I had long ago heard of Imam Murtada al-Zabidi, due mainly from the referencing to his immense commentary of the ‘Ihya Ulum al-Din’ of Imam al-Ghazali found in the translation of certain chapters of the ‘Ihya’ in the English language.
I managed to come across this grand work of his in some bookshops, but was unable to find anything more brief on this great scholar of Islam. I had found his shorter work on Imam Abu Hanifah’s narration of hadith, but when looking through the list of Sh. Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah’s edited publications, the name of a small text on the science of hadith by Imam al-Zabidi stood out. I could not find it in my limited visits to bookshops in the Middle East.
I was surprised to hear, when I had finally managed to persuade Sh. Yahya al-Mulla to talk about his teachers, that Sh. Yahya had studied this same treatise of Imam al-Zabidi on the science of hadith with none other than the great Makkan Shafi Jurist, Sh. Ahmad Jabir Jibran.
Sh. Abd al-Fattah mentions quoting Imam al-Zabidi’s student al-Jabarti in his ‘Tarikh’ (2/106):
If one of the Egyptian notables invited him to their home, he would attend with his close students, a reader, scribe and writer of names. He would read to them some hadith portions (ajza’) and some pattern chained narrations (musalsalat), in the presence of the group, the owner of the home, his friends, loved ones and children. And (also) his daughters and wives from behind a curtain. There would be in front of them the burning of bukhur, anbar and ood for the duration of the reading. They would then finish with Salutations upon the Prophet (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) in the customary manner.
The scribe would record the names of the attendee’s and those who had heard, including even the women, children and girls, the day and date. The Sheikh would write below it: ‘This is correct’.
This was the way/method of the scholars of hadith in previous times, as we have seen in old books.
End of Sh. al-Jabarti’s quote.
We ask Allah (the Exalted) to revive similar gatherings of barakah in our homes and the homes of all of the Muslims.