Ibn Al-Mubarak (Abd Allah)
ABŪ ʿABD AL-RAḤMĀN ʿABD ALLĀH IBN AL-MUBĀRAK IBN WĀḌIḤ AL-ḤANẒALĪ AL-TAMĪMĪ (may Allah show compassion towards him) was a great scholar and saint of the third generation of Muslims (tābiʿ al-tābiʿīn). He is highly respected for his knowledge of jurisprudence, trustworthy narration of Prophetic traditions, service in the Muslim army, and business acumen. He was a pious worshipper, ascetic, poet, grammarian and linguist.
Ibn Al-Mubārak was born in the city of Marw in present-day Turkmenistan in 118 AHAbū Ḥanīfa (at Kūfa), Ḥammād ibn Salamah, Ḥammād ibn Zayd, Hishām ibn ʿUrwa, Ibn Jurayj, ʿĪsā ibn Yūnus, Ismāʿīl ibn ʿAyāsh, Mālik ibn Anas (at Madīnah), Sufyān Al-Thawrī, and Sufyān ibn ʿUyaynah, amongst many others (may Allah show compassion towards them all). He also wrote down anything of benefit he heard from the general masses and even from people of other religions. He wrote many books and used them to narrate from so that he did not pass on any errors, and he became famed for the amount of knowledge he had gathered.. His father was a Turk and was originally the slave of a merchant of the Banī Ḥanẓala tribe, before marrying his master’s daughter (Ibn Al-Mubārak’s mother). As a child, he was gifted with a keen intellect and strong memory. He left Marw in 141 AH at the age of twenty-three years to seek further Islamic knowledge. His desire to hear and record authentic Prophetic traditions led him to Yemen, Egypt, Syria, the Ḥijāz, Baṣra, and Kūfa. He took and wrote down knowledge from four thousand scholars, and narrated from a thousand of them, young and old. His teachers included ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān Al-Awzāʿī (in Syria),
Ibn Al-Mubārak became one of the greatest and trustworthy scholars of Prophetic traditions of his generation and was given the titles of ‘scholar of the east and west’ and ‘leader of the faithful in Prophetic traditions’ (amīr ul mu’minīn fī al-ḥadīth) due to his keen knowledge of the narrators of Prophetic traditions and strict acceptance criteria of Prophetic traditions (e.g. he would not accept Prophetic traditions if the narrator – i.e. a Companion - between the Successor and the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم - may Allah bless him and grant him peace - is omitted in the chain of narrators). He was also recognised as being amongst the great Jurists of his era. He was a very successful merchant, and he spent his wealth on seeking knowledge, spending on the poor and needy, sponsoring his students and companions in making the Hajj pilgrimage, and settling peoples’ debts.
Those who narrated from Ibn Al-Mubārak include ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān ibn Mahdī, Abū Dāwūd, Al-Fuḍayl ibn ʿĪyāḍ, Abū Bakr and ʿUthmān ibn Abī Shayba, Yaḥyā ibn Ādam, Isḥāq ibn Rāhwayh, many of his teachers, and countless more scholars (may Allah show compassion towards them all). Unfortunately, most his books have not reached our time but those that have include Kitāb Al-Jiḥād (a collection of Prophetic traditions and sayings of the early Muslims on war) and Kitāb Al-Zuhd wal Raqā’iq (a book on asceticism).
Ibn Al-Mubārak was also well known for partaking in battles. He manned garrisons at the borders of the Muslim empire with the Romans in Tarsus (in modern day Turkey), Al-Maṣṣīṣah, and elsewhere. He was known for his lengthy prayers, prolonged stays in the mosques, frequent recitation of the Qur’an, hatred of showing-off, concern for the purity of his wealth and charity, and humbleness of his heart. His constant enjoining of good and forbidding of evil to friends and rulers led to him being known as ‘advisor of the nation’ (nāṣiḥ al ummah). He passed away in 181 AH in the city of Hīt in present-day Iraq. He was sixty-three years old and in a state of poverty, having just returned from battle. He had supplicated to Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) for a life of the rich and a death of the poor.