Muhammad b. Jarir b. Rustam al-Tabari

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Muhammad b. Jarir b. Rustam al-Tabari
Personal Information
Full NameMuhammad b. Jarir b. Rustam al-Tabari
Well-Known AsAbu Ja'far
Birth3rd/9th Century
Deathsecond half of the 3rd/9th or early 4th/10th century
Scholarly Information

Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad b. Jarīr b. Rustam al-Āmulī al-Ṭabarī, (Arabic: ابوجَعفَر مُحَمَّد بن جَرير بن رُستَم الآمُلي الطَبَري) is an Imami theologian in the third/ninth century and the author of al-Mustarshid fi l-imama.

There are two other people named Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, one is the author of al-Tarikh al-Tabari and the other the author of Dala'il al-imama, because of this, some mistakes are made about his religion and works in the later sources.


Little is known about the details of his life. Since the only narrator from him, Hasan b. Hamza al-Tabari died in 358/968-9, he must have lived in late third/ninth or early fourth/tenth century.

Different historical evidences indicate that he lived in Tabaristan and being so, he lived in the Zaydi 'Alawis reign in Tabaristan (from 250/864-5 to 316/928-9).

In his Tarikh al-Rey (the History of Rey), Muntajab al-Din al-Razi reports that Ibn Rustam had once traveled to Rey.

His Religion

The content of his book, al-Mustarshid, shows that he was an Imami theologian, However Ibn Hajar calls him a Mu'tazili theologian but provides no evidence for this claim. Name similarity between him and Muhammad b. Jarir b. Yazid al-Tabari, the famous Sunni historian and exegete, caused some mistakes, for example there is a poem about the Sunni al-Tabari composed by Abu Bakr al-Khawarazmi which contains some information about his religion and life, and Ibn Abi l-Hadid has mistakenly thought this poem is about the Shi'a Ibn Jarir al-Tabari.



The sole surviving work of Ibn Rustam, is titled: al-Mustarshid fi l-imama (the guidance seeker in leadership) which has been published in Najaf, undated.

Al-Najashi ascribes the same book with the same title to Ibn Rustam and reports the content of the book third hand. In the al-Fihrist of al-Tusi, too, a book with the same title has been ascribed to him. Ibn Nadim, however, ascribes al-Mustarshid to al-Tabari the Historian, without mentioning Ibn Rustam.

Other works

Beside "al-Mustarshid", Ibn Rustam has some other works to which al-Najashi and al-Shaykh al-Tusi make no reference, but Ibn Shahrashub ascribes a book titled: al-Fadih to him. Also al-Dhahabi ascribes a book titled: al-Ruwat 'an Ahl al-Bayt (a) to Ibn Rustam.

Qadi Nur Allah Shushtari attributes a book, titled: al-Idah fi l-imama to him.

Attribution of Dala'il al-Imama to him

For a longtime Dala'il al-imama was attributed to Muhammad b. Jarir b. Rustam. For the first time, Ibn Shahrashub in his Ma'alim al-'ulama made such attribution; but close analysis of evidences and the chain of narrators in the book shows that this book was written at least one century later. Mentioning the name of Husayn b. 'Ubayd Allah al-Ghaza'iri (d.411/1020-1) followed by the phrase: "Rahimahullah" (indicating that he had already died) in the page 300, and mentioning the year 395/1004-5 in the section of the author's teachers in the page 92, shows that the book has been authored after 411/1020-1. Therefore, most of current scholars believe that this book is written by another person, but there are different views about who the author of Dala'il al-imama is.