To understand any system thoroughly, it is imperative to get acquainted with its scholars, particularly those who have made significant contribution to its development. And in the course of that study, one comes across their important works which over a period have become the sources of reference.
Ilmul Fiqh was meticulously recorded to form a valuable literature during the last eleven centuries, which still exists, and has been constantly studied in the Islamic seminaries. Eminent scholars were able to train numerous students who in turn trained their students in this branch of Islamic knowledge. This tutorpupil chain has remained unbroken till today.
No doubt, other sciences like Philosophy, Logic, Mathematics and Medicine are much older and volumes written on those topics date much earlier. Yet they cannot be compared to Fiqh which has been a growing science with a continuous line of tutor-pupil relationship. Of course, we make this assertion keeping the Islamic colleges in view. It has been a fortunate practice of Muslim scholars that they always identified great scholars according to the generation to which they belonged.
This was first done in respect of Ulama of Hadith, to be followed later for the Ulama of other branches of Islamic learnings. Special books were written to categorise the generations, like tabaqatul fuqaha by Abu Ishaq Shirazi, tabaqatul atibba by Ibn Abi Usayaba, tabaqatul nnahwiyyin and tabaqatul ssufiyya by Abu Abd alrahman Silmi.
However, as far as the generation of fuqaha is concerned, the works which exist are those written by Sunni scholars. We do not know of any Shi’a work on the subject, with the result that we have to rely on various biographical sketches and other books of ijazat wherein tutors have certified the abilities of their pupils and allowed them to transmit the Traditions further to their students.
In the following paragraphs, we wish to acquaint ourselves with some of the most outstanding fuqaha of Shi’a sect, together with their notable contributions. In so doing, we hope to identify them in accordance with the generations to which each belonged.
For two obvious reasons, we have to begin the history of Shi’a fuqaha from the era of Ghaybat as-Sughra, i.e. minor occultation. (260 AH 329 AH). First, the era preceding Ghaybat as-Sughra is an era during which the holy Imams were present, and although there were many men of knowledge and accomplishments who were trained by the Imams themselves, people always tried their best to refer to the Imams rather then to the Ulama.
Even the Ulama travelled far and wide to reach the Imams, so as to solve the problems they faced. Thus, in the era when Imams were present and accessible, other scholars were eclipsed. Secondly, the literature we have at our disposal on Fiqh commences from the era of Ghaybat as-Sughra. We cannot trace, or rather are unable to trace, any literature compiled on the subject in the earlier era.
However, many great fuqaha lived in the period of our holy Imams, and they are well known for their distinction and excellence when compared to their contemporaries from other schools of thought. Ibn alNadeem in his famous alfihrist has a complete chapter on the fuqaha of Shi’a, and mentions their works on Fiqh or Hadith with deep reverence. For example, for Husain b. Saeed Ahwazi, he says: "In his time, he had the widest knowledge of Fiqh, Islamic Traditions and Ethics". Similarly, he eulogises Ali b. Ibrahim Qummi by saying: "He is among the great scholars and fuqaha". Again, when mentioning Muhammad b. Hasan b. Ahmed b. alWaleed Qummi, he says: "To his credit is the great and comprehensive work on Fiqh".
It must be known that the works on Fiqh to which reference has been made above were of a different nature. They were principally compilation of those Hadith which they believed to be sound and authentic and according to which they acted. So, they can safely be categorised as the books of Hadith bearing a stamp of the writers' considered opinions.
Muhaqqiq Hilli, the maternal uncle and teacher of Allama Hilli writes:
"In view of the fact that we have a great number of fuqaha who have copiously written on the subject, it is not possible for me to quote all of them. I have selected from those who were best known for their research and scholarship, quoting their Ijtehad, and the opinions they adopted for action. From amongst the earlier ones, I have selected Hasan b. Mahboob, Ahmed b. Abi Nasr Bezanti, Husain b. Saeed Ahwazi, Fadhl b. Shadhan Nisaburi, Yunus b. Abd alRahman. They lived during the presence of our Imams. From the later group, I quote Muhammad b. Babawayh Qummi (popularly known as Shaikh Sadooq) and Muhammad b. Yaqoob Kulaini. As for the people of Fatwa, I consider the verdicts of Askafi, Ibn Abi Aqeel, Shaikh Mufeed, Sayyid Murtadha Alamul Huda and Shaikh Tusi."
Evidently, Muhaqqiq Hilli, despite his high regard for the earlier Ulama and for their independent opinions, excludes them from those who he calls "the people of Fatwa". This is because the earlier Ulama wrote books in the form of collections of Hadith, indirectly indicating their opinions and verdicts by the selection of those Traditions which they considered sound. Their works never came out in the form of clear and direct fatwa.
Now we will mention the Jurist consults of the early period; those who witnessed Ghaybat asSughra:
l. Ali b. Babawayh Qummi, died in 329 AH., and was buried in Qum. His son, the famous Shaikh Sadooq is buried in the city of Ray. What must be noted is that while the son is famous as muhaddith (traditionalist), the father is a renowned faqih, and a man of fatwa.
Sometimes, reference is made to both of them as sadooqain meaning two Sadooqs.
2. Another great jurist, who was the contemporary of Ali b. Babawayh Qummi, or perhaps a bit senior, is Ayyashi Samarkandi. Though he is better known for his tafseer, he was a man of diverse capabilities, having made an appreciable contribution to Fiqh. Ibn alNadeem in his alFihrist says that Ayyashi's works on Fiqh were well known in Khurasan. Unfortunately, we have no access to any of his books on Fiqh. It seems they have all perished.
Ayyashi was originally a Sunni who later converted to become a Shi’a. He was a rich man, having inherited considerable wealth from his father. But he invested all his wealth in collecting books, copying important manuscripts and in establishing colleges for training his students.
Some chroniclers have included Shaikh Jaffer b. Qawlawayh among the Fuqaha, considering him to have lived during the times of Ali b. Babawayh Qummi and Ghaybat as-Sughra. They have also mentioned him as a student of the well known Sa'd b. Abdullah Ashari. But this is an error, since Ibn Qawlawayh was the teacher of Shaikh Mufeed, and his death occurred in either 367 or 368 AH. As such, he cannot be counted as a contemporary of Ali b. Babawayh, nor among the Ulama of Ghaybat as-Sughra. The fact is that it was his father Muhammad b. Qawlawayh who lived during Ghaybat as-Sughra.
3. Ibn Abi Aqeel Ummani. This Umman is on the coast of Yemen, and therefore he was also known as Yemeni. He lived during Ghaybat al-Kubra, (major occultation) but the date of his death is not known.
BahrulUlloom mentions him as the teacher of Jafar b. Qawlawayh who in turn taught Shaikh Mufeed. This makes it abundantly clear that Jafar b. Qawlawayh was not a contemporary of Ali b. Babawayh as claimed by some. Ibn Abi Aqeel is still quoted in Fiqh by research scholars.
4. Ibn Junaid Askafi who died in 381 AH, was also Shaikh Mufeed's tutor. He authored nearly fifty books, and his opinions as a Jurist are still considered and discussed by the fuqaha. In fact, he and the above mentioned Ibn Abi Aqeel are often referred to as "alqadeemain", "the two old and senior ones".
5. Shaikh Mufeed, whose name was Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Noman. He was a theologian as well as a Faqih. Ibn alNadeem in his alFihrist calls him 'Ibn alMuallim', and eulogizes him as a great theologian (master of Ilmul Kalam). Born in 334 AH., he died in 413 AH. His famous work on Fiqh is known as 'muqni'ah' which still exists. Shaikh Mufeed is one of the most brilliant scholars of Islam.
Abu Yala Ja’fari, the soninlaw of Shaikh Mufeed, says: "Mufeed slept very little during the nights, devoting most of his time to prayers, studies, teaching or reciting the Holy Quran”.
Shaikh Mufeed is a student of Ibn Abi Aqeel's student.
6. Sayyid Murtadha Alamul Huda, born in 355 AH, died in 436 AH. Allama Hilli calls him "the great teacher of Imamiyya Shi’a”. He was a man of versatility, with a keen taste and talent for literature, theology as well as Fiqh. His verdicts and opinions are taken into account even today. Among his famous works on Fiqh are 'intisar', and 'jamalul ilmi wal amal'. Sayyid Radhi, the compiler of Nahjul Balaghah was his brother, and they both studied from Shaikh Mufeed.
7. Shaikh Abu Ja’far Tusi, the brilliant star in the Islamic firmament, was from Khurasan. He was born in 385 AH., and at the age of 23, he moved to Baghdad to join the great centre of Islamic knowledge. He lived in Iraq all his life, and came to be known as the sole master of Fiqh after the death of his mentor, Sayyid Murtadha Alamul Huda. He has several books and treatises on Fiqh, usool, hadith, tafseer, kalam and rijal.
For the first five years in Baghdad, Shaikh Tusi had the opportunity to study under the supervision of Shaikh Mufeed, gaining reputation as a student of the first rank. After Shaikh Mufeed, he sat at the feet of Sayyid Murtadha till the master died in 436 AH. The entire Shi’a world turned to Shaikh Tusi who stayed at the helm for the ensuing 24 years. But this was a tumultuous period during which sectarian differences in Baghdad resulted in a lot of bloodshed and destruction. Shaikh Tusi's own house and library were burnt down.
After 12 years in Baghdad, he moved to Najaf where he established the world famous hawza ilmiyyah. He died in 460 AH, and was buried there.
In the earlier days, Shaikh's important work on Fiqh called al-nihayah was a part of syllabus in the seminaries. The other book "alMabsoot" had broken new grounds for discussion on various subjects of Fiqh, and great Ulama who followed, proudly set forth to give elucidatory marginal notes and commentaries on the Shaikh's opinions. Another important work in Fiqh is alkhilaf by Shaikh Tusi. This is a comparative dissertation on sunni Shi’a Fiqh.
Besides these, there are other treatises on Fiqh written by Shaikh. For the last several centuries, whenever fuqaha mentioned "shaikh", it was understood to refer to Shaikh Tusi, and if they said 'shaikhan', they meant Shaikh Mufeed and Shaikh Tusi.
The descendents of Shaikh Tusi were Ulama of great repute, most outstanding among them was his son Shaikh Abu Ali who was known as mufeed the second. He wrote a detailed commentary on his father's book alNihaya. The daughters of Shaikh Tusi were also fuqaha.
The grandson of Shaikh Tusi named Abdul Hasan Muhammad became Marja after the death of his father Abu Ali. His classes were attended by students from far and wide, and he was able to train a good number of fuqaha. Because of his piety and austere way of life, he was respected by one and all. Imad Tabari says that if it were permissible to recite salawat upon anyone other than the Apostles, he would choose Abul Hasan Muhammad. He died in 540 AH.
8. Qadhi Abd alAziz, better known as Ibn alBarraj, was a student of both Sayyid Murtadha and Shaikh Tusi. He was sent to Syria by Shaikh Tusi, where he served in Tripoli (in present day Lebanon) as a Qadhi for 20 years. Among the famous books he wrote on FIQH the most noteworthy are 'muhaddhab' and 'jawahir'. He died in 481 AH.
9. Shaikh Abu alSalah Halabi of Syria, studied from Sayyid Murtadha and Shaikh Tusi. He lived for 100 years. The author of 'Rayhanatul Adab' mentions that Abu alSalah studied from Sallar b. Abdul Aziz also. If this were true then it means that Abu alSalah has studied from three successive generations of the renowned fuqaha. He died in 448 AH., which means that he was older in age than both the tutors. His famous work in Fiqh is "Kafi". ShaheedeThani calls him "Khalifatul Murtadha Fi Biladil Halabiyya", the successor of Sayyid Murtadha Alamul Huda in Aleppo.
10. Hamza b. Abd alAziz Daylami, otherwise known as Sallar Daylami died on Saturday, 6th of Holy Ramadhan, 463 AH. He is the student of Shaikh Mufeed and Sayyid Murtadha. He came from Iran, and passed his last days in Khurasan, where he was buried. He is a contemporary of Shaikh Tusi, though Muhaqqiq Hilli has classified him among the followers of Shaikh Tusi. His famous work on Fiqh is "Marasim " .
11. Sayyid Abu alMakarim Ibn Zehra was from Aleppo, and he died in 585 AH. In the faculty of Hadith, he narrates with only one link between him and Shaikh Abu Ali, the son of Shaikh Tusi, and in Fiqh, he had a chain of tutors ending up with Shaikh Tusi. His famous work in Fiqh is " ghunyah " .
The author of Mustadrakul Wasael says that Ibn Zehra studied alNihayah of Tusi from Ibn alHajib Halabi who studied it from Abdullah Zainulbadi in Najaf, and he had studied it from Shaikh Rasheed alDeen Ali b. Zeerak Qummi and Sayyid Abu Hashim Husayni, both being students of Shaikh Abd alJabbar Razi, a well known student of Shaikh Tusi. Thus we see that Ibn Zehra is connected with Shaikh Tusi by four intervening generations.
In the terminology of fuqaha, whenever a refrence is made to 'halabiyyan', they mean Abu alSalah Halabi and Ibn Zehra. And if the reference is made in plural, that is, 'halabiyyun', then Ibn alBarraj is included.
12. Ibn Hamza Tusi, known as Imad alDeen Tusi of Khurasan, contributed to Fiqh by writing his famous 'waseelah'. However, historians have to make further research about this faqeeh because the date of his death is unknown, and it is not established whether he belonged to the first era of Shaikh Tusi's students or to the later ones. Most probably he died in the second half of the sixth century AH.
13. Ibn Idrees alHilli is one of the greatest Ulama, known for his independent thinking. He was an Arab, and some chroniclers have mentioned him as the grandson of Shaikh Tusi from his mother's side. But this relation has been disputed by others. He was the first faqeeh who differed with the opinions of Shaikh Tusi at the time when Fuqaha had upheld Tusi's verdicts as final for nearly two centuries. However, his criticism of Shaikh Tusi is at time quite harsh and abrasive, bordering on rudeness. He died in 598 AH. at the age of 55.
His famous work on Fiqh is "alSarair" which is still a book of reference. It is said that Ibn Idrees was a student of Sayyid Abu alMakarim b. Zehra but this seems improbable, especially because of Ibn Idrees mentioning him casually as his contemporary, and as one who he had met. In certain matters of Fiqh, they had exchanged some letters.
14. Shaikh Abul Qasim Ja'far b. Hasan b. Yahya b. Saeed Hilli, famous as Muhaqqiq Hilli. He must not be confused with Allama Hilli. Muhaqqiq Hilli was Allama's maternal uncle and also his tutor. He has several books on Fiqh, most popular among them are: sharae, maarij, motabar, almukhtasar al nafe etc.
Muhaqqiq Hilli studied from the students of the great masters like Ibn Zehra and Ibn Idrees Hilli. Some have erroneously counted him among those who studied directly from these fuqaha, forgetting that this was not possible because Muhaqqiq Hilli who died in 676 Hijra could not have attended the lessons of Ibn Idress or Ibn Zehra who had died more than 80 years earlier. Most probably, he was trained by his grandfather and later his father.
Muhaqqiq Hilli is acknowledged as the greatest among fuqaha, and whenever the term 'Muhaqqiq' is used without any qualification, then it refers to him alone. The great philosopher and mathematician, Khwaja Naseer alDeen Tusi speaks highly of his reminiscence with Muhaqqiq who he met in Hilla, and attended his classes of Fiqh. Muhaqqiq's book 'sharae' is still a part of curriculum in most of the Hawzas.
15. Hasan b. Yusuf b. Ali b. Mutahhar Hilli, renowned as Allama Hilli was a prodigy. He was born in 648 Hijra, and died in 726 AH. He remained under the tutelage of his maternal uncle Muhaqqiq Hilli for Fiqh, and then proceeded to study from other masters of his era, including Khwaja Naseer alDin Tusi who taught him Philosophy and Logic. Later, he sat with the Sunni Scholars to study their Fiqh.
His works include several memorable books and treatises on Fiqh, usool, theology (i.e. kalam), logic, philosophy and rijal. We know of at least hundred books written by him, some of which are still in the form of manuscripts. Each book of this great faqeeh is enough to portray his precocity and genius. Among the noteworthy books on Fiqh are irshad, qawaid, tahreer, tadhkiratul fuqaha and tabsiratul mutallimeen, the last being studied by the students of Hawza till today. Later Fuqaha wrote extensive commentaries on Allama's works.
16. Fakhral Muhaqqiqeen, is the title given to Allama Hilli's son. His first name was Muhammad. Born in 682 AH., he studied under his father Allama Hilli who was so impressed by the son's brilliance that he called him Fakhr al Muhaqqiqeen. In his preface to Qawaid, Allama writes his son's name showering much praise on him, and at the end of the book prays that his son would attend to his incomplete works. His famous book on Fiqh is 'Aydhah Alfawaid' which he wrote to elucidate some difficult parts of his father's Qawaid. The opinions and deductions by this great Faqeeh are still taken into account by the fuqaha. He died in 771 A.H.
17. Muhammad b. Makki, also known as Shaheedeawwal hailed from Jabal Amil in South Lebanon, where Shi’as have lived for many centuries. He was born in 734 A.H., and pursued his studies under the care of great fuqaha of his time, among them the illustrious Fakhrulmuhaqqiqeen.
The most renowned and popular work on Fiqh by Shaheed is al-Luma'h which was written by him during his short term in the prison which ended with his execution. He was martyred as a result of a fatwa issued by a Maliki faqih, supported by Shafei, in the year 786 A.H.
It is a strange coincidence that two centuries later, a faqih who wrote a commentary on AlLuma'h (i.e. SharheLuma'h) was also executed and martyred. He came to be known as Shaheed Thani.
Other works by shaheed awwal on Fiqh are duroos, dhikra, bayan, alfiyyah, all of them are of highest order, and have received great attention from the later day fuqaha.
Three great Fuqaha, namely, Muhaqqiq Hilli, Allama Hilli, and ShaheedeAwwal who lived during the 7th and the 8th centuries have left the principle textbooks on Fiqh, which were then elucidated by the jurists who followed. The only other text worthy of mention was by Shaikh Murtadha Ansari who died nearly 150 years ago.
The most distinctive feature of the family of ShaheedeAwwal is that practically every member of the household was a Faqih. His wife Ummu Ali and his daughter Ummu Hasan were both Fuqaha of the first order. Ladies were instructed to refer to them for any problems of Fiqh; in fact, the daughter of shaheed was known as "shaikhah" or "sittul mashaikh", (sayyidatul mashaikh) among the women. Shaheed had three sons, all of them fuqaha.
18. Fadhil Miqdad was from hilla, studied from Shaheed Awwal. He died in 826 A.H., therefore is known to be among the fuqaha of the ninth century Hijra. The most important book on Fiqh written by him is Kanzul Irfan, in which he has compiled all those verses of the Holy Quran which form the basis of Fiqh, and had deduced from them several rules of Islamic jurisprudence. Of course, there exist several books by Shi’a as well as Sunni scholars written in the same vein but 'Kanzul Irfan' stands out prominently as one of the best, if not the best.
19. Abul Abbas Ahmad b. Fahd Hilli Asadi, popularly known as 'Jamal Alsalikeen', was born in 757 AH. and died in 841 AH. He is among the students of Shaheedeawwal and Fakhrul Muhaqqiqeen. He also studied hadith and Fiqh from Fadhil Miqdad Ali b. alKhazin and Shaikh Bahauddin Ali b. Abdulkarim. Though he was better known for his works on ethics, morals and mysticism, like 'Uddatu Aldaee', his works in Fiqh include valuable book called 'Al Muhddhab Al Bare' and commentaries on the works by Allama Hilli and Shaheed.
20. Shaikh Ali b. Hilal Jazaeri, was a man of piety and virtue, and a master of traditional as well as rational sciences. His tutor in Fiqh was Ibn Fahd Hilli, and he himself produced brilliant students like Muhaqqiq Karaki, and Ibn Abi Jamhur Ahsai. He was known as Shaikhul Islam in his era.
21. Shaikh Ali b. Abd alAali Karaki, better known as Muhaqqiq Karaki or even Muhaqqiq Thani (i.e. Muhaqqiq the second) was originally from Jabal Amel, south Lebanon. He completed his studies in Sham and Iraq, before coming to Iran during the reign of Shah Tahmasp, the first. Then an unprecedented thing happened. The Shah bestowed the title of "Shaikhul Islami" upon Muhaqqiq Karaki, granting him an instrument of total authority over the affairs of the state, and appointing himself as the Muhaqqiq's representative ruler! After Muhaqqiq Karaki, this seat was occupied by his student Shaikh Ali Minshar, the fatherinlaw of Shaikh Bahai, the latter occupying it after the Shaikh's death.
Upon his arrival in Iran, he established a great Hawza in Qazwain and later in Isfehan, training several students of repute, with the result that Iran once again became centre of Fiqh years after Sadooqain. He studied under the distinguished tutelage of Ali b. Hilal Jazaeri, who had studied from Ibn. Fahd Hilli. And as we know Ibn Fahd was a student of the students of Shaheed Awwal. This way, Muhaqqiq Karaki is linked with Shaheed through two generations.
Among his own famous works on Fiqh are "Jamiul Maqasid" which, in fact, is a commentary on qawahid by Allama Hilli. He also wrote marginal elucidations and notes on the books of Fiqh by Muhaqqiq Hilli and ShaheedeAwwal. His son, Shaikh Abd al Aali was also a great faqih. Muhaqqiq Karaki died in 940 AH.
22. Shaikh Zainuddin, better known as Shaheed E Thani (the second Shaheed), is among the greatest Shi’a fuqaha. He was born in 911 AH. in Jabal Amel, but he must have lived in Tus for a considerable time, as he occasionally signed his name as "alTusi, al-Shami " .
He was a widely travelled man, having visited Egypt, Syria, Hijaz, Baitul Muqaddas, Iraq and Constantinople (Istanbul). Always in pursuit of knowledge, he studied from nearly twelve Sunni Ulama of Fiqh. Apart from the proficiency in Fiqh, he was well versed in Usool, Philosophy, Irfan, Medicine and Astronomy.
He was a man of piety, known for his austere way of life. His students have recorded in his biography that Shaheed maintained his family by selling the woods cut by himself during the nights, and then sat to teach during the day. While in Ba'lbak, he conducted classes in Fiqh according to five schools, i.e. Ja'fari, Hanafi, Shafei, Maliki and Hambali. His famous work is the commentary on Allum'ah which had been authored by ShaheedeAwwal. His commentary, Sharhe Lumuah is a part of curriculum in almost every Hawza even today. He studied from Muhaqqiq Karaki before the later migrated to Iran.
ShaheedeThani's son wrote the famous book on Usool, called Ma'alimulusool. ShaheedeThani was martyred in 966 AH.
23. Ahmad b. Muhammad Ardabili, popularly known as Muqaddas Ardabili was proverbial for his piety and austerity. He is also well known for his extensive research in Shi’a Fiqh. He lived in Najaf, during the Safavid rule in Iran.
It is said that Shah Abbas Safavi very much wanted him to come and live in Iran, but Ardabili would not relent. Because of the esteem in which he held Muqaddas Ardabili, Shah Abbas wrote him to give an order or a command which he would dutifully fulfil. Once it so happened that a fugitive Momin from Iran came to Muqaddas Ardabili in Najaf, requesting him to write to the Shah recommending a pardon or reprieve. Muqaddas wrote:
"The holder of temporary rule, Abbas, is advised that although this man was initially a transgressor, he now seems to be oppressed. If you pardon him, Allah may forgive some of your lapses. From the slave of Master of Wilayat (i.e. Imam Ali (A.S.)) Ahmad Ardabili".
In reply, Shah Abbas wrote:
"I bring to your esteemed notice that Abbas has rendered the service ordered by you feeling profoundly obliged. I hope you will not forget this devotee of yours in your good prayers. From a dog on the threshold of Ali (A.S.) Abbas.
Ardabili's refusal to migrate to Iran in spite of the Shah's persistent requests, proved a blessing to the Hawza of Najaf. It grew in strength, and became as lively as the Hawza of Isfehan. The same way, the continuous presence of ShaheedeThani, his son Shaikh Hasan, the author of Ma'alim, and his nephew Sayyid Muhammad, the author of Madarik, lent considerable strength and vigour to the Hawza of Sham and Jabal Amel in Lebanon. In fact, the latter two deprived themselves of visiting the shrine of Hadhrat Imam Redha (A.S) fearing that they might be persuaded to live in Iran.
Though we do not know the exact names of Ardabili's tutors, he certainly acquired his training from the students of ShaheedeThani. In return, he tutored the son of Shaheed and his nephew.
Ardabili's noteworthy contribution to Fiqh is his commentary on Irshad and his Ayatul Ahkam. His profound treatment of the subject is still valued by the fuqaha. He died in 993 Hijra.
24. Shaikh Bahauddin Ameli, more popular as Shaikh Bahai is from Jabel Amel, Lebanon. Accompanied by his father Shaikh Husain b. Abd alSamad, he travelled to Iran as a child. Later, he travelled extensively to various Islamic countries in search of great scholars from whom he acquired knowledge.
Because of his creative talent and perception, he became a master of several faculties and has books on various subjects to his credit. He was a man of literature, a poet, a philosopher, a mathematician, a faqeeh as well as a mufassir, and had a considerable experience in ancient medicine.
He is the first faqeeh who wrote a handbook on Fiqh for simple layman in Persian language. The book, "Jame Abbasi" still exists. But Fiqh has not been counted as his exclusive subject, because the scope of his interests was so very wide. From his tour of Egypt, Sham, Hijaz, Iraq, Palestine, Azarbayjan and Herat, the man had actually become a walking encyclopaedia.
In spite of his diverse interests, he trained great fuqaha like Mulla Sadra Shirazi, Majlisi the first, (i.e. the father of Majlisi the second who authored Biharul Anwar), Muhaqqiq Sabzwari and Fadhil Jawad. As mentioned earlier, after the death of his fatherinlaw, Shaikh Ali Minshar, Bahai occupied the seat of 'Shaikhul Islami' in Iran. His wife was also a faqih.
Shaikh Bahai was born in 953 AH. and died in 1030 AH.
25. Mulla Muhammad Baqir Sabzwari was a man of many sided talents. Since he remained attached to the college of Isfehan which was renowned for both Fiqh and philosophy, he became a master of rational as well as traditional sciences. He has two famous works on Fiqh, namely, 'Dhakheerah' a nd 'Kifayah', and is frequently mentioned by the contemporaries as well as later day Fuqaha. In philosophy) he wrote a comprehensive commentary of Abu Ali Sina's Shifa on Ilahiyyat (i.e. Divinities or Theology).
Mulla Sabzwari, also known as Muhaqqiq Sabzwari, was taught by Shaikh Bahai and Mulla Mohamed Taqi Majlisi (the first Majlisi). He died in 1090 AH.
26. Aqa Husain Khwansari also known as Muhaqqiq Khwansari, lived in the times of famous traditionists like Mulla Muhsin Faidh Kashani, and Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (the second). He was married to the sister of Muhaqqiq Sabzwari. Both of them shared common propensities, and therefore turned out to be brilliant masters of rational and traditional sciences.
Muhaqqiq Khwansari wrote 'Mashariq Alshumoos' in Fiqh. In fact, it is a splendid elucidation of 'Duroos' by ShaheedeAwaal. He died in 1098 AH.
27. Jamal alMuhaqqiqeen, better known as Jamal Khwansari was Muhaqqiq Khwansari's son, equally proficient in rational as well as traditional sciences. His work in Fiqh is the famous margin of elucidatory notes on Sharhe Lumah. He has so many students of distinction to his credit, like Sayyid Ibrahim Qazwaini and others. The famous Sayyid Mahdi BahrUlUloom is linked to him through two generations of teachers.
28. Shaikh Bahauddin Isfehani, famous as 'Fadhilehindi' was a Faqih of the first rank, whose opinions are valued even today. He wrote a commentary on Allama Hilli's "Qawaid", the book is called "Kashf Allitham". He died in 1137 AH. during the days of Afghan rebellion.
29. Muhammad Baqir b. Muhammad Akmal, popular as 'Waheed Behbehani', is, in fact, the saviour of Ijtihad, and is therefore called 'Ustadul Kull'. He contributed to Fiqh in two ways: one, he trained a number of Fuqaha, each of whom became well famed mujtahid of Shi’a school. The glittering names of Ulama like Sayyid Mahdi Bahrul Uloom, Shaikh Jafar Kashiful Ghita, Mirza Abul Qasim Qummi, Haj Mulla Mehdi Nuraqi, Sayyid Ali the author of "Riyadh", Mirza Mehdi Shahrastani, and many others remind us of the greatness of the master. Secondly, he stood firm against the innovative onslaught of Akhbaris, and dealt them a death blow, from which Akhbari school has never recovered.
Waheed Behbehani rose at the time when Safavid empire had declined, and Isfehan had ceased to enjoy a central place. He migrated to Iraq, along with his tutor Sayyid Sadruddin Rizvi, and settled in Kerbala. Because of his piety and austere way of life, his students held him in very high esteem.
Behbehani is related to Allama Majlisi through his mother. His grandmother Amena Begum, was a woman of erudition and Fiqh, married to Mulla Saleh Mezandarani, a man of profound knowledge.
We have instances when Amena Begum has taken part in difficult discussions with her husband, and solving theological problems.
He was born in 1116 AH. and died in 1205 AH.
30. Sayyid Mehdi Bahrul Uloom, is a Faqih who has been rightly placed in the immediate rank after our Masoomeen (AS), because of his piety and virtue. His contribution to Fiqh exists in the form of verses. Shaikh Jafar Kashiful Ghita, himself a Faqeeh of the first order, used to wipe Bahrul Uloom's slippers with the end part of his turban.
He was born in 1155 AH., and died in 1212 AH.
31. Shaikh Ja'far Kashiful Ghita was born in 1154 AH. in Najaf. He studied from Waheed Behbehani and Sayyid Mehdi Bahrul Uloom. His famous work is 'Kashiful Ghita' from which the family derived the famous apellation, 'Kashiful Ghita'. Among his outstanding students are Shaikh Muhammad Hasan, the author of encyclopaedic work called Jawahir al Kalaam, and Sayyid Jawad who wrote 'Miftahul Karamah' . All of his four sons were Fuqaha of repute, and have immensely contributed to the development of Fiqh.
He died in 1228 AH.
32. Shaikh Muhammad Hasan, the author of an encyclopaedic work on Fiqh, "Jawahirul Kalam", was born in 1202 AH. He is of Arab descent. This great work has become monumental; the author spent thirty years of his prime life for its completion. The last edition printed in Iran ran into fifty volumes, each volume consisting of about 400 pages.
The work is an indispensable companion of every Faqih worth any name, since each line in it requires profound pondering and elucidation. One could say that Shaikh Mohammad Hasan was an ideal example of devotion and dedication. He died in 1266 AH., having commenced the extra ordinary work at the age of 25.
Shaikh was a student of Shaikh Ja'far Kashiful Ghita, as well as of Sayyid Jawad, the author of 'Miftahul Karamah'. In his time, he was a sole Marja, having established a great Hawza of his own in Najaf. He is referred to as 'Sahibejawahir'.
33. Shaikh Murtadha Ansari was a descendent of the Prophet's noble companion, Jabir b. Abdullah Ansari. He was born on 18th Dhul Hajj (the day of Idde Ghadeer) 1214 AH. in Dezful. For 20 years, he studied in Iran before leaving for Iraq. After a brief stay there, he decided to return to Iran. When he met Mulla Ahmed Nuraqi, the author of 'Me'raju Ssa'adah' and 'Mustanad AlShi’ah', in Kashan, Shaikh decided to remain there under his tutelage. In 1252 AH. he decided to visit the holy shrines of Iraq, but this sojourn was destined to be final, for here he started his own classes which made him world famous. He became an indisputable marja' after the death of SahibeJawahir.
Shaikh was a genius of extra ordinary calibre. In Usool and Fiqh, his originality and analytic mind enabled him to blaze a new path, a path which has been adopted and followed by all the subsequent Fuqaha. His two great works, 'Rasail' and 'Makasib' are an inalienable part of the curriculum in modern Hawzas. We can say that after Muhaqqiq Hilli, Allama Hilli and ShaheedeAwwal, the figure of Shaikh Murtadha Ansari towers highest among the Shi’a Fuqaha. He is rightly known as ' Khatimul Fuqaha Wal Mujtahedeen' .He died in Najaf in 1281 AH.
34. Haj Mirza Muhammad Hasan Shirazi popularly known as 'Mirza Shirazi Buzurg' was born in Shiraz on 15th Jamad AlAwwal 1230 AH. He did his preliminary studies in Isfahan and then migrated to Najaf to join the Hawza of 'Sahibejawahir'. After the death of "SahibeJawahir", he joined the classes of Shaikh Murtadha Ansari, becoming one of the most brilliant and highly regarded students. After the death of Shaikh Ansari, he became the sole Marja, his tenure lasting for 23 years. He is famous for his Tobacco fatwa which led to the abrogation of the notorious British monopoly in Iran.
Unfortunately, we do not have any of his written work on Fiqh, but his verdicts and ijtehad have been known through his great students, like, Mulla Muhammad Kadhim Khurasani, Sayyid Muhammad Kadhim Taba Tabai, Haji Redha Hamdani, and Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi. He died in 1312 AH.
35. Akhund Mulla Muhammad Kadhim Khurasani was born in Tus in 1255 AH., in a family not known for any contribution to Fiqh. At the age of 22, he came to Tehran for a brief study in Philosophy and then travelled to Najaf where he had an opportunity of joining the lessons of Shaikh Ansari for two years. Thereafter, he studied under the tutelage of Mirza Shirazi Bururg.
When his master, Mirza Shirazi left for Samarra, Akhund Khurasani decided to stay behind in Najaf. Here he started his own Hawza. Because of his effective style of teaching he attracted many students. It is reported that at one given time, he taught nearly 1200 students, out of whom nearly 200 were of the rank of ijtehad.
Great fuqaha of our time, like Sayyid Abul Hasan Isfehani, Haji Shaikh Muhammad Hasan Isfehani, Haji Sayyid Husain Burujardi, Sayyid Husain Qummi, Aqa ZiaudDeen Iraqi were all his students. The Hawza of Akhund is distinguished for its extensive and analytic treatment of UsoolalFiqh. His great work 'Kifayah' is studied even today with utmost care. It is a work which has necessitated writing elucidatory footnotes and commentaries. Many Ulama of repute have attended to this need, and nearly 120 commentaries exist to explain what Akhund had to say.
Akhund Khurasani gave a fatwa in favour of Mashrutiyyat which was adopted in the state constitution of Iran. Akhund died in 1329 AH.
36. Mirza Husain Naceni was born on 17th Dhul Qa'dah 1276 AH. in Naeen. He was a student of Mirza Shirazi Buzurg and Sayyid Muhammad Fisharaki Isfehani. In his major contribution to Usoolul-Fiqh, he differed in many matters with Akhund Khurasani, disputing the latter's conclusions. Many students were trained by him in Fiqh. He is also famous for his political treatise called 'Tanzeehul Ummah'. He died in Najaf in 1355 AH.
37. Ayatullah Sayyid Abul Hasan Isfehani was born in 1277 AH in one of the villages on the outskirts of Isfehan. He was a Faqih of the first rank, and a sole Marja after the death of his contemporary, Mirz Husain Naeeni. The tenure of his Marjaiyyah is particularly known for its commendable administration. After his preliminary training in Isfehan he travelled to Najaf and gradually joined the lessons of Akhund Khurasani, who soon recognised the talents of his disciple.
His famous Amaliyya in Fiqh is 'Waseelatun-najat' which due to its comprehensive nature, has been elucidated by many Fuqaha including Ayatullah Khomeini. Among his famous students were Ayatullah Sayyid Mohsin AlHakim, Ayatullah Sayyid Meelani, Ayatullah Mirza Hashim Amuli and others. He died in Najaf on 9th Dhul Hijjah in 1365 AH.
38. Ayatullah Sayyid Husain Burujardi, was born in Burujard in 1292 AH. He was a student of masters like Akhund Khurasani and Aqa Zia Iraqi. Fiqh was his special interest, and in order to master it fully, he studied Fiqh of all the Islamic schools of thought. While citing the Traditions of Masoomeen (AS) to support any of his deductions, Sayyid Husain Burujardi is known to have brought so many new aspects to light. He also had a keen insight in the science of Rijal. Shaheed Mutahhari and Ayatullah Shaikh Husain Muntadhar are among his numerous worthy students.
He died in Qum on 13th Shawaal 1381 AH at the ripe age of 90.
39. Ayatullah Sayyid Muhsin AlHakim was born in 1306 AH in a family renowned for its scholarship. He studied under the tutelage of great fuqaha, like Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Kadhim Yazdi, Ayatullah Mirza Husain Naeeni, Ayatullah Zia Iraqi and others.
He became a sole Marja after the death of Ayatullah Sayyid Husain Burujardi, with whom his family tree shared a common lineage finally reaching Ameerul Mumineen Imam Ali b. Abu Talib (AS). The Hawza of Najaf grew immensely under his Marjaiyya, boasting nearly an unprecedented figure of 8000 students. He also instituted several changes in the curriculum of the Hawzas, which have had far reaching effects. His famous work in Fiqh is 'Mustamsak' which is acknowledged as the most exhaustive and enlightening commentary on the first part of alUrwatul Wuthqa. The style and skill of his reasoning established him among the Fuqaha of the first rank. He is also well known for his clear fatwa against Communism, declaring it an ideology of kufr and atheism.
He died on 27the RabiulAwwal 1390 AH in Najaf and was buried in the great and modern library he had established.
40. Ayatullah Sayyid Abul Qasim Al-Khu’i was born in Khu’y, on 15th Rajab, 1317 AH. He came to Najaf at the age of 13 with his father Sayyid Ali Akbar Al-Khu’i. After completing his preliminary studies at the age of 20, he joined the final classes under great tutors like Shaikh alShariah Isfehani, Shaikh Muhammad Husain Isfehani, Shaikh Zia Iraqi and Mirza Husain alNaeeni.
Ayatullah Al-Khu’i's main contribution was to Usool alFiqh, but he was also a great faqeeh, in a sense that his classes on Fiwh were attended by some of the most prominent scholars of his time. After the death of Ayatullah Sayyid Muhsin AlHakim in 1971 AD he became a sole Marja. His tenure of Marjaiyyah was tumultuous, and it lasted for nearly 22 years. He died on 8th Safar 1413 AH. (i.e. 8th August 1992). It is said that the number of great fuqaha trained by him during the five decades of constant teaching exceeds one thousand.
We have briefly introduced 40 great lives from the world of Fiqh, starting with the era of Ghaybat as-Sughra till the onset of fifteenth century Hijra. These were the prominent jurisconsults of Shi’a sect whose names and works have guaranteed the life and growth of Islamic Shariah. However, it must be mentioned that there were many others whose contributions cannot be underestimated, and some o them have been referred to in this brief treatment. Following important points emerge from the above:
a) Fiqh has had a continuous growth right from the third century Hijra, and it has been taught and developed incessantly in the great Shi’a seminaries. If we were to take the example of Ayatullah Sayyid Abul Qasim Al-Khu’i, we can connect him upwards with his masters one generation after another, forming a glorious chain which links with the era of our Imams (AS). This continuity is unique in Islam and what is more noteworthy is that the continuity made Islamic guidance available to the Ummah at all times and in varying circumstances.
The reason for starting from the third century Hijra is not because no Fuqaha existed before that time. It is because the era earlier than Ghaybat as-Sughra was the era of our Imams (AS) and in their presence Fuqaha obviously were eclipsed. However, we know their namev and we also possess a list of their works on Fiqh. For example, the earliest work on record is the book on Fiqh written by Ali b. Rafe' who lived during the time of Imam Ali b. Abu Talib (AS). Ali b. Rafe's brother Abdullah was Imam Ali's (AS) scribe as well as official in charge of Treasury.
b) It is not true to say that Fiqh and other Shi’a teachings were promulgated by the Iranians alone. Till tenth century Hijra, the contribution mainly sprang from nonIranian sources. Later, during the Safavid rule in Iran, Iranian scholars became major contributors.
c) Iran has not always been the centre of Fiqh. In fact, the earliest organised Shi’a Centre of Fiqh is traced in Baghdad, followed by Najaf during the days of Shaikh Tusi. Later, it was matched by Jabal Amel (Lebanon), Hilla (Iraq) and Aleppo (Syria). Isfehan (Iran) became known as a centre of fiqh during the Safvid regime, but at the same time Muqaddes Ardabili revived the Hawza of Najaf.
As far as Qum is concerned, it had a progressive Hawza during the bloom of Baghdad, centred around personalities like Ibn Babawayh, Ibn Qawlawayh and others. Then there was a period of decline, till its regeneration during the Qajar dynasty, under the supervision of Mirza Abul Qasim Qummi, the author of monumental 'Qawanin'.
With the growth of Hawza in Najaf, Qum again withered away till the third revival took place under Shaikh Abdulkarim alHaeri in 1340 AH. Today, as we pen these lines, Qum is the greatest seminary of Fiqh and other Islamic branches of knowledge. With the onslaught of Ba'thist infidelity in Iraq, the Hawza of Najaf has disintegrated. Hopefully, this is one of the temporary phenomena which make their appearance in history. Allah knows best, and upon Him we rely.
No doubt, the growth of smaller Hawzas in Iran had been noticeable, and they were quite prolific. Mention should be made of Fiqh being taught at its highest level in Mashhad, Hamdan, Shiraz, Yazd, Kashan, Tabreez, Zanjan, Qazwain, and Khwansar. But these never grew up to reach the magnitude of Hawza in Qum.
d) It must be acknowledged that the impact of Fuqaha of Jabal Amel, like Muhaqqiq Karaki and Shaikh Bahai, has been great and decisive. The Safavids themselves, as it is known, were more inclined towards Tasawwuf and mysticism. Had it not been for these fuqaha who decided to migrate and live in Iran, establishing the great college of Isfehan, Iran would not have been what it is today in as far as promulgation and development of Fiqh is concerned.
e) As Shakeeb Arsalan has mentioned, Shi’a School in Jabal Amel is centuries older than the one in Iran. Some historians have indicated that the school of Ahlul Bait (AS) in Jabal Amel was established by Abu Dhar Ghifari, the noble companion of our Prophet (s.a.w). Abu Dhar lived in Sham which in those days included all or parts of Lebanon, condemning the wealth being unscrupulously amassed by Mua'wiyah and his lackeys, at the same time preaching the Shi’a faith.
f) We feel that the contribution of fuqaha in India must not be ignored. In order to give a balanced view of the global development of Fiqh, we would like to briefly introduce some of the renowned names in Shi’a history of India:
1. Sayyid Dildar Ali, popularly known as Ghufran Ma'ab, was the son of Sayyid Muhammad Muin bin Sayyid Abdul Hadi. It would seem that his family, like many other Sayyid families, left Nishapur (Iran) because of the Mongol invasion and settled in India. He was born in 1166 AH. He completed his early studies in India, and in 1193 AH travelled to Iraq for further studies. Among his tutors in Iraq were great Fuqaha like Shaikh Ja'far Kashiful Ghita, and Wahid Behbehani. Later, he went to Mashhad (Iran) for further studies.
Sayyid Dildar Ali, while in India, was of Akhbari persuasion, but he changed to Usuli school after his intensive studies in Iraq. Upon his return to Lucknow, he became a Marja' in India, his fatwas being regarded as final by the Shi’a populace.
His magnum opus in Theology (IlmulKalam) is known as "ImadulIslam" which he wrote in Arabic, in refutation of antiShi’a arguments by FakhrudDin Razi. His detailed work in Fiqh is 'Muntahal Afkar'. His sons were also pious, dedicated scholars and teachers.
Sayyid Dildar Ali died in the night of 19th Rajab 1235 (2nd May 1820), and was buried in Lucknow.
2. Mufti Mohammad Abbas son of Sayyid Ali Akbar Jazaeri Shushtari, was born at the end of RabiulAwwal 1224 AH. (15th May 1809). As a child, he was gifted and precocious, having composed an Urdu Mathnavi on Shi’a doctrines at the age of 12. More than 150 of his books have been published but a large number still remain in manuscript form. He never visited Arabia, yet Arab scholars were impressed by his Arabic prose and poetry.
His deep understanding of Fiqh prompted Sultanul Ulama, Sayyid Mohammad, son of Ghufran Ma'ab, to appoint him the mufti of Lucknow. Mufti Mohammad Abbas compiled a guide book for the Qadhis and Mufties of Awadh and the principles laid down by him were followed by the judiciary.
He had six sons, one of them Mufti Sayyid Ahmad Ali (died in 1969) was also a Faqih of repute. He was the principle of Nazmia Arabic College, Lucknow.
Mufti Mohammad Abbas died on 25th Rajab 1306 (27th March 1889) at Lucknow.
3. Sayyid Hamid Husain, son of Mufti Muhammad Quli, was born in Meerut, India, on 5th Muharaam 1246 (27th June, 1830). He studied Arabic literature with Mufti Mohammad Abbas, and Sayyidul Ulama Sayyid Husain (the youngest son of Ghufran Ma'ab) trained him in Fiqh and Usool.
Sayyid Hamid Husain acquired his knowledge of the Islamic sciences in India, and although he visited many scholars during his pilgrimage to Arabia and Iraq, his main interest lay in collecting books and manuscripts for doctrinal and historical research. Ulama of Iran and Iraq have paid glowing tributes to him in their evaluation of his copious contributions, particularly the encyclopaedic work on Imamah, called 'Abaqatul Anwar'.
Ayatullah Sayyid Muhsin Amili in his 'A'ayanu SShi’a' says: " A man of his eloquence, proficiency in Traditions, Islamic history and Theology is not to be found during his time. In fact, neither before nor after. If we said that a scholar of his status has not appeared after the era of Mufeed and Murtadha, it would not be an exaggeration…"
His work on Fiqh includes "Aldharae" which is a commentary on 'Sharae', 'Zainul Wasail', 'Alshariah Algharra', 'Alnajm Althaqib' and others.
4 Sayyid Najmul Hasan, popularly known as Najmul Millat. He was the son of Sayyid Akbar Husain of Amroha. Sayyid was born on 6th Dhul Hijja 1279 (25th May 1863). He was a favourite disciple and soninlaw of Mufti Muhammad Abbas. He studied all the higher faculties, including Fiqh and Usool in India, under the tutelage of Abul Hasan Abbu Sahib and Mufti Muhammad Abbas.
Himself a Faqih of the first rank, he trained several Ulama like Sayyid Sibte Hasan, Sayyid Adeel Akhtar and Hafiz Kitayat Husain. He will ever be remembered for his services to the Shi’as of Tibet, Burma, Africa, and countries in the West, rendered through the missionaries trained in his Madrassah Nazmiah, Lucknow. He died on 17th Safar 1351 AH (18th April 1938).