Sulaiman ibn Dawood ibn Al-Jarood was a Hadith scholar of the early period. While one of the famous six books of Hadith is that of Abu Dawood, that is a different scholar who was less than 2 years of age when the scholar we are introducing today died. We know that Abu Dawood Al-Tayalisi was born in 133 A.H., corresponding to C.E. 751, but we do not know where he was born. Indeed we know next to nothing about his early period of life. But we know that he lived in Basrah in southern Iraq, and we can conclude that he started his studies when he was quite young. In making such conclusions we rely on the fact that he transmitted a fair number of Hadiths which he learnt from Ibn Awn, who died in Basrah in 151, and Hisham Al-Dastawaie, who died in the same city in 152 A.H., when Al-Tayalisi was only 19 years of age.
It was not long after this date that he traveled to Baghdad to pursue his studies, which means that he was in his early twenties. Normally young scholars did not travel for study until they had completed their learning under the scholars of their own hometown. Basrah was a very important center of learning, with a large number of prominent scholars. Al-Tayalisi could not have completed his studies under them by that age, unless he had started very early in his youth.
Al-Tayalisi traveled far to learn from scholars but, in addition to Basrah and Baghdad, his main teachers were in Kufah and Madinah. Wherever he went, he worked hard and learnt Hadith from all main scholars. In his book of Hadith, he transmits Hadiths he directly heard from no less than 250 scholars, but he says that he recorded Hadiths he heard from 1000 scholars. This was an achievement that is rarely matched, except by the great pillars of Hadith scholarship such as Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Maeen, Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
To mention only a few of Al-Tayalisi’s main teachers in Hadith we begin with Shu’bah ibn Al-Hajjaj, who was the universally acknowledged master of Hadith scholarship. He was one of the early scholars who laid down the foundations of Hadith as a major discipline of Islamic studies. Shu’bah died in 160, when Al-Tayalisi was only 27, but he heard from him no less than 7,000 Hadiths. Hammad ibn Salamah, Abu Awanah, Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Rahman who was better known as Ibn Abil Dhi’b, and Warqa’ ibn Umar were also among the highly distinguished teachers with whom Al-Tayalisi was associated.
Al-Tayalisi was considered a highly reliable Hadith reporter by all scholars of Hadith, although Al-Bukhari does not include his reporting in his Sahih. This attitude by Al-Bukhari is not the result of any poor opinion he might have had of him. The reason is that Al-Bukhari heard directly from a number of Al-Tayalisi’s colleagues and contemporaries who died much later. Had Al-Bukhari wished to relate Hadiths transmitted by Al-Tayalisi, he would have had to include these through reporters who heard them from Al-Tayalisi. Relating these Hadiths through Al-Tayalisi’s colleagues, rather than his students meant that Al-Bukhari included them through shorter chains of transmission.
Traveling to meet scholars and read under them, or hear them teaching, was an important part of Hadith scholarship. A young scholar would travel to meet as many teachers as possible. When he becomes well established and gain acceptance as a reliable scholar, people travel to meet him and learn from him. Al-Tayalisi attained that status and scholars traveled specially to meet him and hear the Hadith from him. Moreover, he traveled to a number of places to dictate Hadith in special circles. He traveled to Khurasan in today’s Iran, where he dictated no less than one hundred thousand Hadiths he had memorized. When he went back home to Basrah, he wrote to those who attended his circle in Khurasan that he made mistakes in 70 places, and told them to correct those mistakes. It should be noted that this testifies to his sharp memory, as the ratio is almost one mistake in every 1500 Hadiths.
His students were numerous, and a number of them achieved great fame as scholars in their own right. Perhaps his most famous student was Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Yunus ibn Habeeb.
In the early period most scholars relied heavily on verbal learning. They traveled to meet scholars and hear from them. However, they would write down what they heard and check it to make sure of the accuracy of what they had written. But what they wrote remained as their own copies in most cases. The next step of selection and classification was a different endeavor undertaken by a number of highly competent scholars. Al-Tayalisi was one of these. We have a book known as Al-Musnad attributed to him. The title, Al-Musnad, is a generic name for Hadith books that follow a specific order, arranging Hadiths according to the Prophet’s companions who reported them. Thus, in Al-Musnad all Hadiths reported by one companion of the Prophet are grouped together. The Hadith scholar who compiles a book of the type of Al-Musnad may be selective, so as to include only what he considers authentic of the Hadiths attributed to a particular companion of the Prophet. He also gives preference to the most eminent of the Prophet’s companions, starting with the four Caliphs and the other six completing the ten most favored ones. Within this classification, the compiler may make a sub-classification of the Hadiths reported by those who transmitted large numbers of Hadiths.
Al-Tayalisi’s Al-Musnad was not classified by him. In fact, it includes the Hadiths Yunus ibn Habeeb heard from him over a number of sessions, and these were classified for Yunus by Abu Massoud Al-Razi. Indeed, it comprises only 2890 Hadiths, while Al-Tayalisi dictated in Iran no less than one hundred thousand Hadiths. But the book was well received by scholars, because of the great respect Al-Tayalisi enjoyed in scholarly circles. Indeed many scholars quoted from it, and they documented the Hadiths reported in it, but have no mention in the six famous collections.
Al-Musnad was also rearranged according to its main topics, and the task was undertaken by Ahmad ibn Abd Al-Rahman Al-Banna, an Egyptian Hadith scholar who lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He divides the book into seven main areas, with sub-classifications in each area. Al-Banna, the father of Hasan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, did the same classification with Al-Musnad by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the most comprehensive Hadith collection. He annotated both books with comments and explanations. However, he relied on the first published edition of Al-Tayalisi’s book, an Indian edition that suffers from numerous errors. The book has more recently been thoroughly edited on the basis of four different manuscripts. The task was undertaken by Dr, Muhammad Al-Turki, a Saudi scholar, and published in 1999 by Dar Hajar in Egypt.
Al-Tayalisi died in 204 A.H. in Basrah. May God shower His mercy on his soul.