Jabala ibn Hammud ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Jabala as-Sadafi

(d. 299) of North Africa

Abu Yusuf, one of the sons of those who came with Hassan ibn an-Nu'man. His father became Muslim with 'Uthman ibn 'Affan.

He listened to Sahnun, 'Awn, Abu Ishaq al-Barqi, Dawud ibn Yahya and others among the Egyptians and North Africans.

He has three sections on the assemblies from Sahnun which are related from him.

He related the Mudawwana from Sahnun, and his riwaya in it is known.

The first of what he heard were the words of the Iraqis and he sat with Muhammad ibn Asbat. Then he left that and kept the company of Sahnun.

Abu al-'Arab, 'Abdullah ibn Abi 'Uqba and 'Abdullah ibn Sa'id listened to him.

Ibn Harith said, "He was one of the people of clear good, worship, scrupulousness and asceticism. Religious devotions and asceticism dominated him."

Concerning his asceticism, worship and excellence

Abu al-'Arab said, 'He was a reliable, ascetic and righteous man. He was based in Qasr at-Tub. Then he kept to Qayrawan. People listened to him. He had sound oral transmissions from Sahnun and was reliable."

Abu al-Ghasn said, 'May Allah have mercy on Abu Yusuf! He was the master of his time!"

Sahnun said when he saw him coming, "If this lad lives, he will have some renown. He has the most asceticism of the people of his time."

One of them said, "I did not see him at all mentioning this world with either praise or censure."

Abu Musa said, "I did not see anyone with more asceticism than Jabala."

He attended a funeral with Himas and Sa'id ibn al-Haddad. Sa'id said to him, "Come forward, Abu Yusuf. You are more ascetic than I am, older than me and have more knowledge than me."

Ibn Sa'id said, "Jabala was one of the best of the men of Sahnun. He was the highest of them in aseticism. In the beginning, he grew up and learned the Book of Allah and loved the house of Sahnun which he would frequent. His father used to keep the company of the Sultan and held the opinion of the people of Iraq. One day Jabala wanted to go to Sahnun and his father took away cloak so that he would not find anything to wear while walking. Jabala took his mother's veil and wrapped himself in it and walked to Sahnun. He asked him (about it) and Jabala informed him about it. So Sahnun gave him a roll of cloth. When he went out, a man met him and he exchanged it for a cloth from which a garment and a cloak were cut. He went with that to Sahnun. He asked him about the bolt and he told him. He said. 'He cheated you.'"

Ibn Harith said, "His father was one of the people of wealth who kept company of the Sultan. He parted company with him while he was alive and declared himself free of his inheritance after he died. His inheritance was about 800 mithqals."

It was said, "He said, 'I only know good of him except that he used to claim food based on the price of food. That was allowed with him in his school. In my opinion, it is not allowed.'"

He testified before one of the qadis against his father while he was alive that he had deliberately killed a man. His father intimated that he was attacked. The Qadi said to him, 'By Allah, if two had testified against you along with him, I would have shed your blood."

Abu al-'Arab said, "He came out to us one day. One his companions arranged his garments. That consisted of a shirt, a fine cape, trousers and a handkerchief. All of that was patched, with a total worth of 3/4 of a dirham."

Musa al-Qattan said, "Whoever wants to enter the house of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab should enter the house of Jabala. If Jabala had been alive in the time of the tribe of Israel, his reports would have come to us in the books. If the tribe of Israel boast to us of their men of worship and asceticism, we boast of him above them."

Musa al-Qattan stopped over his grave on the morning he died. A man said to him, "Allah has granted the proximity of this righteous man (i.e. al-Bahlul ibn Rashid). May Allah benefit him by him!"

Al-Qattan, said, "Perhaps al-Bahlul would benefit by Abu Yusuf."

One of them said, "I said to Sa'id ibn al-Haddad, 'It was mentioned to me that Jabala used to sleep on palm leaves and a cut leather mat. He had a brick at his head above which was a pillow.' Sa'id said, 'It was somewhat more than what was described."

'Abdullah ibn Sa'id said, "Jabala did not like actions which were public. His actions were all hidden except for asceticism. That was seen on him."

Abu Bakr az-Zawili said, "Jabala's food for the month was two-eighths of barley which he ground and carried in a jug. When he saw the sun set, he went out to the wasteland and took what came in his hand of wild vegetables. He put them in a small pot on the fire and he put a handful of flour in it and broke his fast on that. This was his livelihood."

Ibn Sa'dun said, "When he prayed Maghrib, I saw him take his dough and go with it to the fireplace where people had been cooking and where the ashes remained. He dug in it with a stick and put the loaf in it and covered it with the ashes. He sat doing dhikr and supplication until it became crusty. Then he brought it out and knocked the ashes from it. I said to the people of the castle. 'A shaykh like this, living amidst you, serves himself!' They told me, 'Abu Bakr, he has been with us for twenty years and never cooked a pot nor lit a lamp.'"

He went out one day to Jumu'a wearing his wife's shirt. He had washed his shirt and did not find any other to wear. He was asked about that. He said, "I only know good of it, both pure and clean."

He gave much sadaqa and charity in spite of the little that he possessed.

Concerning his karamat and supplications

Muhammad ibn Bishr, the teacher, said, "When I was young my father took me to the ribat at Qasr at-Tub. We went to Jabala. He said, "I have felt that I would break my fast today and I asked Allah to bring me someone to break it with me.' He took a potsherd and put it on the fire. He cooked a paste of flour and ghee on it and we ate in it. It was both our pot and our plate. Then he said, 'My son, wish for what you like!' Green figs occurred to my mind, but it was not their season, I mentioned that to him. Jabala put his hand in a jug and brought out five green figs for me."

Abu Maysara said, "I used to come to Jabala and asked permission to visit him and I heard some words with him which were not his own. I came in and did not see anyone with him. I asked him about a book so I could investigate the room. He told me, 'Take it from the room.' I did not find anyone in the room. He used to mention that he met with al-Khidr."

One day he told a youth to do something and he did not do that. He said to him, "Your father named you Sahnun but evil will come to people from you,' or the like of this. Very soon he was appointed a guard in Qayrawan.

He told another of his companions, "It was only evil from your father." His father was in charge of the guards. Later the youth became a Shi'ite.

He came to a group of his companions who were laughing and speaking in raised voices. He said to him. "Allah will not let you profit by knowledge."

Ibn Abi 'Uqba said, "We do not know that any of them remembered."

When the people of Qayrawan went out to met the Shi'ite to flatter him, that was grievous for him. He said, "O Allah, do not make anyone who went out to meet him safe!" They were despoiled on the road.

It was said to him, "They went to flatter him." He retorted, "Be quiet. What would you think if the Greeks came to us and said, 'You will come under our rule or we will fight you.' Would it then he allowed for us to go under their rule? If you live, you will see what is worse than the judgements of shirk from the judgements of these men."

A man of the [false] Sufis was present in his assembly. When he heard some of his emotional stories, he closed his eyes and told him, "You are not one the people of this." When ash-Shi'i entered, he used to serve his scribes.

When Jabala saw Ibn Ghazi at the beginning of his affair, his worship, his tasawwuf, his ribat, and seeking knowledge, he said, "This head will not die in Islam."

When 'Ubaydullah entered, Ibn Ghazi became Shi'ite after his striving in worship, living in the frontiers and seeking knowledge. He entered into their call and allowed things. He was one of those who said to 'Ubaydullah, "You, you!"

Concerning his harshness against the people of innovations, his avoiding them and his strength for the sake of Allah

He was harsh in that. He did not flatter anyone in that. None strove more than he did against the Rafidites and their party. Allah saved him from them.

When 'Ubaydullah entered North Africa and alighted in Raqqada, Jabala left the houses of the Ribat and when to Qayrawan. He was asked about that. He said, "We used to guard against the enemy when there was a sea between us and them. Now this enemy has alighted in our very courtyard and he is stronger against us than that."

In the morning he prayed Subh and went out to the side of Qayrawan facing Raqqada. He had his sword, shield, bow and arrows with him. He sat facing Raqqada for the entire day until sunset. Then he returned to his house and said, "I am guarding the weak points of the Muslims for them. If I see anything from them. I will urge the Muslims against them."

He used to dislike leaving Qayrawan for Sousse and other ports. He said, "The jihad against those people is better than the jihad against shirk."

The faqih Ibn Sa'dun al-Qarawi said, "Then 'Ubaydullah ash-Shi'i entered Qayrawan and gave the khutba on the first Jumu'a while Jabala was present. When he heard their disbelief, he got up and uncovered his head so that people would see him. Then he went out wailing to the end of the mosque saying, 'They have cut it off! May Allah cut them off!' None of the people of knowledge attended it after this."

When as-Sadini was appointed qadi in the time of Ahmad ibn [Muhammad ibn] al-Aghlab, Jabala used to pray four rak'ats of Zuhr at his mosque with the adhan and the iqama. The mu'adhdhin said, "You see that I give the adhan and the iqama inside the mosque. Now the time is gone." He said to him, "You give the adhan and the iqama in the courtyard. If not, keep to your house. If anyone forbids us from praying, we will shoot arrows at him."

Ahmad ibn Abi Sulayman objected to him joining with the iqama on Jumu'a. Jabala told him, "Malik said about those in prison: 'They meet in the prison because they are forbidden the Jumu'a.' We have put ourselves in their place."

As-Sadini wrote to Ibn al-Aghlab to tell him what Jabala had done in that. He sent to him, "Stretch out your hand to what you like, but beware of Jabala!"

The master of the guard came to him and told him, "The governor tells you to repeat the iqama, give two taslims and make the qanut." Jabala retorted, "The governor does not teach us the business of our deen."

Someone else came to him with something similar from Qadi al-Marwadhi about reciting, "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate," [with the Fatiha in the prayer] and adding, "Come to the best of works" to the adhan. Jabala said to him. "Go! May Allah declare you shameful and make shameful the one who sent you!" The messenger returned to al-Marawdhi and told him that.

Al-Marawdhi cursed him and said to him, "I sent you to Jabala! When you go to the friends of Allah you are exposed to their supplication!"

One day the master of the guard spied on him. Jabala seized him and brought him to the mosque and beat him with a palm stalk and did not stop until he repented and said that he would not do it again."

Al-Qabisi said, "As-Saba'i acted in this way with the Banu 'Ubayd [i.e. the Fatimids] as did Jabala."

When Ibn 'Abdun was appointed qadi - and he was an Iraqi in his school - he came to the castle where Jabala was. His people came out to him and met him, Jabala did not come out. He was told, "Ibn 'Abdun has come to greet you."

Ibn 'Abdun came and stood at his door. He greeted him and he did not return it. He said to him while he was seated, "What is your name?" He replied, "Muhammad."

He told him, "Muhammad! Beware of saying that the Qur'an is created!"

He attended a funeral with Ibn 'Abdun. Jabala got up and Ibn 'Abdun prayed behind him. Then there was another funeral and Ibn 'Abdun led the prayer but Jabala did not pray. He left in the direction of the qibla so that the people would see him. That was distressing for Ibn 'Abdun. He sent to him to ask about it and said to him, "Do you think that I say that the Qur'an is created? I do not say that."

Jabala said to him, "Your business in my opinion is worse. Have you not beaten Ibn Mu'attib, adh-Dhihbi and so-and-so? You have made them go around the Simat [the main street] and called out over them, 'The party of Shaytan.' They are the men of Sahnun and he took from the men of Malik from the followers from the Companions from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace."

Some of the reports of Jabala in the matters of this world and his foolishness in them are found in what al-Maliki related.

Once is stove with which he warmed himself broke and he put it back together with pitch.

Once he was seen blowing on water in a vessel. He was asked about it and said, "I wanted cold water."

He found that one of his neighbours had made a baysar (mixture of flour, butter, and milk) and put it on a plate on the roof for it to congeal. Jabala said, "Wretches! You ignore your baysar until it congeals." Then he put water in it for them. The people came and shouted, "Who has ruined our baysar for us!" Jabala said to him, "I have. Only think good! I thought that it was going bad."

Jabala did not see anything of the business of this world nor was he occupied with any of its reports due to his foolishness in that. He was preoccupied with worship and good actions.

A man owed him four dinars and it was difficult for him to give them to him. So a servant of Jabala arranged to pay it in instalments, a fourth of a dinar every month, He told him that.

He said to him, "A fourth of a mithqal is a lot. I do not think that he will be able to do it, rather take 4 dirhams from him every month." A mithqal was 12 dirhams.

He said, "A fourth of a mithqal is less than four dirhams." He said to him, "All right then."

Al-Qabisi said, "Jabala came one day to Sahnun and he had on rags. When he finished his listening and people left, Sahnun gave him a bolt and a cloak. He said to him "Cut this bolt into two shirts and wear the cloak.'

"When he went out, some of his companions haggled with him. They continued with him until they bought that from him for forty dirhams.

"That reached Sahnun. He said to him 'They brought what they knew from you, and you sold what you did not know.'"

He died in Safar, 299.

Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Sahnun prayed over him in the prayer-place of the 'id due to the great number of people who gathered.

He was born in 210.

Historical Notes

Hassan ibn an-Nu'man al-Ghassani: the general of the Umayyad army in North Africa who brought Ifriqiyya under Muslim control.

Qasr at-Tub: "brick castle," a ribat in the region of Sousse.

the Shi'ite: either 'Ubaydullah, the founder of the Fatimids in North Africa who broke the power of the Abbasids there. He was an Isma'ili who claimed descent from Fatima, or his propagandist, Abu 'Abdullah al-Husayn ash-Shi'i.

Ibn Ghazi: in the time of the Aghlabids he was known for his religious virtue and beautiful Qur'an recitation. Then he became an Isma'ili and espoused ideas which were nothing to do with Islam.

Rafidites: Shi'ites, those who reject Abu Bakr and 'Umar.

Raqqada: the capital of the Aghlabids, about ten miles outside of Qayrawan. 'Ubaydullah choose to reside there.

as-Sadini: Muhammad ibn Aswad as-Sadini, a Hanafi and Mu'tazilite who was appointed qadi by Ibrahim II went he went on jihad in Sicily in 289/902. He was antagonistic to the Malikis. He was replaced after less than a year

al-Marwadhi: the first Fatimid qadi in Qayrawan after the death of Ibn 'Abdun (d. 297/910). He died in 303/915.

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