Abu Dawud Sulayman Ibn al-Ash’ath al-Azdi, commonly known as Abu Dawud was one of the scholars who compiled the six collections of hadith and was famous for his book Sunan Abu Dawud, which is one of the references of the Prophet's Hadith (sayings).
He lived in the third century AH, which witnessed a revolution in compiling Hadith at the hands of a group of scholars. He was a contemporary of al-Bukhari, Muslim and other scholars who also collected the Prophet's Hadith.
His start and journey
Abu Dawood was born in 202 AH (817 AD) and died in 275 AH (888 AD). He was born in Sistan but he traveled to many countries of the Islamic world, as was the case with the scholars of this era. Most scholars sought a journey of learning and knowledge. Thus, he visited Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Khorasan.
During his travels to Basra, Kufa, Damascus, Baghdad, Balkh and other cities, Abu Dawood compiled many Hadiths from different sources, primarily from al Bukhari.
“Sunan” Abu Dawud
Imam Abu Dawud completed his famous book "Sunan", and presented it to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, who admired it.
His book is not limited to the three types of Hadith; the Sahih (referenced), but also included the Hassan (accepted), Da’eef (weak), as well as the probable and the controversial.
He ended up compiling 4800 Hadiths from the 500 thousand Hadiths he initially collected.
In his book, he took care of all the Hadiths that the scholars had quoted and discussed among them which later turned into the Hadith of directives. It is mentioned that he only cared about the Hadiths of directives and did not include the Hadiths of self-discipline and virtues.
The book of Sunan of Abu Dawud is arranged in the form of volumes. It includes 1871 volumes divided into 35 books. It counted the Hadiths of the prophet, the companions and the affiliated scholars.
About his book, he said: “In my book, I sought to explain the flaws in the Hadith Da’eef (the weak Hadith), but if I didn’t explain anything, the Hadith is valid.”
Explanations of Sunan
A number of scholars wrote interpretive books of Sunan Abu Dawud including: “The landmarks of the Sunan” by Abi Suleiman Al-Khattabi, who died in 388 AH, “Explanations” by al-Suyuti who passed away in 911 AH, and “Clarifications” by al-Sandi who passed away 1138 AH.
Abu Dawood has many other “non-Sunan” manuscripts, which show the diversity of his knowledge and ability, including: “Al-Masahef”, “Al-Arqam”, al-Marsil ma’a Al-Assanid,” “Al –nasekh w “Al-Mansoukh”, “Al-Salawat,” “Al-Zohd,” “Alamat Al Nobwa”, and many more.
Abu Dawood died in the city of Basra in the year 275 AH after a life full of knowledge and commitment, which made him a striking example in adhering to the prophetic Sunnah (way of life) at work.
His son Abu Bakr walked in his father’s footsteps following the same school of thought.