ʿAbd Allāh ibn Kathīr ibn ʿUmar al-Makkī born in 45 A.H. and died in 120 A.H. he spent his early years in Makkah his town of birth, he was among at-Tābiʿīn meeting some of the greatest Companions such as, Anas ibn Mālik and ʿAbd Allāh ibn al-Zubary.
Imām ibn Kathīr learnt Qurʾān from the earlier Tābiʿīn such as, Abū Sāʾib, Mujāhid ibn Jabar who died in 103 A.H. and from Darbās the slave of ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbbās. Darbās took his Qirāʾah from ibn ʿAbbās who learnt from Zayd ibn Thābit and Ubay ibn Kaʾb who both learnt directly from the Prophet (Ṣalla Allāhu ʿAlayhi wa Sallam).
Imām al-Shāfiʿī who died in 204 A.H. recited according to the Qirāʾah of ibn Kathīr and once said, “We were taught the Qirāʾah of ibn Kathīr, and we found the people of Makkah upon his Qirāʾah.”
While such a statement may seem insignificant to us, one should remember the time in history we are discussing, only 35 years after the Prophet (Ṣalla Allāhu ʿAlayhi wa Sallam) a time when Makkah and Madīnah were full of teachers and eager students, a time when the Companions themselves where teaching the people and passing on the Prophetic inheritance, and yet a young man is able to master one of the ten recitations of the Qurʾān and becomes famous from that point forward as the preserver of this Qirāʾah.
The two students famous for the recitation of Imām ibn Kathīr are:
I. Abul Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn Buzzah al-Makkī who was born in 170 A.H. and died in 250 A.H. he is known in short as, Al-Buzzī. He was the Muʾadhdhin of al-Masjid al-Ḥarām in Makkah and the chief Qārī of his time.
II. Abū ʿAmar Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān who was born in 195 A.H. and died in 291 A.H. he was known in short as Qumbul. He was the teacher of Abū Bakar ibn Mujāhid who died in 324 A.H. the author of Kitāb al-Qirāʾāt. Imām Qumbul was again the chief Qārī of his time yet his popularity spread all over Ḥijāz an honour and respect very few have managed to gain throughout Islamic history.