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Balami - Tarikhnama - The death of Musaylima at the hand of the Ethiopian Slave Wahshi (cropped).jpg
The killing scene of Musaylimah at the hand of Wahshi ibn Harb in Tarikhnama
Other namesMaslamah ibn Habib
  • Thumamah ibn Kathir (father)

Musaylimah (Arabic: مُسَيْلِمَةُ‎) short for Musaylimah al-Kadhdhāb (Musaylimah the Arch-Liar) otherwise known as Maslamah ibn Ḥabīb (Arabic: مَسْلَمَةُ بْنُ حَبِيبٍ‎) d.633, was a preacher of Hanifism[1][2][3] among the Hanafite Banū Ḥanīfah tribe[4][5] and one of a series of people (including his future wife) who claimed prophethood in 7th-century Arabia. He is considered by current Muslims to be a false prophet (Arabic: اَلْكَذَّابُal-Kadhāb).[6]


Musaylimah's real name was Maslamah ibn Habib, but Muslims altered his name to Musaylimah, which is the diminutive of Maslamah. It can be translated Maslamah the Small or Mini-Maslamah.[7]


He was the son of Habib, of the tribe Banu Hanifa, one of the largest tribes of Arabia that inhabited the region of Najd. The Banu Hanifa were a Hanafite Christian[8] branch of Banu Bakr and led an independent existence prior to Islam.

Among the first records of him is in late 9th Hijri, the Year of Delegations, when he accompanied a delegation of his tribe to Medina. The delegation included two other prominent Muslims. They would later help Musaylimah rise to power and save their tribe from destruction. These men were Nahar Ar-Rajjal bin Unfuwa (or Rahhal)[9] and Muja'a bin Marara. In Medina, the deputation stayed with the daughter of al-Harith, a woman of the Ansar from the Banu Najjar.

When the delegation arrived at Medinah the camels were tied in a traveler's camp, and Musaylimah remained there to look after them while the other delegates went in.

They had talks with Muhammad. The delegation before their departure embraced Islam and renounced Christianity without compunction. As was his custom, Muhammad presented gifts to the delegates, and when they had received their gifts one said, "We left one of our comrades in the camp to look after our mounts."

Muhammad gave them gifts for him also, and added, "He is not the least among you that he should stay behind to guard the property of his comrades." On their return they converted the tribe of Banu Hanifa to Islam. They built a mosque at Yamamah and started regular prayers.

Proclaiming prophethood and teachings[edit]

His believers survived at least till the 17th century. At the Mughal ruler Akbar's council of religions, a discussion of Musaylimah religion also took place with the help of its priests. His teachings were almost lost but a neutral review of them does exist in Dabestan-e Mazaheb.[10] Arabic religious writers often portray Musaylimah negatively. But he gives a fascinating picture[editorializing] into 7th century Arabia where religious reformations were talking place and people were eager to accept new ideas, including that of Muhammad and his contemporary Musaylimah. He was heavily influenced by mainstream Christianity[clarify], of which his tribe men were followers. But he also seems to be influenced by Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, and Manichaeism.[citation needed] He claimed he received numerous revelations just like Muhammad.

Musaylimah encouraged the consumption of pork and wine. He taught three daily prayers to the God, facing whatever side. He criticized Muslims for selecting Kabaah or earlier Jerusalem as the direction of prayers, saying that God is not limited to any direction and that Muhammad never wanted to make it compulsory to face the Kabaah.[citation needed] He also asked for night fasting instead of Ramadan fasting during day, and didn't require circumcision. He considered men and women equal and allowed free marriages without the need of bridal money.[citation needed] He further declared polygamy as sinful. He also believed in transmigration of souls and reincarnation but finally all the souls would be judged by God on the Day of Judgement. He was also against including his or any Prophet's name in chantings to God. He said that mixing veneration to God with veneration to human beings is unfair and ungodly.[citation needed]

Musaylimah, who is alleged as having been a skilled magician by Muslim historians,[11] dazzled the crowd with miracles. He could put an egg in a bottle; he could cut off the feathers of a bird and then stick them on so the bird would fly again; and he used this skill to persuade the people that he was divinely gifted.

Musaylimah shared verses purporting them to have been revelations from God and told the crowd that Muhammad had shared power with him.[9] Musaylimah even referred to himself as Rahman,[6] which suggests that he may have attributed some divinity to himself. Thereafter, some of the people accepted him as a prophet alongside Muhammad. Gradually the influence and authority of Musaylimah increased with the people of his tribe. He also took to addressing gatherings as a messenger of Allah just like Muhammad, and would compose verses and offer them, as Qur'anic revelations. Most of his verses extolled the superiority of his tribe, the Bani Hanifa, over the Quraysh.

Musaylimah also proposed to share power over Arabia with Muhammad. Then one day, in late 10 Hijri, he wrote to Muhammad:

"From Musaylimah, Messenger of God, to Muhammad, Messenger of God. Salutations to you. I have been given a share with you in this matter. Half the earth belongs to us and half to the Quraish. But the Quraish are people who transgress."

Muhammad, however, replied back:

"From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Musaylimah, the arch-liar. Peace be upon him who follows (God's) guidance. Now then, surely the earth belongs to God, who bequeaths it to whom He will amongst his servants. The ultimate issue is to the God-fearing."[12]

Marriage to Sajah and death[edit]

During the Wars of Apostasy which emerged following the death of Muhammad, Sajah bint al-Harith ibn Suaeed declared that she was a prophetess after learning that Musaylimah and Tulayha had declared prophethood.[13] 4,000 people gathered around her to march on Medina. Others joined her against Medina. However, her planned attack on Medina was called off after she learned that the army of Khalid ibn al-Walid had defeated Tulayha al-Asadi (another self-proclaimed prophet).[14] Thereafter, she sought cooperation with Musaylimah to oppose the threat of Khalid. A mutual understanding was initially reached with Musaylimah. Later, the two married and she accepted his self-declared prophethood. Khalid then defeated the remaining rebellious elements around Sajah, and then moved on to defeat Musaylimah. Musaylimah fought and was killed in the Battle of Yamama by Wahshi ibn Harb, the same man who had killed Muhammad's uncle, Hamza, in the battle of Uhud before his conversion to Islam.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Margoliouth, D. S. (1903). "On the Origin and Import of the Names Muslim and Ḥanīf". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 5: 467–493. JSTOR 25208542.
  2. ^ Beliaev, E. A. (1966). Arabs, Islam and Arabian Khalifat in the middle ages (2nd ed.). Moscow. pp. 103–108.
  3. ^ Petrushevskii, I. P. (1966). Islam in Iran in VII–XV centuries. Leningrad. pp. 13–14.
  4. ^ Fattah, Hala Mundhir; Caso, Frank (2009). A Brief History of Iraq. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816057672.
  5. ^ Emerick, Yahiya (2002-04-01). Critical Lives: Muhammad. Penguin. ISBN 9781440650130.
  6. ^ a b Ibn Kathīr, Ismāʻīl ibn ʻUmar (2000). Ṣafī al-Raḥmān Mubārakfūrī (ed.). al-Miṣbāḥ al-munīr fī tahdhīb tafsīr Ibn Kathīr. 1. Riyadh, Saʻudi Arabia: Darussalam. p. 68.
  7. ^ "مسلمة الحنفي في ميزان التاريخ لجمال علي الحلاّق" (in Arabic). Elaph. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  8. ^ The Qur'an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions By Emran El-Badawi [1]
  9. ^ a b The Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya By Ibn Kathir, Trevor Le Gassick, Muneer Fareed, pg. 69
  10. ^ "The DABISTÁN, or SCHOOL OF MANNERS". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  11. ^ The Life of the Prophet Muhammad [May Peace and the Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him] : Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya By Ibn Kathir, Trevor Le Gassick, Muneer Fareed, pg. 67
  12. ^ Poonawala, Ismail K. The History of Al Tabari By Ṭabarī. p. 107.
  13. ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopedia of Islam, 1913–1936 By M. Th. Houtsma, p665
  14. ^ The Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya By Ibn Kathir, Trevor Le Gassick, Muneer Fareed, pg. 36.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. Missing or empty |title= (help)

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