Question: Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah,
I would like to ask Mufti sahb ragarding the book ‘futoohush Shaam’ which is being translated by your esteemed madrassah. One of my friend told me that the book is attributed wrongly to imam Waqidi and that it contains lot fabricated stories in it. Does Mufti sahb have any tahqeeq on this issue?
Futoohush Shaam is a reliable work on the battles of the Sahaabah. Studying it is necessary in these times. It is a source of tremendous fervour to Imaan and in serving Islam. The criticism levelled at it is baseless. We have responded to the disputer’s claims. Our response is attached hereto.
Disputing the Attribution of Futoohush Shaam to Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi Alaih)
Your email dated May 15, 2013 refers.
Our comments germane to the article you have forwarded, which article belies the attribution of the popular Arabic print of Futoohush Shaam to Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih), are as follows:
1. We feel we should firstly say something in defence of Imam Waaqidi’s credentials in the Field of Hadeeth in view of the ‘researcher’ derogating Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih) in the science of Hadeeth. We are not aware of the ‘researcher’s’ math-hab, but according to us, Ahnaaf Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih) is reliable even in his Hadeeth narrations. Allaamah Zafar Ahmad Uthmaani (Rahmatullahi alaih) has let this case to rest in Qawaa’id Fee Uloomil Hdeeth (the Muqaddimah of I’laaus Sunan) in a chapter titled, Tautheequl Waaqidi.
2. The available Arabic print of Futoohush Shaam is a collection of several of Imam Waaqidi’s Futooh writings, viz. Futoohush Shaam, Futoohu Misr, Futoohul Iraq Wal Ajam, etc.
3. In his opening reason for discrediting the attribution to Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih) the author of the article extrapolates his conclusion from the fact that citations are found in the kitaab from Ulama and historians who flourished years after the demise of Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih) and from Imam Waaqidi himself. The writer of the article has reproduced two passages to confirm his point. Whilst his citations are correct, his overall conclusion is erroneous. The passages the author of the article reproduced are from an appendix to Futoohush Shaam and which appendix is plainly not Imam Waaqidi’s work, although extensive citations are forthcoming in the appendix from the great Mu-arrikh of Islam, Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih). This appendix deals with the conquest of Al-Bahnasa which is a city in Upper Egypt. On the basis of the appendix not being the compilation of Imam Waaqidi it is not correct to summarily dismiss the entire book as an incorrect attribution to Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih). It is like saying that the muqaddimah of the popular print of Rasmul Mufti was not written by Allaamah Ibn Aabideen and thus the attribution of Rasmul Mufti to Ibn Aabideen is false. The corruption of this inference is self-evident.
The researcher’s disproving of the authenticity of the attribution holds only for the final few chapters of the two volume Arabic print currently available and hence his citations in this regard are from the closing chapter – the supplement.
4. We are curious to know how the author of the article discovered that the so-called ‘original’ Futoohush Shaam is ‘mafqood’ or non-existent in the world today. Firstly, his supposition is based on discrediting the available and popular Arabic version as being the Futoohush Shaam of Imam Waaqidi. He has, however, failed to prove his hypothesis convincingly. Secondly, making such a sweeping statement is unsustainable in an academic argument. This claim can easily be demolished.
5. The writer of the article did not substantiate his claim of some of the Asaaneed of Futoohush Shaam not being consistent with Imaam Waaqidi’s Asaaneed in Kitaabul Maghaazi. If the writer is referring to Asaaneed which appear in the Conquest of Al-Bahnasa which is the supplement to Futoohush Shaam, then his inference here, too, is incorrect. In a matter of this importance where senior Ulama have accepted the ascription of the Futoohush Shaam in our hands to be Imaam Waaqidi’s (Rahmatullahi alaih) the dissenting author of the article had as an obligation to elucidate on his dalaail and not leave his arguments clouded in ambiguity.
6. The difference of style between Futoohush Shaam and the Seerah’s of Ibn Is’haaq and Ibn Hishaam (Rahmatullahi alaihima) does not prove at all that the particular style adopted in Futoohush Shaam is of a later generation. The Hanafi Fiqh kutub were the first of their kind. The methodology and style in the kutub of Imam Muhammad (Rahmatullahi alaih) were such that the Muhadditheen were irked and some were incensed to the extent of dumping the Hanafi kutub in the river, Dijlah. Difference of writing style is a common feature among contemporaries. The author should rather illustrate why he thinks that this is not the writing of Imam Waaqidi, from Imam Waaqidi’s other kutub. Consideration can then be given to his theory. His ramblings of some ‘misguided historian’ authoring the book under discussion are unsubstantiated.
7. Then the critic of Futoohush Shaam cites as support for his theory the names and statements of two Shaafi’ Aalims, some orientalists and the Muslim historian, Zirikly. Firstly, it is totally unexpected of a student of Ifta to rely on the words of orientalists whose objective was the undermining of Islamic scriptures and textual documents. The orientalists are highly unreliable in matters of Islamic import and it is only expected that they would have laboured feverishly to refute the stunning and heroic feats of the illustrious Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu anhum) in their battles with the Roman Christian Forces.
8. In so far as the comments of the two Shaafi’ Aalims are concerned it is quite possible that they based their views on the criticism of some Muhadditheen of Imam Waaqidi. Shaikh Qalyoobi and Sayyid Alawi (Rahmatullahi alaihima) did not dilate on the issue. The critic’s contention is that the Futoohush Shaam which we have before us was the work of ‘a misguided historian’. How is it conceivable that the Ulama of the time and later displayed such complacency and inertia in refuting the purported ‘fabrication’? Surely there must have been a lengthy rebuttal of the work and its attribution to Imam Waaqidi supposing that it was the handiwork of a fraud! Why is there no detailed and conclusive dissertation on this ‘maudhoo’ piece; only some snippets from Ulama who came centuries after the alleged forgery appeared in the critic’s own estimate?
9. The critic’s citation of Zirikli’s passage is misleading. He seeks to give the impression that the words discrediting Futoohush Shaam are the words of Zirikli, whereas this is not the case. The critic deleted the words: “وفي دائرة المعارف البريطانية:” which reveal that the criticism is from the orientalists and which criticism is that of The Encyclopaedia Britannica which Zirikli quoted in regard to the Englishman, Simon Ockley, and not George Sell as the author of the article has inadvertently written.
10. The strongest reason the critic has proffered for refuting the attribution of the available Futoohush Shaam to Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih) is Ibn S’ad’s documentation of Imam Waaqidi authenticating the death of Hazrat Dhiraar Bin Azwar to have taken place at Yamaamah. The critic therefore concludes that our Futoohush Shaam could never have been Imam Waaqidi’s compilation for it mentions the heroic feats of Hazrat Dhiraar in the campaigns in Shaam and even in Egypt! However, if this argument is accepted then we will have to refute the attribution of Kitaabur Riddah to Imam Waaqidi as well, whereas there is no dispute in regard to Kitaabur Riddah. The available Kitaabur Riddah of Imam Waaqidi is confirmed to be the great Imam’s. And, in his Kitaabur Riddah Imam Waaqidi narrates the excursion of Khalid Bin Waleed (Radhiyallahu anhu) to Persia under the instruction of Khaleefatu Rasoolillah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam), Sayyidina Hazrat Abu Bakr (Radhiyallahu anhu). Accompanying Khalid Bin Waleed in his division was none other than Hazrat Dhiraar Bin Azwar. Imam Waaqidi reports the conversation between Khalid Bin Waleed and Hazrat Dhiraar Bin Azwar when the Muslim army besieged the city of Heerah. This account severely harms the critic’s case.
11. The critic then targets the sister of Hazrat Dhiraar (Radhiyallahu anhuma) for annihilation. He states in regard to Hazrat Khowlah Bint Azwar (Radhiyallahu anha): “Research shows that the mention of this personality is only found in this book,” whereas the critic’s own source, Al-A’laam of Zirikly covers her biography and even states that she passed away in the late stages of Hazrat Uthmaan’s (Radhiyallahu anhu) Khilaafat. The critic has thus betrayed his research with his attack on the personality of Hazrat Khowlah (Radhiyallahu anha).
12. The writer then sums up his article by averring that Futoohush Shaam differs in every respect to other well-known historical works even in “the manner in which the battle is played out.” What does the author mean by, “in the manner the battle is played out”? All the historical works, including Futoohush Shaam, relate the outcome of the numerous battles the same. There is no difference that the Muslims conquered Damascus, routed the kuffaar Romans at Ajnaadain, crushed the mighty coalition forces at Yarmook, and so forth. There is, furthermore, proof of Imam Waaqidi’s anthologies being unique and cogent reasons for same. The introduction of Kitaabur Riddah dilates on this matter.
13. The critic also finds it hard to believe how the ‘fine details’ could have been recorded. It appears that the critic is unaware of the incredible retentive power the Arabs in particular, and people in general possessed during that age. If a Bedouin could recall the description of each and every camel he travelled on for his seventy Haj during those days, then why the disbelief in an Aalim of the calibre of Imam Waaqidi not recalling such “fine details”? It will be salutary for the writer to read the biography of Imam Waaqidi in Kitaabur Riddah edited by Shaikh Yahya Jaboori. The colossal treasure of Imam Waaqidi’s kutub at the time of his demise equalled six hundred haversacks, each haversack heavy enough for two men to carry! Another description gives his kutub at 120 mule-loads! He had two scribes writing for him day and night. Such was the phenomenal treasure of literature Imam Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih) left for the Ummah.
14. Our conclusion is that the writer’s article is severely flawed and riddled with inaccuracies. There is much conjecture in his essay. Whilst we are not dogmatic on the issue, we do maintain that the article disputing the attribution of the available Arabic print of Futoohush Shaam to Imam Waaqidi is of poor academic worth and does not hinder the reading and benefitting from this wonderful work. We, therefore, maintain that there is nothing wrong in reading the Fadhaail of the Sahaabah in this wonderful book of Imam Waaqidi and taking inspiration from the exploits of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu anhum) therein.
15. Finally, we would like to take the opportunity to offer naseehat to students contemplating ‘research’ on issues enjoying general acceptance, and that is to refer to the statements of our Akaabir firstly. In fact, this should be our protocol for all our work. Opposing them in our times is invariably dhalaal. Rushing off to do new ‘research’ will more often than not result in the ‘research’ being abortive, rather than productive. The Akaabir did not reach such outstanding calibre without purpose. Allah Ta’ala cast His special Gaze of Rahmat on these Ulama of Deoband for posterity. Without any preconceived ideas they rendered sterling service to Islam with pure Lillaahiyyat, and hence their tehqeeqaat were unique and the Haqq. Senior Ulama, the likes of Hazrat Moulana Maseehullah, Hazrat Moulana Thanwi and others (Rahmatullahi alaihim) have taken the episodes of the Sahaabah’s battles and conquests from Futoohush Shaam as reliable. Mufti Ali Bhopali Saheb also mentions some names of seniors who were inspired and who would study these conquests in his introduction to part two of Moulana Kindi’s translation of Futoohush Shaam.
16. We have not exhausted ourselves on the issue. A thorough study will most probably add much more weight to the popular perception of the Futoohush Shaam in our hands being reliably attributed to the Imam of Islamic History, Muhammad Bin Umar Al-Waaqidi (Rahmatullahi alaih). And Allah Ta’ala knows best.