Abu Eisa Muhammad ibn Eisa ibn Sawra/Sura ibn Musa ibn al-Ḍaḥḥak al-Sulami al-Bughi al-Tirmidhi was born in Hijri 209 inTirmidh, a place in Uzbekistan, close to the borders of Afghanistan.
Just like his teacher, Imam Bukhari, Imam Tirmidhi too had a very sharp memory which treasured thousands of hadith in it. From that compilation Imam Tirmidhi chose 4400 Hadith for his Jami al Sunan.
He had a fortune to study under popular Muhaddith of his time and his teachers include, Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim as well as Abu Dawud. Imam Bukhari was very fond of his intelligent questioning skills and claimed that he had learned more from Tirmidhi than he taught him. According to Imam Tirmidhi, his honourable joy comes from the two Hadith that Imam Bukhari narrated from him and Imam Tirmidhi mentions it in his book of Hadith- “Mohammed Ismail ibn Bukhari has heard this Hadith from me”.
Umar ibn Alak once said, “When Imam Bukhari died he left no one in Khurasan who compared with Abu Eisa al-Tirmidhi in knowledge, piety and abstinence (zuhd). He would weep excessively out of the fear of Allah, such that towards the end of his life he lost his sight!”
He has three popular books as a contribution in promotion of Deen.
- Al Jami al Sunan - A compilation of Hadith. Jami means a comprehensive collection
- Shamail al Muhammadiya - A collection of noble manners and characters of the Prophet,
sallallahu alaihi wassalam.
- Kitab al-Ilal al-Kabir and Al-Ilal al-Saghir- A science of critical analysis of narrators of Hadith.
Imam Tirmidhi’s compilation was a basis for the jurist and he combined the styles of Abu Dawud and Nasa’i by mentioning the discrepancies in the chains. This is his unique approach and contribution to the science of Hadith. Unlike Bukhari, Al Jami al Sunan has less repetitive Hadith and scholars have said it to be more reader friendly.
Imam Dhahabi places Jami ul Sunan, in the fifth category of ‘Kutub as-Sittah’ while Ibn Hajr places it in the fourth category after Sunan Abu Dawood.
Imam Tirmidhi passed away at the age of 70 in Hijri 270. Imam Dhahabi says that Imam Tirmidhi was blind during the last two years of his life because of his excessive weeping out of Taqwa and over the death of his Ustaad Imam Bukhari.