Abū ‘Ubaid al-Qâsim bin Sallâm (d. 224H)

By Shaikh Muhammad Nâsir ad-Dîn al-Albânî
(Taken from an upcoming translation of the imam’s book, Kitâb al-Îmân, that I’m working on)

He was Abū ‘Ubaid al-Qâsim bin Sallâm al-Baghdâdî, the imam,[1] the mujtahid,[2] the ocean {of knowledge}; the linguist, the jurist;[3] author of compilations.

He was born in Harâh[4] around 157H. His father was a roman servant for some of the people of Harâh.

He heard from a group of the reliable imams, such as Sufyân bin ‘Uyainah, Ismâ’îl bin ‘Ulayyah, Yazîd bin Hârūn, Yahyâ bin Sa’îd al-Qattân, ‘Abdur-Rahmân bin Mahdî, Hammâd bin Salamah, and others.

Imams ad-Dârimî, Abū Bakr bin Abid-Dunyâ, ‘Alî bin ‘Abdil-‘Azîz al-Baghawî, Muhammad bin Yahyâ al-Marwazî, and others narrated from him.

Imam Is·hâq bin Râhawaih said, “Allah loves the truth. Abū ‘Ubaid is more knowledgeable and has greater comprehension[5] than I.” He also said, “We are in need of Abî ‘Ubaid, and Abū ‘Ubaid is not in need of us.”

Ahmad bin Hanbal said, “Abū ‘Ubaid is a teacher, and he grew better each day.”

Yahyâ bin Ma’în was asked about him and he said, “Abū ‘Ubaid; he should be asked about the people!”

Abū Dâwud said, “{He is} reliable {and} trusted.”

Hâfidh[6] adh-Dhahabî said,

Whoever looked at the books of Abî ‘Ubaid would know his position with respect to memorization and knowledge. He was a memorizer of Hadîth and its defects, knowledgeable in jurisprudence and the differences {of opinion}. {He was} an authority in the language, an imam in the {variant} readings {of the Qur’an}; he has a compilation about them. From his literary works {that have} come to me are Kitâb al-Amwâl and Kitâb an-Nâsikh wal-Mansūkh.

al-Khatîb al-Baghdâdî said,

He was a possessor of virtue, religion, chastity, and good opinion. His books were commendable, sought in every country. Those who narrated from him are famous {and} reliable. {He was} a possessor of repute and nobility. His book concerning wealth is from the best and most outstanding of what was compiled in the {field of} jurisprudence.

I say despite the outstanding qualities and virtues, the six imams[7] did not publish anything for him with respect to Hadîth. That is from the many evidences that they did not publish {narrations} for all of the reliable narrators of Hadîth, so after this, there is nothing strange about al-Bukhârî not publishing {narrations} for some of the reliable narrators from the People of the House,[8] may Allah be pleased with them.

From the words of Abî ‘Ubaid—may Allah, exalted is He, have mercy on him—is: “The follower of the Sunnah is like the one holding on to the live coal. And today, according to me, he is better than the one struck with the sword in the Path of Allah, mighty and sublime is He.” I say this was during his time, so what is said about ours?

He lived in Baghdâd for a while, then {was} the Guardian of Justice[9] in Tarsūs. After that, he left to Makkah and lived there until he died in the year 224H.

[1] [t] Ar. imâm – leader, head. It is the title given to the head or heads of a particular group, whether it be a top scholar of the religion or the ruler of the Muslims.

[2] [t] Ar. mujtahid – diligent, industrious. It refers to a scholar capable of examining the texts independantly and formulating rulings and legal decisions in religious matters.

[3] [t] Ar. faqîh – legist, jurisprudent, expert of fiqh (Islamic law, jurisprudence).

[4] [t] Ar. Harâh – Herat, a city in North-western Afghanistan.

[5] [t] I.e., has a better grasp of Islamic jurisprudence.

[6] [t] Ar. hâfidh – memorizer, preserver. It is the title given to a scholar of Hadîth (Ar. muhaddith) with exceptional skills in memorizing prophetic traditions. It is also the title given to a memoriser of the Qur’an.

[7] [t] I.e., the authors of the “Six Authentic Books”: Abū ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Ismâ’îl al-Bukhârî, Abul-Husain Muslim bin al-Hajjâj an-Nîsâbūrî, Abū Dâwud Sulaimân bin al-Ash’ath as-Sajistânî, Abū ‘Îsâ Muhammad bin ‘Îsâ at-Tirmidhî, Abū ‘Abdir-Rahmân Ahmad bin Shu’aib an-Nasâ’î, and Abū ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Yazîd al-Qazwînî (Ibn Mâjah).

[8] [t] I.e., Prophet Muhammad’s family and household.

[9] [t] Ar. walî al-qadâ’ – lit. the guardian of justice i.e., the top judge.

About Rasheed Gonzales
My name is Rasheed Gonzales. I’m a Muslim convert of Filipino descent. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I was guided to Islam through one of my younger brothers and a couple of friends, all of whom had converted to Islam sometime before me (may Allah reward them greatly). I am married with four children (and the praise is Allah’s) and also a volunteer for the Qur'an & Sunnah Society of Canada, based in Toronto.

One Response to Abū ‘Ubaid al-Qâsim bin Sallâm (d. 224H)

  1. Pingback: Abū ‘Ubaid al-Qâsim bin Sallâm on Faith « Rasheed Gonzales

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