Abu Zur’ah ar-Razi (d.264H)

His name and lineage:
He is the imam,[1] the hâfidh,[2] the critic, the proof, shaikh of the recitors and the traditionists[3] in Khurasân, Abū Zur’ah ‘Ubaidullah bin ‘Abdil-Karîm bin Yazîd bin Farrūkh bin Dâwud ar-Râzî.

His birth:
He was born the year 194H according to [what is] more apparent.

The better known [narrators] he narrated from:
Ahmad bin Hanbal, Yahyâ bin Ma’în, Abū Nu’aim al-Fadl bin Dukain, Abul-Walîd atTayâlisî, Yahyâ bin ‘Abdillah bin Bukair, Ahmad bin Yūnus, ‘Abdullah bin Sâlih al-‘Ijlî, Khallâd bin Yahyâ, Abul-Hasan at-Tirmidhî, Ahmad bin Manî’, Abur-Rabî’ al-‘Atkî, ‘Abdullah bin Maslamah al-Qa’nabî, Mahmūd bin Ghailân, and many others.

The better known narrators [who narrated] from him:
Abū Hâtim ar-Râzî, Muslim bin al-Hajjâj, Abū ‘Îsâ at-Tirmidhî, Abū ‘Abdir-Rahman an-Nasâ’î, Ibn Mâjah al-Qazwînî, Is·hâq bin Mūsâ al-Ansârî, ar-Rabî’ bin Sulaimân, Yūnus bin ‘Abdil-A’lâ, Ibrâhîm al-Harbî, Abū Zur’ah ad-Dimashqî, ‘Abdullah bin Ahmad, ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Abî Hatim, Abū ‘Awânah al-Isfarâ’înî, Abū Bakr bin Abî Dâwud, Abū Ya’lâ al-Mawsilî, ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Wahb ad-Dînawarî, ‘Alî bin al-Hasan bin al-Junaid, and others.

The scholars’ and imams’ commendation of him:
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal said, “[There are] none across the bridge of Baghdad more preserving[4] than Abî Zur’ah.”

He said, “This young man (i.e., Abū Zur’ah) memorized 700,000 hadîths.”

When Abū Zur’ah stayed with him,[5] he[6] said, “I have not prayed other than the [religious] duty [today]; I was engrossed in Abî Zur’ah’s memorizing over the superogatory [prayers].”

‘Abdullah bin Ahmad said,

I [asked] my father, “O father, who are the hâfidhs?” He said, “O my [young] son, a [group of] young [men] who were with us from the people of Khurasân; they have scattered.” I [asked], “Who are they, O father?” He said, “Muhammad bin Ismâ’îl, this one’s Bukhârî; ‘Abdullah[7] bin ‘Abdil-Karîm, this one’s Râzî; ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdir-Rahman, this one’s Samarqandî; and al-Husain[8] bin Shujâ’, this one’s Balkhî.”

Abū Hâtim ar-Râzî said, “Abū Zur’ah narrated to me and he did not leave after him [anyone of] his like in knowledge, jurisprudence, understanding, preservation, and truthfulness. I do not know anyone, in the East and the West, who understands this situation like him.”

He said, “If you see a Râzî hating Abū Zur’ah, then know that he is a heretic.”

He said, “The most pious of [those] who I saw are four: Âdam, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Thâbit bin Muhammad az-Zâhid, and Abū Zur’ah ar-Râzî.”

Is·hâq bin Râhawaih said, “Every hadîth Abū Zur’ah does not recognize, then it does not have an origin.”

Yūnus bin ‘Abdil-A’lâ mentioned Abū Zur’ah ar-Râzî and said, “Abū Zur’ah is a prodigy;[9] when Allah desires to make one of His slaves a prodigy, He makes him [one].”

Muhammad bin Yahyâ said, “The Muslims will not cease [being] good so long as Allah preserves the likes of Abî Zur’ah for them.”

Ibn Abî Shaibah said, “I have not seen [anyone] more preserving than Abî Zur’ah.”

‘Alî bin al-Hasan bin al-Junaid said, “I have not seen anyone more knowledgeable of Mâlik bin Anas’s hadîths, their connected and their severed, than Abî Zur’ah; and likewise, the rest of the sciences.”

Sâlih bin Muhammad said from Abî Zur’ah that he said, “I memorized 10,000 hadîths regarding the recitations.”

Abū Ya’lâ al-Mawsilî said, “We have not heard anyone mentioned regarding memorization except [that] his name was larger than [the things] seen [of] him, except Abū Zur’ah, for surely, [the things] observed [of] him were more tremendous than his name. He had gathered [the knowledge of] the chapters, the shaikhs, and the exegesis. We wrote 6,000 hadîths of his selection in Wâsit.”

al-Khatîb al-Baghdâdî said, “He was a divine[10] imam, a precise [and] prolific hâfidh. He sat with Ahmad bin Hanbal and committed his [hadîths] to memory.”

adh-Dhahabî said, “He was from the [unique] individuals of [his] age in memorization, acumen, religion, sincerity, knowledge, and deed.”

He said, “He was the imam of the People of Hadîth in his time, a head with respect to knowledge and deed and his outstanding traits a forelock.”

His death:
He died on the Monday at the end of Dhil-Hijjah in the year 264H.

May Allah have mercy on our imam, Abū Zur’ah, and be pleased with him. May He unite us with him in His mercy, His excellence, His bounty, and His pleasure, in the highest Paradise[11] with the Prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, the righteous, and the satisfactory imams.

The biography’s sources:
al-Jarh wat-Ta’dîl, vol. 1, pg. 328; Târîkh Baghdâd, vol. 10, pg. 362; Târîkh Dimashq, vol. 38, pg. 11; Siyar A’lâm an-Nubalâ’, vol. 13, pg. 65; al-‘Ulū lil-‘Alî al-‘Adhîm, vol. 2, pg. 1158.


[1] [t] Ar. imâm – leader, head. It is the honorific 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. hâfiḍḥ – memoriser, preserver. It is the honorific given to a traditionist with exceptional skills in memorising prophetic traditions. It also refers to a memoriser of the Qur’an.

[3] [t] Ar. muḥaddith – speaker, transmitter of prophetic statements and traditions. In Islamic terminology it refers to a scholar of the branches of knowledge pertaining to prophetic narrations and traditions, referred to by some Orientalist scholars as a ‘traditionist’, hence my use of it here.

[4] [t] I.e., no one memorizes more.

[5] [t] I.e., to study under him.

[6] [t] I.e., Imam Aḥmad bin Ḥanbal.

[7] [t] This appears to be a typo; and Allah is more knowledgeable.

[8] [t] This appears to be another typo; and again, Allah is more knowledgeable.

[9] [t] Ar. âyah – sign, token, mark; miracle; wonder, marvel, prodigy; model, exemplar, paragon, masterpiece; Qur’anic verse; passage (in a book), utterance, saying, word.

[10] [t] Ar. rabbânî – divine; pertaining to God. Imam ash-Shawkânî explained, “The divine is [something] attributed to the Lord with the addition of the alif and the nūn, just as liḥyânî is said about a great beard … . The divine is the one who educates the people with the minor [aspects] of knowledge before its major [aspects]. So it is as if he was emulating the Lord, glorified is He, in fascilitating the affairs.” (Fat·ḥ al-Qadîr, vol. 1, pg. 584).

[11] [t] Ar. firdaws – Paradise.



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.

2 Responses to Abu Zur’ah ar-Razi (d.264H)

  1. Anas Alfatih says:

    Assalamu’alaikum Mr. Rasheed, Thank you so much for your posting,,, Nice!

    Anas From Indonesia

  2. Assalamu’alaikum Mr. Rasheed, Thank you so much for your posting,,, Nice!

    Anas From Indonesia

    Wa ‘alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah, brother Anas.

    You’re very welcome, may Allah bless and reward you with good.

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