The English translation of Tashihu 'l-i‘tiqad has been with us for some time, the translator having prepared it as part of his university thesis which consisted of three parts: a biography of al-Mufid, the translation of the text of the book, and a section of commentary and notes which the translator attached to the sections of the book. Since the contents of this final section were somewhat inconsistent and not in keeping with the aims we have set ourselves in our work, nor with the standards we have set for our publications, we have been content to print only the first two parts.
However, one of our colleagues has written a preface to the book, which redresses the errors, which were responsible for the shortcomings of the third section, and we have included this as an introduction to the text.
We beseech and implore Allah that He may, of His abundant generosity, make our effort free from errors, and enable us to attain His approval and that of His Prophet and his most noble Family, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon them all. Verily He is the perfect Master, the most excellent Protector. World Organization for Islamic Services
(Writing, Translation, and Publication Board),
Muhammad ibn Muhammad an-Nu‘man ash-Shaykh Abu ‘Abdillah al-Mufid, Ibnu 'l-Mu‘allim, al-‘Ukbari al-Baghdadi (336/948–413/1022) was the teacher of the Shaykhu 't-Taifah, Abu Ja‘far at-Tusi, who said of him:
The leadership of the Imamiyyah in his own time devolved upon him; he was foremost in the science and practice of dialectical theology (kalam), a foremost jurist (faqih), and an energetic thinker with an astute mind, always ready to answer . . .1
Three centuries after al-Mufid, the ‘Allamah al-Hilli (648/ 1250–726/1325), one of the most well-known and learned of the scholars of the Imamiyyah, said this about him:
[He was] one of the most outstanding shaykhs of the Shi‘ah, their leader and their teacher, and all those who came after him relied on him. His preeminence in law (fiqh), theology, and the narration of Tradition (riwayah) is too well known to require description. [He was] the most reliable and learned of his contemporaries, and the leadership of the Imamiyyah in his time devolved uponhim; he was an energetic thinker with an astute mind, always ready to answer . . .2
In the introduction to the Kitabu 't-Tawhid from the Usulu 'l- Kafi I gave a selection from the biographies which Imami scholars of theology wrote of the Shaykh al-Mufid, may Allah be pleased with him, and pointed out his particular theological position, his teachers in theology, and his works in that subject.
Professor ‘Irfan ‘Abdu 'l-Hamid, the translator of Tashihu 'l- i‘tiqad has likewise given, as part of his introduction, a biography of al-Mufid in which he reviews the political life and events of the Shaykh's times, describing the political and sectarian struggle and its complications. Both the adverse and painful effects it had on al-Mufid, as well as the benefit he derived from it, are covered. This is the approach taken here in writing about al-Mufid, lest accusations of sectarianism be levelled by the likes of those who delight in the power of the sword when it falls on the necks of others, but are troubled when the wails and cries of the condemned disturb their own repose, and are even more purturbed when these groans and tragedies are recorded and documented, while they themselves remain unaffected by them.
For this reason apologies should be given in advance to our noble Sunni and Shi‘i brethren in case they come across any- thing which may offend them in Professor ‘Irfan's book; for none of us, praise be to Allah, have had anything to do with these misfortunes. We ask nothing more of Allah than that He bestows a beneficial life of brotherhood on all Muslims, so that those who come to write the history of our own times will not have to describe it in the same way as the history of that previous age.
There are, however, in what Professor ‘Irfan mentions some defects which it will do no harm to point out. What we cite here will suffice to explain our criticisms.
Some comments on Professor ‘Irfan's introduction
Professor ‘Irfan says3 that the Shaykh al-Mufid 'was proud of his purely (as-sarih) Arab ancestry.'
He does not give any source for this statement, but what may have led him to this conclusion about al-Mufid was the discovery he made about the latter's ancestry in an-Najashi4 who traces al-Mufid's lineage back to Ya‘rub ibn Qahtan.
Now this was the kind of activity in which an-Najashi revelled as a result of his meticulous concern for genealogies. He wrote a work on the science of genealogy, which he mentioned when he gave his own biography in his Fihrist.5 His concern for lineage is also apparent in many of the biographies, which he included, and the ancestries of his subjects will be found traced back to the original tribes from which their clans arose.6
Apart from an-Najashi, others, such as the Shaykhu 't-Taifah at-Tusi in his al-Fihrist and ar-Rijal, wrote biographies of these people, but they lack the chains of ancestry which an-Najashi mentions.
Our Shaykh al-Mufid – in common with other Muslim scholars and jurists, and even with the devout among the Muslims who are not scholars or jurists – was more excellent in his faith, knowledge, and understanding of the Islamic shari‘ah, and nobler in character than that he should console himself by comparison with the pre-Islamic period, or boast about what Allah and His Prophet, may Allah bless him and his Family and grant them peace, had kept the believers away from: they had been warned not to boast of it, nor even to rely on it. The Messenger of Allah said in the famous sermon, which he delivered in Mekkah when Allah granted him victory over it, when He had fulfilled His promise, had strengthened His army, and had alone put the polytheists to flight:
'O people, verily Allah has taken from you the haughtiness of pre-Islam (al-jahiliyyah) and its boasting of ancestors and clans. Men are of two [kinds]: [those who are] pious, God-fearing, ennobled before Allah, and [those who are] sinful, wretched, insignificant before Allah . . . Man springs from Adam, and Allah created Adam from dust. Being Arab does not mean [having] parentage from a [single] father, it means [having] an eloquent language, and one who was unable to speak it was not counted as one of them.' Then he recited Allah's words:
'O people! We created you from male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes that you might know one another. Truly, the most noble of you in Allah's sight is the most God- fearing. Verily, Allah is All-knowing, All-wise' (al-Hujarat, 49:13).7
I have not come across any source in which al-Mufid himself cites, or refers to, this lineage of his, nor one in which he mentions, or refers to, an Arab tribe to which he belongs. (b)
Professor ‘Irfan states8 : 'Among those who wrote elegies on [al-Mufid] was his pupil, the Sharif ar-Radi.' This can only be a slip or an unintended mistake. The Sharif ar-Radi died in the year 406/1015, two years before the death of his teacher, al-Mufid. The one who elegized him was another of his students, ar-Radi's brother, the Sharif al-Murtada, who died in 436/1044, who elegized him with a qasidah rhyming in mim of thirty-three verses.9
The extent of Al-Mufid's relations with As-Saduq
This book, Tashihu 'l-i‘tiqad, is a commentary on the book I‘tiqadatu 'l-Imamiyyah, written by as-Saduq, the Shaykh Abu Ja‘far Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn, Ibn Babawayh, al- Qummi (c 306/919–381/991). In this book, the Shaykh al-Mufid comments on the places in which he disagrees with what as- Saduq said, either in matters of independent reasoning, or con- cerning the evidence upon which as-Saduq relies, or on the grounds of the nature of the argumentation where they agree upon the evidence. Some discussion of this aspect will follow.
As for the connection between al-Mufid and as-Saduq, as- Saduq was one of those with whom al-Mufid studied in the early years of his life when he was not yet twenty years old. al- Mufid studied with him when as-Saduq was in Baghdad, and heard Traditions from him. He received his authorization (ijazah) to transmit his writings and his narrations of Traditions; thus as- Saduq was one of al-Mufid's mentors in Traditions. I believe that the duration of this relationship was short for the following reason.
As-Saduq was born and raised in Qum and then emigrated to Rayy, where he resided until he died. He travelled in search of Traditions and other material, and made a journey to Iraq on his way to the hajj. As-Saduq himself mentions that he came to Baghdad on his way to the hajj in the year 352/963.10 It appears that he came to Baghdad towards the end of that year, because he left Rayy on a pilgrimage to Mashhad (of ar-Rida, peace be upon him) in the middle of that year.11
His hajj was in the following year, 353/964, so he must have left Baghdad in the middle of the year, considering the conditions of travel in those days, and the time, which it would have taken him to cover the distance and carry out the rites of the hajj.
What indicates this chronology of events is that as-Saduq mentions that he was in Fayd (a town half-way between Kufah and Makkah)12 in 354/965 after completing the hajj to the House of Allah,13 and that he reached Kufah in the middle of that year.14
In the same year, on his way back from Madinah, he was in Hamadan, in Iran, relatively near to his home-town of Rayy if considered in relation to Kufah.15 It is inconceivable that he should have performed the hajj in the same year, 354/965, in which he was in Fayd on his return, then in Kufah and later in Hamadan. The hajj only occurs in the last month of the lunar year, and in the light of all this it can be concluded that as-Saduq could only have stayed in Baghdad a few months, not a complete year, and that these months were at the end of 352/ 963 and at the beginning of the following year.
One therefore has to disagree with what an-Najashi states about as-Saduq reaching Baghdad in 355/96616 and all those who dated his entering Baghdad to that year took this from him because this would necessarily mean either that he returned there from Hamadan, where he was in 354/965, when he was half-way back to Rayy, or that he headed back to Baghdad a second time after reaching Rayy, and that would seem to be very far-fetched.
Whatever may have happened, the Shaykh as-Saduq reached Baghdad, narrated, and also heard, Traditions there. The Imami shaykhs studied with him, according to an-Najashi, and among them was the Shaykh al-Mufid. Naturally, in such a short time his lectures could not have included all his books and narrations, and most of them must have been narrations by proxy, not his own lectures in the strict sense of the word.
The relationship between these two men according to what I have mentioned was not a master/pupil relationship, in the strict sense of these terms, such that as-Saduq can be counted, as he is by Professor ‘Irfan in the introduction to this translation, as one of al-Mufid's teachers. It is accurate to distinguish in this discussion between being a teacher's student and acquiring Traditions from a shaykh. In the strict sense, al-Mufid had only four teachers who were scholars of theology, and these were enumerated in my earlier biography of him; and in the legal sciences such as (fiqh), and hadith there was a single teacher, with whom al-Mufid studied for many years and 'from whom he acquired what he knew', as his biographers state, and this was the Shaykh Abu 'l-Qasim Ja‘far ibn Muhammad ibn Ja‘far Musa, Ibn Qulawayh, al-Qummi, later al-Baghdadi (c 282/898–368/979). When al-Mufid died, he was buried beside the grave of his teacher in the holy shrine at Kazimayn [Iraq].
Differences in how ideas are argued do not reflect differences in the ideas themselves
Before we enter the main part of the discussion of the dog- matics of the Imamis and their two schools of Tradition and theology, a fact of the utmost importance must be stated right at the beginning, one which it would be an error to leave un- noticed or ignored, which is that it is necessary to distinguish between a given belief as such and the demonstration of that belief and how it is attained. Opinion can concur on one of the principal dogmas while the demonstrations which establish that principle can differ.
For example, unicity (tawhid) is the most important principal dogma of Islam, and no Muslim can be counted as such unless he acknowledges it and those attributes of the Creator or the aspects of His Oneness which establish the necessity of belief. However, there are differences in the way in which unicity and the attestation of the Creator are summarily demonstrated, or in which their details are elaborated. These demonstrations can depend on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, or they can depend on intellectual proofs. This difference in the kind of proof, or in the nature of the demonstration, be it right or wrong, does not necessarily mean there is a difference in the dogma itself.
It would be possible to give dozens of examples of this. The Imamate, according to the meaning of it in which the Imamis believe, by which they are distinguished from other Muslim sects, is a dogma which all the Imamis share. In its very nature it is a matter, which depends on transmission, i.e., the Qur’an and the Sunnah, but there are serious differences in its demonstration, and between one scholar and another there can be total disagreement. We may find one scholar exclusively citing Qur’anic verses and Traditions, while another, who cites, alongside what is called 'transmitted proofs', intellectual proofs, within the limits within which this kind of discussion is bound by intellectual proofs and their particular domain.
If the well known debates of, the famous Imami theologian, on the Imamate are referred to,17 a great difference will be found between him and many who gave theological arguments for the Imamate, whether they were contemporary with him or came after him. It is not only that Hisham quoted Traditions without discussion and opinion, explanation and commentary, but frequently he did not quote a specific Tradition verbatim and referred only to the meaning and recited its contents as if it were he who was saying it.
One of the clearest examples of what is being discussed can be found in the difference between I‘tiqadatu 'l-Imamiyyah by our Shaykh as-Saduq, and Tashihu 'l-i‘tiqad by our Shaykh al- Mufid, as will be shown. Moreover, a single author, such as al- Mufid, differs in the kind of discussion he uses from one place to another. A good example occurs in the introduction which al- Mufid wrote for the Kitabu 'l-Irshad, in one part of which he employed the style of hadith quotation, and in another the style of dialectical theology; and yet both sections are concerned with exactly the same topic.
This is not to say that the Imamiy-yah differed on the subject of the Imamate itself, or its meaning and special characteristics; however, it is correct for us to distinguish between two schools among them: that of Tradition, and that of dialectical theology. Moreover, it is the case that their approaches differed with respect to the study of the Imamate.
For a precise examination, which does not jump to conclusions on the basis of those instances in which we initially find difference and disagreement in the substance of the two approaches, we must carefully consider the effect these methods had upon the fundamental conclusions which their adherents arrived at, and then weigh the results one against the other not the methods utilized to reach these results. In the light of this, we can then conclude whether there really was a difference in opinion or belief; otherwise, the consideration of mere method- ological differences will lead to erroneous assumptions about differences in the principle of the belief, which each method supports or refutes.
Those beliefs which are incumbent on believers and those which are not
It is now necessary to turn our attention to what the Shaykh as- Saduq states in I‘tiqadatu 'l-Imamiyyah, to the additions the Shaykh al-Mufid makes in Tashihu 'l-i‘tiqad, and to what they both say, in general, about the beliefs of the Imamiyyah. What follows divides itself into two sections, something which is not specific to the beliefs of the Imamiyyah alone, but is in fact generally the case with Muslim dogmatics; nevertheless, we shall restrict our discussion to the Imamiyyah.
a) The beliefs, which true faith, requires of every responsible individual (mukallaf): A Muslim cannot be considered one of the Imamiyyah unless he maintains all of these. No one of them is excused for not knowing them, and, because of that, the ignorant person has to attain knowledge in such a way that he can learn proofs and ways of thinking so that the true faith is produced in him through knowledge and peace of mind.
The five dogmatic principles are, in brief: Unicity (tawhid), i.e. that Allah, Eternal, All-Powerful, and All-Wise, is alone the Creator, and is alone to be worshipped, without associates in either creation or worship; Justice (‘adl), meaning that Allah, praise be upon Him, does not oppress or persecute, not because he is unable to do so, but rather because His essence is divine perfection, free from evil-doing, and never without good; the Hereafter (ma‘ad), the meaning of which is clear and does not vary between Muslims; Prophet hood (nubuwwah), which is the belief in the message of the Prophet of Islam, may Allah bless him and his family and grant them salvation, and that he is the seal of the prophets, after whom no prophet will appear, and that the Holy Qur’an is the book which Allah sent down to him as proof of his prophet hood and a manifestation of His message; and the Imamate, the explanation of which will follow.
b) Elaborations on the issues of Unicity, Justice, the Hereafter,Prophethood, and the Imamate: It is not necessary that every mukallaf that is, everyone who has the necessary prerequisites for responsibility for his duties should know these details; nor does he have to learn about these elaborations to the point where he believes in them – as, on the contrary, it is necessary for him to learn how to pray, for example, in order to be able to perform the prayer–; ignorance in these cases is pardonable. Most of the contents of the book I‘tiqadau 'l-Imamiyyah, with respect to the elaborations on the five principles we have indicated, belong to this second category. Our Shaykh as-Saduq did not intend to clarify simply those beliefs incumbent upon the individual, but rather those beliefs, which the Imamiyyah hold as a whole, whether or not such a belief was requisite. The intention in this was to give a clear, comprehensible picture of the doctrines of the Imamiyyah in matters which had caused concern among certain Muslims, whether there was agreement in the matter or not.
I have made this point in order that we may avoid gross mistakes or inaccuracy in understanding the Imamiyyah and their beliefs. As a single example of learned and detailed inves- tigation to this effect, one has the work of a scholar who is considered one of the most renowned Imami scholars and fuqaha’, the Shaykh Murtada al-Ansari (1214/1800–1281/1864), in his well-known textbook Faraidu 'l-usul, which is famous as ar-Rasail, where he discusses the problem of the sufficiency of probable opinion (zann) in the principles of the religion; and there are additionally the glosses which a group of the greatest and the most knowledgable mujtahids and jurists of the Imamiyyah in recent times have written on it.18
1. al-Fihrist, p.186.
2. Khulasatu '1-aqwal, p.147.
3. The Emendationof A Shi‘ite Creed, Intro., p.3.
4. 4 al-Fihrist (Bombay, 1317), p.283-4.
5. Ibid., p.74.
6. See ibid., pp.7, 16, 59, 77, 90, 93, 97, 125, 145, 158-9, 162, 190, 202, 281- 2, 297-8, and 305.
7. al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.8, p.246; al-Husayn ibn Sa‘id, al-Mu’min, p.56; al- Majlisi, al-Bihar, vol.21, pp.137, 138; vol.73, p.293; at-Tirmidhi, as-Sahih, vol.5, pp.389, 734, 735; Abu Dawud, as-Sunan, vol.4, p.331; Ahmad, al- Musnad, vol.2, pp.361, 523-4; Ibn Hisham, as-Sirah, vol.4, pp.54-55; al- Waqidi, al-Maghazi, vol.2, pp.835-7; Ibn Sa‘d, at-Tabaqat, vol.2 pt.1, p.103; at-Tabari, at-Tarikh, vol.1, p1642.
8. The Emendation of A Shi‘ite Creed, Intro., p.4.
9. Diwanu 'l-Murtada, vol.3, pp.204-6.
10. ‘Uyunu 'l-akhbar, vol.1, pp.59 & 279; Kamalu 'd-din, vol.1, pp.93, & 277.
11. ‘Uyunu 'l-akhbar, vol.1, pp.14, 99, 118, 178, 209; vol.2, pp.99, 121, 238, &279; Ma‘ani 'l-akhbar, p.145; at-Tawhid, p.406.
12. Mu‘jamu '1-buldan, vol.4, p.282.
13. ‘Uyunu 'l-akhbar, vol.2, p.57.
14. Ibid., vol.1, pp.81, 129, 138, 144, 249-50, & 262; al-Amali, vol.2, pp.13, 65, 93, and many other places; al-Khisal, vol.1, pp.46, 57, 83; vol.2, pp.13, 65,& 93.
15. al-Khisal, vol.1, pp.106, 295 & 320; at-Tawhid, p.77.
16. al-Fihrist, (Bombay, 1317), p.276.
17. See, e.g., al-Kafi, vol.l, pp.171-3; al-Kishshi, pp.258-63; Kamalu 'd-din, vol.20, pp.362-8; al-Khisal, vol.1, p.215; Majma‘u 'r-rijal, vol.6, pp.218-21; al-Bihar, vol.48, pp.189-93, 197-203.
18. ar-Rasail, offset, Tehran, 1377, pp.230-42.
To begin with, the lmamiyyah distinguish themselves from other Muslim groups by their doctrine of the divine Imamate, from which they take their name. Thus Muslims are split into two sects on the basis of their different positions on the question of who should succeed the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family and grant them salvation. (The history of this division, when and why the schism occurred, is not our concern at this point.)
First there are those who maintain that the Prophet of Allah designated an imam after him in a way which was unequivocal and did not require interpretation, that this was done through a revelation from Allah and was not a result of his personal desire for which there was absolutely no divine command, and that he named them individually and said how many there would be, especially the first of them, he being ‘Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, peace be upon him; that the Imams possess knowledge of the shari‘ah, infallibility, perfection, and the power to work miracles such as the Prophet possessed, and that they must be obeyed and revered as he must be; the only difference lies in Prophethood and the revelation of the Divine Law, which are peculiar to him there is no prophet after him.
Secondly, there are those who do not believe in the Imamate in this sense, and who maintain instead that the matter of succession was either neglected, as the Prophet did not say anything definite about it, or that it was left to the Muslims themselves to choose whom they wished to rule over them, although they differed about how they should choose him, what his qualities should be, and the characteristics of the electors.
However, the differences between the Imamiyyah and other Muslim sects concerning the Imamate carries over to disagreements in many other matters, some of which pertain to basic dogma, and some to law and jurisprudence. The most important points of dogma in which the Imamiyyah differed from other Muslim sects are as follows:
a) Regarding Unicity, they believe in the complete and total rejection of any belief in the corporeality of Allah or in anthropo- morphism, either in a literal or an interpreted sense. On this basis, they catagorically deny that Allah is visible, either in this world or in the Hereafter, in wakefulness or in dreams. They also reject the attribution of spatio-temporal movement and translocation to Him, because they deny that time and place can be ascribed to Him.
b) They believe that the attributes of Allah divide themselves into attributes of essence and attributes of action, and that the former exist in the very existence of His essence, and are absolutely one with Him, eternally preexistent in, not with, the preexistence of His essence itself. On the other hand, attributes of action are, in reality, actions of Allah, which come into exist- ence. On this basis, they distinguish between the All-Knowing (al-‘Alim) and the Living (al-Hayy), and the Creator (al-Khaliq), the Provider (ar-Raziq), and the Speaker (al-Mutakallim); (these examples are merely cited by way of illustration, and are by no means exhaustive). They also maintain that the second group of attributes derive from the actions of Allah, and come into existence with the coming into existence of the act. For this reason, they do not believe that the Qur’an is eternally uncreated, although some of them avoided saying that it was created.
c) With respect to Justice (‘adl), whereby they counted themselves among the ‘Adliyyah, their belief contains both elaborations and consequence:
(i) the impossibility of demanding that a legally responsible individual do that which he is unable to do;
(ii) the impossibility of punishing an individual for that which he could not avoid doing, or was unable to do, except when his inability sprang from his own choice;
(iii) the evil of punishment without clear notification; and (iv) the necessity for Allah to establish a Proof (hujjah) for creatures by way of mercy (lutf) – part of this is the sending of the Messenger.
The relationship between the Imamiyyah and the Mu‘Tazilah
However, the picture of the Imamiyyah and their beliefs which emerges among historians of the sect and I am referring to those who were not themselves Imami differs from the afore said in several respects. Even if these writers did not distinguish between Imami ideas and opinions and the kind of demonstration used, it is nevertheless a picture, which gives us reason to pause.
There exists a prevailing opinion among them that these ideas and opinions were passed on to Imami scholars at a time somewhat after the formation of the sect, through their being influenced by the thinking of the Mu‘tazilah and following their teachers.
This is the approach that Professor ‘Irfan adopts in his introduction generally, and specifically in the third part, in which he comments upon the sections of the book in more detail; and this is one of the reasons we have not published it. This third part investigates the relationship between Shi‘i and Mu‘tazili theology at the time of the Buyids. He states:1
A critical examination reveals that the shift in Shi‘i theology from its form based on hadith to its rationalist, interpretative form was in the beginning inspired by the critical and rationalist positions of the Mu‘tazilah . . .al-Mufid exemplifies the novel rationalist direction in Shi‘i thought, which was responsible for the rejection of a literal interpretation of the divine shari‘ah, and which introduced rationalist and interpretative explanations of it into the teachings of the Imamiyyah . . .
A critical, comparative examination of the differences between Tashihu 'l-i‘tiqad and its precursors must centre itself upon the influence of the Mu‘tazilah upon the Imamiyyah.In addition to these statements, in which he fails to distinguish between differences in belief and differences in the methods of proof or ways of demonstration, Professor ‘Irfan also makes the following points:
i) That the Imamiyyah were, at the beginning of their history, transmitters of hadith and partisans of doctrines based solely upon the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, without recourse to reason (‘aql) and the sort of demonstration resting upon its use, which they rejected.
ii) That the shift in Shi‘i theology from its early form to a subsequent variant one was a result of the contact of the Imamiyyah with Mu‘tazili ideas, by way of the instruction they received from Mu‘tazili shaykhs and the influence of their views.
iii) That al-Mufid was the first to complete this shift.
iv) That this judgement is based upon a comparison between the theological views of al-Mufid and those of his predecessor as- Saduq.
v) That the 'rationalist school of theology', with which al-Mufid is associated, is defined as 'the rational and metaphorical, or interpretative, explanation of the Muslim shari‘ah.'
We shall treat the first four of these points in what follows. It is enough to comment here on the definition of the rationalist school he gives by saying that the shari‘ah has two facets: the dogmatic aspect, or what is designated as the principles of the religion, which the faith requires of the Muslim, and the practical aspect, or derivatives of the religion, which are the divine laws associated with worship, transactions, rights, the judicial process, and all that which is investigated in the science of fiqh.
Allah forbid that our Shaykh al-Mufid and all the Imamiyyah, not to mention the Mu‘tazilah and those who followed them, such as the Zaydiyyah, should rely on rational or interpretative explanations for the derivatives of the religion, such as prayer, fasting, zakat, hajj, and the other laws of worship and transactions, including everything contained in the shari‘ah and explained comprehensively and succinctly in the books of fiqh.
It is true that there are some who speak of a hidden meaning (batin) in the shari‘ah, and who explain prayer, fasting, and hajj in a way that excludes their being acts of worship; instead, they maintain, the shari‘ah contains secrets such that he who discovers them and holds faith in them has no need to act according to the ostensive meaning of the divine law, and that the burden of the law is lifted from him. How few are those who believe such things and speak of themselves as Muslims; and how many are those who accuse people of this falsely and maliciously, and are actually trying to dispel suspicion or repel accusations leveled at them.
It is necessary for us to add that rationalist and interpretative explanation of the Book [of Allah] and the Sunnah regarding matters of belief is not, as some would have it, arbitrary or wishful, zealous or fanciful, or some sort of search for buried treasure, or a devilish incitement to revolt against Allah and His Prophet. Rather, it centers upon the adoption of the stronger of two arguments, and the explication of the weaker of the two in light of the stronger, or on the basis of a comparison and evaluation of the evidence used. For this activity there are principles and guidelines, which form the subject matter of the science of usulu 'l-fiqh.
There is no difference in the principal beliefs between the two Imami schools
The Shaykh as-Saduq stands out amongst the Imami scholars of Tradition and Narration. A few aspects of his distinctive character have been mentioned in the introduction to the English translation of his book I‘tiqadatu 'l-Imamiyyah. He came from a scholarly family, distinguished in the science of hadith and its transmission, and he faithfully adopted their methods. All of what he held conforms with what the Imami scholars of hadith agreed upon, especially the Qummi school, or at least with what the greatest of them taught, except in a few places, such as the inattention of the Prophet in prayer. In this latter opinion he followed his teacher Muhammad ibn al-Hams ibn al-Walid, whom the majority of scholars, Tradition-ist or otherwise, did not agree with.
A comparative study of I‘tiqadatu 'l-Imamiyyah and the commentary made upon it by the Shaykh al-Mufid in Tashihu'l-‘tiqad reveals the overwhelming concurrance of the Tradi- tionist and theological schools of the lmamiyyah with respect to the principles of dogma and its details; in comparison, the points where the two schools disagree in these matters are very few. Indeed, the difference between them is only in the method of demonstrating their opinions in dogmatics.
A comparative study also reveals that criticisms by lmami theologians of the hadith which the Traditionists relied upon did not arise essentially from their stances on dogma and their disagreements about the principles of theology, but rather was centered on standards for the criticism of the hadith each Traditionist employed, through criticizing the chain of transmission, bringing its narration into question and showing that one of its transmitters was not trustworthy, or through casting doubt upon what it proved, rejecting it because it contradicted a stronger proof from the verses of the Holy Qur’an or from hadith whose chain of transmission was superior to it or whose proof was clearer.
This must be set against the accusation usually made by non-Imami Traditionists, including the theologians of the Jahmiyyah, Mu‘tazilah, Murjiah, and others: that they completely rejected verses of the Holy Qur’an and well-established Prophetic sunnah if these disagreed with their own theological views.
It may be that the secret to understanding this methodological dispute between the Imami and non-Imami Traditionist schools goes back firstly to the difference between the nature of the Imami and non-Imami hadith which each of them chose to employ, as we shall indicate. Secondly, Imami and non-Imami mutakallims are distinguishable in that rarely does one come upon an Imami mutakallim who is not also well versed in hadith and its sciences, such that he combined these two qualities equally in his theology.
If a man specialized in hadith, he was not ignorant in kalam, adopting a hostile and controversial stance opposing it; and if he was addressing theological issues, then he did not find himself able to dispense with hadith and their soundness of transmission, as was said about others.
Another of the Shaykh al-Mufid's works, Awailu 'l-maqalat fi 'l-madhahib wa 'l-mukhtarat reveals differences between Imami scholars up to his time, whether they were scholars exclusively of hadith and fiqh, or exclusively of kalam (to the best of my knowledge, this applies only to some members of the Banu Nawbakht), or of both. But these differences are few when compared to their agreements. Such a study also reveals differences between these scholars and those from other prominent sects of Muslims up to al-Mufid's time.
On these matters, there is a need for a detailed study com- paring the books of as-Saduq and al-Mufid. As space is limited here, however, it will suffice to cite the conclusions of a Western scholar, Dr. Martin J. McDermott, as they appear in his book The Theology of al-Shaikh al-Mufid. Here I quote a short passage, in which he states:
Ibn Babuya [as-Saduq] was a traditionist. When he set out to explain a difficulty or answer a question, he preferred to quote a tradition rather than reason out an answer of his own. Even his creed, the Risalat al-i‘tiqadat, consists largely of traditions strung together. Nevertheless he did hold many of the same theses as the theologians, and when a tradition he was reporting seemed to contradict one of his theological views, on God's Unity or Justice, for example, Ibn Babuya would interject his own interpretation of the tradition.
Here in lies Ibn Babuya's major difference from his pupil, al-Mufid, who is a theologian as well as a traditionist. When a point can be proved both from revelation and an argument from reason, al-Mufid generally prefers to rely on the latter, quoting the tradition or quranic text as supplementary argument.
Most of the important theological doctrines held by Ibn Babuya and his pupil are the same. . . .
Here he goes on to review the points of difference between the two as evident in their books. Then he states:
Ibn Babuya, then, is a traditionist with many views that are akin to Mu‘tazilite theses. Al-Mufid is a theologian as well as a traditionist, and his views, though basically simi-lar to Ibn Babuya's, go further in a Mu‘tazilite direction.2 I shall not comment on McDermott's words at all here, as the reader will himself find the differences between us in opinion and in conclusions in the following discussion.
Wide differences between the two Non-Imami schools
We must examine, if only very briefly, what has been referred to up to now as the 'non-lmami school of theologians', since there are common points which are mentioned as stemming from the beliefs of the 'poeple of hadith and Tradition', and on the basis of which their views and beliefs are weighed against those of others, which were in fact taken from the non-Imami school, and proofs and evidence which are mentioned in this field which exist in a complete form in the body of hadith which the non-Imami Traditionists relate, and which form the sole basis for the opinions which they adopted, or which were attributed to them.
In addition, the intellectual and doctrinal contradiction between the Traditionist and theological schools in those days they were the Mu‘tazilah, the Jahmiyyah, the Murjiah, and those who followed in their wake was borrowed from non- Imami hadith, from the opinions of non-Imami Tradition-ists, from their attitude towards the views of the theologians, from their dismissal of them, and from their criticism of those who held them; and indeed, from their criticism of them for the theological trend, in a general sense, in religious belief.
It is not correct to make these general characteristics, or these general contradictions, into a general trait of either the Imami or the non-Imami Traditionist trend, which is above all else based on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, in deducing and formulating religious doctrine.
What is called the 'Traditionist school' a more accurate term for them, which they themselves prefer, is 'the people of hadith and Tradition' (ahlu 'l-hadith wa 'l-athar) – was not a school of thought which was defined and clearly characterized in all or many respects, as was the case with the Mu‘tazilah or the Jahmiyyah, for example, so that it is possible to specify what opinions they agreed upon, and what distinguished them from other sects.
Moreover, this designation was assigned to them not by their own choosing, but was derived from their positions and views. All that they believed was: that those who were involved with hadith should not go beyond the hadith which had come down to them, and which they believed to be true, in explaining their opinions and representing their beliefs, but that they should rely on the narration of the ostensive wording of the hadith for expressing their views and should not change the wording for the convenience of the meaning.
Whatever we may say about them, the Traditionists certainly did not fit into one single mould, but rather into many, since the extent of the difference between any one Traditionist and any one of those they called theologians is only to be measured by the quantity of what the Traditionist narrated and the number of hadith he narrated whose veracity he was committed to. It is clear that the Traditionists differed in the number of hadith, which they narrated, and in the number, which they believed to be true.
Moreover, they varied between those who had few and those who had many, and between those who were generous in judging veracity, and those who were strict, not judging them to be true unless many conditions were fulfilled. On this basis the hadith differed in terms of those whose narrations they agreed upon and those, which were only narrated by some, as well as in terms of those whose veracity they were agreed upon and those whose veracity they were not agreed upon.
It should be noted that even though the Ash‘Ari School was based on the rejection of Mu‘tazili thinking, its teaching was primarily concerned with reconciliation and not rejection. For the teaching encompassed by it and contained in it went back to Abu 'l-Hasan al-Ash‘ari, ‘Ali ibn Isma‘il ibn Abi Bashir, al- Basri (260/874 or 270/883–324/936), the imam of the Ash‘aris, who quarrelled with his Mu‘tazili teachers over the fact that, according to him, they used to reject anything that went against their views even when the Holy Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah, in his own view, supported it. However, there is not enough space here to speak at length about this or to marshal the evidence concerning it.
Examples of Non-Imami traditionist opinions
It is not necessary here to speak at length about the hadith, which are from our non-Imami brothers, as it is possible for the reader to find them comprehensively collected in the following sources:
1. Muhammad ibn Isma‘il, Abu ‘Abdillah al-Bukhari (194/810 –256/870): Khalq af‘ali 'l-‘ibad;
2. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal, Abu ‘Abdillah ash- Shaybani (164/780–241/855), the imam of the Hanbalis: ar- Radd ‘ala 'l-Jahmiyyah wa 'z-Zanadiqah;
3. Abu ‘Abdi 'r-Rahman, ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, (213/828–288/901): as-Sunnah;
4. ‘Uthman ibn Sa‘id, Abu Sa‘id ad-Darimi (c 199/815–280/894): ar-Radd ‘ala 'l-Jahmiyyah and ar-Radd ‘ala Bishr al- Marrisi;
5. Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Khuzaymah as-Salami an-Naysaburi (223/838–311/924): at-Tawhid wa ithbat sifati 'r- rabb;
6. Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Husayn ibn ‘Abdillah al-Ajuri, ash-Shafi‘i, al-Baghdadi (c 280/893–360/970): ash-Shari‘ah.
And with reference to the interpretation of the Ash‘aris, see:
1. Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Furak al-Isbahani, al- Ash‘ari, ash-Shafi‘i (d. 406/1015): Mushkilu 'l-hadith;
2. Ahmad (Hamad) ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim, Abu Sulay- man al-Khattabi, al-Busti, al-Ash‘ari, ash-Shafi‘i (319/931–388/998): al-Bayhaqi has quoted, below, many of his works;
3. Ahmad ibn al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali, Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi, al- Ash‘ari, ash-Shafi‘i (384/994–458/1066): al-Asma’ wa 's-sifat and al-I‘tiqad;
4. ‘Ali ibn al-Hasan ibn Hibatillah, Abu 'l-Qasim ibn ‘Asakir ad-Dimashqi, al-Ash‘ari, ash-Shafi‘i (499/1105–571/1176): Tabyin kidhbi 'l-muftari fi-ma nasaba ila Abi 'l-Hasan al-Ash‘ari.
All these sources are in print; al-Khattabi's opinions are contained in al-Bayhaqi. I shall only give examples of the opinions of the Traditionists and ignore those who were imams of a madhhab, such as the Hanbali Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, whose views and beliefs form the foundation for the doctrines of Ibn Taymiyyah, Taqiyyu 'd-Din, Ahmad ibn ‘Abdi 'l-Halim al-Harrani, al-Hanbali (661/1263–728/1328), and Muhammad ibn ‘Abdi 'l-Wahhab an-Najdi al-Hanbali (1115/1703–1206/1792), the heralds and leaders of the Salafiyyah, as they call themselves, or 'the Wahhabiyyah', as others refer to them.
I shall also steer clear of the imams of other madhhabs, lest someone should associate me with people with whom I do not wish to be associated. Those who wish to study the views of the Hanbali and other schools can find them in the afore-mentioned sources; in connection with the defence of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, see the two following sources:
l. ‘Abdu 'r-Rahman ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad, Abu 'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi al-Baghdadi, al-Hanbali (508/1114–597/1201): Daf shubahi't-tashbih bi-akuffi't-tanzih;
2. Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn ‘Abdi 'l-Mu’min, Taqiyyu 'd-Din al-Hisni, ad-Dimashqi, al-Ash‘ari, ash-Shafi‘i (752/1351–829/1426): Daf‘ shubah man shabbaha wa tamarrada wa nasaba dhalika ila 'l-Imam Ahmad.
Abu 'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi stated:
Know that all the Traditionists made the ostensive meaning of everything that had to do with the attributes of the Creator conform to the senses, and thus they were anthropomorphist, because they did not mix with the fuqaha’, so as to learn how to make the ambiguous conform with the unambiguous.3
He also said:
Know that people are at three levels concerning reports of [His] attributes:
First, at a level at which they are taken literally, with no explanation or interpretation, unless necessity demands it – as in the case of His words:
and thy Lord comes [al-Fajr, 89:22],
i.e., His decree came – viz. the Salafiyyah; secondly, at the level of interpretation, which is a perilous position; and thirdly, at a level which is called conformity with the senses, which is common among ignorant 'reporters' [by this he means the Traditionists], since they possess no part of the intellectual sciences, which let it be known what is possible and what is impossible for Allah, for intellectual science turns the ostensive meanings of what is reported away from anthropomorphism.Since they were deprived of this, they were at liberty in Traditions to make them conform to the senses.4
In refutation of those who held that most of the Hanbalis were corporealists and anthropomorphists, Ibn Taymiyyah said:
The corporealists and anthropomorphists were more prevalent in groups other than [that of] the followers of the Imam Ahmad; these include certain groups of Kurds, all of whom are Shafi‘i, and among them is found more corporealism and anthropomorphism than in any other group, and the people of Gilan, among whom are Shafi‘is and Hanbalis. As for the pure Hanbalis, there was not as much of it among them as among others; the Karamiyyah were all Hanafis.5
I do not agree with Ibn Taymiyyah in his defense of the members of his school, but I shall remain silent about it – an apology to our brothers the Kurds whom Ibn Taymiyyah spoke Ihya’ at-Turathi 'l-‘Arabi, Beirut, offprint 2, 1392/1972, vol.1, p.418. Of as he did, for they know him as well as I do. As for the people of Gilan, they stopped being Shafi‘i and Hanbali centuries ago, and today they are all Imami Shi‘i.
The position of Non-Imami traditionists on anthropomorphism
As examples of what Ibnu 'l-Jawzi pointed out in his discus- sion of the Traditionists, I shall choose three who are not clear- cut Hanbalis, and I shall provide a short biography of each of them, so that I will not be accused of having stumbled upon two obscure and undistinguished men who were of little significance among Traditionists:
1. Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn Makhlad ibn Ibrahim, Abu Ya‘qub al- Hanzali al-Marwazi, Ibn Rahwayh an-Naysaburi (161/778–238/853). al-Katib said: "He was one of the leaders of the Muslims,a landmark in religion; he combined knowledge of hadith and fiqh, his memeory was excellent and reliable, and he was pious and an ascetic. He travelled to Iraq, the Hijaz, Yemen, and Sham . . . He came to Baghdad and became familiar with the memorizers of hadith there, and exchanged narrations with them. He returned to Khurasan and settled in Naysabur."
al-Mazzi and as-Subki said of him: "He was the teacher of al-Bukhari, Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and an-Nasa’i, . .. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, . . . and Yahya ibn Mu‘in . . ."Nu‘aym ibn Hammad said: "If you see an ‘Iraqi casting aspersions on Ahmad ibn Hanbal, have your doubts about his beliefs; and if you see a Khurasani casting aspersions on Ishaq ibn Rahwayh, have your doubts about his beliefs." And an- Nasa’i said: "He was a leader, trustworthy, reliable." Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: "If Abu Ya‘qub [Ibn Rahwayh], the commander of the traditionists, narrates something to you, hold on to it."
Abu Hatim said: "He was a leader of the Muslims." Ibn Hibban said: "Ishaq was a leader of his time in fiqh and reli-gious sciences, a memorizer [of hadith], someone who held opinions [in these sciences], someone who wrote books, made deductions from Prophetic Traditions and defended them, and suppressed those who opposed them. His grave is well known and is visited." Abu ‘Abdillah al-Hakim said: "He was the leader of his time in memorizing hadith and giving fatwas."
Abu Nu‘aym al-Isbahani said: "Ishaq [ibn Rahwayh] was an associate of Ahmad [ibn Hanbal]; he elevated [the status of] hadith and reduced deviators to nothing." adh-Dhahabi said: "The great leader, the shaykh of the East, the master of the memorizers [of hadith]. On account of his memory he was the leading commentator [on the Qur’an], one of the heads of fiqh, and a leader in ijtihad."6
Abu ‘Isa at-Tirmidhi, after narrating a Tradition in which it is said that Allah accepts alms (sadaqah) and takes it by His right hand, said:
More than one of the hadith scholars has said concerning this hadith and those like it which speak of His Attributes, and concerning the descent of Allah, blessed be He and Exalted, every night to the lowest heaven: 'The narrations about this are confirmed, and must be believed in, but one should neither conceive nor ask the question "How?" ‘Similar reports are narrated from Malik ibn Anas, Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah, and ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, concerning these kinds of Traditions: 'Act on them without [asking] how.' And this is the opinion of the Sunni scholars. On the other hand, the Jahmiyyah denied the validity of these hadith, saying: 'This is anthropomorphism.'
In several places in the Holy Qur’an, Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted, says: 'hand', 'hearing', 'sight', and the Jahmiyyah gave a linguistic interpretation (ta’wil) of these verses, and gave a different exegesis from that of the hadith scholars, saying: 'Allah did not create by His hand; the meaning of 'hand' here being power (quwwah).'
Ishaq ibn Ibrahim:7 'There is only anthropomorphism when one says: "A hand like [another] hand, or similar to [another] hand; or hearing like [another] hearing, or similar to [another] hearing", and when one says: "hearing like [another] hearing, or similar to [another] hearing", this is anthropomorphism. But if one says, as Allah, the Exalted, said: "hand", "hearing", "sight", and does not ask how, and does not say: "similar to [another] hearing" or: "like [another] hearing", this is not anthropomorphism, and is like Allah, the Exalted, saying: There is nothing like unto Him; He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing.'8
From this it is clear that at-Tirmidhi was in agreement with this latter opinion.
2. Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Khuzaymah as-Sulami an-Naysaburi (223/838–311/924), of whom it was said: He was the imam of Naysabur in his time, a faqih, a mujtahid, a sea among the seas of knowledge, whose advancement in science was recognized by all people of his period; as-Safadi, al-Yafi‘i, adh-Dhahabi, as-Subki, Ibnu 'l-Jazari, as-Suyuti, and Ibn ‘Abdi 'l-Hayy nicknamed him 'imam of the imams'. ad-Dar Qutni said: "He was an imam without equal." Ibn Kathir stated: "He is one of the mujtahids in the religion of Islam, and they say that he has miraculous powers (karamat)."
As-Sam‘ani stated: "Many [of the Traditionists] can be traced back to him, each one of whom was spoken of as a Khuzaymi [as he was the imam of a Traditionist school]." This is a small sample of what was said about him.9Ibn Khuzaymah asserted that Allah has a face. He said: "The meaning of this is not that His face is like a human face; otherwise anyone could say that humans had a face, and pigs, monkeys, and dogs, and so on, have faces, and that the faces of humans are like the faces of pigs, monkeys, and dogs . . .10
Similarly, he mentions the eye, the hand, the palm, and the right side, saying: "The eyes of Allah are unlike any other eyes." He adds: We say that our Lord the Creator has two eyes, by which He can see that which lies beneath the ground and under the seventh and lowest earth, and that which is in the highest heavens, and all that lies in between . . . Let us add a commentary and explanation and say:
The eye of Allah is eternal and everlasting, and its strength continues for-ever, and is never destroyed or extinguished, while the eyes of human beings come into being; they did not exist and were not created, then Allah brought them into being and created them with His Word, which is one of His essential attributes . . .11
He states that Allah has two hands: 'His two eternal hands are everlasting, while created hands come into being . . . What a comparison!'12 Interpretation is excluded from all this, especially the interpretation of His hands as Favour and Power.13
He mentions that:
The speech of our Lord does not resemble the speech of created beings, because the speech of Allah is unbroken, uninterrupted by a pause or mannerism, unlike the words of humans, which are broken by mannerisms and silences due to pauses [for breath], or reflection, or fatigue . . .14
3. ‘Uthman ibn Sa‘id, Abu Sa‘id ad-Darimi, at-Tamimi, as- Sijistani (c 199/815–280/894), al-Imam al-Hafiz al-Hujjah, a thorn in the flesh of the heretics, an upholder of the sunnah, trustworthy, established, an authority. It is said of him: He was an imam who was emulated during his life and after his death. The Shafi‘is mentioned him in their biographies, and the Hanbalis count him among the followers of Ibn Hanbal.15
Ad-Darimi stated that Allah has a place (makan), which he demarcated as the throne (al-‘arsh),16 and that He is clearly visible to His creation, above His throne in the atmosphere of the Afterlife, where there is no other creature, and no sky above Him.17 He said:
We have specified a single place for Him, the highest, purest, and most noble place: His mighty throne . . . above the seventh, highest heaven, where there are no men or jinn, no smoke, no toilet, and no devil. You [Bishr al- Marrisi]18 , along with the rest of your misguided colleagues, claim that He is in every place, in smoke, in the toilet, and next to every man and jinn! Is it you who anthropomorphize Him, when you speak of incarnation in places, or us?19
If Allah did not have hands with which to create Adam and touch him as you claimed, then it would not be possible to say [of Allah]: by Your gracious hand.20 Thus he ignored all meaning or explanation relating to Favour or Power, save for the two hands [for which there is a meaning, since they are the organs dedicated to sensation].21
Truly Allah has two fingers . . . and two legs; there is no other interpretation.22Although we do say, as Allah states:
The face of thy Lord remains (ar-Rahman, 55:27).
By this He meant the face that is turned towards the believers, and not good works, or the qiblah . . .23 The refutation of anthropomorphism is rather that Allah posesses all these, but that they are not analogous to created things.24
I have cited the above as specific examples of what has been stated about the non-Imami Traditionist school, and I shall not add anything to them, except what I consider necessary to note in a very brief manner – regarding the intention of corporealism and anthropomorphism which is refuted of Allah, and which certain proofs have refuted. The real meaning of the doctrine of corporealism or what underpins it, such as limbs or bodily extremities, locality, and time, requires the comparison of Allah with created beings; anthropomorphism lies at the root of corporealism and its consequences, not in its typology or particularities.
The doctrine that Allah has a head or a stomach, for example – may Allah be raised above such things – requires corporealism, and leads in the end to Allah being comparable with created beings. Either His head or stomach are comparable to created heads or stomachs, or they do not resemble any of these heads or stomachs and are rather distinguished as a head which does not resemble any other, and a stomach which does not resemble any other, and so on for other things besides the head and the stomach.
With respect to the hadith which they pass on and maintain as true (the sources will be mentioned), 'Allah created Adam in His own image', according to those who explain it as the image of Allah, and another hadith, that Adam was created in the image of the Merciful (ar-Rahman), these do not refer to the belief that Allah has an image or a face, and that is all, but [to the belief] that His image and His face resemble the face and image of Adam and resemble man's face and the image of him.
Comparison of the Imami and Non-Imami schools
For a comparison between the above and that which is associated with the Imamiyyah, the reader can refer to what I have written about the Imami Traditionists in what I have said concerning as-Saduq and al-I‘tiqadatu 'l-Imamiyyah and his connection with al-Mufid and Tashihu 'l-i‘tiqad. What follows is a discussion of the Hishamayn, [i.e.] Hisham ibn al-Hakam and Hisham ibn Salim, who were accused of corporealism and anthropomorphism. As for others besides them, and those whose names are mentioned alongside them, I do not deny that there were among the Imamiyyah those who spoke of determinism (jabr) and anthropomorphism, or who were accused of it, but these were very few.
It is natural, with respect to all sects, and in all intellectual and religious communities, for a member or members to deviate, to stand apart with ideas and convictions, which are at odds with the group they originate from. To judge the group itself by way of judgments drawn from the stance of these few is incorrect, unless they form the majority, or are prominent or predominate to the extent that they become representative of their sect, and a model for them.
Another example which underscores what I have said comes from a study of the commentaries on al-Kafi in what concerns the hadith on Unicity in Kitabu’t-Tawhid. Of the many com- mentaries of al-Kafi there are four, all in print, by four contemporaneous scholars. They are:-
1. Sadru’d-Din, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Yahya al-Qawami, ash-Shirazi, Sadru 'l-Muta’allihin (979/1571–1050/1640): Sharhu'l-Kafi, dealing with what is contained in the first part of the Kitabu 'l-Hujjah in the Usulu 'l-Kafi.
2. Muhammad Salih ibn Ahmad al-Mazandarani (d. 1086/1675), the famous scholar and Traditionist: Sharh Usulu 'l-Kafiwa 'r-Rawdah.
3. al-Fayd al-Kashani, Muhammad Muhsin (1010/1599–1091/1690), in his comments on the hadith of al-Kafi on Unicity in his book al-Wafi.
4. al-‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir ibn Muhammad Taqi (1037/1628–1110/1699): Mir’atu 'l-‘uqul, which comments extensively on al-Kafi.
These four differ with respect to their intellectual orientations, their knowledge of the sciences, and their specialization in its branches. Among them, one was considered an outstanding authority in Islamic philosophy, the master of one of its most famous schools, i.e., Sadru 'l-Muta’allihin. Another was among those who stood between philosophy, fiqh, and hadith, i.e., al-Fayd, and the two others were largely concerned with hadith and its sciences, i.e., al-Majlisi and his brother-in-law al- Mazandarani.
A study of their commentaries and their concurrance on hadith transmitted from the Imams of the Ahlu 'l- Bayt, peace be upon them, concerning Unicity and Justice should provide us with the strongest evidence for what I have stated about the Imamiyyah: that whatever the differences in their approaches their opinions about that which related to the fundamentals of the faith did not differ.
At the most basic level, the fundamental reason for this goes back to the nature of the Imami hadith itself, and the fact that they differ from non-Imami hadith. The hadith related by non- Imami sects – and I have listed the names of the books which refer to these hadith, and which treat of their explanations, and of the interpretations of those which require interpretation – do not contain a trace of anything that refutes corporealism, anthropomorphism, or determinism, while at the same time they abound in hadith which on the surface support corporealism, anthropomorphism, and determinism.
The interpreters could not find reliable hadith which explicitly refute anthropomorphism, thus enabling them to solve the problem by explicating hadith with hadith or by interpretating what appears to affirm it through that which textually negates it, so they were compelled to take refuge in other methods of interpretation.
This is clearly apparent in the works of Ibn Furak, al- Khattabi, and al-Bayhaqi – mentioned above – and also in what was written by Abu 'l-Ma‘ali al-Juwayni, ‘Abdu '1-Malik ibn‘Abdillah an-Naysaburi ash-Shafi‘i (419/1028–478/1085), the famous Ash‘ari theologian, in his books on theology, and Fakhru 'd-Din ar-Razi, Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ash-Shafi‘i (544/1150–606/1210), the imam of the theologians, the well-known Ash‘ari commentator, in his famous Commentary on the Holy Qur’an and in his books on theology.
It is also evident in the interpretations of Ibnu 'l-Jawzi and Taqiyyu’d-Din al-Hisni, in their two books on religion mentioned previously. A study of these interpretations should provide the strongest proof of what we have said.
The situation with Imami hadith was the opposite of this. The hadith on Unicity are cited in the Kitabu 't-Tawhid in al- Kulayni's al-Kafi, the Shaykh as-Saduq's Kitabu 't-Tawhid, and the Kitabu 't-Tawhid wa 'l-‘adl from the well-known encyclopedia of hadith, the ‘Allamah al-Majlisi's Biharu 'l-anwar. The latter contains all that was passed down in the Imami sources, whether it was firmly established or incompletely transmitted,