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  1. Mu'jam al-Ahadith al-Mu'tabara - A Translation Introduction For quite some time now, the need for having a comprehensive compilation of reliable narrations in the English language has been recognized by many. Such a reference work would allow non-Arabic speakers to gain access to authentic material instead of relying on spurious material. Furthermore, some of the non-Shia have always disparaged the Shia about the perceived weaknesses in the body of the Hadith that they possess. Polemics have almost ingrained the notion that Shias do not have a sufficient number of reliable narrations in the popular consciousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. This being the case, this project seeks to translate the encyclopedic work <<Mu’jam al-Ahadith al-Mu’tabara>> by the contemporary scholar Ayatullah Muhammad Asif Muhsini in a bid to fill this gap and respond to the challenge. Preamble adapted from the Introduction of the book Al-Muhsini had always wanted to collect the narrations that are Mu’tabar (reliable) as far as their chains are concerned. The aim being to assist the jurist in his derivation process, the researcher in conducting studies, the popular lecturer in preparing speeches, but even ordinary layman who are interested in knowledge. Al-Muhsini maintains that the only other book in his view to comes close to this vision was the one by the Shaykh Hasan b. Ali al-Shahid al-Thani (d. 1011 AH), but his work “Muntaqa al-Jam’an” is specific only for narrations concerning jurisprudence being taken only from the Four great works. It also suffers from certain defects such as only including narrations that are Sahih or Hasan whilst ignoring the Muwathaq and being only partially complete with the present version ending at the book of Hajj. Al-Muhsini undertook the project despite his busy schedule which included constant travelling whilst coordinating the Jihad and other political activities within the Islamic movement of Afghanistan against the invasion by the Marxist forces of the Kremlin government. The First Attempt The first attempt at completing the book took Al-Muhsini four years (7 Rabi I 1407AH - 20 Jamadi II 1412AH) and the end result was a six volume work which contained 11,658 narrations considered reliable. Preparatory work commenced viz. editing the draft and type-casting it. This took an additional three and a half-years. However, before the book could be published, Al-Muhsini encountered two main issues that greatly troubled him and halted any progress because it meant having to make significant changes. These are: [a] There is a lack of information about the transmission history of a considerable number of primary Hadith works. The manuscripts of such works did not reach scholars like al-Majlisi and Hurr who incorporated them in their encyoclopedic compilations via an acceptable method. Rather the authors of Bihar al-Anwar, Wasail al-Shia and al-Wafi happened upon them from the market and various libraries. We are still in the dark about how exactly they were passed down over the hundreds of years in the intervening period between when they were authored and the Safavid era in which they were discovered. Al-Muhsini says “It is as though this problem despite its intractable nature has not drawn the attention of other scholars, for I have not found it expounded upon in a book, or heard it being talked about in any scholarly gathering”. The second problem is what became apparent to him when he was preparing a commentary of the Mashyakha of the Tahdhibayn for the third edition of his famous Rijali primer <<Buhuth Fi Ilm al-Rijal>>. [This problem is discussed in the 45th chapter of Buhuth (4th ed.) and has to do with possible defects in the chains of Tusi to some very prominent narrators of Hadith]. If one were to take the negative implications that these two problems raise and apply them to their fullest logical conclusion, the outcome would be that about 2000 narration - give or take - would fall outside the boundary of the reliable and consequently become consigned to the non-Mu’tabar category. A natural outcome of these setbacks was a delay in publishing whilst al-Muhsini was reconsidering his options, and as we will see later, this earlier draft was spiked and never saw the light of day. The draft was deposited by its author in the library of the Hawza of Khatam al-Nabiyyin in Kabul. The Second Attempt To be continued …
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