SUFYAAN IBN SA`EED IBN MASROOQ, ATH-THAWREE
(Abridged from ‘Siyar A`laamin Nubalaa·’ of Imaam adh-Dhahabee)
Translated by Abu Talha Dawud Burbank rahimahullaah
“Sufyaan ibn Sa`eed ibn Masrooq, the Imaam, Shaikhul-Islaam, The chief of the memorizers, Aboo `Abdillaah, ath-Thawree: from Thawr of the tribe of Mudar, not Thawr of Hamadaan; al-Koofee, the Jurist (Faqeeh).
He narrated from his father, and from: Zubayd ibn al-Haarith, Habeeb ibn Abee Thaabit, al-Aswad ibn Qays, Ziyaad ibn `Ilaaqah, Muhaarib ibn Dithaar, and their level.
Those who narrated from him included: Ibn al-Mubaarak, Yahyaa alQattaan, Ibn Wahb, Wakee`, al-Firyaabee, Qabeesah, Aboo Nu`aym, Muhammad ibn Katheer, Ahmad ibn Yoonus al-Yarboo`ee, and very many others.
Shu`bah, Yahyaa ibn Ma`een, and a group said: Sufyaan is the Chief of the Believers in Hadeeth.”
Ibn al-Mubaarak said: “I wrote (narrations) from one thousand one hundred Shaikhs, and there was not amongst them anyone more excellent than Sufyaan.”
Shu`bah used to say: “Sufyaan is a better memorizer than me.”
Warqaa· said: “ath-Thawree did not see the like of himself.”
Ahmad said: “No one takes precedence over him in my heart.”
al-Qattaan said: “I have never seen a better memorizer then him: if you asked him about a question or about a hadeeth which he did not possess, it would trouble him greatly.”
`Abdur-Razzaaq said: Sufyaan said: “I never stored anything in my heart and then found it letting me down.”
al-Awzaa`ee said: “No one whom the Ummah is united upon in their being pleased with him and holding him to be correct remains except for Sufyaan.”
Ibn al-Mubaarak said: “I do not know anyone upon the face of the earth who is more knowledgeable than Sufyaan.”
Wakee` said: “Sufyaan was an ocean.”
al-Qattaan said: “Sufyaan is above Maalik in everything.”
Aboo Usaamah said: “Whoever informs you that he has seen the like of Sufyaan, then do not believe him.”
Ibn Abee Dhi·b said: “I have not seen in Iraaq anyone who resembles your Thawree.”
ath-Thawree said: “I would love that I am saved regarding knowledge: so that it is neither for nor against me; and there is no action which I fear more for myself than it – meaning Hadeeth.”
Yahyaa ibn Yamaan said: I heard Sufyaan say: “The scholar is the doctor of the Religion and dirhams are the disease for the Religion. So if the doctor catches the disease, then when will he be able to treat others?!”
al-Khuraybee said: “I heard ath-Thawree say: “Seeking Hadeeth (itself) is not a preparation for death, rather it is an ailment which a man prescribes himself with.”
I (i.e. adh-Dhahabee) say: ‘He has spoken the truth, by Allaah. Seeking Hadeeth is something other than Hadeeth itself. So seeking Hadeeth is a term commonly used to cover a number of affairs which are additional to actually acquiring Hadeeth itself, and many of them are just steps towards knowledge; and most of these are affairs which the narrator of hadeeth becomes engrossed with, such as: acquiring fine manuscripts; seeking shorter chains; increasing the number of one’s Shaikhs; being overjoyed at titles and praise; and hoping for a long life so that he can narrate more; and loving to be alone in narrating something; and many affairs which are closely allied to personal goals, and not to actions for the Lord. So if your seeking the Prophetic Hadeeth is surrounded by these calamities, then when will you escape from them towards acting purely and sincerely for Allaah. Then if the knowledge of narrations can be tainted, then what do you think about the knowledge of logic, controversial debating, philosophy of the earlier peoples; which strip away Eemaan and produce doubts and throw a person into confusion. These were not, by Allaah, from the knowledge of the Companions, nor the Taabi`een, nor from the knowledge of alAwzaa`ee, ath-Thawree, Maalik, Aboo Haneefah, Ibn Abee Dhi·b, or Shu`bah; nor, by Allaah, were they known by Ibn al-Mubaarak; nor by Aboo Yoosuf who said: “Whoever seeks the Religion through rhetorical theology (al-kalaam) will become an evil heretic”; nor by Wakee`, Ibn Mahdee, Ibn Wahb, ash-Shaafi`ee, `Affaan, Aboo `Ubayd, Ibn al-Madeenee, Ahmad Aboo Thawr, al-Muzanee, al-Bukhaaree, al-Athram, Muslim, anNasaa·ee, Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Suraij, Ibn al-Mundhir, and their like. Rather their knowledge was the Qur·aan, the Hadeeth, Fiqh, Grammar, and the like. Yes Sufyaan also said, in what al-Firyaabee heard from him: “There is no action more excellent than seeking the Hadeeth, as long as the intention is correct regarding it.”
He said: And I heard him say: “If we wanted to narrate Hadeeth to you exactly as we heard it, then we would not narrate a single hadeeth to you.”
al-Firyaabee said: I heard Sufyaan say: “I entered upon al-Mahdee and I said: “It reached me that Ibn `Umar spent twelve deenars upon his Hajj, and you are involved in what you are involved in.” So he became angry and said: ‘Do you want me to be as you are?!’ So I said: ‘If you are not as I am, then at least reduce from what you are doing. “Damurah said: I heard Maalik say: “Iraaq used to wage war upon us with dirhams and garments, and then it waged war upon us with Sufyaan ath-Thawree.”
I say: The virtues of this Imaam occur in a volume complied by Ibn alJawzee; and I have abridged it and brought a good quantity of that in my ‘Taareekh’.
Saalih Jazarah said: “Sufyaan was a greater memorizer and had more hadeeth than Maalik. However Maalik carefully selected the narrators; and Sufyaan was a greater memorizer then Shu`bah. His ahaadeeth amounted to thirty thousand, whereas the ahaadeeth of Shu`bah were about ten thousand.
“Sufyaan was born in the year 97 H. He began seeking Hadeeth whilst he was a youth, since his father was one of the scholars of Koofah. He (Sufyaan) died in Basrah, in hiding from al-Mahdee, since he was one who spoke out with the truth and strongly criticized. He died in Sha`baan in the year 161 H -radiyallaahu `anhu.
It is authentic from Ma`daan: from ath-Thawree, regarding His Saying -He the Most High:
[Sooratul-Hadeed (57): 4]
[[Meaning: And He is with you]], so he said: “His knowledge,” and this is what is reported from a group of the people of Tafseer.
al-Laalikaa·ee in ‘as-Sunnah’: al-Mukhallis related to us: Abul-Fadl Shu`ayb ibn Muhammad related to us: `Alee ibn Harb ibn Bassaam related to us: I heard Shu`ayb ibn Harb say: I said to Sufyaan ath-Thawree:
‘Tell me a saying about the Sunnah, through which Allaah will benefit me, and when I stand in front of Him and He asks me about it I can say: ‘O my Lord! Sufyaan told this to me.’ So that I will be saved and you will be taken.’
He said: “Write: In the name of Allaah, the Extremely Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy. The Qur·aan is the Speech of Allaah. It is not created. It came from Him, and it will return to Him. Whoever says other than this then he is an Disbeliever; and Eemaan is statement and action and intention, it increases and decreases; and to give precedence to the two Shaikhs [i.e. Aboo Bakr and `Umar]…” until he said: “O Shu`ayb, what you have written will not benefit you until you hold wiping over the leather socks, and until you hold reciting ‘Bismillaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem’ quietly (in the Prayer) to be better than reciting it loudly; and until you have Eemaan in Pre-Decree (al-Qadr); and until you hold praying behind every righteous or sinful (imaam); and that the Jihaad continues until the Day of Resurrection; and having patience under the flag of the ruler, whether he is tyrannical or just.”
So I said: ‘O Aboo `Abdillaah, is that every Prayer?’ He said: “No, rather the Jumu`ah Prayer, and the two `Eid Prayers: pray them behind whoever you reach. As for the rest of that, then you have a choice, so do not pray except behind one whom you trust in, and you know that he is from the people of the Sunnah.
If you stand before Allaah and He asks you about this, then say: “O my Lord, Sufyaan ibn Sa`eed related it to me; and then leave me to my Lord – the Mighty and Majestic.”
This is established from Sufyaan, and the Shaikh of al-Mukhallis is reliable -may Allaah have mercy upon them.
[[For the full narration, and a longer biography of Sufyaan refer to the book ‘Mountains of Knowledge.’]]
Posted from the Appendix of :
Tafseer Soorat-in-Naba’- from the works of numerous mufassireen.
Compiled and translated by Abu Talhah Dawud Burbank rahimahullaah