A fragment from an unknown work by al-ṬabarĪ on the tradition ‘Expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula (and the lands of Islam)’

May 31, 2024 in News by RBN Staff


Source: Cambridge.org



Islamic tradition records many precedents for expulsion of Jews and other non-Muslims. The authors of the two most important collections of ḥadīths, al-Bukhārī and Muslim, have chapters entitled ‘On exiling the Jews from Arabia’ or ‘On exiling the Jews from the Ḥijāz’. Similar chapters exist in other collections of traditions. These statements testify to Muḥammad’s expulsion of ‘the Jews of Medina—all of them’, or report his will to expel the Jews—or in variants, the Jews and Christians or the Polytheists—from the Arabian Peninsula. Clearly, the traditions are interpreted with the widest possible reference regarding who is to be exiled: no non-Muslim is allowed to remain. But the geographical extent of the area from which non-Muslims are to be exiled is interpreted in narrow fashion: ‘What is meant by ‘the Arabian Peninsula” in this tradition is the Ḥijāz, not the entire Arabian Peninsula.’ This is so despite ample potential for broad interpretation in the language of the texts. In a tradition which supports a projected exile of the Jews of Medina, Muhammad tells the Jews, ‘Know that the land is the Lord’s and his Apostle’s.’ The word arḍ ‘land’ in the ḥadīth is understood to refer specifically to the plots of land the Jews had owned, now considered lo be held by them in tenancy. This could easily have been taken out of context by some interpreters and applied to all lands. A tradition used to support the prohibition of dhimmī residence in Ḥijāz reads, in some versions, ‘two religions (sometimes using the term qiblas—directions faced in prayer) may not exist in one land,’ in others, ‘two qiblas may not exist in Arabia’. In practice, this tradition was applied only to Ḥijāz and was not extended to all of Arabia or any other ‘land’. Chapter headings are often our only indication of how traditions were understood by those who collected them; Mālik’s chapter heading has this tradition refer only to the expulsion of Jews from Medina.


Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies 1990



The chapter title for Muslim is that provided by al-Nawawī: [Bāb ijlā al-yahūd min al-Ḥijāz], ed. Cairo, 1349/193019311290Google Scholar, found also in the margin of Irshād al-sarī on al-Bukhārī, by al-Qaṣtallānṣ (Dār iḥyā al-turāth al-‘Arabī, Beirut, n.d., repr. of Cairo, Dār al-Ṭabā’a al-Amīriyya, 1327/1909) 7: 360. Bukhārī, ibid, (centre), 5: 235 (ed. M. Ludolf Krehl, Leiden, 1862–68), Jizya 6, 2: 294–5.Google Scholar


e.g., DāwūdAbūSunan, Bāb al-Im¯ra236Google Scholar: ‘How the expulsion of the Jews from Medina occurred’ and Mālik, al-Muwaṭṭā’, Kitāb al-Jāmi’, 5: ‘On the expulsion of the Jews from Medina’ (ed. Muḥammad Fu’ād ‘Abd al-Bāqī, Cairo: ‘Isā al-Bābī al-Ḥalabī, 1951, 2: 892; English translation, Muhammad Rahimuddin, Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1980, ch. 511, trad. 1588–89, p. 371.)


Muslim, loc. cit.


In addition to locations given in previous notes, see Wensinck, Concordance, s.v. kh-r-j.


al-ṬūsīMuḥammad b. al-Ḥasanal-Mabsūṭ fī fiqh al-Imāmiyya (ed. al-BahbūdiMuḥammad al-Bāqiral-MurṭadiyyaMaktabatTeheran (?), 1967), 247Google Scholar. though al-Ṭūsī is Shī’ite, the limitation to the Ḥijāz is typical of all Muslim legal schools.


Bukhārī, loc. cit. and elsewhere.


Compare, e.g., Biblical ‘the Earth (ha-areṣ) is the Lord’s’: Ex. 9: 29, 19: 5, Ps. 24: 1 and elsewhere. Even though the context in Exodus is a statement to Pharoah, this phrase does not appear to have been understood as limited in application to Egypt.


Wensink, s.v. qiblatāni, refers only to variants, ‘balad, arḍ, miṣr’, although at least some versions of the tradition have ‘Arabia’: jazīrat al-‘arab or arḍ al-‘arab. cf. Muwaṭṭa’, loc cit., TirmidhīṢaḥīḥ2209Google ScholarDāwūdAbū, loc. cit.Google ScholarḤanbalIbn1223285.Google Scholar


The Muwaṭṭa’ quotes the tradition in the context of a section of traditions about Medina. What is interesting here is that the tradition appears to refer to exile of the Jews from Khaybar, Fadak and Najrān, not Medina.

On chapter headings in ḥadīth works, see GoldziherI.Muslim studies, transl. SternS. M.19712216–18, 225.Google Scholar


Lists of expulsions, exclusions, etc., are provided, e.g., by FattalLe statut légal des non-Musulmans en pays d’Islam (Beirut, Imprimerie Catholique1958), 93Google Scholar, in the section on the Muslim world in the article ‘Jewish Quarters’, by CorcosDavidEncyclopedia Judaica1084–8Google Scholar, and by Bat-Ye’orThe Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam, transl. by MaiselD.FentonP. and LittmanD. (Rutherford, Madison and TeaneekFairleigh Dickinson University Press1985). 70 ffGoogle Scholar. See review by CohenMarkJerusalem Quarterly381986127Google Scholar, for a perspective on Bat-Ye’or’s’ ‘theme of congenital and unremitting persecution of the non-Muslim religions’. Another review placing this work in a similar perspective, but with a more supportive, attitude to the perspective, is by NemoyL.JQRLXXVI1985162–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar. (Note that ‘Y. Maṣrīya’ is another pen-name of Bat-Ye’or, contrary to Nemoy’s suggestion.)

For a discussion of a late-medieval advocate of expulsion of Jews in the Sana ran oasis of Tuwāt, al-Maghīlī, see the recent work of John Hunwick, e.g. Sharī’ a in Songhay: the replies of al-Maghīlī to the questions of Aksia al-Ḥājj Muḥammad (Oxford: British Academy/Oxford University Press, 1985Google Scholar), esp. 31 ff., and references given in notes.


On al-Ṭabarī, see SezginGAS, i, 323–7Google Scholar, article by ParetR.EI, iv, 578Google Scholar f., BrockelmannGAL, i, 142Google Scholar, Supplementband, i, 217, and especially RosenthalF.The History of al-Ṭabarī, vol. 1: General introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (AlbanyState University of New York Press1989)Google Scholar. Rosenthal’s book was published only after this article was essentially completed.


Translation by ShboulAhmad M. H.Al-Mas’ūdī and his world: a Muslim humanist and his interest in non-Muslims (LondonIthaca Press1979), 34Google Scholar, citing Murūj al-dhahab. The text is found in the Arabic/French edition (MaçoudiLes Prairies d’Or (Paris, Société Asiatique, 1861), i, 1516Google Scholar. Shboul’s ‘various jurists’ translates fuqahā’ al-amṣār. The Fihrist (for reference see next note) reports a similar description of al-Ṭabarī as the ‘faqīh of his time’, by Ibn al-Nadīm’s contemporary, al-Nahrawānī, a member of al-Ṭabarī’s law school.


Ed. Flügel (repr. Beirut, Khayats, 1964), 234–6; translation, DodgeB.The Fïhrist of Ibn al-NadīmNew YorkColumbia University Press1970, vol. 1563568Google Scholar. Ibn Nadīm reports about several authors belonging to this school, including some of his own contemporaries.


Sections have been published in two separate works: Kitāh ikhtilāj’al-fuqahā’: Das konstantinopler Fragment des Kitāb ihtilāf al-fuqahā’ des Abū Ga’far Muḥammad b. Garīr at-Ṭabarī, ed. SchachtJ. (Ldden1933)Google Scholar, and Kītāb ikhtilāf al-fuqahā lil-Ṭabarī, ed. F. Kern (Cairo, 1320/1902).


Brockelmimn, S i, 218Google ScholarSezginGAS, i, 326Google ScholarSourdel, ‘Une profession de foi de l’historien al-ṬabarīREI361968177–99Google Scholar. It had been described previously by RitterH., ‘Philologica II’, Der Islam171928254CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The title is sometimes misconstrued as Sharḥ al-sunna, which, however, more appropriately should refer to the Tahdhīb al-āthār.


See SezginGAS, i, 327Google Scholar, Ibn al-Nadīm, 235 (Arabic), 565 (English). I have been able only to glance briefly at these volumes. I am grateful to Professor F. Rosenthal for bringing the existence of publication of this series and of the Ṣarīḥ al-sunna to my attention.


Described in the Fihrist, loc. cit.


SezginGAS, i, 522Google Scholar ff., cf. also BrockelmannGAL, G i, 184Google Scholar, who only knew of one. Compare this with the literature known to the author of the Fihrist (cf. above, n. 13).

Al-Ṭabarī had students whose works survive, who, however, are known primarily as jurists of other rites, cf., e.g., GAS497Google Scholar.


Arabicwaqad dhakara ṭā’ifa minhum Muḥammad ibn JarīrGoogle Scholaral-JawziyyaIbn QayyimAḥkām ahl ad-dhimma, ed. ṢāleḥSoubḥī (Beirut, 1381/1961), ii479Google ScholarDhahab ṭā’ifa min al-‘ulamā’ ka-Muḥammad ibn JarīrTaymiyyaIbnAl-Ḥisba fī al-Islam (ed. Damascus(?), Dār al-Kutub al-‘Arabiyya1967), 28Google Scholar. Transl. HollandMukhtarPublic duties in Islam: the institution of the Ḥisba, (The Islamic Foundation1982/1402), 44Google Scholar. For some unclear reason, this passage appears as a note in Holland’s translation, rather than as part of the text. Laoust’s translation is more of a paraphrase: Essai sur lex doctrines sociales et politiques de … Ibn Taimīya (Cairo, Imprimerie de l’Institut Frangais d’Archéologie Orientale, 1938), 277.Google Scholar


A biography of many members of this illustrious family, including Taqlaī-Dīn ‘Ali b. ‘Abd al-Kāfī, was written by Muḥammad al-Ṣādiq Ḥusayn: al-Bayt al-Subkī (Cairo, Dār al-kātib al-Misrī, 1948)Google Scholar, see pp. 50 ff. See also CR9Google Scholar and sources cited there. (For reference to CR see next note.) There is a brief note in El493Google Scholar, by Jacob Schacht, with corrections and additions to GAL.


Construction and repair of churches and synagogues in Islamic law, Yale Ph.D. dissertation, 1984 (henceforth: CR). A revised version, tentatively entitled Synagogues and churches under Islam: a Mamluk treatise on their repair, is scheduled to be published as part of the Yale Near Eastern Researches Series.


On the omissions see CR84 ff.Google Scholar


Taqī al-Dīn ‘Ali al-Kāfī al-Subkī, Fatāwī al-Subkī, ed. (?) and pub., Jusām al-Dīn al-Qudsi (Cairo, 1936–38), ii, 369–417. The al-Ṭabarī passage is ii, 380–83.


MS colophon dated 768 (1366–67), printed Fatāwī al-Subkī i, 567Google Scholar. The publisher apparently relied primarily on an Egyptian MS; I have examined a photocopy of the al-Ẓāhiriyya MS of the Collected Fatāwī, also used by the publisher of the Fatāwī of al-Subkī. It had identical omissions.


Kashf al-dasā’is fī tarmīm al-kanā’is of al-Subkī, starting at 42b, I. 11.


In F., only the end of the cited passage is clearly marked: ‘This is the end of what I wished to quote from Ibn Jarīr’ (F.383Google Scholar). There is no way to determine what, if anything, of the foregoing belongs to this quotation. On the techniques of marking the end of direct quotations of sources, see RosenthalF.Techniques and approach of Muslim scholarship (Analeeta Orientalia, 24) Rome194739.Google Scholar


For references, minor variations in the title, and circumstances of writing, see CR1122Google Scholar, also my article ‘Taqī al-Dīn al-Subkī on construction continuance and repair of churches and synagogues in Islamic law’, in Ricksand Brinner(ed.), Studies in Islamic and Judaic traditions, ii (Brown Judaic Studies, 178), Atlanta, GeorgiaScholars’ Press1989169–88.Google Scholar


A. 35a. The title Īḍaḥ kashf al-dasā’is is not found in any bibliography of al-Subkī’s work, and is probably not the title given the work by al-Subkī, if, indeed, he gave it any title at all.


Kashf, Jordan MS 11a. The Kashf (but not the Īḍāḥ) is quoted virtually in full in the MS of the Wafa’ al-‘uhūd in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem, where the parallel passage is on p. 139. This MS was described by Goitein, ‘Ibn ‘Ubayya’s book on the destruction of the synagogue of the Jews in Jerusalem in 1474’ [in Hebrew], Zion13–14194819491832.Google Scholar


Arabic: Akhrijū al-yahūd wal-naṣārā min jazīrat al-‘arab. (A. 42b). This wording is not found in Wensinck, s.v. Akhrijū, although presumably this is meant to be a chapter heading.


See above, n. 16.


For parallel use of ummatuhū, see the Ṣarīḥ al-sunnaSourdelREI, 36, 1968193.Google Scholar


cf. LaoustH.La profession de foi d’Ibn Batta, (DamascusInstitut Français de Damas1958), pp. xxxvxxxvii.Google Scholar

Kaḥḥāla notes two Shī’ite authors with the name Abū Ja’far Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-Tabarī, one of whom is nearly an exact contemporary of the famous historian. Mu’jam al-mu’allifīn (Damascus, 1960), 9146–7Google Scholar. It is highly unlikely, however, that there was any real confusion between these authors.


Ṣarīh al-sunna193Google Scholar. (cf. also 179 f.).


ibid., 196–7.


cf. F., 372, 374 (twice) and 397.


Ali b. Ya’qūb, 1274/5–1324 or 1326/7. Tāj al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb b. ‘Alī al-Subkī, Ṭabaqāt al-Shāfi’iyya al-kubrā, ed. ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ Muḥammad al-Ḥulw and Maḥmūd Muḥammad al-Tanāḥī, Cairo, 1964–76, 10: 370–71.


Based on al-Subkī’s comments F., 375 and 384, and in the Kashf, Jordan MS (A), 11a, Jerusalem MS, 139.


For sources and discussion see LittleD., ‘Coptic conversion to Islam under the Bahr: Mamlūks’, BSOAS xxxix, 31976559–61.Google Scholar


Al-Nuṣūṣ al-ẓāhira fī ijlā al-Yahūd al-fājira, published in Majallat al-majmā’ al-‘ilmī al-‘Irāqī, 32/3–4, 1981, 378–400.


For sources on references to the opinion of al-Ṭabarī in works by Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim, see above, n. 19; Ibn Qayyim discusses the traditions about expelling the Jews in a section on places where the dhimmīs may not reside—with no mention of al-Ṭabarī: Aḥkām ahl al-dhimma175 ff.Google Scholar


Le statut legal83.Google Scholar


See AshtorE. (Strauss), ‘Social isolation of Ahl al-Dhimma’, Essais orientaliques: Livre d’hommage à la mémoire du P. Hirschler (Budapest, Gevirtz Bros.1950), p. 88Google Scholar, nn. 65, 66. Ashtor’s dating of al-Bakrī should be revised to the thirteenth century.


Ḥazm‘Alī b. Muḥammad IbnKitāb Marātib al-ijma’, 114Google Scholar, foot-115, top. On ḤazmIbnGAL, G 1, 339Google Scholar f., S I, 692 ff.


The tradition continues: ‘and if one of them (who has converted to Islam) apostasizes, accept nothing less than his head’. This is sometimes found as a Prophetic tradition, for notes see CR184.Google Scholar


Al-Ṭabarī cites this ruling (but not in his own name) in his Ikhtilāf236Google Scholar. For sources see CR184.Google Scholar


See above, n. 35.


Fattal, for example, notes that the prohibition of dhimmī residence was not applied even in the Ḥijāz during the first centuries of Islam, and suggests that the travelogue of Benjamin of Tudela is testimony that the rule was not applied in some Ḥijāzī towns even as late as the third quarter of the twelfth century (Le statut legal, pp. 85–9.)Google Scholar


cf. Bukhārīal-Jāmi’ al-ṣaḥīḥ: Le receuil des traditions mahometains par Abou Abdalla Mohammed ibn Ismaîl el Bokhâri, ed. KrehlM. Ludolf (Leiden18621868), II, 40Google Scholar. (Qasṭallānī, 5: 418 ff.) Muslim with al-Nawawī (Cairo, 1349/1930–31, repr., 1970[?]), II, 189–90.


Fallal’s discussion (loc. cit.), is somewhat parallel, citing examples of non-Muslims in Ḥijāz whose presence there aroused no surprise.’ Umar avait-il oublié que Irois ans plus tôt il avail banni les non-Musulmans d‘Arabie?’ (p. 89).


NujaymZayn al-‘Ābidin Ibrāhīm b.Al-Risāla bil-kanā’is al-miṣriyya, in Rasā’il Ibn Nujaym (Beirut, Dār al-kutub al-‘Ilmiyya1980), 118.Google Scholar


See al-MaqrīzīKitāb al-Sulūk li-ma’rifat duwal al-mulūk (Cairo1934), I, 909Google Scholar ff., transl. by LewisBernardIslam: from the Prophet Muhammad to the capture of Constantinople (LondonMacmillan/New YorkHarper and Row1974), II, 229–32Google Scholar.

Al-Subkī copied Ibn al-Rif ‘a’s treatise as an appendix to his Kashf; it is found in the MS of the Wafā al-‘uhūd, described by S. D. Goitein (see above, n. 29). The treatise was discussed in a paper delivered by the present writer at the 1985 conference of the American Research Center in Egypt in New York City.


NeubauerMediaeval Jewish chronicles and chronological notes (Oxford18871895, repr., AmsterdamPhilo Press1970), 1, 135–7Google Scholar. The entire affair, as well as the numerous other attacks on dhimmīs, especially Copts, has been discussed in full by LittleD., ‘Coptic conversion to Islam under the Baḥrī Mamlūks’, BSOASxxxix, 3, 1976552–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


Al-Subkī gave a lengthy extract of Ibn al-Rif‘a’s views as an appendix to the Kashf, and commented upon them in the Īḍāḥ, F., 406–10.


cf. the Shāfi’ite Ibrāhīm Shīrāzī: ‘It is not possible for an unbeliever to come into possession of lands by revival [of wastelands] in al-Islām’DārKitāb al-Tanbīh: Jus Shqfiiticum, ed. JuynbollA. W. T. (Leiden1879), 153.Google Scholar


On the ‘creation ex nihilo’ and history, plans, etc., of al-Kūfa see article and bibliography, by DjatHichemEI (2nd Ed.,) iv, 345 ff.Google Scholar


This is the usual date given; al-Idrīsī gives the date of founding as 1077: Dozy and De Goeje (ed. and tr.), Description de l’Afrique et de l’Espagne par Edrîsî (repr. Leiden: Brill, 1968), 67Google Scholar, (Arabic), 77 (French).


Hirschberg discusses this material in Jews of North Africa, I, 123125.Google Scholar


Dozy–De Goeje, op. cit., 69–70 (Arabic), 79–80 (French).


Arabic: Jabal Daran.


Arabic: wabi-hādhihi al-madīna yaskunu yahūdu tilka al-bilād. Hirschberg, Fattal (p. 93), Corcos (EJ, xi, 1015–17, article ‘Marrakesh’) and others present Aghmāt Aylān as a city inhabited only by Jews. This was quite possibly the reality, but the claim appears to rest on the Dozy-De Goeje French translation of al-Idrīsī: ‘habitée exclusivement par des juifs’ (p. 79).


Al-Aḥkām al-sulṭaniyya (Cairo: al-Maṭbā’a al-Maḥmūdiyya al-tijāriyya, n.d.), 141Google Scholar. (A translation of this passage may be found in Bat-Ye’orThe Dhimmī180.)Google Scholar


Fatāwī Qāḍīkhān (Cairo, 1865), III, 616Google Scholar. (Fatāwī al-Hudya, Būlāq, 1310, III, 591Google Scholar, margin.) Translated by LewisB.Islam, II, 228.Google Scholar


LewisBernardJews of Islam (PrincetonPrinceton University Press1984), 122Google Scholar. On the sürgun see HackerJoseph, ‘The Ottoman system of sürgun and its influence on the Jewish society in the Ottoman empire’, ZionLV19902782.Google Scholar


Le StrangeBaghdad under the Abbasid caliphate (OxfordClarendon Press1900), 202208.Google Scholar


Quoted by Ibn ‘Abīdīn, Radd al-Mukhtār, III. Al-Subkī cites numerous jurists who allow dhimmīs to reside in Baghdād, al-Bara and al-Kūfa (F., 405 ff.).


UkhuwwaIbnThe ‘Ma’ālim al-qurba fī Aḥkām al-ḥisba’, edited, with an abstract of contents, by Reuben Levy (E. J. W. Gibb Memorial, New Series, no. 12, London1938)Google Scholar, ch. iv, end (p. 35, Arabic).


Ashtor, ‘Social isolation’, (art. cit. n. 43 above), 87Google Scholar. Ashtor, however, could not locate the view in Abü Yüsuf’s Kitāb al-Kharāj.


Cited by Ashtor, ‘Social isolation’, 87Google Scholar. Abū Dāwūd and al-Tirmidhī have ḥadīths proscribing sojourning in the lands of the polytheists (Abū Dāwūd, III, 93, no. 2787; Tirmidhī, v, 330; Siyar, 42, no. 1605).


Ben-SassonH. H.A history of the Jewish people (Cambridge, Mass.Harvard University Press1976), 393Google Scholar, notes that by the end of the eighth century, Jews in most places ruled by Islam had already moved to cities. By al-Ṭabaī’s time, the Geonate and at least one of the Yeshivot met in Baghdad itself. Baghdad at least had a significant Christian population within some dozen or so years of its founding. Le StrangeBaghdad under the Abbasid caliphate202Google Scholar ff. Baron describes Jewish and Christian movements to the cities of the Islamic world in his chapter on ‘Economic transformations’ (ch. 22), (BaronS. W.Social and religious history of the Jews, 2nd edition, New York and PhiladelphiaColumbia University Press/Jewish Publication Society1957, iv, esp. pp. 151 ff.).Google Scholar


For a listing, see, e.g., FattalLe statut légal100–2.Google Scholar