In my previous articles on the Islamic calendar months, I mentioned two things:
1) The Islamic calendar months are based on the movement of the moon (i.e., the lunar calendar) so it’s referred to as the Qamari months, or moon-oriented months. Nevertheless, the calendar starts with the Hijra of the Prophet (SAW), which took place from Mecca to Medina as the Hijra was the turning point in the history of Islam. This is why it’s called the Hijri Calendar. It was formally adopted two-and-a-half years after Umar ibn Al-Khattab became caliph.
2) I also mentioned that Dhul Qa’dah is the first of the four sacred months (Al-Ashur Al-Hurum). The other three are Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab, all of which are mentioned in Sura Tawba of the Holy Qu’ran (Chapter 9, Verse 36) specifically, Allah (SWT) warned us from doing injustice to ourselves during these months. The name Dhul Qa’dah could be translated loosely as the month of sitting, or settlement, as it is the month when people cease fighting each other in wars.
Shaykh Mohammad Zahid, in his very valuable series about the Islamic calendar, relates that one of the major events of Dhul Qa’dah was the birth of Imam Al-Hafiz Abu Al-Hassan Ad-Dar Qutni, who was born in Baghdad on the 5th of Dhul Qa’dah in the year 306 Hijri. He was one of the most distinguished hadith narrators, particularly in the ‘Ilm Al-Rijal (The Knowledge of Men) and the isnad (chain of narrators). Unlike most hadith scholars, he was also a poet and became famous for his own writings of Arabic literature. Among his most famous students is Imam ul-Hadith, Al-Hakim, who wrote the famous Al-Mustadrak. Another student of his was the famed Shafi’i Imam, Abu Hamid Al-Asfarayeeni. In fact, Imam Al-Hafiz became famous for grooming young scholars. His own work, the famous Kitab As-Sunan, was compiled along the lines of fiqh and contained 4,898 hadith on fiqh issues.
On the 3rd of Dhul Hijjah in the year 748 Hijri, the famous Imam Shamsuddin Adh-Dhahabi died in Damascus. He was considered to be the greatest historian of Islam, as well as a famous faqih (jurist) of Shariah. He was born in the year 673 Hijri by a tribe in Turkey known as the Turkman. Most of his family members were prominent scholars of hadith, in particular his aunt Sit Al-Ahl, who breastfed him and by virtue of that, she became his mother. She was a prominent narrator of hadith and was the one who gave him ijaza, which allowed him to narrate her ahadeeth on her behalf.
Among his teachers was the famous Imam Al-‘Asqalani, to whom he had traveled a long journey to gather knowledge. It was reported that Adh-Dhahabi was known to travel long journeys to seek knowledge, and to be in the company of scholars. After his father’s death in the year 687 Hijri, he went on to perform Hajj and met with all the scholars of the Hijaz and of Medina, with whom he spent a great deal of time. He eventually became known as one of the most intelligent, eloquent, open minded, and tolerant of scholars.
Despite his differences with Shaykh Al-Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah (especially in the issue of Sufism or Tasawwuf), Adh-Dhahabi was very impressed by him and used to support and defend Ibn Taymiyyah to the extent that it cost him to loose a position of prominence in the circles of hadith scholarship. He was also famous in writing book reviews and summaries, which adds up to about 50 major reviews of hadith. His own works totaled about 200 major books. The most famous of them is The History of Islam and Siyar Al-A’laam wal Nubala (The History of the Noble People). Each one of these books is an encyclopedia by itself and a major work of reference even to this day. While he lived a life of luxury, Adh-Dhahabi was also known to be a very pious and humble man who was steadfast in doing good.