Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi

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Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ali bin Hasan bin Bashir Al-Hakim At-Termizi
TitleHakim at Tirmidhī
Born750 – 760 CE 133 AH – 143 AH
Died869 CE 255 AH
EraIslamic golden age
Notable work(s)Navodir Al-Usul fi Ma'rifat Akhbor Ar-Rasul, and Khaqiyqat Al-Odamiyya

Al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī (Arabic: الحكيم الترمذي‎), full name Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī al-Ḥanafī (d. c. 869) was a Sunni jurist (faqih) and traditionist (muhaddith) of Khorasan, but is mostly remembered as one of the great early authors of Sufism. His full name is: Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ali bin Hasan bin Bashir (in some sources it is 'Bishr') Al-Hakim At-Termizi. He is locally known as At-Termizi or Termiz Ota ("Father of Termiz city").

Information about his life and scientific and creative activities can be found in the works by Taj ad-Din Subki (Tabakat Ash-Shafii'yya Al-kubra), Khatiba Baghdad (Tarikh Baghdad), Ibn Hajara AshkAlani (Lisan Al-Miyzan), Sulami (Tabaqat As-Sufiyya) and in a number of other treatises.

Al-Hakim At-Termizi speaks about his life in his book Bad'u Shaani Abu Abdullah ("The Beginning of Abu Abdullah's Pursuit"), published in Beirut in 1965 by Yakh'ya Ismail Usman, together with the work of the scientist in Khatm Al-Avliya ("Seal of the Saints").


Tirmidhi was apparently born between 820 and 830 AD in Termez, Khorasan, nowadays Uzbekistan. His father was a scholar of hadith and a jurist; his early education appears to have been very orthodox. He was reared as a scholar of hadith and fiqh (law), more specifically, the Hanafi school of law that was dominant in eastern territories of Iran. The range of Tirmidhi's education did include the sciences, such as Greek natural science and philosophy. His subsequent reference to learning the use of the astrolabe, implying a knowledge of astronomy and mathematics, has been given different interpretations. "There is no trace of influence from 'natural science' in his writings." But being a Sufi Master is enough to accept that he did. However, his general pursuit of knowledge gained him the name of "al-hakim" (the title which means he had mastered the five sciences-Mathematics-Logic-Music-Medicine and Astronomy).

Early years[edit]

Different dates are used in written sources and present literature to indicate Al-Hakim At-Termizi's date of birth and death. Some authors, Khwaja Khalif in particular, in his Kashf as-Zunun, give the year 255 in Hijra / 869 AD as Al-Hakim At-Termizi's date of death. The same date was written on Al-Hakim At-Termizi's tomb. If we proceed from the fact that Al-Hakim At-Termizi lived more than one hundred years, some sources say 112, 116 or 120 years, he was born approximately between 750–760 AD. At the same time, Abdulfattah Abdullah Baraka who wrote his great "Al-Hakim At-Termizi and Nazariyyatukhu fil" ("Al-Hakim At-Termizi and his theory") thirty years ago, said that Al-Hakim At-Termizi, was born in 205 in Hijri / 820 and died in 320 in Hijri / 932 and lived 112 years.

Detailed information about Al-Hakim At-Termizi's childhood and youth is not available in the sources. According to his "autobiography", he started learning religious sciences when he was eight, and he made a Hajj to Mecca when he was twenty-eight.

Later life[edit]

Returning from Mecca, Al-Hakim At-Termizi became a Sufi follower; he withdrew from people and learned treaties. His father Ali bin Hassan was a leading scholar, a Hadith specialist, who, looking for knowledge, went to Baghdad and took an active part in scientific discussions with prominent scholars of the time on various problems of Hadith. His mother and uncle were considered to be experts of Hadith. Consequently, Al-Hakim At-Termizi grew up in the circle of educated and scientific people, which influenced greatly on his ideology.

Some written sources contain reliable information about Al-Hakim At-Termizi's teachers. His teacher was his father Ali bin Al-Hassan at Termizi "History of Baghdad" by Khatib Al-Bagdhadi contains some information. Among his other teachers were Kutaiba bin Sayid as-Sakafi Al-Balkhi (798–888 AD), Salih bin Abdullah At-Termizi of much interesting facts had been written in the book "Books about Famous People" by Ibn Khibbana; Salih bin Muhammad At-Termizi who was former qazi of Termiz for some time, Sufyan bin Vaki (died in 860), Hassan bin Umar bin Shafiq Al-Balkhi (died in 840 AD), Ahmad bin Khadravayh (died in 854 AD), Abu Turab An-Nakhshabi (link), and Yahya bin Maaz Ar-Razi (died in 875 AD).

Based on data given in the written sources Al-Hakim At-Termizi's life can be divided into the following periods:

  • The first period includes Al-Hakim At-Termizi's childhood up to seven. Unfortunately we do not have exact information about this part of his life. But nevertheless, one can say that unlike the children of his age he displayed ability at this age to various games, as if he prepared himself to the future scientific life, he worked hard with his teachers, obtained knowledge on various sciences (particularly on theology) and got ready to mystic spiritual life.
  • The second period embraces Al-Hakim At-Termizi's life from eight to twenty eight, when he received knowledge from different teachers (sheikhs). For knowledge he visited other oriental cities, was in Mecca and made a pilgrimage. Some sources pointed to the fact that he paid much attention to learning Hadith and problems of fiqh in this period of his life.
  • The third period of his life is related to learning the Qur'an thoroughly. He assimilated by deep God's words, their essence, fasting, praying and pious deeds and so on. The philosophic mystic work by Al-Antahi "Healing of Hearts" had a great influence on him.

Al-Hakim At-Termizi had many of students, including: Abu Muhammad Yahya bin Mansur Al-Kadi (died in 960 AD), Abu Ali Mansur bin Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Zuhli Al Hiravi; Abu Ali Al-Hassan bin Ali Al-Jurjani. He also taught Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Isa, Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Umar Al-Al Hakim Al-Varrak, Muhammad bin Jaafar bin Muhammad bin Al-Haisam bin Umran bin Buraida, and others.

Al-Hakim At-Termizi's scientific and creative activity is closely connected with his travels to other countries and cities. He visited Balkh, Nishapur, and Baghdad, where science and culture reached its zenith, and he met famous scholars and took part in discussions. Nevertheless, Termiz, his native city played an important role in his scientific and creative activity, and there he created his basic works. His sermons and as well as some works, first of all, Hatam Al-Avliya (Seal of Saints), Hal Ash-Shari'a (Arguments of the Islamic Law) in which are discussed Muslim rituals, about "love for God" and about various categories of mystics, about "the Seals of Saints", along with existing "Seals of Prophets", had dissatisfied some parts of the falikh and rich. Escaping from his enemies' chase, Al-Hakim At-Termizi had to move to Balkh and then to Nishapur, where he was very well accepted and where he obtained a large number of followers later.


According to Radtke and O'Kane, "he is the first and, up until the time of Ibn al-Arabi, the only mystic author whose writings present a broad synthesis of mystic experience, anthropology, cosmology and Islamic theology... Tirmidhi's system of thought is representative of an old Islamic theosophy which had not yet consciously assimilated elements from the Aristotelian-Neoplatonic philosophic tradition."[1]

Different figures on the number of Al-Hakim At-Termizi's works are mentioned in the written sources. Some authors say that the number of his work reaches four hundred. But the majority of authors tend to think that about eighty works belong to him. The famous Egyptian scholar Abdelfattah Abdulla Baraka writes that out of four hundred works by Al-Hakim At-Termizi only about sixty have reached us. Though many works were lost, the most important ones that contain the great scholar's basic teachings, which comprise his scientific and spiritual legacy have been preserved (2).

The first work that must be mentioned is Navodir Al-Usul fi Ma'rifat Akhbor Ar-Rasul ("Unique Principles of Learning about RasulAllah – the Messenger of God"). It consists of 291 Hadith, and that to some extent it reflects the author's points of view, his outlook, his understanding the world. One copy of Navadir Al-Usul is kept in Tashkent, in the library of Muslim Board of Uzbekistan.

Other works of the scholar are: Khaqiyqat Al-Odamiyya ("Book about the Nature of a Man"), Adab an-Nafs ("Bringing up the Soul"). The majority of the works of Al-Hakim At-Termizi reached us in the form of manuscripts and they are kept in different manuscript funds of the world. Conditionally they may be divided into five groups: manuscripts that are kept in Paris, Cairo, Damascus, Alexandria, Istanbul and London. The following works by Al-Hakim At-Termizi are kept in the National Library of Paris (in the Arab department):[2][3]

  • Kitab as-Salat va Makasidiha (A Book about Prayer and its Aims)
  • Kitab Al-Hajj va Asrarihi (A Book about Pilgrimage and its Secrets)
  • Kitab Al-Ihtiyatot (A Book about Precautions)
  • Kitab Al-Jumal Al-Lazim Ma'rifitiha (A Book about Sentences that Should be Known)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Radtke and O'Kane, The Concept of Sainthood in Early Islamic Mysticism (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1996).
  2. ^ "Tirmiḏī, Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥakīm al- (0820?–0932?)". BnF catalogue général. Bibliothèque nationale de France. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥakīm al- Tirmiḏī (0820?–0932?)". Bibliothèque nationale de France. Retrieved 11 June 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Y. Marquet, Al-Hakim at-Tirmidi et le neoplatonisme de son temps (Université de Dakar, Travaux et Documents no. 2, 1976).
  • B. Radtke, "A Forerunner of Ibn al-Arabi: Hakim Tirmidhi on Sainthood," Journal of the Ibn Arabi Society (1989) 8: 42–49.
  • O. Yahya, "L'Oeuvre de Tirmidi (Essai bibliographique)" (411–480) in Melanges Louis Massignon Vol. 3 (Damascus: Institut Français de Damas, 1957).

External links[edit]