Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Uthman
ibn Qaymaz ibn `Abd Allah, Shams al-Din Abu `Abd Allah al-Turkmani al-Diyarbakri
al-Fariqi al-Dimashqi al-Dhahabi al-Shafi`i (673-748), the imam, Shaykh
al-Islam, head of hadith masters, perspicuous critic and expert examiner
of the hadith, encyclopedic historian and biographer, and foremost authority
in the canonical readings of the Qur'an.
Born in Damascus where
his family lived from the time of his grandfather `Uthman, he sometimes
identified himself as Ibn al-Dhahabi - son of the goldsmith - in reference
to his father's profession. He began his study of hadith at age eighteen,
travelling from Damascus to Ba`labak, Hims, Hama, Aleppo, Tripoli, Nabulus,
al-Ramla, Cairo, Iskandariyya, al-Qudus, Hijaz, and elsewhere to thirty
different locations, after which he returned to Damascus where he taught
and authored many works and achieved world renown.
He lost his sight two years
before he died, leaving three children: his eldest daughter Amat al-`Aziz
and his two sons `Abd Allah and Abu Hurayra `Abd al-Rahman.
How beautiful was the
tasawwuf of the Companions and Successors! They did not probe those
phantasms and whisperings of the mind but worshipped Allah, humbling
themselves and relying upon Him, in great awe and fear of Him, fiercely
combating His enemies, hastening to obey Him, staying away from idle
speech. Allah guides whomever He wills to the straight path.