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In the Name of God بسم الله

Preliminary Topics In Ilm Al-Rijal

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The Justification for the Authoritativeness of the Words of a Rijali Scholar


We have known in what has preceded that there are a number of ways to establish Wathaqa, the most important of these was the Tawthiq of a Rijali Scholar given to someone (which we obtain from his words to that effect).

In this discussion we want to justify the authoritativeness of the words of a Rijali, and explain where the legitimacy in following the words of a Rijali Scholar is derived from (in other words: what is the justification for accepting the words of a Rijali about the Wathaqa of a given narrator).

The below mentioned are some of the answers given to this question:

1. That it is by way of Shahada (technical testimony), to draw a parallel – just as the giving of evidence in front of a judge that a certain house is owned by Zayd is a testimony and has authoritativeness - deriving its authoritativeness by being under the general domain of the authoritativeness of all such testimonies, similarly, the reporting of a Rijali about the Wathaqa of a certain narrator is a testimony, and it becomes binding falling under the domain of the authoritativeness of testimonies within its conditions.

Considering the words of the Rijali as deriving authoritativeness by placing it under this domain (of the authoritativeness of testimonies) has been refuted by some based on the following points:

This domain (if we consider the words of the Rijali as deriving their authoritativeness by being a technical testimony given by a Rijali Scholar) necessitates rejecting the Wathaqa given by the likes of al-Najashi and Shaykh al-Tusi, because one of the conditions for the acceptance of a testimony of the testifier is that he should be alive and not dead.

As it likewise becomes necessary to reject the testimony of a sole individual among them (E.g. al-Najashi alone) - if he testifies by himself, following from the fact that the condition of the acceptance of a technical testimony is the multiplication of the number of witnesses and that they reach at least two.

It also necessitates the rejection of the Tawthiq of the non-Twelver Imami, because a condition for the acceptance of the testimony of the witness is his Adalah (which includes being of the correct Madhhab), and his mere Wathaqa is not enough in this regard. Based upon this - it becomes necessary to reject the Tawthiq given by some of the Banu Fadhal, which have been preserved by al-Kashshi, because they are from the Fathiyya, and allowing for all this to be the case in practice is far fetched.

2. That it is by way of being the words of the Ahl al-Khibra (people of know-how), so just as a broker’s words evaluating the prices of goods is authoritative (has some weight), deriving from the fact that he belongs to the Ahl al-Khibra (people of know-how), likewise, the words of someone like al-Najashi about the Wathaqa of a narrator are authoritative - deriving from the aforementioned premise (i.e. him being one of the Ahl al-Khibra in matters of Rijal).

3. That authoritativeness is derived by considering the words of a Rijali Scholar as being like any report given by a Thiqah, being a corollary of the fact that the practice of the intelligent ones (anyone possessing common sense) has been to give credence to the report of a Thiqah in all aspects of life (E.g. Even if one Thiqah informs you that there is danger ahead - the Uqala are known to maintain caution).

And it (the report of a Thiqah) is authoritative as long as there has not been a qualification of this general principle in a specific case, as is the case in the matter of adultery, for in this case - evident proofs (from the Shariah) have outlined that it is not proven except with the report of four persons, and likewise in the case of theft, where it is not established except by the report of two persons.

Based upon this third option (for justifying the legitimacy of the use of the words of a Rijali in ruling on the Wathaqa of someone by considering their words to be akin to a report of any of the Thiqah), it is not required for the one giving Wathaqa (the Rijali scholar) to be Adil (possess Adalah – which includes being of the correct Madhhab), rather, it suffices for him to be Thiqah - free from the vice of lying.


Likewise, corroboration (in the number of those giving Wathaqa) is not required, rather the information provided by a sole individual is enough, it is also not required for him to be alive, rather it is sufficient that he provided that information while he was alive, since its authoritativeness remains even after his death.


All this is founded upon applying and invoking the practice of the intelligent ones who can be seen (and demonstrably so) to attach importance to the report of the Thiqah (even if he is one, not of the Imami Madhdhab, and had given it when he was alive and is now dead).




While this division might seem trivial on the surface, where you consider the words of the Rijali as deriving authoritativeness from has long lasting implications in the field.


Some of the few scholars who considered it as deriving authoritativeness - falling under the domain of technical testimonies - require all the conditions of such testimonies to be fulfilled E.g. the number of testifiers (they only accept Wathaqa if given by two scholars such as al-Najashi and al-Tusi together), they consider the Madhhab of the one giving the Wathaqa (as technical testimony requires Adalah - thus they rejected the Tawthiq given the Fathiyya, Zaydiyya etc).


The famous opinion is to consider the Tawthiqat as deriving authoritativeness by applying the Aqli notion of considering the practice of the intelligent ones - where it is seen that these intelligent ones give credence to a report of the Thiqah in all aspects (no. 3 above). The scholars who have chosen this domain have gone forward and claimed that technical testimony (Shahada) is only a subset of this principle (of following the report of the Thiqah), whereby the Shariah has specifically excluded some cases from this general rule E.g. in the proving of adultery and theft.


It is known that those who consider the words of a Rijali as being binding due to them being the Ahl al-Khibra have then allowed Ijtihad to their verdicts, something which opens up a can of worms as will be seen later (in the concept of Hiss vs. Hadas).

Edited by Islamic Salvation
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The Hadith has been divided into four categories:

1. Sahih: It is the one whose narrators are all Udul (sing. Adil) and Imami.

2. Muwaththaq: It is the one in which all or some of the narrators are not of the Imamiyya but all of its narrators have been given Tawthiq (deemed Thiqa).

3. Hasan: It is the one in which all or some of all the Imami narrators in it do not have Ta’dil (have not been deemed Adil) but they have been praised (there is Madh for them).  

4. Dhaif: It is the one which does not fall into the above three categories, that is all or even one of its narrators are/is unknown or weakened.

And the Akhbaris condemned this four-fold division and they censured the first to whom this innovation was attributed and that is Allamah al-Hilli.

And the reason why the Akhbaris rejected this division is that in their view – all the reports found in the four books are Sahih and it is incumbent to act upon them. And Hurr al-Amili sought in his Wasail to collect the Qarain (indicators) to prove this claim i.e. the authenticity of all that is found in the four books – so he was able to enumerate twenty two indicators towards this goal.

He (al-Amili) said: "and it is evident from these (indicators) the weakness of the new terminology in classifying the Hadith into Sahih, Hasan, Muwathaq and Dhaif, which was initiated in the age of the Allamah and his Shaykh Ahmad ibn Tawus".


Adala/Wathaqa as used here is a state which if possessed by someone leads him - in most cases - to avoid the sins, especially the greater ones like lying. [Ta'dil == Tawthiq]

Edited by Islamic Salvation
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