Imaam Abu Haatim Al-Raazi (r.a.) was born in Ray (Tehran–Iran) the year 195 Hijri and he passed away in the year 277 Hijri .
He first set out in search of knowledge at the age of 18.
It is regarding this that he says : "The first time that I had set out to acquire of knowledge I remained away from home for 7 years. I had commenced counting the mileage that I had covered on foot till it reached 1000 Farsakh (1 farsakh is equal to approximately 5 kilometers , so 1000 Farsakh equals approximately 5000 kms./ 3000 miles!) Thereafter I stopped counting!!"
He further states : "I do not remember how many times I had traveled from Kufah to Baghdad and from Makkah to Madinah."
"I also went from Morocco to Egypt on foot. And from Egypt to Ramalah and from Ramalah to Baitul Maqdis and to Tabriyyah then to Damascus . And from Damascus to Hims then to Antaaqiyyah . And from Antaaqiyyah to Tarasoos . Thereafter I returned to Hims. Then from Hims to Baisaan to Ruqqah. And from there I crossed the Euphrates to Baghdad… all of this I did walking!!! This was my first journey which lasted 7 years. I had left Ray (Tehran) in the year : 213 and I returned in 221 Hijri. And I went out once more in the year 242 and returned in 245 – 3 years. My age at the time was : 47."1 (pg. 60-61)
His son Imaam Abu Muhammad Abdur Rahman bin Abi Haatim ( r.a. ) relates the following hair raising strange incidents that took place while Imaam Abu Haatim was on journey.
He says : "My father mentioned : "I was in Basrah in the year: 214 .I had been there for 8 months and I had intended to stay for 1 year but my wealth had expired. So I began to sell my clothes one after the other !! until I did not have any more clothes to sell. So I remained without any expenditure. However I continued to attend the gatherings of the 'ulamaa with one of my companions. At the end of the first day I returned hungry to my room. The only thing I had was water. The next day I joined my companion to the gatherings of the 'ulamaa despite my extreme hunger. However on the third day, when my companion came by to call me to the gatherings of the 'ulamaa, I said to him : "I'm unable to accompany you due to extreme weakness." He enquired the reason for my weakness upon which I said to him : "2 days have passed and I have not eaten anything." He replied : "I have 1 dinaar of which I can share half with you" so we left Basrah in this manner."
His son further states: "I heard my father mention: "When we left Madinah Munawwarah and boarded a ship at Al-Jaar (which is a days journey from Madinah and is a shore to the red sea) we were 3 people :myself, Abu Zuhair al-marwaruzhi and another Sheikh from Nisaabur."
"Whilst we were at sea one night I experienced a wet dream. I informed my colleagues in the morning so they suggested that I dive into the sea but I replied that I could not swim. They then decided to tie me up with a rope and dip me into the water and in this way I had to have a ghusl!! "
"We were lost at sea for 3 months until we reached a strange land."
"We walked on the land for a few days until all our food and water became exhausted. We kept walking for 2 full days in this condition of hunger. On the third day we continued walking though we were absolutely exhausted until the Sheikh Al-Marwaruzhi fell unconscious. We tried reviving him in vain and thereafter continued for 1 or 2 Farsakhs (5 – 10 kms) until I myself lost my footing and fell unconscious. So the Sheikh from Nisaabur left me and continued for a while until he managed to spot some people who had arrived from sea. After they gave him water he said to them: Go and search for 2 of my companions who have fallen unconscious behind me."
"Thereafter I could feel someone sprinkling water on my face. After I regained consciousness I asked for water to drink. Then I mentioned to them about our third companion. They replied that there is someone attending to him. They then dragged me till I reached their ship where they attended to us. We stayed with them for a few days till we regained our strength. They had really taken good care of us. Thereafter they gave us some provisions and a letter of recommendation for the governor of the next town which was called:" Raayah " . We continued in this manner till those provisions also expired. We still continued to walk in that condition of thirst and hunger till we found a Turtle lying on the shore. So we took some shells and we began to scoop of inside of the Turtle until our hunger and thirst was removed."
"We continued till we reached the town of Raayah and we gave that note to the governor. He took us into his house and took good care of us feeding us meat and bread etc."
"After a few days when we decided to leave he gave us food and provision for the road till we reached Egypt". (pg. 237-239)
When one looks into the life of such great Scholars, and at their sincere sacrifice for deen, despite the poor mode of transport and their meager means, their value for knowledge and their tolerance together with their courage, one tends to realize that the only way for success is to emulate them in the closest possible way. Imagine selling your clothes just for the sake of survival and to be able to continue with the search for knowledge!!! May Allah guide us all.
Imaam Abu Haatim' son has authored the the famous reference book on 'Ilmu Asmaa irrijaal: "Al jarhu Wat Ta'deel" in which he has documented the verdicts of his well renown father. This book is printed in 9 vols.
source: Madrassah In'aamiyyah