The Shi'ite collections of Hadith

Topics
Sign in English Us
The Shi'ite collections of Hadith
2972 0 share 0

The hadiths of the Prophet, and his Sunna generally, are considered, together with the Qur'an, as primary sources of the system of Muslim belief and jurisprudence. After the passing away of the Prophet, a group of Muslims, under the pressure of the powers of the government of the time, neglected to write down the prophetic hadiths; but fortunately, the followers of the Imams of the ahl al-bayt vigilantly took up the task of recording these hadiths. A section of the hadiths of the Imams of the ahl al-bayt go back in fact to the Prophet himself.

The hadiths of the Prophet, and his Sunna generally, are considered, together with the Qur'an, as primary sources of the system of Muslim belief and jurisprudence. After the passing away of the Prophet, a group of Muslims, under the pressure of the powers of the government of the time, neglected to write down the prophetic hadiths; but fortunately, the followers of the Imams of the ahl al-bayt vigilantly took up the task of recording these hadiths. A section of the hadiths of the Imams of the ahl al-bayt go back in fact to the Prophet himself.

Throughout history, those trained in the school of thought of the ahl al-bayt have compiled voluminous collections of hadith, which are mentioned in the category of works known as kutub rijal [lit. 'books of the men' i.e. those who transmitted hadiths]. Large collections of hadith were compiled, especially in the 4th/10th and 5th/11th centuries, on the basis of books written in the time of the Imams, by their students; to this day, these collections remain pivotal as regards the religious beliefs and rulings of the Shi'a. Below we mention some of the titles and authors of these books:
1. al-Usul min al-kafi (8 volumes), by Muhammad b. Ya'qub al¬Kulayni (d. 329/940).
2. Man la yahduruhu'lfaqih (2 volumes), by Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Babawayh, known as Shaykh Saduq (d. 371/981).
3. Tahdhib al-Usul (2 volumes), by Muhammad b. Hasan al-Tusi, known as Shaykh Tusi (d.385/995).
4. al-Istibsar (4 volumes), by Shaykh Tusi also.

These works constituted the second series of hadith collections brought together by the Shi 'a up to the 4th/ 10th and 5th/11th centuries. As already mentioned, in the very time of the Imams, that is, the 2nd/8th and 3rd/ 9th centuries, there were collections, known as the primary collections, which contained 'The Four Hundred Articles' (al-Usul al-arba'umi'a) the contents of which were to be transferred into the second series of collections.
Since the science of Hadith literature has always been given serious attention by the Shi'a, there also appeared in the 11th/ 17th and 12ath/ 18Sth centuries a further set of collections, of which Bihar al-anwar (by Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi), Wasa'il al-Shia (by Muhammad Hasan Hurr al-'Amili) and al-Wafi (Muhammad Muhsin Fayd al-Kashani) are deservedly the most famous.

It is clear that the Shi'a do not act according to just any hadith. In the field of belief, the narrations of ordinary individuals, or those that are contrary to the Qur'an or the Sunna, will definitely not be accepted as proof-texts. Likewise, the existence of narrations in the hadith books is not necessarily a reason for trusting the author of those books; rather, the hadiths recounted in such books are divided by the scholars of Shi'ism cited above into four categories: Sahih, ('sound'), hasan. ('good'), muwaththaq ('reliable'), and da'if ('weak'), each category having its own particular rules and criteria, the detailed explanation of which can be found in the science of Hadith studies.

It is clear that the Shi'a do not act according to just any hadith. In the field of belief, the narrations of ordinary individuals, or those that are contrary to the Qur'an or the Sunna, will definitely not be accepted as proof-texts. Likewise, the existence of narrations in the hadith books is not necessarily a reason for trusting the author of those books; rather, the hadiths recounted in such books are divided by the scholars of Shi'ism cited above into four categories: Sahih, ('sound'), hasan. ('good'), muwaththaq ('reliable'), and da'if ('weak'), each category having its own particular rules and criteria, the detailed explanation of which can be found in the science of Hadith studies.

COMMENTS
Leave a Reply

Daily Hadith
مَن شَرُفَت هِمَّتُهُ عَظُمَت قِيمَتُهُ.
He whose ambition is lofty his value is heightened.