Ibn Kathir

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Ismail Ibn Kathir
Born c. 1300
Died 1373
Era Bahri dynasty
Region Syria
School Shafi'i

Ismail ibn Kathir (Arabic: ابن كثير‎, born c. 1300, died 1373) was a highly influential Sunni scholar of the Shafi'i school during the Mamluk rule of Syria, an expert on tafsir (Quranic exegesis) and faqīh (jurisprudence) as well as a historian.

Biography[edit]

His full name was Abū l-Fidāʾ Ismāʿīl ibn ʿUmar ibn Kaṯīr ( ‏أبو الفداء إسماعيل بن عمر بن كثير), with the honorary title of ʿImād ad-Dīn ‏ عماد الدين "pillar of the faith". He was born in Mijdal, a village on the outskirts of the city of Busra, to the east of Damascus, in the about AH 701 (AD 1300/1)[citation needed]. He was taught by Ibn Taymiyya and Al-Dhahabi.

Upon completion of his studies he obtained his first official appointment in 1341, when he joined an inquisitorial commission formed to determine certain questions of heresy.[citation needed] He married the daughter of Al-Mizzi, one of the foremost Syrian scholars of the period, which gave him access to the scholarly elite. In 1345 he was made preacher (khatib) at a newly-built mosque in Mizza, the home town of his father-in-law. In 1366, he rose to a professorial position at the Great Mosque of Damascus.[2]

In later life, he became blind.[2] He attributes his blindness to working late at night on the Musnad of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in an attempt to rearrange it topically rather than by narrator. He died in February 1373 (AH 774) in Damascus.

Works[edit]

Tafsir[edit]

Ibn Kathir wrote a famous commentary on the Qur'an named Tafsir al-Qur'an al-'Adhim which linked certain Hadith, or sayings of Muhammad, and sayings of the sahaba to verses of the Qur'an, in explanation. It is considered to be a summary of the earlier tafsir by al-Tabari, Tafsir al-Tabari. It is especially popular because it uses the hadith to explain each verse and chapter of the Qur'an.

Egyptian scholar Ahmad Muhammad Shākir (1892–1958) edited Ibn Kathir's Tafsir as ʿUmdat at-Tafsīr in five volumes published during 1956–1958.

Faḍāʾil al-Qurʾān ( ‏فضائل القرآن) was intended as an annex to the Tafsir. It is a brief textual history of the Qur'an, its collection and redaction after the death of Muhammad.

Hadith[edit]

Al-Jāmi (‏الجامع) is a grand collection of Hadith texts intended for encyclopedic use.

Al-Baa'ith al-Hatheethis an abridgement of the Muqaddimah by Ibn al-Salah in Hadith terminology

Ibn Kathir also wrote Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya, about the life of Muhammad and Qisas Al-Anbiya ("Stories of the Prophets") a collection of tales on the various Prophets of Islam and other Old Testament characters.

History[edit]

Ibn Kathir's Al-Bidāya wa-n-nihāya (‏البداية والنهاية) "the beginning and the end" is one of the best-known works of Islamic historiography. While it covers "universal" history, from the creation of the world until the end of the world and Islamic eschatology, its primary value is in the details of the politics of Ibn Kathir's own day. It has been edited several times, first in Cairo during 1932–1939.

Jihad[edit]

Al-ijtihād fī ṭalab al-jihād ( ‏ الاجتهاد في طلب الجهاد), written by commission of the Mamluk governor of Damascus, is a defense of armed jihad and ribat against the neighboring Christian powers (remnants of the crusader states, such as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia) based on the evidence of the Qur'an and the Sunna.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Norman Calder, 'Tafsir from Tabari to Ibn Kathir, Problems in the description of a genre, illustrated with reference to the story of Abraham', in: G. R. Hawting / Abdul-Kader A. Shareef (eds.): Approaches to the Qur'an, London 1993, pp. 101–140.
  • Jane Dammen-McAuliffe, 'Quranic Hermeneutics, The views of al-Tabari and Ibn Kathir', in: Andrew Rippin (ed.): Approaches to the history of the interpretation of the Qur'an, Oxford 1988, pp. 46–62.

External links[edit]