About Imam At-Tabari
In the ninth century A.C, Islamic learning was at its peak. Muslim scholars and scientists excelled in their learning and achievements in different fields. Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari surpassed them all. Learned in hadith literature, he also studied many other subjects to further his knowledge of the Holy Qur’an and the religion of Islam. During the end of his days, he was known as a commentator on the Holy Qur’an, an expert in Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh), and as a famous historian. He was also the author of many books; the most famous of them was his Tafseer of the Holy Qur’an and the other was his encyclopaedia on Islamic history.
At-Tabari was born in the city of Amul, in Tabaristan, a mountainous region lying south of the Caspian Sea in the year 839 A.C. Amul had been built on the banks of a river, and the nearest port was a place called Humm, which was at the mouth of the river.
Imam at-Tabari died at the age of 85 in the year 923 A.C. Read Full Article on Brief Biography of Imam At-Tabari
Imam at-Tabari spent 12 years writing this encyclopaedia on Islamic history. His job was not easy for he had to collect and compile the material from different sources. He had to rely on oral reports as well to complete his encyclopedia.
His encyclopedia, ‘Annals of the Apostles and Kings’, chronicled the History of Islam year by year; an attempt to categorize history from creation till the year 915 A.C. By the time he had finished his work, he had gathered all the historical traditions of the Arabs in his voluminous work. The Muslim world was not slow in showing its appreciation, and this work became more famous than his Commentary of the Holy Qur’an, for there was no other works like that in existence at that time.
It is reported that there were at least 20 copies of his encyclopedia in all great libraries in the Muslim world of those days. Hundreds of copyists earned their living copying his work for use of individuals and libraries. Many of his original works were lost over the passage of time. It was only in the end of the last century that modern scholars pieced together his work so that it could be studied by students in modern times.
Tabari was born in Amol, Tabaristan (some 20 km south of the Caspian Sea) in the winter of 838–9. He memorized the Qur’an at seven, was a qualified prayer leader at eight and began to study the prophetic traditions at nine. He left home to study in 236 AH (850/1 AD) when he was twelve. He retained close ties to his home town. He returned at least twice, the second time in 290 AH (903 AD) when his outspokenness caused some uneasiness and led to his quick departure.
He first went to Rayy (Rhages), where he remained for some five years. A major teacher in Rayy was Abu Abdillah Muhammad ibn Humayd al-Razi, who had earlier taught in Baghdad but was now in his seventies While in Ray, he also studied Muslim jurisprudence according to the Hanafi school. Among other material, ibn Humayd taught Jarir Tabari the historical works of ibn Ishaq, especially al-Sirah, his life of Muhammad. Tabari was thus introduced in youth to pre-Islamic and early Islamic history. Tabari quotes ibn Humayd frequently, but little is known about Tabari’s other teachers in Rayy.
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