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The Shafi'i jurist, Imam Suуuti relates through his chain that Muhammad ibn Ahmad said: "When Abu al-Abbas Walid ibn Ibahim was deposed as the chief justice of Rayy, (present-day Tehran) and came to Bukhara, my teacher, Abu Ibrahim al-Khatalli took me with him to see Walid. My teacher requested him to narrate to me those hadіths that he had heard from his teachers.   He replied "I have not heard anything from them".   My teacher was quite shocked and remarked, "How can you say that you have not heard anything from them though you are a well-read scholar?"  Walid then related his story saying, "When I became a rational and mature adult and developed a passion toward the science of hadith, I went to Imam Bukhari (ra) and explained my intentions to him. He advised me thus, "Son, before you set out to pursue any field make sure you are well-grounded with its prerequisites and demands. And remember that a person cannot become a perfect scholar in the science of hadith (muhaddith) until and unless he writes four things with four other things, which are as indispensable as four things, which resemble four other things. [He must write these things] in four times, with four conditions, in four places, upon four things, from four types of people, and for four objectives.   All of these four-angled things can only be achieved with another four things coupled with another four. Once all these things are achieved, four things will become insignificant before him and he will be tried with four other things. If he exercises patience in these four trials, Allah Most High will honor him with four things in this world and award him four things in the hereafter".  I said, May Allah Most High have mercy upon you. Please explain these four-angled things to me."  He said, "Certainly. The four things he has to write are: (1) the statements and commands of Allah's Messenger, (2) the saying of the Companions and their relative ranks, (3) the sayings of the Followers and their ranks [ie., who among them are reliable and who are not], and (4) the conditions of all the narrators who narrate hadiths  These [four pieces of information] must be written together with the following four things: (1) the actual names of the narrators, (2) their appellations or titles (Kuna) (3) their places of reside, and (4) their dates of birth and death [to determine whether the narrator actually met the people he has narrated from]  [These are indispensable to him] just [as four things are necessary with four other things:] (1) as praises (tahmid) of Allah Most High [are necessary] with the khutba, (2) as salutations (salawat) [are necessary] with mention of the name of Allah's Messenger, (3) as [the recitation of] bismillah [is necessary] with a sura [of the Quran], and (4) as the takbir [is necessary] with the prayer.  These resemble four other things [that are names of four categories of hadith]: (1) the musnadat (narrations traceable to the Messenger), (2) the mursalat (narrations transmitted by a Follower from the Messenger a directly without a companion in between (3) the mawqufat (narrations traceable only to a companion) and, (4) the maqtu`at (narrations traceable only to a Follower).  [These things all be written] in four times: (1) in his childhood, (2) in his age of dicernment [i.e., close to maturity], (3) in his youth, and (4) in his old age.  In other words. he must continue acquiring hadiths at all times throughout every stage of his life. They must be written under four conditions: (1) while his is occupied, (2) while he is free, (3) in his poverty, and (4) in his affluence.  In other words, he must diligently pursue the knowledge of these things no matter his circumstances may be. This is done at four places: (1) in mountainous terrain, (2) on the seas, (3) in cities, and (4) in rural areas.  In other words he must endeavor to acquire this science from the right teacher, no matter where that teacher is located. He writes what he has acquired upon four things: (1) upon stones, (2) upon shells, (3) upon skins, and (4) upon bones  In other words,even when he does not find paper he will continue recording it somewhere until he finds the рaper upon which to рreserve it. He acquires it from four different types of people: (1) from his seniors, (2) from his juniors (3) from his peers, and (4) from the books of his father, provided he has firm conviction these are his father's books  In other words, he endeavors to acquire this science in every way possible without feeling ashamed to obtain even fromhis juniors. Hе has four objectives for doing all of these things: (1) to acquire this science solely for the pleasure of Allah Most High (2) to practice upon the hadiths that conform to the verses of the Quran, (3) to propagate the science to those who seek it, and (4) to write it out so that it can be a source of guidance to those who will come after him.  Thereafter, the above four things cannot be acquired unless hе has first acquired four other things that are part of human acquisition: (1) the knowledge of how to read and write, (2) lexicography and vocabulary, (3) morphology, and (4) syntax,  Together with four other things that are not of human acquisition,but are bestowed by Allah Most High: (1) sound health, (2) ability (3) an ardent desire for learning, and (4) a retentive memory.  Once he attains all the above four-angled things, four things will become insignificant before him: (1) his family, (2) his children, (3) his wealth, and (4) his native land.  He will then be afflicted with four things: (1) his enemies will rejoice at his distress, (2) his friends will reproach him, (3) the ignorant will taunt him, and (4) the scholars will envy him.  Once he exercises patience over these calamities, Allah Most High will honor him with four things in this world: (1) the honor of contentment (qānā`a), (2) conviction coupled with awe and dignity, (3) the pleasure of sacred knowledge, and (4) eternal life.  On top of that, Allah Most High will honor him with four things in the Hereafter: (1) the honor of intercession on behalf of whomever he pleases, (2) the shade of the throne of Allah Most High on the day when there will be no shade except the shade of His throne, (3) the privilege to provide water to whomever he pleases from the pool of Muhammad (al-Kawthar), and (4) close proximity with the prophets in the Highest of the High Places (a`lā `illiyyīn).  So now, my son, I have told you whatever I have heard from my teachers (masha'ikh). Now you have the choice to either pursue this field or to abstain from it.  (Tahdhīb al-Kamāl 6:236)

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