Abu `Abdullah Muhammad Ibn ‘Omar Ibn Waqid al-Aslami (Arabic أبو عبد الله محمد بن عمر بن واقد الاسلمي) (c. 130 – 207 AH; c. 747 – 823 AD) was a historian commonly referred to as al-Waqidi (Arabic: الواقدي). His surname is derived from his grandfather's name Waqid and thus he became famous as al-Imam al-Waqidi.[1] Al-Waqidi was an early Muslim historian and biographer of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, specializing in his military campaigns. He served as a judge (qadi) for the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun. Several of al-Waqidi's works are known through his scribe and student, Ibn Sa'd, who also worked under al-Ma'mun and was a proponent of the Muʿtazila doctrine of the created Quran.[2][3]

Abu `Abdillah Muhammad Ibn Omar Ibn Waqid al al-Aslami
Bornca. 130AH / AD 747 in Medina
Died207AH / AD 823
EraIslamic golden age
Main interest(s)History of Islam
Notable work(s)Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi ("Book of History and Campaigns")
Senior posting



Al-Waqidi was born in Medina around 748 AD (130 AH). He was the mawla (client) of ‘Abd Allah ibn Burayda of the Banu Aslam of Medina. According to Abu Faraj al-Isfahani, al-Waqidi’s mother was the daughter of ‘Isa ibn Ja‘far ibn Sa’ib Khathir, a Persian, and the great-granddaughter of Sa’ib, who introduced music to Medina.[4] Amongst his prominent teachers were Ibn Abi Thahab Ma'mar bin Rashid, Malik ibn Anas and Sufyan al-Thawri.[1] He lived in Medina at the time of Abu Hanifa and Ja'far al-Sadiq and studied in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi as a student of Malik ibn Anas. Al-Waqidi also had access to the grandchildren of Muhammad's companions. Since many of Muhammad's companions settled in Medina, both the Umayyads and their successors the Abbasids used the Medina fiqh in the early days. The Abbasid caliph Al-Mansur instructed Malik ibn Anas to compile this fiqh into a book, which became known as Muwatta Imam Malik. Al-Waqidi originally earned a living as a wheat trader, but when a calamity struck at the age of 50, he migrated to Iraq during the reign of Harun ar-Rashid. He was appointed a judge of eastern Baghdad, and Harun ar-Rashid's heir al-Ma'mun later appointed him the qadi of a military camp at Resafa.[4]

Al-Waqidi concentrated on history, and was acknowledged as a master of the genre by his many of his peers.[1] His books on the early Islamic expeditions and conquests predate much of the Sunni and Shia literature of the later Abbasid period.[1] His works regarding the battles of Muhammad and his companions were considered reliable by most early Islamic scholars.[5] While still regarded as an important source for early Islamic history, later authors debated the reliability of his works. Western orientalists who enjoyed his writings include Martin Lings.[6]


Al-Waqidi is primarily known for his Kitab al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi (Arabic: كتاب التاريخ والمغازي, "Book of History and Campaigns"), which is the only part of his corpus that has been fully preserved.[7] It describes the battles fought by Muhammad, as well as Muhammad's life in the city of Medina.[8] The work draws upon the earlier sira of Ibn Ishaq, though it includes details not found in Ibn Ishaq's text.[9]

A number of works chronicling the Islamic conquests have been attributed to al-Waqidi, though most of these attributions are now believed to be mistaken.[8] Futuh al-Sham (Arabic: كتاب فتوح الشام, "Book of the Conquests of Syria"), a novelization of the Islamic army's conquests of Byzantine Syria, has traditionally been ascribed to al-Waqidi. Modern scholars generally classify Futuh al-Sham as a falsely-attributed later work, dating it to around the time of the Crusades, though some scholars believe a small portion of the text may be traced back to al-Waqidi.[10][11][12][13][14] In addition to depicting the battles of the Islamic armies, the work also details the valor of various Muslim women, including Hind bint Utbah, Khawlah bint al-Azwar, and Asma bint Abi Bakr.[15][16]

According to Ibn al-Nadim, al-Waqidi authored a book detailing the death of Husayn ibn Ali,[17] though this work has not survived. Other lost texts attributed to al-Waqidi include a book chronicling the last days of Muhammad's life. The works of al-Waqidi's student Ibn Sa'd may contain some excerpts from these texts.[18]


A number of Islamic scholars accused al-Waqidi of fabricating or altering the reports within his works. Al-Shafi’i stated that "all the books of al-Waqidi are lies,"[19] while al-Albani, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and Al-Nasa’i also accused him of fabricating his sources.[20][21][22][23][additional citation(s) needed] Al-Dhahabi and al-Daraqutni considered al-Waqidi's traditions to be weak.[22][22] Al-Dhahabi's criticism focused on his methodology. He stated that while al-Waqidi was an "erudite scholar", he was deficient and insufficiently educated in hadith.[24] According to al-Nawawi, this position was the consensus of Islamic scholars.[23]

Some scholars defended al-Waqidi against accusations of fabricating his traditions and considered him a reliable source. Al-Darawardi (d. 186 A.H.) stated that "al-Waqidi is a master of traditions",[25], while Yazid ibn Harun (d. 206 A.H.), Abu ‘Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Salam (d. 224 A.H.), and al-Musayyibi (d. 236 A.H.) stated that his works were reliable. Others who considered him trustworthy include Mus’ab al-Zubayri and Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Saghani.[25]

Among al-Waqidi's detractors, a few scholars considered him trustworthy on some matters, including the details of the battles of the early Muslim community. Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani stated: "He is acceptable in the narrations of the battles according to our companions and Allah knows the best."[26]

Early Islamic scholarsEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Islamic Conquest of Syria A Translation of Futuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi Archived 2013-10-12 at the Wayback Machine, pgs. x-xi. Trans. Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi.
  2. ^ Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture, ABC-CLIO, p. 278
  3. ^ The Literature of Islam, The Scarecrow Press, p. 107
  4. ^ a b Faizer, Rizwi (2018). "Waqidi, al-". In Josef Meri. Routledge Revivals: Medieval Islamic Civilization (2006): An Encyclopedia - Volume 2. Routledge. ISBN 9781351668132.
  5. ^ Al-Dhahabi, Siyar A'lam al-Nubala, vol. 9, pg. 462.
  6. ^ Muhammad ibn Umar Waqidi at Let Me Turn the Tables.
  7. ^ al-Khalidi, Tarif (1994). Arabic Historical Thought in the Classical Period. Cambridge University Press. p. 45. ISBN 9780521465540.
  8. ^ a b al-Waqidi (2013). "Introduction". The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi's Kitab Al-Maghazi. Translated by Rizwi Faizer. Routledge. ISBN 9781136921148.
  9. ^ Little, Donald P. (2005). "Narrative Themes and Devices in al-Waqidi's Kitab al-maghazi". In Hermann Landolt. Reason and Inspiration in Islam: Theology, Philosophy and Mysticism in Muslim Thought. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 9781850434702.
  10. ^ Bevilacqua, Alexander (2018). The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment. Harvard University. p. xv. ISBN 9780674975927.
  11. ^ Rihan, Mohammed (2014). The Politics and Culture of an Umayyad Tribe: Conflict and Factionalism in the Early Islamic Period. IB Tauris. p. 176. ISBN 9781780765648.
  12. ^ Landau-Tasseron, Ella (2000). "New data on an old manuscript: An Andalusian version of the work entiled Futuh al-Sham". Al-Qantara. 21 (2): 361.
  13. ^ Merlet, Shukrieh R. "Arab historiography". Islamic Quarterly. 34 (1): 22.
  14. ^ Schneiner, Jens (2012). Paul Cobb, ed. The Lineaments of Islam: Studies in Honor of Fred McGraw Donner. Brill. p. 166. ISBN 9789004231948.
  15. ^ Islamic Conquest of Syria A translation of "Futuh al-Sham" by al-Imam al-Waqidi Translated by Mawlana Sulayman al-Kindi Page 325-332 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2013-09-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Walton, Mark W (2003), Islam at War, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-98101-0, p. 30
  17. ^ Holmes Katz, Marion (2007). The Birth of The Prophet Muhammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam. Routledge. p. 7. ISBN 9781135983949.
  18. ^ Shoemaker, Stephen J. (2011). The Death of a Prophet: The End of Muhammad's Life and the Beginnings of Islam. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 77. ISBN 9780812205138.
  19. ^ Ibn Abi Hatim, vol.4 pt.1 p.21
  20. ^ al-Albani, Silsalat al-Hadith ad-Da'ifa, number 6013
  21. ^ Meri, Josef W. (2005). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1. Psychology Press. p. 764. ISBN 9780415966900.
  22. ^ a b c Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Dhahabi,Mizan al-I`tidal fi Naqd al-Rijal, vol. 3 page 110
  23. ^ a b Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, volume 9 page 366 No.604, [Hyderabad, 1326 A.H.cf. Yusuf ‘Abbas Hashmi, Zaynab bint Jahash, ‘Islamic Culture’ vol.XLI, No.1, Hyderabad (India), 1967]
  24. ^ Nicolet Boekhoff- van der Voort, Sean W. Anthony (2010). Analysing Muslim Traditions: Studies in Legal, Exegetical and Maghāzī Ḥadīṯ. Brill. p. 459. ISBN 9789004180499.
  25. ^ a b al-Dhahbi, Mizan, vol.3 pp.110-111 Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, vol.1 pp.18-21 Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi, Kitab al-Jarh wa al-Ta’dil, vol.4 pt.1 pp.20-21, Hyderabad (India), 1953
  26. ^ Talkhis al-Habir, Volume 7 page 57