Abu `Abdillah Muhammad Ibn Omar Ibn Waqid al al-Aslami
Personal Details
Title Al-Waqidi
Born ca. 130AH / AD 748 in Madina
Died 207AH / AD 822
Era Islamic golden age
Religion Islam
Main interest(s) History of Islam
Notable work(s) Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi ("Book of History and Campaigns")

Abu `Abdullah Muhammad Ibn ‘Omar Ibn Waqid al-Aslami (Arabic أبو عبد الله محمد بن عمر بن واقد ) (c. 130 – 207 AH; c. 748 – 822 AD) was a historian commonly referred to as al-Waqidi (Arabic: الواقدي). His surname is derived from his grandfather's name Waqid and thus he became famous as al-Imam al-Waqidi.[1] Al-Waqidi was an early Muslim historian and biographer of the Islamic prophet Muhammad specializing in his campaigns. Al-Waqidi served as a judge (qadi) for Harun al-Rashid and Al-Ma'mun. Al-Waqidi's works are known through his scribe and student, Ibn Sa'd, who also worked under Al-Mamun and was a proponent of the Muʿtazila doctrine of the created Quran and supported the king Al-Ma'mun's stance on the matter.[2][3]


Al-Waqidi was born in Medina in (c. 130 – 207 AH; c. 748 – 822 AD). Amongst his prominent teachers were Ibn Abi Thahab Ma'mar bin Rashid, Malik ibn Anas and Sufyan al-Thawri.[1] He lived in Madina at the time of Abu Hanifa and Ja'far al-Sadiq and studied in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi as a student of Malik Ibn Anas. Al-Waqidi also had access to the grand children of Muhammad's companions. Many of Muhammad's companions settled in Medina therefore both the Umayyads and then the Abbasids in the early day used the Medina fiqh. Malik ibn Anas was later asked by Al-Mansur the Abbasid ruler to compile this fiqh into a book form which became known as Muwatta Imam Malik. The Abbasids later tried other things like the Mu'tazila. For his livelihood in Medina, al-Waqidi earned a living as a wheat trader, but when a calamity struck at the age of 50 he migrated to Iraq in 180 AH during the reign of Ma'mun ar-Rashid. There Yahya al-Barmaki welcomed him due to his great learning and he was appointed a judge and he held the post until his death on 11 Dhul Hijjah 207 AH. He is buried in the graveyard of Khayzaran.

Al-Waqidi concentrated on history and is acknowledged as a master in history.[1] He wrote some of the earliest history books on the early conquests.[1] His books on the early expeditions and conquests are extremely detailed and predate much of the Sunni and Shia literature of the later Abbasid period. They illustrate the involvement of the early Muslim women and young boys in campaigns in distant lands against the huge Roman armies. He is relied upon regarding the battles of Muhammad and the Companions and history in general by Muslim scholars.[4] Western orientalists who enjoy his writings include Martin Lings.[5]

His main area of specialization was history. His Hadith narrations need to be scrutinized before acceptance whereas he is doubtlessly acknowledged as a master of History.[1] In regards to Hadith, al-Waqidi has been frequently criticized by later Muslim writers, who claim that he is unreliable.[6] Al-Shafi'i is reported to have said that al-Waqidi's books are "lies."[4]

Because Al-Waqidi lived at the time of Abu Hanifa, Malik ibn Anas and Ja'far al-Sadiq in Madina and was taught by Malik ibn Anas and had access to the children and the grand children of many of the companions of Muhammad in Madina, initially he was accepted by the greatest scholars of his time and is still accepted for his history, but on the Hadiths, since he did not retain the chains of narration there is debate.


Al-Waqidi's books predate most of the Sunni and Shia books that were written later Abbasid period. Only the books of Abu Hanifa and Malik predate his books. Al-Waqidi's history books are some of the earliest history books on Islam. They cover a period in history before Shari'a became rigid; a time when the Quran and the example of Muhammad was the only source of law. Before the Sunni and Shia schools of fiqh developed. They cover a period in history that saw the greatest expansion of the Islamic state. Al-Waqidi books are more in line with the other early history books on the Islamic State like Al-Baladhuri and also more inline with the independent Roman history books of the time. They are free of much from the political distortion of the later Abbasid period, which means that they do not sit well with the modern Sunni and Shia views and hence some modern Muslim Imams over look the work of Al-Waqidi. Al-Waqidi's books, along with other early history books like al-Baladhuri, illustrate the important role early Muslim women played in society.

According to his literature, women play a leading role in Muslim Society and it was due to their support during the Battle of Yarmouk and other battles that the Muslims defeated the Romans and the Persia Empires. He covers these battles in great detail. Battle of Yarmouk is regarded as one of the most decisive battles in military history where the Muslims were outnumbered by the Romans but, with the help of the women and the young boys amongst them, finished off the Roman Empire.[7][8]

They show how Early Muslim women, including Hind bint Utbah[9][10][10][11][12][13] and Asma bint Abi Bakr,[14] were instrumental in the Battle of Yarmouk.

al-Waqidi wrote "As for Asma bint Abi Bakr, she tied her horse's reins to the reins of her husband's, az-Zubayr bin Awwam. Whenever he struck (the enemy), she would equal him. Under desperate circumstances and heavily outnumbered, every time the men would flee, the women would sing:[15]

"O you who flee from his loyal lady
"She is beautiful and stands firmly
"Your abandoning them to the Romans
"to let them the forelocks and girls seize
"They will take what they want from us to the full
"And start fighting among themselves."

After seeing the women fight the men would return and said to each other "If we do not fight then we are more entitled to sit in the women's quarter than the women."[16]

One of al-Waqidi's works, Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi ("Book of History and Campaigns"), describes the battles (Arabic "Ghazwat") fought by Muhammad.

Another work ascribed to al-Waqidi is Futuh al-Sham ("Conquests of Syria"). It is extremely detailed and shows the level to which early Muslims went to in order to defeat the huge Roman armies which outnumbered them. It illustrates the extra ordinary involvement of the early Muslim women in the Campaigns against the huge Roman armies. Muslim Scholars believe that the book was written by al-Waqidi but over time as hand written copies were produces, slight variations and additions were introduced. Sulayman al-Kindi, the translator of the book, says "It must be noted that different companies of ancient manuscripts often differ widely. This should be borne in mind when comparing the translation with the Arabic originals, if differences are found. However, if any clear mistakes are found the translator would appreciate being informed thereof."[1] Some modern western authors say that some copies of the book contain characters from the sixth Islamic century and could have been changed later.[17]


Waqidi was facing critics regarding his scholarly reliability from many Islamic scholars, including:

1. al-Shafi’i (d. 204 A.H.) said "All the books of al-Waqidi are lies. In Madinah there were seven men who used to fabricator authorities, one of which was al-Waqidi."[18]

2. Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.) said "He is a liar, makes alternations in the traditions"[19]

3. Al-Nasa’i (d. 303 A.H.) said "The liars known for fabricating the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah are four. They are: Arba’ah b. Abi Yahya in Madinah, al-Waqidi in Baghdad, Muqatil b. Sulayman in Khurasan and Muhammad bin Sa’id in Syria."[20]

4. al-Bukhari (d. 256 A.H.) said "al-Waqidi has been abandoned in Hadith. He fabricates Hadith"[19]

5. Al-Dhahabi (d. 748 A.H.) said "Consensus has taken place on the weakness of al-Waqidi"[19]

6. Yahya ibn Ma'in (d. 233 A.H.) said "He is weak. He is nothing. Not reliable!"[19]

7. Ishaq Ibn Rahwayh (d. 238 A.H.) said "According to my view, he is one of those who fabricate Hadith"[18]

8. Abu Dawood (d. 275 A.H.) said "I do not write his Hadith and I do not report (Hadith) on his authority. I have no doubt that he used to make up Hadith"[20]

9. Abu Hatim Muhammad ibn Idris al-Razi (d. 277 A.H.) said "He fabricates Hadith. We have abandoned his Hadith"[20]

10. Al-Daraqutni (d. 385 A.H.) said "There is weakness in him (in his reporting)"[19]

11. Ali ibn al-Madini (d. 241 A.H.)said "He fabricates Hadith"[19]

12. Ibn ‘Adi (d. 365 A.H.) said "His traditions are not safe and there is danger from him (in accepting his traditions)"[19]

13. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 852 A.H.)said "He has been abandoned in spite of vastness of his knowledge"[21]

14. Abu Zur’a al-Razi (d. 264 A.H.) said "(Waqidi's writing) Abandoned, Weak"[18]

15. Al-Nawawi (d. 676 A.H.): said "Their (muhaddithin scholars) consensus is that al-Waqidi is weak"[20]

16. Al-Albani (d. 1999 C.E.) said that Al-Waqidi is a liar. [22]

Early Islamic scholars


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi, pgs. x-xi. Trans. Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi.
  2. Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture, ABC-CLIO, p. 278
  3. The Literature of Islam, The Scarecrow Press, p. 107
  4. 1 2 Al-Dhahabi, Siyar A'lam al-Nubala', vol. 9, pg. 462.
  5. Muhammad ibn Umar Waqidi at Let Me Turn the Tables.
  6. "Muhammad", in P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs et al., Encyclopædia of Islam, 2nd Edition. (Leiden: E. J. Brill) 12 Vols. published between 1960 and 2005.
  7. Walton, Mark W (2003), Islam at war, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-98101-0, p. 30
  8. Walton, Mark W (2003), Islam at war, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-98101-0 page 6
  9. Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of "Futuh al-Sham" by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 325
  10. 1 2 al-Baladhuri 892 [19] Battle of Yarmuk Archived October 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine..
  11. Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of "Futuh al-Sham" by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 331 to 334
  12. Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of "Futuh al-Sham" by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 343-344
  13. al-Baladhuri 892 [20] from "The Origins of the Islamic State", being a translation from the Arabic of the "Kitab Futuh al-Buldan" of Ahmad ibn-Jabir al-Baladhuri, trans. by P. K. Hitti and F. C. Murgotten, Studies in History, Economics and Public Law, LXVIII (New York, Columbia University Press,1916 and 1924), I, 207-211
  14. Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of "Futuh al-Sham" by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 352-353
  15. Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of "Futuh al-Sham" by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 331-332
  16. Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of "Futuh al-Sham" by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 353
  17. Walter E. Kaegi, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests, (Cambridge, 2000) 159 n. 34, 172–173.
  18. 1 2 3 Ibn Abi Hatim, vol.4 pt.1 p.21
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Dhahabi,Mizan al-I`tidal fi Naqd al-Rijal, vol. 3 page 110
  20. 1 2 3 4 Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, volume 9 page 366 No.604, [Hyderabad, 1326 Yusuf ‘Abbas Hashmi, Zaynab bint Jahash, ‘Islamic Culture’ vol.XLI, No.1, Hyderabad (India), 1967]
  21. Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, volume 2 page 194, [Cairo, 1960]
  22. al-Albani, Silsalat al-Hadith ad-Da'ifa, number 6013

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