Ibn Kathir

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Ismail Ibn Kathir
Born 702 AH / 1301 CE
Died 774 AH / 1373 CE
Era Medieval philosophy
School Shafi'i

Ismail ibn Kathir (Arabic: ابن كثير‎)‎ (1301–1373) was a highly influential Muslim Muhaddith (narrator), Faqīh, Mufassir, and Historian. He was the author of Signs Before the Day of Judgment. He is also well known for his tafsir, which is widely considered authoritative.


His full name was Abu Al-Fida, 'Imad Ad-Din (His Kunyah), Isma'il bin 'Umar bin Kathir Ibn Daw' Ibn Kathir Ibn Dir, originally Al-Busrawi, then Ad-Dimashqi Ash-Shafi'i and also Al-Qurashi. He was born in Mijdal, a village on the outskirts of the city of Busra, to the east of Damascus in the year 701 A.H and was taught by Ibn Taymiyya, Al-Mizzi, Ibn Qayyim, Al-Dhahabi, Ibn Al Firkah,‘Isa bin Al-Mutim, Ahmed bin Abi-Talib, Ibn Al-Hajjar, Baha Ad-Din Al-Qasim bin Muzaffar bin ‘Asakir, Ibn Ash-Shirazi, Ishaq bin Yahya Al-Ammuddi, Zahriyyah Shaykh, and Muhammad bin Zarrad.

Official positions[edit]

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. Thereafter he received various semi-official appointments, culminating in June/July 1366 with a professorial position at the Great Mosque of Damascus.[2]

Scholastic achievements[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. Tafsir ibn Kathir is famous all over the Muslim world, and among Muslims in the Western world is one of the most widely used explanations of the Qur'an today.

Ibn Kathir was renowned for his great memory regarding the sayings of Muhammad and the entire Qur'an. Ibn Kathir is known as a qadi, a master scholar of history, also a muhaddith and a mufassir (Qur'an commentator). Ibn Kathir saw himself as a Shafi'i scholar. This is indicated by two of his books, one of which was Tabaqaat ah-Shafa'iah, or The Categories of the Followers of Imam Shafi.

His work is also available in English.

Later life and death[edit]

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.

Ibn Kathir died in 774 AH / February 1373 in Damascus.


His 16 written works are recorded, and 11 are printed and available to the people.