The compiler of this work was the great scholar and muḥaddith Qādi Nāsiḥ al-Dīn Abu al-Fatḥ ‘Abd al-Wāhid ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wāhid al-Āmudi1 al-Tamīmī from the scholars of the fifth century who passed away in 510 AH.2 He was a contemporary of Sayyid Radi, Sayyid Murtada and Shaykh Ṭusi.
Some of the great scholars such as Ibn Shahr Āshub, ‘Allāma Majlisi and Muḥaddith Nūri, have praised him and considered his work to be of great value. Many of these scholars have also narrated from him.
There has been some discussion about al-Āmudi’s beliefs because he used the phrase karramallāhu wajhahu (may Allah honour him) for Imam ‘Ali (‘a) in his introduction to this book, and this is the practice of the Sunnis and not the Shi‘as. However, the great scholar Jamāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Khwansāri notes that this was either done out of precautionary dissimulation (taqiyya)3 or was an addition by one of the scribes.
He further mentions some arguments to dispel any doubts about al-Āmudi’s being an Imāmi scholar. These are summarized as follows:
• The fact that Ibn Shahr Āshub mentions him as one of his teachers in his book Ma‘ālim al ‘Ulamā and notes that he was an Imāmi scholar.
• Ibn Shahr Āshub also mentions him again in his other book al-Manāqib and states that he was a Shi‘a scholar.
• Whoever examines this book will notice that many of the narrations have been compiled from other Shi‘a books.
• This book contains certain narrations that can only be narrated by a Shi‘a such as the narrations about the Holy Prophet (s) and his progeny.4
Our esteemed teacher and student of the late Ayatullah Sayyid Abu al-Qāsim al-Khui (r), Ayatullah Muslim al-Dāwari (may Allah grant him a long life), argues that the fourth point cannot be considered as proof since many Sunni scholars have mentioned such traditions about the family of the Prophet (s). He further adds that the compiler’s reliability (tawthīq) has not been established even though he was known to be one of the teachers of Ibn Shahr Āshub.
Another important point to note is that the there is no chain of transmitters (ṭarīq) for this book so its authenticity and reliability comes into question. This, however, does not mean that the narrations contained in it are all inauthentic and unreliable. Rather, it only means that we cannot be certain about the origins of this work and hence need to ascertain the authenticity and source of each narration before we can attribute it to the Imam (‘a).
Also, since the compiler has not listed the chains of narrators of the narrations, it would be impossible to authenticate any saying that cannot be found in any other source where the chain of transmission has been mentioned and can hence be verified using the normal processes of scrutiny.
A recent effort to expand on the work of al-Āmudi is the book Ikmālu Ghurar al-Ḥikam by Mahdi al-Ansari al-Qummi5 in which 15,751 more aphorisms of Amīr al-Mu’minīn (‘a) have been added to the original title from twenty other ḥadith sources, both Sunni and Shi‘i.
- 1. Or al-Āmidi
- 2. There seems to be a difference of opinion about the year of his death. Some scholars say it was in 550 AH and others say it was 510 AH.
- 3. Mirza ‘Abdullah Afandi has also mentioned this explanation.
- 4. Like the narration where Imam ‘Ali (‘a) says: I am the allotter of hellfire, the treasurer of the gardens [of Paradise], the owner of the pond [of Kawthar]... – see the section on Muhammad (s) and his progeny.
- 5. This work was published in Iran in 1425 AH.