Meeting 11: The Science of Al-Rejaal 2

Shia Sects

The name Shia was a title given by the Prophet (S) himself to the sincere followers of his successor; i.e. Imam Ali (a.s.). The Almighty Allah states:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ

“Verily, those who believe and do righteous good deeds, they are the best of creatures.” [98:7]

al-Soyouti and other Mohaddethin under the explanation of the above Ayah narrated from the Prophet (S) concerning Imam Ali (a.s.):

و الذي نفسي بيده ان هذا و شيعته لهم الفائزون يوم القيامة.

“By the One my life is in His Mighty Hand! Verily, this [Ali] and his Shia are truly the prosperous ones on the Day of Judgment.” 1 In the following we shall introduce some of the main Shia sects that knowing them are necessary in the science of Rejaal.


The Keesaniya were the followers of Mukhtar Ibn Abu-Obayda Al-Thaqafi. After the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) they believed in Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyah. Muhammad was one of the sons of Imam Ali (a.s.) whose mother was Khoula Al-Hanafiyah. He was born during the reign of Omar (13-22 A.H) and died at the age of sixty-five during the reign of Abdul-Malek Ibn Marwan (65-86 A.H). Muhammad was buried in the Baqee’ cemetery in Madina. 2

The Keesaniya denied the death of Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyah claiming that he was the awaited Mahdi. This sect has no longer any followers.


Zaidiyah are the followers of Zaid; one of the sons of Imam Sajjad (a.s.). The birth of Zaid is reported in 75 or 78 or 80 A.H. He was a devout and God fearing person. Zaid revolted against the tyranny of Umayyad. His intention if he were successful was to hand over the leadership to his brother Imam Baqir (a.s.). Unfortunately, Zaid was hanged in the year 121 A.H. in Koufa by the command of Hisham Ibn Abdul-Malek; the fifth Umayyad king.

Although Zaid never claimed to be the Imam, his followers believed in his divine leadership and diverted to him from Imam Baqir (a.s.). To them one of the conditions of the Imam was to call for a military war against tyrants. Thus, they even did not believe in the leadership of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) let alone the rest of the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) for they did not call for the military war.


The Nawousiyyah was a sect that was emerged after the demise of Imam Sadiq (a.s.). They believed that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) did not die; he is the awaited Mahdi and will return to the world. According to Al-Shahrestani this sect was named after their follower ‘Nawous’. 3


The Ismailis were a group of Shia who after the demise of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) believed in his son Ismail instead of Imam Kazem (a.s.). Ismail died during the life of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) and was buried by him. Nonetheless, the Ismailis denied his death claiming that he was the awaited Mahdi. Later one some of the Ismailis accepted his death but claimed that Muhammad the son of Ismail was the awaited Mahdi.

The Ismailis due to their mystical interpretation of Islam are also known as ‘Bateniyyah’ (the mysterious group). Throughout the history, the Ismaili divided into some other sub-groups. Today the most famous Ismaili community is Nizari who is the follower of Agha Khan.

al-Fatahiyyah or Al-Aftahiyyah

The Fatahiyyah or Al-Aftahiyyah was a Shia group who after the demise of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) believed in the Imamat of his oldest son Abdullah. Abdullah had a wide nose or head and hence he was called Aftah. Abdullah died 70 days after the demise of his father and hence most of the Fatahis repented and returned to Imam Kazem (a.s.).


The Waqifiyyah were those who claimed that Imam Kazem (a.s.) did not die; he is the awaited Mahdi who is disappeared but will return. Since they stopped (Waqf) at Imam Kazem (a.s.) they were called Waqifi.

The motivation behind innovation of this sect was related to the lust of its founders to the wealth of this world. Imam Kazem (a.s.) during his long imprisonment had appointed some representatives to collect the Khoms from the Shia. Amongst his representatives, Ali Ibn Abi Hamza Al-Bataeni, Ziad Ibn Marwan Al-Qandi and Othman Ibn Eisa Al-Ro’asi had abused the collected Khoms to purchase houses and farms for themselves. After the demise of Imam Kazem (a.s.) they were expected to hand over the trusts to Imam Redha (a.s.).

Nonetheless, they refused to submit the trusts and they denied the Imamat of Imam Redha (a.s.) claiming that Imam Kazem (a.s.) was the awaited Mahdi and has not died.4 The Shia community realised their fraudulence and turned away from them. It is claimed that some of the Waqifis such as Ali Ibn Abi Hamza later repented and believed in Imam Redha (a.s.).


The Gholat (extremists) were those who claimed divine status for the Prophet (S) or the Imams (a.s.), or believed in the prophecy of some of the Imams. According to Nobakhati they were up to twenty different groups. Al-Khattabiya was a famous extremist group after Imam Sadiq (a.s.) who believed in his divinity. The Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) have always explicitly and without any ambiguity detested these groups.

Negligence in the evidences of Mostahabbat

One of the discussions in the science of Rejaal is whether the rules of approving or disapproving a narrator apply only to the compulsory and forbidden acts or they include the Mostahabbat and Makrouhat too? The above discussion rotates around a principle known as ‘Al-Tasamoh Fi Adelatu-Sonan’ (Negligence in the evidences of Mostahabbat). The principle is based on many 5 Ahadith some of which are authentic and good.

1. Kolayni in an authentic Hadith from Ibn Abi Omair from Hisham Ibn Salem narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.):

من سمع شيئا من الثواب علي شيء فصنعه کان له و ان لم يکن علي ما بلغه.

“Whoever hears a certain rewards for something, so he performs the action, he has the rewards of it even if it was not as he had heard it.” 6

2. Kolayni in his Isnad from Muhammad Ibn Marwan narrated:

سمعت اباجعفر (ع) يقول: من بلغه ثواب من الله علي عمل فعمل ذلک العمل التماس ذلک الثواب اُوتيه و ان لم يکن الحديث کما بلغه.

“I heard Imam Baqir (a.s.) saying: “Whoever comes to know about a reward from Allah for a action, and then he acted upon it seeking the promised reward, will be given (that reward) even if the Hadith was not as he heard it.” 7

Possible Meanings of the Ahadith

Most of the scholars of Hadith whether Shia or Sunni asserted that the above Ahadith are with reference to the weak Ahadith in Mustahabat and Makroohat that acting upon them will warrant the promised awards.

On the other hand, a few scholars suggested that those Ahadith are concerning any Hadith that has reached us in an authentic or reliable method on the Islamic statutes whether obligatory or recommended acts. The message of these Ahadith is that acting upon any authentic Hadith would warrant the promised reward in it even though in reality, that narration was not pronounced by a Ma’soom.

This interpretation is on the basis that there is no certainty that the present Ahadith although authentic, are really uttered by the Ma’soomin. For, most of them are narrated to us by single narrators. Ultimately, because the Almighty God and the common sense authenticate the narrations of a just person, we rely on them as valid evidences otherwise, we really don’t know for sure if the Imams (a.s.) have ever uttered those narrations.

Thus, the narrations of “Whoever comes to know…” coupled by the authenticity of reliable single narrations assure us that the Almighty God will reward us should we act according to those reliable single narrations. The third interpretation is to apply the above Ahadith to both of the previous meanings without limiting them to either of them. Thus, the narrations of “Whoever comes to know…” justify acting on the weak Ahadith in the matter of Mustahabat as well as acting upon authentic Ahadith on obligatory acts.

Problem & Answer

One of the most common comments on the principle of negligence in the evidences of Mustahabat is the argument that recommendation or not-recommendation like obligation and prohibition are religious laws and thus, they cannot be proven by weak Ahadith.

We may answer the above comment in that the recommendation of an act is not proven merely by those weak narrations rather, it is proven by the attachment of the principle of negligence in the matter of recommendations which would conclude permission to act upon those weak narrations insofar as they are not contrary to any other Islamic principles or rules.

Common Names

Common names mean certain names or titles of people that are common among more than person, some of whom are just and reliable while others are not. In general, the scholars in many instances discover the person by considering his teachers and students or his classification among the narrators or by considering the Imam from whom he is narrating or sometimes by considering the subject of the Hadith that he has narrated. Nonetheless, if they failed to identify the person and his title is common between authentic and non-authentic narrators then the Hadith would be treated invalid. The following example is the most famous example of the common names.

According to the Late Ayatullah Khoei, in the chain of 2275 Ahadith a narrator is mentioned with the title of Abu Baseer.8 There is a big controversy with regards to the identification of this narrator. Most of the experts in Rejaal asserted that the above title was common among four narrators i.e. Laith Ibn Al-Bokhtari, Yahya Ibn (abi) Al Qasim, Yusuf Ibn Al-Harith Al-Batari and Abdullah Ibn Muhammad Al-Asadi.

If the above theory is correct then the title of Abu Baseer is common among authentic and non-authentic narrators for the first two narrators are reliable whereas the last two are not. Thus, any Hadith that we are unable to identify as to who is meant by Abu Baseer will be treated invalid.

Unlike the above theory, the Late Ayatullah Khoei and some other experts in Rejaal after numerous investigations concluded that Abu Baseer is a common title only between Laith and Yahya both of whom are reliable. Nay, Ayatullah Khoei furthers that wherever Abu Baseer is mentioned in the chain of our narrations it means Yahya Ibn (abi) Al Qasim unless otherwise specified.9 With regards to the third person, i.e. Yusuf Ibn Al-Harith who is the weakest of all, Ayatullah Khoei proves that his actual title is Abu Naseer not Abu Baseer as mistakenly written by Al-Kashi.

Anyway, Abu Baseer was one of the companions of Imam Baqir and Imam Sadiq (peace be upon them). Since he was visually impaired, he was known with the respectful title of Abu Baseer (literally meaning ‘father of the son who has sight’). Najashi in introducing Abu Baseer says, “He was good and reliable.” The problem however is that most of the narrations of Abu Baseer are narrated by his guide i.e. Ali Ibn Abi Hamzeh Al-Bataeni. As mentioned earlier, the man was one of the chiefs of the Waqifi sect.

This problem leads again to the invalidity of the narrations of Abu Baseer. Unless we rectify the problem that the narrations of Ali Ibn abi Hamzeh from Abu Baseer was prior to his conversion to the Waqifi sect for Abu Baseer died very soon after the demise of Imam Sadiq (a.s.). Moreover, Ali Ibn abi Hamzeh is in the list of the narrators of Kamel Al Ziarat. Thus, according to the theory of the authentication of all those who are mentioned in Kamel Al Ziarat, Ali Ibn abi Hamzeh is justified to be reliable.

As you can see, the issues in the science of Rejaal are not always straight forward and can carry the possibilities of different interpretations thus require deduction and Ijtihad.

  • 1. Al-Dorrul-Manthour 8:589
  • 2. Tahzibu-Tahzib 9:355
  • 3. Al-Melal Wal-Nehal vol. 1 p.166
  • 4. Tousi: al-Ghayba, p.42
  • 5. Al-Allama al-Majlesi has claimed that they are Motawater. Mer’atul-Oqoul 8:113
  • 6. Al-Kaafi 2:87
  • 7. Ibid
  • 8. Mo’jam Rejaal al-Hadith 21:45
  • 9. Ibid 21:47 and 20:75