Subscription to the same sources of acquiring and learning is the first and the last cause of uniformity in ideologies and views according to any sect or denomination, and it is these sources that link the later generations with the earlier ones.
The contemporary Shia have relied upon their four early canonical works in acquiring their creed, i.e. al Kafi, al Tahdhib, al Istibsar and Man la Yahduruhu al Faqih. This is affirmed by many of their scholars, some among them being Agha Buzruk al Tahrani in his book al Dhari’ah, Muhsin al Amin in A’yan al Shia and others.
‘Abdul Hussain al Musawi, their senior scholar and leading cleric in contemporary times, states the following regarding their four books:
وهي الكافي والتهذيب والإستبصار ومن لا يحضره الفقيه، وهي متواترة، ومضامينها مقطوع بصحتها، والكافي أقدمها وأعظمها وأحسنها وأتقنها
They are al Kafi, al Tahdhib, al Istibsar and Man la Yahduruhu al Faqih. They are widely transmitted and their content is categorically established. From amongst them al Kafi is the oldest, the greatest, the best, and the most outstanding.
Having said this, the question is: Are the contemporaries any different from al Kulayni and his likes, especially when they all subscribe and have recourse to the same set of canonical works? Naturally they can never be different, especially in the fundamentals and politics.
The matter, however, does not stop there…
Rather their contemporary scholars have accorded what their scholars of the twelfth and the thirteenth century have compiled, the last of who was al Nuri (d. 1320 A.H.) in his book Mustadrak al Wasa’il, canonical status and have classed them ‘the four later books’. Notwithstanding that in doing so they have placed their reliance in narrations which were documented only in the belated fourteenth century from the Imams who lived in the first centuries of Islam.
Furthermore, these books, with the exception of Mustadrak al Wasa’il, were all compiled in the era of the Safawids. They thus comprise of such extremist and exaggerative tendencies that did not even cross the minds of the earlier Shia, as you will find in the Bihar of al Majlisi. And in spite of that these books have earned acclaim in the ranks of the contemporary scholars which implies that a very grave development has taken place in contemporary Shi’ism which has pushed them further into the abysses of misguidance and radicalism.
And that is not all, rather the contemporary Shia have placed their reliance in tens of books which allegedly link them to their predecessors and have considered them equal in rank to the four early canonical works in terms of substantiation and derivation of law. This is explicitly clear in the introductions written to these books. Following al Majlisi who has accorded these books the status of canonicity they have adopted the same approach to them.
Surprisingly, even some of the books of the Ismailiyyah have been given the status of classical books by the contemporary Shia clergy, as in the case of Da’a’im al Islam of al Nu’man ibn Muhammad ibn Mansur (d. 363 A.H.) who is recorded as an Ismaili in some of the books of the Twelvers themselves. Despite this, their senior scholars have recourse to it.
In fact, some of the contemporary scholars of the Shia go on to assert that there is uniformity in the classical texts of the Ismailiyyah and the Twelvers. Hence one of them says:
وإذا لم يكن الفاطميون علي المذهب الإثني عشري فإن هذا المذهب قد اشتد أزره ووجد منطلقا في عهدهم، فقد عظم نفوذه ونشط دعاته… ذلك أن ألإثني عشرية والإسماعيلية وإن اختلفوا من جهات، فإنهم يلتقون في هذه الشعائر بخاصة في تدريس علوم آل البيت والتفقه بها وحمل الناس عليها
Even though the Fatimids were not Twelvers, the Twelver creed definitely gained prominence and progressed in their era, for its infiltration increased and its propagators became more active. This is because, even though the Twelvers and the Ismailiyyah differ in many ways, they converge upon these symbols, more specifically teaching the knowledge of the Ahlul Bayt, gaining an in depth understanding of it and persuading the people to practice upon it.
And in Da’irat al Ma’arif al Islamiyyah the following appears regarding the opening that the extremist found to the Twelver dogma:
علي أن الحدود لم تقفل تماما إمام الغلاة يدل علي ذلك التقدير الذي دام طويلا للكتاب الأكبر للإسماعيلية وهو كتاب دعائم الإسلام
Not forgetting that the doors did not completely close upon the extremists. The evidence for this is the veneration which the most crucial book of the Ismailiyyah named Da’a’im al Islam enjoyed for a very long time
This is a fact, for whoever will study some of the books of the Ismailiyyah will find many similarities between the two denominations.
All of this implies that the Twelver sect has placed itself in a deep ocean of darkness by choosing to accord canonical status to all those books which have reached them from the people of the bygone eras…
We find that in these times there has come about a movement which is calling for the revival of the ancient scriptural Shia legacy and for popularising it among the masses. This legacy is replete with criticisms of the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and the Sunnah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It is likewise replete with the curses, excommunication and tails of the everlasting damnation of the people of the first century of Islam, at the forefront of who are the three Khulafa’, some of the Mothers of the Believers, and the Muhajirin and the Ansar who were pleased with Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and with who Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala was pleased, as is established in the Qur’an.
This movement was initiated by the most prominent Mujtahidin of the Shia in this era, and they have revised, annotated many of these books and even written prefaces upon them. And in spite of all of that we do not find any of them disavowing or condemning the appalling disbelief and heresy that appears in these books. Is this not approval from their side for whatever features in them?
Furthermore, professor ‘Ali al Salus posed a question to one of the contemporary scholars of the Shia inquiring about his view regarding the preposterous and hyperbolic narrations which appear in Usul al Kafi. He replied with the following which is his letter verbatim:
أما الروايات التي ذكرها شيخنا الكليني في كتابه الكافي فهي موثوقة الصدور عندنا… وما ورد في الكافي أن الأئمة يعلمون جميع العلوم التي خرجت إلي الملائكة والأنبياء والرسل وإنهم إذا شاؤوا أن يعلموا علموا، ويعلمون متي يموتون ولا يموتون إلا باختيار منهم، ويعلمون علم ما كان وما يكون ولا يخفي عليهم شيء، ولا شك أنهم أولياء الله الذين أخلصوا له في الطاعة. ثم ذكر قولا من أئمته وهو: قولوا فينا ما شئتم ونزهونا عن الربوبية.
As for the narrations which our scholar al Kulayni has documented in his book al Kafi they are authentic according to us. And all those narrations in al Kafi which talk of the Imams possessing all types of knowledge which was dispensed to the angels, the Prophets and Messengers, of them having the ability to know when they intended to know, of them having knowledge of when they are going to die and that they do not die but when they want to, of them having knowledge of the past and the future and of nothing being hidden from them (are true), for verily they were the friends of Allah who were sincere in his worship.” (He then cites a quotation of their Imams which reads as,) “Say regarding us what you want, but do not deify us.” 
This does not require any explanation, for he has affirmed for his Imams such attributes which are only suited to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. And this is not just the view of al Kifa’i alone regarding the exaggerated content of Usul al Kafi, rather al Khunayzi who has written a book in which he calls for Sunni Shia unity also treats these very issues in a way that is no different than that of al Kifa’i. Keeping in mind that this book was written under the guise of Taqiyyah (dissimulation) in order to call towards the alleged unity which they claim exists between the Ahlus Sunnah and them and which they have used as a deceptive missionary tool in order to beguile the Ahlus Sunnah.
Likewise, another scholar of theirs who goes by the name Lutf Allah al Safi responded to Muhibb al Din al Khatib, who cited some of the exaggerations suggested by the headings of some of the chapters in Usul al Kafi, with the following:
أن الأبواب المعنونة ليست إلا عناوين لبعض ما ورثوا عن جدهم رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم
These are but a reflection of some of the knowledge they inherited from their grandfather Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Read what one of their clerics has to say regarding what their Imams have left for their followers as evidence of their Imamah:
إن لهم آثارا تدل علي تلك الإمامة المقصودة، ولاأريد أن أدلك علي مجاميع عديدة رويت عنهم وألفت في عصورهم أو ما قاربها… أمثال تحف العقول وبصائر الدرجات والخرائج والجرائح واحتجاج الطبرسي والخصال والتوحيد للصدوق… إلي ما يكثر تعداده. بل إنما أريد أن أدلك علي أثر واحد جامع، وفيه القدح المعلي لكل إمام، إلا وهو أصول الكافي لثقة الإسلام محمد بن يعقوب الكليني… وقد ألف هذا الكتاب النفيس في عشرين عاما وأثبت فيه لكل إمام في كتبه وأبوابه من الأحاديث ما ينبيك علي أن ذلك الفرات السائغ يمتد من ينبوع الفيض الإلهي، وإن الناس فارغة الحقائب عن مثل تلك النفائس
They have signs which establish the desired position of Imamah, I do not want guide to you to great books which have been reported from them and compiled in their eras. The likes of Tuhaf al ‘Uqul, Basa’ir al Darajat, al Khara’ij wa al Jara’ih, al Ihtijaj of al Tabarsi, al Tawhid of al Saduq, etc., rather I would just like to guide you to one among them, a book which is the principle work of every Imam (literally translated as the chief arrow among the divining arrows). And that is Usul al Kafi of the reliable transmitter of Islam Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al Kulayni. He compiled this magnum opus in a period of twenty years and he has included the narrations of every Imam in the chapters and sub-chapters thereof. This is sufficient to inform you that this immense knowledge extends from the inundating Knowledge of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. It is likewise enough to suggest to you that peoples bags are empty of these gems.
He then goes on to extoll the virtues of Usul al Kafi and goes on to press upon the reader to refer to some of its chapters in order to really appreciate it.
Regarding al Kafi the reality has already come to the fore in terms of it containing such exaggerations and disbelief which are beyond the comprehension of men. It is sufficient to merely scan through the titles of the chapters to ascertain this.
 Al Dhari’ah 17/245.
 A’yan al Shia 1/280.
 See for example the introduction of Safinah al Bihar.
 Al Muraja’at p. 311.
 The Twelver Shia Ibn Shar Ashub (d. 588 A.H.) states, “The Judge al Nu’man ibn Muhammad is not an Imami.” (Ma’alim al ‘Ulamaʾ p. 139). As you have previously learnt, the Twelvers class those who do not believe any of their Imams as one who rejected the prophethood of one of the prophets, i.e. a disbeliever. And the Ismailis reject the Imamah of all the Imams after Jafar al Sadiq, despite that the Twelvers still have recourse to their books which implicitly implies that they receive their knowledge from infidels.
 Khomeini for example refers to him in his book al Hukumah al Islamiyyah p. 68.
 Muhammad Jawwad Mughniyah: al Shia fi al Mizan p. 163
 Daʾirat al Ma’arif al Islamiyyah 14/72.
 One such similarity is their report: “He who does not believe in our return is not from amongst us.” This appears in the books of the Ismailiyyah (see under the discussion of the four books of the Ismailiyyah) just as it appears in the books of the Twelvers .
 Correspondence with al Kazim al Kifaʾi, the original copy published by ‘Ali al Salus in Fiqh al Shia p. 265).
 Abu al Hassan al Khunayzi: al Da’wah al Islamiyyah 1/27-28
 Al Khutut al ‘Aridah p. 149.
 Muhammad Rida al Muzaffar: al Shia wa al Imamah p. 101.
 Al Khutut al ‘Aridah p. 102.Back to top