IMAM ABU DAWOOD (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ)
Imam Abu Dawood (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) is one the distinguished scholars of Hadith in Islamic history. Imam an-Nawawī said, all scholars are unanimous on the rank and virtue of Imam Abu Dawood. His book Sunan Abu Dawood is among the six major books of Ahadith. A brief description of his life and works is provided below for our readers.
Imam Abu Dawood Sulayman ibn al-Ash'ath al-Azdi as-Sijistani ( أبو داود سليمان بن الأشعث الأزدي السجستاني), 816–889/202-275 AH (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), was born in Sajistan, a famous city in Khurasan, the then Abbasid province. It is reported that he was born in 202 AH (816 AD). As his name shows, he belonged to Azdi Arab tribe. Though he was born in Sijistan, but he spent most of life in Basra which was the seat of Islamic learning during that time.
ANCESTORSImam Abu Dawood's ancestors belong to Azdi tribe of Arabs. Since the Imam was father of Dawood, he was known as Abu Dawood (father of Dawood). His name was Sulaiman. In the olden days, Arabs used to call eeach other with names along with paternity lineage. This lineage was stretched sometimes to include several generations. The birth place was also included in the name. Like Imam Abu Dawood Sulaiman, ibn Ash'ath, ibn Ishaq, ibn Bashir, ibn Shaddad, ibn Umar, ibn Imran al-Azdi Sijistani.EDUCATION
Right from his childhood, Imam Abu Dawood was praised for his exceptional memory, sound mind and intellect. He would read a book just once for the contents to be recorded in his memory word by word for ever. It is reported that he studied in the company of over 300 teachers. Prominent among them were Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Min, Uthman ibn Abu Shaybah, Is-haq ibn Rahawayh, Sulayman ibn Harb, Abu Al-Walid At-Tayalisi, Qutaybah ibn Sa`ad, Said ibn Mansur, Abu Jafar An-Nufaili, Zuhayr ibn Harb, Abu Ismail Al-Bukhari, etc.
Imam Abu Dawood accompanied Imam Ahmad for many years. This companionship helped him acquire the knowledge of Fiqh in addition to Hadith. He compiled a book on the questions and replies from Imam Ahmad titled 'Masail Ahmad'. It is reported that after compilation of his book 'Sunan Abu Dawood', he presented it to Imam Ahmed, who praised it.
Imam Abu Dawood visited Islamic learning centers in pursuit of collecting Ahadith. In 220 AH he traveled to Baghdad when he was 18 years old. Two years later he moved to the Levant. Then he went to other places like Hijaz, Tarsus, Egypt, Basra, Syria, Nishapur, Marv, etc.
Many students learned Science of Hadith from Imam Abu Dawood. They include Abu Isa at-Tirmidhi, Abu Abdur-Rahman An Nasa’i, Ibn Arabi, Abu Bakr Al-Khallal, Ismail ibn Muhammad As-Saffar, Abu Bakr ibn Dawud Al-Asfahani, Abu Uwanah Al-Asfarayini, Muhammad ibn Nasr Al-Mirwazi, Abu Bakr Yahya As-Suli, etc.
WORKSImam Abu Dawood has written many valuable books. These include, (i) Al Marasil, (ii) Masail al Iman Ahmad, (iii) An Nasikh wal Mansukh, (iv) Risalah fi wasf kitab as sunan, (v) Az Zuhd, (vi) Ijabatan Sawalat Al Ajurri, (vii) Asilahan Ahmad bin Hanbal, (viii) Tasmiyat al Akhwan, (ix) Kitab al Qadr, (x) Al Bath wan Nushur, (xi) Al Masail allati halafa alaiha al Imam Ahmad, (xii) Dalail an-Nubuwah, (xiii) Fadail al-Ansar, (xiv) Musnad Malik, (xv) Ad Dua, (xvi) Ibtida al-wahy, (xvii) Akhbar al Khawarij, (xviii) Alam an-Nubuwah, (xix) Sunan Abu Dawood, etc.
It is reported that he selected 4,800 Ahadith in his Sunan from over 500,000. It is a major source of knowledge about the legal points of views held by Imam Malik, Sufyan Al-Thawri and Al-Awza'i. It serves as an arbiter for disagreement among jurists.
Hadith Scholar Al-Khattabi said, 'Sunan Abu Dawud is an excellent book. No such parallel work has been produced so far in religious sciences. It has gained popularity among people. It has a decisive position among various scholars and jurists. All have benefited equally from it. The people of Iraq, Eygpt, Maghrib and most of the countries depended upon it'. Ibn al-Jawzi said, 'Abu Dawud was an eminent doctor of Hadith and an outstanding scholar. No one has compiled a book like his Sunan'. Ibn Kathir wrote, 'Sunan Abu Dawud is considered to be a famous and popular work among scholars'.
Many scholars have written interpretive explanations of Sunan Abu Dawood; like (i) 'The landmarks of Sunan' by Abu Suleiman Al-Khattabi (d 388 AH), (ii) 'Explanations of Sunan' by Imam al-Suyuti (d 911 AH), (iii) 'Clarifications about Sunan' by Shaikh al-Sandi (d 1138 AH), etc.
Imam Abu Dawood died on Friday 14th Shawwal 275 AH (February 18, 889 AD). at the age of 73 in Basra. He was buried next to the grave of Sufyan al-Thawri.
Some scholars say that Imam Abu Dawood followed Hanbali school of thought, while some others say that he followed Shafii school of thought. It is reported that after his death, his son Abu Bakr Dawood walked on his fathers footsteps. Many scholars praised Imam Abu Dawood, as follows.
(i) Abu Bakr Al-Khallal said, 'Abu Dawood was a superior scholar of his time. Nobody excelled in recognizing the verification of sciences as Abu Dawood did. He was an outstanding devout person'.
(ii) Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Yasin Al-Harawi said, 'Sulayman ibn Al-Ashath was one of the Huffaz of the Prophet's (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) Ahadith. He was at the peak of virtuousness, abstinence, rightness and devoutness.'
(iii) Ibrahim Al-Harbi said, 'The Hadith has been made pliable for Abu Dawud similarly as the iron was made pliable to Prophet Dawood (عليه السلام)'.
(iv) Musa ibn Harun Al-Hafiz said, Abu Dawud was created in this life for Hadith, and in the hereafter for Paradise. I have not seen someone better than him.'
(v) Abu Hatim ibn Hayyan said, 'He (Abu Dawud) was one of the leading persons of this world in matters of Fiqh, knowledge, memorization, asceticism, devoutness and proficiency. He compiled and defended the Sunan.'
(vi) Al-Hakim said, 'There is no disagreement that Abu Dawood was the among leaders of scholars of Hadith during his time.'
(i) Books of Ahadith