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Daily Archives: January 29, 2014

Shams al-Din al-Muqaddasi (d. 991) and the Hadith of the 73 Sects

An interesting alternative to the well-known and commonly-cited Prophetic tradition which proclaims that “My nation shall be divided into 73 sects, one of which shall be saved and the rest which shall perish in Hellfire” is provided in Shams al-Dīn Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muhammad al-Muqaddasī’s Ahsan al-Taqāsīm fī Ma‘rifat al-Aqālīm, a major geographical work written around 985 A.D. which is a product of his extensive travels throughout the Islamic world in the tenth century. As an individual trained in the science of jurisprudence and well-connected with important circles of scholarship in the Levant and the Hijaz, it can reasonably be assumed that his narration of this alternative version was based on his own scholarly understanding of the tradition. The hadith which he cites is as follows: “My nation shall be divided into 73 sects, 72 of which shall be saved and only one which shall perish in Hellfire.”* (more…)