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aba t (3,132 words)

(a.), pl. of aba


everything which is related to another and which is similar or analagous to it, which
comes to mean a layer of things of the same sort (Flgel, Classen , 269, n. 1). From this a transition can
be made to the idea of a rank, attributed to a group of characters who have played a role in history in
one capacity or another, classed according to criteria determined by the religious, cultural, scientific or
artistic order etc. (Hafsi, i. 229; cf. al-Tahnaw, Kasshssshsf , 917), In biographical literature it is the
book of classes of characters arranged by categories and organised into generations.
A. Lexicography and literature.
1. This term does not appear in the urn, but two other expressions approaching it do: aba

on top

of each others (in a spatial sense); You shall surely ride stage after stage (LXXXIV, 19, tr. Arberry:
in from one state to another, or from one calamity to another; see al-Tabar, Tafsr );

an aba

[God] who created seven ib

(the ranks or stages of the heavens, LXVII, 3; LXXI, 15). The
common point of reference is the idea of covering everything by something equivalent, of applying
oneself to it ( Kms , s.v.). The idea of equivalence is again found in aba
a a similar epoch ( al
min al-zamn ). According to al-As ma, ib
designates a group of people; for Ibn al-Arb.
(d. 231/846) aba

reflects a given state [or category] whatever its sort ( al- l al kshsilfi ). So
does aba

according to al-Laytt ht: na fulnun al aba

in sshsa min al-duny : ay l ; K. alAyn ; M.-N. han, Die exegeiscen Teile des Kib al-Ayn , Berlin 1994, 220, or again al-umma bad
al-umma class, in particular of society: one community succeeding another. For Ibn Sduh, aba

a group of people who correspond to an analogous group". The variant ib
designates a vast number
of people, grasshoppers, camels, etc. (LA and al-S agthtn, Tamila ..., ed. Mus t afal-Hidtjtz, Cairo
1988, s.v.; Ibn Sduh, Mukshsass as
, ix, 118). According to al-Laytt ht, aba

which may be aba

in the
masculine, is used as a unitary form of the noun of action ib

. Numerous other meanings are to be

found in Lane, s.v.
2. In adab and historiography, aba
a is in common use in the sense of category or class, in particular

of society: Ibn al-Muk affa, Risla fi l-sa

ba , ed. and tr. Ch. Pellat, Paris 1976, 31; Ibrhm b. M.
al-Sthtaybni (d. 298/911) according to al-Id al-fard , ed. Tarh n, iv, 262-3; G. Makdisi, Te rise of
umanism, Edinburgh 1990, 233-4. As for al-jth iz , he uses it in the sense of degree, as inal-sshsa f

in "doubt is made up of degrees" ( ayawn , vi, 35, 37, Jhiz, Le cadi e la mouce, tr. L.
Souami, Paris 1988, 74, 75); aba

man "degree or level (of meaning)" (op. ci., i, 10, Jhiz,

231; cf. i, 98). (Cf. Ibn htaldn. Muaddima
, 1073, tr. Rosenthal, ii, 344: aba

al-alm .) What is
more, in his work the meaning of "social categories/classes" is often associated with types of character:
misers, singers, singing slave girls, traders, secretaries, Turks, etc. (Ch. Pellat, Arabisce Geiseswel ,
Zrich 1967, 48-9, 436 ff.; S. Enderwitz, Gesellscaflicer Rang und enisce Legiimaion , Berlin
1979, 72-3, passim : al-jth iz on the Africans, the Persians and the Arabs). Finally, the notion of
a applied to poets has been attested at least since the second half of the 2nd/8th century; see al
As ma (d. 213/828), K. Fu la al-sshsuar ed. Torrey, in ZDMG, lxv (1911), 495, 499.
As to the following Prophetic tradition reported by Anas, it is very obviously spurious: "My community
will be made up of five classes: firstly forty years with charitable and pious people; they will be
followed for the next 150 years by people who will live in compassion and mutual harmony; then for
160 years more there will come people who will turn their backs on each other and will separate
themselves; then will come a period of scattering ( ardsjs ) [and of war or of flight] and every-man-forhimself ( nadsjs )". In another version it is said that each class would last for forty years and that another

class would be added between year 40 and year 80 to arrive at the number of five (Ibn Mdtjta, Sunan ,
36, Fian , no. 4058; cf. Ibn al-jtawz, Mawd , iii, 196; idem, Tal
, 714, several versions). It is
possible that it may have been modeled on the following tradition: "The best of men are those of my
century ( arn
), and below them are those of the next century" (al-Bukthtr, 62, Fad il al-s a ba , i,

tr. Houdas, ii, 583).

In modern texts, the term is accepted most clearly to designate a "social class", as in s ir al-aba

"the class struggle".

B. The division into "classes".
1. Origin and meaning.
For several scholars, the origin of this division in Arab biographical literature is found in the criticism
of tradition (Loth, 594 ff.). It has even been written that the genre of the aba

"was born within the

framework of the adts hs and is inseparable from it" (Hafsi, i, 227). What supports the thesis of Hafsi is
that the first book of classes was perhaps the K. Taba

al-mu addits hsn of al-Muf b. Imrn alMaws il (d. 184/800; Sezgin, i, 348; Hafsi, i, 241). One argument against his position would be the K.

al al-ilm wa l-dsjsal of Ws il b. At (d. 131/748), but the subject matter is not known: was
it the "orthodox" believers, i.e. the adars and the "ignorant", i.e. the predestinationists (Van Ess, TG,
v, Berlin 1993, 137-8)?
For Heffening, on the other hand, this grouping "much rather owes its origin to the interest of the Arabs
in genealogy and biography". Rosenthal, 93-5, for his part, considers that the division is genuinely
Islamic and that it would seem to be the oldest chronological division which presented itself to Muslim
historical thinking. It was the natural consequence of the concept of the Companions of Mu ammad,
the "Followers", etc., which in conjunction with the isnd criticism of traditions developed in the early
second century of the idsjsra .
Without denying the fundamental role which it played in the birth and development of the genre, it
does not seem that it originated from the genre, as the semantic survey above (cf. Heffening) would
suggest. The ideas of covering, of egality, of analogy (cf. also arn
a in
, which perhaps preceded aba

the sense of "generation", Rosenthal, 93, and which also has the connotation of analogy) and of
succession which this term conveys, correspond well to the Muslim concept of "the history of
salvation", with the succession of pious men, beginning with the "prophets", whose characters were so
many models to be imitated. Even if tribal genealogy continued to exist, it gave way more and more to
a particular form of spiritual or intellectual genealogy which also appeared, of course, in the adts hs,
"the transmission of knowledge", but also in other disciplines. In addition, by the use of certain types of

every effort was made to maintain the link with the primitive community which was widely
mythologised. Finally, the fact that al-As ma (see above) had already used the term aba

loosely, to compare two poets, and that al-jtumah (d. 232/846) organised his Taba

al-sshsuar (see
ilpatrick) according to an order which has nothing to do with religious merit, about the same epoch as
Ibn Sad (d. 230/845) composed his own work, suggests that the genre in its origins was part of a
global preoccupation of all scholars in different fields: to give to society the canons for transmitting
knowledge, whether sacred or secular, and in particular by means of a biographical tool. This concern
for continuity (halidi, 46-8, 205 and n. 50) insists at one and the same time on "sacred history
continued" and on the equally secular aspects of the genre deeply rooted in its origins, also apparent in
the genre of the awil [q.v.], which was attested at least since the time of Ibn Sthtayba (d. 235/849; see
book 34 of his Musannaf
, Beirut 1995, vii, 247-76). It is not fortuitous if in Tal

, 461-8, the section

concerning them follows that on the aba

The interest in "genealogy" understood in that way was specified above, and can also be observed in
the role which local stories play in the evolution of the genre, with certainly a touch of regional pride,

but especially in order to justify the juridical practices in use in one place or another (Rosenthal, 94).
Already by this time, Ibn Sad had given a special place to the grouping according to the capital cities
and towns (Mecca, Medina, Bas ra, fa), or even events (Badr) but the isory of Wsi of
Bah s t htal (d.
292/905 [q.v.]; ed. . Awwd, Bagthtdd 1967; Rosenthal, 166-7) is essentially a work about the classes
of traditionalists in this town. Later this division was extended to all sorts of persons, but generally
2. Criteria of classification.
For the classification of the Companions, especially in the work of Ibn Sad, see s ah ba . For the
Successors, see tbi . For both, see al-Hkim al-Nsbr, Marifa ulm al- adts hs , chs. 7, 14 (twelve
classes of Companions, fourteen classes of Successors); al-Suyt ,Tadrb al-rw , 221-2, 234 ff., ch.
39-40, according to precedent; Marais, 222-4; Hafsi, i, 242-4, 236-8.
It is difficult to give general criteria for classification for all the aba

; four can be distinguished:

moral and chronological, relationship with the Prophet for the first generations, chronological, and
finally a late classification where alphabetical order is used (Hafsi, i, 234-6).
For the classes of traditionalists, the "encounter" ( luy
) between master and disciple is a fundamental
criterion for distinguishing between the two classes (Umar, 51). The principles of hierarchisation and
also of illustration of the forged adts hs cited above, are seen in the original grouping which goes back
to Ab Tlib al-Makk (d. 386/996). He distinguished five classes of forty years up to his era, citing
five names for each one: caliph, jurist, traditionist, reader and ascetic ( Tal
, 714-17, takes up this
classification which was continued by others until 560 A.H., perhaps some 40 classes).
The organisation of works into classes did not seem very practical, as would appear in the work of alhtahab: Tadshsira al- uffz comprised twenty-one (80 years); Marifa al-urr
, seventeen; Siyar

alm al-nubal , about forty (from seven to thirty years); Tarkshs al-Islm [i-xxvii (up to 400 A.H.).
ed. U.A. Tadmur, Beirut 1987-92; i-iv (611-40 A.H.), ed. B.A. Marf e alii, Beirut 1988]; seventy
(in general ten years). In this work he associates chronological organisation with organisation into
classes, but in that way the traditional principle of the "encounter" is abandoned. Furthermore, in two
of his works he designates each class by one of its illustrious representatives, cf. "the class of al-Zuhr".
Thus he continues in al-Mudsjsarrad f asm ridsjsl K. Ibn Mdsjsa (eight classes, Marf, 103; Umar
49-50; Sezgin, i, 148; ed. Fays al al-jtawbira, Riyd 1988) and in al-Mun f aba

al-mu addits hsn

[Gilliot, in MIDEO, xix, no. 105, mistaken by Hafsi, 31, for Tadshsira al- uffz], where the first classes
have names, e.g. "the class of al-Amastht and of Ab Hanfa", then from the 3rd/9th centuries onwards
he has recourse to the classes of twenty to thirty years.
C. Works in the genre.
See Hdtjtdtjt htalfa, ed. Flgel, nos. 7879-7932. The lines which follow are the addenda (sometimes
the corrigenda) to Hafsi, in particular the editions of texts which have appeared since.
Philologists (Hafsi, ii, 155-61) and poets (iii, 50-61): Ibn al-Anbr, Nuza al-alibb f aba

udab , ed. I. al-Smarr (Bagthtdd 1970 ); Ibn d Sthtuhba (d. 851/1448 [q.v.]), Taba

wa l-lugshsawiyyn , ed. M. Gthtayyd , Nadtjtaf 1974.
Readers and exegetes (Hafsi, ii, 2-7): Ibn al-jtazar [q.v.], K. Marifa al-urr
al-ibr al l

wa l-as r , i-ii, ed. M.S. jtd al-Hak k , Cairo 1969; Dwd (M.b. A., d. 945/1538),

al-mufassirn , ed. A.M. Umar, Cairo 1972, Beirut 1983.

Traditionists and associates (Hafsi, i, 241-65): htalfa b. htayyt [q.v.]; Muslim, K. al-Taba

i, 248-9), ed. S.A.M. al-azak , announced in ATA, xxxv (1988), 17; Barddtjt (A. b. Hrn, d.

301/816; Sezgin, i, 166; Hafsi, i, 249-50), T aba

al-asm al-mufrada fi l-s a ba wa l-bin waas b al- adts hs , ed. S. al-Sthtihb, Damascus 1987; contrary to Sezgin, i, 350, al-Azd (Ab
Zakariyy Yazd b. M., d. 334/935), K. al-T aba,
lost work, which is different from Tarkshs alMawsil , ed. A. Habba, Cairo 1967, 11; Ab Sthtayktht (Al. b. M. b. jtafar, d. 369/979; Hafsi, 25),

, ed. A.S. al-Bundr, i-iv, in two vols., Beirut 1989; Al b. al

al-mu addits hsn bi-Isban

Mufad d al (al-Mak dis al-Iskandarn al-Mlik, d. 611/1214; Hafsi, i, 256), al-Arban al-muraaba
al aba

al-arban , ed. announced in ATA, xl-xli (1989), 15.

Hanafs (Hafsi, ii, 11-17): Ibn Abi l-Waf al-urastht (d. 775/1373), i-v, ed. A.M. al-Hulw, Cairo
19932, see Gilliot in MIDEO, xxii, 191; M. b. U. al-Hanaf (d. 959/1551), add . Hafsi, ii, 15, n. 4: ms.
Ali Emiri 2510; al-Hinni (d. 979/1572), Taba

al- anafiyya : add. Hafsi, ii, 16, n. 1: Bagthtdd,

Awk f 929-30; al-Gthtazz (A. b. Ak. al-Tamm, d. 1004/1595), al-Taba

al-saniyya f ardsjsim al2

anafiyya , ed. A.M. al-Hulw, Cairo 1989 (1970 ).
Mliks (Hafsi, ii, 9-11): Iyd b. Ms [q.v.], Tarb al-madri , i-viii, ed. M.T. al-Tandtjt e alii, Rabat
1966 ff. (19832), preferable to the edition of A. Bakr Mah md, i-iii, Beirut 1965-8; Ibn Farh n,alDbdsjs al-mudshsaab , i-ii, ed. M. al-Ah mad Abu l-Nr, Cairo 1972; continued by Ah mad Bb alTakrr al-Tinbutkt (d. 1036/1627; Brockelmann, II, 176), Nayl al-ibidsjs , ed. A. b. Al. al-Harlama,
Tripoli (Libya) 1989.
Sthtfis (Hafsi, ii, 17-24; introduction to al-Abbd by G. Vitestam, K. Taba

alsshsfiiyya , Leiden 1964, 3-5; introduction of htn, see below under Ibn d Sthtuhba): Mut awwi
(U. b. A., d. ca. 440/1048); Abu l-Tayyib Sahl al-S ulk (d. 404/1013-14); htn, 10, according to
Hdtjtdtjt htalfa, no. 7900; al-Subk (Tdtjt al-Dn, q.v.): T aba
al-sshsfiiyya al-ubr , i-x, ed. alTannh andal-Hulw, Cairo 1964-76; al-Asnaw (Abd al-Rah m b. al-Hasan, d. 772/1370), T aba

al-sshsfiiyya , i-ii, ed. Al. al-jtubr, Bagthtdd 1970-1 (Riyd 1981); Ibn d Sthtuhba.T aba
alsshsfiiyya, i-iv, Haydarbd 1978-80, i-iv in 2 vols., ed. H.A. htn, Beirut 1987; Ibn att htr (Imd alDn, d. 774/1373), Taba

al-sshsfiiyyn , with the hsayl of al-Mat aral-Ubd (d.
765/1363), i-iii, ed. M.Z.M. Azab, Cairo 1993 (Gilliot, in MIDEO, xxii, no. 192, and corr . in MIDEO,
xxiii, add. Hafsi, ii, 21: Ibn Mulak k in (A. Hafs U.b. A., d. 804), al-Id al-mudshsaab f amala
[corr. Hafsi: dsjsumla ] al-madshsab , ms. D 579 arkshs ).
Hanbals (Hafsi, ii, 24-6): Ibn al-Mabrid (or Ibn Abd al-Hd, d. 909/1503), al-jsawar al-munadd ad

f aba

mua akshskshsir as b A mad , ed. A.S. al-Utt htaymn, Cairo 1987 (Gilliot, in MIDEO, xix,
no. 106); al-Ulaym (Ar. b. M. al-Amr (d. 928/1521), al-Manadsjs al-a mad f aba

A mad , ed. M.M. Abd al-Hamd, Cairo 1965.
Mutazils (Hafsi, iii, 175-6, Madelung, 330): M. b. Yazddtht al-Is f ahn (last wrote 3rd/9th century;
Madelung), K. al-Masbi

; Abu l-H. b. Farzawayh, a disciple of Ab Al al-jtbb, K. alMasshsyikshs ; Abd al-jtabbr, Taba

al-muazila (ten classes), with the addition of two

supplementary classes by al-Hkim al-jtisthtum, in Fadl al-iizl wa-aba

al-muazila , ed. F.
Sayyid, Tunis 1974; Ibn al-Murtad , Taba

al-muazila, ed. S. Diwald-Wilzer, Wiesbaden 1961.

Overall, see Gilliot in MIDEO, xix, no. 56.
Asthtars: Ibn Frak, K. Taba

al-muaallimn , probably the oldest (Hafsi, iii, 180; Madelung 334),

and aml al-Dn b. Imm al-amliyya (d. 864/1460; al-Sakthtw, Daw , ix, no. 259), T aba
alasshsira are not preserved (Hafsi, ii, 26; Madelung, ibid.); Ibn Askir [q.v.], Tabyn adshsib al-mufar ,
divides them into five classes.
Ibd s (Hafsi, iii, 176): al-Dardtjtn (d. 626/1229 [q.v.]), K. al-Masshsyikshs fi l-Magshsrib ( Taba

masshsyikshs al-ibd iyya ), i-ii, Beirut 1974.

Sthts and Zayds (Hafsi, iii, 171-5): al-Bark (Ab jtafar, d. 280/893), K. al-Ridsjsl , ed. jt.

Muh a dditt ht Urmaw, Tehran 1964; al-asthtstht [q.v.], K. al-Ridsjsl, ed. S.A. al-Husayn, arbal ca.
1960/ Ikshsiyr marifa al-ridsjsl (summary by al-Ts), ed.H. Mus t afaw, Masththad 1970.
Ascetics and mystics (Hafsi, ii, 27-41): Ibn al-Mulak k in,T aba
al-awliy , ed. N. Sthtarba, Beirut
1986 (1973 ); al-Munw (Abd al-Raf [q.v.]), al-Kawib al-durriyya f ardsjsim al-sda als fiyya ( al-Taba

al-ubr ; first complete ed.), i-iv, in 2 vols., ed. A.S. Hamdn, Cairo 1994 (see
Gilliot, in MIDEO xxiii).
Physicians and sages (Hafsi, iii, 161-5): S id al-Andalus (d. 462/1070), T aba
al-umam , add .
Hafsi, iii, 161, ed. L. Cheikho, Beirut 1912; ed.H. B Alwn, Beirut 1985; M.S. han, Qd S id alAndaluss Tabak tal-umam, in Islamic Sudies , xxx/4 (1991), 517-40; missing from Hafsi are the
S iwn al- ima , wrongly atributed to Ab Sulaymn al-Sidtjtistn [q.v.], and Taimma S iwn al- ima
of Zahr al-Dn al-Bayhak [q.v.], new ed. R. al-Adtjtam, Beirut 1992.
Others: Mlik (A. Bakr Al. b. M., d. 453/1061; Hafsi, iii, 166), K. Riyd al-nufs f aba

al-Kayrawn wa-Ifriya
, i-iii, ed. B. al-Bakkstht, Beirut 1983; Burayh (Abd al-Wahhb b. Ar. alSaksak, d. 904), Taba

al-mudsjsaidn , ed. Ab Abd al-Rah mn Ibn Ak l, inRislan li-Ibn

Kaml Bsshs wa-T sshsubrzda , Cairo 1976.

W. Ahlwardt, Verzeicnis, x, index, s.v. Tabaq

P. Auchterlonie, Arabic biograpical dicionaries. A summary guide and bibliograpy, Durham 1987
G. Flgel, Die Classen der anefiiscen Recsgeleren, in Ab. Aad. Wien, philol.-hist. Cl., viii/3
(1861), 260-358
I. Hafsi, Recerces sur le genre des "t abaqt"dans la liraure arabe, in Arabica, xxiii-iv (1976-7)
W. Heffening, Taba

in EI 1 Suppl.
Ibn al-jtawz, Tal
fu l al al-ats hsar, Cairo 1979
annawdtjt, Abdsjsad al-ulm, ii, Damascus 1978, repr. Beirut n.d., 362-5
T. halidi, Arabic isorical oug in e classical period, Cambridge 1994
H. ilpatrick, Crieria of classificaion in e Tabaqt fuh lal-shuar of Mu ammad b. Sallm alJuma , in Procs. of e Nin Congress of e UEAI, Leiden 1981, 141-52
O. Loth, Ursprung und Bedeuung der Taba

in ZDMG, xxiii (1869), 593-614

W. Madelung, Der Kalm, in H. Gtje (ed.), GaP, ii, Wiesbaden 1987, 326-37
G. Makdisi, Tabaq-Biograpy.
Law and orodoxy in classical Islam, in Islamic Sudies, xxxii

(1993), 371-96
W. Marais (tr. and notes), Le Taqrb de en-Nawaw, Paris 1902 [= offprint from JA with index]
Marf (B. Awwd), introd. to htahab, Siyar alm al-nubal, ed. Sthtuayb al-Arnt e
al., Beirut
1981-8, in i, 7-140 (ed. idem, al-hsaab wa-manadsjs ibii Tarkshs al-Islm, Cairo 1976)
F. Rosenthal, A isory of Muslim isoriograpy 2, Leiden 1968, A.D. al-Umar, introd. to his ed. of
htalfa b. htayyt ,K. al-Taba

Bagthtdd 1967, 2Riyd 1982

, see Ibn al-jtawz

F. Wstenfeld, Der Imm el-Scfii, seine Scler, in Ab. G.W. G., hist.-phil. Cl., xxxvi (1889-90),
1-106, xxxvii (1891), pp. VIII + 1-100, 1-131.
(Cl. Gilliot)