidh left behind an extensive and rich selection of books on the different sciences of Islaam. Among them are those that have been printed and those that remain in manuscript form, yet to be printed. Also among his works are those books that are missing and cannot be located. The compiler of this short biography has numbered the Shaikh’s books that are in print today in the Arabic language to be 38. What will follow is a list of some of them:
- Jaami'-ul-'Uloom wal-Hikam (His monumental and most famous book, which is an explanation of fifty ahaadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah, (صلى الله علیه وسلم) that are short in wording but comprehensive in meaning)
- Dhail Tabaqaat-ul-Hanaabilah (This is a compilation of the scholars of the Hanbalee madhhab, considered one of his great works)
- Lataa'if Al-Ma'aarif (This is a book on the duties one is required to do during times of religious celebration and observance, such as Ramadaan)
- Al-Farq baina An-Naseehah wat-Ta'yeer (The present book before you)
- Sharh Hadeeth: "Maa Dhi.ban Jaa'iaan..." (This book has been translated into English under the title "The Evil of Craving for Wealth and Status")
- Fadlu 'Ilm-is-Salaf 'alaal-Khalaf (A great short treatise discussing the virtues of knowledge, its types and its etiquettes)
There are also about forty-five books of his that are nit printed yet. We ask Allaah that He facilitate the verification and printing of these sources of knowledge.
Imaam Ibn Rajab died in the month of Rajab of 795H and some said it was in Ramadaan. No doubt he left behind him a legacy of knowledge for all those after him to benefit from. His books continue to be studied and used as reference even in these days. May Allaah have mercy on him and grant him a high place in Paradise.