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The tābiʿūn (Arabic: اَلتَّابِعُونَ, also accusative or genitive tābiʿīn اَلتَّابِعِينَ, singular tābiʿ تَابِعٌ), "followers" or "successors", are the generation of Muslims who followed the companions (ṣaḥāba) of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and thus received their teachings secondhand.[1] A tābiʿ knew at least one ṣaḥābī.[2] As such, they played an important part in the development of Islamic thought and knowledge, and in the political development of the early caliphate.

The next generation of Muslims after the tabiʿūn are called the tābiʿ at-tābiʿīn تَابِعُو ٱلتَّابِعِينَ. The first three generations of Muhammad's followers make up the salaf سَلَفُ of Islam.

Sunni definition[edit]

Muslims from the Sunni branch of Islam define a tābiʿ as a Muslim who:

  1. Saw at least one of the companions of Muhammad
  2. Was rightly-guided (ar-rāšidūn)
  3. One who died in that state. The Khawarij are therefore not referred to as tābiʿūn even though they saw many of Muhammad's companions.

Sunni Muslims also regard the tābiʿūn as the best generation after the companions. According to Sunni Muslims, Muhammad said: "The best people are those living in my generation, then those coming after them, and then those coming after (the second generation)"[3]

The tābiʿūn are divided by most Muslim scholars into three classes:[4]

  1. The students of companions who accepted Islam before the conquest of Mecca
  2. The students of companions who accepted Islam after the conquest of Mecca
  3. The students of companions who were not yet adults at the time of Muhammad's passing

List of tābiʿūn[edit]

The first tābiʿ to die was Zayd ibn Ma'mar ibn Zayd, 30 years after the hijra, and the last to die was Khalaf ibn Khalifa, who died in 180 AH. Alternatively, since the status of Khalaf ibn Khalifa as a tābiʿ is strongly challenged by reputed scholars, the last to die from amongst them may have been Jarir bin Haazim in 170 AH. Therefore, many of the tābiʿūn were tasked with the preservation of Islamic traditions from the era of the companions to later Muslims.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Glasse, Cyril (2001). The New Encyclopedia of Islam. Altamira. p. 443. ISBN 0-7591-0189-2.
  2. ^ Esposito, John L. (2003). The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 301.
  3. ^ "CRCC: Center For Muslim-Jewish Engagement: Resources: Religious Texts". Archived from the original on 2008-12-05.
  4. ^ a b Siddiqi, Muhammad (1993). Hadith Literature (PDF). Oxford: The Islamic Texts Society. p. 29. ISBN 0946621381.
  5. ^ Morony, Michael G. (1984). Iraq after the Muslim Conquest. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. pp. 435, 467. ISBN 0-691-05395-2.
  6. ^ Meri, Josef W. (October 31, 2005). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 5. ISBN 9781135456030. Abu Hanifa is counted among the most illustrious of the Tabi'un (literally "the successors,"which refers to the second generation of Muslims), and some sources relate that he met at least four Companions of the Prophet
  7. ^ Öncü Sûfîlerden Fudayl b.‘Iyâd’ın (öl. 187/802) İlmî Şahsiyeti." Şırnak Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi 11.24 (2020): 159-185. "..Tabi'un are the people who followed Sahaba, the companions of the prophet), is one of the important names in the history of Islamic science. Fudayl, who was an Arab, spent his life in three regions: Khorasan, Kufa, and Mecca. Names such as Abu Hanifa, Mansur bin Mu'temir.."
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts Archived 2006-07-15 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Hazrat Ali bin Usman Al-Hujwiri (2001). The Kashf Al-Mahjub:A Persian Treatise on Sufism. Justice Karam Shah. Zia-ul-Quran Publications Lahore Pakistan.