'Asma' bint Marwan

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ʻAṣmāʼ bint Marwān (Arabic: عصماء بنت مروان‎ "'Asmā' the daughter of Marwān") was a female member of the Ummayad clan who lived in Medina in 7th century Arabia.

The story of her death by orders of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, after she opposed him with poetry and provoked other pagans to commit violence against him, can be found in the sīra material collected by Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Sa'd.[1] Bint Marwan also ridiculed the people of Medina for obeying a chief not of their kin.

Several classical and post-classical hadith scholars such as Al-Albani, Majdi, and Al-Jawzi have rejected the story, with some declaring it as fabrication, pointing out in their arguments that the chains of transmission by which the story was transmitted are all weak.[2][3][4][5]

Islamic sources[edit]

Family and death[edit]

The story of bint Marwan and her death appears in the works of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Sa'd. According to the reports, her family viewed Muhammad and his followers as unwelcome interlopers in Medina. After the Muslim victory over the Quraysh in Mecca in 624 in the Battle of Badr a number of Muhammad's opponents were killed after surrendering. She composed poems that publicly defamed the local tribesmen who converted to Islam and allied with Muhammad, and called for his death.[6] In her poems, she also ridiculed Medinians for obeying a chief not of their kin.[7] The poem said: "do you expect good from (Muhammad) after the killing of your chiefs" and asked: "Is there no man of pride who would attack him by surprise/ And cut off the hopes of those who expect aught from him?"

Hadith Scholar views on authenticity of the story[edit]

Some classical and post-classical hadith scholars have rejected the story, with some declaring it as fabrication (mawdu’), pointing out in their arguments against the factuality of the incident that the chains of transmission (isnads) by which the story was transmitted are all weak (daʻif).[2][3][4][5]

Ibn Ishaq's narrative[edit]

Ibn Ishaq's Sīratu Rasūlu l-Lāh, an important early work of sīra, was composed over 100 years after the Prophet's death using oral traditions passed down from his early followers. However, its accuracy for use as hadith, a body of traditions of the prophet that Muslim scholars use to flesh out Islamic doctrine, is not completely accepted. This particular story has been challenged by Muslim scholars for having a weak chain of transmission (that is, they deem it difficult to determine if the oral traditions can be traced precisely back to a witness of the events described during Muhammad's life).[8]

Ibn Ishaq's version of the story has a number of chains of transmission (isnads) that go back to Ibn ‘Abbas, a companion of Muhammad. However, all those various isnads include Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Lakhmi:[2][3]

Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Shami Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Lakhmi Mujalid ibn Sa’ed Al-Shu'abi Ibn ‘Abbas

Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Lakhmi has been accused by hadith scholars of fabricating this and other hadiths. Ibn ʻAdī (died 976) stated: "...this isnad (chain of reporters) is not narrated on authority of Mujalid but by Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Lakhmi and they all (other reporters in the chain) accuse Muhammad Ibn Al-Hajjaj of forging it".[5][8] Ibn al-Jawzi (died 1201) said something similar in his Al-'ilal.[4]

Regarding Al-Lakhmi, Al-Bukhari said: "his hadith is abandoned",[3] Yahya ibn Ma'een said: "compulsive liar" and once said: "not trustworthy".[3] Al-Daraqutni denounced him as a liar.[3]

Ibn Sa'd's narrative[edit]

Al-Albani declared Ibn Sa'd's chain of transmission to be weak as well, as it includes Al-Waqidi:[2]

Ibn Sa'd Al-Waqidi 'Abd Allah ibn al-Harith ibn al-Fudayl Al-Harith ibn al-Fudayl

Al-Waqidi has been condemned as an untrustworthy narrator and has been frequently and severely criticized by scholars, thus his narrations have been abandoned by the majority of hadith scholars.[3] Yahya ibn Ma'een said: "Al-Waqidi narrated 20,000 false hadith about the prophet". Al-Shafi'i, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Al-Albani[2] said: "Al-Waqidi is a liar" while Al-Bukhari said he didn't include a single letter by Al-Waqidi in his hadith works.

In addition, this isnad is discontinued (muʻḍal) as Al-Harith ibn al-Fudayl never met any of Muhammad's companions.[3]

Historical reliability[edit]

The critical point of such assertions, even in the optics of Islamic apology, is that if Ibn Ishaq's authenticity is dubious, we could not have any reliable biography of Muhammad, as Ibn Ishaq's Sira is a unique source. So the ensemble of traditional biographical portraits of Muhammad should be put on the critical supposition to be mere legends or literary inventions of the prolific Abbasid era.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jane Smith, in Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Ellison Banks Findly Editors (1985). Women, religion, and social change. NewYork: SUNY Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-88706-069-2. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Al-Albani, Nasir al-Din. "Hadith#6013". Silsilat al-aḥādīth al-ḍaʻīfah wa-al-mawḍūʻah 33. p. 13. "(موضوع...محمد بن الحجاج...قلت : وهو كذاب خبيث ؛ كما قال ابن معين ، وهو واضع حديث الهريسة ... والراوي عنه محمد بن إبراهيم الشامي ؛ كذاب أيضاً)" 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Ibn Hisham, 'Abd al-Malik (1995). Al-Sayyid, Majdi Fathi, ed. Ṣaḥīḥ Sīrah al-Nabawīyah 4. Dār al-Ṣaḥābah lil-Turāth. pp. 335–336. "
    حديث ضعيف وإسناده معضل
    1 – أخرجه ابن سعد، (2/27–28) في طبقاته من رواية الواقدي المتروك، وعنه أخرجه ابن السكن، والعسكري في الأمثال كما في الإصابة (5/34) .
    في سنده الواقدي من المتروكين.
    2 – أخرجه الخطيب (13/199) في تاريخه، و ابن الجوزي في العلل (1/175)، و ابن عساكر في تاريخه كما في الكنز (35491) من طريق محمد بن الحجاج اللخمي عن مجالد عن الشعبي عن إبن عباس.
    و سنده موضوع. فيه اللخمي، قال البخاري عنه: منكر الحديث. و قال ابن معين: كذاب خبيث، وقال مرة: ليس بثقة، وكذبه الدارقطني، وإتهمه ابن عدي بوضع حديث الهريسة،"
  4. ^ a b c Al-Jawzi, Abu'l-Faraj. Al-'ilal 1. p. 175. "(هذا مما يتهم بوضعه محمد بن الحجاج)" 
  5. ^ a b c Ibn ʻAdī. Al-Kāmil fī al-ḍuʻafāʼ wa-ʻilal al-ḥadīth 7. p. 326. "(ولم يرو عن مجالد غير محمد بن الحجاج وجميعاً مما يُتهم محمد بن الحجاج بوضعها)" 
  6. ^ The Life of Muhammad. A translation of Ishaq's "Sirat Rasul Allah", pgs. 675–676, A. Guillaume, Oxford University Press, 1955
  7. ^ Ruthven, Malise (2006). Islam in the world. Oxford University. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-19-530503-6. 
  8. ^ a b Moulana Qamruz Zaman, "Asma bint Marwan," 24 July 2006, MuftiSays.com.
  9. ^ 23 Years, A Study of the Prophetic Career of Muhammad, available for reading on http://ali-dashti-23-years.tripod.com/