ABOUT THE BOOK:
Siyar A'lam al-Nubala is an encyclopaedic book on the history and biographies of Islamic figures that play a role in the history of Islam written by Imam adh-Dhahabi. This book includes books that are considered important for the reader and researchers alike. This is a work that is more detailed but not all inclusive unlike his other biographical works such as Tarikh al-Islam or Mizan al-i'tidal fi naqd al-Rijal, which are immensely beneficial. The scope of this book starts from the era of the companions to the era of the author himself. Includes biography of the companions and their followers, scholars of his times, the story of the caliphs and political leaders both inside and outside the Islamic influence of Islamic history. Includes historical facts and political events that occurred throughout the history of Islam to present time of the Dhahabi. Imam Dhahabi makes it as comprehensive as possible over the whole of the Islamic world from Andalusia in the West to the Far East. The last volume is exclusively biography of the righteous Caliphs, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, May Allah be pleased with them all.
This is perhaps the best print available to date. It took extreme amount of man power, all well versed in the field, 12 years in the making, vigilantly supervised by the hadith expert of this age, Shaykh Shu'ayb al-Arna'ut and finally released by Mu'assassat al-Risalah in 28 volumes with a thickness ranging 600 pages averagely. It also contains extensive biographical study on the author, the various manuscripts relied upon and the historical importance of the work.
ABOUT IMAM ADH-DHAHABI:
He is Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Uthman ibn Qayyum `Abu `Abd Allah Shams ad-Din al-Dhahabi known as Al-Dhahabi, a Shafi'i Muhaddith and a prolific historian. Al-Dhahabi was born in Damascus in 1274 CE/673 AH, where his family had lived from the time of his grandfather `Uthman. He sometimes identified himself as Ibn al-Dhahabi (son of the goldsmith) in reference to his father's profession. He began his study of hadith at age eighteen, travelling from Damascus to Baalbek, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Nabulus, Cairo, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Hijaz, and elsewhere, after which he returned to Damascus, where he taught and authored many works and achieved wide renown as a perspicuous critic and expert examiner of the hadith, encyclopaedic historian and biographer, and foremost authority in the canonical readings of the Qur'an.
He studied under more than 100 women. His most important teacher at Baalbek included a woman, Zaynab bint ʿUmar b. al-Kindi. He lost his sight two years before he died, leaving three children: his eldest daughter Amat al-`Aziz and his two sons `Abd Allah and Abu Hurayra `Abd al-Rahman. The latter taught the hadith masters Ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi and Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, to whom he transmitted several works authored or narrated by his father.
Among al-Dhahabi's most notable teachers in hadith, fiqh and aqida:
- Abd al-Khaliḳ b. Ulwan
- Zaynab bint 'Umar b. al-Kindi,
- Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Mas‘ud ibn Nafis al-Musali,
- Shaykh al-Islam Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah,
- Ibn al-Zahiri, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah al-Halabi,
- Sharaf al-Din al-Dimyati, `Abd al-Mu'min ibn Khalaf, the foremost Egyptian authority on hadith in his time,
- Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Daqiq al-'Id, whom he identified in his youth as Abu al-Fath al-Qushayri, later as Ibn Wahb.
- Jamal al-Din Abu al-Ma`ali Muhammad ibn `Ali al-Ansari al-Zamalkani al-Dimashqi al-Shafi`i (d. 727), whom he called "Qadi al-Qudat, the Paragon of Islam, the standard-bearer of the Sunna, my shaykh".
- Al-Abarquhi, Ahmad ibn Ishaq ibn Muhammad al-Misri (d. 701), from which al-Dhahabi received the Suhrawardi Sufi path.
Dhahabi authored nearly hundred works, some of them of considerable size. His work regarding the practice of prophetic medicine was straightforward in its presentation, but also categorized by the author as alternative medicine. Much of it consisted of an integration of medicine as understood from the revelations of the prophet Muhammad and the practices of Pre-Islamic Arabia with Ancient Greek medicine, quoting heavily from the ideas and terminologies of Hippocrates and Ibn Sina.
List of popular works:
- Tarikh al-Islam al-kabir. (Major History of Islam); Ibn Hajar received it from Abu Hurayra ibn al-Dhahabi.
- Siyar a`lam al-nubala'. (The Lives of Noble Figures), 28 volumes, a unique encyclopaedia of biographical history.
- Tadhhib Tahdhib al-Kamal, an abridgement of al-Mizzi's abridgement of al-Maqdasi's Al-Kamal fi Asma' al-Rijal, a compendium of historical biographies for hadith narrators cited in the Six major Hadith collections.
- Al-Kashif fi Ma`rifa Man Lahu Riwaya fi al-Kutub al-Sitta, an abridgment of the Tadhhib.
- Al-Mujarrad fi Asma' Rijal al-Kutub al-Sitta, an abridgment of the Kashif.
- Mukhtasar Kitab al-Wahm wa al-Iham li Ibn al-Qattan.
- Mukhtasar Sunan al-Bayhaqi, an abridgement of Bayhaqi's Sunan al-Kubara.
- Mukhtasar al-Mustadrak li al-Hakim, an abdridgement of Hakim's Al-Mustadrak 'alal Sahihain.
- Al-Amsar Dhawat al-Athar (Cities Rich in Historical Relics), which begins with the description of Madina al-Munawwara.
- Al-Tajrid fi Asma' al-Sahaba, a dictionary of the Companions.
- Tadhkirat al-huffadh. (The Memorial of the Hadith Masters), a chronological history of the biography of hadith masters. Ibn Hajar received it from Abu Hurayra ibn al-Dhahabi.
- Al-Mu`in fi Tabaqat al-Muhaddithin, a compendium of hadith scholars (Muhaddithin).
- Tabaqat al-Qurra (Biography-Layers of the Qur'anic Scholars).
- Duwal al-Islam (The Islamic Nations), a condensed history with emphasis on political figures and events.
- Al-Kaba'ir (The Major Sins)
- Manaaqib Al-imam Abu Hanifa wa saahibayhi Abu Yusuf wa Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan (The Honoured status of Imam Abu Hanifa and his two companions, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan).
He died in 748 AH or 1348 CE.