Born in Damascus, during the reign of atabegToghtekin, 'Asakir received an extensive education, as befitting someone from a wealthy family. By 1120, he was attending lectures of al-Sulami at the Shafi'i madrasa, which was built by atabegGumushtegin. He traveled to Baghdad, following the death of his father, and went on hajj in 1127. He returned to Baghdad to hear lectures at the Nezamiyeh, from Abu l'Hasan al Ansari(a pupil of al-Ghazali), lectures on the hadith of Abi Salih al-Karamani and Ibn al-Husayn Abu l'Kasim.
By 1132, Asakir returned to Damascus being married within the year. Civil disturbances forced him to leave Damascus and travel from Isafahan to Merv, where he met Abu Sa'd 'Abd al-Karim al-Samani. With al-Samani he travel to Nishapur and Herat and by 1139 he had passed through Baghdad on his way back to Damascus. Throughout his journey he collected numerous hadiths and had become a hafiz.
History of Damascus (Arabic: Tarikh Dimashiq) is one of most important books about the Islamic history of Syria, covering the life of important figures who resided in or visited Damascus. That is not limited to the assessment of narrators of hadith, Ilm ar-Rijal, but also includes historical and political figures. When it comes to Islamic figures, Ibn Asakir tried to collect everything that has been said about that figure, true or false, with full chain of narration. It also contains a huge collection of Arabicpoems. It was printed recently in seventy two volumes.