Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari
Jābir b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Ansārī (Arabic: جابر بن عبدالله الأنصاري) was a companion of Prophet Muhammad (s), he took an oath of allegiance to Prophet Muhammad (s) in the second Pledge at al-'Aqaba. Jabir had a friendly relationship with Prophet Muhammad (s). He attended a large number of battles (ghazwa and sariyya) in his life.
|Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari|
Al-Baqi' cemetery where Jabir is buried
|Full Name||Jābir b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Ansāri|
|Teknonym||Abu 'Abd Allah|
|Place(s) of Residence||Medina, and about one year in Mecca|
|Presence at Ghazwas||Participation in 19 ghazwa of prophet (s) out of 27|
|Other Activities||Transmitter of Hadith al-Ghadir, Hadith al-Thaqalayn, etc.; Companion of Imam Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a), Imam al-Husayn (a), and Imam al-Sajjad (a); the first pilgrim of Imam al-Husayn (a)|
|Works||Musnad Jabir, Sahifat Jabir|
Jabir has narrated a great deal of hadith. He narrated hadith of Lawh, which contains the names of twelve Shi'a Imams narrated from Prophet Muhammad (s), and also other famous hadiths including hadith of Ghadir Khumm, hadith of Thaqalayn and hadith of the City of Knowledge.
Jabir was a true devotee of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and supporter of Imam 'Ali (a). He was considered a prominent companion of Ahl al-Bayt (a), from Imam 'Ali (a) to Imam al-Baqir (a). After the Event of Karbala, Jabir was the first one who visited the burial site of Imam al-Husayn (a) in the Day of Arba'in. Jabir has also given the salam (greeting) of Prophet Muhammad (s) to Imam al-Baqir (a).
Jabir b. 'Abd Allah was the son of 'Amr, son of Haram b. Ka'b b. Ghanm b. Salama; he was from the tribe of Khazraj.
The first evidence on Jabir is related to his attendance in the second Pledge of al-'Aqaba with his father in 1 BH/622. He was the youngest person who witnessed Banu Aws and Banu Khazraj's oath of allegiance to Prophet Muhammad (s). Considering the time of his death and his lifetime, he could have been around 16 on the time.
His father was among the twelve naqibs of the Prophet (s) who were chosen as a representative to their own tribes. 'Abd Allah took part in the Battle of Badr and was martyred in the Battle of Uhud.
In the third year after Hijra and prior to the Battle of Dhat al-Riqa', Jabir married to a widow called Suhayma, the daughter of Mas'ud b. Aws. He wanted a wife who could take care of his nine sisters, after his father's martyrdom in the Battle of Uhud. At the time, Jabir was dealing with financial problems and he had to pay off his father's debts. On the way back from the Battle of Dhat al-Riqa' in 4/626, Prophet Muhammad (s) solved his financial problems and sought for his forgiveness.
Some historical accounts mentioned a number of Jabir's descendants who were settling in Africa (around Tunisia) and Bukhara. Also several descendants of Jabir settled in Iran, the most important of which is Shaykh Murtada Ansari who is a prominent contemporary Shi'a scholar in fiqh and usul.
Due to the number of his children, different kunyas were attributed to Jabir; "Abu 'Abd Allah" is considered the most famous kunya of Jabir.
Participation in the Battles
In his young ages, Jabir attended in a large number of the battles (ghazwa and sariyya). The number of the battles he has participated is different in historical reports. As he said, he attended 19 out of 27 ghazwas alongside Prophet Muhammad (s), and also attended several sariyyas.
Jabir did not participate in the battles of Uhud and Badr in order to obey his father's order and manage his crowded family's affairs. Although in a number of historical accounts, he was named as a person who carried water in the Battle of Badr.
The Battle of Hamra' al-Asad, in the 4/625, was the first battle that Jabir has participated in. It took place after the Battle of Uhud. As Prophet Muhammad (s) said, only the soldiers attended the Battle of Uhud were allowed to participate in this battle. However Jabir was the only exception, after Prophet Muhammad (s) accepted his excuse.
Relationship with Prophet Muhammad (s)
According to some of the historical accounts, Jabir had a friendly relationship with Prophet Muhammad (s). When Jabir became ill, Prophet went to visit him. It is said Jabir thought he's going to die then he wanted to divide his bequest to his sisters, so he asked Prophet Muhammad (s) about its rules. However the Prophet promised him a long life. Answering to the question of Jabir on dividing the bequest a verse was sent down to the Prophet (s) which is known as the al-Kalala verse (Qur'an 4:176).
In the Time of the Three Caliphs
There is no information on Jabir b. 'Abd Allah attitude toward the first caliph, Abu Bakr. It's probable that he was among Ansar (Helpers) and Muhajirun (Emigrants) in Medina. After some time he joined the supporters of Imam 'Ali (a) and Ahl al-Bayt (a).
He was engaged with scientific and educational affairs in that time; he mostly avoided political and military affairs. The only battle he participated was at the beginning of military conquests of Muslims during the reign of the second Caliph, 'Umar b. al-Khattab.
In a historical account, Jabir has explained his participation in Khalid b. Walid's army, when they surrounded Damascus. However, it is not clear whether Jabir was engaged in conquering Iraq or he joined them in other regions.
Jabir was an 'Arif in the time of 'Umar b. al-Khattab. 'Arif, the chief member of each tribe or clan, were chosen by caliph as the mutual connector between the caliph and the tribe.
There is very few information about Jabir's activities in the time of the third Caliph. We only know, on the last days of Uthman's caliphate, when the Egyptian protesters head toward Medina, Jabir and fifty other members of Ansar were ordered by the Caliph to negotiate with the protestors and persuade them to return to Egypt.
Imam 'Ali's (a) Caliphate
Jabir has fought alongside with Imam 'Ali (a) in the Battle of Siffin. In the last days of Imam 'Ali's (a) caliphate, Mu'awiya army attacked and plundered cities, including Medina, to take the oath of allegiance from people. Busr b. Artat was the one who attacked Medina in 40/660 to take an oath of allegiance from people including Banu Salama, the tribe of Jabir. Jabir thought taking oath of allegiance to Busr b. Artat would be going astray. So he hid in Umm Salama's house, Prophet Muhammad's wife. Finally, in order to avoid bloodshed, Jabir took Umm Salama's advice and took an oath of allegiance to Busr.
Jabir was well aware of Qur'an and sunna, so he was annoyed by the wrongdoings and bid'as (innovations) of Umayyads. It was so unbearable to him that he wished to become deaf in order to not hearing the news of bid'as.
Al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf was the governor of Hijaz from 72/691-2 to 75/694-5. He went to Medina in 74/693 and stayed there for two months, where he treated people with contempt. He also tortured several Companions of Prophet Muhammad (s) including Jabir b. 'Abd Allah. The only reaction of Jabir was changing his behavior toward him. He also said al-Hajjaj must not attend his funeral prayer.
Jabir traveled to Egypt in 50/670-1 where a number of Egyptians have narrated hadith from him. Maslama b. Mukhallad al-Ansari, a tribal member of Jabir, was the governor of Egypt in that time. As Ibn Manda said in his accounts, Jabir traveled to Syria and Egypt along with Maslama.
According to hadith sources, Jabir traveled to Syria in order to acquire a hadith on qisas (retaliation) from 'Abd Allah b. Unays; the exact time is unknown. He traveled to Syria in the time of Mu'awiya, but Mu'awiya ignored him. Jabir was upset, so he refused a 600 Dinar gift from Mu'awiya and returned to Medina. Considering the behavior of Mu'awiya toward Jabir, Umayyad caliphs constantly treated the people of Medina with contempt which was originated from the murder of the third Caliph, 'Uthman.
Jabir has narrated a great deal of hadith from Prophet Muhammad (s), hence he is considered the guardian of sunna and a mukthir (a person who has narrated abundant number of hadith). His narrations are considered as one of the highest referred ones among Islamic sects in narration, sira and history. Jabir was also knowledgeable in fiqh and he has being issued fatwa. Therefore, al-Dhahabi identified him as mujtahid and faqih (jurist).
In addition to narrating hadith directly from Prophet Muhammad (s), Jabir also has narrated hadith from Companions and Followers. He has narrated hadith from 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a), Ammar b. Yasir, Talha b. 'Ubayd Allah, Mu'adh b. Jabal, and Abu Sa'id al-Khudri.
Jabir was so immersed in learning theology that he traveled to Syria in order to acquire hadith from one of Companions. This enthusiasm led Jabir to live the last years of his life in Mecca. He fairly analyzed hadiths and avoided any biased comment or attitude in narrating hadith. For example, he stated how narrators of Khazraj have distorted a hadith from Prophet Muhammad (s) on admiring the judgment of Sa'd b. Mu'adh on Banu Qurayza; Sa'd b. Mu'adh was the chief member of Aws.
Jabir has narrated well-known hadiths of Shi'a, including hadith al-Ghadir, hadith al-Thaqalayn, hadith of the City of Knowledge, Hadith al-Manzila, hadith of Radd al-Shams and hadith of Sadd al-Abwab.
Jabir has also narrated hadith al-Lawh, a famous and important hadith in which Prophet Muhammad (s) has declared the names of twelve Imams and described Imam al-Mahdi (a). It is regarded as the most well-known hadith that Jabir has narrated from Prophet Muhammad (s).
Jabir b. 'Abd Allah had a teaching circle in the al-Masjid al-Nabawi. He also dictated hadiths and taught a number of Tabi'un. Sa'id b. al-Musayyib, Hasan b. Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya, 'Ata' b. Abi Rabah, Mujahid b. Jabr, 'Amr b. Dinar, 'Amir b. Sharahil al-Sha'bi and Hasan al-Basri have narrated hadiths from Jabir b. 'Abd Allah.
Jurist of Medina
Al-Dhahabi identified him as the jurist of Medina. Musa b. 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Amir has obtained a complete report of Jabir's opinion in fiqh from different narration sources. It was published under the name of Jabir b. 'Abd Allah wa fiqhihi.
Tafsir of Quran
In Shi'a Sources
He is regarded as a companion of Ahl al-Bayt (a), including Imam 'Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a), Imam al-Husayn (a), Imam al-Sajjad (a), and Imam al-Baqir (a). But it should be noticed that when Jabir has passed away in the time of 'Ali b. Husayn's (a) imamate, Muhammad b. 'Ali (a) was only a child or a teenager. Thus Jabir cannot be considered as a companion of Imam al-Baqir (a).
Although Jabir was not a supporter of Imam 'Ali (a) in the Event of al-Saqifa, after some time he joined Imam 'Ali (a) and remained a true supporter of him. Al-Kashshi considered him one of the members of Shurtat al-Khamis who were a group of devoted fighters dedicated their lives to Imam 'Ali (a).
According to the sources of Sunni Muslims, Jabir has narrated 1540 hadith, Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim both accord with 58 hadiths. Ahmad b. Hanbal has collected hadiths which were narrated by Jabir in his Musnad. According to 'Abd Allah b. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal, the hand written musnad (collection of hadith) of Jabir b. 'Abd Allah is preserved in al-Khazanat al-Rabat in Morocco, which is probably hadiths narrated by Jabir in Musnad Ahmad b. Hanbal.
Husayn Wathiqi also has collected the narrations of Jabir from Shi'a sources and published them in the book Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari, hayatuhu wa musnaduh (his life and musnad).
Sahifat Jabir is the most important work of Jabir, which is an example among the oldest works on hadith which was collected by Sulayman b. Qays al-Yashkuri. Because Sulayman died untimely, other narrators have quoted hadith from the book without qira'a and sama' (narrated from the text not directly hearing from Sulayman). Shahid Ali Pasha collection contains an edition of the sahifa which is situated in the Sulaymaniyya Library of Istanbul.
Relation with Ahl al-Bayt (a)
Advice for Loving 'Ali (a)
Jabir b. 'Abd Allah considered Imam 'Ali (a) as the criterion for judgment at the time of the Prophet (s), and hypocrites are got known by their hate towards 'Ali (a). He advised Ansar to grow their children with the love of 'Ali (a). He said that whoever not recognize 'Ali (a) as the best mankind, he has done ingratitude towards God. Jabir's famous quotation on Imam 'Ali (a) is: "'Ali (a) is the best mankind", inspired Ja'far b. Ahmad al-Qummi, Shi'a author, to narrate one third of his hadith from Jabir in his book Nawadir al-athar fi 'Ali khayr al-bashar.
Battle of Karbala
At the time of the Event of Karbala, Jabir was an old man living in Medina. Giving a speech to 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad's soldiers, Imam al-Husayn (a) introduced him as his witness. Jabir was the first one who visited Karbala, in Arba'in.
Supporting Imam al-Sajjad (a)
Meeting with Imam al-Baqir (a)
According to historical accounts, Prophet Muhammad (s) told Jabir:
- "You will have a long life so that you will meet one of my descendants whose name will be my name; he is called Revealer of Knowledge. When you meet him, send my salam (greetings) to him."
Thus Jabir was eagerly looking for him. sometimes he call "O! the revealer of knowledge" in the Masjid al-Nabi. Finally he found Muhammad b. 'Ali (a), who was a teenager and not an Imam yet; he recalled the saying of the Prophet (s), kissed al-Baqir (a) and sent the salam (greetings) of Prophet Muhammad (s) to him.
Jabir has lived the last year of his lifetime near the Ka'ba in Mecca. Some members of Tabi'un including 'Ata' b. Abi Rabah and 'Amr b. Dinar have met him in that time. Jabir became blind during the last years of his life and then he passed away in Medina. Al-Mizzi gave some reports on the time of Jabir's demise; the reports are different from 68/687-8 to 79/698-9. According to a group of historians and hadith narrators, Jabir passed away in 78/697-8 at the age of 94. It's said that Aban b. 'Uthman, the governor of Medina, performed the funeral prayer on his dead body.
- Ibn Qutayba, al-Ma'arif, P.307; Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a'lam al-nubala', Vol.3, P.192
- Al-Baladhuri, Ansab al-ashraf, Vol.1, P.286; Ibn 'Asakir, Tarikh madinat Damishq, Vol.11, P.208,211
- Ibn Sa'd, al-Tabaqat al-kubra, Vol.8, P.248
- Ibn Sa'd, al-Tabaqat al-kubra, Vol.2, Part.1, P.43-4
- Ibn Qutayba, al-Ma'arif, P.307
- Ibn Hazm, Jamharat ansan al-'arab, P.359
- al-Mizzi, Tahdhib al-kamal fi asma' al-rijalVol.4, P.446
- Ibn Hazm, Jamharat ansan al-'arab, P.359
- Ibn Athir, al-Kamil fi al-tarikh, Vol.10, P.545
- Qumi, Tuhfat al-ahbab fi nawadir athar al-ashab, P.40
- Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-Isti'ab fi ma'rifat al-ashab, Vol.1, P.220
- The material for this article is mainly taken from جابر بن عبدالله الأنصاري in Farsi Wikishia.
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