Ibn Kathir
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Ibn Kathir
Ism?'?l ibn Kath?r
Bornc. 1300 / 701 H
Died18 February 1373 / 774 H
EraBahri Mamluk Sultanate Mameluke Flag.svg
Notable work(s)- Tafs?r al-Qurn al-?am (Tafsir Ibn Kathir), a Quranic exegesis;
- Al-Bid?ya wan Nih?ya ("The Beginning and the End"), a 14-volume history of Islam;
- Kit?b al-j?mi?, a hadith collection.[4]
Muslim leader
Arabic name
Personal (Ism)Isml
Patronymic (Nasab)ibn ?Umar ibn Kar
Teknonymic (Kunya)Ab? l-Fid
Epithet (Laqab)?Im?d ud-D?n
"pillar of the faith"
Toponymic (Nisba)Ad-Dimashqi

Abu al-Fi 'Im?d Ad-Din Ism?'?l ibn 'Umar ibn Kath?r al-Qurash? Al-Damishq? (? ? ? ? ; c. 1300 - 1373), known as Ibn Kath?r ( ?, was a highly influential Arab historian, exegete and scholar during the Mamluk era in Syria. An expert on Tafsir (Quranic exegesis) and Fiqh (jurisprudence), he wrote several books, including a fourteen-volume universal history titled Al-Bidaya wa'l-Nihaya[7][8]


His full name was Ab? l-Fid Isml ibn ?Umar ibn Kar ( ? ?) and had the laqab (epithet) of ?Im?d ad-D?n (? "pillar of the faith"). His family trace its lineage back to the tribe of Quraysh. He was born in Mijdal, a village on the outskirts of the city of Busra, in the east of Damascus, Syria, around about AH 701 (AD 1300/1).[9] He was taught by Ibn Taymiyya and Al-Dhahabi.

Upon completion of his studies he obtained his first official appointment in 1341, when he joined an inquisitorial commission formed to determine certain questions of heresy.[4]

He married the daughter of Al-Mizzi, one of the foremost Syrian scholars of the period, which gave him access to the scholarly elite. In 1345 he was made preacher (khatib) at a newly built mosque in Mizza, the hometown of his father-in-law. In 1366, he rose to a professorial position at the Great Mosque of Damascus.[4][10]

In later life, he became blind.[8][10] He attributes his blindness to working late at night on the Musnad of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in an attempt to rearrange it topically rather than by narrator. He died in February 1373 (AH 774) in Damascus. He was buried next to his teacher Ibn Taymiyya.[11]


His creed in modern times has been a subject of considerable disagreement and controversy between the Ash'aris and the Salafists.

Ash'ari position

Most of the Ash'aris are considering him to be an Ash'ari, for several reasons, including the following:

  • He belonged to the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence and was a professor of Hadith at the House of Hadith known as "Dar al-Hadith al-Ashrafiyya" which was exclusively established for those aligned to the Ash'ari school of creed, as mentioned by Taj al-Din al-Subki (d. 771/1370) in his Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra (Comprehensive Biographical dictionary of Shafi'ites) that a condition to teach at the al-Ashrafiyya was to be Ash'ari in 'aqida.[12]
  • Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani (d. 852/1449) reported in his al-Durar al-Kaminah (The Hidden Pearls: on the Notables of the Eighth Islamic Century), that a dispute between Ibn Kathir and the son of Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya broke out over teaching position. It seems Ibn Kathir implied that the dislike for him is due to his Ash'ari roots, and once Ibn al-Qayyim's son confronted him about this and said that even if Ibn Kathir swore to high heavens that he wasn't upon the creed of Ibn Taymiyya, people wouldn't believe him, because his sheikh (teacher) is Ibn Taymiyya.[13]
  • His theological views are compatible with the Ash'ari creed, this is evidenced by examining his views in his interpretation of some Qur'anic verses, such as: 7:54, 28:88, 54:14, and 6:18.[12][14]

David L. Johnston described him as "The traditionist and Ash'arite Ibn Kathir".[15]

Salafi position

Ibn Kathir shares many similarities with his teacher Ibn Taymiyyah, such as advocating a militant jihad and adhering to the renewal of one singular Islamic ummah.[16] Furthermore, like Ibn Taymiyyah, he counts as an anti-rationalistic, traditionalistic and hadith oriented scholar.[17] Salafis claims that Ibn Kathir did not interpret the mutashabihat verses and hadiths, but rather he accepted the apparent meanings of the verses, but refrained from asking "How?" and did not liken it to the creation and did not make ta'wil on the verses.

He states that:

People have said a great deal on this topic and this is not the place to expound on what they have said. On this matter, we follow the early Muslims (salaf): Malik, Awza'i, Thawri, Layth ibn Sa'd, Shafi'i, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ishaq Ibn Rahwayh, and others among the Imams of the Muslims, both ancient and modern that is, to let (the verse in question) pass as it has come, without saying how it is meant (min ghayr takyif), without likening it to created things (wa la tashbih), and without nullifying it (wa la ta'til): The literal meaning (zahir) that occurs to the minds of anthropomorphists (al-mushabbihin) is negated of Allah, for nothing from His creation resembles Him: "There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing" (Qur'an 42:11)[18][19]



Ibn Kathir wrote a famous commentary on the Qur'an named Tafs?r al-Qurn al-?Am which linked certain Hadith, or sayings of Muhammad, and sayings of the sahaba to verses of the Qur'an, in explanation and avoided the use of Isra'iliyyats. Many Sunni Muslims hold his commentary as the best after Tafsir al-Tabari and Tafsir al-Qurtubi[20] and it is highly regarded especially among Salafi school of thought.[21] Although Ibn Kathir claimed to rely on at-Tabari, he introduced new methods and differs in content, in attempt to clear Islam from that he evaluates as Isra'iliyyat. His suspicion on Isra'iliyyat possibly derived from Ibn Taimiyya's influence, who discounted much of the exegetical tradition since then.[22][23]

Egyptian scholar Ahmad Muhammad Shakir (1892–1958) abridged Ibn Kathir's Tafs?r as ?Umdat at-Tafs?r in five volumes published during 1956–1958.

His tafsir gained widespread popularity in modern times, especially among Western Muslims, probably due to his straightforward approach, but also due to lack of alternative translations of traditional tafsirs.[24]

Fail al-Qurn ( ) was intended as an annex to the Tafsir. It is a brief textual history of the Quran and its collection after the passing of Muhammad.

In academic discourse

Tafs?r al-Qurn al-?Am is slightly controversial in western academic circles. Henri Laoust regards it primary as a philological work and "very elementary". Norman Calder describes it as narrow-minded, dogmatic, and skeptical against the intellectual achievements of former exegetes. His concern is limited to rate the Quran by the corpus of Hadith and is the first, who flatly rates Jewish sources as unreliable, while simultaneously using them, just as prophetic hadith, selectively to support his prefabricated opinion. Otherwise, Jane Dammen McAuliffe regards this tafsir as, deliberately and carefully selected, whose interpretation is unique to his own judgment to preserve, that he regards as best among his traditions.[25]


  • Al-J?mi? () is a grand collection of Hadith texts intended for encyclopedic use. It is an alphabetical listing of the Companions of the Prophet and the sayings that each transmitted, thus reconstructing the chain of authority for each hadith.[4]
  • Al-Baa'ith al-Hatheeth is an abridgment of the Muqaddimah by Ibn al-Salah in hadith terminology
  • At-Takmil fi Ma`rifat yth-Thiqat wa Ad-Du'afa wal Majahil which Ibn Kathir collected from the books of his two Shaykhs Al-Mizzi and Adh-Dhahabi; Al-Kamal and Mizan Al-Ftiddl. He added several benefits regarding the subject of Al-Jarh and At-Ta'dil.
  • Adillah at-Tanb?h in which ibn Kath?r gathered the evidences for the positions presented by Ab? Isq ash-Sh?r?z? in his book of Shafi'i jurisprudence at-Tanb?h.

History and biography

Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya (Ibn Kathir).jpg
  • Al-Bid?ya wa-n-Nih?ya (? ) The Beginning and The End is a universal history of the world from the Creation to the end of time. Ibn Kathir's great ten-volume magnum opus contains accounts of the early nations of the world, the Prophets and their biographies (seerah) and Islamic history up to his own time.[26][27] Available in English.
  • Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya, ( ?) Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Extract from The Beginning and The End[28]
  • Qisas Al-Anbiya, ( ) "Tales of the Prophets"; a collection of stories of the Prophets of Islam and others of the Old Testament; Extract published as Tuhfat an-Nubla' min Qisas al'Anbia lil'Imam al-Hafiz ibn Kathir (? ? ? (Masterpiece of the Nobles from Tales of the Prophets by al-Hafiz ibn Kathir).[29] Available in English.
  • Al-Fitan, (? ? ) "The Sedition"; on the signs of the last hour; valuable for political details of his day. First printed in Cairo (1932–1939); several Arabic editions; unavailable in English.[30]


  • Al-ijtih?d f? ?alab al-Jih?d ( ), written by a commission of the Mamluk governor of Damascus, is a defense of armed jihad and ribat against the neighboring Christian powers (remnants of the Crusader States, such as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia) supported on the evidence of Islamic exegesis.


  • Al-Hadi was-Sunan f? Ad?th Al-Mas?n?d was-Sunan, aka J?mi? al-mas?n?d: collected narratives of the Imams Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Bazzar, Abu Ya'la Al-Mawsili, and Ibn Abi Shaybah, and six collected Hadiths: two ?as of (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) and four sunan of Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasai and Ibn Majah. Classified under fiqh divisions.
  • Tabaqat Ash-Shafi'iyah ("The levels of the Shafi'i scholars").
  • Commentary on Sahih Al-Bukhari; unfinished work.
  • The ahkam - large volume on Laws (up to the Hajj rituals); unfinished work.
  • Summary of Al-Baihaqi's 'Al-Madkhal; unpublished.

NOTE: Many books listed here remain unpublished.

See also


  1. ^ "The Re-Formers of Islam: The Mas'ud Questions". Ibn Kathir is a scholar of Ahl al-Sunna who was of the Shafi'i school (according to the first volume of his main work, Tafsir al-Qur'an al-'Azim, 1.2), while Ibn Taymiya was a scholar whose fiqh remained in the general framework of the Hanbali school.
  2. ^ Younus Y. Mirza (2012). IBN KATH?R (D. 774/1373): HIS INTELLECTUAL CIRCLE, MAJOR WORKS AND QUR'?NIC EXEGESIS. Georgetown University. Ibn Kath?r is often portrayed as the "spokesperson" for Ibn Taymiyya, one who promoted his work and implemented his theories. Ibn Kath?r is more accurately described as a Sh?fi'? traditionalists or a group of Sh?fi ?ad?th scholars who maintained a traditionalist creed.
  3. ^ Mirza, Younus Y. (1 February 2014). "Was Ibn Kath?r the 'Spokesperson' for Ibn Taymiyya? Jonah as a Prophet of Obedience". Journal of Qur'anic Studies. 16 (1): 3. doi:10.3366/jqs.2014.0130. ISSN 1465-3591.
  4. ^ a b c d "Ibn Kathir - Muslim scholar". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Scholar of renown: Ibn Katheer". April 2002.
  6. ^ Mirza, Younus Y. (1 February 2014). "Was Ibn Kath?r the 'Spokesperson' for Ibn Taymiyya? Jonah as a Prophet of Obedience". Journal of Qur'anic Studies. 16 (1): 3. doi:10.3366/jqs.2014.0130. ISSN 1465-3591. Jane McAullife remarks that 'certainly the most famous of Ibn Kath?r's teachers, and perhaps the one who influenced him the most, was the ?anbal? theologian and jurisconsult Ibn Taymiyyah'.
  7. ^ Mirza, Younus Y. (1 February 2014). "Was Ibn Kath?r the 'spokesperson' for Ibn Taymiyya? Jonah as a Prophet of Obedience". Journal of Qur'anic Studies. 16 (1): 1. doi:10.3366/jqs.2014.0130. ISSN 1465-3591.
  8. ^ a b Ludwig W. Adamec (2009), Historical Dictionary of Islam, p.138. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810861615.
  9. ^ Mirza, Younus Y. (1 September 2016). "Ibn Kath?r, ?Im?d al-D?n". Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE.
  10. ^ a b Ibn Kathir I, Le Gassick T (translator), Fareed M (reviewer) (2000). The Life of the Prophet Muhammad : English translation of Ibn Kathir's Al Sira Al Nabawiyya. ISBN 9781859641422.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Mirza, Younus Y. (1 February 2014). "Was Ibn Kath?r the 'Spokesperson' for Ibn Taymiyya? Jonah as a Prophet of Obedience". Journal of Qur'anic Studies. 16 (1): 2. doi:10.3366/jqs.2014.0130. ISSN 1465-3591. Ibn Q al-Shuhba concludes mentioning that Ibn Kath?r was buried 'next to his teacher (shaykhihi) Ibn Taymiyya'.
  12. ^ a b Fawzi al-'Anjari; Hamad al-Sinan. Forewords by Wahba al-Zuhayli; Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti; Ali Gomaa; Ali al-Jifri; 'Abd al-Fattah al-Bazm (the Grand Mufti of Damascus); Muhammad Hasan Hitou (eds.). Ahl al-Sunnah al-Asha'irah: Shahadat 'Ulama' al-Ummah wa Adillatahum [Ahl al-Sunna: The Ash'aris - The Testimony and Proofs of the Scholars]. almostaneer.com (in Arabic). Sunni Publications. ISBN 9789079294220. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 1/58? ? ? ? 2/89? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ( ) ( 2/220) ? ? ? .
  13. ^ The Hidden Pearls: concerning the Notables of the Eighth Islamic Century. Google Books. Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya (The House of Scientific Books). January 1997. ISBN 9782745126726. ? ? ? ? ? ?: ? ? ? ? ? ? .
  14. ^ "Ibn Kathir: " Je suis Ash'ari "". Sunnisme.com (in French). February 2015. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021.
  15. ^ David L. Johnston (2010). Earth, Empire, and Sacred Text: Muslims and Christians as Trustees of Creation. Equinox Publishing. p. 288. ISBN 9781845532253. The traditionist and Ash'arite Ibn Kathir...
  16. ^ R. Hrair Dekmejian Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab World Syracuse University Press 1995 ISBN 978-0-815-62635-0 page 40
  17. ^ Barbara Freyer Stowasser Women in the Qur'an, Traditions, and Interpretation Oxford University Press 1994 ISBN 978-0-199-87969-4
  18. ^ Spevack, Aaron (9 September 2014). The Archetypal Sunni Scholar: Law, Theology, and Mysticism in the Synthesis of al-Bajuri. SUNY Press. pp. 129-130. ISBN 9781438453712.
  19. ^ Ibn Kathir, Ismail (2000). Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Azim. Cairo: Maktabat Awlad al-Shaykh l'il Turath. pp. 6:320.
  20. ^ Sohaib Sultan Koran für Dummies John Wiley & Sons 2014 ISBN 978-3-5277-1039-3 page 114 (german)
  21. ^ Oliver Leaman The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia Taylor & Francis 2006 ISBN 978-0-415-32639-1 page 632
  22. ^ Karen Bauer Gender Hierarchy in the Qur'an: Medieval Interpretations, Modern Responses Cambridge University Press 2015 ISBN 978-1-316-24005-2 page 115
  23. ^ Aysha A. Hidayatullah Feminist Edges of the Qur'an Oxford University Press 2014 ISBN 978-0-199-35957-8 page 25
  24. ^ Andreas Görke and Johanna Pink Tafsir and Islamic Intellectual History Exploring the Boundaries of a Genre Oxford University Press in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies London ISBN 978-0-19-870206-1 p. 478
  25. ^ Johanna Pink Sunnitischer Tafs? r in der modernen islamischen Welt: Akademische Traditionen, Popularisierung und nationalstaatliche Interessen BRILL, 11.11.2010 ISBN 9789004185920 p. 40 (German)
  26. ^ , . "The Beginning and the end times (pdf)". www.noor-book.com (in Arabic). Retrieved 2021.
  27. ^ al Bidayah wan Nihayah Ibn Kathir Early Days. 30 March 2017.
  28. ^ Ibn Kathir, Ismail (nd). Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya ? [Life of the Prophet Muhammad]. Al-Bid?ya wa-n-Nih?ya (? / "The Beginning and The End"). Great books of Islamic civilization. Translated by LeGassick, Trevor. Reading: Garnet (published 2006). OCLC 635213411 – via Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization.
  29. ^ Tuhfat an-Nubla' min Qisas al'Anbia lil'Imam al-Hafiz ibn Kathir.
  30. ^ Kitab al-Fitan wa'l-Mulahim al-Waqa'a fi 'Akhir az-Zaman.


  • Norman Calder, 'Tafsir from Tabari to Ibn Kathir, Problems in the description of a genre, illustrated with reference to the story of Abraham', in: G. R. Hawting / Abdul-Kader A. Shareef (eds.): Approaches to the Qur'an, London 1993, pp. 101-140.
  • Jane Dammen-McAuliffe, 'Quranic Hermeneutics, The views of al-Tabari and Ibn Kathir', in: Andrew Rippin (ed.): Approaches to the history of the interpretation of the Qur'an, Oxford 1988, pp.& nbs al hafid ibn kathir is not ash,ai

External links

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