Ikrimah, the Great Scholar Successor to the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (saws)
Flourishing within the first century of Islam, Ikrimah is considered as a great Qur’anic exegete (muffassir), jurisprudent (faqeeh),and a scholar of Islam.
Ikrima, slave of Abdullah bin Abbas (ra), Abu Abdullah, was from north Africa, gifted by Abdul Husain bin Abi al HurrAlanbari to Ibn Abbas when came as governor to Basra, Iraq, in the Khilaphat of Ali (ra).
Ikrimah was one of the great Tabi’een, a giant of Tafseer, and the scholar of the Ummah.
Training Under Ibn Abbas and Others
He was trained especially under Ibn Abbas, to the extent that he would tie his legs with chains till he learnt the Qur’an and Sunnah. Then he learnt from many Companions of the Prophet like, Ayesha, Abu Huraira, Ibn Umar, Abdulah bin Amro, Ali bin Abi Talib, Jabir bin Abdullah, Abu Saeed al Khudari, Hamna Bint Jahsh, Umm Ammar al Ansaria, may Allah be pleased with them and others.
Ikrimah used to say: “I met two hundred from the Companions of the Prophet in this mosque.”
His quest for knowledge made him travel distant places, and so these journeys took him to Makkah, Madinah, Basra, Yemen, al-Maqrib, Khurasan.
Some of his most illustrious students were Ibrahim al-Nakhi, al Shabi, Amro bin Dinar, Ayyub al-Suktiyani, Abu al-Zubai al-Makki, Khalid al-Hazza, Aaeed bin MasrooqAlamash, Asim Alahwah, Ibn Tawoos, and Ibn Shihab. Many others alsonarrated from him.
Ikrimah is considered as a great Qur’anic exegete (muffassir), jurisprudent (faqeeh), and a scholar of Islam. Ibn Abbas used to say:“Whatever Ikrimah narrated from me,accept it, because he never lied on me.”Indeed, Ikrimah used to give fatwa at the door of Ibn Abbas’ house, while Ibn Abbas (ra) was at home; and the latter would say: ‘Go and give the people Fatwa, and I would be grateful for your help.’
Ikrimah was an intelligent scholar who would go to the market with a word that he picked up there opening up fifty doors of knowledge for him.
Jabin bin Zaid said: “This is Ikrimah, slave of Ibn Abbas (ra), and a most knowledgeable person.”
Amro bin Dinar said: “Jabir bin Zaid gave me some questions to ask Ikrimah saying,‘This is Ikrimah, the slave of Ibn Abbas (ra), the sea (of knowledge).So ask him.’”
Habeeb bin Abi Thabit said: “Once, inone of those rarest of the rare moments, five scholars met in my place: Ata’,Ta’woos, Mujahid, Saeed bin Jubair, and Ikrimah. Here Mujahid and Saeed bin Jubair would ask Ikrimah and learn Tafseer, and they didn’t ask of him any verseof the Qur’an, but received an explanation for it.”
Often, people would gather in his circles in big gatherings. Ayyub said: “I wanted to travel to Ikrimah whom I considered far away, when suddenly I found a man on a donkey in the market of Basra with the people around him telling me that he was Ikrimah. In vain I tried to reach him,and with such difficulty that I was unable to ask him anything in person. I had to satisfy myself with learning from him while people were asking him all around.”
Ikrimah has been accused by some of being a Khawarijite in his opinions – an allegation which never proved to be true, with many scholars like an-Nasai and others reposing full trust in him.
Ibn Manda said: “Ikrimah’s trustworthiness was testified to by many from the Tabi’een, who were among 70 and more of the great scholars.Such unanimous testimony is rarely found for any amongst them. And whoever accused Ikrimah, themselves did not stop narrating from him.”
Imam Bukhari himself is reported to have said that there was none of his own companions who did not depend on Ikrimah for guidance. Yahya bin Moeen went so far as to say: “If you find anyone making allegations against Ikrimah, accuse the one making the allegation of himself not being true to his Islamic identity.
Ikrima died 105 year of Hijra, when he was 80 years old.