Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Nu'mani
|Kunya||Abu 'Abd Allah|
|Well-Known As||Ibn Abi Zaynab|
|Studied in||Shiraz, Qom, Baghdad, Halab, Tabariyya|
|Professors||Abu l-Qasim Musa b. Muhammad al-Ash'ari al-Qummi, 'Ali b. al-Husayn b. Babaway, Muhammad b. Ya'qub al-Kulayni, Ibn Humam al-Iskafi, Ibn 'Uqda|
|Works||Al-Ghayba, Tafsir al-Nu'mani, al-Radd 'ala l-Isma'iliyya, al-Fara'id|
Abū ʿAbd Allah Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm b. Jaʿfar al-Nuʿmānī, (Arabic: ابوعبدالله محمد بن ابراهیم بن جعفر النُّعماني) (d. 360/971), known as Ibn Abi Zaynab, was a Shi'a theologian, commentator and muhaddith in the fourth/tenth century. He is considered among the most notable students of al-Kulayni. He travelled to Shiraz, Qom, Baghdad, and Aleppo in order to acquire knowledge and hadith. He penned numerous works including al-Ghayba which is regarded as the most famous one.
The birth time of al-Nu'mani is unknown. According to a number of reports, he was born in al-Nu'maniyya in Egypt, Yemen, or Hijaz. However it seems he was born in al-Nu'maniyya in Iraq, on the half way between Baghdad and Wasit.
Travels for learning Hadith
He travelled to Shiraz in 313/925 and learned hadith from Abu l-Qasim Musa b. Muhammad al-Ash'ari al-Qummi and probably he learned hadith from 'Ali b. al-Husayn b. Musa b. Babawayh al-Qummi, father of al-Shaykh al-Saduq, in Qom. Afterwards he travelled to Baghdad,  where he learned hadiths from notable hadith scholars, collectors and narrators such as Ibn Hammam al-Iskafi, Ibn 'Uqda and Muhammad b. Ya'qub al-Kulayni (d. 329/941).
After some time he traveled to Syria in 333/944 and acquired hadith from Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah al-Tabarani and 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Malik b. Sahl al-Tabarani in Tabariyya, Jordan. Then he learned hadith from Muhammad b. 'Uthman b. 'Allan al-Duhni al-Baghdadi.
- Ahmad b. Nasr b. Hawdha al-Bahili
- Abu 'Ali Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ya'qub b. 'Ammar al-Kufi
- Al-Husayn b. Muhammad al-Bawari
- Salama b. Muhammad b. Isma'il al-Arzani
- 'Abd al-'Aziz b. 'Abd Allah b. Yunus al-Musili
- 'Abd al-Wahid b. 'Abd Allah b. Yunus al-Musili
- 'Ali b. Ahmad al-Bandniji
- Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Muhammad Jumhur al-Qummi
- Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far al-Himyari
Al-Na'mani was mostly influenced by Ibn 'Uqda al-Kufi and al-Kulayni. If we consider the number of hadiths quoted from Ibn 'Uqda in his book, al-Ghayba, and also the sentences in praising and admiring al-Nu'mani,  it becomes obvious that he was hugely influenced by him.
Al-Nu'mani was considered among the most respected and trustworthy students of Muhammad b. Ya'qub al-Kulayni. It is not clear whether he learned from al-Kulayni in Ray or in the last years of his life in Baghdad. However, after considering historical sources, it became obvious that al-Nu'mani did not travel to Ray; also it is a certain fact that when Muhammad b. Ya'qub was living in Baghdad, al-Nu'mani was settling there as well. Therefore, we can conclude he learned from al-Kulayni in Baghdad.
Al-Nu'mani copied al-Kafi of al-Kulayni, hence he is known as al-Katib.
In Rijal of Al-Najashi
Al-Najashi was the first one who wrote about al-Nu'mani and his position, even briefly. He praised him in his Rijal book. He considered al-Nu'mani among great Shi'a figures, a reliable and knowledgeable scholar who narrated numerous hadiths.
Narrators from al-Nu'mani
Only few people have narrated hadith from al-Nu'mani: Abu al-Husayn Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Shuja'i al-Katib who has learned and narrated hadith from him in Aleppo; he also wrote his teacher's book, al-Ghayba. Besides Abu Ghalib al-Zurari (d. 368/978) has met al-Nu'mani and narrated hadith from him.
The most important works which are attributed to al-Nu'mani are:
- Main article: al-Ghayba of al-Nu'mani
It is considered the most famous work of him. He penned this book in the early years after the Major Occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a) which was about the longevity of Imam al-Mahdi's Occultation that led to intellectual confusion and weak-willed faith of Shi'a Muslims. He explained the concept of Imama and the reasons behind the Occultation. Al-Ghayba was penned in 342/953 in Aleppo, which includes 26 chapters and 445 hadiths; apparently, it was the first book written about the Occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a).
- Tafsir al-Nu'mani
- Main article: Tafsir al-Nu'mani
This book was written about Quranic sciences by applying a Shi'ite approach. Its content is mostly about Qur'anic sciences, principles of fiqh and several theological subjects. However, it is doubtful this treatise was penned by al-Nu'mani. It was also published under the name of al-Muhkam wa l-mutashabih of al-Sharif al-Murtada.
- Al-Radd 'ala l-Ismailiyya
- Mamaqani. Tanqih al-maqal, vol.2 p.55
- Khwansari, Rawdat al-jannat, vol.7 p.127
- Nu'mani, al-Ghayba, p.14, 16
- Najashi, Rijal, p.271
- Nu'mani, al-Ghayba, p.14-18
- Nu'mani, al-Ghayba, p.18
- Nu'mani, al-Ghayba, p.16-17
- Nu'mani, al-Ghayba, p.39
- Nu'mani, al-Ghayba, p.271
- Majlisi, Bihar, vol.1 p.40
- Majlisi, Bihar, vol.1 p.14
- Najashi, Rijal, p.271
- Zurari, Risala, p.81
- Sadr, Ta'sis al-Shi'a, p.336
- Mamaqani, Hasan, Tanqih al-maqal. Najaf: 1352
- Khwansari, Muhammad Baqir, Rawdat al-jannat. Beirut: 1390
- Najashi, Ahmad b. ‘Ali –al, Rijal. Tehran: 1317
- Nu'mani, Ibn Abi Zaynab, al-Ghayba. Tehran: 1363
- Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir al-, Bihar al-anwar li durar akhbar al-a'imma al-athar. Beirut: 1983
- Zurari, Abu Ghalib al-, Risala Al A'yan. Isfahan: 1399
- Sadr, Hasan al-, Ta'sis al-Shi'a. Baghdad: 1370