Born in the city of Wasith in 132 AH, his family settled in Kufa, Iraq where he attained his spiritual training and acquired his learning. At the age of 14, he started his higher education under the illustrious Imaam Abu Hanifa and spent 4 years in his distinguished company. Later on, he had the honour of learning under such scholastic giants as Imaam Yusuf (RA), Imaam Maalik and Imaam Abdullah bin Mubaarak (Rahmatullaahi Álayhim), to mention a few. It has been reported that Imaam Muhammad would never sleep at night, spending his time solving difficult legal problems. He started lecturing in Hadith at the tender age of 20 and thousands of students would flock to Kufa, especially to hear his discourses on the Muattaa Imaam Maalik.
Probably one of the closest of contemporary scholars to Imaam Muhammad (RA) and to whom his friendship was indeed very strong was the distinguished Imaam Shaafée (RA). If there was anyone who would adequately sum up the character and scholastic ability of Imaam Muhammad, it would be Imaam Shaafée. Imaam Shaafée narrates that once he spent the night at Imaam Muhammad’s residence. He passed the entire night in Salaat whilst Imaam Muhammad lay comfortably in his bed. At the time of Fajr, he arose and proceeded for Salaat without performing Wudhu. This perplexed him and he enquired from his friend as to the state of this affair. Imaam Muhammad replied, ‘Last night whilst you made your Ibaadat for your own gain, I lay awake on my bed, extracting more than 1000 Masaail for the benefit of the Ummah.’
Muhammad bin Salama narrates that Imaam Muhammad used to divide his nights into 3 parts: one part for sleeping, one part for Salaat and one for lecturing. He used to spend a great deal of his time in the recitation of Qurãn.
His scholastic achievements are so vast that his compilations are reported to be nearly one thousand in number. He was regarded as a ‘writing machine’ and would sit for lengthy periods in his library producing masterpieces for which the Ummah are grateful. If one were to just look at the volume of his works, one would assume it to be the work of an institution, not just an individual. His efforts constitute the basis of the Hanafi Maddhab. The total number of Masaail that Imaam Muhammad (RA) is reported to have extracted from the Qurãn and Ahaadith are 10, 701, 000. Among his most famous literary works are Jaamius Sagheer and Ziyadaat.
Imaam Muhammad left the precincts of this world in the year 189 AH, at the age of 57.