Ibn Kathir ابن كثير


أبو الفداء عماد الدين إسماعيل بن عمر بن كثير بن ضوء بن كثير بن زرع القرشي المعروف

(700 -774 A.H.)
(May Allah bless his soul)

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Ismail Ibn Kathir

Ismail ibn Kathir (Arabic: ابن كثير‎)‎ (1301–1373) was a highly influential Muslim Muhaddith (narrator), Faqīh, Mufassir, and Historian. He was the author of Signs Before the Day of Judgment. He is also well known for his tafsir, which is widely considered authoritative.

  • Born: 702 AH / 1301 CE
  • Died: 774 AH / 1373 CE
  • Era: Medieval philosophy
  • School: Shafi’i


His full name was Abu Al-Fida, ‘Imad Ad-Din (His Kunyah), Isma’il bin ‘Umar bin Kathir Ibn Daw’ Ibn Kathir Ibn Dir, originally Al-Busrawi, then Ad-Dimashqi Ash-Shafi’i and also Al-Qurashi. He was born in Mijdal, a village on the outskirts of the city of Busra, to the east of Damascus in the year 701 A.H and was taught by Ibn Taymiyya, Al-Mizzi, Ibn Qayyim, Al-Dhahabi, Ibn Al Firkah,‘Isa bin Al-Mutim, Ahmed bin Abi-Talib, Ibn Al-Hajjar, Baha Ad-Din Al-Qasim bin Muzaffar bin ‘Asakir, Ibn Ash-Shirazi, Ishaq bin Yahya Al-Ammuddi, Zahriyyah Shaykh, and Muhammad bin Zarrad.

Official positions

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. Thereafter he received various semi-official appointments, culminating in June/July 1366 with a professorial position at the Great Mosque of Damascus.

Scholastic achievements

Ibn Kathir wrote a famous commentary on the Qur’an named Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Adhim which linked certain Hadith, or sayings of Muhammad, and sayings of the sahaba to verses of the Qur’an, in explanation. Tafsir ibn Kathir is famous all over the Muslim world, and among Muslims in the Western world is one of the most widely used explanations of the Qur’an today.

Ibn Kathir was renowned for his great memory regarding the sayings of Muhammad and the entire Qur’an. Ibn Kathir is known as a qadi, a master scholar of history, also a muhaddith and a mufassir (Qur’an commentator). Ibn Kathir saw himself as a Shafi’i scholar. This is indicated by two of his books, one of which was Tabaqaat ah-Shafa’iah, or The Categories of the Followers of Imam Shafi.

His work is also available in English.

Later life and death

In later life, he became blind.[2] 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.

Ibn Kathir died in 774 AH / February 1373 in Damascus.


His 16 written works are recorded, and 11 are printed and available to the people.

  • Tafsir ibn Kathir (English: Tafsir ibn Kathir Available on [1])
  • The Beginning and the End (Arabic: Al Bidayah wa-Nihayah or Tarikh ibn Kathir)
  • Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya (Ibn Kathir)
  • Al-Baa’ith al-Hatheeth: an abridgement of the Muqaddimah by Ibn al-Salah in Hadith terminology
  • Tabaqaat ah-Shafi’iah
  • Talkhis al-Istighatha
  • Stories of the Prophets
  • At-Takmeel Ma’rifati Ath-Thiqat Wal-Majaheel (The complete book of criticism and praise, and knowledge of the trustworthy reporters and the unknown reporters).
  • Jami’ Al-Masaneed Was-Sunan Al-Hadi Li-Aqwam Sunan (The compined Musnads and the Sunan which guides to most precious Sunan).
  • Tabaqat Ash-Shafi’i yyah (The levels of the Shafi’i scholars).

Biography of Ibn Katheer

(700 -774 A.H.)
(May Allah bless his soul)

`Imad Ad-Deen Isma`il Ibn `Umar IbnKatheer Al-Basri Ad-Dimashqi was born in 700 A.H., or shortly afterwards. After the decease of his father, Ibn Katheer, aged seven then, headed for Damascus, accompanied by his elder brother. He owed much of his learning to Ibn Ashginah, Al-Amadi, Ibn `Asakir and others, may Allah be pleased with them all.

He immensely revered Ibn Taimiyah, may Allah bless his soul, whose views he believed, defended and mostly abided by, particularly as regards divorce. It was on account of this that he went through an ordeal and was made to suffer a lot. Ibn Katheer was widely acclaimed for the sublime degree of learning that he so admirably attained.

Scholars have unanimously attested to his wellversedness, particularly in the fields of the exegesis of the Glorious Qur’an, Hadith and history. Ibn Habeeb describes him as “the leader of all men engaged in the exegesis (of the Qur’an). He amassed and categorized all (the knowledge) he heard.

People marveled at his fatwas and benefited from his teachings. His fatwas grew widely popular all across the country. He was renowned for his precision and was proclaimed as the beacon of history, Hadith and exegesis (of the Qur’an).”

Ibn Hijji, one of his students, owed: “Of all our contemporaries, he (Ibn Katheer) was the best at memorizing authentic Hadiths and the most knowledgeable as to assessing the degree of reliability and honesty of Hadithnarrators as well as authentic and non-authentic Hadiths. His comrades and mentors acknowledge every word of the above. I would frequently visit him, and every time I was in his company I benefited from him.”

Ibn Katheer lost his eyesight shortly before he died in 774 A. H. He was buried at the Sufis cemetery along with his mentor Ibn Taimiyah. Among his best-known works is his masterpiece in history Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah (The Beginning and the End) .He also interpreted part of Al Bukhari’s Sahih (book of authentic Hadiths). By and large, Ibn Katheer’s admirable knowledge and well-versedness are best manifested to whoever reads his two best celebrated masterpieces; his interpretation and his book of history.