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The Life and works of Imam Jabir bin Zayd

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His Writings

Jabir is considered one of the earliest, if not the earliest, authors of Islam. Among the extant works in which legal opinions (Fatawa) and narrations (Riwayat) from Jabir are recorded are: -

1) Riwayat Dumam; narrated by Abu Sufrah 'Abd al-Malik b. Sufrah, from al-Rabi' b. Habib, from Dumam from Jabir b. Zaid.

2) Musnad al-Rabi b. Habib al-Farahidi, from Abu 'Ubaidah, and Duman from Jabir b. Zaid.

3) Jabir's correspondence (Jawabat) which contains some of his legal opinions sent in letters to some of his friends and followers.

All these were recorded by Ibadhis. There are also the following works:-

1) Kitab al-Nikah, which contains legal opinions on marriage, reported from Jabir. It is still not known by whom this book was narrated.

2) K. al-Salat, this book is narrated by Habib b. Abu Habib al-Harmi, from 'Amr b. Harim from Jabir b. Zaid.

3) The narrations from 'Amr b. Dinar, and 'Amr b. Harim, included in parts V and VI of K. Aqwal Qatadah, contain Traditions and legal opinions mainly on the subject of marriage, zakat, and prayers, besides his other legal opinions and Traditions reported from him by Qatadah.

It is reported that the books of Jabir were in the possession of Abu 'Ubaidah Muslim b. Abu Karimah, then they came to al-Rabi' b. Habib, then Abu Sufyan Mahbub b. al Rahil, then his son Mohammad b. Mahbub, from whom they were transcribed in Mecca.

Some Ibadhi historians reported that Jabir himself wrote a large book of Traditions and legal opinions (Futya) known as Diwan Jabir b. Zaid, and that a copy of the Diwan was extant in the library of the 'Abbasid Caliph Harun al- Rashid (786-809 A.D.) It is also reported that the Ibadhi scholar of Jabal Nufusah, Naffath (Faraj) b. Nasr, managed to transcribe the Diwan and brought it to Jabal Nufusah, but being in opposition to the ruler of the Jabal and Rustumid Imamate, Naffath destroyed the copy of the Diwan so that his opponents would not get access to it. The Diwan was of great value on account of the knowledge and guidance it contained, its proximity to the age of Prophethood, and its author's direct transmission from Companions, may God be satisfied with them. Its other valuable feature was as a historical relic, in that it was the first large work composed in Islam. However, Ibadhi Jurisprudence was established mainly on the basis of the Traditions, and legal opinions handed down by Jabir to his Ibadhi students. Abu 'Ubaidah Muslim b. Abi Karimah said: "Every man of Tradition who has not an Imam in jurisprudence is fallen into error. If God Almighty had not favoured us with Jabir b. Zaid we too would have fallen into error."

 

 References: 
  • Ibadhism in History: The emergence of the ibadi school; by Ali Yahya Muammar
  • Studies in Ibadhism; by Amr Ennami
  • The Doctrines of the Ibadhi Creed Till the End of the Second AH Century; by Musallam Salim Al-Wahibi

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