Assalam o ‘alaykum,
Existence of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba is both accepted by Sunnis, Shias and the Westerner historians. Today some Shias try their best to even deny his existence, let alone the role he played in the foundation of Shiahism. He is to Shiahism, what Saint Paul is to Christianity.
1. It says in Anwar al-N’umaniyyah, a Shia book,
‘Abdullah Ibn-i-Saba was the first who declared the faith in Imamat and that Sayyiduna ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) is the true God (Na’uzubillah).
(Anwar al-N’umaniyyah, 2:234 – Published Iran)
2. The name of ‘Abdullah bin Saba figures in the most reliable book of Shias on Isma ur-Rijal, entitled Rijal-i-Kashshi and it is related in it from Imam Jafar Sadiq (may Allah have mercy on him) that Ibn Saba believed in the divinity of Sayyiduna ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), and, ultimately, he was burnt alive at his command. About ‘Abdullah bin Saba, Rijal-e-Kashshi says,
“Many knowledgeable people have stated that ‘Abdullah bin Saba was a Jew who had accepted Islam and showed great devotion for Sayyiduna ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). As a Jew, he used to exaggerated the personality of Joshua, the son of Nun, and the Wasi of Moses. After becoming a Muslim he began to exalt the personality of Sayyiduna ‘Ali much beyond the due limit, and he was the first person to declare that it was obligatory to believe in the Imamat of Sayyiduna ‘Ali, and completely dissociated himself form his enemies and he openly opposed them and denounced them as infidels”. (Rijal-i-Kashi, p.71)
3. The earliest historian Tabri has sketched out the details in these words,
“‘Abdullah bin Saba was a Jew and lived in Sana. His mother was called Sauda. He embraced Islam during the period of Sayyiduna Uthman. he roamed through the Muslim cities and tried to seduce the Muslims from the straight path. He launched his diabolical campaign from Hijaz and then visited Basra, Kufa and Syria. None of the Syrians cooperated with him. On the contrary, they drove him out of Syria. Thus he moved over to Egypt and settled down there permanently. He started drumming into the minds of the Egyptians that it was strange they believed in the return of Christ and denied the return of Sayyiduna Muhammad [peace be upon him]. God himself had declared. Therefore he has a better claim to return to the world in comparison with Christ. He fabricated the concept of the ‘return’ or resurrection and the Egyptians turned in into a hot debating issue.”
4. Hafiz Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) and Hafiz Ibn Athir (may Allah have mercy on him) have commented on it on similar lines and ‘Allamaj Ibn Khaldun (may Allah have mercy on him) has also written about it,
“Abdullah bin Saba, who was popularly known as Ibn Sauda, was a Jew. He had left his country during the tenure of Sayyiduna ‘Uthman but he had not embraced Islam from the core of his heart. When he was honked out of Basra, he left for Kufa from where he made a bee – line for Syria. The Syrians also whipped him out of their country and he left for Egypt. He made Sayyiduna ‘Uthman (may Allah have mercy on him) the special butt of his critical remarks and secretly invited people to institute the Khilafat of the Ahl-i-Bay’t. He pressed upon people to launch the campaign and he spared no opportunity to criticize the rulers. Some of the people openly sided with him. They had come from different cities and therefore they kept up their links through correspondence. Khalid bin Maljim, Saudan bin Hamran and Kinana bin Basher supported the campaign launched by ‘Abdullah bin Saba. They had also persuaded ‘Ammar not to return to Madina. ‘Ammar was one of those people who had openly lambasted Sayyiduna Uthman (may Allah have mercy on him) for first turning Sayyiduna Abu Zar (may Allah have mercy on him) out of Syria into Madinah and then for pushing him out of Madinah towards Abzah, though, under the circumstances, the action of ‘Uthman was justified. Abu Zar (may Allah have mercy on him), out of the intensity of his piety and austerity, used to force people to lead their lives on similar lines and to learn to face the hardships of life. He persuaded people to stock for themselves not more than a day’s ration. He also illustrate ed with reasoning the undesirability of hoarding gold and silver. Ibn Saba used to instigate Abu Zar (may Allah have mercy on him) against Sayyiduna Muawiyyah by stressing that he supported the distribution of goods among the people. Abu Zar (may Allah have mercy on him) started condemning Muawiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him). Muawiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) coaxed him a little and told him: I’ll also harp on the same turn that all goods belong to Allah.”
5. Hafiz ibn Hajr (may Allah have mercy on him) has related on the authority of Tarikh Abi Asakir,
“He belonged to Yemen. He was a Jew, but he had donned the guise of Islam and roamed through the Muslim cities to lead the Muslims astray and dissuade them from the obedience of their Imams and to sow dissension among them. He also visited Damascus with this end in view”. (Tarikh Damishq, 7:430)
6. ‘Allamah Asfaraini (may Allah have mercy on him) has also commented on it in a similar vein,
“Ibn Sauda was a Jew who had donned the gown of Islam to addle the faith of the Muslims”.
7. Abu Muhammad Hassan bin Musa has unraveled these secrets. He is the earliest Shiah historian who has given an account of the Shiah sects. He is one of the most famous Shiah of the third century A.H. He writes,
“Sabais are the companions of ‘Abdullah bin Saba. ‘Abdullah bin Saba made faces at Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and other companions (may Allah be pleased with them) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and disaffiliated himself from them and he imputed his acts to the command of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). When ‘Ali caught hold of him and asked him about it, he confessed to it. After his confession, he ordered him to be executed. On hearing the order, [quite a few people] made a humble submission to ‘Ali:O Amir al-Muminin! You have ordered the execution of a person who professes your friendship and the love of your Ahl al-Bay’t. ‘Ali complied with the submission and exiled him to Madain.”
8. The famous Shia biographer Istrabadi says,
“Abdullah bin Saba claimed that ‘Ali is Allah and he is his Prophet. When the news reached the Amir al-Muminin, he sent for him and asked him about it. He owned it and insisted that he is really the one [who is the referee of his claim]. The Amir al-Muminin said: The devil has seduced you. Therefore you should repent at once. But he refused to repent and he put him behind the bars for three days. When he did not repent even after three days, he burned him alive”.
9. Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir Jaylani Baghdadi (may Allah have mercy on him) says,
“The followers of ‘Abdullah bin Saba are called Sabains. Ibn Saba relied on exaggeration about the status of Sayyiduna ‘Ali and claimed that he was a prophet. Then, relying on further exaggeration he claimed that he was God and he invited a party of the Kufi rebels to adopt these beliefs. When the news reached ‘Ali, he had some of these people thrown into two pits of fire, as has been hinted at by a poet .”
10. All the Shiah scholars have given an account of Ibn Saba, his views and beliefs and his party ; Sayyid Qummi [who died in 301H.], Sheykh Ta’ifah Tusi, Tastri in Qamus al-Rijal, Abbas Qummi in Tuhfat al-Ahbab, Khu Ansari in Raudhat al-Jannat, Sabhani in Nasikh al-Tawarikh and the author of Rawdhat al-Safa, have all mentioned him and his party”.
11. ‘Allamah Shahrastani (may Allah have mercy on him) writes under the heading of Sabaism,
“Sabais are the followers of ‘Abdullah bin Saba who had told Sayyiduna ‘Ali: you are you i.e., you are God, but he had extradited him to Madain The historians suggest that he was actually a Jew, but he had tacked on to himself the label of Islam. During the Jewish phase, he used to claim that Sayyiduna Y’osha bin Nun was the executor of Sayyiduna Moses.”
12. Ibn ‘Asakar has cited a tradition of Sayyiduna Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) in his history,
“When the oath of allegiance was taken at the hand of ‘Ali and he delivered his address, ‘Abdullah bin Saba stood up and said: you are “Dabat al-Ardh.” (Tarikh Dimishq)
13. ‘Allamah Baghdadi has touched the issue in his book Al-Firq Bayn al-Firq. Similarly, Isfaraini in his book Kitab al-Tabsir and Ibn Hazm in Al-Fasl have also mentioned Ibn Saba.
14. Famous Shia scholar Nau Bakhti writes,
“It is known as the Sabai sect because ‘Abdullah bin Saba was its ring leader.” [Khandan-i-Nau-Bakhti, p.275]
15. Historian Professor P.K Hitti writes,
“The enigmatic ‘Abdullah ibn Saba who was converter ed into Islam…embraced ‘Ali with his excessive veneration…” (History of the Arabs, p.248 – London)
16. Famous historian Dwight M. Donaldon writes,
“‘Abdullah ibn Saba had traveled widely throughout the Empire, as Tabari says, “seeking to lead the Moslems into error…Another of his teachings that was more immediately, influential was that every Prophet has a wasi and that ‘Ali was the wasi of Muhammed…” (The Sheit Religion of Islam, Part 6 p.41)
17. Historian Dr. J. N. Hollister writes,
“['Abdullah ibn Saba] He was the native of San’a in Yemen…He opened a campaign of behalf of ‘Ali suggesting that Abu Bakar, ‘Umar, and ‘Usman were usurpers…” (Shias of Hind p.15)
18. Famous historian Dr. Walter C. Klein writes,
“‘Abdullah ibn Saba had hailed Ali with the words, “Thou art Thou.”…
(Al-Ibanah al-Usul al-Diyanah, p.7-8)
19 Historian Professor Nicholson writes,
“Now the Shi’ite theory of Divine Right certainly harmonized with Persian ideas, …’Abdullah ibn Saba…went from place to place, seeking to lead Moslems into error…” (The History of the Arabs, p.215)
20. Famous historian and former governor of U.P, India, William Moore writes,
“…Ibn Saba, a Jew from the South of Arabia…he became the setter forth of strange and startling doctrines…’Ali was his legate, ‘Usmsn was a usurper…” (Al-Khilafat, Us ka Uruj, Inhitat aur Zawaal, p.217)
21. The “Jewish Encyclopedia” says,
ABDALLAH IBN SABA
By : Hartwig Hirschfeld
Jew of Yemen, Arabia, of the seventh century, who settled in Medina and embraced Islam. Having adversely criticized Calif Othman’s administration, he was banished from the town. Thence he went to Egypt, where he founded an antiothmanian sect, to promote the interests of Ali. On account of his learning he obtained great influence there, and formulated the doctrine that, just as every prophet had an assistant who afterward succeeded him, Mohammed’s vizier was Ali, who had therefore been kept out of the califate by deceit. Othman had no legal claim whatever to the califate; and the general dissatisfaction with his government greatly contributed to the spread of Abdallah’s teachings. Tradition relates that when Ali had assumed power, Abdallah ascribed divine honors to him by addressing him with the words, “Thou art Thou!” Thereupon Ali banished him to Madain. After Ali’s assassination Abdallah is said to have taught that Ali was not dead but alive, and had never been killed; that a part of the Deity was hidden in him; and that after a certain time he would return to fill the earth with justice. Till then the divine character of Ali was to remain hidden in the imams, who temporarily filled his place. It is easy to see that the whole idea rests on that of the Messiah in combination with the legend of Elijah the prophet. The attribution of divine honors to Ali was probably but a later development, and was fostered by the circumstance that in the Koran Allah is often styled “Al-Ali” [The Most High].
Bibliography: Shahrastani Al-Milal, pp. 132 et seq. (in Haarbrücken’s translation, i. 200-201); Weil, Gesch. der Chalifen, i. 173-174, 209, 259.H. Hir.
Indeed interesting. How reliable are the narrations though?
And as you probably know, orientalists don’t examine narrations in a way acceptable according to Islamic standards.
Do you have an reference for that which you quote Ibn Khaldun?
“Abdullah bin Saba, who was popularly known as Ibn Sauda, was a Jew. He had left his country during the tenure of Hadhrat Uthman but he had not embraced Islam from the core of his heart. When he was honked out of Basra, he left for Kufa from where he made a bee – line for Syria. The Syrians also whipped him out of their country and he left for Egypt. He made Hadhrat Uthman [r.a] the special butt of his critical remarks and secretly invited people to institute the Khilafat of the Ahl-i-Bait. He pressed upon people to launch the campaign and he spared no opportunity to criticize the rulers. Some of the people openly sided with him. They had come from different cities and therefore they kept up their links through correspondence. Khalid bin Maljim, Saudan bin Hamran and Kinana bin Basher supported the campaign launched by Abdullah bin Saba. They had also persuaded Ammar not to return to Madina. Ammar was one of those people who had openly lambasted Hadhrat Uthman[r.a] for first turning Hadhrat Abu Zar [r.a] out of Syria into Madina and then for pushing him out of Madina towards Abzah, though, under the circumstances, the action of Hadhrat Uthman [r.a] was justified. Hadhrat Abu Zar[r.a] , out of the intensity of his piety and austerity, used to force people to lead their lives on similar lines and to learn to face the hardships of life. He persuaded people to stock for themselves not more than a day’s ration. He also illustrate ed with reasoning the undesirability of hoarding gold and silver. Ibn Saba used to instigate Hadhrat Abu Zar [r.a] against Hadhrat Muawiyah by stressing that he supported the distribution of goods among the people. Hadhrat Abu Zar [r.a] started condemning Hadhrat Muawiyah[r.a] . Hadhrat Muawiyah [r.a] coaxed him a little and told him : I’ll also harp on the same turn that all goods belong to Allah.”
A. I have only quoted few orientalists, but also shown it from authentic ShiaH and Sunni books, the role of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba. Usually the orientalists favor Shiahism and if ‘Abdullah ibn Saba was a fairy tale, so many of the orientalists would not have mentioned him. Even a blind person can’t deny the role Ibn Saba played in the origins of Shiahism.
B. The quote of ‘Allamah ibn Khuldoon was taken from Shia’hs and Shiahism, there Genesis and Evolution, by Allamah Ehsan Elahi Zahir Shahid. He was the author of many books on Shiahs and their history, and later on he was killed by the Shias and was burred in Madinah. Also its mentioned in ‘Abdullah ibn Saba, Tarikh kay Aiyne Main, by Hakim Faiz Alam Siddiqui. Shah Abdul ‘Aziz Dahlawi (may Allah have mercy on him) has also written in details about Ibn Saba in his magnum opus called Tuhfa Ithna Ashariyyah.
And to add to the above list:
22. And it is narrated from Imam Abu Hanifah (may Allah have mercy on him),
“hAbdullah ibn Saba was a Jewish and he [supposedly] accepted Islam during the time of Sayyiduna ‘Usman (may Allah have mercy on him) and he urged the people of Egypt to kill ‘Usman (may Allah have mercy on him) and he would show much love for ‘Ali (may Allah have mercy on him). He was a khabis from inside and his only mission was to create fitnah among the Muslims.” (Musnad Imam-i-A’zam, p.158)
عبد اللّه بن سبا كان يهوديا فاسلم ايام عثمان وهوالذى حمل اهل مصر على قتل عثمان واظهر
الميل الى على وكان خبيث الباطن غرض الفساد بين المسلمين
23. Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jaylani (may Allah have mercy on him) says in Ghunyat al-Talibin,
“Sabain sect are attributed towards ‘Abdullah ibn Saba and they said ‘Ali is alive and will come back before Qiyamat.”
واما لسبائية فمنسوبة الى عبداللّه بن سبا من دعوهم ان عليا لم يمت وانه يرجع قبل يوم القيامة
Assalam o ‘alaykum,
24. Famous Shia scholar ‘Allamah Kashi narrates in his book from one of the Shiah Imam Abu ‘Abdullah (may Allah have mercy on him),
“May Allah curse ‘Abdullah ibn Saba, he said that ‘Ali is God. But ‘Ali was a servant of Allah.”
لعن اللّه عبداللّه بن سبا انه ادعو الربوية فى امير المؤمنين عبدا طالباً
(Qamus al-Rijal, 5:46)
25. Allamah Shahrastani (may Allah have mercy on him) writes:
“‘Abdullah ibn Saba…was the first person who said that Imamat of ‘Ali (may Allah have mercy on him) is proven from nas.” (Al-Milal wa al-Nahal, 1:174)
اصحاب عبداللّه بن سبا٠٠٠ وهو اول من اظهر القول بالنص بامامة على كرم اللّه وجهه
26. Saad Bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari Al-Qummi said:
“Sabians are companions of ‘Abdullah Ibn saba, …… ‘Abdullah bin Saba, was the first who slandered Abu Bakr, ‘Omar, ‘Othman, and the Companions and disowned them.” (Al-Maqalat wal-Firaq, p.20)
27. Imam Shah Waliullah (may Allah have mercy on him) has also written in details about Ibn Saba in his book Izalat al-Khifa;.
“The reason for those great Ulema to report everything shows their honesty and trustworthiness and greatness. They reported even if it goes against their own belief as in the case of imam ibn Jarir Tabari.
His tafseer nagates things that he has reported in Tarikh.
Some Ulema either not paying special attention or relying on those before them blindly such as “some scholars have said that” etc as is the case with many reports you will find in our currentt discussion.
This abdullah bin Saba’s existence, actually, that is another flawed focus. If we are claiming that he did such and such then we should ‘prove’ such and such.
I have read extensively about abd allah bin Saba from original sources from their first appearance in third/fourth century in Tabari to those who did not mention any chain?
The image in Tabari of abdullah bin Saba is of a powerful man that single handedly he manages to destabilise and overthrows Hazrat Osman al-Ghani’s rule and mesmerises the great and old sahaba Hazrat abu Zar Ghaffari and the seventh muslim in islam Hazrat Ammar Yasir that they were greatly influnced by him.
The role of ibn Saba as depicted by reports in Tabari is such that all of sudden the guy comes in the times of Hazrat Usman al-Ghani and eventually becomes responsible for the end of the caliphate of Hazrat Usman bin Affan.
In terms of causality a black/white simple mechanism to explain away the downfall.
When ibn Saba has been given such a crucial role in downfall of the third Caliph then by historical necessity others before or contemporary of Tabari, atleaset, must have given an account of abdullah bin Saba’s pivotal role but we find that Imam Tabari (d. 310 AH) reporting from saif bin Omer,(unanimously, a liar and fabricator according to sunnis as well the three others from his chain) along with other factors highlights this cause via saif bin omer yet other contemporary historians such as Ibn Saad (d. 230 AH)in tabaqaat and Baladuri (d. 297 AH)in ansab al-ashraf do not mention this character whilst reporting on the downfall or end of Hazrat Usman’s caliphate! it is things of this nature and mouth of a fabricator that has led researchers deny the role atleast as presented by saif bin umer.
Dr. Taha Hussain the Egyptian sunni author, for example, in his al fitan al kubra has denied the existence of abdullah bin Saba on account of such reasons of both text and testimony.
Not to mention the ‘invention’ of some fictitious Sahaba by Saif bin Omer as we will elucidate from muhaddiseen that no such Sahabi exists other than from what Saif says?
If you remove Saif bin Omer from the equation of abdullah bin Saba then a different account of ibn Saba emerges.
Saif’s ibn Saba emerges in time of Hazrat Usman(RA) and without Saif’e reports ibn Saba emerges in times of Hazrat Imam Ali (RA)…that alone should be sufficient for a historian.
However, Saif’s ibn Saba is the originator of shia sect but other than Saif, ibn Saba is calls “ Imam Ali GOD”…now, do you know Ismailis, Zaidis, Isna Asharis that call Imam Ali GOD?
Moreover, ibn Saba from other than Saif, was killed by Imam Ali etc.
1. السري this first reporter was siri bin ismaelkufi or siri bin asim died in 258. both were ‘fabricators and liars’ see, (tehdheeb al-tehdheeb V3, Page46. tarikh al khateeb V9 P193, mizal al-itidal V1 P37, lisna al-mizan V3 P13.)
2. Shuaib bin ibrahim al-kufi: this reporter is majhool/unknown. see (mizal al-itidal V1 P447, lisna al-mizan V3 P145)
3. Saif bin Omer: this reporter reports fabrications and attributes them to trustworthy people. see (mizan al-itidal V1 P438, tehdheeb al-tehdheeb, V4 P295)
4. Yazeed faq’asi: unknown reporter and there absolutely no mention of him in any books of reporters.
A lot more could be said and analysed but it is sufficient to say that consistency is key pillar we must hold onto otherwise kama tudeeno tudaan. You may reap what you sow.
Shia are also guilty of making use of reports when it suits them like our brothers and this cycle will continue. Another thing is that there is no mention of ibn Saba in our hadith literature such Sihah Sitta whereas they fill in gaps for other historical happenings!
Actually, there are contradictions between Saif’s accounts of Islamic history and that which is reported in other sources, for instance, Sahih Bukhari.
Dr. Abdul Aziz Hulabi, chair of Islamic History at King Saud University, KSA.
Dr. Husayn Atwan, in an direct way, but explicit enough.
Those have completey rejected the entire existence of Ibn Sab’a.
Scholars like Al Arabi At-Tabbani have exposed that his role was “much smaller and insignificant than worth mentioning”.
Since all the Salaf of the historians, Hadith scholars, narrators, did not mention Ibn Sa’ba before the sudden appearance of Sayf bin Amr.
That tells you something.
Furthermore, the Islamic historians, while narrating Sayf’s narrations, have ALWAYS concluded otherwise.
In the book called ‘man hum as-shia’ by a salafi callled Ahmed Jawadu, published by Dar al-Ameer.
It is a refutation of Shia isna Asharis. ( page 46), he gives a list of sunni scholars of late that have denied the existence or details about abdullah bin Saba with regards to originator of Shia isna Asharis.
1. dr. taha hussain in al-fitn al-kubra
2. dr. ali sami an-nishar in al-fikr al-falsafi fil islam
3. dr. hamid hanafi daud in at-tashuo zahira tabiya fi itar ad-dawa al-islamia
4. dr. mohammed kamil hussain in adab misr al-fatimiya
5. abdul aziz al-halabi in his book abudullah bin saba
6. ustaz hasan bin farhan al-maliki has written many articles about his denial.
7. dr. jawad ali in his article of the name abdullah bin saba, issue 6 of almajma alilmi.
8. dr. abdullah samarai in his book al-ghulu wa alfiraq alghaliya fil hidarat alislamiya.
Then he goes on to give a list shia scholars.
Although admits that abdullah bin Saba has no mention in Sihah Sitta or the Matun Araba( four principle texts of shia) but gives a reference from Bukhari on page 37 that indirectly it proves that Hazrat Imam Ali burned the followers of abdullah bin Saba as we see in history!”
Sahih Bukhari- Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57:
Some Zanadiqa were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’”
Anything that I say in here that is worthy of critique I welcome it, it is possible I am misunderstanding many things.
You asked about Abdullah ibn Saba.
I do not know if anyone mentioned this yet, but you may find yourself wanting to read al-’Awasim min al-Qawasim, by the great Maliki faqih and near-mujtahid Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn Arabi, translated into English as Defense Against Disaster by Madinah Press – a house I believe to be associated with the Murabitun, and who have out out some other rather useful books.
They have made this book available for free in pdf form, it is easily found, but those unable to find it are welcome to message me for a copy, I also advise simply buying the hardbound copy because frankly, e-books have a permanence kinda resembling the little tracks moths leave, when they graze along a snowbank.
It is a comprehensive history of the civil wars and political instability in the fitan al-kubra, that which engulfed the early Sahaba and two generations after them. It absolves the Sahabah from blame and shows how they were simply manipulated by well funded and organized clandestine figures from among the second generation, chief amongst these is the Abdullah Ibn Saba of which we discuss.
The book has more than the ring of truth to it, it has been accepted by many a Sunni scholars, and I consider it necessary reading for a modern Muslim student.
Because, and this is a critical point to understand, and I implore you to consider it well. The very mechanisms and machinations outlined in this book can be seen throughout the history of the Ummah up until the present day.
So, you wanna know how easy it is to organize political conspiracies so byzantine in their complexity as to befuddle the best generation of this Ummah?
Then read this book.
The same dajjalic (and I use this word deliberately) patterns can be found in multiple incidents throughout history beyond this book. Recognizing the general outlines of how an entire generation of the best of the Ummah, the most spiritually enlightened, and understanding, of people who saw the blessed Prophet in the flesh and learned directly from him.
This book show how this group were confused by the most murky of dark organizations is important. Frankly similar things have happened throughout history amongst the nations of the kufar as well as in Prophetic communities but none so clearly historically documented, before the present day, as this one. It frankly reads much like the 19th century “Proofs of a Conspiracy” dealing with the clandestine forces behind the french revolution – except Qadi Ibn Arabi documents things in a far more rigorous way.
One yearns for a similar treatment of the fitnahs of this Ummah in the late 19th and early 20th century, for no one has treated this topic with the rigor it deserves.
Read it, and weep. It moved my heart. Maybe it will move yours too.
Look, those shia brothers you speak of bark up a dangerous tree. A rather large percentage of their historiography is demonstrably weak, their scholars often quote from narrators of the most dubious reputation, knowingly. So, they should look into their own affairs first.
History works differently from Hadith. In matters of Tarikh – general matters of history and historiography – our scholars deal with narrations having a lower probability of veracity than sacred scripture. And yet, realize that demonstrative rules still apply, and have been applied by the scholars pursuing sciences of history.
These rules concern the weighing of witness accounts, chains of their narration and transmission of specific narrations and texts, gauging the probability of fraud and memory failure, the likelihood of the occurrence of an incident as judged on the broader context as already known, and so on, and so forth.
The fact that a narration is quoted does not mean we believe it uncritically, it is a probability. Some people have a problem with probabilities and like things to be black and white, well it doesn’t work that way. A good deal of history is redacted, corrupted in a dajjalic fashion, consists of truths partially quoted by sincere honest error or malice of intent as to give a misleading impression, and more.
We weigh probabilities.
It is highly probable that Abdullah Ibn Saba existed. The shia debating this are really making themselves look silly.
This is sad, they should just acknowledge the probable fact that he lived, and that he played a pivotal and organizing role in this fitnah, and later attached himself as a subversive element to the wings of the partisans of Amir al-Mumineen and Bab ul-Ilm Ali Ibn Abi Talib.
In so doing Abdullah ibn Saba corrupted the hearts of many, and formed the seed of corruption that would reemerge through the history of the Shiatul Ali in the form of Ghulat extremism.
The fitnah is not understandable without looking at his role, he fits like a perfect key into the events. There are things about the matter that can only make sense if Abdullah ibn Saba is looked at as an element.
History writers obeyed specific rules. Many writers in the genre of history were not sloppy, they knew well what they were doing, to a far greater degree than their critics today. And Qadi Abu Bakr was a faqih, a Qadi, one who knew these usuls and furu’ and rules of transmission of knowledge and how to weigh such knowledge inside and out, the man’s greatness as a scholar is without question and he was all but a mutahid.
The mere fact that historical writings included weak narrations is not a criticism. Many critics frankly ignore the fact that weak narrations have an important role to play, they may be cited for the sake of clarity, to reinforce stronger arguments, to show the mere possibility of something having occurred, and so on.
Weak, or da’if, does not mean inauthentic or false. A false narration is forged and thus mawdu’ – a weak narration has some probability of truthfulness especially in conjunction with stronger supporting narrations.
The over all allowable margins of error in historical writings and research are broader than those in matters pertaining to aqida and fiqh because these later two affect the future disposition of our souls in a post-mortem state and also affect the substantive integrity of our faith and practice.
My understanding is this;
-There is a considerable body of interrelated narrations that collectively point to the existence of the individual known as Abdullah ibn Saba.
- These narrations outline a most pernicious conspiracy surrounding him and certain confederates, who collectively instigated events leading to the attempted assassination of Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr, thereby eventually leading to the blockade of the House of Amir al-Mumineen Uthman ibn Affan(ra), and from there leading to the most horrific and vile of acts, his assassination at the hands of confused discontents, of whom Ibn Abu Bakr (ra) was initially one before his honor and blood was saved by a timely admonition by Uthman(ra) prior to his tragic murder.
- Thus many misunderstandings emerged between mutually sincere parties regarding how best to prosecute perpetrators of this horrific crime, which led to the splintering of parties which led to the Battle of the Camel, and the communal bloodshed that dominated the rest of that blessed generation.
-Abdullah ibn Saba had a clear hand in all of these events as a subversive and covert influence, often working through hired agents, fomenting discontent in others and thus gaining their allegiance as sincere agents.
-These narrations are treated in a comprehensive way in Qadi Abu Bakar Ibn al-Arabi’s work, Defense Against Disaster, and his synthesis of events is highly likely.
Even if some specific details can be questioned, the overall design he outlines is dire.
-Abdullah Ibn Saba, to my mind, was most probably a historical figure, there will always be some element of uncertainty regarding him. But it is a mistake to discount his existence or role completely.
Questions about the adab expected on this forum due to past rebukes from administrators over slips of my tongue that I though insignificant keeps me from stating some matters in stronger terms.
I will say this – the shia who complain about Sunni historiography on this issue are mostly being partisan, doctrinaire, and following the leads of others instead of looking at the evidence for their own eyes and justly weighing the facts, and with all due respect to them as my sisters and brothers in Islam, mostly just being silly.
As you read the book, Defense Against Disaster, you will find yourself wondering how some of these issues could have been hidden from our view for so long. How so many well meaning teachers in this Ummah could have suppressed such knowledge or been unaware of it. You may find yourself amazed and astonished and wanting to find out more. This is a good state.
Also we need to be precise, if you condemn and curse the shia in general then you condemn and curse the rightous among the early shiatul Ali who simply followed the Ahl ul-Bayt as a political affiliation and held the aqida of the Ahl ul-Sunnah.
Up until Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (ra) there was a clear substantive wing of thee Shia movement who were guided correctly – it is only after his death that the ghulat tendencies among them increased.
Brother running around irresponsibly condemning the Shia as a group miss this fact and thus fall into the possibility of condemning men far better than they are.
We should think well about our words.