Knowing the death date of a narrator is regarded as a helpful tool for ascertaining whether the isnad is muttasil (contiguous). The early generation of scholars from the Ahlus Sunnah used this tool to ascertain such information. As such, Abu Hatim al Razi (d. 327 AH) mentions:
عن (عفير بن معدان) قال قدم علينا (عمر بن موسى الوجيهي الميثمي) فاجتمعنا في مسجد حمص، فجعل يقول حدثنا شيخكم الصالح خالد بن معدان فقلت: في أي سنة سمعت منه؟ فقال: سمعت منه في ثمان ومائة، فقلت: وأين سمعت منه؟ قال في غزاة أرمينية. فقلت له: اتق الله ولا تكذب! مات خالد بن معدان في سنة أربع ومائة فأنت سمعت منه بعد موته بأربع سنين، ولم يغز أرمينية قط، ما كان يغزو إلا الروم.
Regarding ‘Ufayr ibn Ma’dan who said: “‘Umar ibn Musa al Wajihi al Maythami came to us. We gathered in a masjid in Hims. He began saying, ‘Your teacher, al Salih Khalid ibn Ma’dan narrated to us.’ I said: ‘In what year did you hear from him?’ He said, ‘I heard from him in the year 108.’ I said: ‘And where did you hear from him?’ He said, ‘In the Battle of Armenia.’ I said to him: ‘Fear Allah, and do not lie! Khalid ibn Ma’dan died in the year 104 and you heard from him four years after his death! He never fought against the Armenians ever; he only ever fought against the Romans!’”
This has been the status-quo of the scholars of this Ummah to such an extent that most of the biographical works of the Ahlus Sunnah mention the death dates of the narrators. This is simply not found in the school of the Twelvers. Most of the primary works which mention biographies of narrators do not mention the death date of a narrator. It is rarely mentioned.
Hereunder is general calculation of narrators whose death dates have been mentioned in the works of narrator evaluation according to them:
Based on this, we have:
24 + 2 + 225 + 8 = 259
This is more or less the sum total of narrators whose death dates have been mentioned in the agreed-upon primary works of narrator evaluation.
After we have concluded that the number of narrators does not exceed 259, did the scholars of the Shia notice this inadequacy and begin to author works dedicated to mentioning the death dates (of narrators)? The answer is no, they did not.
This shortcoming has had a great impact on rulings related to narrators since it is not possible to conclusively determine whether the asanid are muttasil. Rulings on many of these asanid are therefore pure conjecture!
The scholars of Islam from the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah have always shown interest in the science of hadith. As such, they wrote in all of its respective categories. Regarding the issue of tadlis (obfuscation), the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah have a detailed discussion because of its practical implications. When they wrote about it, it was not merely hypothetical; rather, they dealt with it as a living reality. The Ahlus Sunnah detailed the conditions of narrators and identified those who confused things from those that did not. They distinguished between a thiqah and a da’if narrator. This is contrary to the workings of the Shia Imamiyyah scholars, among them, Ibn al Mutahhar al Hilli and Abu al Qasim al Khu’i.
A person that investigates the biographical works of the Shia, especially the latter-day collections which collected thousands of narrators, will not find them addressing the tadlis of any narrators! This differs to the works of mustalah; many scholars of the Shia have written on Mustalah al Hadith and mentioned a chapter on the mudallis (the one who commits tadlis)!
So, what is the reason why it is neglected in biographical works and mentioned in the works of mustalah? The answer: The biographical works of the Shia, especially the Four Primary works, do not address the tadlis of even a single narrator. That is because there is a disregard for the dabt (precision) of narrators. Similarly, there are no details about their conditions and knowledge regarding how they would transmit narrations. This is because these works are nothing but indices and tabaqat. Since its inception and until our time, the sciences of al Jarh wa al Ta’dil have been regarded as being from the preliminary sciences which did not develop among this sect. Whatever the latter-day scholars brought forth was merely facsimiled from whatever the early scholars mentioned. There is no renewal or further analysis; their orbit is one, they do not depart from it. If this is not the case, does it make sense that some biographical works contain more than fifteen thousand narrators and there is not even one narrator described with tadlis, the same technical term that appears in the works of mustalah?
As for the works of mustalah which mention tadlis, they do not even bring forth one example of a Shia narrator. In fact, all of the examples mentioned are purloined from the mustalah works of the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah. Whoever of the Shia wrote on the subject of mustalah did not consider the reality of hadith sciences according to them and establish their principles accordingly; they simply followed and took whatever was in the works of mustalah of the Sunnis, lock, stock, and barrel. More details will follow.
Hereunder I provide a number of examples.
The rest of the scholars of the Shia set out on similar grounds; we do not find this technical term (of tadlis) except in the works of mustalah of the latter-day scholars. This proves that the matter of tadlis was ‘saturated’ with what they do not possess and is propaganda work for the school (of the Shia) in order for them to increase their sciences. When the neutral researcher looks to find the truth of the matter, he will find nothing but conjectural anecdotes with no practicality. After this, how is a scholar among them to know how to distinguish between a mudallils or know the degree of his tadlis. It is simply impossible. And it is, quite frankly, sheer obstinance for someone to say that a narrator described with tadlis is simply not to be found among the Shia, even though there exist thousands of biographies!
 Abu Hatim al Razi: al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, 6/133.
 Printed among the treatises in Dirayat al Hadith, 1/130.
 Ibid, 1/414.
 Ibid, 2/125.
 Ibid, 2/545.
 Ibid, p. 112.
 Ibid, p. 205
 Ibid, p. 285.
 Ibid, p. 114.
 Ibid, 1:376.
 Ibid, p. 69.
 Ibid, 3:130.
 Ibid, 2:255.Back to top