The Problems with Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasoul Allah (Arabic for The Life of Messenger of Allah) and other Early sources of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (2009)

Ehteshaam Gulam

"Just Because Something is ealry, doesn't mean it's true. If something is early, it just means its early. It has to be Early AND Reliable. It's possible that something is early and false." - Bassam Zawadi.

UPDATE: To see my more detailed Video on the problems with Ibn Ishaq and Al-Tabari see here. To see all the refutations to Criticisms of
Prophet Muhammad see here.


Section #1 The Earliest Sources Who were they?     
Section #2  The Differences between Sirah and Hadith
                                                      What is the most authentic source for Islam/ Prophet Muhammad?
Section #3  Why most of  Ibn Ishaq cannot be trusted
Section #4  False Stories in Ibn Ishaq and Al-Tabari
Section #5 Other Problems with Early sources of Islam
      Section #6 What Non-Muslim Scholars say about the early sources

Section #1 The Earliest Sources, Who were they?

Was Ibn Ishaq The earliest Biographer of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)? No, he wasn't.

It is commonly said that the earliest biography of Prophet Muhamamd (p) was written 120 years after his death at that biography is Ibn Ishaq. This is false. Below is a list of very early biographies of Prophet Muhammad, some written by his own disciples (companions):

To see very early hadith books and refuting the claim that the hadith came "200 years after the Prophet"  see here and here

The following is a list of the earliest known Hadith collectors who specialized in collecting Sīra and Maghāzī (wars of the Prophet and companions) reports:

7th and early 8th century (1st century of Hijra):

Sahl ibn Abī Ḥathma (d. in Mu'awiya's reign, i.e., 41-60 AH), was a young companion of the Prophet. Parts of his writings on Maghazi are preserved in the Ansāb ofal-Baladhuri, the Ṭabaqāt of Ibn Sa'd, and the works of Ibn Jarir al-Tabari and al-Waqidi.[1]

Abdullah ibn Abbas (d. 78 AH), a companion of Muhammad, his traditions are found in various works of Hadith and Sīra.

Saʿīd ibn Saʿd ibn ʿUbāda al-Khazrajī, another young companion, his writings have survived in the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal and Abī ʿIwāna, and the Tārīkh of al-Tabari.[1]

ʿUrwa ibn al-Zubayr (d. 713). He wrote letters replying to inquiries of the Umayyad caliphs, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and al-Walid I, involving questions about certain events that happened in the time of the Prophet. Since Abd al-Malik did not appreciate the maghāzī literature, these letters were not written in story form. He is not known to have written any books on the subject.[2] He was a grandson of Abu Bakr and the younger brother of Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr.

Saʿīd ibn al-Masīb al-Makhzūmī (d. 94 AH), a famous Tābiʿī and one of the teachers of al-Zuhri. His traditions are quoted in in the Six major hadith collections, and in the Sīra works of Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, and others.[1]

Abū Fiḍāla ʿAbd Allāh ibn Kaʿb ibn Mālik al-Anṣārī (d. 97 AH), his traditions were mentioned in Ibn Ishaq and al-Tabari.[1]

Abbān ibn Uthmān ibn Affān (d. 101-105 AH), the son of Uthman. His traditions are transmitted through Malik ibn Anas in his Muwaṭṭaʾ, the Ṭabaqāt of Ibn Sa'd, and in the histories of al-Tabari and al-Yaʿqūbī.[1]

ʿĀmir ibn Sharāḥīl al-Shaʿbī (d. 103 AH), his traditions were transmitted through Abu Isḥāq al-Subaiʿī, Saʿīd ibn Masrūq al-Thawrī, al-Aʿmash, Qatāda, Mujālid ibn Saʿīd, and others.[1]

8th and early 9th century (2nd century of Hijra)

Al-Qāsim ibn Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr (d. 107 AH), another grandson of Abu Bakr. His traditions are mainly found in Tabari, Al-Balathuri, and al-Waqidi.[1]

Wahb ibn Munabbih (d. during 725 to 737, or 114 AH). Several books were ascribed to him but none of them are now extant. Some of his works survive as quotations found in works by Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Abū Nuʿaym al-Iṣfahānī, and others.[1][2]

Ibn Shihāb al-Zuhrī (d. c. 737), a central figure in sīra literature, who collected both ahadith and akhbār. His akhbār also contain chains of transmissions, or isnad. He was sponsored by theUmayyad court and asked to write two books, one on genealogy and another on maghāzī. The first was canceled and the one about maghāzī is either not extant or has never been written.[2]

Musa ibn ʿUqba, a student of al-Zuhrī, and wrote Kitāb al-Maghāzī, a notebook used to teach his students; now lost. Some of his traditions have been preserved, although their attribution to him is disputed.[2]

Muhammad ibn Ishaq (d. 767 or 761), who will be discussed more below.

Other Biographers of the Prophet Muhammad (p) (710 AD- 921 AD)

Zubayr ibn al-Awam, the husband of Asma bint Abi Bakr.
Abaan ibn Uthman ibn Affan, the son of Uthman wrote a small booklet.
Hammam ibn Munabbih, a student of Abu Hurayrah
Asim Ibn Umar Ibn Qatada Al-Ansari
Ma'mar Ibn Rashid Al-Azdi, pupil of Al-Zuhri
Abdul Rahman ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Ausi, pupil of Al-Zuhri
Muhammad ibn Salih ibn Dinar Al-Tammar was a pupil of Al-Zuhri and mentor of Al-Waqidi.
Hashim Ibn Urwah ibn Zubayr, son of Urwah ibn Zubayr, generally quoted traditions from his father but was also a pupil of Al-Zuhri.
Ya'qub bin Utba Ibn Mughira Ibn Al-Akhnas Ibn Shuraiq Al-Thaqafi
Abu Ma'shar Najih Al-Madani.
Ali ibn mujahid Al razi Al kindi.
Al-Bakka was a disciple of Ibn Ishaq and teacher of Ibn Hisham and thus forms a very important link in Sira between two great scholars.
Abdul Malik Ibn Hisham, his work incorporated the text of Ibn Ishaq; he was a pupil of Al-Bakka.
Salama ibn Al-Fadl Al-Abrash Al-Ansari, pupil of Ibn Ishaq.
Al-Waqidi, whose only surviving work is "Kitab alTarikh wa al-Maghazi" (Book of History and Campaigns)
Abu Isa Muhammad Al-Tirmidhi wrote compilations of Shamaail (Characteristics of Muhammad)
Ibn Sa'd wrote the 8-volume work called Tabaqat or The Book of the Major Classes; he was also a pupil of Al-Waqidi.
Imam Al-Bayhaqee, wrote Dalial An-Nabuwwah (Argument for Prophet hood).
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote the well-known work History of the Prophets and Kings, whose earlier books include the life of Muhammad, which cite of Ibn Ishaq.


Abdul Rahman Al-Suhaili, wrote a commentary on Ibn Ishaq's work called Raud al-Unuf.
Al-Hafiz Abdul Mu'min Al-Dimyati, wrote the book "al-Mukhtasar fi Sirati Sayyid Khair al-Bashar" but is commonly referred to as Sira of Al-Dimyati.
Ala'al-Din Ali ibn Muhammad Al-Khilati Hanafi,wrote Sirat of Al-Khilati.
Sheikh Zahir al-Din ibn Muhammad Gazaruni.
Abu-al-Faraj ibn Al-Jawzi,wrote A Great Collection of Fabricated Traditions a critique of Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal. But his book on Sira is called Sharaf Al-Mustafa (actual full Title of book(s):Uyun al-hikayat fi Sirat Sayyid al-Bariyya).
Ibn Kathir, wrote Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya (Ibn Kathir).
Abu Rabi Sulaiman ibn Musa Al-Kala'i compiled a book titled "Iktifa fi Maghazi al-Mustafa wal-Khulafa al-Thalatha".
Ibn Abd al-Barr.
Ibn Sayyid Al-Nas, wrote Uyun al-Athar.
Qadi Iyad, wrote Ash-Shifa – Muhammad The Messenger of Allah
Zain al-Din Iraqi was a teacher of Ibn Hajar and he wrote Sira Manzuma.
Al-Qastallani, his book on Sira is Al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya.

Note that Most of these very early biographies of the Prophet Muhammad don't exist anymore, either they were destroyed or absorbed into other works. However some of these biographies do survive.

Who Was Ibn Ishaq?

      His full name is Muhammad b Ishaq b Yasar, born in Madina about 85AH/ 702CE and died in Baghdad 151AH. Ibn Ishaq was the earliest (but one of the worse) biographers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  Ibn Ishaq was born in Madina (The city of the Prophet) approximately 85 years after Hijra, which is approximately 704 CE. He is thus considered one of the Tabi‘in and he is reported to have met Anas ibn Malik. He worked in Madina until the Abbasids replaced the Umayyads in the caliphate (750 C.E.). After that he is reported at various places in Iraq and Iran and he died in Bagdad in 768 C.E.

      He was the first author to write Sirat Rassoul Allah/ Biography of Muhammad (peace be upon him). His grandfather, Yassar was a Christian captured by Khalid b al Walid in Aynul Tamar in 12AH who became a slave to Qays b Makhrama b. al Muttalib b. Abdu Manaf who was manumeted after he accepted Islam. His father Ishaq and uncle Musa were well known traditionists which eventually led to Ibn Ishaq as a writer and author. [1]

      It is unclear that Ibn Ishaq must have devoted himself to study and research the apostolic tradition by attending lectures in Egypt and then returning to Madina to collate and arrange all the materials that he had accumulated.

      Ibn Ishaq's  biography of Muhammad the Sira was based - besides others - on many of the reports about Prophet Muhammad from books written by several different authors called al Maghazi which described the stories of the wars that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) fought.

      The original book has not been found but its contents were traced through other contemporaneous authors who copied his book such as Ibn Hisham.Early Muslim historical writing was primarily concerned with the biography of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah) and the first wars of Islam (Al-Maghazi). Muhammad Ibn Ishaq related the first known biography (Sira). This work no longer exists in its original form, but has been preserved in at least two recensions, one of these recensions being authored by Ibn Hisham (with many revisions), as well as by Al Bakka'i, al Tabari, Yunus b. Bukayr, al Athir, Al Qarawayoun (in Fez, Morocco) manuscript, etc.; thus Ibn Hisham's work represents one of the earliest (but not entirely reliable) authorities on the life of Muhammad. [2]

      The Arabic text was published at Gottingen in three volumes by F. Wustenfeld, 1858-60, and a German translation by G. Weil, The Historian of the Caliphate, appeared at Stuttgart in 1864. It is this latter work which is perhaps better known in the West, and is now more conveniently read in the English translation of the late Alfred Guilaume.

      Alfred Guillaume's English translation is probably the best attempt at the reconstruction of Ibn Ishaq's work. This was produced largely by translating what Ibn Hisham reports from Ibn Ishaq, adding quotations from the latter that are included by al-Tabari (mainly the material that Ibn Hisham omitted) and placing Ibn Hisham's comments on Ibn Ishaq's work at the end of the translation in a section called "Ibn Hisham's Notes" [3]  The page numbers suggest that Ibn Hisham's comments constitute about 15% of his recessions of Ibn Ishaq's work.

      Ibn Hisham's (833 C.E.) work contains information concerning the creation of the world, Biblical/Isreali Prophets, and the advent of Islam. The actions and deeds of Muhammad were noted, and his battles described in great detail. Ibn Hisham's Sirat Muhammad rasul Allah is considered by Dunlop as one of the best existing authorities on the life of Muhammad.

      We do not know if Ibn Ishaq ever wrote a "book" in the ordinary sense of books. What has come down to us seems to be from the notes taken by his pupils. The standard source is now the "Sirat al-Nabi" ("Life of the Prophet") of Abd al-Malik ibn Hisha (died 830, 835 or perhaps much later) which is a systematic presentation of Ibn Ishaq's material with a commentary by Ibn Hisham.

      This should be supplemented by the extracts in al-Tabari and other authors. For example, the story about the allegic Verses was not reported by Ibn Hisham. But it was repeated by al-Tabari and others. Ibn Hisham makes no secret - in the Introduction to his book - of the fact that he omitted some of the material Ibn Ishaq included that reflected negatively upon Muhammad's character.

The part of Ibn Hisham's work due to Ibn Ishaq is now usually called the"Sirat Rasul Allah" ("Life of Allah's Messenger"). Ibn Ishaq's work originally consisted of three almost equal parts. The first was a history of the world up until the beginning of Muhammad's ministry. The second was an account of Muhammad's work in Mecca and the third was an account of his work in Madina and his death.

      The first part, the Mubtada' (Mabda'), one has to go to the Tafsir and History, which is actually based upon the Hebrew Bible, from Genesis (In the Beginning/ Mubtada'), the beginning of Creation story. Unfortunately, Ibn Hisham was not interested in these stories and jumped directly to the story of Abraham, who is the ancestor of Muhammad (p) and the Arab race. Much of this part it is lost. What remains is based on Arabic traditions and the Jewish scriptures. Al Azraqi for example, quotes some passages from the missing section in his Akhbar Mecca.

      The second part, which is often called al-Mab'ath, begins with the birth of Muhammad and ends when the first fighting from his base in Madina takes place. It is a collection of prophetic hadiths, especially about the events behind the revelation of one or another verse in the Quran (the division between Meccan and Madinan suras), lists of significant persons (for example, the earliest Muslims) and poetry. Ibn Ishaq does not attempt a chronology, but he does arrange his material in a logical sequence.

      The third part consists of a careful month-based chronology (which falls apart at the end) and the campaigns Maghazi (Ibn Ishaq counts 27, but he stretches the meaning of campaign) made by Muhammad from his base of operations in Madina are carefully embedded in this chronology. But before this campaign literature there is a copy of the document called the Constitution of Madina and an extensive section of Tafsir and Hadiths. Tafsir also occurs several times embedded in the campaign literature. The campaign literature itself includes extensive poetry and lists of persons involved as well as description of battles or why no battle took place.

      The Tafsir is among the earliest in Islam and the American Quran scholar John Wansbrough classifies it as Haggadic in his most primitive subset of the Tafsir. That is, it is primarily devoted to passing on a narrative.The campaign literature is followed by an appendix describing campaigns made by other Muslims under Muhammad's directions and a relatively brief account of his death and succession by Abu Bakr.

      There are about 600 Hadiths in Ibn Ishaq's book "Sirat Rasullah" and most of them have what appears to be questionable (at best) isnads (chains of transmissions) . But the later hadith collectors (Bukhari, Muslim, etc) rarely used any material from the Sira (because of the lack of quality and authentic isnads). It is important to note that Muslims follow the Quran and the Hadith 100% only. Not the Sira. There are almost as many poems as hadiths in Ibn Ishaq, but later commentaries tend to view them as worthless because they feel so many of them were forged (by Muslims). Alfred Guillaumme, translated it in English in his own monumental work "The Life of Muhammad".

Who were the other Earlier Sources of Islam? (See above for a more complete list)

During the early days of Islam, there were numberous books written about Islam and Prophet Muhammad. These books were the Sirat (Biography) and the Maghazi ( the battles). These books are completely different than the hadith books-- as in they are not as reliable as the hadith. The Sirat and the Maghazi weren't carefully written or compiled. Many unreliable accounts and fictional narratvies crept into them. Anyways below is a list of the earliest compliers and biographers of the Prophet and the Maghazi.

Aban b. `Uthman al-Bajkali (640-718 C.E.), son of the  caliph who wrote a book on maghazi which has not survived, nor has it been cited by Ibn Ishaq or al-Waqidi.

`Urwa b. al-Zubayr b. al-Awwam (643-712 C.E.) the cousin of the Prophet and referred to the founder of Islamic history. There is doubt that he authored anything, but there are many traditiions that have been handed down in his name.

Shurabil b. sa`d (740 C.E.), who wrote a maghazi, but this book was considered unreliable and thus seldom used by later historians.

Wahb b. Munabbih (654-728 C.E.), who wrote the Kitab al-Mubtada, which inspired many Muslim versions of the lives of the prophets. However, much was attributed to him for which he was not responsible, and the earliest fragment is 228/842, and several early writers did not use him.

Al-Waqidi (734-823 C.E.) worte over twenty works of an historical nature, but only the Kitab al-Maghazi has survived as an independent work. His reputation is mared by the fact that he relied upon story tellers; viz., those who embellished the stories of others. Al-Waqidi did such embellish, such as by adding dates and other details onto the account of Ibn Ishaq

Ibn Sa'd (784-845 C.E.) He was a Sunni Muslim scholar of Islam and an Iraqi biographer, received his training in the tradition from Al-Waqidi and other teachers.

Al-Tabari (923 C.E.) was a polymath who wrote on many subjects (including a commentary on the Quran) but is perhaps most famous for his history of the world, which extends to July 915.

Ali bin Muhammad al Madaini (840 C.E.) - Imporant for the Arab conquests of Persia.

In section 5 We'll get more into why we really can't trust Al-Waqidi and Ibn Sa'd. Right now lets focus on Ibn Ishaq's sira.

Section #2 The Differences between Sirah and Hadith

Several critics of Islam say that Ibn Ishaq's "Sirat Rasulallah" - "Life of the Prophet of Allah" is considered the most authentic biography of Prophet Muhammad. This is certainly false. While it is true that Sirat Rasulallah is the oldest and earliest biography of the Prophet-- no Muslim accpets Ibn Ishaq to be 100% true, inspired, a sunnah book or reliable. Most of the material of the Sira as we'll see has been rejected by hadith collectors such as Bukhari, etc. What several critics of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) fail to realize is that there is a huge difference between Sirah (Biography of the Prophet) and Hadith (the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad). The Seerah is a collection of narrations about the people and events surrounding the Prophet (SAW) arranged in a chronological order. The amount of rigor put into authenticating and analyzing the chains and narrators [4] of an incident or event that is found in the Seerah is far lower than when a narration is used in the Sunnah or Hadith. Only the top of the top narrations, namely Sahih [5]  or Hasan [6] are used in the books of Hadith and Sunnah. As for Seerah this is not the case, the narrations used include all the authentic and acceptable ones, along with ones with weaknesses. The reason for including these weaker narrations is in order to fill in gapes or holes in the story. Muslims accept the hadith 100%. Muslims however don't accept the Sirah 100%--- rather Muslim scholars question 70% of the material found in the works of  Al-Waqidi, Ibn Sa'd, Ibn Ishaq, etc. These were more or less historians-- they were not hadith collectors. Ibn Ishaq, Al-Waqidi, Ibn Sa'd and Al-Tabri all operated outside of f all the sciences of Islam and isnaad (Arabic for chain of transmitters).  Ibn Is’haaq’s specialty was seerah therefore he was abandoned by the scholars of hadeeth (such as Bukhari and Muslim) when it came to narrating hadeeth and a reason for this might be because he might include those weaker narrations while he narrated the hadeeth.

Ibn al-Hashimi’s Nasibi Imam Ibn Tamiyah confidently made the following admission in his book Majmo'a al-Fatawa, Volume 18 page 7:

فَلَيْسَ تَحْتَ أَدِيمِ السَّمَاءِ كِتَابٌ أَصَحُّ مِنْ الْبُخَارِيِّ وَمُسْلِمٍ

“There is’nt any other book under the surface of the sky more authentic than Bukhari and Muslim” 

However when Muslims say Bukhari and Muslim are the most reliable books to learn about Islam, they are only talking about the fully connected chains of hadith.

We read in Hujatullah al-Balegha, Volume 1 page 249 by Shah Waliullah Dehalwi:

أما الصحيحان فقد اتفق المحدثون على أن جميع ما فيهما من المتصل المرفوع صحيح بالقطع وأنهما متواتران إلى مصنفيهما وأن كل من يهون أمرهما فهو مبتدع متبع غير سبيل المؤمنين

“The scholar agreed that all the connected traditions contained within both Sahihs are absolutely authentic and the two books are successively attributed to their (respective) authors and verily whoever belittled their status (the two books) is an innovator and is not adhering to the path of the believers.” 

However there are some broken hadith in Bukhari and Muslim. There are some footnotes made in Bukhari that state that there are broken chains of transmissions in his hadith.

Shias prefer hadith attributed to the Ahl al-Bayt and close associates, and have their own separate collection of hadiths. They accept Hadith that go back to Ali (a disciple of Prophet Muhammad) and his family and have their own hadith collections. However there are severe problems with their collections see here.

Section #3 Why Ibn Ishaq can't be trusted/The Problems with Ibn Ishaq

"The Life of Muhammad" by Ibn Ishaq has been quoted by many critics of Islam. They get excited when Ibn Ishaq paints a bad picture of Prophet Muhammad and use it in their writings to attack Islam.  Although Ibn Ishaq  was the earliest of the traditionists to write a biography of the events that pertained to the time of Muhammad (p) there are several severe problems with his writings. As Bassam Zawadi says" just because something is early doesn't mean it is true". He has a good point.  Not everyone back then was reliable and honest.  Ibn Ishaq was known to be careless in him collecting stories about the Prophet, etc.

Several respected Muslim theologians rightly reject his   (Ibn Ishaq's) authority for several reasons:

(A)   That he was a Shi'i favouring Ali over all the other contenders to the Khilfa

(B)   That he held the view that Man has free will, which is kind of contrary to the Quranic perception.

(C)  That his Isnads (chains of transmissions) were defective, ie not 'iron' tight by naming all the reporters, which is important because this determines whether the transmitter of the story is trustworthy or not. Ibn Ishaq was not an eye witness to any of the events of Prophet Muhammad's life.  Ibn Ishaq was writing about 150 years after the Prophet's death so this is very important. In Islamic sciences in order for a report of the Prophet (peace be on him) to be true is if the isnad is solid or not.

(D) He used reports of traditions gathered from Jewish sources. Jews made up a lot of false stories/legends of Prophet Muhammad (just like the early Christians living outside of Palestine made up a lot of myths and legends of Jesus and put them in the Gospels). Making up stories and legends about the Prophet are unnacceptable in the eyes of many Islamic scholars.

(E) Ibn Ishaq was (for lack of better term) a "suck up" to the Jews of Arabia. He said several complimentary reports of the Jews of Arabia, despite the fact that the Jews of Arabia were constatnly fighting with the Arabs and were charging interest when loaning money. The Jews of Madinah were constatly plotting againist the Prophet Muhammad. They were always trying to undermine his authority. In fact they sided with the Makkans in order to assinate the Prophet.

(F) Most important of all, his report about Laylat al Qadr (the first revelation), contradicts all the hadith versions. The hadith collectors Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, etc were more careful in collecting their hadith (their chains of transmission).

(G) There are several stories in Ibn Ishaq which are never found in the hadith. The reason why is because several hadith collectors such as Bukhari-- did not trust Ibn Ishaq.

Ibn Ishaq as an author was in fact subjected to devastating attacks by scholars, contemporary or later, on two particular accounts. One was his uncritical inclusion in his Sira of so much spurious or forged poetry [7] ;the other his unquestioning acceptance of just such a story as that of the slaughter of Banu Qurayza [8].  It gets worse for Ibn Ishaq though. First let's talk about what Imam Malk thought of Ibn Ishaq.

    Who Was Imam Malik? What Did Imam Malik have to Say about Ibn Ishaq?

Malik bin Anas Bin Malik bin Abu Amir Al-Asbahi (715-801 C.E.) or Imam Malik-- lived cloest in the time to the life of Prophet Muhammad of all the collectors of the hadith (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, etc). He was born more than 80 years after the death of the Prophet.
Imam Malik was a complier of a respected hadith collection, called Muwatta. Imam Malik was a hadith scholar. Imam Malik called Ibn Ishaq a liar and an imposter for writing false stories about Prophet Muhammad. Imam Malik has said that Ibn Ishaq "reports traditions on the authority of the Jews". [9]

Ibn Ishaq was condemned by some of our major Islamic scholars.

Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah said:

"Allah has provided evidence (i.e. Isnad) establishing the authenticity or lack thereof of the narrations that are necessary in matters of the religion. It is well known that most of what was reported in aspects of Tafsir (commentaries on the Qur'an) is similar to narrations reporting Maghazi (or Seerah) and battles, promoting Imam Ahmad to state that three matters do not have Isnad: Tafsir, Mala'him (i.e. great battles), and Maghazi. This is because most of their narrations are of the Maraseel (plural for Mursal) type, such as narrations reported by Urwah Ibn az-Zubair, ash-Sha'bi, az-Zuhri, Musa Ibn Uqbah and Ibn Ishaq." [10]

Imam Malik was not the only contemporary of Ibn Ishaq's to have problems with him. Despite writing the earliest biography of Prophet Muhammad, Scholars such as al-Nisa'I and Yahya b. Kattan did not view Ibn Ishaq as a reliable or authoritative source of Hadith. [11] Though some thought his use of collective isnad (chains of tranmissions) problematized his Hadith, several people went so far as to call Ibn Ishaq a liar on matters of Hadith. Others claim Ibn Ishaq included verses in his Sira that he knew were not authentic.

What other said about Ibn Ishaq:

Ibn Ishaq being the solitary narrator i.e. there is no chain for it that does not involve Ibn Ishaq. Solitary reports of Ibn Ishaq are not reliable.

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was asked about the solitary reports of Ibn Ishaq if they are considered reliable. He said “No!”. See Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, Da’ira Ma’arif Nizamia, Hyderabad, 1326 A.H. vol.9 p.43

There are several chainless stories that exist in Ibn Ishaq's work. We don't know who these missing people are. We don't know if they are Muslims, non-Muslims, hypocrites acting as Muslims and purposely spreading lies, etc. So if we are not sure who the people in the missing links are, how can we apply the principle of embarrassment to the narrations? We can only apply this principle if we were to know that the person is a trustworthy Muslim who would definitely have no motive to lie and make up something derogatory about the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, for all we know, the people in the missing link could be people known for fabricating narrations. You can't apply this principle to these narrations. Since we are not sure who the people in the missing link are, we can't confidently go ahead and apply this principle to this situation.

The Original Form of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah is Lost

As I have already said, the Sirat written by Ibn Ishaq only exists in a later revised and shortened version by Ibn Hisham, who died in 834 C.E, 60 years after Ibn Ishaq-- and in fragments quoted by other Muslim writers including another historian, Muhammad Ibn Jarir Al-Tabari (839-923 C.E.).

Ibn Hisham, the editor of Ibn Ishaq's biography admitted to removing certain stories from Ibn Ishaq's work

Ibn Hisham was not a scholar of hadith. He was only a biographer and did not use the proper method of collecting Hadith and the proper way of deterimining a valid isnad. Ibn Hisham explains that in his version he omits a lot of material from Ibn Ishaq's biography:

"God willing I shall begin this book with Isma'il son of Ibrahim and mention those of his offspring who were the ancestors of God's apostle one by one with what is known about them, taking no account of Isma'il's other children, omitting some of the things which I.I. has recorded in this book in which there is no mention of the apostle and about which the Quran says nothing and which are not relevant to anything in this book or an explanation of it or evidence for it; poems which he quotes that no authority on poetry whom I have met knows of; things which it is disgraceful to discuss; matters which would distress certain people; and such reports as al-Bakka'i told me he could not accept as trustworthy - all these things I have omitted. But God willing I shall give a full account of everything else so far as it is known and trustworthy tradition is available. [12]

Section #4 False stories found in Ibn Ishaq, Al-Waqidi, Ibn Sa'd and Al-Tabari

There are many false stories in Ibn Ishaq and Al-Tabari (NOTE: Go here read about other false stories about Prophet Muhammad). To save time and space, I'll list some of the famous false stories of Ibn Ishaq about Prophet Muhammad-- and tell why they are false. I'll also include the Satanic Verses which is found in Al-Tabari.

1.) The alleged assination of Asma: The first story that critics of Islam spread around is the assination of Asma of the tribe of Aus. She is said to have been a poetess who made fun of Prophet Muhammad saying that he killed many of their chiefs (not true). When Prophet Muhamamd heard this he allegedly asked a Muslim named Umair to kil her. He brutally murdered her and Prophet Muhammad praised him for this deed. The story of the killing of Asma' bint Marwan is mentioned by Ibn Sa'd in Kitab At-Tabaqat Al-Kabir[10] and by the author of Kinz-ul-'Ummal under number 44131 who attributes it to Ibn Sa'd, Ibn 'Adiyy and Ibn 'Asaker. What is interesting is that Ibn 'Adiyy mentions it in his book Al-Kamel on the authority of Ja'far Ibn Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn As-Sabah on authority of Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim Ash-Shami on authority of Muhammad Ibn Al-Hajjaj Al-Lakhmi on authority of Mujalid on authority of Ash-Shu'abi on authority of Ibn 'Abbas, and added that

...this isnâd (chain of reporters) is not narrated on authority of Mujalid but by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hajjaj and they all (other reporters in the chain) accuse Muhammad Ibn Al-Hajjaj of forging it.[13]

It is also reported by Ibn al-Gawzi in Al-'Ilal[14] and is listed among other flawed reports.

So according to its isnâd (chain of transmitters), the report is forged - because one of its reporters is notorious for fabricating hadîth. Hence, such this story is rejected and 100% false. Moreover this story is never found in the hadith, Bukhari, Muslim, etc

2.) The alleged assination of Abu Afak: Abu Afak was allegedly an Old Jewish Poet who lived in Madinah during the Prophet's minstry. Abu Afak allegedly wrote a poem making fun of Prophet Muhammad and the Early Muslims. The Prophet heard of these verses and told someone to kill Abu Afak. Salim Ibn Umayr allegedly went forward and killed Abu Afak with a sword (Ibn Ishaq page 675).

the chain of reporters of the story from eye-witnesses of the event till Ibn Ishâq or Al-Waqîdî must be examined and verified. So, our legitimate question is: where is the isnâd (i.e., chain of reporters)? There is no isnad for this story.

Unfortunately, references of the Sîrah do not provide such information. Actually, we are told that this story has no isnâd at all; neither Ibn Ishâq (or his disciple Ibn Hîsham) nor Al-Waqîdî (or his disciple Ibn Sa'd) had provided such a thing! In this case, the story is rated by hadîth scholars as "...of no basis", indicating that it has reached the lowest degree of criticism regarding its isnâd. This is in fact a proper scientific position because we cannot accept such a problematic story without evidence.

In brief, we have no commitment to accept such a baseless story - according to scientific criteria of hadîth criticism - which strangely had appeared in the 2nd half of the 2nd century after Hijra. We are therefore obliged to reject the story of the killing of Abu 'Afak by Salîm Ibn 'Umaîr at the Prophet’s command. So again this story is 100% false and fictional. Again this story is never found in the hadith literature.

3.) The alleged torture of Kinnana for money:  The third story goes like this. A man named Kinnana knew where some money was. He refused to tell anyone. Prophet Muhammad had him burned with fire until he told where the money was. The story is quoted below:

Kinana al-Rabi, who had the custody of the treasure of Banu Nadir, was brought to the apostle who asked him about it. He denied that he knew where it was. A Jew came (Tabari says "was brought"), to the apostle and said that he had seen Kinana going round a certain ruin every morning early. When the apostle said to Kinana, "Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?" He said "Yes". The apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be excavated and some of the treasure was found. When he asked him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr Al-Awwam, "Torture him until you extract what he has." So he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud. (Ibn Ishaq page 515)

So is this story true? Did Prophet Muhamamd torture someone just for some money? No.

The source of this story is invalid. The story is false. This is because there is no source for this story:

" While describing the battle of Khaibar, the history writers have committed a serious blunder in reporting a totally baseless report, which has become a common place. It is said that the Prophet ( Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had granted amnesty to the Jews on condition that they would not hide anything. When Kinana Ibn Rabi' refused to give any clue to the hidden treasures, the Prophet ( peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered Zubair to adopt stern measures to force a disclosure. Zubair branded his chest with a hot flint again and again, till he was on the point of death. At last he ordered Kinana to be put to death and all the Jews were made slaves.

The whole truth in the story is that Kinana was put to death. But it was not for his refusal to give a clue to the hidden treasure. He was put to death because he had killed Mahmud Ibn Maslama (also Muslima). Tabari had reported it in unambiguous words: " Then the Holy Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave Kinana to Muhammad Ibn Maslama (Muslima), " and he put him to death in retaliation of the murder of his own brother, Mahmud Ibn Maslama (Muslima)."

In the rest of the report, both Tabari and Ibn Hisham have quoted it from Ibn Ishaq, but Ibn Ishaq does not name any narrator. Traditionalists, in books on Rijal (hadith evaluations), have explicitly stated that Ibn Ishaq used to borrow from the Jews stories concerning the battle of the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). As Ibn Ishaq does not mention the name of any narrator whatsoever in this case, there is every likelihood of the story of having been passed on by the Jews.

That a man should be tortured with burns on his chest by the sparks of a flint is too heinous a deed for a Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who had earned for himself the title of Rahma'lil Alamin (Mercy for all the worlds). After all, did he not let the woman who had sought to poison him go scot free? Who would expect such a soul to order human body to be so burnt for the sake of a few coins.

As a matter of fact, Kinana Ibn Rabi Ibn al-Huquaiq had been granted his life on the condition that he would never break faith or make false statements. He had also given his word, according to one of the reports, that if he did anything to the contrary, he could be put to death. Kinana played false, and the immunity granted to him was withdrawn. He killed Mahmud Ibn Maslama (Muslima) and had, therefore to suffer for it, as we have already stated on the authority of Tabari." [15]

As we can see there is no evidence what so ever for this story of Kinana because there is no narration or source given. This story is false. Something being early doesn't mean much if we don't know that its source is reliable. 

4.) The Satanic Verses story:  This story is only found in Al-Tabari and not in Ibn Ishaq. May I suggest Reading what has to say about this matter here.-- And yes the Satanic Vereses story is false:

"The story that Muhammad could have used the Satanic suggestion is rejected by almost all exegetes, but the fact that the story persists as a subject of exegetes' discussions is testimony to the reality of the temptation both for Muhammad and for later Muslims in their own struggles with such "Babylons" as London, New York, Paris, or Hamburg." [16]

5.) The killing of the Meccan Ten:  Another false story being passed around by Anti-Islamic critics is Prophet Muhammad's alleged killing of ten Meccans (six men and four women) just for making fun of him. This story is not found in the hadith (the most reliable and authentic sources of the life of the Prophet). In fact according to the hadith there is no fighting allowed in Mecca:

Narrated Abu Huraira: "In the year of the Conquest of Mecca, the tribe of Khuza'a killed a man from the tribe of Bani Laith in revenge for a killed person, belonging to them. They informed the Prophet about it. So he rode his Rahila (she-camel for riding) and addressed the people saying, "Allah held back the killing from Mecca. (The sub-narrator is in doubt whether the Prophet said "elephant or killing," as the Arabic words standing for these words have great similarity in shape), but He (Allah) let His Apostle and the believers over power the infidels of Mecca. Beware! (Mecca is a sanctuary) Verily! Fighting in Mecca was not permitted for anyone before me nor will it be permitted for anyone after me. It (war) in it was made legal for me for few hours or so on that day. No doubt it is at this moment a sanctuary, it is not allowed to uproot its thorny shrubs or to uproot its trees or to pick up its Luqatt (fallen things) except by a person who will look for its owner (announce it publicly). And if somebody is killed, then his closest relative has the right to choose one of the two-- the blood money (Diyya) or retaliation having the killer killed. In the meantime a man from Yemen came and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Get that written for me." The Prophet ordered his companions to write that for him. Then a man from Quraish said, "Except Al-Iqhkhir (a type of grass that has good smell) O Allah's Apostle, as we use it in our houses and graves." The Prophet said, "Except Al-Idhkhiri.e. Al-Idhkhir is allowed to be plucked."  ( Bukhari,  Volume 1, Book 3, Number 112)"

Back to the Meccan Ten, in fact this story is also found in the least authentic biography of Prophet Muhammad the "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir" by Ibn Sa'd. We don't know where either Ibn Ishaq or Ibn Sa'd got this story of Prophet Muhammad ordering execution of the Meccan Ten from (who were their sources, who were their chain of transmitters (insnads), etc) -- therefore like the above stories, this story is 100%  false. As for Ibn Sa'd-- he wasn't a very trust worthy historian. Concerning the two historians, al-Waqidi and Ibn Sa'd, the contemporary scholar, Tarif Khalidi, says:

   For it is clear that Waqidi is in fact the senior partner. Ibn Sa'd, known of course as 'katib al-Waqidi', was a secretary-editor of his master and of the materials he had assembled and then amplified.[17]

In other words, neither al-Waqidi nor Ibn Sa'd were eye-witnesses to the killing of the Meccan Ten; they were simply the transmitters.

It is also worthwhile to mention that:

   ... Waqidi was attacked for loose isnad usage by strict practitioners of Hadith...[18]

Another thing about Al Waqidi is he has been frequently criticized by Muslim writers, who say that he is unreliable. [19]

Even Imam Shafi, a Muslim jurist and great scholar says that "the books written by Al-Waqidi are nothing but heaps of lies". So who am I to disagree?

Claiming that the issue of so-called 'Killing of the Meccan Ten" incident is true just because Ibn Ishaqor Ibn Sa'd mentioned them amounts to a deliberate distortion of the facts.

6.) The Killing  of Sara a Freed Slave

Another fake story is the Prophet ordering the killing of a woman who used to make fun of him, a freed slave named Sara. Prophet Muhammad allegedly commanded his men to kill her wherever they find her. She was eventually found and trampled to death by a mounted soldier. (This is found in Ibn Ishaq page 551)  This story is false. This story is never found in the Hadith literature such as Bukahri, Muslim, etc. Moreover Prophet Muhammad ordered that women and children should not be killed in a hadith found here:

Narrated 'Abdullah:  During some of the Ghazawat of the Prophet a woman was found killed. Allah's Apostle disapproved the killing of women and children. (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 257)

7.) The Killing of al-Huwayrith

In this story found only in Ibn Ishaq, Al-Huwayrith insults and makes fun of Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad allegedly orders that Huwayrith and allegedly Ali kills Huwayrith. (Ibn Ishaq page From Ibn Ishaq, p. 551) Again this story is not found in the most reliable source on Prophet Muhammad, Bukhari or any of the other Hadith collections such as Muslim, Abu Dawud, etc. However this story is found in Al-Tabari's Tarikh al-Tabari: Tarikh al-Umam wal-Muluk. However as we'll see Al-Tabari's book The History of Al-Tabari contains several weak and false narrations as we'll see and this story is one of the false narrations found in Al-Tabari's

8.) The Killing of Abdullah bin Khatal and His Two Singing Girls

The story goes like this. Abdullah bin Khatal was a convert to Islam. He then apostatizes and his two singing girls start singing songs making fun of Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet doesn't like it and allegedly orders all three of them to be killed. Abdullah is allegedly killed by Two Muslims. One of his girls are also allegedly killed however one of them gets away. (Ibn Ishaq page 551)

Again the problem is that this story is only found in Ibn Ishaq. It's never found in the hadith. And the Hadith are considered to be the most reliable source of Prophet Muhammad's life by Muslims. Thus we can safely say that this story like the rest is false. And we've already seen that Prophet Muhammad did not order the killing of women from the above quoted hadith. This story was most likely made up from Jews of Madinah and Ibn Ishaq probably got this tall tale from them. Also the isnad (chain of transmissions) for this story is broken and very weak.

9.) The Killing of Sallam Ibn Abu’l-Huqayq

According to Ibn Ishaq, the Prophet allegedly wanted Sallam ibn Abul Huqayq killed. So a bunch of Muslims broke into his house, pushed his wife away and killed Sallam Ibn Abul Huqayq. ( See Ibn Ishaq page p. 482-483 ) Now is this story true? No. This story like the rest is 100% fiction since it doesn't appear in the hadith collections. Moreover the isnad is not from trustworthy sources (again its possible Jews made this story up).

10.) The Killing of an Anonymous One-Eyed Shepherd

According to only Ibn Ishaq, a one eyed Shepherd made fun of Prophet Muhammad and Islam by making up a poem. Amr (a Muslim) heard his poem making fun of Islam and Amr killed the one eyed Shepherd while he was sleeping. Amr later tells Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Muhamamd allegedly praises Amr for his work. However again this story is false. It is never found in the hadith, there are no chains of tranmissions (isnads) to this story, etc. So like the rest, this story is false.

11.) The Killing of A woman named Bunanah

A woman named Bunanah was beheaded because she had dropped a millstone on one of Muhammad’s men. This is found in Al-Tabari Volume 8 page 41. However again this story is false. Al-Tabrai admits there are several false stories in his collection and since this story isn't found in the hadith, Muslims deem to be authetnic, this story is rejected as false.

Of course there are many other false stories in Ibn Ishaq's sirat Rasol Allah-- but time and space won't allow me to document all of the false stories.

Section #5 Other Problems with Early Sources of Islam

We have seen the unreliablity of the Sira and the Maghazi. The books of the Maghazi have not appealed to Islamic scholars as being authentic.  We've also seen Ibn Ishaq, Al Waqidi and Ibn Sa'd have all been condemned by Islamic scholars. In fact Ibn Ishaq had been called a liar and Al Waqidi was also attacked for narrating extremely weak stories about the Prophet Muhammad. Even Al-Tabari (another early biographer of Prophet Muhammad, who was the first to mention the false story of the "Satanic" verses") was honest enough to say in the introduction of his book:

"Let him who examines this book of mine know that I have relied, as regards everything I mention therein which I stipulate to be described by me, solely upon what has been transmitted to me by way of reports which I cite therein and traditions which I ascribe to their narrators, to the exclusion of what may be apprehended by rational argument or deduced by the human mind, except in very few cases. This is because knowledge of the reports of men of the past and of contemporaneous views of men of the present do not reach the one who has not witnessed them nor lived in their times except through the accounts of reporters and the transmission of transmitters, to the exclusion of rational deduction and mental inference. Hence, if I mention in this book a report about some men of the past, which the reader of listener finds objectionable or worthy of censure because he can see no aspect of truth nor any factual substance therein, let him know that this is not to be attributed to us but to those who transmitted it to us and we have merely passed this on as it has been passed on to us." [20]

Thus, Al-Tabari faithfully displayed these accounts in the exact manner through which he received them. Can he then be held liable if any objectionable accounts should arise? To translate this into laymen's terms, al-Tabari has simply refused accountability by avoiding the task of historical criticism. Therefore, any spurious accounts are not to be attributed to him.

Getting back to Al Waqidi , According to Many Islamic scholars, Al-Waqidi was considered a liar and very unreliable. Below I'll provide quotes from various Islamic authorities on this:

Abd Allah Ibn Ali al Madini and his father said: "Al-Waqidi has 20,000 Hadith I never heard of." And then he said: "His narration shouldn't be used" and considered it weak.

Yahya Ibn Muaen said: "Al-Waqidi said 20,000 false hadith about the prophet."

Al-Shafi'i said, "Al-Waqidi is a liar."

Ibn Hanbal said, "Al-Waqidi is a liar."

Al-Bukhari said he didn't write a single letter by Al-Waqidi. (Siar Aalam al nublaa - althagbi - biography of Al-Waqidi)

Al-Waqidi and his book have been regarded as the least trustworhty and most careless biographers of Prophet Muhammad. Ibn Khalikan says "The traditions received from Al Waqidi are considered of feeble authority and doubts have been expressed on the subject of his veracity.

The following Muslim author writes:

"As a report of history, this narration suffers from two fatally serious defects. The first is the UNIVERSALLY RECOGNISED UNTRUSTWORTHINESS OF AL-WAQIDI. Details of his unreliability as a narrator would probably fill several pages, but all of it may be suitably condensed into a statement by Imam ash-Shafi'ee, who was his contemporary, and who knew him personally. Ash-Shafi'ee has the following to say: ""In Madinah there were seven people who used to forge chains of narration. One of them was al-Waqidi." [21]

Even the English translator of Ibn Sa'd's work had this to say about al-Waqidi:

"... The chain of the narrators is not reliable because the person who narrated to Ibn Sa'd was Waqidi WHO IS NOTORIOUS AS A NARRATOR OF FABRICATED hadithes. The next one Ya'qub is unknown and 'Abd Allah Ibn 'Abd al-Rahman is not a Companion. Consequently this narration is not trustworthy. " [22]

G.F. Haddad seeking to deny the historicity of the Satanic Verses where he calls into question al-Waqidi's reliability. Here is what Haddad says about al-Waqidi:

[(*) Muhammad ibn `Umar al-Waqidi (d. 207), Ahmad ibn Hanbal said about Al-Waqidi is that "He is A LIAR." Al-Bukhari and Abu Hatim al-Razi said: "DISCARDED." Ibn `Adi said: "His narrations ARE NOT RETAINED, AND THEIR BANE COMES FROM HIM." Ibn al-Madini said: "HE FORGES HADITHS." Al-Dhahabi said: "CONSENSUS HAS SETTLED OVER HIS DEBILITY." [23]

Section #6 What Non Muslim Scholars say about the early Sources

Muslim Scholars (Both Classical and Present) aren't the only ones that attack early Souces of Islam such as Ibn Ishaq, Al-Waqidi, Al-Tabari, etc. Even Non Muslim Scholars reject the Early Biography material of the Prophet. Here Micheal Cook gives us his reasons for rejecting the earlier material:

"False ascription was rife among the 8th century scholars and that in any case Ibn Ishaq and contemporaries were drawing on oral traditions. Neither of these propositions is as arbitory as it sounds. We have reason to believe that numerous traditions on questions of dogma and law were provided with spurious chians of authorities by those who put them into circulation and the same time we have much evidence of controversy in the eigth century as to whether it was permissiable to reduce oral traidtion to writing. The implications of this view for reliablity of our sources are clearly rather negative. If we cannot trust the chains of authorities we can no longer claim to know that we have before us the seperate transmitted accounts of independent witnesses; an if knowledable of the life of Muhammad was transmitted orally for a century before it was reduced to writing, then the chances are that the material will have undergone considerable alteration in the process" [24]

Even the famous Polemist and Hatemonger, Robert Spencer admits in his book: The Truth about Muhammad , that "However, Ibn Ishaq's life of Muhammad is so unashamedly hagiographical that its accuracy is questionable." [25]  Yet in the 400 footnotes of Robert's book, 120 of them are referenced to Ibn Ishaq! This is one the reasons why I can't take Christian critics aganist Islam seriously--- they pick and choose what they want to believe from the sources for Islam.


So we can see that these various Ibn Ishaq's stories are worthless. Same with many of the stories found in Al Waqidi and some of the stories found in Ibn Sa'd (although Ibn Sad was much better). No Islamic Scholar accepts Ibn Ishaq to be 100% true. Many Critics of Islam misunderstand the intentions behind the early biographers of the Prophet. Ibn Ishaq, Al-Tabari, Al-Waaqidi, Ibn S'ad and others simply related as much material as possible from ANY source whetherMuslim, Jew, Christian, Pagan, etc. in order for the muhadditheen (scholarsof hadith) to sift through and express opinions of reliability and authenticity based on their examinations of the chains of narration andcontexts of the alleged sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad.I don't reject all of Ibn Ishaq, but I reject most of the material and stories found in Ibn Ishaq. I would say I accept maybe 30% of Ibn Ishaq and 70% I reject as false stories.

There are many problems with his stories (no chain of tramissions, no source for his material, etc). Therefore we can conclude that most of the chainless narrations/stories found in Ibn Ishaq's book 120 years after the Prophet's death are false. As Muslims we accept the Quran and Hadith only to be 100% true. We don't accept most of Ibn Ishaq, Al-Waqidi or Al-Tabari. We also reject some of Ibn Sa'd (but altogether Ibn Sa'd is regarded as more reliable than Ibn Ishaq and Al-Waqidi).

Notes and Bibliography

[1]M. R. Ahmad (1992). Al-sīra al-nabawiyya fī ḍawʾ al-maṣādir al-aṣliyya: dirāsa taḥlīliyya (1st ed.). Riyadh: King Saud University. pp. 20–34. Guillaume, Alfred: The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq's sirat Rasul Allah (London, 1955) pgs 8-15

[2] Raven, Wim (2006). "Sīra and the Qurʾān". Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān. Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 29–49.  Donner, Fred -- Narratives of Islamic Origins, The Darwin Press, 1998 pg. 132

[3] Ibid pg. 691-798.

[4] Chain (Arabic is isnad) and Narrators (Arabic is rijaal) – use dint he Sciences of the authentication or rejection of hadith.

[5] Sahih – a hadeeth that is authentic based on its chain of narrators. Accpeted as a source of Shareeah in Islam.

[6] Hassan means a good hadith. One that is judged by competent Hadith, one that is judged by competent Hadith scholars to be reliable, but not of the same, highest level of authenticity as the Sahih Hadith.

[7] On this see W. Arafat, "Early critics of the poetry of the Sira", BSOAS, XXI, 3, 1958, 453-63. 

[8] We'll discuss this incident later.

[9] Kadhdhab and Dajjal min al-dajajila. Uyun al-athar, I, 16-7. In his valuable introduction Ibn Sayyid al-Nas provides a wide-ranging survey of the controversial views on Ibn Ishaq. In his full introduction to the Gottingen edition of the Sira, Wustenfeld in turn draws extensively on Ibn Sayyid al-Nas.

[10] Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu' Al Fataawa, Volume, 13, page 345

[11] Jones, J.M.B. Ibn Ishak. Vol. IV, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, edited by Ch. Pellat, and J. SchachtV.L.M.B. Lewis. London: Luzac & Co., 1971: pages 810-811.

[12] The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Karachi Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth Impression 1995], p. 691

[13] Ibn 'Adiyy, Al-Kamel, Vol. 6, p. 145

[14] Ibn al-Gawzi, Al-'Ilal, Vol. 1, p. 279

[15] (Allama Shibli Nu'Mani, Sirat-Un-Nabi, volume II, p 173-174)

[16] M. M. J. Fischer & M. Abedi, "Bombay Talkies, The Word And The World: Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses", Cultural Anthropology, 1990, Washington, Volume 5, No. 2, p. 127.

[17] T. Khalidi, Arabic Historical Thought In The Classical Period, 1994, Cambridge University Press, p. 47.

[18]  Ibid., p. 48.

[19] "Muhammad", Encyclopedia of Islam

[20] Abu Ja`far Muhammad bin Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari: Tarikh al-Umam wal-Muluk, 1997, Volume I, Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyyah, Beirut (Lebanon), p. 13

[21] Tahdhib al-Kamal vol. 26 p. 194, in a footnote

[22] Ibn Sa'd's Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, Volume I, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi, 110 002 India], p. 152, fn. 2; capital and bold emphasis ours

[23] Mizan al-I`tidal (3:662-666 #7993)

[24] Cook, M: Muhammad, Oxford 1983. pg. 65

[25] Spencer, Robert: The Truth about Muhammad, Regnery Publishers, 2006 pg. 25