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Islamic Salvation

Preliminary Topics In Ilm Al-Rijal

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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).


[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.

Edited by Islamic Salvation

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Tawthiq given to a specific (named) individual is Tawthiq Khass, but if it (i.e. Tawthiq) is given to unspecified (unnamed) individuals coming together under a general principle then it is Tawthiq Amm.

Examples of Tawthiq Khass are obvious, most of the Tawthiqat given by the Shaykh and al-Najashi are of this kind, for example, the Shaykh saying – al-Hasan b. Mahbub (is) Thiqah.

As for Tawthiq Amm, we will go through the following examples:



1. Tawthiq of the narrators in Tafsir al-Qummi

Tafsir al-Qummi is a narration-based commentary of the Qur’an, it has recently been published in Najaf in two volumes, its author is Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi (d. 217), and he (Ali b. Ibrahim) was one of the Shaykhs of al-Kulayni - from whom al-Kulayni narrates a lot in al-Kafi.

This book has a long introduction in which the following passage can be found:

‘And we will quote and report that which has reached us and has been narrated by our Shaykhs and Thiqat on the authority of those whose obedience has been made obligatory upon us by Allah …’

A number of learned scholars have inferred from this statement that all the individual narrators who occur in the chains of this book are Thiqah (according to Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi), among these (scholars) is Sayyid al-Khoei.

He (al-Khoei) refutes the possibility that al-Qummi (in the passage) aimed to declare only his direct Shaykhs as Thiqah, arguing that al-Qummi through these words - wished to establish the authenticity of his Tafsir, and that hinges upon the Wathaqa of all the narrators who occur in it - not just those from whom he narrates directly.

Based upon this, al-Khoei ruled that all the narrators found in the chains of the Tafsir are Thiqah, provided that they are not separately weakened by someone else – in which case the Tawthiq of that narrator (based on al-Qummi’s Tawthiq Amm) cannot be depended upon, this is because the rule for accepting the Tawthiq of a narrator is that he (the narrator) should not also be the subject of a conflicting Tadh’if.

If this Tawthiq Amm is enforced - it will result in 620 narrators who are otherwise unknown to be ruled as Thiqah.

And this is refuted because: the original manuscript of the book (Tafsir al-Qummi) is not in our hands, and we cannot guarantee that the published edition which we have access to is in its entirety identical to the original Tafsir al-Qummi, rather there are some indicators which point to it being a combination of Tafsir al-Qummi and other works, so, for example, the following phrases occur repeatedly in it ‘returning to the Tafsir of Ali b. Ibrahim’, or ‘returning to the narration of Ali b. Ibrahim’, or ‘the narrative version has returned to that of Ali b. Ibrahim’ etc.

Going over these points - we acquire ‘general knowledge’ that it (the Tafsir) is a mixture of Tafsir al-Qummi and other than it, this being the case, there is no way to differentiate and separate it (so as to apply the Tawthiq Amm only to those narrators found within Tafsir al-Qummi), and thus all of it is to be discarded (for this purpose).[1]



2. The Narrators in Kamil al-Ziyarat

Kamil al-Ziyarat is a book authored by one of our earliest scholars Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Qulawayh - with the aim of collecting the Ziyarat.

In his short introduction to the book he writes the following:

‘And we have known not to give credence to all that is narrated on their authority in this topic (Ziyara) or otherwise, rather, what has come down to us from the side of the Thiqat from among our companions – may Allah have mercy on them by His mercy – and I have not taken out in it a Hadith narrated from the odd-ones among the men …’

The author of al-Wasail (Shaykh Hurr) understood from it (the passage) that Ibn Qulawayh sought to establish the Wathaqa of all those whom he narrates from in the book (whether direct intermediaries or not).

Sayyid al-Khoei in his previous opinion had also agreed with him, whereby, he had ruled that whoever occurs in the chains of the aforementioned book is Thiqah as long as his Wathaqa is not opposed by a weakening (Tadh’if) from another quarter.

It has been said that the Tawthiq of 388 narrators can be established if we choose to enforce this Tawthiq Amm.

And this is refuted because: the level of interpretation that we can be certain of from the passage of Ibn Qulawayh is that his Tawthiq Amm covers those from whom he narrates directly, and we cannot positively determine whether he extends it to mean all the narrators in the book or not (thus we limit ourselves to what we are sure of), and this position is what Sayyid al-Khoei himself later reverted to, going back on his former position in the latter years of his honored life.[2]



3. The Direct Teachers of al-Najashi

A number of learned scholars have ruled for the Wathaqa of all the direct teachers of al-Najashi. This is on the basis that - it has become apparent from a number of biographical entries [in his Fihrist] that he (al-Najashi) had imposed upon himself the condition of not narrating from someone who is not Thiqah.

So, for example, in the entry on al-Jawahari, he (al-Najashi) said: ‘I saw this Shaykh, and he was a friend to me and my father, and I heard a lot (of Hadith) from him, and I saw our Shaykhs weakening him, so I did not narrate on his authority anything, and I left him …’

And in the entry on Ibn al-Bahlul, he (al-Najashi) said: ‘And he was in the former period of his life stable, then he changed, and I saw a majority of our companions criticizing him and weakening him … and I saw this Shaykh, and I heard from him a lot (of Hadith), then I halted narrating on his authority, except by an intermediary between me and him’

And if it is asked: what is the benefit of establishing the Wathaqa of the direct teachers of al-Najashi while being aware that he does not have book on Hadith?

The Answer will be: the benefit will become apparent in regards the narrations found in al-Tahdhib and al-Istibsar, for al-Shaykh al-Tusi mentioned a number of Usul (primary Hadith note books) that reached him through the intermediacy of Ahmad b. Abdun and Ibn Abi Jiyd, and no Tawthiq Khass is available for these two, but it is observed that they are also from the direct teachers of al-Najashi (apart from being teachers of al-Tusi), so based upon this Tawthiq Amm - their Wathaqa will become established, and the narrations that come down by their route will gain probative force.



4. The occurrence of Banu Fadhal in the chain

Banu Fadhal i.e. al-Hasan b. Ali b. Fadhal, and Ahmad b. al-Hasan b. Ali b. Fadhal, and Ali b. al-Hasan b. Ali b. Fadhal – were from the Fathiyya.

And the Fathiyya were a sect that professed belief in the Imama of Abdallah al-Aftah – the son of Imam al-Sadiq.

Because of the large number of narrations from them, and the corruption of their Aqeeda, some of the Shia sent a question to Imam al-Askari asking him what their stance should be in regards these narrations, so he answered them: ‘take what they narrate and leave what they believe’.

It is due to this that a number of the learned scholars, among them al-Shaykh al-Ansari, had ruled that whenever a narration has one of the Banu Fadhal in its chain – then it is a Hujjah to be acted upon, even if it contains Dhuafa between the Bani Fadhal and the Imam (based on the instruction of the Imam).

A large number of scholars have rejected this notion – explaining that the answer from the Imam simply makes clear that there being narrations narrated by those who are corrupt in Aqeeda does not stand in the way of accepting these narrations if some conditions are met, the most that can be inferred from the answer is that the Imam allays caution against the Banu Fadhal in particular and not something more than that.[3]



5. The narration of one of the three (from someone)

It is said that one of the three – Muhammad b. Abi Umayr, Safwan b. Yahya and al-Bazanti – if they narrate from someone than that is evidence for his Wathaqa (the one they narrate from) i.e. all those they narrate from are Thiqah.

Proof for this is cited from the passage of al-Shaykh al-Tusi in his book Udda al-Usul:

‘And if one of the two conflicting narrations is Musnad and the other Mursal, we look at the condition of the one who is making the Irsal (narrating it in that disconnected fashion i.e. without naming his intermediary), so if it is known that he is someone who does not make Irsal except from the Thiqah, then there is no way to prefer the other (Musnad) report over his, and this is why the Ta’ifa has equated between that which has been narrated by Muhammad b. Abi Umayr, and Safwan b. Yahya, and Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Nasr, and others apart from them of the Thiqat – those whom they have known do not to narrate either with Ittisal or with Irsal except from those whom they consider Thiqah – and between those (narrations) narrated by others apart from them with a (complete) chain’.

Using this as evidence, the majority have ruled that the Marasil of Ibn Abi Umayr and likewise Safwan and al-Bazanti are like their Masanid (no difference between the two forms).[4]

And Sayyid al-Khoei has argued against this, despite it being the popular position, using the argument that the notion that these figures do not narrate except from the Thiqah is a matter that cannot be discovered except tracing it back to the three themselves, but they have not claimed this, nor has anyone attributed words with this import to them, that they ever said: ‘we do not narrate except from the Thiqah’.

This being the case, it becomes necessary to conclude that the origin of the attribution of this equivalence by the Shaykh to the companions is his Hadas (cognitive function) and to his Ijtihad, and not to his Hiss (sensory observation or relay).

And what supports this is the lack of anyone else making a similar claim from among the Qudama apart from the Shaykh, and there is no hint of its practical application in Fiqh.

And the Tawthiqat Amma [pl. of Tawthiq Amm] are not limited to these which we have mentioned, rather there are other examples which we shall treat in detail in the coming parts.



[1] A scholar like al-Dawari believes that we can separate the present published edition of Tafsir al-Qummi into its constituent parts, Tafsir Abu al-Jarud and the original Tafsir al-Qummi, he also maintains that the redactor who combined the two Tafasir preserved certain markers to indicate this. Granting him this, there is still the question of whether the introduction was actually written by Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi.

[2] In the view of the translator, the understanding of Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani as documented in the treatise ‘La Dharar wa La Dhirar’ by his son Sayyid Muhammad Ridha al-Sistani who transcribed his opinions from the audio lectures of the former provide a more natural understanding of Ibn Qulawayh’s words in his introduction, and result in there not being any Tawthiq Amm, not for the direct Mashayikh or any other narrator in Kamil.

[3] The Riwaya which contains this answer from al-Askari is itself considered weak in chain, furthermore, the prominent members of Banu Fadhal who are also narrators have independent Tawthiq Khass and do not require this for their Tawthiq.

[4] In other words, if Ibn Abi Umayr or another member of the trio narrates from someone they do not mention (eg. by saying: an rajul an al-Sadiq) then this Mursal narration is considered at the same level as the Musnad narration of other normal narrators - this is because the majority believe that they had imposed upon themselves not to narrate from any except from the Thiqah, so whether we know their intermediaries or not – it does not harm the narration as they (the unknown intermediaries) are Thiqah regardless.

Edited by Islamic Salvation

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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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