Who was the narrator Ishaq ibn Ibrahim?
There were several narrators with the name Ishaq ibn Ibrahim. You are probably referring to the most famous of them, Imam Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn Makhlad, Abu Ya’qub Al Marwazi who was famously known as Ishaq ibn Rahuyah. He hailed from Khorasan and was born in the year 161 A.H.
Imam Ishaq ibn Rahuyah (rahimahullah) is regarded to be a senior Jurist and Muhaddith of the Muslims and was known for his piety and asceticism. He travelled to ‘Iraq, Hijaz, Yemen and Sham in his quest for knowledge before returning to Khorasan. He then adopted Neyshabur as his hometown until he passed away there on the night of the 15th of Sha’ban, 238 A.H at the age of 77.
‘Allamah Mizzi (rahimahullah) has enlisted approximately 115 of his teachers. Among them are:
Imams; Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad, Mu’tamir ibn Sulayman, ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Ad Darawardi, Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah, Muhammad ibn Ja’far Al Ghundar, Walid ibn Muslim, Isma’il ibn ‘Ulayyah, Waki’ ibnul Jarrah, Hafs ibn Ghiyath, Yahya ibn Sa’id Al Qattan, ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Mahdi and ‘Abdur Razzaq (rahimahumullah).
His two contemporaries, Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal and Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in reported Hadith from him as well as Imams; Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nasai (rahimahumullah) and many others.
Some incidents on the astounding memory of this great Imam:
Imam Ishaq ibn Rahuyah (rahimahullah) said:
1) “I memorised whatever I heard and I never ever forgot anything that I memorised.”
(ما سمعت شيئا إلا وحفظته، ولا حفظت شيئا قط فنسيته)
2) “It is as though I can see [in my mind] one hundred thousand Hadiths from my books, and I can quote thirty thousand.
(لكأني أنظر إلى مائة ألف حديث في كتبي، وثلاثين ألفا أسردها)
3) Abu Dawud Al Khaffaf says: “Ishaq (rahimahullah) once dictated eleven thousand Hadiths and recited it to us from memory. He did not decrease or increase even in one letter!
(قال: وأملى علينا إسحاق أحد عشر ألف حديث من حفظه، ثم قرأها علينا، فما زاد حرفا، ولا نقص حرفا)
‘Allamah Dhahabi (rahimahullah) comments on this incident and says, ‘This by Allah, is truly a [remarkable] memory.’ (فهذا -والله- الحفظ)
4) Imam Abu Hatim Ar Razi (rahimahullah) asked Imam Abu Zur’ah (rahimahullah) regarding the memory of Ishaq ibn Rahuyah (rahimahullah). He replied, “None has witnessed someone with a more astounding memory than Ishaq.” Imam Abu Hatim then expressed his amazement at the fact that Imam Ishaq ibn Rahuyah (rahimahullah) would dictate Tafsir from memory together with the full chain.
(وقال أحمد بن سلمة: سمعت أبا حاتم الرازي يقول: ذكرت لأبي زُرعة حِفظَ إسحاق بن راهويه، فقال أبو زرعة: ما رُئي أحفظ من إسحاق. ثم قال أبو حاتم: والعجب من إتقانه، وسلامته مِن الغلط مع ما رُزِقَ من الحفظ. فقلت لأبي حاتم: إنه أملى التفسير عن ظهر قلبه. قال: وهذا أعجب، فإن ضبط الأحاديث المسندة أسهل وأهونُ من ضبط أسانيد التفسير وألفاظها)
(Siyaru A’lamin Nubala, vol. 11 pg. 373)
‘Allamah Dhahabi (rahimahullah) says, ‘Together with his [exceptional] memory, he was an Imam in Tafsir, a leader in Fiqh and from among the Mujtahidun.
Refer: Tahdhibul Kamal, vol. 2 pg. 373-388 and Siyaru A’lamin Nubala, vol. 11 pg. 358-383
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar