Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Uthman ibn Qaymaz ibn `Abd Allah, Shams al-Din Abu `Abd Allah al-Turkmani al-Diyarbakri al-Fariqi al-Dimashqi al-Dhahabi al-Shafi`i (Arabic:محمد بن احمد بن عثمان بن قيوم ، أبو عبد الله شمس الدين الذهبي), known as Al-Dhahabi (1274-1348), a Shafi'i Muhaddith and historian of Islam, was born in Damascus in 1274 CE/673 AH.
Al-Dhahabi was born in Damascus, where his family had lived from the time of his grandfather `Uthman. He sometimes identified himself as Ibn al-Dhahabi (son of the goldsmith) in reference to his father's profession. He began his study of hadith at age eighteen, travelling from Damascus to Baalbek, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Nabulus, Cairo, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Hijaz, and elsewhere, after which he returned to Damascus, where he taught and authored many works and achieved wide renown as a perspicuous critic and expert examiner of the hadith, encyclopedic historian and biographer, and foremost authority in the canonical readings of the Qur'an. He lost his sight two years before he died, leaving three children: his eldest daughter Amat al-`Aziz and his two sons `Abd Allah and Abu Hurayra `Abd al-Rahman. The latter taught the hadith masters Ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi and Ibn Hajar, to whom he transmitted several works authored or narrated by his father.
Among al-Dhahabi's most notable teachers in hadith and fiqh
- Taqiuddin Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah.
- Ibn al-Zahiri, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah al-Halabi
- Sharaf al-Din al-Dimyati, `Abd al-Mu'min ibn Khalaf, the foremost Egyptian authority on hadith in his time
- Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Daqiq al-`Id, whom he identified in his youth as Abu al-Fath al-Qushayri, later as as Ibn Wahb.
- Jamal al-Din Abu al-Ma`ali Muhammad ibn `Ali al-Ansari al-Zamalkani al-Dimashqi al-Shafi`i (d. 727), whom he called "Qadi al-Qudat, the Paragon of Islam, the standard-bearer of the Sunna, my shaykh".
- Al-Abarquhi, Ahmad ibn Ishaq ibn Muhammad al-Misri (d. 701), from which al-Dhahabi received the Suhrawardi Sufi path. He said in his last illness while he was in Mecca: "I will die in this illness because the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- promised me that I would die in Mecca.
He authored nearly a hundred works, some of them of considerable size.
- Tarikh al-Islam al-kabir (Major History of Islam), 36 volumes, the largest biographical encyclopedia in Islam. Ibn Hajar received it from Abu Hurayra ibn al-Dhahabi.
- Siyar a`lam al-nubala(The Lives of Noble Figures), 23 volumes, a unique encyclopedia of biographical history.
- Tadhhib Tahdhib al-Kamal, an abridgment of al-Mizzi's 35-volume compendium of historical biographies for hadith narrators cited in the Six Books of hadith.
- Al-Kashif fi Ma`rifa Man Lahu Riwaya fi al-Kutub al-Sitta, an abridgment of the Tadhhib.
- Al-Mujarrad fi Asma' Rijal al-Kutub al-Sitta, an abridgment of the Kashif.
- Mukhtasar Kitab al-Wahm wa al-Iham li Ibn al-Qattan.
- Mukhtasar Sunan al-Bayhaqi, an abridgement of Bayhaqi's Sunan.
- Mukhtasar al-Mustadrak li al-Hakim, an abdridgement of Hakim's Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain.
- Al-Amsar Dhawat al-Athar (Cities Rich in Historical Relics), which begins with the description of Madina al-Munawwara.
- Al-Tajrid fi Asma' al-Sahaba, a dictionary of the Companions.
- Tadhkirat al-huffaz (The Memorial of the Hadith Masters), a chronological history of the biography-layers of the hadith masters. Ibn Hajar received it from Abu Hurayra ibn al-Dhahabi .
- Al-Mu`in fi Tabaqat al-Muhaddithin, a compendium of hadith scholars (Muhaddithin).
- Tabaqat al-Qurra (Biography-Layers of the Qur'anic Scholars).
- Duwal al-Islam, a condensed biographical history with emphasis on political figures and events.
- Al-Kaba'ir (The Enormities), his most widely circulating book.