Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi

Abū Bakr Aḥmad ibn ʿAlī ibn Thābit ibn Aḥmad ibn Māhdī al-Shafī`ī, commonly known as al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī (Arabic: الخطيب البغدادي‎) or "the lecturer from Baghdad" (10 May 1002 – 5 September 1071; 392 AH-463 AH), was a Sunni Muslim scholar and historian.

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi
Born24 Jumadi' al-Thani, 392 A.H/May 10, 1002 C.E
Died7 Zulhijja, 463 A.H/ September 5, 1071 C.E
Main interest(s)Hadith studies, Fiqh
OccupationIslamic scholar, Muhaddith
Muslim leader
Influenced by


Al-Jatib al-Baghdadi: Name in Arabic and details of his life in a Islamic calendar.

Early lifeEdit

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi was born on 24 Jumadi' al-Thani, 392 A.H/May 10, 1002, in Hanikiya, a village south of Baghdad. He was the son of a preacher and he began studying at an early age with his father and other shaykhs. Over time he studied other sciences but his primary interest was hadith. At the age of 20 his father died and he went to Basra to search for hadith. In 1024 he set out on a second journey to Nishapur and he collected more hadith in Rey, Amol and Isfahan. It is unclear how long he traveled but his own accounts have him back in Baghdad by 1028. While he was an authority on hadith it was his preaching that led to his fame that would help him later in life. One biographer, Al-Dhahabi, said that contemporary teachers and preachers of tradition would usually submit what they had collected to Al-Baghdadi before they used them in their lectures or sermons.[3]


Al-Baghdadī originally belonged to the Hanbali school of Fiqh (jurisprudence religious law) but later adopted Shafi'i school of jurisprudence.[3] It is unclear if his change of allegiance followed a trip to Nahrawan in 1038, but in any case it provoked hostility from some Hanbalites. Despite the threat, under the protection of Caliph Al-Qa'im al-Baghdadī lectured on ḥadīth in the Manṣūr Mosque.[3]


When a rebellion in 1059 led by the Turkish general Basasiri deposed Caliph Al-Qa'im, and deprived Al-Baghdadi of his protection in Baghdad, he left for Damascus and there spent eight years as a lecturer at the Umayyad Mosque until a major controversy erupted. According to his biographers, Yaqut, Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, al-Dhahabi, as-Safadi, and Ibn Taghribirdi this involved al-Baghdadi's relationship with a youth, who, apparently had travelled with him from Baghdad.[4] Yaqut relates that when news of the controversy reached the ruler of Damascus, he ordered that al-Baghdadi should be killed. However the police chief, a Sunni, realizing that to follow the order would lead to a backlash against the Shi'i, warned al-Baghdadi to flee to the protection of Shari ibn Abi al-Hasan al-'Alawi.[3][4] Al-Baghdadi spent about a year exiled in Sur, Lebanon before he returned to Baghdad, where he died in September 1071. He was buried next to Bishr al-Hafi.[3]

Controversy over al-Baghdadi's worksEdit

Biographers Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn Kathīr, and Ibn Taghribirdi wrote that the original was a work by as-Suri which al-Baghdādī had extended.[4] Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī attributed the authorship to as-Surī's sister and accused al-Baghdādī of plagiarism, whereas Ibn Kathīr made no accusation of plagiarism, but attributed the original to as-Suri's wife.[4] Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi accused him of dishonesty in relation to the Ḥadīths.


Ibn Hajar declared his works influential in the field of the Science of hadith and Hadith terminology saying, "Scarce is the discipline from the disciplines of the science of ḥadīth on which he has not written a book." He then quoted Abu Bakr ibn Nuqtah, a Hanbali scholar, as saying, “Every objective person knows that the scholars of ḥadīth s coming after al-Khaṭīb are indebted to his works.”[5] Over 80 titles have been attributed to al-Baghdādī.

Selected list of works.[3]

  • Ta’rīkh Madīnat al-Salām: or Ta’rīkh Baghdād wa Dhaīlih wa-l-Mustafād (تاريخ مدينة السلام (تاريخ بغداد) وذيله والمستفاد) 'The History of Baghdād,' or Madīnat as-Salām ('City of Peace') and Appendix of Scholars - 23 volumes[6]
  • al-Kifaya fi ma'rifat usul 'ilm al-riwaya: an early work dealing with Hadith terminology, which Ibn Hajar praised as influential in the field
  • al-Djami' li-akhlak al-rawi wa-adab al-sami
  • Takyid al-'ilm: Questions whether putting traditions into writing is forbidden
  • Sharaf ashab al-hadith: Centers around the significance of traditionalists
  • al-Sabik wa 'l-lahik: dealing with hadith narrators of a particular type
  • al-Mu'tanif fi takmilat al-Mu'talif wa 'l-mukhtalif: Correct spelling and pronunciation of names
  • al-Muttafik wa 'l-muftarik
  • Talkhis al-mutashabih fi 'l-rasm wa-himayat ma ashkala minhu min nawadir al-tashif wa 'l-wahm
  • al-Asma' al-mubhama fi 'l-anba' al-muhkama: identifying unnamed individuals mentioned in hadith
  • al-Rihla fi talab al-hadith
  • Iktida' al-'ilm al-'amal


  1. ^ a b Lewis, B.; Menage, V.L.; Pellat, Ch.; Schacht, J. (1997) [1st. pub. 1978]. Encyclopaedia of Islam (New Edition). Volume IV (Iran-Kha). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. p. 1111. ISBN 9004078193. |volume= has extra text (help)
  2. ^ Brown, Jonathan A.C. (2013). The Canonization of al-Bukhārī and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunnī Ḥadīth Canon (Islamic History and Civilization). Brill. p. 187. ISBN 9004158391.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition. Sellheim, R. Brill online. 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d Controversy and Its Effects in the Biographical Tradition of Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi. Douglas, Fedwa Malti. Studia Islamica 46. 1977.
  5. ^ Nuzhah Al-Nathr, by Ibn Hajar, pg. 45–51, published with al-Nukat of Ali ibn Hasan, Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
  6. ^ Ta’rīkh Madīnat al-Salām (Ta’rīkh Baghdād) wa Dhaīlih wa-l-Mustafād (in Arabic).