(163 – 238 Hijri)
Al-Hafith, the Jurist, Ishaq bin Ibrahim bin Mukhlid al-Hanthali at-Tamimi al-Marwazi
His kunyah: Abu Ya’qub; Famous as: Ibn Rahwayh
Rahwayh: a surname of his father Abul-Hasan Ibrahim, and he was called that because he was born on the road to Makkah and ‘road’ in Persian is ‘Rah’ and ‘Wayh’ means ‘to find’, thus it means ‘found in the road’.
His son Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Rahwayh said: My father, may Allah have mercy on him, was born in the year 163 H. And it is said, 161 H.
His Search for Knowledge: He heard in his town from a few Scholars, then he travelled in the year 184 H. to Iraq, al-Hijaz, Yemen, and Sham. In Sham he took knowledge from a number of the major People of Knowledge, among them: Fudhayl bin Iyadh, Jarir bin Abd al-Hamid ar-Razi, Sufyan bin Uyaynah, Abd ar-Rahman bin Mahdi, Abd Allah bin Wahb, Al-Walid bin Muslim, Waki’ bin al-Jarrah, Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Qattan, Sulayman bin Harb, Yahya bin Adam and a great many others.
His Students: Muhammad bin Ishaq (his son), Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmithi, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’I, Abd ar-Rahman ad-Darimi, Muhammad bin Nasr al-Marwazi, Abul-Abbas as-Sarraj (He was the last to narrate from him) and a great many others.
From the ones who also narrated from him are his eldest teachers such as Yahya bin Adam and Baqiyah bin al-alid, and among his contemporaries Ahmad bin Hanbal and Yahya bin Ma’een.
His Life and What Was Said About Him: He was an Imam of famous mention from the people of Marw, a place in Nisabur. He was one whose statements and preferences were followed and sought after, and he was from the closest people to Ahmad bin Hanbal.
He reached Baghdad more than once and was considered as among the Huffadh of its people, their praiseworthy, and he returned to Khurasan and settled in Nisabur until he passed away there. His knowledge became predominant among the people of Khurasan.
The son of Ishaq bin Rahwayh said: “My father was born from the belly of his mother both ears pierced. So, my grandfather marched straight away to al-Fadhl bin Musa as-Sinani and asked him about that, and he said: A child was born to me, with both ears pierced! So (as-Sinani) said: Your son will be a leader of good or evil.”
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was asked about Ishaq bin Rahwayh, so he said: “Ishaq bin Rahwayh is being asked about? To us, Ishaq is among the Imams of the Muslims.” And he said: “Never has a like of Ishaq crossed the bridge to Khurasan.” And he said: “I do not know, or I am not aware of a comparable person to Ishaq in Iraq.” And he said: “To us ash-Shafi’i is an Imam, al-Humaydi is an Imam, and Ishaq bin Rahwayh is an Imam.” And he said: “When Abu Ya’qub, Chief of the Believers, narrates to you, then cling to it”
Ishaq bin Rahwayh was mentioned to Qutaibah bin Sa’eed, then he said: “Ishaq is an Imam.”
Abu Hatim ar-Razi said: “Ishaq bin Rahwayh is an Imam among the Imams of the Muslims.”
An-Nasa’i said about him while naming his teachers: “One of the Imams.”
And he said: “Abu Ya’qub Ishaq bin Ibrahim bin Mukhlid bin Ibrahim, trustworthy, reliable.”
Wahb bin Jarir said: “May Allah reward Ishaq bin Rahwayh, Sadaqah, and Ya’mur, they gave life to the Sunnah in the lands of the east.”
Nu’aym bin Hammad said: “If you see an Iraqi speaking ill about Ahmad bin Hanbal, then suspect his religion; if you see a Khurasani speaking ill of Ishaq bin Rahwayh, then suspect his religion; and if you see a Basri speaking ill about Wahb bin Jarir, then suspect his religion.”
Sa’eed bin Thu’ib said: “I do not know anyone upon the face of the earth like Ishaq.”
Ibn Khuzaimah said: “By Allah, even if Ishaq bin Ibrahim al-Handhali had been present among the Tabi’een, truly they would acknowledge his memory, knowledge and jurisprudence.”
Ibn Hibban said: “Ishaq was from among the masters of his time in jurisprudence, science, memorization, and insight whereof books were compiled, and the Prophetic traditions were subdivided; he defended it and dispelled whoever differed with it.”
Abu Dawud al-Khaffaf said: “Ishaq bin Rahwayh dictated to us 11,000 narrations from memory then recited it to us, and he did not add or miss a single letter of it.”
Abu Hatim ar-Razi said: “I mentioned Ishaq bin Rahwayh al-Handhali to Abu Zur’ah and his memorization of chains and texts of narrations, then Abu Zur’ah said: ‘There is no transmitter with a better memory than him.’ “Abu Hatim said: “And the amazing thing is his mastery and flawlessness from error with what he was endowed with of memory.” Ahmad bin Salamah said: So I said to Abu Hatim that he dictated to us an explanation of the Qur’an from his heart, and Abu Hatim said: “And this is the most amazing thing-indeed accuracy in supported narrations is much easier than accuracy in the chains of explanation of the Qur’an and its wording.”
Qutaibah bin Sa’eed said: “The Huffadh in Khurasan are Ishaq bin Rahwayh, then Abd Allah bin Abd ar-Rahman as-Samarqandi, then Muhammad bin Isma’eel.”
Muhammad bin Yahya ath-Thuhali said: “I came in contact with our companion Ishaq bin Rahwayh in the year 199 H in Baghdad, and the most knowledgeable of the companions of narration gathered in ar-Rasafah, and from them were Ahmad bin Hanbal, Yahya bin Ma’een and others, and the heart of the sitting was for Ishaq and he was the speaker.”
Abu Nu’aym al-Asbahani said in Hilyat al-Awliya: “And from them is the gallant, famous Imam in memorization, and jurisprudence… Ishaq bin Ibrahim al-Hanthali, close companion of the venerable, honorable Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, and friend of the favored Imam Muhammad bin Idris ash-Shafi’i. He was an instigator to the reports (athar), and to the people of disease and innovation he was destructive.
Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said: “He was one of the Imams of the Muslims, knowledgeable from the notables of the religion, there was gathered in him (the knowledge of) Hadith and jurisprudence, good memory and truthfulness, piety and abstention.
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said about him: “Trustworthy, a memorizer of narrations, an independent jurist (mujtahid), close companion of Ahmad bin Hanbal.”
Ahmad bin Sa’eed ar-Ribati recited prose about him:
My closeness to Allah ** called me to love Abu Ya’qub Ishaq
He has not made the Qur’an created like how ** The atheist criminal says The whole of the Sunnah is his etiquette ** Protecting the weak from the strong
Oh proof of Allah upon His creation ** In the tradition of those who have passed to al-Baqi
Your father Ibrahim with pure taqwa ** Forerunner of glory and child of a forerunner
And Ali bin Hajar said about Ishaq:
None has succeeded Ishaq in knowledege and understanding ** in Khurasan the day he parted, who is like him
May Allah brighten his face and preserve him ** From fright, a day, very severe, and it is due to Him
And reward with Firdaws who said ‘Ameen ** and grant him on the day he meets Him, what he has asked for
From His Books:
He died in Naisabur in the year 238H. on the 14th of Sha’ban and he was 75 years old.
Some Scholars from His Lineage:
His Son Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Ibrahim, Abul-Hasan al-Marwazi, born in Marw and raised in Nisabur; he wrote in the cities of Khurasan, Iraq, al-Hijaz, Sham and Egypt; he heard from his father Ishaq bin Rahwayh, Muhammad bin Yahya ath-Thuhli, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ali bin al-Madini, Abu Mus’ab az-Zuhri, Yunus bin Abd al-A’la al-Misri, and he narrated in Baghdad, thus a group of its people transmitted on his authority; he was knowledgeable in jurisprudence, graceful in the path, upright in narrations; Muhammad bin Ma’mun al-Hafith said: Abul-Hasan bin Rahwayh departed to Khurasan after the death of his father
for 2 years until he came across al-Laythiyah, thus they did not recognize his status until the Amir Abul-Haytham Khalid bin Ahmad bin Hammad ath-Thuhli took the seat of authority and conferred upon him the position of judge of Marw first, then Nisabur. Then he left for Marw and passed away there in the year 289H.
His Grandson Abu at-Tayyib Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Ibrahim, originally from Marw, settled in Baghdad and narrated on authority of Muhammad bin al-Mughirah as-Sakri al-Hamdani; Abul-Fadhl Muhammad bin Abd Allah bin al-Mutalib ash-Shaybani transmitted on his authority; he was trustworthy, knowledgeable in the school of Malik bin Anas; he died in Ramlah in the year 339H. And others.