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  1. This is a translation of the first chapter (more chapters to hopefully follow) of Durus al-Tamhidiyya Fi Qawaid al-Rijaliyya, which is an introductory primer on Ilm al-Rijal, authored by Shaykh Baqir al-Irwani, who was a foremost student of Sayyid al-Sistani, and who currently teaches Dars al-Kharij in the Hawza at Najaf. More advanced students of Ilm al-Rijal will realize that it generally falls within the bounds of the school of Sayyid al-Khoei [and the Modern Usulists] in accepting as default the foundations of Hiss [as a requirement for the bindingness of the rulings of Tawthiq and Tadh'if from the Qudama] and restricting the provenance of Qarain-based Ijtihad from the Muta'akhirin. Thus, any comments that contend or argue against these two principles of this school are outside the scope of the treatment presented here, which is rudimentary by admission. Arabic words used throughout include - Shahada which can be translated as testimony, Wathaqa which can be translated as moral probity [and integrity in relay], A'lam which can be translated as learned scholars, Tawthiq [ruling someone as Thiqah], Tadhi'f [ruling someone as Dhaif]. Questions are welcome. Chapter One The Methods Through Which the Wathaqa of a Narrator Can be Established Their are a number of methods through which the Wathaqa of a narrator can be established, we will mention the following among these: A. The Shahada of the Ma’sum If a Ma’sum gives a Shahada of Wathaqa for a given individual then their is no doubt that this will be a valid method to establish the Wathaqa of said individual. An example of this is what has been narrated about Zurara (in Rijal al-Kashshi) via a Sahih chain that ends up with Jamil bin Darraj from Imam al-Sadiq who said: ‘Give glad tidings of paradise to the humble ones – Burayd bin Muawiya al-Ijli and Aba Basir Layth bin al-Bukhturi al-Muradiy and Muhammad bin Muslim and Zurara – four chiefs and trustees of Allah upon his Halal and Haram. If it were not for these then the traces of prophethood would have disappeared and been destroyed’[1]. Obviously, it is necessary that the one who narrates the Shahada from the Imam (that is to be used to establish Wathaqa) not be the same individual whose Tawthiq is sought for by the same said Shahada. Otherwise it will be akin to circular logic[2]. B. The Shahada of one of the A’lam Shaykh Abu al-Abbas Ahmad bin Ali bin al-Abbas famously known as al-Najashi – a contemporary of Shaykh al-Tusi and his colleague in some of their common classes (under the same tutors) – wrote his famous book ‘Fihrist Musannifi al-Shia’ in which he gathered the names of those who had authored books (Shia authors prior to him), while also indicating, in most cases, whether these authors were Thiqah or Dhaif. Similarly, Shaykh al-Tusi wrote two books in this regard, one titled Fihrist and the second known as Rijal Shaykh al-Tusi, and he sometimes mentions Tawthiq and Tadh’if of some narrators in them (i.e. his two books). Likewise, Shaykh Abu ‘Amr Muhammad bin Umar bin Abd al-Aziz famously known as al-Kashshi – who is considered to have lived in the same generation as al-Kulayni – also authored his book famously known as Rijal al-Kashshi. He aimed to collect the narrations which talk about (pertain to) different narrators, he predominantly does this without directly commenting upon the Tawthiq or Tadh’if of the narrators (just quoting narrations that impinge on a narrator’s credibility in some way, mainly from the Aimmah). The Shahada of one of these three A’lam with regards the Wathaqa of a specific narrator is a certain method to establish his Wathaqa, this is justified by the practice of the intelligent ones (Seerah al-Uqala) who do demonstratedly act upon the reports of a Thiqah in all spheres of life – among them – evaluations of people[3]. And since these three A’lam are Thiqah, then their reports in regards the Wathaqa of various narrators can be justifiably acted upon based upon the aforementioned principle of compliance with the practice of the intelligent ones. And the Shahada of just a single one of these A’lam is enough and it does not require multiplicity (more than one A’lam giving Shahada), since the aforementioned practice of the intelligent ones is seen as confirming the act of granting of utility to such reports even when the reporter is one (solitary). Is the Shahada of some of our Ulama from the Muta’akhirin like Ibn Tawus and the Allamah and Ibn Dawud and the Shahid al-Thani - a method to establish Wathaqa? In this is there is disagreement which we shall broach in the second section – if Allah wills[4]. C. Ijma’a Upon the Wathaqa Their are some narrators for whom the A’lam like al-Najashi and the others - have not given a Shahada to effect their Wathaqa, but they are individuals about whom al-Kashshi has claimed Ijma’a (unanimity) of the Shia over the acceptance of their Riwayat. So, for example, Aban bin Uthman who is famously known as Aban al-Ahmar[5]; al-Najashi or someone other than him (from the A’lam) have not given a Shahada in regards his Wathaqa, but he is one of the six companions of al-Sadiq about whom al-Kashshi claimed the Ijma’a of the Isaba (unanimity of the community) in considering them truthful, this is when he (al-Kashshi) said – ‘the community is united in considering authentic what is authentically narrated from these, and in considering them truthful in what they say, and they have all acknowledged their priority in Fiqh (these are) – Jamil bin Darraj and Abdallah bin Bukayr and Hammad bin Uthman and Hammad bin Isa and Aban bin Uthman’. And the secret behind giving credence to the Ijma’a mentioned above in proving Wathaqa is as follows: If al-Kashshi is correct in his claim of the existence of an Ijma’a over these narrators, and if the Ijma’a actually existed, then this is what we want (i.e. it is enough to prove the Wathaqa of these individuals and more, since it is based on the unanimity of the community, among whom would necessarily be a large number of A'lam), and if he was not correct (mistaken) in his stating of the existence of an Ijma’a over this, and if the Ijma’a did not exist in reality, then it is sufficient for us in establishing the Wathaqa of these - the implicit Shahada of al-Kashshi himself in this regard, since his claim of an Ijma’a reveals that he too was agreed with the implication of the Ijma’a (i.e. Wathaqa of these narrators) as one of the members of the community forming the Ijma’a (i.e. since he did not go on to criticize the Ijma’a which he claims to have existed), and since he is one of the A’lam, then, his Shahada alone is enough to establish Wathaqa (falling under method B above). D. Wakala for the Imam Wakala (deputyship) can be a general one where one deputises for the Imam in all his affairs, or it can be an agency for a specific outlined purpose. As for the first type of Wakala (i.e. the general one) then this is what is termed al-Safara, and their is no debate in regards the fact that it (someone being appointed as a Safir by the Ma’sum) establishes the Wathaqa of the one appointed, rather it points to a greater position for the appointed one beyond mere Wathaqa. On the other hand, their is debate in regards whether the other type of Wakala (one appointed for a specific mission) establishes Wathaqa or not, a number have rejected its utility in establishing Wathaqa, for example, Sayyid al-Khoei has rejected that it does point to Wathaqa, he does so by arguing that we find a lot of the Wukala who were censured by the Aimmah and from whom the Aimmah disassociated themselves. As an example, Shaykh al-Tusi included a whole chapter in his Kitab al-Ghyaba wherein he enumerates the blameworthy Wukala who were criticized by the Aimmah for their activities as Wakils. And the correct opinion is that any form of Wakala for the Imam is enough to establish Wathaqa due to the practice of the intelligent ones not to deputize those who are not Thiqah over any part of their affairs, and this is more so for the Imam, because the non-Thiqah individual they deputize could attribute to the office of the Imamate something which is anathema to the Imam, which could effect the Madhhab and the role of the Imam in a negative way. And if it is said: How can we reconcile this with the censure and disassociation that originated from the Aimmah for some of their Wakils? The answer will be: this [censure and disassociation] arose after their appointment as Wakils and not before it (i.e. they were Thiqah when appointed and changed after becoming Wakils as the Thiqah’s condition can change from that of Wathaqa to Dhi’f). And it is not hidden that if we accept the principle that Wakala for the Imam indicates Wathaqa we will have the advantage of ruling as Thiqah a number of narrators previously considered among the Majahil and the Dhuafa, we will mention one among them as Ali bin Abi Hamza al-Bataini – for he was a Wakil for Imam al-Kadhim, and the one who oversaw his properties for him. And the scholars differ among themselves over his status, so if we agree that Wakala indicates Wathaqa, then, we are able to rule for his Wathaqa based upon that [for a period in his life], and use this fact to rule as Sahih a large number of narrations that al-Bataini occurs in its chains, since he is someone who has occurred in a large number of chains. E. The Narration of the Thiqat from someone Mirza Husayn al-Nuri – the author of al-Mustadrak - ruled that the narration of a Thiqah from someone proves the Wathaqa of that person (the one the Thiqah narrated from). While, we maintain that the correct opinion is that the narration of a Thiqah from someone does not indicate his Wathaqa, for how many narrations are their in our books where we observe the Thiqat narrating from those who are non-Thiqah. And if the narration of a Thiqah on someone’s authority was an indication of that person’s Wathaqa then the Wathaqa of most of the narrators would be established thereby, since, for example, Shaykh al-Tusi is Thiqah, so if he narrates in his books from someone it would mean that that person is Thiqah, and if that person [from whom Shaykh al-Tusi narrates who we have established is Thiqah through this principle] narrates from a third person - he too becomes Thiqah [because a Thiqah has narrated from him], and so on. Yes, if the Ajilla [meritious] ones from the Thiqat and the Kibar [great] ones from the Thiqat increase in narrating [narrate a lot] from someone, then it is not farfetched to conclude that person’s Wathaqa (who is narrated from alot by the Ajilla and the Kibar), because of the improbability of an intelligent person to narrate a lot from someone whose Wathaqa he is not sure of, it would be a wastage of time on his part without any advantage, since there is no benefit in collecting a lot of narrations from the weak ones. And if we accept this opinion, we will obtain important results, we will mention among these, as a case in point, Muhammad bin Ismail; for al-Kulayni has narrated a lot in al-Kafi from Muhammad bin Ismail from al-Fadhl bin Shadhan. And it has been said that he [Muhammad bin Ismail] is Majhul, so all these multitude of narrations will drop from the level of I’tibar (if we insist on ruling that he is Majhul), while, based upon this aforementioned principle, it is possible to rule his Wathaqa, and through this step, a large number of narrations will attain Hujiyya [probative force to effect legalities]. F. Being a Shaykh of Ijaza Bearing (taking or receiving) a Riwaya from someone has a number of formal forms, so sometimes, a student hears the Riwaya from his teacher, and in other cases, the student reads over the Riwaya to his teacher, and in a third case, the teacher permits [licences] his student to narrate a specific work that he has authored or has authority over (without the student neccesarily hearing or reading over the Riwayat to the teacher). And this third form of bearing is what is known as the method of reception by Ijaza, similarly, the one who gave the Ijaza is known as Shaykh al-Ijaza. And there is a difference of opinion whether being Shaykh al-Ijaza [having handed out Ijazat] is enough for establishing the Shaykh al-Ijaza’s Wathaqa or not. And the discussion over this point is an important one - because - many of the primary works (Usul) of Hadith that were authored and which were incorporated into the major compilations such as al-Tahdhib and al-Istibsar and Man La Yahdhuruhu al-Faqih reached Shaykh al-Saduq and Shaykh al-Tusi through the intermediary of personages who do not have explicit Tawthiq in their own right, the most that can be said about them is that they were Shuyukh al-Ijaza who licensed al-Saduq and al-Tusi these primary works (Usul) of Hadith which they had authority over - to allow these two (i.e. al-Saduq and al-Tusi) to use these works in their compilations. Examples of these Shuyukh al-Ijaza include Ahmad bin Abdun, and Ahmad bin Muhammad bin al-Hasan bin al-Walid and Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Yahya al-Attar … And perhaps it can be affirmed that the famous opinion among the Qudama was that - simply being a Shaykh al-Ijaza was enough to establish that Shaykh al-Ijaza’s Wathaqa, in opposition to modern scholars such as Sayyid al-Khoei who consider being a Shaykh al-Ijaza as not having any relation to Wathaqa. And one can argue against this principle by noting that the impetus behind Ijaza is not anything else but that someone like Shaykh al-Mufid, for example, will be granted the right due to an Ijaza he receives, to say ‘reported to me Ahmad bin Muhammad bin al-Hasan bin al-Walid[4] these reports which were found in the book which he gave me an Ijaza to narrate on his authority’ and he (al-Mufid) becomes as someone who heard these Riwayat from him (since hearing was the strongest form of reception). And since we have already pointed out that just the mere act of a Thiqah hearing a narration from someone does not establish the Wathaqa of the one who is heared from, in the same way, a Thiqah obtaining an Ijaza from someone should not be used to establish the Wathaqa of the one who handed out the Ijaza (i.e. the Shaykh al-Ijaza). NOTES: [1] The Shahada from the Ma’sum should meet two other conditions to be accepted: It should be clear (Imam’s words should infer Tawthiq) and It should be through a Mu’tabar chain. [2] Someone narrating the Shahada of the Imam for himself is taken to be giving a self-testimony in his favour - something which cannot be accepted rationally. [3] Practice of the intelligent ones is a Hujjah, since the Aimmah are considered members of the assembly of the intelligent ones, and a Dalil al-Aql is by necessity supported by the Shar even if not explicitly stated in the revelatory texts. [4] As will be seen later, it is the Ihtimal that the Wathaqa (as preserved in the Shahada) is based upon Hiss (observation by a contemporary) that allows the acceptance of the Qudama’s Shahada in matters of Tawthiq and Tadh’if as opposed to the Muta’akhirin for whom there is no Ihtimal of Hiss. [5] Emphasis here is on Aban al-Ahmar since he does not have independent Tawthiq [from the other methods] as the rest of Ashab al-Ijma'a have. [6] Ahmad bin Muhammad bin al-Hasan bin al-Walid was a Shaykh al-Ijaza to his students (eg. al-Mufid) for the works of his father, the famous Ibn al-Walid, since he inherited these works from his father. Shuyukh al-Ijaza, in most cases, did not author works of their own (thus they did not merit a place in the Fihrist works being non-authors - where they could potentially be given Tawthiq), rather, they had the authority to license people to quote from books they had received via the formal means of reception.
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