Sulaiman ibn al-Ash’ath (Abu Dawud) (r.a) – [202 – 275 A.H.]
Abu Dawud was born in Sijistan. Little is known about his early life, but that he travelled to many regions and cities to hear and collect ahadith from many different scholars. Abu Dawud is also a distinguished Faqih as well as a Muhaddith. His knowledge of hadith is confirmed by the fact that he had amassed 500,000 ahadith, 5,400 of which he selected for Sunan Abu Dawud. Hakim at-Tirmidhi was of the opinion that Abu Dawud was without doubt the chief muhaddith of his time.
His teachers are estimated to number more than 300. This includes ibn Hanbal, ibn Mu’in, ibn Harab, Abd al-Wahid Tayalasi and ibn Ibrahim, who were also teachers of Imams Bukhari and Muslim.
The number of students in Abu Dawud’s classes would sometimes be in the thousands, Tirmidhi and an-Nasa’i being amongst them. Some other distinguished muhaddithun students of his were: Abu Bakr ibn Imam, Abu Ali Muhammad ibn Ahmad Lu’lu’wi, Abu Bakr Muhammad and Abu Sa’id Ahmad ibn Muhammad.
Abu Dawud used to say that for one to recognise the purpose of life and to practise religion properly, out of his sunan, 4 hadith would suffice:
- The reward of deeds depends only intentions
- Among you no one will be a true Muslim unless he wishes for his brother or his neighbour exactly that which he wishes for himself
- The exquisiteness of ones Islam is that he avoids things that do not concern him and leaves what is not valuable to him
- The lawful and unlawful are made clear, but there are in between them doubtful things which are not known to most of the people. One who keeps himself away from the doubtful things, protects his deen and honour, and he who indulges in doubtful acts commits unlawful deeds.
In the year 275A.H. in Basrah Abu Dawud departed from this world at the age of 73, and was buried next to Sufyan ath-Thawri. May Allah Ta’ala fill his Qabar with Noor.