The Mishkat has enjoyed wide popularity in the world of Islamic learning since 516 AH when it was first compiled by Waliuddin Abu Abdullah Mahmud Al-Tabrizi. Al-Tabrizi has identified at the end of every Hadith the source or sources from where the particular Hadith was taken. Thus, by doing so, he managed to overcome shortcoming of not mentioning the isnad (chain of authorities of the Hadith).
Most of the Hadith are from the Sahih Sitta. (the six Authentic Hadith Books).
The Collection has been arranged subject wise to make it easy for the common person to use it.
Mishkat al-Masabih is divided into twenty-nine books (kutub) and each book is divided into several chapters (abwab). Thereafter each chapter is further divided into three sections (fasl).
The first book is entitled Kitaab al-Imaan (The Book of Faith). This Book of Faith is divided into five chapters dealing with sins (dhunub), signs of a hypocrite ('alamat al-munafiq), Satan (al-shaytan), the belief in predestination (al-qadr), the proof of punishment in the grave (ithbat al-'adhab fi al-qabr), and steadfastness to the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
Next come the books dealing with taharah (cleanliness), salah (the five daily prayers) and ( zakah (compulsory charity) & sawm (Fasting).
Al-Tabrizi was a renowned muhaddith (scholar of Hadith) of his time. He was well-versed in the intricacies of the Arabic language and rhetoric. It is unfortunate, however, that not much is known about his life. Al-Tabrizi is to be commended for successfully improving upon Al-Baghawi's Masabih al-Sunnah.