He is Abu Muhammad 'Ataa ibn Abi Rabaah whose name is Aslam. He is Al-Qurayshee Al-Makki. His mother's name was Barakah and both parents were Negroes. Abu Daawood said that his father was Nubian.
He was a reliable narrator, faqeeh, scholar of hadeeth who met two hundred Companions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). The historian, Muhammad ibn Sa'd, said that the fatwa of the people of Makkah ended with Ataa and Mujaahid during their time, and ‘Ataa had the greater portion.
'Umar ibn Sa'eed – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – narrated from his mother that Abdullaah ibn Abbaas – may Allâh be pleased with both – came to Makkah so people gathered around him to ask him questions and he said: O People of Makkah! Do you gather around me when you have ‘Ataa with you?
Abu 'Aasim Ath-Thaqafee – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said he heard Abu Ja'far Al-Baqir – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – saying to people who gathered around him: “Go to Ataa, which is better for you than coming to me.” He said also, “Take from the narrations of 'Ataa as much as you can” and he said “None remained on the surface of the earth more knowledgeable about the rights of Hajj than Ataa.”
The Imam, Salamah bin Deenar Al-A'raj Abu Haazim – may Allâh bestow mercy on them – said “I have never met anyone more knowledgeable about the rights of Hajj than ‘Ataa.”
Ibn Abi Laylaa – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said about him: He was knowledgeable about Hajj, he made more than seventy hajjs! He died at the age of 100. I saw him drinking water during Ramadan and he said: Ibn Abbaas – may Allâh be pleased with him – said concerning “And as for those who can fast with difficulty, they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person." Q2:184. Ibn `Abbaas commented, "(This Ayah) was not abrogated, it is for the old man and the old woman who are able to fast with difficulty, but choose instead to feed a poor person for every day (they do not fast).'' ‘Ataa – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said “I feed more than a poor person.”
Abu Ishaq Ibraheem ibn 'Umar ibn Kaysaan – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said during the reign of the Umayyad, they instructed a crier to announce at hajj: None should give fatwa except 'Ataa ibn Abi Rabaah, if it's not 'Ataa then Abdullaah ibn Abi Najeeh – may Allâh bestow mercy on him.
Rabee'ah – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said: 'Ataa excelled the people of Makkah in fatwa.
It is said that Qataadah – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said: When these four individuals agree with me, I won't even pay attention to others and I don't care about whosoever contradicted them: Al-Hasan, Saeed ibn Musayyib, Ibraheem and 'Ataa – may Allâh bestow mercy on them. These are the Imams of the regions.
Uthman ibn 'Ataa Al-Khuraasanee – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said: 'Ataa was very dark, there is no hair on his head except for his frontal part, eloquent in speech and whatever he says in Hijaaz (the region encompassing Makkah and Madinah and their surrounding areas) is accepted from him.
Abu Haneefah – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said: I did not see amongst the multitude anyone more virtuous than 'Ataa.
'Ataa – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – was asked about an issue to which he replied “I don’t know”. So it was said to him: 'Why can't you talk about it using your opinion?' He said: “I feel shy of Allaah that an act of worship be established on earth based on my opinion”.
Ibn Juraij – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – mentioned that 'Ataa said: Someone will narrate ahadeeth to me and I will keep quiet like I have never heard them before then but I actually heard them before his birth.
His sittings were usually filled with the remembrance of Allaah, when he talks or asked a question, he gives the best answers.
Imam Al-Awzaee – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said: 'Ataa died and he was the most pleasing of the inhabitants of the earth to the people. They used to attend his sittings except seven or eight individuals.
Ibn Juraij – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said: The mosque was his bed for twenty years and he was from the best of people with respect to (the observance) of prayers.
It was narrated that 'Ataa – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – once entered upon the caliph, Abdul Malik bin Marwan – may Allâh bestow mercy on him, while he was seated on his bed in the midst of the nobles during hajj. When Abdul Malik saw him, he stood up to meet him, greeted him and seated him with him on his bed. He then sat in front of him and said: O Father of Muhammad! What do you need? 'Ataa replied: Ameerul Mu'mineen! Fear Allaah in the Sacred Precinct of Allaah and His Messenger – Sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam –, fear Allaah concerning the children of the Muhajiroon and the Ansaar, for you are sitting here because of what they did, fear Allaah with respect to the inhabitants of the coastal cities because they are the fortresses of the Muslims, pay attention to the affairs of the Muslims because you are the only person who will be asked about them, fear Allaah regarding those at your door, don’t be heedless of them and don’t lock them out.
Abdul Malik said: 'I will do them'. Then, as he rose to leave, Abdul Malik held him and said: 'Father of Muhammad! You asked us for the needs of others and we have declared to do so, what's your need?' He said: 'I don’t have a need a creature can cater for.' He then left and Abdul Malik said: 'Indeed, this is the noble man, this is the leader.'
Funnily, this Mufti of Makkah and its people still used to say at age ninety, “I wish I could better my Arabic Language”.
Add these physical features to what you know about this great Imam; he was very black, more or less baldheaded except for the frontal part, one eyed and later became blind, snub-nosed, paralytic and lost his hand during the Ibn Zubayr – may Allâh be pleased with him – crisis nonetheless he was still the matchless don of the mother of all cities, the sacred Makkah.
Al-Imaam Hammad ibn Salamah – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said: I came to Makkah while 'Ataa was still alive, so I said I will go to him once Ramadan ends but he died during Ramadan.
It was generally believed that he died 114 A.H. while some said he died later.
May Allaah have Mercy on him and grant him the best in the Hereafter.
Source: Tahdheebul Kamaal of Al-Imaam al-Haafidh Al-Mizee – may Allâh bestow mercy on him.
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