Review Subject: ar-Riḥla fī Ṭalab al-Ḥadīth (الرحلة في طلب الحديث)
Author: al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ (d. 463 AH/1071 CE)
Genre: Ḥadīth, Athar, Ṭalab al-ʿĪlm
Publisher: Dār al-Arqam
ar-Riḥla fī Ṭalab al-Ḥadīth is a collection of Aḥādīth & mostly Athar from the Tābʿīn & Tābiʿū at-Tābʿīn compiled by the great 5th century Muḥaddith, Historian, & Faqīh al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī (raḥimahullāh). It consists of a total of only 78 narrations, so it could be easily read within a very short period of time, which is one of the key benefits behind this book. You’ll find narrations from many renowned scholars such as Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, ʿAbdullāh ibn Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, Abu al-ʿAlīyah, Masrūq, Sa’īd ibn al-Musayyib, & much more.
The focal point of this book is about the early scholars extreme efforts in their quests & journeys of seeking knowledge. I personally have not come across such a book focusing on a matter like this one before. There may be some encyclopedic works out there that speak similar to this such as the famous Siyar A’lām an-Nubalā’a of Imām adh-Dhahabī, but those works weren’t authored specifically pertaining to this matter such as the book we’re going through now.
I believe that this type of book is an essential book to have due to the focal point behind it. This tradition of leaving the comfort of your home & going to a complete different land solely with the intention of seeking & gaining knowledge is a tradition that I find not only motivating & inspiring, but very beneficial, & something every Muslim should exert efforts to practice if able. My reason for this statement? Because not only is it the way of our predecessors, but ultimately a path to Jannah, as The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever travels a path in search of knowledge, Allāh will make easy for him a path to Jannah.” — [Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2699]
A chapter within this book, which is my personal favorite, is the fourth chapter which is entitled “Striving for Ḥadīth: Examples from the Tābʿīn & Tābiʿū at-Tābʿīn.” It brings numerous narrations of some of the great scholars leaving their lands & going on travels that reached distances of many months to not only gain knowledge, but just to hear a single Ḥadīth – Subḥānallāh. Some of those narrations are as follows:
Abbān ibn Abī ‘Ayyash said:
Abū Ma’shar al-Kufī told me, ‘I travelled from Kūfah to you in Baṣrah for the sake of a Ḥadīth which I heard you know’, & so I narrated it to him.Narration #56
Ayyūb narrated that Abū Qilābah said:
I stayed in Madīnah for three (months) for no other reason than the arrival of a man whom I had heard possesed the knowledge of one Ḥadīth. I had heard that he would arrive so I stayed there until he came & narrated the Ḥadīth to me.Narration #51
Abū al-ʿAlīyah narrated:
I used to travel the distance of ten days just to meet a person and hear a narration from him. However, before I would take any knowledge from him, I would investigate whether he established and performed the prayers well or not.
If I found him observing the prayers and praying them well, I would stay and listen to him, otherwise, I would leave because a person who neglects the prayer would certainly neglect everything else.Narration #19 [Chapter One]
Someone who also finds joy in topics like this would love a book such as this one & I defintely feel that this book should be recommended & pushed more often, not only because of the profound narrations within, but the drive it could instill into someone who’s interested in seeking knowledge, or someone who is already seeking knowledge but is in need of motivation.
In my humble opinion, this book is a must read that every Muslim should pick up & look through every now & then.
- Short read, consisting of only 78 narrations
- Small size, won’t take up much shelf space
- Motivational & inspiring throughout
- Contains narrations of not only The Prophet ﷺ, but also his companions & their successors
- Translated & published into English by Dār al-Arqam, entitled: Travelling in the Pursuit of Knowledge
May Allāh have mercy upon al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī & reward him for this great work, & may He have mercy upon all the noble men & women of Islām who preceded us in faith.
All praise is due to Allāh, may His peace & blessings be upon our final Prophet Muḥammad, his family, his companions, & all those who follow him in guidance.
Ṣafīullāh Labīb ibn Salīm ʿAbd al-Malik
26th of Jumādā al-ʾŪlā 1443 – 30th of December 2021