World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Muslim historian
Abu `Abdillah Muhammad Ibn Omar Ibn Waqid al al-Aslami
Title Al-Waqidi
Born ca. 130AH / AD 748 in Madina
Died 207AH / AD 822
Era Islamic golden age
Religion Islam
Main interest(s) History of Islam
Notable work(s) Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi ("Book of History and Campaigns")

Abu `Abdullah Muhammad Ibn ‘Omar Ibn Waqid al-Aslami (Arabic ' أبو عبد الله محمد بن عمر بن واقد ) (c. 130 – 207 AH; c. 748 – 822 AD), commonly referred to as al-Waqidi (Arabic: الواقدي). His surname is derived from his grandfather's name Waqid and thus he became famous as al-Imam al-Waqidi.[1] Al-Waqidi was an early Muslim historian and biographer of the Islamic prophet Muhammad specializing in his campaigns. Al-Waqidi served as a judge (qadi) for Harun al-Rashid and Al-Ma'mun. His history books are the earliest and some of the most detailed history books on Islam.


  • Biography 1
  • Works 2
  • Criticism 3
    • al-Waqidi’s reliability in Maghazi and Siyar 3.1
    • Conclusion 3.2
  • Early Islam scholars 4
  • Notes 5
  • External links 6


Al-Waqidi was born in Medina in (c. 130 – 207 AH; c. 748 – 822 AD). Amongst his prominent teachers were Ibn Abi Thahab Ma'mar bin Rashid, Malik ibn Anas and Sufyan al-Thawri.[1] He lived in Madina at the time of Abu Hanifa and Ja'far al-Sadiq and studied in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi as a student of Ibn Anas. Al-Waqidi also had access to the grand children of Muhammad's companions. Many of Muhammad's companions settled in Medina therefore both the Umayyads and then the Abbasids in the early day used the Medina fiqh. Malik ibn Anas was later asked by Al-Mansur the Abbasid ruler to compile this fiqh into a book form which became known as Muwatta Imam Malik. The Abbasids later tried other things like the Mu'tazila. For his livelihood in Medina, al-Waqidi earned a living as a wheat trader, but when a calamity struck at the age of 50 he migrated to Iraq in 180 AH during the reign of Mamun ar-Rashid. There Yahya al-Barmaki welcomed him due to his great learning and he was appointed a judge and he held the post until his death on 11 Thul Hijjah 207 AH. He is buried in the graveyard of Khayzaran.

Al-Waqidi concentrated on history and is acknowledged as a master in history.[1] He wrote some of the earliest history books on the early conquests.[1] His books on the early expeditions and conquests are extremely detailed and predate much of the Sunni and Shia literature of the later Abbasid period. They illustrate the involvement of the early Muslim women and young boys in campaigns in distant lands against the huge Roman armies. He is relied upon regarding the battles of Muhammad and the Companions and history in general by Muslim scholars.[2] Western orientalists who enjoy his writings include Martin Lings.[3]

His main area of specialization was history. His hadith narrations need to be scrutinized before acceptance whereas he is doubtlessly acknowledged as a master of History.[1] In regards to Hadith, al-Waqidi has been frequently criticized by later Muslim writers, who claim that he is unreliable.[4] Al-Shafi'i is reported to have said that al-Waqidi's books are "lies."[2]

Because Al-Waqidi lived at the time of Abu Hanifa, Malik ibn Anas and Ja'far al-Sadiq in Madina and was taught by Malik ibn Anas and had access to the children and the grand children of many of the companions of Muhammad in Madina, initially he was accepted by the greatest scholars of his time and is still accepted for his history, but on the Hadiths, since he did not retain the chains of narration there is debate.


Al-Waqidi was a tireless collector of traditions and the author of many books. His secretary, Muhammad Ibn Sa`d, was also a historian. He made use of the information collected by al-Waqidi. Both of them wrote biographies of the prophet Muhammad that are important supplements to the "Sirat Rasul Allah" of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq, but al-Waqidi's has survived only in part.

Al-Waqidi's books predate most of the Sunni and Shia books that were written later Abbasid period. Only the books of Abu Hanifa and Malik predate his books. Al-Waqidi's history books are some of the earliest history books on Islam. They cover a period in history before Sharia became rigid; a time when the Quran and the example of Muhammad was the only source of law. Before the Sunni and Shia schools of fiqh developed. They cover a period in history that saw the greatest expansion of the Islamic state. Al-Waqidi books are more in line with the other early history books on the Islamic State like Al-Baladhuri and also more inline with the independent Roman history books of the time. They are free of much from the political distortion of the later Abbasid period, which means that they do not sit well with the modern Sunni and Shia views and hence some modern Muslim Imams over look the work of Al-Waqidi. Al-Waqidi's books, along with other early history books like al-Baladhuri, illustrate the important role early Muslim women played in society.

According to his literature, women play a leading role in Muslim Society and it was due to their support during the Battle of Yarmouk and other battles that the Muslims defeated the Romans and the Persia Empires. He covers these battles in great detail. Battle of Yarmouk is regarded as one of the most decisive battles in military history where the Muslims were outnumbered by the Romans but, with the help of the women and the young boys amongst them, finished off the Roman Empire.[5][6]

They show how Early Muslim women, including Hind bint Utbah[7][8][8][9][10][11] and Asma bint Abi Bakr,[12] were instrumental in the Battle of Yarmouk.

al-Waqidi wrote "As for Asma bint Abi Bakr, she tied her horse's reins to the reins of her husband's, az-Zubayr bin Awwam. Whenever he struck (the enemy), she would equal him. Under desperate circumstances and heavily outnumbered, every time the men would flee, the women would sing:[13]

"O you who flee from his loyal lady
"She is beautiful and stands firmly
"Your abandoning them to the Romans
"to let them the forelocks and girls seize
"They will take what they want from us to the full
"And start fighting among themselves."

After seeing the women fight the men would return and said to each other "If we do not fight then we are more entitled to sit in the women's quarter than the women."[14]

One of al-Waqidi's works, Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi ("Book of History and Campaigns"), describes the battles (Arabic "Ghazwat") fought by Muhammad.

Another work ascribed to al-Waqidi is Futuh al-Sham ("Conquests of Syria"). It is extremely detailed and shows the level to which early Muslims went to in order to defeat the huge Roman armies which outnumbered them. It illustrates the extra ordinary involvement of the early Muslim women in the Campaigns against the huge Roman armies. Muslim Scholars believe that the book was written by al-Waqidi but over time as hand written copies were produces, slight variations and additions were introduced. Sulayman al-Kindi, the translator of the book, says "It must be noted that different companies of ancient manuscripts often differ widely. This should be borne in mind when comparing the translation with the Arabic originals, if differences are found. However, if any clear mistakes are found the translator would appreciate being informed thereof."[1] Some modern western authors say that some copies of the book contain characters from the sixth Islamic century and could have been changed later.[15]


Waqidi was facing critics regarding his scholarly reliability from many Islamic scholars[16] and surprisingly his critics comes from large arrays of famed scholars including:

1. al-Shafi’i (d. 204 A.H.) said "All the books of al-Waqidi are lies. In Madinah there were seven men who used to fabricator authorities, one of which was al-Waqidi."

2. Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.) said "He is a liar, makes alternations in the traditions"

3. Al-Nasa’i (d. 303 A.H.) said "The liars known for fabricating the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah are four. They are: Arba’ah b. Abi Yahya in Madinah, al-Waqidi in Baghdad, Muqatil b. Sulayman in Khurasan and Muhammad bin Sa’id in Syria."

4. al-Bukhari (d. 256 A.H.) said "al-Waqidi has been abandoned in Hadith. He fabricates Hadith"

5. Al-Dhahabi (d. 748 A.H.) said "Consensus has taken place on the weakness of al-Waqidi"

6. Yahya ibn Ma'in (d. 233 A.H.) said "He is weak. He is nothing. Not reliable!"

7. Ishaq Ibn Rahwayh (d. 238 A.H.) said "According to my view, he is one of those who fabricate Hadith"

8. Abu Dawood (d. 275 A.H.) said "I do not write his Hadith and I do not report (Hadith) on his authority. I have no doubt that he used to make up Hadith"

9. Abu Hatim Muhammad ibn Idris al-Razi (d. 277 A.H.) said "He fabricates Hadith. We have abandoned his Hadith"

10. Al-Daraqutni (d. 385 A.H.) said "There is weakness in him (in his reporting)"

11. Ali ibn al-Madini (d. 241 A.H.)said "He fabricates Hadith"

12. Ibn ‘Adi (d. 365 A.H.) said "His traditions are not safe and there is danger from him (in accepting his traditions)"

13. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 852 A.H.)said "He has been abandoned in spite of vastness of his knowledge"

14. Abu Zur’a al-Razi (d. 264 A.H.) said "(Waqidi's writing) Abandoned, Weak"

15. Al-Nawawi (d. 676 A.H.): said "Their (muhaddithin scholars) consensus is that al-Waqidi is weak"

the consensus of those scholars makes Waqidi's scientific works in narration field very questionable. which in process most of his Hadith narrations was fallen to Ḍaʻīf or weak hadith. it does not help that Another strange fact that defending al-Waqidi’s credibility should have been his own disciple and secretary, Muhammad ibn Sa’d (d. 230 A.H./845 C.E.), although not the only one. who has written his master’s biography but has not written a single word about the reliability and credibility of al-Waqidi, whereas, writing about him he pointedly remarks. “He is reliable (thiqah) or not reliable (ghayr thiqah).”

al-Waqidi’s reliability in Maghazi and Siyar

However. apart from narration of the Hadith his harshest critics on the other hands praised his reports of non-oral reporting of the historical events or conquests

Early scholars of Islam themselves have maintained a difference between the literature of hadith and history. For instance, those who collected materials concerning the person of the Prophet (siyar) in relation to the legal obligations (al-Ahkam al-Shari’yah) were called “MUhaddithin” (Traditionalists); those who concerned themselves only with the life of the Prophet were known as “Ashab al-Sirah”; those who wrote about the character and habits of the Prophet were called “Ashab al-Shama’il”. And those who concerned themselves with the campaigns of the Prophet were known as the Ashab al-Maghazi.

On the basis of above categorization the same “Ashab al-Rijal” who, have rejected al-Waqidi in Hadith and in discussions on important religious obligations, have at the same time acknowledged his knowledge of the Maghazi and have specified his fact in their criticisms. For instance, the same al-Dhahbi who, at the end of his criticism on al-Waqidi in his Mizan has concluded: “Consensus has taken place on the weakness of al-Waqidi,” has specified in his “Tadhkirat al-Huffaz” that:

"He is one of the vessels of knowledge but he is not well-versed in Hadith. But he is an expert (on the top) in Maghazi and Siyar"

Ahmad al-Khazarji writes:

"He was a scholar of Maghazi, Siyar, conquests and of difference among the people"

Ibn Hajr himself who, has severely criticized al-Waqidi in his “Tahdhib al-Tahdhib” and “Taqrib al-Tahdhib”, has quoted him extensively in explaining the various events of the battles (ghazawat) and other historical events in his Fath al-Bari, the commentary to Sahih al-Bukhari.

al-Shafi’i has called al-Waqidi a “liar” (kadhab) but at the same time in his monumental work, Kitab al-‘Umm, he has based his inferences on the strength of al-Waqidi’s reports on the Ghazawat.[16]


so in short, it becomes clear that al-Waqidi was not acceptable in Hadith and important religious injunctions of passing laws such as the question concerning permissible (halal) and impermissible (haram) but was acceptable in the Maghazi and Siyar and in such events of early history which did not run against the principles of historical evidence or personal bias. his non oral historical reporting such as Kitab al-Umm or some portions of Futh-Sham(Conquest of Syria) somewhat could be approved

Early Islam scholars


  1. ^ a b c d e f Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi, pgs. x-xi. Trns. Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi.
  2. ^ a b Al-Dhahabi, Siyar A'lam an-Nubala, vol. 9, pg. 462.
  3. ^ Muhammad ibn Umar Waqidi at Let Me Turn the Tables.
  4. ^ "Muhammad", in P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs et al., Encyclopædia of Islam, 2nd Edition. (Leiden: E. J. Brill) 12 Vols. published between 1960 and 2005.
  5. ^ Walton, Mark W (2003), Islam at war, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-98101-0, p. 30
  6. ^ Walton, Mark W (2003), Islam at war, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-98101-0 page 6
  7. ^ Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 325 [1]
  8. ^ a b al-Baladhuri 892 [19] Battle of Yarmuk.
  9. ^ Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 331 to 334 [2]
  10. ^ Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 343-344 [3]
  11. ^ al-Baladhuri 892 [20] from The Origins of the Islamic State, being a translation from the Arabic of the Kitab Futuh al-Buldha of Ahmad ibn-Jabir al-Baladhuri, trans. by P. K. Hitti and F. C. Murgotten, Studies in History, Economics and Public Law, LXVIII (New York, Columbia University Press,1916 and 1924), I, 207-211
  12. ^ Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 352-353 [4]
  13. ^ Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 331-332 [5]
  14. ^ Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 353 [6]
  15. ^ Walter E. Kaegi, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests, (Cambridge, 2000) 159 n. 34, 172–173.
  16. ^ a b Waqar Akbar Cheema
  17. ^ The Quran
  18. ^ The Great Fiqh
  19. ^ Al-Muwatta'
  20. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari
  21. ^ Sahih Muslim
  22. ^ Jami` at-Tirmidhi
  23. ^ Mishkât Al-Anwar
  24. ^ The Niche for Lights
  25. ^ Women in Islam: An Indonesian Perspective by Syafiq Hasyim. Page 67
  26. ^ ulama,
  27. ^ 1.Proof & Historiography - The Islamic Evidence.
  28. ^ Atlas Al-sīrah Al-Nabawīyah. Darussalam, 2004. Pg 270
  29. ^ Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz by Imam Abu Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Hakam died 829

External links

  • Translation of Waqidi's book about early Muslim conquests in Syria
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.