Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaani is another one of those illustrious scholars of Islam that I have a great respect, love and reverence for because of his contributions to the religion of Islam and to traditional scholarship. His works convinced me to become an adherent of the Shaafi’ee school of law. Of the many explanations of Sahih al-Bukhari, his explanation, Fat’h al-Baari, endures as the most widely read, most referenced, most authoritative and most widely accepted explanations of Imam Bukhari’s monumental compilation of the hadith of our Beloved (SAWS).
Ibn Hajar al-Asalaani is considered one of the fathers of hadith sciences and methodology and achieved the rank of Shaykh ul Islam and Amirul Islam in hadith which is a degree above the title Haafidh. He is considered an expert on the biographies of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) and in his book :Tah’theebu Tah’theeb [The Rarefraction of the Rarefraction] he chronicles the names and personas of all the narrators that appear in all the six major books of hadith by name. He biographical encyclopedia of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) has no equal, except maybe , al-Istai’aab fee ma’rifati al-Ashaab, by ibn Abdul-Birr, [978-1071 CE] who was a Maaliki Judge.
Ibn Hajar learned the religion at a very early age even though she was an orphan as both his parents died while he was very young. He memorized the whole of the Quran by the age of 9 and he memorized Surah Maryam in one day. By the time he was 12, he was considered qualified enough to lead salatul taraaweeh at the Haram in Mecca.
His wife, Ins Khatoon, the daughter of a Judge, was a scholar, and an accomplished and respected lecturer in her own right. She bore him all daughters, but he badly wanted a son. However, his wife wasn’t going for polygamy. So, Ibn Hajar devised a plan, unbeknownst to his wife, to try to have a son through one of her slave girls that he liked. He complained about the slave girl’s quality of work and said that she should never enter his house again. His wife, arranged for her sale and Shaykh Ibn Hajar bought her secretly though an agent (wakeel), She bore him a son. His wife eventually found out about the whole scheme, and she continued to pressure him for a divorce until he died.
The practice of taking a slave girl or right hand possession as sort of a lessor wife [attasarraa], is permissible in Islam. It’s part of the sharia, It was known as an honorable practice and even practiced by the Prophet (SAWS) and other Prophets such as the Prophet Sulaiman (AS). Slavery and right-hand possesorship in Islam, is nothing like the slavery we experienced in the United States.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad
Imam Luqman Ahmad is an Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo Ohio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org