The first person to write on jurisprudence is Ali ibn Abi Rafi’, a retainer (mawla) of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and his Household. In the section on the first category of the compilers who were partisans of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) Al–Najashi says that Ali ibn Abi Rafi’, a retainer of the Messenger of Allah, was a tabi’i and among the best Shi’ah. He enjoyed the company of the Commander of the Faithful and was his scribe. He trained as a jurist under his supervision and compiled his works during the lifetime of his master. He memorized a great deal and compiled a book about various topics in jurisprudence such as ritual ablution, prayer and others.
Al–Najashi adds, “They used to hold this book dear because it is the first work compiled by the Shi’ah.”
Al–Suyuti says that the first person to write about jurisprudence is Imam Abu Hanifah. But this must mean the first one among the Sunnis because Ali ibn Abi Rafi’s compilation took place during the days of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), a long time before Abu Hanifah was born. Furthermore, there are other Shi’ah jurists who had written about jurisprudence before him, such as al–Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, a tabi’i and Sa’id ibn al–Musayyab, a Qurayshite who was one of the six famous jurists of Medina. Ibn al–Musayyab passed away in 94 A. H. He was born during the days of Umar ibn al–Khattab (r. a).
Another jurist who preceded Abu Hanifah is al–Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr (r. a) who, according to an authentic account, died in 106 A. H. He was the maternal grandfather of our master al–Sadiq (his mother Umm Farwa was al–Qasim's daughter). He married the daughter of Imam Zayn al–Abidin Ali ibn al–Husayn, peace be on them both. In Qurb al–Isnad, Abdullah al–Himyari observes: “Al–Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr and Sai’d ibn al–Musayyab were once mentioned in the presence of al–Ridha’ peace be upon him who said: ‘They were on this affair’ meaning that they were Shi’ah.”
In Al–Kafi in the chapter about the birth of Abu Abdullah al–Sadiq, Al–Kulayni relates: “From Yahya ibn Jarir who said ‘Abu Abdillah al–Sadiq said: Sai’d ibn al–Musayyab, al–Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr and Abu Khalid al–Kabuli were among the people whom Ali ibn al–Husayn trusted.’ They are also said to be among the disciples (hawari) of Ali ibn al–Husayn (‘a).
In his Rijal, Sheikh Abu Amr al–Kashshi, who was contemporary with Abu Jafar al–Kulayni, has considered the jurists among the companions of Abu Ja’far and Abu Abdillah (‘a) to be among the scholars of the third century. Naming them, he wrote: Our scholars were unanimous in regard to the truthfulness of these early companions of Abu Ja’far and Abu Abdillah (‘a) and they regarded them as great jurists. They say: There are six foremost jurists of the earlier generations: Zurarah, Ma’ruf ibn Kharbudh, Buraid, Abu Basir al–Asadi, Al–Fudayl ibn Yasar and Muhammad ibn Muslim al–Ta'ifi, Zurarah being the most well–versed of them in jurisprudence. In place of Abu Basir al–Asadi, some mention Abu Basir al–Muradi whose full name was Laith ibn al–Bukhtiri.
Then he adds “In mentioning the names of jurists from among the companions of Abu Abdillah al–Sadiq (‘a) scholars are unanimous that whatever is reported from these jurists is authentic. They regard their word as credible and they acknowledge their competence in jurisprudence. There are also six others like those whom we previously named. They are Jamil ibn Darraj, Abdullah ibn Maskan, Abdullah ibn Bukayr, Hammad ibn Isa, Hammad ibn Uthman and Iban ibn Uthman. Abu Ishaq al–Faqih Thalaba ibn Maimun claims that the most competent of them was Jamil ibn Darraj. They were among the youthful narrators and companions of Abu Abdillah (‘a).”
Then al–Kishshi adds: “As for the jurists among the disciples of Abu Ibrahim (al–Kazim) and Abu al–Hasan (al–Ridha’) (peace be on them) our companions unanimously regard that which is definitely reported from them as authentic, believe in their integrity and acknowledge their competence in jurisprudence and learning. They are six in number: Yunus ibn Abd al–Rahman, Safwan ibn Yahya Biyya’ al–Sabiri, Muhammad ibn Abi Umayr, Abdullah ibn al–Mughirah, al–Hasan ibn Mahbub and Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Nasr. These were apart from the aforementioned six who were among the companions of Abu Abdillah (‘a). Some sources mention al–Hasan ibn Ali ibn Faddal and Fadalah ibn Ayub. And others mention Uthman ibn Isa in place of Fadalah. The most competent in jurisprudence among them was Yunus ibn Abd al–Rahman and Safwan ibn Yahya.”
On the fact that the jurists of the earlier generations who produced works according to the school of Imam Jafar ibn Muhammad al–Sadiq peace be on him were numerous.
In the early part of his book Al–Mu’tabar, where he mentions Imam Abu Abdillah al–Sadiq (‘a) Sheikh Abu al–Qasim Jafar ibn Sa’id who was known as ‘al–Muhaqqiq’ says: “Through his teaching, a large number of notable jurists reached distinguished stations and four hundred books were compiled on the answers he gave.”
In reality, these books represent the works of the prominent scholars, because Sheikh Shamsuddin Muhammad ibn Makki, al–Shahid, has recorded in his Al–Dhikra that four thousand people who came from Iraq, Hijaz, Khurasan and Syria have written about Abu Abdullah al–Sadiq’s answers to questions. Their works have been mentioned in different Fihrist books that are written by Shi’ah scholars, such as Sheikh Abu al–Abbas al–Najashi, Sheikh Abu Jafar al–Tusi, Sheikh Abu al–Faraj ibn al–Nadim, and what is stated in the book of al–Uqayli and the book of Ibn al–Ghada'iri. In his Al–Irshad in the section about Imam al–Sadiq (‘a), Sheikh al–Mufid wrote: On his authority, people transmitted learning far and wide, thereby making his name to be known in many regions. Scholars have not narrated as much from any member of his family as they related from him. Hadith narrators have indeed related four thousand names of reliable persons of different schools of thought who transmitted on the authority of Imam al–Sadiq.
Sheikh Abu al–Abbas Ahmad ibn Uqdah al–Zaydi has enumerated these four thousand men in Al–Tasnif. Sheikh Abu Ja’far al–Tusi has done the same in Al–Rijal at the beginning of the chapter on the companions of al–Sadiq. The reader may refer to it.
Section Four: Some Extensive Compendia on Jurisprudence (fiqh) by the Disciples of the Imams of the Ahl al–Bayt From Among the Generation That came After the Tabi’is
Jami’ al–Fiqh by Thabit ibn Hormuz, Abu al–Miqdam which he wrote on the authority of Imam Zayn al–Abidin Ali ibn al–Husayn (‘a). Kitab Sharayi’ al–Ayman by Muhammad al–Mu’afa, Abu Ja’far, a retainer (mawla) of Imam al–Sadiq (‘a). He died in 265 A. H. He related it from Imam al–Kazim and Imam al–Ridha’ (‘a). Jami' Abwab al–Fiqh by Ali ibn Abi Hamza, a student of Imam al–Sadiq (‘a). Abdullah ibn al–Mughirah had thirty books on fiqh topics to his credit as recorded in the Fihrist of Al–Najashi. He was a disciple of Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (‘a). Kitab al–Fiqh wa al–Ahkam by Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al–Thaqafi (d. 283). A book Al–Mubawwab fi al–Halal wa al–Haram on the permissible and the prohibited by Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Yahya al–Madani al–Aslami (d. 184). Kitab al–Jami' fi Abwab al–Fiqh (discussing various issues of jurisprudence) by al–Hasan ibn Ali Abi Muhammad al–Hajal. The prolific writer, Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Shirah al–Qasani compiled Kitab al–Jami' al–Kabir. Sufwan ibn Yahya al–Bajali who died in 210 wrote a book and arranged it according to the traditional order of fiqh books. Kitab al–Mashyakhah by al–Hasan ibn Mahbub Abu Ali al–Sarrad (d. 223) who was one of the chiefs of the Shi’ah and a disciple of Imam al–Ridha’ (‘a). And lastly, Kitab al–Rahmah which is an extensive book on all branches of jurisprudence. The contents of the book is based on Ahl al–Bayt narrations.