Section Two: Methodology in studying Islamic history
I. Methodology of authentication and ways of establishing the truth
A. Studying the Sanad (Chain of Narration)
Technical meaning: The chain of narrators who have transmitted a saying sequentially till they, by narration, reach its source of origin.
The isnad is considered to be the backbone in Islamic methodology. It is the means to critiquing narrations. By identifying the narrators one will come to know the authenticity of the narration. The unbroken authentic chain of narration is one of the specialities of the Muslim ummah which gives the advantage of reliability and confidence of what has been narrated in this manner. This advantage is understood as the chain of narrators reflect the witness of a group who are reliable, accurate, and upright which gives emphasis to the authenticity and accuracy of the narration.
Another advantage of the sanad is that narrations that have a sanad are far better than those that do not. A sanad will establish its source which lends us the ability to authenticate and verify it in a much superior manner than one would be able to do with narrations that have no sanad. Thus, the objective of the sanad is authenticating texts and narrations together with sifting out fabrications and lies from them.
Due to the importance of isnad, its use is not restricted to the ahadith of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It carries over to other sciences as well such as, tafsir, history, and linguistics; which reveals a common attribute in the methodology of codification in the various Islamic fields of knowledge.
With regards to the subject of history, due to the isnad helping in establishing authentic narrations and critiquing others, the eminent scholars have expanded their efforts in gathering and codifying history with the chain of narrations. This applies to historical accounts as well as the sirah al nabawiyyah. Aban ibn ‘Uthman, ‘Urwah ibn Zubair, Al Zuhri, Khalifah ibn Khayyat, Ya’qub ibn Sufyan al Fasawi, Abu Zur’ah al Dimashqi, Al Tabari and others have adopted this methodology.
Focus on the isnad had taken hold early on, right after the fitnah in the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the emergence of various sects that had ulterior motives, both political and doctrinal. This was the cause for fabrications and lies, making use of such narrations, albeit false, to further their own objectives. This impelled the scholars to determine the source of narrations and querying the men who narrate them. This was in effect an extension of the commands of the Qur’an and Ahadith in investigating information coming from the wayward—not the reliable—lest one causes harm or regrets. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا إِنْ جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوْا أَنْ تُصِيْبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوْا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِيْنَ
O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.
In the same vain, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has said:
إياكم والظن فإن الظن أكذب الحديث
Beware of suspicion, for it is the worst of false tales.
كفى بالمرء كذبا أن يحدث بكل ما سمع
It is enough for a man to prove himself a liar when he goes on narrating whatever he hears.
Ibn Sirin says regarding the isnad:
لم يكونوا يسألون عن الإسناد ، فلما وقعت الفتنة قالوا : سموا لنا رجالكم ، فينظر إلى أهل السنة فيؤخذ حديثهم ، وينظر إلى أهل البدعة فلا يؤخذ حديثهم
They would not ask about the isnad. But when the fitnah happened, they said: Name to us your men. So the narrations of the Ahlus Sunnah would be accepted, while those of the Ahl al Bid’ah (adherents to innovation) would not be accepted.
We see here, Ibn Sirin establishes the fitnah as the beginning point of investigating the isnad to authenticate ahadith and accounts. Prior to this they would not persist in asking regarding the chain of narrations; narrations were accepted on face value even though it be mursal by a reliable narrator.
This is also understood from the following statement of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma:
إنا كنا نحدث عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ؛ إذ لم يكن يكذب عليه ، فلما ركب الناس الصعب والذلول تركنا الحديث عنه
Indeed, we used to narrate from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam when no one would attribute lies to him. But when people began narrating all sorts without discernment we left narrating from him.
Ibn ‘Abbas refers to this fitnah by saying people would just narrate everything that came to them. Therefore, what would not be known would not be accepted.
Ibn al Mubarak says:
الإسناد من الدين ولولا الإسناد لقال من شاء ما شاء
Isnad is from the faith. If it was not for the isnad, anyone would have said whatever they wanted to.
Al Hakim commenting on this says,
فلولا الإسناد وطلب هذه الطائفة له وكثرة مواظبتهم على حفظه لدرس منار الإسلام ولتمكن أهل الإلحاد والبدع بوضع الأحاديث وقلب الأسانيد ، فإن الأخبار إذا تعرت عن وجود الأسانيد كانت بتراء
If it wasn’t for the isnad and this group querying it together with emphasising its importance by memorizing it, the symbols of Islam would have been obliterated and the innovators and heretics would have succeeded in the fabrication of narrations. Narrations without proper chains of transmission are defective.
The efforts of the Muslim scholars in facing off against the fabrication of narrations was two sided: An approach of methodology and an approach of practice. The former was by adopting principles that revealed lies and the latter by expounding on the profiles of those who were accused of lying and mentioning it to people so that one may exercise caution.
Approach of Methodology
The principles in the methodology of critiquing narrations as laid down by the Muslim scholars had reached the pinnacle of human accuracy in ascertaining authenticity. This accuracy in methodology can be understood by studying the books that deal with the principles of criticizing and praising the narrators (al Jarh wa al Ta’dil), the meaning of terms used, the grade of each term from the highest levels of praise to the lowest level of criticism, and the conditions of accepting narrations. The scholars have stipulated two fundamental conditions:
- Al ‘Adalah: The narrator to be Muslim, mature, sane, truthful, free from immorality, and free from those attributes that are contrary to honour.
- Al Dabt: The narrator ought to have proficiency in what he narrates, have committed to memory the narration if he is narrating from memory, to have total confidence on his book if narrating from there, understanding the subject matter of what he is narrating, vigilant in what he narrates not oblivious of it.
Principles of Narration:
- The aversion of narrating from weak narrators, rather opting to narrate from trustworthy sources.
- The condition of truthfulness.
- Weak-mindedness and lying will result in the loss of ‘adalah.
- Similarly, not narrating from one who has become weak or unreliable.
- One whose narrations mostly consist of obscurities, will not be deemed worthy of citing for proofs.
- Not citing proofs from one whose narrations are riddled with mistakes.
- Rejecting the narrations of the oblivious who are lax in what they narrate.
- The aversion of narrating from immoral people.
Approach of Practice
The principles of practice are manifest in profiling the narrators. The expert scholars have authored a great amount of books that deal with this. Some deal specifically with the reliable narrators whilst others deal with the weak ones. Some have elected to write on both categories in a single book. These books include the terms of praise or criticism that apply to each narrator. Hereunder are some of the books that are of this genre:
1. Books on the reliable narrators
- Kitab al Thiqat of Abu Hussain Ahmed ibn Abdullah Al ‘Ijli.
- Kitab al Thiqat of ‘Umar ibn Ahmed ibn Shahin.
2. Books on weak narrators
- Kitab al Duafa al Saghir wa al Duafa al Kabir of Muhammad ibn Ismail al Bukhari.
- Kitab al Duafa wa al Matrukin of Abu Zur’ah al Razi.
3. Books on reliable and weak narrators
- Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil of ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Abi Hatim al Razi.
- Tarikh al Kabir, al Awsat, and al Saghir of Imam al Bukhari.
There is no doubt that the books authored on the subjects of the Principles of Narration and The Narrators are a great service to the field ahadith. It is possible to benefit from these books, to an extent, in the field of Islamic history as well, as it reveals the principles of narration as well as the profiles of the narrators. This helps to differentiate the weak from the strong and the truthful from the liars. The researcher or historian can, by token of this, evaluate the strength of each narrations resulting in relegating the weak and fabricated narrations together making others aware so that people may refrain from quoting such. As the goal in studying history is to become aware of the realities of the past, the researcher or historian will then expound on the authentic found therein.
B. Studying the Matn (Wording/Text of the Narration)
Lexical meaning: Matn: An elevation on the earth’s surface.
Technical meaning: The objective at which the sanad arrives at, consisting of speech.
Studying the matn means, studying the text from different angles. This assists in authenticating the text by making sure:
- It does not contravene any of the established principles of the shari’ah.
- It is not at odds with the nature of the era under discussion; the customs and practices of the people.
- It is not contrary to the nature of things that are undeniable by successive historical accounts.
- It does not consist of impossibilities and so on.
Studying the matn is also aimed at understanding the text and its jurisprudic angle; understanding its injunctions, implications, language, and wording.
It should be noted that the efforts of the scholars were not solely focused on critiquing the sanad, they were just as focused on the matn as the ‘illah can be found in the matn just as it can be found in the sanad. A point of note, a weak sanad does not necessitate a weak matn, similarly, an authentic sanad does not necessitate an authentic matn. At times, there might be a weak sanad with an authentic matn due to the same matn being narrated through other chains which attest to its authenticity. On the other hand, one might find a sanad that is authentic; however, due to the obscurity or an ‘illah the matn it is not authentic.
The scholars have therefore, laid down a precise academic methodology in this field. They do not deem every narration weak wherein there is a weak narrator. Perhaps the weak narrator is correct on this occasion, and rejecting it would be rejecting the truth. The weak is at times correct and the truthful at times, makes mistakes.
Consequently, the scholars of hadith, at times, cite narrations of a weak sanad when establishing the matn of a narration from another chain of transmission. This is done only if the narrators are not accused of lying or fabricating.
The above mentioned explanation is what is meant by the fact that the scholars look into the matn just as they look into the sanad. Accepting a matn that has some weakness of sanad is a clear indication to the deep insight of the scholars in critiquing the texts of the ahadith. A weak narration does not inhibit them from accepting an authentic matn or one well known from another chain.
The methodology of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum was verification of narrations and establishing the authenticity of the text even though they did not accuse its narrators of lying.
Consider Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu seeking a witness from Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu who answered his question regarding a grandmother inheriting by saying she will inherit one sixth. Muhammad ibn Maslamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu came forward as his witness.
Similarly, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was wary of a narration of Ubay ibn Ka’b that he narrated to him. He sought a witness to his statement. When he brought one ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “I did not seek to accuse you, my desire was to verify.”
Looking at Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha correcting the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, we find her statement when she heard ‘Umar and his son, Abdullah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, narrating that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
إن الميت ليعذب ببكاء أهله عليه
The dead person is punished due to his family crying over him.
رحم الله عمر ، والله ما حدث رسول الله عليه أن الله يعذب المؤمنين ببكاء أحد ، ولكن قال : « إن الله يزيد الكافر عذابا ببكاء أهله عليه » ، وقالت : حسبكم القرآن : و ولا تزر وازرة وزر أخرى
May Allah have mercy on ‘Umar, by Allah, the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not say that Allah will punish the believer for his family’s crying over him, rather the Messenger of Allah (saw him) said, “Allah will increase the torment of the disbeliever because of his family’s crying for him.” And she said, “The Qur’an is sufficient for you: ‘And no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another’.
In the narration of Sahih Muslim she is reported to have said:
إنكم لتحدثوني عن غير كاذبين ولا مكذبين ، ولكن السمع يخطئ
You are narrating to me from those who do not lie nor do they attribute lies. However, the ear can be mistaken.
Looking at critiquing of mutun (plural of matn) by the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, the jurists, and the muhaddithin, one finds that they abide by some yardsticks in order to critique a text.
They consider the matn in the light of the Qur’an. If it contradicts the Qur’an in a manner that is impossible to reconcile they reject it if interpreting becomes problematic.
They then consider the matn in light of the other ahadith. The scholars of hadith would consider the narrations of one topic in relation to each other. This would result in many findings that would play a role in authenticating a text; by way of citing additions, comments of the narrators, or their errors.
This yardstick would similarly, reject a matn that contradicted the established principles of the shari’ah and the known laws of the creed. In a similar fashion they would use logical conclusions and historical actualities in critiquing some of the mutun.
An example of this is an incident mentioned hereunder that occurred in the year 447 A.H./1055 A.D.
Some Jews produced a document wherein there was an order of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to abolish tax from the people of Khaybar. There was mention of some Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum in there, as witnesses as well. When this document was brought before the vizier of the Khalifah al Qa’im al ‘Abbasi, he gave it over to the great historian and hafiz, Abu Bakr al Khatib al Baghdadi. He pondered over it and then said, “It is a fabrication.” When asked how he had come to this conclusion he said, “In it is the witness of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu who accepted Islam in the 8th year A.H. whereas Khaybar was conquered in the 7th year. Similarly, in it is the witness of Sa’d ibn Muaz radiya Llahu ‘anhu who passed away in the 5th year; two years before Khaybar.”
In this manner al Khatib al Baghdadi, assisted by his accurate historical knowledge, was able to reject the lies of the text found in the document. The vizier accepted the conclusion of the historian and did not allow the Jews to follow through with the contents of the document.
The following statement of Sufyan al Thawri applies to this and other similar incidents that have been mentioned:
لما استعمل الرواة الكذب استعملنا لهم التاريخ
When the narrators began lying, we exposed them with history.
It should be noted that the though the principles adopted by the Muslim scholars in attaining the knowledge of the authentic texts were specifically determined for the ahadith of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, they are suited to be applied to other Islamic sciences as well, especially Islamic history. This is due to the fact that the early historians were modelled along the same lines as the muhaddithin in their manner of presenting and narrating with the chain of transmission. Similarly, the statements, incidents, and texts of history cannot be verified except through implementing these principles of methodology. Many of the contemporary historians have understood the advantages of this methodology and principles of critique. They have thus adopted this approach in their own books and have quoted chapters from the scholars of mustalah like Al Khatib al Baghdadi, Ibn ‘Abdul Barr, Ibn Salah, and others. To the extent that one of the Christian historians has entitled a chapter in his book, ‘The terms used by the scholars of hadith’.
Conditions of Accepted Narrations
It is difficult to fully implement the methodology of critiquing as is by the scholars of hadith upon every historical account, even though the scholars have placed the same conditions on the historian as they do on the narrator of hadith; sanity, reliability, Islam, and moral integrity. This is because historical accounts do not reach the level of the ahadith of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in terms of the reliability of its narrators, unbroken chains of transmission, and substantiation. The exceptions to this are those historical accounts that deal with the sirah and the lives of Rightly Guided Khalifas; the authenticity of such historical accounts have been established through the books of hadith. Most other accounts though, fall upon the words of story tellers with chains of transmission that are incomplete. Chains wherein there are many unknown, weak, and rejected narrators.
The scholars have therefore differentiated between the narrations that ought to be authenticated stringently and those wherein laxity is acceptable based on the nature of the narration. Implementing the principles of critiquing hadith in the field of history is relative to the nature of the narration.
If the narration has to do with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam or any of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, stringently assessing the narrators is necessary. This will also be the case if it contains criticism of any of the great scholars and leaders whose moral integrity has been established. The law is, criticism is not accepted in the right of someone whose moral integrity has already been established until it becomes so clear that no other possibility exists.
Similarly, if the narration deals with matters of doctrine, shar’i law, or ascertaining permissibility or impermissibility, it will be necessary to establish and review the profile of the narrators. In all of the above, only those narrations will be accepted which have been related by narrators, reliable and who moral integrity. Dr Akram Diya’ al ‘Umri says:
كما أن استعمال قواعد المصطلح في نقد الروايات التاريخية ينبغي أن يشتد على قدر تعلق المادة بالأحداث الخطيرة التي تؤثر فيها الأهواء ويشتط عندها الرواة ، كأن تكون الروايات لها مساس بالعقائد کالفتن التي حدثت في جيل الصحابة ، أو ذات صلة بالأحكام الشرعية کالسوابق الفقهية ، فإن التشدد في قبولها يجعل استعمال قواعد نقد الحديث بدقة أمرا مقبولا أما إذا كان الخبر المروي لا يتعلق بشيء من الأحكام الشرعية – وإن كان الواجب التثبت في الكل – فإنه يتساهل فيه قياسا على ما اصطلح عليه علماء الحديث في باب التشدد في أحاديث الأحكام والتساهل في فضائل الأعمال
Similarly, applying the laws of al mustalah in critiquing the historical narrations will be necessary in the case of particularly volatile incidents that could have been influenced by the bias of the narrator. If a narration has a bearing on one’s belief, for example, that of the fitnah that occurred amongst the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, or it plays a role in the laws of the shari’ah and its legal precedents, scrutiny by way of hadith critiquing methods will be accepted. On the other hand, if it does not affect the laws of shari’ah—though authentication in every narration is necessary—laxity will be permitted based upon the maxim outlined by the scholars of hadith, ‘Scrutiny in the narrations that pertain to injunctions and laxity in the narrations that pertain to virtues of actions.’
Imam Ahmed says:
إذا روينا عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في الحلال والحرام والسنن والأحكام تشددنا في الأسانيد ، وإذا روينا عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في فضائل الأعمال وما لا يضع حكما أو يرفعه تساهلنا في الأسانيد
When we narrate from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam statements that pertain to injunctions, halal, haram, and Sunnah, we scrutinize the chain of transmission. When we narrate virtues of actions and those that does not impact injunctions we exercise laxity in the chain of transmission.
It should be noted that laxity in these instances does not mean narrating from those who are known liars and whose moral integrity has been long gone, as they are not fit to narrate from at all. Exercising laxity by the scholars is by accepting the narration of one who has some weakness in accuracy, due to making many mistakes, having changed owing to external implications, or the sanad not being complete as is in the case of mursal and munqati’  narrations. Based on this maxim, some of the jurists have permitted acting upon weak narrations that pertain to virtues of actions or warnings and inspirations.
Therefore, if the historical narration has nothing to do with establishing or rejecting a shar’i matter—be it regarding injunctions (halal and haram) or personalities (Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum—the narration will be accepted even though it would not have been accepted in other instances. It will be cited and its details used as proof. These narrations will share common details with other authentic narrations that deal with the same account and attempts will be made to reconcile between any differences.
Al Kafiji says:
يجوز للمؤرخ أن يروي في تاريخه قولا ضعيفا في باب الترغيب والترهيب والاعتبار مع التنبيه على ضعفه ، ولكن لا يجوز له ذلك في ذات البارئ وفي صفاته ولا في الأحكام ، وهكذا جواز رواية الحديث الضعيف على ما ذكر من التفصيل المذكور
It is permissible for the historian to narrate a weak statement pertaining to warnings and inspirations, whilst noting its weakness. This will not be permissible if it pertains to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, His attributes, or injunctions. Narrating weak hadith will be permissible as outlined above.
Dr Akram Diya’ al ‘Umri states further:
و أما اشتراط الصحة الحديثية في قبول الأخبار التاريخية التي لا تمس العقيدة والشريعة ففيه تعسف كثير ، والخطر الناجم عنه كبير ، لأن الروايات التاريخية التي دونها أسلافنا المؤرخون لم تعامل معاملة الأحاديث بل تم التساهل فيها ، وإذا رفضنا منهجهم فإن الحلقات الفارغة في تاريخنا ستمثل هؤة سحيقة بيننا وبين ماضينا مما يولد الحيرة والضياع والتمزق والانقطاع لكن ذلك لا يعني التخلي عن منهج المحدثين في نقد أسانيد الروايات التاريخية ، فهي وسيلتنا إلى الترجيح بين الروايات المتعارضة ، كما أنها خير معين في قبول أو رفض بعض المتون المضطربة أو الشاذة عن الإطار العام لتاريخ أمتنا . ولكن الإفادة منها ينبغي أن تتم بمرونة آخذين بعين الاعتبار أن الأحاديث غير الروايات التاريخية ، وأن الأولى نالت من العناية ما يمكنها من الصعود أمام قواعد النقد الصارمة
Applying the stringencies of authentication in accepting historical accounts that have no bearing on creed or shari’ah law would be arbitrary together with posing a great risk. This would be due to historical accounts, as codified by our historians of the past, not being subject to such critique. Laxity in narrating them was the norm. If we disregard the methodology of the historians, we will effect a considerable gap between us and our past resulting in a disconnection of great magnitude. This does not mean that we ought to totally disregard the methodology of the muhaddithin in critiquing narrations either, as this is the way we give preference to irreconcilable narrations and it assists one in accepting or rejecting certain unusual accounts from the general framework of our history. What ought to be understood is that historical accounts should be handled with flexibility taking into consideration that historical accounts are not ahadith. The ahadith underwent much more rigorous verification comparatively.
This difference between stringently authenticating and between taking a lax approach is clearly outlined by Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani in Fath al Bari when he reconciles between narrations.
We find him criticizing the narrations of Muhammad ibn Ishaq and al Waqidi, the former for narrating Mu’an’an hadith and the latter for not being rejected by the scholars of al Jarh wa al Ta’dil. He also criticises the narrations of those who do not appear in the Six Canonical Books of Hadith such as ‘Uwanah and Al Mada’ini. Yet he uses their narrations for corroboration, procuring details that are not found in the authentic versions, and to reconcile between these and other narrations that have stronger chains of transmission.
This shows that he would accept their narrations in their field of expertise; historical accounts. This is the very same methodology accepted and adopted by the erudite scholars, even though their narrations that pertain to Islamic Law is not accepted. Ibn Hajar says regarding Muhammad ibn Ishaq, “Imam in prophetic biography, truthful but makes tadlis”. Regarding Al Waqidi he says, “He is rejected despite his great amount of knowledge.” Regarding Saif ibn ‘Umar he says, “Weak in hadith an authority in tarikh.”
Hereunder are some instances of this approach wherein Ibn Hajar considers the narrations of the historians:
a) Kitab al Maghazi, Chapter of Ghazwah al ‘Ashirah.
He recounts the number of battles of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the number of expeditions he was present in, those he wasn’t present in, and those wherein fighting had taken place. He references the quotations of historians such as Ibn Ishaq, al Waqidi, and Ibn Sa’d. He further mentions their differences of opinion and reconciles between their opinions and the opinions of the more authentic narrators of al Sahih.
b) Kitab al Maghazi, Chapter regarding the killing of Abu Jahl.
He adopts the narration of Ibn Ishaq as the reconciliatory one even though it goes against what is in the Sahih. This is with regards to the killing of Abu Jahl on the Day of Badr. He states:
فهذا الذي رواه ابن إسحاق يجمع بين الأحاديث ، لكنه يخالف ما في الصحيح من حديث عبد الرحمن بن عوف به أنه رأى معاذا ومعوذا شدا عليه جميعا حتى طرحاه – يعني أبا جهل
This, what Ibn Ishaq has narrated reconciled between the various ahadith. Although it does contradict the hadith of the Sahih wherein ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Auf radiya Llahu ‘anhu saw Muaz and Mu’awwidh radiya Llahu ‘anhuma attacking Abu Jahl until they threw him off.
c) Kitab al Maghazi, Chapter regarding the Banu al Nadir.
Regarding the incident of Banu Nadir and dating their siege, Ibn Ishaq has opined that it had occurred after the Battle of Uhud and after the incident of the martyrs of Bir Ma’unah. The narration of ‘Urwah ibn Zubair as in Sahih al Bukhari places it six months after Badr, i.e. before Uhud. Even though Ibn Hajar has disagreed with Ibn Ishaq on the circumstances that led to this expedition, he concurs with his timeline. He says:
فهذا أقوى مما ذكر ابن إسحاق من أن سبب غزوة بني النضير طلبه صلى الله عليه وسلم أن يعينوه في دية الرجلين ، لكن وافق ابن إسحاق جل أهل المغازي
This is stronger than what Ibn Ishaq has mentioned that the circumstances that led to the expedition of the Banu al Nadir was seeking the help of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in attaining the blood money of two men. However, Ibn Ishaq has concurred with most of the historians.
II. Methodology of interpreting history: Sources and principles of judging incidents
Interpreting history, in this context, means, understanding the association that links different incidents and events so that one may realise the motives, premises, consequences, and norms inferred.
The methodology of interpreting history lies upon a set of ideas and values; if these ideas and values are in order than the methodology will be in order. On the other hand, if these ideas are distorted and misrepresented the methodology will be distorted and misleading as well. The fact that every nation has their own set of ideas that define humans, life, and the universe is quite clear. In the light of these ideas their political, social, and economic lives are formed. It is from this perspective that things, incidents, and people are looked at.
The cultural and academic pillars in the life of a nation form as a result of its ideas. Upon these ideas are its perceptions and balances are erected. These ideas are an outcome of the creed that the nation believes in and adheres to. Changes and variations in the above results in differences of perspective. [When the ideas change so too will the actions, and ultimately the methodology of the historian must change in order to pass an accurate judgment in relation to incidents and events.] Similarly, the less difference in ideologies of societies, the closer their perceptions and consequently judgments that are alike will be passed.
Due to this—vast amounts of ideologies—there remains a great amount difference in interpreting history; though the methodology of writing Islamic history and interpreting the events therein relies in principle upon an Islamic perception. It lays the Islamic creed and its requisites as the foundation to the methodological premises, the interpretation of events, and the judgments passed thereon. Therefore, the sources that dictate the writing of Islamic history are the sources of the shari’ah; the Qur’an and the Sunnah with the possibility of seeking assistance from Consensus and Analogical reasoning. The latter two a means to assist the researcher in understanding Islamic history and establishing the accounts found therein.
Owing to the fact that the Islamic interpretation of history originates from an Islamic perspective of man, life, and the universe it is with good reason that it is based upon belief in Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, His books, His Messengers, the last day, and predestination; good and bad. Thus, it does not exceed the bounds of Islamic beliefs. Moreover, it is based upon the behavioural motivations present in the early Islamic society. All this has resulted in Islamic history being distinct in nature compared to other histories of the world as it has the element of divine revelation in it.
The Islamic interpretation of history rests upon the principle that the extent of man in this world is that of being a successive authority:
وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّيْ جَاعِلٌ فِيْ الْأَرْضِ خَلِيْفَةً
And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.”
Thereafter, Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala placed certain conditions for this authority:
قَالَ اهْبِطَا مِنْهَا جَمِيْعًا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ فَإِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ مِّنِّيْ هُدًى فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ فَلَا يَضِلُّ وَلَا يَشْقَىٰ وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِيْ فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيْشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ
[Allah] said, “Descend from Paradise – all, [your descendants] being enemies to one another. And if there should come to you guidance from Me – then whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray [in the world] nor suffer [in the Hereafter]. And whoever turns away from My remembrance – indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind.”
Human history from an Islamic perspective is the study of the Divine will in respect to the role of mankind on earth according to the decree of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala; and according to the fixed traditions through which Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala makes his decree manifest in the worldly life.
History, from a different perspective is, studying the pursuit of man in attainting complete self-realization. Not merely delving into the aspect of sustenance as is the materialistic interpretation of history or solely delving into the discussions of wealth, control, and possessions as is the liberal interpretation of history. It is the study of the potentials, capabilities, aspirations, and desires of human kind alongside their crucial needs and impulses. This is together with outlining the principles that mankind embrace and the beliefs they adhere to and practically follow. The attitudes, character and dealings of men cover the earth which people see and recognise as Islamic. Comprehending the above is the safety net in understanding the history of personalities and groups as understood in their era while simultaneously saving one from incessantly entangling the two and spiralling them to no end.
It is therefore imperative to refer to the sources of shari’ah in interpreting Islamic history to fully comprehend the behaviour and character of a society that was built upon and infused with Islamic teachings through and through. Teachings, commands, and prohibitions that permeated every facet of such a society.
Referring to the sources of the shari’ah, gaining an understanding of the Islamic creed, and comprehending the effects of such on its adherents is a necessary condition for the one who busies themselves with writing and interpreting Islamic history. If any of the above is omitted, the result of the work would be lacking and incomplete. Such work would be affected by the condition of the authors ideology, a social parasite no less, forcing the reader to wade through many pages of extraneous material resulting in an affront to the Islamic legacy.
Considering the above, many contemporary researchers have made many errors due to either falling short in referring to sources of the shari’ah or due to murky perceptions that clouded their judgments. Some others have committed grave errors by conforming to western ideologies and interpreting Islamic events through western, secular ideals. If this is the condition of the studies conducted by those who are considered Muslims, then what would the results of the material produced by the enemies of Islam; orientalists and the like thereof—neo materialist atheist—be like? Men who, from the get go, disregard the explicit texts of the shari’ah, and promote weak and fabricated incidents that conform to their views thereby inculcating within their youth enmity for Islamic history.
The Islamic methodology in compiling history relies greatly on Islamic principles and sources. This is the differentiating factor between it and between other methodologies that seek to interpret history through the lens of ethnicity, geographical location, economic values, or psychological prevalence. These methodologies do not consider other factors that influenced the period of history under discussion. They rely on a single contributing factor which they blow out of proportion and by which they interpret the history of humanity.
The Islamic methodology is a methodology that seeks to be inclusive off all factors and behaviours, not simply relying on the apparent and perceptual. Rather, it provides an opportunity to an in depth study by which the historian is able to assess incidents coherently in a light that is true and genuine. A result of truly understanding the human spirit and life; both body and mind. Not disregarding any part of the puzzle.
It is a methodology that clarifies the role and responsibilities of humans in social and historic change within the framework of the Divine decree. It takes into account the impact of internal and external factors mankind must deal with, without blowing any single one of them out of proportion. These factors are then subjected to the decree of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. There is no one and nothing that can go against His will and decree.
All the above factors need to be considered to accurately comprehend any historical event. The researcher should have a clear and coherent perspective in evaluating the factors, the weight they carry together with figuring out the proper connection between each one. Over and above this, having shar’i knowledge is relevant to the highest degree in order to fully understand the fundamentals of man; soul, body, and mind.
The conditions outlined above cannot be found in a non-believer. A true perspective on the issues that have influenced historical events can only be understood through divine revelation; sources free from error: the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
Through revelation, a Muslim will understand these factors, the weight each factor and cause carry, and its impact in interpretation. This is because the divine revelation is from a being Most-Wise, All Aware. He possesses knowledge of the recesses of the soul and not absent from His knowledge is an atom’s weight within the heavens or within the earth. When He intends a thing that He says to it, “Be,” and it is. The methodology of a being whose knowledge, power, and justice is beyond the constraints of time and space will, with no doubt, be the best and most complete methodology. A methodology free from any weakness, error, fault, or desires that are fused with humanity.
As our sources are thus the finest, most complete, most just, and are free from errors and discrepancies it is nothing short of oppressing ourselves and our history to take on foreign values, understandings, and methodologies in interpreting our history. Methodologies that are products of men who were prejudiced, hankered to fulfil their carnal desires, and adopted ideas that were littered with discrepancies and blunders.
Hereunder are some principles related to ‘sources’ that ought to be considered by the one writing Islamic history. They should be taken into account when penning down history, especially the history of the early Islamic era. It is not possible to study Islam by removing the subject of Islamic history. It is an inseparable part of studying Islam. The history of a nation that faithfully adhered to a creed that drove its inclinations and activities.
A. Relying on shar’i sources and placing them above all other sources when regarding, inter alia, incidents, laws, and injunctions.
This is due to the following two reasons:
- It is more truthful than any historical document that heralds incidents of the past. This is because of the truthfulness of its source; his knowledge and dominance. Together with this it has reached us through incontestable and genuine academic methodology. The Qur’an has reached us through succession that is undoubtable (mutawatir). The authentic ahadith has reached us through a precise academic methodology wherein the scholars of hadith critiqued every narration that came before them whilst codifying the ahadith as has already been explained.
- It outlines historical principles, Divine mannerisms, and a holistic view of humankind; past, present, and future. This affords the researcher a wide and holistic vision into history together with a deep understanding in analysing incidents and identifying ills and solutions to it.
The Qur’an and the Sunnah afford the researcher insights, concepts, and ideals which enable correct interpretation and judgments of historical incidents. Moreover, it gives details of what the Islamic ummah will face; divisions, efforts of reconciliations, and indications to many incidents, trials, and stances. The scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah have made efforts in gathering such material and have included it in their books, entitling specific chapters for such details.
In the light of Islamic principles and concepts; measures which are suited to favour, study, and interpret events when studying Islamic history, the historian cannot do without the knowledge of mustalah al hadith (terminologies of hadith principles) which would make him aware of the principles of takhrij (the science of citation and extraction of hadith) and study of asanid.
Furthermore, the one studying Islamic history ought to be aware of the common injunctions of the shari’ah, the beliefs of the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah, and the beliefs of the opposing groups. Additionally, he should rely on the narrations of the muhaddithin as an unsullied source and as a deciding factor when weighing the incidents of the early Islamic years.
Even though the amount of historical material found in the books of hadith isn’t as much as those found in the books of history, it still holds a critical position due to many factors, the key one being: Most of those that codified and authored the major books of hadith, lived in the early era; majority of them living of the second and third century Hijri and thus their sources are distinguished as being of the earliest times. Another exceptional quality of the muhaddithin is that they were particularly cautious in relating narrations. An element that drives the researcher to their narrations more than the traditions of the historians.
Add to this the fact that the muhaddith holds higher status and is given greater prominence, by the Muslims, in comparison to the historian. This is due to the vigilance and cautiousness of the muhaddith, whilst the historian would, generally, relate all sorts of obscurities and fabrications.
B. Truly understanding the role of iman.
If the one studying Islamic history does not understand the role iman played in the lives of the Muslims, he will not be able to accurately and academically assess events in Islamic history.
For example, the migration of the Muslims from Makkah to Madinah was for the cause of their iman. The Muhajirin, individuals and groups, were driven to migrate and settle elsewhere for no other cause. The hijrah was not to seek out a homeland, to attain wealth, or to achieve position. The Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum who had migrated had left behind their homeland, wealth, homes, and belongings in order to save their faith and adhere to their creed. They raised the bar of sacrifice and sincerity to incredible heights in the path of upholding the word of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. On the other hand, the Ansar of Madinah were those who harboured them in their own homes, aided them financially, and supported them. They left a stunning example of true Islamic brotherhood. Not a brotherhood tolerated by empty words or lip service, rather they were and would forever be fused together by blood, wealth, giving preference to others, and mutual solace. This was a society that was brimming with these qualities.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says regarding the condition of their iman:
لِلْفُقَرَاءِ الْمُهَاجِرِيْنَ الَّذِيْنَ أُخْرِجُوْا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ يَبْتَغُوْنَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا وَيَنصُرُوْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُوْلَهُ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ وَالَّذِيْنَ تَبَوَّءُوا الدَّارَ وَالْإِيْمَانَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ يُحِبُّوْنَ مَنْ هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَا يَجِدُوْنَ فِيْ صُدُوْرِهِمْ حَاجَةً مِّمَّا أُوْتُوْا وَيُؤْثِرُوْنَ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ وَمَنْ يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُوْنَ
For the poor emigrants who were expelled from their homes and their properties, seeking bounty from Allah and [His] approval and supporting Allah and His Messenger, [there is also a share]. Those are the truthful. And [also for] those who were settled in al Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful 
Imam al Bukhari has narrated the following:
لما قدموا المدينة آخى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بين عبد الرحمن بن عوف وسعد بن الربيع ، فقال سعد لعبد الرحمن : إني أكثر الأنصار مالا فأقسم مالي نصفين ولي امرأتان فانظر أعجبهما إليك فسمها لي أطلقها فإذا انقضت عدتها فتزوجها ، قال : بارك الله لك في أهلك ومالك أين سوقكم ؟ فدلوه على سوق بني قينقاع فما انقلب إلا ومعه فضل من أقط وسمن
When we came to Madinah as emigrants, Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam established a bond of brotherhood between ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Auf and Sa’d ibn al Rabi’.
Sa’d ibn al Rabi’ said to ‘Abdul Rahman, “I am the richest among the Ansar, so I will give you half of my wealth and you may look at my two wives and whichever of the two you may choose I will divorce her, and when she has completed the prescribed period (‘iddat) you may marry her.”
He replied, “May Allah bless your family and wealth, where is the market-place?”
They showed him the market of Qaynuqa’. He then brought back from there some dried butter-milk (yogurt) and butter from the profits he had earned.
From this it is pretty clear that setting the motivation of all historical occurrences as a result of ‘conflict’ or ‘material incentive’ is nothing short of inaccuracy and gross negligence.
Hereunder are some examples and elucidations of the reliance on iman and the results of such, which if attributed to material causes would be a lie.
The one fighting in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala knows well that he isn’t fighting the disbelievers by himself and neither is the army fighting by their superior numbers or weaponry, if they have such. They fight by the spirit of their true iman and knowledge that Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala assists the true mujahidin by way of tangible and intangible means. Examples of the former would be by Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala sending the angels to fight by their side or harnessing nature in their favour. Examples of the latter would be strengthening their hearts, sending down tranquillity amongst their ranks, or granting them the ability to persevere.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala sent down angels to fight alongside the Muslims in the Battle of Badr. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:
إِذْ تَسْتَغِيثُوْنَ رَبَّكُمْ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ أَنِّيْ مُمِدُّكُم بِأَلْفٍ مِّنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ مُرْدِفِيْنَ
[Remember] when you asked help of your Lord, and He answered you, “Indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand from the angels, following one another.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala sent heavy winds that disrupted the confederates that surrounded Madinah on the Day of Khandaq. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا اذْكُرُوْا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ جَاءَتْكُمْ جُنُوْدٌ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيْحًا وَجُنُوْدًا لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُوْنَ بَصِيْرًا
O you who have believed, remember the favor of Allah upon you when armies came to [attack] you and We sent upon them a wind and armies [of angels] you did not see. And ever is Allah, of what you do, Seeing.
Let us take for example the study of the causes of victory for the Muslims in the Battle of Yarmuk. We found find that the numbers of Roman army were six times that of the Muslim army together with having superior military skills and weapons. The Muslims were combatively weak in number and strength whilst also fighting far from the seat of Caliphate. Despite all this they won a clear and glorious victory. One studying the material visible causes by way of intellect alone will not be able to come to terms with the result of the battle, though it is unequivocally proven to be so. This would be due to having no knowledge about the true causes that outline human history and being unaware of the ways of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in the universe.
فَلَنْ تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيْلًا وَلَنْ تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَحْوِيْلًا
But you will never find in the way of Allah any change, and you will never find in the way of Allah any alteration.
وَلَنْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ لِلْكَافِرِيْنَ عَلَىْ الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ سَبِيْلًا
And never will Allah give the disbelievers over the believers a way [to overcome them].
كَمْ مِّنْ فِئَةٍ قَلِيْلَةٍ غَلَبَتْ فِئَةً كَثِيْرَةً بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِيْنَ
How many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah.
وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيْمِ
And victory is not except from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise –
وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُم مَّا اسْتَطَعْتُم مِّن قُوَّةٍ وَمِن رِّبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ
And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ
If you support Allah, He will support you and plant firmly your feet.
So iman is one of the factors that is used to evaluate and pass judgments on historical incidents.
It should be noted that the philosophers of old do not believe in such incidents which have, without a shadow of doubt, been authenticated. Some disregard it due to them rejecting the occurrence of mu’jizah and karamat whilst others find it difficult to comprehend or interpret. This is all due to them subscribing to the ideology that the intellect, with all its confinements and limitations, is and should be the quintessential element in judging the text of the Qur’an. They thus determine the meaning of the Qur’an as their intellect deems fit.
The orientalists of late have embraced this ideology and have spread its purport far and wide; clashing with the creed that supports faith on the unseen. Many contemporary researchers have trodden the same path in the Muslim lands having adopted secularist ideologies during their stays in European lands. They do not consider Islam to have afforded humanity a complete way of life that extends to every facet of living, rather in their minds it merely represents one’s heritage or personal worship. In fact, many of them have generated doubts and fabrications that have no authentic bases in Islamic history. This is all a result of wishing to regulate Islamic history in the confines of tangible, perhaps national, and/or other mediums.
C. Being aware of the status, situation and position of people, together with validating what has been said about them.
‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu says in this regard:
واحفظ لكل منزلته وأعطهم جميعا بقسطهم من الحق ، فإن المعرفة بالناس بها يصاب العدل
Identify the status of every person and afford every person their due of justice. Justice will come through being aware of the situations of people. 
Ibn Taymiyyah has in the beginning of his famous fatwa (religious verdict) regarding the Tartars and killing, by his vast knowledge and deep understanding, laid down a profound principle for one intending to understand the law of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in any case that one may be confronted with. He says:
أن الحكم على أي طائفة أو قوم يقوم على أصلين أحدهما : المعرفة بحالهم ، والثاني : معرفة حكم الله في أمثالهم ، وهذان الأصلان يقومان على الحكم المنافي للجهل ، إذ الكلام في الناس لا يجوز بغير علم وبصيرة
Passing a judgment on any group or nation rests upon two principles. 1. Being aware of their condition. 2. Being aware of the law of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala regarding the likes of them. These two principles enact a law which counters ignorance as profiling people is not permissible without knowledge and insight.
Based on this, it is necessary to investigate what has been related with regards to the greats of the early Islamic years; the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Studying their condition will make one aware of their perfect iman, honesty, internal piety, external good deeds, and sacrifice of both life and wealth in the path of the truth. All this only raises them to high stages which makes them all—those that played a part in the fitnah and those that did not—worthy of being followed and worthy of narrating from. There is no doubt that their narrations will be accepted and their actions weighed on the scale of piety and perfection. This will do away with any evil qualities attributed to them. This is over and above the judgment that Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has already passed regarding them; holding them pure and honorable. The explicit texts of the shari’ah are replete and successive suggesting their purity and justice.
There remains no point of contention that the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum are leaders for every Muslim in matters of their faith. There is therefore, no chance for anyone to attempt to vilify their honour, pure beliefs, and untainted character. This does not mean that they never erred, as they were not infallible. Therefore, whatever occurred between them in political differences will be considered as ijtihadi (interpretive) differences which does not affect their noble status in any way. When codifying these issues in history, one should be extremely weary of holding them up in the light of disparagement.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has commanded the believers to look back at what they know of the faith of their brothers which would surely do away with any attempts at disparagement. This insightful principle should always be kept in the forefront and no attention should be payed to the talks of the predators and biased men who vilify and malign the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Only good thoughts should be entertained regarding them. Moreover, any fabrications that are spread to malign then should be refuted thoroughly.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says, admonishing the believers in taking part in rumours that the people of evil spread regarding their brothers:
لَّوْلَا إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوْهُ ظَنَّ الْمُؤْمِنُوْنَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بِأَنفُسِهِمْ خَيْرًا وَقَالُوْا هٰذَا إِفْكٌ مُّبِيْنٌ
وَلَوْلَا إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوْهُ قُلْتُم مَّا يَكُوْنُ لَنَا أَن نَّتَكَلَّمَ بِهٰذَا سُبْحَانَكَ هَٰذَا بُهْتَانٌ عَظِيْمٌ
And why, when you heard it, did you not say, “It is not for us to speak of this. Exalted are You, [O Allah ]; this is a great slander”?
Both these verses outline an important principle:
الموهوم لا يدفع المعلوم و ان المجهول لا يعارض المحقق
Opinions do not render realities obsolete and fiction cannot oppose facts.
Based on this, it is imperative to refer to original authentic sources in order to know the true facts. Knowledge should not be attained from liars, evil men, and bigots. Their evil and desires will lead them to paint a picture that contradicts reality. Muslims have been commanded by the shari’ah to investigate and verify what he hears. Ponder over the following verse of the Qur’an and hadith of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا إِنْ جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوْا أَنْ تُصِيْبُوْا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوْا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِيْنَ
O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said:
كفى بالمرء كذبا أن يحدث بكل ما سمع
It is sufficient for a man to be considered as a liar that he relates everything he hears.
It is for these very reasons that the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah took a particular interest in profiling the capable narrators and mentors from the incapable. Some have developed chapters in their books based on this entitling it, ‘The chapter prohibiting weak narrations and exercising caution in learning them’. The profiling of men too, will be only sought from a reliable scholar who has insight on the conditions of the Muslims.
D. Knowing the boundaries of taking from the books of the prejudiced and those that ascribed to other sects.
Another pertinent principle is to know and consider the limitations when taking from authors who are prejudiced or subscribe to sects that are misguided and steeped in innovation due to their works being influenced by such.
The scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah have displayed a keen interest in classifying other sects and their statements so that one may come to realise their schools of thought, stances, and conditions. This is so that the Muslim can be sure of their state of affairs and not be fooled by them.
Taking this into consideration some scholars have authored books specific to this science with the likes of Abu al Hassan al Ash’ari: Maqalat al Islamiyyin, Abu al Hassan al Malti: Al Tanbih wa-al Radd ‘ala Ahl al Ahwa’ wa-al Bida’, and Ibn Hazam: Al Fasl fi al Milal wa al Ahwa wa al Nihal.
The individuals of the other sects have themselves made efforts to codify their school of thought, beliefs, chronicles, lives of their men and scholars, debates, and refutations to their opposition. Some of them have taken on writing history and have done so in line in line with their specific beliefs or political stance. They have thus sensationalised the flaws of their opposition whilst covering their own faults.
Owing to the above it is necessary for the historian to familiarize himself with their beliefs and orientations. This will enable him to handle the material and texts brought forth by them appropriately; keeping in mind their background, views, and stances whilst comparing it with other similar incidents mentioned by reliable historians and scholars. Drawing comparisons between the texts whilst keeping in mind the general orientation and character of Islamic society will give one a clear view of the presence of prejudice—or lack thereof—in a narrator or story teller. If the signs of prejudice become apparent by acts of vilifying or maligning reliable, worthy men, or by contradicting known aspects of the shari’ah, or by contradicting the established traits, character, and norms of a society; his statements won’t be heard and his narrations will not be given any attention. Disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing as well as prejudice blinds one from seeing the truth. The poet says:
ولكن عين السخط تبدي المساويا
وعين الرضا عن كل عيب كليلة
The pleased eye cannot see any faults;
Whilst the displeased eye sees nothing but faults
If the signs of prejudice are not apparent, even though he may be from the Ahl al Bida’ (innovators), and is known for his honesty, piety, taqwa, and reliability; his narrations will be accepted. Some of the great scholars of hadith have reproduced narrations of those individuals of the Ahl al Bida’ who would not lie. Consider Imam al Bukhari reproducing in his Sahih from the narrator ‘Imran ibn Hattan al Khariji who was one of the great proponents of the Khariji sect. Yet he was famed for his piety, taqwa, and honesty. A researcher would, at times, find amongst the narrations of Ahl al Bida’, such narrations that is a proof against them and proves their own illegitimacy.
E. Knowing the boundaries of taking from the book of the Non-Muslims.
Since Islamic history has shar’i principles and guidelines, it is necessary for the Muslim historian to abide by these and base his research within the range of such. It is therefore imperative to be careful when taking from the books of non-Muslims. This is especially true since the secularists have been key proponents of unfettered freedom—in the east and the west—which they run with in outlining Islamic history. They apply their own—home grown—notions in expounding upon the history of Islam.
Together with this, they uphold a secularist methodology that is in stark contrast to an Islamic methodology. The result of which is polar perceptions and fundamentals. Methodology forms part of perception and results of studies are based on perceptions. All the above has decidedly affected their judgments and studies which contradict Islamic injunctions and the actualities of an Islamic society. The impressions that the books of non-Muslims deal with in addressing Islamic history—especially the early years—should be studied with painstaking attention and apprehension. This is due to their lack of honesty when addressing issues pertaining to Islam, its system, and its men. In the light of such, it will not be permissible for a Muslim to narrate or take from them. This becomes even more clear when we consider that the conditions of delving into these issues is having faith in Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the Last Day, and weighing all actions and speech by the scale of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Furthermore, non-Muslims do not subscribe to any belief that would limit them from heaping lies upon the material of the Muslims. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:
إِنَّمَا يَفْتَرِيْ الْكَذِبَ الَّذِيْنَ لَا يُؤْمِنُوْنَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَاذِبُوْنَ
They only invent falsehood who do not believe in the verses of Allah, and it is those who are the liars.
Similarly, their prejudice against the Muslims is not limited by anything either. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا كُوْنُوْا قَوَّامِيْنَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوْا ۚ اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَاتَّقُوْا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيْرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُوْنَ
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.
Consequently, they have no of limits in their society and environment—and man is a product of his environment—due to the tide of materialism, power, and luxuries that they continue to drown in.
This in turn has led to exploitation and the planting of seeds of hatred in people; a recipe for never ending conflict. Since they have adopted their morals as the yardstick in deciding the morality of other societies, they have made blunders of epic proportions; skewing the history of entire societies.
To conclude consider the following: The Muslim scholars have not favoured the implementation of injunctions based upon the narrations of weak, albeit pious Muslims, then how would it be possible for Muslims to take from disbelievers who are far from reliable and who harbour ill towards the faith!
وَإِنْ كَانَ مَكْرُهُمْ لِتَزُوْلَ مِنْهُ الْجِبَالُ
Even if their plan had been [sufficient] to do away with the mountains.
F. Exploring the use of Islamic terminologies
The ideological warfare of the west against the Muslims has been peppered by introducing and spreading terminologies that are foreign to Islamic society and history, which has caught on in various genres of literature. This use of such shows the obliviousness of contemporary researchers in comprehending the slippery slope they have embarked on. These new-age technical terms bring along with them a specific western ideology. They bear the impressions and insinuations of societies and historical climates—where they originate from—that is impossible to disassociate from.
An example of these terms would be, ‘Democracy’, ‘Socialism’, ‘Aristocracy’, ‘Dictatorship’, ‘Theocracy’, ‘Imperialism’, ‘Right-wing’, ‘Left-wing’ etc…
It should be noted that many Arab researchers have used these terms in their historical literature. For example, they utilize the term ‘democracy’, in lieu of ‘shura’ in an Islamic society or as a word to broadly outline its purport. Some intellectuals of the Islamic world in the 1950s were, perhaps, unaware that terminologies cannot be disassociated from the environment society it emanates from. They, in an effort to reconcile between western and Islamic ideologies, began using these terms to describe many functions of an Islamic society without taking note of the glaring differences and stigmas that present itself when applying it to a different era and a different society.
Democracy, for example, is a system of government by the public upon the public. This means that the public are the source of legislation and governance. This system further rests on the separation of religion from state. Based on the above, in the democratic system, humans are taken to be the policymakers of liberty. Individual liberty, as well as freedom of belief, opinion, and ownership.
On the other hand, the shura system in an Islamic state relies on the directives of the Qur’an and Sunnah which are the sources of legislation and governance. It also entitles the ummah to appoint a governor by way of authorities in Islamic law with whom the governor would consult in important matters. They would monitor the dealings of people and to what extent its conformity is to carrying out the injunctions of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, as there is no separation of religion from state in Islam. Dominion belongs solely to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and sovereignty to the shari’ah. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:
إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ
The decision is only for Allah.
وَمَنْ لَّمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكٰفِرُُوْنَ
And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disbelievers.
فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُوْنَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوْكَ فِيْمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوْا فِيْ أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوْا تَسْلِيْمًا
But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.
Islam is a complete way of life that addresses the political, social, and economic challenges faced by humanity. It ought to be understood, that Islam does not celebrate complete freedom and liberty as is the undertaking of the democratic system. Islam celebrates freedom as long as it does not result in harm to oneself or others.
Islam does not force anyone to accept the faith, though it does not allow a Muslim to change his or her faith. Anyone leaving the fold of Islam will consequently deal with the laws that apply to a renegade.
Islam does not advocate total freedom of individual ownership as is in vogue in the west. It would thus not be permissible to come into ownership of anything through impermissible means, such as through interest, monopoly, deceptive schemes, depreciating the value of goods and so on.
Islam does not accept personal liberty and freedom as outlined by democracy either. It would not be permissible for women to walk in the streets baring all, nor to be in seclusion with strange men; protecting the family model and the integrity of society.
Hence, as one may well understand unrestricted democracy clearly contradicts Islam. How did it then prove conceivable to some researchers to enforce this term upon Islamic history and say that the Caliphate in the era of the Righty Guided Khalifas was a model of democracy?
The Muslims have followed the west in all things. Even in the terminologies that are linked to geographical boundaries and historical periods which have no connection to their reality or history. In the context of geographical representation, they say ‘Middle East’, ‘Far East’ and ‘Near East’, in relation to their location in Europe, as they consider themselves the centre of the world.
Similar is the issue of historical periods. Terms such as ‘Ancient Times, ‘Middle Ages’, and ‘Modern Times’, are based on the historical vicissitudes of Europe which would imply particular ideas and characteristics that occupied these eras centred around ideological and social nuances and developments as lived by Europe; whereas Islamic history remained unaffected by these vicissitudes and developments. Muslim lands were determined by a single sequence of ideas, systems, and principles that remained unaffected by the change of time, empires, and kings. A history of one ummah, a history of principles established and unchanged.
Dr Akram Diya al ‘Umri states on dealing with terminologies:
إن استعمال المصطلحات الشرعية ضروري عند كتابة التاريخ الإسلامي من خلال التصور الإسلامي النابع من القرآن الكريم والسنة المطهرة، لأن هذه المصطلحات ذات دلالة واضحة ومحددة ولأنها معايير شرعية لها قيمتها في وزن الأشخاص والأحداث. والقرآن الكريم قسم الناس إلى (المؤمن) و(الكافر) و(المنافق) والصفات الثلاث محددة ثابتة ودقيقة لا تقبل التلاعب فيها. فما ينبغي أن نحيد عن هذا التقسيم إلى مصطلحات نبتت في أوساط غير إسلامية كوصف الإنسان بأنه(يميني) أو (يساري) أو غير ذلك من النعوت غير الشرعية التي ليست محددة بصورة دقيقة ثابتة، وكذلك فإن الحكم على الأعمال والمنجزات الحضارية ينبغي أن تستخدم فيه المصطلحات الشرعية وهي (الخير) و(الشر) و(الحق) و(الباطل) و(العدل) و(الظلم) كما حددها الشرع ولا تستخدم معايير الفكر الغربي (كالتقدمية والرجعية). لقد انجرَّ بعض الكتاب المسلمين إلى استخدام مصطلحات وألفاظ ليست في القاموس الإسلامي، وفي ذلك يكمن خطر الذوبان في الفكر الجاهلي والضياع وسط مصطلحاته الكثيرة التي تفقدنا ذاتيتنا المستقلة
Utilizing Islamic terminologies is crucial when writing Islamic history from an Islamic perspective, emanating from the Noble Qur’an and Sunnah. This is because these terminologies relay clear and precise connotations whilst defining the standards of the shari’ah in evaluating people and incidents. The Noble Qur’an has divided people into three; ‘Believers’, ‘Disbelievers’, and ‘Hypocrites’. All three of these terms are precise, specific, and fixed that do not accept tampering. It is thus not appropriate for us to depart from this division and adopt terminologies that were introduced amongst non-Muslim quarters to describe people with terms such as, ‘Right-wing’, ‘Left-wing’, or any other term which is not precise, specific, nor fixed by the shari’ah. Similarly, passing judgments upon actions and civilizational accomplishments should be done using shar’i terms such as, ‘al Khayr’, ‘al Sharr’, ‘al Haqq’, ‘al Batil’, ‘al ‘Adl’, and ‘al Zulm’ as defined by the shari’ah. Terms such as ‘Progressive’ and ‘Regressive’ that are an extension of western ideologies should not be used.
Some Muslim authors have opted to use terminologies and words that aren’t found in the Islamic dictionary. In this lies a danger of assimilating ignorant ideologies and a loss amongst many self-sufficient terminologies.
 Al Firozabadi: Al Qamus al Muhit.
 Mahmud al Tahhan: Usul al Takhrij wa Dirasah al Asanid, pg. 157.
 Faruq al Hamadah: Al Manhaj al Islami fi al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, 231.
 Akram Diya al ‘Umri: Dirasat Tarikhiyyah, pg. 26.
 He is Aban ibn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan; the jurist and leader. He passed away the year 105 A.H/723 A.D. He is considered a reliable narrator and was from the jurists of Madinah. He was amongst the first to write on the sirah (life) and maghazi (campaigns) of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam though his book on sirah has been lost. None of the historians managed to salvage anything from his maghazi except for Ya’qubi. Aban contributed in a critical era as the appointed governor over Madinah Munawwarah in the year 75 A.H/ 694 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat, vol. 5 pg. 151; Khalifah: Al Tabaqat, pg. 240; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 4 pg. 351.
 He is ‘Urwah ibn Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Abu Abdullah. He was one of the seven jurists of Madinah. Ibn Sa’d says regarding him, “‘Urwah was considered reliable, trustworthy, and strong. He narrated many ahadith together with being a jurist and a scholar par excellence.” Al ‘Ijli says, “‘Urwah ibn Zubair, a trustworthy Tabi’i. A pious man who did not involve himself in any of the fitnah. He was a muhaddith who taught his students hadith and the occurrences of the early Islamic years. His knowledge has reached us through the books of Ibn Ishaq, Al Waqidi, and Al Tabari; the earliest sources of the sirah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He passed away the year 94 A.H./712 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat, vol. 5 pg. 178; Al Fasawi: Al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh, vol. 1 pgs. 364-550; Ibn al Jawzi: Sifat al Safwah, vol. 2 pg. 47; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 4 pg. 421; Fu’ad Sizkin: Tarikh al Turath al ‘Arabi, 1/2/70.
 He is Khalifah ibn Khayyat ibn Khalifah Al Shaybani al ‘Usfuri al Basri, Abu ‘Amr; Historian, genealogist, and muhaddith. He was from amongst the reliable and vigilant narrators of hadith. Ibn Khallikan says, “He was a Hafiz and most knowledgeable on the subject of history and battles.” Ibn al Athir says, “He was eminent and knowledgeable on the subject of battles.” Ibn Kathir has called him an Imam in Tarikh. He has written Al Tabaqat, Al Tarikh, and Tabaqat al Qurra amongst other books. He passed away the year 240 A.H/854 A.H. His life has been recorded by Al Bukhari in Al Tarikh al Kabir, 2/1/193; Ibn al Athir in Al Lubab fi Tadhib al Ansab, vol. 2 pg. 344; Ibn Khallikan in Wafayat al A’yan, vol. 2 pg. 243; Al Dhahabi in Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 2 pg. 436; Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah, vol. 10 pg. 222.
 He is Ya’qub ibn Sufyan al Farisi al Fasawi, Abu Yusuf al Imam al Hafiz, al Hujjah. Abu Zur’ah al Dimashqi says, “Two of the noblest of men came to us, the superior of the two Ya’qub ibn Sufyan Abu Yusuf. The entirety of Iraq is unable to produce a man like him.” He has written, Al Tarikh al Kabir and Al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh. He passed away the year 277A.H./890 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim in Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil vol. 9 pg. 208; Ibn Abi Ya’la in Tabaqat al Hanabilah, vol. 1 pg. 416; Al Dhahabi in Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 2 pg. 582; Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 11 pg. 59. Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 11 pg. 385.
 He is ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Amr ibn Abdullah ibn Safwan Al Nasri Abu Zur’ah al Dimashqi; a master of hadith, its narrators, and its sciences. He has written Al Tarikh and ‘Ilal al Rijal. Ibn Abi Hatim says, “He was reliable and truthful.” Al Dhahabi says, “He gathered and wrote. Revised with the huffaz and surpassed his contemporaries due to his knowledge and superior sanad.” He passed away the year, 280 A.H./893 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim in Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil vol. 5 pg. 267; Ibn Abi Ya’la in Tabaqat al Hanabilah, vol. 1 pg. 205; Al Dhahabi in Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 2 pg. 624; Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 6 pg. 236.
 Surah al Hujurat: 6.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Adab vol. 7 pg. 288; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Barr wa al Silah vol. 16 pg. 118.
 Sahih Muslim, vol. 1 pg. 72.
 He is Muhammad ibn Sirin al Ansari al Basri, Abu Bakr. He is considered to be from amongst the most eminent of the Tabi’in. He was a jurist, Imam, possessed vast knowledge and was reliable. A great scholar in the field of interpreting dreams and possessed piety of the highest degree. ‘Amr ibn ‘Ali al Fallas says, “The most authentic chain of narration is Muhammad ibn Sirin from — ‘Ubaidah from — ‘Ali. Ibn Sa’d says, “He was reliable, possessed integrity, of high status, a jurist, an Imam, of great knowledge, and pious.” Ahmed, Ibn Ma’in, and al ‘Ijli all attest to his reliability. He passed away the year 110 A.H./729 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat, vol. 7 pg. 193; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat; Abu Nuaim in Al Hilyah, vol. 2 pg. 263; Ibn Khallikan: Wafayat al A’yan; Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 9 pg. 214.
 Sahih Muslim, vol. 1 pg. 84; Al Juzajani: Ahwal al Rijal, pgs. 35-36.
 He is Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Hamdawayh ibn Na’im al Dabbi al Nisabpuri, famously known as Al Hakim; one of the huffaz of hadith. Al Dhahabi says referencing Ibn Zahir, “I asked Abu Ismail Abdullah al Ansari regarding al Hakim. He said, ‘An Imam in hadith, though an extreme Rafidi.’” Al Dhahabi comments on this saying, “Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala loves justice, he was not a Rafidi, just a Shia.” Amongst his books are Al Mustadrak ‘ala al Sahihayn, Tasmiyah man Akhrajahum al Bukhari wa Muslim, Ma’rifah ‘Ulum al Hadith, Tarajim al Shuyukh, and Tarikh Nisabpur. Al Subki says, “This is according to me one of the best books in history regarding the jurists. Whoever reads it will understand this man’s knowledge in all the sciences.” He passed away the year 405 A.H./1014 A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 5 pg. 473; Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 3 pg. 1039; Al Mizan, vol. 3 pg. 608; Al Subki: Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah, vol. 3 pg. 64.
 Ma’rifah ‘Ulum al Hadith, pg. 6.
 On the conditions and principles of narration refer to: Al Khatib: Al Kifayah fi ‘ilm al Riwayah; Qadi ‘Iyad: Al Ilma’ ila Ma’rifah Usul al Riwayah wa Taqyid al Sima’; Ibn Salah: Ma’rifah ‘Ulum al Hadith more commonly known as Muqaddimah Ibn Salah; Ibn Hajar: Nukhbah al Fikr fi Mustalah ahl al Athar; Al Subki: Qa’idah fi al Jarh wa al Ta’dil; Zafar Ahmed al Thanwi: Qawa’id fi ‘Ulum al Hadith; Al Qasimi: Qawa’id al Tahdith.
 He is Ahmed ibn Abdullah ibn Salih Abu al Hassan al ‘Ijli, al Imam al Hafiz. He is of the reliable narrators who was pious and an ascetic. Ibn Nasir al Din says, “He was an Imam, Hafiz, reliable and an example in authenticity. He is considered as the likes of Ahmed ibn Hanbal and Yahya ibn Ma’in. His book on the subject of Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil shows his vast knowledge.” He has written, Tarikh al Thiqat and Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil. He passed away the year, 261 A.H./875 A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 4 pg. 214 and Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 2 pg. 560.
 He is ‘Umar ibn Ahmed ibn ‘Uthman ibn Shahin Abu Hafs, al Hafiz. He has written Al Tafsir, Al Sunnah, Al Thiqat, Al Afrad, Nasikh al Hadith wa Mansukhah, and Kashf al Mamalik. He passed away the year 385 A.H./995 A.D. His life has been recorded by, Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 11 pg. 265; Ibn Hajar: Lisan al Mizan, vol. 4 pg. 283; Muhammad ibn Jafar al Kattani; Al Risalah al Mustatrafah, pg. 29.
 He is ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Abdul Karim al Makhzumi Abu Zur’ah al Razi. One of leaders of the huffaz. Abu Hatim says, “Imam.” Al Khatib says, “He was a pious Imam, Hafiz, narrated many ahadith, and truthful.” Ibn Hibban says, “He was one of the Imams of the world in hadith together with having a pious disposition, continuously revising hadith, and an ascetic.” Muhammad ibn Jafar says, Abu Zur’ah said, “I have memorized one hundred thousand ahadith just as one memorizes Surah Ikhlas.” He passed away the year 264 A.H/878 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim in Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil vol. 1 pg. 328; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 10 pg. 326; Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 10 pg. 30.
 He is ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Muhammad, ibn Abi Hatim al Tamimi al Hanzali al Razi, Abu Muhammad al Hafiz, al Imam. Abu Ya’la al Kahlili says, “He took the knowledge of his father and of Abu Zur’ah. He was an ocean of knowledge and specifically the knowledge of narrators. He has written in fiqh and the differences of the Sahabah and Tabi’in. He was an ascetic and considered to be an Abdal.” Al Dhahabi says, “His book in Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil shows the great status of his memory. His book in tafsir is voluminous. He has authored a large book refuting the Jahmiyyah which portrays his status.” He has also written ‘Ilal al Hadith, Al Kuna, and Al Marasil. He passed away the year 327 A.H./938 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Abi Ya’la in Tabaqat al Hanabilah, vol. 2 pg. 55; Al Dhahabi in Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 3 pg. 829.
 Al Firozabadi: Al Qamus al Muhit.
 An indistinct, hidden defect that affects the authenticity of the hadith, even though it apparently seems sound. See, Ibn al Madini: ‘Ilal al Hadith wa Ma’rifah al Rijal, pg. 10.
 Misfir al Dumayni: Maqayis Naqd Mutun al Sunnah, pg. 113.
 Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 1 pg. 2.
 Ibid, vol. 1 pg. 8.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Jana’iz, vol. 2 pg. 81.
 Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Jana’iz, vol. 6 pg. 232.
 Misfir al Dumayni: Maqayis Naqd Mutun al Sunnah, pgs. 95 – 183 – 207.
 He is Abdullah ibn Ahmed al Qadir bi Allah al ‘Abbasi, Abu Jafar. Given the title, Al Qa’im bi Amr Allah. He was one of the Khalifas of the ‘Abbasid dynasty. He came to the seat of Caliphate the year 422 A.H./1030 A.D. He was well known for his piety, justice, soft nature, and attention to knowledge. He passed away the year 467 A.H./1075 A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 9 pg. 399; Ibn al Athir; Al Kamil fi al Tarikh, vol. 9 pg. 417; and Ibn al Kathir: Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 12 pg. 31.
 Ibn al Jawzi: Al Muntazam, vol. 8 pg. 256; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 18 pg. 280; Ibn al Qayyim: Al Manar al Munif, pgs. 37 – 39.
 He is Sufyan ibn Sa’id ibn Masruq al Thawri al Kufi; scholar, ascetic, pious, jurist, muhaddith. One of the Khalifas of the ‘Abbasid dynasty sought to grant him a position of authority. He declined. He passed away the year 161 A.D./778 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat, vol. 6 pg. 371; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 9 pg. 151; Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 4 pg. 111.
 Ibn Salah: Al Muqaddimah, pg. 577; Al Sakhawi: Al I’lan bi tawbikh li man dhamm al Tarikh, pg. 390.
 He is Yusuf ibn Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Barr al Numairi al Qurtubi al Maliki, Abu ‘Amr, hafiz, historian, and linguist. He was appointed judge in Spain. Abu al Walid al Baji says, “Abu ‘Amr is the greatest hafiz of the west. There was no one in Spain like him in the field of hadith.” Al Humaidi says, “Abu ‘Amr was a jurist, hafiz, and narrated much. He was a scholar of the different modes of recital, hadith, and its narrators. He would lean towards the views of Al Shafi’i in fiqh. From amongst his books are, Jami’ bayan al ‘Ilm wa Fadlihi, Al Tamhid, Al Isti’ab, Bahjah al Majalis, Al Durar fi Ikhtisar al Ma’ani wa al Siyar, and Al Qasd al Umam fi Ansab al ‘Arab wa al ‘Ajam. He passed away the year 463 A.H./1071 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Bashkwal: Al Silah, vol. 2 pg. 616; Ibn ‘Umairah: Bughyah al Multamis, pg. 474; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 18 pg. 153.
 He is ‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdul Rahman al Nasri al Kurdi, Abu ‘Umar Taqi al Din. Famously known as Ibn Salah. Muhaddith, Faqih, and Mufassir. He rose to the position of lecturing at Al Madrasah al Salahiyyah in Bayt al Maqdis and thereafter at Darul Hadith in Damascus. He has written, Al Amali, Fawa’id al Rihlah, Adab al Mufti wa al Mustafti, and Mahasin al Istilah which is more famously known as Muqaddimah ibn Salah. He passed away the year 643 A.H./1245 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Khallikan: Wafayat al A’yan, vol. 3 pg. 243; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 23 pg. 140; Al Subki: Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah, vol. 5 pg. 137.
 This is as done by Asad Rustum in his book Mustalah al Tarikh. He has taken and benefitted from Mustalah al Hadith placing the former on the style of the latter thus gaining much in adopting the principles of critiquing hadith in history.
 Al Kafiji: Al Mukhtasar fi ‘Ilm al Tarikh pg. 336. Al Subki says, “It is necessary for the historian to be a scholar, impartial, know well the life of whom he profiles, whilst having nothing against him that would render him biased nor have animosity towards him.” Qa’idah fi al Jarh wa al Ta’dil and Qa’idah fi al Muarrikhin, pg. 71.
 Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 7 pg. 273.
 Dr Akram Diya’ al ‘Umri: Buhuth fi tarikh al Sunnah al Mushrifah, pg. 211.
 Al Khatib: Al Kifayah fi ‘Ilm al Riwayah, pg. 212.
 The muhaddith narrates with a complete sanad back to the Tabi’i, and the Tabi’i says, “The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said…”
 A break somewhere in the chain of narrators.
 He is Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Sulaiman ibn Sa’d al Rumi al Hanafi al Kafiji, he had been given this title due to being constantly involved with the book Al Kafiyah. He had a penchant for linguistics, history, tafsir, and other sciences. Hanafi mastery ended with him in Egypt. Amongst his book are, Anwar al Sa’adah fi Sharh Kalimatay al Shahadah, Manazil al Arwah, Al Ilma’ bi Ifadah law la al Imtina’, Al Muhtasar fi ‘Ilm al Tarikh, Hall al Mashakil in engineering, and Al Rumuz in astronomy. He passed away the year 879 A.H./1474 A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Sakhawi: Al Daw al Lami’ li Ahl al Qarn al Tasi’ vol. 7 pg. 259; Al Suyuti: Bughyah al Wu’ah, pg. 48; Al Laknawi: Al Fawa’id al Bahiyyah fi Tarajim al Hanafiyyah, pg. 169.
 Al Mukhtasar fi ‘Ulum al Tarikh, pg. 326.
 Dr Akram Diya al ‘Umri: Dirasat Tarikhiyyah, pg. 27.
 He is Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Yasar al Muttalibi al Madani, Abu Bakr; scholar and historian who has written the sirah. He would narrate a lot. He specialised in the genres of prophetic battles and historical accounts. Imam al Shafi’i says, “Whoever wished to attain expertise in prophetic battles is in need of Muhammad ibn Ishaq.” Ibn Hibban says, “There was no one that came close to the knowledge of codification of Muhammad ibn Ishaq in Madinah. He was excellent in articulating historical accounts.” He has written, “Al Maghazi, Tarikh al Khulafa’, Kitab al Futuh, and others. He passed away the year 151 A.H./868 A.D. His life has been recorded by, Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat, vol. 7 pg. 321, Al Fasawi: Al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 27; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 1 pg. 214; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 7 pgs. 33-55; Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 1 pg. 172.
 The issue with the mu’an’an hadith is that it is linguistically accurate for someone to say “on the authority of such-and-such a narrator, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said…” without him actually having met the narrator.
 He is ‘Uwanah ibn al Hakm al Kalbi al Kufi. He was a historian, poet, and genealogist. He was extremely eloquent. Al Asma’i, Al Haytham ibn ‘Adi and Al Mada’ini have narrated from him. He has authored, Al Tarikh and Siyar Muawiyah wa Banu Umayyah. He passed away the year 147 A.H./764 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 103; Yaqut: Mujam al Udaba, vol. 16 pg. 134; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 7 pg. 201; Ibn Hajar: Lisan al Mizan, vol. 4 pg. 386.
 He is ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Abdullah Abu al Hassan al Mada’ini; historian and prolific author. Al Dhahabi says regarding him, “He was amazing in his knowledge of the prophetic life, prophetic battles, lineage, and Arabian wars. He was truthful in his narrations and had a high chain of narration.” Imam al Tabari says, “He was knowledgeable on the wars of the past and truthful in it.” He has written, Al Maghazi, Akhbar al Munafiqin, Khutab al Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Akhbar al Khulafa’, Al Jamal, Kitab al Khawarij, Al Futuh, Kitab al Madinah, Buyutat al ‘Arab, and many other books. He passed away the year 224 A.H./838 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pgs. 148-152; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 2 pg. 54; Yaqut: Mujam al Udaba, vol. 14 pg. 124; Al Dhahabi: Al Mizan, vol. 3 pg. 153; and Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 10 pg. 400.
 Hiding discontinuity in the chain.
 Ibn Hajar: Tabaqat al Mudallisin, pg. 51.
 Ibn Hajar: Al Taqrib, vol. 2 pg. 194.
 Ibid, vol. 1 pg. 344.
 He is Muhammad ibn Sa’d al Hashimi al Basri. He lived in Baghdad and was the scribe of al Waqidi. He is the author of Al Tabaqat. He forms part of the great huffaz and reliable narrators. Al Khatib says, “He was a scholar, righteous, possessed deep understanding, and was impartial. He has written a large book on the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and Tabi’in till his time. He wrote this book beautifully.” He has also written Al Tabaqat al Saghir. He passed away the year 230 A.H./844 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim in Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil vol. 7 pg. 262; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 5 pg. 321; Ibn Khallikan: Wafayat al A’yan, vol. 4 pg. 351; Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 9 pg. 182.
 Ibn Hajar: Fath al Bari, vol. 7 pg. 279-280.
 Ibid, vol. 7 pg. 269.
 Ibid, vol. 7 pg. 329-332.
 For further reading see, Muhammad ibn Samil al Sulami: Manhaj Kitabah al Tarikh al Islamiyyah.
 Muhammad ibn Samil al Sulami: Manhaj Kitabah al Tarikh al Islamiyyah, pg. 112.
 Dr Akram Diya al ‘Umri: Al Mujtama’ al Mudani fi ‘ahd al Nubuwwah, pg. 15.
 Surah al Baqarah: 30.
 Surah Taha: 123/124.
 Muhammad Qutub: Hawl al Tafsir al Islami li al Tarikh, pg. 13.
 Many schools of methodology were born to interpret history by singling out one factor to explain a time period of humankind. History through geography was headed by Brown and Michelet. History through psychology was taken on by the likes of Gabriel Tarde, Gustav Le Bon, and Sigmund Freud. History through ethnography was the brain child of Michelet and Hippolyte Taine. History through economics was taken on by Karl Marx.
 Dr Akram Diya al ‘Umri: Al Mujtama’ al Mudani fi ‘ahd al Nubuwwah, pg. 15
 An example of this is the stance adopted by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in foretelling the fitnah that would occur during the reign of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He gave great importance to it and said, indicating to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
هذا يومئذ على الهدی
He will be rightly guided on that day.
In another narration Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said:
يقتل فيها هذا يومئذ ظلم
He will be killed unjustly on that day. (By the oppressive Khawarij)
See Ahmed ibn Hanbal; Fada’il al Sahabah, vol. 1 pg. 450 and Ibn Hajar; Al Fath, vol. 7 pg. 38.
 Imam al Bukhari has a specific chapter in his book Al Jami’ al Sahih entitled Kitab al Fitan. Similarly, Imam Muslim has in his Al Jami’ al Sahih Kitab al Fitan wa ashrat al Sa’ah. Imam Abu Dawood has Al Fitan wa al Malahim in his Sunan. And so have other Ahlus Sunnah scholars in their books.
 Surah al Hashr: 8-9.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Buyu’ vol. 3 pg. 3.
 Surah al Anfal: 9.
 Surah al Ahzab: 9.
 Surah Fatir: 43.
 Surah al Nisa’: 141.
 Surah al Baqarah: 249.
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 126.
 Surah al Anfal: 60.
 Surah Muhammad: 60.
 Miracles performed by the Prophets ‘alayh al Salam with the permission of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.
 Miracles performed by the pious servants of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, with His permission.
 Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 279.
 Ibn Taymiyyah: Majmu’ al Fatawa, vol. 28 pg. 510.
 Meaning their brothers. This is also explained in the hadith of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
إن مثل المؤمنين في توادهم وتراحمهم كمثل الجسد إذا اشتكى منه عضو تداعى له سائر الجسد بالسهر والحمى
The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, and affection is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever. Sahih Muslim, vol. 16 pg. 140.
 Surah al Nur: 12
 Surah al Nur: 16.
 ‘Abdul Rahman al Sa’di: Al Qawa’id al Hisan li Tafsir al Qur’an, pg. 195.
 Surah al Hujurat: 6.
 Sahih Muslim, vol. 1 pg. 72.
 He is ‘Ali ibn Ismail ibn Ishaq, Abu al Hassan. He was of the Mu’tazilah sect initially. He left and opposed them widely. He then established the Ash’ari school of thought which forms part of the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah. See, Al Ibanah ‘an uUsul al Diyanah and Maqalat al Islamiyyin both of which are authored by him. Also see Tabyin Kadhib al Muftari of Ibn ‘Asakir. He passed away the year, 324 A.H./936 A.D His life has been recorded by Ibn Khallikan: Wafayat al A’yan; vol. 2 pg. 284; Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 15 pg. 85; Ibn Kathir in Al Bidayah, vol. 11 pg. 187.
 He is Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn ‘Abdul Rahman, Abu al Hassan al Malti. He is from amongst the jurists of the Shafi’i mazhab and was proficient in the field of Qira’ah. He passed away the year, 377 A.H./987 A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Subki: Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah, vol. 2 pg. 112; Ibn al Jawzi: Mir’at al Zaman, vol. 2 pg. 67; Ismail al Baghdadi: Idah al Maknun, vol. 1 pg. 328.
 He is ‘Imran ibn Hattan ibn Dabyan al Sadusi al Shaybani, Abu Sammak. He was of the Sufriyyah Khawarij and was considered to be their orator and poet. He rivalled the likes of Jarir and Farazdaq in poetry. He is the one who has said:
ولا نرى لدعاة الحق أعوانا
حتى متى لا نرى عدلا نعيش به
Until we do not see Just men to live by;
And we do not see helpers to the callers to truth.
He was a narrator of hadith and had met a number of Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum whom he narrated from. The scholars of hadith narrated from him due his honesty. He passed away the year, 84 A.H./703 A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Mubarrad: Al Kamil fi al Lughah wa al Adab, vol. 2 pg. 121; Al Dhahabi: Al Mizan, vol. 3 pgs. 335-336.
For further reading on narrating from the Ahl al Bida’ see, Ibn Kathir: Al Ba’ith al Hathith, pgs. 99-100; Al Suyuti: Tadreeb al Rawi, vol. 1 pgs. 324-325; and Dr Faruq Hamadah: Manhaj al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, pg. 294. Narrating from all the Ahl al Bida’ is not accepted. The narrations of the Khawarij were accepted due to their honesty and total aversion to lies whilst the Shia on the other hand were famed for lying, as lying forms the corner stone to their beliefs. Abu Dawood says, “There are no narrations more truthful amongst the innovators than that of the Khawarij.” Al Mizan, vol. 3 pg. 236.
 Surah al Nahl: 105.
 Surah al Ma’idah: 8.
 Surah Ibrahim: 46.
 Surah Yusuf: 40.
 Surah al Ma’idah: 44.
 Surah al Nisa: 65.
 Dr Akram Diya al ‘Umri: Al Mujtama’ al Mudani fi ‘ahd al Nubuwwah, pg. 23