Sayyed Ja’far Murtaza Al-Ameli’s Double Standards


by Abu Al-Abbas Al-Shami

Lebanese Shi’ite scholar, Sayyed Ja’far Murtaza Al-Ameli (b. 1945), is the author of one of the most important Shi’ite works on the Seerah, “Al-Sahih min Seerat Al-Nabi Al-A’ẓam”, which is in 35 volumes. At first glance, the observer may find himself amazed at the sheer enormousness of this “encyclopedia”, since normal and classical Seerah works usually are not more than a few volumes in size. The careful observer, however, will quickly recognize how defective of a work this waste of paper truly is.

Sayyed Ja’far begins his book with a rant against Sunni sources. He then proceeds to criticize Sunni sources for a variety of claims they’ve supposedly made about the Prophet, which he believes are blasphemous and unbefitting of the Prophet.  After outlining a few examples, he says:

Add to that: that the Prophet supposedly fell in love with his adopted son’s wife after seeing her in an arousing state.[1]

Sayyed Ja’far, over here, is referring to a variety of extremely weak reports found in some Sunni sources where the Prophet is said to have fell in love with Zaynab bint Jahsh after seeing her beauty, which ultimately led to the divorce of Zaynab and Zayd b. Harithah and Zaynab and the Prophet’s eventual marriage.

However, these reports are extremely weak in Sunni sources. I shall list some of the main isnads to this supposed incident in Sunni sources:

  1. Ibn Sa’d, Al-Tabari & Al-Hakem transmit this report through Al-Waqidi [liar], from ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amer Al-Aslami [weak], from Muhammad b. Yahya b. Hibban, from the Prophet [disconnected between Muhammad b. Yahya & the Prophet.][2]
  2. Al-Tabarani, Ibn Abi ‘Asem, and Abu Nu’aym transmitted it through Muhammad b. Khaled b. ‘Athmah [trustworthy transmitter who makes mistakes], from Musa b. Ya’qub [trustworthy transmitter who has a bad memory], from ‘Abdulrahman b. Al-Munib [unknown], from Abu Bakr b. Sulayman, from the Prophet [disconnected between Abu Bakr b. Sulayman and the Prophet.][3]
  3. Ibn ‘Adiyy transmits this supposed incident from Al-Saji [reliable], from Al-Hasan b. ‘Ali Al-Wasiti [reliable], from ‘Ali b. Nuh [unknown], from Muhammad b. Kathir [very weak], from Sulaym [weak], from Al-Sha’bi, from the Prophet [disconnected between Al-Sha’bi and the Prophet][4]

As evident Sayyed Ja’far disregards the fact that Sunni scholarship has held the position that these reports are clearly inauthentic, and he even cites these reports as a reason to dismiss the credibility of Sunni primary historical sources.

What is ironic, however, is that this very same incident is authentically reported in Shi’ite sources!

In his tafsir, ‘Ali b. Ibrahim Al-Qommi transmits an authentic report on verse #4 from Surat Al-Ahzab which is even more explicit than the weak reports found in Sunni sources. We shall only quote the relevant excerpt from this report, since it is quite long.

 He says:

My father informed me, from Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, from Jamil, from Abu ‘Abdullah that he said:

…When the Messenger of Allah migrated to Medina, the Prophet betrothed Zaynab unto Zayd. One day, Zaid was late, so the Prophet visited his house to inquire about him. There, he saw Zaynab sitting in the middle of her house crushing fragrances. He looked at her, and she was beautiful and lovely, so he said: “Exalted is the Creator of light! And Exalted is Allah the best of creators!”

The Messenger of Allah then returned to his house, and his heart had an astounding attachment to Zaynab. Then, Zayd eventually returned to his house, and Zaynab informed him of what the Prophet had said.

Zayd then told her: “Shall I divorce you such that Messenger of Allah may marry you? Perhaps he has fallen in love with you?”

She said: “I fear that you may divorce me and then the Messenger of Allah ends up not marrying me.”

Zayd thus went to the Prophet and told him: “I spare you with my father and mother O’ Messenger of Allah. Zaynab informed me of such-and-such. Shall I divorce her such that you may marry her?”

The Messenger of Allah then responded: “No. Fear Allah and keep your wife.”

Then Allah revealed the verse: “[as you said]: ‘Keep your wife and fear Allah,’ while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished.” [Al-Ahzaab: 37][5]

As evident this is an authentic report according to Twelver standards which mentions this forged story with additional details that are not even present in the weak Sunni accounts. Thus, this is quite ironic that Sayyed Ja’far attempts to discredit Sunni sources by appealing to a report that is weak in Sunni sources yet authentic in Shi’ite sources!

Hopefully, we can all learn from Sayyed Ja’far’s blunder(s) and recognize that upholding double standards is not an intellectually honest way to promote your religion or historical narrative. Otherwise, perhaps Sayyed Ja’far was simply demonstrating his ignorance and lack of exposure to Shi’ite texts?


[1] Al-Sahih min Seerat Al-Nabi Al-A’zam 1/23

[2] Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra 8/80, Tarikh Al-Tabari 2/562, Al-Mustadrak 4/25

[3] Al-Mojam Al-Kabir 24/44, Al-Ahadwal-Mathani 5/428, Ma’rifat Al-Sahabah 6/224

[4] Al-Kamil fi Du’afaa Al-Rijal 4/333

[5] Tafsir Al-Qommi 2/172-173

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