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Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Yahya ibn ‘Imran al Ash’ari al Qummi authored his work Nawadir al Hikmah. Al Najjashi states:
كان ثقة في الحديث، إلا أن أصحابنا قالوا كان يروي عن الضعفاء ويعتمد المراسيل ولا يبالي عمن أخذ وما عليه في نفسه مطعن في شيء
He was a thiqah in hadith; however, our companions have stated, “He used to narrate from weak narrators and rely on marasil (pl. mursal). He did not care much from whom he received (knowledge). He himself has no criticism levelled against him.”
And he (i.e., al Najjashi) said:
نوادر الحكمة هو كتاب حسن كبير
Nawadir al Hikmah is an extensive, great work.
Thereafter, Muhammad ibn al Hassan ibn al Walid—the sheikh and jurist of the people of Qum—excluded several narrators from this book and rejected their narrations, thus implying thereby that they are unacceptable for the purpose of narrating. A number of Imami scholars concurred with him in his exclusion of narrators, with an unmentioned dispute about one or some of the narrators. The number of excluded narrators from this book is twenty-four. Al Tusi added an additional two narrators in al Fihrist.
Muhammad ibn al Hassan ibn al Walid also rejected the statement that the author puts forward “from a person (‘an rajulin),” or “from some of our companions (‘an ba’d ashabina)” on account of them being clearly and ostensibly unknown.
Based on this, it is safe for us to say that:
Muhammad Rida Jadidi narrated for us several opinions of the Imami scholars regarding the consequences of the opinion that makes tawthiq of the narrators who are included. I summarize it as follows:
أنها شهادة العدالة أنها أمارة الاعتماد بل ربما يكون أمارة الوثاقة أقل مراتب المدح بل ربما جعل طريقا إلى التوثيق
It is a testimony of ‘adalah—it is an indication of him being dependable. In fact, it can even be a sign of tawthiq—the lowest level of praise (for a narrator); it can even pave the way to tawthiq.
However, what is interesting is the fact that the Imami scholars mentioned their acceptance of Ibn al Walid’s exclusions and the fact that it is considered a form of rebuke of the narrator since the time of al Tusi (d. 460 AH). In fact, even before al Tusi, Ibn Babawayh (d. 381 AH) held this opinion. The apparent meaning of Ibn al Mutahhir al Hilli’s words also indicate that he too relied on the principle that those who are excluded are to be considered da’if, as it appears in several places in his book Khulasat al Aqwal. In this regard, he criticizes those narrators whom Ibn al Walid excluded, as is the case in the biography of Muhammad ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Ubaid, Muhammad ibn Musa ibn ‘Isa, Muhammad ibn Ahmed al Jamurani, Yusuf ibn al Sakht.
Ostensibly, al Khu’i’s words indicate acceptance of the claim of tad’if (deeming a narrator to be weak) and not necessarily the claim of tawthiq (i.e., for those narrators that were included), as is apparent in many places. This will be discussed later along with the difference of opinion regarding some narrators, such as Muhammad ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Ubaid. However, I did not find any mention from those mentioned on the issue of considering, or making tawthiq of the narrators whom Ibn al Walid did include. This view only came about with the last of the latter-day scholars. It seems as though it only came about as an attempt to save a number of their narrators from being considered majhul and to rather make tawthiq of them—as has been their practice in distorting the principles of tawthiq.
In applying this principle, there is a difference of opinion among the Imami scholars who consider every narrator whom Ibn al Walid did include as either a thiqah (reliable) or maqbul (accepted): Does this include all of the narrators of the book? Or, is it only specific to the direct teachers of the author?
Jafar al Subhani is of the opinion that this principle is only applicable to the direct teachers. He states:
التصحيح والاستثناء راجعان إلى مشايخه بلا واسطة لا كل من جاء اسمه في إسناد ذلك الكتاب منتهيا إلى الإمام
The act of authenticating and exclusion (from Ibn al Walid’s book), both, apply to his direct teaches only, not every single person whose name is mentioned in the isnad of that book ending with the Imam.
Muslim al Dawuri disagreed with al Subhani. He elaborated on the matter saying:
قد يحتمل أن المستثنى خصوص المشايخ المباشرين حتى تكون نتيجة ذلك توثيق المشايخ المباشرين الذين لم يستثنوا لا أنه شامل لجميع أفراد السند ولكن هذا الاحتمال أيضا في غير محله وذلك لعدة قرائن منها أن بعض أفراد المستثنى ليس من المشايخ المباشرين لمحمد بن أحمد كوهب بن منبه فإنه يروي عن الصادق عليه السلام فكيف يمكن أن يروي عنه مباشرة ومنها ما تقدم من أن الصدوق عد نوادر الحكمة من الكتب المشهورة المعول عليها والمراد بذلك طبعا بعد الاستثناء كما هو واضح فإذا كان موردا للعمل فلابد وأن يكون النظر في الاستثناء إلى اعتبار سائر الرواة وبقية الأسانيد ( مع أنه مع مشايخه يعتبرون الوثاقة في العمل بالرواية ) لا خصوص المشايخ المباشرين
It is possible that the excluded (narrators) are specific to the direct teachers (of the author) with the end result leading to the tawthiq of all the direct teachers who were included—and not that it involves all individuals of the sanad. However, this possibility is also out-of-place. This is because of a number of factors.
One such factor is based on the fact that some of the individuals that were excluded were not of the direct teachers of Muhammad ibn Ahmed, such as Wahb ibn Munabbih. He narrates from al Sadiq ‘alayh al Salam, so how is it possible that he directly narrates from him?
Another factor is that, as mentioned, al Saduq regarded Nawadir al Hikmah to be of the celebrated, relied-upon books. What is meant by this, of course, is that it is relied-upon after the narrators were excluded. Therefore, if the book is in a position to be acted upon (i.e., acceptable), then due consideration should be given to all of the narrators and the rest of the asanid (although, with his teachers, they considered reliability based on acting upon the narration), not specifically the direct teachers.
This principle is, generally speaking, similar to the previous principles in relation to how weak the inference made from it is based on its intended usage—on account of the many objections raised against it.
The author of Nawadir al Hikmah did not mention that his work is authentic—as is the case with the previous books—such that whoever was excluded is da’if and the remaining (narrators) are considered to be apparently sound.
The narrators were merely excluded as a precautionary measure and not necessarily based on the science of al jarh wa al ta’dil. Therefore, it cannot be said that whoever was included is necessarily a thiqah. Muhammad al Sanad importantly states, “The correct view is that inclusion (i.e., of the narrators) does not indicate tawthiq. This is because the practice of the Qummis in this and other such instances is (usually) based on the method of sifting through ahadith and separating them from foisted, fabricated, and obfuscated narrations. They would resort to this method since it is quite evident that they neither restricted themselves to only narrating from reliable narrators nor appraised reports. How many narrations of a Qummi, such as Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa … and other such notable Qummi narrators—jurists and hadith experts alike—can a person find wherein such individuals narrate from both weak, good, and other such narrators? This is a proof that what is meant by them from the excluded (narrators) is merely to not narrate from them in order to avoid narrating a fabricated hadith, or a hadith that has been clearly foisted, or a hadith that has clear signs of obfuscation.”
Al Khu’i rejected the issue of Ibn al Walid’s reliance on the narrator (i.e., that was included) and that it does not imply tawthiq or tahsin (goodness). He refutes this issue in his words that also include the issue of Kitab al Nawadir. He states:
إن اعتماد ابن الوليد أو غيره من الاعلام المتقدمين فضلا عن المتأخرين على رواية شخص والحكم بصحتها لا يكشف عن وثاقة الراوي أو حسنه ، وذلك لاحتمال أن الحاكم بالصحة يعتمد على أصالة العدالة ، ويرى حجية كل رواية يرويها مؤمن لم يظهر منه فسق ، وهذا لا يفيد من يعتبر وثاقة الراوي أو حسنه في حجية خبره . هذا بالإضافة إلى تصحيح ابن الوليد وأضرابه من القدماء ، الذين قد يصرحون بصحة رواية ما ، أو يعتمدون عليها من دون تعرض لوثاقة رواتها وأما الصدوق فهو يتبع شيخه في التصحيح وعدمه ، كما صرح هو نفسه بذلك
The reliance of Ibn al Walid and other earlier notables—let alone other latter-day scholars—on the narration of an individual and judging it to be authentic does not necessarily reveal the said narrator’s goodness or reliability. This is because it is possible that the person judging it to be authentic is relying on the presumption that the narrator already possesses ‘adalah (integrity) from the beginning (asalat al ‘adalah). And that he considers as binding proof the narration of a believer who has no apparent fisq. This does not necessarily imply such a narrator’s report is also binding proof. This is in addition to the authentication of Ibn al Walid and his likes from the earlier scholars, those who used to explicitly authenticate a hadith and rely on it without getting into (investigating) the reliability of its narrators. As for al Saduq, he followed his teacher in authenticating and not authenticating (ahadith), as he himself stated.
He stated something similar when he mentioned those who regard Ibn al Walid’s inclusion as a proof of their tawthiq. He states, “Ibn al Walid’s inclusion in his narrators reveals Ibn Walid’s reliance on them and, therefore, he will judge them to be reliable. The answer to that has already been given under the biography of Ibrahim ibn Hammawayh.” When I went back to the biography of Ibrahim ibn Hammawayh, I found him referring us back to his previous words that he mentioned on page seventy in volume one. This proves that his previous words are not only specific to the tawthiq of the earlier scholars; rather, it also includes Nawadir al Hikmah.
In three points, Muhammad Asif Muhsini refutes this opinion:
أولاً أن الاستثناء يرجع إلى الروايات ومتونها دون أسانيدها, فلا يستفاد منه ضعف الذين استثنى روايتهم ولا وثاقة من لم يستثن روايتهم وهذا ظاهر .
ثانيا يمكن أن يكون السر في الاستثناء هو العلم ببطلان المتون في المذهب, فلا يدل على صحّة بقية الروايات فإن المستثنى منها هي الروايات الصحيحة و المجهولة معاً دون خصوص الأولى
ثالثا لو فرضنا دلالة الاستثناء على صحة سائر الروايات التي لم تستثن, فلا نقبله لأن تصحيح المتون و إبطالها أمر اجتهادي لا يجب أو لا يجوز تقليد مجتهد لمجتهد آخر
فلا يستفاد من الاستثناء المذكور شيئ فسبحان من جعل الأفكار متفاوتة و مسائل علم الرجال متزلزلة
Firstly, he states that the exclusion goes back to the narrations and their texts, not their asanid. Therefore, it can neither be understood therefrom that the narrations of those whom he excluded are weak, nor that the narrations of those whom he did not exclude are reliable. This is self-evident.
Secondly, it is possible that the secret in this exclusion is because of knowing that the texts, according to the school, are false. Therefore, it does not prove the authenticity of the other narrations, since whatever was excluded from comprise both authentic and unknown narrations, and not specifically the former.
Thirdly, if we assume that the exclusion suggests the authenticity of all the narrations in which narrators were not excluded, we still cannot accept this. This is because authenticating texts and rendering them batil (false) is an ijtihadi (discretionary) matter. It is neither compulsory nor permitted for a mujtahid to follow another mujtahid in such a matter. Therefore, nothing can be gained from the aforementioned exclusion. Glory be to Him who made ideas divergent and the issues of narrator criticism wavering and open.
‘Ali Akbar al Saifi al Mazandarani states:
و أشكل المحقق الخوئي على ذلك, بأن اعتماد ابن الوليد لا يكشف عن حُسن هؤلاء, فضلاً عن وثاقتهم, إذ لعله كان يبني على أصالة العدالة و العمل برواية كل شيعي لم يظهر منه فسق و الظاهر أن كلامه متين و إشكاله في محله فإن استثناء ابن الوليد بعض رجال النوادر لما ثبت له من جرحهم أو لقرائن موجبة لسقوط روايتهم عن الاعتبار عنده, ليس بمعنى شهادته على وثاقة ساير رجاله, كما هو واضح, إذ لعل عدم استثنائه سائر الرجال كان لبنائه على أصالة عدالة من لم يرد فيه قدحٌ, أو لبنائه على عدالة كل شيعيٍّ لم يظهر فيه فسق, كما قال المحقق المذكور, مع ما عُلِمَ من ديدن القدماء, من عدم انحصار ملاكات صحة الحديث في وثاقة رواته, كما قلناه مراراً
Al Khu’i found a problem with that since Ibn al Walid’s doing does not necessarily reveal the goodness of these (other) narrators, let alone their reliability. This is because he may have built upon the premise that all Shia narrators have ‘adalah (integrity) and that their narrations should be acted upon when there is no apparent sign of fisq (sin). The ostensible meaning of his words is sound and his objection is in its place. This is the case, since Ibn al Walid excluded several narrators from al Nawadir—when it is proven to him that their jarh was made, or, because of (other) factors necessitating their narrations be discarded from being considered—this does not mean it is his testimony to the reliability of all the other narrators, as is clear. Perhaps his inclusion of all the narrators is premised upon the fact that he considers all narrators to already possess ‘adalah as long as there is nothing disparaging (said) of him. Or, it is based on the fact that he maybe considers every Shia narrator to possess ‘adalah as long as there is no apparent fisq (sin), as mentioned by the above-mentioned scholar. Despite what is known from the practice of the earlier scholars in not restricting the characteristics of the authenticity of hadith in the mere reliability of its narrators, as we have mentioned on multiple occasions.
Muhammad ibn al Hassan ibn al Walid is from the extreme school of the Qummis, those who have become famous for their extreme and radical views. In debating with the Qummis, Diya’ al Din al Mahmudi refutes some of what is referred to as al usul al riwa’iyyah (narration principles) and states:
هو من جملة تشدد القميين المعروف الذي هو في غير محله, و الصدوق تابع لشيخه هذا في الجرح والتعديل, وجمود الأتقياء قد يكون أضر في الدين من تساهل الفسقة
It is from the overall well-known extreme nature of the Qummis, which is misplaced. Al Saduq is a follower of his teacher in matters of al jarh wa al ta’dil. The rigidity of the pious can sometimes be more harmful in the religion than the carelessness of the transgressors.
The school of the Qummis holds specific beliefs contrary to the rest of the Imamiyyah. Thus, they differ with them on issues of creed which eventually negatively influenced their statements of al jarh wa al ta’dil. To such an extent that they began accusing people for the smallest of things, as the contemporary Imamis maintain. This matter reached such a point with them that they even attempted to kill those who opposed them, as Ibn al Ghada’iri mentioned under the biography of Muhammad ibn Awramah when he was accused of holding extreme views. The Asha’irah agreed to kill him at night!
They rejected certain narrators from Qum, as stated by al Kashshi under the biography of al Hussain ibn ‘Abdullah al Muharrar; he was expelled from Qum at a time when they would expel anyone who they accused of holding extreme views.
Therefore, the methodology of the Qummis in al jarh wa al ta’dil—at the head of which is Ibn al Walid and Ibn al Ghada’iri—is unsatisfactory to many scholars of the Imamiyyah because of the extreme nature of their positions. Al Wahid al Bahbahani (d. 1206 AH) states:
أن كثيرا من القدماء سيما القميين منهم و الغضائري كانوا يعتقدون للأئمة (ع) منزلة خاصة من الرفعة و الجلالة ومرتبة معينة من العصمة والكمال بحسب اجتهادهم ورأيهم وما كانوا يجوزون التعدي عنها, وكانوا يعدون التعدي ارتفاعا وغلوا على حسب معتقدهم حتى أنهم جعلوا مثل السهو عنهم غلوا …. وبالجملة الظاهر أن القدماء كانوا مختلفين في المسائل الأصولية أيضا فربما كان شيء عند بعضهم فاسدا أو كفرا غلوا أو تفويضا أو جبرا أو تشبيها أو غير ذلك, وكان عند آخر مما يجب اعتقاده
Many of the earlier scholars, especially the Qummis among them and al Ghada’iri, used to believe, according to their opinion and independent judgement, that the Imams held both a high and exalted rank high, and a designated rank of perfection and infallibility. They would not permit going beyond this. For them, going beyond this would be considered a form of extremism, according to their varying beliefs. To such an extent that they considered a mistake on their part as (a form of) extremism… In general, it seems as though the latter-day scholars would differ in regards to the primary issues as well; it is possible for some to consider something completely fasid (false) or to be a form of extreme kufr, or for a theological issue to imply tafwid (relegation), jabar (coercion), tashbih (anthropomorphism), or something similar and, for others, necessary to believe.
Therefore, the statements of narrator criticism by the Qummis are not relied-upon.
We also say to those who consider as reliable the narrators who have been included: Is it possible for you to mention to us the names of those you claim are reliable in the book Nawadir al Hikmah? How can their names be known when the book is lost and there is no trace of it? It is for this reason that Muslim al Dawari counted the number of narrators that Muhammad ibn Ahmed al Ash’ari, the author of the book, narrated from. He gathered them from books other than Nawadir al Hikmah, such as the two Tahdhibs of al Tusi and al Faqih of al Saduq. He did this because the book Nawadir al Hikmah is lost and does not exist. The number of narrators reached 646.
The act of al Dawari gathering (the names of) those who Muhammad al Ash’ari narrated from does not actually bring about the desired result. This is because al Ash’ari’s narration from a teacher in any given book does not necessarily mean that he narrated from him in another book. Therefore, al Ash’ari narrating from so-and-so, as transmitted from al Tusi in Tahdhib al Ahkam does not mean this, and it is (also) not necessary that his narration from that particular narrator be in the lost book, Nawadir al Hikmah.
In providing the foundational basis for an important principle, Asif Muhsini states:
لم يدلل على أن الشيخ [ الطوسي ] لم يرو في التهذيبين عن غير كتاب نوادر الحكمة لمحمد بن أحمد بن يحيى إذ مع احتمال روايته عنه في غيره لا مجال لتوثيق كل من روى عنه محمد بن أحمد بن يحيى حتى على نظره
It cannot be corroborated that al Sheikh (al Tusi) did not narrate in the two Tahdhibs from other than the book Nawadir al Hikmah of Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Yahya. Because with the possibility of narrating from him somewhere else, it is not the place of tawthiq of every narrator from whom Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Yahya narrated from, even in his own eyes.
Therefore, it is not possible to accept the claim of anyone’s narration in Nawadir al Hikmah except with explicit textual evidence. And, even with this, it does not necessarily mean tawthiq (of that narrator), as mentioned. Rather, to explain the falsity of whoever claims knowledge of the narrators of that book. An example of this is al Saduq explicitly mentioning that he took hadith from Nawadir al Hikmah. He mentioned in the beginning that he transmits in al Faqih from sources, including Nawadir al Hikmah. Then he states in the book, “In the book of Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Yahya ibn ‘Imran al Ash’ari from — Ibrahim ibn Hashim from —Muhammad ibn Sinan…”
This is clear textual evidence that is neither interpretable nor open to (different) possibilities that proves Ibrahim ibn Hashim and Muhammad ibn Sinan are from the narrators of this book. Other than this cannot be accepted in relation to establishing the existence of so-and-so a narrator in Nawadir al Hikmah. Therefore, only if there is clear textual evidence (will we accept such a claim). If not, then such a claim remains unfounded. This is simply because the claim lacks clear proof. In addition to this, also bearing in mind that the mere existence of a narrator in this book does not necessarily give credit to him.
In any case, I reviewed all the names that al Dawuri mentioned. I took assistance from the book al Mufid min Mu’jam Rijal al Hadith, so as to know the condition of the narrators whom the proponents of this principle claim that they exist in the book. Accordingly, the number of narrators, whose names are complete—so as to ease study of their biographies—whom the book al Mufid judged to be Majhul are 135, which is a summary of the statements of al Khu’i. Therefore, what tawthiq are they speaking of?
All of this knowing that I have left out the biographies of two-hundred narrators who share similar names with many narrators, or are unknown and require the researcher to extend much effort in figuring out the state of each narrator. I also did not mention the narrator who has been described as ‘weak,’ or has been described as ‘malignant,’ or such a narrator whose tawthiq has not been established. This is only regarding the majhul narrators!
After this, how can it be said that whoever exists in the chain of narration of Nawadir al Hikmah is regarded as reliable, knowing that the number contains narrators more than half of who are either majhul, da’if, or khabith (wretched)?
NEXT⇒ Chapter Two: Between al Hilli and al Khu’i: The Critics Whose Statements in al Jarh wa al Ta’dil Are Relied Upon – 2.1 The critics of the Shia Imamiyyah whose statements are relied upon in al jarh wa al ta’dil
 Al Najjashi: Rijal al Najjashi, p. 349 (biography no. 939).
 Ibid., p. 383, biography no. 1042.
 He is Muhammad ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Ubaid ibn Yaqtin. He narrated from him with a munqati’ (broken) isnad. There is a lengthy discussion in this regard that al Khu’i mentions under his biography, as mentioned in al Mu’jam, 18/122, biography no. 11536.
 See Muhammad ‘Ali al Mu’allim: Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal bayna al Nazariyyah wa al Tatbiq, 1/202; Kulliyyat fi ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 292; al Subhani: Durus Mujazah fi ‘Ilmay al Rijal wa al Dirayah, p. 86; Ahmed al Basri: Fa’iq al Maqal, p. 47.
 Such as al Tusi, for example, as in the biography of Muhammad ibn ‘Isa al Yaqtin, biography no. 612, p. 171. He states, “He is weak (da’if). Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Babawayh excluded him from the narrators of Nawadir al Hikmah.” This is because Ibn Babawayh would follow his teacher, Ibn al Walid, in relation to this principle. The evidence shows that accepting the criticism of Ibn al Walid is an old opinion and is nothing new.
 Al Khu’i: Mu’jam Rijal al Hadith, 16/52.
 Jadidi: Mu’jam Mustalahat al Rijal wa al Dirayah, p. 130.
 Al Subhani: Kulliyyat fi ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 293.
 Al Dawuri: Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal Bayna al Nazariyyah wa al Tatbiq, 1/251.
 Muhammad al Sanad: Buhuth fi Mabani ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 145.
 Al Khu’i: Mu’jam Rijal al Hadith, 1:70.
 Ibid., 13/54.
 Asif Muhsini: Buhuth fi ‘Ilm
 ‘Ali Akbar al Mazandarani: Miqyas al Ruwat fi Kulliyyat ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 165.
 Al Usul al Sittah ‘Ashara min al Usul al Awwaliyyah, p. 28. Al Saduq also followed Ibn al Walid on the issue of Ibn al Walid’s exclusions; he is a mere follower of his in most of his opinions.
 He is not referring to the famous scholastic theological school; rather, he means here the Asha’irah from Qum in terms of their lineage, not creed.
 Ibn al Ghada’iri: al Rijal, p. 94.
 Al Tusi: Ikhtiyar Ma’rifat al Rijal, p. 512, biography no. 990.
 Al Wahid al Bahbahani: Ta’liqatun ‘ala Manhaj al Maqal li al Astrabadi, 1/128 (under the second point entitled “Qawluhum Kana min Ahl al Tayyarah”).
 Al Dawari: Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal bayna al Nazariyyah wa al Tatbiq, 1:211.
 Asif Muhsini: Buhuth fi ‘Ilm al Rijal (4th ed.), p. 477 (in the margin).
 Al Saduq: Man La Yahduruhu al Faqih, 1/562. hadith no. 1549.