Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Mother Of Imam Ibn 'Ulayya

The Mother of Imam Ibn ‘Ulayya

The flower of the jurists (fuqaha) and traditionists (muhadditheen), Imam Isma’il ibn Ibrahim ibn Miqsam al-Basri (rah) was known as Ibn ‘Ulayya through his mother. His grandfather Miqsam was taken captive in Sindh at Qayqan and was enslaved by ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Asad ibn Qutba Asadi. His father, Ibrahim was a cloth merchant in Kufa. He travelled to Basra often where he married ‘Ulayya bint Hassaan who was a slave of Bani Shayban. Ibn Sa’ad wrote in Tabaqat al-Kubra, “She was a respected, intelligent and distinguished woman. Her home was known by her in Awqah in Basra. Salih Murri and the elite of Basra used to visit her. She met with them and they discussed religious issues.”

Imam Isma’il was born to her in 110 AH. She trained him and raised him so that he grew to be prominent among the jurists and traditionists. The famous hadith scholar, ‘Abd al-Warith reported that ‘Ulayya bint Hassan brought her son, Isma’il to him and he was the most handsome lad in Basra. She said to him, “This son of mine will stay with you and learn manners from you.” He kept the boy with him and sent him ahead of himself to the gatherings of the men of learning and he would (then) follow to the Shaykh of the gathering. He trained him so that in the eyes of learned men, the student was raised to a position higher than the teacher.

Imam Ibrahim Harbi said, “When Ibn ‘Ulayya emerged from the company of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Warith, the people of Basra had no doubt at all that he was more trustworthy than ‘Abd al-Warith in knowledge of hadith. (Tarikh Baghdad, vol1, p.231)

Imagine that society in which slaves were so interested in learning, how passionate must have been the scholarly and religious life then. They were three brothers, Isma’il, Hammad and Muhammad and all were known as Ibn ‘Ulayya and their children were also known by this name and agnomen (kunya). All were accomplished scholars of their times and attained this high station under their mother’s training. 
(More about them in the author’s (Qadi Athar Mubarakpuri) Urdu book called ‘Aathaar_wa_Akhbaar’)

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