To Strive Like Imam Suyuti

Jalaluddin al-Suyuti (d. 911 A.H) is considered the mujaddid, the renewer of the faith, at the end of the 9th Islamic century.

Al-Kittani called him ‘the seal of the Hadith Memorizers (huffaz).’

His pupil al-Dawoodi said, ‘He was the most knowledgeable of all the scholars of his time in the science of hadith…and he said of himself that he had memorized 200,000 hadiths and said “If I found more I would have memorized it.”‘

Ali al-Qari al-Makki said, ‘He is the one who revived the science of tafsir…and he collected all the scattered hadiths in his famous Jaami‘.’

Once he reached the age of 40, he went into seclusion in his house and dedicated all his time to worship and authoring, leaving all his prestigious positions and refusing all gifts from the rulers.

Among his famous hadith works:

– Al-Jaami’ al-Kabir (aka Jam’ al-Jawami’), a great collection gathering together all the scattered hadiths from the different books

– Al-Jaami’ al-Saghir, a small collection of chosen hadiths, later followed by an added volume to it.

– Al-Dur al-Manthur: the most comprehensive work of hadith-based tafsir of the Qur’an

– A Commentary on the Muwatta of Imam Malik

– A Commentary on Sahih Muslim

– A Commentary on Sunan Ibn Majah

– A Commentary on Sunan al-Nasa’i

– A grammatical analysis of the hadith in the Musnad of Ahmad

– A work on the narrators in the chains of the Muwatta

– A work on fabricated hadiths

– A work on the occasions behind the different hadiths

among many others.

He was seen in a dream asking the Prophet (peace be upon him) questions about the hadith and the Prophet replying to him, ‘Ask, oh Shaykh of the Sunna.’

He himself saw in a dream that he was asking the Prophet (peace be upon him) about hadiths and the Prophet said, ‘Ask oh Shaykh of the Hadith.’

And he confided to his friend, shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Shadhili, that he saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the waking state, saying to him, ‘Oh Shaykh of the Hadith!’ So he said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, am I of the people of Paradise?’ so he (peace be upon him) said ‘yes.’ ‘Without prior punishment?’ So he said ‘yes.’

Abd al-Qadir al-Shadhili asked him, ‘How many times have you seen the Prophet (peace be upon him) while awake?’ He replied, ‘Seventy-some times.’

Imam Abdul Wahhab al-Sha’rani said, ‘I saw in Shaykh Jalaluddin al-Suyuti’s own handwriting a letter preserved with his companion Shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Shadhili, to someone who had asked his intercession with Sultan Qaytbay. Its text is as follows:

Know my brother that I have been united with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) until now, seventy five times in which I both saw him and spoke to him, in a waking state. And if it were not for my fear that I will be veiled from him (peace be upon him) if I approach the rulers, I would have entered the Citadel and interceded for you with the Sultan. But I am a man among the servants of his hadith, peace be upon him, and I need him to show the (true) hadiths that the hadith scholars have deemed to be weak, as correct, and that is undoubtedly of greater benefit than assisting you, my brother.

On waking visions of the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) see:

– Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim

– Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti’s  Tanwir al-halak

– Abd al-Qadir ibn Mughayzil al-Shadhili’s  al-Kawakib al-zahira.

Imam Suyuti’s contemporary Shaykh Ahmad al-Zawawi (d. 922 AH/ 1517 CE) said,

‘We recite the tasliya on behalf of the Prophet so often that he then sits with us while we are in a waking state (hattaa yaseera yujaalisunaa yaqzatan) …. Then we question him about matters of our religion and about hadiths which are held to be weak in the opinion of our religious scholars. Subsequently we base our behavior on his words.’

The Imam of the Azhar, Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari (d. 1979 CE) wrote:

‘In the year 1385 A.H.  (1966 CE) a man from Upper Egypt came to me and said,

I have something to tell you which, had I not been commanded to tell you by a higher authority, I would not have told it to you: Know my brother that I was sitting in your lesson at the Azhar Mosque after the Friday Prayer, and you were saying in your lesson, “Jalaluddin al-Suyuti used to study the science of hadith with the Prophet (peace be upon him), and al-Suyuti would ask him about the correctness of the Prophetic hadiths.” At that moment I saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the waking state, sitting next to me, and he (peace be upon him) said, “Tell this son of mine to strive hard as did al-Suyuti in order to see me as he did.” Then a man came and was about to pass between us and I wanted to stop him but he (peace be upon him) said, “Let him for I am Light.”

So when he said this to me I was greatly astonished and surprised, so he said to me,

I swear by Allah that had I not been commanded to, I would not have told you what I just told you.

He said this to me in the courtyard of the Azhar Mosque, so I saw a man sitting called Ahmad Mahmoud from the town of Musha in Asyut so I took him to him and said, “Listen oh shaykh what this man is telling me,” so he repeated what he said to him.’


One of the students of Shaykh Salih was Shaykh Sa’d Salmeen from the Sudan, who obtained the ‘Alimiyya Degree from the noble Azhar Masjid. One day after the Isha Prayer, Shaykh Salih was inside his khalwa. Shaykh Sa’d was passing by it, and he heard Shaykh Salih saying,

Ya Rasool Allah, did you say this (such-and-such)?

And he repeated the question about several hadiths.


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