The Construction of Historical Memory in the Exegesis of Kor 16, 106

in Arabica
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This article analyzes reports about the capture and torture of the companion ʿAmmār b. Yāsir and their later use in the exegesis of Kor 16, 106. It also shows why the reports were generated by different sectarian communities (Imamī Šīʿites, Zaydites, Murǧiʾites) in the different parts of the early Islamic empire (Kufa, Mecca, Medina, Basra, and Jazira) in the late first/seventh and early second/eighth centuries. Through a detailed and comprehensive analysis of the isnāds of reports, the article shows that it is possible to correlate information about the sectarian affiliations of reports’ transmitters with the contents of the reports and in the process shows why different communities remembered and transmitted the specific forms of the reports that they did. The article shows how literary Islamic sources are susceptible to a much more granular historical analysis than previously assumed.

The Construction of Historical Memory in the Exegesis of Kor 16, 106

in Arabica




See Etan Kohlberg“Some Imāmī Shīʿī views on the Ṣaḥāba”Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam5 (1984) p. 143-175.


See Ibn SaʿdṬabaqātiii p. 248. The report goes on to assert that Kor 16 110 was revealed regarding Bilāl and ʿĀmir b. Fuhayra. Whether or not the report asserts that the same verse was revealed also about those who were tortured to the point of losing control over what they were saying like ʿAmmār Ṣuhayb or Abū Fakīha is not clear. Here is the chain of transmission for the report: ʿUmar b. al-Ḥakam b. Ṯawbān (37/658-117/735 Medina) ➔ ʿAbd al-Ḥakīm b. Ṣuhayb (n.d. n.p.) ➔ ʿUṯmān b. Muḥammad (n.d. Ḥiǧāz) ➔ Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-Wāqidī (d. 207/822 Medina/Baghdad). On ʿUmar b. al-Ḥakam b. Ṯawbān see al-Buḫārī al-Ta⁠ʾrīḫ al-kabīrvi p. 147 no 1978; Ibn Saʿd al-Ṭabaqātv p. 281; Aḥmad b. ʿAlī b. Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī Kitāb Tahḏīb al-tahḏīb Beirut Dār al-fikr li-l-ṭibāʿa wa-l-našr wa-l-tawzīʿ 1984 vii p. 382-383 no 716. Ibn Saʿd locates ʿUmar in a Medinan context specifically identifying his family as clients (ḥulafāʾ) of the ʿAwfī Anṣārīs and noting that he was 80 when he died in 117/735. Very little biographical information exists on ʿAbd al-Ḥakīm b. Ṣuhayb other than the fact that one ʿAbd Allāh b. Ǧaʿfar b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān narrates from him. ʿAbd Allāh was a Medinan who died in 170/787 and is noted to have narrated from ʿAbd al-Ḥakīm a fact which helps us both date and place ʿAbd al-Ḥakīm. On ʿAbd Allāh b. Ǧaʿfar see ibid.v p. 150-151 no 295. On ʿAbd al-Ḥakīm b. Ṣuhayb see ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad b. Abī Ḥātim al-Rāzī al-Ǧarḥ wa-l-taʿdīl Beirut Dār iḥyāʾ al-turāṯ al-ʿarabī 1952 vi p. 35 no 187. In fact Ibn Saʿd himself our source for this report on ʿAmmār in another report has ʿAbd al-Ḥakīm transmitting to ʿAbd Allāh b. Ǧaʿfar who is then al-Wāqidī’s immediate source. This report is also about the companion Ṣuhayb b. Sinān (d. 38/659 Medina). See Ibn Saʿd al-Ṭabaqātiii p. 228. We have no death date for ʿUṯmān b. Muḥammad. His nisba al-Ḥiǧāzī implies where he lived. This is confirmed by the fact that the riǧāl critics attribute a scholarly relationship between him and ʿAbd Allāh b. Ǧaʿfar. See Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl al-Buḫārī al-Ta⁠ʾrīḫ al-kabīr ed. Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Muʿīd Ḫān Diyar Bakir al-Maktaba l-islāmiyya vi p. 249-50 no 2305; Abū Ḥātim Muḥammad b. Ḥibbān Kitāb al-Ṯiqqāt ed. Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Muʿīd Ḫān Hyderabad Maǧlis dāʾirat al-maʿārif al-ʿUṯmānī 1393/1973 vii p. 203-204; Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Ḏahabī al-Kāšif fī maʿrifat man lahu riwāya fī l-kutub al-sitta ed. Muḥammad ʿAwwāma and Aḥmad Muḥammad Nimr al-Ḫaṭīb Jeddah Dār al-qibla li-l-ṯaqāfa l-islāmī-Muʾassasat ʿulūm al-Qurʾān 1992 ii p. 13 no 3737.


See Ibn Saʿdal-Ṭabaqātiii p. 248. Here is the chain of transmission for the report: Unnamed eyewitness ➔ Muḥammad b. Kaʿb al-Quraẓī (d. 118/736 Medina) ➔ al-Ḥāriṯ b. al-Fuḍayl (n.d. Medina) ➔ ʿUṯmān b. Muḥammad (n.d. Ḥiǧāz) ➔ Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-Wāqidī (d. 207/822 Medina/Baghdad) On Muḥammad b. Kaʿb al-Quraẓī see al-Buḫārī al-Ta⁠ʾrīḫ al-kabīri p. 216-217 no 679; Ibn Abī Ḥātim al-Rāzī al-Ǧarḥ wa-l-taʿdīlviii p. 67 no 303; Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī Kitāb Tahḏīb al-tahḏībix p. 373-374 no 691. All of these sources indicate that while Muḥammad b. Kaʿb was from Medina he lived in Kufa awhile before returning home. None of these sources record the existence of a scholarly relationship between Muḥammad and al-Ḥāriṯ. The sources are virtually silent on al-Ḥāriṯ. For other reports in which al-Ḥāriṯ is a narrator in Ibn Saʿd see Ibn Saʿd al-Ṭabaqāti p. 204; iii p. 59; and v p. 93. While none of the riǧāl sources indicate a scholarly relationship Ibn Saʿd has al-Ḥāriṯ transmitting one more report from Muḥammad b. Kaʿb through his son ʿAbd Allāh b. al-Ḥāriṯ. This report is also on ʿAmmār whom the report notes was in the infantry (raǧǧāla) of ʿAlī’s army during the battle of Ṣiffīn. In another report transmitted by ʿAbd Allāh from his father al-Ḥāriṯ the companion Ḫuzayma b. Ṯābit (d. 37/658) refuses to take sides in the battle of Ṣiffīn until he knows which side ʿAmmār will die on referring to the famous hadith in which the Prophet prophesizes that the rebellious sect (al-fīʾa al-bāġiya) will kill ʿAmmār. As for the Sunnite riǧāl sources Ibn Ḥibbān notes merely that he was a Medinan of Anṣārī extraction. See Abū Ḥātim Muḥammad b. Ḥibbān Mašāhīr ʿulamāʾ al-amṣār wa-aʿlām fuqahāʾ al-aqṭār ed. Marzūq ʿAlī Ibrāhīm al-Manṣūra Dār al-wafāʾ li-l-ṭibāʿa wa-l-našr wa-l-tawzīʿ 1991 p. 219 no 1082 and Ibn Ḥibbān Kitāb al-ṯiqqātvii p. 31; Ibn Ḥaǧar notes that he was simply a Medinan Aḥmad b. ʿAlī b. Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī Lisān al-mīzān Beirut Muʾassasat al-aʿlamī li-l-maṭbūʿāt 1971 ii p. 156 no 688. For ʿAbd Allāh b. al-Ḥāriṯ b. al-Fuḍayl see Ibn Saʿd al-Ṭabaqātv p. 410-411. Ibn Saʿd records ʿAbd Allāh’s death date as 164/781.


Ibn Saʿdal-Ṭabaqātiii p. 250. Here is the chain of transmission for the report: ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUbayd b. ʿUmayr (d. 113/732 Mecca) ➔ Ibn Ǧurayǧ (d. 150/767 Mecca) ➔ Ḥaǧǧāǧ b. Muḥammad Abū Muḥammad (d. 206/822 Syria)


See al-BalāḏurīAnsāb al-ašrāfi p. 160 no 353. Here is the chain of transmission: Umm Hāniʾ [Fāḫita bt Abī Ṭālib b. Abī l-Muṭṭalib] (d. ca 50s/670s Mecca) ➔ Abū Ṣāliḥ mawlā Umm Hāniʾ (d. at the latest 95/714) ➔ Muḥammad b. al-Sāʾib al-Kalbī (d. 146/763 Kufa) ➔ Hišām b. Muḥammad b. al-Sāʾib [al-Kalbī] (d. 204/819 Kufa Baghdad) ➔ ʿAbbās b. Hišām b. Muḥammad b. al-Sāʾib (n.d.)


For his arguments see MotzkiOrigins p. 208-210.


Ibn ʿAdīal-Kāmil fī ḍuʿafāʾ al-riǧālvii p. 229-230 no 2128; Muḥammad b. Ḥibbān Kitāb al-Maǧrūḥīn min al-muḥaddiṯīn wa-l-ḍuʿafāʾ wa-l-matrūkīn ed. Maḥmūd Ibrāhīm Zāyid Mecca Dār al-bāz li-l-našr wa-l-tawzīʿ 1970 iii p. 113-114; Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī Kitāb Tahḏīb al-tahḏībxii p. 41-42 no 8331.


See Ibn al-AṯīrUsd al-ġābavii p. 152 no 7021. The isnād of the report is cited above. See also Ibn Isḥāq Sīrat Ibn Isḥāqiv p. 172 no 239. This is a publication of three recent manuscripts that contain copious quotations from a lost recension of Ibn Isḥāq’s work of Prophetic biography (sīra). The two manuscripts from Qayrawān are recensions of the Kufan scholar Yūnus b. Bukayr (d. 199/815) while the Damascan manuscript is the recension of Razian scholar Muḥammad b. Salama (d. 191/807). The value of the work lies in the fact that it contains material that differs from the extant and enormously popular work of Ibn Hišām. On these points see Ḥamīd Allāh’s introduction pages لب—لج. However it also contains some material that is not ultimately attributed to Ibn Isḥāq indicating that at least one of the narrators of Ibn Isḥāq’s material Yūnus b. Bukayr (d. 199/815) added material of his own from other sources.


See Wilferd MadelungThe Succession to Muḥammad: a Study of the Early CaliphateCambridgeCambridge University Press1997 p. 87-88 and 96.


See Martin Hinds“The Murder of the Caliph ʿUthmān”International Journal of Middle East Studies3/4 (1972) p. 458-459.


See CookEarly p. 29-32.


Al-Kulaynīal-Kāfīii p. 219 no 10. Here is the chain of transmission: Ǧaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (d. 148/766 Medina) ➔ Masʿada b. Ṣadaqa (n.d. Basra) ➔ Hārūn b. Muslim (fl. ca 240/855 Samarrāʾ) ➔ ʿAlī b. Ibrāhīm (fl. ca 307/920 Qom) The modern Imāmī scholar al-ʿĀmilī offers this isnād specifically as a paradigmatic example of a short three-tiered chain of transmission which occurs often in al-Kulaynī’s al-Kāfī. See al-ʿĀmilī Ṯulāṯiyyāt al-Kulaynī p. 33. On Masʿada see Modarressi Tabataba⁠ʾi Tradition p. 319-322. On Hārūn b. Muslim see ibid. p. 92-99 the sources cited therein and al-Ḫaṭīb al-Baǧdādī Ta⁠ʾrīḫxiv p. 22. See also Modarressi Tabataba⁠ʾi Tradition p. 322 on the relationship between Masʿada and Hārūn. Significantly the Imāmī riǧāl tradition records doubts on the Šīʿite bona fides of both Masʿada and Hārūn. Al-Naǧašī states somewhat opaquely that Hārūn had a view on the issue of predestination (ǧabr) and anthropomorphism (tašbīh). The significance of this statement is not clear to me though al-ʿĀmilī attempts to vindicate Hārūn of the implications of al-Naǧašī’s statement. More significantly for our purposes Masʿada is described specifically as a Batrite. For some of these ascriptions in the Twelver-Imāmite riǧāl tradition see al-ʿĀmilī Ṯulāṯiyyāt al-Kulaynī p. 114-117 and the sources cited therein. For the earliest ascription see Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Ṭūsī Iḫtiyār maʿrifat al-riǧāl al-maʿrūf bi-Riǧāl al-Kaššī ed. Mīr Dāmād al-Astarābādī and Mahdī al-Raǧāʾī Qom Muʾassasat āl al-bayt 1404/1983-1984 ii p. 687-688. Al-Ṭūsī describes Masʿada b. Ṣadaqa as a Sunnite and counts him as a transmitter of al-Bāqir see his Riǧāl al-Ṭūsī ed. Ǧawād al-Qayyūmī l-Iṣfahānī Qom Muʾassasat al-našr al-islāmī al-tābiʿa li-ǧamāʿāt al-mudarrisīn bi-Qum 1415/1994 p. 146 no 1609. I cannot make sense of the Batrī ascription for Masʿada. From the perspective of the substance of the text Ǧaʿfar’s text is a rejoinder to a specifically Batrī rendition of ʿAlī’s speech circulated by a known Batrī Salama b. Kuhayl a contemporary of al-Bāqir. The Batrī rendition fits with Zaydite activism against an illegitimate regime. Masʿada’s text does not fit this aspect of the Zaydite political project and in fact dilutes it. For an analysis of Masʿada’s putative sectarian affiliation by looking at the substance of the texts in which he is a transmitter see Modarressi Tabataba⁠ʾi Tradition p. 320 who provides evidence for both Masʿada’s Sunnite and Šīʿite predilections. For a vindication of both the charges of Batrism and Sunnism by a comparative analysis of the judgments of a number of Imāmī and Sunnite riǧāl critics see al-ʿĀmilī Ṯulāṯiyyāt al-Kulaynī p. 124-130 who points out the categorization of Masʿada as Ǧaʿfar al-Ṣādiq’s transmitter is inconsistent with Batrism as a phenomenon prevalent in al-Bāqir’s time.


See al-ṬūsīIḫtiyār maʿrifat al-riǧāl al-maʿrūf bi-Riǧāl al-Kaššīii p. 499-500. Al-Ṭūsī identifies the following as Batrī by name: Sālim b. Abī Ḥafṣa al-Ḥakam b. ʿUtayba Salama b. Kuhayl Abū l-Miqdām Ṯābit al-Ḥaddād then proceeds to provide a definition of Batrism. See also at another place ibid.ii p. 504-505 where al-Kaššī transmits a seemingly apocryphal account of some Batrīs’ dispute with al-Bāqir and the origin of the their name. Van Ess classifies Salama as a Kufan Batrī colleague of al-Ḥakam b. ʿUtayba see Ess Theologiei p. 243-244.


Yaḥyā b. SallāmTafsīr Yaḥyā b. Sallāmi p. 92.


Ibn Saʿdal-Ṭabaqātiii p. 249.


See al-Buḫārīal-Ta⁠ʾrīḫ al-kabīrvi p. 88 no 1794 where he quotes the famous hadith scholar Sufyān b. ʿUyayna as remarking that he had never seen anyone like ʿAbd al-Karīm. Al-ʿIrāqī praises the precision of his transmission practice saying that he only transmitted by saying “I heard” or “I asked”. While this is an exaggeration as an analysis of how he’s quoted in the chains of transmissions of actual hadiths has him narrate often using the transmission formula of ʿan al-ʿIrāqī’s assertion can be construed as making a relative judgment on the precision of ʿAbd al-Karīm’s transmission activity. See Ibn Abī Ḥātim al-Rāzī al-Ǧarḥ wa-l-taʿdīlvi p. 58-59 no 310 who quotes Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal Yaḥyā b. Maʿīn and al-Rāzī’s father as declaring ʿAbd al-Karīm sound (ṯiqqa). For more judgments by the riǧāl critics see Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī Kitāb Tahḏīb al-tahḏībvi p. 333-334 no 717.


See Behnam Sadeghi“The chronology of the Qurʾān: a stylometric research program”Arabica58/3-4 (2011) p. 234. Sadeghi classifies the verse as occurring in block 148 group 6. Block 148 contains the following verses from surah 16 33-40 65-89 106-119. Sadeghi at no point explicitly identifies blocks or groups as Meccan or Medinan. His aim was merely in testing the viability of one proposed chronology through a statistical analysis of stylistic features. We are not constrained by his aims. It is clear that the passages of group 6 are Medinan.


On this see Uri Rubin“The life of Muḥammad and the Qurʾān: the case of Muḥammad’s hijra”Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam28 (2003) p. 40-64. For a brief overview of the different types of relationships between the Qurʾān and the sīra see Wim Raven “Sīra and the Qurʾān” Encyclopedia of the Qurʾān. I thank the anonymous reviewers for these references.


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