Habib the Carpenter

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Saint Habib the Carpenter
Bornc. 5 C.E.
Diedc. 30-40 C.E.
Antioch, Roman Empire
Venerated inIslam
Major shrineMosque and Tomb of Habib Al-Najjar, Antioch

Habib the Carpenter, or Habib Al-Najjar, was, according to the belief of some Muslims, a martyr who lived in Antioch at the time of Jesus Christ.[1] In Muslim tradition, Habib believed the message of Christ's disciples sent to the People of Ya-Sin, and was subsequently martyred for his faith.[2] The Mosque of Habib-i Neccar (Ottoman for Habib al-Najjar), below Mount Silpius, contains the tomb of Habib along with that of Sham'un Al-Safa (Peter, also known as Simon the Pure).[3][4] Some sources have identified Habib with Saint Agabus of the Acts of the Apostles, an early Christian who suffered martyrdom in Antioch at the time of Jesus.[5] This connection is disputed, as Christian tradition holds that Agabus was martyred at Jerusalem, and not at Antioch as Muslims believe of Habib.[6] All Muslim sources list Habib's occupation as a carpenter.[7]

Historical narrative[edit]

Although Habib is not mentioned in the Qur'an, an old Muslim tradition speaks of some of Christ's disciples, including John, Jude and Peter, who were sent to town of Antioch to preach the faith of God.[8] The people of Antioch had regressed to idolatry. When the disciples came, many of the people questioned them, asking them of what religion Jesus had sent them to preach.[9] Baidawi provided a detailed account of Habib's narrative. He related that the disciples met Habib in Antioch and made known to him their mission. Baidawi further related that the disciples, by the will of God, performed various miracles including healing the sick and blind. After Habib's son was healed, Habib's faith was further strengthened and he tried to help in preaching the Gospel to his fellow people. Yet still, many refused to hear God's message. Instead, the disbelievers decided to stone Habib to death. The legend ends with Habib, upon having been stoned, entering paradise as a martyr.[10]

In the Quran[edit]

The legend of Habib the martyr was, by early Quran commentators, identified with the following verse of the Quran:

And there came from the uttermost part of the city a man running. He cried: O my people! Follow those who have been sent!
"Obey those who ask no reward of you (for themselves), and who have themselves received guidance.
"It would not be reasonable in me if I did not serve Him Who created me, and to Whom ye shall (all) be brought back.
"Shall I take (other) gods besides Him? If (God) Most Gracious should intend some adversity for me, of no use whatever will be their intercession for me, nor can they deliver me.
"I would indeed, if I were to do so, be in manifest error.
"For me, I have faith in the Lord of you (all): listen, then, to me!"
It was said: "Enter thou the Garden." He said: "Ah me! Would that my people knew (what I know)!-
"For that my Lord has granted me forgiveness and has enrolled me among those held in honour!"

— Qur'an, sura 36 (Ya-Seen), ayah 20-27[11]

The people who are described as preaching to the town in the Qur'anic verse are mentioned as 'messengers'. Therefore, the identification of Christ's disciples and Habib with the figures in the Qur'anic verse is believed to be false by many modern commentators. This is because the term 'Messenger' or 'Apostle' usually denotes a Prophet in the Qur'an, unlike the New Testament which describes some disciples of Jesus as apostles. Many people translates Rasulullah as 'Apostle of God'. Although some sources have identified Habib with the Prophet Agabus of Acts of the Apostles[12][13]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Chronique de Tabari (Bal'ami), trans. H. Zotenberg, ii, 51f.
  • Tabari, Volume 1, 789–783; Tafsir Tabari, xxii, 91ff.
  • Masudi, Murudj, i, 127f. (trans. Ch. Pellat, Paris, 1962, i, 127)


  1. ^ Hughes Dictionary of Islam, Habib the Carpenter
  2. ^ Muhammad, Martin Lings, Page. 113
  3. ^ Hughes Dictionary of Islam, Habib the Carpenter: "Habib's tomb is still seen in Antioch, and is visited by Muhammadans as a shrine."
  4. ^ The Mosque of Habib-i Neccar (Habib al-Najjâr)
  5. ^ Synaxaire de Constantinople, in H. Delehaye, Propylaeum ad Acta sanctorum Nouembris, col. 591, c.f 783 f.
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam, Habib Al-Nadjdjar: "...it is not stated that this was at Antioch, but either at Jerusalem or in some place not specified..."
  7. ^ Almost all sources, including al-Masudi, Mutahhar, Balami and al-'Thalabi apply Habib's occupation as a carpenter
  8. ^ Muhammad, Martin Lings, Chapter XXVIII
  9. ^ Hughes Dictionary of Islam, Habib the Carpenter
  10. ^ Hughes Dictionary of Islam, Habib the Carpenter
  11. ^ Quran 36:20–27
  12. ^ Acts, xi, 28 and xxi,
  13. ^ The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, XXXVI: XX-XXVII