'In view of the importance of Ibn Sad's Kitabal-Tabaqatal-Kabir as one of the earliest works on the biographical literature of Islam and a valuable source of information for the students of Islamic history as well as scholars engaged in research, the Society has decided to publish an English translation of this voluminous book. The Urdu translation of the Tabaqat was published by the Translation Bureau, Hyderabed Deccan, in 1944; this however is now out of print. Moreover, it does not contain the full chains of narrators as given in the original.
No doubt, many of the narrations included in the Tabaqat are fabricated and untrustworthy and cannot be accepted as authority, but the book is a vast mine of information, and the modern reader will find considerable material which is useful for the early history of Islam.
In view of the importance of Ibn Sa'd's Kitab al-Tabaqat al- Kabir as one of the earliest works on the biographical literature of Islam and a valuable source of information for the students of Islamic history as well as scholars engaged in research, the Society has decided to publish an English translation of this voluminous book. The Urdu translation of the Tabaqat was published by the Translation Bureau, Hyderabad Deccan, in 1944; this however is now out of print. Moreover, it does not contain the full chains of narrators as given in the original.
lbn Sa'd is one of the greatest authorities on Islamic biographical literature but very little information has come down to us about his own life. However, on the basis of references in Arabic works some facts have been collected by later writers. He was born in 168 H. at al-Basrah ; subsequently he migrated to Baghdad where he joined his preceptor, al-Waqidi, after whom he has come to be known as Katib al-Waqidi. Then he visited Kufah and Madinah, where, he says. he heard Hadith from some eminent scholars in 189 H. He must have left Madinah before 200 H. since all the narrators, on whose authority he has reported, had passed away by that time. He died on Sunday, 26 Jumada al- Akhirah, 230 H., and was buried outside the Damascus Gate which was also known as Bab al-Sham (Syrian Gate).
It is stated that Ibn Sa'd had collected considerable information and compiled several books, but the names of only three of his works-al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, al-Tabaqdt al-Saghir and Akhbar al-Nabi are mentioned. Of these the second is an abridged edition of the first, and the third covers information contained in the first two volumes of the first book. Thus, actually there it only one book. The famous scholar, Suyuri, abridged the Tabaqat under the title, Injaz al- Wa'd il-Muntaqa min Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd.
Ibn Sa'd met a number of scholars of his time, many of whom were trustworthy narrators of Hadith. Of his preceptors Sufyan Ibn 'Uyaynah, Abu al-Walid al-Tayalisi, Muhammad Ibn Sa'dan al- Darir, Waki' Ibn al-Jarrah, Sulayman Ibn Harb, Hushaym, al-Fadl Ibn Dukayn, al-Walid lbn Muslim. Ma'n Ibn 'Isa etc. are counted among trustworthy narrators. Moreover, Ibn Sa'd, who holds an eminent position among the historians and biographers of Islam, used to examine the narrations carefully before including them in his work. Among his many pupils the names of al-Bala- dhuri, al-Harith Ibn Abi Usamah and al-Husayn Ibn Fahm may be mentioned. The last two are the transmitters of Ibn Sa'd's Tobaqat, Ibn Sa'd's monumental work-Kitab al-Tabaqdt al-Kabir was published from Leiden (1904 to 1921). Prof. E. Sachau collected its manuscripts from various libraries and edited the text with the help of a group of scholars. The editors have divided the book into eight volumes, some of which have two parts. The first two volumes of the Tabaqat contain narrations dealing with the life of Prophet Muhammad ; subsequent volumes contain classified biographies of selected Companions and their successors up to the author's time.
One of the prominent features of the Tabaqut is that it contains chains of authorities for each narration. This enables the reader to judge for himself the authenticity or otherwise of a particular narration by determining the trustworthiness of the narrators mentioned in the chain.
Ibn Sa'd is generally considered to be a trustworthy and reliable transmitter of Hadith. Eminent writers, like Ibn Hajar, Dhahabi, Khatib Baghdadi, and Ibn Khallikan have declared him to be trustworthy. The orientalists also have accepted his authority, but it is an admitted fact that three of his preceptors al-Waqidi, Hisham Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Sa'ib al-Kalbi and Abu Ma'shar were not trustworthy. Al-Waqidi is said to have fabricated about twenty thousand narrations. In spite of this, certain critics find no harm in accepting his narrations relating to Sirah and Maghazi. A modern writer, however, cannot agree with this principle. It is necessary to determine the trustworthiness of every narrator before accepting his statement, no matter to what subject it relates. Nevertheless, some writers, al-Jumahi, for instance, considered al- Waqidi to be one of the most learned men of his time. They also say that even Imam Malik consulted him when he was in difficulty. Mus'ab al-Zubayri never saw a scholar like him. The majority of critics have however declared him to be entirely untrustworthy. The untrustworthiness of al- Waqidi has not affected the veracity of Ibn Sa'd. 'Allamah Shibli is therefore right in his remark that his narrations based on the authority of al- Waqidi should not be accepted without further investigations.
Ibn Sa'd was also considered to be a prominent scholar of Fiqh by his contemporaries. It has been stated that he was one of the seven top-most jurists whom Caliph Ma'mun had invited to give their opinion on the question of the Khalq Qur'an (creation of Qur'an). All of them corroborated the Caliph's view that the Qur'an was created. For this reason some of the Muhaddithin were displeased with him. Ahad Ibn Hanbal, the greatest opponent of the doctrine of Khalq Qur'an, had, however, cordial relations with him and used to borrow a portion of al-Waqidi's narrations every Friday returning it after perusal on the following Friday.
Ibn Sa'd's book is a store of information, but the reader has to be careful in selecting trustworthy and authentic narrations from the mass of material which he has left for us.
An attempt has been made in the translation to be as faithful to the original as possible; this has resulted in constant repetition of some words and phrases, but it has the advantage of presenting an almost true picture of the Arabic version. In the original direct form of speech has been used in the statements of every narrator, but in the English rendering it became impossible to insert the inverted commas. We have therefore put a colon to indicate where a particular narration begins; at the end there is a simple full stop mark.
In each case a new narration begins with a fresh paragraph.
The following expressions have been used for the Arabic terms used by the narrators:
he related to us.
he informed us.
These expressions are invariably followed by (he said).
The preposition (on the authority of) presents another difficulty. In this case the possibility of an intermediary narrator cannot be ruled out. There was again a difficulty when an 'an was followed by another 'an or when there was a series of 'ans. In such cases we have used the expression, 'he on the authority of,' which means that the information has been transmitted either on the basis of the direct statement of the narrator or information coming through him. An exception has however been made in narrations where 'an, precedes the name of the Prophet. In these cases we have rendered it thus: He learnt from the lips of the Prophet.
The early Muslim historians and biographers repeat with every narration the full name of the person with his genealogy so that he might not be confused with a name-sake, if any. We have also retained these names as given in the original.
As the book contains biographical notices of all the narrators and authorities of Ibn Sa'd it has not been considered necessary to add an index of proper names.
The English translation is based on Prof. Sachau's edition (Leiden, 1904-21), but a few variants noticed in its Beirut reprint (1956) have been mentioned.
In conclusion it may be noted that the present text of the Tabaqat has come down to us through a chain of transmitters, the last of whom was al-Dimyati.
With the publication of this volume we come to the end of the first portion of the book which contains an account of the life and activities of the Prophet, may Allah bless him. This section is important because Ibn Sa'd has tried to collect hadithes pertaining to various aspects of the life and work of the Prophet. Some of them are those which have been rejected by the Muhaddithin as weak and have to be utilized with great care in the course of our study of the Sirah. Ibn Sa'd makes no comments on the authenticity or otherwise of a hadith, but as he has mentioned complete chains of narrators it is not difficult to judge its value and importance as a source of authentic information.
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
for saving your wish list, viewing past orders, receiving discounts, and lots more...
Email a Friend