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According to Hadeeths narrated from Ahlul Bayt (AS), Kursi of Allah is His Knowledge about Skies and earths and creatures which has got an outer existence, while Arsh is His Full Knowledge about everything, which is more inclusive than Kursi. There are degrees of Knowledge, in which Arsh is deeper, wider and more inclusive than Kursi, that is why we read in the Hadeeth that The Kursi is within The Arsh. In the Hadeeth from Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq (AS): Everything created by Allah is in the Kursi except His Arsh because it is greater than be included in The Kursi.

Hadeeth of Hanan ibn Sadeer from Imam Al-Sadiq (AS) when he was asked about Arsh and Kursi, he replied: Both of them are great gates of the Unseen. Kursi is the outer gate of the Unseen and Arsh is the inner gate of the Unseen.

Kursi is limited to the skies, earth and what is between them while Arsh is unlimited.

In some narrations we read that The Kursi is the knowledge which Allah granted to His Prophets and messengers, while  The Arsh is The Knowledge  which no one knows but Allah.


It has been very clearly mentioned in many authentic narrations from our Infallible Imams e.g. Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq (AS) that: My Hadeeth is the Hadeeth of my father, and it is the Hadeeth of my grand father, which is the Hadeeth of Imam Husain, which is the Hadeeth of Imam Hasan,  which is the Hadeeth of Ameerul Mo'mineen, which is the Hadeeth of the Prophet (SAWA) which is the order of Allah. 

(Kitab Al-Kaafi, V.1, P. 53.).


In the Shi'i view, it is held that the knowledge of the Prophet (S) passed directly to the Imams. Therefore, when one of the Imams speaks, they are speaking accurately and correctly on behalf of the Prophet, whether or not it is word for word.

In some cases, the Imam may have a dialogue with someone present with them, refer to people in their time by name, or discuss current events and questions. In these cases, these are not word for word quotations from the Prophet (S) but accurately reflect or expound upon the Prophet's teachings as applied to those situations.

In other cases the Imams provide a direct quotation from one of their forebears.

Apart from that, it would be very lengthy to always give the full chain of narration back to the Prophet (S) through all the Imams. However, it is understood that this is intended to be the chain of transmission of knowledge. 

This principle is mentioned in al-Kafi and is related from Imam al-Sadiq (A) as follows:

"My hadith is the hadith of my father. The hadith of my father is the hadith of my grandfather. The hadith of my grandfather is the hadith of al-Husayn. The hadith of al-Husayn is the hadith of al-Hasan. The hadith of al-Hasan is the hadith of the Commander of the Faithful. The hadith of the Commander of the Faithful is the hadtih of the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family). The hadith of the Messenger of God is the word of God, the Mighty and Glorious."

علي بن محمد، عن سهل بن زياد، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن عمر بن عبد العزيز عن هشام بن سالم وحماد بن عثمان وغيره قالوا: سمعنا أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول: حديثي حديث أبي، وحديث أبي حديث جدي، وحديث جدي حديث الحسين، وحديث الحسين حديث الحسن، وحديث الحسن حديث أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام وحديث أمير المؤمنين حديث رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وحديث رسول الله قول الله عز وجل.

Here, of course, the "word of God" does not mean the same thing as the Qur'an being the "word of God" in the sense of the literal divine word, but rather is the correct teaching given from God to the Prophet (S). 

So, from a Shi'i perspective, the Imam has full knowledge of the teachings of the Prophet (S) and full authority to speak about it. Therefore the Imam can speak authoritatively without giving a further chain of narration back or may provide a further chain of narration back. 

Hope that helps! 

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!