5.2 The positions of al Hilli and al Khu’i concerning the statements of al jarh wa al ta’dil that come from the infallible Imams—according to the Imami Shia

Chapter Five – The Principles of al Jarh wa al Ta’dil Between al Hilli and al Khu’i – 5.1 The principles of al jarh wa al ta’dil according to al Khu’i and al Hilli related to the tenants of Shia faith
April 5, 2022
5.3 The relationship that connects the Imam with the narrator
April 5, 2022

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5.2 The positions of al Hilli and al Khu’i concerning the statements of al jarh wa al ta’dil that come from the infallible Imams—according to the Imami Shia



5.2.1 The Imam or one of the notables asking Allah to have mercy on the narrator

Under the chapter “Nass al Imam,” ‘Abdul Hadi al Fadli states:


يراد بذلك أن يروى في الكتب الرجالية نص صريح أو ظاهرعن أحد الأئمة المعصومين (ع) في تقييم حال راو من الرواة توثيقا أو تضعيفا ولا خلاف بين علمائنا في الاعتماد على مثل هذه النصوص الشريفة الأخذ بمؤدياتها

What is intended thereby is that an explicit or apparent text is narrated in the books of narrator evaluation from one of the infallible Imams on the evaluation of a narrator’s condition, either a tawithiq or tad’if. There is no difference of opinion among our scholars on relying on the likes of these noble texts and accepting the implications therein.[1]


Thereafter, al Fadli cited several examples for the principle that he mentioned, such as the infallible Imam giving glad tidings of Jannat to the person, or saying that he is among the protectors of the religion.

The Imam or any notable’s asking Allah for His mercy or pleasure (for the narrator) is the most famous of what they state regarding a narrator. The Imami scholars have spoken at length on this issue. Al Mamaqani enumerated the reasons of tawthiq and mentioned among them, “The Imam’s asking Allah for His mercy, or His pleasure, or the like for the narrator.” Thereafter, al Mamaqani explains his opinion saying:


فإنه لا يعقل صدور ذلك منه إلا بالنسبة إلى ثقة عدل بل الترحم و الترضي و نحوهما من المشايخ يفيد ذلك كما لا يخفى على الفطن اللبيب

It does not make sense for such statements to come from him except because they are in relation to a person who is reliable and upright. In fact, scholars asking Allah for His mercy or His pleasure for a narrator informs of this. This is not unknown to the intelligent, astute person.[2]


This is the point of view of those who consider the supplication of mercy and pleasure from the luminaries—the infallible being at the head of such people—as indicative of the narrator’s uprightness, reliability, integrity, or as a form of general praise, according to the famous difference of opinion.[3]

Al Kazimi states:


فكيفما كان [لا] يكون إلا عن ثقة يرجع إليه الأجلاء

Whatever the case may be, it is not (but) regarding a reliable person, someone who the luminaries revert back to.[4]


Many of the latter-day Imami scholars held this opinion.[5]

What concerns us here is the opinion of both Ibn al Mutahhar al Hilli and Abu al Qasim al Khu’i. As it appears in some biographies, al Khu’i considers the supplication of the infallible for a narrator among the reasons for placing him in the first section. Under the biography of Hamdan ibn al Mu’afa, he states:


مولى جعفر بن محمد عليه السلام روي عن الكاظم والرضا عليهما السلام أنهما دعوا له

The mawla (client) of Jafar ibn Muhammad ‘alayh al Salam. It was narrated from al Kazim and al Rida ‘alayhima al Salam that they supplicated for him.[6]


Al Hilli did not mention anything except for this so that he could place the narrator in the first section. This indicates that he regarded the supplication of the infallible among the reasons for accepting the narrator, irrespective of whether it is regarded as a tawthiq, tahsin (i.e., considering the narrator upright), or any other level of a narrator’s acceptability.

Under the biography of ‘Abdul Malik ibn A’yan (Abu al Durris), he states:


روي ترحم الصادق عليه السلام عليه

The supplication of mercy of al Sadiq ‘alayh al Salam for the narrator has been narrated.[7]


Perhaps what emphasizes the fact that al Hilli considers the supplication of mercy among the reasons of tawthiq is what comes in the biography of ‘Ali ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Abdullah. Al Hilli states:


قال الكشي عن محمد بن مسعود قال حدثنا محمد بن نصير قال حدثنا أحمد ابن محمد بن عيسى قال كتب إليه علي بن الحسين بن عبد الله يسأله الدعاء في زيادة عمره حتى يرى ما يحب فكتب إليه في جوابه تصير إلى رحمة الله خير لك فتوفى الرجل بالخزيمية

Al Kashshi states from Muhammad ibn Mas’ud — Muhammad ibn Nasir narrated to us — Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa narrated to us — ‘Ali ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Abdullah wrote to him asking about the supplication for an increase in his age so that he can see that which he loves. He wrote back to him with the answer, “Being in the mercy of Allah is better for you.”

And so, the man passed away in al Khuzaymiyyah.’[8]


Then al Hilli commented:


والظاهر أن المسؤول بالدعاء بعض الأئمة عليهم السلام وهذه الرواية لا تدل نصا على عدالة الرجل لكنها من المرجحات

It appears that the one responsible for making the supplication was some of the Imams ‘alayhim al Salam. This narration does not explicitly prove the ‘adalah of the man; however, it seems to be from the favourable narrations.[9]


Perhaps al Hilli did not consider the supplication of mercy explicit enough. The statement of the infallible “in the mercy of Allah” could mean that he desired for him to take himself away (i.e., to die). And for this reason, the mad died after this statement. Therefore, al Hilli counted it among the favourable narrations.

Had the supplication of mercy been explicit, as in other biographies, it would not be merely from the favourable narrations; rather, it would be counted among the evidences which directly indicate the narrator’s tawthiq and acceptance of the narration.

From the statements of al Hilli, it is clear that he accepts the supplication of mercy on condition that the chain of narration through which it is transmitted to the infallible is authentic, as in the biography of Hamzah ibn Bazi’. He mentions a narration in which it comes:


ذكر بين يدي أبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام حمزة بن بزيع فترحم عليه ساعة

Hamzah ibn Bazi’ was mentioned in front of Abu al Hassan al Rida ‘alayh al Salam and so he asked Allah to have mercy on him for a moment.


Al Hilli commented:


وهذا الطريق لم يثبت صحته عندي

According to me, the authenticity of this chain has not been verified.[10]


And despite al Hilli’s statement regarding the chain’s inauthenticity, we see him placing Hamzah ibn Bazi’ in the first section.  He did the same under the biography of Abu Harir al Qummi.[11] He also did the same under the biography of Kulayb ibn Muawiyah al Saydawi[12] when he criticized the chain of narration of the supplication of mercy because it contained a Waqifi narrator. Despite that, al Hilli placed him in the first section and suspended judgement on his ta’dil!

I can summarize by saying: al Hilli considers the supplication of mercy and pleasure of the infallible from among the reasons of accepting the narrator, when the chain through which it is narrated is authentic and the expression used is explicit. If the chain is not authentic, al Hilli makes it more favourable towards accepting the narrator.

As for al Khu’i, it has been mass transmitted from him  that he does not take into consideration the supplication of mercy and pleasure of the infallible for the narrator. According to him, it has nothing to do with accepting or rejecting the narrator’s narration. Thus, it is not indicative of reliability or uprightness. He states:


الترحم بنفسه لا يقتضي التوثيق ولا يكشف عن حسن الحال وقد رأينا الصدوق كثيرا ما يترحم ويترضى على مشايخه وفيهم الضعيف وغيره وأن ذلك منه لا يكشف إلا عن كونه شيعيا إماميا لا يزيد عليه بشيء كيف وقد ترحم الصادق (ع) على جميع زوار قبر الحسين (ع) وفيهم الفاسق و الكذاب وشارب الخمر أفهل ترى أن ترحم الصدوق وترضيه أعظم شأنا من ترحم الصادق (عليه السلام)

The supplication of mercy in and of itself does not necessitate tawthiq and it does not reveal the uprightness of the narrator’s condition. We have seen al Saduq many a time supplicating to Allah for Him to have mercy and be pleased with his teachers, among them are those who are weak, etc. This coming from him only reveals that he is an Imami Shia, and it adds nothing more. Why would this not be the case? Al Sadiq supplicated to Allah for Him to have mercy on the all the visitors of al Hussain’s grave, among them would be the liar, sinner, and someone who drinks alcohol. Do you think al Saduq’s supplicating and asking Allah to be pleased with a person is greater than al Sadiq’s doing the same?[13]


Al Khu’i also stated:


أنك قد عرفت أن الترحم لا يدل على المدح فضلا عن الوثاقة

You know that asking Allah to have mercy (on a narrator) is not indicative of his praise, let alone his reliability.[14]


Al Khu’i disputed those who said that the act of asking Allah to have mercy is a proof of the narrator’s tawthiq. He states:


 استدل على حسن من ترحم عليه أحد الاعلام كالشيخ الصدوق ومحمد ابن يعقوب [الكليني] وأضرابهما بأن في الترحم عناية خاصة بالمترحم عليه فيكشف ذلك عن حسنه لا محالة

 والجواب عنه أن الترحم هو طلب الرحمة من الله تعالى فهو دعاء مطلوب ومستحب في حق كل مؤمن وقد أمرنا بطلب المغفرة لجميع المؤمنين وللوالدين بخصوصهما وقد ترحم الصادق عليه السلام لكل من زار الحسين عليه السلام بل إنه سلام الله عليه قد ترحم لأشخاص خاصة معروفين بالفسق لما فيهم ما يقتضي ذلك كالسيد إسماعيل الحميري وغيره فكيف يكون ترحم الشيخ الصدوق أو محمد بن يعقوب [الكليني] وأمثالهما كاشفا عن حسن المترحم عليه؟ وهذا النجاشي قد ترحم على محمد بن عبد الله بن محمد بن عبيد الله بن البهلول بعد ما ذكر أنه رأى شيوخه يضعفونه وأنه لأجل ذلك لم يرو عنه شيئا وتجنبه

When one of the notables, such as al Saduq, Muhammad ibn Yaqub (al Kulayni), and others like them ask Allah to have mercy on a narrator, it is inferred therefrom that this act indicates his uprightness it indicates their special attention on him. Certainly, this reveals his uprightness.

The response to this is as follows. Tarahhum is the act of seeking mercy from Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. It is a required and desired supplication for every believer. We have been commanded to seek Allah’s forgiveness for all believers, and for one’s parents, in particular. Al Sadiq asked Allah to have mercy on all those who visited al Husan ‘alayh al Salam at his grave. In fact, he ‘alayh al Salam asked Allah to have mercy on certain individuals known to be sinners because of what was inside of them that necessitated such a supplication, such as al Sayed Ismail al Humairi and others. How then does the act of asking for Allah’s mercy by al Sheikh al Saduq, Muhammad ibn Yaqub (al Kulayni), or their likes reveal the uprightness of the narrator? Here we have al Najjashi asking Allah to have mercy on Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaidullah ibn al Bahlul[15] after mentioning that he saw his teachers making tad’if of him, and because of that, he stayed away from him and did not narrate anything from him.[16]


What al Khu’i mentioned regarding asking Allah to have mercy is the same thing he states regarding Allah being pleased. He states:


وليس في ترضي الصدوق (قده) عليه دلالة على الحسن فضلا عن الوثاقة

There is not in al Saduq asking Allah to be pleased with the narrator an indication of his uprightness, let alone his reliability.[17]


5.2.2 The position of al Hilli and al Khu’i regarding the negative statements that come from the infallible about a narrator

After many Imami scholars made the words of praise that were uttered by the Imam a form of tawthiq for narrator (admitting there is disagreement regarding some its details), they also made the words of the Imam’s dispraise of a narrator a proof for leaving him out. This is irrespective of whether it was because of the narrator lying, or sinning, or because of his animosity towards the Imam. Cursing is among the most severe words that come from the Imam against a narrator. When it is authentically proven to have come from an Imam that he cursed, belied, or testified that a particular narrator is destined to the fire (and the Imami scholars did not justify such a statement from the Imam as a form of Taqiyyah), then it is indicative of a serious criticism of that narrator and it is sufficient grounds for rejecting his narration. I have not come across any difference of opinion among the Imamiyyah on this issue. It also appears to me there is agreement on this issue from both al Hilli and al Khu’i.

Perhaps it is sufficient for me to mention one example—using the Imam’s cursing a narrator as a form of indicating a rejection of his narration. Under the biography of ‘Urwah ibn Yahya al Nakhkhas al Dahqan, al Khu’i states:


غال ملعون روى الكشي حديثا في طريقه محمد بن موسى الهمداني وحديثا آخر عن علي بن محمد بن قتيبة عن أبي حامد أحمد بن إبراهيم المراغي أن أبا محمد (عليه السلام) لعن عروة بن يحيى الدهقان و أمر شيعته بلعنه

Extreme (and) cursed. Al Kashshi narrated one hadith which contains Muhammad ibn Musa al Hamdani. He narrated another hadith from ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Qutaybah — from Hamid Ahmed ibn Ibrahim al Maraghi that Abu Muhammad ‘alayh al Salam cursed ‘Urwah ibn Yahya al Dahqan and ordered his followers to curse him.[18]


Al Hilli placed him in the second section because the infallible Imam not only cursed him, but he also ordered for him to be cursed.

As for al Khu’i, under the biography of Jafar ibn Waqid, he states:


قال الكشي في ترجمة جماعة منهم جعفر بن واقد حدثني محمد بن قولويه والحسين بن الحسن بن بندار القمي قالا حدثنا سعد بن عبد الله قال حدثني إبراهيم بن مهزيار ومحمد بن عيسى بن عبيد عن علي ابن مهزيار قال سمعت أبا جعفر الثاني (عليه السلام) يقول وقد ذكر عنده أبا الخطاب لعن الله أبا الخطاب ولعن أصحابه ولعن الشاكين في لعنه ولعن من قد وقف في ذلك وشك فيه

Al Kashshi stated under the biographies of several people—among them Jafar ibn Waqid—Muhammad ibn Qulawayh and al Hussain ibn al Hassan ibn Bundar al Qummi narrated to me — Sa’d ibn ‘Abdullah narrated to us — Ibrahim ibn Mahzyar and Muhammad ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Ubaid narrated to me — from ‘Ali ibn Mahzayar: I heard Abu Jafar the Second ‘alayh al Salam saying (when Abu al Khattab was mentioned in his presence), “May Allah curse Ibn al Khattab, and curse his companions, and curse those who doubt that he needs to be cursed, and curse those who hesitate and doubt therein.”[19]


According to al Khu’i, this action is sufficient to render criticism of the man since he did not bother to do anything except for transmit the Imam’s cursing of the narrator in order to prove his condition.


NEXT⇒ 5.3 The relationship that connects the Imam with the narrator

[1] ‘Abdul Hadi al Fadli: Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal, p. 120.

[2] ‘Abdullah al Mamaqani: Tanqih al Maqal, 1/210, al Fawa’id al Rijaliyyah, no. 24.

[3] See: Mujam Mustalahat al Rijal wa al Dirayah of Muhammad Kazim, p. 39. See, also: Nihayat al Dirayah of Hassan al Sadr, p. 422.

[4] Al Kazimi: ‘Uddat al Rijal, p. 23. Transmitted from marginalia of Muntaha al Maqal fi Ahwal al Rijal of Abu ‘Ali al Ha’iri, 1/94. See, also: Mujam Mustalahat al Rijal wa al Dirayah of Muhammad Kazim, p. 39.

[5] Among them: al Mamaqani (his words in this regard have already been mentioned); al Namazi al Shaharudi (as stated in Mustadrakat ‘Ilm al Rijal, 1/59 and 3/84, no. 4147; Muhammad al Jalali in his work, Dirayat al Hadith, p. 342 (Despite the fact that he did not mention the words “pleasure” or “mercy;” rather; he stated: “tawthiq of the infallible”); Abu ‘Ali al Ha’iri in Muntaha al Maqal, 1/94. In Usul ‘Ilm al Rijal bayna al Nazariyyah wa al Tatbiq, Muslim al Dawuri inclined to give detail and make a distinction between “mercy” and “pleasure” and questioned the opinions of al Khu’i (see: 2/131).

[6] Al Hilli: Khulasat al Aqwal, p. 133, no. 355.

[7] Ibid., p. 206, no. 661.

[8] Al Tusi: Ikhtiyar Ma’rifat al Rijal (Rijal al Kashshi), p. 510, no. 985.

[9] Al Hilli: Khulasat al Aqwal, p. 184, no. 545.

[10] Al Hilli: Khulasat al Aqwal, p. 121, no. 308.

[11] Ibid., p. 303, no. 1139.

[12] Ibid., p. 232, no. 793.

[13] Al Khu’i: Kitab al Salah, 4/232, “Shara’it Sujud al Tilawah”.

[14] Al Khu’i: Mujam Rijal al Hadith, 10/215, no. 6102.

[15] Al Najjashi: Rijal al Najjashi, pp. 55-58, no. 207. When I went back to al Najjashi’s al Fihrist, I saw him giving the title as “Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaidullah.” It was not “Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaid Allah al Bahlul,” as al Khu’i mentioned it. His text reads as: “I saw this Sheikh. He was a friend of my father. I heard much from him. I saw our scholars making tad’if of him. Therefore, I did not narrate anything from him and I stayed away from him. He was from the people of knowledge, strong etiquette, good poetry, and beautiful handwriting. May Allah have mercy on him and pardon him.”

[16] Al Khu’i: Mujam Rijal al Hadith, 1/74.

[17] Ibid., 15/230, no. 9961.

[18] Al Hilli: Khulasat al Aqwal, p. 383 (no. 1536). See: Rijal al Kashshi, p. 573 (no. 1086).

[19] Al Khu’i: Mujam Rijal al Hadith, 5/105, no. 2333; Rijal al Kashshi, p. 529, no. 1012.