Bisṭām b. Ḳays

BistamEI.pdf Bisṭām b. Ḳays b. Masʿūd b. Ḳays, Abu ʾl-Ṣahbāʾ or Abū Zīḳ (according to Ibn al-Kalbī, Djamhara 203, nicknamed “al-Mutaḳammir”)—pre-Islamic hero, poet and sayyid of the Banu Shaybān. His family was considered one of the three most noble and aristocratic Bedouin families (al-Aghānī, xvii, 105). His father is known (al-Muḥabbar, 253) as one of the “dhawū ɇl-Ākāl” (enjoying grants of the foreign rulers) and was granted by the Sāsānid kings as a fee Ubulla and the adjacent border territories (Ṭaff Safawān) against the obligation to prevent marauding raids of his tribesmen. Failing to fulfill his obligation in face of the opposition in his own tribe, and being suspected of plotting with Arab chiefs against Persian rule, he was imprisoned and died in a Persian gaol (al-Aghānī, xx, 140). It is a significant fact, that Bisṭām did not avenge the death of his father. On the contrary, Persian diplomacy succeeded, despite the Arab victory at Dhū Ḳār, in assuring the collaboration of Bisṭām, and a fairly trustworthy tradition (al-Naḳāʾiḍ, 580) shows that the Shaybānī troops were equipped by the Persian ʿāmil at ɈAyn al-Tamr. Born in the last quarter of the 6th century A.D. (T. Nöldeke, in Der Islam, xiv, 125) Bisṭām became a leader of his tribe at the age of twenty (Ibn al-Kalbī, op. cit.) and succeeded in uniting his tribe: he is known as one of the “djarrārūn” (al-Muḥabbar, 250). Abandoning the idea of fighting the Persians he directed all his activities against his neighbours of the Banū Tamīm. His first raid against the Banū YarbūɈ, a branch of the Banū Tamīm, was—according to al-Balādhurī—at al-AɈshāsh (Ansāb, x, 998 b). The Shaybānī troops were defeated, Bisṭām himself was captured and released without ransom. His second raid was probably at Ḳushāwa (Ansāb, x, 1003b). Here it is clearly mentioned that Bisṭām commanded the attacking troops, but the raid itself was insignificant and ended with seizing of camels of a clan of the Banū Salīṭ. To the same early period belongs apparently the encounter with al-AḳraɈ b. Ḥābis at Salmān, in which al-AḳraɈ was captured. A more serious enterprise was the raid of Ghabīṭ al-Madara (known as the Yawm Baṭn Faldj). A tribal federation of the ThaɈālib was attacked and overcome by the troops of Bisṭām, but when the attackers proceeded against the Banū Mālik b. Hanẓala, they met resistance and were put to flight with the aid of warriors of Banū YarbūɈ. Bisṭām, captured by ɈUtayba b. al-Ḥārith, had to pay a very high ransom and was compelled to promise not to attack the clan of ɈUtayba any more (Ansāb, 998a, 988a, 995b, 996a). Breaking his promise he attacked after a short time the camp of ɈUtayba's son at Dhū Ḳār (Ansāb 995b, 998a) and succeeded in seizing the camels (the raid is also known as Yawm Fayḥān). Not content with this victory, he prepared an attack on the Banū Tamīm in order to capture ɈUtayba; but he was defeated in this battle at al-Ṣamd (or Dhū Ṭulūḥ) and barely escaped with his life (Ansāb, 998a). A further battle at al-Ufāḳa (known as the battle of al-Ghabīṭayn or al-ɈUẓāla), prepared and aided by the Persian ʿāmil at ɈAyn al-Tamr, ended with the defeat of the attackers and with the escape of Bisṭām (Ansāb, 1004 b). Bisṭām fought his last battle at Naḳā al-Ḥasan. He was killed by a half-witted abbī, ɈĀṣim b. Khalīfa, who is said to have boasted of his deed at the court of ɈUthmān. The date of his death may be fixed at circa 615 A.D. Very little is known about the posterity of Biṣṭām. His grand-daughter Ḥadrāɇ, the daughter of his son Zīḳ was about to marry al-Farazdaḳ but died before the appointed date. Bisṭām is said to have been a Christian. He was the sayyid of his tribe; when the news of his death reached his tribe, they pulled down their tents as an expression of their sorrow. Many elegies were composed on his death, and his person was glorified as the ideal of Bedouin courage and bravery. But in the times of al-Djāḥiẓ, in the urban mixed society of the towns of ɈIrāḳ, his glory faded away and the common people preferred to listen to the story of ɈAntara (al-Bayān, i, 34) which came closer to their social equalitarian tendencies (cf. EI, s.v. ʿAntara, R. Blachère). (M. J. Kister) Bibliography Sources quoted in E. Bräunlich, Bisṭām b. Ḳays, Leipzig 1923 and by Th. Nöldeke, in his review of Bräunlich's book in Isl. xiv, 123 Ibn al-Kalbī: Djamharat al-Nasab, MS Brit. Mus. No. Add. 23297 (reported by Muḥammad b. Ḥabīb), 203 al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, MS., x, 988a, 995b, 998a, 1003b, 1004b al-Djāḥiẓ, al-Bayān (ed. Sandūbī) index Muḥammad b. Ḥabīb, al-Muḥabbar (ed. Lichtenstaedter) index al-Suwaydī, Sabāʾik, Baghdād 1280, 103, 112, 113 al-Āmidī, al-Muʾtalif, 64, 141 al-Marzubānī, Muʿdjam al-Shuʿarāʾ (ed. Krenkow) 300, 324, 405 Ibn Ḥazm, Djamhara (ed. Lévi-Provençal), 306 Djawād ɈAlī, Taʾrīkh, Baghdād 1955, 362-3, 370 R. Blachère, A propos de trois poètes arabes d'époque archaïque in Arabica, iv, 231-249 W. Caskel, Aijām al-ʿArab, in Islamica, iii, 1-100 Muḥammad b. Ziyād al-AɈrābī, Asmāʾ al-Khayl (ed. Levi della Vida), 60, 89 Abuɇl-Baḳāɇ Hībat Allāh, al-Manāḳib (B.M. MS. 23296), 36a, 38b, 42a, 44a, 111b al-Djāḥiẓ, al-Ḥayawān (ed. ɈA. S. Hārūn), i, 330, ii, 104. [Print Version: Volume I, page 1247, column 2] Citation: Kister, M.J. “Bisṭām b. Ḳays b. MasɈūd b. Ḳays, Abu ɇl-Ṣahbāɇ or Abū Zīḳ.” Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman; Th. Bianquis; C.E. Bosworth; E. van Donzel; and W. P. Heinrichs.

The Sīrah Literature

sirah.pdf THE SIRAH LITERATURE Sirah literature (biography of the Prophet), inspired as it was by the imposing personality of the Prophet and bearing the marks of the stormy political events of the conquests, of the social changes in the Muslim community and of the struggle of the different factions, came into being in the period following the death of the Prophet. It developed in the first half of the first century of the hijrah, and by the end of that century the first full-length literary compilations were produced. The development of Sirah literature is closely linked with the transmission of the Hadith and should be viewed in connection with it. Most of the reports about utterances and orders of the Prophet were, during his lifetime, transmitted orally, and few of them seem to have been written down. Although some accounts about the recording of the utterances, deeds and orders dictated by the Prophet to his Companions are dubious and debatablel and should be examined with caution (and ultimately rejected), some of them seem to deserve trust. The pacts which the Prophet concluded with the different groupings in Medina after his arrival in that city were apparently written down so as to serve as the legal basis for their communal life. His letters to rulers, governors and chiefs of tribes are recorded in some of the compilations of the Sirah. The Sirah also contains accounts of pacts concluded between the Prophet and conquered tribes or localities and of grants bestowed upon tribal leaders. Information about tax-collectors appointed by the Prophet was conveyed to the tribal units to which they were dispatched. The news about the victories of the Prophet and his conquests were widely circulated in the vast areas of the Arabian Peninsula. All this material came to form an essential part of the Sirah. In addition to this, the affection of the Companions of the Prophet and 1 E.g., on the sahifah of' Ali, cf. Ahmad b. 1:1anbal,Musnad, II, nos 1306, 1307, 1297. The Prophet did not single out the' Alids by anything not granted to others; the only thing hy which they were singled out was the sahifah attached to the scabbard of' Ali's sword (or in other sources that of the Prophet or that of 'Umar). It contained some short utterances about taxes imposed on camels (or, according to some, sheep), about the sanctity of Medina, the obligation to give protection to the People of the Book, etc. 352 THE SIRAH LITERATURE 353 their loyalty, respect and awe for him, in contrast to the attitudes, customs and practices of other communities towards their rulers, leaders and chiefs, constituted a favourite topic of conversation at the gatherings of his Companions as well as of his enemies, and were embodied into the compilations of the STrah. The daily contacts of the Prophet with his family and relatives, his adherents and adversaries, formed the subject matter recorded by the transmitters. The STrah aimed at giving information about the men who aided the Prophet loyally and faithfully, about stubborn opponents and enemies who persecuted him and those who later fought him, about hypocrites who concealed unbelief and hatred in their souls and about Companions who suffered and fought for him. Consequently the STrah became a record of the life of contemporary society, reflecting as it did the mutual relations between tht> Prophet and this society. Every member of this society is therefore assessed as to his virtues, views and actions and is placed on a graded scale according to his rank as believer, fighter, adherent and supporter, or as enemy or hypocrite. It is thus plausible that, in the early compilations of the STrah, people eagerly compiled lists of the first men who embraced Islam, the first who suffered for the cause of Islam, the first who emigrated to Abyssinia, the first Medinans who gave the oath of allegiance, the men who opposed the Prophet in Mecca, etc. Later special treatises dedicated to such subjects, the awa'il, were compiled.2 The careful evaluation of the deeds and actions of the Companions of the Prophet gave rise to the compilation of biographies of the ~a4abah. Furthermore, certain passages in the Qur'an, pointing to some events in the life of the community, required explanation and elucidation. It was necessary to specify to what people or events certain expressions or phrases referred. For an interpretation to be reliable in the opinion of the Muslim community it had to be based on an utterance ascribed to the Prophet or to one of his Companions. These utterances, stories or reports expounded the background and the circumstances of the verses of the Qur'an, establishing to whom they referred and providing details of the event recorded. These groups of Traditions, forming an essential part of the Sirah, developed into an independent branch of Quranic exegesis, the asbab al-nuziil (" the reasons for the revelations "). The lengthy passages from the early Tafsir of al-KalbI recorded by Ibn Tawiis,3 the bulk of Traditions transmitted on this subject of the asbab al-nuziil by many scholars in their commentaries bear evidence to the richness of this material and its role in the interpretation of the Qur'an. On the other hand the Sirah compilations recorded verses of the Qur'an, providing corresponding 2 For the aw;li/literature, cf. Sezgin, GAS, I, 176, 196, l zz. 3 Sa'd, 20 9-20. 354 THE SiRAH LITERATURE material of the circumstances of the revelation. The development of Sirah literature thus ran on parallel lines with that of the Tafsir, intertwining and overlapping, corroborating and sometimes contradicting it. EARLY COMPILATIONS A subject of considerable importance in the formation of Sirah literature, comprehensively dealt with also in some commentaries on the Qur'an, was the stock of stories about the creation of the world, as well as about the messengers and prophets mentioned in the Qur'an, who were sent by God to different peoples. These stories were extended and supplemented by additional material derived from Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian sources, transmitted by converts from these religions to Islam. It is evident that these" biblical stories" had to get the approval of the orthodox circles. This could only be achieved, as is usual in Islam, by an utterance transmitted on the authority of the Prophet. The utterance used in this case (" Narrate [traditions] concerning the Children of Israel and there is nothing objectionable [in that]") legitimized the flood of the "biblical" legends and stories which poured into the domain of Islam. The first compilation of this kind seems to have been the book of Hamrnad b. Salamah (d. 167/783), a contemporary of Ibn Ishaq, entitled Akhbtir Bani Isrii'il. The process of elaborating and enlarging upon the stories of the Qur'an widened the scope of the Muslim conception of history. The biography of Muhammad and the formation of his community were decreed by God before the creation of Adam. Muhammad was destined to be a prophet long before the creation of Adam. Were it not for Muhammad, God would not have created Adam. Nine thousand years before things were created, says a Tradition, God created the Light of Muhammad, This Light turned around the Power (qudrah) and praised Him. From this Light God created a jewel; from this jewel He created sweet water and granted it His blessing. For a thousand years the water raged and could not come to rest. Then, from this Light God created ten things: the Throne, the Pen, the Tablet, the Moon, the Sun, the Stars, the Angels, the Light of the Believers, the Chair and Muhammad, The Light of Muhammad, which resided in the pure ancestors of the Prophet, was transmitted in the line of descendants until it reached the Prophet. God granted Adam the ku,!)ah (honorific name) Abu Muhammad, The name of Muhammad is written on the Throne of God; Adam saw this inscription when he was created. When he committed his sin, he begged God to forgive him by referring to the name of Muhammad, EARLY COMPILATIONS 355 The contact between the Muslim conquerors and the population of the conquered territories, bearers of ancient cultural and religious traditions with a rich lore of prophetical beliefs and stories, brought about the appearance of literature concerning the miracles of the Prophet. Stories about miracles, either performed by the Prophet himself or wrought for him by God, were widely current and were later collected; compilations of stories about his miracles were Amarii! al-nubuwwah, A'Iam al-nubuwwah, Dala'il al-nubuwwah. The miraculous power granted the Prophet by God, and his extraordinary feats, are often compared in these books with the miracles performed by the preceding prophets.! Tradition emphasizes that the Prophet was superior to other prophets in the graces granted to him and the miracles performed by him. God enjoined the prophets to tell their peoples of the appearance of Muhammad and to bid them embrace his faith. The assumption that this genre of the dala'il grew up under the impact of the contact with other faiths is confirmed by the account of a letter sent by Hartin al-Rashld to the Byzantine emperor in which he recorded the "proofs of the prophethood" (a'Iam al-nubuwwah) of Muhammad. The letter was compiled by Abii 'l-Rabi' Muhammad b. al-Layth al-Qurashi after a detailed perusal of the" books of the foreigners". 5 Al-Ma'miin, the son of Harun, is credited with a book entitled A'Iam al-nubuwwah; this seems to be the earliest compilation on this subject. It was followed by a treatise of al-j ahiz (d. 256/870), entitled Dala'il al-nubuwwah,6 and by al-j uzajani's (d. 259/873) Amaral al-nubuwwah. Later Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276/889) compiled his A'Iam al-nubuwwah. Books of dala"'il al-nubuwwah were compiled in the same period by Ibn Abi 'l-Dunya (d. 281/894) and Ibrahim al-Harbl, Other dala"'il books were compiled by al-Firyabi (d. 301/914), Ibrahim b. Harnmad b. Isbaq (d. 323/935), Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Naqqash (d. 351/962), Abii 'l-Shaykh al-Isfahanl (d. 369/979), Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Shashi (d. 365/975) and Abii Hafs 'Umar b. Shahin (d. 386/996). A comprehensive book of dala"'iI, entitled Sharaf al-Mu~(afa, was compiled by 'Abd ai-Malik b. Muhammad al-Khargiishi (d. 407/1016). The" proofs of prophethood " form a considerable part of this compilation; however, it contains extremely rich material about the life of the Prophet. The author touches upon the pedigree of the Prophet, his virtues, his battles, his proverbs, his dreams, virtues of his family, virtues of Medina and of the Mosque of the Prophet, virtues of his Companions, virtues of Mecca and stories foretelling the appearance of the Prophet. AlKhargushi's book was widely circulated and it is often quoted by both • See e.g. al-Mawardl, A'liim, 68-70. 5 'Abd al-Jabbiir, Tathbit, I, 77-8. • Cf. al-Sandiibi, Rasa~iI, 1'7-14; Ift9aj al-nlihli/ll/llah. THE SiRAH LITERATURE Sunni and Shl'i authors. The famous Mu'tazili scholar 'Abd al-jabbar al-Hamadhani (d. 415/1024) discusses in his Tathbit dala'il al-nubuwwah the miracles of the Prophet against a wide background of historical situation, having recourse to comparisons with other religions and entering into polemics with the unorthodox sects of Islam. The compilations of the first half of the fifth century, the Dala'il of Abu Bakr Ahmad al-Bayhaql (d. 458/1066) and the Dala'il of Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani (d. 430/1038), became very popular. Another book of dald'i! was written in the same period by Abu Dharr al-Harawi (d. 435/1043). Often quoted in later compilations of the Sirah literature is the compilation of the great scholar al-Mawardi (d. 450/1058), A'lam al-nubuwwah. In the same period, the Dala"'il of al-Mustaghfiri (d. 432/1040) was compiled. Among the many compilations of this genre the famous book of Qadl 'I ya<;l. al-Yahsubl (d. 544/ 1149), al-Shifa"' fi ta'rif I;uqiiq al-Mu{tafa, deserves special mention; it became one of the most popular and most admired books in some Muslim countries. The glorification of the person of the Prophet, as expounded in these compilations of the" proofs of prophethood ", was indeed a continuation of a very early trend which, as mentioned above, began shortly after the death of the Prophet. The miracles wrought by the Prophet, or for him, form an essential part of the Sirah of Ibn Ishaq ; in the Jami' of Ma'mar b. Rashid, a special chapter is devoted to this subject. Miraculous elements were included in the Sirah of Miisa b. 'Uqbah? and in the Sirah traditions reported by al-Zuhri.8 The earliest Sirah compilation, the Sirah of Wahb b. Munabbih (d. 110/728 or 114/732), contains an unusual amount of miraculous stories as attested by the fragments of the papyri." Flick was right in his conjecture, made before he read the fragments of the papyri, that the Sirah of Wahb was a work in which truth and legend about the life of the Prophet were interwoven, turning it into an entertaining story. 10 Indeed, the fragments of the papyri of Wahb contain the same kind of miraculous elements as can be found in later compilations. The role of the Devil in the council of the Meccans, convened to get rid of Muhammad, corresponds to what we have in later biographies of the Prophet. The setting of the story of the hijrah in the papyrus is similar to the accounts in later compilations: it contains, for instance, the miraculous story of Umm Ma'bad, recorded, with few variants, in almost every later Sirah; the story of Suraqah ; the story of the dove and the spider at the entrance of the cave and the dust thrown at the heads of the watching Qurashi guard , Cf. e.g. Sachau, "Berliner Fragment", 469 (the story of Suraqah}; 470 (the Prophet sees in his dream Jesus performing the circumambulation of the Ka'bah). 8 Duri, "al-Zuhri", the story of Suraqah. • Khoury, Wahb b. Mllnabbih, 1I8-7j. 10 Fuck, Mllqammad, 4. EARLY COMPILATIONS 357 besieging the house. All these stories are essential elements of the later biographies. Some passages of the papyrus of Wahb cannot, however, be traced in later compilations; they were apparently discarded. Such are the cases of al-Tufayl b. al-Harith's letter to Ja'far b. Abl Talib in Abyssinia and the story of Abu Bakr's meeting with the Devil; neither could be traced in other stories. A part of the papyrus contains a record of an expedition of 'All against Khath'am. This story fully attests the impact of the Shl'l trend on the development of early Sirah literature. A number of scholars have analysed with insight the various stages of the early compilations. The fragments of Wahb's Sirah corroborate the conjectures of these scholars about the popular and entertaining character of the early Sirah stories, a blend of miraculous narratives, edifying anecdotes and records of battles in which sometimes ideological and political tendencies can be discerned. These stories were widely circulated among the believers; pious men used to narrate the Sirah in mosques and to discuss the maghazi at their meetings. It was considered less binding as a duty to narrate the maghazi than to transmit utterances of the Prophet. Scholars refrained from recording Hadith utterances transmitted by unreliable scholars while they did not hesitate to relate maghazi material on their authority. It was only later, in the first half of the second century, that Haditb scholars reacted strongly against the popular Sirah literature and made attempts to discard dubious folk-stories by applying strict rules of Hadith criticism. They did not, however, succeed; the Sirah literature absorbed these narratives and they continued to be transmitted there. The fragment of Wahb's papyrus reflects the very early stage of the formation of the legendary type of Sirah; the Sirah of Ibn ISQaq is in fact a selective collection of this material. Late compilations such as al-Sirah al-If.alabryyah, al-Sirah al-Shamryyah, al-Zurqanl's Shar4 al-Mawahib and Mughultay's al-Zahr al-bdsim contain references to early popular Traditions not incorporated in the generally approved Sirah compilations. POETRY IN THE SiRAH A characteristic feature of early Sirah literature is the numerous poetical insertions.P The heroes of the stories narrated often improvise verses referring to the events recorded; in these poetical passages opponents blame others in verse, fighters expound their virtues and extol the virtues of their clans or their leaders, poets or relatives bewail the warriors killed in battle. These poetical compositions are generally of rather poor quality. The poetical passages attached to the maghazi stories closely resemble the 11 Cf. below cap. 18, "The poetry of the Siroh literature". THE SIRAH LITERATURE poetry of the ~yam (days of battle). A part of this poetry is false, and some of these forgeries were convincingly shown to be so by 'Arafat;12 a certain portion seems, however, to be authentic. But even the fake poems, reflecting as they do the internal struggles in the Muslim community, are of some importance: the historical allusions in .these verses may help to gain an insight into the event referred to; the activity of the forgers had its inception in the first decades of the first century, and the forgers were closely acquainted with the details of the event. Of interest are popular verses in the Sirah literature. Some are attributed to unseen persons, who recited them to the jinn, to idols, to the Devil or to his progeny. Such specimens of popular poetry can be found in the fragments of Wahb's Sirah, in the compilations of Ibn ISQaq,al-Tabari, Abu Nu'aym, al-Bayhaql and in the later biographies of the Prophet. This trend is well represented in the Sirah compilations of Abu 'l-Hasan al-Bakrl, Poems in praise of the Prophet preserve elements of the laudatory poems addressed to tribal leaders. The contents of the eulogies of the Prophet differ, however, in some respects; they specially stress his prophetic mission, emphasize his spiritual qualities, praise the new religion and point out personal or tribal allegiance to the Prophet and Islam. They breathe a spirit of the new faith and stress the moral values of Islam, often coupling them with the old ideas of tribal pride and boasting. Some observations on the change of attitude towards poetry in the early period of Islam may help us to gain a better insight for evaluating the poetry of the Sirah. The attitude towards poets and poetry in the Qur'an was clearly and explicitly unfavourable.P Some pious circles persisted in their negative attitude towards profane poetry, further supporting their argument by the famous utterance attributed to the Prophet: "It is better for a man that his body be full of pus than that he be full of poems."14 It is in accordance with this view that 'A'ishah vigorously denies, in a Tradition attributed to her, the claim that Abu Bakr ever recited poetry. In a speech ascribed to Mu'dwiyah poetry is counted among the seven things forbidden by the Prophet. A version of the Prophet's saying contains the following addition, which demonstrates the tendency to restrict its scope: "than that he be full of poems by which I was satirized" .15According to this enlarged version the transmission of poetry which does not contain satirical verses against the Prophet is permitted. 12 'Ararat, "Aspect", 31-3; 'Ararat, "Early critics", 4l3-63. 13 Qur'an, xxvi.ZZI-8. 1. Goldziher, Mlls/im S tudies, II, 16. 16 AI-SubkI, Tabaqdt, I, zz6-8. POETRY IN THE SiRAH 359 The same trend of concession and compromise is reflected in another Tradition attributed to the Prophet. The Prophet is said to have stated that some poetry is wisdom. A considerable part of poetry containing aphorism, exhortation, edification or moralizing clearly won the approval of orthodox circles. Another utterance attributed to the Prophet permits poetry if its aim is to gain justice from oppression, to gain means of deliverance from poverty and expression of gratitude for a favour received. It was pointed out that the reason why the transmission of poetry was forbidden was the fact that it served to excite inter-tribal discussions and disunity. The libellous and defamatory verses which might threaten the peaceful relations in Islamic society were dangerous and harmful. Such poetry was censured and rejected. But poetry supporting the Prophet and his struggle against the Unbelievers and verses written for the cause of Islam were, of course, praiseworthy. The exceptive phrase in Qur'an xxvi.zzS was explained as referring to the poets of the Prophet, who were commended. They were described as striking the Unbelievers with their verses. Consequently Sirah literature and adab compilations record stories that the Prophet encouraged poets who composed poems in praise of God, and liked to listen to good and beautiful poetry recited by poets. Abu Bakr, a Tradition says, came to the Prophet and, in his presence, met a poet who recited a poem. Abu Bakr asked: "How is that? Qur'an and poetry?" "Sometimes Qur'an and sometimes poetry," answered the Prophet.P There was thus good poetry, which was permitted and which the Prophet even sometimes recited, and bad poetry, which was forbidden. 'A'ishah formulated it as follows: "There is good and bad poetry: take the good and leave the bad."17 A similar Tradition is attributed to the Prophet: "Poetry is like speech; good poetry is like good speech, bad poetry is like bad speech.Yl" According to this utterance the ban on poetry is almost entirely lifted; the listener had to distinguish between good and bad poetry and choose the good, just as he ought to distinguish between good and bad speech and choose the good. The pious Ibn 'Umar indeed acted in this way: he listened to a recitation of a poet; when the poet began to recite unseemly verses he stopped him. A further step in the development of the favourable attitude towards poetry was the legitimization of Jahiliyyah verse. A Tradition, attributed to the Prophet on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, states that the Prophet gave licence for the transmission of Jahiliyyah poetry with the exception 16 17 18 Al-Isfahanl, Muqa4arat, r, 79. AI-JIlini, Fadl, II, 314, no. 866. Qurtubl, Jam,', XIII, r 50. THE SIRAH LITERATURE of two poems (one of Vmayyah b. AbI 'I-Salt, the other of al-A'sha). The same idea is reflected in Traditions that the Prophet used to sit with his Companions and listen to their recitation of pre-Islamic poetry, smiling (that is, with approval). Among the pieces recited in the presence of the Prophet are verses of praise, of contemplation on life and death, of belief and piety; there are also some erotic verses, verses recited by women at a wedding celebration, and even a complaint of a poet deserted by his wife.l" The favourable attitude towards poetry is represented in Traditions stating that the four Orthodox Caliphs were poets, that they either quoted verses or listened to recitations of poems. 'A'ishah is said to have had a good know lege of poetry; she recited verses of JihilI poets and encouraged people to study poetry. Ibn Mas'fid used to recite poetry of the cryyam (battles of the pre-Islamic Arabs). Abu Dharr (d. 604/ I 2°7) quotes an opinion of a Muslim scholar, that the ban on the transmission of poetry was imposed when there were conflicts between Muslims and unbelievers. But once people had embraced Islam and animosities between believers had disappeared there was no objection to transmitting poetry. This view is in fact based on the actual situation in Muslim society of the first century. Poetry was widely transmitted; poems were recited at private meetings, in the markets and even in the mosques. The great scholar al-Sha'bI (d. 103/721) recited poetry in the mosque of Kufa. 'Abdullah b. al-Zubayr was surprised to find a group of people reciting poetry in the court of the mosque of Mecca; they argued that it was not the kind of poetry which was forbidden. When 'Vmar reproached Hassan for reciting poetry in the mosque of Medina, he said: "I recited poetry in this mosque in the presence of a man who was better than you." Hassan was referring, of course, to the Prophet. 'Vmar left him and permitted poetry to be recited in the mosque. Muhammad b. Slrln was asked, when in the mosque, whether it was permitted to recite poetry during the month of Ramadan (some people even went so far as to claim that recitation of poetry nullified the ritual ablution). He immediately recited a verse which was far from being chaste, and stood up straightaway to lead the prayer. It was Ibn SIrIn who, when rebuked for reciting a J ahilI verse, said: "What is disliked is poetry composed in Islam; poetry composed in the period of the Jahiliyyah has already been condoned." It is possible to guess at the identity of those who persisted consistently in stubborn opposition to the transmission of poetry from a significant remark by Sa'Id b. al-Musayyab. Having been told that some people in Iraq disliked poetry, he said: "They became ascetics in a non-Arab fashion." 19 See al-A'sha, Dfwiin, 218-19. POETRY IN THE SiRAH Transmission of poetry was encouraged by rulers and governors; poetry became one of the subjects essential to the education of the Umayyad prince. Poetry continued to be one of the most favoured preoccupations of Muslim society in the first century and even fighting troops on the battlefield showed a vivid interest in it. What poet surpasses others in the art of poetry? Who is the best poet? These were common subjects of talk and discussion. An alleged saying of the Prophet accurately reflects the love of poetry of the Arabs: "They will not give up poetry until camels give up yearning [for their resting places ]."20 Ibn AbI 'l-Sa'ib al-Makhziimi expounded it in an utterance very much to the point: "By God, were poetry banned, we would be punished at court several times every day [that is, for reciting it]. "21 The origin of the Sirab poetry, its formation and growth have to be viewed against the background of the uninterrupted transmission of poetry and the struggle for its legitimization. Simple, not elaborate, but vivid, it became a regular component of the early Sirab literature, and was popular and widespread. It was not earlier than the second/eighth century that the content of the early Sirahs came under the scrutiny of scholars and the criteria of ijad{th scholars were applied to assess their validity. This applied to the poetry in the S{rah as well as to its prose portions. GENEALOGY Genealogy was an essential subject of the S{rah literature. Traditions stress the purity of the Prophet's pedigree and the qualities of his ancestors. Special chapters were dedicated to the virtues of Quraysh and the family of the Prophet, the Hashimites. Utterances attributed to the Prophet tried to prove that there was a close link between the ancestors of the Prophet and Islam. Ka'b b. Lu'ayy is said to have foretold the appearance of the Prophet. The Prophet is said to have forbidden the disparagement of Mudar because he was a proto-Muslim. Other versions of the utterance of the Prophet forbid the disparagement of RabI'ah, Imru' al-Qays, Asad b. Khuzaymah, Tamlm and al-Harith b. Ka'b; they all were said to have been Muslims or believers in the faith of Abraham. Another list of the ancestors of the Prophet whom it was forbidden to abuse, because they were true believers, includes 'Adnan, Ma'add, Udad, Khuzaymah, Tamim, Asad and Dabbah. Khuzaymah b. Mudrikah was the first who uttered the testimony of faith. Al-Yas b. Mudar was also a true Believer; he was the first who offered 20 21 Ibn Rashiq, 'Umdah, Ibid. I, 17. THE SIRAH LITERATURE sacrifices in the baram of Mecca and it is forbidden to abuse him. Ma'add was a follower of the Hanlfiyyah of Ibrahim (Abraham), 'Adnan acted according to the Hanlfiyyah ; he was the first who clothed the Ka'bah with leather clothes. Nizar was endowed with the "light of prophethood", which was handed on to Muhammad, The glory of the pedigree of the Prophet was extended, as a matter of course, to include the whole of Quraysh; the idea of the excellency of Quraysh was embodied in the rich literature of Fac/ii'il QurC!Jsh. Quraysh, says a Tradition traced back to 'Abdullah b. 'Abbas, were the light in the presence of God two thousand years before the creation of Adam; this light, reposited first in Adam, passed on and was transmitted to the Prophet.V The excellence of the pedigree of the Prophet is formulated in an utterance of the Prophet: "The best of the Arabs are Mudar ; the best of Mudar are 'Abd Manaf; the best of 'Abd Manaf are Banu Hashim; the best of Banii Hashim are Bami 'Abd al-Muttalib, By God, since God created Adam never was there a division of people into two parts without my being in the better one.'?" An opposite tendency, that of depreciating the excellence of Quraysh, is evident in a Tradition stating that all the Arab tribes have their share in the pedigree of the Prophet. Pious circles in the Muslim community, struggling against the excessive study of genealogy, nevertheless stressed the value and importance of the genealogy of the Prophet. The interdiction on tracing genealogical lineages beyond Ma'add was not followed in the case of the pedigree of the Prophet; his genealogy was traced back to Abraham and the close link of descent and prophecy between him and Abraham was especially stressed. FACTIONALISM The constant struggles between the various political and ideological factions in Islamic society left their mark on the formation of the Sirah. Invented stories and alleged utterances served the cause of the rulers, pretenders and rebels. Some examples are quoted below. The 'Abbasid bias can be clearly seen in the story of the attempt to sacrifice the father of the Prophet, 'Abdullah. It was al-f Abbas, according to this version, who drew him out from under the feet of 'Abd al-Muttalib, trying to save his life. It was al-'Abbas who was the first to kiss the Prophet after he was born; his mother took him to the abode of Aminah, the Prophet's mother, and the women in the house drew him to the cradle of the Prophet, encouraging him and saying: "Kiss thy brother!" The same tendency is evident in the story that al-'Abbas took the oath of .2 Ghanamah, Maniiqil, fols 3b-4a. •• Suyutl, Durr, III, '94-j. FACTIONALISM allegiance from the An~ar for the Prophet at the 'Aqabah meeting. Not less tendentious is the report that al-'Abbas embraced Islam before the battle of Badr and served as a spy of the Prophet in Mecca. The utterance attributed to the Prophet, "Al-'Abbas is indeed my trustee (wa!i) and my heir; 'All and I are closely related",24 bears the mark of an 'Abbasid and anti-Shi'ite tradition, standing in contrast to the ShI'I tradition about the trusteeship of 'AII.25 The general expression '''AlI and I are closely related" merely serves to emphasize the special position of 'Abbas. The famous utterance of the Prophet known as the" Tradition of the Garment" (Ifadith al-kisa"'), when he is said to have covered 'AlI, al-Hasan and al-Husayn with a garment, establishes the entity of the" Family of the Prophet" (AM al-Bt!Yt) and provides an essential argument for the legitimacy of 'All's claim to the caliphate; it has its counterpart in an opposing Tradition, according to which the Prophet covered al-'Abbas and his sons with a garment and said that they were the Family. It is not surprising to find a ShI'I Tradition describing how al-'Abbas and Abu Lahab instigated people against the Prophet and publicly denounced him as a liar. The Tradition about the pact of fraternity (mu'akhah) between the Prophet and 'AII26 is contradicted by a Tradition that the Prophet said: "If I had chosen a friend I would have chosen Abu Bakr, but he is my brother and Companion.t'P? The Tradition which talks about the close fraternal relation between the Prophet and 'AlI is of crucial importance for proving 'AlI's legitimate claim to the caliphate. The contradictory reports about the first man to embrace Islam, whether it was Abu Bakr, 'Allor Zayd b. Harithah, reflect the different opinions of the religio-political parties. The ShI'ah vigorously affirm, of course, that the first believer was 'AlI. An Umayyad bias can be noticed in a peculiar Tradition reporting that the family of Abu Sufyan, himself an Umayyad, were the first to be admonished and warned by the Prophet. Abu Sufyan rejected the scornful words of his wife, saying that the Prophet was not a liar or a wizard. There are divergent and contradictory reports about various events in the life of the Prophet. Some incidents, even very prominent ones, are subject to debate by transmitters and scholars. Only a few cases may be reviewed here. Varying Traditions about the number and identity of the children of the Prophet were further blurred by the tendentious inventions of the AI-MuttaqI 'I-HindI, Kanz, XII, 280, no. ,649, .6 GanjI, Kifiiyat, 260-1. .8 Ibid., '92-3 . • 7 Ibn AbI 'l-Hadld, Shar~ nahj al-baliipha, XI, 49. .4 THE SIRAH LITERATURE religio-political factions. A ShI'I report stated that Ruqayyah and Zaynab were the daughters of Halah, the sister of Khadljah ; another Tradition claimed that they were the daughters of J ahsh, 28 This served as a weighty argument in ShI'I polemics against 'Uthman, who was called Dhii '1-Nurayn, it was said, because he had married two daughters of the Prophet. There are different reports also about the date of birth of the Prophet, of his revelation, about the age of Khadijah when she married the Prophet, about the hijrah, the change of the qiblah (direction of prayer) and about the chronology of the battles and raids of the Prophet. Lists of participants in crucial events were deliberately rearranged or changed. Some of the An~ar, says a report of Ibn al-Kalbi and al-WaqidI, omitted certain names from the list of participants at the' Aqabah meeting, substituting the names of their relatives, who had not attended the meeting. The lists of participants at the battle of Badr were also a subject of debate. Ibn Sa'd felt constrained to consult the genealogy of the Ansar, and having done this, he removed a spurious name from the list of those who took part in the battle of Badr.P" The reports about the number of the Companions who were present at the oath of allegiance at al-I:fudaybiyah are divergent. There were conflicting Traditions about the person appointed to take charge of Medina when the Prophet went out to Badr and the one bidden to divide the booty after the battle. Reports concerning the warriors who remained with the Prophet at Uhud and those who deserted the battlefield are similarly divergent; among the latter group ShI'I tradition counts Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthrnan, while' AlI was, of course, of those who stayed with the Prophet and defended him. How far political interests had a bearing upon the transmission of the Sirah can be seen in the following story. Al-ZuhrI told his student, Ma'mar b. Rashid, that it was 'AlI who had written out the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah, and added, laughing: "If you asked these people they would say it was 'Uthrnan who wrote the treaty." By" these people", Ma'mar remarks, "He meant the Umayyads.t'P" Another anecdote illustrates the attempts made by the Umayyads and their governors to denigrate 'AlI in the Sirah. Khalid b. 'Abdullah al-Qasri bade al-Zuhrl write down the Sirah for him. AI-ZuhrI asked: "If I come across events related to 'AlI, may I mention them?" "No," said Khalid, "except when you see him in the lowest part of Hell. "31 In another story al-Zuhri courageously refuses to transfer the guilt of slandering of' A'ishah from 'Abdullah b. Ubayy to 'AlI.32 28 2. 31 Ibn Shahrashub, Malliiqib iii Abi Tiilib, Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqdt, III, j' 3. Horovitz," Biographies ", 49. I, '38, '40. 30 32 'Abd al-Razzaq, Mu{allllaj, v, 343, no. 9722. Horowitz, "Biographies ", I. C. II, 41. FACTIONALISM The favours bestowed on al-Zuhri by the Umayyads and the close relations between him and the rulers aroused the suspicions of independent Haditb scholars as to his integrity. The pious Sa'd b. Ibrahim b. 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Awf chided al-ZuhrI for transmitting a qadith in which the Prophet said that a caliph may not be invoked. Sa'd mentioned a case in which the Prophet was invoked and said: " How can it be that the Prophet was invoked and ai-Wand should not be invoked P'" It is evident that the aim of the Tradition invented was to encourage respect for the Umayyad rulers. Salamah b. DInar Abu Hazim, a pious scholar, sent to al-Zuhri a lengthy letter censuring him for his co-operation with the oppressive Umayyad rulers and criticizing him severely for helping them in caring for their power and authority and in their aiming at worldly gain. He serves the oppressive rulers, "who have turned him into the axle of the wheel of their falsehood and into a bridge for their deceit and error", says Salamah. By his services they sow doubts in the souls of scholars and gain the favour of the ignorant. It is hard to deny that these accusations have some foundation, and the assertion that he (i.e. al-ZuhrI) "was not influenced by political parties and tried to give an impartial account of what he had seen in Medina "34 is open to doubt. The possibility that his Traditions concerning the STrah were influenced by his ties with the Umayyad court cannot be excluded. ShI'I scholars counted him among the Traditionists whose attitude towards' All was hostile. Although highly respected by Sunni scholars engaged in assessing the credibility of Ff.adTthtransmitters Uarq wa-ta'dTI), he was nevertheless recorded in the lists of the mudallisiin. An early report of al-Asrna'I, traced back to Hisham b. 'Urwah, states that al-ZuhrI used to expand or abbreviate the long accounts recorded by his father, 'Urwah. A closer examination of the activities of al-ZuhrI and of the Traditions transmitted by him may help us to acquire an insight into the formative stage of the development of Sirab lore and Haditb. It is, furthermore, important for the evaluation of the formation of Sirah literature to consider the differences between the various schools of Tradition, especially those between Medina and Iraq. These differences were often pointed out in the literature of Hadith and a special compilation was dedicated to this problem. The attacks against the Iraqi school were fierce and passionate, and the Traditions of its scholars were often stigmatized as lies. It is noteworthy also that divergences and contradictions could be found between the accounts transmitted by the disciples of the same Traditionist. 33 3' Ibn Durayd, Mujtana, II. Dud, "al-Zuhri", roff, THE SiRAH LITERATURE MAJOR SiRAH COMPILATIONS The section on the biography of the Prophet in the Ta'rikh of al-Tabari (d. 310/922) records a wealth of early Traditions carefully provided with isndds. The philologist and commentator on the Qur'an, al-Zajjaj (d. 3II/923) is credited with a Maghazicompilation.35 Muhammad b. Hartin al-Ansari al-DimashqI (d. 353/964) wrote a book entitled ~iJat al-nabi. The great scholar of Haditb, Muhammad b. Hibban al-Bustl (d. 354/965), the author of a book on the ~aqabah, compiled a biography of the Prophet. At the end of the fourth century the philologist Ahmad b. Faris compiled a book on the names of the Prophet and another about the life of the Prophet. A concise 5 irah compiled by Ibn Hazm (d. 456/1064)36 was based on the terse biography of the Prophet composed by Ibn 'Abd ai-Barr (d. 463/1071), al- Durar .ft' khti!ari I-magnazi tua-l-siyar, The later compilations, like the commentary of al-SuhaylI (d. 581/1185) on Ibn Hisharn's Sirah, al-Rawq al-unuJ, the Bid4Jat al-su'iil of'Abd al-'AzIz b. 'Abd al-Salarn al-SulamI (d. 660/1262), the K. al-1lr-tiJa' of al-Kala'I (d. 634/1236), the Kheldsat siyar St!Yyid al-basbar of al-Muhibb al-Tabari (d. 684/1285), the 'Uyiin al-atbar of Ibn Sayyid al-Nas (d. 734/1333), the section of the Sirah in al-Nuwayri's (d. 732/1331), Nih4Jat al-arab, and the section of the Sfrah in Ibn KathIr's (d. 774/1372) al-Bid4Jah wa-'I-nih4Jah contain a great number of early Traditions derived from lost or hitherto unpublished compilations. Of special importance is the work of Mughultay (d. 762/1360), al-Zahr al-bdsim, Arguing in his polemic against al-SuhaylI's al-Rawq al-unuJ, Mughultay records an unusually large number of quotations from various recensions of diwans, collections of poetry, compilations of genealogy, philology, lexicography, commentaries on the Qur'an, biographies of the Prophet, books of adab and history. The painstaking efforts of Mughultay to establish correct readings, his checking of variants, his pursuit of every record and Tradition, his comprehensive knowledge, turn his compilation into a veritable treasure for the study of Sirah literature and help towards a better understanding of the controversial ideas of the scholars about the activities of the Prophet and his personality. Summarizing compilations of the Sirab were provided by Yahya b. AbI Bakr al-'Amiri (d. 893/1488) in his Babiab, and by Taql 'I-DIn al-Maqrlzi (d. 845/1441) in his Imtd', Three late compilations deserve special attention: theSubul( = Sfrahal-Shamryyah) of Muhammad b. Yusuf al-Salihi (d. 942/1535), the lnsdn al-'''!}'iin.ft sirat al-amin al-ma'miin (= al-Sirah al-fJalabryyah) of'AlIb. Burhan al-Dln (d. 1044/1634), and the commentary '5 Cf. cap. 16, "The Maghiizi literature". 38 Jawami'. MAJOR SiRAH COMPILATIONS by al-Zurqani (d. 1122/1710) on the al-Mawahib al-Iadunryyah of al-Qastallanl (d. 923/15 17)' Al-Sirah al-Shamryyah is one of the most comprehensive compilations of the biography of the Prophet. Al-~alil).I drew, according to his statement in the preface, on more than three hundred books. He accumulated an enormous number of Traditions, narratives and reports from sirab compilations, Haditb collections, books of dala"'il, shama"'il, kha{a"'i{, histories of cities and dynasties, biographies of transmitters of Haditb, and treatises of asceticism and piety, recording carefully the variants of the reported Traditions and attaching detailed lexicographical explanations of difficult words and phrases. AI-Sirah al-Fjalabryyah, although extracted mainly from al-Sirah alShamryyah, contains a great deal of additions by al-Halabi. It is one of the characteristic features of this compilation that al-Halabi records divergent and contradictory Traditions and strives to harmonize them. Al-Zurqani gives, in his meticulous commentary, a wealth of Traditions corroborating or contradicting the reports recorded by al-Qastallani. The late compilations thus contain an immense wealth of material derived from early sources. Some of these Traditions, stories, reports and narratives are derived from lost or hitherto unpublished sources. Some Traditions, including early ones, were apparently omitted in the generally accepted Sirab compilations, faded into oblivion, but reappeared in these late compilations. . Only a small part of the sirab compilations have been mentioned above. The uninterrupted flow of transmission of Traditions on the life of the Prophet embedded in the rich literature of Qur'an commentaries, collections of Haditb, works of adab, history, polemics of religio-political parties and works of piety and edification, is remarkable. The ramifications of Sirah literature, such as the literature on the ,$aqabah, on the ancestors of the Prophet, on his genealogy, servants, secretaries, on the habits and characteristics of the Prophet, on his birth, on the" night-journey" (isra"') and "ascent" (mi'rij), are indispensable for an adequate study of the development of the conception the Muslim community formed, throughout the ages, of the person of the Prophet. The narratives of the Sirah have to be carefully and meticulously sifted in order to get at the kernel of historically valid information, which is in fact meagre and scanty. But the value of thisJnformation for the scrutiny of the social, political, moral and literary ideas of the Muslim community cannot be overestimated; during the centuries, since Muslim society came into existence, the revered personality of the Prophet served as an ideal to be followed and emulated.

Notes on the Papyrus Text about Muḥammad's Campaign against the Banū Naḍīr

papyrus_nadir-campaign.pdf ARCHIV ORIENTALNI 32, 1964 233 NOTES ON THE PAPYRUS CAMPAIGN TEXT ABOUT MUHAMMAD'S AGAINST THE BANU AL-NADIR M.J. Kister, Jerusalem Document No.5 of the "Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri"1 ,carefully edited by Professor Nabia Abbott contains a passage essential for the evaluation of the document, which deserves re-examination. I Verso lines 14-26 contain the account of the causes of the campaign against the Banii al-Na<; 14-16 give an account of the visit which the Prophet paid to the Banii al-Na<;l.irand elucidate the reason for this visit; they are read by Professor Abbott as follows: lind are translated thus: "This is the book of the narrative (14) / of the nffair of the Mjessenger of God when he went to the Banii al-Na<; seeking tholl' aid in the matter of the two men of Kilab, His a narrative / collected (15 J from that which / has been related concerning it. The Messenger of God and some of his Companions went to the Banii al-Na<;l.irto ask their holp for the two men of Kilab who (16) /had/ surrendered to the Quralsh when they encamped at Ul)ud. The Messenger of God said: 'They (Banii al-Na<; them (Banii Kilab) as allies for battle and (then) dishonored /them by/ negligence'." This passage is obscure. The two men from KHab killed by cAmr b. Umayya are said to have surrendered to the Quraish, when they encamped at Ul)ud. How could they, then, have been granted the protection of the Prophet as mentioned on Verso, line 117 In the accounts of the Prophet's 1 16 - Historical orientalni Texts, Chicago 1957. Archiv 234 M. J. KISTER campaigns the word "Ouraish" denotes the unbelievers of Mecca and having surrendered to the Quraish at Uhud they could not have received from the Prophet a promise of safety. Professor Abbott in order to find a solution for the two contradictory statements comments as follows: "The Quraish of 1.16 must be, in view of Verso 1.11-12 and the comments thereon, the Quraishites in Muhammad's own camp and not the entire tribe as such. Muhammad's remark at the end of the line 16 refers to the alliance between the Banu Kllab and the Banu al-Nadir and the latter's reluctance to share in the indemnity of the two that were slain."2 This explanation cannot, however, be accepted. The translation proposed for the crucial expressions J L.•. .\I ~ ~"J.).J J L::A.l1csk ~ "..;~ A "accepted by the Banu Nadir for battle and dishonoured by negligence", does not conform to Arabic style and idiom. In order to elucidate this passage we must start with the correction of these two expressions, which form a clue for the understanding of the historical background of the account. The correct reading is csk. ~;;.:.~ 01.)".J 1 J.~ ,...A>"J..l.J L::A.l "and they spurred them on to fight and showed J I them the way to the gaps [in the frontier, not sufficiently defended]." The two expressions ~~; and r-.A> "J..l.J have as their subject the Banu al-Nac;llr; they spurred "them" on and incited "them" to fight and showed them the weak, undefended spots in the frontier. The object of ~"';'..>o 'r-"') ..I ["them") refers to the Quiraish, mentioned at the beginning of the line; the weak, undefended spots are the weak spots of the Muslim frontier. We thus obtain an important clue for the understanding of the document: the Banu al-Nadir were in peaceful relations with the Quraish when the Quraish encamped at Uhud, They plotted with them, stirred them up to fight the Prophet. The words at the beginning of the line have to be read: ..r!.j J 11".••..1 I"; l5.J "they [the Banu al-Nac;llr) had sent secretly to the . Quraish". The Banti al-Nadlr urged them to fight the Prophet and showed them the weak spots in the frontier of the Muslims. .tJl1 J y".) J w is a misreading; the correct reading is: -ill 1 J" ..•.) Jl:A.l The whole line has, therefore, to be read: I"J j .)~,...r!.J! J 1 1".•...1 I,,; l5.J . . o I) ,Al 1 csk ~"l..l.J J L::A.l csl~ r-.A> 1 ;:.;.""; .tJl1 J" ..•) J L::A.l ~ . t! (16) "and they sent secretly to the Quraish when they encamped at Uhud in order to fight the Prophet and they incited them to fight and showed them the weak spots" ... This line explains the reason why the Prophet came to the Banu al-Nadir asking them to help him to pay the indemnity of the two men of Kilab killed by one of his anderents: the Banu al-Nadir were accused of cooperation with the Quraish when they attacked the Muslim army at Uhud and their payment of a part of the 2 Op. cit., p. 74 supra (Comments Verso, 1.15-17). Notes on the Papyrus Text 235 indemnity was a kind of retribution for their hostile attitude towards the Prophet. There is a passage which closely resembles this line of the papyrus; it is a fragment of the account by Musa b. CUqbaof the campaign against the Banu al-Nadir, quoted by al-Zurqani in his "Shar!) al-Mawahtb'v and runs as follows: Verso, 1.16 is, in fact, a parenthetical sentence forming an explanation of the moral basis of the demand of the Prophet from the Banu al-Nadlr to participate in the indemnity of the two men of Kllab, protected by him and killed by one (or two) of his adherents. It is closely connected with the report of Musa b. 'Uqba: the author of the papyrus does, however, not follow Musa b. 'Uqba in the rest of his report or in his chronological order of the events: this is evident from the account quoted by al-Bukhari on the authority of Musa b. 'Uqba. This account, traced back to Ibn 'Umar, contains a version of the course of the events in the campaign of the Prophet against the Banu al-Nadir which is quite different from that given in the report of the papyrus.s The account of the papyrus is a peculiar one: it combines the tradition about the conspiracy between the Banu al-Nadir and Quraish with the tradition of the payment of the indemnity. It is obvious that we have here a version hitherto un-recorded. Verso 1. 17 is to be read: d: And when the Messenger of God spoke to them about the indemnity for the two men of Kllab they said ... II In an elaborate chapter about the author of the papyrus, Professor Abbott suggests that the author of the papyrus is Ma'rnar b. Rashld.e This conclusion is reached by a process of elimination and looks on the face of it plausible enough. A short notice, however, in al-Zurqanl's "Sharh al-Mawahib" makes this suggestion hardly tenable. Al-Zurqani, discussing the chronology of the Prophet's raid against the Banti al-Nadlr, quotes a passage in al-Suhayli's "AI-Rau<;lal-Unuf" to the effect that CUqaylb. Khalid and another (traditionist) transmitted on the authority of al-Zuhri, that the raid against the Banu al-Nadir took place 6 months after the battle of Badr.s Al-Zurqani remarks: "The other (scholar) is Ma'rnar b. Rashid."? Al-Zurqani quotes, in fact, a tradition on the autority of 'Abd al-Razzaq Ma'rnar - al-Zuhri stating that the raid against the nann al-Nadir took II, 81, 1.12. See J. B. Jones, The chronology of the Maghazt, BSOAS 1957, page 249 n. 23 and p. 268. 5 Op. cit. p. 76. 6 "al-Raud al-Unuf" 11,176 in! led. 1914). 7 Al-Zurqanl, Sharh al-Mawahlb II, 79 I. 18 led. 1325 A. H.). 3 4 16* 236 M. J. KISTER place after the battle of Badr.s The attribution of the text contained in the papyrus to Ma'rnar b. Rashid must be rejected, since according to the correct reading of Verso 1. 16 it is plaintly stated in the text that the raid against the Banti al-Nadir took place after the battle of Uhud, III There is a parallel passage to the account of the raid against the Banil al-Nadir contained in the papyrus: it is found in the "naian al-Nubuwwa" of Abu Nu'iaym al-Isfaham.e The tradition quoted by Abu Nu'aym corresponds almost verbatim to the tradition of the papyrus. It is the only account-as far as I know-in which the story of the conspiracy of the Banil al-Nadir with the Quraish is combined with the tradition about the payment of the indemnity, exactly as in the account of the papyrus. The tradition in the "naian al-Nubuwwa" is told on the authority of cDrwa b. al-Zubayr, and the chain of the transmitters is: Sulayrnan b. Ahmad Muhammad b. "Amr b. Khalld - his father lO Ibn LahicallAbu 'l-Aswadt? - 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr. Both traditions are here reprinted. I am inclined to assume that the authorship of the papyrus can be attributed to Ibn Lalu'a, who lived in Egypt, acted as Qac;H (155-164 A. H.) and died there (ca. 170 A. H.) VIII, 25; his son Abu

The Expedition of Biʾr Maʿūna

bir_mauna.pdf THE EXPEDITION OF BI'R MA'UNA The character of the expedition sent by the Prophet in the month of Safar 4 H., 1 which ended in the killing of the participants at Bi'r Ma'una, is rather obscure. Traditions about this expedition are contradictory: 2 the aim of the expedition can hardly be determined; the number of the participants is variously stated in the divergent traditions; the tribal composition of the participants is disputed; the details about the attackers are few; the reason for their attack on the Muslim party is not clear. It may therefore be useful to present a survey of some of the traditions concerning this encounter, in course of which a version apparently hitherto unknown is presented. I The traditional account of the story as reported by Ibn Ishaq (d. 151 H.) 3 forms a composite narrative, based on the authority of a number of Muslim traditionists. According to this account, one of the chiefs of 'Amir b. Sa'sa'a, Abu Bara' 'Amir b. Malik, 4 nicknamed "Mula'ib al-Asinna" ("The Player with the Spears"), 5 came to the Prophet and was invited by him to accept Islam. Although he did not embrace Islam, he was not far removed from it. He asked the Prophet to send some of his Companions to Najd to summon its people to embrace Islam, and expressed the hope that they would respond. He assured the Prophet of his protection of the Companions. The Prophet sent forty of his Companions with al-Mundhir b. 'Amr 1 Cf. J. M. B. Jones, "The Chronology of the Maghazl-a textual survey," in BSOAS (Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies XXI,1957), 249, 267: the anonymous tradition fixing the date of the expedition in Muharram(p. 249 n. 10) is quoted as well in Samhifdi's IfTafd' al-wafd', I, 211. 2 See Max v. Oppenheim, Die Beduinen, rev. and ed. W. Caskel, III, 9. 3 In Ibn Hisham's Sira. 4 See his biography in Ibn Bajar, /fdba nO4417. 6 For this nickname, see Ibn al-Kalbi, Ansdb al-Khail, ed. Al:J.madZaki Pasha (Cairo, 1946), 77; Aus b. Bajar, Diwdn, ed. Geyer, XVII, 7, 8; XXI, 3; Ibn 'Abd Rabbihi, '/qd, III (Cairo, 1935), 335; Yaqiit, Bulddn, s.v. "Sullan"; alZurqani; Sharp 'aId 'I-mawdhib, 11(1325 H.), 75; al-Suhaili: al-Rauq al-unuf, II (Cairo, 1914), 174. - 338 aI-Sa'idi, 1 When the party reached Bi'r Ma

The Massacre of the Banū Qurayẓa: A Re-Examination of a Tradition

banu_qurayza.pdf THE MASSACRE OF THE BANU QURAYZA A re-examination of a tradition The story of the massacre of the Banu Qurayza (April 627 A.D./Dhu l-Qa'da 5 A.H.), l as recorded in various compilations of the Sira-literature, is concerned with the final blow which the prophet Muhammad struck at the last Jewish tribal group in Medina. According to the widely current tradition, transmitted by the early Muslim scholars of hadith, biographers of the Prophet, jurists and historians, Qurayza are said to have concluded a pact with the Prophet in which they committed themselves not to help the enemies of the Prophet. But when the enemies of the Prophet (i.e. the Confederates, Quraysh and their Allies, the Ahzab - K.) besieged Medina the Banu Qurayza are alleged to have aided the forces of the Prophet's enemies, the Ahzab. Huyayy b. Akhtab, a former leader of the exiled Jewish tribe of the Banu Nadlr is blamed for having instigated Ka'b b. Asad, the leader of Qurayza, to violate the agreement with the Prophet and for having pressed him to negotiate with the leaders of the Ahzab. The Prophet succeeded by stratagem to undermine the mutual confidence between Qurayza and the Ahzab and to spoil their strategic plans against him and against the Muslim community at Medina. The failure of the siege of Medina by the Ahzab and their disordered and hasty retreat marked a manifest victory for the Prophet and left Qurayza in a precarious position, facing the forces of the Prophet in isolation. Immediately after the withdrawal of the Ahzab the Prophet was actually summoned by the angel Jibril to march out against the Banu Qurayza. The siege laid by the forces of the Prophet on the stronghold of Qurayza brought about a deterioration of the situation of the besieged shortly afterwards. Their leader, Ka`b b. Asad put forward three proposals as solution: (a) that they should convert to Islam, (b) that they should kill the women and children and march out from the stronghold to fight courageously the besieging force of the Muslims, or (c) that they should l See J.M.B. Jones, The Chronology ofthe Maghazi, BSOAS XIX, 1957, pp. 274, 251. 62 surprise Muhammad and his troops by a speedy and unexpected attack on the eve of Saturday. All the proposals were, however, rejected by the Banu Qurayza. When the situation deteriorated Qurayza sent their messenger to negotiate with the Prophet the terms of their surrender. They proposed to surrender and depart leaving behind their land and property and taking with them movable property only, the load of a camel per person. When this proposal was rejected, the messenger returned asking that Qurayza be permitted to depart without any property, taking with them only their families; but this proposal too was rejected and the Prophet insisted that they surrender unconditionally and subject themselves to his judgment. Qurayza asked for Abu Lubaba, a Companion of the Prophet whom they trusted, to be sent to them in order to have his advice. Abo Lubaba indiscreetly pointed with his hand to his throat, a movement which clearly conveyed slaughter; he regretted his treason towards God and the Prophet, repented and the Prophet was glad to convey to him the joyous tiding of God's forgiveness, as it was revealed to him. The Banu Qurayza, compelled to surrender, descended from their stronghold and were led to Medina. The men, their hands pinioned behind their backs, were put in a court (dar) in Medina; the women and children are said to have been put in another one. When the Prophet was asked by people of Aus, who were allies of Qurayza, to show leniency towards their allies the Qurayza, he proposed to appoint as arbiter a man from Aus, Sa=d b. Mu-adh. Qurayza consented and so did the attending Muslims; among the Muslims were, of course, the Aus who in turn began to intercede with Sa-d for Qurayza; Sa-d's harsh answer was a bad omen for the fate of Qurayza. When all the parties agreed to abide by the judgment of Sa'd he gave his concise verdict: the men shall be put to death, the women and children sold into slavery, the spoils divided among the Muslims. The Prophet ratified the judgment and stated that Sa-d's decree had been issued as a decree of God pronounced from above the Seven Heavens. Accordingly some 400 (or 600, or 700, or 800, or even 900) men from Qurayza were led on the order of the Prophet to the market of Medina; trenches were dug in the place, the men were executed and buried in the trenches. The Prophet attended the executions, which were carried out by CAlI and al-Zubayr. Youths who had not reached maturity were spared. Women and children were sold into slavery; a number of them were distributed as gifts among the Companions. 63 The story of the massacre of Qurayza, of which a short summary has been given above, was thoroughly studied and analysed by several western scholars, who severely criticized the Prophet for it. 2 Although not unanimous in their assessment of certain details of the story, the scholars are in agreement concerning the cruelty of the judgment of Sa-d b. Mu'adh, Some Muslim scholars didn't deny the merciless character of Sa-d's judgment, but justified it pointing out that the Bam} Qurayza had yielded to the treacherous activities of Huyayy b. Akhtab and had committed deeds of treason. Sa-d's decree, although severe and harsh, was a vital necessity as he regarded the fate of the Jews as a question of life and death for the Muslim community. The responsibility for the killing of Qurayza should be placed on Huyayy b. Akhtab who instigated the war-activities against the Prophet.' 2 See e.g. Martin Hartmann, Der Islam, Leipzig 1909, p. 16: "Ein ewiges Schandmal bleibt die Ruchlosigkeit mit der Muhammed gegen den Stamm Quraiza verfuhr: 600 Manner erlitten den Tod durch Henkershand, die Weiber und Kinder wurden verkauft." W. Muir, Mahomet and Islam, London 1895, p. 151: "The massacre of Banu Coreitza was a barbarous deed which cannot be justified by any reason of political necessity... " "But the indiscriminate slaughter of the whole tribe cannot be recognized otherwise than as an act of monstrous cruelty, which casts an indelible blot upon the Prophet's name... " J. Andrae, Mohammed. Sein Leben und sein G1aube, G6ttingen 1932, p. 126: "Es war der letzte Jundenstamm in Medina, Banu Kuraiza, den er nun exemplarisch zu strafen beschloss wegen der Unzuverlassigkeit, die er wiihrend der Belagerung gezeigt hatte. Bei dieser Gelegenheit zeigte er wieder den Mangel an Ehrlichkeit und moralischem Mut, der einen weniger sympathischen Zug seines Charakters bildete... " F. Buhl, Das Leben Muhammeds, Trans!. H.H. Schaeder, Heidelberg 1955, p. 275: "... Diesmal war Muhammad jedoch zu erbittert urn Schonung zu gewahren: aber die Art wie er seinen Willen durschsetzte. hatte etwas in hohem Grade Raffiniertes und zeigt wieder seinen Charakter in einem sehr abstossenden Licht..." M. Gaudefroy-Demombynes, Mahomet, Paris 1969, p. 145: "L'incident des B. Qoraiza est une vilaine page de l'histoire de Mohammed, mais c'est un acte qui fut tres profitable a la gloire d'Allah et de son prophete ... " W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina, Oxford, 1956, p. 214: "Some European writers have criticized this sentence for what they call its savage and inhuman character ... " Maxime Rodinson, Mohammed, New York 1974, p. 213: "It is not easy to judge the massacre of the Qurayza. It must be remembered that the customs of the time were extremely primitive ... " F. Gabrieli, Muhammad and the Conquest of Islam, London 1968, p. 73: "This dark episode, which Muslim tradition, it must be said, takes quite calmly, has provoked lively discussion among western biographers of Muhammed, with caustic accusations on the one hand and legalistic excuses on the other... In this case he was ruthless, with the approval of his conscience and of his God, for the two were one; we can only record the fact, while reaffirming our consciousness as Christians and civilised men, that this God or at least this aspect of Him, is not ours." 3 Muhammad Husayn Hayka!, Hayiu Muhammad, Cairo 135g, p. 321. And see e.g. Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar, Muhammad the Holy Prophet, Lahore 1967, p. 247: "No one can dispute the justice of the sentence on the Quraiza ... Traitors are always executed unless they ask pardon and circumstances justify the pardon being granted... Muhammad was absolutely 64 I Odd assumptions appear in W.N. Arafat's article on this subject.' Arafat tries to prove the unreliability of the account of the events of the massacre of Qurayza as recorded by Ibn Ishaq (d. 151 A.H.) and transmitted by later Muslim scholars, historians and biographers of the Prophet. The later historians "draw, and in most cases depend on Ibn Ishaq", states Arafat and comments: "But Ibn Ishaq died in 151 A.H., i.e., 145 years after the event in question".' Arafat's severe criticism refers first of all to the way in which Ibn Ishaq collected his information: his sources were untrustworthy, uncertain and late; his account is in Arafat's opinion "a sum-total of the collective reports, pieced together". Arafat quotes thrice the opinion of Malik b. Anas (from Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, 'Uyun al-athar) about Muhammad b. Ishaq: "he was a liar", "an impostor" who "transmits his stories from the Jews'" and stresses twice that "against the late and uncertain sources on the one hand, and the condemning authorities on the other must be set the only contemporary and entirely authentic source, The Qur'an." (Sura XXXIII, 26: "He caused those of the People of the Book who helped them (i.e. the Quraysh) to come out of their forts. Some you killed, some you took prisoner." [as quoted by Arafatj).? If 600 or 700 people were killed there would have been a clearer reference to it in the Qur'an; as only the guilty leaders were executed the reference in the Qur'an is very brief - argues Arafat. He rejects without hesitation the widely circulated story about the massacre of the Banii Qurayza and reiterates his argument: the verse of the Qur'an indicates clearly that only those men of Qurayza who were actually fighting were free from blame. The real culprit in this tragedy, for it was a most horrible tragedy... was Huyayy b. Akhtab... " Ameer Ali, A short history of the Saracens, London 1961, p. 13: "It was considered unsafe to leave the traitorous Banu Koraiza so near the city, as their treachery might at any moment lead to the destruction of Medina... This was a severe punishment according to our ideas, but it was customary according to the rules of war then prevalent." Muhammad Hamidullah, Muslim Conduct of State, Lahore 1961, §443: "... The females and children of the Jewish tribe of Banu Quraizah were, by the decision of the arbitrator nominated by themselves, enslaved and distributed as booty. This arbitral award was in conformity with the Jewish personal Jaw... "; §497: "... In the case of the Banu Quraizah, it was the arbitrator of their own choice who awarded exactly what Deuteronomy provided... " 4 W.N. Arafat, "New Light on the Story of Banu Qurayza and the Jews of Medina," JRAS (1976), 100-107. 5 Arafat, op. cit., pp. 101, U. 1-2. 6 Arafat, op. cit., pp, 10I, 1. 8, 102 ult. -103 1.1, 106 U. 2-3. 7 Arafat, op. cit., pp. 1011. 20, 103 1I. 11-15. 65 executed; according to the rule of Islam only those responsible for the sedition were punished. Killing a large number of people is opposed to the Islamic sense of justice and the Qur'anic rule regarding prisoners, argues Arafat. Why should the Qurayza have been slaughtered, asks Arafat, while other Jewish groups which surrendered both before and after the Banu Qurayza were treated leniently and were allowed to go. If so many hundreds of people were indeed put to death in the market-place and trenches were dug for the operation, why, asks Arafat, is there no trace of all that and no sign or word to point to the place? "Had this slaughter actually happened", contends Arafat, "the jurists would have adopted it as a precedent"; "in fact exactly the opposite had been the case" - asserts Arafat. Arafat stresses further that the details of the story imply inside knowledge, i.e. from the Jews themselves. Both the descendants of the Banii Qurayza and the descendants of the Medinan Muslims were eager to glorify their ancestors; it was one of the descendants of Sacd b. Mu-adh who transmitted the judgment of Sa-d and the saying of the Prophet to Sad: "You have pronounced God's judgment upon them [as inspired] through Seven Veils"." Finally Arafat raises some additional questions: how could many hundreds of persons be incarcerated in a house belonging to a woman of the Banu l-Najjar, and how can one explain the fact that some Jews are mentioned as remaining in Medina after the alleged expulsion of all the Jewish tribes? Arafat draws a comparison between the story of Masada as recorded by Josephus Flavius and the story of the Banu Qurayza. Arafat's conclusions are surprising: the descendants of the Jews who fled to Arabia after the Jewish wars superimposed details of the siege of Masada on the story of the siege of the Banu Qurayza. According to Arafat, the mixture provided the basis for Ibn Ishaq's story. Arafat's article was followed by another one by a certain Zaid. In his article entitled "The Masada Legend in Jewish and Islamic Tradition"? the author reiterates Arafat's arguments, arrives at the same con- 8 Arafat's rendering of this sentence is erroneous: min fauqi sao Cati arqi ' The references quoted above from the compilations of al-Shaybant, al-Shafi'T, Abu bought by Mu-awiya]; and see ib. p. 86, no. I; and see e.g. Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, V, 744, sup.: the court (dar) known as dar bani nasr in Damascus was a church (kanisat al-nasaray; Malik b.
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