It is said that some of our great classical exegetes would rely upon the literature of the non-Shīʿa. The likes of al-Ṭuṣi (d. 1067) in al-Tibiyān al-Jāmiʿ liʿUlūm al-Qur’ān and al-Ṭabrasi (d. 1153) in Majmaʿ al-Bayān, have high regard in the Shīʿi world, despite many accusing them of relying on non-Shīʿi narrations and literature, in contrast to Shīʿi literature.

About al-Ṭabrasi, Yūsif al-Baḥrāni (d. 1772) said:

Among his (al-abrasi) books, and the best known of them, is the book of the exegesis of the Qur’ān, called Majmaʿ al-Bayān, in ten volumes. It is an excellent exegesis, gathering in it the whole of the propaedeutic sciences, from lexicography, grammar, declension (al-taṣrīf), meaning (al-maʿnā) and occasions of revelation, even if most of his transmissions were from the exegetes of the Sunnis, and from the exegesis of Ahl al-Bayt he transmitted only a little, from al-ʿAyyāshi and ʿAlī b. Ibrāhīm al-Qummi (early Imāmi narration-oriented exegetes).[1]

An example of an exegesis that these scholars would depend upon is Tafsīr al-abari of Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammed ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabari (d. 923), where al-Ṭuṣi would extract many narrations and comments from there.[2] What raises concern is that scholars from the same school of thought of al-Ṭabari have explicitly stated that there is an abundance of Israelite narrations within his exegesis![3]

This is where the domino effect comes into play. Al-Ṭabrasi was evidently heavily influenced by al-Ṭuṣi’s Tibiyān[4] when he compiled Majmaʿ al-Bayān. In turn, Majmaʿ al-Bayān is today seen as one of the most important exegesis, to the point it is used as a yardstick for all other exegesis. This now trickles down to all exegeses and encyclopaedias of narrations, be it classical or contemporary. This means all other books of exegesis’ are under the danger of being influenced by Israelite narrations due to the authority Majmaʿ al-Bayān holds, as many consider it a primary source of narrations.

The following is one clear example[5] of the interpolations and how it occurred:

حدثنا ابن حميد قال، حدثنا سلمة، عن ابن إسحاق، عن بعض أهل العلم بالكتاب الأوَّل: أن آدم أمر ابنه قابيل أن يُنكِح أختَه تُؤْمَهُ هابيل، وأمر هابيل أن ينكح أخته تُؤْمَه قابيل، فسلم لذلك هابيل ورضي، وأبى قابيل ذلك وكره، تكرمًا عن أخت هابيل، ورغب بأخته عن هابيل، وقال: نحنَ وِلادة الجنة، وهما من ولادة الأرض، وأنا أحق بأختي!= ويقول بعض أهل العلم بالكتاب الأول: كانت أخت قابيل من أحسن الناس، فضن بها عن أخيه وأرادها لنفسه. فالله أعلم أيّ ذلك كان= فقال له أبوه: يا بني إنها لا تحلُّ لك! فأبى قابيل أن يقبل ذلك من قول أبيه، فقال له أبوه: يا بني فقرّب قربانًا، ويقرّب أخوك هابيل قربانًا، فأيُّكما قَبِل الله قربَانه فهو أحق بها. وكان قابيل على بَذْر الأرض، وكان هابيل على رِعاية الماشية، فقرب قابيل قمحًا وقرّب هابيل أبْكارًا من أبكار غنمه= وبعضهم يقول: قرب بقرة= فأرسل الله جل وعز نارًا بيضاء فأكلت قربان هابيل، وتركت قربان قابيل، وبذلك كان يُقْبَل القُربان إذا قبله.

It was narrated to us by ibn umayd, who said – it was narrated to us by Salamah, from ibn Isāq, from some people of knowledge of[6] the first book, who said: Ādam ordered his son Qābīl to marry his sister who was the twin of Hābīl; and he ordered Hābīl to marry his sister who was the twin of Qābīl. Hābīl submitted to this and was content, and Qābīl refused it and despised it; considering himself too honourable to marry Hābīl’s sister, while desiring to marry his own sister instead of Hābīl. He said: We were born in the Garden, while they were born on Earth – and I have more right over my sister!
And some of the people of knowledge of the first book said: The sister of Qābīl was from the most beautiful of people; so he (Qābīl) begrudged her to his brother and wanted her to himself… [narration continues].[7]

This narration is also found in al-Ṭabari’s history book – Tārīkh al-abari.[8]

It is clear from the chain that it comes from that this is not narrated from any infallible, let alone the Prophet (sawa). Rather, it is narrated from ‘some scholars of knowledge’ who are either experts in the first book – being the Torah – or, according to some manuscripts, narrated directly from the first book – i.e. found in the Torah that was circulating in the Arab Peninsula at the time. This is from one of the clear examples where a narrations source is profoundly stated to be taken from the Israelites.

When we say a narration is from the isrā’īliyāt, we intend to say that the narration has its origins in pre-Islamic scriptures, which eventually illegitimately entered into Islamic books.

At this point, there is no problem. The scholars, and even the laymen, are able to see the weakness in relying upon this narration and that it has originated from the Israelites. As expected, it was graded as weak by al-Bazanji.[9]

If we now turn to Tafsīr al-Tibiyān al-Jāmiʿ liʿUlūm al-Qur’ān of al-Ṭuṣi, under the exegesis of āyah 5:27, we find the following statement:

وقال أكثر المفسرين ورواه أبو جعفر وغيره من المفسرين: أنه ولد لكل واحد من قابيل وهابيل اخت توأم له فأمر آدم كل واحد بتزويج اخت الآخر. وكانت اخت قابيل أحسن من الاخرى، فارادها، وحسد أخاه عليها

And many of the exegetes said, and it was narrated by Abū Jaʿfar and other exegetes, that with the birth of Qābīl and Hābīl each one had a twin sister born with them; so Ādam ordered each of them to marry the other sister. The sister of Qābīl was greater in beauty than the other – so he (Qābīl) desired her, and was jealous of his brother over her…[10]

The statement is a summary of what some of the exegetes have said – and was attributed as a narration that was originally said by “Abū Jaʿfar”, among others. Who is this Abū Jaʿfar? On the apparent, this is none other than Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammed ibn Jarīr al-abari,[11] the author of Tafsīr al-abari, which is the original source of the narration.

Again, at this point, there is no real problem. Al-Ṭuṣi has mentioned one of many narrations in relation to the exegesis of āyah 5:27, and stated it is from Abū Jaʿfar, being the non-Shīʿi al-Ṭabari.

The real problem begins with Tafsīr Majmaʿ al-Bayān of al-Ṭabrasi. As mentioned above, this important exegesis heavily depended upon Al-Ṭuṣi’s exegesis. In the commentary of āyah 5:27, al-Ṭabrasi says:

القصة: قالوا إن حواء امرأة آدم كانت تلد في كل بطن غلاماً وجارية فولدت أول بطن قابيل بن آدم وقيل قايين وتوأمته أقليما بنت آدم والبطن الثاني هابيل وتوأمته لبوذا فلما أدركوا جميعاً أمر الله تعالى أن ينكح آدم قابيل أخت هابيل وهابيل أخت قابيل فرضي هابيل وأبى قابيل لأن أخته كانت أحسنهما. وقال: ما أمر الله سبحانه بهذا ولكن هذا من رأيك فأمرهما آدم أن يقربا قرباناً فرضيا بذلك فغدا هابيل وكان صاحب ماشية فأخذ من خير غنمه زبداً ولبناً وكان قابيل صاحب زرع فأخذ من شرّ زرعه ثم صعدا فوضعا القربانين على الجبل فأتت النار فأكلت قربان هابيل وتجنبت قربان قابيل وكان آدم غائباً عنهما بمكة خرج إليها ليزور البيت بأمر ربه فقال قابيل لا عِشتَ يا هابيل في الدنيا وقد تقبل قربانك ولم يتقبل قرباني وتريد أن تأخذ أختي الحسناء وآخذ أختك القبيحة فقال له هابيل ما حكاه الله تعالى فشدخه بحجر فقتله. روي ذلك عن أبي جعفر الباقر (ع) وغيره من المفسرين

The story (regarding this āyah): They said that awā’, the wife of Ādām, would give birth to a boy and girl in each pregnancy. In the first pregnancy, she gave birth to Qābīl bin Ādam, and was also named Qāyyīn[12] and his twin Aqlayma bint Ādam. In the second pregnancy it was Hābīl and his twin Labūdha. When they all came to know the command of Allāh, Most High, that Ādam should marry off Qābīl to Hābīl’s (twin) sister, and Hābīl to Qābīl’s (twin) sister; Hābīl was content and Qābīl refused – because his own (twin) sister was the more beautiful of the two….This was narrated from Abī Jaʿfar al-Bāqir (as) and other than him from the exegetes.[13]

When al-Ṭabrasi presents this story, which has clearly been largely adopted from the narration found in al-Ṭabari and al-Ṭuṣi’s exegesis, he has attributed it to an apparently different Abī Jaʿfar, namely: al-Bāqir (as)! Although this may have been done by one of the transcribers of a copy of Majmaʿ al-Bayān rather than al-Ṭabari himself, it apparently seems like an unconscious slip, where al-Ṭabrasi has assumed that the Abū Jaʿfar that al-Ṭuṣi has mentioned is Imām al-Bāqir (as), who also had the teknonym ‘Abū Jaʿfar’. It is difficult to accept the possibility that the narration has originally come from Imām al-Bāqir (as), since we do not find any traces of it in any preceding book.

Because of this simple slip, we find the domino effect take place, where now the succeeding books of exegesis now attribute this Israelite story to the holy Imām (as). For example, in Tafsīr al-āfi:

في المجمع عن الباقر ( عليه السلام ) أن حواء امرأة آدم كانت تلد في كل بطن غلاما وجارية فولدت في أول بطن قابيل

In Majmaʿ from al-Bāqir (as): awā’, the wife of Ādām, would give bird to a boy and girl in each pregnancy. In the first pregnancy, she gave birth to Qābīl…[14]

Now, in this transcription, the author has dropped ‘Abū Jaʿfar’ all together. It is now solidified within our books of narrations that this narration has allegedly originated from Imām al-Bāqir (as).

Likewise, our mammoth encyclopaedia of narrations, Biḥār al-Anwār:

قال الطبرسي رحمه الله … قالوا : إن  حواء كانت تلد في كل بطن غلاما ” وجارية ، فولدت أول بطن قابيل بن آدم … روي ذلك عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام وغيره من المفسرين

Al-abrasi (rh) said: … They said: awā’, the wife of Ādām, would give bird to a boy and girl in each pregnancy. In the first pregnancy, she gave birth to Qābīl… (until al-Majlisi says): And this was narrated from Abī Jaʿfar’ (as) and others from the exegetes.[15]

Interestingly, the researcher(s)[16] who verified this published manuscript volume of Biḥār al-Anwār, stated in the footnotes to this:

سيبين المصنف أن الرواية وردت تقية موافقة لأقوال العامة ، وأن الصحيح انهما تزوجا بغير أختهما ، قال اليعقوبي في تاريخه ج 1 ص 2 : روى بعضهم أن الله عز وجل أنزل لهابيل حوراء من الجنة فزوجه بها ، وأخرج لقابيل جنية فزوجه بها فحسد قابيل أخاه على الحوراء ، فقال لهما آدم : قربا قربانا فقرب قابيل من تبن زرعه وقرب هابيل أفضل كبش في غنمه لله ، فقبل الله قربان هابيل ولم يقبل قربان قابيل فازداد حسدا ” فزين له الشيطان قتل أخيه فشدخه بالحجارة حتى قتل . وصرح المسعودي أيضا بذلك في اثبات الوصية .

The author will soon make evident that the narration was said due to righteous dissimulation (taqiyyah), as it collaborates with that the ʿĀmmah (general populous of Muslims) say. Indeed, the correct view is that they both married other than their sisters. Al-Yaʿqūbi said in his Tārīkh (Volume 1, Page 2): It is narrated from some of them that Indeed Allāh (azwj) send down to Hābīl a awrā’, so he married her; and He brought forth for Qābīl a female Jinn, so he married her. Consequently, Qābīl felt jealousy towards his brother over the awrā… (narration continues). And al-Masʿūdi also made this clear in ‘Ithbāt al-Waṣṣiyyah.[17]

The discussion on whether it can be verified that the children of Ādam married non-humans is a lengthy one, beyond the scope of this article. However, what we intended in mentioning this comment was to make evident that even the researchers have not identified this being an Israeli narration which has entered into our books – but rather a narration that was said by the infallible Imām under righteous dissimulation (taqiyyah).

Perhaps what the researcher intended in his statement: ‘The author will soon make evident’ is the narration consequently related by al-Majlisi in the same volume, via Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshi:

تفسير العياشي : عن أبي بكر الحضرمي ، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال : قال لي : ما يقول الناس في تزويج آدم ولده ؟ قال : قلت : يقولون : إن حواء كانت تلد لآدم في كل بطن غلاما وجارية فتزوج الغلام الجارية التي من البطن الآخر الثاني ، وتزوج الجارية الغلام الذي من البطن الآخر الثاني ، حتى توالدوا ، فقال أبو جعفر عليه السلام : ليس هذا كذاك ، ولكنه لما ولد آدم هبة الله وكبر سأل الله أن يزوجه ، فأنزل الله له حوراء من الجنة فزوجها إياه فولد له أربعة بنين ، ثم ولد لآدم ابن آخر فلما كبر أمره فتزوج إلى الجان فولد له أربع بنات فتزوج بنو هذا بنات هذا ، فما كان من جمال فمن قبل الحوراء ، وما كان من حلم فمن قبل آدم ، وما كان من خفة فمن قبل الجان ، فلما توالدوا صعدت الحوراء إلى السماء .

Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshi: From Abī Bakr al-adhrami, from Abī Jaʿfar (as): He (al-Bāqir) said to me: What do the people say about the marriage of the sons of Ādam?
He said, I said: They say that
awā’ would have in every pregnancy a boy and a girl. The boy would marry the girl from the other pregnancy and the girl would marry the boy in the from the other pregnancy. They would then give birth to other children.
Abū Ja
ʿfar (as) replied: It is not as such. Rather, when Ādam had Hibbat Allāh (i.e. Seth) and he matured, he asked Allāh that he be married off. Allāh then sent down a awrā’ from Paradise and married her off to him, and from them four sons were born. Then Ādam had another son, and when he matured he married a Jinn and from him came four daughters. So, the sons of this one married the daughters of that one. Whoever from those that were born that were beautiful is was due to awrā’, and whoever was from those that had forbearance was due to Ādam, and whoever from those who were frivolous was due to the Jinn. When they gave birth the awrā’ would ascent into the Heavens.[18]

In this narration, it is clear that Abī Jaʿfar (as) was refuting any idea that this narration has any validity. It is true that it does not refute the idea that it was possible for Abī Jaʿfar (as) to say it himself under righteous dissimulation (taqiyyah); rather it would give good reason to since it implies that the general populous of Muslims believed in this at the time, and the Imām may have been compelled to say this. However, the most important point to draw from all this is there is no trace of Imām Abī Jaʿfar (as) saying this in any of our books except where it is first found in Tafsīr al-Tibiyān, and consequently Tafsīr Majmaʿ al-Bayān. The only times anything of the like is found in our ancient books of narrations is the one above from Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshi, which is in fact refuting it.

This leads to a very dangerous point. If it is established that al-Ṭuṣi intended by ‘Abū Jaʿfar’ to be Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammed ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabari; where did al-Ṭabrasi get the idea that it was narrated by Abī Jaʿfar al-Bāqir (as)? This error led to many following exegetes to imitate this mistake by parroting what al-Ṭabrasi said; even changing the text resulting in it being extremely difficult to identify where the misunderstanding may occur.

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Footnotes:

This is just one example of how Israelites have entered into our books.

[1] Lu’lu’at al-Baḥrain, Yūsif al-Baḥrāni, Pages 330-331. Translation taken from Bruce Fudge, Qur’an Hermeneutics.

[2] One detailed research on the sources of al-Ṭuṣi is found in the following thesis: Miṣābīḥ fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān – Ganji Kahān Dar Tārīkh Tafsīr al-Shīʿa, Dr. Murtadha Karimi Niya (https://bit.ly/2Im2aVv).

[3] Tafsīr al-Ṭabari, Taḥqīq Dr. ʿAbd Allāh bin ʿAbd al-Moḥsin al-Turki, Researchers introduction, page 55, Merit 10 of the book.

[4] Scripture and Exegesis in Early Imāmī-Shiism By Meʼir Mikhaʼel Bar-Ashe, Page 22.

[5] Originally extracted from Durūs Taʿārudh al-Adilla, Lesson #157, Sayyid Kamāl al-Ḥaidari (https://youtu.be/9tafSClP5z4).

[6] In some manuscripts it would be translated as: from some people of knowledge from the first book, meaning the Torah.

[7] Tafsīr al-Ṭabari, Tafsīr of āyah 5:27, Narration #11714.

[8] Tārīkh al-Ṭabari, Volume 1, Page 70.

[9] Saḥiḥ wa Dhaʿīf Tārīkh al-Ṭabari, Volume 6, Page 89.

[10] Al-Tibiyān al-Jāmiʿ liʿUlūm al-Qur’ān, al-Ṭuṣi, Tafsīr of āyah 5:27.

[11] This was the view of Niʿmat Allāh Ṣālaḥi Najafābādi – whereupon he posits that everytime ‘Abū Jaʿfar’ is mentioned, it is in reference to Moḥammed ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī. Murtadha Karimi Niya disagrees that this is absolute, and mentions the possibility of it also being Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammed bin Sā’ib al-Kalbi via the tafsīr of al-Maghribi. The other alternative, which will be mentioned later, is Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammed al-Bāqir (as).

[12] In some manuscripts: Qābīn.

[13] Majmaʿ al-Bayān, al-Ṭabrasi, Tafsīr of āyah 5:27.

[14] Tafsīr al-Ṣāfi, al-Faydh al-Kāshāni, tafsīr of āyah 5:27.

[15] Biḥār al-Anwār, Volume 11, Page 218-219.

[16] The taḥqīq was done by Yaḥya al-ʿĀbidi al-Zanjāni & ʿAbd al-Raḥīm al-Rabbāni al-Shīrāzi.

[17] Biḥār al-Anwār, Volume 11, Page 219, Footnote #2.

[18] Biḥār al-Anwār, Volume 11, Page 244, Narration #40; Tasīr al-ʿAyyāshi, Volume 1, Page 216, Narration #6.