Tarikh Qom (book)
|Author||Hasan b. Muhammad al-Qummi|
|Subject||History of Qom|
Tārīkh Qom (Arabic: تاریخ قم) is a book concerning the history of Qom written by Hasan b. Muhammad b. Hasan al-Qummi in the 4th/10th century. It is one of the most reliable sources of the history of Qom. Its original Arabic text is not available today, but a Persian translation of it is available. The author has relied on, and usually cited, several sources. Tarikh Qom is structured in 20 parts and 51 chapters. However, the Persian translation of the book includes only the first five parts of the book. One important aspect of the book is its content regarding the agriculture of Qom. It is also the most elaborated and reliable document about the condition of landowners and farmers in Iran at that time.
The Author and his Biography
The author is referred to differently in different sources. Ibn Tabataba al-'Alawi al-Isfahani referred to him as "Abu 'Ali Hasan b. Muhammad b. Hasan b. Sa'ib b. Malik al-Ash'ari al-Qummi" and al-Afandi al-Isfahani referred to him as Hasan b. Muhammad b. Husayn al-Shani or al-Shaybani. However, in some parts of the book, the author referred to himself as Hasan b. Muhammad b. Hasan al-Qummi or Hasan b. Muhammad.
There is no biographical information about the author. Brockelmann wrote that he died in 406/1015. Tarikh Qom is the only work by the author available to us, but his own preface implies that he had prepared two collections of poems by Ja'far b. Muhammad b. 'Ali al-'Attar for al-Sahib b. 'Abbad and Abu l-Fadl b. 'Amid.
Time and Motivation of Writing
Tarikh Qom or, as it was originally called, Kitab-i Qom (Book of Qom), was written in Arabic in the period of al-Sahib b. 'Abbad (326/937-385/995). Since in parts 11 and 13 of the book, the author reported the events of the year 378/988, the book must have been written around 378/988 or 379/989.
The author himself referred to three motivations for writing the book, the most important one was that there was no book concerning the events of Qom at that time.
The Arabic text of Tarikh Qom was translated by Hasan b. 'Ali b. Hasan b. 'Abd al-Malik al-Qummi in 805/1402 or 806/1403 at the request of Ibrahim b. Mahmud b. Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Safi.
It seems that there is no decisive evidence of the availability of the Arabic text of the book after the 9th/15th century. Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi said that he could not find the original Arabic text of the book and, thus, he consulted its translation.
However, there is evidence that the Arabic text was available until the 14th/20th century. Nuri Sayyid Ahmad al-Husayni al-'Amili, the grandson of al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki and the author of Minhaj al-Safawi (written in 1013/1604) wrote that he had the Arabic text of the book at his disposal. In his commentaries on Naqd al-rijal Muhammad 'Ali Bihbahani consulted the original text of Tarikh Qom. According to Mirza 'Ali Akbar al-Fayd al-Qummi in his biography of poets of Qom, an Arabic text of Tarikh Qom was available in the library of Mirza Sayyid Muhammad Shahshahani in Isfahan in the Qajar period.
Also, Sayyid Muhsin Amin reported that a manuscript of the book was available in the library of Shushtariha Husayniyya in Najaf, but he was not sure whether it was in Arabic or it was the Persian translation. The Arabic text is not available today and it is only the Persian translation which is available to us.
In his book, the author consulted several sources and usually cited them. Authors to whose work is referred to in Tarikh Qom include Abu Bakr al-Sawli, Hamza al-Isfahani, Ibn Faqih al-Hamadani, Abu 'Ubayda Ma'mar b. Muthanna, and Abu 'Abd Allah al-Barqi. Most of all, al-Barqi's Bunyan (also called al-Buldan and al-Buldan wa l-masaha) is cited in this book.
Moreover, he also heard some events of Qom from some reliable figures or scholars, particularly his brother Abu l-Qasim 'Ali b. Muhammad, the ruler of Qom, and 'Alawi seniors. He also transmitted from al-Shaykh al-Saduq's brother, Husayn b. 'Ali b. Babawayh. In some cases, he transmitted from people without mentioning their names. He also cited correspondences and official documents.
In his preface, the author refers to a book concerning the events of Qom in the possession of an Arab man who resided in Qom. He points to reports according to which the book was destroyed when the residence of that man was ruined in 238/852. He transmitted some hadiths from Sa'd b. 'Abd Allah al-Ash'ari (d. c. 300/912) regarding the virtues of Qom. He probably cited those hadiths from Sa'd's Fadl Qom wa l-Kufa.
According to the contents of the 20 parts of Tarikh Qom, it can be said that it is the most comprehensive book written about a city in Iran in comparison to the ones written so far which are available to us.
Parts and Chapters
Tarikh Qom is written in 20 parts and 51 chapters, but its Persian translation contains only the first five parts of it. Of the remaining parts, we only know through the contents mentioned in the author's preface. Given the contents, it seems that the fifth part in the translation has only been partially translated. It seems that a more complete copy of the translation of Tarikh Qom was available until late Safavid period. The copy was seen by al-Afandi al-Isfahani. Also, al-Nuri and Muhammad 'Ali b. Husayn have seen copies of eight parts of the translation in the 14th/20th century. There was another translation of Tarikh Qom available which is cited by Sayyid Ahmad al-Husayni al-'Amili.
In the preface, the author points out that before writing Tarikh Qom, he intended to write a book concerning the events of Arab Ash'aris who moved to Qom and turned it into a province by building a rampart around it. When he was writing Tarikh Qom he decided to write those materials in this book as well, in addition to an account of Al Abu Talib Sadat who moved to Qom.
Thus, the book, Tarikh Qom, contains some related parts and chapters in addition to its main topic.
Part 1: it has eight chapters, including the naming of the city, Qom, number of its roads, gates, squares, mosques, public bathhouses, the first mosque and minbar of the city, number of its canals, rivers, water mills, farms, fire temples around it, villages annexed to Qom, and the virtues of the city.
Part 2: it has five chapters concerning geodesies of Qom, manners and dates of taxes in the city, names of its farms, and warrants of its lands.
Part 3: it has two chapters about the migrants of Abu Talib family moving to Qom. It begins with a history of Imam Ali (a), Lady Fatima (a) and the eleven Imams (a). It then identifies different branches of the Abu Talib family whose lineages go back to the Imams (a). In his Muntaqilat al-talibiyya, Ibn Tabataba al-'Alawi cited this part of Tarikh Qom.
Part 4: it is concerned with the migration of Ash'aris, a well-known Arab family, to Qom and the way they resided in the city after pressures by Hajjaj b. Yusuf and his murder of Muhammad b. Sa'ib al-Ash'ari. This part contains two chapters.
Part 5: it has two chapters. The first is concerned with the conversion of Ash'aris to Islam in the period of the Prophet (s), their honors, and the contribution of some of them in al-Mukhtar's Uprising, and finally, their migration from Kufa. The second chapter is concerned with the conquest of Shushtar by Abu Musa al-Ash'ari.
Other parts: the most important materials in the other 15 parts, given its contents, include judges and rulers of Qom and bureaucratical scribes, appearance of Islam in Qom, its turning into a province, Shiite and Sunni scholars of Qom, its scholars of literature, philosophers, engineers, bookbinders and paper sellers, poets who composed poems regarding the virtues of Qom, Jews and Zoroastrians in Qom, and finally, the wonders of the city.
Features of the Book's Prose
The prose of the Persian translation of the book is simple, fluent, and firm. It is sometimes obvious that it is a translation. It has traces of the prose of the 6th/12th century. For example, it uses synonymous words consecutively.
Also, some original Persian words are used in the book which are still common among farmers.
One significance of the book is that it contains many materials regarding Qom's agriculture which are rarely found in original and old sources, such as the quality of geodesies, points at which geodesy should not be performed, how to determine taxes of everything and things which were tax-free, how the water of river and canals was divided and how drinking water was produced.
Also, Tarikh Qom is the most detailed and reliable document about the condition of landowners and farmers in Iran at that time. Majlisi takes the book to be a reliable source.
Despite all its positive points, the book is not free of errors which are either made by the author himself or by the translator or manuscript writers. For example, Abu l-Hasan Husayn (or 'Ali) b. Husayn b. Husayn b. Ja'far b. Muhammad b. Isma'il b. Ja'far al-Sadiq (a) is taken to be Imam Hasan al-'Askari (a)'s grandson, while he was a grandson of Imam Hasan al-'Askari's (a) uncle.
Another case is keeping Ahwas b. Sa'd b. Malik captive by al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf after Zayd b. 'Ali's Uprising. But, given the dates of al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf's death (95/713 or 97/715) and Zayd's uprising (118/736 or 121/738) in the period of Hisham b. 'Abd al-Malik, Ahwas could not be captured by al-Hajjaj. It is probable that it was Yusuf b. 'Umar al-Thaqafi, a relative of al-Hajjaj, who also killed Zayd.
The present Persian text of Tarikh Qom is first published in 1934 by Jalal al-Din Tihrani from the revised manuscript in 1001/1592.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from تاریخ قم (کتاب) in Farsi WikiShia.