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In the Name of God بسم الله

Reviewing Ghizzi's lectures against `Ilm al-Rijal

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17 minutes ago, Cake said:


What can be noted is that those who don't like `ilm al-rijal, but don't know much about it and so can't really discredit it with their own (lack of) proper and research and sound arguments, will refer to the writings or lectures of those whom they believe discredit it. One of these is `Abd al-Halim al-Ghizzi. I am told that he has four lectures dedicated to discrediting Shi`i `ilm al-rijal. I may post a quick review of each of these lectures after listening to them. It should be noted that each of these four lectures are very long. The reader will then excuse me if each review is long.

Alhamdulillah, it would be benefit for us. 

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Al-Ghizzi.. He has channel or channels broadcasting from London lol .. It has one show which is Al Gizzi and al Gizzi only... he speaks for ages and i'd sleep ten times between one point he made and the other one.  Hr criticised al Qudama and the contemporary scholars and the books and plenty of stuff .

You can hardly learn anything constructive from his show, it got no framework lol XD I doubt anyone has enough power to translate his shows.

So Al Gizzi is a thing in the west or  is he only a thing in the cyber space?

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The Third Lecture


In the third instalment of his series on Shi`i `ilm al-rijal, shaykh `Abd al-Halim al-Ghizzi finally begins to properly discuss `ilm al-rijal and to cite relevant examples. His rhetoric has also improved, although, as will be seen, it still is not very good.


Repeating the previous argument

Before he proceeds to make his next main argument, he begins by summarising his previous argument – that the fallibility of human beings means that `ilm al-rijal is unreliable. He doesn't explain why this argument doesn't also apply to the ahadith themselves, since they were transmitted by fallible human beings from the Imams. If the Sunnis suffered lies in their circulating ahadith, as he claimed in the previous episode, then how has he ascertained that this has not also occurred in the ahadith circulating amongst the Imamis, when human beings, with their fallibility, biases, and the dishonest amongst them, were involved in both worlds?


The new argument

Ghizzi’s main argument in this episode is a counter to an argument for `ilm al-rijal. The latter is that we can depend upon the works of rijal because their authors were experts. He challenges the premise that they were experts. He says that when we go through their works of rijal, we see that they are clearly not experts.

He then diverges into another example from a time when he used to live with the clerical class, pointing out that [in his opinion] he would not trust them even to buy women’s socks (or, at least, that’s what I think he was saying). This is not because they are not religious, for they are religious; nor because they are corrupt, for they are righteous. But, they do not possess refinement about life or characters. There is more than just terminologies. But, these people – some of whom are maraji` today, he says – sell themselves as the most knowledgeable, the most virtuous, the most complete. Despite their many titles, they are not good at even speech, he says. I do not completely disagree with him. Those who wear turbans started off as ordinary people. Some of them will be religious, consistent, intelligent, and objective; some will be deficient in some manner. All it takes is a persistence to ascend through the ranks of the hawza, some memorisation and basic competence in a few fundamental subjects, and some other factors, and one can graduate as a scholar from hawza. Why, then, should we view these scholars wearing turbans as necessarily being objective or truly smart? However, at the same time, there clearly are scholars of intelligence and objectivity who, for example, have exerted great effort in researching the Din and in propagating it. So, Ghizzi’s example ultimately doesn’t prove anything about either the contemporary scholars nor those ancient scholars in the times of Tusi and others.

He continues, saying that why do they want to silence a person being heard? He then later says that they give their evaluations: so-and-so is a fasiq, so-and-so is not a fasiq; so-and-so is a scholar; so-and-so is knowledgeable/a scholar; so-and-so is an ignorant who has not even studied the muqadimmat. He then makes sure to add that he isn't talking about himself. The benefit of this to the discussion isn't clear.

He says that the ahadith of the Ahl al-Bayt is that which connects us to the Imam of our time. But, a group have entertained their swords, cutting up the ahadith, on the basis of a group of rijalis who have been called experts. If they were (truly) experts, then I, he says, would accept their statements on social issues. For example, he says, if a man approached a woman for marriage, and the “experts” were asked about him, then we would accept their words. But, as for accepting their statements for the ahadith of Ahl al-Bayt, then no. He then admits that there are some instances to do with practical issues (in religion), such as when we want to know the trustworthiness or `adalah of the imam leading a group in salat, or of the witness, or of the marja` of taqlid. He doesn't touch upon why we need to know the “trustworthiness” of such types of people, but don’t need to know the trustworthiness of the one claiming to have heard the Imam say that the religion’s position on something is as follows. Indeed, being aware of the trustworthiness of the lattermost person is more important than that of the former types of people.

He returns back to his point at hand, saying that the rijalis don’t even possess expertise in social issues. He says, when we will thumb through the books, one by one, the end-result will be that they do not possess expertise that is to be depended upon in evaluating people in social issues. It is not quite clear why he has made mention of social issues, when determining the reliability of a narrator’s hadiths – which he says is the purpose of `ilm al-rijal – doesn't really have anything to do with “social issues”.

Ghizzi then goes onto go through the “primary” rijal works, one by one, intending to discredit them and their authors, and thus show that the aforementioned premise is false. Of course, as one would almost expect with his poor rhetoric, he never connects what he is doing, even in his conclusion, to the argument he mentioned earlier.

Kashshi’s work

He says that Kashshi, the author of a rijal work, died in 329AH based upon what is known. I don’t know where he got this date from, because it is not mentioned in, for example, two recent encyclopaedias of rijal, nor is it mentioned in the introductions of two editions of Kashshi’s works. He then, confusingly, goes onto say that he was a contemporary to Kulayni (d. 329AH), but that this is not a precise piece of information, and that no precise information can be found. Perhaps then, he accidentally mentioned Kulayni’s death date.

He says that Kashshi’s work is the oldest Shi`i rijal work, and I hope that he means by this, the oldest surviving Shi`i rijal work; for, there are multiple rijal works that preceded Kashshi’s mentioned in the Fihrists. Ghizzi then reminds the audience that Ahmad b. Hanbal, who preceded Kashshi, authored a rijal work, but doesn't verbalise any implications.

Ghizzi says that although the book is called Rijal al-Kashshi, it is not Kashshi’s, even though it is written on the physical book. (In-fact, he makes a point of swearing by Abu al-Fadl al-`Abbas [r], which is strange, because the ahadith say that we are to swear only by Allah, `azza wa jal). Actually, two of the three editions of the work that I have seen say on the front cover that the work is by Tusi, not Kashshi. As for the one that says it is by Kashshi, then it isn't really problematic. What name do they put for the author, for example, Tafsir Abi Hamza al-Thumali? Abi Hamza al-Thumali? That Tafsir is a reconstruction from scattered narrations and quotations, while this book can be thought of as the same work as Kashshi’s bar a limited number of narrations and sections, a clear division of the sections of the work, and an identical organisation of the work. The point is that even though the recension of the book is by Tusi, the work is still effectively authored by Kashshi.

Ghizzi mentions that the original work was comprised of entries for Shi`is and Sunnis, which is an erroneous theory mentioned by Quhba’i, Mamaqani, Tihrani, and some others, as to why Tusi undertook a recension of the work; (Qayyumi). Ghizzi later says that Abu `Ali al-Ha’iri mentioned this in Muntaha al-Maqal, and that this is a known, i.e. accepted, matter. There is no point in refuting this here, but it is strange that, for all of Ghizzi’s claimed thorough research as will be mentioned later, he didn't come across the refutations of at least Tustari or Qayyumi. Ghizzi then attempts to also cite the other commonly heard theory, except that he blunders in it. He say that Tusi – as per his, Tusi’s, own opinion – saw things in the work that he considered errors. This is, of course, a reference to the statement found in Najashi’s work that Kashshi’s work has many errors. Tusi never said this, and, indeed, had Tusi intended to rectify the errors in the work, he would have done so, instead of leaving the work with its errors. In-fact, Ghizzi appears to be ignorant of the discussion regarding the uncountable issues with the text (or, at least the text as we have it)– issues that do not exist in mere opinion, but are indisputably so.

Then, Ghizzi argues that this work is not a book of rijal, but a book of ahadith. This is because he sees the numerous narrations from the Imams in the work. He says that `ilm al-rijal – they call it an `ilm, he says – studies the status/condition (haal) of the narrators in order to determine whether their narrations are accepted or rejected. In reality, this is, of course, a part of `ilm al-rijal, which, as its very name means, is dedicated to knowledge about narrators and prominent figure. This is more comprehensive than just whether a narrator was a reliable or not. However, Ghizzi uses this strawman argument multiple times in the episode as part of his game of semantics. Of course, as he himself acknowledges, these narrations (often) mention a narrator in question in either a positive or negative light (which can have a bearing on their reliability as a narrator). This should be enough for him to realise that the work can be then called a book of rijal, but, alas, apparently not. It should also demonstrate to him that the Imamiyya, including those of them who lived during the visible Imams, were interested in collecting and transmitting narrations about the conditions of the narrators and prominent figures.

Ghizzi, however, says that these narrations actually somehow indicate that the Imams did not care for pronouncements that so-and-so is trustworthy. This is strange when the Imams have explicitly made such pronouncements. For example, in Kashshi’s rijal work, there is a commonly-cited narration in which someone spoke to the 8th Imam, and said that he was unable to reach him [a] to ask him [a] about everything he needs to know of religious knowledge. So, he asked, is Yunus b. `Abd al-Rahman someone trustworthy to take religious knowledge from? The Imam said, yes. There are other narrations for other individuals to this effect. But, Ghizzi, seeing contradictory narrations given in the work, some of which praise a narrator and others which attack a narrator, concludes that the Imam didn't care about `ilm al-rijal, presuming that they are all authentic. He also doesn't consider whether some of them come from different times, such as when al-Mufaddal was involved with the ghulat, and when he wasn't.  How do the contradictory narrations actually prove that the Imams didn't care about `ilm al-rijal? Ghizzi doesn't really explain, again because of his poor rhetoric. But, one can infer that he means that the Imams wouldn't have given contradictory statements about an individual which would confuse others, nor would he have attacked good individuals. However, both of these can be explained by the previous two factors: authenticity and context. In addition to these, the attacking of good individuals is even explained in, for example, a narration that Ghizzi himself goes onto quote. How does Ghizzi know that the contradictory narrations are all authentic, especially if one knows the approach of Kashshi? He doesn't explain.

Ghizzi instead puts forward three reasons as to why contradictory narrations of praise and attack on a narrator exist.

1) They cursed individuals for their deviance, and to make this clear to others. He gives the example of the infamous ghali (sing. of ghulat), al-Mughirah b. Sa`id. He doesn't consider that this might apply to individuals who have been both praised and attacked, because they were good/deviated and then became deviated/good. In-fact, this is even explicitly suggested for al-Mufaddal b. `Umar in Kashshi’s work – a statement which Ghizzi is aware of, because he references it later.

2) They cursed some of their companions out of fear for them, i.e. in order to protect them. This reason is found explicitly in a narration in Kashshi’s work.

3) Ghizzi says – and this must be his third reason, because he doesn’t give any other – that there are those whom the Imam cursed, but the texts vindicating them don’t reach us as they do regarding others. This is, of course, quite a presumptuous argument. It also isn’t really distinct from the second reason. While it is theoretically a possible argument, it presumes that the Imams would be attacking many of their companions in order to protect them, which isn’t really the case. It also presumes that the Imamiyya wouldn’t be taking care to ascertain an individual’s status/condition even though they went to the effort of collecting and passing on narrations from the Imams about these individuals in the first place.

In any case, what should logically follow is that if we don’t have texts vindicating an individual that the Imam has disparaged, then, even if we speculate that that individual is actually fine and the Imam doesn't really think badly of him, then we should reserve judgement. We can’t, on the basis of our speculation or desire, consider the individual to be trustworthy and great. However, Ghizzi says that the Imams attacking people is not evidence that these individuals weren't good (lit. righteous). Ghizzi gives the example of Yunus b. Zhibyan, implying that Yunus is fine, even though Yunus is said to have been a ghali who, for example, reportedly believed that the Imam was a Messenger of God. Ghizzi then says that if we were to study Yunus, whom he reported from, who reported from him, and some other things, then…  He says that some might say that this would be the practice of `ilm al-rijal. However, he begins to increase in his games of semantics, dishonestly saying that this is not `ilm al-rijal (knowledge of men), but `ilm al-tarikh (knowledge of history). Whatever we want to call it, these are some of the things oft-taken into consideration in order to help determine the status of a narrator. Indeed, the works on rijal by recent scholars are replete with such considerations. How can he say with a straight face that this isn’t `ilm al-rijal, when scholars mention such things – which are pieces of information about an individual, a.k.a. information about men (`ilm al-rijal) – and use them to conclude whether a narrator is trustworthy or not?

Ghizzi returns to commenting on the overall work. He repeats that it is a book of ahadith only. He says that all of it is narrations, and that it is rare to find any words from the author himself – who is Tusi, he insists. He clearly has not even bothered to check whether this is true. There are multiple instances where Kashshi speaks. If Ghizzi argues that these are the words of Tusi, then it is beside the point he is making: the work is not only comprised of narrations (which, even if it was, would not invalidate it being a work of rijal). But, even so, a number of these instances even explicitly begin by saying that Kashshi said them! So, how can Ghizzi say that the work is only composed of narrations?

Ghizzi then points out that sayyid (`Ali) Ibn Tawus quotes from a copy of the work, which had written at its beginning, Tusi “dictated to us” in the year 456AH. This introduction isn’t found in our manuscripts. This means, Ghizzi says, that Tusi deleted all of Kashshi’s words, deleted the entries on the Sunnis, and deleted the evaluations of narrators. The first two have already been declared false herein. As for the third, then, it really does seem as if Ghizzi has not even read the work, when he is ignorant of numerous quotations in the work from previous rijal scholars who give “evaluations” of various individuals.

He then attempts to make the argument that Tusi interpolated statements into the work, such as his (Tusi) saying, after a narration condemning al-Mufaddal, that maybe this narration was when al-Mufaddal was a Khattabi. However, in another instance in the work, a similar statement is even explicitly attributed to Kashshi!

قال الكشي: أسد بن أبي العلاء يروي المناكير لعل هذا الخبر إنما روي في حال استقامة المفضل قبل أن يصير خطابيا.

When Ghizzi is speaking of Tusi’s own words being found in the work, this really originates from Quba’i arguing that there are four places where Tusi is supposedly clearly the speaker, and not Kashshi. Even if we were to accept that all four places are the words of Tusi – which has been disputed – what would it really show? It would just be a case of the phenomenon of idraj, a concept which the scholars of hadith have discussed. It would not show that we can’t trust anything in the book because anything could be Tusi’s words. Even if this were so, Tusi is a trustworthy scholar, so what is the problem?

Ghizzi returns to the introduction that Ibn Tawus copied from his copy of the work, saying that it is not present in our copy of the work, and then hastily concludes that the work must have been tampered with. This is not Ghizzi’s original argument. I have seen it referenced to Nuri, and I also have seen it well-refuted.  For example, it was responded: Ibn Tawus actually mentioned that the work itself was in Tusi’s handwriting – not the introduction. How can the introduction be in Tusi’s handwriting when it is clearly that of one of his students, saying, Tusi dictated to us? So, it is quite plausible that a copyist of that manuscript did not copy that introduction, because it is not actually a part of the work itself.

Ghizzi then says, even if he concedes that this is a book of rijal because one can extract the attributes of the narrators, these narrations have chains, and so we need another book for analysing their chains. He claims that the scholars of rijal consider only the content of these narrations and not their chains. This is surely false. For example, Khu’i rejects numerous narrations from Kashshi’s work on account of their unreliable chain. As for the argument, the response is quite simple: the chains are studied using the information that can be obtained from the same work and in other rijal works.

Ghizzi then attacks Tusi’s reliability saying that the scholars of hadith said that Tusi is not precise in his copying, and that this is a known matter amongst them. He then says that he knows that it will be said that that this is not correct, but the sources for this are present, and says that if he manages to discuss the narrators of the Shi`ah in a future episode, he will speak about this there! He also says that the scholars of fiqh and usul know that Tusi claims a consensus on one position in one work, and claims a consensus on an opposite position. But, claiming a consensus of opinions is not quite the same as transmitting a set text, so why should this have a bearing on Tusi as a hadith narrator?

Tusi’s Kitab al-Rijal

Ghizzi repeats the tactic of denying that the work in question is actually a book of rijal. He again makes a strawman argument, saying that a book of rijal should declare the reliability and unreliability of narrators, and that since Tusi only commented on the reliability, or lack thereof, of a small minority of those listed in the work, then it must not be a book of rijal.

Interestingly, Ghizzi stresses that he checked the statistics, compared it with other manuscripts, and verified it with the statements of the scholars of rijal, which seems doubtworthy when the statistics he gives are clearly copied from someone else because they match (with a small discrepancy). In-fact, Ghizzi later says that Tusi only calls 43 “weak” by mentioning the narrator’s name and saying that he is “weak”. But Muhsini, in quoting this statistic from the unnamed source, says that 43 were weakened – even if it was via different ways. In other words, they were not all weakened by simply saying, “weak”. In some of the cases, this is apparently only the conclusion drawn from what Tusi had said. So, if Ghizzi had really been through the work, checking the statistics, comparing it with manuscripts, etc. then he would have known this.

He makes another strawman argument: listing the most number of names is what makes one knowledgeable, and so if he made a book with a million names, mentioning nothing about them, then he would be the most knowledgeable. Of course, the scholars of rijal don’t believe this.

Ghizzi reads out Tusi’s introduction at the beginning of the work. Tusi says that he does not guarantee that he includes all of the names of the narrators, because they cannot be completely contained due to their abundance, as well as their being spread over various lands, East and West, but that he hopes he has only missed out a minority. Ghizzi somehow manages to interpret this – for all of his pride in the Arabic language, and his attacks on the lack of ability and understanding of even scholars who are maraji` of taqlid – to mean that Tusi is saying that he didn't have any sources (because they were non-existent). So, where did the information come from, Ghizzi asks? Tusi continues that he does not know of a work in that regard – collecting the names of the narrators – which attempts to be so comprehensive, except short works (mukhtasarat) which mention a “bit” of the narrators, except for the work of Ibn `Uqdah, which itself was limited to the contemporaries of al-Sadiq.

Ghizzi says regarding the mukhtasarat, that he has seen these mukhtasarat, and some of them only mention 16 names. We have no idea what Ghizzi is talking about, because, again, when it comes to a point where he should explain, and give evidence, he doesn't. In-fact, Ghizzi swears that he has seen them with his own eyes. Yes, Ghizzi, but you don’t give enough information for us to know the correctness of what you are saying about them, and you aren't an expert in this science, so your testimony to your veracity is beside the point.

Ghizzi then goes to the entry of Zurarah in the work, choosing him because, he says, Zurarah’s case is one of the most clear; (i.e. Zurarah’s status is very famous, and not ambiguous). He says that Tusi only mentioned him in two places: amongst the companions of al-Baqir [a] and amongst the companions of al-Sadiq [a]. This is incorrect; he mentions him also amongst the companions of al-Kazhim [a]. He quotes the first occurrence, which simply gives Zurara’s name and says that his family’s mawla was Banu Shayban. He then asks rhetorically, this is a book of rijal?, as though lamenting the lack of information. Indeed, he says, slightly later, that Zurarah’s case is clear, so many details should have been mentioned. However, as will be seen later, when Tusi gives a lot of details about Zurarah in his Fihrist work, Ghizzi wants none of it to be present. Furthermore, Tusi’s Kitab al-Rijal was probably mostly authored after his Fihrist, so one might argue that Tusi had already given details about Zurarah in his earlier work and that he intended to be used alongside his Kitab al-Rijal.

Ghizzi then says that this is not a rijal book, it is a list book – Tusi’s List. But, it’s a list of rijal, so what do these semantics have to do with anything? What, if Tusi had said “trustworthy” after Zurarah’s name would suddenly be a perfect book of rijal? Indeed, Tusi does do that in the third occurrence of Zurarah’s name which Ghizzi missed in his seemingly sloppy research, not bothering to check Mu`jam or another encyclopaedia to see whether he had missed anything. Ghizzi then reads the second entry for Zurarah, which mentions that he died after the 6th Imam. Ghizzi then asks with a straight face, what can we do with this information? This is not rijali information, he exclaims. I reply, how about, say, knowing whether other narrations that mention Zurarah after Imam al-Sadiq [a] had died are even plausible in the first instance? He says, we cannot infer whether Zurarah’s narrations are accepted or not. Apparently, Ghizzi thinks that the acceptance or rejection of narrations in this noble science is purely down to whether a narrator is trustworthy or not, and other factors aren’t involved.

Tusi’s Fihrist

He begins by saying that fihrists have no connection to `ilm al-rijal, even swearing by God that this is the case. Of course, he is quite wrong, and I see no need to explain why this is so since it is a silly claim. His errors don’t stop there. He then says that the first to make a fihrist was Ibn al-Nadim and that Tusi and Najashi imitated him in authoring their fihrists. Actually, as Ghizzi himself will read aloud, Tusi’s inspiration in making a fihrist was Ahmad b. al-Husayn, an Imami contemporary, not Ibn al-Nadim, and that other Imamis before Ahmad b. al-Husayn had also authored fihrists. Furthermore, the first fihrists were authored before Ibn al-Nadim’s. Ghizzi reads that Ibn al-Nadim says he “authored” the book in 377AH, whereas, for example, Sa`d, whose Fihrist was a source to Tusi and Najashi, died around 300AH.

Of course, he says in passing, Ibn al-Nadim’s work is better than Tusi’s and Najashi’s. He clearly isn’t familiar with the issues of Ibn al-Nadim’s work.  How convenient that Ghizzi doesn’t attempt to prove his claim. Of course, he also adds, Ibn al-Nadim’s Fihrist mentions the books of the Shi`ah. Yes, but they only mention a fraction of the rijal and their works.

As for Tusi mentioning that Imamis before him had made fihrists, Ghizzi says that these were fihrists of their libraries, so they aren’t books. Yes, that’s what a fihrist originally was until Ahmad b. al-Husayn changed its nature amongst the Imamiyya: an index. That doesn’t make them useless or render them non-books. In-fact, some of the fihrists of previous Imamis are used by Tusi as sources for his own work. Ghizzi is once again playing games of semantics, now spinning what is there in order to negate it undermining his attack.

As before, when Tusi says that he does not know of one before him who attempted to gather all of the names of various works by various authors, except for Ahmad b. al-Husayn, Ghizzi somehow interprets this to mean that the Imamis had no specialisation in fihrists. He then makes some seemingly unconnected, poorly-explained point about copies of books being rare.

Ghizzi also takes a subtle stab at Ahmad b. al-Husayn. When Tusi says that he, the latter, ukhtirama, meaning died in his youth, Ghizzi also says some say that it can also mean die a ghastly death, which, of course, it does not mean here in this context. I also quickly checked some dictionaries and did not find that meaning there.

When Tusi promises to mention the criticisms and praises for every author of the Imami works, which of course he didn’t do, Ghizzi says that this was not done because he doesn’t have any sources to use. If this so, why would Tusi even make this promise in the first place? Furthermore, we already know that he has at least Kashshi’s original work at his disposal, so that is already one, large source. Additionally, it has already been observed that Tusi will mention almost nothing about a narrator in one place and mention many details in another place. Also, why can’t Tusi’s failure to fulfil his promise not just be a failure to follow through, instead of having to necessarily mean that Tusi didn’t have any sources? Ghizzi doesn’t mention, let alone rule out, alternatives.

Where does Tusi copy his information, Ghizzi asks again. This is not the place to discuss this matter in any depth – a matter which Muhsini has put forward, not Ghizzi, with a proper discussion. However, I will very briefly point out that since Tusi obviously does mention information in some places, he must have had some sources. Ghizzi never addresses this.

Tusi, in his introduction to his Fihrist, also promises to state which set of beliefs a narrator shares, because many of the authors of works had “corrupt” beliefs (i.e. that they were Fathis, or Waqifis, or Zaydis, or ghulat, etc.) even though their books were reliable. Ghizzi somehow interprets this to be a reference only to the ghulat. Ghizzi must either be quite unfamiliar with books of rijal, or in his haste and bias, has made quite a blunder in understanding what Tusi is saying. Ghizzi continues, however, saying that here the (correct) methodology, that of the Ahl al-Bayt become clear. Unfortunately, Ghizzi is quite unclear in what he is saying. He says that the matter (a narrator’s reliability in hadith?) has nothing to do with the same narrator (the narrator himself, he means?). Al-Mufaddal b. `Umar, Ibn Sinan, Jabir b. Yazid, he says, were described as ghulat (“ghaaloon”), because they actually carried the “secrets” of the Ahl al-Bayt. Their beliefs were described as corrupt, but their book are reliable, he says. How can Tusi’s words be a reference to individuals such as Jabir and others, when the rijal scholars that even the books attributed to them have been corrupted or manufactured and then falsely ascribed to them?

He says that the Imamis would practice this: considering the narrator corrupt in beliefs, but his book reliable. So, where is the dependence upon `ilm al-rijal, he asks? It is impossible to convey the stupidity of this point. The contemporaries, and later scholars, considered individuals to be trustworthy in spite of their corrupt beliefs. For example, `Ayyashi praises and lauds his teacher in extraordinary detail, even though he notes that his teacher was a Fathi. `Ilm al-rijal was needed to be able to conclude this, either via being acquainted with the individual, or by a study of the individual’s works of hadith and comparing them to established works, or both.

Ghizzi goes to the entry of Zurarah in this work now. He reads Tusi giving much detail, but now asks what the link is between all of this information and accepting or rejecting his narrations? Again, Ghizzi plays his strawman argument of semantics. Now, faced with so much information, Ghizzi then says (if I understood him correctly) that you don’t find detailed information in these rijal works. Rather, this is vague information, he claims, which can be conveyed by tongue, historical information. Is it really vague?

Which sources did Tusi rely on? Ghizzi has both asked and answered his question. We could say, for the sake of argument, that everything Tusi knew was via oral reports, not recorded in any books. It was earlier mentioned that the Imamis went to the effort of collecting and transmitting narrations and information about the narrators. Why then can’t Tusi be relying upon this, filtering it, deriving his conclusions about a narrator’s trustworthiness, and including it? Indeed, when we see that there was clearly more information out there than Tusi mentioned in his two works, we know that Tusi didn't attempt to be comprehensive in his inclusion of his information, merely in his inclusion of names.

Najashi’s work

Ghizzi again attempts to say that a work is not a rijal book. He says that this work is not called Rijal al-Najashi, but it is a Fihrist. Ghizzi says that if you “return to the old book”, it has no (given) name. He later explains how he (barely, if it at all) derived that it is a fihrist. However, we actually know that it is a fihrist, because the name of the work work in found the work itself: the book of the fihrist of the names of the compilers of the Shi`ah and what are we aware of from their compilations, and mentioning some of their names and titles, their stations, and their lineages, and what is said of praise or criticism regarding every man from them. We also know that it is a fihrist, because Najashi attempts to name the works of individuals, and doesn't arrange them by generation.

Ghizzi reads Najashi’s introduction. Najashi says that someone (unnamed) mentioned the taunt of the Sunnis that, you Imamis, have no predecessors (salaf) nor compilations (musannaf). This statement, Najashi says, is from one who has no knowledge about people, nor has come across their reports, nor has any acquaintance with their stations (i.e. ranks, levels), nor the history of the people of knowledge, and nor has even met one of them to learn from him, so he who has no knowledge or acquaintance at all of what he is talking about has no weight for us. What does Ghizzi (mis)understand from this? The taunt that we have no books means that we have no fihrists. This is a completely imposed meaning. How can it mean fihrist, when “salaf” is also mentioned? It is clearly a reference to books in general. Add to that, it is said that the first Sunni fihrist came centuries later! Ghizzi says that we don’t have fihrists, and so must be ignorant of the fihrists of Sa`d, Himyari, Humayd, and others. Even Najashi effectively calls this complete ignorance, which Ghizzi ignores, choosing instead to side with the opponent of the Imamiyya who knows nothing about the Imamiyya.

Najashi says that he has collected such things, but Ghizzi says that it means the names of books and their authors. This must be Ghizzi’s “derivation” that the work is a fihrist. Thus, he says, there is no connection to the reliability of narrators. This is, of course, in his simplistic understanding where a book purely fits one category/type of book, and can’t also share characteristics with other types of books. Even if Najashi’s book was purely a fihrist, where does it say that a fihrist cannot mention the reliability of individuals? Indeed, Najashi does mention such information, so shouldn't that prove the point, since his contemporary practice means more than Ghizzi’s contradicted strawman definition centuries later? Furthermore, as per Najashi’s aforementioned own title and description of the work, he did intend to include praise and criticism of the narrators.

When Najashi, like Tusi, says that it is impossible to mention every single book due to their sheer abundance, Ghizzi, again, somehow interpret this to mean that Najashi doesn’t have sources. Indeed, when Najashi even says that he will use the books of predecessors, Ghizzi interprets this to mean fihrists, even though Ghizzi had just said that the Imamis didn't have fihrists. When Najashi comments on these earlier works of predecessors (plural), even saying “may God have mercy upon them” (a phrase said for the dead), Ghizzi says that this is a reference to Tusi. He then explains away the phrase for the dead by baselessly claiming that it was added into the book by a later person. He then calls the non-existent interpolation a “deficiency” in the book.

He then gives the other “deficiency” (i.e. interpolation) that others before him had pointed out, which is that the work says that a particular narrator died in 463AH, which is three years after Najashi’s supposed death date. Ghizzi dismisses the defence that this is a scribal error, because Najashi didn’t write the death date of that narrator in numbers, but in words. If it was in numbers, that maybe we could have called it a scribal error, he says. This is incredible ignorance. The date being written in words would in no way have prevented it from scribal error, and indeed, such errors have occurred. One must really wonder at where Ghizzi is getting these points of attack from, or how much research he did, when he says these things, but is unaware of their discussion in an important source like Qamus.

When Najashi says that he will limit the number of paths that he mentions though which he obtained works, Ghizzi says that this is because his purpose is not one of chains, so it is not a rijali book, even though earlier he had effectively argued that a rijal book should only say whether a narrator is trustworthy or not, and that everything else is useless.

Instead of consistently turning to the entry of Zurarah, which would answer Ghizzi’s previous objections very well, he deliberately skips it, and instead attempts to negate Najashi’s expertise by going to controversial figures whom he thinks highly of, while Najashi disagrees. We ask Ghizzi the same question that he poses: where did you get your information from that these people who were disparaged by the Imams and by great Imami scholars were great and that they “carried secrets of the Ahl al-Bayt”?

When Ghizzi come to al-Fadl, a great scholar, saying that he does not deem it even permissible to report the narrations of Ibn Sinan, Ghizzi somehow interprets to be al-Fadl expressing his personal feelings, instead of a scholarly assessment about Ibn Sinan so damning that even reporting Ibn Sinan’s narrations isn’t halal.

When Safwan b. Yahya, a heavyweight of the Imamiyya and an ascetic, says that Ibn Sinan flirted with ghuluww, and that they had to reason with him more than once, Ghizzi says that this was actually because Ibn Sinan related the “secrets of the Ahl al-Bayt”. What, the religious, most knowledgeable Safwan didn't know the secrets of the Ahl al-Bayt, and didn't even know who was very close to the Imams?

When it comes to al-Mufaddal, he says that Mufaddal’s narrations are comprehensive in of themselves for creedal beliefs. He says the way to evaluate the narrators is to look at their narrations, and that this is the method of (i.e set by?) the Ahl al-Bayt. It is not clear why (supposedly) narrating a comprehensive amount of material for creedal beliefs would demonstrate reliability in narration.

He further says that we know that an author has intelligence and understanding when the author’s book is completely coherent/consistent (mutamasikan; متماسكاً ); you thus learn the clarity of his intellect,  “the goodness of his nature”, he says…  I leave the reader to make his or her own mind about this “method”.

Al-Mufaddal - this is what is said about him?! And who are you, O Najashi, he says, and what is your worth? Najashi isn't competent, he says.

He attempts to back up his attack on Najashi, may God further elevate his rank, by turning to Najashi’s entry for himself. Of course, one doesn’t expect a person to be effusive with praise for himself. In his entry for himself, Najashi traces his lineage back for many generations, and mentions how one of his ancestors exchanged a letter with the 6th Imam. He also lists his own works, which includes a work on the genealogy of Nasr b. Qu`ayn. Who is he, Ghizzi repeatedly asks, going onto make insults which I won’t recount. If he would read the entry again, he would see that Nasr b. Qu`ayn is Najashi’s ancestor, so Najashi authored a book about the genealogy of his originating ancestry.

Because Najashi has not authored many works, this somehow necessitates that Najashi had a poor intellect, Ghizzi argues, going onto make a contrast with the “colossal” intellects of Jabir, al-Mufaddal, and Ibn Sinan. Yes, how colossal their intellects must have been that they were influenced and swayed by the ghulat - who had no closeness to the Imams and were cursed by them - and adopted doctrines contrary to the Qur’an!

Since over half of Najashi’s entries contain an explicit pronouncement of trustworthiness or praise, Ghizzi cannot simply dismiss this work after mentioning its statistics. He avoids this and instead says that because Najashi authored a fihrist, and not a rijal work, it means that he has no expertise in rijal. There is no point in even responding to this.

Ghizzi says that there are two works left to discuss, including Ibn al-Ghada’iri’s, whose story, he says, is outrageous. He says he will complete the discussion in the next episode, where he will talk about every work of the rijalis from those time until today, right down to Khu’i’s work and Tustari’s, which he will speak about.

He ends his discussion on `ilm al-rijal with his slogan, saying that there is a myth and lie. Its name? `Ilm al-rijal: a sword which has come from the Sunnis, and slaughtered the ahadith of the Ahl al-Bayt.

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The Fourth Lecture


  In this final lecture/episode dedicated to “Shi`i ilm al-rijal”, Ghizzi delivers a very, very lengthy diatribe against `ilm al-rijal amongst other things. This lecture, which lasted for upto two hours and forty minutes, certainly did not have to be that long. Why was it so long? Even though Ghizzi has clearly prepared for the lecture – as evidenced, for example, by the placed bookmarks in various books that he reads from – Ghizzi actually repeated many points from the previous lecture, going through the “primary” rijal books again, adding more points that he seemed to have forgotten to mention last time. This takes a full forty minutes. This only goes to further evidence what is surely an undeniable reality: Ghizzi is a poor speaker. This needs to be said because when one’s medium is a lecture, one should be a good lecturer. It is of incredible irony that Ghizzi attacks others in this lecture and elsewhere for their grammatical mistakes in language, but fails to give importance to rhetoric. He often fails to be concise, and even coherent, does not express his points eloquently, etc. Even his sentence structuring is very poor, an example or two of which will be mentioned later. His repetition of points from the previous lectures actually showed that he sometimes speaks so vaguely or incoherently that his points had either been previously expressed so poorly that they could not be correctly understood, or that he has subtly changed them. In short, he really tries and tests his audience’s patience, which is stretched even thinner by his games of semantics, awful reasoning, deceit, and ignorance.

I have left out many more points in this post including some repetitions, previously-expressed points, irrelevancies, etc. in order to try to make this critique shorter.


Rijal al-Kashshi

No new points and nothing worth mentioning.


Rijal al-Tusi

He attacks the amount of information in this work, calling it a list, asking how then it can be counted from the books of rijal? Of course, as pointed out in the previous critique, these semantics are pointless. It is still a book of rijal, even if there were nothing in it except names and their generational placement – which itself would be potentially useful information, because it establishes a narrator’s name, and which generation they belong to. Tustari points out that the sources for rijal cannot be limited to the most famous, but any source that has information can be used for consideration.

Ghizzi attempts to claim that this work has been tampered with – a favourite argument of his in this lecture. His evidence is that Tusi authored his Fihrist before his Kitab al-Rijal, which itself was before his Ikhtisar (or, “Ikhtiyar”) of Kashshi. Yet, in Tusi’s entry for himself in Kitab al-Rijal, both of these latter two works are mentioned. He then mentions a strawman counter-argument that Tusi added the title of these two works to the Fihrist, which he then de-constructs by saying that if this were so, then they would be found at the end of the entry. A number of replies are possible. Here are two: 1) The Fihrist and Kitab al-Rijal were written concurrently, even though more of Kitab al-Rijal was written after the content of the Fihrist. As for the Ikhtisar, it may have begun to be dictated in the year 456AH, but that doesn’t mean that the Ikhtisar wasn’t prepared some years before that. 2) An addition to a work by its author does not mean that it is necessarily a literal appended addition; authors produced new editions as they developed their works.  However, Ghizzi leaps to the conclusion of tampering even though he has no evidence of tampering, and says that we don’t know that Tusi was the one who added these two titles. However, his presumption that they were a later addition to the same edition of the text is actually baseless.

So then, Ghizzi asks, if the work has been tampered with here, where is the evidence that it hasn't been tampered with from its beginning to its end? Reply: How about the lack of abundant information in the work – which Ghizzi would agree would be a motivation to add – or the lack of contradictions (other than a normal amount of differences of opinion) with other rijal works? Why would a tamperer add the names of these two books, and not add in something more worthwhile? Furthermore, when one of the students of Ibn Quluwayh “interpolated” a few or so hadiths into the former’s work, he clearly indicated it was so, even going out of his way to clarify a very specific chain at least once. That was in accordance with the ways of the Ahl al-Hadith of the Imamiyya. Tusi’s al-Amali also seems to be listed in his entry for himself, but Ghizzi doesn’t pick up on this, because I doubt that he did this research himself. In al-Amali, it is mentioned that Tusi narrated in 458AH. Why is it so far-fetched to Ghizzi that Tusi wouldn't update his entry for himself, when he clearly is trying to demonstrate his own excellence with his list of works if one studies the list carefully?

Ghizzi attempts to strengthen his point by saying that even the mention of the Kitab al-Rijal precedes the mention of the Fihrist in the list of titles. However, Najashi, who had Tusi’s Fihrist, copied it like this too. Ghizzi goes to Tusi’s entry in Najashi’s work, but ignores this, and says that Najashi didn't mention the “Ikhtiyar”, and so it must have been written after the Fihrist and Kitab al-Rijal. The problem with this is that both editions of Najashi’s text available to me – one of which may be a copy of the other – have a “…” at the end of Tusi’s entry when enumerating the list of works. This suggests that the end of the entry is missing or damaged or something to that effect in the manuscripts.


Najashi’s work

Its name is not “Rijal al-Najashi”. He made this point about this work and others in the previous lecture, and repeats it over and over again in this lecture ad nauseum. The problem with this point here is that those scholars who have researched Najashi’s work do deny that it is a fihrist. Furthermore, a fihrist is a type of rijal work, so it is permissible to refer to it as such. Ghizzi attempts to deny this simply by repeating his claim and swearing by Allah. The evidence that it really is a rijal book can be made simple: it is a work dedicated to profiling figures (lit. men).  Now, whether a rijal book focuses particularly on authors, or it focuses on their generational dating, or the rest, that doesn’t stop it from being a book of rijal.

When Najashi says that he will only mention a single path to an author so that the work doesn't become very long and the purpose of the work is lost, Ghizzi misunderstands or twists this. If it was (truly) a book of rijal, Ghizzi says, he would have been interested in mentioning the paths and chains. Reply: First, this supposed expression of interest contradicts Ghizzi’s own definition of a book of rijal in the previous lecture. Second, he still mentioned at least a single chain, so that would make it a book of rijal as per this “new” definition. Third, this has nothing to do with making it a book of rijal. It actually has to do with making it a fihrist.

Ghizzi attacks the Arabic in Najashi’s book here. The first attack is on “I have mentioned for a man…”; he says it should say, “I have mentioned for [every] man…” However, this could, for example, be missing the extra word because of a scribal error. Or, for example, Najashi could be trying to be precise, while concise, because he does not always only give a single path. The second attack is on “la yakthur”, which should be “la takthur”. Even Ghizzi admits, although dismissively, that this is likely to be a scribal error.

Ghizzi repeats the statistics from the previous lecture, this time attempting to say that Najashi’s work is bereft of much information. This claim cannot be maintained when Najashi’s work comments on the final reliability of two-thirds of its profiled narrators.

Of course, naturally, since Najashi’s work contains more information than the other primary works, this gives it particular importance. Ghizzi attempts to turn this into a negative, saying that it is indispensable. Even if that is the case, it is present, so how is its indispensability somehow a negative?

Ghizzi asserts that when the works of a man reveal the level of his intellect. Reply: Unless, for example, a man doesn't write – and Najashi seems to have been a man who did not write much, unlike Tusi. If Najashi was actually an accurate/precise (daqiq) rijali, Ghizzi asks, then why does he have a work on the genealogy of a tribe? He believes, Ghizzi says, what the scholars of genealogy say. Just as he believes in what they say, he believes in another statement, and collects the names and books. Reply: Different fields have different standards. Why Najashi be implementing the same methods and standards in `ilm al-rijal as he does in genealogy? Furthermore, had Ghizzi read Najashi’s work on rijal, he would see that Najashi freely contradicts or doubts in the words of previous scholars, even when the scholar in question is a contemporary to a particular figure.

Genealogy is also a science, he says, that does not benefit one who learns it and does not harm the one who is ignorant of it, as the Messenger of Allah (s) said. Reply: What, now we have to demonstrate the value of genealogy? It, for example, helps with history – something which Ghizzi later boasts about himself taking into consideration. It can show motives, links, relationships, tribal movements, emigrations, etc. As for the reference to the Messenger of Allah (s), then it is:

[22682] مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَعْقُوبَ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ الْحَسَنِ وَ عَلِيِّ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ سَهْلِ بْنِ زِيَادٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِيسَى عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الدِّهْقَانِ عَنْ دُرُسْتَ الْوَاسِطِيِّ عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الْحَمِيدِ عَنْ أَبِي الْحَسَنِ مُوسَى ع قَالَ دَخَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص الْمَسْجِدَ فَإِذَا جَمَاعَةٌ قَدْ أَطَافُوا بِرَجُلٍ فَقَالَ مَا هَذَا فَقِيلَ عَلَّامَةٌ فَقَالَ وَ مَا الْعَلَّامَةُ فَقَالُوا لَهُ أَعْلَمُ النَّاسِ بِأَنْسَابِ الْعَرَبِ وَ وَقَائِعِهَا وَ أَيَّامِ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ وَ الْأَشْعَارِ وَ الْعَرَبِيَّةِ قَالَ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ ص ذَاكَ عِلْمٌ لَا يَضُرُّ مَنْ جَهِلَهُ وَ لَا يَنْفَعُ مَنْ عَلِمَهُ ثُمَّ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ ص إِنَّمَا الْعِلْمُ ثَلَاثٌ آيَةٌ مُحْكَمَةٌ أَوْ فَرِيضَةٌ عَادِلَةٌ أَوْ سُنَّةٌ قَائِمَةٌ وَ مَا خَلَاهُنَّ فَهُوَ فَضْلٌ

أَقُولُ هَذَا مَحْمُولٌ عَلَى الْإِفْرَاطِ فِي تَعَلُّمِ الْعَرَبِيَّةِ وَ الزِّيَادَةِ عَلَى قَدْرِ الْحَاجَةِ بَلْ هُوَ ظَاهِرٌ فِي ذَلِكَ لِقَوْلِهِمْ عَلَّامَةٌ وَ قَوْلِهِمْ أَعْلَمُ النَّاسِ بِالْعَرَبِيَّةِ فَلَا يُنَافِي الْأَمْرَ بِتَعَلُّمِهَا

First, this narration is weak – (although, not for him, of course). Second, the Prophet (s) clearly isn't saying it is worthless. Ghizzi, who prides himself on Arabic and on interpretation, should reread the hadith. See, for example, al-Hurr’s short comment at the end there which also defends genealogy against the notion that it is useless.

Ghizzi goes onto repeat his horror that those who reportedly associated with individuals who drank alcohol or who forged hadiths in the name of the Imam or who believed in kufr weren't highly praised and given tawthiq by Najashi. When Najashi says about Mufaddal, “it is said that he was a Khattabi”, then Ghizzi attacks this “uncertainty”. Reply: This precision about the unconfirmed or unreliable nature of the statement is actually a positive, not a negative. It contradicts what Ghizzi just said about Najashi’s lack of precision and his acceptance of anything – and this following an attack on Najashi’s intellect!

When Najashi says that the works by, or ascribed to, al-Mufaddal cannot be relied upon, Ghizzi says that this is because these works contain the “secrets” of the Ahl al-Bayt. I find this fascinating in a way. When we discuss the weakening of various popular figures in the rijal works, the discussion is sometimes viewed from the angle of rigorous versus liberal approaches. However, those who subscribe or incline to ghuluww are harmed even more by the publication of the exposure of their figures’ deficiencies in faith, knowledge, intelligence, ability, practice, or behaviour than the liberals who, it might be said, simply have their approach in order to authenticate as much material as possible.

Here is a good place to demonstrate Ghizzi’s lack of clarity in speech. In the previous lecture, he asked, “who is Nasr b. Qu`ayn?...What, did he used to sell whipped ice cream?” This can be interpreted as, who is he, what is his relevance; or, it can be interpreted as, what is his importance. Only upon Ghizzi’s repetition of this point does it become truly clear that he intended the latter. As for this point, why shouldn’t Najashi describe his progenitor and the latter’s descendants?

As before, Ghizzi skips Zurarah’s entry, and goes to the entry of Jabir b. Yazid al-Ju’fi. After enumerating the works of Jabir, Najashi says, “and added to that (list) is the letter of Abi Ja`far to the people of Basrah, and other than that (letter) amongst hadiths and books, and that is fabricated, and God knows best”. Ghizzi comments, “but when we go to Shalmaghani – a cursed person, about whom an epistle came out cursing him…” Hold on, just a second, Ghizzi. I invoke your second principle from the previous lecture: Shalmaghani is someone whom we can’t presume is bad just because he has been cursed. We don’t have any texts vindicating him? That’s fine as per your previous lecture. In-fact, the only reason he was cursed was to protect him. Why? Because Shalmaghani carried the “secrets” of the Ahl al-Bayt, which others were not worthy of bearing, could not stomach, and could not even recognise who was worthy and bearing them. How can I say this? Well, when Zurarah and Muhammad b. Muslim – two figures whose greatness cannot be easily described – are not worthy nor do they possess recognition of the carriers of the “secrets” of the Ahl al-Bayt, let alone carry these “secrets” themselves, then why on Earth should we presume that Ibn Ruh [r] (from whom came the condemnation) is any better just because he is trustworthy, praised by the Imam, or a safir?

Ghizzi then says that Najashi and the rijalis don’t have a clear picture of Jabir (and al-Mufaddal), and (yet) they are (supposedly) rijalis and geniuses… Perhaps he should refer to what Ibn al-Ghada’iri said about Jabir, which is quite clear. Anyway, why should they necessarily have a clear picture about these individuals when even their contemporaries differed about them, and the hadiths ascribed to the Imam about them contradict each other?

Ghizzi then attempts to impose a particular manner of reading on the text. When it comes to al-Mufaddal, he attempts to portray Najashi going out of his way to attack al-Mufaddal, and attempts to portray that, by contrast, Shalmaghani’s entry is quite tame. This is nothing but an imposition on the text. He asks why Najashi didn’t cite the epistles condemning Shalmaghani. The answers to this are many. For example, this matter was very close to Najashi’s time, so it was well-known and the texts were available. In contrast, al-Mufaddal lived many more generations before, and his changes as well as the contradictory contemporary opinions and the contradictory narrations about him make al-Mufaddal’s status much more ambiguous to a person.  Also, al-Mufaddal is popular, utilised, and a figure for the ghulat. Etc.

“Also, he does not indicate – in his books, is there deviance/misguidance?”, Ghizzi says. The awful sentence structure was a very common feature throughout the lecture. In any case, this is nothing but nitpicking. In any case, it is a matter beyond the intended scope/purpose of Najashi’s work, and it had already been addressed elsewhere.

Ghizzi then moves onto attempting to prove that Najashi’s work has been tampered with. He gives the previously refuted point about a death date. He adds that Najashi said that Kashshi is, “trustworthy, `ayn. He reported from the weak (narrators) abundantly”. “How can he be trustworthy and `ayn while reporting from the weak?”, Ghizzi asks. “The books of rijal are filled with such expressions (i.e. ‘faulty’ expressions)”, he says. When faced with such extreme ignorance, how is one supposed to respond? If it is not ignorance, then it is deceit. I will not dwell on this longer than to cite a common example of the possibility of someone being trustworthy in their transmission but also having the habit of collecting narrations from unreliable narrators – and the distinction should be quite clear to anyone:

Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Yahya…he was trustworthy in hadith, except that our companions said: he used to report from the weak and depend upon marasil and does not pay attention to who (it is) he takes from. But, he himself is not impugned/attacked in (any)thing”.

Ghizzi says that there is tahrif in the entry of `Ubaydi, because Kashshi gives a report that `Ubaydi was amongst the young who reported from Ibn Mahbub, while Najashi says quotes this report from Kashshi’s work as saying that `Ubaydi was too young to report from Ibn Mahbub. Ghizzi explains this very poorly. Anyway, Ghizzi asks, “so, which of the two are correct? This manuscript, falsified, or that falsified (one)?” The answer is not different. As Tustari elucidates, with much more knowledge, our copy of Kashshi’s work is filled with scribal errors and mistakes. Hence, Najashi’s copy is more likely to be correct.


The work of Ibn al-Ghada’iri

Again, Ghizzi wants to argue that the title of the work has been corrupted.  He says that different names have been given to it, and that it was printed with a title – “Rijal Ibn al-Ghada’iri” –  that has no consensus. Reply: Ghizzi probably took the different names from the introduction by Jalali. In that same introduction, Jalali explains his sensible reasons as to why he gave it that title. The work does not only criticise narrators, but also strengthens them. Additionally, Jalali added a supplement of what is quoted from Ibn al-Ghada’iri’s words, but are not from, or found in, this particular work. Therefore, he sensibly titles it “Rijal Ibn al-Ghada’iri”. Really, what would Ghizzi have one do? Give it no name? The work has to be published with a title.

Ghizzi says that it has been titled “kitab al-jarh” and “kitab al-dhu`ufa’”. He says that such titles have been given because Ibn al-Ghada’iri was “because Ibn al-Ghada’iri was alone in focusing on criticism of the companions of the Imams, who copied…their narrations…who the scholars describe as a brilliant rijali, and that he is the most of rijalis in expertise. Why? Because he tore apart the ahadith of the Ahl al-Bayt completely. So his book is called "al-jarh", because it only makes jarh (i.e. attacks).” Reply: This is either deceitful or incredibly ignorant. For example, Ibn al-Ghada’iri defends two works by two companions against the accusation that they are fabrications, giving evidence. Even in the introduction to the work, this is refuted. Did Ghizzi not read the introduction in full or did he deliberately ignore what it said?

Because Ghizzi wants to find anything wrong with these works, he then brings the rare, strange opinion that the work actually belongs to Ibn al-Ghada’iri’s father, not to Ibn al-Ghada’iri, which is obviously untenable. Ghizzi, probably using a rijal scholar’s work, makes note of things that make this quite unlikely, but then he is unable to conclude that it belongs to Ibn al-Ghada’iri. Instead, he says that that the matter is enigmatic. Why does he think that? Maybe because he goes onto say that when Tusi mentioned Ibn al-Ghada’iri in the beginning of his Fihrist, he said that that Ibn al-Ghada’iri composed two works which no-one copied. So, is he speaking about this book, Ghizzi asks. Reply: Again, this is either incredible ignorance, extreme bias, or he is dim-witted. It cannot be the former-most here, when Tusi very clearly states that Ibn al-Ghada’iri’s composed two works: one collecting the titles of the Usul and their authors, and one collecting the titles of the later works and their authors. These are clearly not the same as what we have today: a work focusing on those who might be unreliable. Of course, just because Tusi thinks that no-one copied these two works, it does not mean that he is necessarily correct, for he may not know of someone who did. Or, of course, just because the two fihrists were not copied, it does not mean that Ibn al-Ghada’iri’s other works were necessarily not copied.

When Ahmad ibn Tawus includes the work in his own composite work, Ghizzi asks how he obtained it when the two (other) works are said by someone unnamed to have been destroyed by Ibn al-Ghada’iri’s inheritors and they were not copied. However, Tusi has been wrong before with such claims, although I won't get into that here. It would be quite easy to demonstrate Ghizzi’s inconsistency here. Simply show him using a book of hadiths like, say, Basa’ir al-Darajat.

In any case, Ghizzi then becomes even more desperate in his attempts to undermine the credibility of the rijal works. He now states that Ibn Tawus’ work is no longer present. Well, of course, a physical book that is centuries old is not very likely to have survived, and that is exactly why Quhba’i copied it. What, are we going to doubt al-Kafi now because we don’t have the original manuscripts?!

Ghizzi attempts to find another “sign” of tampering. He says that after end of the work itself, it says it was completed in 744AH, while Ibn Tawus died in 673. “It is written in numbers and words”, Ghizzi claims, simply because this is how it is displayed in the printed edition. Reply: Of course, Ghizzi is not the first to spot this, if he even came up with this himself. For example, in one of the works that I possess, the author points that Agha Buzurg al-Tihrani said that the scribe erred in writing it, just as the scribe erred in writing the name of a scholar near the date. Sayyid al-Sadr is also quoted as commenting that this date of completion must belong to a copyist. However, the correct opinion, the author says, is Tihrani’s, and that the author of al-Ma`alim cited those words with the year 644AH. The author is referring to Tahrir al-Tawusi, which was written by the son of Shahid II who possessed the original manuscript of Ibn Tawus’ work in his library in Jabil `Amil, and which has the date of 644, not 744. If there is any doubt about this evidence, then know that the muhaqqiq of one of the editions of Tahrir al-Tawusi says that one of the utilised manuscripts was one by the author of Tahir al-Tawusi himself.

When it comes to the contents of the work, Ghizzi again quotes something he disagrees with. Ibn al-Ghada’iri says that Kitab Sulaym is “fabricated – no doubt about it”. He doesn't like this. He brings up al-Mufaddal’s entry, which, again, he doesn't like. He ignores Jabir’s entry in the supplement, where Ibn al-Ghada’iri gives him tawthiq.


“Rijal al-Barqi”

Ghizzi points out that the author of the book is disputed and that the book has scarcely any information at all (beyond its names and generational placings). This isn’t very problematic because the work is not given much weight. As mentioned before, it is not about any work being wholly useful, but about making use of whatever can be useful – both in the books of rijal and in other books.


Later works

Ghizzi says that the later works of rijal are simply quotations (“gathering”) of what is in these aforementioned works. For example, he later goes onto say that Quhba’i copied from Ibn Dawud and Ibn al-Mutahhir. Reply: First: Ghizzi appears to be ignorant of Ibn Dawud, Ibn al-Mutahhir, and others making use of additional sources for additional information and pronouncements. Second: he appears to be ignorant of other “primary” works that survive. Third: the later scholars don’t usually engage in the process of determining a narrator’s reliability from scratch, especially with the loss of scholars, books, and narrations, amongst other things. Fourth: the later scholars were primarily quoting the “primary” works, not the later scholars repeating what the primary works said. Fifth: Some of the later scholars added commentary or even full discussions which can be quite useful. So, they are not simply quotations of what came previously.

Ghizzi says that Ibn Tawus’ work is lost “by the praise of Allah”. He goes onto say that Ibn Tawus was the first to categorise narrations by grades of sahih, muwaththaq, etc. He says that the Sunnis were the first to author in this matter, and that the first of them to author in `ilm al-hadith was al-Hakim al-Naysaburi. Reply: This latter-most claim is, of course, very wrong, and it is not worth even mentioning evidences to the contrary. As for the Sunnis authoring first, if this is correct then it matters not, for practice may precede documentation with making principles rigid, as previously mentioned. As for the four main gradings, their “innovation” is overstated. However, I won’t go into that here, and it doesn't undermine the strength of Shi`i `ilm al-rijal. Furthermore, some of the scholars of `ilm al-hadith don’t use the four-fold division, so Ghizzi cannot just lump every scholar into the same group.

He goes onto say that Hasan al-Sadr claims in a work that the first to author on this were the Shi`ah, and that Hakim al-Naysaburi was the first. Ghizzi points that this Sunni scholar was, of course, not a Rafidi Imami ( - although Ghizzi chooses his words poorly, saying that Hakim al-Naysaburi was not a “Shi’i”, ignoring the historical and non-Imami meaning of the word).

Ghizzi calls this science a science of misguidance, a science for negating the hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt. This is just emotive language based on no facts. Ghizzi says that the Sunnis need it because “all of their religion is lies”. He says that we do not need it because we have the Ahl al-Bayt who he effectively refers to as absolutely trustworthy. The problem with this argument was mentioned in the previous critique.

Ghizzi then says that even if all of their hadiths are authentic, even if Abu Bakr didn’t burn hadiths and `Umar did not block the writing of hadiths, they only related from the Prophet (s) during his ten years in Medinah. Whereas, he says, we relate hadiths from a timespan of (more than) three hundred and twenty-nine years. (He ignores the years in Makkah, because less legislation was revealed there).  It is not clear how this undermines Shi`i rijal, or how it relates to Sunni `ilm al-hadith. Ghizzi persists though: would a person “take the experiment” of a ten year old child (or from an elder)? Again, the relevance isn't clear, if his argument here is even coherent.

He again says that the authors of the rijal books were not experts. He repeats his example of Tusi, with added hyperbole, describing a scenario where Tusi one day says that there is a consensus on such-and-such being haram, and the very next day says that there is a consensus that that such-and-such is not haram. This is grossly exaggerated hyperbole. It also doesn't relate to Tusi’s ability as a rijal scholar, nor as a transmitter of texts, nor does it relate to any other rijal scholar. In-fact, Ghizzi even attempts to quickly lump in Najashi (at 1:14:50) without really mentioning any real piece of evidence.

Ghizzi then claims that the motive behind the scholars is that there is an attempt to please Sunnis and to not offend them. This is actually ironic. In truth, as alluded to before, a real motive that seems to be present is a desire to authenticate as much as possible. As for the “harsh” scholars who “slaughter the hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt”, then, let us give an example of Muhsini, may God lengthen his life, who was challenged by a hawza student as to why he was (supposedly) (inadvertently) helping the Wahhabis by weakening hadiths. Muhsini’s sharp response was to say, look, if you have confidence that a hadith really came from the Prophet (s), you can say that the Prophet (s) said it. But, if the transmission is not reliable, then how are you going to ascribe that to the Prophet or Imam (s) when you don’t know that it definitely came from them? If the narration is unreliable, and you know that Allah says in the Qur’an not to attribute things to Him that you are not sure of, then are you going to say to Him on the Day of Resurrection, that we knew it was unreliable, but the Wahabbis were present and so we attributed it to the Prophet (s) (and i.e. didn't weaken it)? In another place, Muhsini is asked about the notion that he weakened narrations that mentioned the attributes of the Imams. Muhsini’s reply is that this has never even entered his mind while grading narrations.

Ghizzi says that the scholars say that the first who wrote about “`ilm al-dirayah” was Shahid II. He says, no, he is later; Ibn Tawus wrote regarding it, and the scholars wanted to cover up the true history. This only serves to re-demonstrate Ghizzi’s ignorance. Ibn Tawus’ work was a composite work of primary works of rijal. It was a not a book that delved into the science and theory behind the giving of tawthiq or tadh`if, and the rest. Shahid II’s is said to be the first, because it is said to be the earliest (surviving, at least) work on the science and theory.


Khu’i’s Mu`jam

Ghizzi then discusses two recent encyclopaedic works of rijal: the Mu`jam of Khu’i and the Qamus of Tustari. He says that out of 15706 individuals mentioned in Mu`jam, the reliability of over 8000 is unknown, so what is the point of this book? Reply: First: Based on this statistic, this means that half of the book, or upto 8000 individuals, gives (directly or indirectly) the reliability of these individuals. These are many, and so the work is obviously not without usefulness. Second: Mu`jam even includes individuals who only feature in a single chain or not. It is meant to be an encyclopaedia. Third: The reliability of such rare individuals does not matter much.

He then attacks the contents of the work in another way. He says that more than a third of a volume is an index, including information on who reported to and from a narrator and where. This is, of course, useful information, so he attempts to dismiss it entirely by saying that new editions of works can come out, so the referencing in this index would then no longer be usable. Reply: First, that does not stop them having value now. Second, some of these editions are very popular, or widely-available (and will remain that way due to the internet). Third: The referencing of old editions may be maintained in new editions. For example, in the new edition of al-Kafi, the very common edition’s referencing has also been included so that one can use as per both referencing systems. Fourth: Why can’t someone update the indexes if it becomes necessary to do so? Fifth: Ghizzi’s argument would mean that any referencing that depends upon the division of a work into volumes and pages is bad; yet, Ghizzi’s own works use such referencing!

Ghizzi also attempt to dismiss the worth of the indexes by saying that even a person with the internet can search for these things. Reply: The work is already done, available, and done by “professionals”, so how does the ability to recreate the indexes undermine the availability of ready-made indexes? Does Ghizzi undermine meals prepared for him when he is a guest by saying that anyone can make these meals? While iterating this point, Ghizzi mentions that he has an abundance of his expertise in the ahadith, because he has been dealing with the hadiths for a long time. Why, then, does he maintain Tusi, Najashi, and other scholar of rijal not experts, when they had more works available to them and also spent decades “dealing” with narrations and works?

So, Ghizzi dismisses the work saying that apart from the index, the rest of it is made-up of quotations of the primary works. Ghizzi does admit that Khu’i does sometimes comment and discuss, but that these are as per what he opines, and other times, he doesn't comment. Therefore, the work may appear to be colossal, but it has no value. Reply: First: Khu’i does not comment when he feels that there is nothing to comment on. Second: Obviously, Khu’i’s opinions are his own opinions. That doesn't mean that have no value! This is not worth explaining, and is a silly point. Third: Khu’i doesn't just give an opinion but always argues or evidences why he takes a particular stance. Fourth: There is no set of steps between the existence of a useful index as well as Khu’i’s commentary whenever there is a point to be made, and the supposed useless and pointlessness of the work.

Ghizzi then attacks Tustari and Muhsini not making use of each other’s works. He likens this to Najashi and Tusi, saying that they were in the same period, but one did not copy from the other. Reply: This is false. One of them does copy from the other frequently. As for both sets of pairs, why should they necessarily be able to quote each other in the first place when they were spread out over lands, and they did not possess technology? Similarly, when one finishes his work before the other, how will the former be able to quote the latter when the latter’s work didn’t exist at the time of the former’s writing? This point is also very deceptive, because Ghizzi has deliberately not mentioned a third mammoth-sized encyclopaedia: that of Mamaqani’s. Ghizzi did mention Mamaqani earlier in this lecture. Tustari’s own work began as a correction to the numerous mistakes and errors in Mamaqani’s work, which is (also) in direct to Ghizzi’s very point.

Ghizzi then identifies the introduction to Mu`jam as speaking on the theory and science. He attacks that there are only eighty-three pages on it. Reply: First: Mu`jam’s purpose is a book of rijal, not a book of theorisation. Second: This is not necessarily insubstantial when Khu’i manages to briefly discuss his main principles and points relating to the narrators. Ghizzi says that he has disputed what Khu’i has said in these pages in his series, Malaf al-Asma’.

He then attempts to attack the point of the work by saying that Khu’i changed his mind on some points. He brings up the example of mass authentications derived from a single passage. He says that Khu’i subscribed to the mass authentication that is said to be found in Tafsir al-Qummi, but that Khu’i later changed his opinon, saying that that tafsir work is not al-Qummi’s. Reply: First: Did he mean to say “saying it is not his work”, or should he have actually said, “saying it cannot be proven to be his”? The second is more akin to the manner of Khu’i’s words. Second: This is quite wrong. Khu’i actually believed that the introduction to Tafsir al-Qummi was not proven (notice, not proven) to be from al-Qummi. Khu’i’s opinion changed to one of acceptance, as was observed when Mu`jam was published. This is reported by at least two of his students. Third: The changing of an opinion does not negate the point of a work. It doesn't even necessarily undermine the work mentioning the old position, because one can learn what a scholar’s own replies are to his former position’s evidences and arguments. What kind of reasoning is this that the worth of a book is negated by an outdated opinion?

Ghizzi also bring up the mass authentication said to be found in Kamil al-Ziyarat. He says that Khu’i believed in this, but then said he was not sure of it, and only authenticated those whom the author of Kamil al-Ziyarat narrated directly from. The matter does not require much intelligence, Ghizzi says. I.e. it seems so clear to Ghizzi, so how could Khu’i be unsure of it? Reply: Shouldn't Khu’i’s abandonment of this position signify to Ghizzi that it is not as it supposedly seems? Why instead does there seem to be an implicit attack on Khu’i’s intelligence? Indeed, he goes onto dismiss that Khu’i’s opinions have any special weight and that he was a chain smoker. Ghizzi later says that we are not in need of the statements of Tom, Richard, and Harry. This is silly. A knowledgeable person’s opinion has more weight than the opinion of a random person for obvious reasons. Anyway, one who returns to, for example, Muhsini’s chapter on this will understand why it is difficult to maintain this position.

Ghizzi calls this flipflopping. He says that Khu’i quoted his teacher, al-Na’ini, saying that one should not debate the chains of the narrations in al-Kafi, but Khu’i still did. Reply: This is obviously because he disagrees with him. What kind of point is this? Again, this is either a very cheap point due to deception or Ghizzi really thinks this and there is a certain irony to his mentioning intelligence.


Tustari’s Qamus

Ghizzi ignores everything in Tustari’s introduction to the work and highlights a section where Tustari discusses issues with Rijal al-Barqi, the work of Ibn al-Ghada’iri, and the work of Kashshi. He quotes Tustari saying that the scribal errors in the last work cannot be counted, and says that this means it is a work that is not to be depended upon. Reply: Tustari discusses the issues with these works and others with much more knowledge than Ghizzi. He also does depend upon these works with caveats.

He then plays his usual tactic of attempting to undermine the authors by finding an entry he doesn't agree with. He turns to the entry of al-Mufaddal, pausing to attack the Arabic, saying that it should say, “and with regret”, not “and from regret”. This may have been a scribal error, for all he knows.

Anyway, he goes to the end of the entry where Tustari defends al-Mufaddal, conveniently and deceptively ignores that, and then quotes Tustari bemoaning the loss of narrations from al-Mufaddal. Tustari mentions that he has heard that there is a work, which he does not have, authored “by a group of teachers of the institution of knowledge (dar al-`ulum) of Europe and America” in which there are many things which Imam al-Sadiq [a] said to al-Mufaddal, Jabir b. Hayyan, and other(s), and that it has been translated into Farsi. Ghizzi attacks all of this, saying, where is this institution? What is the connection of this to `ilm al-rjal? Reply: This is quite pathetic. First: Tustari had just indicated that this is hearsay. Second: It is connected, because he is discussing al-Mufaddal as a narrator. It is also obviously connected because he is mentioning that al-Mufaddal has great narrations that demonstrate his status, and that it is a shame that books many have been lost, although he has heard of a book… However, Ghizzi says, “just as they don’t possess accuracy in copying in this matter, they don’t possess accuracy in other matters”. This may be even more lame. Tustari was very careful to indicate that this was hearsay and that he doesn't possess the work. In addition to this, it is quite ironic to be saying this about Tustari when he can be frequently seen correcting Mamaqani’s quotations and observations. But, Ghizzi won’t relent. He continues that this information (i.e. the name) is not clear and what is this institution, and that they copy randomly. Actually, Ghizzi shows the camera the work Ghizzi means and the work claims to be authored by the same group that Tustari mentions. So, how is this inaccurate or imprecise copying? How unfair it is to put the burden of accuracy of the original information on the narrator, especially when the narrator indicates that he hasn't verified the source or claim.

We get to Ghizzi’s real problem with Tustari: Tustari has authored a treatise defending the belief in sahw al-nabi. Once again, I won’t mention and will skip numerous irrelevant things that Ghizzi says. Simply believing in this results in Ghizzi saying that one cannot depend upon one with a mind whose level is like this. He goes onto say, “the important (thing) is that he records, he writes – testify for me with the Amir (al-Mu’minin?) – that he professes sahw al-nabi (s). I believe that men like this, their statements cannot be depended upon. Nor are their books to be respected.” This is ironic in the context of `ilm al-rijal. How can Ghizzi write off Tustari and his ability just because of the belief in sahw al-nabi when Tustari has demonstrated the magnitude of his ability, knowledge, and expertise elsewhere, and when there are multiple reliable narrations for this belief, so at most, this would be a mistaken belief, not something that means Tustari is utterly unreliable and un-respectable.


Dawari’s Usul `Ilm al-Rijal

Ghizzi then goes onto discuss works that are dedicated to discussing the science and theory. However, he restricts himself to a single work: Dawari’s. He says that this is the latest of the theorisations. This is, of course, false. He doesn’t discuss anything in the work, except to later insultingly label it simplistic, but instead tries to prove that the scholars are deceptive. He quotes two out of five examples that Dawari’s student cites quickly as evidence for the existence of lies attributed to the Infallibles [a] in the short introduction. He says that as a rijali, shouldn't the chains for these narrations have been given? Reply: A chain obviously does not always have to be given. This is only a short introduction, and the main body of the work does quote the chains. He picks a ready-selected one from the examples and says that if you investigate the chain, the narration is actually weak. All Ghizzi ends up doing here is proving that he is the deceitful one. Why is it weak? Because, he says, it contains the narrator, (Muhammad b. `Isa b. `Ubayd) al-`Ubaydi, about whom Tusi said: “Weak. Abu Ja`far excised him from the narrators of Nawadir al-Hikma…and it is said: he used to incline/believe in the beliefs of the ghulat”. “You notice”, Ghizzi says, “he was weakened in Rijal al-Tusi. And (in al-Fihrist), he was weakened and that he was from the ghulat”. It is ironic of Ghizzi to be attacking others, both ancient and modern, for supposed inaccuracy in copying, when he does the same thing. Tusi did not say that `Ubaydi was from the ghulat, but that “it has been said” that he subscribed to their beliefs. Ghizzi is aware of how the word “qeel” indicates non-confirmation/acceptance, as he mentions this in an earlier lecture in this series, so he is either being deceptive or inaccurate here. Anyway, he says that Najashi mentions both praise and criticism for `Ubaydi, so, he concludes, the chain is unreliable “as per your view”. Reply: First of all, it is disingenuous to go over Najashi’s entry for him so quickly. Second: Najashi did not mention praise and criticism. This is inaccurate. Najashi mentioned the source of the criticism: Ibn al-Walid, and quoted scholars and evidences to rebutt this weakening and demonstrate `Ubaydi’s trustworthiness. Third – and this is particularly important: Dawari considers `Ubaydi to be reliable. See his inclusion of him in the list of the authenticated narrators from Tafsir al-Qummi on page 171; his mentioning him as one of the greats on pages 505 and 570; and his authentication of a narration with `Ubaydi in it on page 596. So, who really is the deceitful one? Fourth: How can he speak in general when multiple scholars of rijal accept `Ubaydi’s narrations?

Ghizzi quotes another ready-selected example. He says that there is clear deception. He quotes the narration in full from its source – Rijal al-Kashshi. This is inconsistency, since how can he use this narration there as evidence for what he believes when he has spent so much time trying to attack its source? In any case, the narration is a long one, and here is not the place to analyse it in depth. A brief look at Ghizzi’s comments are in order though. Ghizzi says that these narrations do not even result in the need for `ilm al-rijal. Reply: How is that so when the existence of lies means that one should filter the narrations of the liars?

Ghizzi claims that these narrations show that the Imams used to monitor the circulating narrations. If not, then how can the Imam say that so-and-so lied about my father and interpolated the books of his companions? Can the Imam allow the books to continue to contain lies? The natural follow-on is that the Imam rectified the books. Reply: First: The two ghulat mentioned are the two most infamous ghulat in the times of the Imams, and they were very troublesome, so the Imams could not help but know about them. Even in Zaydi narrations from the Imam, al-Mughirah b. Sa`id has been accused by the Imam of lying about what the Infallibles have said. Second: These two ghulat led widespread and collective efforts to falsely attribute to the Imams, as opposed to being singular liars working alone. Third: The Imams only give general principles, or principles that address forgery from the direction of a certain type of fabricated material from the ghulat. Their principles do not really address issues of accuracy or other than that type of fabricated material. Fourth: The principles are just principles; the Imam does not actually seem to indicate what exactly is fabricated. In other words, the application of the principles has to be by the companion of the Imam or a modern person. However, Ghizzi has previously argued that human beings cannot be trusted because they are fallible. Therefore, these principles are useless even if they work, because their operator – non-infallibles – cannot be trusted. Fifth: It can be argued that the Imams were aware because they were told, not because they were monitoring the circulating narrations. Therefore, in light of these points, there is no evidence to support Ghizzi’s claim that the Imams would monitor the circulating narrations.

There is not a single narration that says to return to `ilm al-rijal, because it originated in the laps of the Sunnis, and has no connection to the Ahl al-Bayt. Reply: The Imams even participated in `ilm al-rijal by, for example, as mentioned earlier, declaring Yunus b. `Abd al-Rahman to be a trustworthy source. Ghizzi is forced to concede the existence of such narrations because he goes onto say: Whoever says that there are narrations instructing us to take the narrations of the trustworthy, then this is something natural, which even the Jews, Christians, etc. agree with, and it has no connection to `ilm al-rijal. It is incredible that Ghizzi can say such statements with a straight face. (He also contradicts himself, because he had just said: ‘nor did the Imam say to look to the trustworthy’). Ghizzi himself knows that his statement is very easily rebutted, so even he says: A person asks, how do we know the trustworthy? There are other ways. Reply: Other ways to what? Regardless of the method used, if a narrator is determined to be trustworthy, or not trustworthy, or even if this cannot be determined, this is all a part of `ilm al-rijal. In-fact, even Ghizzi’s own definition of `ilm al-rijal is that it studies the status/condition (haal) of the narrators in order to determine whether their narrations are accepted or rejected.

We do not have to necessarily know the trustworthy narrator, Ghizzi says. If we are able to know him, then good. If we cannot, then the Imams have set ways. Reply: Ghizzi initially argued that `ilm al-rijal has no connection to the Ahl al-Bayt, but is now arguing that it is “natural”, and that if we have knowledge about a narrator, then that is “good”. Of course there are other ways to authenticate a narration apart from a process including an assessment of its chain. But, that doesn't invalidate the use of that method.

Ghizzi then attacks another evidence that he says is given for `ilm al-rijal: a certain passage of Tusi saying that the Imami community distinguished between narrators, identifying their trustworthy ones from among them etc., from ancient times which has not ceased until even today. Ghizzi attempts to falsify this in order to respond it. He says that, where is this information in your books, Tusi? He launches into the possibilities to deal with this “contradiction”. The possibility he argues for is that Tusi expressed these words in the presence of Sunnis, feeling compelled to compete or to satisfy them. Ghizzi says that he studies history, the context, and that he has read… He begins to mention one title after another, even though some of them have nothing to do with knowing or scrutinising the transmitters of our narrations. He knows this and hence justifies it saying, I want to study the history, the food (?), the drink (?), the disposition, the poets… Reply: First: In reality, this boils down to accusing Tusi of lying, even though Ghizzi wishes to demarcate that as a separate possibility. Second: Imamis were also present, so they would have known that Tusi was making things up. Third: Ghizzi has forced the contradiction. The lack of information – although in reality information is given – in Tusi’s rijal works do not necessarily mean that there was no information out there! This is a logical matter that should be clear; alas, it is not so to Ghizzi. If any evidence were needed for this, then Ghizzi should stop attempting to deceptively ignore the works of others, such as those of Kashshi and Najashi, which clearly do demonstrate the existence of a lot of information, as well as the concern and practice of `ilm al-rijal. Ghizzi’s boasting about his taking context into account is a boast about something that every scholar should be expected to do.


The end of the lecture

Ghizzi begins to wrap up. He says, after this long discussion, we come to this result: can it be thought that the Imams left their Din like this, to the wind, with the tamperers tampering with it, etc.? If a person come to you and says that this child is not your child, or that man is not your father, and the evidence is such-and-such book and so-and-so narrator. It is not clear what Ghizzi is arguing here, and his example is absurd.

He then says, you have seen the state of these books. He then repeats again what he had repeatedly iterated in this lecture: the books are not present, the books are corrupted, their authors are disputed, their names are disputed, they don’t contain information their authors are not experts, they didn't have sources. Reply: As it has actually been said, Ghizzi’s evidences for these claims have either been selective, ignorant, deceptive, hypocritical, etc. No-one requires original books to be present; if Ghizzi wants to argue this, he should throw the Four Books into the rubbish bin. The books have not been corrupted. Ghizzi’s misinterpretations and his repetition of rare particularities that have actually been noted by rijal scholars do not necessitate tampering. None of the authors of those works that he has mentioned are truly unknown except for Rijal al-Barqi. The establishment of the names of the works is largely inconsequential. In any case, their names are all known except for the work of Ibn al-Ghada’iri (and Pseudo-Barqi’s?). These works do contain information, some more than others. A work does not have to filled to the brim with information. Nothing Ghizzi argued showed that their authors were not experts in `ilm al-rijal. Indeed, arguments as pathetic as, “his work is a fihrist, not a rijal book, so he isn't an expert on `ilm al-rijal”, were mentioned. The scholars clearly did have sources. Ghizzi’s twisting sentences that do not say that there are no sources, or even say something to the contrary, is not evidence.

Ghizzi goes on. He says that `ilm al-usul arose from `ilm al-rijal, and dealt with the meanings of the narrations. However, he expresses, `ilm al-rijal is the big calamity. It is the sword with which the hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt were slaughtered. And the reason as to why? The scholars of the Shi`a did not distinguish between tanzil and ta’wil. So, when they look at what the Imam said in the stage of ta’wil, they do not accept it, because they deal with it in the mindset of tanzil. So what do they do? They have to find a way (to reject them). So, they saw the Sunnis acting in that way. …Some of the excuses/justifications are due to contextual factors:…taqiyya, lack of availability of sources, fear…because of that I do not think badly of them – ever. But, I say, they are muqassars. Their taqsir, where?...In that they do not research. And the second taqsir: if they are advised, they do not accept the advice. If the truths are made clear, they fear for their positions. They do not want the truths to be made clear. The taqsir is here. I do not accuse them in their religion, nor do I think badly of them, nor do I think badly of their intentions, nor do I say that they are on a course of showing hostility to the Ahl al-Bayt. By Allah, I do not say that. …but they are muqassars in the haqq (truth/right) of the Ahl al-Bayt. This is what I say. Taqsir where? They could not digest the stage of ta’wil, and dealt with it in the stage of tanzil.  Reply: `Ilm al-usul did not derive from `ilm al-rijal. Where is the evidence for this? As Ghizzi himself indirectly says, they look at different things. Anyway, Ghizzi seems to have begun to make a new argument here while wrapping up his lecture, instead of discussing it properly. He is also again not being very clear. He seems to be saying that the Imamis did not want to accept the “fantastical” hadiths (of the ghulat), and so reject them on the grounds of their (un)reliability. However, this accusation cannot be levelled against scholars past and present. For examples, who could accuse Safwan b. Yahya or Zurarah, or who could accuse Ibn Tawus or Tustari, of being unable to accept such hadiths because they were muqassars, unable to swallow the “truth” about the Ahl al-Bayt? This is most absurd. Indeed, the one who doesn't want to accept a truth, unable to swallow it, is Ghizzi with his obstinate rejection of `ilm al-rijal, even while at times inadvertently admitting that it is natural, that it is a part of historical study, and so on. Furthermore, it is contradictory for Ghizzi to say that he doesn’t accuse them at all, but then also attack them in these ways. As for what he says – that objectionable narrations were subsequently rejected after a scrutiny also of their transmission, then what is wrong with this? This is only logical. For example, if a narration contradicts the Qur’an, then when one will reject it, and insist upon its rejection, feeling no compulsion to reinterpret it, when he scrutinises the transmission also and notices that the narration is via, say, al-Mughirah b. Sa`id. Otherwise, what would we be saying? That a narration can contradict the Qur’an, but be authentically transmitted from the Ahl al-Bayt? Or, does Ghizzi really want to argue that a study of the matn is outside of the study of the reliability of a hadith (which one bets would be a contradiction from him)?

Ghizzi continues. The problem is here, he says. They do not distinguish, they could not digest the stage of ta’wil, and they dealt with the stage of ta’wil with the stage of tanzil in that language – that superficial, small talk…which is the speech of the Bedouin. The Prophet (s) spoke with the speech of the Bedouin in the speech of tanzil, not with the speech of al-Mufaddal and Jabir.

We have two questions (to address), Ghizzi says. First, in what way do we accept or reject the hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt? Second, how do we understand the hadiths that we accept?

Edited by Cake
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