Ask A Question About Islam And Muslims
On the basis of the Hadith that says that whoever dies without knowing the Imam of his time dies the death of ignorance, does that mean that Sunnis, therefore, will be unable to enter paradise?
It is not our job to determine who will enter Paradise or who will not. Allah knows the intentions and circumstances of every creature, and He grants Paradise to whom He wants, according to His Knowledge and Mercy.
No doubt, the authentic Hadeeth is mentioned in both Sunni books and Shia books states that: Who dies with out giving allegiance to the Imam of his time will die a death of Jahilyyah. ( Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, v,13, p. 188 and Saheeh Muslim, v.6, p.22 and Kitab Al-Sunnah by ibn Abi Aasim;489 and many other books of Hadeeth.
What are the sources and authenticity of the Hadith from the Prophet (saw) that anyone who dies without knowing the Imam of his time dies the death of ignorance?
The Hadeeth stating that who dies without allegiance to the Imam of his time, will die the death of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) is a Mutawaatir Hadeeth which means narrated by many authentic narrators that can never jointly lie.
1. Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, V. 28, P. 88.
2. Saheeh Muslim, V. 3, P. 1478.
3. Hilyatul Awliyaa' by al-Asbahani, V.3, P. 244.
4. Kitab Al-Sunnah by Ibn Abi 'Aasim , V.2, P.503.
5. Al-Sunan Al-Khubra by al-Bayhaqi, V.8, P. 270.
6. Saheeh ibn Hibbaan, V.10, P.434.
7. Sunan Abi Dawood, V.3, P.425.
8. Al-Mo'jam Al-Kabeer by al-Tabaraani, V.19, P.334. And many other Sunni books.
Kitab Al-Kaafi by al-Kulaini 2; 21,
Kamaal Al-Deen by Al-Sadouq;2;409,
and Kifayat Al-Athar by Al-Khazzaz 296.
Sunnis and Shi'is have different hadith collections.
However, there is some shared material between the collections - after all, the goal is to obtain the teachings of the Prophet (S), and the Prophet (S) was a single person.
Shi'is will generally allow for the use of some hadith from the Sunni books, depending on sourcing, narrator, and so forth. The reverse is much less common (that is, Sunnis do not usually give credence to Shi'i hadith for matters such as jurisprudence).
Shi'is do not give a special place to or automatically accept the sihah al-sittah or "six authentic books" famed in Sunnism.
Shi'is also give equal weight to the narrations from the Imams (A) as they do to narrations from the Prophet (S), on the grounds that the words of the Imams (A) are the teachings of the Prophet (S).
Hope that helps!
Where can I find background information and biographies on each of the Hadith narrators in al-Kafi? Are these books available online?
I don't think there is a full resource on this in English available presently (online or in print). However, you can purchase the Dirayat al-Noor software from Iran and it offers an easy to use database for hadith narrators in Arabic (not sure about Farsi). Another useful resource is Mu'jam Rijal al-Ahadith by Ayatollah al-Khoei, which is also available online in Arabic.
Sometimes, you can find information about some of the narrators in some other books in English. For instance, some of the biographies of the Imams by Baqir Sharif Qarashi have information on some of the companions of the Imams. There is a book called Tradition and Survival by Hossein Modarressi which also has some bibliographic information on some early Shi'i narrators.
So if there is someone specific you want to know more about, you may be able to find information in other sources. However in general I don't think there is a comprehensive source available in English. Perhaps someone will update this answer with one, or perhaps you will create one!