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The criticism of Wâckidi does not consist in the collation of existing works, or in the endeavour to amplify and correct these by the help of new material. Neither he nor any other writer of the time was addicted to the use of reason and argument. The sole ambition of each was to collect the largest number of traditions, to transmit them with exactness, and at the most, after presenting a number of conflicting statements, to add, "According to my view, this or that is the best grounded." Most give no judgment at all, leaving that to the reader . . . . He seems to have taken as few traditions as possible from the Sunna, and even of these he gives other versions resting on independent authorities. His great learning enabled him often to assign ten different authorities for a single tradition, with as many varying texts of the same; and to supply many interesting anecdotes which had escaped Ibn Ishâc and his other predecessors. If we admit that he was not always fair or honest, it must be added that his principles were those of an impartial and scientific criticism; and that his zeal and method succeeded in bequeathing to us an important means of forming a judgment on the value of the original authorities 

Of his secretary, Ibn S'ad, who died A.H. 230, Sprenger writes:— 

He improved the arrangement of his Master's biographical works; and, after abbreviating them and supplying deficiencies, published the whole, under the title of Tabacât, in 12 (or 15) large volumes. His biography of Mahomet, which occupies the greatest part of the first volume,1 is the most solid work we possess on the subject. The "Campaigns" form a separate chapter, devoted exclusively to the wars of the Prophet. He departs here from his usual practice of citing with each tradition the string of authorities on which it rests; he contents himself with stating in the introduction that his authorities for the whole chapter are Ibn Ishâc, Ibn Ocba, and Abu Mashar, and then he pursues his narrative without again quoting their names. Thus he practises in this part of his biography, historical composition in our sense of the term. The multitudinous different reports had been already duly weighed, contradictions reconciled, the dates fixed by computation, and the whole narrative put on an independent footing. Following Wâckidi almost exclusively, he appears to use the other three authorities only by way of check. His Master's text he condenses in a masterly manner, and introduces here and there valuable geographical notes. At the close of the sections which narrate the most important expeditions, he cites such traditions as had escaped Wâckidi and his other predecessors;— 

1 A valuable manuscript of this volume is extant in India. It is described in Art. XXXVII. of this Review, before quoted.
[The volume, as elsewhere noticed, is now in the India Office, and copy in the library of.the Edinburgh University.]


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