The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, April 02, 2017


I've mentioned here the Gharqad Hadith (you know, the one about how every rock and bush will betray the fleeing Jew to the Muslim warrior, except for that bush) a couple times. I should have discussed it years ago; better late than never.

Although the hadith-collectors Bukhari and Muslim do include chapters on the end-time Tribulations, called fitan and/or malhamat, Bukhari and Muslim were not, as a whole, sympathetic to the apocalyptic strain in their religion. They were writing encyclopaedias mainly on correct Islamic practice, for use in schools of law. So the duo's sahihayn omit, for instance, the widespread hadith on the Mahdi From Between The Rukn And Maqam; despite that their own teachers 'Abd al-Razzaq, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, and Ibn Abi Shayba were pleased to teach variants of it. The two had, perhaps, diagnosed that hadith as the Zubayri fake it is.

The critical eyes of Bukhari and Muslim are unfortunate for historians, because we like fake hadiths, as long as we know them. We like seeing a window on a specific time, in the Rukn Mahdi's case on the Zubayrids' time. If they included something, they themselves couldn't quite pin it down. So in matn analysis, we have to use the times to illuminate the hadith, rather than what we prefer, which is the reverse.

So let's look at the times of the boxthorn hadith. The Jewish objects of this hadith didn't leave much record of these years. Sometimes, though, certain Jews got a little hotheaded - and these events were noted by Christians as well as by Muslims. In particular Jewish communities exalted several claimants to secondary Prophecy or even to Messiahhood. But since this Jewish messianism happened until, er, Lubavitch in our own day, it doesn't help us pin down any Muslim reaction.

So it's off to the isnad-bundles. I find a handy (partial) collection in the Musnad al-Sahaba. Muslim's chain is Harmala b. Yahya < Ibn Wahb < Yunus < Ibn Shihab [al-Zuhri] < Salim b. 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar < his father Ibn 'Umar. Tirmidhi: 'Abd b. Humayd < 'Abd al-Razzaq < Ma'mar < al-Zuhri etc. Ahmad and Bukhari both jot down the Copy of Abu'l-Yaman from Shu'ayb, also, from Zuhri. So Zuhri did teach this thing.

Zuhri's endorsement, and its inclusion in Abu'l-Yaman's document, meant the later muhaddithun couldn't ignore it. Also in 'Abbasid Isfahan and - more so - Baghdad itself, warnings like this could keep the Jews from getting too uppity. (Or post-Jews: for instance, the 'Îsâwiya of, you guessed it, Isfahan.) If the End Of Days did come about, the Muslims weren't going down to the Grave alone...

As for Zuhri's own day, although I'm not about to write up a whole essay just yet, I do not rule out that other transmitters were spreading similar accounts. Ibn Abi Shayba readily taught Muslim that, besides Zuhri, other chains had Salim and also the mawla Nafi', each from Ibn 'Umar. I would link the spread of Ibn 'Umar material to the 'Umarid Caliph, that is Salim's cousin 'Umar bin 'Abd al-'Aziz in the late 90s / 710s. Although I do not dare say where exactly any given Ibn 'Umar tradition belongs: to 'Umar bin 'Abd al-'Aziz's ambition as governor of the Madina, to his (short!) caliphate, or to nostalgia after his death.

posted by Zimri on 10:01 | link | 0 comments

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