Mohamed bin Mohammed   bin Noman Baghdadi  - SHEIKH MUFEED  Al Islam article

Born: 336, Wasit, Iraq                 Died: 413, H, Baghdad   Buried: Baghdad in Kazmain Shrine
Sheikh Mufeed was born during the most critical and important period of history of the Shias. He was an unchallenged leader of the people of the Faith because of his exemplary brilliance and his sterling qualities of head and heart. Even the eminent Sunni scholars have said that there wasn’t any Shia in the world who was not indebted to Sheik Mufeed in one way or another. It is a fact that his period was the most critical phase of the Abbasid rule. In such times he assumed the responsibilities of the Marja (Pontiff) of the Shias. It was the time when all the sects of Islam were absorbed in debate with one another. On the one hand he was giving fitting replies to all the objections of the debaters of the other sects, and on the other he busied himself in the establishment of the Hauza e Ilmia (the Seminary) of Najaf through his disciple. Unlike other clerics, Sheik Mufeed entered the field of debate and gave convincing replies to all the objections that came up regarding the Shia Faith to ensure that the beliefs of its followers remained firm. The main topic for discussion during these debates was the concept of Imamat. On the one hand he countered the arguments of the opposite party and on the other he presented the Fiqh in such light that in the very capital of the Abbasids, Baghdad, Shiite Faith progressed that in the court of the Abbasid Caliph a special chair was placed for the Shia Cleric that was on par with that of the prime minister.
The given name of Sheik Mufeed too is Muhammed—Muhammed ibne Muhammed ibne Noman. His appellation is Mufeed that was given to him by the Imam e Zamana (a.s) himself. Another narration is that certain Motazali and Sunni clerics of the time chose to call him Sheik Mufeed. More about this later..Sheik Mufeed’s genealogy is recorded for 32 generations. The names of his ancestors are there in several books. This tree reaches up to the person who is said to be the first person who was the inventor of the Arabic language. Another appellation of Sheik Mufeed was Ibne Molim because his father was called Molim.
Sheik Mufeed was born on 11 Zeeqad 336 H. Some record his year of birth as 338 H. But most historians agree that he was born in 336 H. He was born in a small hamlet about 30 to 35 miles from Baghdad. Sheik Mufeed lived for 76 years He passed away on the eve of a Friday in 412 or 413 H. He was interred at Kazimain near Baghdad. It is recorded that on his death in 412 H the funeral prayer was conducted at a ground near Baghdad that is known as Asnaan and his most prominent disciple, Sayed Murtada, led the prayer. Considering the population of those days, a large gathering of about 70,000 attended the prayer.
Among the mentors of Sheik Mufeed there are 61 prominent names. The most eminent of the mentors was Mohammed ibne jafar ibne Kulaini Qummi. There is also a long list of Sheik Mufeed’s disciples. The most notable disciples have been Sayed Murtada, Sayed Razi, Sheik Toosi and Najashi. On the one hand he left behind a formidable number of disciples and on the other he is credited with writing 200 books that constitute a treasure trove of knowledge.
Here I would like to reiterate the opinion of both the Sunni and Shia men of learning, of his time, that there wasn’t any Shia who was not indebted to him. It is recorded by the historians that the leading Sunni cleric of Baghdad took a sigh of relief when Sheik Mufeed passed away. He had no match in debate and very eminent scholars in the opposite camp used to be vanquished by him. Although he was of a very weak physical constitution, he was dexterous in learning, a person of great piety and very charitable. His own son-in-law said that except for some moments, he didn’t sleep in the nights. The nights he used to spend in prayer and perusing the Holy Quran and other books. His entire life was spent in this manner. The eminence of Sheik Mufeed can well be imagined that the Imam e Zamana (a.s) wrote to him at least 3 letters.
After his expiry, on the grave of Sheik Mufeed, a letter written by the Imam (a.s) was found that contained three couplets as an obituary on his demise. This is ample proof of the Sheik’s greatness. Let us now have a look at the words that the Imam (a.s) used in his letter to Sheik Mufeed. The Imam (a.s) addressed him as true brother and a very sagacious friend. On 23 Zilhijja 412 H, when Sheik Mufeed’s age was 74 years, he received the second letter from the Imam (a.s). These letters are a part of the books of history. In the second letter the Imam (a.s) addresses Sheik Mufeed as one who invites people with the Word of Truth towards Allah. The third communication that came to the Sheik from the Imam (a.s) was during Ramadan 412 H also in a similar tone. The Imam (a.s) writes, “O truthful and virtuous friend and helper! O supporter of Allah’s Faith and one who is perfect in love and affection for us!” These words of the Imam (a.s) indicate the high status of Sheik Mufeed. History records that on the first night of Ramadan 412 H the letter from the Imam (a.s) was received by the Sheik. Then on the eve of 30 Ramadan, 412 or 413 H, after the demise of the Sheik, the personal missive of the Imam (a.s) addressed to the Sheik was found near his grave.
Sheik Mufeed hailed from the town of Wasef, but his father migrated with his family to a hamlet situated about 35 miles from Baghdad. He was a Mu’allim or a teacher. On 11 Zeeqaad 336 Sheik Mufeed was born there. His father had a desire that his son attained great heights as a scholar. The small hamlet didn’t have the right environment for the scholastic pursuits. Therefore, Sheik Mufeed’s father decided to move to Baghdad. In Baghdad Sheik Mufeed pursued his education with several mentors. The names of 61 mentors who tutored the Sheik are recorded in the history.
On arriving in Baghdad, Sheik Mufeed started acquiring knowledge in the Islamic discipline. Very soon people started getting glimpses of his genius. Besides receiving instruction in Fiqh from his mentor, Mohammed ibne Jafar ibne Kulaini Qummi, he also pursued studies about Tauheed (unity of Allah), Adl (Allah’s Justice), Nabuwat (the Prophethood), Imamat (the Vicegerency) and Qiyamat (the Day of Judgement). The Sheik went to two erudite scholars, Ibne Abd Allah and Ibne Abi Jafar, who were impressed with his knowledge that they sometimes felt that they themselves were unable to reply to the queries of the young student. It is narrated that once Ibne Jafar expressed his inability to reply to his queries and asked Sheik Mufeed to rather meet Ali ibne Eesa and seek his guidance. Ali ibne Eesa Rumani was the authority on Ilm e Kalam in Baghdad those days. One day Sheik Mufeed agreed to go and meet Ali Rumani but told to his mentor that he didn’t know where the scholar ran his classes. The teacher sent some of his students, who were residents of Baghdad, to guide Sheik Mufeed to the place of Ali Ibne Eesa. Those days Sheik Mufeed was known only as Mohammed ibne Mohammed ibne Noman and he wasn’t known with the appellation of Sheik Mufeed. Mohammed’s guides took him along to the place where Ali ibne Eesa was conducting his class. Mohammed saw that there were a large number of students attending to the teaching of the mentor. Therefore he got some place to sit at the entrance of the room where the footwear was kept. As the class progressed some students checked out and some new arrivals would join. Therefore Mohammed slowly advanced towards the place from where Ali ibne Eesa was giving his talk. At that time he saw the slave of Ali ibne Eesa came and informed that a person from Basra was waiting outside to be admitted.. His master asked him if the person looked like a scholar. The slave wasn’t able to make a guess. His master asked the slave to call the person to his presence. When the visitor came, in deference to the guest from outside, Ali ibne Eesa stood up to receive him and asked the visitor to sit close to him. They discussed various topics when suddenly the visitor asked a question about Hadit e Ghaar (the tradition of the Cave) and Hadith e Ghadeer (the tradition of Ghadeer). Hadeet e Ghadeer is the tradition when the Prophet (s.a) declared to a large gathering of Muslims—‘Mun kunto maula fa haada Ali Maula’—‘Ali is the master of those of whom I am the master’. The Hadeet e Ghaar is about the cave in which the Prophet (s.a) was stranded along with one of his companions. Ali ibne Eesa replied that Hadit e Ghaar was a Dirayat and Hadeet e Ghadeer was a Riwayat and a Riwayat cannot be given ascendancy over a Dirayat. Dirayat and Riwayat are the two most intricate aspects of Ilm e Hadit. I shall briefly explain about them. Riwayat in common parlance is merely hearsay while Dirayat is supported by positive proof or evidence of the happening. Therefore Ali ibne Eesa said that Hadeet e Ghaar has ascendancy over Hadeet e Ghadeer. The man from Basra kept quiet over this. But Sheik Mufeed couldn’t control himself. Although raw in age, he took courage in his hands and asked the master if he had permission to ask a question. Ali ibne Eesa looked at the youth in surprise and gave him permission to ask the question. He asked if someone fought a battle against the Imam e Adil (the Just and legitimate Ruler) what would be his ruling. Ali ibne Eesa replied that such a person would be termed a Kaafir (an infidel}. He thought for a while and said that the person may not be termed an infidel but he will be termed a Faasiq (a transgressor) and Faajir (a Sinner). Now Sheik Mufeed asked Ali ibne Eesa his opinion about Ali (a.s). He replied that Ali (a.s) was Imam e Adil and the Muslims had pledged their allegiance to him. Sheik Mufeed now asked Ali ibne Eesa his opinion about those who arraigned themselves against him in the battle field. Ali ibne Eesa replied that those persons were repentant of their act and they are pardoned. Now Sheik Mufeed told Ali ibne Eesa, “You say that those persons were repentant. Now according to your definition their coming to the battlefield against Ali (a.s) would be termed a Dirayat and their expression of repentance would at best be a Riwayat. You yourself have said earlier that Dirayat has preference over Riwayat!” Ali ibne Eesa was nonplussed for sometime. Then he asked Sheik Mufeed, “Tell me who is your mentor?” He replied, “I am a student of Ali ibne Abd Allah and Ibne Abi Jafar.” Ali ibne Eesa went inside his house and returned after a short while and gave to Sheik Mufeed a letter addressed to his mentors. He went back to his mentor and gave the letter to him. The teacher opened the letter, read it, smiled and asked his young charge, “Tell me what transpired at the place of Ali ibne Eesa?” He said, “Why are you asking this question?” He said, “Ali ibne Eesa, who is the leading scholar of Baghdad has highly praised you in the letter and said that you are certainly ‘Mufeed’ (useful) for Deen e Islam! He has given to you the appellation of Mufeed. Tell me now what has transpired there?”  Sheik Mufeed narrated to his mentor the entire event. The mentor now affirmed that his young ward was truly Mufeed!
One day Sheik Mufeed reached the venue of his lessons when someone asked a question about Hadeet e Ghaar and Hadeet e Ghadeer. Abd al Jabbar, who was a learned debater of high repute, said that Hadit e Ghaar was a dirayat—that is—an event that was witnessed and Hadit e Ghadeer was a Riwayat—that is hearsay. One shouldn’t give credence to hearsay over what was seen and witnessed!” Sheik Mufeed says that he asked a question, “What do you say about Mun kunto Maula?” Abd al Jabbar said that this Riwayat is there!.The Sheik asked, “What is the meaning of Maula?” Abd al Jabbar replied, “Maula is one who is superior to all Muslims, all persons!” Now Sheik Mufeed asked him, “Do you accept the Hadit of the Prophet (s.a) where he said, ‘Ya Ali (a.s)! Harbak harbi, Salmak salmi—that is---your battle is my battle and your truce is my truce!’” Abd al Jabbar said, “All Muslims accept this tradition.” Sheik Mufeed now said, “Now tell me, one who arraigns himself against Ali (a.s) had arraigned himself against the Prophet (s.a)!” Abd al Jabbar meekly replied that a Riwayat had reached them that those persons had repented over their act! Sheik Mufeed asserted, “Expressing repentance by those persons is just a Riwayat and not acceptable over the Dirayat of the battle that the persons fought against Ali (a.s). An intelligent person doesn’t give ascendance to a hearsay (Riwayat) over a positive happening (a Dirayat)!”Hearing this Abdul Jabbar stood up, called Sheik Mufeed close to himself and hugged him and said, “Anta Mufeed al-haq! Certainly you are Mufeed!” When Abd al jabber hugged the youth and made him sit close to him, the assembly got upset. They thought that this child who was a new arrival to Baghdad has been seated next to the most erudite scholar of the city—Abd al Jabbar Matfali! Abd al jabber, seeing their demeanor, told them, “You are upset over my seating the youth near me! Can anyone of you give a befitting reply to the question he has asked here!! Certainly, in that event, I shall send him away from where I have seated him! The entire assembly remained quiet. The vizier of the Abbasid Caliph of the time got wind of the event. His name was Sultan Az Dawla. He was himself a friend of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s). When he heard of the arrival of this new scholar in Baghdad who had defeated the erudite scholars in debate, he was very pleased. He sent a very expensive gift to Sheik Mufeed and requested him to establish a seminary in Baghdad where instruction in the Shii Fiqh should be imparted to the youth. He also sent a valuable steed to Sheik Mufeed the reins of which were made of threads of gold and also sent to him 100 Royal Dinars. Each Royal Dinar was 10 times weightier than the ordinary Dinar. He also gifted a slave for the service of Sheik Mufeed. He told Sheik Mufeed that there was no center for Shii learning in Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid realm and the only center was at Qum that was far away from Baghdad. The vizier promised that he would daily send an allowance of 10 Maunds of bread and 5 Maunds of meat for the students of the seminary. This first seminary was established in the Mosque at Kharq where Sheik Mufeed started educating the seekers of knowledge. Kharq was the neighborhood where the majority of inhabitants were the friends of the Ahl al Bayt.
One night the Sheik was fast asleep when he saw in his dream that Janab e Syeda (a.s) was coming towards him and Imam Hassan (a.s) and Imam Hussain (a.s) followed behind her. She came near him in the hall of the mosque where he was giving lessons to the youths gathered there. She sat in front of him and sent forward her two sons and said, “O Sheik! Give these two sons of mine lessons in the Fiqh!” At that moment the Sheik awoke from his dream. The scene was fresh in his mind and he cried the rest of the night. He was wondering if he had committed any misdemeanor that Janab e Syeda (a.s) came in his dream. It is said that even if one Masoom (Infallible) comes in the dream of a person, the dream cannot be wrong and, in this instance, Sheik Mufeed had seen three Masooms in his dream. He was wondering how he could give instructions to Hasnain (a.s). He was wondering if the lady wanted to warn him that he was becoming proud of his learning! Despite being listless, the next morning he went to the mosque that the students would have assembled there for taking their lessons. He went there and started the day’s lessons. In a short while he saw a highly respectable lady coming towards him. Her name was Fatima binte Hussain and she had in tow two small children and sat exactly at the spot where he had seen Janab e Syeda (a.s) sitting in his dream of the previous night. She too advanced the children forward and said, “My wish is that you instruct these two sons of mine in the discipline of Fiqh.” The Sheik understood those were the two children about whose education Janab e Syeda (a.s) instructed him in his dream. Those two children were from a family of Syeds. One of them was Sayed Murtada to whom Maula gave the title of Ilm al Huda and his brother was Sayed Razi who collected and compiled the Sermons of Hazrat Ali (a.s) under the name and title of Nahj al Balagha—The Peak of Eloquence! It was the greatness of the seminary of Sheik Mufeed that Janab e Syeda (a.s.) came in his dream and asked him to impart learning to the two children.
There is a very interesting incident of a disciple giving an edict (Fatwa) contrary to that of his mentor! It is said that on the saddle of the steed of Sayed Murtada a dog had passed urine. Sheik Mufeed, who had witnessed the scene, informed Sayed Murtada that the saddle was rendered impure (Najis) with the dog’s urine. Sayed Murtada replied that whatever Sheik Murtada said must be true, but his own Fatwa (Verdict) was that there must be at least two witnesses giving evidence to agree about the event happening. Since the Sheik was the only witness, his evidence wasn’t sufficient. The argument prolonged and in the end it was decided to seek a solution to the problem from Hazrat Amir al Momineen (a.s). Hence both the persons proceeded to Najaf e Ashraf. There are three different narrations regarding this event. They wrote their problem on a piece of paper and left it in the Zarih (Sarcophagus) of Amir al Momineen (a.s). One narration is that when the mentor and the disciple reached the mausoleum next morning, they heard the voice of Hazrat Amir al Momineen (a.s) saying “Ya Sheik anta motamadi wal haq maa waladi ( O Sheik! You are the secretary, but the truth is with the son!). The second narration was that the paper was recovered on which was written the same verdict. The third narration was that both, the mentor and the disciple, dreamed in their sleep when Hazrat Ameer al Momineen (a.s) came and said that the truth was with his son and also that he (a.s) had total faith in his secretary (Sheik Mufeed).
The greatness of the Sheik may well be gauged from this incident. In the same mosque at Baghdad, where he used to conduct his classes, he was seated when a villager arrived and posed a question to him. He said that a woman had, just then, died in the village and she had a live fetus in her stomach. There was a dispute amongst the villagers as to whether they should bury the fetus along with the dead mother or extricate the baby live and then intern the woman. Some people say that saving the life of the baby was important and others say that conducting any such operation would be disrespect to the dead person. The Sheik, of course, was a fallible being, and at that moment somehow it came to his mind, he told to the villager to go and bury the dead woman in the same condition that she was. The man immediately set forth for the village. When he reached near the village he heard someone calling him from a distance. He stopped. One person, riding on a horse, came near him and said that the Sheikh’s Fatwa was changed and he had asked to deliver the fetus live from the mother’s womb and then the dead body may be buried. He acted on the fresh edict. After some days the villager again visited Baghdad and called on the Sheik. He told him that they had acted according to the instruction conveyed through the rider and had delivered the baby live before interning the mother. Sheik Mufeed understood who it was who corrected his error! The Sheik told to himself, “O Sheik! Your mind has stopped functioning that you should stop giving Fatwa. Your error would have been the cause of the death of a Muslim” From that day he stopped giving Fatwa. After some time he received a letter from the Imam (a.s) asking him to continue giving Fatwa. He wrote that it was the Sheik’s duty to give Fatwa and if he made any errors, the Imam (a.s) would correct them. Such a great personality was the Sheik that he was guided from time to time by Janab e Syeda (a.s) and the Imams (a.s).
It is a well known incident of Baghdad. A person arrived there who was a non-believer in God. He had no proof of his belief nor was he willing to listen to any argument regarding the existence of God. He said that the universe came into existence by itself and continues to exist. Any argument based on the Quran and Hadit too wouldn’t convince him. People went to the extent of telling him that there must be someone who created the universe and runs it. He boasted saying that the entire city was unable to convince him about the existence of Allah. The Vizier of Baghdad asked Sheik Mufeed to handle the situation. The vizier said that the person was visiting the court everyday and he posed his question to the gathering in the presence of the ambassadors from the non-Muslim countries. The inability to give him a convincing reply was causing a lot of embarrassment. Sheik Mufeed thus agreed to attend the court for a debate with the person. The person was very cunning that he wouldn’t utter any word when arguments about the existence of Allah were advanced to him. Sheik Mufeed attended the court and told to the person, “You have claimed that you have contested the claim of all the courtiers about the existence of Allah and that they were unable to convince you. Allah willing, I shall come tomorrow and give a convincing reply to your question! But you must report at the court promptly at the appointed time. I am wondering if you will absent yourself fearing to face my debate on the subject!!” The man replied with lot of confidence,  “There is no chance of my running away from the debate. In fact, I have the fear that you might try to escape since none of your compatriots has been able to convince me and you may meet the same fate!” The appointed time arrived the next day but there wasn’t any sign of Sheik Mufeed in the court. Since Sheik Mufeed had ridiculed the person by saying that he might try to elude the debate by absconding from the court, the man looked around the court and smiled sarcastically. All the courtiers felt belittled that the Sheik had made tall claims but had absented himself from the proceedings. The Sheik purposely arrived at the court very late. When he arrived in front of the man, he asked, “Where were you hiding yourself?!” The Sheik replied,
“ I would have reached the court on schedule, but as I reached the riverside, I saw a peculiar scene there. It was so astonishing that my feet wouldn’t advance towards my destination! I saw a boat in the river that was floating on the water without any sailor. It was coming ashore on one side, picking up passengers and disembarking them on the other side. From that side it picked up passengers and dropped them on this side! When I saw the boat had no sailor I was very astonished!” The man had a hearty laugh and said, “How is it that the boat was making the up and down trips without any sailor?” The Sheik now said, “When you think that a small boat cannot fend for itself without someone to row it, then how do you imaging that such a big universe will function without the One who controls it!” The man said that none else had debated with him in this manner! I now bear witness that there is no god but Allah!”
I shall now present a few instances of the Sheikh’s erudition. Generally our scholars have mastery over all the Fiqhs of the sects. They answer the queries of the person on the basis of the Fiqh he follows. Some persons, who didn’t follow the Jafari Fiqh, put the Sheik’s knowledge to test. They put a question and the Sheik felt that, perhaps, while giving them the reply, he himself might not be able to elucidate his reply. Before we deal with the query of the group, it must be clarified that there are certain norms in our Fiqh that when a man expires, and he doesn’t have his own off-springs, the first in the order of inheritance will be the parents; if the parents are not living the inheritance would go to the grand parents (paternal and maternal) and to the siblings. Even if these relations aren’t alive, the inheritance will go to paternal and maternal aunts and uncles. But for Muslims of other sects, the rule of inheritance is different. For them, if the deceased didn’t have living parents and off springs, the inheritance will be shared by the grand parents, siblings, aunts and uncles.
One person from such a sect of Muslims came to Sheik Mufeed and posed the question that while a person was on his death bed, another person in sound health visited him and said, “Your time for departure is nigh! You must make a will and testament.” The man replied, “What will could I make that in my inheritance, your two sisters would get a share. Your two spouses, two maternal aunts, two paternal aunts, your paternal and maternal grand mothers would get a share of my assets!” Now the person asked Sheik Mufeed, “Please elucidate to me on what basis the grand mothers and other kin were eligible for a share in the inheritance? What relationship the deceased had with these relatives of the person who came asking him to make his will?”
The Sheik instantaneously gave his reply. At this point we remember all those instances when the Infallibles (a.s) were posed with such questions and they gave the reply while one foot was in one stirrup of their steed and the other hadn’t reached the second stirrup while mounting the horse! Amir al Momineen (a.s) used to reply such questions while tarrying for a moment on his journeys. The Sheik too came with an immediate reply, “Listen! The assets would have been allotted in the following manner.  The sick person would have married the maternal and paternal grand mothers of the person who had asked him to make his will. From his first spouse he would have had two daughters and two from the other spouse. Then he must have married the mother of the person as well. From this spouse too he had two daughters.” While the Sheik is giving his reply, it is difficult for us to comprehend the solution expounded by him. The Sheik continued, “The solution to the problem posed by you is that the deceased had married the maternal and paternal grand mothers of the person and both gave birth to two daughters each. The person who called on the sick person had married his maternal and paternal grand mothers and the patient’s father had married the visitor’s mother and had two daughters from this marriage. Therefore the patient’s saying is correct that when he expired, his inheritance would go to the visitor’s two wives, two sisters, two maternal aunts, two paternal aunts and his paternal and maternal grand mothers. How this disposition of his assets would come about? The patient said, “When I expire, my maternal and paternal grand mothers have a share in my assets. Both these women are your wives. Thus your two wives would get a share of my property. My father had married your widowed mother and two daughters were born of the wedlock. They are my sisters and they have a share in the inheritance left by me. But they are your sisters as well, because they are your mother’s daughters. Your maternal grand mother too would get a share of my property because I had married her and the spouse of a deceased has a right over a share of his estate. Your paternal grand mother too will get a share from my assets because she is my wedded wife. From your maternal grand mother I had two daughters, they are your aunts and they too have a share in my assets. Your maternal grand mother’s one daughter is your own mother and the other two are your step aunts and my daughters. I married your widowed paternal grand mother and had two daughters from this marriage. They are my daughters but your step paternal aunts. Your paternal grand mother has one son from her first husband, your grand father, and my two daughters are his sisters. So these sisters of his would get a share of my inheritance. Therefore his sisters, his maternal grand mother, his paternal grand mother would get the share of the assets. But what did he say? He said that the share of the inheritance will not be received by his relatives and that it would go to your two wives who are his maternal and paternal grand mothers!” The person who posed the question agreed that Sheik Mufeed had rightly resolved their query. They said that this query was posed to hundreds of scholars, but they weren’t able to resolve it. They were also astonished that the Sheik had given them the reply in such a short time. This is the superiority of the followers of Ali (a.s) and the people of the Baab e Madinat al Ilm!
When the fame of Sheik Mufeed spread, our own people thought that they too would try to test his skills. This test was not with any rancor or enmity but was just to gauge his learning and erudition. Therefore many scholars got together and formulated a question for him after much deliberation. This question too was about the institution of inheritance in Islam. They posed the question that a woman married four times She married the first husband and became a widow. She married the second time, her spouse expired, and she was widowed again. The second husband too died. She married a third time, and as luck would have it, the third husband too passed away. She married a fourth time and, unfortunately this spouse too died. When the fourth husband died, she realized that half of the total assets of her four deceased husbands had come into her possession. And the other half was distributed to the kin of the four men. You must be aware that the share of a wife is a fourth of the assets of a deceased husband, if he had died issueless. Let us assume that one of her late husbands had Rupees 50,000, the second 100,000, the third 200,000, and the fourth husband 1,000,000. When all the assets of the four husbands was added, and distributed according to the prescribed schedule, she was in possession of half of the total holdings of all the four men. This despite the fact that she should have inherited only a fourth of their wealth! What is the solution for this riddle? Sheik Mufeed gave an instantaneous solution to the problem. He said that all the four husbands must have been blood brothers whom the woman married one after another as they deceased. She went on receiving the inheritance of her husbands as they died and in the end she owned half their wealth. How? For example, all the four brothers had a total of 18 Dinars. The eldest brother had 8 Dinars, the second brother had 6 Dinars, the third had 3 Dinars and the fourth 1 Dinar. When the fourth brother died, she would have come in possession of half their collective assets, that is, 9 Dinars! How? She married the first brother who died issueless. Out of his 8 Dinars, she received a fourth, that was, 2 Dinars. Since he had no issues, the remaining 6 Dinars were distributed equally to his three surviving brothers. The one who had 6 Dinars earlier, now had 8 Dinars, the brother who had 3 Dinars, now had 5 Dinars and the last sibling who had 1 Dinar now had 3 Dinars. The woman married the second brother, he expired issueless, leaving an asset of 8 Dinars, and she got 2 Dinars from it. The remaining 6 Dinars were equally distributed to the surviving two brothers. Now one who had 5 Dinars earlier, possessed 8 Dinars and the last brother who had 3 Dinars now had 6 Dinars. She now married the brother who was having 8 Dinars. He too died issueless and she inherited 2 Dinars from him. The last of the brothers who had 6 Dinars, now possessed 12 Dinars. The woman married this last of the brothers. He too died issueless and she inherited a fourth of his assets, that is, 3 Dinars and the remaining 9 Dinars went to the paternal aunt of the deceased. Now the woman had 2 Dinars from the first husband, 2 Dinars from the second husband, 2 Dinars from the third husband 3 Dinars as legacy from the fourth spouse. When all these four amounts are added, the sum total is 9 Dinars, that is exactly half of the total possessions of the four brothers, 18 Dinars, her late husbands! The persons who had posed the question were pleasantly surprised that the Sheik solved the problem in such a short time and they had to deliberate a full year to frame the question!
A person came to Sheik Mufeed and asked him that a man wanted to perform Ghusl (Bath) and wished to get the felicity of maximum number of Ghusls. At one time, he said, a person can perform 20 Ghusls for various reasons. Some of these Ghusls are mandatory and others optional. He asked then how is it possible that one can perform several Ghusls simultaneously. When a person had a night discharge, Ghusl e Janabat (Purification) is mandatory. Then he copulated with his spouse and the Ghusl became obligatory for him. Then the person had touched a dead body that hadn’t yet been given the last Ghusl and it became obligatory for him to personally perform the Ghusl Muss e Mayyat. This is the third Ghusl that became mandatory for him. Then, he touches a dead body which had already been bathed. In this event the Ghusl e Muss e Mayyat is Mustaheb (Desirable) for him. This was the fourth Ghusl that he had to perform. Now that he was entering the precincts of Madina and it is Mustaheb (Desirable) that he performed a Ghusl. This will be the fifth Ghusl for him. On entering Madina, he wanted to visit Jannat al Baqi and again a Ghusl is Mustaheb. When one visits the mausoleum of an Infallible (a.s) a Ghusl is Mustaheb; for visiting the grave of the Prophet (s.a) he will have to perform a Ghusl which will be his seventh on the day. This event is happening on Idd al Adha and he has to perform a Ghusl in the morning for the Idd. If the Idd is falling on a Friday, the person will have to perform Ghusl for the Friday Prayer. The 10th of Zil Hijja is the day of Arafa, on which day Hazrat Muslim ibne Aqeel was martyred and if one cannot perform the Ghusl on that day, he must perform the missed Ghusl the next day. This was the tenth Ghusl. The day on which he wanted to perform the Ghusl, there is total eclipse of the sun and it is Mustaheb for him to perform a Ghusl for it.. If during the Solar or Lunar eclipse the person hadn’t offered the Namaz e Ayaat, he is required to perform a Ghusl before offering the missed Namaz e Ayaat. After offering the Namaz e Ayaat, the person wishes to offer prayer for seeking Allah’s Felicity, for this too a Ghusl is Mustaheb. After this prayer the person wishes to do the Istekhara and it is Mustaheb that he performed Ghusl before this. The person is also aware that it had not rained for a long time and he wishes to offer a prayer for seeking copious rainfall. For offering the Namaz e Baarish the person should perform the Ghusl prior to the prayer. For visiting the graves of the Prophet (s.a) and the Imams (a.s) the person wishes to offer the Namaz e Tauba (The Prayer of Repentance) and for this he must perform a Ghusl. When the person was on the way to Madina his eyes fell on a person who was being hanged. When a person witnesses such a scene, it is Mustaheb that he performs a Ghusl. On the way he came across a large wild chameleon and killed it. When one kills such an animal, a Ghusl is Mustaheb for him. Now, entering Madina he waanted to do Mubahila (Imprecation) or seeking Allah’s Curse on the liar, with his enemy. For this it is Mustaheb for him to perform Ghusl. He had slept in the night in a state of intoxication, it is Mustaheb for him to perform Ghusl. Thus he has to perform 20 Ghusls by making the Niyat (Intent) for all the 20, and he would get the felicity for all the 20 Ghusls by performing the Ghusl once.
When Sheik Mufeed died, the Imam e Zamana (a.s) himself said, “Today is the day of Calamity for the Progeny of the Prophet (s.a)” that such a great Faqih had departed from the world. It was the eve of Friday, the 3rd of Ramadan, 412 H when this great person died. He had vanquished all the opponents in debate; in the Realm of Baghdad that there was none to challenge the followers of Aal e Mohammed (s.a) for a debate. On the other hand he had given proof of his erudition in the school of Fiqh that for the first time people realized the importance of Ijtehaad. He established a school which had in its alumni such stalwarts as Sheik Toosi. This school was the precursor of the Hauza e Ilmia of Najaf e Ashraf. He left behind a disciple like Sayed Murtada who truly and well established the foundation of the Ilm e Fiqh. Sheik Mufeed had completed his mission. On the night of 3rd Ramadan, at the age of 73 years, the Sheik passed away. His cortege was taken by a huge procession of 70,000 to Asnaan, an open ground in Baghdad. Syed Murtada led the Namaz e Janaza. All of 70,000 persons took part in this Namaz. Later on Sheik Toosi had said that in the history of Baghdad no Namaz e Janaza was so well attended and the people lamented his demise considering the size of the population of the city those days. Followers of all schools of thought attended in large numbers. He was interred in the compound of his own house and an elegy written by the Imam (a.s) was found near Sheik Mufeed’s grave there. After some time his remains were moved to Kazimain. His grave is even today visited by large numbers of Momineen to recite al Fateha there!

Source Urdu Lectures of Moulana Sadiq Hassan Book

Other links from Shaikh Mufid | Place of Sh. Mufid

The Place of al-Mufid in the Development of Shi'i Kalam and Fiqh

Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Khamene’i
al Tawhid, vol x, Nos. 2 and 3
Translated from the Persian by Ali Quli Qarai




One thousand years ago on a tumultous day, the grounds at the Ushnan Square in Baghdad could hardly contain the crowds of people who had gathered there on account of a sorrowful event. Thousands wept and mourned for a man whose death was a terrible loss. Tens of thousands offered funeral prayers for a sublime human being who had for fifty years, like a shining torch, illuminated a vast expanse of the Islamic world with his wisdom and knowledge, and who, at Baghdad by the side of the Tigris, had set flowing another Tigris of knowledge and learning. The storms of bitter and bloody events and the winds of prejudice and resentment that blew through the `Abbasid capital had failed to put out the lamp of knowledge and righteousness that drew its oil from the olive tree of the Qur'anic sciences and the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them, and whose flame drew its brilliance from the light of human intelligence. The thorny growth of twisted judgement and guile could not stop the surging floods in their auspicious course that had carried Islamic jurisprudence and theology, reason and narration to fertile lands.


On that day when the large crowds of mourners attended his funeral and offered prayers, led by the Sayyid al-Sharif 'Ali al-Murtada, over his body, there were others who, with hearts full of malice and devoid of wisdom and foresight, thought that everything had ended for that great man, and they foolishly proceeded to celebrate his death.


However, every thoughtful person could see clearly that the death of that august thinker could not spell an end for someone who through half a century of effort had originated numerous springs of wisdom and learning, morality and high culture, through the realms of human thought, that the will of God and the laws of history had guaranteed its fecundity and exuberance in its perpetual movement through generations, centuries and eras, right up to its merger into the endless ocean of ultimate human edification.


On that day the emaciated body of al-Mufid was consigned to the earth in his house at Darb al-Rabah, to be transferred later to the Shrine of Imam Abu Ja'far al-Jawad, may peace be upon him, and laid to rest in that abode of peace and Divine mercy. But the spirit of this warrior, indomitable and unforgettable, would linger before the gaze of time and would never be forgotten. It is still very much alive to this day and at work in the growth and fruition of the fiqh, kalam and religion of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them.


Today, one thousand years later, this al-Shaykh al-Mufid Millennium held with your precious efforts commemorates that event and pays homage to that epitome of learning and piety whose sublimity has not been diminished by ten centuries of growth of science and culture, nor whose visage has been dimmed by the mists of time.


In fact, by paying homage to al-Mufid and publishing his written works, the scholarship of this generation pays in fact the debt of gratitude to a man whose personality and ideas have had a continued presence throughout the rich and fruitful growth of the fiqh and kalam of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them. They have served as the cornerstone of the high edifice of Shi'i theological and legal studies of the last thousand years.


Al-Mufid's presence in the assembly of living theological ideas and scholarly pursuits does not lie in publication of his books and discussion of his views, although the publication of his writings and the discussion of his ideas and views is an expression of gratitude for the debt that all theologians and jurists that came after him owe him. Rather, this radiant presence lies in the continuity of the tradition in fiqh and kalam established by him. The holding of this millennium of gratitude and homage, firstly, makes the present generation more familiar with the visage of this great man and prepares the ground for better recognition and utilization of his legacy by this and the future generations.


Secondly, it provides researchers in the field of the history of fiqh and the rational sciences the opportunity to obtain new insights concerning the history of development of these sciences and the formation and growth of their formative elements during a critical period. This point acquires greater significance when we study the 4th/10th and the 5th/llth centuries as an outstanding and brilliant phase in the cultural, scientific and literary development of the Islamic world.


Thirdly, it will be conducive to the expansion of acquaintance with the basic theological teaching of Shi'ism on behalf of Muslim scholars and masses irrespective of school or sect. The importance of this becomes obvious when we observe the venomous pens and mercenary hands, of the enemy or his malicious agents, write and publish such lies and slanders concerning the beliefs of the Shi'ah, one of the major sects of Islam and today the heralds of Muslim awakening, as are comparable to those fabricated throughout the entire course of history. [1]


Unfortunately, political motives and colonial designs are active in such moves, aimed to deceive the public. They are even more evident today than they were at the time when Umayyad and `Abbasid caliphs considered malign propaganda against the Shi'ah as part of their all-out campaign against the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them, and a necessary prerequisite of their suppression. In view of this, any effort to inform the public concerning the Shi'i doctrines and teachings is also conducive to the establishment of Muslim solidarity and brotherhood. Because the enemies of Islam have always tried to misrepresent the doctrinal and juristic principles of Muslim sects to one another in order to divide Muslims.


Three Aspects of al-Mufid's Work


I thank the distinguished scholars with whose efforts this high-level scholarly gathering is being convened and I thank all of you, scholars and experts, who will enrich it with your scholarly presence. I would like to participate in your momentous collective enterprise by discussing an important point relating to the scholarly personality of al-Mufid, that glorious Shaykh, and do my share of the job in unveiling the luminous visage of this man of centuries and eras. This point concerns "the place of Mufid in the development of Shi`ism in the fields of kalam and fiqh."


I have reached these conclusions with the help of reliable evidence based on his statements, views, and writings, as well as the statements of his pupils and biographers.


That thesis, put briefly, is that al-Shaykh al-Mufid is not merely an eminent theologian and jurist amongst Imamiyyah scholars. Rather, far more than that, he is the founder and progenitor of the evolving tradition in the fields of kalam and fiqh that continues to this day in the centres of Shi'i learning. And though not entirely free of historical, geographical and ideological influences, it has preserved its basic framework and original characteristics.


The exposition of this thesis and its affirmation is important because this tradition underwent such a rapid and astonishing growth and change in the period of half a century following him that the seminal role of al-Shaykh al-Mufid has been often ignored. Here, a point to be emphasized is that the brilliant and distinguished scholarly achievements of al-Shaykh Mufid's outstanding pupil, that is, al-Sayyid al-Murtada `Alam al-Huda (d. 432/1040), and the high peak of this chain as represented by the era of Shaykh al-Ta'ifah Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi (d.46411067), are, in fact, a continuation of the tradition whose founder was Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Nu'man al-Mufid. In order to explain this thesis, it is essential to elucidate the influential and decisive role of al-Mufid in the following three aspects:


1. establishment of the independent identity of the school of the Ahl-Bayt, may peace be upon them;


2. creation of a correct pattern and model for the development of Shi'i fiqh;


3. devising a method in fiqh and kalam based on logical compatibility between reason and revelation.


The high edifice built by Shi'i jurists and theologians during the last ten centuries and the incomparably rich literary tradition created by them through their works, rest on the foundations laid down by al-Shaykh al-Mufid through these three facets of his work.


Yet, before these three aspects are explained, it should be noted that al-Shaykh al-Mufid and the Shi'i centre of learning at Baghdad, each of them is a phenomenon that did not have a precedent in Shi'i history up to that time.


Undoubtedly, before that time, active Shi'i centres of learning were scattered everywhere from Syria to Transoxiana. Qumm, which succeeded the Kufah of the 2nd/8th and the 3rd/9th centuries as a major centre of hadith, and Ray, from which the well-known figures of al-Kulayni and Ibn Qibah al-Razi, among others, came, were only two of the numerous centres of Shi'i learning of that era. In the east, the centres of Transoxiana, two of whose famous representatives are al--`Ayyashi from Samarqand and Abu `Amr al-Kashshi, and the centre at Aleppo, whose Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Sabi'i al-Halabi and 'Ali ibn Khalid al-Halabi's names appear among the teachers of al-Mufid, should have been, as suggested by available evidence, important Shi'i centres of learning. A glance at the list of al-Kashshi's teachers shows what a remarkable number of scholars and traditionists received their training in the regions of Khurasan and Transoxiana far from the original Shi'i centres. This lends weight to the presumption that, perhaps, there were more than one centre of Shi'i learning engaged in the training of the learned in these regions. At least ten of the teachers of the above-mentioned scholars belonged to Samarqand or Kashsh (near Samarqand) and about the same number came from the cities of Bukhara, Balkh, Herat, Sarakhs, Nayshabur, Bayhaq, Fariyab and other towns of the region. [2]


The names of these scholars-all or most of whom were presumably Shi'ah-with nisbahs related to the towns of Transoxiana and Khurasan, lend support to the surmise that al-`Ayyashi-the doors of whose house according to al-Najashi, remained open in generous hospitality for learned Shi'is and scholars (kanat marta'an lil-Shi`ah wa ahl al-`ilm) [3] and which "like a mosque, was full of people including copyists, proofreaders,qaris and commentators [4]--lived at Samarqand and not Baghdad [5](also, it is very improbable that someone from Kufah or Baghdad would have gone seeking such a number of shaykhs from Khurasan and Turkistan), and this indicates the prevalence of the teachings and sciences of the Ahl al-Bayt and the presence of a very active centre of Shi'i learning in that city.


Also in Greater Syria and particularly Aleppo, in view of its large Shi'i population and the rule of the Hamdanids, who were themselves Shi'i and observed Shi'i customs and ceremonials, [6] there undoubtedly existed a considerable centre of learning, though in view of its proximity to Iraq and the presence of its traditionists and jurists in Baghdad, and later, during the times of al-Shaykh al-Tusi, in Najaf, it cannot be reckoned amongst the major centres.


This was in brief the position of Shi'i centres of learning during the period leading up to al-Mufid's times. The centre at Baghdad was also active during that period and was engaged in the study of the Islamic sciences and teachings. But with the appearance of al-Shaykh al-Mufid on the scene and the gradual spread of his scholarly renown, Baghdad, which was the political and geographical centre of the domains of Islam, also became the main centre of Shi'i learning. It became not only the central authority to which the religious and intellectual problems of the Shi'is were referred for solution, [7] but also the Mecca of those who aspired to acquire scholarship and learning.


Although an exhaustive list of all of al-Mufid's pupils-whose number must have been quite large-is not available, the number of those who are mentioned in the biographical sources amongst his pupils is very small, far less than what someone like al-Mufid must have trained during a period of about half a century of intellectual leadership of the Shi'ah. But the fact that a genius such as al-Shaykh al-Tusi was drawn towards Baghdad from Tus and not towards any of the centres near his native Tus (that is, those of Khurasan and Transoxiana), and his unwillingness to settle down in Rayy or Qumm, as well as the absence of any famous and prominent figure in these centres for a period that was not after all so short-all these indicate that with the rise of al-Mufid into prominence Baghdad assumed a place that none of the Shi'i centres of learning is known to have acquired earlier. That is, through a dominant position in all the sciences current in the different Shi'i centres, it eclipsed the fame of all the other centres throughout the Islamic world and continued to be reckoned the crown of Shi'i centres of learning until the birth of the auspicious and virgin centre of Najaf (in 448/1056 or 449/1057).


Without doubt, the active hub and the shining core of this centre was al-Shaykh al-Mufid. With his genius, extraordinary talents, and unceasing efforts, and by utilizing the unique position of Baghdad as the political and geographic centre of the Islamic world and the rendezvous of scholars of the various schools and sects, he attained a station which was unprecedented in its inclusiveness, which made him the cynosure and the rallying point of the Shi'i centre of Baghdad during his lifetime.


A study of the works of this august Shaykh as well as evidence from other sources make it clear that al-Mufid represents a wonderful confluence of most of the diverse qualities for which some eminent Shi'i figures until that time were famed: he combined in himself the fiqh of the early legists such as Ibn Babawayh and Ja'far ibn Qulawayh, the kalam of Ibn Qibah and the Nawbakht family, the `ilm al-rijal of al-Kashshi and al-Barqi, thehadith of al-Saduq, al-Saffar and al-Kulayni, in addition to his unique formidable talents for polemic and intellectual wrestling as well as other distinguished qualities. Of course, each of them is a torch that illuminates one of the paths relating to the teaching of the Ahl al-Bayt. But al-Mufid, like a candelabrum, combines of all their brilliance. And this is something which we do not find in any of the scholars before him. The statement of Ibn al-Nadim (d.380/990) suffices as a proof of his singular talents when he describes al-Mufid at an age of less than 44 years [8] as the leading Shi`i scholar of fiqh, kalam and hadith. And al-Dhahabi who, in hisTa'rikh al-'Islam, speaks of him in a biased and hostile tone, nonetheless cites Ibn Abi Tayy's statement about him:


"He was unrivalled in all the sciences: in the two usul [i.e usul al din andusul al fiqh], in fiqh -tradition, the science of rijal, the Qur'an and exegesis, grammar and poetry ... In all these sciences he was unequalled by anyone and he debated followers of any creed." [9]


Thus al-Mufid is one who combined in himself the sciences of his predecessors and it was through the means of such a versatile and multi-faceted personality that the tradition of Shi'i learning, as continued for centuries after him, came to be founded. In it fiqh, kalam, usul, literature,hadith and rijal were taught, studied and developed as complementaries of one another and side by side. It was this tradition whose sublime peak is represented by al-Sayyid al-Murtada and the zenith of whose perfection was the Shaykh al-Ta'ifah Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi.


In view of what we have said concerning the unprecedented character of al-Shaykh al-Mufid and the contemporary centre of Baghdad, al-Mufid must be considered the true progenitor of the Shi'i centres of learning of the following centuries with their characteristic constitution as places where all the Islamic sciences based on reason and tradition were taught and learnt and whose graduates were well-versed in all or most of those sciences.


At least until the era of al-Shahid al-'Awwal-that is, the time when speciality in fiqh and its prerequisites became the overwhelming concern of Shi'i centres of learning-the same constitution is observable in all or most of the centres and their human products. And this was a continuation of the tradition originated by the person of al-Mufid and the academic centre created by him: that is, the centre of Baghdad until the year 413/1022.


Therefore, it is not surprising if it is claimed that such a unique and distinguished figure was the originator and pioneer of a new path along the threefold lines mentioned earlier.


Now we shall discuss the threefold aspects of al-Mufid's intellectual personality.


1. Establishment of the Independent Identity of the School of the Ahl al-Bayt


After the beginning of the Era of Occultation (ghaybah) and, in particular, following the seventy-four year period of the Lesser Occultation and total severance of the Shi'ah from the Hidden Inan-may our souls be ransomed for him-one of the dangers that threatened the integrity of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt was that of accretions and losses that might occur in it through conscious or unconscious errors and deviations on behalf of those associated with this school. Another danger was that of adulteration of its truths with the doctrines or precepts of deviant creeds and counterfeit schools of jurisprudence as a result of the main conceptual boundaries of the school becoming vague and indistinct. Whenever such a thing occurred during the era of the Imam's presence in society, or whenever such a danger arose, the sacred person of the Imam himself represented the rallying centre and the criterion against which everything was judged and evaluated. Hence, as long as the Imam, may peace be upon him, was in the people's midst, errors did not linger for long and that infallible leader would elucidate the major errors at sensitive junctures. The Shi'ah were confident that if there occurs any deviation in the main lines of the school in any quarter, the truth would at last become manifest and those who seek it shall find it. During the times of the Imams, may peace be upon them, we come across individuals who were expressly repudiated and rejected for being guilty of some bid'ah, or for instituting a wrong creed, or for preaching some false doctrine-such as Muhammad ibn Miqlas, known as Abu al-Khattab, and Ibn Abi al--`Adhafir, known as al-Shalmaghani (this one pertaining to the era of the Lesser Occultation) and many others like them. We even come across instances where in cases of dispute between two groups of sincere and genuine followers when one of them denounced and ostracized some person or group for holding some belief, the Imam would rise to their defence by making complimentary remarks about them, approving that belief or acquitting the persons involved of the allegations of heresy. An example of it is the Imam's approval of Yunus ibn `Abd al-Rahman (through such remarks as: "rahimahullah, kana `abdan salihan," or "inna Yunusa awwalu man yujibu `Aliyyan idha da'ah";see Rijal al-Kashshi, the biographical account of Yunus ibn `Abd al-Rahman) when ostracized by the Qummis, who narrated denunciatory traditions regarding him. Another is the case of the Banu Faddal, who were eagerly sought for by the seekers of the sciences of the Ahl al-Bayt as a reliable source of knowledge. With the remark "khudhu ma rawu wa dharu ma daru" (`Take what they narrate but refrain from their interpretations'), the Imams checked their heretical (Fathi) belief from penetrating into the Shi`i masses. Such instances are numerous in the history of the relations of the Imams ('a) with their contemporaries and disciples.


From this viewpoint, during the period of his presence the Imam, may peace be upon him, is the ever-vigilant and watchful keeper of the creed's frontiers who safeguards the boundaries of the creed which are critical to its integrity.


However, it is a totally different situation during the period of occultation of the Imam, especially during the Greater Occultation. In this period, on the one hand, due to the daily increasing needs of the community, which now had to be met by the `ulama' rather than the Imam (`a), and, on the other, due to the absence of a clear and decisive authority to settle what are natural disagreements between the `Ulama' and the learned of the faith, the door is open for different ideas, views and interpretations in matters of religious doctrine and law. Amongst the varied opinions that emerged, it was natural that elements belonging to deviant schools of thought or those pertaining to heretical Shi'i creeds (Zaydi, Isma'ili, Fathi, etc.) should enter the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them, and compromise its purity and integrity, or even pose the threat of total disintegration in the long run.


Here arises one of the most important duties of the living leaders of the ummah, a duty which if carried out faithfully ensures the survival of the faith and amounts to a jihad critical for its continued life. That duty is that of the definition of the Shi'i faith as a system of thought and practice and the determination of a doctrinal and legal framework derived from the precious legacy of the statements of the Imams, may peace be upon them. The independent and clear-cut identity of the faith of the Ahl al-Bayt (`a)thus defined becomes available to its followers for understanding and utilization. This enables the `ulama' and the thinkers to distinguish departures from the principles in kalam and fiqh from variance of opinion within the framework of the school.


There is no doubt that this task had remained unattended until the time of al-Mufid, may God's mercy be upon him. Ibn al-Junayd's deviant inclination towards qiyas in fiqh and Mu'tazilite leanings in kalam on behalf of the house of Nawbakht are the best evidence of this claim, and these are just two examples of consequences arising from the absence of definition of boundaries of Shi'ism in the spheres of doctrine and law.


In the field of fiqh, the neglect of rational principles of juristic deduction and the failure to practise the inference of detailed rules from general principles-which were an incontestable part of the teachings of the Imams, may peace be upon them-or, on the opposite side, tumbling into the valley of qiyas, are reckoned as two opposite deviant tendencies that emerged as a result of the absence of a clear-cut framework and there existing no demarcation of the conceptual boundaries of the school. In the field ofkalam, the major manifestation of this absence of framework is the adulteration of Shi'i kalam by Mu'tazilite theology.


In the second case, the consequences were greater and more harmful. In this relation, the following cases are worthy of note:


(a) Major and famed theologians such as those of the Nawbakhti family fell victim to Mu'tazilite tendencies in many issues of 'ilm al-kalam and, like the Mu'tazilah, adopted an extreme rationalism for understanding theological issues.


(b) Some major Shi'i figures have been claimed by the Mu'tazilah, and Mu'tazili writers consider them as belonging to their own fold. One of them is the famous Shi'i scholar and theologian al-Hasan ibn Musa al-Nawbakhti, the nephew and contemporary of Abu Sahl Isma'il ibn 'Ali al-Nawbakhti, the distinguished figure of the Nawbakhtis. [10]


(c) It came to be imagined that Shi'ism and Mu'tazilism could come together in a single person, and some eminent figures are presented as having been both Shi'i and Mu'tazili. Some even accepted such a notion concerning themselves, proclaiming it repeatedly, and coming to believe it! An example of this kind is al-Sahib ibn 'Abbad, who declares in his verses:



Were my heart to be split open, Its inside would reveal a couplet, written by no scribe: 'Justice and tawhid' on one, And 'Love of the Ahl al-Bayt' on the other side. [11]


And elsewhere he says:



I declared: Indeed I am a Shi'i and a Mu'tazili!


This, despite the fact that the distinctive doctrine of Shi'sm is the Imamate of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them, which no Mu'tazili accepts, and the distinctive dogma of I'tizal is al-manzilah bayn al-manzilatayn[i.e. the belief that the perpetrator of a major sin is neither a mu'min nor akafir], which contradicts established Shi'i beliefs.


(d) Some Shi'i scholars accepted one of the five Mu'tazilite dogmas without being styled Mu'tazili by others or themselves. For instance, al-Najashi writes about Muhammad ibn Bishr al-Hamduni that "he held sound beliefs but believed in wa'id" [i.e. the belief that the perpetrator of grave sins would be in hell forever] (Rijal, p. 381).


(e) Shi'i kalam in general has been thought to have been derived from Mu'tazilite kalam, in particular the two doctrines of tawhid and 'adl,which are claimed to have entered Shi'ite theology from I'tizal. This notion is repeatedly stated in the statements of non-Shi'i heresiographers and theologians from the early times to the later eras, as well as in the statements of those who have relied for their information on non-Shi'i works, as in the case of the Orientalists. Even at the time of al-Mufid himself, the Mu'tazilite theologian and Hanafi faqih from Saghan, to whom al-Mufid refers as the "deluded shaykh" in his al-Masa'il al-Saghaniyyah,did have such a misconception about al-Mufid, concerning whom he says, "A shaykh from Baghdad who has borrowed his ideas from the Mu'tazilites has said . . . " (see al-Masa'il al-Saghaniyyah, p. 41). However, Shi'i researchers and writers-excepting those who, like the Orientalists, have relied on non-Shi'i sources-have remained secure from this error and this is on account of the greatly fruitful work of al-Mufid.[12]


* * * * * *


With attention to that which has been said, the importance of al-Mufid's work as someone who took upon himself the task of defining the school of the Ahl al-Bayt becomes evident. Answering the need of the times and by relying on his own scholarly powers, this august genius took up this difficult, unprecedented, and greatly momentous and critical task and truly accomplished it successfully. This is not to claim that after al-Mufid no one did, or could not, fall victim to ignorance and error in understanding the content of Shi'ism. What is claimed is that the understanding of this school of thought and the recognition of its boundaries and limits became easier for someone trying to find them, and the faith of the Ahl al-Bayt ('a) with its special characteristics in the spheres of fiqh and kalam became quite accessible to researchers without the danger of being confused with other creeds.


For accomplishing this great task, al-Mufid made a number of practical moves each of which deserves to be studied independently. I will make just a passing reference to the list of these moves in the fields of fiqh andkalam.


In fiqh he wrote Kitab al-muqni'ah, which contains an almost complete course in fiqh. In that book, he took the straight path of adopting the middle course of legal deduction comprising the employment of literal proofs (adillah lafziyyah) and the juristic rules (qawa'id usuliyyah) and abstention from qiyas [analogical reasoning], istihsan and other invalid tools (we will discuss this matter later in the subsequent section).


In addition to this, he also wrote al-Tadhkirah bi usul al-fiqh, and-so far as it is possible to make an assertion on the basis of written works-for the first time collected the juristic rules of legal deduction, giving fatwa on this basis (we will speak of this book, too, later on). Apart from these two works, he also compiled al-'I'lam wherein he mentioned the cases where Shi'i legists concur on a certain hukm and the Sunni legists disagree [with the Shi'i position] unanimously and none amongst the legists of the Ahl al-Sunnah has given a ruling in accordance with the Shi'i consensus. A number of the chapters of this book have been the subject of discussion and research on account of the cases of consensus reported. In relation to the definition of the lines of demarcation between Imami and Hanafi fiqh, al-Masa'il al-Saghaniyyah, written as a rejoinder to the objections of a Hanafi jurist about some issues of Shi'ite fiqh, is also a precious work.


One of al-Mufid's original works in this field is al-Naqd 'ala Ibn al-Junayd, whose title is indicative of his role as a determined sentinel determined to guard the fiqhi frontiers of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them. Of course, a definite judgement concerning the book's content is not possible, for it is not available to us. But our acquaintance with his style of work, the powerful character of his arguments in religious polemics, his extensive knowledge of the religious sources, his firm ordering of the preliminaries in a discursive argument, his determined stance against Ibn al-Junayd's tendency towards qiyas,examples of which can be seen in al-Masa'il al-Saghaniyyah [13] -all these lead us to believe that the said work must have been scholarly and convincing in its content and without doubt it was quite influential in discontinuing the said tendency amongst Imami legists.


However, al-Mufid's more important and more extensive contribution in this regard, i.e. the establishment of Shi'ism's independent identity, relates to kalam. In this field, the purpose of this august shaykh of ours was to draw, with his characteristic perspicacity and precision, the lines of demarcation between Shi'i doctrines and the other creeds. This would enable him to stop the doctrinal elements of other Islamic and Shi'i creeds from encroaching into the body of Shi'i doctrines and to frustrate the attempts to attribute wrong ideas to the Shi'i creed which have nothing to do with Shi'ism. That is the reason why during his career as a polemist he calls all the creeds of his time to debate, and engages in debate with Ash'arites, Mu'tazilites, Murji'ites, Kharijites, anthropomorphists, the Ahl al-Hadith, the Ghulat, the Nasibites and representative of other major and minor Muslim sects. But more than any other rival sect, he was concerned to confront Mu'tazilism and its well-known offshoots and devoted himself to the refutation of Mu'tazilite views concerning various issues in several of his books and major and minor risalahs. The clue to this matter is that of all the various Islamic sects it was Mu`tazilism which, due to the resemblance between some of its doctrines and certain Shi'i principles, could be a likely candidate for the suspicion that it was the source of many Shi'i beliefs, or even of the belief that it was the same as Shi'ism with some slight differences. It could lead to the misconception that Shi'i kalam in its entirety was derived from Mu'tazilite theology, or that the principles of Shi'i theology were the same as that of Mu'tazilism. And as stated earlier, this misconception has resulted in certain harmful consequences. In fact, the preoccupation with Mu'tazilite doctrines in al-Mufid's works is a prominent instance of his role as a sentinel safeguarding the integrity of Shi'ism and affirming the independence and originality of its theological system.


In this context, the most important work of the Shaykh is his famousAwa'il al-maqalat fi al-madhahib wa al-mukhtarat written to explain the difference between Shi'ism and Mu'tazilism. As he himself explains in the book's introduction, there he has paid attention even to the differences of these two sects in some common doctrines, such as that of Justice, and their points of disagreement. [14]


It appears from his statements in this brief introduction that the aim of writing this book was to provide a reliable source of reference concerning matters of doctrine for those interested in the details of the fundamentals of the creed. In this book, he criticizes even some Shi'ite scholars who had earlier adopted some Mu'tazilite views and compromised the purity of the system of Shi'i theology. He mentions Banu Nawbakht in this context. This is the same duty of guarding the frontiers and defending the conceptual system of Shi'ism of which al-Mufid, may God's mercy be upon him, was-so far as we have detailed knowledge-the first standard bearer.


Of course, the work of demarcation of doctrinal boundaries between Shi'ism and Mu'tazilism is not confined to the Awa'il al-maqalat. In his other books as well he devotes himself to this task, approaching the subject in various ways and often, from the viewpoint of style, in a most appealing and effective manner. But in the Awa'il this characteristic is visible in its consummate form In it we encounter cases where there is an agreement between the Shi'ah and the Mu'tazilah concerning a certain belief. In such cases, his treatment of the subject is such as to highlight the independence of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt in respect of that belief, and any doubt that the Shi'ah might have followed the Mu'tazilah in the matter is laid to rest. For instance, concerning the denial of the possibility of Beatific Vision he states: "I say that it is not possible to see God, glory be to Him, with the eyes. This statement is affirmed by reason, the Qur'an states it, and the traditions of the Imams of guidance belonging to the Family of Muhammad (s) are mutawatir in this regard. All the Imamiyyah as well as all their theologians are unanimous in this regard, except one of them who has departed from the straight path due to a doubt that appeared to him in the interpretation of the traditions. The Mu'tazilah are in agreement with the Imamiyyah in this regard and so also all the Murji'ah and many of the Khawarij and the Zaydis and groups of Ashab al-Hadith . . ." (Awail al-Maqalat, pp. 62-63).


In holding this belief, the Shi'ah rely upon their own reliable proofs (adillah) derived from the Book and mutawatir Sunnah, in addition to its affirmation through rational proofs. Accordingly, there is no reason why they should borrow from the Mu'tazilah or some other sect. Rather, it is the Mu'tazilah who have gone along with the Imamiyyah in this matter. Such an account suggests that it is the Mu'tazilites who are indebted to the Shi'ah in this matter.


Again, in the context of "God's knowledge of things prior to their existence," he states:


I say that God, the Most Exalted, knows everything before its coming into existence. Indeed there is no temporally produced thing (hadith) that He does not know before its coming into being. There is nothing that can be possibly known but that He knows its reality, and, indeed, there is nothing in the earth or the heaven that is concealed from Him, subhanah. This is based on rational proofs, the Scripture, and mutawatir traditions narrated from the family of the Messenger (s), and this is the creed of all the Imamiyyah. And we know nothing of what the Mu'tazilites report of Hisham ibn al-Hakam in opposition to it. Our opinion is that it was fabricated by them against him, and it has deceived those Shi'ites who followed them and alleged it of him . . . .


With us in the doctrine we hold on the subject are all the believers in God's Unity, except al-Jahm ibn Safwan among the determinists and Hisham ibn `Amr al-Fuwati among the Mu'tazilah. (pp. 60-61)


In this passage, the writer's tone and his recourse to the Qur'an, mutawatir traditions, and reason as the grounds for holding the belief, all clearly suggest the independence of Shi`i theology, although that belief is shared by the Mu'tazilah and other sects.


In some cases, the Shi'ah and the Mu'tazilah concur in regard to part of a certain well-known issue. In such instances, al-Mufid mentions the points of difference between the Shi'ah and the Mu'tazilah so that their ostensible partial agreement in regard to the issue should not mislead one in regard to its detailed aspects.


For instance, both the Shi'ah and the Mu`tazilah subscribe to the doctrine of lutf and aslah. But al-Mufid; in order to avert the possibility of error in understanding the issue and in order that the Shi'ah might steer clear of the error of the Mu'tazilah in this problem, after explaining the doctrine ofaslah immediately adds:


I say that the Help (lutf) which the proponents of the doctrine of lutfmake incumbent upon God is so from His generosity and nobility (al-jud wa al-karam). It is not-as they think-justice that obliges Him, so that He would be unjust were He not to give it. (Awa'il, p. 65)


Even in cases where there are isolated cases of some Shi'i theologians concurring with the Mu'tazilite standpoint, he insists upon mentioning them by name or through some other indication so that the viewpoint held by these exceptions to the rule is not ascribed to Shi`ism as such. For instance, in the context of `ismah (infallibility), after mentioning the Imami view concerning the protection of the Imams, may peace be upon them, from minor sins and even inadvertent faults (sahw) and forgetfulness, he says:


This is the doctrine of all the Imamis, except someone who is eccentric and sticks to the letter of traditions which have interpretations contrary to his pernicious opinion in this matter. All the Mutazilites oppose it, allowing grave sins and apostasy to occur on the part of the Imam. (Awa'il, p. 74)


It appears that here al-Mufid's reference is to al-Shaykh al-Saduq, may God's mercy be upon him.


Apparent in these examples, and throughout the Awa'il al-maqalat, is the distinguished role of al-Shaykh al-Mufid, in defining the doctrinal boundaries of Shi'ism, as a vigilant and unsparing sentinel fully determined to define the doctrinal and theological framework of Shi'ism in such a manner that its adherent is not mistaken for the follower of any other creed.


The same goal is also pursued in other books though in a somewhat different way. For instance, in al-Hikayat, the major part of which deals with the refutation of Mu'tazilite doctrines relating to different theological issues, there is a chapter entitled "ittiham al-tashbih" in which the narrator, who is probably al-Sayyid al-Murtada, says: "The Mu'tazilah accused our predecessors of anthropomorphism, and even some traditionists (ahl al-hadith) belonging to the Imamiyyah, who have taken their word for it, claim that we have borrowed our anti-anthropomorphic stance from the Mu'tazilah. [15] Thereupon he requests al-Shaykh al-Mufid, may God's mercy be upon him, to narrate a tradition refuting this allegation.


In reply, al-Mufid, after speaking at some length about the origin and history of this allegation and after pointing out that the number of riwayathanded down from the Ahl al-Bayt (`a) concerning the repudiation oftashbih is innumerable, cites in this context a tradition from Hadrat Abu `Abd Allah (a). Then he says: "This is a statement of Abu `Abd Allah, may peace be upon him. Now how is it possible (to say) that we have borrowed it from the Mu'tazilah, without the speaker of such a statement being lacking in piety?" (al-Hikayat, pp. 79-81). This deep concern with repudiating the accusations of tashbih, jabr and ru'yah in relation to Shi'i belief is also another conspicuous example of the role of al-Shaykh al-Mufid of guarding the faith's frontiers and establishing the independent identity of the creed of the Ahl al-Bayt (`a).


In view of al-Mufid's concern in the Awa'il al-maqalat and his other theological writings, such as Tashih al-Ittiqad, al-Fusul al-mukhtarah,etc., for defining Shi'i doctrine and demarcating its boundaries in relation to the other theological creeds and sects, especially Mu'tazilism, it can be said that he planned to present Shi'ism as a coherent conceptual system with well-defined and clear-cut boundaries. There is no doubt that the distinctive mark of this conceptual system is Imamate, which puts Shi'sm apart from every other sect, and faith in which is the criterion for attributing an individual or group to the Shi'i creed. It is true that in other doctrinal matters as well there are major differences in respect of ethos and spirit and in respect of some details and subsidiary issues between the Shi'ah and the other sects despite some nominal similarities-as in the case oftawhid, Justice, Divine attributes, and the like-but it is in the doctrine of Imamate that the difference between the Shi'ah and other Islamic sects is more conspicuous and explicit than in any other issue. Accordingly, apart from the fact that he opens some of his longer works, such as the Awa'il al-maqalat and other books, with the discussion of Imamate, he has written numerous treatises, long and short and with different titles, on the subject of Imamate.


Here, it would be appropriate to point out that to say that the doctrine of Imamate is a distinctive characteristic of al-Mufid's system of thought is quite different from stating, as one Orientalist does, that Imamate plays a `pivotal role' in al-Mufid's thought. The pivot and axis in the system of Shi'i thought, and in that of all Shi'i theologians including al-Mufid and others, is the faith in the Creator and the Unity (tawhid) of God, the Most Exalted. Such important doctrines as that of Divine attributes, their number, meaning, and relation to the essence of` of magestic is His Name, the doctrine of prophethood and its related issues, the doctrine of justice, the doctrine of Imamate, and the doctrines related to human obligation, resurrection and so on-all of them with their respective issues are based on the doctrine of tawhid. Unfortunately, the Orientalists, and others who lack an adequate grasp of Islamic concepts, make such errors in understanding the intent of some major Shi`i figures such as al-Shaykh al-Mufid. It is hoped that gatherings and discussions such as this one would help in dispelling the misconceptions and revealing the facts. A Western scholar who has written about the ideas of al-Shaykh al-Mufid has at one place expressed the opinion that al-Mufid lacked a coherent system of thought. Elsewhere he states that his system of thought is based on Imamate. As said, both these views are mistaken. Al-Mufid's system of thought has been clearly set forth in his numerous books and treatises, and their pivot-after the problem of ma'rifah, which is a logical prelude to all theological issues-is the issue of the Divine essence and attributes. Other issues, in order of their rank, are subsidiary to it. The issue of Imamate, as said, is the essential distinctive feature of this school in contrast to the other schools and is a doctrine by which a Shi'i believer is identified. Perhaps, it may be compared to the doctrine of al-manzilah bayn al-manzilatayn in Mu'tazilism. Yet, amongst the fivefold doctrines of Mu'tazilism, this one is neither the foremost nor the most important nor the most fundamental doctrine as is tawhid or Justice. But, at the same time, the doctrine of al-manzilah bayn al-manzilatayn is a characteristic feature of Mu'tazilism and the source of its origin and there is no Mu'tazilite who does not believe in it. The same is true of Imamate in the conceptual system of Shi'ism.


From that which has been said, it becomes clear that al-Shaykh al-Mufid, that great genius of Shi'i history, was the first to define and demarcate the boundaries of Shi'ism in fiqh and kalam. In `ilm al-kalam he formulated a coherent and well-defined system of theology from the bulk of Shi'i beliefs and saved it from being confused with other Islamic creeds as well as non-Imamite offshoots of Shi'ism. In the field of fiqh, he produced a comprehensive text setting forth the methods of deduction based on principles derived from the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them, and blocked the way to such unreliable practices as qiyas[analogical reasoning] and such inadequate or primitive methods as were employed by the traditionists (ahl al-hadith).


In other words, he established the independent identity of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, may Peace be upon them. This is the first of the threefold aspects fundamental to understanding al-Mufid as the founder and originator of the evolving tradition of scholarship pertaining to the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, may Peace be upon them.


2. Devising a Correct Model and Pattern for Shi'i Fiqh


Fiqh, in the sense of the practice of inferring the laws of the Shari'ah from its sources, the Book and the Sunnah, has a long history in Shi'ism. Al-'Imam al-Baqir's directing Aban ibn Taghlib to give fatwas, with the words, "Ijlis fi masild al-Madinah wa if ti al-nas," [16] and his instructions given to `Abd al--'A'la (Ya'rif u hadha wa ashbahahu min kitab Alldh `azza wa jall: Qala Allahu ta'ala: "Ma ja'ala `alaykum fi al-dini min haraj") and other statements of the kind indicate that the companions of the Imams had begun to practise the deduction of ahkamfrom the Qur'an, the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and statements of the Imams (a) at an early stage. `Fiqh' in the sense of the knowledge ofahkam was not limited amongst the Shi'is to merely practising taqlid and acting in accordance with the statements of the Imams (a). It steadily continued to develop and expand with time, becoming more extensive and complex in respect of juristic inference. Nevertheless, there is a great distance which separates the Shi'i fiqh and ifta' as practised by the jurists from among the companions of the Imams (a) from what it became during the eras of its maturity and fruition: that is, the activity of deducing the laws (furu`) from juristic principles (usul) and the inference of hundreds of general rules and thousands of complex and complicated juristic precepts from the Book, the Sunnah, and reason, and the procurement of innumerable furu` capable of meeting all the needs of mukallaf persons during the ghaybah of the Infallible Imam, as well as the identification of God's halal and haram in all the spheres in their full details. This great distance was to be covered through a gradual progress of the juristic tradition.


There is no doubt that the legists before al-Mufid had made valuable contributions in this direction. But this great teacher, with the intellectual prowess of a genius, is considered in this field, too, a point of departure for a new phase which was as eventful as it was to become progressively prolific and profound. It appears that after several centuries of collection of the sources of fiqh-that is, the statements of the Infallible Ones-and giving of juristic opinion on the basis of the texts and literal meanings of traditions, the time had come in the history of fiqh to remould this legacy into a scientific structure and to devise a methodology for the deduction ofahkam.


There existed two different trends in Shi'ite fiqh before al-Mufid. One of them is the one whose prominent representative was 'Ali ibn Babawayh (d. 329/940). We may perhaps call it "the Qumm tradition," and it is highly probable that Ja'far ibn Qalawayh (d. 368/978 or 369/979), al-Mufid's teacher, also belonged to it. The practice of fiqh in this tradition was based on giving juristic rulings in accordance with the texts of tradition, so that every fatwa in the books of this group of jurists referred to a relevant tradition. Accordingly, whenever the author of such a fatwa possessed the prerequisites of reliability (withaqah) and precision (dabt), that fatwa istaken as the equivalent of a hadith. This is why al-Shahid al-'Awwal states in his Dhikra: "Shi'i scholars used to rely upon the contents of al-Shaykh Abu al-Hasan Ibn Babawayh's [Kitab] al-Shara'i` for paucity of [hadith]texts, on account of their good opinion of him and for the reason that hisfatwa was like his riwayah." [17]


Obviously, a fiqh of this kind is quite of an elementary character and devoid of any complicated technicalities. The furu` mentioned in the legal texts pertaining to this trend are confined to the furu` contained in the texts of traditions and are very few and limited. It was this lack which caused the opponents to criticize Shi'i fiqh for its poverty in regard to the number of furu`. This criticism in turn prompted al-Shaykh al-Tusi-may God's mercy be upon him-later on to write his al-Mabsut in order to silence such criticisms.


The second trend was opposed to the first one; it was based on reasoning and, presumably, inspired by Sunni fiqh. Its two well-known representatives are al-Hasan ibn 'Ali ibn Abi `Aqil al-`Ummani (d. c 350/9701 and Ibn al-Junayd al-'Iskafi (d. probably 381/991). Although we don't possess adequate information concerning this trend-and even about these two famous jurists-to judge with precision the level of their expertise in ijtihad and juristic deduction, but, on the basis of what others have reported concerning Ibn al-Junayd, it appears fairly certain that he was disposed towards qiyas and ra'y and had departed from acceptable Shi'i practice. As to al-`Ummani, this tendency is not ascribed to him. Rather al-Najashi says of him: "I heard our Shaykh Abu `Abd Allah praising a lot this man, may God have mercy upon him." [18] From al-Najashi's statement-and judging from what al-Tusi says about him in al-Fihrist [19] -we may conclude that he was a jurist of the straight kind and perhaps his approach was the same as the one adopted by al-Mufid, the one on which he based his works and his research and in accordance with which trained his pupils. However, his opinions are mostly of the eccentric kind, rarely held by jurists (shadhdh), and are not followed (matruk).And perhaps that is the reason why all that survived of his book during the periods following 'Allamah and Muhaqqiq-may God's mercy be upon them-was its name. Accordingly, it may be surmised that he could not have been among the progenitors of the subsequent juristic tradition and that his juristic approach must have suffered from some inadequacies. Nevertheless, this pioneering scholar, about whom Bahr al-`Ulum says, "He was the first to refine fiqh and to employ rational judgement and analysis in the matters of usul and furu` at the outset of the Greator Occultation" (Fatawa al-'alamayn, p. 13), was undoubtedly instrumental in helping al-Mufid find a valid framework for the practice of fiqh, whichwas a first step, to which al-'Ummani's work must be considered a prelude.


As noted, each of these two trends in the practice of fiqh was deficient in certain respects. In the first, the fatwa consisted of the text of the riwayahwithout involving any effort made to deduce a rule from general principles and without any critical study, scrutiny and reasoning. Ijtihad, in its current technical sense, played no role in the practice of fiqh. In the second trend, although resort was made to reasoning and critical judgement, it was not apparently fully in accord with the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them. Either it was accompanied with qiyas or was of such a nature that led to eccentric results and hence could not continue in Shi'i juristic circles.


Al-Mufid's jurisprudence was free from these two faults and possessed the merits of both the trends: it relied upon such methods as were acceptable for the Imamiyyah and employed ijtihad in its current technical sense as well, making use of reasoning and critical inference in fiqh. Accordingly, he is the one who produced a scientific model that was reliable and acceptable to the Shi'ah, giving a scientific order to the traditional material and the principles of jurisprudence, and left it as an enduring legacy for Shi'i centres of legal studies. Through the course of centuries until today it has been pursued by the official tradition of fiqh and nurtured to the maturity and fruition that it possesses today.


In order to get briefly acquainted with the worth and significance of al-Mufid's work in fiqh, we will make a passing reference to three relevant topics. They are: (a) the Kitab al-muqni'ah; (b) al-Mufid's short rasa'ilrelating to fiqh; (c) the Kitab al-tadhkirah bi usul al-fiqh.


(a) Kitab al-Muqni'ah


The Muqni'ah constitutes almost a complete course in fiqh. There existed no other earlier work in fiqh with this characteristic. Al-Saduq's Muqni',besides being comprised of texts of traditions, like the book of 'Ali ibn Babawayh, is not as comprehensive as the Muqni'ah in respects of the legal topics covered. Moreover, its discussions are short and brief. Although in his book al-Mufid does not set forth the argument underlying his fatwas-and that is why it is not easy to understand the demonstrative grounds supporting his legal opinions-but, on the basis of some reliable evidence, we can say that his fatwas in this book are based on a firm demonstrative basis. And though he did not commit these arguments to writing-which would have been beneficial for the future generation had he done so-they were such as to serve as a model for his pupils and the next generation of legists who developed them on similar lines. That reliable evidence is furnished by the Kitab al-tahdhib of al-Shaykh al-Tusi. As we know, the Tahdhib is a commentary on the Muqni'ah and mentions the juristic arguments underlying it. While mentioning his motives for writing the book in its introduction, al-Shaykh al-Tusi-may God's mercy be upon him-says that the same friend who had requested him to compile the work had also asked him to write a commentary on al-Mufid's Muqni'ah,which, he said, was comprehensive, adequate, and free from superfluous and unnecessary material. Thereafter, al-Tusi describes his own method of demonstration which is briefly as follows: First, recourse would be made to the literal or express meanings of Qur'anic verses or their various kinds of connotative meanings; following that recourse would be made to the established Sunnah, in the sense of a tradition that is mutawatir or one accompanied with supporting evidence or general consensus of the Muslim community or consensus of the Imamiyyah; following that `prevalent' (mashhur) traditions relating to every issue would be cited; then an examination of the conflicting text (dalil) (if existent) would be undertaken and an effort made to affect a synthesis between the two conflicting dalilsand when that is not possible the conflicting text would be rejected for the `weakness' of its isnad or due to the absence of its popularity amongst Shi'i scholars; in cases where both the texts are equal in respect of isnadand such other aspect (such as the immediate context [jaht] of its pronouncement or the lack of its popularity among legists, etc.) and none of the two can be preferred to the other, the tradition which is in agreement with the general principles and rules of the Shari'ah would be adopted and the other which is contrary to them would be abandoned; in cases where there exists no relevant tradition in a given matter, one would act in accordance with the relevant (Shari'i) principle and at all times textual synthesis would be preferred to preference on the basis of sanadand, so far as possible, the textual synthesis would be affected in accordance with a precedent recorded in tradition (shahid al-jam` al-mansus).


This is the method mentioned by al-Shaykh al-Tusi at the beginning of theTahdhib with reference to his aim of unravelling the demonstrative basis of the Muqni'ah. The experts in the field know very well that it sums up the methods of juristic reasoning used throughout all the eras of Shi'i fiqh until today, and it reflects the general pattern of legal deduction prevalent from the times of al-Tusi-may God's mercy be upon him-up to the present. Now, the question is whether al-Shaykh al-Mufid, as the author of theMuqni'ah, was himself aware of this comprehensive method of deduction that could lead a jurist to all the fatwas of that book, or if he formulated those fatwas without the knowledge of this method of inference. In other words, is al-Shaykh al-Tusi himself the originator of this method or if he had learnt it from al-Mufid, his teacher? It appears that the answer to this question becomes clear if we examine the different aspects of the matter. It is known that al-Shaykh al-Tusi began the compilation of the Tahdhibduring the life of al-Mufid, that is, before 413/1022, and its introduction was written at that time. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi came to Iraq in 408/1017 when he was a youth of 23 years and began his higher studies and research under the guidance of al-Shaykh al-Mufid. He benefited from that great genius for a period of five years and the rest of his education continued under al-Sayyid al-Murtada for a period of 23 years. Accordingly, there remains no doubt that al-Tusi imbibed that method of legal deduction from al-Shaykh al-Mufid, and since he knew his teacher's method of deduction, he could furnish the demonstrative grounds of his teacher's work in accordance with the latter's principle of juristic reasoning.


Such a conclusion is further affirmed, or rather becomes quite definite, when we examine al-Shaykh al-Mufid's principles of juristic inference as discussed in his book on usul al-fiqh, which shall be discussed later on. When we consider that book and al-Mufid's reliance on the Qur'an, onmutawatir Sunnah accompanied with supporting evidence, and on themashhur and mursal traditions acted upon by Shi'i jurists, as well as his other views relating to jurisprudence, it becomes quite certain that the deductive methodology described by al-Shaykh al-Tusi in the introduction to the Tahdhib is the same as the one adopted and followed by his teacher and taught by the master to his pupils.


Hence we may conclude that although the Kitab al-muqni'ah does not contain demonstrative details, its fatwas are based on the same lines of deduction as became prevalent in Shi'i centres of law and jurisprudence throughout the thousand years after al-Mufid.


Moreover, this method of deduction constitutes a comprehensive and inclusive approach that is unprecedented in the two earlier trends of Shi'i juristic thought-i.e. the trend represented by Ibn Babawayh and the other by Ibn Abi `Aqil and Ibn al-Junayd-and our honoured Shaykh was its founder and originator.


(b) Juristic Treatises


Despite their brevity, these treatises (rasa'il) reveal the profundity of al-Mufid's juristic wisdom. Although some of them, like al-Mash `ala al-rijlayn and Dhaba'ih ahl al-kirab are based on an argumentation of polemical and quasi-rational character, but some others, such as al-Mihr Jawabat ahl al-Mawsil fi al-ru'yah wa al-`adad and al-Masa'il al-Saghaniyyah truly possess a firm and structured juristic style. In the second risalah, which is devoted to the refutation of the belief, ascribed to al-Saduq and some other early jurists, concerning the month of Ramadan always consisting of thirty days, al-Shaykh al-Mufid, makes recourse to Qur'anic verses, advances etymological reasons, calls indubitable juristic rules as witness, offers a critical examination of the traditions that are advanced as evidence by the adversaries, scrutinizes the tradition's chain of transmission, mentions the biographical details concerning the narrators, as well as many points that help in understanding the traditions and making an inference from them, while utilizing them in the best and the most dexterous manner. One of the interesting things he does in this treatise is his treatment of a tradition advanced by the opposite side. After citing it, he shows the weakness of its isnad and, while advancing a firm argument, declares its content to be unreasonable, far from the wisdom of the Imam's statements, and the product of an ignorant fabricator. He mentions reasons that suggest the probability of discontinuity (irsal) in the chain of its narration, which show his profound knowledge and mastery of hadith (see p. 23 ff., the section relating to the riwayah of Ya'qub ibn Shu'ayb from al-'Imam al-Sadiq, may peace be upon him).


Al-Masa'il al-Saghaniyyah, written as a rejoinder to the objections of an Hanafi jurist of Saghan concerning some ten issues of fiqh, is another example of the powers of juristic reasoning and the vast and profound learning of the venerable Shaykh. Although this treatise is of a theological character-as it is intended to meet the allegations of a non-Shi'i opponent in a polemical encounter and responds by accusing him of engaging in slander and his imam of instituting bid'ah-but since the issues posed generally relate to law, in it al-Mufid's argumentative powers, his scientific spirit and ijtihad are clearly evident to any specialist in the field.


This treatise, along with al-`Adad wa al-ru'yah, is well indicative of al-Shaykh al-Mufid's originality and is another evidence of the fact that the juristic method observable in the approach of his disciples, as well as their pupils, is derived in its entirety from the method devised by him.


(c) Kitab al-Tadhkirah bi Usul al-Fiqh


The science of Usul al-fiqh constitutes the code of juristic deduction. It consists of a method for deriving practical rules from reliable sources. The formulation of the rules of jurisprudence amounts to laying down a code for the practice of fiqh. Without such a code, the practice of fiqh lacks a well-defined framework and is prone to error, confusion, and incursion of foreign elements, as a result of which the rules deduced would lack credibility. Moreover, without such a code, subjective opinion and personal understanding and taste of the legist affects the results obtained to an inordinate extent and juristic opinion becomes subject to divergence and chaos.


It is true that the growing sophistication and maturity of usul al-fiqh isconducive to the soundness of juristic opinions; but that which has a critical relevance for the results of juristic effort is the creation of this discipline. Without doubt, the real roots and sources of usul al-fiqh are implicit in the formulations of the Imams, may peace be upon them, which are referred to as usul mutlaqat, but the first work on usul amongst the Shi'ah (so far as we know) was written by al-Shaykh al-Mufid. It is a small book but rich in content, entitled al-Tadhkirah bi usul al-fiqh, which is probably an abridgement made by al-Shaykh Abu al-Fadl al-Karajaki (d. 44911057), al-Mufid's pupil, of the master's work, which was itself a short work.


Despite its briefness, this work has considerable importance because, firstly, it is the first work on Shi'ite usul al-fiqh. In the introduction to his`Uddat al-'usul, al-Shaykh al-Tusi says: "We do not know of anyone from amongst our companions having written anything on this subject (fihadha al-ma'na) except that which our teacher Abu `Abd Allah-may God's mercy be upon him-has mentioned in his short work (al-mukhtasar) on usul al-fiqh. [20]


Secondly, many topics are dealt with in it in a concise manner and especially in the chapter relating to semantics?' (mabahith al-'alfaz) there are several section headings covering important topics. Thirdly, the opinions of al-Mufid on some of the topics discussed in it are very similar to those of much later scholars of usul. For instance, his statement concerning khass and 'amm (general and particular) resembles very much what latter-day scholars close to our own age mean by al-'iradat al-jiddiyyah and al-'iradat al-'isti'maliyyah. In this context al-Mufid says (p. 37):



Fourthly, though the book was meant to be a short one, [21] the topics which are of greater relevance and need for the deduction of juristic rules have been given priority in the book, and other topics of theoretical interest (such as those related to the nature of knowledge and language, which the Shaykh al-Ta'ifah-may God's mercy be upon him-has discussed in detail at the beginning of the `Uddat al-'usul) have not been dealt by him. In view of this it is very interesting that in spite of the book's conciseness, some topics which are of frequent use and reference in legal inference have not been neglected but discussed in an appropriate manner. Some of these topics are: the applicability of the concepts of `umum anditlaq only to verbal Sunnah (al-sunnat al-qawliyyah), not to behavioural Sunnah (al-sunnat al-fi'liyyah); [22] that a command (amr) subsequent to a prohibition does not signify anything more than permissibility (ibdhah);[23] that when an exception is made subsequent to several commands, in the absence of an indication the exception applies to all those instances.[24]


From that which has been said it becomes clear that al-Shaykh al-Mufid, through his book on usul al-fiqh prepared the necessary ground for the development of a scientific model for juristic inference. For him `ilm al-'usul is not a collection of quasi-theological notions, but, as mentioned expressly by his pupil in 'Uddat al-'usul, it is "the basis on which the laws of the Shari'ah are based. The knowledge of the Shari'ah does not become perfect without making this basis strong, and one who fails to acquire a firm knowledge of jurisprudence is only a narrator." That is, such a person is an imitator, not a true scholar. [25]


3. Devising a Method in Fiqh and Kalam Based on a Synthesis Between Reason and Revelation


This is the third aspect of al-Shaykh al-Mufid's work as the founder and progenitor of the present Shi'i tradition of learning. Here, too, he paved a new path, midway between the unchecked rationalism of the Mu'tazilah and their Shi'i followers, such as the Nawbakhtis, and the traditionalism of al-Shaykh al-Saduq.


During the hay day of Mu'tazilism, that is, at the end of the first phase of the `Abbasid caliphate (a phase that concluded about the middle of the 3rd/9th century), the Mu'tazilah were strongly influenced by the influx of alien philosophical ideas (Greek, Pahlavi, Indian, etc.) into the Islamic world and translation of works related to those traditions. At that time, both the influx of alien thought as well as this tendency of the Mu'tazilah received enthusiastic patronage of the 'Abbasid caliphs, especially al-Ma'mun. The movement of the Ahl al-Hadith amongst the Sunnis, and such traditionists as al-Saduq, may God's mercy be upon him, amongst the Shi'ah, who sought to understand certain theological and doctrinal issues through hadith, represented a reaction to this extreme rationalism of the Mu'tazilah.


The great contribution of al-Mufid was to drive home the point that reason is incapable of independently understanding all the issues of theology. For instance, he points out, it is only with the help of revelation that reason can acquire the knowledge of such Divine attributes as Will, Hearing, Sight and so on. To enter this domain of knowledge about God, the Exalted and the Glorious, with reason as one's sole guide is to invite perplexity and perdition.


In fact, this is a restatement of the traditions that prohibit man from trying to fathom the mystery of Godhead. Al-Mufid does not expel reason from its own realm (which is not the sphere of revelation and tradition) to which belong the substantiation of such issues as the necessity of a Creator, the proofs of God's existence, Divine Unity (tawhid), and the need of prophethood. Rather, his aim is to confine reason within the limits assigned to it by its Creator so that it may not go astray.


At one point in the Awa'il al-maqalat, he writes: "The ascription of all these attributes [that is, His being the Hearer, the Seer, and the Knower] to the Eternal One, Glory be to Him is on the basis of revelation, not rational grounds or analogy."" At another place he says: "Verily, the Qur'an (kalam Allah ta'ala) is temporally produced (muhdath) and there are traditions from the Household of Muhammad-may Allah bless him and his Household-in support of this." [27] Elsewhere he writes: "That God, the Exalted, is Willing I say because of revelation, following and defferring to what is said in the Qur'an. I do not derive it from reason." [28] Yet at another place he declares: "All the Imamis concur that reason stands in need of revelation for its knowledge and conclusions and that it is inseparable from the revelation apprehended by a person in full possession of his senses (reading al-'aqil, instead of al-ghafil) in a rationally valid manner ('ala kayfiyyat al-'istidlal) .... and the Mu'tazilites concur in holding the contrary, with the claim that reason can act alone without the help of revelation and instruction " [29]


There are many such statements of an explicit character in al-Mufid's writings. Nevertheless, he accepts the authority of a tradition only when there are no rational grounds for considering it impossible. Accordingly, in the context of the miracles of the Imams ('a) he says, "They belong to the category of possible things that are neither necessary on rational grounds nor impossible analogously." [30] He reiterates similar statements in other places. [31] However, in the Tashih i'tiqad al-'Imamiyyah, which is a gloss on al-Shaykh al-Saduq's Risalat al-Itiqddat, after rejecting traditions that contradict with the Qur'an, his view is stated more explicity than anywhere else. There, he says: "That is why when we come across a tradition conflicting with rational principles (ahkam al-'uqul) we reject it because reason judges it to be invalid. [32] In this statement, in addition to rejecting such traditions as contrary to reason, he makes reason itself the criterion for this judgement and thus puts a dual emphasis on the authority of reason.


Faith in reasoning and rational argument in the thought of al-Shaykh al-Mufid is so much that in a passage of the Awa'il, under the heading "On salutary pain without compensation," after mentioning his own singular view which is shared neither by the partisans of Justice (i.e. the Mu'tazilites) nor the Murji'ites, he declares with a rare sense of personal self-confidence: "I have made here a synthesis of principles which only I hold, without any of the other partisans of Justice and irja' agreeing with me. Its truth is clear to me, however, from reasoning (nazar). Those who are opposed have not made me feel lonely, since I have good arguments (hujjah), and there is no loneliness where truth is concerned, and all praise belongs to God !" [33] In view of the fact that in his discussion concerning pain and the discussion pertaining to the doctrine of lutf (Divine help) he generally relies on reason rather than revelation, one may be sure that by`hujjah' in the above passage he means arguments based on reason rather than revelation.


The presence of the factor of revelation in the theological thought of al-Shaykh al-Mufid enabled him to resolve many of the difficult problems, whose solution is a very lengthy process, with comparable ease with the help of the sayings of the Imams, may peace be upon them, and saved subsequent Shi'i theological thought from deviance and confusion.


A relevant example in this regard is the issue of the attributes of God. The Mu'tazilah had to go a long way from the outright negation of the attributes in the statements of Wasil ibn `Ata' and the theory of niyabah concerningthe relation between the Divine essence and attributes, to the concepttawhid in the sense of not conceiving the attributes as something additional to the essence but as identical with the essence in the Divine Being. The treatment of the same issue in al-Mufid's statement is based on tradition (sam'), such as the contents of the Nahj al-bahaghah and other similar traditions transmitted from the Imams, may peace be upon them. It can even be inferred from these traditions that these problems were posed amongst the Shi'is already during the times of the Imams (`a), and their followers benefited from the perpetual source of knowledge represented by the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them (See al-Kafi , vol. i, p. 107,"bab sifat al-dhat" and the various parts of al-Saduq's al-Tawhid and the sermons of the Nahj al-balaghah). Another point worthy of notice is al-Mufid's recourse to rational argumentation by the side of argument based on sam` (in his short theological treatises such as al-Nukat fi muqaddimdt al-'usul) even in relation to the topic of Divine attributes, whereas in the Awa'il al-maqalat he considers inference from sam` as the sole source of knowledge in such matters. The following are two examples from al-Nukat;



Likewise he goes on to offer rational arguments concerning the attributes of Hearing, Sight, Wisdom and so on (al-Nukat fi muqaddimdt al-'usul,pp. 33-34). This cannot be regarded as a departure from the view advanced in the Awa'il al-maqalat. We said earlier that the short treatises written in the question and answer format were most likely compiled as didactical guides for Shi'i initiates living in far-off regions and engaged in learning the art of polemical debate and who did not have immediate access to a teacher like al-Mufid. The Shaykh seems to have preferred the rational approach for its wider utility which made those treatises useful for confronting any kind of adversary.


This discussion makes clear that the synthesis affected by al-Mufid in his theological method between rational argument and argument from revelatory sources was an outstanding and original contribution of that great master.


I hope that this scientific and scholarly meeting will study these important topics as well as numerous other aspects of the brilliant intellectual life of the venerable al-Shaykh al-Mufid.


At the conclusion of this paper, it would be good to remember that this sublime genius carried out his long intellectual struggle-in the course of which he laid the foundations of the edifice of fiqh and inaugurated a new middle path in kalam-under difficult social conditions. Although the Buwayhid rule in Baghdad had created an atmosphere conducive to free scholarly debates, it could not solve the problem created by the fanaticism of Hanbali jurists and the harassment of Shi'is in general and al-Mufid in particular by the `Abbasid establishment. The persecution of the Shi'is of Karkh in Baghdad and the great hardships inflicted upon them and their noble leaders, are facts to which history bears manifest testimony.


It appears that besides the three instances of al-Mufid's exile recorded in the works of history, he faced difficult circumstances for two years in the period from 405-407/1014-1016, during which the exact character of his travails is not clear. This question arises because there is no mention of al-Shaykh al-Mufid in the accounts relating to the death, in the year 406/1016, of al-Sayyid al-Radi, al-Mufid's beloved pupil, which describe his funeral and other details, as recorded in the books. Although one would expect the name of al-Mufid to come up there several times, one does not find a single reference to him. Another thing that makes one curious is that in the Amali of al-Mufid, whose contents indicate that he used to hold several sessions (majalis) every year around the month of Ramadan at his house, or in his mosque, at Darb al-Rabah and that these sessions continued from 404/1013 to 411/1020, we do not find any majlis pertaining to the years 405/1014 and 406/1016 in that record of his dictation sessions.


Another thing is that during the events of the Muharram of 406/1016, when there were big anti-Shi'i riots-something that had become a recurring feature of their life in Baghdad-the person who was selected as the representative and leader of the Shi'is for talks with the Baghdad regime was al-Sayyid al-Murtada, not al-Shaykh al-Mufid, although the latter was at the time the undisputed leader of the Shi'is and in the years before that al-Sayyid al-Murtada was considered his humble and obedient disciple.


These indications raise in the mind the probability that al-Mufid was faced with some kind of trouble that resulted in his absence from Baghdad during these two years. The matter needs to be investigated. However, that which is certain is that life in Baghdad was very difficult for the Shi'ah and their leaders for the most part of the hundred and thirteen years of Buwayhid rule over Iraq and Baghdad, accompanied as they were by persecution, sectarian conflict, and bloodshed. [34] It was in the midst of such great hardships and despite the heavy responsibilities of the leadership of the Shi'is of Iraq, or rather of the whole Islamic world, that he made such a great contribution to Shi'i teachings.


As a last point, I shall insist that the scholars and thinkers present at this academic gathering make all the efforts they can to utilize this scholarly meeting as a means of furthering intellectual concord and real solidarity between Islamic sects.


The character of al-Mufid's confrontation with the religious opponents of his era was certainly influenced by the bitter social events and hardships caused by blind prejudice with which the oppressed Shi`is of those days were faced. That kind of conduct cannot today serve as a model for mutual relations between Islamic sects, even in the area of kalam. Today all the Islamic sects should draw the lesson of friendship and peaceful coexistence from those painful scenes of history. At a time when the very principles of Islam-for whose revival the Mufids of every sect have taken great pains-are threatened by the enemies, they should devote their total efforts to the promotion of solidarity, concord and cooperation between all the sects and their thinkers. This is the great aspiration of the Revolution and the lasting counsel of our late Imam, may God sanctify his pure soul.


Once again I beseech God, the Exalted, to grant you success and pray to Him to bless this gathering of yours with bright results and lasting achievements. Was-saldmu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.


'Ali al-Husayni al-Khamenei

Farvardeen, 1372.

Shawwal, 1413.


[1]. In this case the bias, or ignorance, that has gone into such efforts in the past is such that it astounds a Shi'i researcher. For instance, al-Sadaq wrote his Kitab al-tawhid, a major work consisting of 67 chapters and 583 traditions related to theology, because, as he himself states in the book's introduction, the opponents accused the Shi'ah of believing in jabr(determinism) and tashbih (anthropomorphism), whereas "amr bayn al-'amrayn" and "la tashbih wa la ta'til" are amongst the most well-known principles of Shi'i doctrine. The allegations of al-Shahristani in his al-Milal wa al-nihal, as well as those that appear in the works written before and after him, are prominent examples of the unfair campaign waged against the .followers of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them.


In our own time, irresponsible writers-who do not consider themselves answerable for whatever they may write concerning the Shi'ah and who do not care how dear is the price that they pay in terms of loss of piety and harm to truth-in order to please their masters, who care for nothing except dollars and pomp, write so profusely and recklessly that Ahmad Amin, the anti-Shi`i Egyptian writer of the last generation, who recognized no bounds in making absurd misrepresentations and propagating lies must now be assigned a second or third place. It should be noted, however, that there is nothing wrong with books and works of scholarly integrity written to affirm or refute any creed in an argumentative manner. Rather, such writings are essential for the intellectual development of Muslims and helpful in enabling them to choose the best views. What we are speaking about here is deception, fabrication, defamation and false accusation.


[2]. Jibra'il ibn Ahmad al-Fariyabi (from Fariyab, a town between Balkh and Marw al-Rud), who according to al-Shaykh al-Tusi had settled at Kashsh; Ibrahim ibn Nasir al-Kashshi (Kashsh, a village near Samarqand); Khalaf ibn Hammad al-Kashshi; Khalaf ibn Muhammad, known al-Mannan, al-Kashshi; 'Uthman ibn Hamid al-Kashshi; Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Kashshi; Muhammad ibn Sa'd ibn Mazid al-Kashshi, Ibrahim ibn 'Ali al-Kufi al-Samarqandi (the order of these two nisbahs suggests that this Kufi shaykh had migrated to Samarqand);Ibrahim al-Warraq al-Samarqandi; Ja'far ibn Ahmad ibn Ayyub al-Samarqandi; Muhammad ibn Mas'ud al-Ayyashi al-Samarqandi; Adam ibn Muhammad al-Qalanisi al-Balkhi; Ahmad ibn'Ali ibn Kulthum al-Sarakhsi; Ahmad ibn Ya'qiib al-Bayhaqi; 'Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Qutaybah al-Nayshaburi; Muhiammad ibn Abi 'Awf al-Bukhari; Muhammad ibn al-Husayn al-Harawi; Muhammad ibn Rashid al-Harawi; Nasr ibn al-Sabbah al-Balkhi, and others.


[3]. al-Najashi, Rijal, the biographical entry on al-Kashshi, p. 372.


[4]. Ibid., the entry on al-Ayyashi, p. 351.


[5]. It is further confirmed by the fact that 'Ali ibn Muhamntad al-Qazwini was the first to bring al-'Ayyashi's books to Baghdad in 356/966-7. See al-Najashi, p. 267.


[6]. Rumi in his Mathnawi narrates the story of a poet who was in Aleppo on the day of 'Ashura'. On seeing all people dressed in black and the bazaar closed, he thought that the amir or some prince must have died. When he questioned the town's people they told him, "Obviously, you are a stranger here...:'


[7]. Noteworthy in this regard are al-Mufid's epistles (rasa'il) written in reply to queries that came from various Muslim towns, as well as their great variety. In some of them al-Mufid not only seeks to resolve the questioner's problem but also rises to combat a theological opponent, as if he considers it his duty to defend from his seat at Baghdad the Shi'i creed and believers subject to the assaults of dangerous enemies. In this relation see al-Masa'il al-Saghaniyyah and its strongly aggressive and confident tone meant to heighten the morale of a beleaguered Shi'i from the Khurasan of those days whose creedal sanctum had been violated and subjected to assault. This suggests that the treatises of the "in qila, faqul'("if [the opponents] say to you... then tell them") kind, such as al-Nukat fi muqaddimat al-'usul and al-Nukat al-'itiqadiyyah, were mostly written for Shi'is living in far-off places who were perpetually under the pressure of deliberately framed objections of a religious character and who sought guidance and help for firm theological rejoinders.


[8]. Because, in the year of his death al-Mufid (d. 336/947) was 44 and it is not known how many years earlier he had written the entry on al-Mufid in his list.


[9]. The source of this statement is al-Dhahabis Ta'rikh al-'Islam wa wafayat al-mashahir wa al-'a'lam, which has not yet been published. Apparently, this statement has been cited from a forthcoming edition of it.


[10]. Jalal Huma'i, Tarikh-e'ulum-e'Islami, p. 51.


[11]. `Abbas al-Qummi, al-Kuna wa al-'alqab, vol. ii, p. 404.


[12]. What is surprising is that even in our own time one Orientalist, in his work on al-Mufid's theological ideas, presents him as a follower of the Baghdad Mu'tazilite school.


[13]. In al-Masa'il al-Saghaniyyah, al-Mufid attacks Ibn al-Junayd and refers to his statements as "hadhayan" (delirious) and his views as"ghayr sadid" (unsound). See al-Masa'il al-Saghaniyyah, p. 62.


[14]. Following is the text in Awa'il al-maqalat, p. 40.



[15]. Al-Najashi, Rijal, p. 10.


[16]. Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. i, p. 327.


[17]. Fatawa al-'alamayn, p. 5.


[18]. Al-Najashi, op. cit., p. 48.


[19]. The text in al-Najashi (p. 48) reads:



The text in al-Tusi's Fihrist (p. 368, and with a slight difference of wording on page 96) reads:



[20]. 'Uddat al-'usul, p.5.


[21]. Note the text cited from the 'Uddah: 


[22]. Al-Tadhkirah, p. 38:



[23]. Ibid., p. 30:



[24]. Ibid., p. 41:



[25]. 'Uddat al-'usul. n. 8


[26]. Awa'il a1-maqalat, p. 59


[27]. Ibid., p. 57


[28]. Ibid., p. 58


[29]. Ibid., p. 57


[30]. Ibid., p. 79


[31]. Ibid., "al-qawl fi sima' al-'a'immah ('a) kalam al-mala'ikat al-kiram, etc., p. 80.


[32]. Tashih al-'i tiqad, p. 149.


[33]. Awa'il al-maqalat, p. 129.


The Past master: Sheikh Al-Mufid

Sheikh Tusi, (d. 460 A.H.) introduced his mentor Sheikh al Mufid, in his al Fihrist thus:


"Muhammad b. Muhammad b. al-No'man, al-Mufid, had the kunya Abu Abdillah, and was well known as Ibn-al-Muallim. He was among the Imamiyya theologians, and was its final authority in his time. And he was a jurist (Faqih) of the advanced order, a man of polite demeanor, he was perspicacious and quick at repartee"

Sheikh Mufid was born on 11th Dhul Qa'dah, 336 Hijra (or 338 A.H. according to Sheikh Tusi) in Ukbara near Baghdad. He grew up under the care of his father who taught him the fundamentals of Arabic literature. Thereafter, accompanied by his father, he came to Baghdad and studied under the tutelage of al-Husain b. Ali al-Basri al-Mu'tazali, popularly known as Al-JUAL, and Abu Yasir, the slave of Abul Jaish. In the ensuing year he qualified as an Alim of keen insight, a jurist of high repute and a formidable logician. In spite of being in the prime of his life, he enjoyed supremacy over most of his contemporaries, and became known as an acknowledged authority of Imamiyya sect. The ruler of his time, Sultan Adud-ud-daulah al-Daylami al-Buwaihi frequented at Sheikh's residence to pay him respect, and to inquire after his health when taken ill.

The Origins of the title al Mufid

Once his tutor Abu Yasir recommended that he attend the lessons in theology by Ali B. Isa al-Rummani, so as to gain deeper insight into the subject. Sheikh excused himself by saying that he was not acquainted with al-Rummani, and therefore needed an introduction. Abu Yasir gave him a letter and also arranged for someone to go with him to al-Rummani.

Sheikh al-Mufid says, I entered his class, and was impressed by the great number of students. So I sat at the end of the crowd, managing to creep forward as some members of the assembly left. Then I saw one man enter, saying: "(O Master), there is someone at the door who insists on being admitted to your presence. He is from Basrah." The master said: "Is he a man of any erudition?" The servant said: "I do not know, but he seems very keen to be let in." The Master relented, and the man from Basrah entered. The Master welcomed him respectfully, and they had a long conversation between them. Then he asked the Master, Ali b. Isa: "How do you view al-Ghadeer and al-Ghar (the event of the cave in which Abu Bakr accompanied the Prophet during Hijrah)?" Ali b. Isa replied that "the report of al-Ghar was a recognised event, while al-Ghadeer was just a narrative. And a narrative is not as mandatory as a recognised event." The man from Basrah then left without making any reply.

Al Mufid says: Then I came forward and said: "O Sheikh, I have a question." He said: "Ask." Then I asked: "What do you say about the one who fights a just Imam?" He said: "Such a person would be an infidel." Then, after a pause, he rectified himself and said: "He would be a transgressor." I asked: "What do you say about Amirul Momineen Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be upon him?" He said: "I believe he was an Imam." So I asked: "Then what do you say about the day of Jamal and Talha and al-Zubair?" He retorted that both of them had repented. I said: "The battle of Jamal is a recognised event, while their repentance is a mere narrative."

Upon hearing this, he said: "Were you present when the man from Basrah put his question?" I said "yes." He said: "Well, a narrative compares a narrative, and a recognised event compares a recognised event." Then turning to me again, he asked: "What is your name and who is your tutor?" I said: " I am known as Ibn al-Muallim, and my tutor is Abu-Abdillah, al-Jual." He said: "Stay where you are."

Then he entered his room and came out with a letter, instructing me to hand over to my tutor. When I gave the letter to my tutor, he read it and then laughed. "What transpired between you in his class? He has asked me to confer upon you the title of al-Mufid." I related to him the story, so he smiled.

The above incident has been recorded by Mirza Muhammad Baqir al-Khwansari in Rawdhat-ul-Jannaat (vol. 6 p. 159), quoting from al-Saraa-er of Ibn ldrees and from Majmua'h Warraam. But Ibn Shahr Ashob in his Ma'alimul Ulamaa says that the title 'al-Mufid' was given to Sheikh al-Mufid, by our twelfth Imam, al-Hujjah, Sahebuzzaman, may his advent be soon.

A teacher of great Ulama

Sheikh Mufid was a man of diverse talents. Besides being a jurist of the first order, he was a great literary figure, analytic historian, theologian and traditionist. His status as a Marja' of his time kept him extremely busy, yet he found time to conduct his teaching sessions, from which emerged great Ulama like Seyyid Murtadha (Alamul Huda), Syed al-Radhi (the compiler ofNahjul Balaghah), Sheikh Tusi (who laid the foundation of Hawza of Najaf), al-Najashi and others. Questions poured in from far and wide, and Sheikh answered them all. In fact, he was the defender of Imamiyya Sect, adequately aware of the needs of the Islamic world. To his credit stand several great works written in various Islamic sciences.

Ibn Abil Hadeed al-Mo'tazaly in his commentary on Nahjul Balaghah writes that once Sheikh Mufid saw Fatima al-Zahra, peace be upon her, in his dream. She was accompanied by her two young sons, al-Hasan and al-Husain, peace be upon them. Addressing him, she said: "O my Sheikh, teach Fiqh (Jurisprudence) to these two boys of mine." Next day, Fatimah, the mother of Seyyid Murtadha and Syed al-Radhi came to Sheikh, holding hands of her two young sons, and uttered the same words which Fatemah al-Zahra, peace be upon her, had uttered in his dream.

Tributes by other scholars

Al-Dhahabi, the renowned Sunni scholar, paid tribute to al-Mufid in his Siyaru A'alaam al-Nabalaa (Vol 17 p. 344) saying:

The learned man of Rafidhah sect, (Rafidhah meaning Shia) author of various books, Sheikh al-Mufid. His name was Muhammad b. Muhammad b. al-No'man al-Baghdadi al-Shii, popularly known as Ibn al-Muallim. He was a versatile man, with numerous treatises and theological dissertations to his credit. He was a man of reticence and refinement. Ibn Abi Tayy has mentioned him in the History of the Imamiyya at length, saying: "He towered high above his contemporaries in all branches of knowledge, excelling in the principles of Fiqh, Fiqh, the traditions, the science of al-Rijal, (discerning the veracity of the narrators of the traditions), exegesis of al-Quran, Arabic grammer and poetry. He entered into debate with men from all faiths and persuasions. The Buwaihid kingdom looked upon him with great respect, and he had won the favours of the Caliphs. Resolute, charitable and humble, he was ascetic in his habits, always engrossed in prayers and fasting, and wearing coarse clothes. Reading and learning were his main traits, and he was blessed with a very retentive memory. It is said that he had committed every work of the opponents to memory, and was thus able to answer all their doubts and disputes. Always keen to learn more, frequenting book stores. It is said that Adud al-Dawlah visited him at times, and used to say: 'Plead, and thou shalt be granted.'"

Baghdad was the capital city of Islamic Empire teeming with learned ulama of diverse denominations. Quite often, sessions of religious polemics were held in presence of the kings, and all the men of influence. Sheikh Mufid invariably attended these debates, and ably argued to defend the Shia faith. The effect of his formidable arguments was such that his adversaries prayed for his death! And when al-Mufid died, they displayed their joy without any shame. Ibn al-Naqib held a function for rejoicing when he heard of al-Mufid's death, and according to Tarikh Baghdad (Vol. 10 p. 382), he said: "I do not care when I die, after having witnessed the death of Ibn al-Muallim."

A Memorable Dream

Al-Karajaki has reported that once Sheikh Mufid saw a dream, and then dictated it to his companions and disciples. He said: I dreamt that as I was passing through a street, I saw a large crowd gathered around someone. On enquiry, I was told that they had surrounded Umar b. al-Khattab, the second Caliph. I pushed myself forward, and when I came near him, I said: "O Sheikh, do you allow me to ask a question?" He said: "Ask." So I said: "Would you explain me how is the excellence of your friend Abu Bakr established by the Ayah in which Allah says: 'the second of the two, when they were in the cave'. Your friends are making too much out of it."

He said: "This Ayah proves Abu Bakr's excellence in six ways:

Allah mentions the Prophet, peace be upon him, and then mentions Abu Bakr with him, as his second of the two;

Allah mentions them as being together at one place; which is a sign of mutual affinity;

Allah adds further quality of being the Prophet's "SAHIB", the Companion;

Allah relates how kind and caring the Prophet was towards Abu Bakr when he told him, "Don't grieve";

Where the Prophet assured Abu Bakr that "Allah is with us" meaning that He will help both of them simultaneously;

Allah revealed that He will send down AS-SAKINAH (serenity) upon Abu Bakr because as far as the Prophet was concerned, AS SAKINAH never parted from him

These are six proofs of Abu Bakr's excellence from the mentioned Ayah."

Sheikh Mufid says: "I told him that he had indeed made a good effort to make his point, and had left no room for any other person to be a better advocate for his friend. But I was going to demolish the arguments, making it like ashes blown away by the fast wind."

Sheikh said:

"When you say that Allah has mentioned the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, and then mentioned Abu Bakr as his second, I do not see anything extraordinary in that. For if you ponder over it, you will find that Allah was only revealing the number of persons present in the cave. They were two; there could have been a Mo'min and a Kafir and they would still be two."

"And when you talk of they being together at one place, it is again as simple as the first case. If there was one place only, it could have been occupied by a Mo'min and a disbeliever also. The Mosque of the Prophet is definitely a better place than the cave, and yet it was a gathering place for the believers and the hypocrites. The Ark of Prophet Noah carried the Prophet Noah, together with Satan and the animals. So being together at one place is no virtue."

"And when you talk about the added quality of being 'SAHIB', the companion, this indeed is a weaker point than the first two, because a believer and a disbeliever can both be in the company of each other. Allah, Most High, used the word 'SAHIB' in the following Ayah: 'His "SAHIB" (companion) said to him while he was conversing with him: Have you disbelieved in the One Who created you from soil and then from a small quantity of sperm, then fashioned you harmoniously as a man?' (al-KAHF V. 37). Further, we find in Arabic literature that the word "SAHIB" is used for the accompanying donkey, and also for the sword. So, if the term can be used between a Momin and a Kafir, between a man and his animal, and between a living and an inanimate object, then what is so special in it about your friend?"

"And the words 'Don't grieve' were not meant for any solace;. Because it was a statement forbidding an act. In Arabic, we have 'donts' and 'dos' as imperative verbs. Now, the grief expressed by Abu Bakr was either an act of obedience or disobedience. If it was obedience, the Prophet would not have forbidden it, therefore it is proved that it was an act of sin and disobedience."

"As for the assurance that 'Allah is with us', the pronoun 'us' was used by the Prophet for himself The use of plural pronoun for oneself is a sign of ones elevated status. Allah says: 'Indeed, We are the One who has revealed the Quran, and We will most surely preserve it.' (Al-Hijr V.9). And again: 'We are the One who gives life and ordains death, and We are the inheritor'(al-Hijr V.23). And the Shias have their own version, which does not seem far-fetched. They say that Abu Bakr told the Prophet that his grief was for Ali b. Abi Talib (who was left behind in Makkah), and the Prophet replied: 'Do not grieve, surely, Allah is with us' meaning; with me and my brother, Ali b. Abi Talib."

"Your claim that AS-SAKINAH (serenity) was sent down to Abu Bakr is indeed outrageous. Because the verse clearly states that the serenity came unto him who was helped with the unseen army.

The Ayah says:

'... Then Allah sent down on him His serenity and strengthened him with unseen forces'

(al-Tawbah: 40).

So if AS-SAKINAH had descended upon Abu Bakr, he would have received the support of the unseen army. In fact, it would have been better if you had not attributed this to Abu Bakr. For according to Quran, this serenity was sent down on the Prophet twice:

'Then Allah sent down His serenity upon His messenger and the believers, and sent down forces which you did not see ...'.

(al Taubah:V.26).

'Then Allah sent down His serenity upon His Messenger and the believers, and adhered them to the word of piety'

(al-Fath: V. 26).

In both places, the believers shared the serenity with the Prophet, but in this event of the cave, serenity was sent down to the Prophet alone, excluding Abu Bakr. This may be a pointer to the fact that Abu Bakr was not among the believers!"

Sheikh Mufid says that Umar made no reply to my arguments, and as people around him scattered, he woke up from his sleep.

An account of his death

Sheikh Mufid died on the eve of Friday, 3rd of Ramadhan, 413 A.H. His student Syed Murtadha prayed the Salaat of Mayyit for him, in the presence of nearly eighty thousand people, a crowd never seen before in any funeral in Baghdad.

Sheikh Tusi (d. 460 A.H.) describes this sad event in al-Fihrist:

"The day of his death drew the largest crowd ever seen in any funeral, and both, friends and foes, wept uncontrollably".

Al-Mufid remained buried in his own house for two years, and then his body was transferred to Kadhmain where it was interred near his mentor, Ja'far b. Qawlayh's grave facing the feet of our 9th Imam, Imam Muhammad Taqi, al-Jawad, peace be upon him. His grave is still visited by those who visit the holy shrines in Kadhmain.

Peace be upon him on the day he was born, and on the day he died, and on the day he will be resurrected alive.