Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi

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Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi
Born Sunday, 24 Jumadi' al-Thani, 392 A.H/May 10, 1002 A.D(Julian Calendar)
Died Monday, 07 Zulhijja, 463 A.H/ September 05, 1071 A.D (Julian Calendar) aged 71 years 5 months 12 days (according lunar calendar)
Era Medieval era
Region Iraq(Islamic scholer)
School Shafi'i

Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn `Ali ibn Thabit ibn Ahmad ibn Mahdi al-Shafi`i, commonly known as al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (Arabic: الخطيب البغدادي‎) or the lecturer from Baghdad (10 May 1002 – 5 September 1071; 392 AH-463 AH), was a Sunni Muslim scholar and historian.


Early life[edit]

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi was born on Sunday, 24 Jumadi' al-Thani, 392 A.H/May 10, 1002, Julian Calendar in Hanikiya, a village south of Baghdad. He was the son of a preacher of Darzidjan and he began studying at an early age with his father and other shaykhs. Over time he studied other sciences but his primary interest was hadith. There is not a lot of information available about what he did while he was studying under his father. At the age of 20 his father died and he went to Basra to search for hadith. In 1024 he set out on a second journey to Nishapur and he collected more hadith in Rey and Isfahan. It is unclear how long he traveled but his own accounts put him back in Baghdad in 1028. While he was an authority on hadith it was his preaching that gave him fame that would help him later in life. One biographer, Al-Dhahabi, says that teachers and preachers of tradition usually submitted what they had collected to Al-Baghdadi before they used them in their lectures or sermons.[1]


al-Baghdadi was born Hanbali but switched his view to Shafi'i because of theological opinions.[1] Some think that this change in opinion happened after a trip to Nahrawan in 1038 but it is unsure. These changes in opinions caused Imam Hanbal's followers to dislike him and there was a certain hostility between them and al-Baghdadi. Despite the problems that existed al-Baghdadi had protection under Caliph Al-Qa'im and Ibn al-Muslima and, under that protection, he opened a lot of lectures on hadith in the Mansur Mosque.[1]


In 1059 Basasiri's rebellion was successful and he overthrew Ibn Muslima for control of Baghdad. This loss of protection caused al-Baghdadi to go to Damascus. He spent eight years lecturing in the Umayyad Mosque before some type of mishap took place. There is a controversy surrounding what that mishap was exactly. Biographers Yaqut, Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, al-Dhahabi, as-Safadi, and Ibn Taghribirdi all contend that the mishap involves al-Baghdadi frequenting a youth which naturally caused a problem in Damascus.[2] Sibt ibn al-Jawzi contends that the youth in question came along with al-Baghdadi from Baghdad. Yaqut goes on to explain that the story reached the ruler of Damascus who was Rafidi who, in turn, ordered his chief of police to kill al-Baghdadi. The police chief was a Sunni and he advised al-Baghdadi to gain the protection of Shari ibn Abi al-Hasan al-'Alawi. The reason, from what we know, that the police gave him the advice was because al-Baghdadi was an important person and killing him would lead to a retaliation against the Shi'i.[1][2] al-Baghdadi took the advice and fled to Sur, Lebanon.[2] He stayed there for about a year before he returned to Baghdad where he died in September 1071. He was buried next to Bishr al-Hafi.[1]


The issue in Damascus was one major controversy surrounding al-Khatib al-Baghdadi. Another major controversy associated with al-Baghdadi is the validity of his writings. Biographers Yaqut, Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn Kathir, and Ibn Taghribirdi believe that al-Baghdadi only finished the work of an author named as-Suri.[2] While Yaqut contends that al-Baghdadi took the work from as-Suri's sister and claimed them as his own, Ibn Kathir believes that the works in question were borrowed from as-Suri's wife but he does not give an opinion as to the authenticity of them.[2] He has also been accused of being dishonest in relation to the hadiths by Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi.


Ibn Hajar declared his works influential in the field of the Science of hadith and Hadith terminology saying, "Scarce is the discipline from the disciplines of the science of hadith that he has not written an individual book regarding." He then quoted Abu Bakr ibn Nuqtah, a Hanbali scholar, as saying, “Every objective person knows that the scholars of hadeeth coming after al-Khatib are indebted to his works.”[3]

This is a short list of some of al-Baghdadi's works. Some accounts have him authoring over 80 titles.[1]

  • Ta'rikh Baghdad: The History of Baghdad
  • al-Kifaya fi ma'rifat usul 'ilm al-riwaya: an early work dealing with Hadith terminology, which Ibn Hajar praised as influential in the field;
  • al-Djami' li-akhlak al-rawi wa-adab al-sami
  • Takyid al-'ilm: Questions whether putting traditions into writing is forbidden
  • Sharaf ashab al-hadith: Centers around the significance of traditionalists;
  • al-Sabik wa 'l-lahik: dealing with hadith narrators of a particular type;
  • al-Mu'tanif fi takmilat al-Mu'talif wa 'l-mukhtalif: Correct spelling and pronunciation of names
  • al-Muttafik wa 'l-muftarik
  • Talkhis al-mutashabih fi 'l-rasm wa-himayat ma ashkala minhu min nawadir al-tashif wa 'l-wahm
  • al-Asma' al-mubhama fi 'l-anba' al-muhkama: identifying unnamed individuals mentioned in hadith
  • al-Rihla fi talab al-hadith
  • Iktida' al-'ilm al-'amal


  1. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition. Sellheim, R. Brill online. 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e Controversy and Its Effects in the Biographical Tradition of Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi. Douglas, Fedwa Malti. Studia Islamica 46. 1977.
  3. ^ Nuzhah Al-Nathr, by Ibn Hajar, pg. 45–51, published with al-Nukat of Ali ibn Hasan, Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, Dammam, Saudi Arabia.