2.3 The Methodology of al Hilli and al Khu’i when the scholars’ statements of al jarh wa al ta’dil contradict

2.2 The non-Imami critics whose statements are relied upon in al jarh wa al ta’dil according to the Shia Imamiyyah
December 13, 2021
2.4 The position of al Khu’i in light of the scholars’ statements of tawthiq before him
December 13, 2021

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2.3 The Methodology of al Hilli and al Khu’i when the scholars’ statements of al jarh wa al ta’dil contradict

 

Contradictory statements in al jarh wa al ta’dil from the scholars’ is one of the more significant issues that the scholars of narrator criticism have dealt with. And because of the sheer number of contradictions in al jarh wa al ta’dil present in the Imamiyyah’s dictionaries of narrator evaluation, some of them have even gone the way of completely eliminating the science of narrator criticism [or attempting to do so]. Here we have al Bahrani complaining about the excessive number of contradictions in this chapter:

 

فلاضطراب كلامهم في الجرح والتعديل على وجه لا يقبل الجمع والتأويل فترى الواحد منهم يخالف نفسه فضلا عن غيره فهذا يقدم الجرح على التعديل وهذا يقول لا يقدم إلا مع عدم إمكان الجمع وهذا يقدم النجاشي على الشيخ وهذا ينازعه ويطالبه بالدليل وبالجملة فالخائض في الفن يجزم بصحة ما ادعيناه والبناء من أصله لما كان على غير أساس كثر الانتقاض فيه والالتباس

And so, because of their confusing statements in al jarh wa al ta’dil—statements that cannot accept jam’ wa ta’wil (combining/reconciling and interpreting)[1], you see one of them contradicting himself—let along others. One person (for example), prefers the jarh over the ta’dil. And then this (other) person says it is not to be preferred unless it is proven that jam’ (i.e., the act of combing the opinions together) is impossible. Another person (for example) prefers al Najjashi over al Sheikh (al Tusi). And then another person argues with him and demands proof from him. In short, whoever gets into this subject will attest to the accuracy of what we claim. And because the edifice (of this science) was not built upon sound principles, there is a lot of confusion and criticism against it.[2]

 

Both Ibn al Mutahhar al Hilli and Abu al Qasim al Khu’i are of those who dealt with the scholars’ differences in al jarh wa al ta’dil in their respective books. However, before getting into the details regarding the different approaches adopted by the scholars in dealing with the contradictory statements in al jarh wa al ta’dil, it is necessary to mention two issues that are particularly related to al Khu’i in this section. Firstly, al Khu’i has an adhered to method before getting into the contradictory statements of the scholars of narrator criticism. That is, that the statement should be proven to come from that particular scholar. We have already seen that al Khu’i immediately rejects the statements of Ibn al Ghada’iri, Ibn Numair, and al ‘Aqiqi because they are not proven, according to his viewpoint, to have come from them. Therefore, he generally does not occupy himself with considering their statements.

Secondly, al Khu’i does not regard the statements of the latter-day Imami scholars of narrator criticism as included in the discussion on contradictory reports. This is because he categorically does not consider them valid, as will be discussed in detail in the next section.

Similar to al Khu’i, there are several issues specifically related to al Hilli in this regard. Firstly, al Hilli considers the statements of some of the scholars of narrator criticism among the statements that merely lend support to others’ pre-existing statements and, as such, do not enter into the core of the difference. This is evident from what we have seen of him considering the statements of Ibn Numair as merely lending support for others (statements), while al Khu’i rejects them altogether.

Secondly, al Hilli has an adhered to methodology in which he differs with al Khu’i. This is because the creed of the person making jarh or ta’dil has a great bearing on the acceptance of his statements, if authentically attributed to him. This is contrary to the opinion of al Khu’i who does not consider the person who is making jarh or ta’dil’s creed and neither the creed of the narrator when accepting and not accepting his statements, since it is not considered in (determining) ‘adalah (integrity).

These four issues are broad lines and general principles that are not universal. It is necessary to point an issue at this juncture, that is, that the scholars of the Imamiyyah did not define a precise principle in regards to contradictory statements from the scholars of al jarh wa al ta’dil. For example, al Subhani states:

 

إذا تعارض الجرح و التعديل فهل يقدم قول الجارح مطلقا أو المعدل كذلك أو يقدم الكثير منهما على الأقل

When there is a contradiction between a (statement of) jarh and (a statement of) ta’dil, is the statement of the one making jarh to be preferred absolutely, or, is the statement of the one making ta’dil to be preferred absolutely, or, is the one with more (statements) to be preferred over the one with less (statements)?[3]

 

We find al Subhani dealing with the issue of contradictory statements without getting into the one making jarh or one making ta’dil as a person. This is an adhered to method; while we find another principle mentioned by more than one person, among them, ‘Abdul Hadi al Fadli. He states:

 

مما ينبغي أن يثار البحث فيه ماذكر من تقدم قول الشيخ النجاشي عند المعارضة بينه وبين قول غيره من الرجاليين المتقدمين أمثال الكشي والطوسي

Among the things that should be discussed is what was mentioned regarding giving the statement of Al Sheikh al Najjashi’s preference when there is a contradiction between it and the statement of other narrator critics’ from the early generation, such as al Kashshi and al Tusi.[4]

 

Here, we find much difference in the matter. While the first principle is not associated with individuals; rather, with proof and evidence. While we find the second (principle) presents the opinion of the individual himself as a proof to be preferred over others by taking into account his status, notability, and knowledge.

The two issues can be summarized in the following manner. Firstly, when there is a contradiction between the statements of jarh and ta’dil, which of the two is to be given preference? Al Fadli states:

 

وصلت الأقوال في المسألة بتفصيلاتها إلى تسعة أقوال ولكن المهم هو التالي

There are nine (different) opinions, with all of their detail, on the issue. However, the most important are the following.

 

Then he mentioned the following three opinions, which I have summarized as follows:

 

  1. Overall preference of jarh;
  2. Overall preference of tawthiq;
  3. Detail: 1) The possibility of jam’, or gathering and reconciling between the varying statements, and 2) the impossibility of jam’, or gathering and reconciling between the varying statements.[5]

 

In short, these are the opinions on the issue. However, al Fadli in his discussion on the impossibility of reconciliation alluded to the following:

 

الرجوع إلى المرجحات من الأكثرية و الأعدلية الأضبطية ونحوها

Returning (i.e., to find an answer) to the (different) murijjihat (i.e., the statements that merely lend support to others’, pre-existing ones’) in the form of akthariyyah (majority opinions), a’daliyyah (opinions that contain narrators with the most integrity), and adbatiyyah (opinions that contain narrators with the most precision).

 

Thus, we find al Fadli alluding to, or directing towards—even though it be from a distance—the second principle that is related to the individual person making tawthiq, the individual person making jarh, and their ‘adalah and dabt (precision). In addressing this issue, al Astarabadi states:

 

التحقيق أن شيئاً منها ليس بأولى من التقديم من حيث هو جرح أو تعديل وكثرة الجارح أو المعدل أيضا لا اعتداد بها بل الحق بالاعتبار في الجارح أو المعدل قوة التمهّر وشدّة التبصّر وتعوّد التمرّن على استقصاء الفحص و إنفاق المجهود

In reality, none of them is worthier of being preferred (over others) in terms of jarh or ta’dil. There is also no consideration to be given to the fact that there may be more people making jarh or ta’dil. In fact, the truth in regards to what is to be considered in the person making jarh or ta’dil is the strength of his ability, the foresightedness, and the practice of thoroughly investigating and exercising all conceivable effort therein.[6]

 

Like this, we find some of the Imami scholars considering (as the most correct view) the most knowledgeable person’s opinion in the science, even if the criticism raised against the narrator is detailed, as will be seen.

Secondly, preferring the statement of al Najashi over others when there are contradictory opinions from the scholars of al jarh wa al ta’dil is the position of the majority of Imami scholars, irrespective of the principle of preferring jarh or preferring ta’dil. This is what al Astarabadi expressed in his previous statement with the words, “What is to be considered in the person making jarh or ta’dil is the strength of his ability, the foresightedness, and the practice of thoroughly investigating and exercising all conceivable effort therein.” Al Subhani states:

 

و الحق أن علماء الرجال الذين هم أصحاب الجرح والتعديل ليسوا على درجة واحدة في الوقوف على خصوصيات الراوي فمنهم واقف على خصوصيات الراوي بكافة تفاصيلها ومنهم من هو دون ذلك وإن كان له معرفة بالرجال فلذلك إذا تعارضت تزكية النجاشي مع جرح الشيخ [الطوسي] فيقدم الأوّل على الثاني وما هذا إلا لأن النجاشي كان له إلمام واسع بهذا الفن في حين أن الشيخ [الطوسي] مع جلالته صرف عمره الشريف في علوم شتّى

The truth is that the scholars of narrator criticism—those who are the people of al jarh wa al ta’dil—are not on one level in terms of knowing the specifics of the narrator. There are those who know the specifics of the narrator with all of its detail, and there are those who know less than that, even though they have (general) knowledge of narrators. Thus, when there is contradiction between the statement of al Najjashi that deems a particular narrator as reliable and the statement of Al Sheikh (al Tusi), the former’s opinion will be preferred over the latter. This is simply because al Najjashi possessed extensive knowledge of this science, whereas Al Sheikh (al Tusi), despite his notability, dedicated his noble life to a number of (different) sciences.[7]

 

Al Khaqani (d. 1334 AH) states:

 

يؤخذ بقول الأرجح منهما كيف كان لكثرة اطلاعه وسعة باعه أو لكونه الأتقن أو الأخبر بحاله…ومن ذلك ترجيح تزكية النجاشي على جرح الشيخ [الطوسي] وتزكيتهما على جرح ابن الغضائري لتسرعه بالقدح جدا

The most preponderant opinion will be taken from the two, whatever it may be. This is because of his extensive and profound knowledge, or, because he is more precise or he knows more about his condition… From this comes giving preference to the tawthiq of al Najjashi over the jarh of al Sheikh (al Tusi), as well as both of their statements of tawthiq over the jarh of Ibn al Ghada’iri because of how hasty he is in criticizing (narrators).[8]

 

Bahr al ‘Ulum (d. 1212 AH) preferred the statement of al Najjashi regarding narrators over Sheikh al Ta’ifah al Tusi and justified it doing so with five reasons.[9]

From here, we find that the Imami scholars, in general, rely on individuals more than the principle of preferring a detailed jarh or ta’dil, or any other such principles since they tied preponderancy with (particular) individuals, as is clear from the previous texts. Based on this, the correct opinion according to the majority of Imami scholars is to not rely on the issue of preferring a detailed jarh. To such an extent that Abu al Ma’ali al Kalbasi (d. 1315 AH) has an entire chapter in his work, al Rasa’il al Rijaliyyah, on “The Contradiction between the statements of al Najjashi and Al Sheikh (al Tusi).”[10]

Al Kalbasi—like the majority of scholars—preferred the statement of al Najjashi over al Tusi’s:

 

والأظهر تقديم قول النجاشي على قول الشيخ [الطوسي]

The clearer (opinion) is preferring al Najjashi’s statements over the statements of al Sheikh (al Tusi).[11]

 

Most of the scholars attributed their preferring al Najjashi’s statements over al Tusi’s because of the incessant amount of the latter’s errors and his overall carelessness in his works. To such an extent that al Hassan ibn Zayn al Din a-Shahid stated in Muntaqa al Jamman, “I do not know how the carelessness of al Sheikh (al Tusi) reached this extent.”[12]

 

The position of al Hilli and al Khu’i on the differences of al Tusi and al Najjashi in al jarh wa al ta’dil

 

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1. Al Hilli

Al Hilli does not have a clear methodology in dealing with this issue. This is evident from scrutinizing his dealing with the places of difference (of opinion). There are many examples of his non-committal on this issue.

 

  1. At times, he prefers the statement of al Tusi over al Najjashi’s. Under the biography of Muhammad ibn Khalid ibn ‘Abdur Rahman al Barqi, he states:

 

قال النجاشي إنه ضعيف الحديث والاعتماد عندي على قول الشيخ أبي جعفر الطوسي من تعديله

Al Najjashi states, “He is weak in hadith.” According to me, reliance is upon the statement of al Sheikh Abu Jafar al Tusi relating to his ta’dil.[13]

 

Under the biography of Dawood ibn Kathir al Raqiyy, he states:

 

قال الطوسي إنه ثقة…وقال النجاشي إنه ضعيف جدا و الغلاة تروي عنه…[ثم قال الحلِّي] وعندي في أمره توقف والأقوى قبول روايته لقول الشيخ الطوسي وقول الكشي أيضا

Al Tusi states, “He is a thiqah (reliable)” … Al Najjashi states, “He is very weak. The extremists narrate from him…” (Then al Hilli states) According to me, judgement on his matter is to be suspended. The stronger opinion is to accept his narrations because of al Sheikh al Tusi’s statement, as well as al Kashshi’s statement.[14]

 

  1. At times, we find al Hilli preferring the statement of al Najjashi over al Tusi’s, as under the biography of Muhammad ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Ubaid al Yaqtini. Al Hilli states:

 

قال شيخنا الطوسي إنه ضعيف…وقال النجاشي إنه جليل في أصحابنا ثقة عين…[ثم قال الحلِّي] والأقوى عندي قبول روايته

Our teacher, al Tusi stated, “He is weak.” … Al Najjashi stated, “He is venerated among our companions. Reliable. Eminent…” (Thereafter, al Hilli states) The stronger opinion, according to me, is to accept his narrations.[15]

 

  1. Al Hilli has a statement that shows that even if the sayings of both al Tusi and al Najjashi agree to the tawthiq of a man, he does not immediately accept it until it is free from any contradictory evidence. For example, under the biography of Humaid ibn Ziyad, al Hilli states:

 

ثقة عالم جليل واسع العلم كثير التصانيف قاله الطوسي قال النجاشي…كان ثقة واقفا وجها فيهم…[ثم قال الحلِّ] فالوجه عندي قبول روايته إذا خلت عن المعارض

Reliable. A great scholar. Very knowledgeable. A prolific writer. Al Tusi stated this. Al Najjashi states … “He was reliable. A waqifi. Prominent…” (Thereafter, al Hilli states) The (correct) viewpoint is, according to me, to accept his narrations when they are free from any contradictory evidence.[16]

 

Here, he preferred their tawthiq on condition of it is free from any contradictory evidence. This, despite the fact that the narrator is from the more prominent figures of the Waqifiyyah Shia, those whose statements are not accepted by al Hilli since they do not adhere to the (original) doctrine of the Imamiyyah.

Like this, we find al Hilli preferring the statement of al Tusi and al Najjashi if they concur upon the tawthiq of a man over his principal of not accept the narration of a non-Imami.

 

  1. At times, he gives preference to his principle of not making tawthiq of a non-Imami over the tawthiq of both al Tusi and al Najjashi! Under the biography of Ibrahim ibn Salih al Anmati, al Hilli states:

 

قال الشيخ أبو جعفر الطوسي إنه ثقة وكذا قال النجاشي إلا أن النجاشي قال إنه ثقة لا بأس به وقال [النجاشي] ثقة روى عن أبي الحسن عليه السلام و وقف [ثم يعقب الحلِّي قائلا] عندي توقف فيما يرويه

Al Sheikh Abu Jafar al Tusi states, “He is reliable.” And, like this, al Najjashi said the same except that he added, “He is reliable. There is no problem with him.” Al Najjashi stated, “Reliable. He narrated from Abu al Hassan ‘alayh al Salam and stopped (i.e., at Musa al Kazim).” (Thereafter, al Hilli commented saying) According to me, judgement of what he narrates is to be suspended.[17]

 

Here, he suspended judgement on the narrator because he is from the Waqifah, despite al Najjashi and al Tusi’s tawthiq of him. Then, we see him contradicting this (position) under the biography of ‘Ali ibn al Hassan ibn Faddal, al Hilli states after mentioning his tawthiq from al Tusi and al Najjashi:

فأنا أعتمد على روايته و إن كان فاسد المذهب

Thus, I rely on his narration, even though he has a false mazhab.[18]

 

In summary, whoever scrutinizes the statements of al Hilli in his attempts to give a preponderant view, it will be clear to him that he does not attach much importance to the principle of preferring jarh over tawthiq. And neither did he adhere to preferring the statement of one scholar over another; rather, he dealt with each narrator according to what he saw from his own personal discretion.

 

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2. The position of al Khu’i

Before getting into the view of al Khu’i regarding the differences of opinion, it is worthy of pointing out that al Khu’i, in most biographies—if not all—begins with al Najjashi’s opinion, if found. This gives the general impression that al Khu’i prefers al Najjashi’s opinion over others.

Al Khu’i has a methodology different to that of Ibn al Mutahhar al Hilli in dealing with the differences between al Tusi and al Najjashi in al jarh wa al ta’dil. This is apparent in some of the biographies that have already been mentioned in the methodology of al Hilli.

Under the biography of Dawood ibn Kathir al Raqqi, we find al Hilli making his tawthiq by preferring al Tusi’s tawthiq of him over al Najjashi’s tad’if. Al Khu’i judged him to be weak by relying on al Najjashi’s tad’if of him and by justifying it with a number of points. Among them, I will mention the following. Al Khu’i mentions the statement of al Kashshi:

 

لم أسمع من مشايخ العصابة يطعن فيه

I did not hear from the teachers of the group that he was criticized.[19]

 

Al Khu’i comments:

 

عدم سماع الكشي لا ينافي سماع النجاشي وشيخيه من غير طريقه

Al Kashshi not hearing does not negate al Najjashi and his two teachers hearing via other than him.[20]

 

Al Najjashi criticized the tawthiq of al Tusi and al Kashshi by explaining that the affirmative (criticism) supersedes the negative. This is because he gave preference to the text of al Najjashi in which he stated:

 

ضعيف جداً والغلاة تروي عنه قال أحمد بن عبد الواحد قلَّ ما رأيت له حديثا سديدا

He is very weak. The extremists narrate from him. Ahmad ibn ‘Abdul Wahid stated, “Very rarely have I seen him having a sound hadith.”[21]

 

Under the biography of Muhammad ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Ubaid al Yaqtini, he preferred the tawthiq of al Najjashi over the criticism of al Tusi. He has lengthy justifications for accepting al Najjashi’s tawthiq.[22]

While justifying his preferring al Najjashi’s statement over al Tusi’s, al Khu’i states:

 

النجاشي أضبط

Al Najjashi is more precise.[23]

 

And, like this, we find al Khu’i preferring al Najjashi’s statement over al Tusi’s and explicitly stating that he is more precise than him. However, this is not always the case. In fact, it is based on his perceived benefit. The following proves this. Under the biography of Muhammad ibn Jafar al Asadi, al Khu’i states:

 

لا شك في وثاقته ولم يخالف فيها اثنان إنما الكلام في فساد عقيدته وقوله بالجبر والتشبيه وهذا هو مقتضى كلام النجاشي في ترجمته وقد تقدم عنه في ترجمة حمزة بن القاسم العلوي العباسي أن له كتاب الرد على محمد بن جعفر الأسدي والنجاشي على جلالته ومهارته لا يمكن تصديقه في هذا القول فإنه معارض بما تقدم عن الشيخ [الطوسي] من أن الأسدي مات على ظاهر العدالة ولم يطعن عليه المؤيد بما ذكره الصدوق…فإن اعتماد الصدوق على رواية أبي الحسين الأسدي يكشف عن حسن عقيدته وإيمانه وقد ذكر الصدوق بعد ذلك بقليل أنه لا يفتي برواية سماعة بن مهران لأنه كان واقفيا

There is no doubt regarding his reliability and no two people disagreed about it. Rather, the issue has to do with his false belief and his opinion regarding jabr (determinism) and tashbih (anthropomorphism). This is the essence of al Najjashi’s words under his biography. It has already been mentioned from him under the biography of Hamzah ibn al Qasim al ‘Alawi al ‘Abbasi that he has book al Radd ‘ala Muhamamd ibn Jafar al Asadi. And despite his greatness and expertise, al Najjashi’s words cannot be believed in this regard since it contradicts what has already been mentioned from Al Sheikh (al Tusi) in that al Asadi died whilst ostensibly possessing ‘adalah, and without being criticized—which is supported by what al Saduq mentioned… Al Saduq’s reliance on the narration of Abu al Hussain al Asadi reveals the soundness of his creed and faith. Shortly thereafter, al Saduq mentioned that he does not give fatwa on the narration of Sama’ah ibn Mihran because he is a waqifi.[24]

 

There are a number of points to consider from this. Firstly, al Khu’i preferred al Tusi’s words over al Najjashi’s, even though he admitted that al Najjashi is more precise.

Secondly, al Khu’i did not state what he previously stated under the biography of Dawood ibn Kathir, “Al Kashshi not hearing does not negate al Najjashi and his two teachers hearing via other than him.” Accordingly, he did not say here: “Al Tusi’s not hearing does not negate al Najjashi’s hearing on account of the narrator’s false beliefs and that he is a mushabbih (anthropomorphist)!”

And like this, we find al Khu’i invalidating in one place what he finds a basis for in another place. The evidences for this are many. This is because things are based on maslahah (expediency), or perceived benefit, according to him. The following evidence is sufficient for us. Al Khu’i states:

 

محمد بن أحمد بن خاقان وإن حكى الشيخ [الطوسي] توثيقه من العياشي إلا أن النجاشي ضعفه وكذلك ابن الغضائري على ما حكاه العلامة وابن داود و الحسن بن الحسين اللؤلؤي وإن وثقه النجاشي إلا أنه ضعفه محمد بن الحسن بن الوليد والصدوق و أبو العباس بن نوح إذا لا يمكن الاعتماد على هذه الرواية

Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Khaqan. Even though Al Sheikh (al Tusi) narrated his tawthiq from al ‘Ayyashi, al Najjashi deemed him weak. As did Ibn al Ghada’iri, based on what al ‘Allamah and Ibn Dawood narrated. Al Hassan ibn al Hussain, even though al Najjashi made tawthiq of him, Muhammad ibn al Hassan, Ibn al Walid, al Saduq, and Abu al ‘Abbas ibn Nuh made tad’if of him since it is not possible to rely on this narration.[25]

 

Here we find al Khu’i relying on al Najjashi’s tad’if. Not long thereafter, he rejected the tawthiq of al Najjashi—who is a “master of the field,” as he addressed him. In summary, the matter revolves around his perceived benefit; if it is in preferring al Tusi’s statement, he gives it preference, and if it is in preferring al Najjashi’s statement, he gives it preference.

In fact, when al Khu’i wants to adapt the difference of opinion in his favour, he states, as under the biography of ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Zaid:

 

أنك قد عرفت من الشيخ [الطوسي] تضعيف عبد الله بن أبي زيد وعرفت من النجاشي توثيقه وقد يقال إن توثيق النجاشي لأضبطيته يتقدم على تضعيف الشيخ وهذا كلام لا أساس له فإن الأضبطية لو أفادت فإنما تفيد في مقام الحكاية لا في مقام الشهادة وبعدما كان كل من الشيخ والنجاشي يعتمد على شهادتهما لا يكون وجه لتقديم أحدهما على الآخر فهما متعارضان وبالنتيجة لا يمكن الحكم بوثاقة عبد الله بن أبي زيد فلا يحكم بحجية روايته والله العالم وقد يتوهم أن كلام النجاشي بما أنه صريح في وثاقة عبد الله في الحديث يتقدم على كلام الشيخ في التضعيف فإنه ظاهر في الضعف من جهة الرواية والحديث إذ من المحتمل إرادة أنه ضعيف في مذهبه والنص يتقدم على الظاهر والجواب عن ذلك أولا أن تقدم النص على الظاهر إنما هو لأجل قرينيته على إرادة خلاف الظاهر من الظاهر وهذا إنما يكون في ما إذا كان الصريح والظاهر في كلام شخص واحد أو في كلام شخصين يكونان بمنزلة شخص واحد كما في المعصومين (عليهم السلام) وأما في غير ذلك فلا مناص من أن يعامل معاملة التعارض والوجه فيه ظاهر هذا مضافا إلى عدم احتمال إرادة الضعف في المذهب من كلام الشيخ [الطوسي] بعد تصريحه بأنه خاصي

You know from Al Sheikh (al Tusi) the tad’if of ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Zaid. And you know from al Najjashi his tawthiq. It can be said: the tawthiq of al Najjashi is to be preferred over the tad’if of al Sheikh because he is more precise. This statement has no basis because if being more precise was beneficial, it would only be in relation to narration, not in testimony. And since both al Sheikh and al Najjashi’s testimonies are reliable, there is no reason to prefer one over the other since they are contradictory. As a result, it is not possible to pass judgement on ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Zaid being reliable and, as such, a ruling deeming his narration as authoritative cannot be given. And Allah knows best.

It may be presumed that the words of al Najjashi—since they are explicitly making tawthiq of ‘Abdullah in hadith—are to be preferred over the words of al Sheikh and his tad’if for the reason that it only appears as though it is in relation to the (narrator’s) weakness in narration and hadith. And it is quite possible that he is only weak in relation to his own school (and not broadly in relation to narration and hadith). In such an instance, the explicit statement is to be preferred over the manifest statement. The answer to this possibility is as follows. Firstly, preferring an explicit statement over a manifest statement is only because it holds a closer association (to the desired meaning) than the manifest statement since the latter holds the propensity to (also) mean something different to its apparent meaning. This is only applicable when both the explicit and manifest (texts) are in relation to the words of one person, or, the words of two people who hold the status of one, as is the case with the Infallibles ‘alayhim al Salam. As for other situations, there is no escaping the fact that it is to be treated as a contradictory issue. The reason for this is self-evident. This is in addition to the words of al Sheikh (al Tusi) being impossible to mean that the narrator’s weakness is in relation to his own school, (especially) after he explicitly stated that the narrator is from the Khasah [the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers)].[26]

 

Here, al Khu’i has a methodology different to the one before. Here, he regarded the conflicting statements of al Najjashi and al Tusi sufficient grounds to suspend judgement on the narrator. He did not say that al Najjashi is more precise, or that he is an “expert in the field,” as he referred to him as; rather, he regarded this statement as having no basis. What is amazing is the fact that this is precisely what al Khu’i stated. All of this goes back to the notion of maslahah (expediency), or what he perceives to be the most beneficial.

For the sake of benefit, I will mention and critically analyse here how al Khu’i dealt with al Najjashi’s differences with other scholars. After making tad’if of one of the narrations, al Khu’i states:

لمفضل بن عمر الواقع في سندها لأنه وإن وثقه الشيخ المفيد قده حيث ذكر أن من شيوخ أصحاب أبي عبد الله (ع) وخاصته وبطانته وثقاته الفقهاء والصالحين رحمهم الله المفضل بن عمر الجعفي إلا أن النجاشي وابن الغضائري قد ضعفاه ومع تعارض التوثيق بالتضعيف لا يمكننا الاعتماد عليه أبدا على أنه يمكن أن يقال أن النجاشي حسبما وقفنا عليه أضبط من المفيد قده فإنه قد يرى منه بعض المناقضات ولم نر من النجاشي قده مثله مثلا ذكر المفيد في محكي كلامه في الإرشاد في باب النص على الرضا (ع) ما هذا نصه ممن روى النص على الرضا (ع) بالإمامة من أبيه والإشارة منه بذلك من خاصته وثقاته وأهل الورع والعلم والفقه من شيعته داود بن كثير الرقي… و محمد بن سنان

وهذا كما ترى توثيق صريح منه قده لمحمد بن سنان إلا أنه ناقضه في موضع من محكي رسالته التي صنفها في كمال شهر رمضان ونقصانه حيث قال بعد نقل رواية دالة على أن شهر رمضان لا ينقص أبدا ما هذه عبارته وهذا حديث شاذ نادر غير معتمد عليه في طريقه محمد ابن سنان وهو مطعون فيه لا تختلف العصابة في تهمته وضعفه ومن كان هذا سبيله لا يعتمد عليه في الدين

وهذا صريح في تضعيف الرجل وهما كلامان متناقضان ولم ير من النجاشي قده المناقضة في الكلام فبهذا يرجح تضعيف النجاشي قده في المقام مع معاضدته بتضعيف شيخه أعني ابن الغضائري لأنه أيضا ثقة ومن مشايخ النجاشي قدهما إذاً الرواية غير قابلة للاستدلال بها على شئ هذا

Al Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar that is in the chain of narration, even though al Sheikh al Mufid made tawthiq of him when he mentioned “from among the teachers of the companions of Abu ‘Abdullah, his closest confidants, and reliable and righteous scholars is al Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar al Ju’fi;” however, al Najjashi and Ibn al Ghada’iri both made tad’if of him. And when the tawthiq conflicts with the tad’if, it is not possible for us to ever rely upon him. However, it can be said that al Najjashi, according to what we have come across—is more precise than al Mufid. This is because certain contradictions have been seen from the latter and we have not seen something similar with al Najjashi. For example, under the chapter of “The Explicit Text on (the Imamah of) al Rida,” al Mufid mentions in al Irshad the following, “Of those who have narrated textual evidence on the Imamah of al Rida’s from his father, and his father indicating towards that—from among his close confidants, those whom he relied upon, those from the people of piety, knowledge and fiqh from among his group—is Dawood ibn Kathir al Raqqi… and Muhammad ibn Sinan.”[27]

As you can see, this is an explicit tawthiq of Muhammad ibn Sinan from him; however, he contradicted this in another place in his work regarding the complete and incomplete (days of the) month of Ramadan. After transmitting a narration that indicates that the month of Ramadan never decreases, he states the following text that reads, “And this hadith is shaadh (anomalous), rare, and not to be relied upon. In its chain is Muhammad ibn Sinan, and he has been criticized. The group does not differ regarding him being criticized and weak. And whoever’s way this is, he is not to be relied upon in the religion.’”[28]

This is an explicit statement of tad’if of this person. Both statements are clearly contradictory. No contradiction can be seen from al Najjashi’s statements and, thus, his statement of tad’if is to be given preference in this instance, and (it is also to be given preference) because of the supporting evidence from his teacher (i.e., Ibn al Ghada’iri—who is also reliable and from the teachers of al Najjashi), who also made tad’if of him. Therefore, based on this, the narration cannot be used as admissible proof.[29]

 

Let us analyse the words of al Khu’i and draw conclusions. Firstly, al Khu’i judging the narration to be weak because of the existence of al Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar. Secondly, al Khu’i mentioning the opinion of al Najjashi making tad’if of al Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar and the opinion of al Mufid making his tawthiq.

Thirdly, after al Khu’i mentioned the difference of opinion regarding al Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar between al Najjashi and al Mufid, he states, “Based on this, it is not possible to say that al Najjashi—based on what we have come across—is more precise than al Mufid.” And he mentioned something of the contradictions of al Mufid and immediately thereafter, he gave preference to the tad’if of al Najjashi over the tawthiq of al Mufid.

And he stated, “No contradiction can be seen from al Najjashi’s statements and, thus, his statement of tad’if is to be given preference in this instance, and (it is also to be given preference) because of the supporting evidence from his teacher (i.e., Ibn al Ghada’iri—who is also reliable and from the teachers of al Najjashi), who (also) made tad’if of him.”

This is how al Khu’i provides a basis for this issue and generates his ruling based on the study of this subject; however, when there was a perceived benefit in making tawthiq of al Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar, he completely overturned his previous words and stated, in another place:

 

وأما المفضل بن عمر ففيه كلام طويل…والظاهر أنه ثقة بل من كبار الثقاة…نعم ذكر النجاشي أنه فاسد المذهب مضطرب الحديث قال وقيل إنه كان خطابيا والظاهر أنه أراد بهذا القائل ابن الغضائري على ما نسب إليه وكيفما كان فقد عده الشيخ المفيد (قده) في ارشاده من شيوخ أصحاب أبي عبد الله عليه السلام وخاصته وبطانته ومن ثقات الفقهاء الصالحين وعده الشيخ الطوسي في كتاب الغيبة من السفراء الممدوحين وذكر في التهذيب في باب المهور والأجور رواية عن محمد بن سنان عن مفضل بن عمر ثم ناقش في سندها من أجل محمد بن سنان فحسب وهو كالصريح في العمل برواية مفضل وعدم الخدش من ناحيته وعده ابن شهرآشوب من ثقات أبي عبد الله عليه السلام ومن بطانته أضف إلى ذلك الروايات المعتبرة الواردة في مدحه كما مر وما خصه الصادق عليه السلام من كتاب التوحيد وبعد هذا كله فلا يعبأ بكلام النجاشي من أنه فاسد المذهب كما أن ما ذكره من أنه مضطرب الرواية غير ثابت أيضا وعلى تقدير الثبوت فهو غير قادح بوثاقة الرجل غايته أن حديثه مضطرب أي قد ينقل ما لا يقبل التصديق أو يعتمد على أشخاص لا ينبغي الاعتماد عليهم فالظاهر أن الرجل من الأجلاء الثقاة حتى أن الشيخ مضافا إلى عده إياه من السفراء الممدوحين اعتمد عليه في التهذيب كما عرفت

As for al Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar, there is a lengthy discussion on him… Ostensibly, he is reliable. In fact, from the more senior reliable narrators… Yes, al Najjashi mentioned he has a false school (of belief) and is confused  in hadith. He said, “It is said that he is a khattabi.” It appears as though he intended Ibn al Ghada’iri by this statement, according to what was attributed to him. Whatever it may be, al Sheikh al Mufid counted him in his Kitab al Irshad among the teachers of the companions of Abu ‘Abdullah ‘alayh al Salam, his close confidants, and from the reliable (and) righteous jurists. In Kitab al Ghaybah, al Sheikh al Tusi counted him among the praiseworthy sufara’ (ambassadors). And he mentioned a narration in al Tahdhib under the chapter “Muhur and Ujur (Dowries and Remunerations)” on the authority of Muhammad ibn Sinan, from Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar. Thereafter, he disputed the chain of narration on account of Muhammad ibn Sinan and nothing more. This is like he is explicitly acting on the narration of Mufaddal and not venturing into finding fault with him. Ibn Shahr Ashub counted him from among the reliable (narrators) of Abu ‘Abdullah ‘alayh al Salam and his closest confidants. Add to this the reliable narrations in his praise, as mentioned. And (considering) the fact that al Sadiq singled him out in (dictating) Kitab al Tawhid (to him). After all of this, no attention is to be given to the words of al Najjashi in that he has a false school (of belief). And what he mentioned regarding him being confused in hadith is also not proven. Assuming it is proven, it does not affect the reliability of the man. The most that can be said is that he is merely confused in hadith, i.e., he transmits that which cannot be verified, or, he relies on individuals who are not supposed to be relied upon. Ostensibly, the man is of the great (and) reliable narrators to such an extent that al Sheikh, in addition to counting him among the praiseworthy ambassadors, relied upon him in al Tahdhib, as you know.[30]

 

Firstly, after al Khu’i previously stated:

 

Al Najjashi, according to what we have come across, is more precise than al Mufid.

 

And:

 

No inconsistency has been seen from his words and so, with this, al Najjashi’s tad’if is to be given preference.

 

Here, we find him saying:

 

After all of this, the words of al Najjashi are insignificant.

 

Secondly, after al Khu’i supported the tad’if of al Najjashi in the previous text, and he (further) supported it with the statement of Ibn al Ghada’iri, we find him here rejecting al Najjashi saying:

Whatever it was, al Mufid counted him in his Kitab al Irshad among the teachers of the companions of Abu ‘Abdullah ‘alayh al Salam, his innermost and closest confidants, and from among the most reliable (and) righteous jurists. Al Sheikh al Tusi counted him in Kitab al Ghaybah among the praiseworthy sufara’ (ambassadors)… He is, for all practical purposes, acting on the narration of Mufaddal and not venturing into finding fault with him. Ibn Shahr Ashub regarded him from among the reliable (narrators) of Abu ‘Abdullah ‘alayh al Salam and from among his closest confidants. Add to that the reliable narrations mentioned in his praise, as already mentioned!

This is the methodology of al Khu’i; in his first statement, he found fault with al Mufid when, under the biography of al Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar, he contradicted himself and, thus, rejected his statement on account of this contradiction. He then preferred the statement of al Najjashi over his. And exactly what happened to al Mufid happened to him—in relation to the exact same narrator!

In summary, the methodology of al Khu’i when the scholars differ—specifically al Najjashi, al Tusi and al Mufid—entails a lack of adherence to one of the two opinions. In fact, he does not even adhere to the principle of preferring the detailed criticism over the general tawthiq; rather, he makes tawthiq or tad’if according to the benefit he perceives. The quotations above are sufficient evidence for you.[31]

 

NEXT⇒ 2.4 The position of al Khu’i in light of the scholars’ statements of tawthiq before him


[1] The process of gathering and reconciling between all the statements and interpreting them in such a manner whereby they no longer remain contradictory [translator’s note].

[2] Al Muhaqqiq al Bahrani: al Hada’iq al Nadirah, 1/23.

[3] Al Subhani: Durus Mujazah fi ‘Ilmay al Dirayah wa al Rijal, p. 194. ‘Abdul Hadi al Fadli alluded to this in his book, Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal (p. 160).

[4] Al Fadli: Usul Ilm al Rijal (p. 166).

[5] Al Fadli: Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 160. Al Fadli provides (further) detail which can be reviewed in its appropriate place. Of those who spoke in detail on the issue is ‘Ali al Fani al Asfahani in Buhuth fi Fiqh al Rijal (Chapter 6, p. 133).

[6] Muhammad Baqir al Hussaini al Astarabadi: al Rawashih al Samawiyyah (al Rahishah 32), p. 169.

[7] Al Subhani: Durus fi ‘Ilmay al Dirayah wa al Rijal, p. 194.

[8] ‘Ali al Khaqani: Rijal al Khaqani, p. 56.

[9] Bahr al ‘Ulum: Rijal Bahr al ‘Ulum, 2/46-47.

[10] Abu al Ma’ali al Kalbasi: al Rasa’il al Rijaliyyah, 2/313.

[11] Ibid., 2/316. He cited the opinions of the scholars on the issue.

[12] Al Hassan ibn Zayn al Din al Shahid: Muntaqa al Jamman, 1/35. He mentioned this when explaining the (act of) differentiating between the names of narrators’ that have been confused because of sharing the same name.

[13] Al Hilli: Khulasat al Aqwal, p. 237 (no. 813).

[14] Ibid., p. 140 (no. 388). A contradiction appears from the text of al Hilli; however, he ends it by accepting his narration.

[15] Ibid., p. 241 (no. 821).

[16] Ibid., p. 129 (no. 341).

[17] Ibid., p. 314 (no. 1233).

[18] Ibid., p. 177 (no. 536).

[19] Al Tusi: Ikhtiyar Ma’rifat al Rijal (Rijal al Kashshi), p. 408 (no. 766).

[20] Al Khu’i: Mujam Rijal al Hadith, 8/192 (biography no. 4429). He is referring to Ibn al Ghada’iri and Ibn ‘Abdun with “the two teachers of al Najjashi.”

[21] Al Najjashi: Rijal al Najjashi, p. 156 (no. 410).

[22] Al Khu’i: Mujam Rijal al Hadith, 18/118 (biography no. 11536).

[23] Ibid., 9/64 (biography no. 5042 – under the biography of Sa’d ibn Sa’d).

[24] Ibid., 16/178 (biography no. 10411).

[25] Ibid., 5/204 (biography no. 2578).

[26] Ibid., 11/98 (biography no. 6677). I cited the rest of the statement because it contains beneficial knowledge related to hadith.

[27] Al Mufid: al Irshad fi Ma’rifat Hujaj Allah ‘ala al ‘Ibad, 2:284 (al Nass ‘ala Imamat ‘Ali ibn Musa).

[28] Al Mufid: Jawabat Ahl al Mawsil fi al ‘Adad wa al Ru’yah, p. 20.

[29] Al Khu’i: Kitab al Salah, 1/420-422 (commentary under “taqdim mawarid al Nafilah ‘ala al Intisaf”).

[30] Al Khu’i: Kitab al Sawm, 1/339-340 (commentary) “Hukm al Jima’ ma’a al Ikrah aw al Mutawa’ah).

[31] For the sake of benefit, Muhammad al Sanad made a comparative analysis between the books al Fihrist and al Rijal of al Tusi and the book of al Najjashi. He speaks about who is preferred. There is much good in this discussion. It can be reviewed in his book, Buhuth fi Mabani ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 318.

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