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Al-Harith b. 'Abd Allah al-Hamdani

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Companion of Imam (a)
Al-Harith b. 'Abd Allah al-Hamdani
Companion of Imam Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a)
Teknonym Abu al-Zuhayr
Well Known As Al-Harith al-A'war
Lineage Hamdan
Place(s) of Residence Yeman, Medina, Kufa
Burial Place Kufa
Works Sahifat al-Harith, Kitab al-masa'il allati akhbar bi-ha Amir al-Mu'minin al-Yahudi

Al-Ḥārith b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Hamdānī (Arabic: الحارث‌ بن عبدالله الهَمْداني) or al-Ḥārith al-Aʿwar (Arabic: الحارث الأعور) was one of the Tabi'un from Kufa and a companion of Imam Ali (a) and one of the first people who pledged their allegiance to him in Medina. Al-Harith al-A'war transcribed Imam Ali's (a) hadiths and sermons, and according to Shushtari, he was the first person who collected Imam Ali's (a) sermons.

There are many hadiths narrated by Harith in Shiite and Sunni sources. He narrated hadiths from Imam Ali (a), 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud and Zayd b. Thabit, and many people narrated hadiths from him. Al-Dhahabi mentioned Harith as 'Allama (a person who has extensive knowledge), faqih, imam (religious leader), and kathir al-'ilm (a person who has a great deal of knowledge).


His name is al-Harith b. 'Abd Allah b. Ka'b. His name is also mentioned as al-Harth. In some sources, his father is said to be 'Ubayd.

Harith is attributed to the Hawth branch of the Hamdan tribe. Some people took him to be Kharafi or Kharifi, but it seems to be distortion of al-Hawthi. The Hamdan tribe was a tribe in Yemen that moved to Kufa after it was founded in 17/638 and resided there. Thus there is no information about al-Harith's life before this period.


Al-Harith's kunya was Abu al-Zuhayr, and since he could only see with one eye, he came to be known as "al-A'war" (one-eyed). In some sources, al-Harith al-A'war is mentioned without mentioning his father. This led to an ambiguity between al-Harith al-A'war referring to al-Harith b. Qays, al-Harith b. 'Abd Allah or al-Harith b. Ghayth, although it probably refers to al-Harith b. 'Abd Allah al-A'war.


There is no precise information about Harith's household and children. Ibn 'Asakir cited al-Waqidi as mentioning someone called 'Abd al-Rahman b. al-Harith b. 'Abd Allah al-Hamdani al-Kufi who attended some conquests in 43/663 together with 'Abd al-Rahman b. Khalid b. al-Walid. Since he was an expert in accounting, he was in charge of the booties. He did not accept the share of the booties given to him. It seems that this person was al-Harith's son. The fact that he was an expert in accounting is evidence for this.

Sa'id b. 'Amr (al-Harith's nephew) narrated hadiths from al-Harith. One of his grandsons, called "al-Harith b. Muhammad b. al-Harith" was a Shiite narrator of hadiths. Baha' al-Din al-'Amili and his father were from the progeny of al-Harith, and this is why they were also called al-Harithi and al-Hamdani.

Scholarly Significance

Al-Dhahabi mentioned al-Harith as al-'allama, faqih, imam, and kathir al-'ilm. Al-Harith is said to be an expert in accounting and the division of heritage among heirs. He was admired for his keen memory. According to al-Ya'qubi, he was a knowledgeable companion of 'Ali (a), and according to Ibn Sirin, he was one of the 5 scholars and faqihs of Kufa. He is also known as a companion of 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud.

In the Hadith Science

Al-Harith narrated hadiths from Imam 'Ali (a), 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud, and Zayd b. Thabit. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi mentioned al-Harith as a companion of Imam al-Hasan (a). There is hadith cited in Tafsir Furat al-Kufi in which al-Harith narrated a hadith from Imam al-Husayn (a).

Abu Ishaq al-Sabi'i al-Hamdani, Dahhak b. Muzahim, 'Amir al-Sha'bi, 'Ata' b. Abi Ribah, and Sa'id b. 'Amr (al-Harith's nephew) narrated hadiths from him. According to Sunni sources, Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a) asked al-Harith al-A'war about their father's hadiths. Ibn Shadhan criticized these reports. Ibn Sa'd mentioned al-Harith in the first generation of Tabi'in in Kufa.

Hadith Narrators

There are many hadiths narrated by al-Harith in Shiite and Sunni sources. These hadiths, which are usually narrations from Imam 'Ali (a), involve issues of beliefs, fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), exegesis of the Qur'an and moral conducts. Mudarris Tabataba'i has provided a list of sources in which al-Harith's hadiths are cited. In addition to Musnad Ahmad b. Hanbal and Sunan al-Darimi, his hadiths are cited in 4 of the 6 main Sunni sources of hadiths.

The most important person who narrates hadiths from al-Harith al-A'war is Abu Ishaq al-Subay'i. According to Ahmad b. Hanbal, Abu Ishaq married al-Harith's widow after his death, and he could thus have access to al-Harith's manuscripts of hadiths. Thus according to Sunni sources, Abu Ishaq only heard 4 hadiths from al-Harith in person, and cited the rest from his writings, as are narrations of Khilas b. 'Amr al-Hajari and 'Abd al-A'la b. 'Amir al-Tha'labi from Imam 'Ali (a) considered to be citations from al-Harith's books. In a number of hadiths, Abu Ishaq al-Subay'i indirectly narrated hadiths from al-Harith, which shows that he heard them from their intermediaries in person, rather than citing al-Harith's book. The chain of narration consisting of Abu Ishaq from al-Harith from Imam 'Ali (a) is so well-known that it was used and faked by some hadith forgers, especially the advocates of 'Uthman b. 'Affan in their debates with Shias.

In addition to al-Subay'i, many other narrators heard Imam 'Ali's (a) hadiths from al-Harith, including Ibrahim b. Yazid al-Nakha'i and Sa'id b. Firuz Abu l-Bakhtari.

In the views of Biographers

According to many Sunni sources of 'ilm al-rijal (biography of hadith narrators), al-Harith was a reliable narrator of hadiths, but some of them cast doubts on his reliability.

The most important ground for doubts about al-Harith's reliability were remarks by 'Amir b. Sharahil al-Sha'bi, one of the Tabi'un contemporary with al-Harith who narrated hadiths from al-Harith but emphasized that al-Harith was a liar. It is said that al-Bukhari and Muslim b. al-Hajjaj did not cite al-Harith's hadiths because of al-Sha'bi's remarks. Some people have justified al-Sha'bi's remarks despite his narration of hadiths from al-Harith by saying that al-Harith was not a liar with respect to the narration of hadiths; rather he had "false beliefs" or lied in his daily life while he was truthful in the narration of hadiths or that he only told lies unintentionally. It is worth noting that al-Sha'bi was an advocate of 'Uthman and an opponent of Imam 'Ali's (a) imamate.

Ibn 'Abd al-Barr stated that no lies have been reported from al-Harith, but he was reproached because of his strong love for Imam 'Ali (a) and preference of the Imam (a) to other caliphs, and this is why al-Sha'bi called him a liar, because al-Sha'bi preferred Abu Bakr b. Abi Quhafa over other caliphs and considered him the first person who converted to Islam and believed in the Prophet (s).

'Abd al-'Aziz b. Muhammad al-Husayni al-Ghumari, a contemporary scholar from Morocco, wrote two books demonstrating the reliability of al-Harith al-A'war and replying to objections in this regard: al-Bahith 'an 'ilal al-ta'n fi l-Harith (Qom 1420/1999) and Bayan nakth al-nakith al-muta'addi bi-tad'if al-Harith (Qom 1420/1999).

Scholarly Activities

Learning of the Qur'an

There are unclear remarks by al-Harith with respect to the learning of the Qur'an, such as the following: "I learned the Qur'an within three years and learned the revelation within two years" or in response to someone who told him that he had learned the Qur'an in two years: "[learning] the Qur'an is easy; [learning] the revelation is more difficult". Since these remarks are unclear, they are discussed and interpreted in books concerning rare and strange hadiths. Some people take the Qur'an in his remarks to refer to the recitation of the Qur'an and the revelation to refer to its transcription, but Shushtari took the revelation to refer to the exegesis of the Qur'an and its asbab al-nuzul (the occasions on which its verses were revealed), and al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin took the revelation to refer to hadiths.

Transcription of Sermons and Hadiths

Al-Harith al-A'war transcribed hadiths and sermons by Imam 'Ali (a). According to Shushtari, he was the first person who collected Imam 'Ali's (a) sermons. On one account, Imam 'Ali (a) encouraged al-Harith to purchase some papers on which he later wrote many hadiths by the Imam (a).

Attributed Works

  • Sahifat al-Harith: some sources, in which al-Harith was characterized as an author of some books, refer to Sahifat al-Harith (al-Harith's book).
  • Kitab al-masa'il allati akhbar biha Amir al-Mu'minin al-Yahudi: it is attributed to al-Harith. According to al-Shaykh al-Tusi, 'Amr b. Maymun cited the contents of this book from Abu Ishaq al-Subay'i from al-Harith from Imam 'Ali (a). This essay is cited by al-Shaykh al-Saduq in his book, al-Khisal, with a different chain of narration. The essay contains the story of the head of Jews asking questions from Imam 'Ali (a) concerning whether he was the Prophet's (s) successor. Imam 'Ali (a) proved that he was the Prophet's (s) successor as well as its conditions and stages.

Political Activities

Relation with Imam 'Ali (a)

Al-Harith was a close companion of Imam 'Ali (a) and one of the first people who pledged their allegiance to him in Medina. Imam 'Ali (a) mentioned him as one of his reliable companions. Ibn Qutayba al-Dinawari mentioned al-Harith at the top of his list of Shias. He is also mentioned as Imam 'Ali's (a) flag holder. It is also said that when Imam 'Ali (a) wanted to gather his army, he asked al-Harith to call them.

Al-Harith had such a special love for Imam 'Ali (a) that Ibn Hibban took him to be a radical Shia. In Shiite sources, a dialogue between al-Harith and Imam 'Ali (a) is mentioned in this regard. According to a hadith, Harith expressed his love for Imam 'Ali (a) and the Imam replied: "a person who loves me will see me at the time of their death the way they love to see me, and a person who hates me will see me at the time of their death the way they hate me". Al-Sayyid Isma'il b. Muhammad al-Himyari composed a poem regarding this. This hadith and poems by al-Sayyid al-Himyari are very well-known among Shias. They are appealed to in order to show that every person will meet Imam 'Ali (a) at the time of their death.

In the Period of 'Uthman

During the caliphate of 'Uthman b. 'Affan (23-35/644-656), al-Harith ran extensive political campaigns. He was a member of the Qurra' group (reciters of the Qur'an), led by Malik al-Ashtar al-Nakha'i, who opposed Sa'id b. al-'As ('Uthman's agent in Kufa). They rioted against Sa'id b. al-'As; they went to Medina and asked 'Uthman to dismiss him. Because of these oppositions, 'Uthman exiled them to Syria. When riots leading to 'Uthman's murder grew tense, Harith was in Medina.


Al-Harith al-A'war died in 65/684 in the period of 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr in Kufa. According to Harith's will, 'Abd Allah b. Yazid al-Khatmi (ibn Zubayr's agent in Kufa) said funeral prayer on his corpse. It might show that Harith advocated Zubayris in opposition to the Umayyads.