A Re-Evaluation of Early Developments in Qur’anic Orthography (2/4)

A Re-Evaluation of Early Developments in Qur’anic Orthography (2/4)


Here are the full chains of narration for each.

i. Abū 'Ubaydah Ma'mar ibn Muthannā (d. 209 AH)

This has no chain of narration and probably the foremost person to cite it is Abū Sa'īd al-Sayrafī (d. 368 AH) in his Akhbār al-nahwiyyīn al-basriyyīn.[1]

ii. Abū al-Hasan 'Alī ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abdullāh al-Madā'inī (d. 225 AH)

Abū al-Hasan al-Madā'inī

Ishāq ibn Ibrāhīm

Hammād ibn Ishāq ibn Ibrāhīm

'Īsā ibn al-Hasan al-Warrāq

Abū al-Faraj al-Asbahānī

Following is the jarh on some of its narrators:

a. 'Īsā ibn al-Hasan al-Warrāq

No tawthīq is available on him in rijāl books. Hence, he is majhūl al-hāl.

b. Hammad ibn Ishāq ibn Ibrāhīm al-Mūsilī

No tawthīq is available on him in rijāl books. Hence, he is majhūl al-hāl.

c. Abū al-Hasan 'Alī ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abdullāh al-Madā'inī

Ibn Adī says that he is laysa bi al-qawī fī al-hadīth.[2]

iii. Muhammad ibn 'Ubaydullāh ibn 'Amr al-'Utbī[3](d. 228 AH)

Muhammad ibn 'Ubaydullāh ibn 'Utbī

Abū 'Ikramah

Al-Qāsim ibn Muhammad al-Anbārī:

Abū Muslim al-Baghdādī: Muhammad ibn al-Qāsim al-Anbārī:

Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Baghdadī: al-Dānī

Rash'ā ibn Nuzayf

Abū al-Wahsh Abū al-Qāsim

Ibn 'Asākir

Following is the jarh on some of its narrators:

a. Abū 'Ikramah 'Amir ibn 'Imrān ibn Ziyād al-Dabbī

No tawthīq is available on him in rijāl books. Hence, he is majhūl al-hāl.

b. Muhammad ibn 'Ubaydullāh ibn 'Amr al-'Utbī

Ibn Qutaybah, al-Safadī and Ibn Khallikān record the following jarh on him: kāna mushtahiran bi al-sharāb.[4]On a similar note, al-Dhahabī records: kāna yashribu.[5]

iv. Muhammad ibn Yazīd al-Mubarrad (d. 286 AH)

This has no chain of narration. Al-Dānī cites him in his Al-Muhkam.[6]

As far as the reports are concerned which say that the first person to put nuqat on the masāhif was Abū al-Aswad, the first person to narrate such a report is al-Zubaydi (d. 379 AH) in his Tabaqāt with reference to al-Mubarrad (d. 286 AH). The inqitā' here is obvious too!

4. The accounts of Al-Mada'ini (d. 225 AH) and 'Utbī (228 AH) cited earlier mention that Abū al-Aswad was induced to put nuqat on the masāhif when he heard someone wrongly reading a verse of Sūrah Tawbah. On the other hand, it is reported by 'Abbād ibn 'Abbād ibn Habīb al-Mahallab[7](d. 181 AH) that when Abū al-Aswad heard someone wrongly reading the masāhif, he resolved to institute grammar (not nuqat). Furthermore, there is yet another report by Ibn Abī Malaykah (d. 117 AH) (see point 9 ahead) which says that it was this very verse of Sūrah Tawbah which was wrongly taught to and read by a Beduoin. When 'Umar heard of this, he asked Abū al-Aswad to institute the rules of grammar (again no mention of nuqat).

So it is strange that the same verse of Sūrah Tawbah occurs:

i. at times to induce Abū al-Aswad to institute grammar and at times to institute the nuqat.

ii. at times in an incident in the time of 'Umar (rta) and at times in the times of Mu'āwiyah (rta) to induce its listener to two different acts.

'Abbād's report may be illustrated thus:

'Abbād ibn 'Abbād ibn Habīb ibn al-Mahallab (d. 181 AH)

'Abbād ibn 'Abbād ibn Habīb ibn al-Mahallab

Muhammad ibn 'Abbād al-Muhallabī

Abu Hātim al-Sijistānī

Yamūt ibn al-Muzarri' Abū Ahmad Ibrāhīm ibn Humayd

Ibn al-Anbārī Abū Zayd Ja'far ibn Muhammad

Abū Muslim al-Baghdādī Abū Hilāl al-'Askarī Abū al-Tayyib Abū Ahmad al-'Askarī

Rash'ā ibn Nuzayf

Abū al-Wahsh Abū al-Qāsim

Ibn 'Asākir

a. 'Abbād ibn 'Abbād ibn Habīb ibn al-Mahallab

Al-Mizzī[8]records that in the opinion of Abū Hātim, he is lā yuhtajju bi hadīthihī. Though at one place Ibn Sa'd states: thiqah wa rubbama ghalita,[9]at another place, his words about him are: lam yakun bi al-qawī fī al-hadīth.[10]

Ibn Hajar[11]says about him: thiqah rubbamā wahima.

b. Muhammad ibn 'Abbād al-Muhallabī

Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī records:[12]lam yakun basīran bi al-hadīth(he is not intelligent in matters of hadīth) and according to al-Harbī is guilty of misspelling words (tashīf); he altered بقرةto بهرة and ابن جابر to ابن جدير.

It is perhaps because of this that Abū Hātim's opinion about him is:[13]lam aktub 'anhū shay' (I have not written anything from him).

It may thus be observed that the report of 'Abbād (d. 181 AH) has problems in its chain of narration. However, since the reports of Ibn Abī Malaykah[14](d. 117 AH), al-Madā'īnī (d. 225 AH) and al-'Utbī (d. 228 AH) themselves suffer from flaws in their chains of narration hence it was deemed appropriate to compare the four with one another.

5. An interesting point to note in Mubarrad's account (as opposed to the rest of the three) is that Abū al-Aswad set about instituting the rules of grammar by putting nuqat on the masāhif: apparently the two have no connection. This act obviously could only safeguard correctly reading the masāhif and not in helping people learn Arabic grammar.

6. The first book in which Abū al-Aswad's nuqat accounts are recorded is Al-Waqf wa al-Ibtidā' by Ibn al-Anbārī (d. 328 AH). However, at least five major works prior to Al-Waqf wa al-Ibtidā' which record biographical entries on Abū al-Aswad are devoid of any nuqat mention. The question arises: Why?

Here are the details:

i. Al-Tabaqāt by Ibn Sa'd (d. 230 AH)

Ibn Sa'd gives a short biographical entry on Abū al-Aswad in which says that he was a poet and became the governor of Basrah. Similarly, it also contains a note on Ziyād ibn Abīh; but these entries are devoid of any mention of Abū al-Aswad inserting nuqat.[15]

ii. Tabaqāt fuhūl al-shu'arā'by Muhammad ibn Salām al-Jumahī (d. 232 AH)

Al-Jumahī gives a short biographical entry on Abū al-Aswad which says that he was the first to institute the rules of Arabic but does not mention anything about his role in nuqat.[16]

iii. Ma'rifah al-Thiqāt by al-'Ijlī (d. 261 AH)

He records that Abū al-Aswad is from among the prominent tābi'ūn, a companion of 'Alī (rta) and a person who was the first to talk about about nahw. However, he records nothing on his contribution to nuqat.[17]

iv. Al-Ma'ārif by Ibn Qutaybah (276 AH)

Ibn Qutaybah gives a short biographical entry on Abū al-Aswad which says that he was a poet, was the first to formulate the rules of Arabic and became the governor of Basrah but does not mention that he had any role in introducing nuqaton the masāhif.[18]

v. Al-Jarh wa al-ta'dīl by Ibn Abī Hātim (d. 327 AH)

Ibn Abī Hātim gives a short biographical entry on Abū al-Aswad in which he records his real name (Zālim ibn 'Amr), states that he is a reliable narrator and is also the first who formulated nahw. The entry is devoid of any mention of his feat of inserting nuqat on the masāhif.[19]

It is from the first quarter of the fourth century onwards that we find books recording accounts which attribute introduction of nuqat on the masāhif by Abū al-Aswad. These works include: Marātib al-Nahwiyyīn[20] by Abū al-Tayyib (d. 351 AH), Kitāb al-Aghānī[21] by Abū al-Faraj (d. 356 AH), Akhbār Al-Nahwiyyīn[22] by al-Sayrāfī (d. 368 AH), Tabaqāt al-Nahwiyyīn[23] by al-Zubaydī (d. 379 AH), Fihrist[24] by Ibn Nadīm (d. 385 AH), Al-Muhkam[25] by al-Dānī (d. 444 AH), Tārīkh Madīnah Dimashq[26]by Ibn 'Asākir (d. 571 AH), Nuzhat al-alibbā'[27]by Ibn al-Anbārī (d. 577 AH), Inbā' al-ruwāt[28]by al-Qiftī (d. 624 AH).

In this regard, perhaps the first historian to say that Abū al-Aswad was the first person nuqat on the masāhif is Ibn al-Jawzī[29] (d. 597 AH) and he tdoes not mention various accounts which record Abū al-Aswad's endeavour. He merely records that Abū al-Aswad was the first to put nuqat on the masāhif. Similar statements are recorded by Yāqūt al-Hamawī[30] (626 AH), al-Safadī (764 AH)[31] and al-Dhahabī[32] (d. 748 AH).

However, there are works even after the first quarter of the fourth century right up to the ninth century which mention biographical information about Abū al-Aswad but do not state that he had any role in recording nuqat on the masāhif. These include:

i. Al-Thiqāt by Ibn Hibbān (d. 354 AH)

Ibn Hibbān does record that Abū al-Aswad took part in the battle of Siffīn, was deputed as a governor of Basrah and was the first to institute nahw.[33]

ii. Al-Ta'dīl wa al-tajrīh by al-Bājī (d. 464 AH)

Al-Bājī records various opinions about his name, that he was the first to institute nahw, was a reliable a narrator and died in the plague of 69 AH.[34]

iii. Usud al-Ghābah by Ibn Athīr (d. 630 AH)

Ibn Athīr does record that Abū al-Aswad was not able to acquire the companionship of the Prophet (sws), was a famous tābi'ī, was companion of 'Alī (rta) who made him the governor of Basah and was the first to institute nahw, was a poet and a profound literary figure.[35]

iv. Al-Bidāyah wa al-nihāyah by Ibn Kathīr (d. 772 AH)

Ibn Kathīr gives a short biographical entry on Abū al-Aswad which among other details says that he was the first to formulate the rules of Arabic.[36]

v. Tārīkh of Ibn Khaldūn (d. 808 AH)

Ibn Khaldūn mentions the fact that Abū al-Aswad was the first person to formulate Arabic grammar.[37]

All this data cast serious doubts on this alleged role ascribed to Abū al-Aswad.

7. In this regard, it may be noted that the strangest omission of Abū al-Aswad's endeavour is in the Kitāb al-masāhif[38] of Ibn Abī Dā'ūd (d. 316 AH).[39] The whole book has copious information about directives and issues related to the masāhif. It has a section on nuqat al-maāhif which is rich in information on the subject. It has a narrative which says that the first person to put nuqat on the masāhif was Yahyā ibn Ya'mar;[40] it mentions narratives which record the names of early authorities who disliked putting nuqat on the mushaf and others who did not see any harm in it;[41] it mentions a narrative which records the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basrī that charging money for putting nuqat on masāhif was not a problem;[42] it records a detailed narrative on the authority of Abū Hatim Sijistanī on the methodology of putting nuqat on masāhif.[43] The initial part of the narrative even describes the same scheme as that of Abū al-Aswad but without taking his name. It is quite strange that in the wake of all these details, there is no mention of Abū al-Aswad and his endeavour.

8. The accounts of Al-Madā'inī (d. 225 AH) and 'Utbī (228 AH) cited earlier in detail mention that it was at the behest of Ziyād ibn Abīh (d. 53 AH), the governor of Basrah that Abū al-Aswad undertook this job.[44]Accounts of Ziyād (who is also called Ziyād ibn Abī Sufyān, Ziyād ibn Sumayyah, Ziyād ibn Amah and Ziyād ibn 'Ubayd)[45]are mentioned in various books of Muslim history. None of the following books which contain biographical accounts of Ziyād even alludes to the fact that he had any role in this task:

i. Al-Tabaqāt[46]by Ibn Sa'd (d. 230 AH)

ii. Al-Ma'ārif[47]by Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276 AH)

iii. Al-Akhbār al-tiwāl[48]by al-Dīnwarī (d. 282 AH)

iv. Al-Istī'āb[49]by Ibn 'Abd al-Barr (d. 463 AH)

v. Tārīkh Madīnah Dimashq[50]by Ibn 'Asākir (d. 571 AH)

vi. Al-Muntazim[51]Ibn al-Jawzī (597 AH)

vii. Al-Kāmil fī al-tārīkh[52]by Ibn Athīr (d. 630 AH)

viii. Siyar a'lām al-nubalā'[53]by al-Dhahabī (d. 748 AH)

ix. Fawāt al-Wafayāt[54]by Muhammad ibn Shākir al-Kutbī (d. 764 AH)

x. Al-Wāfī bi al-wafayāt[55] by al-Safadī (764 AH)

xi. Al-Bidāyah wa al-nihāyah[56] by Ibn Kathīr (d. 772 AH)

xii. Al-Isābah[57] by Ibn Hajar (d. 852 AH)

xiii.Lisān al-mīzān[58]by Ibn Hajar (d. 852 AH)

xiv. Majma' al-bahrayn[59] by Shaykh al-Tarīhī (d. 1085 AH)

xv. A'yān al-shī'ah[60]by Sayyid Muhsin al-Amīn (d. 1371 AH)

xvi. Al-A'lām[61] by al-Zarkalī (d. 1396 AH)

9. All of the chains of narration of the accounts cited under points 2 and 3 hinge on a final Basran narrator. Is this a mere co-incidence or does this smell of Basran bias over their rival Kufans? There is not a single Kufan grammarian or personality who reports that Abū al-Aswad was responsible of putting nuqat on the masāhif. Why is this so?

In contrast to what is attributed to Abū al-Aswad al-Dū'alī's endeavour in putting i'rāb on the Qur'ān, it may be noted that sources also record on the authority of 'Abdullāh ibn 'Ubaydullāh ibn Abī Malaykah (d. 117 AH) with reference to this same incident that it was at the behest of 'Umar (rta) that Abū al-Aswad had constituted the rules of Arabic grammar. As per this report[62] a Bedouin came over to Madīnah in the reign of 'Umar (rta) and asked for someone who could teach him what was revealed to Muhammad (sws). It is reported that a person taught him Sūrah Tawbah and he read the following verse by altering the vocalization of the last word:أَنَّ اللّهَ بَرِيءٌ مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ وَرَسُولُهُ. He read the last word as: رَسُولِهِ. At this the Bedouin said: "Is God acquitted of His Messenger; if he is acquitted of His Messenger, then I am more acquitted of the Messenger of God." These words of the Bedouin reached 'Umar (rta), who called him over and said: "Are you acquitted of the Messenger of God." The Bedouin replied that he came over to Madīnah and did not have any knowledge of the Qur'ān and had asked for someone to teach him the Qur'ān; the Bedouin continued that a person taught him Sūrah Tawbah and read: رَسُولِهِأَنَّ اللّهَ بَرِيءٌ مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ وَ; at this, he had said whether is God acquitted of His Messenger; if he is acquitted of His Messenger, then he [the Bedouin] is more acquitted of the Messenger of God. At this, 'Umar told the Bedouin that this is not so; the Bedouin then promptly asked for an explanation. 'Umar then read the verse as: أَنَّ اللّهَ بَرِيءٌ مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ وَرَسُولُهُ. The Bedouin swore by God and said that he is acquitted of those of whom God and His Messenger are acquitted. 'Umar then ordered that no one except a person who has knowledge of Arabic should teach the Qur'ān and directed Abū al-Aswad to formulate nahw which he did so.

If the above report is true, then it can be surmised that it had nothing to do with putting nuqat on the mushaf; it only impelled 'Umar (rta) to ask Abū al-Aswad to formulate the rules of Arabic Grammar.

It may be noted that most narrators of this report are non-Basran. Details follow:

i. Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Qāsim ibn Muhammad ibn Bashshār al-Anbārī (d. 328 AH) (born in Anbār and died in Baghdād).[63]

ii. Muhammad ibn Yahyā ibn Abī Hazm Mihrān (d. 253 AH) (belonged to Basrah)[64]

iii. Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn 'Īsā ibn Yazīd (d. 277 AH) (belonged to Balkh).[65]

iv. Abū Tawbah al-Rabī' ibn Nāfi' (d. 241 AH) (belonged to Tarsūs).[66]

v. 'Īsā ibn Yūnus ibn 'Amr al-Sabī'ī (d. 287 AH) (belonged to Kufah).[67]

vi. 'Abū al-Walīd Abd al-Malik ibn 'Abd al-'Azīz ibn Jurayj (d. 150 AH) (belonged to Makkah).[68]

vii. Abū Bakr 'Abdullāh ibn 'Ubaydullāh ibn Abī Malaykah (d. 117 AH) (belonged to Makkah).[69]

It may however be argued that there are weaknesses in this report:

i. Ibn al-Anbārī has not specified his teacher. His words are: "one of our companions said …(قال بعض أصحابنا).

ii. 'Abd al-Malik ibn 'Abd al-'Azīz ibn Jurayj is a mudallis.[70]

iii. Muhammad ibn 'Īsā ibn Yazīd is also suspect. Ibn Hibbān says that he errs a lot (yukhtī kathīr).[71] Ibn 'Adī says that he steals hadīth (yasriqu al-hadīth).[72]

10. Hamzah ibn al-Hasan al-Asbahānī (d. 360 AH)[73] and Abū Ahmad al-'Askarī (d. 380 AH)[74] who are the first to record the diacrtics phase on the masāhif clearly negate that Abū al-Aswad put nuqat on the Qur'ān. This is shown by the silence of these texts about any endeavour by Abū al-Aswad whereas the way they mention the masāhif after the period of 'Uthmān (rta) entails that had Abū al-Aswad done anything to the effect, it should have found its mention here. Abū Ahmad al-'Askarī's text reads:

وقد رُوى أنّ السبب في نَقْط المصاحف أن الناس غَبَرُوا يقرءون فى مصاحف عثمان رحمة الله عليه ، نيِّفا وأربعين سنة ، إلى أيام عبد الملك بن مروان. ثم كثر التصحيف وانتشر بالعراق ، ففزِع الحجاَّجُ إلي كُتَّابه ، وسألهم أن يضعوا لهذه لحروف المشْتَبِهةِ علامات. فيقال : إنّ نصرِ بن عاصم قام بذلك ، فوضع لنَّقط أفرادا و أزواجا. وخالف بين أما كنها بتوقيع بعضها فوق الحروف ، وبعضها نحت الحروففَغَبَر الناس بذلك زمانا لا يكتبون إلا منقوطا. فكان مع استعمال النقط أيضا يقع التصحيف ، فأحدثوا الإعْجام ، فكانوا يُتْبِعون النَّقط بالإعجام. فإذا أُغْفِل الاستقصاءُ على الكلمة فلم تُوَفَّ حقوقَها اعترى هذا التصحيفُ ، فالتمسوا حيلةً ، فلم يقْدِروا فيها إلا على الأخذ من أفواهِ الرجال.

It is narrated that the reason to put nuqat on the masāhif was that people continued to read the masāhif of 'Uthmān (rta) for almost forty years until [the era of] 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān arrived. Then misreading (tashīf) of the script [of the Qur'ān] became rampant and spread in 'Irāq. So al-Hajjāj anxiously turned to his scribes and asked him to devise signs for these similar letters. It is said that Nasr ibn 'Āsim took this responsibility and he devised dots ones and twos and placed them differently on them by putting some on the top and some on the bottom of these hurūf. People stuck [to this method of Nasr] for many years and would not write [masāhif] without nuqat. But even after using nuqat, misreading [of the masāhif] continued. So they invented i'jām and used i'jām with nuqat as well. A slight carelessness in putting in all i'jām with nuqat on words again resulted in tashīf. People looked for a further method [to secure the correct reading] but were not able to find one except for acquiring [the Qur'ān] from the mouths of people.[75]

B. The Diacritics Phase

The following questions arise on the traditional account viz a viz this phase.

1. The ascription of the insertion of diacritics to Nasr ibn 'Āsim is suspect. The text[76]of Hamzah ibn al-Hasan al-Asbahānī (d. 360 AH), which is the first text to explicitly say that a lack of diacritics caused tashīf after which these diacritics were inserted does not even mention Nasr's name as the one deputed to this task. The text[77]of Abū Ahmad al-'Askarī (d. 382 AH) which is chronologically the second text that explicitly says that a lack of diacritics caused tashīf also weakly mentions Nasr's name (the word used is: yuqāl).

Thus none of Nasr's students narrate this feat from him. Al-Mizzī[78] has recorded the following names of his students: Bishr ibn 'Ubayd (d. ?), Abū Sha'thā' Jābir ibn Zayd (d. 93 AH), Humayd ibn Hilāl, 'Imrān ibn Hudayr (d. 147 AH), Qatādah ibn Di'āmah (d. 118 AH), Mālik ibn Dīnār (d. 123 AH), Abū Sa'd Sa'īd ibn al-Mirzabān al-Baqqāl (d. 140 AH approx), Abū Salamah (d. ?).

The first person to say that Nasr ibn 'Āsim was the first to put nuqat is Abū Hātim al-Sijistānī (d. 250 AH) as recorded by al-Dānī.[79] So it is after almost two centuries that this primacy is ascribed to him. None of Nasr's students, as pointed out earlier, or any one from his immediate generations has ever reported to have said this. It can also be said with reasonable certainty that in the first six centuries, al-Dānī is the only person to ascribe nuqāt to Nasr. Even this primacy of nuqat ascribed to Nasr by al-Dānī is rendered weak because many books which mention biographical notes on Nasr are devoid of ascribing this accomplishment to him. They include:

i. Akhbār al-nahwiyyīn al-basriyyīn by al-Sayrāfī (d. 368 AH)

Al-Sayrāfī records on the authority of Khālid al-Hadhdhā' (d. 141 AH) that 'Āsim was the first to formulate [the principles of] Arabic.[80]

ii. Tabaqāt al-nahwiyyīn wa lughwiyyīnby al-Zubaydī (d. 379 AH)

Al-Zubaydītoo records on the authority of Khālid al-Hadhdhā' (d. 141 AH) that Nasr ibn 'Āsim was the first to formulate [the principles of] Arabic.[81]

iii. Nuzhah al-alibbā'by Abū al-Barkāt ibn al-Anbārī (d. 577 AH)

Abū al-Barkātrecords that Nasr ibn 'Āsim is a jurist, a scholar of Arabic and teacher of grammar and qirā'ah.[82]

iv. Inbā' al-ruwāt by al-Qiftī (d. 624 AH)

Al-Qiftīmentions that Nasr is among the earlierst scholars of Arabic grammar and a jurist. He also records the report from Khālid al-Hadhdhā' (d. 141 AH) that Nasr ibn 'Āsim was the first to formulate Arabic.[83]

v. Mu'jam al-udabā' by Yāqūt al-Hamawī (626 AH)

Among other minor details, Yāqūt records that Nasr was a jurist, a scholar of Arabic and acquired the Qur'ān and nahw from Abū al-Aswad; he initially had the same views as the Kharijites but later abandoned them; he died in 89 AH.[84]

vi. Tahdhīb al-kamāl by al-Mizzī (d. 742 AH)

Al-Mizzī cites the opinion of Khalīfah ibn al-Khayyāt that Nasr belonged to the second tabqah of the reciters of Basrah and that as per an opinion he was the first to institute nahw.[85]

vii. Al-Wāfī bi al-wafayātby al-Safadī (764 AH)

Al-Safadī records almost the same information as Yāqūt above and adds that in the opinion of Abū Dā'ūd al-Sijistānī he was the first to formulate nahw.[86]

viii. Tahdhīb al-tahdhībby Ibn Hajar (d. 852 AH)

Ibn Hajar cites the opinion of Khalīfah ibn al-Khayyāt that Nasr belonged to the second tabqah of the reciters of Basrah.[87]

ix. Bughyah al-wu'ātbyal-Suyūtī (d. 911 AH)

Al-Suyūtī merely records the opinion of Yāqūt al-Hamawī cited above.[88]

As mentioned earlier, the above referred to books[89] not only do not accord any primacy of nuqat to him, they do not even mention that Nasr had any role in this matter. This is indeed quite strange that these biographical works on his personality have nothing to record about him about this alleged endeavour.

2. The first explicit ascription of Yahyā ibn Ya'mar to the insertion of diacritical dots to distinguish similar letters is also suspect. The first person to mention his name is Ibn Atiyah (d. 543 AH):

وأما شكل المصحف ونقطه فروي أن عبد الملك بن مروان أمر به وعمله فتجرد لذلك الحجاج بواسط وجد فيه وزاد تحزيبه وأمر وهو والي العراق الحسن ويحيى بن يعمر بذلك

As far as the shakl and nuqat of the masāhif are concerned, it is reported that 'Abd al-Malik ordered for it and had it done. He specifically deputed al-Hajjāj for this task in [the city of] Wāsit. Al-Hajjāj expended his effort in this task and also added divisions to the mushaf. It was while he was the governor of Iraq that he ordered al-Hasan al-Basrī and Yahyā ibn Ya'mar to do this.[90]

In other words, it is almost five centuries after the death of Yahyā that someone has explicitly taken his name and ascribed this endeavour to him. Moreover this report in itself suffers from the flaw that it contradicts other reports which say that nuqat and shakl were carried out by different personalities. It is linguistically not possible to ascribe the same meaning to both these words and to interpret both to mean diacritical dots.

As far as the report that Yahyā was the first to put nuqat on the mushaf is concerned, its earliest ascription is to Hārūn ibn Mūsā (d. before 200 AH).[91] However, none of Yahyā ibn Ya'mar's students report this endeavour from him. His students recorded by al-Mizzī are:[92] al-Azraq ibn Qays (d. after 120 AH), Ishāq ibn Suwayd (d. 131 AH), Abū Sa'īd Thābit (d. ?), Habīb ibn 'Atā' (d. ?), al-Rukayn ibn Rabī' (d. 131 AH), Sulaymān ibn Buraydah (d. 105 AH), Sulaymān al-Taymī (d. 143 AH), 'Abdullāh ibn Buraydah (d. 115 AH), 'Abdullāh ibn Qutbah (d. ?), 'Abdullāh ibn Kulayb (d. ?), Abū al-Munīb 'Ubaydullāh ibn 'Abdullāh (?), 'Atā al-Khurasānī (d. 135 AH), 'Ikramah mawlā Ibn 'Abbās (d. 107 AH), 'Umar ibn 'Atā' ibn Abī al-Khawwār (d. ?), Qatādah ibn Di'āmah (d 117 AH) and Yahyā ibn Abī Ishāq al-Hadramī (d. 136 AH).

[1]. Abū Sa'īd al-Sayrāfī, Akhbār al-nahwiyyīn al-basriyyīn, 12. For others who have cited Abū 'Ubaydah without any chain of narration, see: Ibn Nadīm, Al-Fihrist, 63; Ibn 'Asākir, Tarīkh Madīnah Dimashq, vol. 25, 189; Al-Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-islām, vol. 5, 278-279.

[2]. Abū Muhammad 'Abdullāhibn 'Adī, Al-Kāmil fī al-du'afā', 3rd ed. vol. 5 (Beirut: Dār al-fikr, 1998), 213.

[3]. He should not be confused with the historian Abū NasrMuhammad ibn 'Abd al-Jabbār al-'Utbī (d. 427 AH).

[4]. Ibn Qutaybah, Al-Ma'ārif, 299; Al-Safadī, Al-Wāfī bi al-wafayāt, vol. 4, 6; Ibn Khallikān, Wafayāt al-a'yān, vol. 4, 398.

[5]. Al-Dhahabī, Siyar a'lām al-nubalā', 11, 96.

[6]. Al-Dānī, Al-Muhkam, 13.

[7]. Those who record al-Mahallab's account include: Ibn al-Anbārī, Īdāh, 35-36; Abū al-Tayyib, Marātib al-nahwiyyīn, 8; Abū Hilāl al- al-'Askarī, Al-Awā'il, 371; Abū Ahmad al-'Askarī, Sharh mā yaqa'u fīhī al-tashīf wa al-tahrīf, 14.

[8]. Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 14, 130.

[9]. Abū 'Abdullāh Muhammad al-Zuhrī Ibn Sa'd, Al-Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 7 (Beirut: Dār sādir, n.d.), 327.

[10]. Ibid., vol. 7, 290.

[11]. Abū 'Abdullāh Shams al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn 'Uthmān ibn Qāyamaz ibn 'Abdullāhal-Dhahabī, Mīzān al-i'tidāl fī naqd al-rijāl, 1st ed., vol. 6 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-'ilmiyyah, 1995), 196.

[12]. Ahmad ibn 'Alī ibn Thābital-Khatīb al-Baghdādī, Tārīkh Baghdād, vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-'ilmiyyah, n.d), 371. See also: Al-Dhahabī, Mīzān al-i'tidāl, vol. 6, 196.

[13]. Ibn Abī Hātim, Al-Jarh wa al-ta'dīl, vol. 8, 14.

[14]. For a critique on its chain of narration, see point 9 ahead.

[15]. Ibn Sa'd, Al-Tabaqāt al-kubrā,vol. 7. 99.

[16]. Al-Jumahī, Tabaqāt fuhūl al-shu'arā', vol. 1, 12.

[17]. Al-'Ijli, Ma'rifah al-Thiqāt, vol. 1, 484.

[18]. Ibn Qutaybah, Al-Ma'ārif, 247.

[19]. Ibn Abī Hātim,Al-Jarh wa al-ta'dīl, vol. 4, 503.

[20]. Abū al-Tayyib 'Abd al-Wāhid, Marātib al-nahwiyyīn, 6-12.

[21]. Abū al-Faraj al-Abahānī, Kitāb al-āghānī, vol. 12, 347.

[22]. Al-Sayrāfī, Akhbār al-nahwiyyīn al-Basriyyīn,10-12.

[23]. Al-Zubaydī, Tabaqāt al-nahwiyyīn, 21.

[24]. Ibn Nadīm, Al-Fihrist, 63.

[25]. Al-Dānī, Al-Muhkam,12-13.

[26]. Ibn'Asākir, Tārīkh Madīnah Dimashq, 25, 189-193.

[27]. Ibn al-Anbārī, Nuzhat al-alibbā', 20.

[28]. Al-Qiftī, Inbā' al-ruwāt, 40.

[29]. Ibn al-Jawzī, Al-Muntazam, vol. 6, 97.

[30]. Yaqūt al-Hamawī, Mu'jam al-udabā', vol. 3, 436.

[31]. Al-Safadī, Al-Wāfī bi al-wafayāt, vol. 16, 305.

[32]. Al-Dhahabī, Siyar a'lām al-nubalā', vol. 4, 83; al-Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-islām,vol. 5, 278-279.

[33]. Ibn Hibbān, Al-Thiqāt, vol. 4, 400.

[34]. Al-Bājī, Al-Ta'dīl wa al-tajrīh, vol. 2, 609.

[35]. Ibn Athīr, Usud al-ghābah, vol. 3, 101.

[36]. IbnKathīr, Al-Bidāyah wa al-nihāyah, vol. 8, 312.

[37]. IbnKhaldūn, Tārīkh, vol. 2, 383.

[38]. Ibn Abī Dā'ūd, Kitāb al-masāhif, 158-165.

[39]. Others who have authored books by the same name are Ibn al-Anbārī (d. 328 AH) and Ibn Ashtah (d. 360 AH); however, both these books are not extant.

[40]. Ibn Abī Dā'ūd, Kitāb al-masāhif, 158.

[41]. Ibid., 158-161.

[42]. Ibid., 161.

[43]. Ibid., 162-165.

[44]. The reports of Abū 'Ubaydah and al-Madā'inī also mention Ziyād directing Abū al-Aswad to undertake this task.

[45]. Yūsuf ibn 'Abdullāh ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Barr, Al-Istī'āb fī ma'rifah al-ashāb, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-jīl, 1412 AH), 523. It is worth noting here that authorities mention that Ziyād himself remained a scribe of al-Mughīrah ibn Shu'bah, 'Abdullāh ibn Kurayz, 'Abdullāh ibn 'Abbās and Abū Mūsa Ash'arī. See for example: Abū al-Faraj al-Asbahānī, Al-'Iqd al-farīd, vol. 4, 154.

[46]. Ibn Sa'd,Al-Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 7, 99.

[47]. Ibn Qutaybah, Al-Ma'ārif, 195-196.

[48]. Abū Hanīfah Ahmad ibn Dā'ūd al-Dīnwarī, Al-Akhbār al-tiwāl, 1st ed. (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-'ilmiyyah, 2001), 323-325; Ibid., 331-332.

[49]. Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, Al-Istī'āb, vol. 2, 523-530.

[50]. Ibn 'Asākir, Tārīkh Madīnah Dimashq, vol. 19, 162-209.

[51]. Ibn al-Jawzī, Al-Muntazam, vol. 5, 261-264.

[52]. Abū al-Hasan 'Izz al-Dīn ibn al-Athīr al-Jazarī, Al-Kāmil fī al-tārīkh, 2nd ed., vol. 3 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-'ilmiyyah, 1415 AH), 304-308. In these pages, Ibn al-Athīr actually describes the events of his rule in Basrah.

[53].Al-Dhahabī, Siyar a'lām al-nubalā', vol. 3, 494-495.

[54].Muhammad ibn Shākir ibn Ahmad al-Kutbī, Fawāt al-wafayāt, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-'ilmiyyah, 2000), 418-420.

[55]. Al-Safadī, Al-Wāfī bi al-wafayāt, vol. 15, 6-8. However, in the biographical note on Abū al-Aswad, al-Safadī does mention this incident. See: vol. 16, 307.

[56]. IbnKathīr, Al-Bidāyah al-nihāyah, vol. 8, 283-284.

[57].Ibn Hajar, Al-Isābah, vol. 2, 639-640.

[58].Ibn Hajar, Lisān al-mīzān, vol. 2, 493.

[59].Shaykh Fakhr al-Dīn al-Tarīhī, Majma' al-bahrayn, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (n.p.: Maktabah al-nashr al-thaqāfah al-islāmiyyah, 1367-1408 AH), 307.

[60]. Sayyid Muhsin al-Amīn, A'yān al-shī'ah, vol 7 (Beirut: Dār al-ta'ārruf li al-matbū'āt, 1983), 77.

[61]. Khayr al-Dīn al-Zarkalī, Al-A'lām, 10th ed., vol. 3 (Beirut: Dār al 'ilm li al-malāyīn, 1992), 53.

[62]. See, for example: Ibn al-Anbārī, Īdāh, 35; Abū al-Barkāt ibn al-Anbārī, Nuzhah al-alibbā', 19-20; Ibn 'Asakir, Tārīkh Madīnah Dimashq, vol. 25, 191-192; Al-Qurtubī, Jāmi' al-ahkām, vol. 1, 24; Jalāl al-Dīn 'Abd al-Rahmān ibn Kamāl al-Dīn Abī Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Sābiq al-Dīnal-Suyūtī, Sabab wad' 'ilm al-'arabiyyah, 1st ed. (Beirut: Dār al-hijrah li tabā'ah wa al-nashr wa al-tawdī', 1988), 27-31.

[63]. See, for example: Ibn Khallikān, Wafayāt al-a'yan, vol. 4, 341-343; al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī, Tārīkh Baghdād, vol, 3, 180-186.

[64]. See, for example: Ibn Hajar, Tahdhīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 9, 449.

[65]. See, for example: Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, vol. 13, 164-165.

[66]. See, for example: Ibn Hajar, Tahdhīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 3, 218.

[67]. See, for example, al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī, Tārīkh Baghdād, vol, 11, 152-155.

[68]. See, for example, al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī, Tārīkh Baghdād, vol, 10, 400-406.

[69]. See, for example: Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, vol. 5, 88-90.

[70]. Ibn Hajar, Tabaqāt al-mudallisīn, 41. Ibn Hajar also records that according to al-Dāraqutanī, Ibn Jurayj's tadlīs is the worst of tadlīs because he only does so from impugned narrators (la yudallisu illa fīmā sami'ahū min majrūh)

[71]. Ibn Hibbān, Al-Thiqāt, vol. 9, 151-152.

[72]. Al-Suyūtī, Tabaqāt al-huffāz, vol. 1, 272.

[73]. Hamzah ibn al-Hasan al-Asbahānī, Kitāb al-tanbīh 'alā hudūth al-tashīf, 27-28.

[74]. Abū Ahmad al-'Askarī, Sharh mā yaqa'u fīhī al-tashīf wa al-tahrīf, 13.

[75]. Abū Ahmad al-'Askarī, Sharh mā yaqa'u fīhī al-tashīf wa al-tahrīf, 13.

[76]. Hamzah ibn al-Hasan al-Asbahānī, Kitāb al-tanbīh 'alā hudūth al-tashīf, 27-28.

[77]. Abū Ahmad al-'Askarī, Sharh mā yaqa'u fīhī al-tashīf wa al-tahrīf, 13.

[78]. Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 29, 347-348.

[79]. Al-Dānī, Al-Muhkam, 13.

[80]. Abū Sa'īd al-Sayrāfī, Akhbār al-nahwiyyīn al-basriyyīn, 15-16.

[81]. Al-Zubaydī, Tabaqāt al-nahwiyyīn wa lughwiyyīn, 27.

[82]. Abū al-Barkāt ibn al-Anbārī, Nuzhah al-alibbā', 23-24.

[83]. Al-Qiftī, Inbā' al-ruwāt, vol. 3, 343-344.

[84]. Yāqūt al-Hamawī, Mu'jam al-udabā', vol. 5. 553.

[85]. Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 29, 347-349. He records that as per an unspecified opinion, Nasr was the first one to speak about Arabic grammar.

[86]. Al-Safadī, Al-Wāfī bi al-wafayāt, vol. 27, 44. It may be interesting to note here that al-Safadī in his biographical note on al-Hajjāj ibn Yūsuf refers to Abū Ahmad al-'Askari's text as per which according to one opinion Nasr was called upon by al-Hajjāj to put nuqat on the masāhif. See: al-Safadī, Al-Wāfī bi al-wafayāt, vol. 11, 239. But there is no mention of this in his note on Nasr himself.

[87]. Ibn Hajar, Tahdhīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 10, 381.

[88]. Al-Suyūtī, Bughyah al-wu'āt, vol. 2, 313-314.

[89]. It may be of interest to note that while the Tārīkh al-islām al-Dhahabī (d. 748 AH) is totally devoid of any mention of nuqat with reference to Nasr, his Ma'rifah al-qurrā'a al-kibār mentions in an uncertain manner (yuqāl) that he was the first to insert nuqat on the masāhif while in his al-Kāshif he does state that he inserted nuqat on the masāhif. See: al-Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-islām, vol. 6, 210-212; al-Dhahabī, Ma'rifah al-qurrā'a al-kibār, vol. 1, 170; al-Dhahabī, al-Kāshif, vol. 2, 318.

[90]. Ibn Atiyah, (ed.) Arthur Jeffery, Muqaddimah tafsīr, 276.

[91]. Abū al-Khayr Shams al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Muhammd ibn Muhammd ibn 'Alī ibn al-Jazarī, Ghāyah al-nihāyah, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-'ilmiyyah, 2006), 303. Al-Dānī records another narrative as well in which Muhammad ibn Bishr while reporting from Yahyā ibn Ya'mar says that the latter was the first to put nuqaton the masāhif; however, no authority regards Muhammad ibn Bishr to be a student of Yahyā and hence, in all probability, this narrative too is broken. For the text of the narrative, see: Al-Dānī, Al-Muhkam, 12. It may be noted that al-Mizzī and

[92]. Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 32, 54.

____________




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