4.0 The Imami Shia’s lacking in the sciences of tashih, tad’if, and ta’lil

3.0 The lack of sciences by the Shia Imamiyyah in the field of ‘ilm al rijal
September 23, 2020
5.0 The absence of writing in the sciences of Mustalah al Hadith except in later times
September 23, 2020

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4.0 The Imami Shia’s lacking in the sciences of tashih, tad’if, and ta’lil


4.1 The lack of effort expended by the Imamiyyah in making tashih and tad’if of ahadith


The issue of scrutinizing and sieving through asanid and distinguishing between sahih and da’if is one of the greatest academic conflicts in the intellectual legacy of the Shia. Regarding this matter, there are two groups that emerge.

The first group does not regard everything that exists in the works of the Imami school as authentic. The asanid for all the works they have are subject to criticism. The person with this type of orientation is referred to as the Usuli.

The second group regards whatever is contained in the works of the Shia as authentic, at the forefront of which are the Four (Primary) works.[1] This group warns, in fact, threatens whosoever (from the other group) analyzes and works on sifting through the intellectual legacy. This group claims it is on the same path of the first and early Shia. The person with this type of orientation is referred to as the Akhbari.

Each of these orientations has its supporters and observers. I would not dare venture into the issue of writings of the Shia Imamiyyah on sahih ahadith. As I have mentioned, it is already an enormous conflict. There are those who do not even consider the science of narrator evaluation from the outset. These are the Akhbariyyah who consider that the “origin of differences in ahadith is Taqiyyah (dissimulation), not the foisting of reports.” Mahdi al Kajuri entered into an academic discussion with the proponents of this view in his book al Fawa’id al Rijaliyyah.[2]

These individuals regard the works of their predecessors as authentic that take the place of authorship in authentic ahadith. The brassiest example of these individuals is what the contemporary, ‘Ali ibn Hussain Abu al Hassan, said regarding his support of al Na’ini’s opinion that states the work of al Kafi is authentic![3]

The neutral observer of both schools will see that the difference of opinion is superficial and has no practical reality, even though tens of books have been written on it. The people (i.e. the Shia), whether Usuli or Akhbari, do not distinguish between sahih and da’if hadith, even if they claim to have accurately and precisely researched the matter. My remarks are not mere ramble; in fact, I will mention what supports what I say, in sha’ Allah.

When we come to the school that claims accurate and detailed investigation, the Usuliyyah, and we question its observers: Did any of them author a work in which da’if ahadith were collected and their reasons explained? The answer is no. This is true despite the fact that this school existed from the time of Ibn al Mutahhar al Hilli and his teacher, Ibn Tawus! As for the Akhbari school, they consider this to be evil, as will be seen in the statement of al Hurr al ‘Amili.

The reality of the matter is that the scholars of the Shia, whether Usuli or Akhbari, know very well that subjecting the ahadith of their works to the scale of academic inquiry will inevitably mean the invalidity of the entire Imami school. Here we have al Hurr al ‘Amili (d. 1104 AH) warning the Usulis of the consequences of this approach saying:


أنه يستلزم ضعف أكثر الأحاديث، التي قد علم نقلها من الأصول المجمع عليها، لأجل ضعف بعض رواتها، أو جهالتهم، أو عدم توثيقهم، فيكون تدوينها عبثا، بل محرّما، وشهادتهم بصحتها زورا وكذبا ويلزم بطلان الإجماع، الذي علم دخول المعصوم فيه ـ أيضا ـ كما تقدم واللوازم باطلة، وكذا الملزوم بل يستلزم ضعف الأحاديث كلها، عند التحقيق؛ لأن الصحيح عندهم: “ما رواه العدل، الإماميّ، الضابط، في جميع الطبقات” ولم ينصوا على عدالة أحد من الرواة، إلا نادرًا، وإنما نصوا على التوثيق، وهو لا يستلزم العدالة، قطعا، بل بينهما عموم من وجه، كما صرح به الشهيد الثاني، وغيره. ودعوى بعض المتأخرين: أن (الثقة) بمعنى (العدل، الضابط). ممنوعة، وهو مطالب بدليلها وكيف؟ وهم مصرحون بخلافها، حيث يوثقون من يعتقدون فسقه، وكفره، وفساد مذهبه؟! …….. فيلزم من ذلك ضعف جميع أحاديثنا، لعدم العلم بعدالة أحد منهم؛ إلا نادرا ففي إحداث هذا الاصطلاح غفلة، من جهات متعددة، كما ترى.

This necessitates rendering da’if most of the ahadith which are known to have been transmitted from the agreed-upon primary works. This is on account of the weakness of a few of their narrators, or their unknownness (jahalah), or the fact that no one has made tawthiq of them, thereby rendering their documentation futile. This would mean their documentation was done in vein. In fact, haram. Their testimony in favour of their authenticity would be false, a lie, and necessitate the invalidity of the ijma’ (consensus) which, as mentioned, is also known to include the infallible—as mentioned above. The antecedents (al lawazim) and the consequent (malzum) are (also) invalid. In fact, a critical examination would necessitate that all the ahadith are da’if since a sahih hadith is, according to them “that which is narrated by an upright (‘adal) and precise (dabit) imami on all levels (of the sanad).” Very rarely do they document the uprightness (‘adalah) of any of the narrators; they merely document the tawthiq, and this (alone) does not definitively necessitate uprightness. In fact, between the two (terms), there is (only) commonality in one regard, as clarified by al Shahid al Thani and others. The claim by some latter-day scholars that the term thiqah means “al ‘adl al dabit (upright precise)” is prohibited and requires proof. They explicitly state its opposite in that they make tawthiq of those they consider to be a fasiq, kafir, and even believing in an invalid school!… This means rendering all of our ahadith da’if on account of not knowing, in most instances, the uprightness of any of them. From many angles, there is a measure of heedlessness in the creation of this term, as you can see.[4]


Thus, al ‘Amili is not speaking in a vacuum; rather, he is warning of the seriousness of the approach that necessitates the revision and investigation of a legacy because of his knowledge of the (abysmal) condition of this school’s works and what this type of orientation will lead to.

With this new (and) old conflict between Shia scholars, the researcher sees, as I stated earlier, that there is no real difference of opinion because both schools did not collect da’if or mawdu’ (forged) ahadith. In fact, one of the scholars of the Shia regarded the editing of al Kafi by one of the contemporary scholars, Muhammad al Bahbudi[5], wherein he removed the da’if (ahadith) and (re)named it Sahih al Kafi (The Authentic al Kafi) as a crime against the school! ‘Abdur Rasul al Ghaffar stated:


هذا محمد باقر البهبودي قد صير (الكافي) في ثلاثة أجزاء صغيرة وسماه ب‍ (صحيح الكافي)، ثم أعاد طبعه تحت عنوان (زبدة الكافي) ظنا منه أنه يحسن صنعا، وما يدري أن ذلك إساءة كبيرة إلى التراث الشيعي، بل إساءة إلى أهل البيت عليهم السلام.

This Muhammad Baqir al Bahbudi made al Kafi into three small volumes and named it Sahih al Kafi. Then he reprinted it under the title Zubdat al Kafi thinking that he is ‘doing something good.’[6] He does not know that it was a great insult to the legacy of the Shia. In fact, an insult to the Ahlul Bayt ‘alayhim al Salam.[7]


He also stated:


نهج فيه طريقا غير مرضي، أسقط ما يقارب نصف أحاديث الكتاب، واختار الصحيح حسب مذاقه الخاص، ولا أحسبه يجيد هذا الفن أو يحسن اختياره، بل إن ذلك موكول إلى علماء الطائفة ومراجعها؛ لأنهم منزهون عن الأهواء والميول.

He approached the work in an unsatisfactory matter; he dropped nearly half of the ahadith of the work and chose the sahih ones’ according to his own particular taste. I do not think he did well for this science or selecting it. In fact, this is entrusted to the scholars and leaders (maraji’)[8] of the sect since they are free from desires and inclinations.[9]


He also stated:


بل إن البعض منهم قد أساء إلى الشيخ [الكليني] بصورة مزرية، بل أنه أساء إلى الفكر الإمامي، وإلى تراث أهل البيت كالبهبودي، محمد باقر، الذي اختزل كتاب الشيخ من غير أن يستند في عمله ذلك على منهج علمي صحيح، أو مبنى واضح سليم، حتى يعذر فيما صنفه في كتابه (صحيح الكافي)، الذي يعد من أحد مساوئه التي لا تغتفر، وسبيله إنما ينطوي تحت شعار “خالف تعرف.”

In fact, some of them, such as Muhammad Baqir al Bahbudi, insulted al Sheikh (al Kulayni) in a disgraceful manner, as well as the entire Imami thought and the legacy of the Ahlul Bayt. He abridged the book of al Sheikh (al Kulayni) without relying on—in this work of his—a true, academic methodology, or a clear, sound edifice such that he may be excused in his writing of Sahih al Kafi; a work which is considered one of his shortcomings that is unforgiveable. The path (he undertook in this work) falls under the saying “Be different. Become known.”[10]


This scholar was not satisfied with what he said. In fact, he also stated:



غير عنوان هذا المختصر في الطبعة الثانية فأسماه: (زُبْدة الكافي)، وهذا خير دليل على سوء فعلته السابقة. ولا أدري ما هو المبنى الذي يسير عليه، فلا هو يطابق مسلك القدماء، كما أنه نأى عن مذاق المتأخرين، ومن مثله يصدق عليه القول: حاطب ليل.

He changed the title of this summary in the second edition and he called it Zubdat al Kafi. This is the best evidence of his previous misdoing. I do not know what edifice he set himself upon. As such, he does not conform to the path of the early scholars. Likewise, he distanced himself from the ‘flavour’ of the latter-day scholars. The statement hatib layl (a woodcutter at night) truly applies to his likes.[11]


And this is how the issue of independent reasoning (ijtihad) and inquiry is regarded; a crime against the school (of the Shia) and the Al al Bayt, even if it is from an adept scholar such as the al Bahbudi. Perhaps this attack is the one that called for changing the work’s name from Sahih al Kafi to Zubdat al Kafi, due to the attack of some Shia extremists on the printing press. Based on this, they changed the name of the book, as mentioned by Haydar Hubb Allah.

Hashim Ma’roof al Hussaini, one of the erudite scholars and the author of the work al Mawdu’at fi al Athar wa al Akhbar states in the introduction of his work:


وأنا واثق بأني سأتعرض لحملات قاسية من بعض حشوية الشيعة والمتاجرين بالدين ولكني بحول الله وقوته سوف أتجاهل كل ما يقال معتمدا على الله.

I am sure that I will be subject to harsh attacks from some of the viciousness of the Shia and the “traffickers of religion,” but I will, with the strength and power of Allah, ignore everything that is said with complete dependence on Him.[12]


The man knows the reality of the situation, and the reality his predecessors went through. However, this group that claims to investigate matters commonly does not have a specific work authored that gathers da’if and mawdu’ ahadith. Rather, they merely allude to what they see as inconsistent, and considered—by other senior scholars of the school—as red lines that cannot be crossed. The strange thing about this section is that some fanatics of the Shia regarded the authorship wherein da’if and mawdu’ ahadith are explained as a shortcoming! In criticizing the methodology of the Ahlus Sunnah, Muhammad al Hussaini al Qazwini states:


وقد ألف القوم كتبا عديدة في هذا الموضوع، منها: الضعفاء الصغير للبخاري، الضعفاء والمتروكون للنسائي، الضعفاء الكبير للعقيلي، الجرح والتعديل للرازي، المجروحين لابن حبان، الكامل في ضعفاء الرجال لأبي أحمد عبد الله، الضعفاء والمتروكون للدارقطني، معرفة التذكرة في الأحاديث الموضوعة لابن القيسراني، الأباطيل والمناكير والصحاح والمشاهير للجوزقاني،  الضعفاء والمتروكون لابن الجوزي، الموضوعات للصاغاني، المغني في الضعفاء للذهبي، اللآلئ المصنوعة في الأحاديث الموضوعة : للسيوطي، الأسرار المرفوعة في الأخبار الموضوعة لملا علي القاري، الفوائد المجموعة في الأحاديث الموضوعة للشوكاني.

The people (i.e. the Ahlus Sunnah) authored a number of works on this subject, among them: al Du’afa’ al Saghir of al Bukhari, al Du’afa’ wa al Matrukun of al Nasa’i, al Du’afa’ al Kabir of al ‘Uqayli, al Jarh wa al Ta’dil of al Razi, al Majruhin of Ibn Hibban, al Kamil fi Du’afa’ al Rijal of Abu Ahmed ‘Abdullah, al Du’afa’ wa al Matrukun of al Daraqutni, Ma’rifat al Tadhkirah fi al Ahadith al Mawdu’ah of Ibn al Qaisarani, al Abatil wa al Manakir wa al Sihah wa al Mashahir of al Juzaqani, al ‘Du’afa’ wa al Matrukun of Ibn al Jawzi, al Mawdu’at of al Saghani, al Mughni fi al Du’afa’ of al Dhahabi, al La’ali al Masnu’ah fi al Ahadith al Mawdu’ah of al Suyuti, al Asrar al Marfu’ah fi al Akhbar al Mawdu’ah of Mulla ‘Ali al Qari, al Fawa’id al Majmu’ah fi al Ahadith al Mawdu’ah of al Shawkani.[13]


After citing all of these blessed efforts, he follows it saying:


هذا كله يدل على وجود أحاديث موضوعة كثيرة اصطنعتها الأيادي الصنيعة وبثتها بين أحاديثهم

All of this indicates the existence of many mawdu’ ahadith that were created by willing hands and spread among their (other) ahadith.


And like this, he turns truth into falsehood, good into evil. My Lord spoke the truth when he said: “Or do they envy people for what Allah has given them of His bounty?”[14] He regarded all this giving, effort, inquiry, and purging of the Sunnah from what was wrongly attached to it among the reasons for criticism! This is only but envy. The poet rightfully said with his statement:

ثم مـن بعـــد طولها سرت عرضًــا

  لو قطعت البلاد طولا إليه

واشتهى أن يزيد في الأرض أرضًا

  لرأى ما فعلت غير كثــير

If I traversed the length of the country,

Then, after that, I set out traveling its breadth,

Only but a few will see what I have done,

And desire that the ground expand.


Every illness has a cure, except for rancor and envy. In fact, this individual did not suffice himself with just that; he explained what the satisfactory method is according to him saying:


إلا أن للشيعة الإمامية ميزات في هذا الصعيد إذ لم يقعوا في الشراك الذي وقع فيها علماء المذاهب الإسلامية الأخرى، حيث إن الأئمة الأطهار عليهم السلام قد تصدوا لهذه الظاهرة من أول يوم انتشر فيه الحديث وأعطوا كل ذي حق حقه. فلما رأوا أن عدة من أصحاب الأهواء الباطلة والآراء الفاسدة أخذوا يتلاعبون في الأحاديث الشريفة، ويحرفون الشريعة النبوية ويدسون في آثار العترة الطاهرة، أعلنوا التبري منهم ووصفوهم بالكذابين والوضاعين، ولعنوهم أشد اللعن، ليسقط صدقهم ويذهب بهاؤهم عند الناس، وأمروا الشيعة بعدم الأخذ عنهم، لكي تمحص الأحاديث من الدسائس، والحقائق من المنكرات.

However, the Imami Shia have advantages in this regard as they did not fall into the traps in which scholars from the other Islamic schools of thought fell; such that the Pure Imams, peace be upon them, responded to this phenomenon from the first day when hadith spread and they gave every person his due. When they saw that several people of false desires and corrupt opinions began to manipulate the noble ahadith, distorted the prophetic Shari’ah, and interpolated the reports of the Pure Family, they openly recanted from them and described them as liars and forgers, and cursed them in no uncertain terms so their trustworthiness would fall and their standing with people would go away. They commanded the Shia not to accept from them so that the ahadith could be purified from machinations, and truths from falsities.


We have the right to ask this individual: Where can I find the ahadith which you described their people as “people of false desires and corrupt opinions…and distorted the prophetic Shari’ah…and interpolated…as liars and forgers, and cursed them in no uncertain terms?” The answer: We find them widespread in the most authentic and best hadith works of the Shia. The observer does not know what is sahih from what is a lie. With what and how did this man make this distinction, and what is the trap in which scholars of the other Islamic schools fell into and he got away from!

In contrast to this extremism, we find someone from the adept scholars of the Shia who is more rational. He is Muhammad Sadiq Bahr al ‘Ulum. In describing the efforts to defend the Sunnah of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he says:


أفرد جماعة من العلماء المتأخرين كتبا في الأحاديث الموضوعة وحدها جمعت من كتب المتقدمين في التواريخ، والعلل، وكتب الرجال في الضعفاء، وكتب الجرح والتعديل. واشتهرت هذه المؤلفات، وعم نفعها، وازدادت مادتها بازدياد ما حدث من الأباطيل في كل جيل. فتعقبها أهل الاستقراء التام من الحفاظ ودونوها في كتبهم، وفندوا علة كل حديث منها ثبت عندهم وضعه. فرووه بسنده، وأبانوا عن عواره، وزيفوا نسبته إلى الرسول الكريم صلى الله عليه وسلم.

A group of latter-day scholars devoted works dedicated to mawdu’ ahadith that were collected from earlier scholars’ works in history, ‘ilal (hidden defects), da’if narrators, and al Jarh wa al Ta’dil. These works became well known, and their utility widespread. Their material increased with the increase of what occurred of falsehoods in every generation. Thereafter, hadith masters (huffaz) conducted inductive studies and recorded them in their works. They specified the ‘illah (hidden defect) of every hadith which was proven to them to be mawdu’. They narrated it with its sanad, and revealed their flaws, and falsified its attribution to the noble Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[15]


However, when he wanted to mention these efforts, he cited the works authored by the Ahlus Sunnah, and did not mention the literature of the Shia! This is because he does not know them to have any literature in this regard.

This is what ‘Abdul Hadi al Fadli admitted to when he said:


ويسجل لعلماء الحديث من أهل السنة مأثرة علمية جليلة هي تأليفهم في الموضوعات

A great academic feat was recorded for the hadith scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah. It is their writings on hadith forgeries.[16]


Then al Fadli cited a number of works of the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah and did not mention any works of the Shia except for what the contemporary scholar, Hashim Ma’roof al Hassani, authored in al Mawdu’at fi al Athar wa al Akhbar. More on this will come later.

A researcher will be amazed at the opinion of the Shia Muhammad al Sanad who asserted that there are no interpolated ahadith in the works of the Shia. Despite this, he does not prohibit studying the asanid and mutun (texts) as he claims, and that the authentication, revision, and discarding of interpolated ahadith have been completed and finished. In fact, Muhammad al Sanad regarded the claim of authenticating the Shia legacy as having defects in it, and that he responded to it in detail. He also admitted that many scholars of the Shia view the Four Primary works to be authentic, and that some of them regard the Tafsir of ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim al Qummi as authentic.[17]

And thus, we find many scholars of the Shia claiming entire books are authentic, such as the Akhbariyyah, and some Usuliyyah, such as al Khu’i’s opinion of Tawthiq of all the narrators of ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim al Qummi’s Tafsir. We do not find anyone who wrote on the topic of collecting false and da’if ahadith, and explained their defects.

This is Jafar al Subhani, who is not free from his many exaggerations, saying:


More than one of our scholars undertook the task of thoroughly examining what has been narrated of ahadith from the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt. By way of example, I will mention: 1) al Akhbar al Dakhilah (printed) of Muhammad Taqi al Tustari (d. 1401 A.H), and 2) al Mawdu’at fi al Athar wa al Akhbar of Hashim Ma’roof al Hassani.”[18]


Al Subhani’s words can be contested in two ways. Firstly, we find the work al Akhbar al Dakhilah of al Tustari—which al Subhani claims is a work that thoroughly examines the legacy of the Ahlul Bayt—as a mere imitation of the Ahlus Sunnah, and following of a path different to what the scholars of the Shia were on. Regarding this, Yasin al Musawi states in his annotation of al Tabarsi’s work, al Najm al Thaqib:


والغريب موقفه في ذلك الكتاب من الأخبار فكأنّه تأثّر ببعض علماء السنّة الذين كتبوا في الأخبار الدخيلة والموضوعة فأراد أن يجاريهم بأحاديثنا، وهو مسلك غير صحيح في دراسة الأخبار والأحاديث، وخرقًا للسنّة المتبعة بين علماء السلف الصالح في فهم الأحاديث ومعرفة السقيم من المستقيم، والصحيح من الضعيف، والمعتبر من الموضوع.

He has a strange position in that work on the topic of reports (al akhbar). It is as if he was affected by some Sunni scholars who wrote on the subject of extraneous and forged reports. As a result, he wanted our ahadith to conform to them (and their standards). This is an incorrect path in the study of reports and ahadith and a violation of method followed by the righteous scholarly predecessors (i.e. of the Shia) in understanding ahadith, knowing the ‘sick (reports)’ from the ‘straight,’ and the sahih from the da’if, and the considered (mu’tabar) from the mawdu’.[19]


Muhammad Hussain al Hussaini penned a refutation of al Akhbar al Dakhilah in his work Ma’rifat Allah.[20] This Shia scholar named Lotfollah Safi (Golpayga) did not leave the work al Akhbar al Dakhilah and merely brush past it; in fact, he authored a specific work (against it) entitled al Nuqud al Latifah ‘ala al Kitab al Musamma bi al Akhbar al Dakhilah. I will leave Lotfollah Safi to accurately evaluate al Tustari’s work for us so that the proof (against them) will come from the words of the Imamiyyah themselves, even though, as mentioned, he himself does not deny the existence of false ahadith in their collections. Still, the work of al Tustari did not appeal to him much. And despite his respect for al Tustari, we find him saying:


رأيتُ أنه قد عد من الموضوعات طائفة مما رواه شيخنا الصدوق.. كمال الدين، وشيخنا الطوسي …..، ووجدتُ أنه مع إصراره على إثبات وضعها اعتمد على أدلة ضعيفة وشواهد واهية ……… وهذا الباب، أي باب التشكيك في الأحاديث سندا أو متنا، سيما متونها البعيدة عن الأذهان المتعارفة، باب افتتن به كثير …… إلا أنه لا ريب أن التسرع في الحكم القطعي بالوضع والجعل على الأحاديث سيما بشواهد عليلة لا يتوقع صدوره عن العلماء الحاذقين والعارفين بموازين في الرد والحكم بالوضع والتحريف والجرح وغيرها، …… فلذلك رأيت أن الواجب أبدا ما في تشكيكات هذا المؤلف …. حول هذه الأحاديث حتى توجب سوء ظن بعض المغترين وبالتشكيكات بالمحدثين الأقدمين ….. وخلاصة كلامنا معه دام بقاؤه، أن هذه الأحاديث التي ذكرت في كتابه لو كان فيها بعض العلل على اصطلاحات بعض الرجاليين فإنه يجبر بما يجبر مثله أيضا، على ما بنوا عليه من الاعتماد على الأحاديث، مضافا إلى أن كثيرا مما ذكره من العلل واضح الفساد لا يعتنى به العارف بأحوال الأحاديث، ……. إن التهجم على مثل كتاب كمال الدين وغيبة الطوسي، مع أن مؤلفيها من حذاق فن الحديث وأكابر العارفين بالأحاديث وعللها، والإكثار من ذكر العلل في رواياتها والقول بأن هذه الكتب خلط مؤلفوها الصحيح بالسقيم والغث بالسمين، لا فائدة فيه غير زرع سوء ظن في نفوس بعض الجهال.

I saw that he regarded as mawdu’ a number of reports that were narrated by our Sheikh, al Saduq … Kamal al Din, and our Sheikh, al Tusi … I found that, despite his insistence in proving they are mawdu’, he relied on weak and flimsy evidences … Many were infatuated by this door, i.e. the door of opening doubts of ahadith in terms of their sanad and matn, especially the texts that are far from the common minds (i.e. from their understanding) … However, there is no doubt that (the act of) hastening to judge a conclusive rule as mawdu’, and deeming ahadith as false evidences, is not expected to come from expert scholars; those who understand the (different) dimensions related to refutation, judging reports as forgeries, interpolation, jarh, and other (sciences) … Therefore, I saw that the duty is not in the what is necessary is never to be in the doubts raised by this author … surrounding the ahadith such that they bring about a negative opinion of the early hadith scholars by some of those deceived by the doubts … The summary of our words with him (may Allah prolong his duration) is that the ahadith that are mentioned in his work, even if they contained a few defects according to the terms of some scholars of narrator evaluation, they can also repair one another according to what they established in terms of their (overall) reliance on ahadith. Additionally, many of what he mentioned as defects are clearly false; the person acquainted with the variant conditions of ahadith will pay no regards to it … Attacking the likes of the work of Kamal al Din and al Ghaybah of al Tusi (despite the fact that their authors are experts and in the science of hadith and senior specialists of ahadith and their hidden defects (‘ilal), excessively mentioning defects in their narrations, and saying that the authors of these works combined authentic (ahadith) with unsound ones’ and “fat” ones’ with “lean” ones’ is of no benefit, except that it sows a negative opinion in the hearts of some ignorant people.[21]


In short, the work that al Subhani venerates so much is actually unsatisfactory to other scholars of the Shia. What is important is the fact that this work, al Akhbar al Dakhilah, is from a contemporary. Where then is what the early scholars of the Shia wrote in this regard? Did they only come to discover the mistakes in this era? However, as I have repeatedly stated: this is but the way of the people (i.e. the Shia)—at the head of which is Jafar al Subhani—in presenting their ‘goods’ to others.

Secondly, a person who scrutinizes the work al Mawdu’at fi al Athar wa al Akhbar of Hashim Ma’roof will only find him comparing and explaining some of the reasons behind hadith forgery. He spoke about al Bukhari (d. 256 A.H)—as is the Shia’s habit—and frequently attacked him. Then he spoke about al Kafi, a few narrators, and criticized some narrations. In short, mawdu’ and da’if ahadith were not collected in this work; rather, it set down frameworks and general principles on how to recognize false ahadith. This is what I wanted to explain and intended in this section. Hashim Ma’roof’s book is a contemporary book; he himself admitted that it would not appeal to many of the Shia, as mentioned. And if one of them authored a work they would attack him and say as ‘Abdur Rasul said about al Bahbudi:


بل إن ذلك موكول إلى علماء الطائفة ومراجعها

Rather, this is entrusted to the scholars of the group (i.e. the Shia) and their maraji’ (religious authorities).


The question is: Where are your senior maraji’ when it comes to authorship in this important field? Why did they not author any works during these centuries?

Finally, a person could say: What about the works Mir’at al ‘Uqul, Maladh al Akhyar of al Majlisi, Sahih al Kafi, and Sahih al Faqih of al Bahbudi? All of them mention the ahadith with an explanation of their respective levels (of authenticity)?

Firstly, all the authors of these works are from the latter-day scholars. Where are the earlier scholars of this science? This is the most important factor. Was this discovered only after twelve centuries?

Secondly, when the authors of these works give a ruling on a particular hadith, they do not mention the reason of weakness or authenticity. This is what amazed the Shia scholar Hussain al Sa’idi when he said about a hadith: “Al Majlisi (d. 1111 A.H) states in Mir’at al ‘Uqul: ‘The hadith is da’if.’ I do not know the reason for its weakness, and I did not find a single weak narrator in the links of the sanad.”[22]

At times, al Majlisi would rule a narrator to be weak and, despite this, his narration would still be acceptable by him?! This, even though the narration in question does not have another chain (i.e. to support it). An example of this, as previously mentioned, is the narration of Aban ibn ‘Ayyash. Al Majlisi states: “Yunus ibn Dabyan: (dad). In other words, he symbolizes him with weakness (da’if). Despite this, he states regarding a narration of his in Mir’at al ‘Uqul: “Weak according to the most widespread (opinion), duly considered, according to me.”[23]

Thirdly, these works are not included in what we are in; the purpose here is “what the Shia authored of weak and false ahadith.” Therefore, Mir’at al ‘Uqul and Maladh al Akhyar are nothing but hadith commentaries. As for al Bahbudi, he has already been discussed.


4.2      The disregard for collecting the various chains of hadith and explaining its hidden defects (‘ilal)


4.2.1  Hidden defects and anomalies (al ‘ilal wa al shudhudh)

From early on already, the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah authored works in the categories of hadith sciences. They wrote on ‘ilal (hidden defects) in ahadith and excelled in this category. As for the Imami Shia, they, as Ibn Taymiyyah said: “If one of them were asked to produce an authentic, established report from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu or someone else, they would be unable to do so. They do not possess the expertise of isnad nor the (knowledge of) narrators as the Ahlus Sunnah.”[24] He spoke the truth. May Allah have mercy on him.

Anyone who reflects on the reality of hadith sciences will find truth to what Ibn Taymiyyah said; they are in need of many foundational components of this science, as mentioned previously. Mentioning the death date of a person, tadlis, and writings explaining false ahadith is of no concern to them. How then do they fare with the science of ‘ilal, which is considered the “camel’s hump” (i.e. the pinnacle) of hadith sciences? Regarding this (science), al Kajuri al Shirazi stated:


 ومعرفته أجل علوم الحديث وأدقها

Knowledge of it (i.e. the science of ‘ilal) is the most sublime and intricate of hadith sciences.[25]


The Shia have absolutely no knowledge of this science and they have not authored anything therein. This is because their hadith sciences are undeveloped to say the least. In contrast to the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah who are leading in this category.

Those who read the books of Shia authors will find that they mention many (different) works of their authors. I have come across works that are dubbed as ‘ilal; however, they do not mention for us what type of ‘ilal they are speaking about. An example of this is cited by al Najjashi.

  • Under the biography of Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn al Hussain ibn al Hassan ibn Dul al Qummi, al Najjashi lists the works he authored and mentions Kitab al ‘Ilal among them.[26]
  • Under the biography of Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ammar he mentions Kitab al ‘Ilal.[27]
  • Under the biography of ‘Ali ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Ali ibn Faddal he mentions Kitab al ‘Ilal.[28]
  • Under the biography of ‘Ali ibn Abi Sahl (he mentions) Kitab al ‘Ilal.[29]
  • Under the biography of Yunus ibn ‘Abdur Rahman he mentions Kitab al ‘Ilal.[30


Similarly, al Tusi mentions under the biography of Ismail ibn Mihran ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Nasr al Sukuni Kitab al ‘Ilal.[31]

Whoever contemplates over these works cannot definitively confirm the type of these ‘ilal. And since we do not possess but the names of these works, they may be the ‘ilal of legal rulings, the ‘ilal of the Shari’ah, the ‘ilal of Taqiyyah, or the ‘ilal hadith. Is it possible to confirm the type of these ‘ilal? If not, inferring from these works is not possible.

Whoever examines the books of mustalah of the Shia, we find them documenting what is called ‘al mu’allal (defected)’ without reference to what was written in this field from the scholars of the Shia. The situation here resembles the previously mentioned section of tadlis; there is no reference to specific works in the field.

Note, for example, the following works:

  • Al Fawa’id al Rijaliyyah of Mahdi al Kajuri[32]
  • Dirayat al Hadith of Muhammad Hussain al Jalali[33]
  • Al Bidayah fi ‘Ilm al Dirayah of Zayn al Din al ‘Amili al Shahid al Thani (d. 965 A.H)[34]
  • Wusul al Akhyar ila Usul al Akhbar of al Hussain ibn ‘Abdul Samad al ‘Amili (d. 984 A.H)[35]
  • Al Wajizah fi ‘Ilm al Dirayah of al Baha’i[36]
  • Al Fann al Thani min al Qawamis of Mulla Fadil Aghadarbandi[37]
  • Miqbas al Hidayah fi ‘Ilm al Dirayah of ‘Abdullah al Mamaqani[38]
  • Usul al Hadith wa Ahkamuhu of Jafar al Subhani[39], and other works of theirs in this field.


I did not find a single reference to a work in the conventional field of hidden defects in hadith. This has a profound impact on everyone who spoke on the sciences of narrator evaluation from the early and latter-day scholars, among them al Hilli and al Khu’i. How will they deal with thousands of asanid, mutun (pl. of matn), and narrators without having any trace from their predecessors in the chapter concerning the science of ‘ilal? All the while remembering the previous words of al Kajuri in which he described the science of ‘ilal as “the most sublime and intricate of hadith sciences.”

What I have mentioned of ‘ilal is the same for what can be said of shudhudh (anomalies). If there is a work of the Imamiyyah in ‘ilal, then it is the work al Akhbar al Dakhilah of their Sheikh, al Tustari. I came across it and found him speaking about reports which history has testified to their being distorted. Or (he speaks about) distorted reports as attested to by their context. He (also) mentioned a number of forged reports, according to his claim, distorted supplications, and so on. It is a work from a contemporary scholar. Many scholars of the Shia objected to it and, in fact, did not even reprint the work a second time, as far as I know. To such an extent that it has become of the rare books that are difficult to obtain. Therefore, is it possible for us to say that the Shia have works in ‘ilal knowing that they only authored but one work, from a contemporary who they themselves have refuted and denounced his work?


4.2.2  The issue of collecting narrations (jam’ al turuq)

The isnad is of great importance in knowing the truth of a report, and the extent to which it reliably reached us. Multiple asanid enable the researcher to compare between them. With this, the narrator’s error from his correctness becomes clear to us. Additionally, the ziyadah (addition)—or lack thereof—in the isnad or matn becomes clear to us. This is what distinguished the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah; most of the ahadith have varying narrations. At times, al Bukhari (d. 256 A.H) will mention a hadith from one Sahabi with a number of (different) chains that connect with him. Compare this to (other examples) in the works of the Ahlus Sunnah.

However, the matter is very different to that of the Shia. This is because most of their asanid are only via one chain, it has no second. This is the basis for them. If Zurarah ibn A’yan narrated a hadith from an Imam, you will not find from the companions of that Imam another person sharing (this hadith) with him. And you will not find this hadith narrated from Zurarah except from one student. And like this, the hadith reaches the book (of hadith). This is the case for most of the ahadith narrated in the primary works of the Shia; most of their ahadith are ahad (singular) on all levels.

I am not claiming that there is no narration that does not have one, or two, or more chains by the Shia; however, I am merely emphasizing that this is extremely rare. In fact, it is something that is not even mentioned in relation to their total number of ahadith, even in creedal matters. The Shia did not author works specific to collecting (different) chains in order to be compared to the different asanid of one matn. This is due to the scarcity of the material found in this field by them, contrary to what the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah have authored. Al ‘Ilal of al Daraqutni and other works of the Ahlus Sunnah is sufficient for us in this regard.

The Shia (also) do not know the issue of mutaba’at (parallels narrations) in asanid. This stems from the non-existence of multiple chains of ahadith. Therefore, there is no significant mention of them in their works, except rarely. This is because the weakness in a chain of hadith they have closes the door in front of them of authenticating through the asanid.

Mutaba’at in their works are nothing but what they have written on paper; there does not exist any examples worthy of mentioning. If they are found, as I mentioned, they are of consideration because of their rarity. It is not possible for us to build (principles and rulings) on rarities. It is for this reason we find that the scholars of the Shia have replaced (the term) mutaba’at with what they refer to as “circumstantial evidences indicative of the truth of the report.”[40] We do not find them relying much on mutaba’at. Therefore, we find them frequently ‘repairing’ ahadith with what is known as “shuhrat al fatwa,” or “popularity of the fatwa,”[41] which lead to the satisfaction in the issuance of hadith.

This is ‘Abdul Hadi al Fadli, the Shia scholar mentioning how a da’if hadith is ‘repaired’ according to some of their scholars:

  1. Popularity of the narration (al shuhrah fi al riwayah),
  2. the popularity of fatwa (al shuhrah fi al fatwa).[42]


Al Fadli did not even touch on the issue of mutaba’at.

Similarly, Jafar al Subhani states, quoting from the early generation of scholars, that the circumstantial evidence which they rely on in authenticating reports can be summarized as follows:

  1. The existence of a khabar (report) in many of the four-hundred primary sources (al usul al arba’umi’ah).
  2. The khabar being repeatedly mentioned in one, two, or more of the primary works with different chains.[43]
  3. The existence of the narration in a primary work that is known to be attributed to one of the group members about whom their truthfulness has been agreed upon by them.
  4. Its inclusion in the works that were presented to the Imams, who accordingly praised their authors.
  5. It being taken from one of the works that was popular, dependable, and relied-upon among their predecessors.[44


Therefore, al Subhani did not consider mutaba’at except as one form of a number of circumstantial evidences, not a standalone principle to be relied upon as in paragraph number two.

It is this intellectual legacy that both al Hilli and al Khu’i appeared. As such, they did not find a very fertile legacy in this chapter. They have no previous academic principle left behind for them by their scholars. This led to the existence of a major flaw in the judging of narrations. How then is it possible for the researcher to strengthen/bolster a hadith which is not known to have another chain? And how is the researcher to judge a hadith when he does not possess any critical works that explain the ‘ilal in ahadith?


NEXT⇒ 5.0 The absence of writing in the sciences of Mustalah al Hadith except in later times

[1] Al Kafi, al Tahdhib, al Istibsar, and Man La Yahduruhu al Faqih.

[2] Al Kajuri: al Fawa’id al Rijaliyyah, p. 50 (under the chapter Radd al Akhbariyyah fi ‘Adam al Hajah ila ‘Ilm al Rijal).

[3] The work is from the first volume. However, it is a section from the first two sections of al Fawa’id al Rijaliyyah that starts from p. 1 to 230. Thereafter, the second section (al Intisar li Sihhat al Kafi) restarts the numbering from p. 1 to 188.

[4] Al Hurr al ‘Amili: Wasa’il al Shia, 30:249.

[5] Muhammad Baqir al Bahbudi is an erudite shia scholar whose has given much effort into reviewing the intellectual legacy of the Shia. He has reviewed Kitab al Mabsut of al Tusi, al Sirat al Mustaqim of ‘Ali ibn Yunus al ‘Amili, Zubdat al Bayan of al Ardabili, and the work of Ibn al Maghazili. He also participated with the committee responsible for overseeing the printing of Bihar al Anwar of al Majlisi for Dar al Kutub al ‘Ilmiyyah. In the introduction to his revised work of al Kafi, the great shia scholar ‘Ali Akbar Ghaffari says about him: “Our respected, brilliant, and favorite colleague, Muhammad Baqir al Bahbudi.” ‘Ali ‘Ashur, the editor of Ghayat al Maram of al Bahrani referred to him as “the eminent scholar Muhammad Baqir al Bahbudi.” Therefore, al Bahbudi is a noteworthy scholar who holds weight among the scholarly circles of the Shia. He has a number of works, including: Ma’rifat al Hadith wa Tarikh Nashrihi wa Tadwinihi wa Thaqafatihi ‘inda al Shia, ‘Ilal al Hadith. This is a response to those who claim that he is incompetent to verify ahadith. To find out everything that al Bahbudi has done, review the work Nazariyyat al Sunnah fi al Fikr al Imami al Shia of Haydar Hubb Allah. He has an entire chapter dedicated to the efforts of al Bahbudi and the ruthless campaigns he was subjected to—to such an extent that Khomeini’s successor actually summoned him. There is a story about this which can be referred to in Hubb Allah’s work, p. 564.

[6] In reference to the eighteenth verse of Surat al Kahf “while they think that they are doing well in work.” [Translator’s Note]

[7] ‘Abdur Rasul al Ghaffar: al Kulayni wa al Kafi, p. 432.

[8] If we were to ask the person who stated this a question: Have your great leaders undertook this task from the very advent of Islam until our time today? The answer is no! This is because they know the consequences of this act, which will expose what is referred to as the sciences of hadith according to the Imamiyyah.

[9] Al Kulayni wa al Kafi, p. 453-454.

[10] Ibid, p. 556-557.

[11] Ibid, p. 454.

[12] Hashim Ma’roof al Hussaini: al Mawdu’at fi al Athar wa al Akhbar, p. 10.

[13] Abu al Huda al Kalbasi: Sama’ al Maqal, 1/11 (introduction to the edited version). I slightly adjusted the wording—without changing the contents—and summarized by omitting the full names of scholars and their death dates

[14] Surat al Nisa’, v. 54.

[15] He stated this in the introduction of his edited version of Takmilat al Rijal of ‘Abdul Nabi al Kazimi.

[16] Al Fadli: Usul al Hadith, p. 166.

[17] Muhammad al Sanad: Buhuth fi Mabani ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 253.

[18] Al Hadith al Nabawi Bayna al Riwayah, p. 72. The purpose of this book is to disparage the literary works of the Ahl al Sunnah; however, he does so in a twisted manner. He conceals his poison within honey; disparaging the Sahabah, al Bukhari and Muslim along with them as well, in the name of academic research. If only al Subhani had dedicated his time to scrutinising the books of his own people and scholars, then he would have truly understood the difference in value between the literary works of the two groups.

[19] al Tabarsi: al Najm al Thaqib, 2/178.

[20] Muhammad Hussain al Hussaini: Ma’rifat Allah, 2/11.

[21] Lotfollah al Safi: Majmu’at al Rasa’il, 2:138-140.

[22] Hussain al Sa’idi: al Mu’alla ibn Khunays, p. 160. The hadith which al Majlisi says is weak is in Mir’at al ‘Uqul, 8/428.

[23] Mulla Baqir al Majlisi: Mir’at al ‘Uqul, 10/126.

[24] Ibn Taymiyyah: Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah, 3/505.

[25] Al Kajuri: al Fawa’id al Rijaliyyah, p. 205.

[26] Al Najjashi: Rijal al Najjashi, p. 89 (no. 223).

[27] Ibid, p. 95 (no. 236).

[28] Ibid, p. 257 (no. 676).

[29] Ibid, p. 263 (no. 688).

[30] Ibid, p. 466 (no. 1208).

[31] Al Tusi: al Fihrist, p. 38 (no. 32).

[32] P. 205.

[33] P. 110

[34] Printed among Rasa’il fi Dirayat al Hadith, 1:130.

[35] Ibid, 1/412

[36] Ibid, 1/543

[37] Ibid, 2/114.

[38] 1/153.

[39] P. 113.

[40] Al Subhani mentioned this and divided them into circumstantial evidence which is internal and external in nature. The difference of opinion between the earlier and latter-day scholars of the Shia is in his work Durus Mujazah fi ‘Ilmay al Rijal wa al Dirayah, p. 68.

[41] The Shia scholar Muhyiyy al Din al Musawi al Gharifi alluded to accepting a hadith based on its popularity and the difference therein in his work Qawa’id al Hadith, p. 109.

[42] Al Fadli: Usul al Hadith, p. 168.

[43] From his words here it appears that the mere presence of mutaba’at to hadith is nothing but circumstantial evidence, nothing more than that. This circumstantial evidence reassures the trust in the issuance of hadith, and it is not one of the foundations by which authenticity of a hadith is judged. Is relying on the different chains for it common in their works or is it rare such that it is not considered? The second (opinion) is the correct one. In fact, they may strengthen the hadith because of the existence of another chain, even if it is more unsound and contains more ‘ilal than the first. In fact, they accept stories and authenticate them even if there is isnad for it, as is the case with the work Nahj al Balaghah; it is falsely attributed to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

[44] Al Subhani: Durus Mujazah fi ‘Ilmay al Rijal wa al Dirayah, p. 167.