Introduction to Islamic Sciences Part 3

Rasoul Imani Khoshkhu
Translated by Mohammad Reza Farajian& Mahdi Bagheri


The previous article - Introduction to Islamic Sciences, Part II – touched upon two subjects: Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), and Usul of Fiqh (Principles of Jurisprudence), and offered a glance at its history, key subjects, and sources. This article delves into four additional subjects: Hadith Sciences, Qur’anic Sciences, the Science of Exegesis and the Science of Islamic Ethics.

Hadith studies includes studying its history – such as the phenomenon of forging hadiths and its branches – Rijal, Dirayah al-Hadith, Fiqhul-Hadith, Gharibul-Hadith, Alajul- Hadith, and ‘Ilalul-Hadith. Qur’anic sciences include revelation studies, the Qur’an’s miraculousness, and the compilation of the Qur’an. This will be followed by a brief study of the history and important methods of exegesis. The paper ends with a brief introduction to Islamic Science of Ethics.

6. Hadith Sciences

After the Glorious Qur’an, the conduct (sunnah) of the noble Prophet(s) and the Infallibles (a) is the main reference for Islamic rulings andbeliefs. The Infallible Imams (a) are the true heirs to the Prophet’s (s) knowledge, and their hadiths reflect the Prophet’s (s) conduct.

After the Prophet (s) passed away, the necessity of referring to Prophetic hadiths became inevitable to Muslims; thus, since then they began collecting and organizing hadiths. Although narrating and registering hadiths were banned by the first three caliphs and this ban continued in the Sunni world until the reign of Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, Shi’a narrators from the onset were involved in narration and compiling collections of hadiths1.

The History of Hadith among the Shi‘a

The history of hadiths among Shi’a underwent different stages as any other discipline, though two major periods are generally referred to: the period of early scholars of hadith and the period of later scholars.The former period includes the first five centuries. In this period, the Imams (a) initially issued hadiths as their companions and transmitters of hadith wrote them.

Those hadiths were classified and organized by scholars of later centuries and were finally included in the Four Books2 by the first three scholars of hadith3: Sheikh Kulayni, Sheikh Saduq, and Sheikh Tusi.Most hadiths in this period are received from Imam Baqir (a) and Imam Sadiq (a). Tens of thousands of hadiths were accurately recorded from them by their companions and students and transmitted to later scholars.

The later period is when complementary collections of hadiths were compiled by Shi’a scholars. This period began from the early sixth century AH and continued until the time of the contemporary scholars.

In that period, great scholars of hadith emerged who compiled valuable works in hadith. The most eminent scholars of that period were Sheikh Hurr Amili, author of Wasa’il al-Shi’a, Feyd; Kashani, author of Al-Wafi, and Allamah Majlisi, author of Bihar al-Anwar. Bycomparing the two mentioned periods, it is understood that the hadiths among the Shi’a is the fruit of the former period in one sense, and the works of the later period is a classification, completion, and analysis of the works of the earlier period.

The Phenomenon of Fabricating Hadiths and the Necessity of Knowing Authentic Hadiths.
One of the factors that increased the importance of hadith studies in Islamic sciences was the phenomenon of fabricating hadiths. This was the insertion of forged hadiths fabricated and attributed to the Prophet(s) or any of the Infallibles (a). The history of fabricating hadiths goes back to the time of the Prophet (s) when he (s) introduced the Qur’an as the main factor for finding genuine hadiths.

The issue of recognizing genuine hadiths from fabricated ones became more important during the time of Imam Baqir (a) and Imam Sadiq (a) due to factors such as the expansion of the Islamic world, interest in narrating hadiths, freedom of writing [i.e. recording hadiths] after the period of prohibition, and the activities of Ghulat4 and Taqiyyah5.That was when Imam Baqir (a) and Imam Sadiq (a) introduced the examination criteria in recognition of genuine hadiths, most importantly to check the hadiths with the Qur’an and the Prophet’s (s) Sunnah6.

Knowing the mechanisms of recognizing genuine hadiths and removing fabricated hadiths are very important in hadith studies; thus, hadith scholars have long been adopting criteria to distinguish genuine hadith from fabricated hadiths and have written accordingly such as Al-Du‘afa’ by Bukhari (d. 256 AH), Al-Mawdu‘at by Naqqash (d. 414 AH), Al-Mawdu‘at by Ibn Jawzi (d. 543 AH), Al-Luma‘ fi Asma’ man wad‘a by Suyuti (d. 911 AH) and Tustari’s Al-Akhbar al-Dakhilah.

The followings are among the most important criteria introduced by hadith scholars to distinguish fabricated hadiths7:

Confession of the transmitter to fabricating hadiths or existence of evidence that can serve as his confession

Contradiction of a hadith with the indisputable and frequently mentioned sunnah of the Prophet (s) and the infallible Imams (a)

Contradiction of a hadith with self-evident intellectual propositions

Contradiction of a hadith with rules agreed by the Islamic Nation(Ummah)

Different Branches of Hadith Studies

The following introduces the different branches of Hadith Studies:


This discipline studies the trustworthiness of the transmitters in the chain of the hadith. In The criteria, which approve the transmitters’ reports, are also studied. They include: Reliability of the transmitters, their capability in recording hadiths, and their commitment to religious laws. Various of the biographical details such as the dates of births and deaths, or the land and clan of the transmitter are usually not considered. Such issues are discussed in another discipline i.e. Tarajim (Writing Biographies)8.

Most important works

Shi’a scholars have long been examining the transmitters of hadiths and wrote about them accordingly, although those works are currently unavailable. The oldest related available work is al-Rijal by Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid Barqi (d. 274 AH). Among other
important works in this field are Rijal Kashi written by Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Aziz Kashi contemporary with Sheikh Kulayni, Sheikh Tusi’s Al-Fihrist9, Najashi’s Al-Fihrist10 which mostly introduces Shi’a authors, and Sheikh Tusi’s Rijal which introduces and describes the Infallibles’ companions and their contemporaries.

Dirayah al-Hadith

This branch of hadith studies a) the methods of recognizing genuine hadiths from fabricated ones and b) the criteria in accepting or rejecting hadiths. The subject matter of this discipline is the narrator of the hadith and the narrated text to see if it can be accepted or not11.

After hadith scholars know the transmitters of hadiths in Rijal studies, they examine the criteria to evaluate the authenticity of hadiths and classify them accordingly. Early Shi‘a scholars classified hadiths into two groups: genuine (sahih) and not genuine (ghayr sahih). They verified genuine hadiths by locating them in the authentic books of hadiths. They also verified the reliability and trustworthiness of each author.

Since the time of Ahmad ibn Tawus12 or Allamah Hilli13, Shi‘a scholars have been examining the criteria for judging the various hadiths by classifying them according to their transmitters. They defined the hadiths as follows:

Sahihah: The transmitters of a sahih hadith are reliable Twelver Shi‘as whose trustworthiness has been expressly confirmed, and the chain of transmitters is unbroken.

Hasanah: The transmitters of this hadith are reliable Twelver Shi‘as although their reliability has not been expressly verified. Muwathaqah: The transmitters of this hadith are described to be reliable, although at least one of them is not a Twelver Shi‘a14.

Da‘if: Contrary to the above hadiths, this type of hadiths is not acceptable by scholars and cannot be considered as a valid evidence. However, if such a hadith enjoys popularity among the narrators (shuhrat-e riva’i) or popularity among jurists in issuing fatwa accordingly (shuhrat-e fatwa’i) its validity is reinforced, the same way that if scholars have not acted upon a hadith that can be technically authenticated the validity of that hadith will be decreased.

The criteria for weak hadiths are as follows:

a) A person in the chain of the transmitters of the hadith has been accused of lying

b) The transmitter is accused of fabricating hadiths

c) The transmitter is known for making mistakes

d) The transmitter is known for his lewdness

e) The transmitter is unknown or revealed in some sources as reliable and elsewhere as an unreliable15.

Among the most important works in the branch of hadith studies is Shahid Thani’s16 Al-Ri’ayah Libal al-Bidayah fi ‘Ilm al-Dirayah and Sheikh Bahai’s17 Al-Wajizah. Moreover, great works have been written by contemporary scholars. For example, one may refer to Ja’farSubhani’sUsul al-Hadith waAhkamuhu fi ‘Ilm al-Dirayah.

Fiqh al-Hadith

Fiqh al-Hadith studies the interpretation of hadiths. Consequently, commentaries on the Four Books of Shi’a and Sahi Bukhari are written accordingly. Among the most famous commentaries writtenon the Four Books of Shi‘a are Mir’at al-Uqul by Allamah Majlisi18 and Rawdah al-Muttaqin by Muhammad Taqi Majlisi19.

Gharib al-Hadith

This branch focuses on lexicological studies and hadith terminology. Tahiri’s20 Majma‘ al-Bahrayn is one of the most important references among the Shi’a scholars.

Ilaj al-Hadith

This branch of hadith studies the contradictions and disagreements between hadiths. One important work in this field is Sheikh Tusi’s21 Istibsar.

Ilal al-Hadith

This branch of hadith analyses the decrease in the validity and authenticity of some hadiths22.

7. Qur’anic Sciences

Qur’anic sciences are a collection of sciences that are used to understand the Qur’an and respond to misunderstandings regarding its validity and divine origin. It addresses issues such as the revelation of the Qur’an, its order, method of collection, writing it, its recitation, and nasikh23 and mansukh24 verses in the Qur’an. This does not include the sciences of the Qur’an regarding sciences such as theology, cosmology, and anthropology. The Qur’anic sciences deal with various issues about the Qur’an from an outsider’s perspective25.

The necessity of studying Qur’anic sciences is that looking through the meaning of the Qur’an is meaningful if first it is proved that the Qur’an is from God. To reach the original message descended upon the Prophet (s), it must be first clarified whether all the recitations (qira’at) versions or some of them lead us to the original message. Regarding the issue of naskh26, recognition of a mansukh verse from a nasikh verse is also a prerequisite.

Historical Background and Related Works

The first figures who studied issues under this discipline were among the companions of the Prophet (s). Scholars of Qur’anic sciences believe that from among the companions of the Prophet (s), Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) was one of the pioneers in Qur’anic sciences; another eminent figure in the field was Ibn Abbas27.

However, topics related to Qur’anic sciences were organized in the second century AH. It is important to notice that Qur’anic sciences as understood today are different from what was meant in the early centuries AH. In the past, Qur’anic sciences also included topics discussed in hermeneutics, but later, due to the variety of topics, hermeneutic issues about the Qur’an became separate from Qur’anic sciences.

Generally, the related works in Qur’anic sciences are classified in four groups:

1. Works written in the early centuries in a specific branch of Qur’anic sciences. Distinguished authors who wrote such works include: Yahya ibn ‘Umar (d. 89 AH) who wrote a book regarding the recitations (qira’at) of the Qur’an; Hasan Basri (d. 110 AH), author of Nuzul al-Qur’an wa ‘Adad Ay al-Qur’an; Abdullah ‘Amir Yahsibi (d. 118 AH), author of IkhtilafMasahif al-Sham wa al-hijaz; Ata ibn Abi MoslimMaysirah al-Khurasani,

the pioneer in collecting rulings of the Qur’an, Aban ibn Taghlab (d. 141 AH); the first author in the science of the recitation (qira’at) of the Qur’an, Khalil ibn Ahmad Farahidi (d. 170 AH); the inventor and author in dots and drawings, Ali ibn Abdullah Sa‘di, an ingenious author in the events of revelation (asbab al-nuzul); Muhammad ibn Junayd (d. 281 AH), a scholar in the analogies of the Qur’an and Muhammad ibn Yazid Wasiti (d. 306 or 309 AH), the leading writer on miracles of the Qur’an and author of Miracles of the Qur’an available to use today28.

2. Books regarding various branches of Qur’anic Sciences.

3. Works by authors who attempted to include all issues related to Qur’anic sciences such as: Al-Burhan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an, the most comprehensive work in Qur’anic sciences by Zarkashi in the eighth century, and Jalal al-Din Suyuti’s29 Al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al- Qur’an, one of the most important references in Qur’anic sciences inspired by Al-Burhan.

In recent centuries, valuable works have been published with similar approach in Qur’anic sciences, among of which are: Manahil al-Irfan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an by Muhammad ‘Abdul Azim Zarqani, Mabahith fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an by Dr. SubhiSalih, Haqa’iqHammahHawlal-‘Ulum al-Qur’an by Sayyid Ja’farMurtadaAmili and Al-Tamhid fi ‘Ulum al- Qur’an by Muhammad HadiMa‘rifat.

4. Commentaries at the beginning of which exegetes have discussed some issues of the Qur’anic sciences such as Jami‘ al-Tafasir by RaghibIsfahani, and Ala’ al-Rahman by Sheikh Muhammad JavadBalighi, Tafsir by Qurtubi, Tafsir by Ibn Kathir, Tafsir by Tabari and Tafsir Ala’ al-Rahman30.

Significant Topics Studied in Qur’anic Sciences

The following are some of the most fundamental topics in Qur’anic Sciences:

Revelation Studies focuses on the nature of revelation from the viewpoint of the Qur’an, the different types of revelation, and the relation between revelation and infallibility.

Miraculousness of the Qur’an covers issues such as different aspects of its miraculous nature in both its language and content.

Compilation of the Qur’an covers the different ways the Qur’an was descended (either gradually or at once), the order in revelation, and the way of writing the Qur’an and different recitations.

Immunity of the Qur’an studies immunity of the Qur’an from any type of distortion; it also focuses on historical evidence for the frequency of reports on the singularity of the text of the Qur’an, and answers questions raised by the believers regarding its distortion.

Principles of understanding the Qur’an includes issues such as the possibility of understanding and interpreting the Qur’an, linguistics of the Qur’an, the means and resources for interpreting the Qur’an, the way of distinguishing mubkam31 verses from mutashabih32 verses, and understanding nasikh (abrogating) and mansukh (abrogated) verses.

8-The Science of Exegesis

Qur’anic exegesis is amongst the primary Islamic sciences. Through the use of various methods, this science expounds upon the intricate meanings of the Holy Qur’an. These methods may include the use of Qur’anic verses [to shed light upon other verses], the narrations of theInfallibles (a), and the intellect33. In this sense, exegesis differs from ta’wil34.

Through the use of Arabic linguistics and the rational principles of speech and dialogue, exegesis is the study of the apparent meaning of the Qur’an. Ta’wil, on the other hand, considers the hidden aspects and meanings which otherwise cannot be ascertained using these methods35.


The history of this science is rooted in early days of Islam. The Prophet of Islam (s) is the first person, who upon the command of God, was tasked with explaining the divine verses to the masses36. After him, the Ahlul Bayt and their companions used the Qur’an and narrations left by the Prophet (s) to expound upon the verses.

In the second century, manuscripts that were translated and the influence of Roman and Iranian ideology amongst the Muslims led to the introduction of intellectual reasoning as another method of approaching Qur’anic exegesis.

The centuries that followed brought about the development of various sciences. Scholars, through the scope of their respective fields, referred to the Qur’an to expand upon the verses that discussed matters pertaining to their area of expertise. This resulted in the emersion of exegeses from perspectives such as Islamic theology (kalam), mysticism, and jurisprudence (fiqh).

The scholars’ efforts in collecting the narrations of the Infallibles (a) and the dedication of exegetes in striving to understanding Qur’anic concepts can be witnessed today in the invaluable inheritance they left for seekers of religious knowledge. Of course, benefiting from these works requires a structured course of study and comprehensive research skills.

The Most Important Methods of Exegesis

The most important methods of exegesis include:

A) Interpreting the Qur’an by the Qur’an

In this method, the exegete aims to explain the meaning of the verse by making reference to another verse. In other words, the goal is to create a connection between the two verses to display the hidden meaning of one verse by means of the other.

The most common sub-methods of this approach consist of:

a) Referring mutashabih37 verses to those which are muhkam38

b) Exegesis of absolute (mutlaq) verses in light of conditional (muqayyid)

c) Exegesis of general (am) verses in light of specific (khas) verses

d) Explaining brief (mujmal) verses through the use of those which are expressive (mubayyin) or detailed (mufassal)

e) Determining the application of a verse through the means of other verses

f) Using the context or style of the verse in exegesis

g) Considering similar verses, giving attention to opposing verses and resolving any apparent differences

h) Using other verses to determine Qur’anic expressions,

i) Selecting one meaning over others by considering different Qur’anic verses

j) Collecting abrogating (nasikh) and abrogated (mansukh) verses

The following are among the most important books in which the method of explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an has been extensively used:

Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an by ‘Allamah Tabataba’i (1321-1402 AH)

Al-Qur’an fi Tafsir al-Qur’an bi al-Qur’an by Muhammad Ñadiq Tehrani (a contemporary exegete)

Ala’ al-Rahman fi Tafsir al-Qur’an by Shaykh Muhammad Jawad Balaghi39.

B) Interpreting the Qur’an by Hadiths

The method of exegeses through narrations is one of the oldest and most common methods of Qur’anic exegesis. In this method, to interpret the meaning of the verses, the exegete makes use of the hadiths of the Prophet (s) and the Ahlul Bayt (a). The use of this method began during the time of the Prophet (s) and continued throughout the lives of the Ahlul Bayt (a) and their companions. Ultimately, these works were gathered into valuable compilations of exegesis.

In brief, the application of narrations in Qur’anic exegesis is described as follows: Interpretation of the words within a verse, applying verses to different cases, expressing the intricate details and conditions of verses pertaining to Islamic law, explaining abrogating (nasikh) andabrogated (mansukh) verses, and stating the conditions in which verses were revealed along with their inner meaning and ta’wil.

The following are the most important and renowned Shi‘a narration- based exegesis:

Tafsir al-Qummi by Ali ibn Ibrahim ibn HashimQummi (born 307 AH)

Tafsir al-‘Ayyashi by Abu Nadr Muhammad ibn ‘AyyashSamarqandi

Tafsir al-Safi by MullaMuhsinFaydKashani (1007-1091 AH)

-Al-Burhan by Sayyid HashimHusayniBahrani (born 1107 AH)

-TafsirNur al-Thaqalayn by ‘Ali ibn Jum‘ah ‘ArusiHuwayzi (born 1112 AH)

C) Intellectual Interpretation of the Qur’an

The intellectual approach to exegesis – often titled the ijtihadi approach – holds a special place amongst the methods of exegesis. In this method, intellectual reasoning in the form of logical evidence (qara’in) and proofs are used to gather verses and narrations. For example, logic dictates that when the Qur’an states, “the hand of Allah is above their hands” (48:10), what is intended is certainly not a hand as a limb with five fingers.

The clear reason is that God is not a material being who is limited in creation or capable of being annihilated. He is infinite and immortal by nature. He possesses no beginning or end in His existence. Bearing this in mind, we understand verse 48:10 to mean that the power of God is above all else.

Though the companions of the Prophet (s) and the next generation (tabi’in) held narrations pertaining to exegesis in high esteem, they also considered reflection, deliberation, and intellectual reasoning to be the foundation of understanding verses. They looked at narrations as one of the prerequisites in understanding the Qur’an. Of course, incases where narrations did not refer to the meaning of a particular verse, they used the intellect to discover the meanings of the Qur’an40.

Among the Shi‘a books of exegesis that implement the intellectual approach one may refer to:

-al-Tibyan by Shaykh al-Tusi

-Majma‘ al-Bayan by Tabarsi

-al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an by ‘Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i

9) The Science of Islamic Ethics

In the classical books of Islamic seminaries, the science of ethics (‘ilm al-akhlaq) has been presented as an independent field of study. This science addresses the positive and negative qualities pertaining to man’s self (nafs) and the actions associated with it. Furthermore, it explains how one should go about developing these positive attributes and abstaining from those that are negative in their nature. In turn, it is intended to lead a person to becoming inclined towards performing good deeds and distancing oneself from bad deeds41.

That having been said, the Islamic concept of ethics, as taught by the Qur’an and the Ahlul Bayt (a), is associated with two different meanings: One refers to the fundamental questions posed by the ethical sciences, which is commonly discussed today in the field of the philosophical ethics; the other defines ethics as a means of developing man’s qualities and traits to render him a “complete” human being.

Thus, this path seeks to discover both the theoretical and practical means through which a person can reach the highest of spiritual states42. Bearing these definitions in mind, Islamic ethics pertains to discussions within the fields of philosophical ethics, theoretical ethics, and practical ethics.

Major Characteristics of the Islamic Ethical System

The most important qualities pertaining to the field of Islamic ethics include:

A) The Close Link between Ethics and One’s World View

In Islamic ethics, ethical values influence how a person advances upon the path toward true perfection. In this system of ethics, to reach perfection lies in gaining proximity to God and recognizing His majestic Essence. This can only be achieved through servitude to Him. For this reason, Islamic ethics considers morality and purification of the self as keys to earning the highest levels of happiness. This happiness, of course, lies in gaining proximity to God and ascending to the eminent stages of humanity43.

B) Comprehensive System of Values

The Islamic system of values stands in contrast to many other systems of ethics in terms of its comprehensiveness. While many schools of thought solely limit themselves to topics concerning social ethics, Islam discusses ethical values in a number of arenas. Included in this field are topics pertaining to man’s association with his Lord, other forms of creation, himself, his family, society, and even matters pertaining to international relations. Since these various matters constitute the different aspects of man’s life, each requires special consideration44.

C) Taking into Account All Dimensions of Man

A point of criticism often made against many schools of ethics – including but not limited to emotivism, utilitarianism, conscious-centric ethics, power-centric ethics – is that they often consider only one dimension of man’s existence while ignoring other aspects. Meanwhile, Islam’s theocentric system of ethics considers the various aspects of man’s being – physical, mental and spiritual – and thus, brings into the fold all positive qualities found within these different schools.

Therefore, if someone reaches the highest stage of ethical perfection (i.e. proximity toward God), they will in turn reach an immortal existence, the purest form of everlasting pleasure, and the most complete form of strength45.

Different Methods in Islamic Ethics

Muslim scholars and experts within the field of ethics have generally adopted one of the following methodological approaches in their ethical studies46.

Philosophical Ethics

This approach is heavily influenced by the concept of middle position or moderation when approaching the matter of ethics. Immoderation is considered an undesirable moral quality. This approach studies different human faculties, along with the concepts of moderation and immoderation, as its main point of focus in all ethical discussions.

The following books have been written using this method: Tahdhib al- Akhlaq and Taharah al-A‘raq by Ibn Miskawayh, Akhlaq al-Nasiri by Khajah Nasir al-Din Tusi, and to an extent Jami’ al-Sa’adat by Muhammad Mahdi Naraqi.

The Principles of Anthropology in Philosophical Ethics

Principle One: The human soul has three distinct faculties: shahawiyyah (the faculty of desire or appetites), ghadabiyyah (the faculty of anger), and natiqiyyah (the faculty of intellect).

Principle Two: These three faculties interact with and are influenced by one another.

Principle Three: The quality that renders man distinct from other forms of creations is his awareness and ability to foster wisdom.

Principle Four: The perfection of each being is dependent on their ability to completely manifest and perfect each of their distinctive attributes. It is these attributes that separate that being from other forms of creation, thus, granting them a separate identity. A person’s ability to reach perfection also depends on this process; before attaining perfection, he must first completely manifest the trait that distinguishes him from others – that trait being the faculty of intellect47.

Mystical Ethics

This approach to ethics, which has generally been adopted by mystics, primarily focuses on the concepts of ethical development and spiritual wayfaring. In this method, striving against the desires of one’s self is considered the means of attaining ethical perfection. For an individual embarking upon this path, the various stages – leading to the ultimate goal of attaining perfection – are specified.

Mystics believe that in the same manner in which the world is comprised of a manifest reality (alam al-shahadah) and a hidden reality (alam al-ghayb), man too is a being composed of both manifest and hidden realities. They consider the hidden aspect of man’s existence capable of maturing through ten stages. When a person is born, they possess the lowest and most manifest degree of humanity – otherwise known as the animalistic self.

However, over time and as that individual develops in terms of their intellect, other aspects of their existence begin to display themselves. Mystics state that in order to acquire true perfection and prosperity, one must delve deep within the inner-most levels of their hidden self. In doing so, these stages of development can be reached through means of the potentials that exist intrinsically within man’s self.

In each stage of development, the spiritual wayfarer must meet certain requirements in order to advance further. These requirements, in addition to the basic principles of ethics, may necessitate enduring spiritual trials and tribulations along with adhering to particular rules and ethics48.

The most renowned work based on this approach within the field of Islamic ethics is the book Manazil al-Sa’irin by Khajah ‘Abdullah Ansari. This book contains 100 subjects, most of which address the topic of man’s relationship with his Lord. Meanwhile, some subjects concerned with the topic of “individual ethics” expound upon that specific topic or explain the various stages of ethics. In addition, parts of this book touch briefly upon the topic of social ethics49.

Scripture Based Ethics

This refers to works containing compilations of narrations from the Infallibles (a) concerning the topic of ethics. These books are solely collections of narrations and may, at the very most, categorize the narrations contained within based on their subject. This approach relays ethical points that have been revealed in the Qur’an and traditions of the Infallibles (a) without giving heed to the order or association between the points presented. Instead of explaining the foundations of ethical concepts or guiding one to their practical implementation, this method focuses primarily on describing ethical concepts50.

The following works have been written using this approach:

-Musadaqat al-Ikhwan by Shaykh Saduq

-Ihya’ al-‘Ulum by Muhammad Ghazali

-Mishkat al-Anwar by Tabarsi, Al-Mahajjat al-Bayda by FaydKashani

-Ghurar al-Hikam by ‘Abd al-Wahid Amudi

General Characteristics of Scripture-Based Works on Ethics

1. Islamic ethics and Islamic etiquettes and manners (adab) are discussed together.

2. The volume of these works is generally greater than those based on other schools of ethics. Furthermore, books of traditional ethics tend to cover more subjects than those written in the philosophical or gnostic approach.

3. Generally speaking, the contents of these books are not arranged using a specific method of organization. Therefore, the narrations presented on a given topic may not necessarily be uniform in their level or may not be intended for a particular audience51.

The next part of this series is on the historical origins of the most important religious seminaries in the Shi’a world.

  • 1. Ma’arif Majid, Tarikh Umumi Hadith.
  • 2. The four most important Shi’a reference books of hadiths.
  • 3. A hadith scholar and/or transmitter.
  • 4. Literary meaning: exaggerators. Referring to those exaggerating about the Imams (a)
  • 5. The principle of preservation, which suggests hiding one’s belief in case of danger, or other reasons.
  • 6. Rafi’ i Muhammadi, Nasir, Darsnameh Vaz hadith, p. 302.
  • 7. Ibid.. pp. 195-259.
  • 8. Jamshidi, Asadullah, Tarikh Hadith, p. 374
  • 9. Contains information about written works of Shi’a and also names of more than 900 Shi’a authors.
  • 10. D. 450 AH
  • 11. Shahid Thani, Al-Ri’ayah Lihal, al-Bidayah fi ‘Ilm al-Dirayah, p. 51.
  • 12. D. 673 AH
  • 13. D. 726 AH
  • 14. Tarikh Hadith, pp. 390-392.
  • 15. Rabbani, Mohammad Hasan, Danesh Dirayah al-Hadith, p. 98
  • 16. 911-965 AH
  • 17. 935-1030 AH
  • 18. d. 1111 AH
  • 19. d. 1070 AH
  • 20. 907-1085 AH
  • 21. d. 460 AH
  • 22. Rabbani, Mohammad Hasan, Ibid, pp. 13-14.
  • 23. Those ayahs which bring a new rule over a previous rule.
  • 24. The ayahs, rule of which have been abrogated by other ayahs.
  • 25. CF. Eskandarloo, Mohammad Javad, Ulum Qur’ani (excerpting from speech scripts of Ayatullah Ma’rifat’s classes), p. 12.
  • 26. Abrogation of a rule by bringing a new rule over a previous rule in a later descended ayah.
  • 27. Zarkashi, Mohammad ibn Bahadur, Al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, vol. 2, p. 87.
  • 28. Javan Arasteh, Husayn, Darsnameh Ulum Qur’ani, p. 32.
  • 29. d. 911 AH
  • 30. Ibid.. p. 22.
  • 31. Verses having explicit meaning
  • 32. Verses having implicit meaning
  • 33. Ridayi Isfahani, Mohammad Ali, Methods and Directions of Qur’anic Exegesis.
  • 34. Derived from the root word ‘awwala’, the word ta’wil literally means to ‘explain’ or ‘interpret’. As an expression, it is defined as the skill used in expounding upon the inner and concealed meanings of the Qur’an.
  • 35. Rajabi, Mahmud, The Method of Qur’anic Exegesis, Page 20.
  • 36. “…{and sent them} with manifest proofs and scriptures. We have sent down the reminder to you so that you may clarify for the people that which has been sent down to them, so that they may reflect.” Chapter Nahl, Verse 44.
  • 37. These are the verses which can possess many meanings according to the rules of the Arabic language. Therefore, assigning meanings to these verses requires thorough thinking so that an appropriate understanding is derived from them.
  • 38. These are the verses which possess only one meaning according to the rules of the Arabic language. Therefore, the meanings of these verses are clearly known.
  • 39. Born in 1352 AH.
  • 40. Amid Zanjani, Abbas Ali, The Foundations and Methods of Qur’anic Exegesis, p. 331.
  • 41. Tusi, Khajah Nasir al-Din, Ethics of Nasir, Page 48.
  • 42. Ahmad Daylami and Mas’ud Adhar Bayjani, Islamic Ethics (second edition), p. 26.
  • 43. Misbah Yazdi, Ethics in the Qur’an, Research and Composition: Mohammad Husayn Iskandari, Page 95.
  • 44. Misbah Yazdi, Mohammad Taqi, Critique and Assessment of Ethical Schools, Research and Compostion: Ahmad Husayn Sharifi, Page 352.
  • 45. Ibid.. p. 354.
  • 46. Ahmad Daylami and Mas’ud Adhar Bayjani, Islamic Ethics (second edition), pp. 22-25.
  • 47. Mahdi Ahmad poor and Others, the Book of Understanding Islamic Ethics, Page 30.
  • 48. Ibid.. p. 45.
  • 49. Ibid.. pp. 198-199.
  • 50. Ahmad Daylami and Mas‘ud Àdhar bayjani, Islamic Ethics (second edition), pp. 22-25.
  • 51. Ibid.. p. 57.