Imad Ad-Deen Ismail Ibn Umar Ibn Kathir Al-Basri Ad-Dimashqi was born in 700 A.H., or shortly afterwards. After the decease of his father, Ibn Kathir, aged seven then, headed for Damascus, accompanied by his elder brother. He owed much of his learning to Ibn Ashginah, Al-Amadi, Ibn Asakir and others, may Allah be pleased with them all. He immensely revered Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah bless his soul, whose views he believed, defended and mostly abided by, particularly as regards divorce. It was on account of this that he went through an ordeal and was made to suffer a lot.
Ibn Kathir was widely acclaimed for the sublime degree of learning that he so admirably attained. Scholars have unanimously attested to his wellversedness, particularly in the fields of the exegesis of the Glorious Quran, Hadith and history. Ibn Habeeb describes him as "the leader of all men engaged in the exegesis (of the Quran). He amassed and categorized all (the knowledge) he heard. People marveled at his fatwas and benefited from his teachings. His fatwas grew widely popular all across the country. He was renowned for his precision and was proclaimed as the beacon of history, Hadith and exegesis (of the Quran)." Ibn Hijji, one of his students, owed: "Of all our contemporaries, he (Ibn Kathir) was the best at memorizing authentic Hadiths and the most knowledgeable as to assessing the degree of reliability and honesty of Hadith narrators as well as authentic and non-authentic Hadiths. His comrades and mentors acknowledge every word of the above. I would frequently visit him, and every time I was in his company I benefited from him."
Ibn Kathir lost his eyesight shortly before he died in 774 A. H. He was buried at the Sufis cemetery along with his mentor Ibn Taymiyyah. Among his best-known works is his masterpiece in history Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah (The Beginning and the End) .He also interpreted part of Al Bukhari's Sahih (book of authentic Hadiths). By and large, Ibn Kathir's admirable knowledge and well-versedness are best manifested to whoever reads his two best celebrated masterpieces; his interpretation and his book of history.