Ar-Rabee' ibn Habib ibn Rashid ibn Amr Al-Farahidi Al-Azdi Al-Omani, nicknamed Abu Amr Al-Bisri, was the third Ibadhi imam of knowledge. Al-Shammakhi says about him in Al-Siyar: "The lofty mountain of Maddhab (sect), and the great sea of knowledge."
Birth and upbringing
Ar-Rabee' Al-Farahidi was born in Al-Batinah region in Oman; either in State of Sohar or in State of Liwa or in State of Widam, in the second half of the first century, around the year 75 A.H. (694 A.D.). He grew up and spent his childhood in Oman and then he traveled to seek knowledge from Basrah, which was the center of knowledge and packed with scholars at that time. He studied under great Successors and was keen on meeting scholars and taking from them and hearing their Hadith narrations. He also took Tafsir (Quran exegesis) and jurisprudence. He became one of the counted scholars in Basrah and, therefore, he deserved to succeed his teacher Abu 'Ubaidah at the head of the Ibadhi mission in Basrah.
Imam Ar-Rabee' was considered as one of the prominent students of Imam Abu 'Ubaidah Muslim and was one of the oldest students (in age); as some historians have stated that he overtook Imam Jabir ibn Zaid when he was a young man and took knowledge from him. He also received knowledge from Dhummam ibn Al-Sa'eb and Abu Noah Salih ibn Al-Duhhan. It was reported that he was saying: "I memorized jurisprudence from three (persons): Abu 'Ubaidah, Dhummam, and Abu Noah." He meant that these scholars are his principle teachers.
Whoever reads his book "Musnad Ar-Rabee'" and its additions, will find that Imam Ar-Rabee' has taken knowledge from a large number of the nation's scholars and has sat in circles of a number of narrators, but has narrated more from his three principle teachers than others.
He overtook the Ibadhi School in Basrah at the peak of its bounty. He devoted himself to taking knowledge in Abu 'Ubaidah's Centers (Majalis) and acquired the merits of the people of mission. He also elevated among his associates in the grades of the ability of leadership and pioneering.
A large number of students took knowledge from Imam Ar-Rabee', among them Abu Sufyan Mahbub ibn Al-Rahil Al-Qurashi, Musa ibn Abi Jaber Al-Uzkawi, Bashir ibn Al-Munthir Al-Nazwani, Abu Sufrah Abdul Malik ibn Sufrah, Munir ibn Al-Nayir Al-Ju'lani, Mohammed ibn Al-Mu'ala Al-Kindi, Abu Ayyub Wa'il ibn Ayyub Al-Hadhrami, Hisham ibn Ghailan Al-Sijani and many other scholars.
Praise increased upon Imam Ar-Rabee' from Ibadhis and others. His teacher, Abu 'Ubaidah, said about him: "He (i.e Ar-Rabee') is our Jurist, our imam, and our confidence." Mahbub ibn Al-Rahil, Ar-Rabee''s student, said about him: "The jurist and scholar of Muslims after Abu 'Ubaidah."
Imam Ar-Rabee' was described as thiqah (reliable) by a number of Traditionalists. Yahya ibn Ma'een and Ibn Shaheen said about him: "Thiqah". Al-Daraqutni said: "Ar-Rabee' ibn Habib Al-Basri (Hadith's) is not left." Ibn Hibban mentioned him in "Ath-thiqat" and Al-Bukhari in "At-Tareekh Al-Kabeer" but they did not mention any Jarh (criticizing) or Ta'deel (praising) regarding him. In addition, Ahmad ibn Hanbal in "Al-Ilal" said: "I see no problem with him." From here, it is obvious that Imam Ar-Rabee' is among the great Traditionalists and his narration is not rejected by Hadith scholars and others.
Imam Ar-Rabee' lived the last of his life in Oman. He died in Ghadhafan, a village in Oman, around the year 175 A.H. (791 A.D.), thus he lived more than ninety years that he spent in education, dissemination of knowledge and leadership of the mission, which was established by Imam Jabir and Imam Abu 'Ubaidah, Allah's mercy upon them all.
Imam Ar-Rabee' had many writings besides the monumental Al-Jami' Al-Sahih. He was one of the first scholars who wrote in Sharia science in the second AH century. Unfortunately, not all of his works have survived to this day. Hismost prominent works include the following:
· Musnad Al- Imam Ar-Rabee' (Al-Jami' Al-Sahih)
This is a compilation of hadith narrated by Ar-Rabee' from his teachers. It is the oldest book of Prophetic traditions and most of it is a tripartite in ascription. Ar-Rabee' organized his book according to the names of narrators.
· The Book of Creed
This book contains some prophetic traditions and some traditions that were narrated by some companions. These narrations were added by Imam Abu Ya'qub Al-Wrajalani to Al-Jami' Al-Sahih. They occupy part three of the current editions and contain the narrations from Ar-Rabee' on theological questions.
· Ar-Rabee''s Traditions Book
This book contains traditions narrated by Ar-Rabee' from his teacher Dhummam ibn Al-Sa'eb from Jaber ibn Zaid. They were Maqtu' (Severed) Hadiths, and they were compiled by Abu Sufrah Abdul Malik ibn Sufrah.
· His opinions and juristic answers
They are scattered in the books of his students and who came after them; e.g. Abu Ghanim Bishr ibn Ghanim Al-Kharasani.
· Ar-Rabee''s Futya (Legal Opinions)
It is a manuscript which contains legal opinions of Ar-Rabee'; almost on rulings, worships and transactions.
· The Argumental Letter (for Ar-Rabee' and Others)
This is a letter that were attributed to Ar-Rabee' ibn Habib, Mukhallad ibn Al-Amrud and Wa'il ibn Ayyub, on the matter of separation that was in the East and the West; about the ruling of Juma Prayer, a suspicion of adultery on a woman, and the opinion on interpreters.
· Ar-Rabee''s (and others) Letter to the People of Maghrib in the Matter of Ibn Fundeen.
- The Doctrines of the Ibadhi Creed Till the End of the Second AH Century; by Musallam Salim Al-Wahibi
- Ibadhi Personages, by Farahat Ali Al-Ja'beeri.