Biography of Imam Tahawi 


His full name is Abu Ja'far Ahmad ibn Muhammad At-Tahaawee ibn Salaamah ibn Salamah. His ascription is to the town of Taha which is small village in Egypt.

He was born in either 228 A.H. or 229 A.H.

Imam Tahawi began studying Islamic Sciences in Egypt by his uncle Abu Ibrahim Ismaeel bin Yahya Muzani who also happened to be one the great students of Imam Shafi. Because of this Imam Tahawi adhered to the Shafi school of thought. However, later on he went on to adhere to the Hanafi school of thought.

His reason for the change of madhab has been attributed to more than one reason.

1. He had the opportunity to study the fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifa and found it to be stronger.
2. Point 1 can be corroborated by a statement by the Imam in which he says, "I used to observe my uncle forever referring to the writings of Imam Abu Hanifa."

By the age of thirty the Imam had become an expert and authority in the fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifa, the arabic lanuage and many other sciences.

Apart from studying under Imam Muzani , he studying under many of other scholars of hadeeth. It is mentioned that he benefitted from all the muhadditheen of his town. In 268 A.H. he journeyed towards Sham. He listened to various books by the scholars residing in Baytul Maqdis, Gaza and Asqalaa. In Damascus, he met Abu Aazim Abdul Hameed who was the Judge at the time and studied Fiqh under him. In 269 A.H. he returned to Egypt. Allamah Kawthari states that if one were to look at the teachers of Imam Tahawi one would realise that his teachers consisted of scholars from Egypt, Yemen, Basrah, Kufa, Hijaz, Sham and Khurasan.

He spent much of his time teaching Hadeeth and Fiqh. He fame became widespread and as a result students used to come from far and wide to study by him. The ruler of Egypt had great respect for the Imam and used to consult him on important matters.

Many scholars have praised the qualities of Imam Tahawi .

Allamah Ainee says,"'The intellect, honesty, justice, trustworthiness, excellence, knowledge of Hadeeth and Fiqh, expertise in abrogations and abrogated verses is unanimously accepted. After Imam Tahawi, nobody will be able to reach his rank."

Imam Tahawi passed away on Thursday evening in Zhul Qa'dah 321 A.H. aged 92.

He wrote as many as 40 books in his lifetime some of which are still studied and available today.

Some of his books are
1. Mushkilul Athaar - Imam Tahawi has gathered those narrations which apparently contradict each. After reconciling and eradication the confusion he then derives the laws from those Ahadeeth. One of the prints available of this book contains of seven large volumes.
2. Ahkamul Quran - This books contains of 20 volumes. Qadi Ayadh states that Imam Tahawi wrote 1000 pages on the topic of Tafseer (referring to Ahkamul Quran).
3. Sunan al Shafi - He has gathered all those hadeeth which are narrated by Imam Muzanee through Imam shafi.
4. Ma'ani al Athar - This one of the most famous books of Imam Tahawi. Although Imam Tahawi narrates many hadeeth in this book there some unique qualities of this book.
    1. He deduces rulings from conflicting ahadeeth.
    2. He lists the arguments and proofs of the other schools of thought.
    3. He refutes those who claim that the Hanafi Fiqh is not based on Hadeeth. He proves in an amazing way that not only do they act on the Hadeeth but due to the rulings deduced they act upon other ahadeeth in that same chapter.
    4. The unique style on reconcilition between the conflicting narrations makes it a valuable source for scholars of other schools of thought also.
    5. He quotes many different chains for the same narration which strenghens that narration.

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