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Precedence of the Shi’ah in Compiling Islamic History

By: Allamah Sayyid Hasan al-Sadr

The First to Write about This Discipline
The first to write about Islamic history was Hawaban ibn Uthman al–Ahmar, a tabi’i who died in 140. He wrote a voluminous book on pre–Islamic history, military expeditions, deaths and the issue of apostasy, as al–Najashi informs us in Kitab Asma al–Musannifin min al–Shi’ah. He says that al–Ahmar was a Nawusi before but he later joined the Imamiyyah Shi’ah. He devoted himself to Imam Abu Abdillah al–Sadiq (‘a). He was from Basra and a client of the Bajilah tribe but he lived in Kufa. He wrote a number of works.

Section Two: The First to Write about All the Categories of Islamic History
The first to write about all its eight categories is Hisham ibn Muhammad ibn al–Sa’ib ibn Bishr ibn Zayd Abu al–Munzir al–Kalbi.

The first is on pacts.
He wrote Kitab Hilf Abdul Muttalib wa Khuza’ (The Pact between Abdul Muttalib and the Tribe of Khuza’a), Kitab Hilf al–Fudul wa Qissat al–Ghazal (The Pact of Fudul), Kitab Hilf Kalb wa Tamim (The Pact Signed by the Tribes of Kalb and Tamim), Kitab al–Ma’ram and Kitab hilf Aslam wa Quraysh (On the Pact between Aslam and Quraysh).

The second is on history of exploits, families, conflicts and concord.
He wrote Kitab al–Munafarat (conflicts); Kitab Buyutat Quraysh (families of the Quraysh); Kitab Fada’il Qays Ghaylan, (on the merits of this tribe); Kitab al–Mawaddat (concord), Kitab Buyutat Rabi’a; Kitab al–Kuna (agnomens); Kitab Akhbar al–Abbas ibn Abd al–Muttalib (Stories about Abbas ibn Abd al–Muttalib); Kitab Khutbat Ali alaihi al–salam (Sermons of Imam Ali); Kitab Sharaf Qays ibn Kilab wa Wuldih fi al–Jahiliyya wa al–Islam (the high rank of Qays ibn Kilab and his offspring before and after the advent of Islam); Kitab Alqab Rabi’a; Kitab Alqab al–Yaman, (these two books deal with surnames related to the Rabia tribe and to Yemen); Kitab al–Mathalib; Kitab al–Nawafil (Book of allies) comprising allies of Quraysh, allies of Kinanah, allies of Asad, allies of Taym and allies of Rabi’ah; Book on Enumerating the people killed from among the Ad, the Thamud, the Amalekites, the Israelites and the Jurhum Arabs, and the story of al–Hijris and the names of their tribes; Allies of Qada’ah and Allies of Yamen.
Others include Kitab Iddi’a Ziyad Mu’awiyah (About Muawiyah’s claim that Ziyad was his son), the stories of Ziyad ibn Abih (literally: son of his father); Kitab Sanayi’ Quraysh (The industries of Quraysh); Kitab al–Mushajarat (Disputes); Kitab al–Munaqalat (Wrangles); Kitab al–Mu’a’tabat (Mutual Reproach); Kitab al–Mushaghabat (Strifes); Kitab Muluk Kindah (Book of the Kings of Kindah), Kitab Buyutat al–Yaman, Kitab Muluk al–Yaman min al–Tababi’a (Kings of Yemen from the tribe of Tababi’a), Kitab Iftiraq wuld Nazzar (Book of the Dispersion of Nazzar’s offspring), Kitab Tafarraq Udad wa Tasm wa Jadis (Book on the Dispersion of the tribes of Udad, Tasm and Jadis), Kitab Man Qala Baytan min Shi’r fa Nusiba ilaih (Those who composed poetry) and Kitab al–Ma’rufat min al–Nisa fi Quraysh (Famous Women of Quraysh).

The third is on the stories of the people of the past.
On this subject Abu al–Mundhir wrote: Kitab Hadith Adam wa Wuldih (Book of the story of Adam and his descendants), Kitab Adin Al’ula wa al–Akhirah (Book on the people of Ad: the earlier and the later ones) Kitab Tafarruq Ad, Kitab Ashab al–Kahf (on the sleepers of the cave), Kitab Raf’ Isa (The ascension of Jesus, (‘a), Kitab al–Musukh min Bani Isra’il (Book of transmutations from the Israelites), Kitab al–Awa’il (Book of the predecessors), Kitab Amthal Himyar (Book of parables of Himyar Tribe), Kitab Hay al–Dahhak (Book of the al–Dahhak Tribe), Kitab Mantiq al–Tayr (Book of the Speech of Birds), Kitab Ghaziyyah (Book of Ghaziyyah Tribe), Kitab Lughat al–Qur’an (Book of the Qur’anic Terms), Kitab al–Mu’ammarin (Book of those Granted Longevity), Kitab al–Asnam (Book of Idols), Kitab al–Qidah (Book of Divining Arrows), Kitab Asnan al–Jazur (Book of the Feed of Slaughter Camels), Kitab Adyan al–Arab (Book of the Religions of the Arabs), Kitab Hukkam al–Arab (Book of the Arab Rulers), Kitab Wasaya al–Arab (Book of the Testaments of the Arabs), Kitab Suyuf al–Arab (book of Arabian swords), Kitab al–Khail (Book of Horses), Kitab al–Dafa’in (Book of Arab Treasures), Kitab Asma Fuhul al–Arab (Book of Arab Luminaries), Kitab al–Fida' (Book of Redemption), Kitab al–Kihan (Book of Priests), Kitab al–Jinn (Book of the jinn), Kitab Akhdh Kisra Rahn al–Arab (Book concerning Chosroe’s taking of Hostages from the Arabs), Kitab ma Kanat al–Jahiliyyah Taf’aluh wa Yuwafiq Hukm al–Islam (On pre–Islamic Customs that Conform with Islamic Law) Kitab Abi Utab Rabi’ Hina Sa’alahu an al–Wasiy, Kitab Adiy ibn Zayd al–Ibadi, Kitab al–Dusi, Kitab Hadith Bihas wa Ikhwatih (Book of Bihas and his Brothers), Kitab Marwan al–Qarat and Kitab al–Suyuf (Book of Swords).

The fourth category is on the history of the period preceding the advent of Islam.
In this field Hisham wrote Kitab al–Yaman wa Amr Sayf (Book of Yemen and the Affair of Sayf), Kitab Manakih Azwaj al–Arab (Book on Arab Marriages), Kitab al–Wufud (Book of Delegations), Kitab Azwaj al–Nabi (S) (Book of the Prophet’s Wives), Kitab Zayd ibn Harithah Hibb al–Nabi (Book on Zayd ibn Haritha the Beloved of the Prophet), Kitab al–Dibaj fi Akhbar al–Shu’ara (Book of Preamble on the Stories of the Poets), Kitab Man Fakhara bi Akhwalih min Quraysh (Book of Those among the Quraysh who took Pride in their Maternal Uncles), Kitab Man Hajar wa Abuh (Book on him who Migrated along with his Father), Kitab Akhbar al–Hurr wa Ash’arih (Book on the Stories of Hurr and his Poems), Kitab Dukhul Jarir ala al–Hajjaj (Book Recounting Jarir’s call on al–Hajjaj) and Kitab Akhbar Amr bin Ma’di Karib (Book of the stories of Amr ibn Ma’di Karib).

The fifth is on Islamic chronicles.
Hisham compiled Kitab al–Tarikh (Book of History), Kitab Tarikh Akhbar al–Khulafa (Book of the History of the Caliphs), Kitab Sifat al–Khulafa (Book on the Characters of the Caliphs) and Kitab al–Musallin (Book of Worshipers).

The sixth is on the history of cities.
He wrote Kitab al–Buldan al–Kabir (A Major Book of Cities), Kitab al–Buldan al–Saghir (A Minor Book of Cities), Kitab Tasmiyat man bi al–Hijaz min Ahya' al–Arab (Enumerating Arab Tribes in the Hijaz), Kitab Tasmiyat al–Aradi (Book on Naming the Lands), Kitab al–Anhar (Book of Rivers), Kitab al–Hira (Book on the Town of Hira), Kitab al–Aqalim (Book of Regions), Kitab al–Hirat wa Tasmiyat al–Biya’ wa al–Diyarat wa Nasab al–Ibadin (Book of Hira and the Enumeration of the Churches and Monasteries and geneology of the Ibad Tribes).
The seventh is on the history of poetry and historical events of the Arabs before the advent of Islam. In this field Hisham compiled Kitab Tasmiyat ma fi Shi’r Imri ul–Qays. (Naming the men and women and their lineages and also the lands, mountains and waters mentioned in the poetry of Imri ul–Qays), Kitab Man Qala Baytan min al–Shi’r fa Nusiba ilaih (The names of those who composed poetry), Kitab al–Mundhir Malik al–Arab (Book on al–Mundhir, King of the Arabs), Kitab Dahis wa al–Ghabra, Kitab Ayyam Fazarah wa Waqayi’i Bani Shayban (Book on the Era of Fazarah and the events of the Banu Shayban clan), Kitab Waqayi’ al–Dabab wa Fazarah, Kitab Yawm Sinyu Kitab al–Kilab, (Book of al–Kilab) which is also referred to as the day of al–Sanabis, Kitab Ayyam Bani Hanifa, Kitab Ayyam Qays ibn Thu’labah (Book of the era of Qays ibn Thalabah), Kitab al–Ayyam (Book of Historical Events) and Kitab Musaylamah al–Kadhdhab (Book on Musaylimah the Arch–lier).

The eighth is on the history of stories and evening chats.
He wrote Kitab al–Fityan al–Arba’a (Book of the Four Youths), Kitab al–Samar (Book of Nightly Conversations), Kitab al–Ahadith (Book of Narrations), Kitab al–Muqatta’at, Kitab Habib al–Attar and Kitab Aja’ib al–Bahr (Book of the Mysteries of the Sea).
This is how Ibn al–Nadim recorded Hisham’s works in Al–Fihrist, quoting from Abu al–Hasan ibn al–Kufi. As regards Hisham’s profound knowledge of geonology and the fact that he wrote unique works on it, the matter is too obvious to warrant mention. About this man, Ibn Khillikan says: “He was the most knowledgeable in genealogies and among the celebrated custodians (huffaz) of learning. Al–Dhahabi said: “He memorized the holy Qur'an in three days. He was a traditionist of great learning. He died in the year 206.”
Ibn Khillikan also said: “His (Hisham) works are more than a hundred and fifty, the best and most useful of which are the following; Al–Jamharah fi Ma’rifat al–Ansab a work on genealogy which is the best of its kind; the book he named Al–Manzil fi al–Nasab, which is larger than Al–Jamharah; Kitab al–Mujaz fi al–Nasab; Kitab al–Farid, which he compiled for al–Ma’mun and Al–Muluki, which he wrote for Ja’far ibn Yahya al–Barmaki. The last two were also about geneology.”
In addition to these he wrote Jamharat al–Jamharah related by Ibn Sa’ad, as recorded in of Ibn al–Nadim's Al–Fihrist.

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