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Born Again

This Ex-Christian Became Hadith Scholar, Was Quoted by Bukhari and Muslim

Al-Hasan bin ‘Isa bin al-Masārjis was from a well-known Christian family in the city of Naishapur. He lived around two hundred years after the Migration of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). The people from his town recognized his family’s excellent character and standing.

Imam al-Dhahabi narrates al-Hasan’s conversion to Islam, noting that he was excited to meet the scholar, ‘Abdullah bin Mubārak. Once Ibn Mubārak arrived at Naishapur and started to teach, al-Hasan would attend his lessons religiously.

The Imam noticed the young man and inquired about him. When he was told that he was a Christian, he prayed, “Allah, nourish him with Islam.”

A short time later, al-Hasan accepted Islam, studied hard and established himself. Such that al-Dhahabi says about him, “The scholar, the hadith specialist, genuine in his character and ethics.”

Al-Hasan was so exceptional in hadith that great scholars like Imam al-Bukhari, Imam Muslim, and Imam Ahmad narrated from him. Imam al-Dhahabi notes that al-Hasan’s children and grandchildren became scholars also and al-Dhahabi classifies him as a narrator of integrity.

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In addition to his scholarship, al-Hasan worked hard to achieve financial independence. The great historian, Khatīb al-Baghdādi narrates that al-Hasan’s grandson mentioned that when his grandfather made Hajj, “He gave around three hundred thousand dinars to charity.”

He died on his way back from Hajj and was buried near al-Thalabiyya. Some years later, his grandson made Hajj, and on his return, he decided to visit his grandfather’s grave. When he found it, he noted that on the grave marker the following verse was written,

{Who sets out, migrating to God and His messenger only to be seized by death, then his reward is certainly with God.} (An-Nisaa’ 4:100)

Lessons and insights

There is a lot to take form this story:

1. The character al-Hasan learned from his family

2. Muslims in his city welcomed him to their classes

3. The attention that Ibn Mubarak paid to him, even praying for him

4. Al-Hasan understanding that generational faith needs learning and financial independence

5. Though they were Christians, his family were so impacted by Islam, they named him al-Hasan

6. Sometimes it’s hard for us converts, but it is important to know that there were people, our brothers, and sisters in faith, who went through similar, if not more challenging things than we face today. In the oasis of their history lies refreshment.

Are there any lessons you took from al-Hasan’s story? Please share!

This article is based on a post from Imam Suhaib Webb Facebook page.