I recently came across a verse in the Quran wherein mention of the Sabi-un (الصابئين) were made. Are there any narrations either from Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), the Sahabah (radiyallahu ‘anhum), or the ‘Ulama (rahimahumullah) about this religion or these people? Are they considered amongst the Ahlul Kitab or amongst those who were on a correct creed?
Nothing with certainty can be said regarding the beliefs and practices of the Sabi-un. Nonetheless, many different opinions have been expressed on the subject, some having been given preference over others.
(Refer: Ma’ariful Quran, Surah Baqarah, Verse: 62)
Hereunder are a few opinions that have been given by the ‘Ulama:
- They were a group of people that believed in no religion. This was the opinion of ‘Allamahs: Mujahid, Ibn Abi Najih, and others (rahimahumullah).
- They were a group of people that used to worship the Angels. This was the opinion of ‘Allamahs: Hasan Basri, Qatadah, and others (rahimahumullah).
- They were like polytheists, since they worshipped the stars and did not believe in any divine book. This is the view of Imams Abu Yusuf and Muhammad (rahimahumallah).
- Some have mentioned that they [believed in a prophet], and recited the Zabur as well. As far the stars were concerned, they did not worship them, but rather they would face the stars and respect them as if it was their qiblah. This view is attributed to Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah).
- They were a sect of the Ahlul Kitab. This was the opinion of ‘Allamah: Suddi and others (rahimahumullah).
(Tafsir Tabari, Surah Baqarah, Verse: 62; Also see: Mufradatul Quran, pg. 475, letters: ص ب ا, Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Ruhul Ma’ani, Surah Baqarah, Verse: 62, and Badai’us sanai’i, vol.7 pg.111 & Al-Binayah, vol.5 pg.46-47)
‘Allamah Qurtubi (rahimahullah) has mentioned that the religion of the Sabi-un can be summed up such that they were monotheists [that believed in a single deity] but also believed that the stars played a definite role in destiny/destining things.
(Tafsir Qurtubi, Verse: 62)
Imam Razi (rahimahullah) has given preference to the opinion that the Sabi-un used to worship the stars. This was also the preferred opinion of Mufti Shafi ‘Uthmani (rahimahullah).
(Tafsir Razi and Ma’ariful Quran, Surah Baqarah, Verse: 62)
Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah), after having stated numerous opinions from various ‘Ulama, has given preference to the opinion that the Sabi-un were neither Jews, Christians, fire worshipers, nor even polytheists/idol worshipers. Rather, they were such people that had no fixed religion.
(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah Baqarah, Verse: 62)
For further details and opinions, kindly refer to the books of Tafsir.
And Allah Ta’ala knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Farhan Shariff
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
This answer was collected from HadithAnswers.com. The answers were either answered or checked by Moulana Haroon Abasoomar (rahimahullah) who was a Shaykhul Hadith in South Africa, or by his son, Moulana Muhammad Abasoomer (hafizahullah), who is a Hadith specialist.