Abū ʿAbdullāh ʿUbaydullāh ibn Muḥammad ibn Baṭṭah al-ʿUkbarī al-Ḥanbalī
A biography of the writer of al-Ibānah al-Kubrā, the work containing the creed of Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jamāʿah.
I have loved the Ḥanbalīs since the day I saw Abū ʿAbdullāh ibn Baṭṭah.
The Imām, the Ḥadīth Master (Ḥāfiẓ), the Ḥanbalī Legal Jurist (Faqīh), the devout worshipper and ascetic. He was born in the year 304H in Ukbaraa, 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 travelled to various lands such as Shaam, 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-Naisabooree, Ismaa`eel al-Warraaq, al-Qaadee al-Mahaamalee, Muḥammad ibn Mukhlid, Abū Ṭālib Aḥmad ibn Naṣr al-Ḥāfiẓ, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Thābit al-Ukbaree, ʿAlī ibn Abī al-Aqab, Aḥmad ibn Ubaid as-Saffaar, ibn Saa`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-Azharee, 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, ‘Taareekh Baghdād’ (10/372)]
ʿAbd al-Wāḥid ibn ʿAlī al-Ukbaree said, "I have not seen any of the scholars from the Ashaabul Ḥadīth or other than them having a better disposition and mannerism than ibn Baṭṭah" [al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, ‘Taareekh Baghdād’ (10/372)]
Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-ʿAtīqee said, "Ibn Baṭṭah was a righteous Shaykh, one whose supplications were answered." [Ibn al-Jawzī, ‘al-Muntadhim’ (7/194)]
Abū al-Fath al-Qawwaas said: I mentioned the knowledge and asceticism of ibn Baṭṭah to Abū Saʿīd al-Ismaa`eelee and so he went to him. When he returned he commented, "his [knowledge and ascetism] is beyond description." [Al-Asqʿalánee, ‘Lisān al-Mīzān’ (4/134)]
Abū Mas`ud Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Bajlee, the Ḥāfiẓ said, "I have loved the Ḥanbalīs since the day I saw Abū ʿAbdullāh ibn Baṭṭah." [Ibn Abī Ya`lā, ‘Tabaqaatul Hanaabilā’ (2/145)]
Ibn al-Amaad said, "the great Imām, the Ḥāfiẓ, ibn Baṭṭah, the Ḥanbalee Faqīh and righteous servant." [Ibn al-Amaad, ‘Shadharaat adh-Dhahab’ (3/122)]
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 (sadooq). 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 levelled against him can be found in ibn al-Jawzī, ‘al-Muntadhim’ (7/194+) and al-Mu`allamee, ‘at-Tankeel’ (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-Asqʿalánee, 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. He quotes the words of al-ʿAtīqee about him that "despite his lack of precision [in narrating] he was an Imām in the Sunnah and an Imām in fiqh, possessor of miraculous events and one whose supplications were answered, may Allāh be pleased with him."
He then proceeds to mention a munkar narration concerning the Attributes of Allāh and after identifying ibn Baṭṭah as being the source of this narration [although his being the culprit is differed over by the Scholars of Ḥadīth], ibn Hajr comments, "and I do not know what I should say about ibn Baṭṭah after this."
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.
Furthermore, al-Ṣuyutī may Allāh have mercy upon him, further clarifies ibn Hajr’s position on him. He says, after quoting the above-mentioned words of ibn Hajr, "I saw in the handwriting of ibn Hajr in his notes to ‘Mukhtasar al-Mawdoo`aat’ of ibn Darbaas [concerning this ḥadīth], "…this bāṭil addition that occurs at the end of it is not present here and so it is clear that it occurs due to the poor memory of ibn Baṭṭah."
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-Asqʿalánee, ‘Lisān al-Mīzān’ (4/134); al-Ṣuyutī, ‘al-Lā`ee al-Masnoo`ah’ (1/75)]
His books concerning Aqīdah that have been published are ‘al-Ibānah al-Kubraa’ in seven volumes with the tahqeeq of Yusuf ibn ʿAbdullāh al-Waabil and ‘al-Sharḥ wal-Ibānah’ with the tahqeeq of Dr. Ridaa Nu`saan. May Allāh have mercy upon him.