Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn Waqid al-Aslami (Arabic: أبو عبد الله محمد بن عمر بن واقد الاسلمي, romanizedAbū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ʿUmar ibn Wāqid al-Aslamī) (c. 130 – 207 AH; commonly referred as commonly referred to as al-Waqidi (Arabic: الواقدي; c. 747 – 823 AD) was an early Muslim historian and biographer of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, specializing in his military campaigns. His surname is derived from his grandfather's name Waqid, and thus he became famous as al-Imam al-Waqidi.[1] He served as a judge (qadi) for the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun. Several of al-Waqidi's works are known through his scribe and student (in the field of the al-maghazi genre), Ibn Sa'd.[2][3]

Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn Waqid al-Aslami
Bornc. 130AH / AD 747
Died207AH / AD 823
EraIslamic golden age
Main interest(s)History of Islam
Notable work(s)Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi ("Book of History and Campaigns")
Muslim leader



Al-Waqidi was born in Medina around 748 AD (130 AH). He was the mawla (client) of ‘Abd Allah ibn Burayda of the Banu Aslam of Medina. According to Abu Faraj al-Isfahani, al-Waqidi’s mother was the daughter of ‘Isa ibn Ja‘far ibn Sa’ib Khathir, a Persian, and the great-granddaughter of Sa’ib, who introduced music to Medina.[4] Amongst his prominent teachers were Ibn Abi Thahab Ma'mar bin Rashid, Malik ibn Anas and Sufyan al-Thawri.[1] He lived in Medina at the time of Abu Hanifa and Ja'far al-Sadiq and studied in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi as a student of Malik ibn Anas. Al-Waqidi also had access to the grandchildren of Muhammad's companions. Al-Waqidi originally earned a living as a wheat trader, but when a calamity struck at the age of 50, he migrated to Iraq during the reign of Harun ar-Rashid. He was appointed a judge of eastern Baghdad, and Harun ar-Rashid's heir al-Ma'mun later appointed him the qadi of a military camp at Resafa.[4]

Al-Waqidi concentrated on history, and was acknowledged as a master of the genre by many of his peers.[1] His books on the early Islamic expeditions and conquests predate much of the Sunni and Shia literature of the later Abbasid period.[1] His works regarding the battles of Muhammad and his companions were considered reliable by most early Islamic scholars.[5] While still regarded as an important source for early Islamic history, later authors debated the reliability of his works. Western orientalists who enjoyed his writings include Martin Lings.[6]



Al-Waqidi is primarily known for his Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi (Arabic: كتاب التاريخ والمغازي, "Book of History and Campaigns"), which is the only part of his corpus that has been fully preserved.[7] It describes the battles fought by Muhammad, as well as Muhammad's life in the city of Medina.[8] The work draws upon the earlier sira of Ibn Ishaq, though it includes details not found in Ibn Ishaq's text.[9][10]

A number of works chronicling the Islamic conquests have been attributed to al-Waqidi, though most of these attributions are now believed to be mistaken.[8] Futuh al-Sham (Arabic: كتاب فتوح الشام, "Book of the Conquests of Syria"), a novelization of the Islamic army's conquests of Byzantine Syria, has traditionally been ascribed to al-Waqidi. Modern scholars generally classify Futuh al-Sham as a falsely-attributed later work, dating it to around the time of the Crusades, though some scholars believe a small portion of the text may be traced back to al-Waqidi.[11][12][13][14][15] In addition to depicting the battles of the Islamic armies, the work also details the valor of various Muslim women, including Hind bint Utbah, Khawlah bint al-Azwar, and Asma bint Abi Bakr.[16][17]

According to Ibn al-Nadim, al-Waqidi authored a book detailing the death of Husayn ibn Ali,[18] though this work has not survived. Other lost texts attributed to al-Waqidi include a book chronicling the last days of Muhammad's life. The works of al-Waqidi's student Ibn Sa'd may contain some excerpts from these texts.[19]

Published editions



  • Translated, edited by Rizwi Faizer and published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 270 Madison Avenue, New York.online link



Comparison with earlier commentaries


Historian Patricia Crone gives al-Waqidi as an example of the phenomenon whereby the farther an Islamic commentary on Muhammad's life was removed in time from his life and the events in the Quran, the more information it provided.

If one storyteller should happen to mention a raid, the next storyteller would know the date of this raid, while the third would know everything that an audience might wish to hear about.[20]

This was despite the fact later commentaries depended on the earlier sources for their content, which suggested that if later commentaries differed in length from earlier work they should be briefer as some facts about the early days were lost or forgotten. (Crone attributed the phenomenon to storytellers' embellishment.) Commentary works of Al-Waqidi were much larger than those of the oldest prophetic biography Ibn Ishaq (died 767) despite the fact that al-Waqidi's later works covered a shorter period of time (only Muhammad's period in Medina).[20]

Waqidi will always give precise dates, locations, names, where Ibn Ishaq has none, accounts of what triggered the expedition, miscellaneous information to lend color to the event ... But given that this information was all unknown to Ibn Ishaq, its value is doubtful in the extreme. And if spurious information accumulated at this rate in the two generations between Ibn Ishaq and al-Waqidi, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that even more must have accumulated in the three generations between the Prophet and Ibn Ishaq.[20][21]

Historian Michael Cook gives an example of the difference in accounts of the death of Muhammad's father Abdullah ibn Abd al-Muttalib. Ibn Ishaq relates that some say he died while Muhammad's mother was pregnant with Muhammad was born and some while Muhammad was 28 months old; another commentator (Ma'mar ibn Rashid) says that he died in Yathrib after being sent there to lay stores of dates.[22] About a half a century later al-Waqidi relates that

'Abdallah had gone to Gaza on business, had fallen ill on the way back, and died in Yathrib after leaving the caravan he was with to be nursed by relations there. Waqidi was further able to specify Abdallah's age at death and the exact place of his burial. ...[that the death] took place ... while Muhammad was still in the womb,

and that while there were "other accounts of the matter" his was the best.[22]



Waqidi has faced criticism regarding his scholarly reliability from many later Sunni Islamic scholars, including:

Even among those who questioned his authenticity many still considered him a pillar in history and accepted his narrations in this regard. Ibn Hajar Asqalani records: "He is acceptable in the narrations of the battles according to our companions and Allah knows the best."[29]

Some of his criticisms are written in books written centuries later even though the claimed criticisms are made by people who were born around his time.[citation needed]

Early Islamic scholars

Muhammad, The final Messenger of God(570–632 the Constitution of Medina, taught the Quran, and advised his companions
Abdullah ibn Masud (died 653) taughtAli (607–661) fourth caliph taughtAisha, Muhammad's wife and Abu Bakr's daughter taughtAbd Allah ibn Abbas (618–687) taughtZayd ibn Thabit (610–660) taughtUmar (579–644) second caliph taughtAbu Hurairah (603–681) taught
Alqama ibn Qays (died 681) taughtHusayn ibn Ali (626–680) taughtQasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (657–725) taught and raised by AishaUrwah ibn Zubayr (died 713) taught by Aisha, he then taughtSaid ibn al-Musayyib (637–715) taughtAbdullah ibn Umar (614–693) taughtAbd Allah ibn al-Zubayr (624–692) taught by Aisha, he then taught
Ibrahim al-Nakha’i taughtAli ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (659–712) taughtHisham ibn Urwah (667–772) taughtIbn Shihab al-Zuhri (died 741) taughtSalim ibn Abd-Allah ibn Umar taughtUmar ibn Abdul Aziz (682–720) raised and taught by Abdullah ibn Umar
Hammad bin ibi Sulman taughtMuhammad al-Baqir (676–733) taughtFarwah bint al-Qasim Jafar's mother
Abu Hanifa (699–767) wrote Al Fiqh Al Akbar and Kitab Al-Athar, jurisprudence followed by Sunni, Sunni Sufi, Barelvi, Deobandi, Zaidiyyah and originally by the Fatimid and taughtZayd ibn Ali (695–740)Ja'far bin Muhammad Al-Baqir (702–765) Muhammad and Ali's great great grand son, jurisprudence followed by Shia, he taughtMalik ibn Anas (711–795) wrote Muwatta, jurisprudence from early Medina period now mostly followed by Sunni in Africa, Sunni Sufi and taughtAl-Waqidi (748–822) wrote history books like Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi, student of Malik ibn AnasAbu Muhammad Abdullah ibn Abdul Hakam (died 829) wrote biographies and history books, student of Malik ibn Anas
Abu Yusuf (729–798) wrote Usul al-fiqhMuhammad al-Shaybani (749–805)al-Shafi‘i (767–820) wrote Al-Risala, jurisprudence followed by Sunni, Sunni sufi and taughtIsmail ibn IbrahimAli ibn al-Madini (778–849) wrote The Book of Knowledge of the CompanionsIbn Hisham (died 833) wrote early history and As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, Muhammad's biography
Isma'il ibn Ja'far (719–775)Musa al-Kadhim (745–799)Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780–855) wrote Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal jurisprudence followed by Sunni, Sunni sufi and hadith booksMuhammad al-Bukhari (810–870) wrote Sahih al-Bukhari hadith booksMuslim ibn al-Hajjaj (815–875) wrote Sahih Muslim hadith booksDawud al-Zahiri (815–883/4) founded the Zahiri schoolMuhammad ibn Isa at-Tirmidhi (824–892) wrote Jami` at-Tirmidhi hadith booksAl-Baladhuri (died 892) wrote early history Futuh al-Buldan, Genealogies of the Nobles
Ibn Majah (824–887) wrote Sunan ibn Majah hadith bookAbu Dawood (817–889) wrote Sunan Abu Dawood Hadith Book
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni (864- 941) wrote Kitab al-Kafi hadith book followed by Twelver ShiaMuhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (838–923) wrote History of the Prophets and Kings, Tafsir al-TabariAbu Hasan al-Ash'ari (874–936) wrote Maqālāt al-islāmīyīn, Kitāb al-luma, Kitāb al-ibāna 'an usūl al-diyāna
Ibn Babawayh (923–991) wrote Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih jurisprudence followed by Twelver ShiaSharif Razi (930–977) wrote Nahj al-Balagha followed by Twelver ShiaNasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201–1274) wrote jurisprudence books followed by Ismaili and Twelver ShiaAl-Ghazali (1058–1111) wrote The Niche for Lights, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, The Alchemy of Happiness on SufismRumi (1207–1273) wrote Masnavi, Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi on Sufism
Key: Some of Muhammad's CompanionsKey: Taught in MedinaKey: Taught in IraqKey: Worked in SyriaKey: Travelled extensively collecting the sayings of Muhammad and compiled books of hadithKey: Worked in Persia


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