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I generally blog on Iqra Online - however since ShiaChat has a much larger membership base I will be syndicating some of the interesting material on this blog as well.

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‘Allāmah’s Treatment of the Qirā’āt

Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/allamah-tabatabai-treatment-different-readings-quran/ One of the most extensive and important discussions within Qurānic studies is regarding its variant readings (qirā’āt). The readings are generally discussed within commentaries themselves and even within historical discussions regarding the collection and transmission of the Qurān. Utilizing a 25-page research paper titled Rawish Shināsi Ruyikard ‘Allāmeh Ṭabāṭabā’ī Dar Ikhtilāf Qirā’āt by Muḥamad Khāmehgar of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, we will look at how ‘Allāmah Ṭabāṭabā’ī treats these different readings in his seminal work Tafsīr al-Mīzān. ‘Allāmah discusses or points out differences in readings in around 160 places. These remarks include the following: Differences in vowels and diacritics on words: 72 times Differences in the type of letters or their quantity: 42 times Differences in the formation of a word, or in its root-word, or in it being singular or plural, or in it being in passive or active voice, or which paradigm from thulāthī mazīd the word is from: 36 times Differences in one or more words being extra: 4 times Differences in a word present in a place of another word: 6 times Differences in a word missing: 0 times Differences in words being moved around: 0 times Differences in a sentence being added or removed: 0 times In the first 3 cases, there is no discrepency between the text of the codex and its recitation. However, in the fourth case when there is an extra word in one of the recitations, ‘Allāmah either rejects it – like in the case of (8:1) يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَنفَالِ which has also been recited as يَسْأَلُونَكَ الْأَنفَال, or he considers it to be an exegesis done in the middle of the verse like in the case of: (20:15) إِنَّ السَّاعَةَ آتِيَةٌ أَكَادُ أُخْفِيهَا لِتُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا تَسْعَىٰ It has been reported that Ibn ‘Abbās and Imām al-Ṣādiq (a) recited the verse as follows: أَكَادُ أُخْفِيهَا عن نفسي. ‘Allāmah considers this addition to be a commentary. In the fifth case where a word is present in place of another word, ‘Allāmah considers five of those instances to be commentaries. One of those instances is a recitation attributed to Ibn ‘Umar, which ‘Allāmah considers to be made up by Ibn ‘Umar himself. The verse is: (65:1) يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ لِعِدَّتِهِنَّ where Ibn ‘Umar replaced the preposition li on ‘iddatihinna and replaced it with a fi qabl: يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ في قبل عِدَّتِهِنَّ. The Reading of Ḥafṣ from ‘Āṣim Some Qurān experts – such as Āyatullah Hādi Ma’rifat (d. 2007) – believe that the only reading that has a sound chain of transmission and all the Muslims have considered it reliable is the reading of Ḥafṣ. Ḥafṣ learned the reading from his teacher ‘Āṣim who learned it from Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (d. 74 AH) who took it from Imām ‘Alī (a). They say that this reading is not based on the personal ijtihād of Ḥafṣ rather it was passed down to him through a transmission which is directly connected to Imām ‘Alī (a) and ultimately the Prophet (p). How strong the argument of the aforementioned scholars is can be investigated in a different article altogether, but what is important to note here is that ‘Allāmah Ṭabāṭabāī considered the reading of Ḥafṣ like the rest of the readings. He did not believe this reading to have any preference over the other recitations and considers it to be ijtihādī like the rest of them. He simply deems the reading of Ḥafṣ to be the popular reading[1] but did not believe that going against it implies going against the recitation of the Prophet (p) or the Imām (a). Although, we cannot deny that the primary reading employed by ‘Allāmah in his al-Mīzān is that of Ḥafṣ’, he has not preferred this reading over the rest of them in every case. We will look at some of these cases where ‘Allāmah preferred the reading of Ḥafṣ over other recitations and what he based his preference on, as well as cases where he preferred another reading over that of Ḥafṣ’ and what he based his preference on. Preference of Ḥafṣ Over Other Readings In some cases, ‘Allāmah prefers Ḥafṣ over other recitations, not due to the popularity or probative force of the reading, but due to other specified reasons. 1) In (2:222) وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ, ‘Allamah prefers the pronunciation Yaṭhurna يَطْهُرْنَ – which happens to be the popular reading – over Yaṭṭahurna يَطَّهُرْنَ which was how the people of Kūfa recited it, except Ḥafṣ. The reason for this preference is a number of traditions that imply that the recitation is Yaṭhurna, instead of Yaṭṭahurna.[2] 2) In (2:260) فَخُذْ أَرْبَعَةً مِّنَ الطَّيْرِ فَصُرْهُنَّ إِلَيْكَ, the word fa-ṣurhunna has been recited in two ways. The famous recitation of it is fa-ṣurhunna فَصُرْهُنَّ, whereas Abū Ja’far, Ḥamzah, Khalaf and Ruways who narrates from Ya’qūb have all recited this word as fa-ṣirhunna.[3] ‘Allāmah says since this word, when pronounced with a ḍammah, means to cut or chop, it has become muta’addī with the preposition ilaafter it to also take into consideration the meaning of calling something towards oneself.[4] 3) In (10:21) إِنَّ رُسُلَنَا يَكْتُبُونَ مَا تَمْكُرُونَ, the word tamkurūn تَمْكُرُونَ has been recited as yamkurūnيَمْكُرُونَ by some reciters like Zayd who took from Ya’qūb and Sahl.[5] ‘Allāmah prefers the popular recitation citing the concept of grammatical shift (iltifāt) in the Qurān and says that the popular recitation is more eloquent with respect to the meaning intended.[6] Preference of Other Readings Over Ḥafṣ ‘Allāmah’s approach to the different readings of the Qurān and preferring one reading over the other is based on the siyāq (loosely translated as context) of the verses, alibis from the aḥādīth literature, grammatical rules and as well as other factors. That being the case, in some instances we find ‘Allāmah preferring the reading of a reciter other than that of Ḥafṣ’. What is interesting to note is that in no instance does ‘Allāmah say that the meaning signified in the reading of Ḥafṣ is necessarily wrong or incorrect, rather he simply believes that the other recitation is better and more harmonious. As a matter of fact, in one case he even says that both recitations are perfectly correct.[7] At times we find that ‘Allāmah prefers the readings of one of the 7 famous reciters over Ḥafṣ while other times we find him to prefer the readings of one of the non-famous reciters over Ḥafṣ. The 7-famous reciters are: ‘Abdullah b. ‘Āmir al-Dimashqī (d. 118 AH) ‘Abdullah b. Kathīr al-Makkī (d. 120 AH) Āṣim b. Bahdalah (d.127 AH) – whose main transmitter was Ḥafṣ Abū ‘Amr b. ‘Alā (d. 154 AH) Ḥamzah al-Kūfī (d.156 AH) Nāfi’ al-Madanī (d. 169 AH) al-Kisāī (d. 189 AH) Some cases where ‘Allāmah prefers one of these reciters over Āsim’s are as follows: 1) Āṣim and Kisāī have recited the word mālik مَالِك in (1:4) مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ with an alif, whereas the rest of the reciters have recited it without an alif – as malik مَلِك. ‘Allāmah prefers the recitation of malikover mālik because it has been added on to a concept of time – yawm al-dīn.[8] 2) In (8:59) وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا سَبَقُوا ۚ إِنَّهُمْ لَا يُعْجِزُونَ the verb la yaḥsabanna لا يَحْسَبَنَّ has been recited with a yā in third-person, but Ibn Kathīr, Abū ‘Amr, Nāfi’ and Kisāī have read it with a tā which would make it a second-person verb. ‘Allāmah prefers the second-person reading not only because it is more popular, but also due to the context of the verses after this one, as they are addressing the Prophet (p).[9] 3) Regarding (48:9) لِّتُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُعَزِّرُوهُ وَتُوَقِّرُوهُ وَتُسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا, ‘Allāmah says that the popular recitation of this verse pronounces all the verbs in second-person with a tā, but Ibn Kathīr and Abū ‘Amr have recited it in third-person with a yā. He says that the reading of the latter two is more appropriate since it is in line with the context of the verse.[10] In some cases, we find ‘Allāmah preferring the reading of one of the non-famous reciters over that of Ḥafṣ’. For example, in (26:13) وَيَضِيقُ صَدْرِي وَلَا يَنطَلِقُ لِسَانِي all the 7 famous reciters read the words yaḍīqu يَضِيقُ and yanṭaliqu يَنْطَلِقُ in the state of raf’ with a ḍamma, however Ya’qūb b. Isḥāq recites these two verbs in the state of naṣb with a fatḥa (يَضِيقَ and يَنْطَلِقَ). ‘Allāmah prefers the recitation of Ya’qūb because it is more in line with the meaning intended.[11] Not Preferring any Reading Over Another In a majority of cases ‘Allāmah does not prefer one reading over another. Instead, he reiterates that both recitals are correct and justifiable. This also implies that ‘Allāmah does not restrict himself to the recitation of Ḥafṣ in his commentary simply because it happens to be a popular reading or go out of his way to invalidate other recitations simply because they aren’t popular. In fact, it shows that ‘Allāmah considered other recitations to be just as valid and strong as the recitation of Ḥafṣ. As an example, in (2:37) فَتَلَقَّىٰ آدَمُ مِن رَّبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ  Ibn Kathīr recites Ādam in a state of naṣb and Kalimāt in a state of raf’, while Ibn ‘Āmir recites it the opposite way. ‘Allāmah cites both recitations and does not prefer one over another and says that the meaning will remain the same in either case.[12] In (2:126) قَالَ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلًا, the word umatti’uhu which is on the paradigm of taf’īl, has also been recited as umti’uhu on the paradigm of if’āl. Since both tamtī’ and imtā’ have the same meaning, he refrains from preferring one over the other.[13] In (26:36) قَالُوا أَرْجِهْ وَأَخَاهُ, the word arjih أرْجِهْ has been recited as 1) arji’hu أرْجِئهُ with a hamzahbetween the jīm and the pronoun hā and with a ḍammah on the hā, 2) the people of Medīna and Kisāī and Khalaf recited it as arjihi أرْجِهِ without a hamzah and with a kasra on the hā, and 3) Āṣim and Ḥamzah recited it as arjih أرْجِهْ without a hamzah, but with a sukūn on the hā. After mentioning all the different recitations for this word, ‘Allāmah says that the first two recitations are more eloquent than the third recitation which happens to be the popular one, although all three recitations have the same meaning.[14] In other situations, we find ‘Allāmah not commenting on the different readings at all. Perhaps this was done simply to point the reader to the fact that there exists another recitation that is equally strong and justifiable as Ḥafṣ’. Or perhaps he may have felt that the recitation of Ḥafṣ in a particular verse was not as strong, but did not find enough reason to prefer any of the other recitations over it either. For example, in (2:283) وَلَمْ تَجِدُوا كَاتِبًا فَرِهَانٌ مَّقْبُوضَةٌ he says that the word rihān in this verse has also been pronounced as ruhun which is the plural for rahn. Both words have the same meaning and ‘Allāmah refrains from commenting on them any further.[15] In some cases, even though ‘Allāmah has not preferred any recitation over another, he has made use of the difference in reading to expand on the meaning of the verse. Regarding verse (2:219) يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ he writes that the word kabīr (great) has also been recited as kathīr (a lot). When explaining the harms of alcohol and gambling he says that their harms are both great and a lot.[16] When it comes to the numerous reports in which a recitation has been attributed to one of the Imāms (a), ‘Allāmah takes the same approach as he does with the other readings. If these traditions and the readings do not meet the criteria for acceptance, they are not to be taken. He writes that the Shī’a do not consider rare readings to be probative, even if they are attributed to the Imāms.[17] When it comes to traditions that attribute a certain way of reading to the Imāms (a), he divides these set of traditions into two, narrations that are specifically a reading of a verse, and narrations that are exegetical. Narrations that are specifically a reading of a verse are traditions that are in line with the text of the Qurānic codex and rules of grammar. The readings of the text themselves are then either in accordance with one of the famous readings or against them. Traditions in which these readings are not the same as any of the famous readings are either those in which either the vowel placement is different or the letters of a word is different or something similar to that extent. In these cases, ‘Allāmah treats these readings like the rest of the famous recitations and puts them to the same standard of scrutiny before preferring one over another. As an example, in (13:31) أَفَلَمْ يَيْأَسِ, the famous recitation is a fa lam yay’as, but it has been reported that Imām ‘Alī (a), Ibn ‘Abbās, ‘Alī b. al-Ḥusayn (a), Zayd b. ‘Alī, Ja’far b. Muḥammad (a), Ibn Abī Malīkah and Abū Yazīd al-Madanī all recited it as a fa lam yatabayyan. However, ‘Allāmah says that the famous and accepted recitation is a fa lam yay’as.[18] In a subsequent post, we will look at the role of these different readings and how ‘Allāmah used them to either defend his own interpretation or at times allow multiple meanings for a given verse. Footnotes [1] Al-Mīzān, vol. 7, pg. 271 [2] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 322 [3] Ṭabrasī, Majma’ al-Bayān, vol. 2, pg. 642 [4] Al-Mīzān, vol. 2, pg. 375 [5] Ṭabrasī, vol. 5, pg. 151 [6] Al-Mīzān, vol. 10, pg. 49 [7] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 204 [8] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 33 and 142 [9] Ibid, vol. 9, pg. 150 [10] Ibid, vol. 18, pg. 408 [11] Ibid, vol. 15, pg. 360 [12] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 204 [13] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 426 [14] Ibid, vol. 15, pg. 382 [15] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 668 [16] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 289 [17] Ibid, vol. 4, pg. 476 [18] Ibid, vol. 11, pg. 505

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 6)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – Doctrine of al-Ṣarfah – A Historical Overview (Part 6) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-doctrine-of-al-ṣarfah-a-historical-overview-part-6/ In our previous post, we went over a brief description of the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah. In this post, we want to see what critiques were established against this doctrine by Muslim scholars. I will summarize some of the major arguments against the doctrine and leave out some of the rebuttals which I felt were repetitive and were essentially saying the same thing as another argument. As you will come to realize, some of these rebuttals are impressive and proponents of al-Ṣarfah would need to respond to them accordingly, but some other rebuttals have blatant flaws in them or are based on presumptions that not all proponents of al-Ṣarfah even accepted. Though, I will not be discussing the strength or weakness of any of these rebuttals and will leave it up to the reader to further investigate and contemplate over this very crucial discussion. Scholars have listed out a wide range of critiques on the doctrine, some list up to 12 rebuttals, others 7, and some only 1 or 2. The nature of these rebuttals also depends on who they are being addressed to. As mentioned in the previous post, there are multiple definitions and interpretations of the doctrine itself, so even though some rebuttals may be applicable to all interpretations, many others may only be targetting a specific definition or even a specific proponent of the doctrine. In this post I have sufficed with 8 critiques, combining some of the rebuttals I felt were essentially saying the same thing. Rebuttals 1. If the miracle of the Qurān was something external to it, rather than internal, then God would not have challenged the Arabs to bring something like it. Instead, God would have informed them that He has forcibly prevented them from bringing anything like it. 2. al-Khaṭṭābī[1] (d. 388 AH / 998 CE) and some others argue that even though theoretically speaking the view of al-Ṣarfah sounds valid, its greatest problem is that it goes against the apparent meaning of some of the verses of the Qurān. One of the main verses cited is: قُل لَّئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الْإِنسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَىٰ أَن يَأْتُوا بِمِثْلِ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ لَا يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيرًا [17:88] Say, “If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.” These scholars argue that this verse cannot be understood correctly if one were to believe in al-Ṣarfah – which is an external barrier. The challenge in this verse is related to an act that has been described as being exhaustive and a task that requires a lot of effort. Such is the extent of this effort that all of mankind and the jinn would need to gather together to even begin fulfilling it. Despite that, they will fail at it. This implies that the miracle of the Qurān is something internal to it because the notion of al-Ṣarfah – at least one understanding of it – implies that humans have been externally prevented from bringing anything like the Qurān and there is no real motivation or effort required to attempt to bring anything like it. There are other verses in the Qurān that are also cited by different scholars to argue that the miracle of it is innate to it. For example: وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَا تَسْمَعُوا لِهَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ وَالْغَوْا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَغْلِبُونَ [41:26] And those who disbelieve say, “Do not listen to this Qur’an and speak noisily during [the recitation of] it that perhaps you will overcome.” This verse implies that the disbelievers knew the words of the Qurān itself had something miraculous about it, or else they would not have asked others to not listen to it or interrupt its recitation. This is as far as its impact on the disbelievers is concerned. However, in another verse we see that the verses of the Qurān also impacted the believers: اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ [39:23] Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book wherein is reiteration. The skins shiver therefrom of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whom He wills. And one whom Allah leaves astray – for him there is no guide. 3. ‘Abdul Qāhir al-Jurjānī[2] (d. 471 AH), Zarkashī (d. 794 AH) in his al-Burhān and Suyūtī[3] (d. 911 AH) all argue that if the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah was true, then as time passes by, people would learn the ability to bring something like the Qurān. As such, it would no longer remain a miracle. This is all the while there is a theological consensus by Muslims that the Qurān is an eternal miracle. Note that one of the presumptions of this rebuttal is that the challenge to bring something like the Qurān has been understood to be limited to the time of the Prophet (p) himself. 4. Those who say that al-Ṣarfah is the notion of God preventing the Arabs from acquiring knowledge required to bring something like the Qurān, then a question remains as to why we do not find any historical reports of Arabs complaining about their lack of knowledge regarding these matters, or why did none of the eloquent ones at the time of the Prophet (p) even attempt to bring anything like it – albeit failed attempts? 5. ‘Abdul Qāhir al-Jurjānī claims that if the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah was correct, then why do we find the Arabs themselves astonished and confused by the eloquence and clarity of the Qurān.[4] This matter is unanimously agreed upon by the historians and numerous historical reports exist describing the shocking state of some of the disbelievers, such as Walīd b. Mughīrah and ‘Utbah b. Rabī’ah, when they heard some of the verses being recited. If the verses were not miraculous, even if they were highly eloquent, this should not have been a reason for them to be shocked and astonished to such a degree, since the Arabs were already well accustomed to highly eloquent speech before the revelation of the Qurān. If the miracle of the Qurān was that their knowledge had been taken away from them, then their astonishment should have been concerning the fact that previously they the ability to produce speech similar to the Qurān, but after its revelation, they were unable to do so. 6. In the previous post, we mentioned that one of Sayyid al-Murtaḍa’s justification for al-Ṣarfah was that the verses of the Qurān are merely a combination of letters and words, something every human is inherently capable of doing. If someone is not able to bring something like the Qurān, it only means that people do not have enough knowledge do so, not that the order of the words itself is miraculous. ‘Allāmah Ṭabāṭabāī summarizes this argument in his Tafsīr al-Mīzān[5] and then begins a lengthy response to it. I will quote just two excerpts from his response and the readers can refer to the complete rebuttal in the English translation of al-Mīzān available online. He writes: It is a fallacious argument that as the language is a product of human ingenuity, it can never reach a level which would be beyond the grasp or ability of human beings; language, being a product, cannot be more powerful than its producer. The fallacy lies in the fact that what has been invented by man is simple words for particular meanings. But this congruity of the words with their meanings does not teach the man how to arrange those words, how to plan, draft and deliver a talk in the best possible way — in a way that the talk reflects the beauty of the meaning as it is in the mind, and the meaning in its turn becomes a mirror of the reality, remains in complete agreement with the fact. It requires a dexterity in the art of eloquence, an adroitness in elocution; also it depends on sharp intelligence and comprehensive knowledge so that the speaker may be fully cognizant of all aspects of the subject matter. It is this skill and knowledge that differs from man to man, and creates difference between talk and talk in their respective perfection and beauty. … To come back to the main objection: Accepted that language has been made by men. But it does not mean that there cannot be found a piece of literature that is beyond the reach of the very men who made the language. Otherwise, we would have to say that a sword-maker must be the bravest of all the swordsmen, the inventor of chess or lute must be the most accomplished chess-master or lutanist! Āyatullah Jawādī Āmulī in volume 1 of his thematical exegesis[6] offers a similar critique to Sayyid al-Murtaḍa. To summarize his argument, he says that eloquence and clarity of speech is based on three pillars, namely, one’s relative knowledge with respect to what exists, the ability to produce words and use them to signify their specific meanings, and thirdly to be able to use those words collectively in an appropriate fashion to convey a meaning to someone. Humans have complete control over the second pillar, but their command over the first and third pillar is limited. This is because the realities are too many to enumerate and most humans possess only some knowledge regarding them, while others – like the infallibles – may possess all knowledge about them. As for what words should be used and how they should be used, then this goes back to human experience and one’s taste of the language. It does not exist for everyone because it is linked to the domain of the practical intellect and humans are highly different from one another in this regard. This is similar to the skill of writing poetry, which some are excellent in, while others have no ability to write anything poetic. So even if humans coined words for different meanings, these are to be considered tools by which eloquent speech can be produced. It by no means necessitates that they themselves can also produce the highest level of eloquence or that eloquence cannot reach a level of miraculousness. 7.  The doctrine of al-Ṣarfah suggests that the Qurān challenged the people to bring something like it, but if they ever intended to do so, an external barrier would prevent them from it. However, this implies that if a person does not intend to go head-to-head with the Qurān and is not intending on taking on the Qurānic challenge, then there is nothing stopping them from bringing something like the Qurān. This is because the external barrier is for those who intend on challenging the Qurānic miracle. Of course, this rebuttal will only work for those proponents of al-Ṣarfah who believe that the external barrier is limited to those who consciously intend on taking on the Qurānic challenge. 8. From a Shī’ī perspective, one argument against al-Ṣarfah is seeing what the infallible Imāms (a) after the Prophet (p) have said about the Qurān. Some traditions very clearly signify that the miracle of the Qurān was internal to it and not an external barrier. The Imāms never seem to have alluded to the book’s miraculous aspect being that which the proponents of al-Ṣarfah claim. Rather if there is any mention of the Qurānic miracle and its accompanying challenge, their words always seem to imply that it was something innate to it. One such tradition is in volume 1 of Uṣūl al-Kāfī, ḥadīth #20: Al-Ḥusayn b. Muḥammad narrated from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Sayyārī from Abū Ya’qūb al-Baghdādī who said: Ibn Sikkīt asked Abū al-Ḥasan (al-Kāẓim), ‘Why did Allah send Mūsa b. ‘Imrān (a) with a miracle that appeared through his staff, his hand and through tools of magic, and He sent ‘Īsa with the miracle that appeared through tools of medicine, and He sent Muḥammad (p) with means of speech and sermons?’ Abū al-Ḥasan (a) replied: ‘When Allah sent forth Mūsa (a), magic was popular amongst the people. So he brought something against them from Allah which they did not have the capacity to counter. He was given that by which he invalidated their magic and established the truth against them. Allah sent ‘Īsa (a) at a time when serious illnesses existed amongst the people and they needed medical treatment. So he brought something for them from Allah which the people did not have. He was given the ability to bring the dead back to life, cure the sick and the lepers by the permission of Allah and thus, establish the truth against them. Allah sent Muḥammad (p) at a time when oratory and speech were popular amongst the people – and I think he said poetry as well.[7] From the good advice and wisdom that he brought to them from Allah, he invalidated their words and established the truth against them.’ Ibn al-Sikkīt said, ‘I swear by Allah I have never seen anyone like you. What is the proof amongst people today to establish the truth?’ The Imam replied, ‘It is the intellect. Through it, one recognizes those who speak the truth regarding Allah, and thus affirms them, and through it, one recognizes those who lie regarding Allah, and thus negates them.” Ibn al-Sikkīt then said, “This by Allah is the answer.” This tradition implies that the Qurānic miracle was similar to the miracles brought by the previous Prophets (p) as far as it was related to what was popular at the time. Given that eloquent oratory and poetry was a praised skill during the time of the Prophet (p), the Qurān – being the Prophet’s (p) miracle – was related to that and demonstrated its miracle through the very language the Arabs would pride themselves in. From next post onwards, we will start going through significant and influential scholarly figures and expound on their views regarding the miraculousness of the Qurān. We will begin from 4th-century hijrī and proceed from there. Footnotes [1] Bayān I’jāz al-Qurān, published under the work Thalāth Rasāil fī I’jāz al-Qurān [2] Dalāil al-I’jāz, pg. 156 [3] Al-Itqān fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān, vol. 4, pg. 8 [4] Dalāil al-I’jāz, pg. 390-391 [5] For the English translation, see vol. 1, pgs. 127-133 [6] Tafsīr Mawḍū’ī, vol. 1, pg. 165 – available online here: http://www.portal.esra.ir [7] The narrator adds this phrase
 

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 5)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – Doctrine of al-Ṣarfah – A Historical Overview (Part 5) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-doctrine-of-al-ṣarfah-a-historical-overview-part-5/   From the beginning of revelation up until the end of the 2nd century, the issue of i’jāz (miraculousness) of the Qurān was not a widely discussed topic amongst Muslim scholars. The Muslims before that were in general amazed by the Qurān and the concepts it discussed and expounded on, to such an extent that there never seemed to be a need to get into formal discussions regarding what made it a miracle. Two possible reasons exist for this lack of attention towards this aspect of the Qurān: 1) The Muslims had known that the Qurān is from God without a doubt, thus they did not develop the need to get into questions regarding the precise nature of its text, its sentence structure, its prose and so on. 2) The Muslims considered the Qurān a sacred book, and so they did not put forth any personal opinions regarding it. This is similar to why companions and the tābi’ūn (the followers and contemporaries of the companions) did not engage in extensive exegesis of the Qurān. Formal discussions on the miraculousness of the Qurān began between the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd century hijrī. The earliest group engaging in discussions of i’jāz were the Mu’tazalīs, and thus the earliest formal opinion regarding its miracle also happened to be the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah – proposed by Abū Isḥāq Ibrahīm al-Naẓẓām (d. 231 AH / 845 CE). This was around the same time when dispute over the created nature of Qurān was also taking place between different scholars. Three groups sprung into existence during this period: 1) Those who believed that the Qurān was not miraculous at all. Some proponents of this view were Ibn Rāwandī the philosopher and the Mu’tazalī scholar ‘Īsa b. Ṣabīḥ al-Muzdār 2) Most Mu’tazalīs became proponents of the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah 3) Theologians who believed the miracle to be in the text and very nature of the Qurān – not outside of it In this post, we will go over the second opinion, although due to the extensive nature of the discussion, we can only explain it briefly. Al-Ṣarfah Al-Ṣarfah linguistically means to prevent, discourage, or divert. It has been used in Sūrah al-A’rāf as follows: سَأَصْرِفُ عَنْ آيَاتِيَ الَّذِينَ يَتَكَبَّرُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ [7:146] I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth However, in our technical discussion in the context of the miraculousness of the Qurān, it refers to the concept of God diverting the Arabs away from being able to produce anything like the Qurān. In other words, the Arabs could have brought something like the Qurān, but an external barrier prevented them from doing so.[1] Arabic was the language of the people of the time, they were well familiar with the way it was used and employed. The Qurān was revealed in Arabic making use of the same grammatical foundations popular amongst the Arabs, so then what was it that prevented them from bringing something like it? The doctrine formulated to respond to this question was al-Ṣarfah, but how exactly it worked had remained a matter of dispute. Al-Amīr Yaḥya b. Ḥamzah al-‘Alawī al-Zaydī (d. 749 AH) in his work al-Ṭarāz says there are three possibilities[2] regarding what the proponents of al-Ṣarfah believed in: 1) God had removed all motivation from them to bring anything similar to the Qurān and to challenge it, despite the fact that reasons for why they should have been motivated to do so were present. These reasons range from the Qurān essentially making a mockery of them, exposing their inability to bring something like it, or even discussing their defeat and downfall in the face of Islam. They had every reason to feel motivated to bring something like the Qurān to combat it, but they did not seem to be interested in doing so. 2) They were motivated to bring something like the Qurān, but God had diverted their attention away from the knowledge by which they could have produced something like it. There are two further explanations al-Amīr Yaḥya expounds on as far as this opinion is concerned, but we will suffice with what we have summarized here. 3) They had the motivation and as well as the necessary knowledge to bring something like the Qurān, but God forcefully prevented them from being able to do so. Āyatullah Hādī Ma’rifat says that it seems it was the second opinion many proponents of al-Ṣarfah believed in and that this is particularly true for the Shī’ī scholar Sayyid al-Murtaḍa – who was a staunch proponent of this doctrine.[3] Āyatullah Hādī Ma’rifat backs this up by citing a number of scholars, including Ibn Maytham al-Baḥrānī[4] (d. 679 AH) and Sa’d al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī[5] (d. 793 AH). A number of heavy-weights held the opinion of al-Ṣarfah, such as al-Naẓẓām, Abū Isḥāq al-Nuṣaybī, ‘Abbād b. Sulaymān, Hisham al-Qurṭūbī, Ibn Ḥazm al-Andalusī (d. 456 AH) – a Ẓāhirī scholar, Abū ‘Uthmān al-Jāḥiẓ (d. 255 AH) and others. However, for sake of conciseness, we will go over just three scholars. Al-Naẓẓām As mentioned earlier, al-Naẓẓām appears to be the earliest proponent of the view of al-Ṣarfah, though some have also made the claim that it was Wāṣil b. ‘Āṭā (d. 131 AH / 748 CE). In any case, as far as what al-Naẓẓam’s view regarding al-Ṣarfah was, we are not too sure because none of his works are extant today by which we can judge for ourselves, and so all we are left with are quotations from him or what later scholars understood from his words. Due to this, we find that some scholars have said he took on the first opinion regarding al-Ṣarfah, meaning God had simply removed any motivation from them to bring something similar to the Qurān[6], while others such as Ibn al-Zamlakānī (d. 651 AH) suggest[7] it was the second opinion, where God had removed their access to the knowledge by which they could have brought something similar to the Qurān. Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ash’arī (d. 320 AH) in his Maqālāt al-Islāmiyīn[8] explicitly states that it was, in fact, the third opinion al-Naẓẓām was a proponent of. In other words, all three opinions have been attributed to him. Some later scholars argue it was, in fact, the first opinion al-Naẓẓām ascribed to, especially when we see his student al-Jāḥiẓ alluding to it as well. Furthermore, some scholars have explained the difference between al-Naẓẓām’s version of al-Ṣarfah with that of Sayyid al-Murtaḍa’s, which once again leads us to believe that al-Naẓẓām ascribed to the first opinion, because it is widely accepted that al-Murtaḍa ascribed to the second view. Ibn Sinān al-Khafājī Amīr Abū Muḥammad ‘Abdullah b. Muḥammad b. Sinān al-Khafājī (d. 466 AH / 1074 CE) was an Imām Shī’ī scholar of the 5th century hijrī, who was eventually poisoned on the orders of the Amīr Maḥmūd b. Naṣr. In his Sirr al-Fiṣāḥa[9] he comes out as a strong proponent of al-Ṣarfah and even attempts to refute Abū al-Ḥasan al-Rummānī (d. 384 AH / 994 CE) who believed the miracle of the Qurān to be in its assonance and eloquence. In his attack on al-Rummānī, Ibn Sinān says that if one contemplates even a little over the Qurān and the eloquent speech of the Arabs, they will realize that there is not much difference between the two. In fact, someone who is familiar with the grammatical and literary foundations by which it could be claimed that a certain speech was eloquent, they will find phrases and speech amongst the Arabs that highly resembled the Qurānic verses. He says that the miraculous aspect of the Qurān is in the fact that God prevented the Arabs from being able to bring something like it simply by restricting their access to the specific knowledge that would be required to do so. Sayyid al-Murtaḍa Given that Sayyid al-Murtaḍa (d. 436 AH) is one of the greatest Shī’ī Imāmi scholars to ever live, and due to his vast expertise in the various Islamic sciences as well as his unique views in matters of theology, jurisprudence, Qurānic exegesis, grammar and so on, it only makes sense to understand his view on this doctrine. There is no dispute that Sayyid al-Murtaḍa was a proponent of al-Ṣarfah. From amongst al-Murtaḍa’s students, it appears Shaykh al-Ṭūṣi was a proponent of al-Ṣarfah initially, as it is apparent from his commentary on Sayyid al-Murtaḍa’s work Jumal al-‘Ilm wa al-‘Amal, but later retracts his view in his work al-Iqtiṣād bi-Taḥqīq Mabānī al-I’tiqād. His other student Abū al-Ṣalāḥ al-Ḥalabī (d. 447 AH) though, remained on the view of al-Ṣarfah and considered it one of the best explanations for what makes the Qurān miraculous.[10] Most scholars believe Sayyid al-Murtaḍa was a proponent of the second version of al-Ṣarfah – meaning God had divinely prevented access to the knowledge required to bring something like the Qurān. Al-Qutub al-Rāwandī[11] – who was also a proponent of al-Ṣarfah – explains that Sayyid al-Murtaḍa believed that the miraculousness of the Qurān is in the fact that God has prohibited the Arabs from producing anything like it, by preventing them from acquiring the required knowledge to produce something like it. One of the main arguments put forth by him and as well as some other proponents for al-Ṣarfah is as follows: If the eloquence of the Qurān was miraculous, then it would be necessary for it to have a significant difference from what was considered to be the most eloquent speech by an Arab – to such an extent that if these statements were to be placed together, one would not be confused as to which one is the Qurān and which one is the speech of an Arab. This is all the while we find numerous places where the speech of the Arabs resembles the Qurān very much. In fact, we find that there is hardly any difference between some of the shorter chapters of the Qurān and that which is considered the best of Arab poetry and speech. If this was not the case, there would be no need for us to refer to the strong Arab poets and eloquent speakers in order to understand the usage of some of the literary and grammatical devices employed in the Qurān itself. If someone were to respond and say that the view of al-Ṣarfah is against the consensus of the Muslims, and in fact accepting this view leads us to say that the Qurān is not the miracle, rather the act of prevention is the miracle, then it should be known – the proponents will say – that this is not a topic in which you can cite consensus as evidence. Furthermore, the claim that there is a consensus on this matter is itself invalid, because the matter is a disputed one. Secondly, the word miracle has a linguistic meaning and a colloquial meaning. Colloquially – which is what is relevant here and what people use to describe the Qurān – a miracle is something which implies that the person who has come forth with it is truthful in their claim, and the Qurān is a miracle in this sense even if we accept the view of al-Ṣarfah. If someone says the Qurān is not a miracle, what the laymen understand from that is that it is not evidence for the Prophethood of Muḥammad (p) and that people are able to produce something similar to it and then make the claim of Prophethood for themselves. No proponent of al-Ṣarfah says or implies such a thing through their doctrine. Shaykh al-Ṭūṣi summarizes the refutations of Sayyid al-Murtaḍa and the proponents of al-Ṣarfah to some of the explanations given for what makes the Qurān a miracle. For example, those who believe the miracle of the Qurān is in its order and prose and that it is impossible for one to reproduce such order, prose and eloquence in their speech, then al-Murtaḍa’s rebuttal to them would be that the verses of the Qurān are merely a combination of letters and words, which every human is inherently capable of doing. If someone hasn’t been able to bring something like it so far, does not necessarily mean that the order itself is miraculous, but rather it implies that people do not have enough knowledge to do so. This is similar to a person listening to a poet, yet they are not able to produce what a poet produces, not because the poetry in it and of itself is impossible to produce, but because the listener has not acquired the preliminaries required to produce poetry like it. For those who say that the miracle of the Qurān is in its reports regarding the unseen, then even though that is a miracle, but that is not what the Arabs were being challenged on. In fact, much of the Qurān is empty of any reports about the unseen. As for those who say that the miracle of the Qurān is in the absence of any contradictions in it, then once again this is not inherently miraculous, but rather one of the merits of the Qurān. This is because many humans, especially those who have strong memories and are attentive, can produce speech that is not contradictory – and no one says such a case is a miracle. While these are the arguments put forth by the proponents of this doctrine, it should be reiterated that none of them were suggesting that the Qurān is not highly eloquent and literary profound. Rather, their simple point was that it isn’t this aspect of the Qurān which makes it a miracle – it was something external to it. One Additional Argument One additional argument that proponents of al-Ṣarfah will bring are the Qurānic codices of Ibn Mas’ūd and Ubay b. Ka’b.  What is famously agreed upon by the majority of Muslim scholars is that ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ūd did not have Sūrah al-Falaq and al-Nās in his Qurānic codex and in fact, he did not consider them part of the Qurān at all. On the contrary, it is also accepted that Ubay b. Ka’b had two extra chapters in his codex, namely Sūrah al-Ḥafd and al-Khala’. We will not be expanding on the historical discussion concerning these two codices of two of the most prominent companions of the Prophet (p) and scholars of the Qurān – those interested can look into it further, as much discussion exists regarding them. However, we can briefly explain how the proponents of al-Ṣarfah cited these two codices to defend their claim. If the miracle of the Qurān was in its very nature, in its text, in the way its verses are organized and in its eloquence, then how was it possible for someone like ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ūd to not be able to acknowledge this for Sūrah al-Falaq and al-Nās, to the extent that he did not even consider them to be part of the Qurān. If the eloquence and prose of the Qurān were enough to establish its miraculous nature then we would not have seen Ibn Mas’ūd omit these chapters from his codex. On the contrary, if the eloquence and prose of the Qurān was enough to establish its miraculous nature, then Ubay b. Ka’b should have been able to ascertain that regarding al-Ḥafd and al-Khala’ and should have known that these two are not chapters of the Qurān. If anyone is interested in reading a little more on the discussion concerning the codex of ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud, please refer to the transcripts from lesson two and three of Shaykh Ḥaider Ḥobollah’s classes on Sūrah al-Falaq. God willing, in the next post, we will summarize some of the critiques presented by scholars on the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah and why it has not remained a popular position. [1] Al-Itqān fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān, by Jalāl al-Dīn al-Ṣuyūṭī, vol. 4, pg. 7 [2] Al-Ṭarāz, by Al-Amīr Yaḥya b. Ḥamzah al-‘Alawī, vol. 3, pg. 391-392 [3] Al-Tamhīd, by Āyatullah Hādī Ma’rifat, vol. 4, pg. 140 [4] Qawā’id al-Marām, pg. 132 [5] Sharḥ al-Maqāṣid, vol. 2, pg. 184 [6] This is what Sayyid Shari al-Jurjāni (d. 816 AH) says in his Sharh al-Mawāqif, vol. 3, pg. 112 [7] Al-Burhān al-Kāshif ‘an I’jāz al-Qurān, pg. 53 [8] Maqālāt al-Islāmiyīn, vol. 1, pg. 296 [9] Sirr al-Fiṣāḥah, pg. 89-90 [10] In his work Taqrīb al-Ma’ārif, pg. 105-108 [11] In his al-Kharāij wa al-Jarā’ih, vol. 3, pg. 981-984
 

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 4)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 4) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-4/ Intellectual-Rational In this approach, the criterion used to establish the miraculousness of the Qurān is intellectualization and reason. One of the things that pushed scholars to take this approach was the significant amount of differences of opinions in the earlier approaches, such as the taste and feel approach, or even the semantic approach, where the standard at times comes across as very subjective. This pushed some scholars to argue for something more general, something that was accessible by a much larger range of people and they found that to be the intellect. Some of the scholars take issue with limiting the miracle of the Qurān in grammar and semantics and say that which is miraculous is that the Qurān contains material that can satisfy one’s intellect whether they are equipped with the grammatical background or not. In fact, this approach argues that the continuity of the Qurān’s miracle can only be explained by it being intellectually approachable and satisfactory. This also resolves the issue of not having to blindly imitate (taqlīd) someone else’s claim to the Qurān’s miraculous nature as one can readily contemplate over the verses themselves and reach this conclusion. These verses include those that take about the realities of this world and one’s life, information about things that the intellect could not have perceived on its own, such as information about past or future events, and more importantly, arguments made for certain theological beliefs, such as God’s Oneness.[1] Elucidation-Presentational (Bayān) The most famous opinion on what constitutes the miraculousness of the Qurān is the approach of elucidation and presentation (al-bayān). The proponents of this view maintain the challenge the Qurān puts forth is wholly related to the way it elucidates different meanings through its verses. Before explaining this approach any further, it is important to know about a division that has existed within the study of Arabic grammar for centuries. The science of ma’ānī, bayān and badī’ are three distinct subjects studied under the overarching science of balāgha. The science of ma’ānī discusses the rules of what makes an expression clear and unambiguous, the science of bayān deals with how any given meaning can be expressed in different ways and as such deals with the use of metaphors and figures of speech, while the science of badī’ deals with the rules of beautifying any given expression. A very simple definition for an expression that can be considered eloquent (balīgh) is one that follows both the rules studied in the science of ma’ānī and bayān, while the rules of badī’ are not a necessary condition. With this brief explanation, what we mean by a presentational approach is that the proponents believed the miracle of the Qurān is rooted in what is studied in the science of bayān. Before the revelation of the Qurān, poetry played an important role in conveying messages. It was during this period that the seven famous Hanged Poems were composed and rhymed prose (saj’) by the Arab fortunetellers (kāhin) were powerful examples of literary expertise. It was then that the Arabs were bewildered when they began hearing the verses of the Qurān, verses that were both meaningful and their presentation beyond what they had ever produced themselves. This was one of the reasons that led the polytheists to accuse the Prophet (p) of being a magician. These attacks were not limited to the Prophet (p) himself, but rather they also attacked the Qurān directly: [25:4] Those who disbelieve say: “This (the Quran) is nothing but a lie that he (Muhammad SAW) has invented, and others have helped him at it, so that they have produced an unjust wrong (thing) and a lie.” [16:103] And We certainly know that they say, “It is only a human being who teaches the Prophet.” The tongue of the one they refer to is foreign, and this Qur’an is [in] a clear Arabic language. As mentioned earlier, scholars formally began looking at the Qurān as a literary masterpiece from 2nd-century Hijri onwards, and from the very beginning, the approach focusing on elucidation was prevalent. Interestingly, a lot of early works found expounding on this view happened to be works written by Mu’tazalī scholars. Abū ‘Abdillah Muḥammad b. Zayd al-Wāsiṭī (d. 309 AH / 919 CE), Abū ‘Ali Muḥammad al-Jubbā’ī (d. 303 AH / 915 CE) and his son Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāyī (d. 321 AH / 933 CE) were from among those who focused on establishing the miracle of the Qurān through its bayān. Abū Muslim al-Isfahānī (d. 322 AH / 934 CE) was one of the earliest scholars – a Mu’tazalī as well – who tried to reconcile the views of al-sarfah and the miracle rooted in the Qurān’s presentation. One of the most popular exegetical works, Tafsīr al-Kashshāf of al-Zamakhsarī (d. 538 AH / 1143 CE), is based on this approach as the author accepted the notion of an ordered-system in the Qurān which was evident through its presentation. Literary Criticism This is not really a separate approach to establishing the miracle of the Qurān but serves as an annex to the method discussed above. The intent here is to explain the historical context in which the Qurān was revealed in to be able to better understand how it has remained a miracle. Many of the Arabs were known to be strong poets and would engage in competing with one another through poetry. Naturally, this also meant that they were critics of one another and would try to expose the weaknesses of their opponents’ poetry whenever possible. It was in this setting the Qurān comes and challenges them to produce something similar – as duels and challenges were a norm amongst the Arab poets – yet they were unable to match the style of the Qurān in this specific challenge. Over the next few centuries, the Qurān essentially became the main criterion by which the sciences of literary criticism were developed, and the quality of expressions and poetry were judged. Scholars would be forced to investigate poetry from the era of ignorance to show the validity of some of the grammatical principles employed in the Qurān, that while were valid, were not commonly used. The Qurānic text also pushed scholars to venture into discussions they had never had before, such as the nature of the Qurān itself, whether its meanings and words were created or pre-eternal, the notion of metaphors, ordered-system, philology and so on. After the revelation of the Qurān, the standards of literary criticism, tropes, phenomenology etc. that were somewhat common amongst the Arab elites, all went through a significant change and their standards were raised. Despite centuries of effort put in to extract grammatical rules and principles of eloquence, it is the fact that no one has been able to produce anything like the Qurān which attests to its miraculous nature. God willing, from the next post onwards, we will begin looking at the view of al-sarfah in more detail and the critiques that have been laid against it. [1] Al-Tamhīd fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān, by Āyatullah Hādī Ma’rifat, vol. 4, pg. 91
 

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 3)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 3) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-3/ Semantic – Philological Most Muslim scholars agree that the Qurān was not revealed in the Arabic language without any wisdom.[1] [26:193-195] This is indeed [a Book] sent down by the Lord of all the worlds, brought down by the Trustworthy Spirit upon your heart (so that you may be one of the warners), in a clear Arabic language. [16:103] We certainly know that they say, ‘It is only a human that instructs him.’ The language of him to whom they refer is non-Arabic, while this is a clear Arabic language. These verses seem to show that the Qurān was revealed in Arabic for the mere fact that it is a clear language whose vocabulary is able to convey very precise meanings. From 2nd century hijrī Muslim scholars began exerting all their efforts in trying to understand the language of the Qurān, the words employed in it, the grammatical principles and foundations upon which the chapters were formed and so on. A semantic and philological approach to the Qurān thus looks at the style of the Qurān from the perspective of its vocabulary and the way these words are organized and used in their compound form, in order to attest to its miraculous nature. An exhaustive list of scholars who took on this approach would be too long for this post, but we will go through the opinions of a few proponents anyways. One of the earliest works written expounding on this approach is Majāz al-Qurān by Abū ‘Ubaydah Ma’mar b. al-Muthanna (d. 210 AH / 825 CE). One of his motives for writing the book was because someone questioned him regarding the verse: [37:65] Its spathes are as if they were devils’ heads The questioner insisted that the figurative use in this verse was not something the Arabs were familiar with. In response, Abū ‘Ubaydah cites a line of poetry from Imru’ al-Qays to show that the Qurānic style was in fact in line with what was considered correct and known in the Arabic language. In his work he cites numerous examples of metaphors used in the Qurān and in the general Arabic language – poetry or otherwise – to show that there is little difference between their usage. The book served almost like a textbook for both Arabs and non-Arabs to facilitate their understanding of the Qurān.[2] Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276 AH / 889 CE) was a 3rd century hijrī scholar who in his work Tawīl Mushkil al-Qurān goes on to explain the usage of various words and metaphors in the Qurān. As a philologist, what made the Qurān stand out for him was its composition. In his work, he dedicates a decent portion to discussing the difficult verses of the Qurān, something Abū ‘Ubaydah often referred to as metaphors. Ibn Qutaybah defines these metaphors and figurative verses to be the ways and methods of speech and the modes of handling it. He compares the language of the Qurān with a speech given by an Arab preacher, who delivers a talk in a variety of ways, depending on the place, occasion and audience. The metaphors in the Qurān, however, are superior to those of any human speaker, since the Quran not only has more methods of speech, but it also often uses them all simultaneously.[3]These methods range from metaphors, inversions, ellipsis, abbreviations, repetitions, pleonasms, metonyms, allusions, idioms and so on.[4] This would essentially render the Quranic text untranslatable according to Ibn Qutaybah, because the non-Arabs lack the variety of methods that the Arabic language has at its disposal. He doesn’t just stop there, but even discusses cases where the Qurān addresses a single person with a plural pronoun, or multiple people with singular pronouns, uses a constrained and restricted word to mean something general or uses a general word to mean something constrained and restricted. He argues all of these usages exist in the Arabic language and the Arabs were known to speak in this manner.[5] Abū Sulaymān Ḥamd b. Ibrahīm al-Khaṭṭābī al-Bustī[6] (d. 388 AH / 998 CE) in his Bayān I’jāz al-Qurān is another scholar who was of the view that the key to understanding the miracle of the Qurān was to recognize its coherence, as well as its linguistic & phonetic order system.[7] He argues that the Qurān is a miracle because it uses clear words in the most beautiful of manners, in order to convey the most precise meanings. If a word in a verse were to be replaced with another word that would generally be considered a synonym by laymen, the coherence of the whole verse would be ruined or at the very least its eloquence will be diminished. Artistic Imagery The root cause of this approach can be found in criticism against taking a strictly philological approach to explaining what the Qurānic miracle is. Furthermore, relatively recent discussions in literary criticism raised in the West also pushed some Muslim scholars to look at the Qurān through perspectives that were often not considered in the past. As discussions in linguistics and the general arts developed, a lot of the explanations given by those who were proponents of the philological approach were not convincing enough for all linguists. One of the criticisms laid against the previous approach was its high dependency on the apparent form of the Qurān, while not addressing its immense use of artistic imagery and its psychological effects on the listener. Amongst classical scholars, very few scholars approached the Qurān through this perspective, and even those who did allude to it in some parts of their works were not necessarily trying to establish the miraculous nature of the Qurān to it. For example al-Rummānī (d. 384 AH / 994 CE) in his al-Nukat fi I’jāz al-Qurān, Abū Hilāl al-‘Askarī (d. 395 AH / 1005 CE) in his al-Ṣanā’atayn, and Ibn Abī al-Aṣba’ (d. 654 AH / 1256 CE) in his Badī’ al-Qurān and Taḥrīr al-Taḥbīr were some scholars who alluded to this aspect of the Qurān in certain areas of their works. One of the prominent scholars who brought this approach to light was Sayyid Quṭb al-Dīn (d. 1966 CE), in two of his works, namely al-Taṣwīr al-Fann fi al-Qurān and Mashāhid al-Qiyāmah fi al-Qurān. In these works, Quṭb tried to bring out the aesthetics, imagination, and as well as the elegance of the Qurān’s storytelling, with its deep psychological dimensions.[8] Dr. Ṣubḥi al-Ṣāliḥ (d. 1986 CE) in his Mabāḥith fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān also expounds on this dimension and considers it an independent factor in determining the miraculousness of the book. The famous professor ‘Āisha ‘Abd al-Raḥmān (d. 1998) – who wrote under the pen name Bint al-Shāṭi – in her al-I’jāz al-Bayānī lil-Qurān, Bakrī Shaykh Amīn in his al-Ta’bīr al-Fannī fi al-Qurān, Ḥanafī Muḥammad Sharaf in his I’jāz al-Qurān al-Bayānī bayn al-Naẓariyyah wa al-Taṭbīq, ‘Umar al-Salāmī in his al-I’jāz al-Fannī, Muḥammad ‘Abdullah Darrāz in his al-Naba al-‘Aẓīm and Fāḍil al-Sāmarāī in his al-Ta’bīr al-Qurānī all write regarding this dimension of the Qurān that expand on its imagery and symbolism. All aforementioned proponents of this approach believe that the miracle of the Qurān is in its artistic imagery and that is what astonished the Arabs of the time and left them speechless. Some of these individuals and their works will be dealt with in more detail in future posts. In the next post, we will look into the rational-intellectual approach and an approach that considers the miracle of the Qurān to be in its elucidation. [1] A small number of contemporary Muslim scholars, who also often happen to be reformists, will argue that the Qurān is in Arabic simply because it was revealed in Arabia. Otherwise, there is nothing special about the language itself – they claim – and as a matter of fact if the verses were to be revealed in, let’s say Greece in the Greek language, it may even have been more precise. [2] Abu Ubaidah’s “Majaz Al-Qur’an” as the Beginning of a New Trend in the Practice of Tafsir, by Mamedova K. [3] Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qu’ran, by Issa J Boullata, pg. 278 [4] Ibid [5] Tawīl Mushkil al-Qurān, by Ibn Qutaybah, pg. 20-21 [6] The present-day name for al-Bust is Lashkargah – a city in Southern Afghanistan [7] This is a reference to a principle known as al-naẓm – it will be explained further in future posts [8] Sayyid Qutb: The Life and Legacy of a Radical Islamic Intellectual, by James Toth, pg. 45
 

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 2)

Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 2) Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-2/ In this post, we will begin looking into six different approaches scholars have put forth to explain how the miraculous nature of the Qurān can be attested. Taste and Feel This approach says that in order to sense the beauty of a text, one must develop the ability to differentiate between good and bad speech. This taste and feel can either be attained by living in a certain environment, alongside making use of one’s intellect and emotions, or it can be attained by learning the principles of speech used by a group of people in any given environment. A person with such experience would eventually develop the ability to critique speech which isn’t up to par with the language constructs laid down by any given group of people. In other words, in order to experience the miracle of the Qurān, one would be required to develop a taste of the Arabic language. Ibn Khaldūn alludes to this in his work: Something of it may be understood by those who have a taste for it as the result of their contact with the (Arabic) language and their possession of the habit of it. They may thus understand as much of the inimitability of the Qur’an as their taste permits. Therefore, the Arabs who heard the Qur’an directly from (the Prophet) who brought it (to them) had a better understanding of its (inimitability than later Muslims). They were the champions and arbiters of speech, and they possessed the greatest and best taste (for the language) that anyone could possibly have.[1] Based on this approach, the miraculous nature of the Qurān was first and foremost realized by the Arabs living at the time of the Prophet (p). Perhaps not every Arab living around the Prophet (p) was on the same level of literary expertise, but many of them would have had a strong affinity with the language. Hence, we see the polytheists discouraging and preventing others from even simply listening to the Qurān: [41:26] The faithless say, ‘Do not listen to this Qur’ān and hoot it down so that you may prevail [over the Apostle].’ Perhaps they were fully aware of the consequences simply listening to the Qurān could have had on a person, as they would have been able to experience and feel the beauty of the verses. One of the scholars who was a proponent of this view was Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. al-Ṭayyib al-Bāqilānī (d. 403 AH/1013 CE). He has dedicated a whole work on the subject, titled I’jāz al-Qurān, in which he claims that anyone who has a strong feel for the language will be able to tell that the Qurān is a miracle the moment they hear its verses. Through this, he also critiqued one of the prevailing theories at his time which claimed that the Qurān was only a miracle for the Arabs living during the time of the Prophet (p). He considered the miracle of the book to be rooted in the way its verses are organized and its high degree of eloquence. In his work, he explains the difference between poetry, rhymed prose and other technicalities regarding speech generally studied in Arabic rhetoric and eloquence and then goes on to say what preliminaries need to be understood in order to understand the miraculous nature of the Qurān.[2] Below is a summary[3] of what he puts forth in his work over the course of 20 pages: 1) The literary style of the Qurān along with varying forms is beyond the prevailing literary styles in Arabic literature. 2) Arabs had no literary legacy that might be equated with the Qurān in its rhetoric so much as it might have preserved the beauty of style as well as the length in the measurement as that of the Qurān. 3) The Qurān interacted a variety of subjects ranging from the orders and the prohibitions, the promises and the warnings, to the stories and the historical events; all this was brought in the style unmatched by the best selection of the prose and poetry. The poets and the orators might do excellence in any one or few subjects. The Qurān, in contrast, performed excellently in all the subjects simultaneously. 4) We find the kinds of expression varying in the writings of dignitaries and celebrities even though they interact a single subject especially when they move from one idea to the other. The Qurān, in contrast, combines all the varying dimensions and brings them out in a method that demonstrates them as a harmonious unit. 5) The literary style of the Qurān is not only higher than the style of the human being, but it also supersedes the style of the Jinn cited by the Arabs. 6) Different styles of expression available in Arabic literature like bast (the elaboration) and ījāz(the conciseness); jam’ (the hold together) and tafrīq (the separation); isti’ārah (the metaphor) andtasrīh (the clarification), etc. These styles are, however, higher and more impressive as well as more communicative than others if compared with. 7) Composing the words and sentences in a novel idea is difficult than composing them in a familiar one. The Qurān interprets the newer thoughts in a method inaccessible to the human being. 8) The excellence of the order and exaltedness of the rhetoric incorporated in the Qurān exhibits when any word of the Qurān is borrowed to be accommodated in any prose or poetry and attracts the attention of the reader or listener forcefully. 9) The Alphabets in Arabic are 29 in number, and the number of chapters that being with the disjointed letters total 28. 14 letters of the Arabic Alphabet have been used in these disjointed letters and signifies that the miracle of the Qurān is through the organization and ordering of these letters. 10) The language of the Qurān is convenient, and its meaning may be easily understood, and no abstruse word or construction disturbs them. But there is no scope for the human style to be in conformity with the Qurānic one. Numerous other scholars agreed that the Qurānic miracle is one that is to be experienced, and not one that can be simply described for others. One would need to acquire the taste of the language and only then would they be able to attest that it is a miracle. Someone like Ibn Sinān al-Khafājī (d. 466 AH / 1073 CE) in his Sirr al-Faṣāḥah, al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538 AH / 1143 CE) in his al-Kashshāf, al-Sakkākī (d. 626 AH / 1229 CE) in his Miftāḥ al-‘Ūlūm, and others all point towards this literary nature of the Qurān being miraculous in it and of itself and that its attestation is dependant on one’s feel and taste of the language. In fact, al-Khafājī argues that even if one happens to be a proponent of the theory of al-ṣarfah, one would still need to possess a strong familiarity with the sciences of Arabic rhetoric and eloquence and an affinity with the language in order to even enter the discussion concerning the miracle of the Qurān. In our next post, we will give an overview of another approach taken by scholars, which though remains within the realm of linguistics, but is concerned more with the semantics of the Qurānic text.   [1] The science of syntax and style and literary criticism, in The Muqaddimah, of Ibn Khaldūn. Translated by Franz Rosenthal [2] I’jāz al-Qurān, by Abū Bakr Muḥammad bin al-Ṭayyib, pg. 51-71, ed. Al-Sayyid Aḥmad Ṣaqir [3] Translation is taken from The I’jāz al-Qurān: A Study of the Classical Scholars, by Obaidullah Fahad pg. 18-19 – with minor changes made by myself
 

Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 1)

I have been uploading posts on my own personal blog (IqraOnline.net) regarding the miraculousness of the Qurān (I'jāz al-Qurān). These are posts where I have tried to avoid technical jargon as much as possible and the posts are also not super lengthy either. I am writing these for a very general audience - especially those who have absolutely no information regarding the subject - to get introduced to the matter. I have decided to put up these posts on the ShiaChat Blog as well since it may attract readers that are not following my blog already. Feel free to share feedback and comments, although I cannot promise responses to all or any of the comments due to other priorities. ------------------ Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 1) What follows is the first of a series of posts going over the discussion on the miraculousness of the Qurān. I will try to keep the posts as simple and non-technical as possible so that non-seminarians can benefit as well. This of course also means I will have to leave out a lot of details. The information is being taken from a few different works, but the overall outline is being taken from the work Sayr Tarikhi I’jāz-e Qurān by Sayyid Ḥusayn Sayyidi. That the Qurān is a miracle, is a belief not disputed by the Muslims. The belief remains a central pillar for them and denying such a belief could possibly render the book irrelevant. What remained contested, however, was the nature of its miracle. What aspect of the Qurān was miraculous? What was understanding its miracle dependant on? Was the miracle in the way words were employed or in the meanings they implied? It was these questions that forced Islamic scholarship to discuss these various aspects of the Holy Book and provide explanations. Before looking at the miraculous aspect of the Qurān as explained by Muslim scholars over the centuries, what needs to be known is that no book revealed on a previous Messenger has been deemed a miracle. This is all the while different Prophets (p) were given miracles, yet these miracles remained of an empirical nature. Even though numerous empirical miracles have also been attributed to the Messenger of Islam (p), it appears that the Qurān – if it is to be considered an everlasting miracle – is not merely an empirical miracle, rather there is an aspect to it which demands intellectualization. As human intellectual capacity grows and their knowledge with regards to their selves and their surroundings increases, the Qurān is still meant to remain a miracle. As such, while most miracles of the Prophets (p) ceased to exist after a certain period of time, or with the demise of a Prophet (p) himself, the miracle of the last Messenger (p) is considered to be everlasting and accessible by all those who come after him (p). Another major difference between the Qurān and other miracles, as pointed out by Ibn Khaldūn in his al-Muqaddimah, is that unlike other Prophetic miracles, the Qurān is revelation itself. This is all the while other miracles demonstrated by previous Prophets (p) or even Prophet Muḥammad (p) himself were not divine revelation. Though these and other qualities are what makes the Qurān stand out, the question regarding what constitutes its miraculous aspect remains to be explained. The opinions of Muslim scholars with respects to the Qurān and its miraculous dimension can be divided into two very general categories. Firstly, those who believed that the miracle of the Qurān is not in its text, but rather it is something external to it. Secondly, those who believe that the miracle is contained within the text of the Qurān itself. The first opinion upholds the view that what makes the Qurān miraculous is not its literary style and nor its text, rather the great poets and eloquent individuals of the time were literally rendered incapable to produce anything like it. This incapacitation was bestowed upon them through Divine interference and it was this external aspect that makes the Qurān a miracle. This view is famously known as al-ṣarfah and we will get into it more in subsequent posts. The second opinion – which constitutes the opinion of the majority – is that the miracle of the Qurān is contained within the text itself. Some of the scholars in this camp argue against the view of al-ṣarfah saying such a view would mean that the Qurānic text is not any different than the books revealed upon previous Prophets (p). However, what do the scholars in this second camp understand the miracle of the Qurān to be? We can narrow down their opinions into four general notions: 1) Its eloquence 2) It being clear and understandable 3) Its organization and style 4) Its reports regarding the unseen and absence of contradictions The Challenge A second aspect of any miracle is its accompanying challenge. Āyatullah Jawādī Āmulī explains how the Qurān puts forth this challenge to mankind: If this book is not the word of God, then it is the word of a human. If it is a word of a human, then since you are also a human, bring forth something like it. If you are able to bring something like it, it will prove that the book is the word of a human. If you are unable to bring something like it, it will prove that it is not the word of a human – and it being a miracle will be shown, subsequently proving the claim of Prophethood and the message.[1] The Qurān puts forth its challenge in a number of verses. We will list them below: [17:88] Say, ‘Should all humans and jinn rally to bring the like of this Qur’ān, they will not bring the like of it, even if they assisted one another.’ [10:38] Do they say, ‘He has fabricated it?’ Say, ‘Then bring a sūrah like it, and invoke whomever you can, besides Allah, should you be truthful.’ [11:13] Do they say, ‘He has fabricated it?’ Say, ‘Then bring ten sūrahs like it, fabricated, and invoke whomever you can, besides Allah, should you be truthful.’ [52:33-34] Do they say, ‘He has improvised it [himself]?’ Rather they have no faith! Let them bring a discourse like it, if they are truthful. [2:23-24] And if you are in doubt concerning what We have sent down to Our servant, then bring a sūrah like it, and invoke your helpers besides Allah, should you be truthful. And if you do not—and you will not—then beware the Fire whose fuel will be humans and stones, prepared for the faithless. There are a number of points that can be extracted from these verses. 1) The earliest chapter in which a challenge is put forth is Sūrah al-Isrā, a Makkī chapter revealed during the final years of the Prophet (p) in Makkah. The last chapter in which we find a challenge is Sūrah al-Baqarah, which was revealed soon after the Prophet’s (p) migration. This shows that the challenges revealed in the Qurān were during the time period when the polytheists had increased their pressure on the Prophet (p) up until his migration to Medīnah. 2) All the verses are addressing the polytheists and in context of establishing the truth of the Prophet’s (p) message. 3) What they are being challenged on is different, at times being asked to bring something like the Qurān itself, or 10 chapters like it, or even just 1 chapter. It thus appears that the challenge put forth to the Arab polytheists of the time is to bring something like the Qurān, in terms of its prose, literary style and eloquence. In the next post, we will look at six different approaches scholars have taken to identify the ways by which the miracle of the Qurān can be identified and experienced. [1] Tafsīr Mawḍū’ī Qurān, vol. 1, pg. 138 – by Ayatullah Jawādī Āmulī Source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-1/
 

The Transfer of Kufa’s Hadith Heritage to Qom (5)

Original full post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-transfer-of-kufas-hadith-heritage-to-qom-history-of-imami-shii-theology-5/ During the Imamate of Imam Baqir (s) and Sadiq (s), there was a lot of encouragement from the Imams to their students and companions to begin recording down traditions. As this shift from oral to a written tradition became a culture amongst them, there was naturally a large output of written works over the next century. Kufa being the hub for Shi’i activity naturally possessed the most written works at the time. As scholars from Qom would initially travel to Kufa to acquire traditions of the Imams from the various scholars and companions that resided there, the tables would eventually turn as Kufa’s scholarly circles began to diminish and its heritage began being transferred to Qom. Scholars who played a role in transferring this heritage to Qom include personalities such as Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed al-Ahwazi, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari, Ibrahim bin Hashim and others. To analyze this phenomenon in a little more detail, bibliographical works are utilized to see how books were being moved around from one place to another.[1] Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi and his son Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Barqi are two other individuals who played a role in this transfer. Most of their teachers appear to be from Kufa, whereas their students appear to be from Qom. Both father and son also seem to have traveled to Kufa like Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and tooks narrations from there and then returned back to Qom to transmit them. Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi seems to be the earliest person to have brought over some of the Kufan hadith heritage to Qom. However, he does not seem to have very cautious in who he would take narrations from and was accused of even narrating from weak narrators.[2] There are also hardly any traditions that he narrates from reliable scholars such as Hasan bin Mahbub or Ibn Abi ‘Umayr. This eventually even leads to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari (the next scholar) exiling Muhammad al-Barqi out of Qom. Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari who was one of the greatest scholars of Qom during his time, played a great role in bringing over the Kufan heritage by traveling to Kufa himself. Some of the works that he was able to bring back to Qom with himself were the book of ‘Ala bin Zarin, Aban bin ‘Uthman al-Ahmar, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Abi Nasr al-Bazanti, Hasan bin Mahbub al-Kufi, Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal, Safwan bin Yahya al-Bajali, ‘Abdul Rahman bin Abi Najran, ‘Ali bin Hadid al-Mada’ini, Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, and Muhammad bin Sinan Zahiri. What is of interest here is that the books Ahmad was bringing with him were those that were famous, well-known and reliable works within Shi’i scholarly circles. This indicates that Ahmad was very cautious of the narrations he accepted and transmitted, and we see this translating into him exiling many narrators from Qom (like the aforementioned al-Barqi) who he found to be narrating from weak narrators. Husayn bin Sa’eed bin Hammad bin Sa’eed bin Mehran al-Ahwazi was another Kufan scholar who played a role in bringing over some works to Qom. Him and his brother Hasan first leave Kufa and travel to Ahwaz and then migrate to Qom. They bring with themselves the works of Rib’iyy bin ‘Abdillah al-Basri, Shu’ayb al-‘Aqr Qufiyy, Hamid bin Muthanna, Qasim bin Muhammad Jawhari al-Kufi, Qasim bin Sulayman al-Baghdadi, Qasim bin ‘Urwah al-Baghdadi, Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, Zur’ah bin Muhammad al-Hadhrami and more. Husayn also brings with himself thirty of his own written works to Qom and transmitted them to various students. Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Ibrahim bin Musa al-Sayrafi – known as Abu Sumaynah, a Kufan narrator who was eventually exiled from Qom by Ahmad bin Muhammad as well, brought with him the book of Ishaq bin Yazid bin Ismail al-Ta’i, some books of Ismail bin Mehran bin Abi Nasr al-Sakuni, book of Hafs bin ‘Asim Salami, book of Sulaym bin Qays, book of Salam bin ‘Abdillah al-Hashimi, book of Haytham bin Waqid Jazari, book of Abu Badr al-Kufi and the book of Nasr bin Mazahim al-Kufi. He will be referred to again in a later post when we discuss the phenomenon of certain narrators being exiled from the city of Qom. Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Jabbar al-Qumi – known as Ibn Abi al-Sahban, a companion of Imam Jawwad, Hadi, and ‘Askari. He was also one of those scholars who traveled to Kufa and brought back with him some of Kufa’s hadith heritage. His most important teachers in Kufa were Safwan bin Yahya, Muhammad bin Ismail Bazi’, and Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal. It doesn’t seem like he had any book of his own, and was merely recognized as someone who was able to transfer over some of the hadith works from Kufa to scholars in Qom. Most of his narrations in Qom are narrated by Ahmad bin Idris, ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far al-Himyari, Muhmmad bin al-Hasan al-Saffar and Muhammad bin Yahya al-‘Attar. Perhaps the most prolific scholar who is renowned for bringing much of Kufa’s hadith heritage to Qom is Ibrahim bin Hashim. He is remembered as the first scholar to bring Kufa’s hadith to Qom and to have spread it. Some of the works he brought with him were: the Asl of Ibrahim bin ‘Abd al-Hamid, books of Ismail bin Abi Ziyad al-Sakuni, books of Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, book of ‘Abdullah bin Sinan, books of Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, books of Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, Asl of Hisham bin Salim, some books of Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar, book of Zayd Narasi, book of Sulaym Farra’, book of Yahya bin ‘Imran bin ‘Ali bin Abi Shu’ba al-Halabi just to name a few.[3] For at least the next 150 years, Qom would become the most important city when it came to Shi’i theological discourse. Eventually much of Qom’s hadith heritage does return back to Iraq, to the city of Baghdad when the likes of Shaykh Mufid begin gaining authority. With regards to the topic of Kufa’s heritage moving over to Qom, Ibrahim bin Hashim is notably remembered by multiple scholars as being the first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom was him.[4] However, when we look at the list above, we see that Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed and Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa were all scholars who had already brought with them a lot of traditions from Kufa much before Ibrahim bin Hashim. So why is it that the latter scholars gave this honour to Ibrahim rather than those who were prior to him? There could be a few possible reasons for this and a closer look at the other three scholars may help us in determining this. One thing to note is that the attribution given to Ibrahim bin Hashim is that the works he brought to Qom were widely-spread, not that he merely transmitted them or passed them down to his students. That being said, when we consider al-Barqi, it is known that one of the reasons he was exiled from Qom by Ahmad al-Ash’ari was because he would narrate from unknown or weak people. This would have been enough of a reason for many of the scholars of Qom to act cautiously with regards to his narrations, leading to his narrations not having spread to such an extent where it would be deemed as spreading the Kufan heritage. Some have suggested that it is possible al-Barqi may have returned back to his own town on the outskirts of Qom called Barqah-Rud, and that would have been a plausible reason why his ahadith did not spread in Qom – however this seems far-fetched, simply because Qom seems to be the most sensible location for a scholar of hadith to have returned back to, and also when we see that Ahmad al-Ash’ari exiled him from Qom it indicates that he was in Qom to begin with. As for Husayn bin Sa’eed, he had thirty of his own written works in Kufa which he brought with him to Qom. His main focus had been to spread these narrations which he had compiled himself, and not the rest of the heritage he had brought with him. Furthermore, Husayn bin Sa’eed did not live too long after coming to Qom, dying a short while after, which could mean that he simply didn’t have enough time to spread and transmit all the works he had brought with him to such an extent that would merit him the status of being the first one to widely-spread the heritage of Kufa in Qom. When it comes to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari – who was also the authority in Qom – it seems that there may been another reason he is not given this description. He not only had more of an opportunity to widely spread the heritage of Kufa that he had brought back with him to Qom, but he also had many of the same teachers as Ibrahim bin Hashim and both were living during the same era. The one factor that could have caused the scholars to still give Ibrahim bin Hashim the credit for spreading the heritage of Kufa in Qom the fact that Ibrahim was someone who was brought up and raised in Kufa, whereas Ahmad was originally a scholar of Qom. In other words, Ibrahim was the first Kufan scholar who have come to Qom and have the Kufan heritage widely-spread in the city. Another side point that should be mentioned here is that Ibrahim bin Hashim is credited for carrying over the theological teachings of the school of the great theologian and companion Hisham bin Hakam from Kufa to Qom as well. Ibrahim bin Hashim is claimed to have been the student of Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman who himself was one of the strongest students of Hisham bin Hakam. Whether Ibrahim was indeed a student of Yunus or not is disputed as there is no narration which Ibrahim narrates directly from Yunus (as is the natural case in a student-teacher relationship), and every narration from Yunus appears to have an individual between them. Nevertheless, Ibrahim does seem to have been influenced by this school of thought, and likewise his son Ali bin Ibrahim who will be discussed in a later article as well. This is important to know because figures such as Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and many later Qom scholars were staunchly against some of the theological ideas of Hisham bin Hakam, and had even written books against him and Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman. Despite this, they were still welcoming of Ibrahim bin Hashim and his narrations which indicates the level of trust and respect Ibrahim must have had in the city of Qom. ————————————– [1] One of the works I have heavily relied on for this blog post is the research paper: Sayr-e Intiqal-e Mirath-e Maktub-e Shi’eh dar Ayeneh-ye Fihrist-ha written by Ruhullah Shaheedi and Dr. Muhammad Ali Mahdawi-Raad. [2] Al-Fihrist of Shaykh Tusi, pg. 52 [3] Refer to Najashi’s al-Rijal and Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist. About 19 more works can be found in Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist and 3 more in Najashi’s al-Rijal. [4] The famous line as recorded in Najashi’s al-Rijal is this: أصحابنا يقولون: أوّل من نشر حديث الكوفيين بقم, هو (Our scholars have said: The first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom, was him)

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

The Ash’ari Family II (4)

Original full post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-ashari-family-ii-history-of-imami-shii-theology-4/   In this post we will continue with the list of scholars from the Ash’ari family who have been categorized into the second and third group, post-migration to Qom. Second Group Zakariyyah bin Idris bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Considered a companion of Imam Sadiq, Imam Kadhim and Imam Ridha. Zakariyyah bin Adam bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Considered a companion of Imam Sadiq, Imam Kadhim, Imam Ridha and Imam Jawwad, but his narrations are all from Imam Ridha and Imam Jawwad. He was an important figure, to the extent that Imam Ridha (s) had informed one of his companions to refer to Zakariyyah for any religious inquiries. Sahl bin Yasa’ bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: A narrator of hadih from Imam Kadhim and Ridha. We have 11 narrations from him in our four-primary works of hadith. Isma’il bin ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: His name appears in certain narrations where he is narrating directly from Imam Kadhim and Imam Ridha. Marzban bin ‘Imran bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Kadhim and Imam Ridha. Idris bin ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Ridha. Ishaq bin Adam bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Ridha. Isma’il bin Adam bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: He most probably lived during the life of Imam Kadhim. Even though we have no records to show that he narrated anything directly from any of the Imams, he has still been described as an important scholar of Qom by Najashi. Muhammad bin ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: He had heard narrations from Imam Ridha and also narrates from Imam Jawwad. Sa’d bin Sa’d bin Malik bin Ahwas al-Ash’ari: From the companions of Imam Kadhim, Ridha and Jawwad. His name appears in 74 chains of narrations in the four-primary books. Isma’il bin Sa’d bin Sa’d bin Ahwas al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Kadhim and Ridha. 20 of his narrations from Imam Ridha appear in the four-primary books. Hamzah bin Yasa’ bin Yasa’ bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq and Kadhim and possibly had met Imam Ridha as well. ‘Imran bin Muhammad bin ‘Imran bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Ridha. Muhammad bin Sahl bin Yasa’ bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Ridha and Imam Jawwad. His name appears in 380 narrations in the four-primary works. There are about 30 more names that can be added to this list. This list brings us to the end of the middle of the 3rdcentury Hijri. During this time period, Kufa had already severely declined, and while there is activity happening in Baghdad amongst the Shi’as, it is nothing compared to what had taken place in Kufa in the previous century. All narrators in this list were travelling to different cities to meet the Imams (depending on where the Imams were) and then coming back to Qom and spreading their narrations. Third Group This list of forthcoming Ash’ari scholars begins from around the beginning of the 3rd century Hijri. These scholars were naturally influenced by the teachings of the previous two groups. Ahmad bin Ishaq bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Jawwad, Imam Hadi and Imam ‘Askari. He was known as Wafid ul-Qomiyyeen (the envoy of the Qomis) implying that he would travel often to meet the Imams with questions from Qom, and bring back what he had learned and heard. He was one of those individuals who had seen Imam Mahdi (s) and is deemed very reliable. ‘Ali bin Ishaq bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: It appears he did not directly narrate from any of the Imams, but he did possess his own book of hadith. Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Ridha, Jawwad and Hadi. He was one of the greatest scholars of Qom and is recognized as the main authority during his time. His name appears in 2290 narrations in the four-primary works. He is known to have been strict when it came to accepting narrations and exiling individuals who he deemed problematic. He will be discussed in greater lengthy in future posts. Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Ya’qub bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Jawwad, and had various books. Muhammad bin Rayyan bin Salt al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Jawwad. ‘Ali bin Rayyan bin Salt al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Hadi and Imam ‘Askari. He was one of the financial-agents of Imam Hadi in Qom, and his name appears in the chains of 27 narrations. Sa’d bin ‘Abdullah bin Abi Khalf al-Ash’ari: His name appears in the chains of 1142 narrations in the four-primary books. There is confusion over whether he was a companion of Imam ‘Askari or someone who did not narrate from any of the Imams. Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Abi Bakr bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: He has also been recognized as Ahmad bin Abi Zahir Musa Abu Ja’far al-Ash’ari. He is someone who did not narrate from the Imams directly, but was one of the great scholars of Qom. Adam bin Ishaq bin Adam bin ‘Abadullah al-Ash’ari: His name appears in 13 narrations in the four-primary books. ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: His name appears in 110 narrations in the four-primary books. ‘Ali bin Ahmad bin Ishaq bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: His name appears in 2 narrations in the four-primary works. Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Mahbub al-Ash’ari: His name appears in 1118 narrations in the four-primary books and Najashi considered him a senior scholar in Qom. With this, we end the list of some of the most important names that left their mark in the history of Qom, and who helped shape religious discourse in the city. With the third group, we see an increase in scholarly activity within Qom, partly due to the Kufan heritage being transferred over in extensive amounts through important Kufan personalities like Ibrahim bin Hashim. With the first two groups, the trend more so for these scholars of Qom was to either meet the Imams directly, or visit Kufa to take narrations from teachers that were still present there. However, in the third century Hijri, and with the emergence of the third group, it was the physical transfer of Kufa’s heritage – such as books and manuscripts of various works – that played a huge role in giving Qom its authoritative position. This is not to say that some of the scholars were no longer traveling to meet the Imams, but rather this had slowly diminished, and after the occultation of the 12th Imam, no longer had any meaning. Over here we should also point out that with the presence of the Ash’ari family in Qom, which was in essence a Shi’i presence, many individuals from the lineage of Ali (s) and Fatima (s) also migrated and settled in Qom. The Ash’aris were known to have welcomed them into the city and gave protection to those who were merely seeking refuge in Qom. The work Muntaqalah al-Talibiyyah[1] of Ibn Tabataba (d. end of 5th century Hijri), records the name of thirty such individual who migrated to Qom with their families, many of these were either scholars of hadith themselves, or their children became scholars of hadith. Some of these individuals include Hamza bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Ja’far bin Muhammad bin Zayd (who Shaykh Saduq narrates a lot from), Hamza bin ‘Abdillah bin Hasan, ‘Ali bin Hamza, and Abu al-Fadhl Muhammad bin ‘Ali. As mentioned above, during the years when scholars from the third group lived, Qom had slowly become an authority for Shi’i religious discourse, to such an extent that scholars had now begun traveling to Qom to hear and record traditions. For example, we see important figures like Rayyan bin Shabib, Husayn bin Sa’eed al-Ahwazi, Hasan bin Sa’eed al-Ahwazi, Qasim bin Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Yaqtin, ‘Abdul Rahman bin Abi Hammad Sayrafi and more traveling to Qom for this very reason. In the next few articles we will try to address the role and influence of specific individuals, and as well as certain trends that were prevalent in Qom. For this reason, I have created a rough timeline showing when certain specific scholars who will be mentioned in subsequent articles were living and who their contemporaries were. Most dates are rough, as they are either unknown or there are multiple dates given for them. ————— [1] Page 251-258 | Book can be downloaded here. The book has also been translated into Farsi as: مهاجران آل ابوطالب

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

The Ash’ari Family (3)

The Ash’ari Family | History of Imami Shi’i Theology (3) Original full post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-ashari-family-history-of-imami-shii-theology-3/ With the decline of intellectual theological discourse in Kufa, Qom had become the base for the Shi’as and would remain influential during the course of the 3rd and 4th century. Before we begin discussing any further, it is important to take a brief glance over how and why Qom became to be such an important city. This is by no means meant to be a thorough detailed analysis, and I have intentionally chosen not to mention many things and keep it as straightforward as possible. The Ash’ari tribe of Yemen can be given credit for bringing Shi’ism to the city of Qom. This tribe’s history can be traced back to the days of Jahiliyyah, and they were even then known for their nobility and virtuous status in Yemen. The first person from this tribe to convert to Islam was Malik bin ‘Amir after having met the Prophet (s) in Makkah.[1] In any case, many members of the Ash’ari tribe later converted to Islam, the most notable one from early Islamic history being Abu Musa al-Ash’ari. After the death of ‘Uthman, the Ash’ari tribe were divided into three factions. A group supported Mu’awiyah, another followed the lead of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, and a third group stayed loyal to Imam ‘Ali (s) and also formed part of his army during the civil wars. This last group, would become important as it was through them that Shi’ism was brought to the city of Qom. There are multiple reasons given for why the progeny of this last faction moved to Qom. The Ash’aris may have had some familiarity with the city from the time of ‘Umar’s caliphate, since it is reported that Qom and Kashan were conquered by Abu Musa al-Ash’ari.[2] Malik bin ‘Amir also played a role in the conquest of Iran during the caliphate of ‘Umar, and thus his progeny may have had familiarity with the various cities. Nevertheless, most historians place the official migration of the Ash’ari family to Qom near end of the 1st century Hijri, during the reign of al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf al-Thaqafi, who is infamous in history for his brutal political policies. Its relevant here to mention that Malik bin ‘Amir had two important sons named Sa’ib and Sa’d. Sa’ib was vehemently anti-Umayyad, whereas not much is known about Sa’d besides a few anecdotes and that he was also a notable figure in Kufa. Some of the reasons given for why the Ash’aris moved to Qom do not appear to be historically accurate, so we will suffice with mentioning two of them. One possible reason for their migration is that al-Hajjaj exiled Muhammad the son of Sa’ib bin Malik to Azerbaijan, but he instead hid in Kufa. After al-Hajjaj found out about this, he ordered for him to be killed and it was then that the sons of Sa’d bin Malik (namely ‘Abdullah and Ahwas), as well as their nephews and nieces escaped to Qom. Another reason given is that the Ash’aris were supporting ‘Abdul Rahman bin Muhammad bin Ash’ath bin Qays during his revolt against al-Hajjaj. When the latter’s revolt was crushed, al-Hajjaj had given them a few days to leave Kufa. Overall, it seems that the support and affinity this side of the family had towards the Alids as well as their anti-Umayyad stance, caused al-Hajjaj to crack down on them. It was thus a forced migration as they were no longer safe in the city of Kufa. Whether ‘Abdullah and Ahwas intentionally decided to go to Qom, or whether they were on their way to a different city, but ended up in Qom, is not known with certainty. There are different reasons[3] mentioned as to how the Ash’aris ended up Qom: It is said that when Malik bin ‘Amir was accompanying Abu Musa al-Ash’ari in the conquest of some of the Iranian cities, a group of fighters from Tabaristan had attacked Taghrud[4] – a village located between Qom and Aveh – and had taken their people as prisoners. Malik had fought this army off, and freed the prisoners as well as returned back their stolen property to them. After Malik returned to Kufa, he had narrated the incident to his sons. ‘Abdullah and Ahwas (the grandsons of Malik) would have known that these people would be willing to welcome them as they were given protection and safety by their grandfather during the conquests. Another report mentions that it was Ahwas who chose Qom as a destination, but ‘Abdullah (who apparently joined the caravan late) instead wished to go to Isfahan or Qazwin. Ahwas informed his brother that those cities have been hit by cholera and convinced ‘Abdullah to remain in Qom. The Daylamites would often send forces to attack various cities even after the conquest of Persia by the Muslims. On one occasion when they decided to attack Qom, they were unaware that the Ash’aris were in the region, who came out to defend the city. Their victory caused the residents of Qom to request them to stay as residents with them, and a contract was formed between the residents and the Ash’aris. Nevertheless, what we can say for sure is that the Ash’aris were well informed about the various regions of Iran, including Qom. However, it isn’t very clear that they set off from Kufa to go to Qom, rather it is highly likely that they intended on going to Isfahan or Qazwin, and due to unforeseen circumstances were forced to stay in Qom. Theological Views of the Ash’aris It is not clear as to how the Ash’ari residents of Qom essentially all turned towards Shi’ism in the theological sense. Given that one of the main reasons why certain Ash’aris had to leave Kufa was their support for the Alids, it is only natural that these individuals brought with them their ideologies as well. It seems that moreso than being mere political Shi’as (i.e. followers of a certain camp due to political reasons – a trend that was common in Kufa[5]), those who moved to Qom also had a basic understanding of Shi’i theology – whose details of course were in their infancy. There is no doubt that belief in the Imamate of the Imams would have transferred over to Qom from Kufa because of the Ash’ari family. One report mentions that Musa bin ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d was the first person to express his theological belief in Shi’ism, which encouraged others to also express their beliefs in it.[6] Musa was an Imami who had been brought up in Kufa, and migrated to Qom with his father. Regardless of which member of the Ash’ari family spread Shi’ism in Qom and its surrounding villages after their migration, what is certain is that it quickly became a major Shi’i city where Shi’i teaching and learning circles became active. In fact, the Shi’ism of the Ash’aris was so obvious that they were known for sending occasional gifts and Khumus money to the Imams from the income received through surrounding farms and gardens. The Imams were also known to have sent gifts to them and as well as coffins. It makes sense then, that we began seeing narrations like the ones below from Imam Sadiq (s): قم‏ بلدنا و بلد شيعتنا – Qom is our city, and the city of our Shi’as.[7] أَهْلُ‏ قُمَ‏ أَنْصَارُنَا – The residents of Qom are our helpers.[8] These and many other similar narrations by the Imams show that Qom was indeed a city the Imams deemed important. The residents were Imami Shi’as who believed in the special role of the Imams as a source of guidance, and this formed the basis of their theology. With their continuous communication and relationship with the Imams, their theological understanding gained depth over the centuries, and this slowly began giving Qom a distinct identity. Three Generations of Ash’ari Narrators Even though Qom had become an important city after the Ash’aris migrated to it in 94 Hijri, it was still going to be Kufa that would dictate the norms of Imami theology for the next one-and-a-half century. As it was mentioned in the previous post, it was only after the decline of Kufa that Qom became the hub for such intensive discourse. Nevertheless, before we begin discussing Qom as a spearhead for Imami theological discourse, following the decline of Kufa, it is imperative that we learn about certain influential people of the city so we can later see how and why it was easy for Kufan scholars in the middle of the 2nd century Hijri to migrate to Qom. First Group The first group of Ash’aris are those who lived during the lifetime of Imam Baqir (s), Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). Some of these important figures are as follow: Musa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: It was previously mentioned that he was the first person to express his Shi’ism in the city of Qom. Shaykh Tusi says that he narrated ahadith from both Imam Baqir (s) and Imam Sadiq (s). Shu’ayb bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Also a narrator and companion of Imam Baqir (s) and Imam Sadiq (s). ‘Imran bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: He was an Imami scholar in Qom, and some of his meetings with Imam Sadiq (s) during Hajj and in Medina have been recorded in Rijal al-Kashi. Adam bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s). Abu Bakr bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s). ‘Abdul Malik bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: A companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and has been praised by the Imam himself. Yasa’ bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Although his name hasn’t appeared in primary Rijal works, nevertheless there are two ahadith reported on his authority from Imam Sadiq (s) which implies that he had met the Imam. Ya’qub bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) – though not much is known about him, Yaqut al-Hamawi in his Mu’jam al-Buldan says he was one of the scholars of Qom. Ishaq bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). It is possible he may have met Imam Baqir (s) as well – the confusion is due to another similar name who has been deemed a companion of Imam Baqir (s). Idris bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). Najashi also considers him to have narrated from Imam Ridha (s). ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). There is a report in Rijal al-Kashi from Imam Sadiq (s) who says about him: Surely you are from us, the Ahl ul-Bayt.[9] Ahmad bin ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: His name appears in the chain of two narrations in Usul al-Kafi and one narration in Tahdhib ul-Ahkam of Shaykh Tusi where he is seen to be narrating directly from Imam Sadiq (s). As it can be seen in the brief list above, all individuals are the immediate sons of ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d bin Malik.  There are some children of Ahwas who are recorded to have been scholars as well who are part of this generation, but not a lot is known about them. We have not mentioned them here as the intent was not to produce an exhaustive list of narrators, rather to show that there was a group of active individuals in Qom that was in contact with the Imams and had heard ahadith from them. In any case, below is a genealogy tree of the children of ‘Abdullah which is resourceful – taken from my personal copy of the Shi’a Atlas by Rasul Jafariyan: In our next post, we will continue to build this list of scholars who lived during the two subsequent generations. Thereafter, we will return back to some of these individuals – such as Sa’d bin Abdullah al-Ash’ari, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa – and focus on their life in a bit more detail and attempt to describe some of their methods and views which would have played an influential role in shaping the theological school of Qom. As we chronologically reach the end of the middle of the 2nd century Hijri, we will begin discussing other influential figures such as Ibrahim bin Hashim, Ali bin Ibrahim, ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far al-Himyari, Muhammad bin Hasan al-Saffar etc. We will also have to briefly discuss certain trends that formed in Kufa – that of Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar al-Ju’fi and Hisham bin Salim al-Jawaliqi – and then show how those impacted theological discourse amongst Shi’i scholars in Qom. Eventually we will also discuss some thematic issues such as discussions pertaining to knowledge of the Imams, infallibility of the Prophet and Imams, phenomenon of Ghuluww (exaggeration), role of the intellect in theology etc. [1] A detail account of his conversion is recorded in the book Tarikh Qom by 4th century Hijri scholar Hasan bin Muhammad bin Hasan al-Qumi. Much information regarding the Ash’ari family and the history of Qom in general for this article and subsequent articles, is taken from this book. [2] Origins of the Islamic State (English translation of Futuh al-Buldan) by al-Baladhuri, Volume 1, pg. 487. Translated by Philip Khuri Hitti, 1916 [3] All reasons are reported in the book Tarikh Qom [4] This village still exists today. See: https://goo.gl/maps/XSB4i6ZFzdP2 [5] For more information on this aspect of history, please see the section Iraqi Shi’ism in Rasul Jafariyan’s work Shiism and its types during the early centuries available online here: https://www.al-islam.org/al-tawhid/general-al-tawhid/shiism-and-its-types-during-early-centuries-part-1-rasul-jafariyan-0#iraqi-shi-ism [6] Tarikh Qom, Pg. 278-279 [7] Safinah al-Bihar, Volume 7, Pg. 359 [8] Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 57, Pg. 214 [9] Rijal al-Kashi, Hadith #610, Pg. 334

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

The Traditionalist-Theologian Phenomenon (2)

Original post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-traditionalist-theologian-phenomenon-history-of-shii-imami-theology-2/ The Traditionalist-Theologian Phenomenon | History of Shi’i Imami Theology (2) The earliest distinct Shi’i Imami school was that of Kufa’s, which began taking form in the beginning of the 2nd century Hijri during the time of Imam Baqir (s). This era itself is worthy of being studied and as a matter of fact has been studied extensively by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars alike. The various theological trends that existed in Kufa for a century-and-a-half, were without a doubt some of the earliest and most influential trends that shaped the future of Shi’i thought and identity. During this period, companions of the Imams considered the Imams to be sources of guidance and recognized their authority when it came to being the source of true knowledge. A large network of students and companions of the Imams were involved in narrating their teachings and spreading their teachings. This group of individuals generally came to be known as Muhaddithun (narrators). Many of these narrators however, were also considered Mutakallimun (theologians) and are deemed some of the greatest Imami companions of the time. While many definitions have been given for what constitutes a theologian, at the very least it can be said that it was someone who attempted to work out their religious beliefs within a given epistemological framework. Unlike a Muhaddith, a theologian would generally have been more attentive towards contradictory narrations and would pay closer attention to the words being narrated in order to argue for whether such information fits within their established framework or not. Furthermore, most theologians were heavily involved in debates and discussions against opponents in order to defend their beliefs. Thus, we can identify three major trends in Kufa during the era of Imam Baqir (s) and Imam Sadiq (s): 1) those who were merely deemed as narrators of traditions and would generally avoid getting into theological disputes, 2) those who were deemed pure theologians, and 3) those who happened to be narrators of traditions and as well as theologians at the same time. This last group is what we refer to as the traditionalist-theologian. The Shi’i companions of the Imams (s), whichever segment they fit into, would still consider themselves bound to the teachings of the Imams in all cases, and would often refer back to them for assistance and guidance. This can be seen in the numerous reports that have been preserved in primary Shi’i texts like Usul al-Kafi.[1] The fundamental difference between the traditionalist-theologians and the narrators was that the former would attempt to rationalize, justify and fit the teachings of the Imams in a specific established framework of thought. The narrators generally speaking, would not involve themselves in such activities, and would suffice with simply quoting the traditions as evidence for their views when it required. In other words, what was deemed sufficient as guidance for them was the Nass (words of the Imam – orally narrated or written down) on its own, and they saw no necessity in adding their own opinions to the subject matter as it would be deemed irrelevant in front of the words of someone divinely appointed as a source of guidance. Despite this, it must be said that this group, just like the traditionalist-theologians and the theologians, did indeed have a framework in which they would understand things. That framework was the Nass it self. Therefore we find many examples where narrators were seen attempting to explain the contents of a Nass by utilizing other traditions themselves. Though Shi’i traditionalist-theologians were different from mere theologians as far as the former would often narrate traditions from the Imams (s), in essence it seems that this method was simply an extension of the theologians and the difference was not as extensive. Many companions were considered traditionalist-theologians, such as Zurarah bin A’yun and others from his family, Abu Basir, Muhammad bin Muslim, Ibn Abi ‘Umayr etc. Both these movements – after having benefited from the presence of the Imams in 2nd century Hijri – had very different fates by the middle of the 3rd century. Theological discourses that had given life to Kufa’s highly engaged society, eventually died out. This is largely to be blamed on certain decisions made by the ‘Abbasid government, such as the implementation of various sanctions, restrictions, and limitations on the Imamis in Kufa and certain theologians who held specific views in general.[2] However, the Imami traditionalist-theologians were able to preserve a lot of their written works and transfer much of their heritage to the next generation as the middle of the 3rd century Hijri approached. As activity in Kufa slowly died out, another school began taking form as the Kufan traditionalist-theological heritage transferred over to it, and slowly became a substitute for Kufa. This school found its home in the city of Qom. In the next few posts we will try to address a range of different topics, including – but not limited to: how Qom became the hub for Shi’i theological discourse, why was it seen as the most reasonable destination after the decline of Kufa, a brief history of the earliest Shi’as to have migrated there, the transfer of Kufa’s hadith heritage to Qom, important companions and scholars who lived in Qom and their theological methodologies, the case of scholars exiling Imami narrators of hadith who were accused of certain flaws, prevalent theological views in Qom, the role of the intellect amongst scholars of Qom. [1] See for example see Usul al-Kafi, Volume 1, Book 3, Chapter 1, Hadith #4; Book 4, Chapter 1, Hadith #3, #4. The examples are too many to list here. [2] The political situation had become so tense that that Imam Kadhim (s) eventually had to tell Hisham bin Hakam to stop any theological debates and discussions. See Rijal al-Kashi, Hadith #479, Page 265-26

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

History of Shi'i Imami Theology (1)

Original: http://www.iqraonline.net/history-of-shii-imami-theology-1/ This is intended to be the first of many posts on the history of the development of Shi’i Imami theology. There are various reasons why being familiar with the history of Imami theology can be of benefit for not just a Shi’a, but as well as a student of Shi’i Islam. As its history begins with the era of the Imams (s), to know how they and their companions dealt with various theological issues, challenges, and what sort of responses would they provide to those questions acts as a window through which we can attempt to learn about the religion itself. The presence of the Imams pre-Ghaybah itself makes it an important time-period to study as companions would engage in theological discussions and debates, while often bouncing off ideas and opinions off the Imams , who were of course seen as sources of guidance. While there were companions whose views and opinions were incorrect at times, and we find reports where the Imams (s) had to correct them or point their errors out, nevertheless we also find that many of the companions had views which were a direct result of the teachings of the Imams (s). Furthermore, without being familiar with the history of the development of Imami theology, particularly the era during the lifetime of the Imams (s), it is difficult to understand the numerous theological narrations that exist in the hadith corpus, as we would be reading them without any context. The history of Imami theology shows that it went through various phases and encountered numerous challenges during the course of these phases. We see various factions of companions forming due to differing methodologies, approaches, and understanding of religious teachings. As such, we can identify a few distinct groups forming during the lifetime of the Imams (s) themselves, such as that of Hisham bin Hakam, Hisham bin Salim and Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar. Each of these figures influenced later individuals (for example: Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman, Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Yaqtin, and Muhammad bin Sinan respectively) and this transmission of methodology and inclinations was carried on until the next few centuries. On the other hand, we also see that various cities were the hub for these debates and discourses, in different time periods. In this series, we intend on covering some aspects of the history of some of these schools from the perspective of their geographic location. In this introductory piece, we will very briefly glance over the most important cities where the Imamis were active (or at times inactive) in theological discourse during the course of time, and impacted subsequent generations (positively or negatively). These schools can be narrowed down to the following cities: 1) Medina: Generally speaking, historians will begin their discussions on the history of the development of Imami theology after the incident of Karbala with the Imamate of Imam Sajjad (s). After the incident of Karbala, two Shi’i theological schools of thought were prevalent in Medina, one that was centered upon Imam Sajjad (s) and one on the personality of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah (son of Imam Ali). This time period has not been heavily studied unfortunately, even though recent efforts have been made by some scholars to research this time period. 2) Kufa: Without much delay, the hub of the Imami theological school moved to the city of Kufa. While it is true that the presence of Imam Baqir (s) and Sadiq (s) was in Medina, for various reasons, it was Kufa where Imami theological discourse was prevalent and took a distinct form and shape. This shift took place in the beginning of the 2nd century Hijri, and various Muslim sects, such as the Khawarij and Mu’tazalites, were participating in theological dialogue in this city. It was in the city of Kufa where the earliest foundations for a distinct Imami identity were laid and extremely important figures were taught and trained by the Imams (s) themselves. Many Kufans would travel back and forth between Kufa and Medina in order to access the Imams (s) directly and then bring their teachings to the city of Kufa. 3) Baghdad: After theological discourse in Kufa began diminishing, Baghdad slowly began to flourish. However, the Shi’as – who were generally located in the suburbs of Karkh – had no substantial influence, nor participation for at least a century between 180 to 280 Hijri. Due to various political restrictions imposed on the Shi’ias, many companions of the Imams (s) were unable to participate in any theological dialogue nor defend their beliefs. Thus, we see narrations indicating that an Imam may have prohibited certain companions from further engaging in theological debates – evidently a political and strategic move. Important figures such as Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman and others were imprisoned during this time for their activities. All in all, we find no significant progress nor theological discourse by the Imamis during this century. A few names that appear here and there are also of those whose identify and biography is relatively unknown. It was only a century later when we see the Nawbakhtis (such as Abu Sahl and Abu Muhammad) lifting up the fallen reins and re-enter theological discourse. Interestingly, we have no record of whose students the Nawbakhtis were and neither do they point towards any teacher. Although it is known that they had access to a personal library, so it is possible that they heavily utilized the heritage that had been passed down to them. In any case, this new phase in Baghdad reaches its climax during the time of Shaykh Mufid and Sayyid Murtadha, and ends with the departure of Shaykh Tusi to Najaf. 4) Qom: As the Kufan school was coming to its end, it was the city of Qom that slowly become its substitute. The Kufan heritage was transferred over to Qom by various different scholars. Although the Kufan school had both a theologian and traditionalist-theologian movement, in Qom it was primarily a traditionalist-theologian methodology that had importance. So while many of the scholars of Qom did have a methodology and a framework within which they would intellectualize, they were still distinct from someone who would be deemed a pure theologian. 5) Rey: A lot of Baghdad and Qom’s heritage was transferred to Rey with the immigration of some of the Imami scholars to the city. Thus it is seen as an important city where Imami theological discourse was prevalent for about one-and-half to two centuries. 6-7) Hilla and Jabal al-Amel: Much of Rey’s heritage was transferred over to Hilla, and the theological developments within Hilla were transmitted to Jabal al-Amel by Shahid Awwal and Shahid Thani. However, since there were no important works produced within the latter city on theology, Jabal al-Amel is essentially considered an extension of Hilla and not seen as a city where significant progress was made. 8) Najaf: One stream from Hilla’s theological school of thought moved to Najaf through the efforts of Fadhil Miqdad – a student of Shaheed Awwal. The former would accompany him till Damascus before the latter was martyred. 9/10) Fars & Isfahan: After Najaf, it was the school of Fars and Isfahan during the Safavid dynasty that took charge of being the hub of Imami theological discourse. These 10 cities were without a doubt the most influential when it comes to discussing the history of the development of Imami theology. While the starting point of this historical timeline may be seen in Medina chronologically speaking, it was in the city of Kufa where a distinct Imami Shi’i theology was born. As much work has been done on the city of Kufa and Baghdad – some of it also available in English – we wish to begin our series of posts with the city of Qom, a city less discussed or often cast aside as insignificant. As the histories of some these schools are tightly connected (particularly that of Kufa, Qom and Baghdad’s), we will of course at times be forced to discuss certain aspects of the Kufan or Baghdad school in order to better understand certain aspects of Qom’s role and influence on Imami theology.

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

Time Concepts in the Qur’an

Original Post: Time Concepts in the Qur’an – a Historical Perspective This is based on my understanding of a recorded lecture posted online a few days ago, of Dr. Ahmad Pakatchi speaking at The International Conference on Interdisciplinary Quranic Studies in Tehran. I hope any written material by him or other researchers will become accessible on this subject, especially given that Dr. Pakatchi is one of Iran's qualified and well known professors. --- Time plays an important and often times a complicated role in various different fields, and history is definitely not an exception to this rule. One specific discussion pertaining to time and its role in history is with regards to a division of time from two different perspectives. The first division is that of Relative and Absolute - a division that also exists in archaeology and geology, and the second is into Comparative and Structural. Absolute time is a numerical measurement that is calculated based on an origin, and by which we can date various events and instances. For example, making the Hijrah of the Prophet (s) or the birth of 'Isa (s) the initial point of our time, we can subsequently give time-stamps to events in history mentioning their date, month or year of occurrence. On the other hand, Relative time does not provide any specific date or timestamp, as it is a comparison of two events with one another, and only tells us about their relative order. Saying that the revolt of Mukhtar took place after the event of Karbala is an example of Relative time. Based on the second type of division, Comparative time is when we look into a historical event or an event that is considered historical, in relation to other historical events from the perspective of time. For example, when we say that a certain event took place 60 years after such and such event, this is a case of Comparative time. Here we are not looking at our incident on its own, rather in relation to other events. Structural time on the other hand, is when we look into a historical instance in it and of itself as a singular structure, without comparing it with any other events. For example, saying that so and so person lived for 70 years is a case of Structural time. We are referring to a time (i.e. the person’s age) whose origin and end is the person himself. These divisions can subsequently be combined with one another to produce four separate concepts of time. Each of these concepts will be explained with an example: 1) Absolute-Comparative: For example, if we say that the event of 'Ashura took place in 61st Hijri, we are applying the concept of time to the day of 'Ashura by comparing it with a specific origin (i.e. the migration of the Prophet) while at also mentioning the date of its exact occurrence within a historical timeline. 2) Relative-Comparative: For example, if we say that the event of 'Ashura took place after the death of Imam Hasan (s), we are looking into one event while comparing it with another, and then giving it its own relative order. There is a comparison here, and also an indication of what happened first, but there is no numerical measurement which gives us a timestamp for either of the events. 3) Absolute-Structural: For example, if we say that the duration of Imam Husayn's (s) Imamate was eleven years, we are applying a structural understanding of time as far as we are only concerned about Imam Husayn (s) on his own, yet also giving an exact numerical value to the duration of his Imamate. 4) Relative-Structural: For example, if we say that Hurr bin Yazid al-Riyahi was the commander of Ibn Ziyad's army before coming to the Imam's side. In this case, we are looking at the life of Hurr as an individual, and giving a relative order to some of his actions based on what he did before and after the event of Karbala. We are not occupying ourselves with the details of any other historical events, rather our concern is the life of Hurr himself. Relative-Comparative time is perhaps the most often used concept of time in the Qur'an. It is primarily this specific combination that is used to cite examples of historic recurrence in philosophy of history. Absolute-Comparative cases do not seem to exist in the Qur’an, and coincidently, it is this concept of time that implies that an event has taken place and will not recur. This does not seem to be because the culture and society of the time wasn't aware of such a mode of conveying history – especially given that you can find examples of this in previous books - rather there is Divine Wisdom behind its absence. Within the Qur'an, Relative-Comparative cases are often those which make use of words that signify concepts of before and after, such as ba’d (بعد), qabl (قبل), ula (اولي), ukhra (اخرى). In some verses this meaning is also signified through the verb khalafa (خلف), meaning to succeed, and waritha (ورث), meaning to inherit. See for example when the Qur’an in 53:51-52 speaks about the destruction of Thamud, and before them the people of Noah (wa qawma Nuhin min qabl), or when it refers to the appointment of a king for the Israelites after Moses (2:246-247). In both these cases, we have no information about when these events took place on a measurable timeline, but we do know which event occurred first and which occurred second. Some Relative-Comparative cases of time in the Qur’an follow a specific style and pattern, where it mentions two events, but does not give us any information about the event between those two. See for example, in 40:5 The people of Noah denied before them and the [heathen] factions [who came] after them. In this verse, we know about the situation of those who denied Prophet Muhammad (s), and the verse tells us that previously the same had occurred with Noah (s). However, based on this verse alone, we are not told any real information about those groups that came between these two events and those historic events are kept vague. This style, along with signifying recurrence and emphasis, seems to also allude to and emphasize the concept of lengthiness and span of time. We also find examples of Relative-Comparative usage of time in the Qur’an. These cases are mostly recorded in a narratological manner. Surah al-Kahf is a great example of this, or the story of Dhu al-Qarnayn, or the story of Moses (s) and Khidhr and of course the story of Yusuf (s). In Surah al-Saaffat, we have short stories or rather verses that recall incidents from the lives of various Prophets (s) such that we understand that each Prophet is essentially a continuation of the story of the previous Prophet. Absolute-Structural cases also exist in the Qur’an. For example, in 29:20 the Qur’an mentions that Noah’s life was a thousand-less-fifty years until the flood overtook his people. Over here Noah (s) and his life alone is the subject of discussion, but the verse also gives us a numeric value which makes it absolute since his age is being measured from the time of his birth. This verse however, is not Absolute-Comparative because we do not know when Noah lived precisely and neither do we know when the flood took place in absolute terms.

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

Niyyah of Qat' or Qati' while Fasting

This term I have been engaging in an independent (i.e. not part of curriculum) study session on Kitab al-Sawm (Book of Fasting) where we try to analyze the reasoning and arguments of the various rulings and verdicts the jurists give. I am almost done with the section on niyyah (intention) for fasting - thus the previous post. This post will be regarding one of the rulings that appears in most practical law books today and a few simple observations. This is by no means an attempt to show which ruling makes more sense or not - please follow the rulings of your own Marj'a (in case I end up presenting a stronger case for a view that is against what one's own marj'a says). The ruling is as follow: Ayatullah Sistani: 1579. If somebody is undecided in his niyyat whether to break or not an obligatory fixed fast, like that of Ramadhan, or decides to do so, immediately his fast becomes invalid even if he does not actually break it or is repentant of his intention.

Ayatullah Khamenei: Q 754: During the month of Ramadan, A mukallaf decides to break his fast but he changes his mind before doing so. Is his fast valid? What about the fast other than that of Ramadan? A: During the month of Ramadan if he ceases intending to fast, i.e. he does not have intention to continue his fast, it invalidates his fast and intending again to proceed with the fast is to no avail. However, if he just decides to perform or take anything that would invalidate the fast, the validity of his fast is problematic and there is an obligatory caution to complete the fast and later perform its qaḍā’ as well. The same rule is applied to any fast which is obligatory for a specific day like that of nadhr. This topic is generally referred to as Niyyah of Qat' (قطع), and Niyyah of Qati' (قاطع). The former is an instance of a person merely deciding during the course of the day while fasting, that they will break their fast (either now or later), whereas the latter is someone who physically begins the process of breaking their fast (intentionally), but discontinues before the actual act (for example lifting a glass of water up to drink, but then puts it back down). The former is inclusive within the latter by nature. This is one of those rulings where jurists (both Sunni and Shi'a) have had a lot of dispute over. To begin with, there are three different opinions on the matter: Niyyah of Qat' or Qati' does not invalidate the fast (this seems to be the view of many of the older jurists) To name a few: Shaykh Tusi in his al-Mabsut and al-Khilaf, Muhaqqiq Hilli in al-Sharai' and al-Mu'tabar, and 'Allamah Hilli in his al-Muntaha Shaykh Ansari and his student Ayatullah Ridha Hamadani (d. 1322 Hijri) held the same view Some contemporary scholars like Ayatullah Mazaheri hold the same view and the now deceased Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani (d. 2007) Niyyah of Qat' or Qati' invalidate the fast This is the opinion of some of the earlier jurists like Sayyid Murtadha and Abu al-Salah al-Halabi Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Yazdi (d. 1919) in his al-'Urwah al-Wuthqa holds this view and many jurists of the 20th and 21st century hold this view, including Ayatullah Khoei, Ayatullah Sistani (as can be seen from the ruling above), Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi, Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani, Ayatullah Shubeyri Zanjani, Ayatullah Wahid Khorasani and Ayatullah Sayyid Kamal al-Haydari Niyyah of Qat' breaks the fast, but not the Niyyah of a Qati' This is the opinion of Shaykh Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi (d. 1850) in his al-Jawahir, as well as Imam Khomeini There are not too many adherents of this view There are different ways to argue for each position, and I do not plan on doing justice to any one of them, rather provide a very simple summary of how jurists discuss this. In fact, different jurists may approach the subject in completely different manners to begin with. One such jurists addresses the issue as follow: They ask, what is the reality of a fast? Is a fast one single constructed reality which begins at the time of Fajr and ends at the time of Maghrib, in which a person refrains from engaging in things like eating, drinking etc. with an intention? Meaning, not only does the intention give the fast its meaning, but rather it is a part and parcel of it. Thus, it has to be present there in every single instance of a person's fast - in order for them to be considered a person who is fasting. If this is the case, then by nature, breaking this intention even for a moment, whether one actually eats something or not, should technically break their fast. This is because the intention was part of what constituted the fast. In other words, once one does an intention - for example - such as: "I have decided to break my fast", or "I am lifting this glass of water to drink and subsequently break my fast with it", they are already in a state in which they are not considered a person who is fasting. In Usuli and Fiqhi jargon, this would be referred to as "Niyyah having Mawdhu'iyyah". The other possibility is when "Niyyah has Tareeqiyyah". Meaning intention isn't part of the reality of a fast, rather a fast is essentially the act of refraining from those limited things that have been mentioned in the sources that break the fast. Intention is only a means by which a fast is validated, but it isn't its reality. If we are to go with the first opinion, we will generally conclude that Niyyah of Qat' or Qati' will indeed break one's fast, however if we go with the second opinion we will say that the fast isn't broken. Those who say the fast is broken, at times will also bring this narration from Tadheeb ul-Ahkam of Shaykh Tusi: سَمَاعَةَ قَالَ: سَأَلْتُهُ عَنْ رَجُلٍ أَتَى أَهْلَهُ فِي شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ مُتَعَمِّداً فَقَالَ عَلَيْهِ عِتْقُ رَقَبَةٍ وَ إِطْعَامُ سِتِّينَ مِسْكِيناً وَ صِيَامُ شَهْرَيْنِ مُتَتَابِعَيْنِ وَ قَضَاءُ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ وَ أَنَّى لَهُ مِثْلُ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ   Sama'ah said: I asked about a man who engages in intercourse with his spouse (lit. approaches his ahl) in the month of Ramadhan intentionally. He (s) said: Upon him is the freeing of a slave, and the feeding of 60 poor, and the fast of 2 consecutive months, and the Qadha of that specific day, and anna lahu dhalika al-yawm (not sure how to precisely translate this into English. It is a phrase referring to the person having lost the opportunity to fasting on that day and is deprive of its rewards despite all the penalties and Qadha he has to do). This narration is generally used in the discussion of when on the day of doubt (if it is the 30th of Sha'ban or 1st of Ramadhan) a person wakes up without the intention to fast, and does an act that breaks a fast, but later in the day figures out it is the 1st of Ramadhan. His fast is definitely invalid, but does this person now also have to refrain from committing an act that breaks a fast generally, until Maghrib out of respect for the month of Ramadhan? How this narration is used for that discussion is outside the scope of this post, but nevertheless this narration is brought as an example of showing that what became necessary on this person was not just all 3 penalties, but also the Qadha. Some jurists say, the Qadha had become necessary simply by means of him having the intention to have intercourse since he had broken his fast, whereas the 3 penalties came upon him after he went ahead and actually performed the act. There is a lot of discussion on this narration itself, but will suffice with just this simple explanation. Those who say the fast is not broken (which seem to be fewer in number today), bring two main arguments: 1) Some apply the principle of continuity (Istishab). Meaning, we were certain that our fast is valid, and now after doing a Niyyah of Qat' or Qati', we are unsure whether our fast is broken or not. We apply the principle and assume that our fast is correct. There are numerous problems with applying this principle in this specific case, but it will over-complicate this post. 2) The more common argument is that we actually have numerous narrations that explicitly tell us and list for us the things that invalidate one's fast. Things like, eating, drinking, sexual intercourse, etc. Not in one narration or verse, do we find anything about such an intention being one of those cases that invalidate one's fast. Furthermore, in accordance to the second perspective that one can take on what is the reality of a fast, they can argue that we have an example of a Mustahabb fast. In a Mustahabb fast, we know that one can not have an intention the whole day, and as long as they have not done an act that breaks a fast generally, they can do an intention even a few minutes before Maghrib and that day will count as a Mustahabb fast for them. This - these jurists argue - shows that the Niyyah does not have "Mawdhu'iyyah", rather "Tareeqiyyah". Some other jurists argue that if the intention of Qat' or Qati' invalidates the fast, then we cannot say there are 7, or 8, or 9, or 12 etc. things (depending on the jurist) that invalidate a fast. Rather we should say only one thing breaks the fast, and that is the mere intention. Saying that eating, drinking etc. breaks the fast does not make sense since with the mere intention, there is no longer a fast existent which can be broken (i.e. it is already broken). They further argue that if the intention of Qat’ or Qati’ was such an important matter, we would have had some narrations on it listing it out as one of the things that invalidate a fast, or some questions and answers pertaining to it by the companions, but we see that our narrations are completely silent on the matter. So how do those who hold on to the opinion that it does not break the fast, deal with the notion of not having an intention in the middle of the day, albeit for a moment, yet the fast still being valid? They say, if the person changes their intention in the middle of the day and decide not to fast and persistently remain on this intention to such an extent that in the minds of the people - if they were to become aware of this person's intention - this person would be deemed someone who is not fasting, only then would their fast be considered invalid. Otherwise, it is the actual act (of eating, drinking etc.) that invalidates the fast. Having an intention of breaking one's fast, or physically lifting a glass up to drink water and then deciding otherwise, does not make one's original intent of fasting go away completely.  It seems that in order to reach the conclusion that the fast is not invalidated, these jurists have taken a more 'Urfi (customary) approach to the matter, rather than a purely theoretical and abstract approach. This is also why they claim this issue is non-existent in our hadith works, because people do not generally consider someone who has one of the two aforementioned intentions and then goes back to his original intention to have broken their fast. PS - I didn't reference this post too much as the point of it was to present the arguments - who makes the argument is not too necessary. But in general, I can say the 3 main sources looked into were the Behas al-Kharij of Ayatullah Shubeyri Zanjani, Ayatullah Mazaheri, and Ayatullah Nuri Hamadani. Wasalam

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

Some Observations on Niyyah

Most books on jurisprudence and practical law that deal with fasting, open up with a discussion on Niyyah (intention). Some books make the rules seem quite complicated and the deductive discussions present in many books or transcribed notes from the Behas al-Kharij of some of the jurists are even more complicated at times. This is all the while our classical scholars did not spend so much time on this subject at all. In fact most earlier jurists are relatively silent on the matter in their works of jurisprudence. For example, in rulings of Wudhu, we find no mention of anything to do with Niyyah in Shaykh al-Saduq’s al-Muqni’ and neither Shaykh al-Mufid in his al-Ishraf. Or in his al-Muqni'ah, Shaykh al-Mufid discusses the method of praying in detail, yet is completely silent on the matter of Niyyah. Elsewhere, some of these jurists would simply say that Niyyah is to seek closeness towards Allah and to have sincerity (Shaykh al-Mufid for example uses 98:5 to prove this).  Complicated discussions on Niyyah seem to have slowly crept in during the end of the 6th century Hijri, and by 7th & 8th century with the appearance of Muhaqqiq Hilli and 'Allamah Hilli this discussion had become part of mainstream jurisprudential discussions. We began seeing discussions on whether Niyyah is something that one has to literally notify themselves of, and if this is to be done in the heart, or in the mind or by tongue; or whether it is a mere result of another entity that calls them to perform an action. Furthermore, does one have to specify in their intention whether they are performing an obligatory or recommended action - and if obligatory, is it Qadha or not? Or if there is a need to specify in the month of Ramadhan that one is indeed doing the obligatory fast of Ramadhan or not? Does Niyyah have to be continuous or is one Niyyah in the beginning of a worship enough? All these and other related discussions had become mainstream for centuries and can still be seen in the books of practical law.  Interestingly enough, we have also seen a few scholars speaking out against this during the course of time. Some Shi'i scholars - like Muhaqqiq Sabzwari (d. 1090 Hijri) - even deemed these discussions as outright innovations (bid'ah). Over the last few weeks, having gone through the transcribed lessons of Ayatullah Shubeyri Zanjani, Ayatullah Mazahari and Ayatullah Nuri Hamadani's on this topic, it is clear that some contemporary scholars also look at these discussions unfavourably (yet seem to be forced to discuss it in their Behas al-Kharij due to the format their lessons follow). One figure who spoke out against this matter was Shaykh Baha'i (d. 1621 CE). In his Miftah al-Falah [http://en.wikishia.net/view/Miftah_al-falah_(book)] he writes (very quick, rough and slightly paraphrased translation):  "And know that some of our later jurists have exaggerated and extended their discussion on the matter of Niyyah, while there is nothing in the narrations of the Imams (s) as such. Rather, what can be utilized based on what has been reported on behalf of them (s) on the topics of Wudhu, Salat and all other forms of worship, which their followers would act upon, is that the matter of Niyyah is easy. It is needless from being mentioned, present in the minds of all rational people when they carry out an act out of their own free-will. Due to this, our classical jurists (r) did not enter into discussions regarding it. It was only a group of later jurists who embarked on it and initiated a discussion on it, such that it now becomes the subject of doubt for whether it had been abandoned from various parts of one’s actions, brings about difficulty for most people, and leads them into Waswas. In fact, Niyyah is nothing in reality but a simple intent to carry out a specific action for a specific cause; and it is a part and parcel of that action which is intended. This intent can almost never be separated from a rational person at the time of every action, to the extent that some of our scholars have said that if Allah had made us responsible of carrying out a specific action without having its Niyyah, our responsibility would be towards that which we have no ability of performing.  Thus, the notion of bringing into presence that which is intended, into the mind, such that it is differentiated from another, and the intent of carrying out an action to fulfill a command of Allah is at the height of simplicity. Take Zuhr prayers - an act we are responsible for performing at a specific time for example - which can be conceptualized with its specific characteristics by which it is differentiated from all other actions deemed worship and non-worship, and the intent of performing it to fulfill a command: there is no difficulty in any of this at all, like the working conscious of anyone will testify. If anyone finds this difficult, then they should ask Allah to correct their conscious, for He is omnipotent over all things."

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

A ShiaChat Reunion?

As the school-term comes to an end, and there was some time that I could spare for my self, I've thought a lot about how my views on life, religion, man's relationship with God, and the world around me, have changed over the years. This is going to be a pretty random rant - but I guess that is what blogs are for . As of now, it has been 4 years since I moved to the seminary in Qom, and while there are many brothers and sisters here who spent many years on ShiaChat, many of them have either asked for their accounts to be deleted, with all of their posts, or have completely abandoned the forum all together or visit once in a while. I'm one of the handful of those who have not asked for my account to be deleted. All my posts from my early teenage years to now mid and late-20s are there. Personally, I never felt I had anything to hide - my posts are pretty much who I am. One can clearly see the early phase of an excited teenager learning a thing or two about the religion, with very deep-rooted presumptions about life, to a hyper kid getting accustomed to a some-what celebrity status, loved & hated by so many, to then entering university life and maturing up (some may disagree ), and eventually entering into the work-force, married, moving to a different country, kids etc. While browsing through my earliest posts back in 2004, I was really able to just reflect on not just how much I have changed, but even how much influence (positive or negative) people on this forum have had on me. Of course this was not happening in a vacuum. I was interacting with all sorts of people - albeit behind a screen. There are so many real names, user-names, and names that I don't even remember - all of them - that I can recall, and in hindsight, see how each and everyone of them played a role in the development of my ideas, the stances and decisions I made in life, the open-mindedness I developed, or even the doubts I may have developed over various issues, and the questions that would remain unanswered for months and years. This is very obvious for me even while I study in the seminary. The questions I may ask, the extent of tolerance I may show, the critiques I may mention, the willingness to really question some of our "famous" theological or historical views - some of these things make other students and at times even teachers really uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I believe this is in part due to what transpired on this forum and I am happy for it. This forum was like a large community center. It wasn't a community center for a specific ethnicity, or a culture, or converts or a specific gender. This forum for a large part was a community for those who either didn't have access to a real community where they lived, or were not satisfied with the communities that they belonged to. I believe it represented quite accurately the state of the Shi'a (primarily in the West) for a large part. It collectively represented the views that persisted and continue to persist amongst the Shi'a. Unfortunately, it is this portion of the Shi'a populous that often gets unnoticed outside of virtual reality. The inability of those leading us (for the most part) to really dissect and decipher the state of an average Shi'a's mindset, has really been one of the major issues for our communities in the West. The ignorance towards the epistemological framework that an average Shi'a growing in the West acquires through the education system or simply by living there, the delusional presumption that somehow a sub-culture contained within the 4-walls of a building will be able to preserve itself and overcome a dominant culture outside, the satisfaction of merely entertaining the audience with shallow lectures & speeches - while not addressing important and crucial matters: the cure for all of this seems to be have been missing in the last few decades, primarily due to ignorance towards it. On a rare encounter I may have with a lost-long SCer, Its interesting to see how many stayed religious as they were, or were irreligious and become religious, or remained irreligious, or how so many are now going through a faith crisis as they have grown and began questioning and pondering over life's crucial mysteries.  Reflecting back on what views I held and what views I hold now, nostalgia overtook me and I started browsing through old posts, old pictures, audio and video files that I still have saved from a decade ago (had a seriously good laugh over some audio files of @SO SOLID SHIA I still have with me). It is really weird how all of a sudden around 2012/2013 the forum just died. As if everyone switched off their plugs and disappeared. People definitely have to move on with their lives, no doubt about that. Of course there were some people who left much earlier, but this sudden silence is really absurd and that it wasn't replaced with a new batch of talented, and educated individuals is really hard to explain. Perhaps those members who are still lingering around from the early 2000s ( @Gypsy @DigitalUmmah @Darth Vader @Abbas. @Haji 2003 @Abu Hadi @Wise Muslim @Qa'im @notme) and are still in touch with those who have left, maybe they can work on a ShiaChat Reunion of some sort. Perhaps get in contact with old members and request them to make a moment's appearance and leave some remarks on what they are up to in life! What changes have taken place in your lives, in your views, in your lifestyle - if any? There were some members I had such a great time with, and it felt as if we would remain friends forever. It would be great to be able to reconnect with them. @Baatil Ka Kaatil  @Matami-Shah @Zain @Hasnain @Abdulhujjah @Peer @fyst @Syedmed @Nida_e_Zahra @hmMm @SpIzo @venusian @sana_abbas @fatimak @HR @asifnaqvi @Bollywood_Hero @phoenix @blessing @zanyrulez @wilayah @Hajar @Zuljenah @LaYdee_110 @fadak_166 @raat ki rani @Friend of All @queenjafri @Simba @Path2Felicity @3ashiqat-Al-Batoul @-Enlightened @karateka @A follower @hameedeh @lethaldefense @kaaju barfi @Friend of All @Ya Aba 3abdillah ...there are dozens of other members if I keep going.

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

 

Celebrating 9th Rabi’ al-Awwal – What For?

In many Shi'i communities, it is the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal that marks the end of the two-month mourning period that begins with the first of Muharram. The day is celebrated in most communities, for different reasons, and is referred to by a few names, such as Eid al-Zahra, Farhat al-Zahra, Eid-e Shuja, Taj Poshi-e Imam, Yawm Raf' ul-Qalam, Umar Kushshun etc. The significance of the day is due to four different reasons, all of which have been attributed to it: 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (the 2nd caliph) was killed on this day The angels lift their pens up for the Shi'as and they do not record anything (i.e. one can commit sins and not be held accountable for them) The transfer of the Imamate from Imam Hasan al-'Askari to his son, Imam al-Mahdi Mukhtar killed 'Umar ibn Sa'd which resulted in the happiness of Imam Sajjad and the women of Bani Hashim   Some communities may celebrate the day for some of the reasons, while some misinformed ones may celebrate the day for all four reasons - particular the first two reasons. In this post, I will simply be looking at the historical validity of all four of these reasons. The killing of 'Umar and the Lifting of the Pens The killing of 'Umar and as well as the angels lifting up their pens, have both been mentioned in one narration that has been recorded in the works of some mainstream Shi'i scholars. The narration speaks of two individuals (who are completely unknown and no information regarding them exists in biographical works and history books) disputing over 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (or in some books it says Abu al-Khattab Muhammad bin Abi Zaynab the founder of the extremist Khattabiyah sect). They make their way to Ahmad bin Ishaq, a companion of Imam al-'Askari, in the city of Qum while their visitation coincided with the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal. His female slave opens the door and informs them that Ahmad is celebrating the day as a day of 'Eid and that he informed her of the words of Imam al-'Askari considering this day to be the best of 'Eids according to the Ahl ul-Bayt. When they eventually meet Ahmad, they notice he has bathed specifically for this day and he begins to narrate a lengthy tradition from Imam al-'Askari.  He describes his meeting with the Imam during one of the years, which also happened to coincide with the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal, and noticed that the Imam had informed those who were at his house to perfume themselves and wear new clothes. He questions the Imam about this, and the Imam begins to narrate a story from the time of the Prophet, which speaks of Hudhayfa ibn al-Yaman meeting the Prophet and Imam Ali on a similar date while they were partaking in a meal with smiles on their faces, congratulating each other for the blessings of this day. Hudhayfa asks for the reason, and the Prophet informs him that this is the day on which Allah (swt) destroyed their enemies. The Prophet begins to inform Hudhayfa about the blessings that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon this day, and while relaying this, he mentions that Allah has also ordered the angels to lift their pens on the onset of this day, and to not record any sins of the Shi'as in honour of the Prophet and his successor. Then the narrative changes to Hudhayfa, who says that he witnessed what the hypocrites did after the demise of the Prophet and when the second caliph died - on the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal - he visited Imam Ali to congratulate him. The Imam reminds him of the time when he visited them on a similar date and they were celebrating. He says that the celebration was to do with Allah (swt) foretelling them about this day. The Imam proceeds to give about seventy names for this day, such as The Second Ghadeer, The Great Eid of Allah, The Day of Charity etc. The narrative changes back to the two individuals who say that after having heard Ahmad narrate this report, they kissed his forehead and thanked Allah for having learned the virtues of this blessed day before dying. Before going any further, since I will be mentioning certain authors and their books, it is befitting for the readers to be aware of the chronological order by year of when these individuals lived. Ahmad bin Ishaq al-Qummi: died 263 Hijri Shaykh Saduq: 305 - 381 Hijri Maymun ibn Qasim al-Tabarani (author of Majmu' al-A'yad): 350/358 - 426/427 Hijri Hashim ibn Muhammad Ali (author of Misbah al-Anwar): Alive in 558 Hijri Ali ibn Ta'us (author of Iqbal al-A'mal): 589 - 664 Hijri Ali ibn Ali ibn Ta'us (author of Zawaid al-Fawaid): 647 - 711 Hijri Shaykh Hasan ibn Sulayman (author of al-Mukhtasar): Possibly before 742 - till after 802 Hijri Shaykh Hurr al-Amili (author of Ithbat al-Huda): 1033 - 1104 Hijri Allamah Majlisi (author of Bihar al-Anwar): 1037 - 1110 Hijri
  The earliest book of a mainstream Shi'a scholar, in which this specific narration appears in is Misbah al-Anwar by Shaykh Hashim ibn Muhammad (scholar from 6th century Hijri but the book may have been written in 7th century Hijri)[1]. Its chain of narration is as follow: قال: أخبرنا أبو محمد الحسن بن محمّد القمّي بالكوفة، قال: حدثّنا أبو بكر محمد بن جعدويه القزويني، وكان شيخاً صالحاً زاهداً (سنّهُ إحدى واربعين وثلاثمائة) صاعداً الى الحج، قال: حدثني محمد بن علي القزويني، قال: حدثنا الحسن بن الحسن الخالدي بمشهد أبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام قال: حدثنا محمد بن العلاء الهمداني الواسطي و يحيى بن محمد جريح البغدادي قالا :تنازعنا في أمر أبي الخطّاب محمد بن زينب الکوفي فاشتبه علينا أمره فقصدنا جميعاً أبا علي أحمد بن إسحاق بن سعد الأشعري القمّي صاحب أبي الحسن العسکري عليه السلام بمدينته بقم Shaykh Hashim said: Abu Muhammad al-Hasan bin Muhammad al-Qummi narrated to me in Kufa saying: Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Ja'dawayh al-Qazwini - he was a righteous and ascetic scholar - narrated to me while on his way to Hajj (in the year 341 Hijri) saying: Muhammad bin Ali al-Qazwini narrated to me saying: Hasan bin al-Hasan al-Khalidi narrated to me in the shrine of Imam Ridha (as) saying: Muhammad bin al-'Ala al-Hamdani al-Wasiti and Yahya bin Muhammad Jarih al-Baghdadi both narrated to me saying: We were disputing regarding Abi al-Khattab Muhammad bin Zaynab al-Kufi, and his affair confused us. So we decided to go to Ahmad bin Ishaq bin Sa'ad al-Ash'ari al-Qummi the companion of Imam Hasan al-'Askari (as) in the city of Qom. In this report, we see that the two main narrators (Muhammad bin al-'Ala al-Hamdani and Yahya bin Muhammad Jarih[2] al-Baghdadi) who are completely unknown, are reporting the tradition to yet another unknown person by the name of Hasan al-Khalidi. In this report it says explicitly that the two individuals were arguing over Abi al-Khattab - rather than 'Umar ibn al-Khattab. We also do not know much about the life of the author himself, besides what is available through this book of his. The next book that the narration exists is in al-Mukhtasar[3] of Shaykh Hasan bin Sulayman. This report has slight differences in its text, and its chain of narrators is cut severely short, however the two main reporters are the same, namely Muhammad bin al-'Ala al-Hamdani and Yahya bin Jarih al-Baghdadi. The chain is as follow: الشيخ الفاضل علي بن مظاهر الواسطي عن محمد بن العلا الهمداني الواسطي ويحيى بن جريح البغدادي al-Shaykh al-Fadhil Ali bin Mazahir al-Wasiti from Muhammad bin al-'Ala al-Hamdani al-Wasiti and Yahya bin Muhammad bin Jarih al-Baghdadi. Over here, they are narrating this report to a person by the name of Ali bin Mazahir al-Wasiti (another unknown person). The next book in which this report appears is Zawaid al-Fawaid of Ali ibn Ali ibn Ta'us, which we know of through Allamah Majlisi's work Bihar al-Anwar. The chain of narrators is as follow: رَوَى‏ ابْنُ‏ أَبِي‏ الْعَلَاءِ الْهَمْدَانِيُ‏ الْوَاسِطِيُ‏ وَ يَحْيَى بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ حُوَيْجٍ الْبَغْدَادِيُّ Ibn Abi al-'Ala al-Hamdani al-Wasiti and Yahya bin Muhammad bin Huwayj al-Baghdadi narrate... In Allamah Majlisi's work Zaad al-Ma'ad, he records this tradition from Zawaid al-Fawaid and quotes additional words from Ali ibn Ali ibn Ta'us himself: The author of Zawaid al-Fawaid said: I copied this narration from the handwriting of Ali bin Muhammad Tayy (ra)[4], and I found in other books various reports that are in line with this tradition, and I have relied on them. It is appropriate for the Shi'a to honour this day and express delight and happiness.[5] The narration with Ali bin Mazahir in its chain (as recorded in al-Mukhtsar) has been briefly referenced by Shaykh Hurr al-Amili in his book Ithbat al-Huda[6] as well, however note the significant difference between this chain and the other ones: And some of our scholars narrate in a treatise regarding the killing of 'Umar, from Ali bin Mazahir al-Wasiti with a connected chain, from Muhammad bin Ali al-Hamdani from Hasan bin al-Husayn al-Samiri from Ahmad bin Ishaq al-Qummi from Imam Hasan al-'Askari. In this chain, Yahya bin Muhammad is completely dropped and is replaced by another person by the name of Hasan al-Samiri (unknown). Two individuals are not reporting from Ahmad bin Ishaq in this chain, rather only one person (al-Samiri) is narrating from Ahmad bin Ishaq. Some have also mistakenly confused Ali bin Mazahir with Zayn ul-Din Ali bin 'Izz al-Din Hasan bin Mazahir al-Hilli (8th century Hijri scholar), a student of Muhammad bin Hasan al-Hilli (son of Allamah Hilli and famously known as Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqeen). There is no evidence to suggest that it was him. Other than the chain of narrators present in Misbah al-Anwar, the rest of the books all possess broken chains with gaps of 300 years and more, between their authors and the time when Ahmad bin Ishaq was living. There also exists a great amount of inconsistencies in these chains. For example at one point Ali bin Mazahir is narrating from Muhammad bin al-'Ala al-Hamdani al-Wasiti and Yahya bin Muhammad bin Jarih al-Baghdadi, who are in fact narrating the actual story of their visit to Ahmad bin Ishaq, whereas in Ithbat al-Huda, Ali bin Mazahir is narrating from Muhammad bin Ali al-Hamdani who then quotes from Hasan bin al-Husayn al-Samiri who narrates the tradition from Ahmad bin Ishaq. The names are not consistent and scriptural errors can also be witnessed, there is no mention of Yahya bin Muhammad in Shaykh Hurr al-Amili's work at all and rather Hasan al-Samiri - a completely different and unknown individual - is mentioned in the chain. Since we have not been able to identify who these individuals are, and with a gap of a few centuries between the authors and the unknown narrators, there is really no way to claim that we have a good level of assurance that this narration is reliable or that the wordings that have been recorded were indeed the words of Imam al-'Askari, the Prophet, Imam Ali or any other individuals that have been referred to in the lengthy narration. The narration also appears with another chain in an 11th century Hijri work, Anwar al-Nu'maniyah[7] of Sayyid Nematullah Jazairi, with a slightly different rendition of the text and a different chain. The author is supposedly quoting from Abu Ja'far Muhammad bin Jarir al-Tabari: Narrated to us al-Amin al-Sayyid Abu al-Mubarak Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Ardshir al-Dastani saying: Sayyid Abu al-Barakat bin Muhammad al-Jurjani narrated to us saying: Hibatullah al-Qummi (whose name was Yahya) narrated to us saying: Ahmad bin Ishaq bin Muhammad al-Baghdadi said: Narrated to us Hasan bin Hasan[8] al-Samiri who said: Myself and Yahya bin Ahmad bin Jarih al-Baghdadi decided to go to Ahmad bin Ishaq al-Qummi who was a companion of Imam Hasan al-'Askari in the city of Qom... This chain when seen in light with the rest of the chains, once again has contradictions and inconsistencies. There are narrators that are both known and unknown (particularly the main narrators of the tradition) in this chain. In this narration, there is no mention of Muhammad bin al-'Ala who is one of the individuals who supposedly visits Ahmad bin Ishaq with Yahya. One last book by a mainstream Shi'i scholar that I will be mentioning in which this report is mentioned in with a different chain is al-'Iqd al-Nadhid wa al-Durr al-Farid, of someone by the name of Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Qummi. Once again, not much is known about the author except that he authored this book. The book was written after 7th century Hijri and the chain on page 60 is as follow: الحديث السادس والأربعون: عن الحسن بن الحسين السامري قال: كنت أنا ويحيى بن أحمد بن جريح البغدادي Hadith Forty-Six: From Hasan bin al-Husayn al-Samiri who said: Myself and Yahya bin Ahmad bin Jarih al-Baghdadi This chain is once again broken and shows similar inconsistency. A chart depicting the chains from the 6 books mentioned is presented below so the readers can see the inconsistencies (please note that all the individuals are unknown except Ahmad bin Ishaq al-Qummi): Before one can begin using a narration or a historical report, the most fundamental thing that needs to be attained, is a level of assurance that these words were essentially said. This is generally done either by looking at the chain of narrators and determining whether they were trustworthy individuals with good memories, or there exists sufficient contextual evidence, or redundancy in the same narration or its contents by multiple different individuals, to support the fact that these words were indeed said. With regards to this narration, after what we have witnessed, no reliable methodology will result in a level of assurance suggesting that this narration is reliable. In fact, the chains have major contradictions between each other whose result would be that the incident actually took place twice in exactly the same manner with different individuals. Names are dropped and added from book to book and even the names of the two main narrators who supposedly visit Ahmad bin Ishaq appear inconsistently. The hadith seems to have begun appearing in mainstream Shi'i works during the 6th century Hijri. The Narration in an Earlier Work This narration appears in one other book, earlier than any of the works mentioned above. It is a book authored by Abu Sa'eed Surur bin Qasim al-Tabarani (358 - 426 Hijri) by the name of Majmu' al-A'yad. The author was a Nusayri, and a lot has been written and researched[9] about him, however it is outside the scope of this article to get into it. It suffices to say that he possessed leadership of the Nusayri community after Muhammad bin Ali al-Jali and al-Khasibi and would not be considered a mainstream Shi'i scholar by any definition. The chain of narrators in this book is as follow: حدثنا محمد بن محمد بن العبّاس الخراساني قال أخبرنا أبو علي احمد بن اسماعيل السليماني قال حدثنا الحسين بن أحمد بن شيبان القزويني قال حدّثني أبو أحمد بن علي الکهجشي قال حدثنا محمد بن العلاء الهمداني الواسطي و يحيی بن محمد بن جدع البغدادي قالا تنازعنا في باب أبي الخطاب Muhammad bin Muhammad bin al-Abbas al-Khorasani narrated to us saying: Abu Ali Ahmad bin Ismail al-Sulaymani narrated to us saying: Husayn bin Ahmad bin Shayban al-Qazwini narrated to us saying: Abu Ahmad bin Ali al-Kahjashi narrated to me saying: Muhammad bin al-'Ala al-Hamdani al-Wasiti and Yahya bin Muhammad bin Jad' al-Baghdadi narrated to me saying: There was a dispute between us regarding Abi al-Khattab. Regarding Ahmad bin Isma'il al-Sulaymani, he appears in the book Kifayah al-Athar of Ali bin Muhammad al-Khazaz and so does Husayn bin Ahmad bin Shayban al-Qazwini. The latter is considered a Shaykh ul-Ijazah and has also been mentioned in Tarikh Baghdad (Volume 8, #3991) of Khatib Baghdadi. The rest of the individuals are unknown. This is perhaps the earliest work we have today in which this narration can be found (with many inconsistencies throughout the text). The book itself essentially lists out the important days and dates during the year, alongside any corresponding acts of worship or supplications. The narration appearing in a book belonging to an extremist Shi'i sect with serious theological flaws, and a sect that was known for fabricating plenty of traditions, raises a lot of serious concerns. This fabricated tradition seems to crept its way into mainstream Shi'i works, which is something really not unheard of. The discussion so far had to do with establishing the reliability of this tradition by looking at how this report has come down to us. We can confidently affirm that with many unknown individuals, inconsistencies present in the chains, names being misspelt or moved around, added or removed, and its earliest version found in a Nusayri text, there is no way to attain any level of assurance that this report is reliable. Moving on to the content of this narration, it causes even more problems.  All credible - early or later - historians suggest that 'Umar ibn Khattab died in the last few days of Dhi al-Hijjah. There does exists a difference of opinion with regards to the actual date, however, no early historian has ever suggested that he died in a different month. Ibn Idris al-Hilli writes that whoever from among the Shi'as confuse his death date with the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal is mistaken and is going against the unanimous opinion of all historians.[10] He further references the opinion of Shaykh Mufid to support his claim. This aforementioned report, which is completely solitary in its nature, is the only report that  we have at our disposal today which states the death of 'Umar being the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal. Another point in the narration that assists us in determining its fabricated nature is the remark regarding angels lifting up their pens so that no sins of ours will be recorded on the day. When the tradition is seen in light of having its roots in a Nusayri text, it makes contextual sense that they would fabricate something like this. Tabarani in one of his other famous works Kitab al-Ma'arif attributes many fabricated traditions to Imam Hasan al-'Askari, one of them implying that God exempted His creatures from worshiping Him through religious commandments and only wanted them to know Him, for gnosis is the worship of God.[11] With beliefs in such pseudo-esotericism, it is very plausible that a concept such as lifting of the pen was fabricated so that men are not bound by Islamic laws that pertain to the exoteric aspect of one's life. It seems that the first scholar to insist on 9th Rabi' al-Awwal being the death date of Umar was 'Allamah Majlisi in his Bihar al-Anwar. He brings the opinions of numerous Shi'a scholars and admits that the famous opinion amongst the Shi'a Imamiyah scholars is that 'Umar died in Dhi al-Hijjah, but in a strange statement, uses the fact that in his day and age, people believed (either referring to people in Isfahan or those living under the Safavid government in general) that he died on the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal, as support for this opinion and chooses this view over the other. Ibn Ta'us does mention in his Iqbal al-A'maal that he saw a meritorious narration regarding the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal and that some people express happiness because they believe someone had been killed on this day. While he does not mention any names, from the rest of his discussion it is not far-fetched to assume that he is speaking about the killing of 'Umar. In any case, this narration that Ibn Ta'us is referring to can't be the one that we have already spoken about, because the narration he is speaking about is in one of the books of Shaykh Saduq who is reporting it from Imam Sadiq (as). However, Ibn Ta'us does not mention the name of the book, nor the tradition. Since Ibn Ta'us is not convinced that this individual was killed on the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal and states that he has not found anything else reliable to confirm this tradition from Saduq, he attempts to make sense of the tradition by giving possible explanations. For example, he says that it is possible that when it is said this individual was killed on this day, it could metaphorically mean that his killer decided to kill him on this day, or that it was the day that his killer arrived in Medina, or it was the day that his killer left his own city to travel towards Medina. Ibn Ta'us even quotes the view of some others who have tried to explain it away by saying: it was the day that the report of the killing of this individual reached the city where Shaykh Saduq lived - although he refutes this explanation.[12] Ibn Ta'us further suggests that if there is anything to be happy about, it would be that Imam al-Mahdi (as) officially became the Imam on this day (as his father left the world on the 8th). While there are reports that some people would celebrate the killing of 'Umar in Kashan on this day (where there exists a grave attributed to Abu Lu'lu - though it is highly unlikely to be his actual grave), however at one point in history even that was done on the 26th of Dhi al-Hijjah.[13] Historically speaking, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab being killed on the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal was never taken seriously by mainstream Shi'i scholars (since the majority did not believe he was killed on that day to begin with), let alone celebrate it for this reason. It was only during and after the Safavid dynasty that this practice found any fame. The Beginning of Imam al-Mahdi's Imamate Another reason why the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal is celebrated is because it marks the beginning of the Imamate of al-Mahdi. Ibn Ta'us says in his Iqbal al-A'mal that if anyone wishes to celebrate the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal, it would be more suitable for them to do so by celebrating it as the beginning of the Imamate of al-Mahdi[14] since it was on the 8th that his father, Imam al-'Askari left this world. While many different dates have been given for the demise of al-'Askari, I do not wish to come to any conclusions as to which date is correct or most plausible. Nevertheless the 8th of Rabi' al-Awwal is the most famous opinion among the scholars and historians. The main point that I wish to allude to is that we know from a report which Shaykh Saduq mentions in his Kamal ul-Din that Imam al-'Askari left this world at Fajr time on the 8th of Rabi al-Awwal.[15] Therefore the actual Imamate of al-Mahdi would have begun on the morning of the 8th itself, not the following day on the 9th as Ibn Ta'us suggests. The Killing of 'Umar ibn Sa'ad The actual killing of 'Umar ibn Sa'ad by Mukhtar has been described in a few history books.  However I was not able to find any early historical reference for him being killed on this specific day. The closest thing I was able to find was in Allamah Majlisi's Zaad al-Ma'ad while discussing the merits of 9th Rabi' al-Awwal, he writes one sentence in passing: And some have said that on this day 'Umar bin Sa'ad - may curse be upon him - was sent to Saqar (one of the names of hell). If this is the case, then this is also a sufficient reason for the nobility of this day.[16] Majlisi is evidently not sure about this. Mukhtar's reign was from around the middle of Rabi' al-Awwal in 66 Hijri till the middle of Ramadhan in 67 Hijri (around 18 months). We also know that 'Umar bin Sa'ad was killed in 66 Hijri through multiple sources. This means he never lived to see a 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal under Mukhtar's reign. Dhahabi in his book Tarikh al-Islam writes under the events that took place in the year 66 Hijri that some of the individuals who partook in the killing of Imam al-Husayn were killed this year, namely 'Umar bin Sa'ad bin Abi Waqas, and Shimr bin Dhi al-Jawshan al-Dhababi and a group of others.[17] Ibn Kathir in his al-Bidayah wa al-Nihaya[18] documents the details of the killing of 'Umar bin Sa'ad under the year 66 Hijri. Ibn Khaldun in his Tarikh writes that when Mukhtar was done with the killing in Kufa near the end of 66th Hijri, he sent Ibrahim bin Ashtar to go kill Ubaydallah bin Ziyad.[19] From Ansab al-Ashraf of Baladhuri we know that Ibrahim bin Ashtar began this journey in Dhi al-Hijjah of the 66th Hijri.[20] This means that Umar bin Sa'ad was killed between the middle of Rabi' al-Awwal and Dhi al-Hijjah of the 66th century (most probably closer to Dhi al-Hijjah of 66th Hijri rather). There are other historical events that can further help us confirm that 'Umar bin Sa'ad was definitely killed before the 9th Rabi' al-Awwal of 67th Hijri and that he never lived to see that day under Mukhtar's reign, but it will unnecessarily lengthen the discussion and we will suffice with what has been written. Conclusion Historically speaking, there is no reliable evidence to suggest that 'Umar bin al-Khattab was killed on the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal and the famous tradition that is referred to is a fabrication, most likely by the Nusayris. The concept of lifting of the pens, so that sins are not recorded, goes against the explicit verses of the Qur'an (99:7-8).  There is also no real evidence to suggest that it is the day that Mukhtar killed 'Umar ibn Sa'ad. In fact it is possible that due to dissimulation, some scholars may have wished to change the focus from the second caliph to 'Umar bin Sa'ad. The only event that remains is the beginning of the Imamate of al-Mahdi. While his Imamate would have definitely begun on the 8th of Rabi' al-Awwal, but due to it being a day of mourning, it is befitting to postpone any celebrations to the following day and mark the symbolic beginning of the Imamate of al-Mahdi on the 9th of Rabi' al-Awwal.   -------------- [1] See Fihris al-Turath, of Sayyid Muhammad Husain Husayni Jalali; Volume 1, Page 573.  Amal al-Amil, of Shaykh Hurr al-Amili; Volume 2, Page 341, Entry #1050. al-Dhari'ah of Agha Buzurg Tehrani; Entry #4136 [2] In some manuscripts his name will appear as Huwayj instead of Jarih [3] al-Mukhtasar, of Shaykh Hasan bin Sulayman al-Hilli; Page 45 [4] A'yan al-Shi'a, of Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin; Volume 2, Page 268 - he would have been living around 6/7th century as well [5] Zaad al-Ma'ad, of Allamah Majlisi; page 257 [6] Ithbat al-Huda, of Shaykh Hurr al-Amili; Volume 3, page 211 [7] Anwar al-Numaniyah, of Nematullah Jazairi; Volume 1, Page 84 [8] In light of other chain of narrators, this is most probably a copyist error, and it should be Husayn [9] Extremist Shi'ites: The Ghulat Sect of Matti Moosa [10] Kitab al-Sarair of Ibn Idris Muhammad bin Mansur al-Hilli; Volume 1, Page 419 [11] Bar-Asher, Meir M., and Aryeh Kofsky. “Dogma and Ritual in "kitāb Al-maʿārif" by the Nuṣayrī Theologian Abū Saʿīd Maymūn B. Al-qāsim Al-ṭabarānī (D. 426/1034-35)”. Arabica 52.1 (2005): 43–65. Web... [12] Iqbal al-A'mal, of Sayyid Ibn Ta'us; Section on 9th Rabi' al-Awwal [13] Masaib al-Nawasib fi al-radd 'ala Nawaqidh al-Rafawidh, a refutation work written by a Shi'i scholar Sayyid Nur Allah bin Sharaf al-Din al-Mar'ashi al-Tustari, on the polemical work of a Sunni scholar Mirza Makhdum al-Sharifi (d. 988 Hijri); Volume 2, Page 240 [14] فيكون ابتداء ولاية المهدي ع على الأمة يوم تاسع ربيع الأول‏ - Thus the beginning of the Wilayah of al-Mahdi (as) on the Ummah is the day of 9th Rabi al-Awwal - Iqbal al-A'mal of Sayyid ibn Ta'us [15] Kamal al-Din of Shaykh Saduq; Volume 2, Page 473 [16] Zaad al-Ma'ad, of Allamah Majlisi; Page 258 [17] Tarikh al-Islam of al-Dhahabi; Volume 5, Page 50 [18] al-Bidayah wa al-Nihaya of Ibn al-Kathir; Volume 8, Page 272 - مقتل عمر بن سعد بن أبى وقاص و هو أمير الجيش الذين قتلوا الحسين‏ [19] Tarikh Ibn Khaldun; Volume 3, Page 37

Ibn al-Hussain

Ibn al-Hussain

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