The Main Motive of Saif bin Omar Al-Tameemi in the eyes of Murtada Al-Askari by brother Farid.
Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem
I write this post after making a discovery that I haven’t seen brought up before by anyone that attempted to refute the works of Murtada Al-Askari. As some of you may be aware, he is the author of the books like Abdullah bin Saba’, Al-Ustoorah Al-Saba’iyah (The Sabayan Legend), and Khamsoon wa Mi’a Sahabi Mukhtalaq (A Hundred and Fifty Fake Companions).
To keep things simple, he wrote two volumes for each of these works, so in total, six volumes that revolve around a specific idea. Now, that certain idea is that Saif bin Omar Al-Tameemi is a liar and that he fabricated narrations, events, places, and people. Murtada Al-Askari then went as far as to list out hundreds of people that he believed did not exist outside the narrations of Saif, like for example, Al-Qa’qa’a bin Amr Al-Tameemi the warrior, Abdullah bin Saba’a the Jew, and Mohammed bin Nuwaira one of Saif’s imaginary shaikhs.
Whoever, the question that everyone asks is, why?! Why would someone go so far as to fabricate so much in the name of religion? Truly, there needs to be an answer, and Murtada Al-Askari, himself, provided his theories and we will get to that shortly.
In any case, not too long after publishing these works, the scholars of Ahlul Sunnah stood their ground and responded with great publications in which these ideas were exposed as incompetent and uncreative. Incompetent because these are weak assumptions and uncreative because these are ideas that he borrowed from certain Orientalists.
A really good book that I suggest that everyone with knowledge in Arabic should read is Abdullah bin Saba’ by Sulaiman bin Hamad Al-Ouda. (Not to be confused with Salman Al-Ouda.) He breaks down the events that surrounded the death of Othman and the fitna, and pretty much everything that had to do with Ibn Saba’a, in a very thorough way. In short, he leaves no reason for anyone to assume that Ibn Saba’a is a figment of Saif’s imagination. One of the ways he does this is by collecting sources in which Ibn Saba’a can be found in, without the inclusion of Saif in the chain of narrators. So, I definitely suggest it for those that have the ability to get a copy.
Without going too off topic, I’d like to point out one of the most important flaws that Murtada Al-Askari made in his books. He assumed that Saif bin Omar’s sheikh, Mohammed bin Nuwaira, was a figment of his imagination and that Saif chose to attribute his hadiths to his imaginary sheikh in order to confuse the hadithists.
Murtada Al-Askari went on to say things like:
ومحمد بن عبد اللّه تخيّله سيف، ابن نويره وسبق قولنا فيه: انه من مختلقاته من الرواة
Rough translation: Mohammed bin Abdullah was imagined by Saif. Ibn Nuwairah, and we have said before: He is an imaginary narrator.
It is important to know, that this shaikh is the one that Saif narrates from the most, which is why I chose to speak about him instead of going into any of Saif’s other shaikhs.
However, the response is just as simple as the accusation, hadith #3417 from Mu’ajam Al-Kabeer by Al-Tabarani:
حدثنا محمد بن عثمان بن أبي شيبة ، حدثنا زكريا بن يحيى الكسائي ، حدثنا إسماعيل بن أبان ، حدثنا أبو حماد الحنفي ، عن محمد بن نويرة ، عن أبي عثمان ، عن حنظلة بن الربيع الكاتب ، قال : ” أهدى المقوقس ملك القبط إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم هدية وبغلة شهباء ، فقبلها صلى الله عليه وسلم “.
There is no Saif bin Omar in this hadith, which means that Mohammed bin Nuwaira did exist.
Now, back to the original issue of Saif bin Omar’s motive for fabrication narrations and people.
Murtada Al-Askari writes from page 55 to page 68 (Dar Al-Zahra, 7th edition) about the history of the tribes of the Arabs, and the feudal nature of these tribes, and how their tribal pride caused them to go against moral codes. After, setting this up, he states the following:
وكان هؤلاء القادة الفاتحون من أبطال أساطيره بحاجة إلى جنود وأتباع في معاركهم الاسطورية، فاختلق لهم سيف من غير قبائل مضر حاشية ورعايا، ونسب إليهم أدوار ثانوية في تلك المعارك والحروب الاسطورية، فدخل في التاريخ الاسلامي من هذا النوع حشد كبير في عداد الصحابة والتابعين، ورواة الحديث إلى طبقات أخرى، وكان هذا النوع من الوضع عند سيف اختلاقاً محضاً، ولم يكن له وجود بتاتاً.
وهناك نوع آخر مما وضعه سيف، من الاساطير حرَّف فيها وقائع صحيحة، ونسبها إلى غير أصحابها، وذلك كالفتوح التي كانت لغير مضر، فرواها سيف وعزاها لقادة من مضر، ممن كان لهم وجود تاريخي محقق، أو لمن اختلقهم ونسبهم إلى مضر لينسب تلك الفتوح إليهم.
Rough translation: And those that led the armies that fought in his (Saif’s) legends needed soldiers for their legendary battles, so Saif created them from tribes other than Madhar (Saif’s genealogy goes back to Madhar), and gave them secondary roles, and by that, there was a new group of people that entered the categories of Sahaba and Tabi’een in Islamic history. He even created hadith narrators, and these weren’t in existence before Saif at all.
ومن هذا النوع من التحريف عند سيف ما كان من شأن مؤاخذات كان يلام عليها بعض سادة مضر، فإن سيفاً قد عزاها لغيرهم سواء أكان غير المضري هذا له وجود تاريخي، أو اختلقه ليلصق به ما عيب عليه المضري، ومن هذا النوع أيضاً ما كان بين سادة مضر أنفسهم مما كانوا يؤاخذون عليه، فان سيفاً قد حرَّف ما روي في ذلك كما فعل في ما وقع بين عائشة وطلحة والزبير وعثمان من خصومة حتّى واقعة الدار ومقتل عثمان، وما وقع بينهم وبين عليّ حتّى واقعة الجمل. فانه عالج كلّ ذلك بما اختلق من أسطورة عبداللّه بن سبأ الذي زعم أنه جاء من صنعاء اليمن وألقى الفتن في البلاد وبين العباد.
And one of the types of fabrication that Saif used to delve into was that he’d find the flaws that were in the people of Madhar, and shift them to someone else that was from another tribe, or to someone that never existed at all. For example, Saif took what was once issues between Aisha, Talha, Zubair, and Othman, and the death of Othman, and what happened between them and Ali in the battle of Jamal, and created Abdullah bin Saba’a, a Yemeni, from Sana’a, and said that he was the cause of the trouble.
نسب سيف إلى من تخيله عبداللّه بن سبأ ، وإلى من تخيلهم من جماعته وسمّاهم بالسبئية تلك القضايا كلَّها وبرَّأ أولئك السادة من مضر من أوضارها. اختلق عبداللّه بن سبأ هذا ونسبه إلى سبأ نفسه ليكون ألصق باليمانية وأجلى نسبة إلى القحطانية…
Saif took these things and attributed them to Abdullah bin Saba’a, and created a group called the Saba’iyah, and by this declared all of those from Madhar as innocent. He created Abdullah bin Saba’a and made Ibn Saba’a a Yemeni from Qahtaan (another tribe).
End of translation.
Murtada Al-Askari, also quoted poetry by some of the Tameemis like Al-Qa’qaa’ bin Amr Al-Tameemi, Rabee’ bin Matar, and Naf’i bin Al-Aswad Al-Tameemi, and the poetry that he quoted were in praise of the people of Tameem.
It should also be noted that Murtada Al-Askari also mentions another motive, which is that Saif wanted to detroy Islam from within, but didn’t really give any real reasons for this other than mentioning the names of liars and their roles in Islamic history.
Therefore, it is safe to say Murtada Al-Askari believed that Saif Al-Tameemi’s main motive for concocting these fabrications was because of his zeal for his tribe.
Now, onto the simple refutation.
Omair bin Dhabi’ Al-Barjami Al-Tameemi, was one of those that Saif bin Omar Al-Tameemi mentioned in his historical writings. In Tareekh Al-Tabari (784, Maktabatul Hilal, 1st Edition), we find him causing trouble in the court of Sa’eed bin Al-Aas and finally being exiled out of Kufa by the order of Uthman bin Affan.
Then, Saif in Tareekh Al-Tabari (816) narrates a tradition in which Uthman imprisoned Dhabi’, the father of Omair, and then died in prison. Due to this, his son became a Saba’ee. Then, Kumail bin Ziyad and Omair bin Dhabi’, agreed to go on ahead to Madinah in order to kill Uthman. However, Omair became frightened and turned away.
In another narration (820), Al-Waqidi narrates that Omair eventually made to Uthman before he was buried and broke his ribs.
Now, if we were to take what Murtada Al-Askari has concluded as true, why do we have this many negative reports about Omair bin Dhabi’ Al-Tameemi? Why didn’t Saif attempt to hide these facts? Or at least attribute you it to the people of Qahtaan? Surely, one that has fabricated hundreds of historical figures should be able to at least hide a few narrations that hurt the Tameemi tribe.
On the contrary, Saif, goes against his tribal values, and states that one of his forefathers was a follower of Abdullah bin Saba’a… and just like that, Saif bin Omar has been cleared of having a motive to fabricate narrations in the name of his tribe.
I do not intend to make this longer than I have to and I believe that the picture is clear. Inshallah I will add some more thoughts on the status of Saif bin Omar in the eyes of the scholars of Ahlul Sunnah later on.