Evaluating the traditions concerning the earliest Muslim scholars of the Bible

Dr Danny Crowther
Post-Doctoral Research Scholar, CMCS

‘Abd Allāh b. Salām, Abū ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Abbās and Wahb b. Munabbih are three men from the early days of Islam who used the scriptures and traditions of Jews and Christians to the benefit of first century Islam.

There are, however, a number of different accounts of their lives and teachings. This paper observes three accounts of these three from the third Muslim century. The first set of accounts is found in Ibn Hishām’s edition of Ibn Isḥāq’s sīrah. The second set of accounts is drawn from their sayings as found in the Kitāb al-Tabaqāt al-Kabīr of Ibn Sa‘d, and the third set of accounts is drawn from their sayings as found in the Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukharī.

The fact that these three sources present different accounts is in itself interesting, but why are the sources so different and what impact do these differences have upon the way the Muslim community remembers its first century?