Remembering al-Hafiz: Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani
Respected Ustad Mufti Muhammad Taqi 'Uthmani (may Allah lengthen his life) always begins his Sahih al-Bukhari class with a detailed analysis of the biographies of the major commentators of the Sahih and the unique characteristics of each commentary. When mentioning Fath al-Bari and its author al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Ustadh Ji would take a deep sigh, shake his head, and state: "In the field of hadith, especially takhrij, no one can ever hope to come close to the encyclopedic knowledge of Hafiz Sahab." After mentioning a brief synopsis of his noble life, I saw that Ustad Ji's eyes were tearing. This was one of the few moments that I would ever see Hadrat weep in Bukhari class.
On numerous occasions, I saw Ustadh Ji carrying around books written about Ibn Hajar and his life. It seemed that he had a special connection, reverence, and awe for this master of hadith.
He once said in class (the near meaning of which is):
"Hafiz Ibn Hajar's knowledge of hadith is almost impassable. He wrote his commentary with such thoroughness and breadth that when one reads Fath al-Bari it seems as if al-Hafiz had a hundred other commentaries laid out in front of him and was writing his own after having memorized all of them."
He later stated: "I spent over a decade writing a commentary of Sahih Muslim (the completion or takmilah of Fath al-Mulhim, an unfinished commentary started by Allamah Shabbir Ahmad 'Uthmani), and during that long period of time, I poured over all possible books of takhrij and hadith with the hope of finding ahadith that Hafidh Sahab had missed and that I could add to the discussion. I tried as hard as I could to find a takhrij that Hafiz Sahab had missed, and I swear that throughout that long period of time, I was only able to find a handful." It was after this statement that he took a deep sigh and made the statement mentioned in the first paragraph.
[great blog, full of gems]