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Al-Waqidi and Sira

Did Lings Rely on an Unreliable Source?

By Gibril F Haddad

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Please tell me if al-Waqidi's al-Maghazi is a reliable source for the Biography of the Prophet SAW. Many mordern books on Seerah quote from al-Waqidi's works. For example Martin Ling's "Muhammad - His Life Base on the Earliest Sources" is an excellent read but some scholars are of the opinion that Waqidi is not to be trusted. Please comment.

Al-Waqidi is reliable for purely historical reports. Ahl al- Hadith consider him too honest and too rich a source to be discarded especially in light of Ibn Saʿd's accreditation, which lent him huge credit--but they unanimously discard him with regard to ahkam reports which are uncorroborated by other narrators e.g. wiggling the index finger in Salat. It is the latter category they meant when they called him a liar, i.e. thoroughly unreliable and/or inaccurate in his isnads, not at all that he was dishonest. Al-Dhahabi said: "I have no doubt in his sidq." And Allah knows best.

Also can you perhaps advise me on good books particular to Seerah of the Prophet SAW.

Sira Halabiyya; Sirat al-Dahlan; al-Sira al-Shamiyya (the most comprehensive hadith-based Sira); most recently the massive study by Dr. M. Abu Shuhba, al-Sira al-Nabawiyya. Also the Sira by the late Egyptian Shaykh, Muhammad Sadiq ʿArjun. A reliable brief Sira used as a textbook in many schools is Nur al-Yaqin fi Sirat Sayyid al-Mursalin by Shaykh Muhammad al-Khudari Bayk.

Important Sira studies: al-Kattani's Ahkam al-Idariyya and the Fiqh al-Sira both by Dr. Saʿid al-Buti [available in English at Dar al-Fikr] and Dr. Muhammad al-Ghazzali.


Hajj Gibril
GF Haddad

"In any case, what Westerners call civilization, the others would call barbarity, because it is precisely lacking in the essential, that is to say, a principle of a higher order."
René Guénon, East And West, 1924

صلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد و على آله و صحبه و سلّم

The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions, ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) .

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