Ibn Hisham

Abu Muhammad 'Abd al-Malik bin Hisham
Title Ibn Hisham
Died 7 May 833
Era Islamic golden age
Region Basra and Egypt
Religion Islam
Main interest(s) Prophetic biography
Notable work(s) The Life of the Prophet

Abu Muhammad 'Abd al-Malik bin Hisham ibn Ayyub al-Himyari (Arabic: أبو محمد عبدالمالك بن هشام), or Ibn Hisham, edited the biography of the Islamic prophet Muhammad written by Ibn Ishaq.[1] He was said to have mastered Arabic philology in a way which only Sibawayh had.[2]


Ibn Hisham has been said to have grown up in Basra and moved afterwards to Egypt,[3] while others have narrated that his family was descended from Basra but he himself was born in Old Cairo.[4] Either way, it is in Egypt where he gained a name as a grammarian and student of language and history. His family was of Himyarite origin, though some narrators trace him to Mu'afir ibn Ya'far, while others say he is a Dhuhli.[3]

Biography of Muhammad

Ibn Hisham wrote As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, an edited version of Ibn Ishaq's original work.[5] It is now considered one of the classic works on the biography of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[6][7] His knowledge of Ibn Ishaq's biography was derived from Ziyād al-Baqqāʾi (d. 183/799), who lived mostly in Kufa.[8] Later Ibn Hisham's As-Sira would chiefly be transmitted by his pupil, Ibn al-Barqī.[8]

Ibn Ishaq's work is lost and is now only known in the recensions of Ibn Hisham and al-Tabari, although several other recensions exited that are now lost or survive only in fragments.[9] According to Fred Donner, the material in Ibn Hisham and al-Tabari is "virtually the same".[9] Ibn Hisham provided more accurate versions of some of the poems mentioned in the Sira, and explained difficult words and phrases.[8] However, there is some material to be found in al-Tabari that was not preserved by Ibn Hisham, mainly material not directly relevant to Muhammad.[8] Al-Tabari also includes the controversial episodes of the Satanic Verses and the story of Muhammad's attempted suicide, while ibn Hisham does not.[10][11] Ibn Hisham admits in the preface that he omitted matters from Ibn Ishaq's biography that "would distress certain people".[12][13]

Other works

Ibn Hisham wrote a work on South Arabian antiquities: Kitab al-Tijan li ma'rifati muluk al-zaman (Book of Crowns in knowing kings of the age).

See also


  1. Kathryn Kueny, The Rhetoric of Sobriety: Wine in Early Islam, pg. 59. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001. ISBN 9780791490181
  2. Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, vol. 2, pg. 298. Trns. Franz Rosenthal. Issue 43 of Bollingen Series (General) Series. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967. ISBN 9780691097978
  3. 1 2 Mustafa al-Suqa, Ibrahim al-Abyari and Abdul-Hafidh Shalabi, Tahqiq Sirah an-Nabawiyyah li Ibn Hisham, ed.: Dar Ihya al-Turath, pp. 23-4
  4. William Muir, The Life of Mahomet: With Introductory Chapters on the Original Sources for the Biography of Mahomet, and on the Pre-Islamite History of Arabia, vol. 1, pg. xciv. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1861.
  5. Mahmood ul-Hasan, Ibn Al-At̲h̲ir: An Arab Historian : a Critical Analysis of His Tarikh-al-kamil and Tarikh-al-atabeca, pg. 71. New Delhi: Northern Book Center, 2005. ISBN 9788172111540
  6. Antonie Wessels, A Modern Arabic Biography of Muḥammad: A Critical Study of Muḥammad Ḥusayn , pg. 1. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1972.
  7. Ira M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, pg. 18. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 9780521779333
  8. 1 2 3 4 Montgomery Watt, W. (1968). "Ibn Hishām". Encyclopaedia of Islam. 3 (2nd ed.). Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 800–801. ISBN 9004081186.
  9. 1 2 Donner, Fred McGraw (1998). Narratives of Islamic origins: the beginnings of Islamic historical writing. Darwin Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-87850-127-4.
  10. Raven, Wim, Sīra and the Qurʾān – Ibn Isḥāq and his editors, Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an. Ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe. Vol. 5. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, 2006. p29-51.
  11. Cf., Ibn Ishaq (Guillaume's reconstruction, at pp. 165-167) and al-Tabari (SUNY edition, at VI: 107-112).
  12. Holland, Tom (2012). In the Shadow of the Sword. Doubleday. p. 42.
  13. Newby, Gordon Darnell; Ibn Isḥāq, Muḥammad (1989). The Making of the Last Prophet: A Reconstruction of the Earliest Biography of Muhammad. University of South Carolina Press. p. 9.
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