Shi’a Authorities in the Age of the Major Occultation Part 4: Sheikh Tusi

Ali Naghi Zabihzadeh
Translated by Marzieh Ahmadi


Sheikh Tusi, known as Sheikh al-Ta'ifah, was a renowned Shi'a scholar recognized for his hadith compilations Tahdhib al-Ahkam and al-Istibsar, two of the four major works of Shi'a Islamic traditions.

Having closely studied under and associated with prominent Shi'a leaders and scholars such as Sheikh al-Mufid and Sharif al- Murtadha, Sheikh Tusi became the leading spokesperson of Shi'ism, one of his greatest roles being the founder of the Seminary of Najaf, which marked the city of Najaf as the leading centre of Shi'a scholarship.

This article studies the status, jurisprudential initiative, and religious authority of Sheikh Tusi, including a list of his teachers, students, and works on subjects such as hadith, exegesis, jurisprudence, supplication, and theology, and a description of the political situation during his time.


Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Hasan Tusi, known as "Sheikh al-Ta'ifah," is one of the brightest luminaries of the Islamic world. The period he lived was the peak of Shi'a Islamic scholarship which began with the authors of the four major Shi'a hadith collections: Sheikh al-Kulayni (Al-Kafi), Shaikh al-Saduq (Man la Yahduruh al-Faqih), and the last two (Tahdhib and al-Istibsar) compiled by Sheikh Tusi. He also has written books on various subjects of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), principles of jurisprudence (Usul), hadith, exegesis of the Qur'an (Tafsir), Islamic theology (Kalam), and genealogies of hadith narration (Rijal).

Sheikh Tusi was born in 385 AH. When he was 23, he migrated to Baghdad in 408 AH where and entered the centre of Islamic culture and sciences of Baghdad and wound up spending the rest of his life in Iraq.

After his arrival in Baghdad, Sheikh Tusi studied under Sheikh Mufid for five years. He continued his education during the leadership of Sayyid Murtadha,1 and in 436 AH after Sayyid Murtadha passed away, he spent the rest of his life - 24 years - as a leader of the Shi'a.

After Sayyid Murtadha passed away, he stayed in Baghdad for twelve more years; and when the Seljuks attacked in 448 A.H causing a series of disturbances as his house was pillaged and destroyed, he left for Najaf where he established a centre for theological studies.2


Sheikh Tusi was taught by Sheikh Mufid in the last 5 years of his life. When Sheikh Mufid passed away, Sheikh Tusi studied under Sayyid Murtadha Alam al-Huda at the age of 28 and was on his special attention. He took benefit of his profitable presence for 23 years. Although, he did not need to refer to Sayyid Murtadha in hadith and mentioned him less in the chain of transmission of hadith but on the subjects of Qur'an exegesis, lexicology, Kalam, Literary Studies, Fiqh and Usul, he studied under the Sayyid and quoted his ideas in his words in "'Uddah al-Usul" and in some cases critiqued his ideas.

At the time of Sayyid Murtadha's life, Sheikh Tusi wrote some books such as Tahdhib, Istibsar (among the Four Major References of Shi'a) and al-Nihayah, al-Mafsah fi al-Imamah, Rijal and a part of "al-Fihrist". He also wrote a summary of "al-Shafi" (about imamate) which was originally written by Sayyid Murtadha. Sheikh Tusi finished writing his summary 4 years before Sayyid Murtadha passed away in 432 AH.


The most famous students of Sheikh Tusi are: 1. Sheikh Abu 'Ali, the son of Sheikh Tusi; 2. Abu al-Salap Halabi, Taqi Najm al-Din; 3. Abu al-Fath Karachaki; 4. Sheikh Sulayman ibn Hasan Sahrushti; 5. The judge, Ibn Barraj 'Abd al - 'Aziz Tirablusi Shami; 6. Adam ibn Yunus ibn Abi al-Muhajir Nasafi; 7. Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Husayn ibn Ahmad Neyshaburi Khuza'i Razi;

8. Abu Muhammad 'Abd al-Rapman; 9 & 10. Abu Ibrahim Isma'il and Abu Talib Ispaq, sons of Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn Husayn ibn Babiwayah Quml; 11. Abu al-Khayr Barkah ibn Muhammad ibn Barkah Asadi; 12. Shams al-Islam Abu Muhammad Hasan ibn Husayn ibn 'All ibn Babiwayah Qumi;

13. Abu Muhammad Hasan ibn Abd al-'Aziz ibn Muhsin Jahani; 14. Muhyi al-Din Abu 'Abdullah Husayn Muzafar ibn Ali Hamdani Nazil Qazwin; 15. Sayyid Abu al-Samsam Dhul-Faqar ibn Muhammad ibn Mu'id al-Husayni Marwzi; 16. Sayyid Abu Muhammad Zayd ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn Husayni;

17. Sayyid Zayn al-Din, son of Da'i Husayni who was a knowledgeable and erudite man; 18. Muhaddith ibn Shahr Ashub; 19. Sa'id ibn Rabi'ah ibn Abi Ghanim; 20. Sheikh Aba Salt ibn 'Abd al- Qadir who was a righteous jurist and has commentary on Sheikh's works; 21. Sheikh Abu al-Wafa 'Abd al-Jabbar ibn Abdullah ibn Ali Muqiri Razi; 22. Sheikh Abd al-Jabbar ibn Ali ibn Neyshaburi; 23. Sheikh Ali ibn Abdussamad Tamimi; 24. Emir, Ghazl ibn Ahmad ibn Abi Mansur Samani, et al.3


The works of Sheikh Tusi, whether in form of books or treatises, are more than forty-five volumes addressing nine subjects: 1. Hadith and narrations; 2. Rijal, translations and listings; 3. Qur'an exegesis; 4. Fiqh;

5. Usul; 6. Kalam; 7. Supplications and practices; 8. History and records of martyrdom; 9. Collections of responses to the questions in various subjects which were asked from him by people from near and far lands and this indicates his great prominence and authority.

Sheikh Tusi was an eminent hadith scholar, and his book "Tahdhib al- Ahkam wa Istibsar" (among the Four Books4) manifested that.


Mabsut is the first book in Shi'a demonstrative jurisprudence (al-Fiqh al-Istidlali) that the jurisprudential principles benefitting from reason and religion. Al-Nihayah - written before Mabsut - was according with the method of previous jurisprudents in traditional fiqh, where it simplified the duties of Muslims. Before Mabsut, the contents of Shi'a jurisprudential books generally consisted of only jurisprudence and addressed mostly the subjects which were directly received from Imams.

Before Mabsut, Shi'a jurisprudents considered it necessary to use the exact writing and rulings received from the Imam; therefore, jurisprudents of other sects objected and did not deem the Shi'a as researchers.

In the preface of Mabsut, Sheikh Tusi describes how and why he wrote it:

I frequently hear that among jurisprudents, those who denied the authority of guardianship (wilayah) have underestimated Shi'a fiqh and believe that it did not delve into secondary topics; moreover, Shi'a jurisprudents spoke in exaggerative and paradoxical ways. Those who say this cannot expand and add to major topics in Usul because they refuse ijtihad and qiyas,5 the two ways to add to the topics.

The roots lie in their lack of knowledge about our faith and our Usul. If they thought about our hadiths and fiqh, they had soon learned that more of the subjects mentioned by them exist in our traditions and its ruling is mentioned in general or in particular. Explicitly or implicitly by our Imams whose words are as valuable and as authentic as the Prophet's. Those whose books are predominantly on secondary topics6 should know that they cannot find any unless their rulings exist according with our Usul. Not through analogy, rather in a way that brings certainty and thus one must act accordingly. The way of reaching the truth is open for us and we might act according with this and the rule of clearance from obligation 7and the like.

Most secondary topics lay in general principles written by Shi'a jurisprudents, and the solution to them is simple. But the matter is that they have become somehow complicated due to performing some rules and applying scientific techniques.

Since long ago, I wanted to write a book only on secondary topics though there were obstacles that prevented me to do so. The Shi'a's reluctance caused me frustration and prevented me from initiating it. They did not heed to secondary topics and stuck to the literal meaning of the hadiths.

They would become surprised if a ruling for an issue was expressed with different words than the exact words in hadiths, and they were not able to understand the meaning.

In Al-Nihayah, I promised to write a book on secondary topics as an additional supplement so that it be completed in the all subjects, whether in usul or secondary topics; but I changed my mind and decided to write a separate book on all jurisprudential books.

The books on fiqh written by jurisprudents are about 80 titles so far. I decided to give information about each book in brief and write a book consisting of fiqh without prayers and recommended rituals, to go chapter by chapter in a way that the same subjects lie in a special part and go ahead in topics as deep as possible, to mention all secondary topics issued by other jurisprudents; then I would mention my ideas according with Shi'a principles.

If the rule about an issue is clear, I will simply write the ruling (Fatwa) and if it is complicated, I will refer to the reasons to make it clear for non-emulating observers. If the jurisprudents have difference of opinions in a subject or in its details and each one express their own judicial opinion,

I will mention all opinions and make the root of those disagreements clear; then I will choose and introduce the true opinion and bring a reason except the judicial reasoning acquired through analogy. If I mention similarities between an issue with another, my goal is to give an example not mentioning the differences of them in ruling. In that book, I would not bring the names of opposing jurisprudents lest the book becomes lengthy.

I mentioned their names in the book ''Masa'il al- Khilaf'' in detail.

If the matter is so that none of jurisprudential opinions has any preference, and all of them have the same justification, I would stop further investigation and thus, in practice I will authorize the responsible to choose between them. If I can easily finish this book by the help of God, it will be a unique book among the books of our friends and the books of others.

I have not seen any book by jurisprudents which include all the issues in Usul and secondary topics.8

Regarding Mabsut, Martyr Mutahari said:

It seems that Mabsut is the first jurisprudential book that brought up secondary topics and derived their rulings from Usul. The words of Sheikh in Mabsut show that in the time of Sheikh Tusi, the Shi'a experienced a period of inactivity in fiqh.

Sheikh Tusi understood that a development in fiqh and ijtihad was needed and achieving it would not be possible without taking steps against some customs; therefore, he displayed courage, a trait exclusive to noble ones like him, to write Mabsut and thus, fiqh and ijtihad entered a new stage.

Thus, Sheikh Tusi confirmed that a) he was fully aware of the needs of his time, b) he had a divine bounty of literary and rational bravery, c) he confirmed that ijtihad, new topics and responding to them cannot provide an excuse to present Islamic jurisprudence as incomplete and resort to analogy.

Rather, we can answer to secondary topics through general Islamic principles and Usul. The art of Sheikh Tusi was that was he neither rigid in answering to the needs of his time, nor was he reckless by offering personal ideas into Islamic legislation. He did what Islam expects of real scholars of the ummah.9


Sheikh Tusi continued the period of Shi'a Islamic scholarship with his Tadhdhib al-Ahkam fi Sharh al-Muqni', a commentary to al-Muqni'a and the third of the four-major works of Shi'a Islamic traditions.

His books on hadith

1. Tahdhib al-Ahkam, one of the four major works of Shi'a traditions, a source used by Shi'a scholars to refer to Islamic rulings. It consists of 23 chapters, the first of which is on Taharat (purity) and the last of which diyyat. In the introduction, Sheikh Tusi writes that he first wrote it as a commentary of Muqni'ah written by his teacher, Sheikh Mufid. The chapter Taharat and the early part of Salat was written during Sheikh Mufid's life. At that time, Sheikh Tusi was 25 or 26 years old; the rest of the book was written after the death of Sheikh Mufid;

2. Al-Istibsar:10 The last of the four major Shi'a works of tradition. Arranged in 3 sections, two sections are on Acts of Worship (Ibadat) and the third section on other issues in fiqh. It includes the whole book of Tahdhib; the only difference is that this book smaller in size and has only some of the hadiths collected in Tahdhib. Tahdhib consists of all conflicting and agreeing traditions together;

3. Amali consists of 18 sections and 27 chapters. His son, Abu Ali Tusi, wrote the 18 sections for his students in 509 A.H. Abu 'Ali Tusi wrote the 18 chapters for his students in 509 AH and since the traditionists used to mention the name of the traditionalist author in the beginning of the book therefore the book including these 18 chapters are known as Abu 'Ali Tusi's Amali.

His books on Rijal

1. Ikhtiyar Rijal, originally known as Rijal Kashi. Since it needed re- organization, Sheikh Tusi revised it and titled it Ikhtiyar al-Rijal. According with Allamah Nuri, at the end of Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, what is available and known as Rijal Kashi is the same Shaykh Tusi's book, Ikhtiyar al-Rijal;

2. Rijal Tusi, in which 8900 names of companions of the Prophet, Imams, and other traditionists during both the minor and major occultation until the time of Sheikh Tusi are listed in alphabetical order.

The primary aim in writing this book was to mention and categorize the numbers of traditionists rather than praising, criticizing, or modifying their sayings;

3. Al-Fihrist an introduction to a plethora of books and Usul and consists of more than 900 names of Shi'a authors and their teachers.

Books on Tafsir

1. Al-Tibyan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, one of his greatest books; 2. Al-Masa'il al-Damishqiyyah, which consisted of 12 issues on Qur'anic exegesis, mentioned in al-Fihrist and al-Masa'il al-Rajabiyyah.

His books on fiqh

1. Al-Nihayah fi Mujarrad al-Fiqh wa al-Fatwa, a series of authentic traditions; 2. Al-Mabsut fl al-Fiqh, a book on jurisprudence consisting of almost 80 chapters on all subjects in fiqh; and one of the top Shi'a jurisprudential references written with a jurisprudent approach, including opened discussion, research, and ijtihad in various secondary topics;

3. Al-Jumal wa al-'Uqud fi al-'Ibadat, a reply to a student's demand, about the subject of purity (Tahara) to enjoining good and forbidding evil (Amr bil ma'roof wa al-nahy an il-munkar);

4. Al-khilaf fl al-Ahkam also known as Masa'il al-Khilaf, compiled in similar order to jurisprudential books regarding controversial issues between the Shi'a and Sunni, mentioned from the beginning of the chapter "Purity" (Taharat) to the end of Ummahat al-Awlad. He then offers his own analysis and quotes public opinion. He ends it with his reason for arriving at his conclusion according with Shi'a doctrine;

5. Al-Ijaz fi al-Fara'iz, in which Sheikh briefly mentions some obligations that the author of Al-Dhuriyah mentioned in his book;

6. Manasik al-Haj fl Mujarrad al-'Amal mentioned in Al-Fihrist; 7. Al-Masa'il al-Halablyyah fl al-Fiqh; 8. Al-Masa'il al-Junbala'iyyah, a book on fiqh consisting of 24 subjects; 9. Al-Masa'il al-Ha'iriyyah fi al-Fiqh covering about 300 jurisprudential issues; 10. Mas'alah fi Wujub al-Jizyah 'Ala al-Yahud wa al-Muntamin Ila al-Jababirah; 11. Mas'alah fi Taprim al-Fuqqa mentioned in al-Fihrist.

His books on Usul

1. Al-'Udduh fi al-Usul: he wrote it after Istibsar and Tahdhib in the time of his teacher, Sayyid Murtadha - May God have mercy upon him. - And it can be understood from its introduction that he wrote it as a response to the demand of his students; 2. Mas'aiah fi al-'Amal bi Khabar al-Wahid mentioned in his al-Fihrist.

His books on kalam

1.Talkhis al-Shafi, a summary of Sayyid Murtadha's al-Shafi written in response to 'Abd al-Jabbar Mu'tazili's Mughni on Imamat; 2. Tamhid al- Usul: written as an explanation of the Usul section of Sayyid Murtadha's Jumai al-'Ilm wa al-'Amal; 3. Al-Iqtisad al-Hadi Ila Tariq al-Irshad, a concise account on the principles of the beliefs and acts according with the Islamic law;

4. Al-Mufsah fi al-Imamah, a book on Imamate, the manuscript of which remains until today; 5. Ma la Yasa' al-Mukallaf al- Ikhlal Bih, written on Kalam; 6. Ma Yu'llal wa ma la Yu'alal, a book on Kalam; 7. Muqadamah fl al-Madkhal ila 'Ilm al-Kalam, mentioned in Al-Fihrist; 8. Riyadhat al-'Uqul: an explanation of his previous Muqaddimah fi al-Madkhai, although it is lost; 9. Usul al-'Aqayid, his unfinished book, the name of which is mentioned in Al-Fihrist and discussed "Monotheisim" (Tawhid) and briefly "Justice" ('Adi); 10. The explanation to al-Sharp fi al-Usul; 11. Al-Ghaybah: written on the absence of Imam Mahdi; 12. Mas'alah fi al-Usul, mentioned in his al- Fihrist;

13. Al-Farq bayn al-Nabi wa al-Imam or al-Masa'il fi al-Farq bayn an-Nabi wa al-Imam mentioned in al-Fihrist; 14. Al-Masa'il al- Raziyah, consisting of responses to 15 questions from the people of Rey, Iran; 15. Al-Naqdh 'ala ibn Shadhan fi Mas'alah al-Ghar, mentioned in his al-Fihrist; 16. Masa'il Usul al-Din or Masa'ilal-Tusi, a brief text on beliefs.

His books on Dua

His books on Dua:11

1. Misbah al-Mutahajjid fi A'mal al-Sanah in rituals and supplications of one year; 2. Mukhtasar al-Misbah fi al-Ad'iyah wa al- ‘Ibadat or al- Misbah al-Saghir - a summary of the previous book; 3. Mukhtasar fi 'Amal Yaum wa Laylah fi al-'Ibadat or Yaum wa Laylah: on daily prayers and their additional deeds; 4. Uns al-Wahid; 5. Hidayah al- Mustarshid wa Basirah al-Mutu 'abbid fi al-Ad'iyah wa al-'Ibadat.

His history books

1. Mukhtasar Akhbar al-Mukhtar ibn Abi 'Ubaydah al-Thaqafi or Akhbar al-Mukhtar;

2. Maqtal al-Husayn.

His books on answering questions

1. Al-Masa'il al-Qumiyyah or Jawabat al-Masa'il al-Qumiyyah, consisting of answers to the questions of people of Qum, Iran; 2. Masa'il ibn al-Barraj, mentioned in his al-Fihrist; 3. al-Masa'il al-Ilyasiyyah, covering 100 issues in various fields, and mentioned in al-Fihrist.12

Socio-political situation

The fall of the Buyids

Adud ad-Dawla was the most powerful Shi'a emir of the Buyids who occupied Baghdad after killing his cousin, 'Adud ad-Dawla, the son of Mu'izz ad-Dawla, and expanded his territory to Damascus while simultaneously taking control of Halab (Aleppo) whose governor was Sa'd ad-Dawla, the son of Sayf al-Dawla Hamdani.13

Abu Mansur Iftakin, the Turk ruler of Damascus, who was previously under the command of Mu'iz al-Dawla, also succumbed to 'Adud ad-Dawla.14

Before the Fatimids, the governor of Egypt, Anujuy, the son of Akhshid, had close consultation with Mu'iz al-Dawla. In the time of Fatimids, al- 'Aziz, Fatimid's caliph, sent some letters to 'Adud al-Dawla to strengthen his relation with him;15 but gradually the Buyids were involved in disputes and enmity and were thus weakened.

In 369, 'Adud ad-Dawla attacked his brother Fakhr al-Dawla who was appointed as the governor of Hamadan and Rey by his father and accused him of coalition with 'Izz al-Dawla. He ran away from Hamadan and took refuge before one of Ziyarid's emirs, Qabus ibn Wushmgir. 'Adud ad-Dawla deputed Hamadan and Rey to his other brother, Mu'ayyid al-Dawla.

In 371, because Qabus (Ziyari) refused to hand over Fakhr al-Dawla to 'Adud al-Dawla, he attacked Gorgan and occupied it. Both Qabus and Fakhr al-Dawla escaped to Khurasan. Finally, in 372, 'Adud al-Dawla passed away from epilepsy in Baghdad when he was 47. He was buried in Najaf.16

Sharaf al-Dawla17 got ahead of his brother Abu Kalijar18 who was in Baghdad and after his father took reign of Shiraz. A year after 'Adud al- Dawla passed away, when his brother Mu'ayyid al-Dawla passed away in Rey, Sahib ibn 'Ubbad called Fakhr al-Dawla from Khurasan and appointed him as the governor of Rey after Mu'ayyid al-Dawla. Both the caliph and Samsam al-Dawla confirmed Fakhr al-Dawla's office.

At that time, Adud al-Dawla's five sons disputed over the succession of their father. That time, their uncle Fakhr al-Dawla did not have much political influence; therefore, each one settled in a region to counterbalance each other. However, Sharaf al-Dawla attacked Baghdad and imprisoned Samsam al-Dawla in a castle in Fars and took its control. He passed away in 379 AH.

In 380 AH, after Sharaf al-Dawla passed away, Baha' al-Dawla compromised with Samsam al-Dawla who seized Fars and Bihbahan, while Baha' al-Dawla ruled over Khuzistan and Arabian part of Iraq. After Samsam al-Dawla was killed in 388 AH, Baha' al-Dawla occupied that territory as well. He passed away in 403 AH.

Afterwards, Sultan al-Dawla19 succeeded his father and ruled Baghdad and Fars. In 407 AH, his brother Abu al-Fawaras rebelled against him and occupied Shiraz, though he could not resist and so asked for Sultan Mahmud Ghaznawi's assistance and occupied Kirman and Fars with the support of the Ghaznavid army. However, Sultan al-Dawla was recaptured there.

In 411 AH, the army rebelled against Sultan al-Dawla in Baghdad and made Abu 'All Mushrif al-Dawla, the younger brother of Sultan al- Dawla, the governor of Baghdad. He ruled in Fars, a part of Khuzistan and Kirman, for 3 years, and then passed away in 415 AH. His son Abu Kalijar Marzban succeeded him and ruled from 440 until 450 AH.

Finally, in 417 AH, after a series of campaigns, Sultan al-Dawla settled in Shiraz; due to these battles, he could not go to Baghdad, where the city was emptied of emirs for some time.

The situation did not change for 2 years, while some people were supporters of Abu Kalijar and a group supported Jalal al-Dawla.20 Finally, in 418 AH, Jalal al-Dawla captured Baghdad and formally became its governor. But the hostilities resumed between the Daylamite and Turkish army until the Turks rebelled against al-Malik al-'Aziz Abu Mansur, the son of Jalal al-Dawla in Basra in 419 AH and called for the help of Abu Kalijar who was unconcerned about Kirman at that time.

But in 420 AH, when Abu Kalijar attacked Wasit, Jalal al-Dawla severely defeated him and seized Ahwaz; in the next year, he defeated him and occupied Basra. These civil wars continued between the two Daylamite Emirs until 428 AH.

Finally, Jalal al-Dawla passed away in Baghdad in 435 and Abu Kalijar captured Iraq, Khuzistan, and Fars. His rule continued until 440 AH. Towards the end of his ruling, he fought with the Seljuk governors when the Seljuks ruled most of Iran and occupied many Buyid territories.

Abu Kalijar was compelled to make peace between the Seljuk Toghrul in 439 AH, and thus he married his daughter to Toghrul21 and his son, Abu Mansur to the daughter of Jughri Biyk, the brother of Toghrul. Since then, the Iraqi Daylamites were supported by the Seljuks.

Toghrul knew it is not easy to annihilate the Daylamites, and so he made unity with them and ordered to his commander, Ibrahim Yanal Tikin, to end the occupation of the Daylamite regions. Thus, Abu Kalijar ruled Baghdad for 4 years and 3 months after Jalal al-Dawla passed away in Kerman in 440 AH.22

The people then pledged allegiance to his son Abu Nasr Khusro Firuz, nicknamed Malik Rahim.23 But Abu Kalijar had six sons, each of whom claimed the crown, and sped up the decline of the Buyids.

For example, in 443 AH, Malik Rahim conquered Istakhr and Shiraz, and his brother Fulad Sutun asked Seljuk Toghrul's assistance. Toghrul sent an army from Isfahan to help him. Fulad Sutun severely defeated Malik Rahim in Ahwaz, and in 447 AH, Seljuk Toghrul arrived in Baghdad, and Malik Rahim was taken captive by him. The caliph then ordered to give a speech in the name of Toghrul, rendering Malik Rahim the last Iraqi Daylamite.24

In 447 AH, Toghrul, the founder of Seljuk dynasty, came from Rey to Hamadan; in the same year, he went to Baghdad with the intention of meeting the caliph, Qa'im. Malik Rahim attempted to stop him though he failed.

Since a group of the officials of the caliph were adherents of Toghrul in heart and, Arsalan Basasiri, the commander of the Turkish army, stood against the caliph since 446 AH and communicated with the Fatimid caliph, Mustansir, in secret, the caliph ordered to give speech in the name of Toghrul25 after his arrival in Baghdad in 447 AH.

This way, the Buyid dynasty, who was dominated by Baghdad during the rule of Mu'iz al-Dawla, collapsed in 447 AH. In 448 AH, the family relations between the Seljuks and Abbasids strengthened after the caliph married Dawud's daughter.

Finally, with the foundation of the Sunni Turkish Seljuk dynasty, the power and influence of the Turks increased since the stabilization of the caliphate of Mu'tasam. The expansion of the Seljuk territory and the domination on the lands that had been independent greatly influenced the promotion of formal ruling and the apparent position of the caliphs, although the caliphs were pawns in the hands of the Emirs.

Qa'im 'Abbasi passed away after 44 years of caliphate in 467 AH. He was contemporary with several Ghaznavid and Seljuk kings such as: Sultan Mas'ud Ghaznawi (432-442 AH); Sultan Muhammad (421); 'Abd al-Rashid (441-444 AH); Mawdud (432-441 AH); 'Ali ibn Mas'ud (417 AH); Ibrahim Ghaznawi (451-452 AH); the first Toghrul, the founder of Seljuk dynasty (429-455 AH); Alp Arslan (455-465 AH) and Malikshah (465-485 AH).26

Migration to Najaf

The Shi'a leadership in Baghdad - despite the competition between the populous Hanbalites and Shi'as at the time of Sheikh Mufid, Sayyid Murtadha and a part of Sheikh Tusi's life - was not only due to the Buyids' rule in western Iran or the Mesopotamia, but it also was because of the authority of Shi'ites of Damascus, Hejaz, and Yemen.

The Fatimid caliphs in Egypt, Emirs of Bani 'Amar in Tripoli and Damascus, and Zaydi Imams in Yemen were known as a manifestation of Shi'a power at that time. Although Egyptian Fatimid’s and Yemeni Zaydis had differences of opinion with the Shi'as of Tripoli and Baghdad, their general agreement on religion and their belief on the Abbasids' power was stronger than their differences of opinion. Moreover, their opposition with the Umayyad and Abbasid governments strengthened their unity, which forced the Abbasids to have weak reaction against the Shi'as. Conversely, apart from some differences of opinion in kalam, Shi'a scholars maintained their unity and this provided an opportunity for them:

until the time of the Buyid dynasty in Baghdad, they could teach and debate on Shi'a kalam, fiqh, and usul conveniently and write major works that were accepted by both friends and enemies. Shi'a scholars in Tripoli were especially dedicated to Sheikh Tusi in fiqh through his student, Ibn Barraj.

Following the Hamdanids in Halab, they were the inheritors of the early Shi'a. In publication and preservation of books, they established the largest library in the world. However, one million and 300 thousand manuscripts were eventually burnt down after the arrival of the Crusaders.27

It was an event that after a century, made the unknown 'Abd al-Latif Baghdadi to create the story of firing of the Alexandria library by the hands of the earlier Muslims without any reference to the reports of the earlier Islamic and Christian historians who wrote about the capture of Egypt, and because of being recent, it became popular and spread in Europe through Tarikh ibn 'Ibri 'Isawi which hid the true event of the firing of the Shi'a Al-e 'Amar library in Tripoli by focusing on the false story of firing the library of Alexandria.28

Sheikh Tusi had scientific and spiritual leadership in Baghdad for 12 years after Sayyid Murtadha passed away. Iraqi, Damascan, and Iranian Shi'as accepted his religious authority and the scholars received responses for their questions.

Since al-Qa'im bi Amrillah and Toghrul Beg Seljuki (a bigoted Sunnite) conspired against Basasiri at the time of Sheikh Tusi in 447 AH, the harsh treatment against the Shi'a increased. Because the enemies of Shi'ism were free from the Buyid rule, it provided an opportunity for them to relieve their inferiority against Shi'as and the influence of Shi'a scholars during the previous century.

With the arrival of Toghrul in Baghdad, the Shi'as in Karkh were forbidden to say the phrase "Hasten toward best of action"29 in the call to prayer (Adhan) and instead were required to say "Prayer is better than sleep"30 as Sunnis recited in the morning call to prayer.

Moreover, they destroyed all Shi'a mottos and epigraphs such as ''Muhammad wa 'Ali, Khayr al-Bashar" ("Muhammad and Ali are the best of people") written on the walls and gates of Karkh. Then Sunni eulogists entered Karkh and loudly sang poems in the praise of the caliphs. By the order of Ibn Salamah, the first supreme chief, Abu Abdullah Julab, the chief of the drapers of Karkh, was hung at the doorstep of his store with the charge of exaggerating about Shi'as. Sheikh Tusi hid himself, but his home was plundered.31

Following the tragic events which took place for the Shi'as in Karkh, the Sheikh had to leave. Those events happened on the months of Muharram and Safar, when the Shi'as mourn for the martyrs of Karbala and for the oppression of Imam Husayn.

According with Ibn Jawzi32 a series of bloody events took place at the times of the authority of Sheikh Mufid, Sayyid Murtadha, and Sheikh Tusi in 408 AH, in the month of Muharram,33 in Ashura,34 and in the month of Safar35 in which many were injured or killed, and the shops, houses, and possessions of the Shi'as were plundered, but owing to the presence of the Shi'a Buyid monarchs, these brawls were pacified.

In 447 and 448 AH, after the fall of the Buyids and the emergence of the Seljuks, the Sunnis of Baghdad rebelled against the Shi'a altogether and plundered and burned the house of Sheikh Tusi, and thus Sheikh Tusi left forever.

In their last attack on the Shi'as in Karkh, they rushed to the house of the Sheikh and when they did not find him, they plundered his possessions and burned his books; and his teacher chair which was brought to Karkh in 449 AH was accompanied by three flags carried by the Shi'as during pilgrimage of Imam 'All.36

The migration of Sheikh was very short in time, because in the next year when the power of Basasiri37 increased and in the absence of Toghrul while ruling Baghdad he was ineffective, the Shi'as seized the opportunity to take revenge on their opponents for the attacks in Karkh. But very soon Seljuk Toghrul returned to Baghdad. Basasiri ran away and later was killed, and Baghdad was occupied by the followers of the 'Abbasids. The public attacks to Karkh restarted; more houses and public places were plundered and the smoke of fire filled the entire city.

In 450 or 451 AH, the Shahpur ibn Ardishir library was burned down. Shahpur ibn Ardishir, a determined scholar, was the minister of Baha al- Dawla, son of Adud al-Dawla.38 The library included 10,400 volumes of unique and valuable books39 which were hand-written copies of the books from Iran, Rome, China, India, and Iraq by the order of Shahpur ibn Ardishir.40

Sheikh Tusi taught the largest community in Baghdad. Some Sunni scholars were not pleased by this and were jealous of him; therefore, they attempted several times to push him aside by slandering him.

For instance, once they complained to the caliph that Sheikh Tusi had cursed the early caliphs in his book. The caliph ordered to call him to the royal court and they took Sheikh Tusi's Masabih which included Ziyarat Ashura as evidence to the presence of the caliph.

But the Sheikh offered reasonable analyses of the phrases in Ziyarat Ashura, and the caliph was pleased by them and eventually freed him.41 However, their jealousy did not cease as the Sheikh's house was burned down once again.

Moreover, parts of the conflicts were directly connected to the Sheikh's family and teachers. Even after his arrival to Baghdad, Sheikh Mufid was exiled from the city in 392 AH.42 Not only did this not affect his writing career, but all his works and books manifested a calm spirit and a firm will, similar with his impartial debates on controversial issues among Muslim's sects.

In the beginning of his Al-Ghaybah in 447 AH, regarding the crises in Baghdad and his migration to Najaf, Sheikh Tusi wrote:

"[. At this time, which is 447 AH.] I accepted his request and despite the lack of time, disturbed minds, events and obstacles, I wrote what he wanted."43 Although these phrases indicate the difficulties he faced, in that situation he wrote the valuable Al-Ghaybah one of the most useful references on the crises until today.

Following the migration of Sheikh, the Shi'a scientific centre and community of Baghdad must have been scattered and other scholars must have fled to secure places or stayed in Baghdad in an anonymity and solitude.

Najashi,44 contemporary with Sheikh Tusi, left to Matir Abad, Samarra and passed away there in 450 AH. Following the arrival of Toghrul Beg many scientific and cultural works and heritage of the Shi'a in Baghdad were destroyed. In this period, the Nizamiyyah of Baghdad was established for Shafi'i jurisprudents by Nizam al-Mulk, a minister in the time of Seljuk Alp Arslan in 457 AH, 9 years after the migration of Sheikh Tusi.45

Founder of the School of Najaf

During this time, the people were not able to visit the shrines or freely do their rituals; the shrines of Najaf no longer crowded like the time of the Daylamites.

Although Sheikh Tusi was an eminent scholar in the Islamic world, because he was Iranian, there were those in in Iraq who saw him as a stranger, and to exercise beneficent influence on the society, he went to Najaf.

Apparently, Najaf was not a city at that time and only some pilgrims and Shi'as lived around the Holy Shrine of Imam 'All. In the time of the Daylamite monarchs such as Mu'izz al-Dawla, 'Adud al- Dawla, Baha' al-Dawla, their ministers, and Shi'a nobility in that dynasty, the condition of Najaf improved and precious objects were endowed to the shrine of Imam 'Ali.

However, when the Sheikh arrived in Najaf, the city was not the same as it was at the time of the Buyids and there were less pilgrims. The Sheikh lived for about 12 years during the closing years of his life in Najaf.

After his migration, some of his students came to Najaf as well. Gradually, some Shi'as migrated to Najaf as well because in the end of the Sheikh's life and after he passed away, his son Sheikh Abu 'All Tusi known as Mufid al-Thani [or the second Mufid] and his grandson, Abu al-Hasan Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad (d. 540 AH) were the authorities in Najaf. Najaf was then a scientific centre and a hub for scholars. It flourished with the presence of Sheikh Tusi as he was the founder of the nine-hundred-year old seminary of Najaf.46

The demise of Sheikh Tusi

Sheikh Tusi passed away in 460 AH. In 455 AH, his honourable son, Sheikh Abu 'Ali Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn Hasan Tusi who received permit of ijtihad five years before Sheikh Tusi passed away and became the Shi'a leader and head of seminary.

Abu 'Ali47 included a commentary on his father's book, al-Nihayah and authored others works as well. Abu 'Ali's son, Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Hasan was the remaining scholar and Shi'a leader from the family of Sheikh Tusi.48

  • 1. Rawdat al-Jannat, vol. 6, p.217. In addition to them, Sheikh Tusi was taught by teachers such as: Ibn Ghada’iri and Ibn Salt Ahwazi (cf. A’yan al-Shia, p.9, pp.159-160; Millennium commemoration of Sheikh Tusi, the lecture of Muhammad Wa’iz Zadih, p.47 &51).
  • 2. Amin, Sayyid Muhsin, A’yan al-Shia, p. 9, p. 159.
  • 3. cf. Hizarih Sheikh Tusi, the section of lectures, Haj Mirza Khalil Kamarih'i, p. 194; Rawdhat, vol. 6, pp. 9 - 228.
  • 4. The most important hadith references of Shi'a.
  • 5. Interpretive reasoning and jurisprudential reasoning through analogy
  • 6. Besides, through answering questions, Imams tried to teach the principles of laws implicitly so that jurisprudents deduce the jurisprudential rulings for cases from them, these rulings are secondary issues.
  • 7. Bara'at al-Dhimmah
  • 8. Al-Mabsut, Sheikh Tusi, vol. 1, pp. 1 - 3; cf. [Proceedings of] Hezareh Sheikh Tusi, the lecture of Martyr Mutahhari, p. 355 up to the end.
  • 9. cf. [Proceedings of] Hezareh Sheikh Tusi, the lecture of martyr Mutahari, p. 355 up to the end, extracted from it.
  • 10. Full name: Al-Istibsar fi ma al-Ikhtalafa min al-Akhbar
  • 11. Supplication
  • 12. A'yan al-Shi'a, vol. 9. pp. 6 - 165; Cf. 'Ali Dawani, Ibid, the part of the lecture of Sayyid Hashim Rasuli Mapallati, p. 209 to the end & Muhammad Wa'iz Zadih, p. 66 to the end; the writer of Rudhat al-Jannat, vol. 6, from p. 229, introduced a lot of Sheikh Tusi's books.
  • 13. 'Abbas Pazwiz, Tarikh-e Diyalameh wa Ghaznawiyan (The History of Daylamites and Ghaznavids), p. 81-82.
  • 14. Ibn khalkan, vol. 1, p. 455, quoted from Faqihi, Shahanshahi 'Adhad al-Dawla, p. 200.
  • 15. cf (see): al-Muntazam, vol.7, p. 98, quoted from Faqihi, Ibid.
  • 16. Hasan Pirniya, 'Abbas Iqbal, Tarikh Iran, p. 165.
  • 17. (372-379)
  • 18. Or Samsam al-Dawla
  • 19. (403-415)
  • 20. The son and successor of Mushrif al-Dawla
  • 21. Cf. Tarikh-e Dayalameh wa Ghaznawiyan (The History of Daylamites and Ghaznavids), p. 129; Tarikh Iran, p. 165 to the end.
  • 22. Rawdhah al-Safa, vol. 6, p. 28 - 30; Tarikh Gozidih (selected history), p. 25 - 424, p. 432; and 'Abbas Pazwiz, Ibid, p. 129.
  • 23. (440-447 AH)
  • 24. Tarikh Iran, p. 176; Tarikh-e Diyalameh wa Ghaznawiyan (The History of Daylamites and Ghaznavids), p. 137.
  • 25. Joel L, Kremer, Ihya-e Farhangi dar 'Ahd Al Buyeh (The cultural revival in Buyid Era), p. 318.
  • 26. Quoted from 'Azizollah Bayat, Ibid, pp. 148 - 149.
  • 27. For more information, refer to Jacques Nantes, Tarikh Lebanon (The History of Lebanon), p. 179- 180, in brief, the crusader passed Lebanon again and it was important for them as a connection. In April, 28th, 1104 CE (Sha'ban, 498 AH) Raymond de Seine Gilles who planned to make his private emirate in Lebanon, turned from occupation of Jubail to Tripoli with the help of the Geneva navy that blocked the harbour; but he faced with a firm castle above the mountains that prevented him to occupy there.

    After he passed away, Guillaume de Seire Dane took the advantage of the absent of Fakhr al-Dawla ibn 'Ammar, the last independent Emir of Tripoli and on June 10th, 1109 CE (Dhi al-Qa'dah, 502 AH) with the help of Seine Gilles's army and the support of Biduin I, who came from Jerusalem, started the attack while the Geneva navy prevented of the arrival of Fatimid navy who came to help them. Thus, on July, 12th, 1109 CE (Muharram, 503 AH), Tripoli was defeated. In this event, the famous library of city burned completely.

  • 28. 'Ali Dawani, Ibid, extracted from the lecture of Muhit Tabatabaei, p. 99 to the end.
  • 29. Literally meaning: "Hay-e 'Ala khayr al-'Amal."
  • 30. Literally meaning: "Al-salat Khayrun Min al-Naum."
  • 31. Ibn Jawzi, Al-Muntazam, vol. 16, p. 8 & p. 16; Ibn Haajar, Lisan al-Mizan, vol. 5, p. 135.
  • 32. In Al-Muntazam, Ibn Hajar 'Asqaiani in Lisan al-Mizan, Ibn Kathir Shami in Al-bidayah wa al- Nahayah and Ibn Athir in Al-Kamil.
  • 33. (417 AH, 430 AH and 432 AH)
  • 34. (440 AH)
  • 35. (443 AH and 445 AH)
  • 36. Cf. Ibn Jawzi, Al-Muntazam, "The events in 448 - 449 AH"; A'yan al-Shi'a, vol. 9, p. 159; Rasul Ja'fariyan, Tarikh Tashayu' dar Iran (the Shi'ites history in Iran), vol. 1, p. 366.
  • 37. When Toghrul resided in Baghdad, Arsalan Basasiri with the support of Mustansir Fatimi and his followers in Algeria, attacked the province of Mosul. He fought with Quraysh ibn Badran, Emir of Mosul and Qutlimash, cousin of Toghrul in Sanjar. In this event, Nur al-Dawla, Emir of Halah (backed) Basasiri and Fatimid caliph. Basasiri and Nur al-Dawla defeated Quraysh and Qutlimash severely. The caliph, Qa'im send Toghrul on duty to Algeria and Sultan moved there after 13 month of his residence to make up for this failure which was a threat for his office and to get rid of the armies of Toghrul that due to their long residence in Baghdad had caused of general bothering of people.

    Nur al-Dawla was brought into submission of Toghrul as result of this movement. In addition, Marwani Emir of Bakr became obeyed him, then Toghrul suppressed the riots in those regions, deposited them with Ibrahim Yanal and returned to Baghdad in 449 AH. Basasiri took refuge in Damascus and because he heard that Ibrahim Yanal had upraised against Toghrul and was moving from Mosul to the regions of Jabal, came to Mosul in 450 AH and recaptured there; but Toghrul quickly came from Baghdad to Mosul and Basasiri ran away.

    After return of Toghrul from Baghdad and his movement to Hamadan, Basasiri found an opportunity to attack Baghdad and because the caliph, Qa'im could not resist his power, left the palace (Dar al-Khilafah). Basasiri entered the centre of 'Abassid caliphate of Baghdad in 8th of the month "Dhi al-Qa'dah" and gave speech in the name of the Fatimid al-Mustansir Billah; and this way, the name of 'Abbasids was omitted of speeches in Baghdad. After his arrival to Hamadan, Toghrul engaged in rebellion of his brother, Ibrahim Yanal; so, Toghrul fought with him and defeated him near Rey.

    He was killed by order of Toghrul. Then, Toghrul moved quickly toward Baghdad to push Basasiri out of there and brought Qa'im back to caliphate. In 451 AH, after one year staying in the palace (Dar al-Khilafah) of Baghdad, Basasiri left there for his fear of Toghrul and revolutionists. Both the caliph, Qa'im and Toghrul entered Baghdad. Toghrul fought with Basasiri to prevent him from arriving at Damascus and killed him in 451 AH. Then, he sent the head of Basasiri for the caliph in Baghdad. Toghrul passed away in 455 AH after 26 years ruling in Rey; and his cousin, Alp Arslan took the throne with the help of Khajah Nizam al-Mulk. (cf. Tarikh Iran, p. 319)

  • 38. cf. A'yan al-Shi'ah, vol. 9, p. 159, quoted from Yaqut Hamumi, Mu'jam al-Baldan, vol. 2.
  • 39. cf. Khatat al-Sham, vol. 6, p. 185, quoted from A'yan al-Shi'ah, vol. 9, p. 159.
  • 40. cf. Ibn Athir, Al-kamil, vol. 8, p. 350; 'All Dawani, Hizareh Sheikh Tusi, p. 16, Ibid, the conference of Wa'iz Zadih, p. 63.
  • 41. Majalis al-Mu'minin, vol. 1, p. 481; cf. Rawdhat al-Jannat, vol. 6, p. 226.
  • 42. Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil, vol. 9, p. 178; Mir'at al-Jinan, vol. 2, p. 444, quoted from Sayyid Ja'far Murtadha, Al-Sara' al-Huriyyah fi 'Asr al-Mufid, vol. 21, p. 22, its Persian translation by the name "Mubarizih Bara-ye Azadi-ye Bayan wa 'Aqidih dar 'Asr Sheikh Mufid," Muhammad Sipihri, p. 44.
  • 43. Sheikh Tusi, Al-Ghaybah, p. 2; Wa'iz Zadih, in Hizarah Sheikh Tusi, p. 64.
  • 44. Born in Baghdad in 372 AH
  • 45. Wa'iz Zadih, Ibid, p. 65.
  • 46. A'yan al-Shi'ah, vol. 9, p. 160.
  • 47. Demise 511 AH
  • 48. According with 'Allamah Tehrani in the Introduction of Tafsir Bayan