Were all the six Masters of Hadith originally Persians?

September 5, 2014 Comments Off on Were all the six Masters of Hadith originally Persians?

Abu Huraira reported: We were sitting in the company of Allaah’s Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) that Sura al-Jumu’a was revealed to him and when he recited (these words):” Others from amongst them who have not yet joined them,” a person amongst them (those who were sitting there) said: Allaah’s Messenger! But Allaah’s Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) made no reply, until he questioned him once, twice or thrice. And there was amongst us Salman the Persian. The Prophet of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) placed his hand on Salman and then said: Even if faith were near the Pleiades, a man from amongst these would surely find it.

(Source:Sahih Muslim, CHAPTER: THE MERITS OF THE PEOPLE OF PERSIA. Note how Imam Muslim who himself was Arab Qurashi from the Persian town of Nishabour made a whole chapter for basically one Hadith in the praise of the Persians)

Many extremist Shias try to turn the tables by saying that Sunnism (and not Shi’ism) has been heavily influenced by Zoroastrian (Majoosi) Persians. This is due to the misconception that all (or many) of the most famous Sunni scholars of the early Muslim generation were ethnic Persians. This assertion is wrong, since those who accuse the Shi’ite sect of being a Persian-Zoroastrian project due not do so due to the fact that the vast majority of modern day Shi’ite scholars (and Shi’ites in general) are Persians, rather due to the fact that Twelver Imamite Shi’ism does indeed carry elmens of Zoroastrianism and Pre-Islamic Sassanian hatred for Arabs and the early Muslim generation, see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

The reality is that most early Muslim scholars, in particular the four Imams of the Sunni schools of thought were all Arabs (even the Persian origin of Abu Hanifah is hugely disputed by Hanafi Sunni scholars), even the the Six Masters of Sunni Hadith were not all ethnic Persians as widely circulated on the net. But even if they were, it wouldn’t change anything nor would it make Sunnism “Iranian” for all classical Sunni scholars were raised in an Islamic environment with no interest in Zoroastrianism or Pre-Islamic Iran whatsoever (unlike the Safavids and the Shi’ite clergy of that time that reviced Persian nationalism and even Zoroastrian elments under the guise of Shi’ism). At that time concept of nation was very differant. It was this Islamic environment that despite it flaws (under some tyrannical rulers) gave everybody, including Persians, the opporunity to excell and become jurists, exegetes, physician etc. Personalities that Pre-Islamic Iran (with it’s caste system that was much worse than some Anti-Persian policies of some Umayyads) had never produced and Post-Safavid Iran has never re-produced.

In a scheme of Islamic history which is dominated by Arabo-centrism and in a contemporary world in which the association between Iran and Shi’ism is so central that one cannot think of one without the other, this fact of the Persian origin of some of the most important figures of authority in Sunni Islam becomes increasingly relevant in challenging the dominant narratives and assumptions which continue to pervade the historical understanding (and contemporary vision) of Islam and Iran.



Here a list about the six compilers:

1. Imam (Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mughīrah ibn Bardizbah (proper old Persian name) al-Ju‘fī (Mawla of the Ju’fi’s, not an Arab Ju’fi himself, only by Wala’) Al-Bukhari (810–870). An ethnic Persian (according to major scholars such as al-Dhahabi) from the ancient Persian Khorassanian city of Bukhara (located in modern-day Uzbekistan).

2. Abū al-Ḥusayn ‘Asākir ad-Dīn Muslim ibn al-Ḥajjāj ibn Muslim ibn Ward ibn Kawshādh al-Qushayrī an-Naysābūrī (815–875), originally from Nishapur (located in modern-day Iran). There appears to have been a difference of opinion about his exact origins, with Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī affirming the strong possibility that his family were Persian “mawālī” (clients) of Qushayr, while other scholars (such as Ibn al-Athīr and Ibn al-Salāh) assert that he was actually an Arab member of that tribe. The usual inclusion of the name Kawshādh within his lineage strongly suggests, that he was descended from Persian mawālī (freedman, clients). Moreover, even some of those scholars asserting that he belonged by blood to the tribe of Qushayr state that his family had migrated to Iran nearly two centuries earlier (following the conquest), suggesting a large degree of intermarriage with the indigenous population

3. Imam Abu Dawud (Sulaymān ibn al-Ashʿath al-Azdi Al-Sijistani, 817–889): Originally from “Sijistan”, located in modern-day Iran). There is a difference of opinion on this scholar with some scholars asserting that he was partially descended from the tribe of Azd while others have claimed that his family were “mawāli” (clients) the Arab tribe of Azd, hence the tribal nisbah

4. Imam (Abu Isa Muhammad) Al-Tirmidhi (824–892): Termez is a Persian Khorassani town (located in modern-day Uzbekistan). Imam Al-Tirmidhi belonged to the Arab tribe of Banu Sulaym (hence the nisbat “as-Sulami”). His grandfather was originally from Marw (Persian: Merv), but moved to Tirmidh (Termez), it is not clear if he was an actual Arab or a Mawla. The ancestors of Persians who accepted Islam attributed themselves to various Arab tribes by way of wala’ (alliance) i.e. they could carry an Arab trime as a title but were actually not of Arab descent (like Imam Al-Bukhari and many other Salaf who were of Persian origin yet carried Arab tribe names).

5. Imam (Ahmad Ibn Shu’ayb) Al-Nasa’i (829–915): He was born in the Persian town of Nasa’ in Khorassan (located in modern-day Turkmenistan). As for Imam Al-Nasa’i then he was most likely of Persian origin from Khorassan, although he might have been of Arab origin like many Arabs who settled in Khorassan.

6. Imam (Abu Abdillah Ahmad Al-Rabi’i) Ibn Majah (824–889): originally from Qazvin (located in modern-day Iran) of Arab descent. The Sahabi Bara’a Ibn Azeb opened Qazwin during the era of Othman.  Ibn Majah’s family were “mawāli” (clients) of the Arab tribe of Rabī’a, hence the tribal nisbah.


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