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What Are Some of the Best Works Dedicated to Biographical Data of Scholars and Saints of the First 1000 Years of Islamic History?

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Do you know the names of the best and most reliable works dedicated to biographical data of the saints and scholars of the first 1000 years of Islamic history as books like Wafiyyaat al-A’ayaan and Siyar A’alaam an-Nubalaa cover the first 5 and 7 centuries respectively?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Thank you for your question.

It is true that Imam al-Dhahabi, though he passed away in the 8th century AH (after hijrah), did not include many of the personalities that lived in both the 7th and 8th centuries in his monumental work,  Siyar A’lam al-Nubalaa’.

The main work that covered biographical entries until the year 1000 AH was “Shadharaat al-Dhahab” by Ibn al-‘Emad al-Hanbali, who died in 1089 AH.  The entries found in this work are not full biographies, but summaries of the lives of various personalities (taraajim), goes as late as to include scholars suc as Imam al-Sha’rani.

Shaykh al-Shaukani, who died in 1250 AH, has a work entitled “al-Badr al-Taali’ bi-maHaasin man ba’d al-qarn al-saabi’” which covers after the 7th century, roughly where Imam al-Dhahabi started to leave off, until the 13th century  of the Hijrah calendar.

Other works that cover later parts of the first 1000 years are:

Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani’s “al-Durar al-Kamina fi A’yaan al-Mi-a al-Thaamina”, which covers the years 700-800 AH.

Al-Sakhawi’s “al-Dau’ al-Laami’ fi A’yaan al-Qarn al-Taasi’”, which covers from 800-900 AH.

Al- Najm al-Ghazi’s “al-Kawabib as-Saa-ira fi A’yaan al-Mi’a al-‘Ashira” which covers 900-1000 AH.

Al-Muhibbi’s “Khlusat ul-Athar fi A’yaan al-Qarn al-hadi al-‘ashar which covers the year 1000-1100 AH.

I hope that helps insha Allah.


Abdullah Anik Misra

*with thanks and credit to Shaykh Ahmad Snobar

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani