1.3 Tawthiq of a narrator on account of him being in the asanid of the book Kamil al Ziyarat

1.2 Tawthiq of a narrator on account of him being in the asanid of ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim al Qummi’s Tafsir
October 22, 2021
Shattering the Mirage: A Response to ‘Abdul Hussain Sharaf al Din’s al Muraja’at: Letter 73 and 74
October 27, 2021

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1.3 Tawthiq of a narrator on account of him being in the asanid of the book Kamil al Ziyarat

The author of Kamil al Ziyarat is Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Qulawayh al Qummi (d. 368 A.H). Al Tusi states, “His kunyah (teknonym) is Abu al Qasim. He is a thiqah. He is the author of several books … He has a book Jami’ al Ziyarat.”[1]

He authored this book in order to explain the virtues of visiting the graves of the Al al Bayt, and to narrate the virtue of every visit with the isnad. He explains the book saying:


وأنا مبين لك أطال الله بقاءك ما أثاب الله به الزائر لنبيه وأهل بيته صلوات الله عليهم أجمعين ، بالآثار الواردة عنهم عليهم السلام على رغم من أنكر فضلهم ذلك وجحده وأباه وعادى عليه.

And I will explain to you (may Allah prolong your existence) what Allah will reward the one who visits His Prophet and his family, with reports received from them, despite those that reject, deny, dismiss, and act in opposition to their virtue.[2]


Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Qulawayh states in the introduction to his work:


إنا لا نحيط بجميع ما روي عنهم في هذا المعنى ولا في غيره، ولكن ما وقع لنا من جهة الثقات من أصحابنا رحمهم الله برحمته، ولا خرجت حديثا روي عن الشذاذ من الرجال، يؤثر ذلك عنهم عن المذكورين غير المعروفين بالرواية المشهورين بالحديث والعلم.

We acknowledge that we cannot encompass everything which has been narrated from them about this topic (of ziyarat) or about any other topic for that matter. Furthermore, I have only narrated that which was reported to me by the reliable ones from among our companions (may Allah’s mercy be upon them) and I did not include anything which has been reported by unknown or unreliable sources who are not well-known for their knowledge and narrations.[3]


Some of the latter-day scholars Imami scholars have deduced from this statement that every narrator that exists in this book is undoubtedly considered a thiqah by virtue of the author’s words. There is neither any mention nor the slightest suggestion of this principle in the books of Ibn al Mutahhar al Hilli—who is among latter-day scholars—and any of his contemporaries. All of this proves that this principle is from the invented principles of the latter-day scholars, who were compelled in this regard in order to, as I have mentioned, reduce the number of (existing) majhul narrators.

The first person to invent this principle was al Hurr al ‘Amili (d. 1104 A.H) in Wasa’il al Shia with his statement:


شهد علي بن إبراهيم أيضا بثبوت أحاديث تفسيره وأنها مروية عن الثقات عن الأئمة عليهم السلام وكذلك جعفر بن محمد بن قولويه فإنه صرح بما هو أبلغ من ذلك في أول مزاره

‘Ali ibn Ibrahim also attested to the certainty of the ahadith of his Tafsir and that they are transmitted from reliable narrators who, in turn, transmitted from the Imams ‘alayhim al Salam. Similarly, Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Qulawayh (also) testified that the narrators of Kamil al Ziyarat are reliable. His explicit statement in the beginning of Kamil al Ziyarat is more expressive and franker than ‘Ali bin Ibrahim’s.[4]


The apparent meaning of al Hurr al ‘Amili’s words suggest the tawthiq of every narrator. Al Nuri al Tabarsi believed this statement implied the tawthiq of only his immediate teachers, not the other narrators.[5] For this reason, al Khu’i came along and had (varying) states, stages, and contradictions around (understanding) this principle.

In this first phase, al Khu’i did not adopt any of the previous two opinions in the beginning. Baqir al Ayrawani states, “We turn our attention to al Sayed al Khu’i. In the beginning, he did not believe that all the narrators of Kamil al Ziyarat, including the immediate narrators (i.e., the author’s teachers) among them are reliable.”[6]

Regarding the second phase, and after mentioning the first phase, Baqir al Ayrawani states, “In the time we were in his company, he believed that all of the narrators were reliable, including his immediate teachers.”[7] Thus, al Khu’i stated:


يحكم بوثاقة من شهد علي بن إبراهيم [ القمي صاحب التفسير ] أو جعفر بن محمد بن قولويه بوثاقته اللهم إلا أن يبتلى بمعارض

A narrator will be deemed a thiqah by virtue of ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim (al Qummi, the author of the Tafsir), or Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Qulawayh’s testifying to their reliability, except if he is faced with evidence to the contrary.[8]


The third phase was near the end of his life. Again, al Ayrawani states, “At the end of his life, he offered a more detailed view that included the tawthiq of only his immediate teachers.”[9] It is for this reason that al Khu’i’s student, Muslim al Dawari, suggested the following, “Therefore, the attempt to demonstrate that the testimony (in their favour) includes all of the narrators of the book is misplaced. We have debated this with al Sayed al Ustadh (i.e., his teacher, al Khu’i) and vacillated until he (eventually) changed his opinion.”[10]

We understand from this that it was the third opinion al Khu’i (eventually) settled upon—after the insistence of his students. Al Ayrawani suggested the reason for al Khu’i’s retraction from accepting (the opinion of) all the narrators of Kamil al Ziyarat (as reliable) and not (retracting from his opinion from) Tafsir al Qummi:


This is considering the fact that al Qummi (the author of the Tafsir), in his previous statement mentioned, ‘And we mention and inform (i.e., in this book) of that which has reached us and narrated by our teachers and reliable others from those upon whom Allah has obligated their obedience…’ The fact that he mentioned “our reliable (others)” after “from those upon whom Allah has obligated their obedience” proves that all the narrators that reach up to the Imams ‘alayhim al Salam are reliable—those upon whom Allah has obligated their obedience. Whereas this type of expression is not to be found in the text of Ibn Qulawayh.[11]


A critique of this principle

It is important for me to point out at this stage that al Khu’i’s changing of opinion from the second phase to the third occurred in the latter part of his life, as mentioned. In other words, after he authored most of his jurisprudential and non-jurisprudential works. The greatest and most important work, according to the Imamiyyah, is Mujam Rijal al Hadith.  In this work, al Khu’i made tawthiq of tens of narrators who are (normally) enlisted among the majahil (pl. majhul) purely on account of them being of the narrators of Kamil al Ziyarat!

Similarly, many jurisprudential matters in such books were given tarjih (preference) on account of him authenticating a hadith, the isnad of which contains the narrators that appear in Kamil al Ziyarat!

Most of the students of knowledge today of the Imamiyyah are devoted to Mujam Rijal al Hadith, the book authored by al Khu’i. How many gatherings have I observed in which people debate (a particular issue) based on a statement of al Khu’i that he actually retracted! The reason for this is disastrous; it would necessitate invalidating the tawthiq of hundreds, all of whom fall under the rubric of this principle. The principle that al Khu’i disseminated among his students to such an extent that it, as the saying goes, spread like wildfire.

Muhammad al Jawahiri , the Imami author of al Mufid min Mujam Rijal al Hadith (a summary of al Khu’i’s statements), was amazed at the prevalence of this view, even in the books that were printed after the death of al Khu’i—Mujam al Rijal being at the top (of the list). Under the biography of ‘Uqbah ibn Khalid al Asadi, he states:


منحصر توثيقه بوقوعه في إسناد كامل الزيارات وقد رجع الأستاذ عن مبنى اعتبار كل من وقع في إسناد كامل الزيارات إلا مشايخ ابن قولويه – و من الغريب عدم تصحيح هذا المورد في طبعة طهران المصححة بعد رجوع الأستاذ عن المبنى المذكور

His tawthiq is restricted to the fact that he exists in the isnad of Kamil al Ziyarat. Al Ustadh retracted his view of considering everyone (reliable) in the isnad of Kamil al Ziyarat, except for the (immediate) teachers of Ibn Qulawayh. It is strange that this issue has not been corrected in the edited Tehrani print after al Ustadh’s retraction from the aforementioned principle.[12]


A critique against those who say that the tawthiq refers to all narrators of Kamil al Ziyarat (the second phase)

This is one of the weakest views; it is not very far from the view that states the tawthiq of all Tafsir al Qummis narrators. The general refutations I mentioned against this principle in relation to the Tafsir can also be said to apply here.

The number of narrators in Kamil al Ziyarat, as mentioned by Muhammad Rida ‘Irfaniyyan[13], al Ayrawani[14], and Abu Talib al Tabrizi are 388.

Let us examine some of the narrators of Kamil al Ziyarat, so we can know the reality of their condition.


1. ‘Abdullah ibn al Qasim al Hadrami

Al Najjashi states about him, “Liar. Extremist (Shia). He narrates from extreme Shia. There is no good in him and his narrations are not to be relied upon.”[15]


2. ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Kathir al Hashimi

Al Najjashi states about him, “He is weak. Our companions remarked that he fabricates hadith.”[16]


3. ‘Ali ibn Hamza al Bata’ini

Hussain al Sa’idi states in his encyclopedia, al Du’afa’ min Rijal al Hadith, “He is the founder of the waqf (movement) and is one of the leaders of the Waqifiyyah. He is a liar suspected of forgery. A number of narrations appear criticizing him and the fact that he did not admit to the Imamah of al Rida ‘alayh al Salam, as well as him appropriating the wealth of the Imam. A Tafsir attributed to Amir al Mu’minin ‘alayh al Salam is ascribed to him.”[17]


4. Al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Hamzah al Bata’ini

He is the son of the previous ‘Ali ibn Abi Hamzah. I will quote some of what al Hilli mentioned in relation to this person so that we can come to know the absurdity of this principle. Al Hilli states:


Al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Hamzah… Abu Muhammad Waqif. Al Kashshi states, “Muhammad ibn Mas’ud narrated to me, ‘I asked ‘Ali ibn al Hassan ibn Faddal, from al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Hamzah al Bata’ini. He said, “He is a liar. Cursed. I narrated many ahadith from him. I wrote the entire Tafsir of the Qur’an from him, from the beginning to the end. However, I do not consider it permissible to narrate even one hadith from him.’” Abu al Hassan Hamdawayh ibn Nasir narrated to me from some of his teachers that he said, ‘al Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Hamzah is an evil person.’”[18]


After all of this, I say: How is it possible for al Khu’i in the second phase to say that he believes in the tawthiq of all the narrators “as long as there is no evidence to the contrary” when Jafar ibn Qulawayh, the author of the book, narrates from the most famous of those accused of lying and holding extreme (Shia) views in his book?

These are but a few examples and there are many such more. If this is the condition of him narrating from such people, how then can we say that that a person is reliable when we neither know of his condition nor is there any mention of him in the books of narrator criticism? Because of not knowing his condition, it is very well possible that he is more of a liar than someone whose name has already been mentioned. This fact alone demands that his tawthiq cannot be made, or, at best judgement should be suspended (regarding him)—if we do not assume he is completely majhul. This is very clear.


Therefore, Muslim al Dawari states:


Strictly speaking, after reflecting on the book and understanding the asanid of his narrations, we found that many of the narrators that are in his isnad do not possess the required characteristics with which the author mentioned in his previous statement. Some of them are neither known for being among the learned nor famous for (narrating) hadith. In fact, some of them are not even mentioned outside of this book. Just as some others’ narrations are very little. This is in addition to the fact that he has some narrations from women.[19]


Al Fani al Asfahani states:


Ibn Qulawayh himself narrated much from both weak and majhul narrators. In fact, he mentions such a number of marfu’ and mursal narrations that gives assurance to the fact that he did not mean (by his statement) tawthiq of all the narrators that appear in his book, nor did he mean giving more value to it. The intent becomes all the clearer through the presence of both weak narrators, and those famously known to be weak and to lie, according to the companions and the master critics (of narrators). It is very unlikely that he did not know of them with the plethora of clearly disparaging remarks (against them). Just as the aforementioned claim, despite the omission of a number of narrators that appear in the chain of narration, is similar to claiming that Ibn Qulawayh had knowledge of the unseen.


A critique against the opinion that the tawthiq refers to all of the author’s teachers (the third phase)

This is the opinion al Khu’i settled on before his death. Jafar al Subhani states, “Al Khu’i used to rely on his opinion for years; however, he changed whatever it was. He built upon it and explicitly mentioned his opinion in a special paper that was (eventually) published.”[20]

This paper, or booklet, is what ‘Ali Safar ‘Ali al Musawai al Kharsani alluded to when he stated, “Al Sayed’s view changed in relation to Ibn Qulawayh’s tawthiq (of the narrators) of Kamil al Ziyarat. Our teacher, al ‘Allamah al Sayed Muhammad Hussain al Jalali sent us a booklet that contained an amendment in this regard. He informed us of it and what it contains on the 20 April 1992.”[21] He went on and cited the text of the booklet.

I have found a response to a recent fatwa given by al Khu’i. In it, he states:


بالنسبة إلى من ورد في أسانيد كامل الزيارت فقد رأينا أخيرا اختصاص التوثيق بخصوص المشايخ المروي عنهم بلا واسطة

In relation to what is mentioned in the chains of narration of Kamil al Ziyarat, our considered opinion, in the end, is that it (i.e., the tawthiq) is specific to the direct teachers only, without any intermediaries.[22]


Based on this opinion, the difference is stark. After the number was 388 narrators, because it is now restricted to his direct teachers only, they are no more than 32, according to al Subhani[23] and Muslim al Dawari’s[24] calculation, and, before them, al Nuri al Tabarsi (d. 1320 A.H).[25]

Based on this, the sum total will be 388 – 32 = 356 (i.e., removing 356 narrators). Any narrator from this amount about whom there is no tawthiq documented is regarded as majhul and, therefore, his narration is saqitah (wholly unreliable). They are as al Khu’i stated in his paper: the total amount is more than half!

The difference that comes about between all the narrators and specifically his teachers is incorrect. Perhaps this does not go beyond the scope of exercising a good opinion of Kamil al Ziyarats author. After exposing the gaps in the chains (like the existence of muhmal (neglected), weak, and other such narrators), al Khu’i himself alluded to this. He states in the previously mentioned work:


فصونا لكلامه عن الإخبار بما لا واقع له، لم يكن بد من حمل العبارة على خلاف ظاهرها بإرادة مشايخه الخاصة

In preserving his words[26] related to the reports—that have no reality, it is necessary to interpret his statement contrary to its apparent meaning. This is to say that he intended his teachers alone.[27]


His student, Muslim al Dawari expressed the same thing when he said:


غير أن مقتضى صون كلام ابن قولويه عن الإخبار على خلاف الواقع أن تحمل شهادته على إرادة مشايخه فقط

However, preserving the statement of Ibn Qulawayh regarding the reports is contrary to reality and requires that his testimony refer to his teachers alone.[28]


Therefore, al Khu’i and his student assumed Ibn Qulawayh’s statement to mean something it does not, and they took it off its apparent meaning and twisted his words out of fear that he should make a mistake. As if his words are sacred and necessary to follow!

For arguments sake, we will also twist his words and exercise a good opinion of Ibn Qulawayh. So, who are the 32 teachers he narrates from?

(I say) They are a group of narrators. Among them are those who are famous, such as Muhammad ibn Yaqub al Kulayni (d. 329 A.H), the author of the book al Kafi. There are (also) a number of majhul narrators who are unmentioned in the works of narrator criticism. Among them:


  1. The author’s father, Muhammad ibn Qulawayh; there is no mention of his tawthiq in the primary works of narrator evaluation. Al Najjashi’s statement that he is “among the best companions of Sa’d” is not a tawthiq for him. Even if we assume and accept the statement of al Najjashi, he is to be merely regarded as ‘mamduh (praised),’ and this is lower than the level of tawthiq.[29]
  2. Abu al Fadl Muhammad ibn Ahmed al Za’farani; there is absolutely no tawthiq of him.
  3. Muhammad ibn al Hussain ibn Mahziyar; “They did not mention him,” as stated by al Shaharudi.[30] There is no previous tawthiq of him.
  4. Abu al ‘Abbas Muhammad ibn Jafar al Qurashi al Razzaz; his condition in the works of narrator criticism is not known.
  5. Al Hussain ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa; “They did not mention him,” as stated by al Shaharudi.[31]
  6. His brother, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Qulawayh; “They did not mention him,” as stated by al Shaharudi.[32]
  7. Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Musa ibn Jafar al Musawi al ‘Alawi; I did not find any mention of jarh nor ta’dil in the primary works of narrator evaluation.
  8. Ahmed ibn ‘Ali ibn Mahdi ibn Sadaqah al Raqiyy; I did not find tawthiq of him in the primary works of narrator evaluation.
  9. ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Yaqub ibn Ishaq ibn ‘Ammar al Sayrafi; I did not find tawthiq for him.
  10. Abu al Hassan ‘Ali ibn al Hussain al Sa’dabadi; I did not find tawthiq for him.
  11. Al Hassan ibn al Zabarqan; “They did not mention him,” as stated by al Shaharudi.[33]
  12. Abu ‘Isa ‘Ubaidullah (‘Abdullah) ibn Fadl (al Fadl) ibn Muhammad ibn Hilal; “They did not mention him,” as stated by al Shaharudi.[34]
  13. Hakim ibn Dawood Hakim; “They did not mention him,” as stated by al Shaharudi.[35]
  14. Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn ‘Ali ibn Yaqub; “They did not mention him,” as stated by al Shaharudi.[36]


In conclusion, they feigned tawthiq of majhul narrators in order to protect the words of Ibn Qulawayh from being incorrect. This in itself is an error. It is the scourge of fanaticism and (the result of) deifying the statements of mere individuals. This is the outcome: It makes us take the religion of Allah from people about whom we know nothing of their condition, for fear of the sheikh’s mistake!

It should be noted that the first person to initiate this claim was the head of the Akhbariyyah in his time, al Hurr al ‘Amili (d. 1104 A.H). He mentioned it in the context of proving the validity and integrity of the school’s books. This is one of the deficiencies according to the Usuliyyah who oppose this methodology.

I previously alluded to the contradiction of al Khu’i and others in the lack of consideration for other books which stated the tawthiq of its narrators, as is the case of the book Man La Yahduruhu al Faqih of al Saduq. If a person were to say that there is a difference between the expressions in terms of their inferences, I mention the statement of al Shaharudi when he discusses the tawthiq of the narrators of Man La Yahduruhu al Faqih, “It is clear that that his words[37] are clearer and more indicative than the words of al Qummi in his Tafsir, Ibn Qulawayh in the beginning of the work Kamil al Ziyarat, and others.”[38]

Therefore, based on this, the opinion of differentiating (between these works) is clearly contradictory.

Finally, a number of Imami scholars have criticized this principle. By way of example, I will mention the following:

  1. ‘Ali al Abtahi states, “We have determined in its (appropriate) place the inability of establishing (all of the narrators’) reliability with that (statement).”[39]
  2. Al Sayed Kazim al Ha’iri states, “And in the chain of narration is Yazid ibn Ishaq. There is no proof of his reliability aside from the fact that he is mentioned in the sanad of Kamil al Ziyarat. Such things are of no consideration to us.”[40]
  3. Muhammad Ishaq al Fayad states, “His mere mention in its isnad[41] is not sufficient for tawthiq.”[42]
  4. ‘Ali al Sistani states, “‘Ali ibn al Hussain al Sa’dabadi. He is from those who tawthiq has not been made of, even though several (people) have established his reliability based on several weak arguments. From them is the fact that he is from the teachers of Ibn Qulawayh in the book Kamil al Ziyarat … His intent is not (to consider) the reliability of all those who are in the asanid of his narrations since among them are those about whom there is no doubt regarding their weakness. His intent is not (also) the (to consider) reliability of most of his teachers since some of them do not fit the characteristic(s) that he described them with, which is that they are famous for hadith and knowledge.”[43]



NEXT⇒ 1.4 Tawthiq of a narrator on account of Ibn al Walid including him from the book Nawadir al Hikmah and him deeming weak those who he excluded

[1] Al Tusi: al Fihrist, p. 71 (biography number 141).

[2] Ibn Qulawayh: Kamil al Ziyarat, p. 36.

[3] Ibid., p. 37.

[4] Al Hurr al ‘Amili: Wasa’il al Shia, 20/68. He stated this under the sixth point.

[5] Al Tabarsi: Khatimat Mustadrak al Wasa’il, 3/252.

[6] Al Ayrawani: Durus Tamhidiyyah fi al Qawa’id al Rijaliyyah, p. 176 in the marginal notes.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Al Khu’i: Mujam Rijal al Hadith, 1/50.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Al Mu’allim: Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal bayna al Nazariyyah wa al Tatbiq, 1/323.

[11] Al Ayrawani: Durus Tamhidiyyah fi al Qawa’id al Rijaliyyah, p. 178.

[12] P. 375 (in the footnote). He stated something similar in more than just a footnote. See, for example, p. 78.

[13] Jafar al Subhani transmits this from him in Kulliyyat fi ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 300. In spite of this, al Subhani documented in his other work, Durus Mujazah fi ‘Ilmay al Rijal wa al Dirayah, that they total 380! See: p. 92 of Durus Mujazah fi ‘Ilmay al Rijal wa al Dirayah.

[14] Al Ayrawani: Durus Tahhidiyyah fi al Qawa’id al Rijaliyyah, p. 176.

[15] Al Najjashi: Rijal al Najjashi, p. 226 (biography no. 594).

[16] Ibid., p. 235 (biography no. 621).

[17] 2:360.

[18] Al Hilli: Khulasat al Aqwal, p. 334 (biography no. 1320), under the section of weak narrators. Some of the words mentioned about him also mention the same in relation to his father.

[19] Al Dawari: Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal bayna al Nazariyyah wa al Tatbiq, 1/323.

[20] Al Subhani: Durus Mujazah fi ‘Ilmay al Rijal wa al Dirayah, p. 94.

[21] He mentioned this in the introduction of his edited version (muqaadimat al tahqiq) of Rijal al Majlisi, p. 45. This is an excellent and valuable introduction.

[22] Al Tabrizi: Sirat al Najat, 2:457. The book is made up of a number of inquires (istifta’at) directed to al Khu’i in relation to all of the chapters of the religion. Al Tabrizi collected all of them.

[23] Al Subhani: Kulliyyat fi ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 304.

[24] Al Dawari: Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal bayna al Nazariyyah wa al Tatbiq, 1/324.

[25] Al Tabarsi: Khatimat Mustadrak al Wasa’il, 3/255

[26] Meaning, “In protecting the words of Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Qulawayh, the author of the book.”

[27] Muqaddimat Rijal al Najjashi, p. 46.

[28] Al Dawari: Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal bayna al Nazariyyah wa al Tatbiq, 1/323.

[29] Al Najjashi: Rijal al Najjashi, p. 123 (biography number 318). He stated this under the biography of his son, Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Qulawayh.

[30] Al Shaharudi: Mustadrakat ‘Ilm al Rijal, 7/37 (biography number 13065).

[31] Ibid., 2/425.

[32] Ibid., 5/466.

[33] Ibid., 2/388.

[34] Ibid., 5/191.

[35] Ibid., 3/247.

[36] Mustadrakat ‘Ilm al Rijal, 6/432.

[37] He means the authentication of al Saduq’s book and the tawthiq of his narrators, which total 393.

[38] Mustadrakat ‘Ilm al Rijal, 1/63.

[39] ‘Ali al Abtahi: Risalah fi Thubut al Hilal, p.104.

[40] Kazim al Ha’iri: al Qada’ fi al Fiqh al Islami, p. 488.

[41] He means Kamil al Ziyarat.

[42] Al Fayyad: Ta’aliq Mabsutah, 5/61 (under the commentary).

[43] Al Sistani: Qa’idat La Darar wa la DirarTaqrir Bahth al Sistani, pp. 21-22.