One matter which Sh. al-Luknawi and Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan discussed in their written works in response to each other was the issue of whether Imam al-Suyuti had actually studied with Hafidh Ibn Hajar
Hafidh Ibn Hajar and Imam al-Suyuti
I was unaware that there was a link between Hafidh Ibn Hajar and Imam al-Suyuti. I had assumed that the latter had come some time after than the former, however this is not the case.
Sh. al-Luknawi mentions in his ‘Nafi al-Kabir’ (p.44) that Hafidh Ibn Hajar passed away in 852 whilst Imam al-Suyuti was born in 849. Working out the dates of the death and birth of these scholars it appears that Imam al-Suyuti was three and a half years of age at the time of Hafidh Ibn Hajars passing away.
Sh. al-Luknawi postulated that it might have been possible that Imam al-Suyuti had been taken to Hafidh Ibn Hajars lesson whilst he was still a very young child, and had been present when a general ijazah had been given to the attendee’s, thus including him.
This possible scenario turned out to be true as mentioned by Imam al-Suyuti himself in Tadhkirah al-Huffadh in the biography of Hafidh Ibn Hajar that:
Likewise in his Tadrib al-Rawi (2/407) he mentions the pattern chained (musalsal) narration of Huffadh wherein he mentions his narration from Hafidh Ibn Hajar by way of general Ijazah, adding that:
An Ijazah to a Child
What we also learn from this, as mentioned by the scholars (whilst discussing Imam al-Suyuti’s Ijazah from Hafidh Ibn Hajar whilst still a child) is that an ijazah given to a non discerning minor is correct and valid according to the scholars of hadith.
We can also perhaps reflect on the scene of Imam al-Suyuti as a child of three and a half or younger, with his father in the gathering of Hafidh Ibn Hajar, and also the possibility (as pointed out above) of Imam al-Suyuti being taken to Hafidh Ibn Hajar who grants this very young child a specific ijazah who then goes on to become one of the great scholars of this ummah. (An interesting scene to imagine and witness).