Section Two: The principle sources of Imam al Tabari in discussing the fitnah

Module Three: Tarikh al Rusul wa al Muluk of Imam al Tabari. Section One: The nature of the Tarikh of Imam al Tabari and its academic significance.
October 8, 2019
Section Three: His methodology in writing his Tarikh
October 9, 2019

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Section Two

The principle sources of Imam al Tabari in discussing the fitnah

 

Penning down history had appeared quite early by the Muslims. The first century Hijri saw the emergence of historical books that discussed the prophetic life. These works diversified into the second century by including significant happenings of Islamic history such as the apostasy, conquests, and civil unrest. These writings included events such as al Jamal, al Siffin, the arbitration, and similar vents. The books become known as Kutub al Akhbar and the authors as Ikhbariyyin.

The evolution of written history came about in the third century by specialist historians who benefited much from the Kutub al Akhbar. They codified these books and contributed greatly to it thereby producing large works that came to be known as Kutub al Tarikh[1]. In the forefront of these historians was Imam al Tabari who had access to a large number of the earlier books. He included parts of these works into his own monumental Tarikh thus displaying an amazing capacity in sourcing from earlier works as well as filtering through the narrations of events.

He relied on two principle sources in formulating his work. The narrations that he heard directly from his teachers is the first principle source of his historical records. In the book he refers to these sources with the wordings, Haddathani or Akhbarani[2] (he narrated to me). The second principle source were the works of others which he had been permitted to relate from such as the books of al Waqidi and Abu Mikhnaf. He refers to these sources in his book with the wordings, Dhakara (he mentioned), Qala (he said), or Za’ama[3] (he presumed).

The preferred source of Imam al Tabari in relating events and presenting these in his book was by way of narrating. Citing chains of transmissions relieves one from citing the names of books, as the name of the narrator stands in place of his book. This is the reason that one notices the indifference of Imam al Tabari in mentioning written sources or the names of books that he relied upon. He very rarely will cite a narrator as well as his book. There are examples of this in the Tarikh though they are few and far apart. For instance, he states:

 

وحدثني عمر – ابن شبة – مرة أخرى في كتابه الذي سماه کتاب  أهل البصرة ، فقال…

‘Umar – ibn Shabbah– narrated to me at another instance as in his book which he titled Kitab Ahl al Basrah, he says…[4]

 

Naturally, this method of Imam al Tabari creates challenges and hurdles for researchers who seek to ascertain his sources. This is due to the fact the scholars whose books he narrates from, by merely mentioning their names in his chain of transmission, have many other works as well. It therefore becomes difficult to determine which book he is referring to.

It is worth noting that Imam al Tabari relied on four principle sources when writing events that relate to the fitnah. These four sources, books and narrations, are that of:

  1. Saif ibn ‘Umar al Tamimi,
  2. Muhammad ibn ‘Umar al Waqidi,
  3. ‘Umar ibn Shabbah al Numairi, and
  4. Abu Mikhnaf Lut ibn Yahya.

Imam al Tabari relies upon the narrations Saif ibn ‘Umar primarily and compliments them with those of al Waqidi in the events that relate to the fitnah during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his assassination.

The Battle of Jamal and the events that preceded it such as the pledge of caliphate to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the journey of Talhah, Zubair, and Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhum to Basrah are primarily sourced from the narrations ‘Umar ibn Shabbah and complimented by the narrations of Saif ibn ‘Umar.

The Battle of Siffin and the events that came about as a result of it such as the arbitration and conflict with the Khawarij are told primarily through the narrations of Abu Mikhnaf.

This is besides the secondary sources that Imam al Tabari presents from some of his teachers. These secondary occasionally star amongst the primary sources.

 

I. Saif ibn ‘Umar al Tamimi

The first source, Saif ibn ‘Umar al Tamimi al Dabbi al Asadi died the year 180 A.H/ 796 A.D. He was renowned for his profound knowledge of Islamic history and his books were critically acclaimed by the historians, especially his works on the topics of the apostasy, conquests, and events of the fitnah.

Saif had studied under the tutelage of Ikhbariyyin such as, Hisham ibn ‘Urwah ibn Zubair[5], Musa ibn ‘Uqbah[6], Muhammad ibn al Sa’ib al Kalbi[7], Muhammad ibn Ishaq, and others.

 

He narrates the events of the fitnah from his teachers who are:

Muhammad ibn Nuwayrah[8], Talhah ibn al A’lam[9], and ‘Attiyah ibn al Harith Abu Rawq al Hamdani[10]. It is as though they all narrated the events to him in a similar manner as after listing their names he says, “They said…”[11] and then he relates the events. It seems as though they agree more or less on the events and details of the fitnah which indicates that they all narrate it form a single source.

 

From amongst the teachers of these:

Yazid al Faq’asi al Tamimi al Asadi[12]. His rank denotes that he lived at the end of the first century. He relates the incident, movements, and correspondence of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ with other states.[13] Reading into this indicates that the narrations of Saif is from an exceptionally early source within the first century.

After summarizing the narrations of Saif regarding the incident of Jamal, Hafidh ibn Kathir acknowledges the narrations of Saif and his teachers regarding the fitnah saying:

هذا ملخص ما ذكره أبو جعفر بن جرير رحمه الله عن أئمة هذا الشأن – سيف وشيوخه

This is a summary of what Abu Jafar ibn Jarir has related from the Imams in this field; Saif and his teachers.[14]

 

The works of Saif:

Al Futuh al Kabir wa al Riddah[15], a book that brought Saif into the limelight. Imam al Tabari has made use of this book in relating the incidents of apostasy. He has given preference to his narrations over all the other narrations that speak of the apostasy.[16] Ibn al Nadim has recorded another book of his titled, Kitab al Jamal wa Masir Aisha wa ‘Ali[17]. Imam al Tabari relates the narrations of Saif regarding the Battle of Jamal from this book.[18]

This work is indicative of the fact that Saif related the narrations of the Battle from sources close to the incident. Imam al Tabari has mentioned their names in his chain of transmission. Thus, a true depiction of this tragic Battle remains preserved. A battle that was instrumental for the Saba’iyyah in igniting the fire of discord. Furthermore, Imam al Tabari relies on Saif in those narrations that pertain to the fitnah in the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, such as the fitnah that Ibn Saba’ gave rise to in Basrah and Kufah the year 33 A.H/653 A.D. Saif had narrated these incidents from ‘Attiyah ibn al Harith; a great narrator of Kufah.[19]

Another mode Imam al Tabari has adopted in taking from the books of Saif ibn ‘Umar is through ‘Ubaidullah ibn Sa’d al Zuhri al Baghdadi[20] a resident of Surr, Rayy and Al Sariyy ibn Yahya ibn al Sariyy al Tamimi al Kufi.[21]

‘Ubaidullah ibn Sa’d al Zuhri al Baghdadi narrates from his father[22] and Yunus ibn Muhammad[23]. Great, reliable, and renowned scholars such as al Bukhari, Abu Dawood, al Tirmidhi, al Nasa’i, Ibn Abi ‘Asim, and others narrate from him.[24] ‘Ubaidullah relates the narrations of Saif ibn ‘Umar from his uncle Yaqub ibn Ibrahim ibn Sa’d al Zuhri[25], resident of Baghdad and narrator of Saif ibn ‘Umar. Listing the names of his teachers makes it clear that he wasn’t only a muhaddith. He was also knowledgeable in the fields of history, jurisprudence, and poetry.[26]

Imam al Tabari has narrated much from Saif through the following medium as well: Al Sariyy wrote to me — from Shu’ayb — from Saif ibn ‘Umar; orR Al Sariyy narrated to me — from Shu’ayb — from Saif ibn ‘Umar. This shows that Imam al Tabari would correspond with his teacher al Sariyy and ask him questions. His teacher would then reproduce from the writings of Saif through the medium of Shu’ayb and respond to him. It becomes evident that the books of Saif were in the possession of al Sariyy and that Imam al Tabari read a portion of it to him.

Al Sariyy, a link between Imam al Tabari and the narrations of Saif is, Al Sariyy ibn Yahya ibn al Sariyy al Tamimi al Kufi. He narrates from Shu’ayb as is clear from the chains of transmission of Imam al Tabari. Ibn Abi Hatim says regarding him, “We weren’t granted the opportunity of narrating from him. He wrote to us some of his hadith. He was truthful.”[27] He is considered amongst those who Imam al Tabari narrated from most. His narrations in the Tarikh amount to 284.[28]

This Shu’ayb, who al Sariyy narrates from, is Shu’ayb ibn Ibrahim al Kufi. Ibn ‘Adi mentions him and says:

 

ليس بالمعروف وله أحاديث وأخبار ، وفيه بعض النكرة ، وفيه ما فيه من تحامل على السلف

He is not renowned. He has narrated ahadith and historical traditions. There remains some erroneousness therein. It contains prejudice against the pious predecessors.[29]

 

Al Dhahabi says in al Mizan:

راوية كتب سيف عنه ، فيه جهالة

The narrations of the books of Saif are from him. He is unfamiliar.[30]

 

Imam al Tabari narrates from him in his Tarikh by way of his teacher Al Sariyy more than five hundred and twenty times.[31]

The complete count of the narrations of Saif in the Tarikh of Imam al Tabari amounts to 296. From these, 73 narrations pertain to the fitnah.[32] In this manner Imam al Tabari has graded him an important source in relating traditions. He has related the events pertaining to the fitnah from him more than anyone else, to the extent of almost relying on him.

 

The scholars of hadith have questioned the reliability of Saif ibn ‘Umar:

  • Abu Hatim says, “He is matruk (suspected of forgery). His narrations resemble the narrations of al Waqidi.”[33]
  • Ibn Ma’in says, “Da’if (weak).”[34]
  • Al Nasa’i and al Daraqutni say, “Da’if (weak).”[35].”[36]
  • Ibn Hibban says, “He narrates fabrications from reliable narrators and has been accused of Zandaqah (heresy).”[37] However, Ibn Hajar disagreed with this accusation saying, “Ibn Hibban has been inaccurate in labelling him so.”[38]

We are unable to comprehend the legitimacy of this accusation against him. His narrations pertaining to the fitnah and the events that occurred between the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum is far-flung from the method of heresy. How can it be possible to accuse him of heresy when he is the one who exposed the secrets of heretics such as ibn Saba’!

It is certainly within the realm of factuality to say that the narrations of Saif are far-fetched and completely immune from such accusations. His narrations in fact eliminate any trace of heresy as it reflects the stance of the pious predecessors in revering the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and holding them free from evil acts. He has reproduced historical records which do not attempt to vilify the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Rather, it affirms their desire to reconcile. Factual findings that grants ease to the soul in the light of authentic narrations as per the conditions set by the scholars of hadith.

Since the scholars of hadith were tolerant of narrations from weak narrators when their narrations gave strength to other authentic and verified narrations, it serves as an indication that there remains no issue in applying the same methodology in historical records to gleam actualities of historical events. Based on this, the authentic narrations will serve as a yardstick by which historical traditions will be treated from the likes of Saif, al Waqidi, and Abu Mikhnaf. The historical recollections of these historians that correspond with authentic narrations will be accepted whilst those that do not will be rejected.

There remains no doubt that the recollections of Saif are considered to a greater degree than those of others as it coincides and matches with the authentic narrations from reliable narrators. This is besides the fact that his recollections are sourced from those who personally witnessed these events or were close to the happenings of the time.

It is for these reasons that al Hafiz has commended the historical knowledge and expertise of Saif.

  • Al Hafiz al Dhahabi says, “He was an expert historian.”[39]
  • Al Hafiz ibn Hajar says, “Weak in hadith, excellent in history.”[40]

Jawad ‘Ali, commenting on Carl Brockelmann—who has accused Saif of not disclosing things that were said to him and of exaggerating the nobility of his tribe, the Tamim—states:

 

أما ما ادعاه – بروکلمان – من أن الطبري قد لاحظ ذلك عليه – عاطفته القبلية تجاه تميم – فكان يحاذر منه ، واضطر إلى ترك قسم من رواياته ، فهو قول لا يؤيده كتاب الطبري نفسه ، ففي أخبار الردة جعله الطبري المرجع الأول المفضل على المراجع الأخرى، وفي أخبار معركة الجمل تری لرواياته مكانة بارزة بين الروايات . ثم إن النسخة الأصلية – التاريخ الطبري – لا تزال في ضمير الغيب ، فكيف عرف – بروکلمان – أن الطبري قد نبذ روایات سيف في تمجيد تميم

The claim of Brockelmann that al Tabari noted and cautioned against the bias of Saif toward his tribe, the Tamim, due to which he was forced to forego a portion of his narrations is not corroborated by the very book of al Tabari. In the events surrounding the apostasy, al Tabari has considered his traditions to be the primary source that trumps other sources. And in the events of the Battle of Jamal we see a clear veneration for his narrations amongst the other narrations. Besides, the original copy of al Tarikh al Tabari has yet to be found. So how does Brockelmann know that al Tabari left out the narrations of Saif that complement the Tamim?[41]

 

In reality, the supposed bias of Saif towards his tribe is refuted by the condition of and stance adopted by the Banu Tamim in the fitnah. It is well established that they were amongst those who took no part in the fitnah, remaining neutral with their leader al Ahnaf ibn Qais on the Day of Jamal.[42] On the other hand the narrations of Saif that pertain to the fitnah though impartial are painstakingly detailed.

The narrations of Saif ibn ‘Umar in the Tarikh of Imam al Tabari appear discussing the fitnah in the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and the Battle of Jamal in complete detail amongst scattered passages. At the beginning of every passage the complete chain of narration is reproduced. An academic, Ahmed Ratib ‘Armush has gathered these narrations and codified it in a book titled, Al Fitnah wa Waq’at al Jamal.[43] This book takes up 207 pages. The large number of narrations show that Imam al Tabari considered Saif ibn ‘Umar to be more reliable than others.

 

II. Muhammad ibn ‘Umar al Waqidi

The second source is al Waqidi. He is Muhammad ibn ‘Umar al Waqidi al Madani, al Qadi. He passed away the year 207 A.H/ 822 A.D, a prolific author. Al Khatib says:

 

هو من طبق ذكره مشرق الأرض ومغربها ، وصارت بكتبه الركبان في فنون العلم من المغازي والسير والفقه ، وكان جوادا كريما مشهورا بالسخاء

He is amongst those whose name was across the east and the west of earth, people spread his books that contained art of the sciences of wars (maghazi), biographies (siyar), and the books of jurisprudence. He was famed for his generosity and nobility.[44]

 

Al Waqidi is considered to be one of the vessels of knowledge.[45] However, he was accused and discarded despite his profound knowledge.[46] He was a scholar of maghazi, siyar, and the conquests. He was a prolific author who would amass many books. He left a large collection after his death.

Yaqub ibn Shaybah[47] says:

 

لما تحول الواقدي من الجانب الغربي – في بغداد – يقال : إنه حمل كتبه على عشرين ومائة وقر وقيل : كان له ستمائة قمطر كتب

When al Waqidi moved from the western area of Baghdad it is said that his books were carried upon one hundred and twenty mule loads[48]. Some say that he had six hundred loads (each load carried by two men).

 

Al Waqidi encompassed many important discussions in history. He wrote regarding conquests and events that occurred during the early Islamic period such as the events of Saqifah, apostasy, Battles of Jamal and Siffin, opposition of the Khawarij, and so on. Unfortunately, many of his works were lost with certain portions remaining, reproduced in the Tarikh of Imam al Tabari and other such books.

Ibn Nadim has cited approximately thirty books of his. Amongst these are, Al Tarikh al Kabir, Al Maghazi, Al Riddah, Al Jamal, Siffin, Al Tabaqat, Futuh al Sham, Futuh al ‘Iraq, Maqtal al Hussain, Tasnif al Qaba’il wa Maratibaha wa Ansabaha, etc.[49]

Al Waqidi payed a keen interest in codifying historical events and military campaigns. Similarly, he was diligent in recounting those who showed great feats of equipping, spending, giving opinions, and bravery in the said campaigns. He would mention the prisoners of war, Muslim martyrs and slain disbelievers. He would classify them in order of their tribes whilst always giving a special mention to those Muslims who took part in Badr; a tribute to their achievements.[50]

His interest in identifying geographical locations of significance is also noted. He would personally search for places of significance. Al Khatib, in his profile, relates from him:

 

ما أدركت رجلا من أبناء الصحابة وأبناء الشهداء ولا مولى لهم إلا وسألته هل سمعت أحدا من أهلك يخبرك عن مشهده و این قتل ، فإذا أعلمني مضيت إلى الموضع فأعاينه

Whenever I met a descendant or freed slave of a Companion or martyr, I would ask them if they were informed of the battle and place of martyrdom. In case of them informing me, I would go to that place and examine it.[51]

 

It is for this reason that al Waqidi has recounted battles in much greater detail compared to others. This is perhaps why al Hafiz al Dhahabi has considered him ‘The leader of maghazi and siyar.’[52]

 

Testimony of trustworthiness for al Waqidi:

The scholars of al Jarh wa al Ta’dil (narrator criticism and accreditation) have many opinions regarding his reliability. Many have criticized whilst some have cited him as reliable.

  • Ahmed ibn Hambal says, “He is a Kadhab (liar). He corrupts narrations.”
  • Ibn Ma’in says, “His narrations are not to be written.”
  • Murrah says, “Laysa bi Shay’ (he does not amount to much).”[53]
  • Al Bukhari and Abu Hatim say, “Matruk (suspected of forgery).”[54]
  • Al Nasa’i says, “Matruk (suspected of forgery).”[55]
  • Al Daraqutni says, “He has some weakness.”[56]
  • Ibn ‘Adi says, “His narrations are not retained. Their bane comes from him.”
  • Ibn al Madini[57] says, “His narrations shouldn’t be used. Ibrahim ibn Abi Yahya is a Kadhab (liar), though he holds a better position in my eyes compared to al Waqidi.”[58]
  • Abu Zur’ah says, “His narrations will be written for I’tibar[59].”[60]
  • Abu Nuaim al Asbahani says, “Matruk (suspected of forgery).”[61]
  • Mus’ab al Zubairi[62] says, “Reliable.”[63]
  • Ibn Sa’d says, “He was a scholar of maghazi, sirah, conquests, and the differences of people in hadith and laws as well as their agreement.”[64]
  • Al Dhahabi writes:

جمع فأوعى وخلط الغث بالسمين والخرز بالدر الثمين فاطرحوه لذلك ، ومع هذا فلا يستغني عنه في المغازي وأيام الصحابة وأخبارهم

He gathered and remembered. He mixed the good with the bad, the wheat with the chaff. They have therefore discarded him. Yet, he is indispensable in the fields of maghazi, military campaigns of the Sahabah, and their traditions.[65]

 

He further states:

 

وقد تقرر أن الواقدي ضعيف يحتاج إليه في الغزو والتاريخ ، وتورد آثاره من غير احتجاج ، أما الفرائض فلا ينبغي أن يذكر ، فهذه كتب السنة ومسند أحمد وعامة من جمع في الأحكام تراهم يترخصون في إخراج أحاديث أناس ضعفاء ومتروكين ، ومع هذا لا يخرجون لمحمد بن عمر شيئا ، مع أن وزنه عندي أنه مع ضعفه يكتب حديثه ويروي ، لأني لا أتهمه بالوضع ، وقول من أهدره فيه مجازفة من بعض الوجوه ، كما أنه لا عبرة بتوثيق من وثقه … إذ انعقد الإجماع اليوم على أنه ليس بحجة وأن حديثه في عداد الواهي

It has already been mentioned that al Waqidi is weak, but he is needed in case of incidents of Battles and History. We mention his works without taking evidence from them. As far as injunctions go, it is not good to mention him. Here are the six books of Hadith and Musnad Ahmed and you will see them reporting the narrations of several weak narrators, rather even discarded reporters, but they do not mention Muhammad ibn ‘Umar. This is besides the fact that his status according to me is that his narrations are to be written as I do not accuse him of fabricating hadith. There is extremism, of some sort, from those who totally lay waste to him. Just like there is no weight in the statements of those who declared him reliable as there is agreement among scholars in these days that he is not reliable and his narrations are of the category of severely weak narrations.[66]

  • Ibn Sayed al Nas[67] says after accumulating the opinions regarding him in the foreword to his book ‘Uyun al Athar:

 

بأن سعة العلم مظنة لكثرة الإغراب ، وكثرة الإغراب مظنة للتهمة ، والواقدي غير مدفوع عن سعة العلم ، فكثرت بذلك غرائبه  وقد روينا عنه من تتبعه آثار موضع الوقائع وسؤاله أبناء الصحابة والشهداء عن أحوال سلفهم ما يقتضي انفرادا بروایات وأخبار لا تدخل تحت الحصر

Depth of knowledge produces oddities. Oddities fall prey to accusations. And al Waqidi cannot be barred from having depth of knowledge. His depth of knowledge led to such oddities. We have already reported from him his travels to locations of significant occurrences and his correspondence with the sons of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and martyrs regarding the lives of their predecessors. This all would result in innumerable unique narrations.[68]

 

Al Waqidi had the habit of referring to sources by saying ‘It has reached me’[69] and ‘He has narrated to me who I rely on’[70] without identifying the name of the narrator. This shows disregard in sourcing the narration correctly. Besides this he would also converge chains of narrations citing many sources together[71] at the beginning of a chapter instead of citing individual sources for individual texts. Reproduction of this sort proves difficult when wanting to refer to an individual source. What becomes apparent from the views of those who have criticised al Waqidi is the acceptance of his narrations that pertain to historical records and siyar if it doesn’t contradict authentic narrations. This is as he does not serve as evidence individually and more so in the instance of contradicting those more reliable than him.

Ibn Nadim—a Rafidi—assumes that al Waqidi accepted the dogma of tashayyu’ and adopted the essential practice of Taqiyyah.[72] Just as al Khuwanasari and others have done whilst profiling him in their books.[73]

These views do not prove anything that would necessitate a deeper look into al Waqidi having adopted the Shia dogma as the Rawafid are habitual liars. They wrongly attribute to their creed many famous scholars in order to bolster their numbers and attract others to their creed. Consider the book titled Falasafah al Shia authored by a Lebanese Shia named Sheikh al Ni’mah; he has, in this book, claimed many scholars to be Shia. Besides, according to my knowledge not a single scholar of the Ahlus Sunnah accused him of tashayyu’, including those who criticised him. They criticised him solely due to his weakness in hadith.

Imam al Tabari benefited from the works of al Waqidi in sirah, maghazi, conquests, and history of caliphate. He relates from him in 316, 43 of these pertain to the fitnah. In speaking of the fitnah that appeared during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Imam al Tabari utilizes the narrations of al Waqidi and relies on him as a source. This is notwithstanding the fact that he criticized his narrations and avoided many of them. He says:

 

فأما الواقدي فإنه ذكر في سبب مسير المصريين إلى عثمان ونزولهم ذا خشب أمورا منها ما قد تقدم ذكره ، ومنها ما أعرضت عن ذكره لبشاعته

Al Waqidi has mentioned the reason of the Egyptians heading to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and descending at Dha Khushub which has already been dealt with. Other things he has mentioned I have avoided due to its heinousness.[74]

 

The teachers of al Waqidi:

Muhammad ibn Salih ibn Dinar al Madani al Tammar[75], the ring in the chain that joins al Waqidi to ‘Asim ibn ‘Umar ibn Qatadah al Zafari[76] master in the field of maghazi. Al Waqidi has reproduced the narrations of ‘Asim through his medium with the latter occupying a status that is no cause for concern for Imam al Tabari. He brings about his recollections regarding the events of the year 35 A.H/655 A.D whilst discussing the fitnah that arose during the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[77]

The narrations that Imam al Tabari has codified from al Waqidi from Muhammad ibn Salih, and the examination of the latter into the eras of ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma together with the fitnah that occurred during his era indicated that he had authored significant works regarding the history of the Rightly Guided Khalifas. It also shows that al Waqidi relied on him a great deal.[78]

 

III. ‘Umar ibn Shabbah al Numairi

The third source is Abu Zaid ‘Umar ibn Shabbah al Numairi al Basri, al Hafiz, al ‘Allamah, al Ikhbari, reliable. He passed away the year 262 A.H/ 875 A.D.

Those that have profiled him mention that he was honest, would not corrupt narrations, well versed in hadith, a narrator of historical traditions, scholar of jurisprudence, prolific author, well versed in the field of Qira’at, and profound in his knowledge of siyar, maghazi, and battles.[79]

  • Ibn Abi Hatim says, “My father and I wrote from him. He is truthful, knowledgeable in Arabic language and linguistics.”[80]
  • Al Daraqutni says, “Reliable.”[81]
  • Ibn Hibban has included him amongst the reliable narrators and has said, “His narrations were precise. He was a master in linguistics, poetry, traditions, and battles.”[82]
  • Al Khatib says, “He was reliable, a scholar of siyar and battles. He had authored many books.”[83]

Ibn Shabbah heard and narrated from the reliable scholars of his era who represented the different branches of knowledge in that time period. He was under the tutelage of Ibn Mahdi and al Qattan in hadith, al Asma’i in linguistics, al Mada’ini in history and so on. Similarly, he narrated from a large number of scholars, the likes of Ibn Majah[84], Tha’lab the famed grammarian, al Baladhuri[85], Ibn Abi al Dunya[86], al Baghawi[87] author of the Sahih, and others.[88]

‘Umar ibn Shabbah left a trove of works spanning a number of subjects. Ibn Nadim has counted about twenty such works. Some of these pertain to the fitnah such as Maqtal ‘Uthman, Akhbar Kufah, and Akhbar Basrah.[89] Al Hafiz ibn Hajar has reproduced a lengthy text from the book Akhbar Basrah of Ibn Shabbah in his Al Fath. He says, “‘Umar ibn Shabbah has gathered the incident of Jamal in Akhbar Basrah, I will summaries it and confine myself to that which he has written with an authentic or sound chain of narration…”[90]

The books of Ibn Shabbah are not in circulation these days besides the book al Madinah which has been published under the title Tarikh al Madinah.[91]

The third part of this book pertains to the life of Amir al Mu’minin ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It pays special attention to the incidents that led to bringing the people onto a single copy of the Qur’an and how the copy was written. It also discusses the conquests, financial prosperity, and affluence the people of Madinah enjoyed. It deliberates over the distractions that were introduced into the Madani society and the opposition of the Amir al Mu’minin to games such as backgammon, slingshots, and bird racing.

The author then discusses various other events and the stance of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, concluding with the ill-fated martyrdom of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu that broke open the doors of evil upon the Islamic civilization.

We would perhaps not find any other early source that addresses the life of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Madani society, and events of the fitnah so meticulously and in such detail as done by Ibn Shabbah. The only other source that could rival it would be Tarikh Dimashq of Ibn ‘Asakir. This painstaking detail is what marks the work as a significant available primary source.

 

The methodology of Ibn Shabbah in Tarikh al Madinah:

The author narrates events with chains of narrations in the manner done by the muhaddithin. He does not combine chains of narrations as done by historians that pre dated him such as Ishaq, al Waqidi, and others. Though it should be noted that that not all of his chains of narrations are complete. The book contains some chains that are Mawsul[92] whilst others are Munqati’[93] or Mu’allaq[94].

Similarly, his sources and narrators upon which he relies are not all of the same level of reliability. Some are acceptable whilst others are not. Hereunder are some examples of him sourcing from unknown narrators:

  • Abu Ghassan[95] says — some of our teachers have informed me…[96]
  • Al Asma’i mentioned as reported to me by someone I deem reliable…[97]
  • Muhammad ibn Yahya – Abu Ghassan – narrated to us saying — one who we deem reliable narrated to us…[98]
  • A man from the Quraysh informed me…[99]

It should be noted that he was not one to transmit with tadlis[100] (obfuscation) in his transmission. He sometimes narrates from a single person who he met by various, higher and lower, modes and phrases of transmission. For example, when narrating from his teacher Abu Ghassan al Kinani he sometimes uses the phrase, Abu Ghassan narrated to us or Muhammad ibn Yahya narrated to us.[101] Yet at other times he says, Abu Ghassan says.[102] Sometimes, he will say, we narrate from Abu Ghassan.[103] And sometimes he will say, from what I found in the books of Abu Ghassan.[104]

Ibn Shabbah in his book Tarikh al Madinah did not follow the system of the muhaddithin who would write the history of a location together with profiling its scholars and entrants as done by al Hakim in Tarikh Nisapur, al Khatib in Tarikh Baghdad, and Ibn ‘Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq. He wrote the history of Madinah from political and developmental viewpoint. Hence we can fathom the importance of the information he has gathered. He has recollected information regarding the planning, evolution, plantations, and tribal locations of the era. He also discusses early events and occurrences that cannot be sourced elsewhere.

It becomes clear that Imam al Tabari relied heavily upon the narrations and works of Ibn Shabbah regarding events that occurred in Madinah such as the fitnah during the caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and those events that had an association to Iraq such as the journey of Talhah, al Zubair, and Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhum to Basrah and the Battle of Jamal amongst other such happenings.

This reliance can be credited to his acute awareness of the history of Madinah and Basrah. Both works, Akhbar Basrah and Akhbar Madinah are considered to be original primary sources of early Islamic history.

Admiring these works al Hafiz al Dhahabi says:

 

وصنف – ابن شبة – تأريخا كبيرا للبصرة ، وكتابا في أخبار المدينة رأيت نصفه يقضي بإمامته

Ibn Shabbah has authored a sizeable history of Basrah and a book regarding the events of Madinah. I have seen a portion of it which leaves no doubt to his high stature.[105]

 

As Abu Zaid ibn Shabbah was amongst the teachers of Imam al Tabari, it is evident that he heard from him and thus Abu Zaid had authorized him to relate from Ibn Shabbah and his works. This was the custom amongst the scholars of that era. They would authorize their students to narrate from them if they had confidence in their academic capabilities.

His narrations in Tarikh al Tabari amount to 196. 30 of these pertain to the fitnah.[106]

 

IV. Abu Mikhnaf Lut ibn Yahya

The fourth principle source relating to the fitnah in the Tarikh of Imam al Tabari is Lut ibn Yahya, famously known as Abu Mikhnaf. A historian who died before the year 170 A.H/ 786 A.D. He was a prolific author of events that occurred in the early Islamic caliphate.

Ahmed ibn al Harith al Khazzaz[107] relating from the scholars says:

 

أبو مخنف بأمر العراق وأخبارها وفتوحها يزيد على غيره ، والمدائني بأمر خراسان والهند وفارس ، والوافدي بأمر الحجاز والسيرة ، واشتركوا في فتوح الشام

Abu Mikhnaf has more material in the events and conquest of Iraq. Al Mada’ini holds this honour in the events that pertain to Khurasan, Hind, and Persia. Al Waqidi surpasses them in sirah and events that pertain to Hijaz. They all have a similar standing regarding the conquest of Sham.[108]

 

Ibn Qutaybah says:

كان صاحب أخبار وأنساب ، والأخبار عليه أغلب

He was attained mastery in history and genealogy, though more so in history.[109]

 

Abu Mikhnaf related more information regarding Iraq than other historians, especially regarding Kufah the centre of the Shia. He therefore payed special attention to the issues of the Khawarij and rebellion of the Shia whilst still being attentive to the revolts in other parts of Iraq. He would generally reference Kufi narrations as he was inclined to the opinions of the people of Iraq instead of that of Sham. He was more so inclined to the Alawites and in contradiction to the Umayyad’s.

Taking to this, the Shia consider Abu Mikhnaf a great historian of theirs. A Shia says:

 

كان أبو مخنف من أعاظم مؤرخي الشيعة ، ومع اشتهار تشیعه اعتمد عليه علماء أهل السنة في النقل عنه كالطبري وابن الأثير

Abu Mikhnaf was from amongst the great Shia historians. Even though his tashayyu’ was renowned, the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah relied on him, with the likes of al Tabari and Ibn al Athir narrating from him.[110]

 

However, narrating from his books does not necessitate their relying on him.

Ibn Nadim has listed the names of his works which amount to approximately fifty. Some of them pertain to the fitnah such as, Kitab al Shura wa Maqtal ‘Uthman, Kitab al Jamal, Kitab al Siffin, Kitab Maqtal Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr wa al Ashtar wa Muhammad ibn Abi Hudhayfah, Kitab Ahl al Naharwan wa al Khawarij, and Maqtal ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[111]

Abu Mikhnaf though is not reliable. His tashayyu’ caused him to be biased in that what he narrated regarding the fitnah.

Al Dhahabi says:

إخباري تالف لا يوثق به

He is a corrupt historian, not to be relied upon.[112]

 

He states at another place:

روی عن طائفة من المجهولين .. هو من بابة سيف بن عمر التميمي صاحب األردة و و عوانة بن الحكم

He narrates from a group of unknowns. He is in the category of Saif ibn ‘Umar al Tamimi, author of Al Riddah and ‘Uwanah ibn al Hakam.[113]

 

Yes, Abu Mikhnaf is like these other historians; weak. However, his bias and extreme tashayyu’ makes him far worse.

It ought to be kept in mind that Abu Mikhnaf deliberately falsifies and distorts narrations. Examples of this can be found in narrations that discuss the consultative council that was convened after the murder of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Even though Imam al Bukhari and Abu Mikhnaf narrate the incident from a single individual; ‘Amr ibn Maymun[114], Abu Mikhnaf interpolates the text and introduces deplorable additions.[115]

In the incident of the pledge of allegiance to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he cites the same chain of narration that Imam Ahmed has[116] yet, he changed the wordings and added inconsistent and deplorable phrases.[117]

Comparing the narrations makes this abundantly clear. Consider the following inaccuracies:

  • Abu Mikhnaf omitted mentioning the anger of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu on behalf ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his hastening to assist him.
  • Imam Ahmed did not specify who came to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu at his home. Abu Mikhnaf mentions that they were from the Sahabah.
  • Abu Mikhnaf changed the word ‘khalifah’ to a term common in his era ‘Imam’.
  • Imam Ahmed has mentioned the general pledge of allegiance to him. Whilst Abu Mikhnaf mentions that not all pledged to him citing a group of Ansar had refused to do so.
  • Abu Mikhnaf added deplorable words in his narration that are not found in any other authentic or weak narration. Neither have any of the other historians made mention of it. The added words are:

فقال طلحة : مالنا في هذا الأمر إلا كحسة أنف الكلب

Talhah said, “A dog licking its nose is all we will get from this.”

 

The chains of narrations of Abu Mikhnaf are weak. Yet, the defects with his narrations is not confined to it being weak. His chains of narrations consist of other issues like Irsal[118], Inqita’[119], ‘Adl[120], Tadlis[121], or weakness in the narrators above him.

Imam al Tabari has sourced texts from the books of Abu Mikhnaf verbatim. However, sometimes, he narrates his traditions through the medium of Hisham ibn Muhammad al Kalbi.[122]

He has relied upon him in the events surrounding the Battle of Siffin and the consequences of it such as the Arbitration, conflict with the Khawarij, and martyrdom of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu at one of their hands. In these issues Abu Mikhnaf remains a principle source for Imam al Tabari. The narrations of Abu Mikhnaf in Tarikh al Tabari amount to 344. 67 of these pertain to the fitnah.[123]

 

NEXT⇒ Section Three: His methodology in writing his Tarikh


[1] See, Franz Rosenthal: ‘Ilm al Tarikh ‘inda al Muslimin; and Dr Sami al Saqqar: ‘Ilm al Tarikh ‘inda al Muslimin.

[2] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul. See for instance, vol. 4 pg. 335.

[3] Ibid. See for instance, vol. 4 pg. 372/375/160.

[4] Ibid, vol. 5 pg. 297.

[5] He is Hisham ibn ‘Urwah ibn Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam al Asadi al Qurashi, Abu al Mundhir. A renowned narrator of history and hadith.

  • Ibn Sa’d says, “Reliable, strong, narrator of many hadith, and an authority.”
  • Abu Hatim says, “Reliable, an Imam in hadith.”
  • Al ‘Ijli says, “He was reliable.”
  • ‘Uthman al Darami states relating from Ibn Ma’in, “Reliable.”

He passed away the year 145 A.H/762 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, pg. 229 (the section that deals with the Tabi’in of Madinah); Al Darami: Al Tarikh, pg. 203; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, pg. 459; Ibn Abi Hatim in Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil vol. 9 pg. 63; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 11 pg. 48.

[6] He is Musa ibn ‘Uqbah ibn Abi ‘Ayyash, Abu Muhammad. A reliable specialist of the prophetic life.

  • Imam Malik would praise his knowledge of the battles and would say, “Rely on the incidents of battle as related by Musa ibn ‘Uqbah as he is a reliable man …. He has not embellished as others have.”

Imam al Bukhari has relied upon his narrations of the battles in Al Sahih. There is consensus on his reliability as has been attested to by Imam Ahmed, Ibn Ma’in, al Nasa’i, Abu Hatim, Ibn Hibban, and others. He passed away the year 141 A.H/758 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 594; Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Saghir, vol. 2 pg. 70; Ibn Hibban: Al Thiqat, vol. 3 pg. 248; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 10 pg. 360.

[7] He is Muhammad ibn al Sa’ib ibn Bishr Abu al Nasr al Kalbi, the historian and mufassir. He was an authority in genealogy; however, he was a Shia whose narrations are discarded, an is not reliable.

  • Ibn Hibban says, “He was a Saba’i. He ascribed to the belief of those who would state that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had not passed away and that he would return to the world. When they would see a cloud they would say Amir al Mu’minin is in it.”
  • Ahmed says, “The tafsir of al Kalbi is made up of lies. It is not permissible to read it.”

He died the year 146 A.H/763 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 6 pg. 249; Ibn Abi Hatim in Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil vol. 7 pg. 280; Ibn Hibban: Al Majruhin, vol. 2 pg. 253; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 9 pg. 180.

[8] He is Muhammad ibn Nuwayrah, from amongst the teachers of Saif ibn ‘Umar. He narrates from Umm ‘Uthman—from Abu Miknaf. See, Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 8 pg. 110.

[9] He is Talhah ibn al A’lam Abu al Haytham al Hanafi. A resident of Rayy. Sufyan al Thawri and Saif ibn ‘Umar narrate from him. See, Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 277; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 4 pg. 482.

[10] He is ‘Attiyah ibn al Harith Abu Rawq al Hamdani al Kufi. Amongst the great narrators of Kufah. He narrates from Anas, ‘Ikrimah, Al Sha’bi, Al Dahhak, and others.

  • Ahmed, al Nasa’i, and al Fasawi say, “There is no issue with him.”
  • Ibn Ma’in says, “He is good.”
  • Abu Hatim says, “Truthful.”

Ibn Sa’d has counted him amongst the fifth tabaqah stating, “He is the one with the tafsir.” His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 6 pg. 369; Al Fasawi: Al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh, vol. 3 pgs. 106, 199; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 6 pg. 382; Ibn Hibban: Al Thiqat, vol. 7 pg. 277; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 7 pg. 224.

[11] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pgs. 326-340.

[12] I could not locate his profile amongst the available resources.

[13] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pgs. 326-340.

[14] Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 247.

[15] Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 137.

[16] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 3 pgs. 249-341.

[17] Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 137.

[18] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 2 pgs. 455-562.

[19] Ibid, vol. 4 pgs. 326-340.

[20] He is ‘Ubaidullah ibn Sa’d ibn Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdur rahman ibn ‘Awf al Zuhri, Abu al Fadl al Baghdadi. He was appointed as judge of Asbahan.

  • Ibn Abi Hatim says, “Truthful.”
  • Al Nasa’i says, “There is no issue with him.”

Al Khatib and al Daraqutni have cited him as reliable. He passed away the year 260 A.H/873 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 5 pg. 317; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 9 pg. 472; Al Dhahabi: Al Kashif, vol. 2 pg. 192; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 7 pg. 15.

[21] The author will discuss two chains of narrations. They are as follows:

1) Al Tabari — ‘Ubaidullah ibn Sa’d al Zuhri — Yaqub ibn Ibrahim ibn Sa’d al Zuhri — Saif ibn ‘Umar

2) Al Tabari — Al Sariyy ibn Yahya ibn al Sariyy al Tamimi — Shu’ayb ibn Ibrahim al Kufi — Saif ibn ‘Umar.

[22] He is Sa’d ibn Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdur rahman ibn ‘Awf al Zuhri, Abu Ishaq al Baghdadi. He was appointed as judge over Wasit during the caliphate of Harun al Rashid. He was then appointed as the judge over the army of al Mahdi during the caliphate of al Ma’mun. Ibn Sa’d and Ibn Ma’in have deemed him reliable.

  • Al ‘Ijli says, “There is no issue with him.”
  • Abu Dawood narrating from Ahmed says, “There was no issue with him.”

He passed away the year 201 A.H/816 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 190; Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Kabir, 2/2/52; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, pg. 177; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 3 pg. 462.

[23] He is Yunus ibn Muhammad al Baghdadi al Hafidh. He narrates from Dawood ibn Abi al Furat, Salih al Mizzi, and Layth ibn Sa’d.

  • ‘Uthman al Darami narrating from Ibn Ma’in states, “Reliable.”
  • Yaqub ibn Sahybah says, “He is reliable, reliable.”
  • Abu Hatim says, “Truthful.”

He passed away the year 207 A.H/A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Darami: Al Tarikh, pg. 228; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 9 pg. 246; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 14 pg. 350; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 11 pg. 447.

[24] Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 7 pg. 15.

[25] He is Yaqub ibn Ibrahim ibn Sa’d ibn Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdur rahman ibn ‘Awf al Zuhri, Abu Yusuf al Madani. A narrator of maghazi.

  • Ibn Sa’d says, “He was reliable and trustworthy.”
  • ‘Uthman al Darami narrating from Ibn Ma’in states, “Reliable.”
  • Al ‘Ijli says, “Madani, reliable.”
  • Abu Hatim says, “Truthful.”

He passed away the year 208 A.H/823 A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Darami: Al Tarikh, pg. 230; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 9 pg. 202; and Al Dhahabi: Al Kashif, vol. 3 pg. 254.

[26] Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 4 pg. 285.

[27] Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 4 pg. 285.

[28] Muhammad Abu al Fadl: Faharis min Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 10 pg. 261.

[29] Ibn Hajar: Lisan al Mizan, vol. 2 pg. 145.

[30] Al Dhahabi: Mizan al I’tidal, vol. 2 pg. 145.

[31] Muhammad Abu al Fadl: Faharis min Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 10 pg. 284.

[32] Ibid, vol. 10 pg. 280.

[33] Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 4 pg. 278.

[34] Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 245.

[35] Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 245.

[36] Al Nasa’i: Kitab al Du’afa wa al Matrukin, pg. 123; Al Daraqutni: Al Du’afa wa al Matrukun, pg. 243.

[37] Ibn Hibban: Al Majruhin, vol. 1 pg. 345.

[38] Ibn Hajar: Al Taqrib, vol. 1 pg. 344.

[39] Al Dhahabi: Al Mizan, vol. 2 pg. 255.

[40] Ibn Hajar: Al Taqrib, vol. 1 pg. 344.

[41] Jawad ‘Ali, Mawarid Tarikh al Tabari’, Majallah al Majma’ al ‘Ilmi al Iraqi. Issue 3 1374 A.H. 1954 A.D. pg. 49.

[42] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pgs. 498/500/501.

[43] This book has been published in Beirut by Dar al Nafa’is in 1391 A.H/1972.

[44] Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 3 pg. 3.

[45] Al Dhahabi: Al Mizan, vol. 3 pg. 662.

[46] Ibn Hajar: Al Taqrib, vol. 2 pg. 194.

[47] He is Yaqub ibn Shaybah ibn al Salt ibn ‘Asfur al Sadusi, Abu Yusuf. He was a reliable scholar of hadith and a master in the Maliki school of thought. He has authored Al Musnad al Kabir al Mu’allal. He passed away the year 262 A.H/875 A.D. His life has been recorded by Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 14 pg. 281; Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirah al Huffaz, vol. 2 pg. 577; and Ibn Farhun: Al Dibaj, pg. 355.

[48] Each load between 83kg to 301kg. The weight differing by city.

[49] Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 144.

[50] Al Waqidi: Al Maghazi, vol. 1.

[51] Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 3 pg. 6.

[52] Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirah al Huffaz, vol. 1 pg. 348.

[53] Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 532.

[54] Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Kabir, 1/1/77; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 8 pg. 20.

[55] Al Nasa’i: Kitab al Du’afa wa al Matrukin, pg. 217.

[56] Al Daraqutni: Al Du’afa, pg. 347.

[57] He is ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar al Sa’di al Madini al Basri, Abu al Hassan. Historian and scholar of hadith. Amongst the great memorizers of his era. Amongst his books are, Al Asami wa al Kuna, Al Tabaqat, Al Du’afa, ‘Ilal al Musnad, Man Rawa ‘an Rajul wa lam Yarahu, Man la Yuhtajj bi Hadithihi wa la Yasqut, Al Wahm wa al Khata’, Al Thiqat wa al Muthbitin, Mazahib al Muhaddithin and ‘Ilal al Hadith wa Ma’rifah al Rijal. He passed away the year 234 A.H. 849 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 7 pg. 308; Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Kabir, 3/2/284; Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 322; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 11 pg. 458; and Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirah al Huffaz, vol. 2 pg. 428.

[58] Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 9 pg. 367.

[59] I’tibar (consideration) is the process in which a hadith critic would collect all the reports that a transmitter had narrated from various teachers and then analyse them for corroboration.

[60] Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 8 pg. 21.

[61] Abu Nuaim: Kitab al Du’afa, pg. 146. See the annotations regarding al Waqidi in the footnotes.

[62] He is Mus’ab ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Mus’ab ibn Thabit al Zubairi al Asadi al Madani. He was a noble person was well versed in genealogy.

  • Al Zubair ibn Bakkar says, “He was the most noble of the Quraysh, knowledgeable and well versed in poetry and rhetoric.
  • Ibn Ma’in and al Daraqutni have deemed him reliable.
  • Ahmed says, “Trustworthy.”

He has authored Nasab Quraysh and Al Nasab al Kabir. He passed away the year 326 A.H/850 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 567; Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. 7 pg. 344; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 13 pg. 114; and Al Dhahabi: Al Kashif, vol. 3 pg. 113.

[63] Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 9 pg. 366.

[64] Ibid, vol. 9 pg. 365.

[65] Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 9 pg. 365.

[66] Ibid, vol. 9 pg. 469.

[67] He is Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Sayed al Nas al Ya’muri al Rab’i al Misri, Abu al Fath. Muhaddith, historian, and scholar. He has written, ‘Uyun al Athar fi Funun al Maghazi wa al Siyar and Tahsil al Isabah fi Tafdil al Sahabah. He passed away the year 734 A.H/1334 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Hajar: Al Durar al Kaminah, vol. 4 pg. 208; Ibn Taghribirdi: Al Nujum al Zahirah, vol. 9 pg. 303; and Al Shawkani: Al Badr al Tali’, vol. 2 pg. 249.

[68] Ibn Sayed al Nas: ‘Uyun al Athar, vol. 1 pg. 26-27.

[69] Al Waqidi: Futuh al Sham, pgs. 14-18.

[70] Ibid, pg. 163.

[71] Ibid, pg. 5.

[72] Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 111.

[73] Al Khawansari: Rawdat al Jannat, vol. 7 pg. 268.

[74] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 356.

[75] He is Muhammad ibn Salih ibn Dinar al Tammar, Abu ‘Abdullah al Madani. He narrates from ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, Muhammad ibn al Munkadir, al Zuhri, and others.

  • Ahmed says, “Reliable, reliable.”
  • Al Ajurri relating from Abu Dawood says, “Reliable.”
  • Al ‘Ijli says, “Madani, reliable.”
  • Ibn Sa’d says, “He was of strong intellect. He has met people and attained knowledge as well as the maghazi. He was reliable, narrated few hadith.”
  • ‘Abdur rahman ibn Abi al Zinad says, “My father said to me, ‘If you want an authentic source of maghazi, go to Muhammad ibn Salih al Tammar.’”

He passed away the year 168 A.H/784 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, pg. 446 (section of the Tabi’in of Madinah); Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Kabir, 1/1/117; Al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, pg. 405; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 7 pg. 287; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 9 pg. 225.

[76] He is ‘Asim ibn ‘Umar ibn Qatadah ibn al No’man al Zafari al Ansari al Madani, Abu ‘Umar. A scholar from the Tabi’in. Those that critique form a consensus on his reliability, nobility, and knowledge of maghazi. He narrates from Jabir, Anas, and others.

  • Ibn Ma’in, Abu Zur’ah, and al Nasa’i have deemed him reliable.
  • Ibn Sa’d says, “He was a narrator of knowledge. He was well versed in maghazi and sirah. ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz instructed him to hold a gathering in the Masjid of Damascus and narrate to the people the maghazi and virtues of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. He complied to the request. He was reliable and narrated much ahadith. A scholar.”

He passed away the year 126 A.H/743 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Sa’d: Al Tabaqat al Kubra, pg. 128 (section of the Tabi’in of Madinah); Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Kabir, 3/2/478; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 6 pg. 346; and Al Dhahabi: Al Mizan, vol. 2 pg. 355.

[77] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 359.

[78] Jawad ‘Ali, Mawarid Tarikh al Tabari’, Issue 3 1374 A.H. 1954 A.D. pg. 56.

[79] See, Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 163; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 11 pg. 208; Yaqut: Mujam al Udaba’, vol. 16 pg. 60; Al Nawawi: Tahdhib al Asma’’ wa al Lughat 1/2/16; Ibn Khallikan: Wafayat al A’yan, vol. 3 pg. 440; Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirah al Huffaz, vol. 2 pg. 510; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 7 pg. 460.

[80] Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 6 pg. 116.

[81] Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 7 pg. 460.

[82] Ibn Hibban: Al Thiqat, vol. 8 pg. 446.

[83] Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 11 pg. 208.

[84] He is Muhammad ibn Yazid al Rab’i, Abu ‘Abdullah ibn Majah al Qazwini. A muhaddith and great memorizer.

  • Al Khalili says, “Reliable, giant, relied upon by consensus, and whose narrations are adduced in legal discourse. He was well versed in hadith and held a unique memory. He has authored works in hadith, tafsir, and history. he was a master in these fields.”

From amongst his books are Al Sunan, Tafsir al Qur’an, and Tarikh Qazwin. He passed away the year 273 A.H/887 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn al Jawzi: Al Muntazam, vol. 5 pg. 90; Ibn Khallikan: Wafayat al A’yan, vol. 4 pg. 279; Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirah al Huffaz, vol. 2 pg. 636; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 9 pg. 530.

[85] He is Ahmed ibn Yahya ibn Jabir al Baghdadi al Baladhuri, historian, writer, and linguist. He has authored Al Tarikh al Kabir.

  • Al Dhahabi says: “He was an exceptional writer and a good poet. He regressed in old age due to the consumption of Baladhur (marking nuts) for strengthening memory.”

Amongst his books are, Ansab al Ashraf, Al Qarabah wa Tarikh al Ashraf, Futuh al Buldan, and Kitab al Buldan al Kabir. He passed away the year 279 A.H/892 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 164; Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 2 pg. 112, Yaqut: Mujam al Udaba’, vol. 5 pg. 89; and Ibn Hajar: Lisan al Mizan, vol. 1 pg. 322.

[86] He is ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaid al Qurashi al Baghdadi ibn Abi al Dunya. Educator and Prolific author.

  • Abu Hatim says, “Truthful.”
  • Al Khatib says, “He educated more than one of the children of the Khalifas.”

Amongst his works are. Al Tarikh, Tarikh al Khalifas, Maqtal ‘Uthman, Maqtal ‘Ali, Maqtal Talhah, Maqtal Zubair, Al Maghazi, Fada’il ‘Ali, Akhbar Muawiyah, Akhbar Quraysh, Akhbar al A’rab, Dhamm al Dunya, Al Zuhd, Qasr al Amal, Dhamm al Malahi, Maka’id al Shaitan, and Ahwal al Qiyamah.

He passed away the year 281 A.H/894 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 5 pg. 163; Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 262; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 10 pg. 89; and Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 11 pg. 71.

[87] He is ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al Baghawi al Baghdadi, al Imam, al Hafiz, al Hujjah.

  • Abu Muhammad al Ramahurmuzi says, “There is no other known muhaddith in Islam that matches Baghawi in early narrations.”
  • Al Daraqutni says, “Reliable, a giant. An Imam from the expert Imams. He was one with the least mistakes from the scholars. His views in hadith is better than the views of Ibn Sa’id.”

From his books are Mujam al Sahabah, Ma’alim al Tanzil, Fan al Tafsir, Al Musnad, and Al Sunan. He passed away the year 317 A.H/929 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 325; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 10 pg. 111; Ibn Abi Ya’la: Tabaqat al Hanabilah, vol. 1 pg. 190; and Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirah al Huffaz, vol. 2 pg. 737.

[88] Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 7 pg. 460.

[89] Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 163.

[90]  Ibn Hajar: Al Fath, vol. 13 pg. 54

[91] It is printed in four volumes with annotations by Muhammad Shaltut. It has been published by Dar al Asfahani the year 1393 A.H/1973 A.D.

[92] See, for example, Tarikh al Madinah, vol. 3 pg. 907

[93] Ibid, vol. 2 pg. 763.

[94] Ibid, vol. 1 pg. 176.

[95] He is Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn Yasar al Kinani, Abu Ghassan al Madani. He narrates from Malik ibn Anas, Al Darawardi, Ibn ‘Uyaynah, and others.

  • Al Hafiz Abu Bakr al Shatbi says, “He was renowned and reliable. Knowledgeable in hadith, linguistics, and tafsir. From a home of knowledge and intellect.”
  • Al Daraqutni says, “Reliable.”
  • Al Nasa’i says, “There is no issue with him.”
  • Ibn Hibban has counted him amongst the reliable narrators.

He is from the tenth tabaqah. His life has been recorded by Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Kabir, 1/1/266; Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 8 pg. 123; and Ibn Hajar: Al Tahdhib, vol. 9 pg. 517.

[96] Tarikh al Madinah, vol. 1 pg. 62.

[97] Ibid, vol. 1 pg. 291.

[98] Ibid, vol. 1 pg. 16.

[99] Ibid, vol. 2 pg. 763.

[100] Tadlis refers to the practice of narrating a hadith in manner that obscures or omits transmitters in the isnad, either intentionally or unintentionally

[101] Ibid, vol. 1 pg. 61-79.

[102] Ibid, vol. pg. 129.

[103] Ibid, vol. 1 pg. 61.

[104] Ibid, vol. 2 pg. 688.

[105] Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 12 pg. 371.

[106] Muhammad Abu al Fadl, vol. 10 pg. 348.

[107] He is Ahmed ibn al Harith ibn al Mubarak al Khazzaz al Baghdadi. Historian and poet. Amongst his works are, Maghazi al Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wa Sarayahu, Asma’ al Khalifas wa Kuttabihim, Maghazi al Bahr fi Dawlah Bani Hashim, Al Masalik wa al Mamalik, and Al Akhbar wa al Nawadir. He passed away the year 258 A.H/872 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 152; Al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 4 pg. 122; and Yaqut: Mujam al Udaba’, vol. 3 pgs. 3-8.

[108] Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 10 pg. 400.

[109] Ibn Qutaybah: Al Ma’arif, pg. 234.

[110] Agha Buzurg Tehrani: Al Dhari’ah ila Tasanif al Shia, vol. 1 pg. 312.

[111] Ibn al Nadim: Al Fihrist, pg. 105-106.

[112] Al Dhahabi: Al Mizan, vol. 3 pg. 419.

[113] Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’, vol. 7 pg. 302.

[114] He is ‘Amr ibn Maymun al Awdi, Abu ‘Abdullah. He is also known as Abu Yahya al Kufi. A Mukhadram Tabi’i. He lived through the age of ignorance but did not meet Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

  • Ibn Ma’in, al Nasa’i, and al ‘Ijli have deemed him reliable.
  • Ibn Hibban has counted him amongst the reliable narrators.

He passed away the year 75 A.H/694 A.D. His life has been recorded by Ibn Ma’in: Al Tarikh, vol. 2 pg. 454; Al Bukhari: Al Tarikh al Kabir, 3/2/367; and Ibn Hibban: Al Thiqat, vol. 5 pg. 166.

[115] See, Sahih al Bukhari, vol. 4 pg. 204 and Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 227.

[116] Ahmed: Fada’il al Sahabah, vol. 2 pg. 573.

[117] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 4 pg. 429.

[118] A mursal hadith is when a transmitter cites someone or the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam without actually having met him.

[119] A broken chain.

[120] Mu’dal (confusing/problematic) report can refer to a hadith with an isnad that contains two or more missing consecutive links.

[121] Mudallis refers to a transmitter who (sometimes) transmits with obfuscation in his transmission; either intentionally or unintentionally narrating a hadith in manner that obscures or omits transmitters in the isnad.

[122] See, Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, vol. 5 pgs. 39,42,106,113, and 173.

[123] Muhammad Abu al Fadl, vol. 10 pg. 383.

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