Abdullah Ibn Saba’ and Other Myths
- :Sayyid Murtada Al-Askari
Abdullah Ibn Saba’and Other Myths
Author : Sayyid Murtada Al-Askari
Comments by Doctor Hƒmamid Hafni Dawood, Professor in Arabic Language in Cairo University.
The 1300th Birthday of Islam has been celebrated. During this time some of our learned writers have accused Shi'ahs of not having Islamic views. Those writers influenced public opinion against Shi'ahs and created deep gaps between Muslims. In spite of wisdom and learning, the enemies of the Shi'ah followed their self chosen beliefs and partiality, covering the truth, and accusing Shi'ahs of being superstitious etc. Hence Islamic Science suffered much, as Shi'ah views were suppressed.
As a result of these accusations, the loss to Islamic Science was greater than the loss suffered by the Shi'ah themselves because the source of this jurisprudence, though rich and fruitful, was neglected, resulting in limited knowledge.
Alas, in the past our learned men were prejudiced, otherwise we would have benefited from many Shi'ah views. Anyone who wishes to do research in Islamic Jurisprudence must consider Shi'ah sources as well as those of Sunni. Was not the Shi'ah's leader. al-Imam Ja'far al-Sƒladeq (d. 148 H.L.), the teacher of two Sunni Imams? i.e. Abu Hƒmanifah al-No'man Bin al-Thabet (d. 150 H.L.) and-Abu ' Abdullah Malik Bin Anas (d. 179 H.L.).
Abu Hƒman.fah said, "Except for the two years No'man would have starved," referring to the two years he had benefited from the knowledge of al-Imam Ja'far al-Sƒladeq. Malik also confessed straight forwardly, that he had not met anyone learned in Islamic Jurisprudence than al-Imam Ja'far al-Sƒladeq.
Yet so called learned men, unfortunately disregard the rules for research to suit their own ends. Hence knowledge is not fully disclosed to them, and they create a wider gap between Muslims. Ahƒumed Ameen was one of those deprived of the light of knowledge, remaining in darkness, even though the candle of Shi'ah was always shining and there was no other light.
History has recorded this stain on the robe of Ahƒumed Ameen and his friends, who blindly followed one special sect ?X Madhhab. Of the many mistakes made by him, the biggest is told in the story of 'Abdullah Bin Saba.. This is one of the tales told in order to accuse Shi'ahs of heresy and foregoing events.
The great contemporary researcher, the Reverend al- Sayed Murtadƒua al-'Askari, in his book 'Abdullah Bin Saba., has proved with substantial evidence, that 'Abdullah Bin Saba. was fictitious, and it is therefore a greater lie to say he was the founder of Shi'ism.
Al-Sayed Murtadƒua al-'Askari has been deeply involved in history and has proved from Sunni sources that the enemies of Shi'ah are false.
From the early days of Islam up to the present, stories like those about 'Abdullah Bin Saba. told by Saif Bin 'Omar, were believed as being from reliable sources, but in this book extensive research has been made concerning these stories. in order to facilitate the finding of the truth about them.
God has decreed that some learned men disclose the truth regardless of the blame they may get. The pioneer in this field is the honourable author of this book, who has made the Sunni learned men of research revise the history book of Tƒlabari, (History of Nations and Kings) and to sift out the authentic stories from the false. The stories which remained unchanged and unaltered for centuries like God's Revelations.
The honourable writer, with much evidence, has stripped the veil or ambiguity from those historical events. and in the best way disclosed the truth, to such an extent that some facts seem frightful. Of course some of. them appear to be incredible, for they contradict the beliefs of a lifetime, and our religious legacy ?X centuries old. But we have to obey the truth no matter how difficult they appear. "The truth is the best to be followed."
To know what it is all about, one has to read this book and scrutinise the events of which there are different opinions; such as:
"The Army of Osama."
"The death of the honoured Prophet."
"The story of Saq.fa."
All of which have been examined by the author. When the messenger of God was on his deathbed, some men left the Army of Osama without permission, and went back to Medina with the hope of gaining some privileged office. The author introduces these people to us. On his deathbed the Prophet wanted to make a will, but some people ignored this wish, and called it the ravings of a dying man. Perhaps they were afraid of the possibility of his introducing al-Imam Ali as his successor.
The author discloses the truth about these events. What 'Omar had in his mind to deny the death of the Holy Prophet? Why was he threatening to put to death, those who were spreading the news of the Prophet's death?
During the time when al-Imam Ali and the cousins of the Prophet, his uncle 'Abbas and the elders were washing the corpse of the Prophet, 'Omar and Abu 'Obeydah hurriedly came to Saq.fa (a room with a roofed veranda) and demanded the people to give their allegiance to Abubakr.
Yet if they had waited until the burial of the Prophet was over, Ali was the only candidate for the successor of the Prophet, and Bani-Hashim knew not anyone else.
The author, under the three titles previously mentioned, has sifted truth from falsehood, good from bad, until he has reached the obvious reality; and because of his research, the doors of deception and fraud are closed for ever-more to the plotters.
Other subjects in this book show the truth so clearly, that in the very near future, a vast reform in the history of Islam will come about.
I would like to put three questions to the readers before ending my article.
1. Can a close companion of the Prophet make a mistake?
2. Can we criticise his work?
3. Can we say that the respected companion of the Prophet is a hypocrite or an unbeliever?
The answers to the first two are positive, but the answer to the third is in the negative ?X not because I am biased and am saying some thing against logic ?X no I have a rational reason and a logical one, for unbelief and hypocrisy are from the heart, and no one except God, knows the contents of our hearts and the secrets of people. I am pleased to pay great respect to this book and its honourable author, the very learned researcher Sayed Mortaza Askari. I am also pleased with Mr. Mortaza Rezvi Keshmiri (The publisher) who has produced this book in a pleasing form. He has fulfilled his duty, a service to Islam. This responsibility will carry much weight in the revival of true Islamic history.
12th October, 1961
Cairo ?X Egypt
The above article was written by a learned Sunni man, who has broken the barrier of fanaticism and quarrelling for the sake of quarrelling.
AL-SHEIKH JAWAD MUGHNIAH
(A Shi'ah Scholar)
"Everything in this world is changing, except the writings against Shi'ah. To every beginning there is an end, except the accusations against Shi'ah. Every verdict is supported by evidence, except the one against Shi'ah. Why? Are Shi'ahs trouble makers or violent agitators, who only want to disturb people?"
Here is the answer.
In the second century of the Islamic Era (H.L.) lived a man called Saif Bin 'Omar al-Tam.m.. He wrote two books:-
1. al-Fatooh Wal Reddah.
2. al-Jamal Wa Maseeri 'Ayeshah Wa Ali.
He served two purposes in his two books:-
1. Inventing stories without foundation.
2. Recording events in such a way that truth appeared to be false, and false appeared to be truth.
He invented Companions (Sƒlahƒuab.) for the Prophet such as So'eer, Hazhaz, Otƒztƒz, Hƒmomaizƒwa, etc. He recorded his stories in such a way that they appeared to have been told by the people who met these Sƒlahƒuab.es. Among his fictional heroes is 'Abdullah Bin Saba., who was supposed to have related tales about Shi'ah; all stories against Shi'ahs, recorded by all historians originate from Saif.
After Saif, the historians accepted his books as the gospel truth. Tƒlabari was the first historian who relied upon Saif.
Other historians, Ibn Ath.r and Ibn 'Asaker, among them, followed Tƒlabari blindly. Saif invented stories and muddled authentic events but the only source of all his stories is his own books 'al-Fatooh' and 'al-Jamal.'
The book 'Abdullah Bin Saba. proves that the above statement is true and its knowledgeable author's task, is to show the truth as it was, without gilding the lily. Not a single learned man can deny, or doubt, anything which Sayed Mortaza al-'Askari has written because the book is based on logical proofs and no one can deny logic and axioms.
I have discussed 'Abdullah Bin Saba. with many people, but I answered them as previous learned men have done, except that I made it easier for them to understand, that I believed in the existence of 'Abdullah Bin Saba.. Now, the very learned al-Sayed Mortaza al-'Askari, has changed the story completely, and proved that 'Abdullah Bin Saba. is fictitious. I may say that this is the first Arabic book to have examined history scientifically.
The author has done a great service not only for religion, knowledge and Shi'ahs but for Islam. He has closed the door to those who wanted to disturb Muslim unity, and to those Sunnis who get courage from their false stories. Today their first and only evidence, the stories of Bin Saba and Bin Sauda invented by Saif, have been proved to be false.
Finally, may I point out that this book is to be published and sold at a low price, in order that all Muslims can know the story. It is to be translated into many languages.
Comme nts by
PROFESSOR JAMES ROBINSON
D.Litt., D.D.Glasgow, U.K. Dear Sayyid Mortazƒwa al-'Askari, It was in the middle of last August that I received from you the copies of your two works, 'Abdullah Bin Saba. wa- Asatƒzir ukhra ,and Khams.n wa-mi'at Sƒlahab. mukhtalq, al- Qism al-awwal. At the time I wrote to you to say that I am now aged and not in perfect health, therefore I would need time to study these books.
It has taken me even longer than I had imagined; but I have read the books twice with great interest, and although I should have like to write at some length, I feel I must write to express my admiration of the methods adopted and the careful scholarship shown in the two books. At my age I cannot look forward with confidence to being able to write and so I feel I must delay no longer in case I find I am unable to write.
In the first book I liked the detailed account of the conventional story of 'Abdullah Bin Saba. and the Sabaiyya, followed by a valuable discussion of writers (ancient and modern) in East and West and the sources on which they depended. The table on p.57 is very helpful in showing the main sources of information about Saif and his traditions and how later writers depended on one or other of these.
Then comes a list of a number of authorities who expressed opinions on the worth of Saif's traditions, from Abu Daw.d (d. 275 ?X the text wrongly says 316) to Ibn Hƒmajar (d. 852). As they all speak critically, using such words and "weak," "his traditions are abandoned," "Worthless," "liar," "suspected of being Zind.q," etc., they agree in asserting the unreliability, or even falseness of the traditions. This is an over-whelming argument. In studying the opinions of authorities on different traditionists, I have noted that all do not agree. But here there is no disagreement which makes one wonder why later writers have been so ready to accept Saif's material.
But I should like to make a remark about Tƒlabari who has no hesitation in quoting Saif. His history is not a historical work in the manner of modern writing, for his main purpose seems to have been to record all the information in his possession without necessarily expressing an opinion on its value. One is, therefore, prepared to find that some of his material is less reliable than others. So, perhaps we can excuse him for using a method not approved nowadays. He has at least provided a mass of information. It remains for acute scholars like yourself to distinguish between the genuine and the false.
In discussing a number of topics mentioned by Saif, the argument is conducted in a very effective manner, first giving Saif's account and then comparing it with accounts given by others. This careful comparison deals both with the material and the sanad, and it is shown that Saif often quotes men who are unknown. This raises the question why none of them should have been quoted by other transmitters, and leads one further to suggest that Saif has invented them. This serious accusation is a reasonable assumption by comparing Saif with others.
It is pointed out that Saif has stories miraculous of happenings which are difficult to believe, such as desert sands becoming water for Muslim armies, seas becoming sand, cattle speaking and informing the Muslim army where they were hidden, etc. In Saif's time it was possible for him to succeed in passing off such stories as history, but nowadays the critical student naturally finds such stories quite impossible. Effective arguments are also used to show how Saif's information about Ibn Saba and the Saba'iyya is quite unreliable.
The author suggests that some orientalists have based their studies on Saif's information, matters such as the huge number of people killed in the early Muslim wars, the idea that an unknown Jew, Ibn Saba., could have been the influence to lead astray companions of the Prophet from their faith, and have been the leading influence in stirring up the people to revolt against 'Uthman and cause his murder, and stir up the fighting engaged in by Ali with Tƒlalhƒua and al- Zubayr. This may be true of some, but it has not been true of all. This is apparent from the articles on 'Abdullah Bin Saba. in the first and second editions of the Encyclopaedia of Islam.
Saif spends much time manufacturing heroes from Tam.m, the tribe to which Saif traced his genealogy, but Sir William Muir long ago told how Tam.m had to submit to the forces of the early Caliphate at the time of what is called the Apostasy. Sir Thomas Arnold may also be noted as drawing attention to the fact that the early conquests were not so much for the purpose of spreading the faith as for extending the sphere of Muslim rule.
In the second book attention is drawn to the fact that Saif who lived in the first quarter of the second century belonged to Tam.m, one of the Mudar tribes who live in Kufa. This helps one to study his tendencies and the influences leading to this legends. There is discussion of Zind.q and of Manichaeanism. Party spirit is said to have continued from the Prophet's time, till that of the 'Abbasids.'
Saif upholds the northern tribes, inventing heroes, poets praising the tribe's heroes, companions of the Prophet from Tam.m, wars and battles which had no reality, millions killed and large numbers of prisoners with the purpose glorifying the heroes he invented. Poems attributed to imaginary heroes were in praise of Mudar, then Tam.m, then B. 'Amr, the subtribe to which Saif traced his origin. Saif mentioned men of Mudar as leaders of battles which were led by men of other tribes, his fictitious leaders some-times being real people, sometimes names produced by his imagination. It is argued that the falseness of his information was partly to upset the faith of many and partly to give non-Muslims a wrong conception. He was so skilful in his forgeries that they were .accepted as genuine history.
This is a brief summary of some of the wrongs of which Saif was guilty. The aim part of the book goes into details about twenty three men, giving examples of Saif's material and showing how he differed from genuine authorities not only in material but also in sanad by using names of nonexisting people. The work is done with great detail presenting overwhelming argument against Saif's reliability in spite of the notable writers who include information in their writings. Two of Saif's books are discussed showing that they are as unreliable as other material later authors have quoted from him. This is a most penetrating study undertaken with keen perception and a high quality of criticism. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity of spending quite a considerable time in studying the arguments which appeal to me as fully convincing, and I am sure that all who study these books with an open mind will readily appreciate the force of the arguments.
With many thanks for sending me these books, and apologise for having, on account of age and other infirmities, been so long in replying.
In His Glorious Name
The historians say that a Jew called 'Abdullah Bin Saba. was converted to Islam at the time of 'Othman the Caliph, in order to fulfil his aims at peace by making enemies within the Muslim community. This 'Abdullah Bin Saba. spread the following ideas among Muslims.
a) The resurrection of the Prophet.
b) All Prophets have had successors . the successor of the Prophet Mohammad is Ali, his cousin and son-in-law. He has been deprived of his divine office by 'Othman the Caliph, and therefore it is necessary to revolt against eOthman in favour of Ali.
Abdullah Bin Saba. formed a party called Saba.ia, and this party rioted and killed Othman, the third Caliph. They also made mischief between the armies of Ali and T.alh.a, his enemy, during the time when peace negotiations were expected at the battle of Jamal near Basra. The Sabaia who were enrolled in both armies, fired shots one early morning, without waiting for any order from the commandants, and thus they started the war. Therefore, this Jew was the real cause of all these mischiefs and wars among Muslims, and he is the man who spread the idea of resurrection of the Prophet Mohammad, and the idea of Ali being the successor of the Prophet among the Muslims.
The tale of 'Abdullah Bin Saba. is over twelve centuries old. Historians and writers, one after the other recorded it, adding more and more to it.
All historians agree that the story was told first of all by Saif.
The following historians recorded directly from Saif:-
2) Dhahabi . He has also cited from T.abari.
3) Ibn Abi Baker . He has also recorded from Ibn Ath.r 15, who has recorded from T.abari.
4) Ibn 'Asaker.
The following have recorded indirectly from Saif:-
5) Nicholson from T.abari 2.
6) Encyclopaedia of Islam from T.abari 2.
7) Van Floton from T.abari 2.
8) Wellhauzen from T.abari 2.
9) Mirkhand from T.abari 2.
10) Ah.mad Amin from T.abari 2, and from Wellhauzen.
11) Farid Wajdi from T.abari 2.
12) H.asan Ibrahim from T.abari 2.
13) Sa'eed Afghani from T.abari 2, and from Ibn Abi Baker 3, Ibn 'Asaker 4, and Ibn Badran 21.
14) Ibn Khaldoun from T.abari 2.
15) Ibn Ath.r from T.abari 2.
16) Ibn Kath.r from T.abari 2.
17) Donaldson from Nicholson 5 and Encyclopaedia 6.
18) Ghiathud Din from Mirkhand 9.
19) Abulfeda. from Ibn Ath.r 15.
20) Rash.d Rez.a from Ibn Ath.r 15.
21) Ibn Badran from Ibn 'Asaker 4.
22) Bostani from Ibn Kath.r 16.
The above list gives evidence to the fact that the story of 'Abdullah Bin Saba. has been started by Saif and cited primarily from T.abari. Therefore, Saif's character and history should be studied and analysed with great care.
WHO IS SAIF? (SHORT BIOGRAPHY)Saif Bin 'Omar Tam.m. lived in the second century of the Muslim era (8th century A.D.) and died after the year 170 H.L. (750 A.D.). He wrote two books.
1. al-Fotouh. wal Reddah which is the history of the period before the death of the Prophet until the third Caliph 'Othman resumed office as the ruler of Muslim world. 2. al-Jamal wa Maseer 'Ayesha wa Ali which is the history from the murder of 'Othman to the battle of Jamal. These two books contain more fiction than truth; some forged stories, and some true event which, intentionally, have been recorded in a ridiculing manner.
Since Saif spoke of some of the companions of the Prophet, and also invented some, his stories have affected the history of early Islam. Some biographers such as the authors of Osdulghabah, Esti'ab and Es.abah and geographers such as the authors of Mo'jamul Boldan and Alrowz.olme'tar have written the lives of some companions of the Prophet, and named places which exist only in the books written by Saif. Because of this, the life and character of Saif must be investigated thoroughly and carefully. The result of the investigation into Saif's life shows that Saif was an agnostic and an unreliable story teller. Stories told by him are dubious and are entirely or partly forged. The following are some stories told by him:-
1. The Army of OsamaThe Prophet prepared an army to be sent to Syria. The cammander of this army was Osama. Before the last column of the army left the moat (city limits) of Medina, the Prophet died. Osama sear 'Omar to get the approval of Abubakr the successor of the Prophet. 'Omar also carried a message from some of the helpers (Ans.ar) suggesting that commandant Osama be changed. Abubakr heard the message, jumped up, and grabbed 'Omar by his beard, insulted him by saying, "The Prophet made Osama the commandant. I will not change him." He ordered the immediate despatch , of the army and cursed saying, " A plague on you."
Other historians of the time have recorded this event differently.
2. Saqifa, pavilion of Bani Sa'edahOn the very day that the Prophet died, says Saif, all the Mohajer.n supported Abubakr as being the successor to the Prophet, except those who renounced Islam. The news of the election of Abubakr so excited Ali that he came in, wearing his shirt only. He shook hands in friendship with Abubakr and later on when his clothes were brought and he had put them on, he sat down beside Abubakr. Saif continues, saying that Abubakr claimed to have a devil in his soul and that Muslims must watch him, and prevent his doing injustice.
Saif told seven stories about Saq.fa. There were three heroes in these stories, included among the companions of the Prophet. Their names are not mentioned anywhere except in Saif's stories. This peculiarity makes one think, and suspect the truth of the stories. When reliable books, accepted by Sunni leaders are consulted, the deviation from the truth by Saif, in recording the events of Saq.fa, can be readily detected.
On his deathbed, the Prophet Mohammad wished to make a will. 'Omar opposed this, and later he made threats against the people if they dared to spread the news of the Prophet's death until Abubakr arrived. Then suddenly 'Omar became quiet. While the family of the Prophet were busy with funeral rites, Ans.ar party gathered in a pavilion to elect Sa'd Bin 'Obada as the Prophet's successor. 'Omar, Abubakr and their friends rushed to the pavilion joining in the meeting.
Finally the election was won in favour of Abubakr. The crowd then went to the mosque to swear the allegiance of all Muslims to Abubakr. All this time the body of the Prophet was laid in his house and only the family of the Prophet and one member of Ans.ar party were present.
After the allegiance to Abubakr, at the pavilion and the mosque, was over the people went to the house of the Prophet and joined the funeral prayers. The body of the Prophet lay on his deathbed from Monday midday until Tuesday midnight when his burial took place.
Only the family of the Prophet attended the funeral. al- Imam Ali and Bani Hashem (the cousins of Mohammad) did not give their consent to the election of Abubakr as the Prophet's successor, and sought refuge in the house of Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet. 'Omar went to the house to take them to the mosque to give allegiance to Abubakr. But they refused to support Abubakr in Fatimah's life time. After six months Ali and Bani Hashem finally gave their con-sent, and their allegiance after Fatimah died.
All the above events, judgment on them by Bin 'Abbas, Ab.zar, Megdad, Abu Sufyan, Mo'awiah and 'Omar Bin Khat.t.ab, a summary of the life of Sa'd Bin 'Obada in his old age, and a comparison between the recording of Saif and those from reliable sources, are collected in this present book.
It shows how Saif wrote the biographies of the companions of the Prophet to please the government of the day and to suit the sentiments of the common people. Saif forged to evidence support and safeguard his views, in order to ridicule Islamic history. For many centuries Saif's stories have been regarded as the history of Islam. It is time to disclose the sources of these untrue stories by Saif and his kind, in order to show Islam as it really is, by studying true stories about Mohammad, his family and companions. We should not defend Saif and his tales, or protect them in the name of Islamic tradition. Otherwise we will harm Islam by opposing the publicity of Islamic truth.
PrefaceHow and why this book came about.
In 1949 (1369 H.L.) I came across some dubious Muslim stories in Islamic History books. These I collected from different sources. After careful study I was convinced that some of them were forged for special purposes. Then I felt a moral obligation to publicise them. I arranged my notes so as to make a book to be called the stories of Saif.
A most learned, eminent brother Sheikh Razi Aale Yas.n, author of the book S.olhol H.asan encouraged me to continue the work, and suggested I call the book 'Abdullah Bin Saba., and I gladly agreed. The notes were kept for about seven years and except for a few of my learned brothers, no one knew of them.
I was afraid that I may arouse the feelings of Eastern People, for they were about the events in the Prophet's time up to the year 36 H.L. History books of those years were accepted as gospel truth, and undoubtedly people had faith in them, and learned from them of our early Muslim ancestors. This discussion destroys the historical foundations upon which the historians based their books. It shows how unreliable are some Islamic stories, and disproves the authenticity of some sources. The reader will see that the discussion is not restricted to the stories of 'Abdullah Bin Saba., but through this discourse it will be found that there are many other unreliable sources.
For this reason I was afraid until I learned that two other writers had discussed some part of it. Then I began to publish my book. I have mentioned only the sources which were written before the year 500 H.L.
Baghdad 1955 A.D
15th Ramadhan 1375
For one thousand years historians have been recording astonishing stories about 'Abdullah Bin Saba., and his followers . Sabaian.
a) Who was Abdullah and who were Sabaian, his followers?
b) What did Abdullah say, and what has he done? Summary of What is Known From the Historians.
A Jew from Sana in Yaman posed as convert to Islam in the time of 'Othman the third Caliph, and plotted against Islam and Muslims. He travelled abroad to large cities such as Kufa, Basra, Damascus and Egypt, preaching a belief in the resurrection of the Prophet Mohammad as being like the return again of Jesus to this world, before Doomsday. He also preached the idea of apostleship, and claimed that al-Imam Ali was the true successor of the Prophet Mohammad .
accusing 'Othman of unjustly usurping al-Imam Ali's place. He strongly urged the people to murder Caliph 'Othman, who was later assassinated.
The historians named this Jew, 'Abdullah Bin Saba. as the hero of the stories. He was known as Ibn Amatus- Sawda, meaning son of a negro slave. Abdullah sent his missions to many cities pretending to preach true Islamic faith . enjoining good, and denouncing bad, encouraging the people to revolt against their governors and even to kill them. On the list of the followers of 'Abdullah Bin Saba. are some good S.ah.ab.s (companions of the Prophet) . for example Ab.zar also some Tabe'in such as Malik Ashtar.
In the time of al-Imam Ali, two men T.alh.a and Zubair, revolted against al-Imam Ali demanding the persecution of the murderers of 'Othman. Because of this the battle of Jamal was planned. al-Imam Ali and his two opponents agreed to a settlement, but some Sabaian, namely those who were guilty of murdering 'Othman, did not want the quarrel to be settled because their names had been disclosed. So, those Sabaians secretly enrolled in both armies .
the army of al- Imam Ali and the rebellious army. During the night while everyone was dreaming of the peace treaty to be agreed upon the next day, the plotters started shooting at both sides. As a result of this the Battle of Jamal started without the permission or knowledge of the commanders of either side. Before discussing the story of Ibn Saba in detail, it is worthwhile examining those personalities whose names are on the lists of Sabaian.
2) Ammar Bin Yasir.
3) Abdur-Rah.man Adis.
5) Mohammad Bin Abi H.odhaifah.
6) Mohammad Bin Abibakr, son of the first Caliph.
7) Malik Ashtar.
1) Ab.zar (Jondob Ibn Jonadeh) Ghafary. He is the third person in the list of the four pioneers who first embraced Islam. He was a monotheist even before his con-version. He declared his faith in Islam at Mecca in the Holy Mosque Beitul Haram. The Quraishite beat him almost to death but he survived, and on the instruction of the Prophet Mohammad he returned to his tribe. After the Battles of Badr and Oh.od he came to Medina and stayed there until the death of the Prophet. Then Ab.zar was sent to Sham (Damascus) where he could not agree with Mo'awia. Later Mo'awia complained about Ab.zar to 'Othman, the third Caliph, and he sent Ab.zar into exile at Rabaza where he later died.
Many narratives have been recorded about Ab.zar from the Prophet. He once said: "Under the blue sky, and on the earth, there is none more straight forward than Ab.zar."
2) 'Ammar Bin Yasir. He was known as Abuyaqzan.
He was one of the Bani Tha'laba tribe and was allied with Bani Makhzoom. His mother's name was Somayyah. He and his parents were pioneers in embracing Islam, and he was the seventh to declare his faith. His parents were executed after the torture of the Quraish Tribe, because of the conversion to Islam. There are authentic narrations told by the Prophet about 'Ammar, such as "'Ammar is full of faith." He fought on al-Imam Ali's side at wars of Jamal and S.iff.n and was killed on the battle-field at the age of ninety-three.
3) Mohammad Bin Abu H.odhaifa called Abulqasem.
His father was 'Otba Bin Rab.'a al-Abshami and his mother was Sahlah . the daughter of Sohail Bin ''Amr Ameryyah. He was born in Ethiopia in the Prophet's time.
His father was martyred at Yamama, so, 'Othman adopted him. 'Othman, during his rule, gave him permission to go to Egypt where he revolted against Oqba Bin Amer, the deputy of Medina Abdullah Bin Abi Sarh (10th Man's Governor to Egypt) who had gone to Medina, and was not allowed to reenter Egypt. Mohammad Ibn H.odhaifa succeeded and became the new Governor, then he mobilised six hundred troops under Abdur-Rah.man Bin Adis, to fight Othman in Medina.
After al-Imam Ali became Caliph he allowed Mohammad to remain as Governor of Egypt. When Mo'awia, on his way to S.iffin went .to Egypt, Mohammad stopped him from entering Fostat. But Mo'awia made a treaty with Mohammad. Under this treaty Mohammad Bin H.odhaifa and Abdur-Rah.man Bin Adis with twenty-nine men left Cairo in order to be safe from Mo'awia, but later Mo'awia captured and imprisoned them. Mohammad was murdered in prison at Damascus by Mo'awia's own slave Roshdain. Mohammad had met the Prophet.
4) Abdur-Rah.man Bin Adis Balavi was one of the men who attended the treaty of Shajara. He took part in the conquest of Egypt, and some lands in Egypt were under his protection. He was the commander of the army sent from Egypt to fight 'Othman. He was captured by Mo'awia, and imprisoned in Palestine. After managing to escape he was recaptured and executed. He had the privilege of meeting the prophet.
5) Mohammad Bin Abubakr. His mother was Asma, the daughter of Omais Khathamyiah, the wife of Ja'far Bin Abi Taleb. After Ja'far was martyred Asma married Abubakr and Mohammad was born to her. al-Imam Ali adopted him after Abubakr died. Mohammad was the commander of the infantry in the battle of Jamal. He was also present at the battle of S.iff.n. al-Imam Ali appointed him the Governor of Egypt, and he took his office 15.9.37 H.L. Mo'awia sent an army under the leadership of 'Amr Bin 'As. to Egypt in the year of 38, who fought and captured Mohammad then killed him. His body was placed in the belly of a dead donkey and burnt.
6) Abdi. This man was a good speaker and was converted to Islam in the Prophet's time. He attended the Battle of S.iff.n when Mo'awia captured K.fa. Mo'awia exiled Sa'Sa'a to Bahrain where he died.
7) Malik Ashtar al-Nakhai. He met the Prophet and was one of the trustworthy Tabe'in (The Followers). He was the chief of his tribe, and after receiving an injury to one of his eyes at the Battle of Yarmook he became known as Ashtar. In the Battles of Jamal and S.iff.n he was with Ali and won great victories. At the age of thirty eight he was appointed Governor of Egypt, but on his way there, near the Red Sea, he died after eating honey mixed with poison which had been planned by Moawia.
The above are short biographies of some of the eminent Muslims. It is regrettable that some historians allege that they followed an unknown Jew. Having known this, we should now try to analyse the motives for 'Abdullah Bin Saba.s stories.
It is twelve centuries ago since historians first wrote about 'Abdullah Bin Saba.. One can rarely find a writer who does not talk about him if he is writing about S.ah.ab.s, Muslims who met the Prophet. The difference between the writings of the old and recent Islam historians while talking about 'Abdullah Bin Saba. tales is that the latter has chosen the modern analytical method of writing, while the old ones told the story in the language of H.ad.th (record of the sayings of the Prophet). To study and examine this story properly we have to find the narrators who have spoken and, or written about it.
1) Mohammad Rashid Reza.
Among recent writers is Mohammad Rashid Reza, who in his book al-Sunna wal Shi'a (pp.4-6) says: "Shi'ism was invented by 'Abdullah Bin Saba.. He claimed that he had renounced his Jewish faith and had been converted to a Muslim. He exaggerated grossly about Ali, the fourth successor of the Prophet Mohammad and invented Shiism in Ali's name. The invention of Shi'ism was the beginning of the corruption in the religious and worldly affairs of Mohammad's nation, by creating differences between Muslims." Then Reza twisted the story to suit him-self, and if one wishes to know the beginning of the story Mohammad Rashid Reza confesses saying, "Anyone referring to the stories concerning the Battle of Jamal in the history book of Ibn Ath.r for example, will discover the extent of the evil influence of Sabaian in the armies of both sides, when the settlement was expected (refer vol.3, pp.96,103)." Hence al-Sayed Rashid's source of information was the history book of Ibn Ath.r.
2) Abul Feda (d. 732 H.L. 1331 A.D.). Abul Feda in his book Al-Mukhtasar says: " I have summarised in my book that which Sheikh Ezzed Din Ali, known as Ibn Ath.r Jazari, has written in his complete book." Hence the sources of the above two writers was Ibn Ath.r.
3) Ibn Ath.r (d. 630 H.L. 1229 A.D.), has mentioned the story among the events which took place' during the years 30.36 H.L. He does not state the sources of these stories except in the preface of his book Tar.kh al-Kamel (printed in Egypt, 1348 H.L.) saying: " I have found these stories in the book of Abu Ja'far, al-T.abari." The complete history book of T.abari (17) is the Muslims historical Bible . the only reliable book amongst Muslims who refer to it when any disputable subject is to be examined. T.abari has written many h.ad.ths (traditions) in different parts of his book, regarding one event; but I have rearranged these stories under a proper title and have chosen the most complete story for each event. With regard to the S.ah.ab.s I have quoted their stories exactly as T.abari (17) has written them in his book, and except for the explanatory notes not interfering with the quotations.
This is Ibn Ath.r (3) from whom Mohammad Rashid
(1) and Abul Feda (2) have borrowed their stories. This Ibn Ath.r (3) had recorded exactly what al-T.abari (17) had written.
4) Ibn Kath.r (d. 774 H.L. 1289 A.D.). Ibn Kath.r in his book 'Al Bedaia wal Nehaia vol.7, citing T.abari says: "Saif Bin 'Omar has said that the cause of the revolt against Othman was Abdullah Bin Saba. who pretended to be a Muslim and went to Egypt spreading false stories."
Then Ibn Kath.r writes the complete story of Abdullah Bin Saba., including the Battle of Jamal. He says on p.246 "This is the summary of what Abu Jafar Bin Jarir T.abari (17) may God bless him, has written."
5) Ibn Khaldoon. The philosopher of the historians in his book 'al-Mobtada wal Khabar has mentioned Sabaian in the Events of House (martyrdom of 'Othman) and Jamal. Then on p.425 vol.2 of his book he says: "This is the summary of the events of Jamal from the book of Abu Ja'far T.abari (17) because he is more reliable and more trust-worthy than other historians including Ibn Qotaybah." Also on p.457 he says: "This is the last word about Islamic succession, and of heretics conquerers and fights. After this there will be agreement and Assembly (al-Jamaat) amongst Muslims. I have taken these extracts from the book of Mohammad Bin Jarir al-T.abari (17) as it is the most reliable, and does not criticise S.ah.ab.s and Tabe 'in."
6) Mohammad Farid Wajdi.
Farid Wajdi in his book Encyclopaedia' under the word Atham and under Jamal fight, also in the biography of Ali Bin Abi T.alib has mentioned 'Abdullah Bin Saba.s story and on pp.160, 168 and 169 tells us that his source of information is from T.abari (17).
7) al-Bostani. In his Encyclopaedia under the name 'Abdullah Bin Saba. says: "'Abdullah Bin Saba. says Ibn Kath.r. . . ."
8) Ah.med Amin. One of todays historians who has used the analytical method of recording the stories is Ah.med Amin. In his book Fajrol Islam concerning Persians* and their effect on Islam he writes, "The main difference between the Mazdak's religion and other religions was its socialistic idea.
Mazdak believed in the equality of man by birth and stated that they must, therefore, have equal opportunities for their livelihood. He saw the most important issues in the equality of man as being wealth and women, these being the cause of all disagreements. Hence he said women and wealth were equally for all. Men of lower classes took advantage of Mazdak's teaching and caused much trouble.
His followers broke into houses, sharing amongst themselves the women and the goods. This went on for so long that children did not know who had fathered them, and fathers could not recognise their sons." Ah.med Amin continues saying "This way of life was adopted by some, even after the advent of Islam. There were villages in Kerman (Southern Persia) where this religion was still practised in the reign of Amawys Dynesty.
" "From this" says Ah.med Amin, "we see the similarity of the ideas of Ab.zar and Mazdak as far as the distribution of wealth is concerned." "Ab.zar," says T.abari "rose up in Damascus (Shaam) saying " O men of wealth, share your money with the poor people," and he recited this verse of the Koran: "Proclaim a woeful punishment to those that hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in God's cause.
The day surely comes when their treasures shall be heated in the fire of Hell, and their foreheads, sides and backs, branded with them." (Koran, chap.9, ver.34). Ab.zar repeated this quotation so often that poor men took it as an obligation for wealthy men to distribute their money, and pestered rich people so much that they complained about Ab.zar to Mo'awia, the governor * Before Ah.med Amin, Rashid Reza has written the story in his book al-Sunna wal Sha.
of Syria, and he sent Ab.zar to Medina to the Caliph Othman.
"Citizen of Damascus, why does your tongue make much complain?" Said 'Othman. "The wealthy people are not supposed to keep their money entirely for themselves," said Ab.zar.
"We see from the above," says Ah.med Amin, "that Ab.zar's idea was very close to that of Mazdak concerning wealth." But where did Ab.zar get this view? T.abari answers: "Ibn al-Souda met Ab.zar and suggested this socialistic idea, at the meeting with Abu Darda* and 'Obada Bin Samet, but the latter men were not deceived and they took Ibn al-Souda to Mo'awia and said this was the man who had prompted Ab.zar to make you so tiresome.
Ah.med Amin continues: "We also know that Ibn al- Souda was known as 'Abdullah Bin Saba. who was a Jew from S.an'a?f (Yemen). He pretended to be a Muslim in 'Othman's time, and tried to ruin the religion of the Muslims by spreading harmful ideas." This, we will discuss later. "Abdullah Bin Saba.," continues Ah.med Amin, "travelled to many cities in Arabia, Basra, K.fa, Damascus and to Egypt. He may have got this socialistic idea from the followers of Mazdak in Iraq or Yemen. So, Ab.zar learned it from him."
Ah.med Amin wrote in the margin of his book: "Refer to T.abari vol.5, p.66 onwards." On p.112 Ah.med concludes that: "The Shi'a regarded Ali and his sons divine, as did their Persian ancestors and the Pagans regard their Kings of * They were known followers of Prophet (S.ah.ab.s).
** This story is false and made up by 'Abdullah Bin Saba., Ab.zar never preached against the wealthy people, his talks were aimed at Mo'awia and his dynasty, who had captured peoples' wealth by force and 'Abdullah Bin Saba. tried to cover up the matter by making up these tales.
the Sasanid dynasty.
Ah.med Amin was faithful to his promise when he said, "we will discuss the harmful ideas of 'Abdullah Bin Saba. later."
Ah.med Amin on p.254, talking about different denominations says; "At the end of 'Othman's reign, some secret groups, scattered far and wide, rioted against 'Othman, trying to rob him of power and give it to someone else. Amongst these groups some were soliciting support for Ali, the strongest force behind this movement in Basra, K.fa and Damascus was 'Abdullah Bin Saba.. He said; "Every prophet has a successor.
Ali is the successor of Mohammad who is more unjust than the man who unjustly has usurped the place of Ali?"
He insisted on this until 'Othman was killed. "We are bound," says Ah.med Amin, "to discuss this story as three Muslim denominations came into being as a result of it. They are Shia, etc.
In the chapter concerning Shi'a on pp.266-278 he says that the idea of a second coming of the Prophet Elijah belongs to the Jews. 'Abdullah Bin Saba. learned of it from the Jews. Shias adopted it from 'Abdullah Bin Saba.
to agree with their ideas concerning Mandi who was supposed to come and fill the world with justice. Shiaism is a refuge to shelter those who wish to destroy Islam under the camouflage of love of the Prophet's family. Any Jew or Christian can state his views about Islam through Shiaism, like the Jewish idea concerning the second coming of Elijah.l On p.277 he says: "According to Wellhouzen, Shi'a derives more from Jewish than from Persian beliefs,
'because 'Abdullah Bin Saba. was Jewish." In other words, 1. It is unfortunate that Ah.med Amin's book Fajrol Islam and the Islamic Political History by Hassan E. Hassan are the only books about Shi'a thought at Western universities.
Ah.med Amin that Shias derived their belief in the successorship of Ali, and the second coming of the Saints and Mahdi, from Ibn Saba, that is, from Jews.
Ab.zar got his communistic notions from Ibn Saba, Ibn Saba learned communism from Mazdaki people who lived in the time of the Amawid Dynesty. Mazdak was Persian, and Persians revere their Kings. So do Shias revere their Imams. Shiaism is a cloak for those who wish to des-troy Islam by hatred and jealousy. It is also a shelter for any who wish to introduce Judaism, Christianity or the Zoroaster faith to Islam. We note that all these ideas come from 'Abdullah Bin Saba., which Ah.med Amin took from T.abari and Wellhouzen. We shall see that Wellhouzen too, has recorded it from T.abari (17).
9) Hassan Ibrahim.
Another contemporary historian who has adopted the analytical method in his book Islamic Political History, is Dr. H.asan Ibrahim. After considering the Muslim situation at the end of 'Othman's Caliphate he says, "The atmosphere was ready to accept the Sabaians movements.
One of the companions of the Prophet well known for his piety and righteousness, was one of the narrators' leaders, called Ab.zar Ghafari. It was this man who caused trouble, as he was affected by 'Abdullah Bin Saba.s rousing propaganda, and he opposed 'Othman and his Governor in Syria, Mo'awia. 'Abdullah Bin Saba. was a Jew who pretended to be a Muslim and travelled to H.ijaz, K.fa, Syria and Egypt.
Dr. Hassan Ibrahim has taken this story from vol.1, p.2859 T.abari (17). On p.349 he says,"'Abdullah Bin Saba. was the first person to lead people against 'Othman, causing him to be overthrown.
In the margin of his book he has referred to T.abari four times concerning the story of 'Abdullah Bin Saba.. He also refers to T.abari twelve times about this story in his book. Yet he has refrained from quoting what T.abari has written in his book concerning Sabaians, even though the hero in both stories is the same . 'Abdullah Bin Saba.. Up to now we have seen how Muslim historians have quoted from the history book of T.abari (17) concerning Sabaian.
10) Van Flotten (Volten) (Johannes 1818.1883). In his book Arabian rule and Shi'a and Israilyat in Amawid Time, translated by Dr. Hassan Ibrahim and Mohammad Zaki Ibrahim (1st edition Egypt, p.79) says concerning Shia: "The Sabaians, the follov-ers of 'Abdullah Bin Saba. regarded Ali as the rightful person for the successorship of the Prophet during the time of 'Othman." Then he refers to T.abari (17) on the margin of p.80 in his book.
11) Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne (1868 1945).
In his book The History of Arabian Literature (Cambridge, p.215) he says, "'Abdullah Bin Saba. founded the Sabaian's Society. He was from S.an'a in Yemen. It is said that he was a Jew who, in 'Othman's time, embraced Islam. He was in fact a wicked, travelling missionary, who tried to lead Muslims astray. He started from H.ijaz, and went to Basra, K.fa and Syria. Finally he lived in Egypt. He believed in the second coming of the Prophet." He said, "People believed in the second coming of Jesus, but denied the second coming of the Prophet Mohammad, even though this is mentioned in the Koran. Moreover, God has sent over one thousand messengers, and each of them had a deputy .
a successor. Ali is the successor of the Prophet Mohammad . the last one." Then in the margin of his book he refers to T.abari (17) and indicates the page.
12) The Islamic Encyclopaedia. In this Encyclopaedia, written by some orientalists, the story is written as follows:-
" I f we want to consider only what T.abari and Maghrizi have recorded, we say that one of the subjects Bin Saba was preaching was the second coming of Mohammad. This was the theory . that to every Prophet there is a successor, and Ali is the successor of Mohammad. So, every Muslim, therefore, must help Ali by his words and deeds.
It is said that 'Abdullah Bin Saba. sent missionaries all over the country to propagate his theory. He himself was among those who set off from Egypt towards Medina in Shawwal 35 H.L., April, 656 A.D." The Encyclopaedia refers to T.abari and Maghrizi, T.abari lived 300 years after the story, and Maghrizi 800 years. T.abari mentions the names of those he has quoted but Maghrizi does not. Hence the writings of Maghrizi are not thought to be as reliable as those of T.abari, who lived 500 years before Maghrizi. We will write about Maghrizi later. 13) Donaldson, M. Dewight.
In his book The Shi'ah Articles of Faith Arabic translation p.85 he says: "The earliest references show us that the claim of the followers of Ali, regarding his succession was not just political, but they believed that the succession of Ali was divinely inspired.
Yet a mysterious man can be held greatly responsible for that belief. During the time of the succession of 'Othman, 'Abdullah Bin Saba. started a movement to bring Muslims to ruin, as is said by T.abari." Donaldson has not quoted directly from T.abari, but according to the margin of p.59 in his book, he has quoted from the Islamic Encyclopaedia previously mentioned and from the book History of Arabian Literature. We have stated earlier that they themselves have quoted from T.abari (17).
14) Wellhousen Julius (1844 . 1918).
On p.56.57 in his book Sabaian and the Spirit of Prophethood, he says : " A party was formed in K.fa, called Sabaian, and this party made many drastic changes in Islam. Despite the teaching of the Koran, they preached the divinity of the Prophet Mohammad. Sabaians believe that Mohammad died bodily but not spiritually, that his spirit is a divine one, and is alive for all eternity."
As in the, theory of incarnation, they say that the spirit of God has been incarnated in his Messengers and passed through all the prophets, one to the other, and that after Mohammad, it was passed on to Ali and then to his descendents. They did not consider that Ali was equal to the Caliphs who proceeded him and were the successors of Mohammad, but they regarded those Caliphs as illegal. They proclaimed Ali as the sole, divine, legal successor of the Prophet Mohammad, and obedience to him was to be regarded as obedience to God.
Wellhousen also said that it is understood that the Sabaians derive their name from Bin Saba . a Yamanese Jew, and under a title 'Sabaian extremist and Believers of Reincarnation.' He says: "The extremists have diffejent names not worthy of mention, but all the names proved that they had gone astray." Saif Bin Omar Tam.m.
says, "Sabaian right from the start were trouble makers, killing 'Othman, and starting Civil war ?c?cMost of them were non- Arabic slaves. They believed in the passing of the soul from one person to another, especially the spirit of Mohammad incarnated in Ali, Then the descendants of Ali, by Fat.emah, the daughter of the Prophet, rejected the Sabaians, so they followed Mohammad al-Hanafiyah, a son of Ali but not by Fatimah. The 'Sabaian followed Aba Hashem the son of Mohammad al-Hanafiyah, an unworthy man like his father.
Aba Hashem nominated his son Mohammad Bin Ali 'Abbasy. Hence the successorship of Ali went from him to 'Abbassids dynesty. 'Abbassids, like the Sabaians, originated in K.fa. Both parties rioted against Arabian Muslims and their supporters were Iranian slaves."
Wellhouzen refers to Saif twice in this story in the margin of his book. Hence it is clear to us that he has taken the story from T.abari (17) . the first historian to mention Saif. So, we have written about historians who have mentioned T.abari, directly or otherwise, when writing the story of Bin Saba. There are other writers who have not mentioned the original writer of the story of Bin Saba. But in other places in their books they have named T.abari or the books which have quoted from T.abari such as:-
15) Mirkhand in-his book Rawzatus-Safa.
16) Ghiathud Din (d. 940 H.L. . 1455 A.D.). The son of Mir Khand, in his book H.ab.bus Siyar, has quoted from his father as is mentioned in the preface of his book. All the above historians have quoted from T.abari (17).
17) T.abari and his source.
Abu Ja'far Mohammad Bin Jarir T.abari Amoli, (d. 310 H.L. . 825 A.D.). In his book Tar.khol Omam wal Mulook (The History of Nations and Kings), T.abari has quoted the story of the Sabaians exclusively from Saif Bin 'Omar Tam.m.. He refers only to some of the events of the year 30 H.L. as follows:-
In the same year (i.e. year 30 H.L.) the events concerning Ab.zar took place. Mo'awia sent Ab.zar from (Damascus) Shaam to Medina. Many things are told of that event, but I do not like to record them. Sari has written to me about the stories told by those who find excuses for Mo'awia,
regarding the incidents concerning Ab.zar. Shoaib has told Sari that Saif said, "When Bin Sawda reached (Damascus) Shaam he met Ab.zar and reported to him the things which Mo'awia was doing. And T.abari narrates the story of Sabaians as told by Saif, and finishes the story of Ab.zar with the following sentence, "Others have said much concerning this story (the exile of Ab.zar), but I am reluctant to relate them."
Regarding the events of the years (30-36 ,H.L.), T.abari records the story of Bin Saba and the Sabaians, the murder of 'Othman (The third Caliph) and the Battle of Jamal from Saif . Saif being the only one from whom he could quote. T.abari narrates his story from Saif through two persons, 1) 'Obaidullah Bin Said Zohari from his uncle Ya'qub Bin Ibrahim and then from Saif. From this channel the stories begin "narrated to me" or "narrated to us." 2) Sari Bin Yahya from Shoaib Bin Ibrahim from Saif. T.abari recording from two books, al-Fot.h and al-Jamal from Saif, has begun with "He wrote to me," "He narrated to me," and "In his letter to me." So far we have dealt with T.abari's source.
18) Ibn 'Asaker (d. 571 H.L. . 1086 A.D.).
'Ibn 'Asaker records from another source. In his book The History of Damascus whilst writing the biographies of T.alh.a and 'Abdullah Bin Saba., he has recorded parts of the story of Sabaians, through Abul Qasem Samarqandi from Abul Hosein Naqqoor from Abu Taher Mokhallas from Abubakt Bin Saif from Sari from Shoaib Bin Ibrahim from Saif.
Therefore, the origin is Sari, one of the two channels from which T.abari has recorded.
19) Ibn Badran (d. 1346 H.L. . 1851 A.D.) Ibn Badran, has recorded stories in his book Tahzib without mentioning the names of the persons from whom he has quoted. He has written some of the story of Ibn Saba in his book without naming the originators. But in the biography of Ziad Bin Abih he has mentioned T.abari in connection with Saif's stories (vol.5, p.406). 20) Ibn Abibakr (d.741 H.L. . 1256 A.D.).
Ibn Abibakr has a book called al-Tamhid, from which some writers have quoted. The book concerns the killing of Caliph 'Othman and in its preface the name of al-Fot.h, the book of Saif is mentioned, as is also the name of Ibn Ath.r. Ibn Ath.r has quoted from T.abari and T.abari from Saif. So far the tales of Saif have three principles sources:-
1) T.abari (d. 310 H.L. . 825 A.D.);
2) Ibn 'Asaker (d. 571 H.L. . 1086 A.D.);
3) Ibn Abibakr (d. 741 H.L. . 1256 A.D.).
Some writers have quoted from one source, some from two, and some from all three.
21) Sa'id Afghani.
In his book Aisha and Politics, Sa'id Afghani has written some of the stories of the Sabaians under the following titles.
"Prophet against 'Othman And The Consequence." "Bin Saba The Secret Dreadful Hero." "Observation of the Reconcilliation," and "The Plot." He also mentions the Sabaians in other chapter of his book. His principle source is T.abari, followed by Ibn 'Asaker, then Tamhid of Ibn Abibakr. He relies on T.abari more than anyone else, giving as his reason the trust he has in T.abari, saying that T.abari is more dependable, and that all previous historians have trusted him. He then says "As far as I could, I have quoted from T.abari's book exactly as it was." 22) Dhahabi (d. 748 H.L. . 1263 A.D.)
There is another channel for the tale of Ibn Saba namely Dhahabi's recording. He has written some parts of the story in his book The History of Islam (vol.2, pp.122-128) where he has recorded the killing of 'Othman among the events of the year 35 H.L. He begins as follows:-
"And Saif Bin 'Omar said that 'At.yya said, that Yazid al-Faq'asi said when Bin Sawda went to Egypt..........." Dhahabi has also written another story told by Saif in more detail than T.abari. Later he has recorded a summary of what T.abari has written. The original of the stories written by Dhahabi concerning Sabaians and others, can be found in the preface to his book.
1) Books such as al-Fot.h by Saif, from which Dhahabi has obtained the most important material for his book.
2) Books from which he has obtained that which he has recorded as the summary.
3) Books he refers to frequently to, such as T.abari. Since Dhahabi has mentioned the book al-Fot.h by Saif and he lived in 8th Century of Muslim era then the book al-Fot.h must have been available until then.
In summary we can say that all these historians referred to have taken their stories and tale of 'Abdullah Bin Saba. from Saif. Four of these historians: T.abari, Ibn 'Asaker, Ibn Abibakr and Dhahabi have taken their stories directly from Saif, while others have got their stories indirectly from Saif. The chart on the next page indicates the channels through which the Sabaians tale has been recorded from its original story teller Saif.
Who is Saif?According to Tƒlabari, vol.l, p.1749, (Europe) and Lobabul Ansab, vol.1, p.49, Saif's full name was Saif Bin 'Omar al-Tam.m. al-Osayyadi. According to Jamharatul Ansab, p.199 and Ibn Doraid's book, al-Ishtiqaq, pp.201- 206, Osayyad's name was 'Amr Bin Tam.m.. Because Saif was a descendent of 'Amr he has contributed much more about Bani Amr's heroic deeds than others. It is written "Osady" in Ibn Nadim's book, Fihrest, instead of Osayyad.
It is recorded in Tahzibul Tahz.b, al-borjom. wal Sa'dy or al-Zƒlƒwaby . If this were true it only reveals that the Borjom tribe and Osayyed had some agreement (peace treaty etc.) between themselves since Borjom and Osayyed were not close relatives even if we believe that both tribes were descendents of Ban. Tam.m. It is recorded in Tahzibul Tahz.b, Kholasƒwatul Tahzib and Hidayatul 'Aref.n that Saif came from K.fa and resided in Baghdad.
According to Kholasƒwatul Tahzib, Saif died in the year 170 H.L. It is written in al-Tahzib, "I have seen Dhahabi's hand writing saying that Saif died during the rule of Haroon al-Rashid."
Ismail Pasha in his book al-Hidaya, says, "He (Saif) died in Baghdad during the rule of Haroon al-Rashid in the year 200 and al-Rashid died in the year 193." No one else has said so, neither has Ismail Pasha revealed the source of his information.
Saif's BooksAccording to al-Fihrest and al-Hidaya, Saif wrote two books:-
1) al-Fotoohƒu al-Kabir wal Reddah.
2) al-Jamal wa Masire 'Aesha wa Ali.
And according to al-Lobab, Tahzib and Kashful- Zƒlonoon, Saif wrote only the book al-Fotoohƒu. Tƒlabari in his book has recorded from Saif's two books, al-Fotoohƒu and al-Jamal in the order of the names of people playing parts in the events but he has not made reference to Saif's books.
Dhahabi in his history of al-Kabir; and Ibn 'Asaker in al-Tamhid have recorded from Saif according to the names of people playing parts in the event and they have made references to Saif's books.
The most famous historians who have written about the companions of the Prophet are Ibn Abdul Birr, Ibn Ath.r, Ibn Hƒmajar and Dhahabi. These historians have recorded the names of the heroes invented by Saif along with the names of the real Sƒlahƒuab.s (Companions of the Prophet).
Geographians such as al-Hƒmamawi, in his Mo'jam; and al-Hƒmemiari in al-Rouz have named non-existent places invented by Saif. Abdul Momin has recorded Saif's places from al-Hƒmamawi.
Last person, we found, who had said that had Saif's book in his possession is Ibn Hƒmajar (d. 852 H.L.). The author of al-Esƒwabah.
The value of Saif's recordings1) Yahya Bin Ma'een (d. 233 H.L.), "His narrations are weak and useless."
2) Nesa?¦i (d. 303 H.L.) in Sƒlahƒuihƒu, "His narrations are weak, they should be disregarded because he was unreliable and not trustworthy."
3) Abu Dawood (d. 316 H.L.), "Of no value - he is a liar."
4) Ibn Abi Hƒmatam (d. 327 H.L.), "They have abandoned his narrations."
5) Ibn al-Sakan (d. 353 H.L.), " I t is weak."
6) Ibn 'Adei (d. 365 H.L.), "It is weak, some of his narrations are famous yet the majority of his narrations are disgraceful and not followed."
7) Ibn Hebban (d. 354 H.L.) "In the stories he has made, he has mentioned the names of trustful men, but they say he was accused of heresy and forged narrations."
8) Al-Hƒmakem (d. 405 H.L.) "His narrations are abandoned, he was accused of heresy."
9) Khatƒz.b al-Baghdadi.........
10) Ibn 'Abd al-Barr (d. 463 H.L.) narrated from Abi Hayan that "Saif's narrations are abandoned, we mentioned them for knowledge only."
11) Sƒlafiod D.n (d. 923 H.L.) "Considered weak." 12) Firoozabadi (d. 817 H.L.) in Tawal.f mentioned, Saif with the others saying they are weak.
13) Ibn Hajar (d. 852 H.L.) after one of his narrations mentioned, that it is narrated by weak narrators, weakest of them all is Saif.
These are the biographers views about Saif and his narrations. Now let us consider the narrations themselves. And to do so we have to refer to the history of al-Tƒlabari among others because it is dated earlier than others and more referred to in history books. al-Tƒlabari had narrated, too many of Saif's narrations quoting from his two books, al-Fotoohƒu wal-Radah and al-Jamal. Also he narrated from his narrations about al-Saq.fa and the death of 'Othman. Thus making Saif stories an important reference, referred to all Islamic histories up to day.
We shall consider al-Tƒlabari's history first and then other narrators who depended on Saif's in their narrations and we shall compare and contrast his narrations with others to find out the methods he used in forging them and the value of his stories.
1. OSAMA ARMYTƒlabari (vol.3, p.212; vol.l, pp.1849-1850 EUR), and Ibn 'Asaker (vol.l, p.427), with regard to the events of year eleven of Hejra, the recorded history of Osama's Army told by Saif is as follows:-
STORY BY SAIF"The Prophet of God, before his death, gathered together an army under the command of Osama. 'Omar Bin Khatƒztƒzab was in that army. Before the army was even clear of the moat of Medina, the Prophet of God died. Osama sent 'Omar to the successor of the Prophet (the Caliph) to obtain permission for the return of the army to Medina. The companions of the Prophet, who were in that army, told 'Omar to ask Abubakr to dismiss Osama and appoint another commander." Abubakr jumped forward and grasped 'Omar by his beard saying, ?§ O Bin Khatƒztƒzab let your mother weep at your death bed. It was the Prophet who a
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