what do we know of al-Hakim? the author of al-mustadrak? let us consult dhahabi's siyar: muhammad ibn abdullah ibn muhammad ibn Hamduwayh ibn nuaym ibn al-Hakam. the imam, the Hafiz, the critic (naqid), the prominent scholar (`allamah) grandmaster of hadith scholars (shaykh al-muHaddithin) abu Abdullah ibn al-bayyi'y al-Dabiyy al-Tahmani al-nisaburi, al-shafiyi who was also a profilic author. he was born on monday, the 3rd of rabi'y al-awwal of the year: 321 AH. he pursued the study of hadith from an early age, due to the influence of his father and his maternal uncle. his first class of hadith ('hearing' / sama'a) was in 330 AH (i.e. when al-Hakim was merely 9 years old). he used to write the narrations of abu Hatim ibn Hibban in the year 334 AH, when he was 13 years old. he obtained elevated chains (al-asanid al-aaliyah) in khurasan, iraq and ma-wara' al-nahr (transoxiana). he heard (hadith) from nearly two thousand hadith masters (shaykh) more or less. in nishapur alone, he heard from a thousand souls; and when he travelled to iraq, he was twenty years old and reached there shortly after the passing of ismayil al-saffar. he narrates from his own father, who met imam muslim, the author of sahih muslim. .... .... [list of names that al-Hakim narrates from] those who narrate from al-Hakim are: daraquTni, even though al-daraquTni was his (al-Hakim's) teacher; .... [list of names who narrate from al-Hakim] abu dharr al-harawi ... abu bakr al-bayhaqi, abu'l qasim al-qushayri ... he wrote books and referenced others (sannafa wa kharraja); he criticised and apprised narrators (jaraHa wa `addal); he ratified hadith as authentic and identifed flaws (SaHHaHa wa `allal); he was an ocean of knowledge, even though he had an inclination towards some shiyi ideas. [tashayyu`in qaleel] he passed away in theyear 403 AH. =================== in this notice, dhahabi narrates this: ahmad ibn salamah informed me, narrating from muHammad ibn isma'yil al-Tarsusi from ibn Tahir that he asked abu isma'yil abdullah ibn Muhammad al-harawi about abu abdullah al-Hakim and he said: "reliable in hadith; but a filthy rafizi" [thiqatun fi'l hadith, rafiDiyyun khabith]. here dhahabi disagrees with the comment and says: "certainly not. he was not a rafidi. yes he had shia leaning opinions [yatashayy`a] ----- the reason al-Hakim is mentioned here is because he was a contemporary of ibn furak and as dhahabi has noted, he has narrated from ibn furak; al-Hakim passed away one or two years before ibn furak was martyred. [dhahabi mentions two opinions about the year of al-Hakim's passing: 403 AH or 405 AH].