The Imām, the Ḥadīth Master (Ḥāfiẓ), the Ḥanbalī Legal Jurist (Faqīh), the devout worshipper and ascetic. He was born in the year 304H in Ukbarā, a land close to Baghdād, and died in the year 387H. His father was a Faqīh and it was under his auspices that he began his studies and he often reports from him in his books. He was sent to Baghdād to study ḥadīth while still young, then he traveled to various lands such as Shām, Baṣrah, Makkah, and Thagur studying under a host of the leading scholars of his time and excelled in ʿaqīdah, ḥadīth and fiqh.
He heard from the likes of Abū al-Qāsim al-Baghawī, Abū Dharr al-Bāghandī, Abū Bakr ibn Ziyād an-Naisabūrī, Ismā`īl al-Warrāq, al-Qaadee al-Mahāmalī, Muḥammad ibn Mukhlid, Abū Ṭālib Aḥmad ibn Naṣr al-Ḥāfiẓ, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Thābit al-Ukbarī, ʿAlī ibn Abī al-Aqab, Aḥmad ibn Ubaid as-Saffār, ibn Sā`id and others.
A group of the scholars narrated from him such as Abū al-Fath ibn Abī al-Fawaaris, Abū Nu`aym al-Aṣbahānī, ʿUbaydullāh al-Azharī, ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Azjee, and Abū Ishāq al-Barmakee, Abū Muḥammad al-Jawharee, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿĪsá as-Sa`see and others. He has been praised by more than one Imām and was famous for enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. [Ibn Kathīr, ‘al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah’ (11/368-369); ibn Hajr, ‘Lisān al-Mīzān’ (4/133+); al-Dhahabī, ‘Siyar’ (16/529-533)]
Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī said: Abū Haamid ad-Dawlee narrated to me that when ibn Baṭṭah returned from his travels he confined himself to his house for forty years [only rarely going out]. He was not seen in the market place and neither was he seen breaking fast except on the day of Eed. He used to enjoin the good and not a single bad narration [concerning people] would reach him except that he put it in a better light.” [Ibid and al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, ‘Tārīkh Baghdād’ (10/372)]
ʿAbd al-Wāḥid ibn ʿAlī al-Ukbarī said, “I have not seen any of the scholars from the Ashābul Ḥadīth or other than them having a better disposition and mannerism than ibn Baṭṭah” [al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, ‘Tārīkh Baghdād’ (10/372)]
Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-ʿAtīqī said, “Ibn Baṭṭah was a righteous Shaykh, one whose supplications were answered.” [Ibn al-Jawzī, ‘al-Muntadhim’ (7/194)]
Abū al-Fath al-Qawwās said: I mentioned the knowledge and asceticism of ibn Baṭṭah to Abū Saʿīd al-Ismā`īlī and so he went to him. [Al-Asqʿalánī, ‘Lisān al-Mīzān’ (4/134)]
However, in the field of ḥadīth, he has been criticised for his lack of precision although in and of himself he is regarded to be truthful (sadūq). It is important to note that the scholars of ḥadīth have cleared him of the possibility of fabricating. [Al-Dhahabī, ‘al-Mughnī fī ad-Du`afaa’ (2/417), ‘al-Uluw’ (2/417), ‘Siyar’ (16/529-533); al-Ṣuyutī, ‘al-Lā`ee’ (1/85) and others; a defense of him against a number of criticisms leveled against him can be found in ibn al-Jawzī, ‘al-Muntadhim’ (7/194+) and al-Mu`allamee, ‘at-Tankīl’ (pp. 561-571)]
At this point it is necessary to mention that the People of Innovation have capitalised on a statement concerning this great Imām made by al-Ḥāfiẓ ibn Hajr al-Asqʿalánī, may Allāh have mercy upon him. Using this statement they have attempted to declare this Imām a fabricator and liar, may Allāh forgive them and us.
Ibn Hajr in his notice of ibn Baṭṭah begins by declaring him an Imām and then proceeds to criticise him for his lack of precision in narration.
It should be noted here that if ibn Hajr thought ibn Baṭṭah to be a liar or fabricator it would have been necessary for him to mention this clearly, for the likes of this Ḥāfiẓ could not possibly remain silent on such an issue.
So in this narration ibn Hajr explicitly clears ibn Baṭṭah of intentional fabrication and hence his stance on him falls in line with the majority of Ḥadīth Masters. Allāh knows best.
[ibn Hajr al-Asqʿalánī, ‘Lisān al-Mīzān’ (4/134); al-Ṣuyutī, ‘al-Lā`ī al-Masnoo`ah’ (1/75)]
His books concerning Aqīdah that have been published are ‘al-Ibānah al-Kubraa’ in seven volumes with the tahqīq of Yusuf ibn ʿAbdullāh al-Waabil and ‘al-Sharḥ wal-Ibānah’ with the tahqīq of Dr. Ridā Nu`sān. May Allāh have mercy upon him.