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An Introduction to Imamiyyah Scholars, Major Shi'i Thinkers of the Fifth/Eleventh Century

Wahid Akhtar
Vol. IV, No. 4 (1407 AH)

Shaykh al-Ta'ifa al-Tusi's works in tafsir, hadith, kalam, and fiqh mark the culmination of many a generation's efforts in developing these sciences and their methodology. Besides al-Kulayni, al-Saduq, al-Mufid, al-Murtadha and al-Radi, a host of scholars specializing in various branches of Islamic learning contributed to the flowering of intellectual activity in the Shi`i Islamic world, laying down the foundations of a school that could be distinguished from other schools of Muslim thought.

The above-mentioned scholars developed Imamiyyah kalam, the Shi`i school of hadith, and a unique approach to the Qur'an and tafsir, mainly based upon the teachings of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet. In `ilm al-kalam the Imamiyya approach is basically rationalist but free from the extremist strains of the Mu`tazili emphasis on reason and the anti-rationalist reaction of the Ash`arites. In this field, the works of al-Mufid, al-Murtadha and al-Tusi deserve special attention, which has not been paid to them either by Muslim or Western scholars in the context of the evolution of `ilm al-kalam.

In hadith, which was held to be the foremost and fundamental branch of Islamic learning, Shi`i Imamiyya compendiums were compiled with a more critical insight into the questions of authenticity. Shi`a muhaddithun employed meticulous methods to test and authenticate hadith literature. They evolved tools of analysis and laid down criteria to assess the veracity of ruwat and, as a consequence of this concern, `ilm al-rijal was developed. This science required the study of ansab (genealogy), biographies, and history, which produced among the Shi`a eminent historians, biographers, and genealogists.

Historiography was taken up by the Imamiyya scholars as a need of the time also, with a view to project the Shi`i interpretation of Islamic history for a better understanding of the tenets of the Imami faith. Without any doubt, most of the controversies and differences of faith which arose in the Muslim world, emerged because of divergent views of history. Apart from the first maqtal of Karbala' compiled by Abu Mikhnaf, Ibn al-Wadih al-Ya`qubi, Ibn Miskawayh and al-Mas`udi wrote the earliest histories of Islam. Works in this field also contributed to the development of a critical approach to understanding of theological and philosophical issues in a historical perspective.

The study of the Qur'an and its interpretation in the light of the teachings of the Imams of the Prophet's Family, found its full blossoming in al-Tibyan of al-Shaykh al-Tusi, who made use of various Islamic sciences and his expertise in Arabic language, literature, and grammar to write the first comprehensive Shi`i tafsir. This tradition was later extended to new horizons by Amin al-Din al-Tabarsi and Abu al-Futuh al-Razi.

We have not discussed pure philosophers, although it is generally acknowledged that most of the original philosophers in the Muslim world during the early phase of the development of Muslim thought were of Shi`i inclination, such as al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, and Ibn Miskawayh. In Sufism, also, we find names of eminent theoreticians like Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi (al-Maqtul) and `Ayn al-Qudat al-Hamadani. All these thinkers were products of a particular Shi`i intellectual tradition.

It is important to note that this intellectual climate was not brought into existence by a few eminent scholars alone. In the books of the Shi`i rijal and bibliographies (faharis), the names of thousands of ruwat of hadith, fuqaha', mutakallimun, mufassirun, and scholars of mathematics and natural sciences are recorded meticulously with dates and names.

The development of any school of jurisprudence depends on a particular set of principles of fiqh and a definite method of deducing subsidiary laws. Study of the Qur'an, tafsir, hadith, `ilm al-kalam and `ilm al-rijal provided tools to develop such principles and methods. This is the reason that early Imamiyya scholars devoted the best of their intellectual energies to evolve Imamiyya fiqh and usul al-fiqh. In these areas of study we find the most outstanding of the names of Imamiyya scholars.

No picture of Imamiyya scholarship is complete without a general account of the developments in various fields of theology and philosophy. Apart from the detailed study of the works of leading scholars in different fields, it is essential to have a comprehensive picture of the intellectual activity in the framework of the Imamiyya faith, and such a general picture needs to take into account even the contributions of, comparatively, not-very-original thinkers and scholars. This part of the present series of articles is aimed at giving an account of the Imamiyya scholars' works in the fifth/eleventh century. Some of the scholars discussed in this article are outstanding in their specialized areas of study, such as Abu al-`Abbas al-Najashi, whose work on the rijal of the Shi`a still remains the most authentic work in the field.

The fourth and fifth/tenth and eleventh centuries are considered to form the golden age of Muslim intellectual and cultural developments. In Imamiyya thought, these two centuries, together with the sixth/twelfth century, constitute the era of the flowering of the Shi`i mind. We have selected only a few scholars as representatives of the general scholarly tradition among the Imamiyya, but many of those who are left also deserve the historian's attention. Paucity of literature about Imamiyya scholars is the main obstacle in the way of a comprehensive study of many a scholar.

Almost all early works on the rijal of the Shi`a remain in Arabic and even the most important of them have not yet been translated into any other language. Despite their authenticity, these books, for instance al-Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadim and al-Tusi and the Rijal of al-Najashi, give only very brief accounts of the scholars. If one wishes to form a comprehensive picture of various scholars' works in different fields, one has to refer to a large number of books in Arabic and Persian.

Most of the works of the Imamiyya scholars, like those of other Muslim schools, were written in Arabic and were destroyed in the course of wars, invasions of the Muslim world, and sectarian riots. The Imamiyya scholars were more unfortunate than others in this respect. Approximately ninety per cent of the works listed in early biographies have totally disappeared, and those that are existent are scattered all over the Muslim world in obscure libraries and corners. This is a factor that had been responsible for the paucity of material on Imamiyya scholarship.

For political reasons and extra-academic motives, orientalists have been mainly interested in the study of the majority sect of the Muslims. The Shi`i school has been systematically neglected and, at the same time, maligned by non-Shi`i scholars and the orientalists. It is still the main target of the hostile Wahhabi petro-Dollar propaganda machinery. In an unbiased and objective view of the issue of Islam, the differences between the Sunnis and the Shi`a, apart from the issue of the Imamate, concern subsidiary and secondary issues, mostly of historical and political nature. The points of difference between the two in matters of fiqh are no more pronounced than those among the officially accepted four schools of Sunni fiqh.

A comparative study of the five schools of fiqh (the four Sunni and the Ja`fari) is essential for a better understanding of Islam. This study requires as a prerequisite, a general survey of the work done by Imamiyya scholars in different areas of Islamic learning. The present study is a beginning in this direction - an attempt to fill up some obvious gaps.

If one ignores polemical writings on controversial issues, one would find a spirit of co-operation and mutual appreciation among Sunni and Shi`i scholars of the early centuries in developing various Islamic sciences. Imamiyya thought is a part of general Islamic thought and needs to be studied in this perspective.

With this introduction I present brief accounts of a few selected Imamiyya scholars of the fifth/eleventh century. A similar survey of the scholars of the earlier centuries is also essential for a better and more comprehensive understanding of Islam.

1. The al-Ghada'iris

Two of the earliest scholars of the fifth/eleventh century are the al-Ghada'iris, father and son, Husayn b. `Ubayd Allah al-Ghada'iri (d. 411/1020) and Ahmad b. al-Husayn. The former was a contemporary of al-Shaykh al-Mufid and a teacher of al-Shaykh al-Tusi and al-Najashi, while the latter was a class-fellow and intimate friend of al-Tusi and al-Najashi.

Shaykh al-Ta'ifa, in al-Rijal, mentions his name in the chapter dealing with those that did not directly narrate traditions from the Imams. He writes:

Husayn b. `Ubayd Allah al-Ghada'iri, known as Abu `Abd Allah, has narrated a number of ahadith and was an expert of `ilm al-rijal. He has many works to his credit, which have been mentioned in al-Fihrist. 1

But al-Tusi did not give any list of Abu `Abd Allah's works in his al-Fihrist. This omission on his part may be explained as a matter of forgetfulness only.2

Al-Najashi, in his work on rijal, writes:

Husayn b. `Ubayd Allah b. Ibrahim al-Ghada'iri Abu `Abd Allah is my teacher. May Allah bless his soul. Among his books are:

Kitab kashf al-tamwih wa-l-ghumma,

Kitab al-taslim `ala Amir al-Mu'minin bi imrat al-mu'minin,

Kitab tadhkir al-`aqil wa tanbih al-ghafil fi fadl al-`ilm,

Kitab `adad al-A'imma wa-ma shadhdha `ala al-musannifin min dhalik,

Kitab al-bayan `an habwat al-Rahman,

Kitab al-nawadir fi l-fiqh,

Kitab manasik al-hajj,

Kitab mukhtasar manasik al-hajj,

Kitab yawm al-Ghadir,

Kitab al-radd `ala al-Ghulat wa-l-Mufawwida,

Kitab sajdat al-shukr,

Kitab mawatin Amir al-Mu'minin,

Kitab fi fadl Baghdad, and

Kitab fi qawl Amir al-Mu'minin: `Ala ukhbirukum bi khayr hadhihi al-umma.

He permitted us to narrate these books and all his traditions. He died, may Allah bless his soul, in the middle of Safar 411/1020. 3

Al-`Allama al-Hilli in al-Rijal, al-Tafrashi in Naqd al-Rijal, Shaykh `Abbas al-Qummi in Hadiyyat al-ahbab and al-Fawa'id al-Ridawiyya, have added nothing to the accounts given by al-Tusi and al-Najashi.4 Al-Dhahabi, in Mizan al-I`tidal, and Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, in Lisan al-Mizan, both make mention of him. Al-Dhahabi makes special mention of his 'lack of insight', by which he actually means to refer to his Shi`i faith.5 Ibn Hajar also referred to him as a leader of Shi`i `ulama' but without any derogatory remark, and adds that his decrees are more respected and are obeyed more faithfully than those of king.6

Ayatullah al-Khu'i is of the view that it is impossible for a scholar of the stature of al-Tusi that he should refer to something in one of his works regarding his other work in which he actually did not make mention of the subject referred to. Therefore, he argues that most probably in al-Fihrist of al-Shaykh al-Tusi a list of the works of al-Ghada'iri was given but was omitted in its copies that are exist today.7

Abu `Abd Allah received instruction under the greatest of `ulama' of his time, a list of whom is given in Qamus al-Rijal. The most eminent among them were Ahmad b. Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. al-Walid al-Qummi, Abu al-Qasim Ja`far b. Muhammad Qulawayh, Harun b. Musa al-Tall`ukbari, al-Shaykh al-Saduq Ibn Babawayh, Abu `Abd Allah Ahmad al-Saymari, and Muhammad b. `Ali al-Ash`ari al-Qummi.8 Among his pupils we have already mentioned the names of al-Najashi and al-Tusu. Besides them, we may add the name of his celebrated son Ahmad b. al-Husayn al-Ghada'iri.

Al-Ghada'iri the junior, Ahmad, attended the classes of his father with al-Najashi and al-Shaykh Tusi. `Inayat Allah Quhpa'i, in Majma` al-Rijal, mentions him as a teacher of al-Najashi and al-Tusi.9 But he seems to have confused the father with the son. Similarly, many an author of books on Rijal have mistakenly attributed Ahmad b. al-Husayn's work on Rijal to his father. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi, in al-Fihrist, refers to two books of Ahmad b. al-Husayn, saying one is on usul and the other is on Rijal. 10

Al-`Allama Shaykh Aqa Buzurg al-Tihrani, in Musaffa al-maqal fi musannifi al-rijal, is of the view that these two books might have been in addition to two of his known works on rijal, of which one is about authentic `ulama' and the other is about inauthentic or weak narrators of hadith. 11

Sayyid Ahmad b. Tawus (d. 673/1273) has reproduced an entire book of al-Ghada'ri, that is his book al-Du`afa', in his own work, Hall al-ishkal. This copy of the book reached Mulla `Abd Allah al-Shushtari (d. 1021/1612), who in his turn reproduced the book in his work on rijal, and this was the version of al-Ghada'iri's Rijal that is available to us today.12

It seems strange that these two books were not mentioned by al-Tusi, but were available to Ibn Tawus, and that two of his pupils, al-`Allama al-Hilli and Ibn Dawud also quoted from it. Aqa Buzurg al-Tihrani, in Musaffa al-maqal fi musannifi al-rijal, says that Ibn Tawus himself had not established its authenticity, but he merely described it as one attributed to Ibn al-Ghada'iri, and his pupils accepted it on his authority. Al-`Allama al-Hilli and Ibn Dawud could also discover Ibn al-Ghada'iri's book on mamduhun.13

There is no evidence that al-Najashi had these books, but he referred to another work of Ibn al-Ghada'iri, al-Ta'rikh, in his account of Ahmad b. Abi `Abd Allah al-Barqi.14 It is just possible that by al-Ta'rikh he meant the same two books. In al-Dhari`a, also, Aqa Buzurg has discussed the authenticity of Kitab al-Du`afa; and concluded that most probably this work was compiled by an anti-Shi`a author in order to malign rijal of the Imamiyya, and it was wrongly attributed to Ibn al-Ghada'iri. 15

However, two points are clear: the son al-Ghada'iri is the author of the often quoted book on rijal, and secondly that the book about inauthentic Shi`i rijal is a spurious one, wrongly attributed to him.

2. Abu al-Hasan al-`Umari

Abu al-Hasan al-`Umari was a descendant of `Umar b. `Ali b. Abi Talib. `Umar was the progeny of the marriage of Amir al-Mu'minin with Umm Habib bint Rabi`a16 Al-`Umari is reported to have lived until 443/1051,17 and is acknowledged as an authority on genealogies of Arab tribes in general and the descendants of the Prophet and Abu Talib in particular. His forefathers were among Shi`i scholars of eminence.

He was a contemporary of al-Sharif al-Murtadha and al-Sharif al-Radi, whom he knew very well. His father Abu al-Ghana'im was also an expert in the genealogy of the Arabs. Abu al-Hasan al-`Umari's teacher, besides his father, was Abu al-Hasan Muhammad b. Abi Ja`far, known as al-Shaykh al-Sharaf (d. 435/1042), a descendant of Husayn al-Asghar, son of al-Imam Zayn al-`Abidin `Ali b. al-Husayn, who was also a teacher of al-Murtadha and al-Radi.18

Ahmad b. `Ali Dawudi al-Hasani, known as Ibn `Anbah, (d. 828/1424), author of `Umdat al-talib fi ansab Al Abi Talib, which is considered to be the most authentic book on the genealogical tree of the descendants of the Prophet and Abu Talib, has liberally borrowed material from al-`Umari's works in the field. He acknowledges:

Abu al-Hasan `Ali b. Abi al-Ghana'im Muhammad b. `Ali b. Muhammad represents the culmination of the science of genealogy. His views are accepted as the last word in this field by later scholars. He met all the great experts of this science and compiled in this field al-Mabsut, al-Shafi, al-Mujdi and al-Mushajjar. Abu al-Hasan al-`Umari lived in Basra but shifted to Mosul after 423/1032, where he married and had children. . . .

We narrate the works of Abu al-Hasan al-`Umari on the authority of the Naqib Taj al-Din Muhammad b. Mu`ayya al-Hasani, who narrated them from his teacher, Sayyid `Alam al-Din Murtadha b. Sayyid Jalal al-Din `Abd al-Hamid b. al-Sayyid Shams al-Din Fikhar b. Ma`bad al-Musawi, who narrated from his father, Sayyid Jalal al-Din `Abd al-Hamid b. Taqi al-Husayni, who narrated from Ibn Kulthum al-`Abbasi, the genealogist, who quoted from Ja`far b. Hashim b. Abi al-Hasan al-`Umari, who narrated from his grandfather, Abu al-Hasan `Ali b. Muhammad al-`Umari.19

The author of `Umdat al-talib was a pupil and son-in-law of Taj al-Din b. Mu`ayya.

Sayyid `Ali Khan al- Shirazi (d. 1120/1708), in al-Darajat al-rafi`a fi tabaqat al-Shi`a, acknowledges the greatness of al-`Umari in the field of genealogy, and says that all later scholars and researchers in this field are indebted to him.20

In Ma`alim al-`ulama' and al-Fawa'id al-Ridawiyya, al-`Umari is said to have been known by the nickname 'Ibn al-Sufi'.21

3. Salar b. `Abd al-`Aziz

One of the most eminent scholars of the fifth/eleventh century is Abu Ya`la Hamza b. `Abd al-`Aziz al-Daylami (d. 448/1056), known as Salar, or Sallar, an eminent pupil of al-Shaykh al-Mufid and al-Sayyid al-Murtadha, who himself educated and trained a number of great Shi`i scholars. He is sometimes confused with Abu Ya`la al-Ja`fari, son-in-law of al-Shaykh al-Mufid. Abu Ya`la is a common kunya (patronymic) of all those persons whose name is Hamza, such as Hamza b. al-Qasim (grandson of `Abbas b. `Ali b. Abi Talib), Hamza b. Ya`la al-Ash`ari al-Qummi (a companion of the eighth Imam of the Prophet's Family, al-Imam al-Rida), for Hamza b. `Abd al-Muttalib, an uncle of the Prophet, was called by this kunya.22

Shaykh Muntajab al-Din al-Razi (d. 600/1203), in his al-Fihrist, mentions one of his works, al-Marasim al-`Alawiyya fi l-ahkam al-Nabawiyya.23 Ibn Shahr Ashub (d. 588/1192) refers to his other works, viz. al-Muqni` fi l-madhhab, al-Taqrib fi usul al-fiqh, al-Radd `ala Abi al-Husayn al-Basri's al-Shafi, and Kitab al-tadhkira fi haqiqat al-jawhar wa al-`arad.24 Mir Mustafa al-Tafrashi (d. 1021/1612), regarding the book in refutation of Abu al-Husayn al-Basri's al-Shafi, writes in the footnotes of Naqd al-Rijal:

Kitab al-radd is written in refutation of Abu al-Husayn al-Basri's al-Shafi, a famous book. The reason for writing this book was that al-Qadi `Abd al-Jabbar al-Mu`tazili al-Hamadani wrote a book in refutation of the Shi`a faith and named it al-Kafi. Afterward al-Sayyid al-Murtadha compiled a book, entitled al-Shafi, a refutation of which was written by Abu al-Husayn al-Basri, which found its rejoinder in Salar's book.25

Al-`Allama al-Hilli (d. 726/1326) mentions Salar as an intellectual leader of the Shi`a in the fields of fiqh and literature.26 Hasan b. Dawud, a contemporary of al-`Allama al-Hilli, besides al-Marasim, mentions another of Salar's works, al-Abwab wa l-fusul in fiqh.

Shaykh Fakhr al-Din al-Turayhi (d. 1058/1648), in his famous dictionary Majma` al-bahrayn, writes that Salar was from Mazandaran and attended lectures of al-Murtadha. He quotes Ibn al-Jinni saying that he met Salar and learned some lessons from him.27

`Ali Dawani refutes both these assertions, saying that Daylam was situated near the present Qazwin and Gilan, and has no relation with Mazandaran. He argues that al-Turayhi, being an Arab, was not familiar with the geographical position of Daylam. Al-Turayhi changed the places of Abu al-Fath `Uthman b. al-Jinni and Salar, describing the former as pupil and the latter as teacher, while Salar was a pupil of Ibn al-Jinni (d. 392/1002). Ibn al-Jinni was also a teacher of al-Sayyid al-Murtadha and al-Radi, and he died 56 years before the death of Salar.28

Al-`Allama Bahr al-`Ulum, in al-Rijal, quotes `Izz al-Din Hasan b. Abi Talib b. Rabib al-Din Abu Muhammad al-Yusufi writing in Kashf al-rumuz, that Salar was a leader of the Shi`a, and mentions that Hasan b. Husayn b. Babawayh, Mufid al-Nishaburi al-Razi, and Shaykh `Abd al-Jabbar al-Muqri al-Razi, all of whom were eminent Imamiyya scholars, were among Salar's well-known pupils.29

`Allama Bahr al-`Ulum adds that al-Sayyid al-Murtadha, in the beginning of Ajwibat al-masa'il al-Sallariyya, writes that very critical questions, which reveal Salar's insight and expertise in fiqh, were answered by him at the instance of his teacher, al-Shaykh al-Mufid. This compliment paid by al-Murtadha to Salar serves as a testimonial of his scholarship.30

Salar, a contemporary of al-Tusi and a pupil of al-Mufid and al-Murtadha, lefi behind him scores of pupils that were eminent scholars of their times and included both Shi`i and Sunni experts in fiqh, kalam, hadith, nahw (Arabic grammar), and literature. Outstanding among them are: Abu al-Salah al-Halabi, Abu Fath al-Karajiki, Shams al-Islam Hasaka and his son `Ubayd Allah b. al-Hasan (father and grandfather of Shaykh Muntajab al-Din), Mufid al-Nishaburi, Mufid al-Razi, and Abu al-Makarim Fakhir al-Nahwi.31

Shaykh `Abbas al-Qummi, with reference to Rawdat, writes that Salar was the first faqih to issue a decree that congregation prayer on Friday was prohibited due to the Occultation of the Twelfth Imam.32 He also writes on the authority of the same book that Salar died in 448/1056 or 463/1070, and was laid to rest in Khusrow Shah, one of the villages in the province of Tabriz.33

`Ali Dawani is hesitant to accept the place of Salar's burial in Khusrow Shah, for this report is based on Tadhkirat al-`ulama' by Mulla Hashri. He argues that the same author claims that the grave of Qutb al-Din al-Rawandi is at Khusrow Shah, while it is situated in the courtyard of the shrine of the Ma`suma of Qum.34 `Ali Dawani accepts the date of his death as given by al-Safadi, is 448/1056.35 He further says that Salar lived till his end at Baghdad, and, therefore, there was no reason to bury him in the suburbs of Tabriz.36

4. Abu al-Salah Al-Halabi

Halab has been a centre of Shi`a learning and activities since the early days of Islam. It is said that one of the wives of al-Imam al-Husayn, while being taken to Dimashq along with other prisoners of Ahl al-Bayt after the tragedy of Karbala', miscarried a child, Mahassan b. al-Husayn, at this place, who was buried there. Yaqut al-Hamawi (d. 626/1229), in Mu`jam al-buldan, wrote that Qal`a-ye Halab was the Palace of Ibrahim (Maqam Ibrahim), where the severed head of Yahya b. Zakariyya was put in a trunk. He also says that according to a tradition someone saw in a dream that the grave of Imam `Ali was also beside Bab al-Jinan.

He says further that inside Bab al-`Iraq is situated the Mosque of Ghawth (Masjid Ghawth), and there on a stone is an inscription attributed to Amir al-Mu'minin `Ali. Yaqut also refers to the grave of Mahassan b. al-Husayn at Kuh-e Jawshan in the eastern part of the town. He adds that the fuqaha' of Halab issue fatawa according to Shi`i fiqh.37

Jalal al-Din al-Balkhi al-Rumi (d. 672/1273), in his Mathnawi, ironically refers to the mourning ceremonies at Halab commemorating the martyrdom of al-Imam al-Husayn, which is indicative of the devotion of the residents of Halab for AhI al-Bayt.38 Sayf al-Dawla al-Hamdani and the rulers of his family, who professed Shi`i faith, chose Halab as their capital and later the Fatimids ruled the city and its adjoining areas.

All these factors contributed to the development of Halab as a centre of Shi`i scholarship. Halab came into prominence in the world of Shi`i learning because of the family of Abu al-Makarim b. Zuhra, but the first Shi`i scholar of Halab to win fame in the Muslim world was Abu al-Salah Taqi al-Din b. Najm al-Din al-Halabi.39

Taqi al-Din b. Najm al-Din al-Halabi (d. 449/1057) was among the most prominent pupils of al-Sayyid al-Murtadha and al-Shaykh al-Tusi, and was deputed at Halab as representative of his teacher. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi, in his al-Rijal, in the chapter dealing the 'ulama' that did not narrate directly from the Imams, mentions Abu al-Salah's name, saying that he is a reliable scholar and has to his credit many books. Al-Tusi also certified that he had been a pupil of both himself and al-Sayyid al-Murtadha.40

This testimony by a teacher of the repute of al-Tusi for one of his pupils is a rare thing, for al-Tusi never mentioned any of his pupils among the eminent `ulama' of the post-Occultation period. This honour, if not unprecedented, is rarely won by a scholar in the annals of Shi`i scholarship.

Ibn Shahr Ashub, in Ma`alim al-`ulama', mentions the following works of Abu al-Salah: Kitab al-bidaya in fiqh, and a commentary on al-Dhakhira by al-Sayyid al-Murtadha.41 Al-`Allama al-HilIi (in Khulasat al-aqwal ), Ibn Dawud, and al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-`Amili (in Amal al-`amil) paid tribute to his scholarship.42 The latter mentions his name as Taqi al-Din, which seems to be his full name, and probably al-Tusi, naming him Taqi, used only the first part of his full name. Al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-`Amili refers to another work of Abu al-Salah, Taqrib al-ma`arif.

It is worth mentioning that though many scholars of Halab are known as al-Halabi, whenever al-Halabi alone as a title is referred to in the terminology of fuqaha' it is meant to refer to Abu al-Salah only; and whenever al-Halabiyyan is used, it refers to Abu al-Salah and Sayyid Abu al-Makarim b. Zuhra. The Shafi`i scholar, Nur al-Din al-Halabi (d. 1044/1634), the author of Insan al-`uyun fi sirat al-Amin wa-l-Ma'mun, popularly known as al-Sira al-Halabiyya, is also remembered as al-Halabi.43 However, the first person who won universal acclaim as al-Halabi and who placed Halab on the map of Islamic learning was Abu al-Salah.

5. Abu al-Fath al-Karajiki

Another pupil of al-Sayyid al-Murtadha and al-Shaykh al-Tusi, who also received instruction under al-Shaykh al-Mufid was Abu al-Fath Muhammad b. `Ali b. `Uthman al-Karajiki (d. 449/1057). Ibn Shahr Ashub, in Ma`alim al-`ulama' gives a list of fourteen books written by him, and al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-`Amili mentions eight of his works. Al-Karajiki is distinguished as a faqih, muhaddith, and mutakallim. `Allama Nuri in Mustadrak, gave a detailed account of his works. A selected list of his works is given below:

Kitab al-salat (in three parts),

al-Risala al-Nasiriyya,

Kitab al-talqin,

Kitab al-minhaj (on manasik al-hajj),

Kitab al-mawarith,

Kitab al-muqni` wa-l-lajjaj,

al-Mansak (on hajj for women),

Nahj al-bayan (for ladies),

Kitab al-istitraf (fi l-fiqh wa-l-insaf),

al-Ikhtiyar min al-akhbar (summary of Da`a'im al-Islam),

Kitab al-radd (refutation of Abu al-Mahasin al-Ma`arri's criticism of al-Sayyid al-Murtadha),

al-Bustan (in fiqh),

Naqd Fardan al-Maruzi;

Kitab ghayat al-insaf fi masa'il al-khilaf (concerning differences in fiqh between Abu Salah al-Halabi and al-Sayyid al-Murtadha, in this controversy Abu al-Fath defended his teacher's position),

Hujjat al-`alim fi hay'at al-`alam,

al-Asbab al-sadda `an ma`rifat al-sawab,

Damghat al-Nasara (refutation of Abu I-Haytham),

Kitab al-ghaya (concerning the contingency of the world),

Riyadat al-`uqul fi muqaddamat al-'usul (incomplete),

Kitab al-murshid (a selection of Ghurar aI-fawa'id),

Risalat al-akhawayn,

Kitab al-ta`ajjub fi l-umma min aghlat al-`amma,

al-Istibsar,

Kitab Mur`aradat al-addad bi-ttifaq al-a`dad,

al-Mas'ala al-Qaysaraniyya,

Tanzih al-anbiya',

Kitab al-intiqam (in refutation of Ibn Shadhan al-Ash`ari),

Kitab al-fadih (astronomy),

Nazm al-durar fi mabna al-kawakib wa-l-suwar (astronomy),

Hisab al-Hindi,

Ma`din al-jawahir wa-riyadat al-khawatir,

Riyad al-hikam,

Maw`izat al-`aql li-l-nafs,

al-Ta`rif bi-wujub haqq al-walidayn,

Adhkar al-ikhwan bi-wujub haqq al-iman,

Fadihat al-ikhwan,

Tuhfa,

al-Risala al-`Alawiyya,

Kitab al-jalis (in five volumes containing views on various branches of knowledge),

Intifa` al-mu'min bima fi aydi al-salatin,

Kitab al-anis (consisting of two thousand pages regarding various sciences and arts),

Kitab al-zahid,

Kitab al-ta'dib,

al-Kifaya fi l-hidaya,

al-Majalis (on the art of rhetoric),

Kitab al-iqna` `inda ta`adhdhur al-ijma` (`ilm al-kalam),

Kitab al-'usul fi madhhab Al al-Rasul,

al-Risala al-Hazimiyya,

al-Risala al-`Amiriyya,

Mukhtasar al-qawl,

Mukhtasar tabaqat al-warith,

al-Risala al-sufiyya,

Idah `an ahkam al-nikah,

Risalat al-tanbih (a critique of Abu al-Hasan al-Basri's views on the Imamate),

Nasihat al-Shi`a,

Kitab al-bahir,

Mas'alat al-`adl fi l-muhakama ila l-`aql,

Hidayat al-mustarshid,

Kanz al-fawa'id (the most famous work of al-Karajiki), and

al-Fihrist.

Al-Fihrist of al-Karajiki has been referred by Sayyid Tawus, though the work has not survived to the present day. Kanz al-fawa'id has been published along with seven other treatises of al-Karajiki. This work is so renowned that often al-Karajiki is referred to as Sahib Kanz al-fawa'id. Besides Kanz al-fawa'id, only the following of his books have been published: al-Istibsar, al-Ta`ajjub, Tafdil Amir al-Mu'minin, and al-Ta`rif bi huquq al-walidayn (al-Karajiki's will addressed to his son).44

Shaykh `Abd Allah al-Yafi`i, (d. 768/1366) in Mir'at al-jinan, giving the account of the year 449/1057, writes that Abu al-Fath al-Karkhi al-Khimi, a leading Shi`i scholar, author of many books, a grammarian, a lexicographer, an astrologer, a physician, a mutakallim, and one of the outstanding pupils of al-Sharif al-Murtadha, died this year. 45 Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani (d. 852/1448) has also paid him tribute in Lisan al-Mizan, and says that Abu Salah died on the second day of Rabi` al-Akhir, 449/1057.46 Ibn `Imad al-Hanbali, in Shadharat al-dhahab, mentions the same date of death.47

From the list of his books and the accounts of historians it is evident that al-Karajiki was a prolific writer and a scholar of varied interests, who excelled in fiqh, hadith, kalam, grammar, literature, astronomy, and mathematics. He travelled widely but lived most of his life in Egypt at Nazil al-Ramla. He trained and educated many outstanding scholars, particularly in Islamic sciences. Al-Karajiki is probably the first Shi`i scholar of Islamic sciences who while being an authority in fiqh combined his theological scholarship with his expert knowledge of physical sciences and mathematics.

6. Abu al-`Abbas al-Najashi

Ahmad b. `Ali b. Ahmad b. `Abbas b. Muhammad b. `Abd Allah b. Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. `Abd Allah al-Asadi al-Najashi (d. 450/1058) is considered the oldest and most authentic Shi`i scholar of `ilm al-Rijal, whose book Rijal al-Najashi has been the most reliable source of information about Shi`i `ulama'. His kunya is Abu al-`Abbas. He belonged to a family of eminent scholars. According to his own account he descended from `Adnan.

He writes in his Rijal that his seventh ancestor, in upward order, `Abd Allah al-Najashi was the governor of Ahwaz and Fars during the reign of al-Mansur, the `Abbasi caliph. He was among the companions of al-Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq, and compiled the Imam's answers to his queries under the title Risalat `Abd Allah al-Najashi'.48

Abu al-`Abbas's father `Ali b. Ahmad lived in Baghdad and received education under al-Shaykh al-Saduq on his arrival there. He was acclaimed as a faqih and muhaddith. `Ali's father Abu Ya`qub Ahmad b. al-`Abbas was also held in respect as a scholar among the people of Baghdad, from whom Harun b. Musa Tall`ukbari and his own son, father of Abu al-`Abbas, received instruction in religious sciences.49

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi in his Rijal, under those who do narrate directly from the Imams, says that he was popularly known as Ibn al-Tayalisi; Tall`ukbari received hadith from him in 335/946 and was given permission to narrate them on his authority; his residence was in Baghdad at Darb al-Baqar; al-Najashi's great grandfather, `Abbas b. Muhammad, was a companion and pupil of al-Imam al-Rida, and narrated hadith on the Imam's authority.

Al-Tusi mentioned his name in the list of the companions of al-Imam al-Rida, and says that he was from Kufa.50 Al-Najashi also, for being an Asadi who originally came from Kufa, was called Ibn al-Kufa in Baghdad.51 Another kunya of his was Abu al-Hasan. He was born in 372/982 and died at Matirabad in Jumada al-Awwal 450/1058.52

Al-Najashi frequently travelled to Najaf, to Kufa - which was his birthplace - to Samarra' and probably to Basra, where he attended classes of renowned scholars of his time. Besides these scholars, he received his education formally in Baghdad. At the age of 28 in 400/1009 he visited al-Najaf al-Ashraf, where he heard hadith from al-Husayn b. Ja`far al-Makhzumi, popularly known as Ibn al-Khumri and was awarded an ijaza by him.53

During the same year, he got a similar ijaza from Muhammad b. Shadhan al-Qazwini, who had come to visit Baghdad. During his several visits to Kufa, he heard hadith from Ja`far b. Bashir al-Bajali, Hasan b. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Haytham al-`Ijli and Ishaq b. al-Hasan al-Aqra`i.54 His teachers included such eminent scholars as al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Ibn `Abdun (Ahmad b. `Abd al-Wahid), Ahmad b. Muhammad b. `Imran, known as Ibn al-Jundi, Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Musa b. Harun b. Salt al-Ahwazi, Abu al-`Abbas Ahmad b. Nuh b. `Ali b. al-`Abbas b. Nuh al-Sirafi, Husayn b. `Ubayd Allah al-Ghada'iri, `Ali b. Ahmad b. al-Jayyid al-Qummi, Muhammad b. Ja`far Mu'addab, Adib al-Nahwi, Muhammad b. `Uthman Mu`addal al-Nasibi, Abu al-Faraj Muhammad b. `Ali b. Shadhan al-Qazwini, Ahmad b. al-Husayn al-Ghada'iri, Ahmad b. `Ubayd Allah al-Jawhari, al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. Qasim al-Sharif al-`Alawi, `Uthman b. Hatim al-Taghlibi, Muhammad b. `Abd Allah Abu al-Fadl al-Shaybani, Abu Muhammad al-Surani, Abu al-Hasan b. Mahlus al-`Alawi and his own father.55

Al-Najashi's main interest was `ilm al-rijal and its allied branches of knowledge. From childhood he took a keen interest in this subject. He not only attended lectures of eminent teachers, but also visited their houses. For instance, he himself narrates in his book on Rijal, under the account of al-Kulayni, that he used to attend the classes of Abu al-Husayn al-Katib al-Kufi at the Mosque of Lu'lu', known as Masjid Naftawayh al-Nahwi. Similarly he recounts his visits to the house of Husayn and Ahmad al-Ghada'iri.

Al-Najashi's written work seems to be confined to a few books despite his vast knowledge. He has mentioned his following books in Rijal al-Najashi:

Kitab al-Jumu`a,

Kitab al-Kufa wa-ma fi-ha min al-athar wa-l-fada'il,

Kitab ansab Bani Nasr b. Qu`ayn wa-ayyamuhum wa-ash`aruhum,

Kitab mukhtasar al-anwar wa mawadi` al-nujum allati sammatha I- `Arab.56

The most important work of al-Najashi is on Rijal; it was not given any name by him but gained fame as Rijal al-Najashi. This book was compiled by him after al-Tusi had compiled his Rijal and al-Fihrist. `Ali Dawani maintains on the basis of contemporary evidence that the task of compiling books on Rijal of the Shi`a was taken up by al-Tusi and al-Najashi after the death of al-Sharif al-Murtadha (436/1044) and that al-Najashi's Rijal was completed even later, for it has a mention of al-Tusi's al-Fihrist; most probably it was completed in 448/1056.57

Though there is no mention of al-Najashi in al-Fihrist of al-Shaykh al-Tusi, which is a very conspicuous absence, al-Najashi's Rijal is generally acclaimed by most of the authorities in this field as the best Shi`i work in this field to this day, even superior to al-Tusi's Rijal and al-Fihrist. Al-Shahid al-Thani acknowledges that Rijal al-Najashi is superior to all other works with regard to the author's meticulousness and labour in ascertaining the authenticity of early Shi`i rijal.58 Shaykh `Abd al-Nabi al-Jaza'iri, in al-Hawi, also prefers the book to that of al-Tusi, and adds that all latter scholars accept the authenticity of al-Najashi's work.59

`Allama Baqir al-Majlisi, in the Fihrist of Bihar al-anwar, places the book on a par with those of al-Tusi. Abu `Ali al-Ha'iri, Wahid al-Bihbahani and `Allama Bahr al-`Ulum consider al-Najashi as one of the greatest authorities of all time on Rijal, and place his book at the highest place in respect of authenticity.60 Ayatullah Burujirdi is of the view that the Shi`a have only two works on Rijal: those of al-Tusi and al-Najashi.61

Muhammad Wa`iz Zadeh writes that Ayatullah Burujirdi held the view that Rijal al-Najashi was more reliable than al-Fihrist of al-Tusi, for al-Najashi corrected the lapses and inaccuracies found in the work of al-Tusi.62 `Allama Bahr al-`Ulum, who considers al-Najashi's book the best in Rijal, bases his assessment on the following six points:63

1. Al-Najashi compiled his work after al-Tusi's work was completed, and could remove the latter's lapses.

2. Al-Tusi's varied interests and responsibilities did not leave much time for him to concentrate on the subject of rijal only, while this was al-Najashi's main interest and he had enough time to devote to this work.

3. Al-Najashi's knowledge in history, biography and genealogy was of superior order than that of al-Tusi.

4. Al-Najashi came from Kufa, which was a centre of narrators of hadith.

5. He was well acquainted with Ahmad b. al-Husayn al-Ghada'iri, the greatest authority on rijal in that period.

6. He had access to various chains of ruwat of hadith and could ascertain a fact in many ways, which al-Tusi could not do.

The importance and fame of Rijal al-Najashi eclipsed his other works. Though small in number, his works in other fields were also held in respect. However, his Rijal paved the way for the latter generations of Shi`i scholars who could rely upon his research in dealing with hadith, fiqh, history, and biography.

We do not have any knowledge about the pupils of al-Najashi except one, that is Abu al-Samsam Dhu al-Fiqar b. Muhammad b. Ma`bad al-Hasani al-`Alawi al-Maruzi, through whom Ibn Dawud, an authority on rijal, is related to al-Najashi. When Shaykh Muntajab al-Din al-Razi saw Abu al-Samsam, he was one hundred and fifteen years old.64

7. Abu Ya`la al-Ja`fari

Abu Ya`la al-Ja`fari (d. 463/1071), a contemporary of al-Tusi and al-Najashi, and an eminent pupil of al-Mufid, was also al-Mufid's son-in-law. Al-Najashi gives the following account of him:

Abu Ya`la Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Hamza al-Ja`fari, successor of Shaykh Abu `Abd Allah b. Nu`man (al-Mufid), who occupies his teacher's chair and delivers lectures, is a mutakallim, a faqih, and has many books to his credit.65

In Rijal al-Najashi it is mentioned that Abu Ya`la died on the 16th of Ramadan 463/1071.66 As al-Najashi himself expired in 450/1058, the date of Abu Ya`la's death in his book should have been entered by one of al-Najashi's pupils or a scribe.

Abu Ya`la's rise to his teacher's post in the presence of scores of eminent scholars among al-Mufid's pupils is astonishing and is indicative of his high status as a scholar. It is most probable that Abu Ya`la did not succeed his teacher soon after his death, for at that time Abu Ya`la's age should have been about thirty and it was improbable that he could occupy al-Mufid's place after a considerable gap of time.67

According to Qamus al-rijal, it is written in `Umdat al-talib that Abu Ya`la was a descendant of Ja`far al-Tayyar b. Abi Talib, an elder brother of Amir al-Mu'minin `Ali.68 In later books of rijal, also Abu Ya`la is mentioned as an eminent faqih who trained a number of outstanding scholars.

8. Qadi `Abd al-`Aziz b. al-Barraj

Qadi `Abd al-`Aziz b. al-Barraj (d. 481/1088) was trained and educated by al-Sharif al-Murtadha, who awarded him a monthly stipend of eight dinars. Ibn Shahr Ashub, in Ma`alim al-`ulama', writes about him:

He has written books on usul (jurisprudence) and furu` (laws) of fiqh. On furu` he wrote al-Jawahir, al-Ma`alim, al-Minhaj, al-Kamil, Rawdat al-nafs fi ahkam al-`ibadat al-khams, al-Muqarrab, al-Muhadhdhab, al-Tasrif and a commentary on Jumal al-`ilm wa-I-`amal by al-Murtadha.69

Shaykh Muntajab al-Din al-Razi adds to this list some other titles: al-Mu`tamad, `Imad al-muhtaj fi manasik al-hajj, and al-Mu`jiz. He writes that Abu al-Qasim `Abd Allah b. Nahrir b. `Abd al-`Aziz b. al-Barraj was an outstanding Shi`i scholar and faqih, and held the post of qadi at Tarabulus (Tripoli).70

`Allama Bahr al-`Ulum mentions his name as `Abd al-`Aziz b. Bahr according to an ijaza issued by al-`Allama al-Hilli to Ibn Zuhra. With reference to an ijaza issued by al-Shahid al-Thani, he says that Ibn al-Barraj was responsible for the affairs of justice at Tarabulus for twenty or thirty years. He further says that among his pupils were Shams al-Islam al-Hasan b. al-Husayn b. Babawayb (al-Hasaka), al-Shaykh al-Faqih al-Husayn b. `Abd al-`Aziz, al-Shaykh `Abd al-Rahman b. Ahmad al-Khuza`i, `Abd al-Jabbar b. `Abd Allah al-Razi and `Ubayd Allah b. al-Hasan b. Babawayh (father of Muntajab al-Din al-Razi).71

The author of Rawdat al-jannat writes, with reference to Riyad al-`ulama', that Ibn al-Barraj was a pupil of al-Sayyid al-Murtadha from 429/1037 up to his death, and he spent the major part of his student life under al-Shaykh al-Tusi. He returned to Tarabulus in 438/1046, where he died on 9th Shaban 381/991 at the ripe age of eighty odd years. He was born and brought up in Egypt. The author of Rawdat al-jannat gave this account with reference to Nizam al-aqwal of Nizam al-Din al-Qarashi, adding that Ibn al-Barraj narrated hadith on the authority of al-Sayyid al-Murtadha, al-Shaykh al-Tusi, Abu al-Fath al-Karajiki and Taqi al-Din b. Najm Abu al-Salah al-Halabi, and from him narrated Muhammad b. `Ali b. al-Hasan al-Halabi.72

Ibn al-Barraj officiated as the representative of al-Tusi at Tarabulus, situated presently in north Lebanon. After his death, `Abd al-`Aziz b. al-Kamil al-Tarabulusi - who was also a scholar of eminence in his own right - was appointed to the position of qadi in his place.73

  • 1. Shaykh aI-Ta'ifa Abu Ja`far Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi, Rijal al-Tusi, (Najaf, 1380/1961), p.470.
  • 2. Ibid., pp.470-71 (note).
  • 3. Abu al-`Abbas al-Najashi, Rijal al-Najashi, (Qum, 1407/1986), p.69.
  • 4. Al-`Allama al-Hilli, Rijal al-`Allama al-Hilli, ed. aI-Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq Bahr aI-`Ulum, (Qum, 1402/1981), p. 50; Shaykh `Abbas al-Qummi, Hadiyyat al-ahbab, (Tehran, 1363 Sh.), p. 226; Shaykh `Abbas al-Qummi, al-Fawa'id al-Ridawiyya (Qum), p.140.
  • 5. Al-Dhahabi, Mizan al-i`tidal (Cairo, 1382/1962), vol.1, 541.
  • 6. Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Lisan al-Mizan (Hyderabad) vol.2, 288.
  • 7. `Ali Dawani, Mafakhir-e Islam, (Tehran, 1363 Sham.), vol.3, 229-39.
  • 8. Ibid, p.231.
  • 9. Ibid, p.233.
  • 10. Ibid, p.235; cf. Musaffa l-maqal.
  • 11. Ibid,p.235.
  • 12. Ibid, p.235.
  • 13. Ibid,p.236.
  • 14. Ibid, p.237.
  • 15. Ibid, p.238; cf. Aqa Buzurg al-Tehrani, al-Dhari`a, vol.10, p.88.
  • 16. Al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, trans. I.K.A. Howard, (London, 1982), p.268.
  • 17. `Ali Dawani, op. cit., p.303; cf. al-Darajat al-rafi`a, p.484.
  • 18. Ibid., p.307.
  • 19. Ibid., p.305; cf. `Umdat al-talib, p.296.
  • 20. Ibid., p.316; cf. al-Darajat al-rafi`a, p.484.
  • 21. Ibn Shahr Ashub aI-Mazandarani, Ma`alim al-`ulama', (Najaf, 1380/1961), p.68; al-Fawa'id al-Ridawiyya, op. cit., p.323.
  • 22. `Ali Dawani, op. cit., p.317.
  • 23. Ibid., p. 308; cf. Shaykh Muntajab al-Din, al-Fihrist (included in Bihar al-anwar).
  • 24. Ibn Shahr Ashub, op. cit., 135-6.
  • 25. `Ali Dawani, op. cit., p.309; cf. Naqd al-rijal, p.156.
  • 26. Ibid, p.309; cf. Khulasat al-`Allama, p.86.
  • 27. Ibid., p. 310.
  • 28. Ibid., pp.314-5.
  • 29. Ibid., p.310; cf. Rijal al-`Allama Bahr al-`Ulum, vol.2, p.12 (note).
  • 30. Ibid., p.311; Rijal Bahr al-`Ulum, p. 18 (note).
  • 31. Ibid., p. 312.
  • 32. Shaykh `Abbas al-Qummi, al-Fawa'id al-Ridawiyya, p.203.
  • 33. Ibid.
  • 34. `Ali Dawani, op. cit., p.314.
  • 35. Ibid.
  • 36. Ibid., p.314.
  • 37. Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mu`jam al-buldan, (Beirut), vol.2. pp.282-4.
  • 38. `Ali Dawani, op. cit., p.457.
  • 39. Ibid., pp. 318-21.
  • 40. Rijal al-Tusi; op. cit., p. 457.
  • 41. Ibn Shahr Ashub, op. cit., p.29.
  • 42. `Ali Dawani, op. cit., p.322.
  • 43. Ibid., pp.325-6.
  • 44. Ibid., pp.331- 334.
  • 45. Ibid., p.336; cf. Mir'at al-jinan, vol.3, 70.
  • 46. Ibid., p.336; cf. Lisan al-mizan, vol.5, 300.
  • 47. Ibid., p.336; cf. Shadharat aI-dhahab, vol.3, 283.
  • 48. Al-Najashi, op. cit., p.101.
  • 49. `Ali Dawani, op. cit., p.348.
  • 50. Ibid., p.349; cf. Rijal al-Tusi, p.446.
  • 51. Ibid., p.349.
  • 52. Ibid., p.350.
  • 53. Ibid., p.355; cf. al-Najashi.
  • 54. Ibid.
  • 55. Ibid., pp.364-5; cf. aI-Najashi.
  • 56. Al-Najashi, p.101.
  • 57. `Ali Dawani, p.357.
  • 58. Ibid., p. 351.
  • 59. Ibid., p. 351.
  • 60. Ibid.
  • 61. Ibid., p.358.
  • 62. Ibid., p.358-9.
  • 63. Ibid., p.352-3.
  • 64. Ibid., p.365.
  • 65. Al-Najashi, op. cit., p.404.
  • 66. Ibid.
  • 67. `Ali Dawani, op. cit., p.388.
  • 68. Ibid, p.390.
  • 69. Ibn Shahr Ashub, op. cit., p.80.
  • 70. `Ali Dawani, op. cit., p.397.
  • 71. Ibid., pp.397-8.
  • 72. Ibid., p.398.
  • 73. Ibid., p.399.

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