Imam ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdil Karim Al-Rawwasi (rahimahullah) was born in the year 428 A.H, in Dihistan and he passed away in 503 A.H.
What they said about him
Imam Abu Ja’far al-Hamazhani (رحمه الله) says: “I never saw in those countries anyone like him, instead not in the entire world! He was a mobile book. He travelled the world in search of the knowledge of Hadith. I met him in Makkah and I saw the ‘Ulama praising and speaking good about him. Thereafter I met him in Jurjan and befriended him.
He was an expert in this field, to such an extent that his teacher Khatib Al-Baghdadi (رحمه الله) as well as other great ‘Ulama and Muhaddithun acquired hadith from him. Imam Ghazali (رحمه الله) corrected his copy of the saheehain from him.”
Imam Al- Sam’ani (رحمه الله) mentions regarding him in his book: “Al-Ansab “ :
“He was one of the leading scholars of his time. He had traveled extensively and gathered knowledge from places such as : Khurasan, ‘Iraq, Syria, Hijaz , Egypt and Al-Jazeerah.
He was called Al-Rawwasi (head-seller) because his father use to sell animal-heads in Dihistan.
The Product of Respect for a Scholar
Once Shaykh Abu Mas’ood Ahmad Al-Bajali (رحمه الله) came to Dihistan. While he was there, he needed to to purchase a head from the father of Imam ‘Umar (The father’s name was:Abul Hasan). The father said : “I recognize you to be a person of knowledge and it doesn’t befit you that you sit in my shop, so go to the masjid and I will deliver it to you. When he went to the masjid, Abul Hasan (the father of Imam ‘Umar Al-Rawwasi (رحمه الله) sent his son ‘Umar to the Shaykh, with well roasted head with clean bread, vinegar and herbs. Imam ‘Umar (رحمه الله) at the time was a very young boy.
Shaykh Abu Mas’ood (رحمه الله) was very pleased by this deed of the head-seller.
So when he completed his meal, he thanked the head-seller and said: “you have done good to me but I have nothing with which I could recompense you. Is it possible that you send your son to me so that I may teach him some of the noble Ahadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alaihi wasallam) ?”
The father was delighted with the idea and sent him along.
Thereafter Shaykh Abu Mas’ood (رحمه الله) took Imam ‘Umar Al-Rawwasi (رحمه الله) with him to the ‘Ulama of Dihistan and he also taught him personally. In this manner the knowledge of Hadith opened up to him as he traveled long distances on his own thereafter collecting Ahadith that no other person from his contemporaries did and in doing so he mastered the field.
Imaam Ibn Nuqtah (رحمه الله) says: “I heard from numerous Scholars that Sheikh ‘Umar Al-Rawwasi (رحمه الله) had approximately 3600 teachers!!!
His Unimaginable Sacrifice
Imam Khuzaimah ibn ‘Ali Al-Marwazi (رحمه الله) says: “ Once Imam ‘Umar Al-Rawwasi’s (رحمه الله) fingers fell off while on sojourn due to the extreme cold!!”
Subhanallah!! سبحان الله
On one occasion Imam Abu Bakr Al-Sam’ani (رحمه الله) asked Imam ‘Umar (رحمه الله) to come to Marw so that he may benefit from him. He remarked to his students: “ Iintend to go to Marw but Sarakhs is on the way and it has became famous to be the “graveyard of knowledge” so I don’t know if I will make it to Marw. It is said that he passed away in Sarakhs before he reached Marw in Rabee’ u thani, in the year 503 A.H.
رحمه الله تعالى رحمة واسعة وأ سكنه فسيح جنانه ونفعنا بعلومه . آمين
May Allah shower his abundant mercy upon him, and grant him Jannah. May Allah grant us the ability to follow in the footsteps of such ‘Ulama. Ameen.
Extracted from the book: صفحات من صبر العلماء على شدائد العلم والتحصيل “Incidents of the sacrifices of the ‘Ulama in their quest for knowledge” By Shaykh ‘Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (rahimahullah)
Note: He probably referred to Sarakhs as “the graveyard of knowledge” due to the large number of scholars who may have passed away there. Allah knows best.
Among the many lessons to be learnt from the life of Imam ‘Umar Al-Rawwasi (rahimahullah) are :
- The way in which Allah accepted him for the knowledge of deen. i.e, The generosity and kindness of his father. This enlightens us on the great reward that Allah bestows those who honour the ‘Ulama of deen.
- His sacrifice to such an extent that his fingers fell off but he still refused to rest and continued to travel for the sake of knowledge until his death.
- His courage and zeal for traveling so extensively. Like a bee moving about to the different flowers extracting nutritious pollen. Imagine his patience in traversing on all types of terrain just to meet the various ‘Ulama that the number of his tutors added upto 3600!
 Sahih Al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim, the two most celebrated books of Hadith.