Imam Abu Bakr Ahmed Al-Bayhaqi  (384-458 AH / 994-1066 CE) : Imām, Ĥāfiž, Scholar, Jurist, Shaykh al-Islām Abū Bakr Aĥmed ibn al-Ĥusayn ibn Álī ibn Mūsā al-Khusrawjirdi, al-Khurāsānī was born in Shábān in the year 384 AH. Bayhaq is among the precincts of Nīshapūr at a distance of about 12 km [from Nīshāpūr] hence he is famous as Al-Bayhaqī.

He attended the class of Abu’l Ĥasan Muĥammad ibn al-Ĥusayn al-Álawī, the student of Abū Ĥāmid ibn ash-Sharqī since he was fifteen. He also reports extensively from Al-Ĥākim Abū Ábdullāh, the famous Ĥāfiž. He was a very intelligent, knowledgeable, wise, pious and a prolific author. He was a major Shāfiýī jurist and a prominent Ashárī theologian.

His prominent teachers:

1. Abū Ţāhir ibn Maĥmish az-Ziyādī, the jurist

2. Ábdullāh ibn Yūsuf al-Aşbahānī

3. Abū Álī ar-Rūdhbārī

4. Abū Ábd ar-Raĥmān as-Sullamī

5. Abū Bakr ibn al-Fūrak, the Theologian [al-mutakallim]

6. Ĥamzah ibn Ábd al-Ázīz al-Muhallabī

7. Abū Bakr al-Hayyiri, the Qāđī

8. Yaĥyā ibn Ibrāhīm al-Muzakkī

9. Abū Saýīd as-Şayrafī

10. Álī ibn Muĥammad ibn as-Saqqā

11. Abū Saýīd Aĥmed ibn Muĥammad al-Mālīnī, the Sufi

12. Abu’t Ţayyib as-Şálūkī

13. Hilāl al-Ĥaffār

14. Abu’l Ĥusayn ibn Bishrān

and scholars from Ţabaran, Nawqān, Baghdād, Makkah, Kūfah; and also among the companions of [Ĥātim] Al-Aşamm, the famous Sufi. As-Subki writes that he studied under more than hundred teachers.

His Works

He was granted munificence in his knowledge and he has written very beneficial books among which are:

1. Sunan al-Kabīr [The Greater Collection of Sunnah] in ten volumes which is his masterpiece. It is outstanding because nobody has compiled a book of ĥadīth like it in organization, classification and excellence.

2. Márifatu's Sunan wa’l Āthār [The Science of Hadith] in four volumes, which is a must read for every Shāfiýī jurist. Taqiyuddin Al-Subki says that Bayhaqi meant to demonstrate the expanse of Imām Shāfiýī’s knowledge of ĥadīth with this book.

3. Al-Asmā’a wa’s Şifāt [Divine Names and Attributes] in two volumes; Taj as-Subki says: ‘I haven’t seen anything like it.’ [It was published by Imam al-Kawthari, with his foreword and notes]

4. Kitāb al-Mútaqad [or Kitāb al-Iýtiqād] [Handbook of Creed]

5. Al-Báath [wa’n Nushūr] [Resurrection and Judgement Day ]

6. At-Targhīb wa’t Tarhīb [Encouragement to do good and Warning to abstain from evil]

7. Ad-Dáwāt al-Kabīr, a prayer book. [The Bigger Prayer Book]

8. Ad-Dáwāt as-Şaghīr [The Smaller Prayer Book]

9. Az-Zuhd [Asceticism]

10. Al-Khilāfiyyāt [The Differences] in three volumes on the differences of opinion among jurists. As-Subki writes that none except a master of both fiqh and ĥadīth can grasp it.

11. Al-Mabsuţ fī Nuşūş al-Shāfiýī [The Extensive: Documents used by Al-Shafiyi] in two volumes, the proofs of Shāfiýī madh’hab – the first book of its kind.

12. Dalāyil an-Nubuwwah [Proofs of Prophethood] in four volumes

13. As-Sunan as-Şaghīr [The Smaller Collection of Sunnah] as one big tome

14. Shuáb al-Īman [Branches of Faith] in two volumes

15. Al-Mad’khal ila’s Sunan [An Introduction to the Sunnah]

16. Al-Ādāb [The book of Etiquette]

17. Fađayil al-Awqāt [The excellence of certain specific times] in two slim volumes

18. Al-Arbaýīn al-Kubrā [The Major Quadraginta] in two slim volumes

19. Al-Arbaýīn as-Şughrā [The Minor Quadraginta]

20. Ar-Ru’yah [The Book of Dreams]

20. Al-Isrā'a [The Book of Ascension]

22. Manāqib ash-Shāfiýī [Al-Shafiyi's Hagiography]

23. Manāqib Aĥmed [Hagiography of Ahmed ibn Hanbal]

24. Fađāyil as-Şaĥābah [The Superiority of the Companions]

Ĥāfiž Ábd al-Ghāfir ibn Ismāýīl says in his Tārīkh:

Bayhaqi was an exemplary scholar – content with little and adorned with austerity and scruplousness. He was a jurist, a Ĥāfiž, a master of principles [uşūlī], pious, scruplous in his religion, peerless and unequaled in his time, outstanding in his proficiency and rigorousness [in the sciences.] Though he was among the prominent students of Al-Ĥākim, he surpassed even his teacher [Al-Ĥakim] by mastering various other sciences. He copied Ĥadīth and memorized it from a very young age; he took to fiqh and mastered it. He traveled to Íraq, Al-Jibāl and Al-Ĥijāz and then took to writing. He wrote close to a thousand folios among which are pioneering works and many of them first of their kind. He was a master of both Ĥadīth and Fiqh; of justifications of Ĥadīth [ílal] and reconciliation of conflicting reports.

Many scholars requested him to relocate to Nishapur from Bayhaq in order to benefit from his books; he therefore shifted to Nishapur in the year 441 AH and began reciting his book Al-Márifah; many imāms attended the gathering.

Three Dreams

When Bayhaqi was writing his book Al-Márifah fi’s Sunan wa’l Āthār, a pious scholar Muĥammad ibn Aĥmed saw a dream in which Imām Shāfiýī was holding the book and he said: ‘Today, I have written seven folios from the jurist Aĥmed’s book.’

Another scholar saw Imām Shāfiýī in his dream sitting in the mosque and he said: “Today, I have availed from such and such Ĥadīth mentioned in the jurist’s [Aĥmed] book.”

Another jurist Muĥammad ibn Ábd al-Ázīz al-Marwaziy says: “I saw a chest suspended in the sky and light emanating from it. I asked: ‘What is this?’ I heard someone say: ‘These are the books of Aĥmed Al-Bayhaqi.”

All these three dreams are reported by Imām Bayhaqi’s son, Ismāýīl ibn al-Bayhaqi. Imām Dhahabī comments: “These are true dreams. Indeed, Ĥāfiž al-Bayhaqī’s books are of immense value and of great stature. Few can match the class or clarity of his writing. It is necessary for every scholar to acquaint himself with his books, mainly his Sunan Al-Kabīr.”

Abū’l Máālī Imām Al-Ĥaramayn al-Juwaynī said: “There is no Shāfiýī jurist who is not beholden to Imām Shāfiýī except Abū Bakr al-Bayhaqi; he has done a favor to Shāfiýī instead by writing books in support and verification of his madh’hab.”

Dhahabi comments: “Abū’l Máālī is right in making such a claim. And the truth is just as he has said it. Because, if Al-Bayhaqī wished to form his own madh’hab, he had the necessary qualities and mastery of the sciences; including a comprehensive knowledge of differing opinions.”

He passed away in Nishāpur on the 10th of Jumādā al-Ūlā, 458 AH (1066 CE). He was washed and placed in a casket and carried to Bayhaq [two days journey in that age] where he was buried. He was 74. May Allāh táālā have mercy on him and be well pleased with him.

Among his prominent students and those who narrate from him are:

1. Shaykh al-Islām Abū Ismāýīl al-Anşārī

2. his own son, Ismāýīl ibn Aĥmed al-Bayhaqī

3. his own grandson Úbaydullāh ibn Muĥammad ibn Aĥmed al-Bayhaqī

4. Ĥāfiž Abū Zakariyyah Yaĥyā ibn Mandah

5. Abū Ábdullāh Muĥammad ibn al-Fađl Al-Furāwī

6. Zāhir ibn Ţāhir ash-Shaĥāmiyy

7. Abu’l Máālī Muĥammad ibn Ismāýīl al-Fārisī

8. Abdu’l Jabbār ibn Abdu’l Wahhāb ad-Dah’hān

9. Abdu’l Jabbār ibn Muĥammad al-Khuwārī and his brother

10. Abdu’l Ĥamīd ibn Muĥammad al-Khuwārī

11. Abū Bakr Abdu’r Raĥmān ibn Ábdullāh ibn Abdu’r Raĥmān al-Buĥayrī an-Nīsābūrī

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Dhahabī mentions a report through Imām Al-Bayhaqī:

Aĥmed ibn Hibatullāh told us:- that Zayn al-Umanā’a Al-Ĥasan ibn Muĥammad, Muĥammad ibn Abdu’l Wahhāb ash-Shirjī and Ibn Ghassān said:- Ĥāfiž Álī ibn al-Ĥasan told us:- Abu’l Qāsim al-Mustamlī told us:- Aĥmed ibn al-Ĥusayn al-Bayhaqī told us:- Ábdullāh ibn Yūsuf told us:- Ibn al-A’árābi told us:- Ibn Abi’d Dunyā narrated to us:- Abū Álī al-Madāyiniyy narrated to us:- Fiţr ibn Ĥammād ibn Wāqid narrated to us that my father narrated to me that: I heard Mālik ibn Dīnār say: “People say that Mālik is an ascetic! What kind of ascetic is he when he has a cloak and cloth? Úmar ibn Ábd al-Ázīz is a true ascetic, rather. Worldly wealth, pleasure and comfort came to him with a wide open mouth, and he turned away from it.” [atat’hu’d dunyā fāghiratan fāhan fa aárađa ánhā]

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Sources:

Dhahabī, Siyar Aálām an-Nubalā’a Entry:4318 [Vol.11, pg.457]

Ibn Kathīr, Al-Bidāyah wa’n Nihāyah Year:458 AH. [Vol.8/pg.222]

As-Subkī, Ţabaqāt ash-Shāfaýiyyah, The Fourth Generation, Entry: 251.