mana-rdAl-Haafidh, the Jurist: Ishaq bin Ibrahim bin Mukhlid al-Hanthali at-Tamimi al-Marwazi

His Kunyah: Abu Ya’qub

Famously Known as: Ibn Rahwayh

Rahwayh(1): It was the surname of his father Abul-Hasan Ibrahim, and he was called such because he was born on the road to Makkah and ‘road’ in Persian is ‘Rah’ and ‘Wayh’ means ‘to find’, thus it means ‘found in the road’(2).

His Birth:

His son Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Rahwayh said:

"My father, may Allah have mercy on him, was born in the year 163 AH."(3)

And it is said, 161 AH.(4)

His Search for Knowledge:

He heard in his town from a number of Scholars, then he traveled in the year 184 H. to Iraq, al-Hijaz, Yemen, and Sham. In Sham he took knowledge from a number of the major People of Knowledge, among them:

- Fudhayl bin Iyadh

- Jarir bin Abd al-Hamid ar-Razi

- Sufyan bin Uyaynah

- Abd ar-Rahman bin Mahdi

- Abd Allah bin Wahb

- Al-Walid bin Muslim

- Waki’ bin al-Jarrah

- Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Qattan

- Sulayman bin Harb

- Yahya bin Adam

And a great many others.(5)

His Students:

- Muhammad bin Ishaq (his son)

- Al-Bukhari

- Muslim

- At-Tirmithi

- Abu Dawud

- An-Nasaa’i

- Abd ar-Rahman ad-Darimi

- Muhammad bin Nasr al-Marwazi

- Abul-Abbas as-Sarraj (the last to narrate from him)

And a great many others.

From the ones who also narrated from him are his eldest teachers such as Yahya bin Adam and Baqiyah bin al-Walid, and among his contemporaries Ahmad bin Hanbal and Yahya bin Ma’een.(6)

His Life and What Was Said About Him:

He was an Imaam of famous mention from the people of Marw, a place in Nisabur. He was one whose statements and preferences were followed and sought after, and he was from the closest people to Ahmad bin Hanbal.(7)

He reached Baghdad more than once and was considered as among the Huffadh of its people, their praiseworthy, and he returned to Khurasan and settled in Nisabur until he passed away there. His knowledge became predominant among the people of Khurasan.(8)

The son of Ishaq bin Rahwayh said:

"My father was born from the belly of his mother both ears pierced. So my grandfather marched straight away to al-Fadhl bin Musa as-Sinani and asked him about that, and he said: A child was born to me, with both ears pierced! So (as-Sinani) said: 'Your son will be a leader of good or evil.'”(9)

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was asked about Ishaq bin Rahwayh, so he said:

“Ishaq bin Rahwayh is being asked about? To us, Ishaq is among the Imams of the Muslims.”(10)

And he said:

“Never has the like of Ishaq crossed the bridge to Khurasan."(11)

And he said:

“I do not know or I am not aware of a comparable person to Ishaq in Iraq.”

And he said:

“To us ash-Shafi’i is an Imam, al-Humaydi is an Imam, and Ishaq bin Rahwayh is an Imam.”

And he said:

“When Abu Ya’qub, Chief of the Believers, narrates to you, then cling to it."(12)

Ishaq bin Rahwayh was mentioned to Qutaibah bin Sa’eed, then he said:

“Ishaq is an Imam."

Abu Hatim ar-Razi said:

“Ishaq bin Rahwayh is an Imam among the Imams of the Muslims."(14)

An-Nasa’i said about him while naming his teachers:

“One of the Imams."(15)

And he said:

“Abu Ya’qub Ishaq bin Ibrahim bin Mukhlid bin Ibrahim, trustworthy, reliable."(16)

Wahb bin Jarir said:

“May Allah reward Ishaq bin Rahwayh, Sadaqah, and Ya’mur, they gave life to the Sunnah in the lands of the east.”

Nu’aym bin Hammad said:

“If you see an Iraqi speaking ill about Ahmad bin Hanbal, then suspect his religion; if you see a Khurasani speaking ill of Ishaq bin Rahwayh, then suspect his religion; and if you see a Basri speaking ill about Wahb bin Jarir, then suspect his religion.”

Sa’eed bin Thu’ib said:

“I do not know anyone upon the face of the earth like Ishaq.”

Ibn Khuzaimah said:

“By Allah, even if Ishaq bin Ibrahim al-Handhali had been present among the Tabi’een, truly they would acknowledge his memory, knowledge and jurisprudence."(17)

Ibn Hibban said:

“Ishaq was from among the masters of his time in jurisprudence, science, memorization, and insight whereof books were compiled, and the Prophetic traditions were subdivided; he defended it and dispelled whoever differed with it."(18)

Abu Dawud al-Khaffaf said:

“Ishaq bin Rahwayh dictated to us 11,000 narrations from memory then recited it to us, and he did not add or miss a single letter of it.”(19)

Abu Hatim ar-Razi said: “I mentioned Ishaq bin Rahwayh al-Handhali to Abu Zur’ah and his memorization of chains and texts of narrations, then Abu Zur’ah said:

‘There is no transmitter with a better memory than him.’"

Abu Hatim said:

“And the amazing thing is his mastery and flawlessness from error with what he was endowed with of memory.”

Ahmad bin Salamah said: So I said to Abu Hatim that he dictated to us an explanation of the Qur’an from his heart, and Abu Hatim said:

“And this is the most amazing thing- indeed accuracy in supported narrations is much easier than accuracy in the chains of explanation of the Qur’an and its wording.”(20)

Qutaibah bin Sa’eed said:

“The Huffadh in Khurasan are Ishaq bin Rahwayh, then Abdullah bin Abd ar-Rahman as-Samarqandi, then Muhammad bin Isma’eel.”(20)

Muhammad bin Yahya ath-Thuhali said:

“I came in contact with our companion Ishaq bin Rahwayh in the year 199 H in Baghdad, and the most knowledgeable of the companions of narration gathered in ar-Rasafah, and from them were Ahmad bin Hanbal, Yahya bin Ma’een and others, and the heart of the sitting was for Ishaq and he was the speaker."(21)

Abu Nu’aym al-Asbahani said in Hilyat al-Awliya:

“And from them is the gallant, famous Imaam in memorization, and jurisprudence… Ishaq bin Ibrahim al-Hanthali, close companion of the venerable, honorable Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, and friend of the favored Imam Muhammad bin Idris ash-Shafi’i. He was an instigator to the reports (athar), and for the people of disease and innovation he was destructive."(22+23)

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said:

“He was one of the Imaams of the Muslims, knowledgeable from the notables of the religion, there was gathered in him (the knowledge of) Hadith and jurisprudence, good memory and truthfulness, piety and abstention."(24)

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said about him:

“Trustworthy, a memorizer of narrations, an independent jurist (mujtahid), close companion of Ahmad bin Hanbal."(25)

Ahmad bin Sa’eed ar-Ribati recited prose about him:

My closeness to Allah ** called me to love Abu Ya’qub Ishaq

He has not made the Qur’an created like how ** The atheist criminal says

The whole of the Sunnah is his etiquette ** Protecting the weak from the strong

Oh proof of Allah upon His creation ** In the tradition of those who have passed to al-Baqi

Your father Ibrahim with pure taqwa ** Forerunner of glory and child of a forerunner

And Ali bin Hajar said about Ishaq:

None has succeeded Ishaq in knowledege and understanding ** in Khurasan the day he parted, who is like him

May Allah brighten his face and preserve him ** From fright, a day, very severe, and it is due to Him

And reward with Firdaws who said ‘Ameen ** and grant him on the day he meets Him, what he has asked for.(26)

From His Books:

  • Al-Musnad (27)
  • Kitab at-Tafsir
  • Kitab al-Ilm (28)

His Death:

He died in Naisabur in the year 238H. on the 14th of Sha’ban and he was 75 years old.(29)

Some Scholars from His Lineage:

His Son: Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Ibrahim, Abul-Hasan al-Marwazi, born in Marw and raised in Nisabur; he wrote in the cities of Khurasan, Iraq, al-Hijaz, Sham and Egypt; he heard from:

  • his father Ishaq bin Rahwayh,
  • Muhammad bin Yahya ath-Thuhli,
  • Ahmad bin Hanbal,
  • Ali bin al-Madini,
  • Abu Mus’ab az-Zuhri,
  • Yunus bin Abd al-A’la al-Misri,

and he narrated in Baghdad, thus a group of its people transmitted on his authority; he was knowledgeable in jurisprudence, graceful in the path, upright in narrations; Muhammad bin Ma’mun al-Hafith said:

"Abul-Hasan bin Rahwayh departed to Khurasan after the death of his father for two years until he came across al-Laythiyah, thus they did not recognize his status until the Amir Abul-Haytham Khalid bin Ahmad bin Hammad ath-Thuhli took the seat of authority and conferred upon him the position of judge of Marw first, then Nisabur. Then he left for Marw and passed away there in the year 289H."

His Grandson: Abu at-Tayyib Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Ibrahim, originally from Marw, settled in Baghdad and narrated on authority of Muhammad bin al-Mughirah as-Sakri al-Hamdani; Abul-Fadhl Muhammad bin Abd Allah bin al-Mutalib ash-Shaybani transmitted on his authority; he was trustworthy, knowledgeable in the school of Malik bin Anas; he died in Ramlah in the year 339H. And others.

His Statements on Issues of Belief

Harb al-Kirmani said: I said to Ishaq bin Rahwayh: "What do you say about Allah’s Statement: {There is no secret meeting of three, except He is their fourth} [al-Mujadilah:7]?" He said:

"Wherever you are, then He is closer to you than your jugular vein, and He is separate from His creation."

Then he mentioned on authority of Ibn al-Mubarak:

"He is upon His Throne separate from His creation."

Then he said:

"The highest thing regarding that and more established than it is His Statement: {The Most Merciful Rose upon the Throne}."(30)

He also said:

"The sign of Jahm and his companions (Jahmiyyah sect) is their claim against Ahl Al-Jama'ah, with their infatuation with lying, that they (Ahl Assunnah) are mushabihah (ones who liken Allah to His creation); nay, but they (the Jahmiyyah) are mu'atilah (negators of Allah's Attributes). And if they were called: mushabihah, then it would likely be correct, for they say: 'Allah -The Exalted- is in every place, Him being in the lowest earth the same as being in the highest Heaven', and they have lied in that, and kufr (disbelief) is imperative of them."(31)

And he said:

“Tashbeeh (resembling/likening Allah to creation) is to say: ‘Hand like a hand' or ‘Similar to a hand’, or ‘Hearing like a hearing’ or ‘Similar to a hearing’, so if one says: ‘Hearing like a hearing or similar to a hearing’, then this is Tashbeeh. But if one says like 'Allah –The Exalted- said', 'Yad (Hand)', 'Sam' (Hearing)', and 'Basar (Sight)', without saying: 'how', or saying: 'like a hearing' or 'similar to a hearing', then this is not tashbeeh.”(32)



(1) With Fathah on the Ra’ and after Alif, Ha’ with sukun, then Waw with fathah and after it ya’ with sukun, and after it, Ha’ with sukun; and it is said about the pronunciation also: Rahuyah, with dhammah on the Ha’, sukun on the Waw and fathah on the Ya’. (Wafiyat al-A’yan by al-Khalkan 1/200)
(2) Wafiyat al-A’yan 1/200
(3) Al-Kuna wal-Asma’ by ad-Dulabi 3/1164
(4) Tarikh (Baghdad) Madinat as-Salam by al-Khatibe al-Baghdadi (7/364); al-Hidayat wal-Irshad fi Ma’rifat Ahl ath-Thiqat was-Sidad by Abu Nasr al-Kalabathi (1/72)
(5) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/362); and Tahthib al-Kamal (2/373-376)
(6) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/363); Tahthib al-Kamal (2/376-377); Siyar A’lam an-Nubala by ath-Thahabi (11/359)
(7) Al-Ansab by as-Sam’ani (3/34)
(8) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/363)
(9) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/365)
(10) Al-Jarh wat-Ta’dil by Ibn Abi Hatim (2/210)
(11) Al-Kamal fi Dhu’afa ar-Rijal by Ibn Adi (1/126)
(12) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/368, 370)
(13) Al-Jarh wat-Ta’dil (2/210)
(14) Al-Jarh wat-Ta’dil (2/210)
(15) Tasmiyat Mashaykh an-Nasa’i (p. 62)
(16) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/369)
(17) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/366, 367, 369)
(18) Thiqat of Ibn Hibban (8/116)
(19) Al-Kamal fi Dhu’afa ar-Rijal by Ibn Adi (1/127)
(20) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/372)
(21) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/370-371)
(22) meaning ‘destruction’.
(23) Hilyat al-Awliya by Abu Nu’aym al-Asbahani (9/234)
(24) Tarikh Madinat as-Salam (7/362)
(25) Taqrib at-Tahthib by Ibn Hajar (1/126)
(26) Hilyat al-Awliya (9/234)
(27) Al-A’lam by az-Zarkali (1/292); Al-Mu’jam al-Mufahras by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (p. 131)
(28) Al-Mu’jam al-Mufahras (pgs. 58 & 109)
(29) Tarikh al-Awsat by al-Bukhari- called at-Tarikh as-Saghir (4/1036)
(30) Kitab al-Arsh by ath-Thahabi (2/244) he said: al-Khallal transmitted it in his book as-Sunnah on authority of Harb; and Siyar A’lam an-Nubala also by him (11/370)
(31) Sharh usool I'tiqad Ahl Assunnah by Al-Lalika'i (3/532)
(32) Reported by his student at-Tirmidhi in his "sunan" (2/42)