Imam Ashhab ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz
He is Ashhab ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Dawud ibn Ibrahim al-Qaysi al-'Amiri al-Ju'di, one of the descendants of Ju'da ibn Kilab ibn Rabi'a ibn 'Amir. His name was Miskin. Ashhab was his title, and his kunya was Abu 'Amr.
He related from Malik, al-Layth, al-Fudyal ibn 'Iyad, Sulayman ibn Bilal, Luhay'a, Yahya ibn Ayyub, Bakr ibn Mudar, ad-Darawardi, and al-Mundhir ibn 'Abdullah al-Khuzami.
Al-Harith ibn Miskin, Yunus as-Sadafi, the sons of 'Abd al-Hakam, Abu at-Tahir, Sa'id ibn Hassan, and Sahnun ibn Sa'id related from him among a group who are too numerous to count ennumerate. Ash-Shirazi said, "He learned fiqh from Malik, the Madinans and the Egyptians." Abu 'Amr al-Muqri' said, "He recited to Nafi'."
Ash-Shafi'i said, "I did not see anyone with more fiqh than Ashhab, if it had not been for some rashness in him. There was rivalry between him and Ibn al-Qasim. Leadership in Egypt went to him after the death of Ibn al-Qasim."
Sahnun said, "Ibn al-Qasim said to me, "If you desire this knowledge after me, then seek it with Ashhab." Asad said, "I went to Ibn al-Qasim and he told me, "I am occupied with myself and I have put the Next world before me. You must have Ibn Wahb.' So I went to him and he said, 'I am a master of traditions, so go to Ashhab.'" Abu 'Amr the Hafiz said, "Ashhab was a faqih, a noble man of excellent investigation, one of the precise Malikis. He was the scribe of the kharaj tax of Egypt, and he was reliable in what was related from Malik. He wrote a book on fiqh which Sa'id ibn Hassan and others related from him."
Abu 'Umar al-Kindi said in The Book of the Qadis of Egypt, "Ashhab was in charge of the questions of the Qadi al-'Umari in Egypt."
Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Hakam said, "Ashhab had a hundred times more fiqh than Ibn al-Qasim." Ibn Lubaba said, "This is not as he said in our opinion. He said that because Ashhab was his teacher and shaykh."
Abu 'Umar said, "Both of them were his teachers and shaykhs. He knew best." The author said, "Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Hakam did not listen to Ibn al-Qasim. The proof of this will be given. I do not know how this came to Abu 'Umar in view of his pre-eminence in the subject." Sahnun was asked about them and which of the two had the most fiqh. He said, "They were like two horses in a context. Sometimes this one was successful and that one disappointed, and sometimes that one was successful and this one failed."
Sahnun said, "Al-Mutaharri related to me from Ashhab in his oral reports."
He said, "May Allah have mercy on Ashhab. He was the most truthful and the most fearful of Allah Almighty. He did not add a single letter." Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam said to him one day, "You should keep a little back." He said, "I know what you are saying. If I had done that, I would have been nobler in the eyes of people and I would have stopped some of what they say. By Allah, I will never do anything by which I do not desire Allah!" Sahnun used to accord Ashhab scrupulousness in his oral transmission while he did not listen to him. He listened to him via Ibn Nafi'.
Ibn Waddah said, "The oral report of Ashhab is closer and more likely than that of Ibn al-Qasim. The number of his oral reports is twenty."
Ibn Waddah said, "When I and Ibn Himyar listened to him relate from Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Hakam, Ibn as-Sukri, who used to sit with Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Hakam and listen to our recitation, said, 'I want it to be repeated to me.' He said to me, 'You have heard it!'"
"He said, 'I did not intend to hear it. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Actions are according to intentions." I heard that he had very good questions. If I had wanted to bring out a hadith on every question of them, I could have done it.'" Sahnun said, "No one debated with Ashhab but that he was compelled by the proof until he retracted his statement. He would come to us in the circle of Ibn al-Qasim. He spoke on the fundamental principles of knowledge, explained and stated the proof. Ibn al-Qasim was silent and did not refute a single letter. Ashhab used to speak to us. When Allah provided him with that, a man spoke to him about a question, he raised his eyes to him, and it was impossible for him to ask. He used to wear a black hat. He commanded them to do what is correct and forbade them the objectionable." He said, "Then he listened to him from Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Hakam."
Ibn 'Abd al-Barr said, "Ash-Shafi'i did not find any of the companions of Malik in Egypt except Ashhab and Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam. Ash-Shafi'i and Ashhab used to keep each other's company in Egypt. They would discuss fiqh and they were close."
Abu 'Umar mentioned him with 'Abdullah ibn 'Abd al-Hakam among those who took from ash-Shafi'i among the great companions of Malik. He meant that ash-Shafi'i and Ashhab debated one another."
Ashhab wrote his book, al-Mudawwana, and Sa'id ibn Hassan and others related it from him. It is a greatly respected book which contains much knowledge. Ibn Harith said, "When the Asadiyya was completed, Ashhab took it and fixed it for himself and justified some of it. He brought a noble book. It reached me that when that reached Ibn al-Qasim, he said, 'A foolish community does the like of this!' i.e. that he found a complete book and built on it." Ashhab sent to him, "You scooped from one spring and I from many springs." So Ibn al-Qasim answered him, "Your springs are turbid and my spring is clear."
He wrote The Book of the Difference in Retaliation and a book on the Virtues of 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz.
Concerning something of his virtues, generosity and reports
Sahnun said, "Ashhab wrote to a man who had attacked him, 'As for what follows, I was only prevented from writing to you to intensify what you are doing out of dislike to direct you to rebel against Allah. Know that I delight in your good deeds as you graze sheep in greenery. Peace.'"
One day Ashhab sat in Makka waiting for Ibn al-Qasim, and a man asked him about a question. 'Abd ar-Rahman spoke on it. The expression on Ashhab's face changed at that and he said, 'It is not like that.' Then he began to explain and offer proof in it. Ibn al-Qasim said to him, 'The shaykh says that, may Allah preserve you!' i.e. Malik. Ashhab said, "Even if he had said it sixty times." Ibn al-Qasim did not refute him. Ashhab said, "I went to al-Fudayl to seek his counsel about going to the governor and how to come to him. No one came to him straighter in his command and prohibition than me when I came to him. Sometimes he accepted and the Muslims benefited from it.
"He told me, ''You are a man who asks me about the special quality of yourself because you do not come to them nor love them nor love the one who loves them.'"
Ibn Waddah said that Ashhab used to say, "Scrupulousness is in doubtful things. As for grave matters, everyone is fearful of them." Ashhab said, "My father ordered me to make a irrigation place in a place which he named. I built it many times, but some neighbours who envied me there always destroyed it. One day I felt grieved by that, and I sat there weeping and thinking. I heard a voice from the desert say, 'We desired to show kindness to those who were oppressed in the land' (28:5). I moved my beast towards the sound, but did not see anyone. I returned to my place and heard the voice. I stood up but did not see anyone. I returned to sitting and the voice was repeated for yet a third time, and I knew that I was the one who was meant. I praised Allah and I made the intention to seek knowledge. I built it and entrusted it to someone who would guard it for a wage. No one returned to ruin it."
A similar story is also related by al-Layth ibn Sa'd when he built his house, and Allah knows best. He said, "I did not pass by it for a few years until those and other people of my hand had need of me." Ibn Abi Maryam said, "When we saw Ashhab off to the Ribat, he did not have half a dirham. He did not die before he had spent ten mithqalsevery day at his table. He had opening in this world."
Sahnun said, "There was a famine in Egypt, and I saw him spending dinars in sadaqa from morning to night. He gave as sadaqa what he had of food."
Sahnun mentioned from him that he saw him giving 1000 dinars as sadaqa every day. Ibn al-Jazzar mentioned in Kitab at-Ta'rif that Ibn al-Qasim stopped speaking to Ashhab because he took responsibility for the lands of Egypt. A man asked Ibn al-Qasim about the contract of the land of Egypt. He said, "It is not allowed." He was told, "Ashhab received it." Ibn al-Qasim said to him, "Do what Ashhab does and you can assume responsibility for the mosque!"
He mentioned that a man asked Ashhab about ploughing the earth of Egypt. He said, "It is not allowed." He said to him, "You plough in it." He said, "Shall I burden myself and you as well?" So he asked Ibn Wahb about it and he forbade it. He said to him, "Ashhab does it." He said, "Give us another like Ashhab to care for our orphans and be kind to our weak ones and you will be allowed to plough our mosque."
Sahnun said, "He gave sadaqa many times over its rent." Sahnun said, "We were present with Ashhab on the Day of 'Arafat in the mosque of Egypt. It was their custom to stand in their mosque until the sun set, i.e. for dhikr and supplication, as the people of 'Arafat did there. He used to pray sitting, i.e. in the supererogatory, and there was a bag at his side from which he gave to beggars. I looked and there was a dinar in the hand of the beggar which he had been given. I mentioned it to him and he said to me, 'Do we not give from the beginning of the day?'" Yunus mentioned that he said, "Ashhab claimed that he heard Sulayman as-Sa'ih saying in one of the mosques of the desert, 'O Allah, Your slave Sulayman is hungry and has not eaten for three days.' When he finished, he heard him chewing. 'I did not want to go to him and embarrass him. The mosque had two doors. He went out the front and we entered from the other door. There were date pits and a discarded date, so I ate it and I remained protected for ten days without eating or drinking.'" Sahnun said, "Ashhab came across Ibn al-Qasim one day. Ashhab was wearing clothes that were ragged and riding an easy-gaited mule. Ibn al-Qasim said, 'We made some of them a trial for others. Will you be patient?' Then he was silent for an hour and said, 'O Lord, we will be patient. We will be patient.'"
This story and its words are also attributed to al-Muzani when the sons of Hakam passed by him in their retinue in Egypt, but Allah knows best. It is related that a man of the people of Iraq met Ashhab. The Iraqi said to him. "You consider anal intercourse with men lawful." Ashhab said to him, "You consider it haram. Come. I swear by Allah that I have not done it. You swear the like of it to me." The Iraqi did not do that.
He mentioned that while Ashhab was with his companions, he heard a man admonishing a thief, and he got up and took up his arms and went out to follow him. He was asked about that, "It is not befitting for the like of you." He said, "I do not take on any other character than what Allah has naturally disposed me to."
His birth and his death Ibn 'Abd al-Barr and Abu 'Amr al-Muqri' said, "Ashhab was born in 140." Ibn Hazm as-Sadafi related it from Abu at-Tahir. Ash-Shirazi related that he was born in 150. He died in Egypt in 204, Rajab. It is also said that it was the 23rd of Sha'ban. Ash-Shirazi said, ÒIt was a month after ash-Shafi'i. Ibn 'Abd al-Barr said, "By 18 days." It is said that it was by 23 days. This is famous in the date of his death. Abu 'Ali al-Basri said in Kitab al-Mu'arrib, "It is said that he died in 203." Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Hakam said, "I heard Ashhab pray for ash-Shafi'i to die. I mentioned that to him and he recited the quotation: 'Some men wish that I should die. If I die, I will not travel that path alone. Tell the one who desires the opposite of what is transitory the like for the Next World. It is as it is done..'" "Ash-Shafi'i died and Ashhab purchased a slaveboy who was a cook from his property. Then he died 18 days after him. Then I purchased the boy from what Ashhab left. People tried to keep me from buying him and I was told to leave him. The two men of knowledge were buried within about ten days. I bought him and ignored the bad omen." Ar-Rabi' ibn Sulayman related that he said, "We heard Ashhab say in his prostration, 'O Allah, make ash-Shafi'i die. If not, the knowledge of Malik will vanish.' That reached ash-Shafi'i and he began to recite the two verses." ** Muhammad ibn Hafs al-Ma'afiri said about Ashhab's illness, "I dreamt that someone was saying to me, 'Muhammad!' I answered him and he said: 'They are gone, those whose departure was mentioned. I wish that the land would burst with its people.' ÒI said to my wife, 'I fear nothing more than the death of Ashhab.' I went out and found that he had died.Ó Another said, ÒWe slept at midday and I dreamt that a voice said: 'At your service for Islam from the one who weeps. They are almost destroyed and the contract is not yet old. 'This world has gone and the best of it turned away and the one who is alarmed by the threat is bored by it.' "I went to the mosque and the death of Ashhab, may Allah Almighty have mercy on him, was announced." Yunus said, "I came to Ashhab in his final illness. He said to me, 'Yunus!' I said, 'At your service!' He said, 'Look at what is here,' and he pointed to his books. 'What I have gathered of proofs on this weak body. I can only find rest by taking the Qur'an and putting it on my breast.'" He said. "His books were in a basket with large volumes."