Al Bidayah wa al Nihaya
Al Bidayah wa al Nihaya in Bangla
Al Bidayah wa al Nihaya
হাফেজ আল্লামা ইমাম্মুদিন ইবনু কাসীর (রহঃ)
সংক্ষিপ্ত বর্ণনা: This is the famous history book from the well-known Ibn Kathi, who is equally known for his tafsir. The title means “The beginning and the end.”It is an excellent reference on the history of the prophets, seerah, the history of early Islam and the history of al Shaam and Iraq up until the year 768H.
Ibn Kathir is a Shafi’i scholar, who studied under one of the greatest Shafi’i scholars of all time, Abu al Hajjaaj al Muzi. Al Muzi loved him and drew him close to him and even married him to his daughter.
This 10 volume work, along with his tafsir, are the most famous works of Imam ibn Kathir. The title translates as: “The Beginning and the End.” As the name suggests the Imam covers history starting with the beginning of creation and ends with the righteous entering into Paradise and the evil entering Hellfire. Here are some more details:
First he talks about the story of creation based on the verses of Quran and sayings of the Prophet but then he moves on to narrate stories that rely on “al-Isra’eelyyaat”, the stories of the People of the Book. Then he proceeds with the stories of the Prophets (This is what I based my series on the Prophets on).
The next part covers the seerah of Rasulullah. The advantage of his coverage of seerah is that he combines what the scholars of seerah such as ibn Ishaaq, al Waqidi, and Musa bin Uqba wrote along with what the scholars of hadith have included in their books such as Bukhari, Muslim, the four books of Sunan, al Bayhaqi, Ahmad, and al Hakim. This makes his coverage of seerah very comprehensive. The downside is that the story does not flow as it would with the seerah of Ibn Ishaaq for example and there is also a lot of repetition and sometimes there are contradicting narrations. This makes it serve better as a reference than a book to read. This part is translated into English by Trevor Le Gassick. However there are some mistakes that I guess stem from the translator being a non-Muslim and thus because of his lack of understanding of Islam chooses incorrect meanings for words that have more than one meaning.
Ibn Kathir’s coverage of the time of the four Khalifs is detailed and avoids many but not all of the weak and fabricated narrations that exist in the history of al Tabari.
Then he covers the period of the Umayah khilafa. After that his history becomes quite Shaam-centric. Imam Ibn Kathir, in some cases almost conclusively, focuses on the histories of al Shaam (the area encompassed by present day Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan,) Egypt, and Iraq.
What about North Africa, Andalusia, the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian penensula, and other areas of Islam?
There is some talk about North Africa and its relationship with the establishment of the Fatimi dynasty whom Ibn Kathir refers to as liars, and Impersonators, who wished no good for the Muslims (The Fatimids were outwardly Shia and inwardly Ismailis.)
Andalusia gets mentioned but many important events in its history are missing. Ibn Kathir talks about the land of Sind while mentioning the great conquests that occurred on the hands of Muhammad bin al Qasim but then neglects it completely until Mahmud Sabaktakeen arrives on the scene and achieves great victories on the Indian subcontinent. The Arabian peninsula is covered sparsely and when it is, it is mostly about what was going on, or who was ruling in Makkah and Madina. Yemen and Oman are lost in this narrative. And there was absolutely nothing on some areas such as East Africa for example.
Why is that?
Well Ibn Kathir offers an apology somewhere (I cannot recall where at the moment) that he has omitted some parts because of lack of resources.
Now shouldn’t we think about this for a moment?
This great Imam who wrote some of the greatest works lacks resources on some important issues such as the history of Andalusia which made him omit almost 600 years of Muslim history in Spain (Ibn Kathir lived during the 8th hijri century) while we today have all the resources at our fingertips. Modern technology has brought with it a proliferation of Islamic knowledge but where are the ones who would take advantage of that?
Therefore, al Bidayah wa al Nihaayah is an excellent reference on the history of the prophets, seerah, the history of early Islam and the history of al Shaam and Iraq up until the year 768H.
During the period when I was reading these ten volumes I was living with the ummah. The ups and the downs, the victories and the defeats, the righteous and the evil, the just rulers and the tyrants, the scholars, the poets, the worshipers, the military generals, the deviants, the hypocrites, and the enemies.
We have a truly fascinating history.