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The Ibn Sayyād Traditions and the Legend of al-Dajjāl

David J. Halperin
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 96, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1976), pp. 213-225
DOI: 10.2307/599824
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/599824
Page Count: 13
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The Ibn Sayyād Traditions and the Legend of al-Dajjāl
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Abstract

The Islamic traditional literature contains a series of puzzling hadiths which suggest an identification of al-Dajjāl-the Muslim "Antichrist"-with a Jewish contemporary of Muḥammad, known as Ibn Ṣayyād. Critical analysis of these hadiths indicates that Ibn Ṣayyād was in fact a rival claimant to prophecy, whose visionary experiences may be linked with the Jewish merkābâh mysticism; Muḥammad was apparently unable to repudiate his claims. After Muḥammad's death, when the belief in the coming of al-Dajjāl began to take root in the Islamic community, suspicion fell on Ibn Ṣayyād; and, as the Dajjāl-legend developed, the image of Ibn Ṣayyād took on increasingly sinister and fantastic traits. This paper attempts to trace the development of the Ibn Ṣayyād tradition from history to legend-and, thereby, to shed light on the evolution of the Dajjāl-legend itself.

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