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Al-Jami’ of Ma’mar bin Rashid: Extinct or Extant?

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Waqar Akbar Cheema


The Jami’ of Ma’mar is one of the earliest hadith compilations extant today and its existence refutes the widespread notion that hadith compilations only began in the third century AH. Although most scholars have accepted the attribution of the Jami’ to Ma’mar bin Rashid, there has been some debate about the issue, notably, the argument between Dr. Hamidullah and Habibul Rahman al-A’zami. This paper delineates the inception and the main threads of the arguments between them, ultimately providing convincing evidence of both the correctness of the attribution of the Jami’ to Ma’mar and al-A’zami’s acceptance of this fact.

1. Introduction

It is a widespread notion that hadith compilation started only in the third century of the Islamic era. Though there is a great deal of evidence for early hadith compilations, only a few works from the first and second century have survived. Most of them were later merged into larger collections of repute. Of the existing works from that period is the Sahifah of Hammam bin Munabbih (d. 131/749). Muwatta of Malik bin Anas (d. 179/795 ) is also from the second century. There is another work namely al-Jami’ of Ma’mar bin Rashid (d. 153/770) that has survived and has seen the light of the day.

The significance of this work lies in its being one of the earliest hadith compilations extant today. It not only refutes the notion that hadith compilation started in the third Islamic century, but also helps refute those who come up with weird arguments like “such hadith reports are not found in any work before the works of al-Bukhari or before al-Muwatta.” [1]

1.1 Ma’mar bin Rashid: A Biographical Note

His complete name was Abu ‘Urwah Ma’mar bin Rashid al-Azdi. He was originally from Basra but came to live in Yemen. He was born in the year 95 or 96 AH (i.e. 714 AC). He narrated hadith reports from authorities like Qatadah, al-Zuhri, ‘Amr bin Dinar, Hammam bin Munabbih, Al-A’mash, Yahya bin Abi Kathir, Zaid bin Aslam, and Ayub al-Sakhtiyani. Apart from some of his own teachers, others such as Sa’id bin ‘Arubah, Sufyan al-Thawri, Sufyan bin ‘Uyaynah, ‘Abdullah bin Mubarak, Al-Waqidi, and ‘Abdul Razzaq narrated from him. ‘Abdul Razzaq said, “I wrote ten thousand hadiths from Ma’mar.” He died in the year 153 AH.[2]

1.2 Al-Jami’ of Ma’mar was compiled before Al-Muwatta of Malik

A number of scholars have mentioned that Ma’mar bin Rashid’s al-Jami’ was compiled earlier than Malik’s Muwatta. Ibn Samarah al-Ja’di (d. 586/1190) states regarding Ma’mar:

وله “الجامع” المشهور فى السنن المنسوب إليه, وهو من الكتب القديمة فى اليمن, وهو أقدم من “الموطأ”

He has a well-known work, al-Jami’, attributed to him regarding the sunnah. It was one of the earliest books produced in Yemen and was written earlier than al-Muwatta.[3]

The same was stated by Abu Muhammad Al-Yafi’i (d. 768/1367)[4] and Abu al-Falah al-Hanbali (d. 1089/1679).[5]

2. Argumentation between Dr. Hamidullah and Habibul Rahman al-A’zami

The Jami’ has not been published as a stand-alone volume till date but instead has been published as a section of the Musannaf of ‘Abdul Razzaq comprising its last one and a half volumes. Though the scholarly community generally agrees about the attribution of the said section of the published Musannaf, titled as Kitab al-Jami’, to Ma’mar bin Rashid, there has been some discussion on the issue. A few scholars held that that the section was only part of ‘Abdul Razzaq’s work and Ma’mar fell in the chains of reports in the section only as a teacher of ‘Abdul Razzaq. The point was well discussed in the scholarly discourse on the issue between Dr. Hamidullah (d. 1424/2002) and Habibul Rahman al-A’zami (d. 1415/1995), which occurred as a short-lived volley of arguments.

In the course of an earlier discussion, Dr. Hamidullah mentioned in his article published in the April 1983 issue of the monthly, Al-Rashad, Azamgarh, that al-Jami’ of Ma’mar bin Rashid has been published in the last two volumes of the Musannaf of Abdul Razzaq (d. 211/827), and that the editor, Habibul Rahman al-A’zami, remained unaware of the fact that it is a separate work and he considered it a part of the Musannaf.

2.1 Arguments of Habibul Rahman al-A’zami

Habibul Rahman al-‘Azmi, in his response published in the May 1983 issue of the same monthly, Al-Rashad, Azamgarh, presented the following arguments for his contention that the said volumes of his edition of the Musannaf of ‘Abdul Razzaq were not the work of Ma’mar bin Rashid, rather they were only a chapter of ‘Abdul Razzaq’s own work.

i) Muhammad bin Sa’id Sunbal al-Makki (d. 1175/1762) in his work al-Awa‘il[6] and Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al-Dehlawi (d. 1239/1823) in his Bustan al-Muhaddithin[7] quote the last hadith of ‘Abdul Razzaq’s al-Musannaf, and that hadith is the last hadith of the section the origin of which is being discussed. This means to these scholars the section being alleged as al-Jami’ of Ma’mar bin Rashid was only the last chapter of ‘Abdul Razzaq’s al-Musannaf.

ii) There are reports in the alleged al-Jami’ of Ma’mar that do not have Ma’mar in the chain of narrators. Their chains start with ‘Abdul Razzaq but do not include Ma’mar. Al-A’zami mentioned the following reports, nos. 19440, 19475, 19482, 19643, 19671, 19709, 19720 in vol.10, and nos. 19762, 19766, 19771, 19772, 19781, 19790, 19794, 19795, 19798, 19801, 19807, 19844, 19845, 19858, 19877, 19892, 19963, 20000, 20092, 20093, 20094, 20095, 20117, 20126, 20136, 20248, 20292,  and 20951 in vol.11.[8] These narrations, he then argued, belie any suggestion to consider the section as Ma’mar bin Rashid’s work.

iii) The author of Kashaf al-Zanun, Haji Khalifah (d. 1067/1657), mentions al-Jami’ of ‘Abdul Razzaq. Likewise, Fu’ad Seyyed[9] and Nasir al-Din al-Albani (d. 1420/1999)[10] both mention a manuscript of al-Jami’ of ‘Abdul Razzaq located in  Al-Zahiriyyah Library, Damascus.

2.2 Dr. Hamidullah’s Response

In the June 1983 issue of Al-Rashad, Dr. Hamidullah responded with the following arguments.

i) Two manuscripts of Ma’mar bin Rashid’s al-Jami’ have been located in Turkey. For both manuscripts the title page says “Jami’ Ma’mar” and the volume includes nothing else. One of them dating back to 364 AH (i.e. 974 AC ) is in Ankara. The other similar manuscript is in Istanbul.[11]

ii) In the manuscripts of Musannaf ‘Abdul Razzaq available in different countries, “Kitab al-Jami’” is found at the end. If Sa’id Sunbal or Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz saw some such manuscript and wrote something there is no blame on them. Casually, anyone would do that. Had someone brought the matter to their attention and they still had done the same, then it would have been significant.

iii) Since al-Jami’ of Ma’mar has practically become an annexure to ‘Abdul Razzaq’s Musannaf, it is insignificant if some reports from ‘Abdul Razzaq’s teachers other than Ma’mar have been added to it. The case of al-Sirah Ibn Hisham is an example. It is basically an edited version of al-Sirah of Ibn Ishaq (d. 151/768) wherein Ibn Hisham (d. 213/828) has made both additions and deletions. A work of Ibn Habib (d. 245/860) has been attributed to his student al-Sakri (d. 275/888) in a manuscript where the latter is a narrator of the book. There are many examples of this kind.

iv) If the Egyptian scholar Fu’ad Seyyed has attributed the Damascene manuscript to ‘Abdul Razzaq, it was because of his being unaware of the Ankara and Istanbul manuscripts. The Turkish scholar Fuat Sezgin prepared al-Jami’ of Ma’mar for publishing and then visited Damascus and Rabat to see its manuscripts there. In his work on Arabic compilations, he writes, “Al-Jami’ is a topically arranged book of hadith. It is not divided into chapters of fundamental importance in jurisprudence, rather it concerns issues of secondary importance in sunnah. The book has been relayed by Ma’mar’s student Abdul Razzaq who added to it some other reports and appended it to his book, al-MusannafThere are quotes from it in al-Isabah.[12]

v) Internal evidence is the most relevant and important here. Ma’mar is a very early writer. There is no arrangement in the work of his teacher Hammam bin Munabbih. Though Ma’mar starts with chapter marking, it is not much developed. In turn, his student ‘Abdul Razzaq develops it and arranges hadith reports in chapters and subchapters on purity, menses, prayers, Friday prayers, the two Eids, funerals, compulsory alms, fasting, etc. Such an arrangement is found only in the Musannaf. There is no such arrangement in ‘Kitab al-Jami’.’ It is quite distinct in its make and its arrangement is comparatively primitive. If al-Jami’ was not the work of a different author it would not have hadith reports that were already placed in dedicated chapters in the earlier sections of the Musannaf, as is the case of hadith reports present in the chapters on drinks and the chapters on sales. Likewise, the hadith reports about the will of ‘Umar are there both in the Musannaf and the Jami’.[13]

In a subsequent article Dr. Hamidullah further mentioned:

vi) it is common for later writers to incorporate earlier works wholly into their compilations just as the Sahifah of Hammam bin Munabbih has been reproduced in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad and Ibn Kathir’s Jami’ al-Masanid.

vii) There is a subtle hint in the title of Ma’mar’s work at the end of the Musannaf.  It is “Kitab al-Jami’.” Had it been a part of the Musannaf then preferably the title would have been “al-Kitab al-Jami’” or “al-Bab al-Jami’.”

viii) Habibul Rahman Al-‘Azmi did not respond to Dr. Hamidullah’s second article which the latter takes as a possible hint to the acceptance of his arguments by Al-A’zami.

2.3 Further Corroboration

There are more proofs for the strength of Dr. Hamidullah’s position.

2.3.1 Testimony of Ibn Khayr al-Ashbili

While Al-A’zami referred to the statements of late classical scholars like Muhammad bin Sa’id Sunbal al-Makki and ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al-Dehlawi, some six hundred years before them Ibn Khayr al-Ashbili (d. 575/1189) said:

وحدثني أيضا بالجامع المضاف إلى مصنف عبد الرزاق وهو جامع معمر

And likewise narrated to me was the work al-Jami’ appended to the Musannaf of ‘Abdul Razzaq. It is the Jami’ of Ma’mar.[14]

2.3.2 Al-Albani’s position

As Al-A’zami said, Al-Albani did refer to a hadith in the work being discussed and attributed it to ‘Abdul Razzaq in the first volume of Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah.[15] However, in a later book he attributed the work to Ma’mar. Discussing a hadith about prayers, he says:

روى الإمام معمر بن راشد في “الجامع” (11 / 409 – 411 ) الملحق ب “مصنف عبد الرزاق”

Imam Ma’mar bin Rashid narrated it in al-Jami’ (11/409-411) which is annexed to Musannaf ‘Abdul Razzaq.[16]

2.3.3 Al-A’zami’s eventual agreement to Dr. Hamidullah’s position

Dr. Hamidullah’s suggestion that Al-‘Azmi did not respond apparently because of finding his arguments acceptable has evidential support as well.

The first edition of the Musannaf of ‘Abdul Razzaq edited by Al-‘Azmi was published in 1970 and in it the section of our interest starts as if it is a part of the Musannaf itself. However, in the second edition of the Musannaf by Al-‘Azmi published in 1983, it is clearly attributed to Ma’mar bin Rashid. This shows Al-‘Azmi finally changed his opinion and agreed to the contention of Dr. Hamidullah and others. It is also interesting to note that the above mentioned discussion between the two scholars also took place in the middle of the same year, 1983, in which the second edition of the Musannaf came out.

Musannaf Abdul Razzaq ed-1

Musannaf Abdul Razzaq ed-2

3. Conclusion

Al-Jami’ of Ma’mar bin Rashid is extant and has been published with the Musannaf of ‘Abdul Razzaq. It was compiled before the Muwatta of Malik bin Anas. It is, therefore, one of the earliest extant works of hadith today. All the arguments challenging its attribution to Ma’mar bin Rashid are weak and lack strength, while there is strong evidence, both external and internal, to uphold the idea that it was indeed written by ‘Abdul Razzaq’s teacher Ma’mar, and that ‘Abdul Razzaq merely transmitted it albeit with some sparing additions.

Notes & References:

[1] In my critique of Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, “Ghamidi, Muwatta, and the Return of ‘Isa”, I mentioned how, besides other issues, his claim that Muwatta is the oldest extant work of hadith is flawed. I further mentioned that al-Jami’ of Ma’mar bin Rashid was compiled before the compilation of the Muwatta of Imam Malik and it is still extant, and that it includes hadith reports about the return of ‘Isa (peace be upon him).

[2] Al-Dhahabi, Shams al-Din, Siyar al-A’lam al-Nubala, Beirut: Resalah publications, 1985, Vol.7, 5-17

[3] Al-Ja’di, Ibn Samarah, Tabaqat Fuqaha al-Yemen, edited by Fu’ad Seyyed, Beirut: Dar al-Qalam, n.d. 66

[4] Al-Yafi’i, Abu Muhammad, Mir’at al-Jinan wa ‘Ibrah al-Yaqzan, .Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-‘Ilmiyya, 1997, Vol.1, 252

[5] Al-Hanbali, Abu al-Falah, Shuzrat al-Dhahab fi Akhbar man Dhahab, Beirut: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1986, Vol.2, 244

[6] Al-Makki, Muhammad Sa’id Sunbal, Al-Awa’il al-Sunbaliyyah, Beirut: Maktab al-Matbu’at al-Islamiyyah, 1427 AH, 74

[7] Al-Dehlawi, ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, Bustan al-Muhaddithin, ‘Arabic Translation by Dr. Akram Nadvi, Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 2002, 108

[8] In continuation of note 1, it is to highlight that the hadith reports (No. 20840-20846) about the return of Prophet ‘Isa in al-Jami’ of Ma’mar bin Rashid all include Ma’mar in their chains of authorities. This shows those reports are not additions by ‘Abdul Razzaq.

[9] I could not find Fu’ad Seyyed’s assertion to this effect. However, while he edited al-Ja’di’s Tabaqat al-Fuqaha al-Yemen which mentions Ma’mar’s work twice (pp. 66, 74), he says nothing about the issue.

[10] Apparently, this is a reference to what al-Albani mentioned in Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah No. 379;

وقد أخرجه عبد الرزاق في ” كتاب الجامع ” (ج 1 رقم 149 – نسختي)

‘Abdul Razzaq mentioned it in Kitab al-Jami’ (Vol.1 No. 149) cf. al-Jami’, No. 19568. Al-Jami’ starts from Hadith No. 19419

[11]Faid Allah Affendi, Istanbul MSS, No. 541; … also in Isma’il Sa’ib, collection No. 2164, Ankara”, See Al-A’zami, Muhammad Mustafa, Studies in Early Hadith Literature, Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1978, 148 n.6 citing Hamidullah, Sahifah Hammam, footnote 43

[12] Here is the original statement of Sezgin;

Al-Ğāmi’ ist ein nach Kapiteln angeordnetes Buch von Hadīten, die nicht grundlegende Probleme des fiqh behandeln, sondern Fragen der sunna von sekundärer Bedeutung. Das Buch wurde von seinem Schüler ‘Abdarrazzvq überliefert, der manche Hadīte nachtrug und das Werk im Anhang seines Musannafs brachte. Hdss.: Ankara, Saib 2164 (79 ff., 364 H., es fehlen etwa 15 folia), Feyz. 541 (92a-213a, 606 H., s. Türkiyat eb. S. 128-134) eb. 507/12 (112a-121b, 9. Jh. H., nur ein Teil), Zāhirīya, Hadiīh 367 (17 ff., vor 558 H., s. Fihr. maht. I, 72), Rabāt, Kattāni 332 (S. 356-609), jüngere Kopie), Zitate in al-Isāba IV, 311, 603.
See, Sezgin, Fuat, Geschichte Des Arabischen Schrifttums, Leiden: Brill, 1967, 291

It means;

Al-Jāmi’ is a topically arranged book of hadīth. It is not divided into chapters of fundamental importance in jurisprudence [fiqh], rather it concerns issues of secondary importance in sunnah. The book has been relayed by Ma’mar’s student ‘Abdul Razzāq who added to it some other reports and appended it to his book, al-Musannaf. MSS: Ankara, Saib 2164 (79 ff., 364 H., 15 folia missing), Feyzullah 541 (92a-213a, 606 AH., see, Turkiyat eb. S. 128-134) Feyzullah 507/12 (112a-121b, 9th century AH, incomplete), Zāhirīya, Hadith 367 (17 ff., after 558 AH, See, Fihrist Ma’had Makhtutāt I, 72), Rabāt, Kattāni 332 (S. 356-609), later copy). There are quotes from it in al-Isābah IV, 311, 603.

For Arabic see the translation by Hijazi, Mahmud Fahmi, Tarikh al-Turath al-‘Arabi, Madina: Islamic University, 1991, Vol.2, 93

As for the quotes from it in al-Isabah referred to by Sezgin: one of them is a narration by Abu Ka’b al-Harithi (al-Isabah No. 10456 cf. al-Jami’ No. 20732) and the other about the Jewess who poisoned the Prophet at Khyber, (al-Isabah No. 11229 cf. al-Jami’ No. 19814)

[13] See Hadith 19416-17 in Musannaf of ‘Abdul Razzaq and Hadith 20057-58 in the Jami’ of Ma’mar bin Rashid.

[14] Al-Ashbili, Ibn Khayr, Al-Fahrasah, Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1998, 108

[15] See note 10  above

[16] Al-Albani, Nasir al-Din, Hukm Tarik al-Salah, Riyadh: Dar Jalalain, 1992, 27; cf. al-Jami’ of Ma’mar No. 20857. Interestingly, in the footnotes Al-Albani also refers to Al-Ashbili’s statement presented above.

Published : June 6, 2015

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