Al-Dhahabi (673-748 A.H)

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.

al-Dhahabi said:
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.