Wahb ibn Munabbih
|Wahb ibn Munabbih|
|Born||AH 34 (654/655)|
|Died||725 CE to 737 CE |
'Wahb ibn Munabbih' (Arabic, وهب بن منبه )was a Muslim traditionist of Dhimar (two days' journey from Sana'a) in Yemen; died at the age of ninety, in a year variously given by Arabic authorities as 725, 728, 732, and 737 C.E.
His father, whose name was Munabbih ibn Kamil, had been converted to Islam in the lifetime of the Prophet, although a single authority, the "Al-Tibr al-Masluk" (ed. 1306 A.H., p. 41), states that Wahb himself had turned from Judaism to Islam. His other biographers, however, including Al-Nawawi and Ibn Khallikan, do not note that he was a Jew either in race or in religion. The fact that he was well versed in Jewish traditions, on which he wrote much, probably gave rise to the statement that he was a Jew, although he might have acquired his knowledge from his teacher Ibn 'Abbas.
644 – 656: Uthman's era
He was born in AH 34 (654/655)
717 – 720: Umar II's era
He was made a judge during the reign of ‘Umar II.
724– 737: Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik's era
He died at the age of ninety, in a year variously given by Arabic authorities as 725, 728, 732, and 737 C.E.
Some sources for date of death: (d. c 110 [728/9] )
Wahb is said to have read more than seventy books on the prophets, and he was an extremely prolific narrator ("rawi") of stories regarding Mohammed and Biblical personages. He had a son named Abdallah al-Abnawi.
Among Wahb's many writings may be mentioned his "Qiṣaṣ al-Anbiya'" ("Story of the Prophets") and "Kitab al-Isra'iliyat" ("Book of the Israelites," "Ḥajji Khalfa," iv. 518, v. 40). The former, which is believed to be his earliest literary work, is, as its title indicates, a collection of narratives concerning Biblical personages, the accounts being drawn from Jewish folk-lore though presented in Islamitic guise. Thus, like Ibn 'Abbas and Ka'b al-Aḥbar, he was an authority for many legends narrated by Al-Ṭabari, Mas'udi, and others. The "Kitab al-Isra'iliyat," or "Book of Jewish Matters," is lost, but was apparently a collection of Jewish stories, many of them incorporated by a Jewish compiler into the "Arabian Nights." In the latter collection there are indeed many stories that bear the Jewish stamp, and some of them, such as the "Angel of Death," are ascribed to Wahb by the author of "Al-Tibr al-Masluk." There are also other stories which are attributed to Wahb, and many more which, from their Jewish character, may be traced to him. His Jewish learning may be illustrated by his opinion of the Shekinah (Arabic, "Sakinah") as stated by different Arabic authors.
According to Al-Baghawi in his "Ma'alim al-Tanzil" (Ignác Goldziher, "Abhandlungen zur Arabischen Philologie," i. 182, Leyden, 1896), Wahb believed that the Shekinah was the spirit of God. On the other hand, Al-ḥabari ("Annals," i. 544), in recording the fact that the Israelites sometimes took the Ark of the Covenant into battle when they were at war with their enemies (comp. I Sam. iv. 4 et seq.), quotes Wahb as saying in the name of a certain Jewish authority that the Shekinah which rested in the Ark was a being in the shape of a cat, and that when the Israelites heard the mewing of cats coming from the interior of the Ark, they were sure of a victory.
He narrated hadith from:
- Anas ibn Malik
- Jabir ibn Abd-Allah
- `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas
- Abd-Allah ibn Umar
- Abu Hurairah
- Abu-Sa'id al-Khudri
- Tawoos ibn Kaysaan
- Amr ibn Dinar
- Amr ibn Shayb
- Hammam ibn Munabbih
- others
Students and intellectual heirs
F. Perles, in a series of papers contributed to "Monatsschrift" (xxii.), has pointed out that several of the stories of the "Arabian Nights"—mainly those taken from the Cairene additions—deal with Jewish topics or are derived from Jewish sources. V. Chauvin, in a special treatise on the Egyptian recension of "One Thousand and One Nights" (Brussels, 1899), has suggested that these Jewish tales and others were introduced by one of the last redactors, a converted Jew, probably the author of the "Story of a Man of Jerusalem," sometimes attributed to Abraham, son of Maimonides. The Jew-ish tales themselves are probably extracted from a work of a Jewish convert to Islam, Wahb ibn Munabbih (638-738), entitled "Jewish Matters." 
The following are the tales of the "Arabian Nights" that appear from several investigations to be from Jewish sources. The numbers are those in W. F. Kirby's comparative list given in all forms of Burton's edition; the letters in parentheses refer to the identifications by Perles: 22. Ala Al-Din Abu Al-Shamat. 41. Ali Shah and Zumurrud. 52. Devout Israelite (F.). 114. Angel of Death and the Proud King.
115. Angel of Death and the Rich King.
116. Angel of Death and the King of the Children of Israel.
117. Izkander (Alexander the Great) and the Poor Folk.
119. The Jewish Cadi and His Pious Wife (A.)
122. Devout Tray-Maker and His Wife (J.).
126. The Moslem Champion.
127. The Christian King's Daughter.
128. Prophet and Providence (C.).
130. Island King and Pious Israelite.
132. Queen of Serpents: (a) Adventures of Bulukuia; (b) Story of Jamshah.
133 gg. The Seventh Voyage of Sindbad.
136. Judar and His Brethren.
137. Ajib and Gharib.
155. Hassan of Bassorah.
161 k. The Blind Man and the Cripple (G.).
163. Abdallah the Fisherman.
168. Abdallah ibn Fazil and His Brothers.
183 a. Harun al-Rashid and TuḦfat al-Ḳulub.
196. Story of Ali Cogia (K.—one of Galland's additions).
203. Sultan of Yemen and His Three Sons.
256. Story of Abdallah (E.).
Besides these stories, there are several others obviously inserted by the same hand. Thus, the whole collection from 114 to 132 appears to be by the hand of Wahb ibn Munabbih.
Although Muslims regarded him as a reliable authority in these accounts, many of them, such as Ibn Khaldun, declared that in his other writings he simply lied (comp. "Notices et Extraits des Manuscrits," xx.part 1, p. 461; De Slane, Ibn Challikan, iii. 673, note 2).
It is known that Wahb and Ka'b al-Ahbar taught Tafsir their fellow Muslims. Scholars like Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud had warned people not to learn the Tafsir from the People of the Book, arguing that they used to interpolate their own biblical beliefs, teachings and history with the Islamic creeds and preaching.
Ahmad ibn Hanbal said "he was a man of Persian descent" and also "Anyone from Yemen and has a 'Dhee' in his name, then his lineage is noble. It is said: So and so has Dhee and so and so has no Dhee.
|“||Wahb Ibn Munabbih Ibn Kamil al-Yamani, the father of `Abdallah al-Abnawi. He is trustworthy (Arabic: thiqah)...||”|
For more on the Sunni view, see "Isra'iliyat".
He assumed the judiciary over San’aa under the Caliph ’Umar Ibn ’Abdul-’Azeez. His narrations have been recorded in the Saheehayn  (al-Bukharee and Muslim). He had much knowledge regarding the people of the Book, and was counted among the pious and God-fearing, who was occupied with worship.
He died 110H in San’aa at the beginning of the Caliphate of Hishaam Ibn ’Abdul-Maalik. It is also said that he died 114H. Yaqoot agreed with the latter in his book, Mu’jamul-Udabaa.
|Arabic Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Arabian Nights 
- Bible in the Mohammedan literature 
- Ark of the Covenant 
- Islam 
- Wahhab (name)
- Jewish Encyclopedia , using the following as Bibliography:
- V. Chauvin, La Récension Egyptienne des Mille et Une Nuits, pp. 31–32, 50 et seq., Brussels, 1899;
- Ibn Challikan, French translation by De Slane, iii. 671 et seq.;
- Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, Literaturgesch. der Araber, ii. 177 et seq.;
- Carl Brockelmann, Gesch. der Arabischen Litteratur, i. 64;
- Moritz Steinschneider, Die Arabische Literatur der Juden, § 14
- On The Transmitters Of Isra'iliyyat (Judeo-Christian Material)
- Hadith Book - Section Two
- http://www.ghazali.org/articles/personalist.htm, referencing Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, XI. 166; Ab Nu‘aym, IV. 23-82; Mash…h†r, 122-3.
- Jewish Encyclopedia 
- http://www.mostmerciful.com/hadithbook-sectiontwo.htm, referencing Dr. Muhammad Husayn al-Dhahabi, in his book, Al-Tafsir wal-Mufassirun, Volume 1, Published by Dar al-Qalam, Beirut
- al-'Illal (2/52)
- Thiqaatul-'Ijlee (no.476)
- Taqrib al-Tahdhib, Volume II, 1960, Al-Maktabat al-`Ilmiyyah: Al-Madinah, p. 339.