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

2.3 The Methodology of al Hilli and al Khu’i when the scholars’ statements of al jarh wa al ta’dil contradict
December 13, 2021
 Misconceptions relating to his conquest of Egypt, his governance, his relation with its people, and more specifically the Copts – Preface
January 26, 2022

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

 

Considering how late the era of al Khu’i is in relation to his predecessors, he found himself facing many of their opinions related to al jarh wa al ta’dil. Their statements can be divided in the following manner.

 

2.4.1 The position of al Khu’i on the statements of the early generation of scholars

By the early generation of scholars, I mean the authors of the primary sources of narrator criticism, their predecessors, and their contemporaries.

Al Tusi, al Najjashi, al Kashshi, and all those that I mentioned whose statements related to al jarh wa al ta’dil are accepted, all belong to this generation. According to al Khu’i, all of these scholars’ statements related to the jarh and ta’dil of narrators are valid. When mentioning what establishes the reliability or goodness of a narrator, al Khu’i states:

 

نص أحد الأعلام المتقدمين ومما تثبت به الوثاقة أو الحسن أن ينص على ذلك أحد الاعلام، كالبرقي وابن قولويه والكشي والصدوق والمفيد والنجاشي والشيخ وأضرابهم…ولهذا نعتمد على توثيقات أمثال ابن عقدة وابن فضَّال وأمثالهم

One of the notable scholars from the early generation states (it), such as al Barqi, Ibn Qulawayh, al Kashshi, al Saduq, al Mufid, al Najjashi, al Sheikh, and their likes… It is for this reason we rely on the statements of tawthiq of the likes of Ibn ‘Uqdah, Ibn Faddal, and their likes.[1]

 

Thus, there is no doubt that al Khu’i relies on the statements of the early generation of scholars. And so, when he mentions their statements, he mentions them because he relies on them. However, he stipulates that the attribution of jarh or ta’dil to the person should be proven, as is the case of Ibn al Ghada’iri’s statements, or Ibn Numair, or others about whom there is a difference of opinion regarding the validity of al Hilli and others to this scholar. And that he considers the differences of opinion of the early generation a valid difference. And he considers the differences among the early generation of scholars as real and attaches no real importance to the statements of the latter-day scholars when they contradict the statements of the scholars from the earlier generations, no matter their standing.

Two issues should be noted. Firstly, al Khu’i makes a distinction between the tawthiq of one of the early generation of scholars of a particular narrator and the process of their authenticating his narration, or his (mere) presence in the chain of narration that has been authenticated. There is a difference, here, which al Khu’i explains:

 

إن تصحيح القدماء لرواية لا يدل على وثاقة الراوي ولا على حسنه

The earlier generations’ authenticating a narration is neither indicative of the narrator’s reliability nor his uprightness.[2]

 

Al Khu’i adds further clarification with his statement:

 

التصحيح [للرواية] غير التوثيق [للراوي] فإن معناه حجية الرواية والاعتماد عليها ولعل ذلك لبناء الصدوق على أصالة العدالة الذي كان معروفا عند القدماء بل إنه (قده) لم ينظر في سند الرواية بوجه وإنما يعتمد في ذلك على ما رواه شيخه ابن الوليد كما صرح (قده) بذلك فهو تابع له ومقلد من هذه الجهة ومن المعلوم أن ذلك لا يكفي في الحجية عندنا نعم لو وثقه أو مدحه كفى ولكنه لم يذكر شيئا من ذلك وإنما هو مجرد التصحيح والعمل بروايته الذي لا يجدي بالنسبة إلينا

The authentication of the narration is not the authentication of the narrator. It means that the narration is authoritative and can be relied upon. Perhaps that is based on al Saduq’s presumption that all narrators known to earlier generations possess ‘adalah (integrity). In fact, he did not look at the chain of narration in any way, but rather relied on what his teacher, Ibn al Walid, narrated, as he explicitly mentioned. Therefore, from this perspective, he is a follower and adherent of his. It is well known that this is, according to us, not sufficient to establish its authoritativeness. Yes, it would have been sufficient if he made tawthiq or praised him; however, he did not mention anything of the kind. It is merely the act of authenticating and acting on his narration. And this is, in relation to us, serves no purpose.[3]

 

Secondly, regarding al Khu’i’s distinction between the earlier generation of scholars’ reliance on a narrator and their tawthiq of him, he states:

 

إن اعتماد القدماء على رواية شخص لا يدل على توثيقهم إياه وذلك لما عرفت من بناء ذلك على أصالة العدالة التي لا نبني عليها

The reliance of the earlier generation of scholars on the narration of an individual is not indicative of their tawthiq of him. This is because of what you already know in terms of the presumed state of ‘adalah (integrity)—which we do not ascribe to.[4]

 

2.4.2 The position of al Khu’i on the statements of the latter-day scholars

Al Khu’i clearly states the distinction between the statements of the early generation of scholars’ and those after them. He states:

 

ومما تثبت به الوثاقة أو الحسن أن ينص على ذلك أحد الأعلام المتأخرين بشرط أن يكون من أخبر عن وثاقته معاصرا للمخبر أو قريب العصر منه كما يتفق ذلك في توثيقات الشيخ منتجب الدين أو ابن شهرآشوب وأما في غير ذلك كما في توثيقات ابن طاووس والعلامة وابن داود ومن تأخر عنهم كالمجلسي لمن كان بعيدا عن عصرهم فلا عبرة بها فإنها مبنية على الحدس والاجتهاد جزما وذلك فإن السلسلة قد انقطعت بعد الشيخ [الطوسي] فأصبح عامة الناس إلا قليلا منهم مقلدين يعملون بفتاوى الشيخ ويستدلون بها كما يستدل بالرواية على ما صرح به الحلِّي في السرائر وغيره في غيره…وعلى الجملة فالشيخ [الطوسي] هو حلقة الاتصال بين المتأخرين وأرباب الأصول التي أخذ منها الكتب الأربعة وغيرها ولا طريق للمتأخرين إلى توثيقات رواتها وتضعيفهم غالبا إلا الاستنباط وإعمال الرأي والنظر…وقد تحصل مما ذكرناه أن ابن طاووس والعلامة وابن داود ومن تأخر عنهم إنما يعتمدون في توثيقاتهم وترجيحاتهم على آرائهم واستنباطاتهم أو على ما استفادوه من كلام النجاشي أو الشيخ في كتبهم وقليلا ما يعتمدون على كلام غيرهما وقد يخطئون في الاستفادة كما سنشير إلى بعض ذلك في موارده كما قد يخطئون في الاستنباط فترى العلامة يعتمد على كل إمامي لم يرد فيه قدح يظهر ذلك مما ذكره في ترجمة أحمد بن إسماعيل بن سمكة وغير ذلك وترى المجلسي يعد كل من للصدوق إليه طريق ممدوحا وهو غير صحيح…وعليه فلا يعتد بتوثيقاتهم بوجه من الوجوه

And from those things that establishes the reliability or upstandingness of a narrator is when it is documented by one of the notable latter-day scholars, on condition that the one informing of his reliability is a contemporary of his, or close in time to him. As would be the case of the statements of tawthiq of al Sheikh Muntajib al Din, or Ibn Shahr Ashub. As for other instances, such as the statements of tawthiq of Ibn Tawus, al ‘Allamah, Ibn Dawood, and whoever came after them, such as al Majlisi. As for those distant from their era, there is no consideration for their statements because they are based on personal discretion and conjecture. That is to say that the (scholarly) chain came to an end after al Sheikh (al Tusi) and so most people—save a few—began (blindly) following, acting on the verdicts of al Sheikh, and using them as authoritative proof, just as the narration stated by al Hilli in al Sara’ir and by other such scholars in other places is used authoritatively… In short, al Sheikh (al Tusi) he is the link between the latter-day scholars and the authors of the principal works from which the four books—and others—are taken from. Generally, there is no way for the latter-day scholars to issue statements of tawthiq and tad’if on the narrators of hadith except through inference, employing personal reason and speculation… What results from what we have mentioned is that Ibn Tawus, al ‘Allamah, Ibn Dawood, and those who came after them only relied—in their statements of tawthiq and preferential statements—on their (personal) opinions and inferences, or what they gained from the words of al Najjashi and al Sheikh in their books. Rarely do they rely on other than the statements of these twos. At times, they erred in doing so, as we will soon point out in its appropriate places. Just as they, at times, erred in their (personal) deductions. Thus, you see al ‘Allamah relying on every Imami who has no criticism levelled against him. This is clear from what he has mentioned under the biography of Ahmad ibn Ismail ibn Samakah and others. You (also) see al Majlisi regarding every person who has a chain to al Saduq as praiseworthy—which is incorrect… Therefore, their statements of tawthiq are not valid in any way.[5]

 

It seems as though al Khu’i is dividing the phase of the latter-day scholars into two:

  1. The one informing of his reliability is a contemporary of the narrator, and
  2. Or the one informing of his reliability is close to him in relation to time, as would be the case of the statements of tawthiq of al Sheikh Muntajib al Din, or Ibn Shahr Ashub. The statements of these scholars are accepted.

 

After al Khu’i regarded the tawthiq of Ibn Shahr Ashub as part of the category of being contemporaneous to the narrator, or close to him in relation to time—which is acceptable, according to him—we find him stating under the biography of ‘Umar ibn Tawbah:

 

وثاقته أيضا غير ثابته إذ إن التوثيق إنما هو من ابن شهرآشوب وقد ذكرنا في المقدمة أنه لا أثر لتوثيق المتأخرين الرواة المتقدمين فإنه مبني على الحدس والاجتهاد

Him being considered reliable is not proven because the tawthiq is from Ibn Shahr Ashub. We have mentioned in the introduction that the statements of tawthiq in favour of the early generation of narrators that come from the latter-day scholars are ineffectual and hold no weight. This is because such statements are based on conjecture and personal discretion.[6]

 

This is contradictory, unless the era of ‘Umar ibn Tawbah is from the era of Ibn Ashub. And, in fact, this is the case; the generation of ‘Umar ibn Tawbah is among the narrators who transmit from Jafar al Sadiq. And the demise of Jafar is 148 AH. If this is not the case, what, then, does his statement “or close to him” signify?

The second category: the statements of tawthiq of Ibn Tawus, al ‘Allamah, Ibn Dawood, and those who came after them, such al Majlisi who was distant from their era. No consideration is to be given such statements because they are definitively based on conjecture and personal discretion. Therefore, they are rejected. A person may say: If al Khu’i did not rely on the statements of tawthiq of the latter-day scholars, then why did he mention them in his book? Al Khu’i answers saying:

 

لم نتعرض لتوثيقات المتأخرين فيما إذا كان توثيق من القدماء لعدم ترتب فائدة على ذلك نعم تعرضنا لها في موارد لم نجد فيها توثيقا من القدماء فإنا وإن كنا لا نعتمد على توثيقات المتأخرين إلا أن جماعة يعتمدون عليها فلا مناص من التعرض لها

We did not give any attention to the statements of tawthiq of the latter-day scholars in cases where there already exist similar statements from the earlier generation of scholars since there is no benefit in doing so. Yes, we have given such statements attention in places where we found no statements of tawthiq of the earlier generation. And so, even though we do not rely on the statements of tawthiq of the latter-day scholars, a number of scholars have and, as such, there is no escaping the fact that they need be mentioned.[7]

 

In explaining and detailing the reason for rejecting al Hilli’s statements of tawthiq of narrators and (also rejecting the statements) authenticating the narrations, al Khu’i states:

 

فالظاهر أن توثيقاته كتصحيحاته مما لا يمكن الاعتماد عليه لأنه على عظم منزلته وجلالته لا يحتمل عادة أن يكون توثيقه كقوله فلان ثقة شهادة حسية منه (قدس سره) بأن يكون قد سمع وثاقة من يوثقه ممن رآه وهو ممن سمعها وهكذا إلى أن ينتهي إلى عصر الراوي الذي يوثقه وذلك لطول الفصل بينه وبين من يوثقه من الرواة وتخلل برهة بين عصريهما بحيث لا يحتمل معهما الشهادة الحسية بوجه. فإنه بعد عصر الشيخ [الطوسي] إلى مدة مديدة كان العلماء يتبعون آراءه وأقواله حتى سموهم المقلدة على ما ذكره الشهيد الثاني في درايته فلا يحتمل معه عادة أن يكون العلامة قد سمع توثيق راو عن زيد وهو عن عمرو وهكذا إلى أن ينتهي إلى عصره فتوثيقاته شهادة حدسية ومستندة إلى اجتهاده ومن الظاهر أن اجتهاد أي فقيه [لا] يكون حجة على فقيه آخر ومن هنا يتضح الحال في توثيقات معاصريه أو المتأخرين عنه ممن حاله كابن طاووس والمجلسي قدس الله أسرارهم لأنها شهادات حدسية وإلا فمن البديهي أن توثيق العلامة (قده) لا يقصر عن توثيق أهل الرجال كالنجاشي والشيخ وأضرابهما فالمتحصل أن توثيقات العلامة كتصحيحاته غير قابلة للاعتماد

Ostensibly, his statements of tawthiq are like his statements of authentication, which cannot be relied upon. This is because—despite his high-rank and greatness—it is usually not possible for his statement “so-and-so is reliable” to be an actual testimony from him such that he heard about that individual’s reliability from someone whom he directly saw making tawthiq of him and he (i.e., the person whom al Hilli saw and hear the tawthiq from) heard this in a similar, contiguous manner until it ends in the era of the narrator which he made tawthiq of. The reason for this is because of the lengthy separation between him and the person who makes tawthiq of that narrator, as well as the gap in time between their two eras. Both of these factors make it practically impossible to have a tangible form of testimony (of that narrator). After the era of al Sheikh (al Tusi), for a very long time the scholars used to follow his opinions and statements to such an extent that they were named the Muqallidah (Followers), according to what al Shahid al Thani mentioned in his study. Thus, it is generally not possible that al ‘Allamah heard the tawthiq of a narrator from (for example) Zaid, who heard it from (for example) ‘Amr and like this until the era of the narrator. Therefore, his statements of tawthiq are conjecture-based testimonies and more so based on his personal discretion. It is a known phenomenon that the personal discretion of one jurist is not[8] a binding authoritative proof for another jurist. From here, the situation becomes clear regarding the statements of tawthiq of his contemporaries, or those who came after him whose condition is like that of Ibn Tawus and al Majlisi. This is because they are testimonies based on conjecture. Otherwise, it is obvious that the tawthiq of al ‘Allamah is not lesser (in status) than the tawthiq of the expert narrator critics such as al Najjashi, al Sheikh, and their likes. As a result, the statements of tawthiq of al ‘Allamah are like his statements of authentication—unreliable.[9]

 

2.4.3 The position of al Khu’i on the statements of al Hilli regarding narrators

 

In section two, the general opinion of al Khu’i regarding the latter-day scholars was elucidated. And also, that he counted al Hilli among the second category of latter-day scholars. It is now appropriate to specifically mention al Khu’i’s opinion regarding the statements of tawthiq of al Hilli.

Under the biography of Yunus ibn Khabbab, al Khu’i states:

 

أن توثيقات المتأخرين كالعلامة [الحلِّ] وغيره لا يعتمد عليها فيما لم يظهر مستندهم فالرجل غير ثابت الوثاقة

The statements of tawthiq of the latter-day scholars such as al ‘Allamah (al Hilli) and others are not reliable in instances wherein the basis (for these statements) is not clear. After all, the man’s reliability is not proven.[10]

 

And like this, we find that al Khu’i emphasizes the issue of knowing the chain of al Hilli and others of the latter-day scholars of transmission through which they held these opinions. If the basis for what they are claiming is sound, then he relies on their statement. And he does not rely on their opinion about a narrator if it is merely based on their personal discretion of them.

The clearest example of this is al Khu’i’s statement under the biography of ‘Ali ibn Abi al Mughirah. He states:

 

بقي الكلام في وثاقة الرجل فقد وثقه العلامة [الحلِّي]…وابن داود…فإن كان منشأ توثيقهما هو فهم التوثيق من عبارة النجاشي في ترجمة ابنه الحسن فيأتي الكلام عليه وإن كان المنشأ أمرا آخر فهو مجهول لنا ولا يمكننا الاعتماد على توثيقهما المبني على الحدس والاجتهاد، فالعبرة باستفادة التوثيق من كلام النجاشي

The discussion remains on the reliability of the man. Al ‘Allamah (al Hilli) made tawthiq of him…and Ibn Dawood…If the basis of their tawthiq comes from what is understood from the text of al Najjashi under the biography of his son, al Hassan, then this will be soon spoken about. And if the basis is something else, he is majhul (unknown) for us; it is not possible for us to rely on their tawthiq, a tawthiq based on conjecture and personal discretion. Thus, due consideration is in using the tawthiq from the words of al Najjashi.[11]      

 

NEXT⇒ Chapter Three – The position of al Hilli and al Khu’i regarding the narrations of their adversaries in creed (the people of heresy—in their view) and those who are wanting in integrity (‘adalah)


[1] Al Khu’i: Mujam Rijal al Hadith, 1/41.

[2] Ibid., 4:96 (no. 1493).

[3] Al Khu’i: Kitab al Sawm, 1/295-296 (commentary) (Kaffarat Sawm Qada’ Shahr Ramadan).

[4] Al Khu’i: Mujam Rijal al Hadith, 3/122 (no. 932).

[5] Ibid., 1/42, 43, 44.

[6] Ibid., 14/27 (no. 8721).

[7] Ibid., 1/13.

[8] I inserted the word ‘no’ so the statement makes sense, even though it does not appear in the copy of the book.

[9] Al Khu’i: Kitab al Salah, 1/71 (in the commentary). He stated this under “Suqut Nafilat al Zuhrayn fi al Safar.”

[10] Al Khu’i: Mujam Rijal al Hadith, 21/203 (no. 13857).

[11] Ibid., 12/266 (no. 7885).

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