Abdullah ibn Saba: The Book

abdullah ibn saba

Abdullah Ibn Saba : The Man, His Teachings, and His Influence on the Modern Twelver Shi’ee Faith


The controversy that is the life, the existence, and the effects of Abdullah ibn Saba upon the early years of Islam has become  a focal point  in polemical circles during the last few generations. Originally,  the  existence  of  the  man  was  a  point  of  consensus amongst  historians;  however,  it  was  in  the  18th century  when Orientalists  noticed  a  peculiar  pattern  regarding  his  reports which caused a break in the consensus. These narrations came from  a  single  source,  namely,  Sayf  bin  Omar  Al-Tameemi,  a historian that is regarded as weak in the eyes of the scholars of Hadith. This discovery led to the publishing of articles and then books on the subject, which ultimately led Shias, like Murtadha Al-`Askari  to adopt the view that Ibn Saba’ was a figment of  AlTameemi’s imagination. Not  too  long  after  this  view  spread  within  Shia  circles  did  we find  Sunni  scholars  like  Sulaiman  Al-`Awdah  responding  by simply  providing  alternative  sources,  in  both  Sunni  and  Shias books, which prove  the existence of Ibn Saba. The  irrefutable proofs  provided by these Sunnis caused the spawning of a new book  on  the  matter.  This  new  study  “Abdullah  ibn  Saba: Dirasah wa Tahleel” by the Shia scholar  Ali  Aal-Muhsin  spread amongst the  Shi`ee youth.  His arguments  were  then translated into  English  in  a  book  called  “Abd  Allah  ibn  Saba:  Myth Exploded,”  by  Shi’ee  apologist  Toyib  Olawuyi,  the  book  of  Ali Aal-Muhsin  provides  a  new  outlook  on  how  the  narrations about Abdullah ibn Saba should be consumed.

As  for  Olawuyi,  he  not  only  argues  that  Sunnis  have  no  place accepting  the  ideologies  attributed  to  Ibn  Saba,  but  suggests that his very existence is questionable,  due to the weakness of the chains. In  most  cases  Olawuyi  is  correct,  which  is  why  it  would  be  a waste  of  time  to  respond  to  most  of  the  narrations  that  he successfully  criticizes.  Yet,  his  refutation  falls  short  due  to incorrect  implementation  of  Hadith  sciences,  a  lack  of understanding  of  the  historical  method,  and  at  times,  simple incompetence. Unlike  the  vast  majority  of  the  works  that  deal  with  the historicity  of  Abdullah  ibn  Saba,  we  find  that  “Abd  Allah  Ibn Saba:  Myth  Exploded,”  is  not  an  introductory  book  in  the matter.  The  author  assumes  that  the  reader  has  some background in the subject,  as one can tell from the content of the book from the early chapters. The author  jumps into arguing  that Sunnis make twelve claims regarding Ibn Saba. He lists them as follows:

1. He was a descendant of Saba’, and belonged to one of the Saba’ee tribes.
2. He was a black Arab with a black slave mother.
3. He was a Jew from Sanain Yemen.
4.  He  accepted  Islam  during  the  khilafah  of Uthman b. Affan.
5.  He  stirred  up  the  public,  especially  the Egyptians, against  Uthman  and caused the latter’s bloody overthrow.
6. He was the first to claim that Ali, alaihi al-salam, was the designated successor of the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alaihi wa Alihi.
7. He was the first to proclaim belief in Al-Raja`ah–  that  is,  the  return  to  this  world  after  death  by certain dead people.
8. He was the first to publicly criticize or revile Abu Bakr and `Umar.
9. He was popularly called Ibn Al-Sawda’  –  son of the black mother.
10. Imam  Ali  was frustrated with him, and abused him by calling him “the black container” and also banished him to Al-Madain.
11.  Amir  Al-Muminin  `Ali  b.  Abi  Talib  saw  it  as legitimate  to  execute  him  for  reviling  Abu  Bakr and  `Umar,  and  would  have  done  so  had  people not talked him out of the decision.
12. `Ali  burnt him (i.e. Ibn Saba’) and his followers alive for calling him (i.e. `Ali) Allah.

The author is more or less correct, that Ahl Al-Sunnah do usually make statements like these. The author goes on to claim that all the  statements  above  lack  proper  proof  since  the  information above can only be found in narrations with weak chains.

Before carrying on, it is important  to explain why Ahl Al-Sunna make  such  claims  in  the  first  place.  The  author  did  not  delve into that matter since, as explained previously, his book is not an  introductory  piece  of  text  for  this  very  subject.  The  Sunni objective  is  to  simply  taunt  the  Shias  by  suggesting  that  their beliefs  have  evolved  from  the  false  ideologies  that  were incorrectly attributed to Ahl Al-Bayt. To  make  this  clearer,  we  quote  two  of  the  earliest  and  most reliable  Shia  historians  –  Al-Hasan  bin  Musa  Al-Nawbakhti  and Sa’ad  bin  `Abdullah  Al-Qummi. Together,  they  describe  the formation of the Saba’ee sect (the followers of Abdullah Ibn Saba’): A  group  of  scholars  from  the  companions  of  Ali (alaihi alsalam) said that  Abdullah ibn Saba was a Jew,  who  converted  to  Islam,  and  befriended  Ali (alaihi alsalam), and he used to say, as a Jew that Yusha’ bin Noon is after Musa (alaihi alsalam) with this view, and so he said in Islam after the death of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wa aalih) about Ali the same (belief). He was the first to say that it is mandatory that Ali  (alaihi alsalam) was the Imam, and the first to disassociate from his enemies, and he  made  takfeer  of  them.  It  is  in  this  light  that those  there  were  against  the  Shias  said:  The origins of Rafdh are taken from Judaism. In other words, Sunnis do not feel obligated to establish every one of those twelve claims. It is sufficient for Ahl  Al-Sunnah  to simply establish the existence of the man,  who wasn’t from Ahl Al-Bayt,  that  had  views  that  evolved  into  modern  day  Shiasm. Whether or not his mother was black  or from Yemeni origins  is irrelevant. To some extent,  the Sunnis  have already  achieved their  goals, and  we  find  this  clearly  in  Olawuyi’s  introduction,  for  Olawuyi accepts  the  authenticity  of  a  few  narrations  that  condemn Abdullah  bin  Saba  which  can  be  found  in  Shia  books.  These narrations clearly state that Abdullah ibn Saba saw Ali as a deity and that Ali  burned him alive for it. Olawuyi refers  to these narrations as authentic. Soon  though,  he  criticizes  Ibn  Taymiyah  for  holding  the  same view.

In other words, Olawuyi finds it acceptable for Shias to hold the view that Ibn Saba’  referred to  Ali  as a god, while believing  that there is not enough binding evidence upon Sunnis to hold the same view about Ibn Saba’, and that he should be nothing more than a myth in the eyes of Sunnis. Therefore,  according  to  Olawuyi,  it  is  incorrect  for  a  Sunni  to claim that  “the origins  of Rafdh  are taken  from Judaism.”  Yet, even if Sunnis were to stand  down from such a claim, it would still  be  correct  for  them  to  claim  that  “the  origins  of  Rafdh according  to  authentic  Shia  reports,  which  are  binding  upon Shias themselves, are taken from Judaism.” Even though the last claim is true, it would be more satisfying to the reader to get the full picture, since the claim that Ibn Saba’s views  evolved  into  the  Twelver  faith  is  not  exclusive  to authentic  Shia  reports,  but  is  also  the  correct  position  in  the eyes  of  Ahl  Al-Sunnah.  However,  before  even  studying  the reports,  it  is  important  to  understand  the  Saba’ee  sect  and establish its existence.Before carrying on, it is important for readers to be aware that our book, “Abdullah ibn  Saba:  The man,  his teachings, and  his Influence  on  the  Modern  Twelver  Shi’ee  Faith”  was  originally intended as a refutation to Olawuyi’s “Abd Allah Ibn Saba: Myth Exploded,” however, the first two chapters may be consumed as a  standalone  work  that  establishes  and  discusses  the  most important matters that revolve around Abdullah ibn Saba’.

DOWNLOAD HERE: Abdullah ibn Saba, the Man, his Teachings and his Influence on Modern Twelver Shi`ee Faith.

The Shia has attempted to alter and edit parts of his book after his mistakes were exposed, here we comment on some parts of his new revised book:

Comments on Toyib’s Revised Edition of his Ibn Saba’ Book.


abdullah ibn saba


  1. It is recommended for casual readers to at least read Chapter 1 for a solid understanding of the connection between the Saba’ee sect and the modern Twelver faith.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. *new* Book on Abdullah ibn Saba – First of its kind in English | EXPOSING & ANSWERING SHIITES
  2. Shia scholar: “Abdullah ibn Saba’ preached the truth & Shia beliefs” | ANSWERING & REFUTING SHIA

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