Monday 18th June 2018
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Thu 21 Jun
21:00 - 21:50 Thursday Programme
Du'a Kumayl followed by Salaat, Ziyarat and Refreshments.
Fri 22 Jun
20:30 - 22:00 Friday Programme
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 Shaykh Saduq ibn Babawayhi is universally regarded among the Ithna 'Ashari Shi'a as one of their foremost doctors and traditionists. Professor E.G. Browne, in discussing the founders of the Shi'a theology, says "The most important of these earlier divines are 'the three Muhammads', al-Kulayni (Muhammad b. Ya'qub, d. 329/ 941), Ibn Babawayhi (Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Musa, d. 381/

991-2) and the already mentioned Tusi (Muhammad b. Hasan, d. 460/1067). Of these the first composed the Kafi, the second Man la Yahduruhu'l-faqih (a title which approximates in sense to our familiar 'Every man his own Lawyer'), and the third the Istibsar and the Tahdhibu'1-Ahkam, which are known collectively amongst the Shi'a as 'the Four Books' (al-Kutubu'1-arba 'a) and of which the full particulars will be found in the above-mentioned Kashfu'1-H ujub".

 Considering the high repute in which he is held, the early times in which he lived, the great influence he had on later theologians and traditionists, and the numerous works which are attributed to him, it is very unfortunate that the earliest works which give an account of his life are extremely brief and give us no indication whatever of his character, his studies, his travels and his life. Thus, at the end of our enquiry, we are faced with the problem of writing the account of a man, the whole of whose life is summarized by Tusi in about four lines (Tusy, List, 204) and by Najashi in three lines at the beginning and two lines at the end (Rijal. 276,279). Thus Browne is fully justified in observing that "The older 'Books of the Men' (Kutubu'r-Rijal), such as the works of at-Tusi and an-Najashi, are generally very jejune, and suited for reference rather than reading".

 The two earliest sources for the life of Ibn Babawayhi are Shaykhut-Ta'ifa Muhammad b. Hasan b. 'Ali at-Tusi, b. 385/995, d. 460/1067. His Fihrist was published by A. Sprenger in the Bibliotheca Indica, Calcutta, in 1853 - 1855, under the title of Tusy's List of Shy'ah Books and Alam al-Hoda 's Notes on Shy'ah Biography. It has always been considered an early and reliable authority.

 The second source is Ahmad b. 'Ali an-Najashi, b. 372/982, d. 450/1063. His Kitabu'r-Rijal (Bombay, 1317/1899-1900) is a very useful book of reference, and is particularly exhaustive as regards lists of works written by each author. On a comparison of these two, Najashi will be found to be the better and more detailed work, as has been pointed out by Sprenger. Najashi gives a very comprehensive list of the Shaykh's works.

 The later works of reference, like Qisasu'1-'Uluma', Amalu'1-Amil, Muntaha'1-Maqal and others repeat with certain additions the information given in the earlier works. It is therefore safe to treat Tusi and Najashi as the basic authorities.

 Of later works, I have made the fullest use of Rawdatu'l-Jannat by Muhammad Baqir b. Hajji Zaynu'l-Abidin al-Musawi al-Khwansari (lithographed Tehran, 1306/1888). This is the most scholarly and comprehensive of modem authorities, and as far as can be ascertained from the Imami scholars themselves, they place great reliance on it. The account of Shaykh Saduq, although it extends to four pages (557-560), consists mainly of a discussion of his views, opinions on his greatness as a doctor of theology, his soundness (being thiqa) as a traditionist, and various other matters, without giving us details of his life or glimpses of his character.

 With regard to his writings, according to Professor E.G. Browne, the Qisasu'1-'Ulama' attributes 189 (iv. 377,405) and Najashi 193 works to the Shaykh Saduq (EL, ji, 366). Tusi however mentions 43 and Rawdatu'1-Jannat, 17 only. In addition to these authorities, such manuscript catalogues as were available in Bombay have been consulted by me and, after dealing with his biography, the results carefully stated.

 Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Ali b. al-Husayn b. Musa Ibn Babawayhi al-Qummi is generally known as ash-Shaykh as-Saduq. His place of birth is not mentioned either by Tusi or by Najashi, but Donaldson says that he was born at Khorasan. In 355/966 he went to Baghdad, apparently from Khorasan, and died at Rayy in 381/991. Ahlwardt in the Berlin Catalogue says that the date of death is 39l/l00l, and this is followed by some authors. There is however no sufficient authority for this date.

 Of his life and character we know nothing; but of his birth a most entertaining legend is preserved. According to Tusi and Najashi, when in Iraq, his father 'Alii b. al-Husayn Ibn Babawayhi al-Qummi (d. 329/940-941) met Abu'l-Qasim Husayn b. Ruh, who was the third of the four agents of the Hidden Imam during the period of 73 years, 256-339 A. H., and asked him several questions. Thereafter 'Ali wrote a letter to him through Ali b. Ja'far b. al-Aswad in order that the letter might be delivered to the Hidden Imam. In the letter 'Ali asked for a son, to which he received a reply from Husayn b. Ruh that "We have prayed to Allah for it on your behalf and you will be rewarded with two goodly sons". Afterwards two sons were born of a slave girl (min umm walad), Abu Ja'far Muhammad (the celebrated Shaykh Saduq) and Abu Abdi'l-lah Husayn. It is reported from his young brother Husayn that Muhammad used to pride himself on the circumstances of his birth.

 The same story is reported in Rawdatu'l-Jannat with certain variations in two different versions: (1) Abu Ja'far Md. b. 'Ali al-Aswad (not Ali b. Ja'far al-Aswad, as in Tusi and Najashi) was asked to request Ruh to ask the Imam, and no letter was written. (2) Abu Ja'far asked Ruh and was informed after three days that he had prayed for 'Ali and the prayer was accepted.

 'Ali had three sons, Muhammad (Sh. Saduq), Hasan and Husayn. 'Ali was a theologian and divine and taught Shaykh Saduq. Muhammad, the eldest son was the most famous of all. The second brother Hasan was devoted to piety and did not generally mix with the people. The third and youngest brother was Husayn, also a well-known jurist and theologian.

 Shaykh Saduq apparently taught at Baghdad and being a contemporary of the Buwayhid Ruknu'd-Dawla, entered into controversies at his behest. He was well known for his knowledge, memory, justice, intelligence and reliability; and he is universally regarded as a pillar of religion. His authority was accepted by Ibn Ta'us and Shaykh Sulayman among others. Muhammad Baqir-i-Majlisi (who according to E.G. Browne was "one of the greatest, most powerful and most fanatical multahids of the Safawi period", the well-known author of Biharu'1-Anwar, an encyclopaedic work in 25 volumes, d. 1111/ 1699-1700; see Pers. Lit., iv. 403, 409-410) says that his traditions were declared as reliable by a decision of a number of 'Ulama'.

 Strange to say, however, that some have doubted his authority and reliability. In reality this is not the correct view and the author of Rawdatul-Jannat refutes such errant opinions in very spirited language.

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