How Reliable is “The History of at-Tabari”? Answers
Tarikh (History) of Tabari, also known as Tarikh Rasool wal Muluk (History of the Prophets and Kings), by Abu Jafar Muhammad Jarir al-Tabari (839AD – 932AD) was a History book that starts from Prophet Adam (as), followed by alot of Prophets to Prophet Ibrahim (as), followed by alot of Prophets to Prophet to Jesus (as), to Prophet Muhammad (SAAW), to the Khilafat of Abu Bakr ibn Abi Qahafa, Umar ibn khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muawiya ibn Sufyan, Yazid ibn Muawiya, to the Ummayah Dynasty, to the Bani Abbas, etc.. The English Translation is a whopping 38 Volumes of History, 1 Volume of the Biographies of the Companions, and 1 Volume of Index. Biography of the companions (Volume 39) covers many Companions that died from the time of the Hijra to 150AH. The Index (Volume) is total of 674 Pages. So one can imagine just be seeing how big the Index of this Book is, and it’s Volume, that the English Version of History of Tabari is a very large Book that covers over 10,000 pages.
We noticed that the brother has posted this article in regards on the reliability of Tabari:
In this article, we will discuss about the brother’s article.
WE WANT TO LET THE VIEWERS KNOW THAT ISLAMIC HISTORY IS ABOUT FACTS. EVERY EARLY ISLAMIC HISTORIAN, ALSO SOME LATER ISLAMIC HISTORIANS HAVE WRITTEN HISTORY THAT TIES SIMILARITY WITH TABARI’S HISTORY. HISTORY OF TABARI WAS NOT UNIQUE IN ANYWAY, HISTORIANS BEFORE TABARI, AND AFTER TABARI, FOLLOW THE SAME PATTERNS OF HISTORY OF TABARI. SOME OF THESE HISTORY BOOKS ARE, TARIKH YAQOUBI, ANSAB AL ASHRAF BY BALADHURI, TARIKH IBN KATHIR (BIDAYA WA NIHAYA),TARIKH IBN ATHIR (TARIKH FI KAMIL). THESE ARE ALL HISTORIANS WHO HAVE WRITTEN HISTORY IN GREAT DETAIL.
WE ALSO WANT TO LET THE VIEWERS KNOW, THAT IN HISTORY OF TABARI, TABARI HIMSELF HAS USED PREVIOUS HISTORIANS NARRATIONS BEFORE HIM. SOME OF THESE HISTORIANS ARE:
IBN ISHAQ, WAQIDI, HISHAM IBN KALBI, URWAR IBN ZUBAYR (Son of the Sahaba Zubayr), ABU MIKHNAF, UMAR IBN SHABBAH, SAYF IBN UMAR, IBN HUMAYD, YUNUS IBN ABD al-A’LA, SHU’AYB IBN IBRAHIM al-TAMIMI, IBN SA’D, ZUHRI (One of Ibn Ishaq’s teacher), SALAMAH IBN AL-FADL, HARITH IBN MUHAMMAD IBN ABI etc.
WHEN THESE HISTORIANS THAT TABARI HAS USED NARRATE HISTORY IN REGARDS TO THE SIRA OF THE PROPHET (SAAW) (HISTORY OF LIFE OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAAW)), THE WAHABI’S ANS SUNNI’S GENERALLY CONSIDER ALOT OF THESE NARRATIONS RELIABLE, BUT ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE SAME HISTORIANS START NARRATING ABOUT THE KHILAFAH OF ABU BAKR, UMAR IBN KHATTAB, UTHMAN IBN AFFAN, ALI IBN ABI TALIB, HASSAN IBN ALI, MUAWIYA IBN ABU SUFYAN, YAZID IBN MUAWIYA, etc., NOW THESE HISTORIANS ARE UNRELIABLE???
WHAT KIND OF ILLOGICAL NONSENSE DOES THE WAHABI BROTHER CLAIMS???
The Movie “The Message” and History of Tabari
A famous movie, known as “The Message” was made using of narrations either directly or indirectly (other books that have quoted from history of tabari) about the History of the Prophet (SAAW). For example, the section where Hamza accepts Islam or When the Messenger of God (SAAW) escapes and Ali ibn Abi Talib sleeps in the Prophet (SAAW) bed, this story is similar to the movie, “The Message”.
English Version, History of Tabari, Volume 6, Page 103:
Movie “The Message”, when Hamza coverts to Islam, on YouTube:
English Version of History of Tabari, Volume 6, Page 142:
Movie “The Message”, When the Messenger of God (SAAW) escapes and Ali ibn Abi Talib sleeps in the Prophet (SAAW) bed, on YouTube:
HISTORY OF TABARI WAS NOT SO TABARI CAN COLLECT HISTORY OF BOTH SUNNI AND SHIITE, AS ONE KNOWS, THE SUNNI SECT DIDN’T EVEN EXIST DURING THESE KHILAFAH TIMES, THE SUNNI SECT OF TODAY CAME LATER ON IN HISTORY. NEITHER WERE THE SHIITE PARTY OR SECT PROPERLY FORMED UNTIL, IMAM ALI IBN ABU TALIB BECAME KHALIFAH HIMSELF. THOSE SAHABA’S THAT REFUSED TO GIVE THE BAYYAH TO ABU BAKR AFTER THE PROPHET (SAAW) PASSING AWAY, AND GAVE THE BAYYAH TO ALI IBN ABU TALIB ONLY, WERE JUST SAHABA’S THAT HAD THIER VIEWS. BUT WHEN, ALI IBN ABU TALIB BECAME KHILAFAH, THAT WAS THE TIME THOSE SAHABA’S JOINED THE SHIIITE PARTY, AND WERE PUBLICLY KNOWN AS SHIITE. SO TABARI DIDN’T INTEND TO COLLECT HISTORY OF BOTH SUNNI AND SHIITE, TABARI JUST COLLECTED HISTORY AND EVENTS THAT OCCURED DURING THE TIME OF THE PROPHET (SAAW) AND THE KHILAFAH, AND THAT WAS IT.
THE WAHABI BROTHER HAS NOT ONLY CRITISISE THE SUNNI SCHOLARS WHO WROTE HISTORY BOOKS, BUT HE HAS CRITISISE THE SUNNI SCHOLARS WHO COLLECTED HADITHS. ONE SHOULD LOOK AT THE WAHABI BROTHERS ARTICLE HERE:
“The reader might wonder why these reports can be found in Sunni books, but such a wondering is based on ignorance of the Sunni science of Hadith”
Which hadith Thaqalayn has been answered here:
THE BROTHER MAKES CLAIMS THAT ONLY SAHIH BUKHARI AND SAHIH MUSLIM ARE AUTHENTIC HADITH. ONE SHOULD KNOW, THAT SAHIH BUKHARI AND SAHIH MUSLIM HAVE ALSO COLLECTED HADITH FROM SHIITE SAHABA. SULAYMAN IBN SURUD, WAS A SAHABA OF THE PROPHET (SAAW), BUT LATER ON MOVE TO KUFA AND WAS THE LEADER OF THE SHIITE OF KUFA.
English Version of History of Tabari, Volume 19, Page 24:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 74:
Sahih Muslim, Book 032, Number 6316:
SO EVEN SAHIH BUKHARI AND MUSLIM COLLECTED HADITHS FROM SHIITE SAHABA, DOES THAT MAKE SAHIH BUKHARI AND SAHIH MUSLIM HADITHS UNRELIABLE NOW IN FRONT OF THE WAHABI BROTHER???
ON TOP OF THAT, THE WAHABI BROTHER, MAKES CLAIMS THAT HADITH THAQALAYN IN THIRMIDHI IS DAIF, WHEN THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THIRMIDHI, TRANSLATED BY ABU KHALLYL, WITH FINAL REVIEW FROM “ISLAMIC RESEARCH SECTION DARUSSALM” IN SAUDI ARABIA, HAS DECLARED BOTH OF HADITH THAQALAYN SAHIH IN THIRMIDHI, WHICH ONE OF HADITH WAS NARRATED IN MOUNT ARAFAT (The Farewell speech of the Prophet (SAAW)), BUT THE WAHABI CLAIMS ITS DAIF (WEAK) NARRATION, AND THAT HADITH THAQALAYN WAS NEVER SAID IN THE FAREWELL SPEECH.
More Details on Thirmidhi Hadith Book in English:
We Don’t want to side track from this Article, but we just want to let the Viewers know, That the Wahabi brother has criticise his own Sunni History Collectors and Sunni Hadith Collectors. So if the Wahabi brother is more knowledgeable then these Great Sunni Scholars (Tabari, Thirmidhi, Bukhari, etc.), then maybe the Wahabi brother should make his own Sect with his own scholars.
It is not surprising at all that the Wahabi brother makes some accusation to History of Tabari. Even the English Translators have praised Tabari’s history and Reliability. Claiming that
“most materials used by Tabari are Reliable” (English Version of Tabari, Volume 6, Page xvii).
And it is not surprising that the Wahabi would criticise the work of some of their own Sunni Historians and Hadith collectors, as they know many Hadith and History favours the Shiite point of view. When it comes to narrations that are being favoured by the Shiite view, the Wahabi brother will try any means to twist the narration to change it’s meanings, will claim the hadith as weak narration, will criticise that this has been narrated by the work of Shiite. And even when it comes to Daif (weak) narration, but if it favours the Wahabi view, they will use it against the Shiite. One good example is Sayf ibn Umar’s (a very weak Historian that had been confirmed by at least 15 Scholars, and the ONLY Historian out of all of Tabari’s Historians) version of Abdullah ibn Saba, which started during the Khilafah of Uthman ibn Affan. Sayf ibn Umar version of Abdullah ibn Saba, claiming that Abdullah ibn Saba was a converted Jew who was spreading Fitnah around the Arabian Countries, started from the History of Tabari, and them later Historians collected this narration from History of Tabari. So many of the History favours the Shiite View, especially from the Khilfah of Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan and Yazid ibn Muawiya written by the Historians, favours the Shiite View to show that corruption had already starting spreading fast during those periods, and as known by Shiite and accepted by Historians, that Ali ibn Abi Talib, Hassan ibn Ali, and Hussain ibn Ali tried their best to restore justice, or either to fight against the unjust people. And the History of Karbala (Maqtal Hussain ibn Ali) is a very famous History where Hussain ibn Ali stood up to corruption, which led to his martyrdom. Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the Holy Prophet (SAAW) who even Sunni’s claim, should have been the Khilfah of his time, was instead massacred by the opposition army, of Yazid ibn Muawiya and his governors, and Hussain ibn Ali family were taken as prisoners and sent to Syria. So it was not long, from the time of the Prophet (SAAW) passing away, till around 50 years later, his grandson, Hussain ibn Ali was martyred from within his Ummah (Islamic Community). All this information mentioned above, can be read in much detailed in the Historian books, no matter which Detailed History Book a person chooses to read, such as History of Tabari, History of Yaqoubi, History of Baladhuri, History of Ibn Kathir, History of Ibn Athir, etc.
The Viewers should know that not only History of Tabari, but one earlier Historian then him, History of Yaqoubi, and a Historian a bit later then Tabari, Ansab al-ashraf by Baladhuri, have all written similar History as of that which of Tabari history has been written about the time when the Fitnah started during Uthman ibn Affan’s time. Both History of Yaqoubi, and Ansab al-ashraf claimed that during the Khilfah of Uthman ibn Affan’s time, Corruption had already spread among the people. And During the Khilafah of Hassan ibn Ali time, and the time of Hussain ibn Ali, the Sunnah was being forgetten, and innovation and corruption was starting to give life.
Khilafah of Uthman ibn Affan:
Hassan ibn Ali claimes corruption has spread in Sahih Bukhari:
Hussain ibn Ali claims corruption has spread in History of Tabari, volume 19, Page 32:
Hadiths and Historian
If one reads Hadiths related to History and Virtues of the Companions, and other Hadiths from the 6 Reliable Books of the Sunni (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Nasai, Thirmidhi, Sunan Abu Dawood), and then reads History of Tabari, he will find that alot of Hadiths are linked with Narration from Tabari Historians. The amazement of History of Tabari is that alot of it links History and Hadiths, in a chronological order.
Who was Muhammad Jarir al-Tabari?
Tabari was born Tabari was born Amul, capital city of Tabaristan. For a good time, Tabari functioned as a Sunni Shafite, and had studied alot from the other Madhabs (school of thoughts), such as the Maliki Madhad and Hanafi Madhab. Around Tabari’s time, the Hanbali Madhab was born, and Tabari himself, as being accepted by the Shafite scholars, made his own Madhad called Jariri. Jariri however did not last over 200 years. Tabari’s memory was absolutely brilliant as seen by some references of Tabari’s life. One occasion Abu Kurayb had gathered some students including Tabari, claiming who can recite from memory the traditions they had written down on his dictation, the students pointed at Tabari, and Tabari was able to recite every tradition he was asked. Another quote by Ibn Khuzaymah, who borrowed Tafsir Tabari and after reading it, Ibn Khuzaymah quoted,
“No one on the face of the earth, is more learned then Muhammad Jarir al-Tabari.”
Another excellence of Tabari was that he use to refuse gifts and money, and was good to his neighbours and community, that gave Tabari a good reputation among his community.
Tabari as a Shafite, English Version of Tabari, Volume 1, Page 63:
Tabari made his own madhab, called the Jariri Madhab, English Version of Tabari, Volume 1, Page 64:
Tabari’s memory – Abu Kurayb, , English Version of Tabari, Volume 1, Page 20 and 21:
Tabari’s knowledge - Ibn Khuzaymah, English Version of Tabari, Volume 1, Page 30:
When Tabari was 12 years old, he left his town to seek knowledge. Tabari went to study Islamic Knowledge in many places such as Baghdad, Kufa, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc. Tabari’s most prominent teachers were Ibn Humayd, Al-Muthanna b. Ibrahim and Ahmad b. Hammad al-Dawlabi. Ibn Humayd (Muhammad b. Humayd al-Razi), who died in 248AH/862AD, studied in Baghdad, and was welcomed by Ibn Hanbal (founder of the Sunni Hanbalites). Ibn Hanbal had also transmitted traditions and narrations to Ibn Humayd. Ibn Humayd had studied with Ibn Hanbal son, Abdallah (213-290AH/829-903AD). Ibn Humayd was one of the most frequent narrators of History of Tabari, and was actually welcomed by Ahmad ibn Hanbal (founder of the Hanbali Madhab) to study in Baghdad.
Tabari continued his studies in Baghdad, which was a natural choice, as many Muslim Scholars and Literatures had held lectures and classes in Baghdad (At that time, Baghdad was known for knowledge those days, as like today Harvard University is known for knowledge these days). Many Scholars stopped at Baghdad after going to Hajj in Mecca. Tabari himself went for the pilgrimage in 240AH/855AD, possibly before he went to Baghdad. One of Tabari’s attraction to Baghdad was to study with Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 164-241AH/780-855AD (founder of the Sunni Hanbalites), but Ibn Hanbal had recently passed away when Tabari arrived in Baghdad. Later on Tabari studied in Al-Basrah and Al-Kufa. Some of the Tabari’s authorities who he studied with were Humayd b. Mas’adah who is often quoted in Tafsir Tabari, and Bishar b. Mu’adh al-Aqadi, who died around 245AH/859-60AD.
Some of the Scholars that Tabari met in Al-Basra were Muhammad b. Abd Al-Ala Al-San’ani (d. 245AH/859AD). Muhammad b. Musa al-Harashi (d. 248AH/862AD), Abu al-ash’ath Ahmad b. Al-Miqdam (d. 253AH/862AD), Muhammad b. Bashshar (167-152AH/733-866AD).
Some of the Scholars that Tabari met in Al-Kufa were Ismail b. Musa Al-Farazi (d 245AH/859AD), who was the grandson of Suddi. He also met an expert on the Quran, Salayman b. Abd Al-Rahman b. Hammad al-Talhi (d. 252AH/866AD), who tested Tabari in his knowledge of the Quran, Abu Kurayb Muhammad b. Al-Ala (d. 247AH/861AD).
In his late 20’s, Tabari became an acknowledge scholar (these days known as Ph.D).
Tabari left Baghdad for further studies. He was on his way to Egypt, but went to Beirut, Lebanon on the way, where he got the opportunity to study with al-Abbas b. Al-Walid b. Mazyad al-Udhri al-Bayruti (169-720AH/785-883AD). Al-Abbas increased Tabari knowledge, by educating him more of Tafsir and reading of the Quran, according to the Syrian school, and also taught him law from the teaching of Al-Awzi, who was Syria’s most prominent jurist and had died in Beirut a century early.
A place called Hims in Syria was a famous place for special traditions of hadith transmissions. Among Tabari’s narrators in Hims were, Imran b. Bakkar al-Kala’i, Abu al-Jamahir Muhammad b. Abd Al-Rahman, Abu Shurahbil, Salayman b. Muhammad b. Ma’dikarib al-Ru’ayni, Muhmmad b. Hafs al-Wassabi, Sa’id b. Uthman al-Tanukhi, Sa’id b. Amr al-sakuni, Himsi Baqiyyah b. Al-Walid, Abu Utbah Ahmad b. Al-Faraj, and the outstanding representative of hadith school at that time, Muhammad b. Awf al-Ta’i.
Tabari eventually went back to Baghdad in 244AH for further education, and studied in many other places.
Hanbali attacks on Tabari
Mainly the Sunni Hanbalites had tried to brand Tabari as a Shiite, which was a very false claim made by the Sunni Hanbalites. But this is not something new for some Sunni Scholars being branded as Shiite. Sunni Scholar, Imam Shaafi (founder of the Sunni Shaafi’ite) was also tried to be branded as a Shiite. But, the Sunni Shaafi’ite, Hanafites, and Malikites had nothing against Tabari in general and accepted Tabari as a Great Sunni Scholar, infact the Sunni Shafi’ites were proud to claim Tabari as one of their own.
Ibn Khuzaymah himself quoted after reading Tafsir Tabari, that Hanbali’s have accused Tabari wrongfully. Tabari himself had respect for Ahmad ibn Hanbal, it was just the fact that he only recognised Ahmad ibn Hanbal as a Muhaddith (Hadith Collector), and not a jurist. During Tabari’s time, the Hanbali’s were known to use violence and extremism. Some Hanbali’s holded on to the Mujahid view, which was, “That Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) would be seated by God in the devine throne”, this view is related to the Quranic Verse 17:79 (And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory). Ibn Hanbal’s successor, Abu Bakr al-Marrudi (died 275AH / 888AD) believed in the Mujahid view as well.
The Wahabi brother makes claims that Hanbali’s attacked or rioted against Tabari, but doesn’t indicate why the Hanbali’s attacked Tabari. The reason why the Wahabi brother doesn’t indicate why the Hanbali’s attacked Tabari, was because the Wahabi brother knows that it wasn’t Tabari who was in the wrong, it was the Hanbali followers who were in the wrong. This was because when Tabari was returning back to Tabaristan (his home town), Three Hanbali followers asked Tabari what he thought about the Mujahid View (That Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) would be seated by God in the devine throne), Tabari considered the Mujahid View upsurd. And that’s what enraged the Hanbali’s to attack and stone Tabari’s residence in Baghdad. Hanbali rioters shortly before Tabari’s death, wrote in Tabari’s house, “Ahmad (referring to Prophet (SAAW)) will no doubt be in high position when he comes to the Merciful One (God).” Tabari had offered to debate the matter with the Hanbalites at his residence, but the Hanbali’s didn’t show up.
So one can see, it was Hanbali’s fault of the attacks on Tabari, and not Tabari himself as someone should not physically attack another person, just because he disagrees with a certain belief. Hanbali’s during Tabari’s time use to initiate violence of those who disagreed with their views, and Muslims of today, will totally disagree with the Mujahid View which was believed by some of the Hanbali’s followers at that time. And One can also see, that the Wahabi's brother denies his own Islamic History, but is considered reliable by many Sunni Scholars in the past and today.