Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī
|Title||Shaykh al-Islām/ Ḥāfiẓ|
|Born||18 February 1372 / 773 AH|
|Died||2 February 1449 (aged 76)|
|Resting place||City of the Dead (Cairo), Cairo, Egypt|
Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī or Ibn Ḥajar (Arabic: ابن حجر العسقلاني, full name: Shihābud-Dīn Abul-Faḍl Aḥmad ibn Nūrud-Dīn ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī al-Kināni) (18 February 1372 – 2 February 1449 CE / 773 – 852 A.H.), was a classic Islamic scholar and polymath "whose life work constitutes the final summation of the science of Hadith." He authored some 150 works on hadith, history, biography, tafsir, poetry, and Shafi'i jurisprudence, the most valued of which being his commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari, titled Fath al-Bari.
He was born in Cairo in 1372, the son of the Shafi'i scholar and poet Nur ad-Din 'Ali. His parents had moved from Alexandria, originally hailing from Ashkelon (Arabic: عَسْقَلَان, ʿAsqalān). Both of his parents died in his infancy, and he and his sister, Sitt ar-Rakb, became wards of his father's first wife's brother, Zaki ad-Din al-Kharrubi, who enrolled Ibn Hajar in Qur'anic studies when he was five years old. Here he excelled, learning Surah Maryam in a single day and memorising the entire Qur'an by the age of 9. He progressed to the memorization of texts such as the abridged version of Ibn al-Hajib's work on the foundations of fiqh.
When he accompanied al-Kharrubi to Mecca at the age of 12, he was considered competent to lead the Tarawih prayers during Ramadan. When his guardian died in 1386, Ibn Hajar's education in Egypt was entrusted to hadith scholar Shams ad-Din ibn al-Qattan, who entered him in the courses given by Sirajud-Din al-Bulqini (d. 1404) and Ibn al-Mulaqqin (d. 1402) in Shafi'i fiqh, and 'Abdur-Rahim ibn al-Husain al-'Iraqi (d. 1404) in hadith, after which he travelled to Damascus and Jerusalem, to study under Shamsud-Din al-Qalqashandi (d. 1407), Badrud-Din al-Balisi (d. 1401), and Fatima bint al-Manja at-Tanukhiyya (d. 1401). After a further visit to Mecca, Medina, and Yemen, he returned to Egypt. As-Suyuti said: "It is said that he drank Zamzam water in order to reach the level of adh-Dhahabi in memorization—which he succeeded in doing, even surpassing him."
In 1397, at the age of twenty-five, Al-'Asqalani married the celebrated hadith expert Uns Khatun, who held ijazat from 'Abdur-Rahim al-'Iraqi and gave public lectures to crowds of 'ulama', including as-Sakhawi.
Ibn Hajar went on to be appointed to the position of Egyptian chief-judge (Qadi) several times.
Ibn Hajar died after 'Isha' (night prayer) on 8th Dhul-Hijjah 852 (2 February 1449), aged 79. An estimated 50,000 people attended his funeral in Cairo, including Sultan Sayfud-Din Jaqmaq (1373–1453 CE) and Caliph of Cairo Al-Mustakfi II (r. 1441–1451 CE).
Ibn Hajar wrote approximately 150 works on hadith, hadith terminology, biographical evaluation, history, Qur'anic exegesis, poetry and Shafi'i jurisprudence.