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Muhammad b. Abi 'Umayr

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Companion of Imam (a)
Muhammad b. Abi 'Umayr
Full Name Muhammad b. Abi 'Umayr b. Ziyad b. 'Isa al-Azdi
Companion of Imam al-Kazim (a), Imam al-Rida (a), Imam al-Jawad (a)
Kunya Abu Ahmad
Well Known As Ibn Abi 'Umayr
Religious Affiliation Twelver Shia
Place(s) of Residence Baghdad
Death/Martyrdom 217/832
Works al-Nawadir,Al-Maghazi,Al-Kufr wa al-Iman,...

Abū Aḥmad Muḥammad b. Abī ʿUmayr b. Zīyad b. ʿĪsā al-Azdī (Arabic: أبوأحمد محمد بن أبي عمير بن زياد بن عيسی الأزدي ) (d. 217/832-3) known as Ibn Abī Umayr (Arabic: ابن أبي عمير) was a grand Twelver hadith narrator and a member of Ashab al-Ijma' (Consensus companions) in the third century A.H. He lived in the time of three Twelver Imams. He was severely tortured and imprisoned for being a Shi'a Muslim.

His mursal narrations are accepted similar to his musnad narrations by most of rijal scholars.

During the Time of Three Imams

People of Consensus

Comapnions of Imam al-Baqir (a)
Zurara b. A'yan
Ma'ruf b. Kharrabudh
Burayd b. Mu'awiya
Abu Basir
al-Fudayl b. Yasar
Muhammad b. Muslim


Companions of Imam al-Sadiq (a)
Jamil b. Darraj
'Abd Allah b. Muskan
'Abd Allah b. Bukayr
Hammad b. 'Uthman
Hammad b. 'Isa
Aban b. 'Uthman


Companions of Imam al-Kazim (a) and Imam al-Rida (a)
Yunus b. 'Abd al-Rahman
Safwan b. Yahya
Muhammad b. Abi 'Umayr
'Abd Allah b. al-Mughira
al-Hasan b. Mahbub
Ahmad b. Abi Nasr al-Bazanti

He visited Imam Musa b. Ja'far (a) and learned hadiths from him in Baghdad. He was called Abu Ahmad in a number of narrations by Imam. According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid and al-Shaykh al-Tusi: "Ibn Abi Umayr has learnt from Imam al-Kazim (a) but he did not narrate any hadith from him", which is contradictory to al-Najashi's statements, unless it meant the limited number of narrated hadiths from Imam. Direct narrations of Ibn Abi Umayr from Imam al-Kazim (a) on al-Tawhid, Kamal al-Din wa tamam al-ni'ma and Kamil al-ziyarat obviously prove Al-Najashi was right.

Ibn Abi Umayr also has narrated hadiths from Imam al-Rida (a) and Imam al-Jawad (a).

Narrating Hadiths from Imam al-Sadiq (a)

Ibn Abi Umayr is not regarded as a companion of Imam al-Sadiq (a) by any of rijal scholars. He has narrated hadiths from Imam al-Sadiq (a) through one or two narrators. However he is considered as a companion of Imam al-Sadiq (a) by a number of narrators. This mistake happened only because another hadith narrator with similar name was living at that time who died at the time of Imam al-Kazim (a). Therefore, their narrations were mixed with each other in the works of rijal writers who attributed narrated hadiths from Imam al-Sadiq (a) as mursal (hadith with omitted narrators in the chain of narration) to him by mistake. But it seems the narrations from Ibn Abi Umayr were not well-known and they are considered as musnad.

Ibn Abi Umayr held a high status among all kinds of people. According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid: He was the most trustworthy and pious person of the time with an exceptional character. Al-Jahiz, a literary and scholar figure, considered him as the most extremist master of Shi'a.

Solidity for Religion

Because Ibn Abi Umayr was a close companion of Shi'a Imams he was tortured and imprisoned in the time of Harun al-Rashid. According to sources he was imprisoned for 4 to 17 years with different reasons. According to a quotation, he was imprisoned due to refusing to accept a position as judge which he finally accepted by force. According to another quotation he was imprisoned because he refused to reveal the secret place of Shi'a Muslims and the companions Imam al-Kazim (a).

According to al-Shaykh al-Tusi on torturing Ibn Abi Umayr: "Those who opposed him came to Harun and claimed that Ibn Abi Umayr knows the names of all Shi'a Muslims of Iraq. Harun ordered to bring him to his palace and asked for their names. After he rejected to reveal their names, Harun ordered to torture him with 100 lashes on his bare back."

Fadl b. Shadhan quoted from Ibn Abi Umayr: "When I was tortured with 100 lashes, I was about to reveal the names of Shi'a Muslims, however when Muhammad b. Yunus b. 'Abd al-Rahman said to me: remember your position to Almighty God. It gave me strength and patience and then I thanked God for not revealing their names. Fadl b. Shadhan added: "My father told me in the time of Harun, Ibn Abi Umayr was tortured by 120 beats of stick by Sindi b. Shahik the security officer of Baghdad. Then he was imprisoned and he was forced to pay huge amount of money to get his release. In the time of Ma'mun, Shi'a Muslims were treated without difficulties due to the presence of Imam Ali b. Musa (a), however after he sadly passed away, Ibn Abi Umayr was imprisoned and his belongings were plundered.

Knowledgeable and Virtuous

Ibn Abi Umayr was regarded as a knowledgeable and virtuous man among scholars of the time. After studying his works, it can be concluded he was an expert in fiqh, hadith, kalam and maghazi. Al-Tusi narrated from Ali b. al-Husayn al-Faddal: Ibn Abi Umayr held the highest position in fiqh and knowledge; however al-Tusi considered Yunus b. Yahya and Safwan b. Yahya more knowledgeable scholars than him in fiqh. According to the book Man la yahduruhu al-faqih, Sayyid b. Tawus regarded Ibn Abi Umayr as an astrologist, however the narrated source is not reliable; therefore it is not regarded a factual statement.

Masters of Ibn Abi Umayr

Although Ibn Abi Umayr has learned hadiths from several Sunni scholars, he has only narrated hadiths from Twelver Shi'a sources. His name was mentioned in most of narration sources of hadiths, more than 645. Here is a list of a number of his masters:

Narrators of Ibn Abi Umayr

Here is a list of a number of narrators of Ibn Abi Umayr:

Reliability of Ibn Abi Umayr's Mursal

Early Scholars

Twelver Shi'a scholars have reached consensus that Ibn Abi Umayr is a reliable narrator. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi remarked on the third level of companions of Ijma' (consensus): Twelver Shi'a scholars have reached a consensus, if rijal of a source reliable to one the companions of the third level, the hadith would be accepted as sahih. Al-Najashi explained why Twelver scholars have accepted mursal hadiths of Ibn Abi Umayr: After Ibn Abi Umayr's books were perished, he narrated hadiths from his heart, then our companions trusted his mursal narrations.

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi has remarked in the chapter of Ta'adul wa Tarajih of Al-'Udda: If one of the narrators recount his reported by isnad (documentation) and another reported by irsal (recounting), we should consider the narrator of mursal, if he is among those who narrates hadiths only from thiqa (reliable) sources, these two are not preferable. Therefore, Twelver Shi'a scholars do not differentiate between narrations of Ibn Abi Umayr and Safwan b. Yahya with musnad narrations of other narrators. In addition, most of faqihs and rijal scholars believe so, even al-Mamaqani mentioned tawatur of this consensus.

Recent Scholars

According to a number of recent scholars: it is concluded from the Ijma' of 'Abd al-Aziz al-Kashshi that every hadith which is narrated by the twelve members of companions of Ijma' (consensus) is regarded as sahih (authentic), whether it is mursal or musnad, thiqa (reliable), weak or unknown, on condition that rijals of source to narrator are reliable. On the other hand, some scholars believe: there is no difference between mursal hadiths of Ibn Abi Umayr and other reliable sources; also in a number of cases companions of Ijma', including Ibn Abi Umayr, have narrated hadith from weak sources. Quotation of al-Shaykh al-Tusi is regarded as personal ijtihad. Furthermore, the claimed consensus is reached for one shari'a law, which goes back to conclusion of al-Shaykh al-Tusi, also it is proved in fiqh that reaching consensus on al-Khabar al-Wahid reports is not regarded reliable. Therefore, consensus of al-Shaykh al-Tusi cannot be accepted applicable.

Works

Ibn Abi Umayr is among the Twelver scholars who have written numerous works. Ibn Batti mentioned that he has penned 94 works which most of them were perished at his own time. It is said when he was imprisoned his sister buried his works in order to conceal them, however they got destroyed. In another report she has put them in the loft of house where they were destroyed by rain. According to al-Tusi: after the martyrdom of Imam al-Rida (a), Ibn Abi Umayr's books were plundered, then he started writing whatever he remembered in 40 volumes books named al-Nawadir. Here is a list of those books which were perished:

  • Al-Maghazi
  • Al-Kufr wa al-iman
  • Al-Bida'
  • Al-Ihtijaj fi al-imama
  • Al-Malahim
  • Al-Nawadir
  • Yawm wa layla
  • Al-Tawhid

References