'Ali b. Musa b. Ja'far b. Tawus

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Personal Information
Kunya Abu l-Qasim
Epithet Radi al-Din, Jamal al-'Arifin, Dhu l-Hasabayn
Well-Known As Al-Sayyid b. Tawus
Birth 589/1193
Place of Birth Hillah
Death 664/1265
Burial Place Najaf, in the holy shrine of Imam 'Ali (a)
Scholarly Information
Professors Warram b. Abi Firas al-Hilli, Ibn Nama al-Hilli, Fikhar b. Ma'd al-Musawi
Students Sadid al-Din al-Hilli, al-'Allama al-Hilli, al-Hasan b. Dawud al-Hilli
Works Al-Luhuf 'ala qatla l-tufuf, al-Iqbal li-salih al-a'mal, Muhaj al-da'awat wa manhaj al-'ibadat

Al-Sayyid Raḍī al-Dīn, ʿAlī b. Mūsā b. Jaʿfar b. Ṭāwūs (Arabic: السید رضي الدین، علي بن موسی بن جعفر بن طاووس) (b. 589/1193 - d. 664/1265) famously known as al-Sayyid b. Ṭāwūs, is a great Shi'a scholar and a descendant of Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (a), and Imam al-Sajjad (a). He is the author of books such as: al-Muhimmat wa l-tatimmat, Kashf al-mahajja li-thamarat al-muhja, Misbah al-za'ir wa janah al-Musafir, al-Malhuf 'ala qatla al-tufuf, and Mahaj al-da'awat wa manhaj al-'ibadat. He was the teacher of great scholars such as al-'Allama al-Hilli and his father al-Shaykh Yusuf Sadid al-Din.

Although al-Sayyid b. Tawus never accepted the Niqaba position during the Abbasid Caliphate, but he was the naqib of the Shi'a during the rule of Hulagu Khan (Founder of Ilkhanate dynasty).

Due to his great ethical traits, his piety and constant attention to his deeds, his spiritual experiences and his acts of wonder, he was famous as Jamal al-'Arifin (beauty of the mystics).


Abu l-Qasim 'Ali b. Musa b. Ja'far b. Muhammad b. Tawus al-Hilli, also known as Radi al-Din was born on Thursday, Muharram 15, 589/1193 in Hillah, Iraq.[1]


Al-Sayyid b. Tawus is the thirteenth generation from Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (a). The reason he was called Ibn Tawus (son of peacock) is because one of his ancestors, Abu 'Abd Allah Ahmad b. Muhammad, had a beautiful face but ugly feet, similar to a peacock. That is why he was famous as peacock.[2]

His father, Musa b. Ja'far was one of the great hadith narrators who had written the narrations he had found in pieces of paper, which were then collected and gathered by his child and published them as Firqat al-nazir wa bahjat al-khatir mimma Rawah walidi Musa b. Ja'far.

His mother was the daughter of Warram b. Abi Firas, one of the great Shia scholars.[3] The mother of his father was the grandchild of al-Shaykh al-Tusi and that is why al-Sayyid b. Tawus used to sometimes say that his grandfather is Warram b. Abi Firas and sometimes say that al-Shaikh Al- Tusi is his grandfather. Al-Shaikh al-Tusi had two daughters, and Ja'far, al-Sayyid b. Tawus's grandfather, was married to one of them. Hence, he is a descendant of Imam al-Sajjad's daughter (Umm Kulthumm) which connects him to Imam al-Husayn (a).[4] He was therefore, also called Dhu l-Hasabayn (to have two noble ancestry).[5]


Al-Sayyid b. Tawus started his education in Hillah, learning the first levels of science from his father and his grandfather, Warram b. Abi Firas.

As he narrates in his book, Kashf al-mahajja, he quickly excelled in his class: "When I entered class, I learned all that the rest had learned in a couple of years in just one year."

He studied fiqh for two and a half years, but believing that he does not need an instructor anymore, he studied the rest of the jurisprudential books of his time on his own.




Falah al-sa'il
Muhaj al-da'awat
Jamal al-usbu'

Ibn Tawus has more than fifty books, most of which are about supplication and pilgrimage (ziyarah). He had a rich library with approximately 1500 books, which he used for his authoring.

Printed Works:

Manuscripts: Ibn Tawus's works which are available in his handwriting:

  • Rabi' al-Shi'a, Waziri library, Yazd
  • Misbah al-za'ir, Astan-i Quds library
  • Ilzam al-nawasib bi-imamat 'Ali b. Abi Talib, Milli library
  • Al-Hujja, Astan-i Quds library
  • Muntakhabat asrar al-salat, Shawra-yi Milli library
  • Turaf min al-anba' wa al-manaqib, Markazi library of Tehran University
  • Falah al-sa'il wa najah al-masa'il, Markazi library of Tehran University
  • Al-Ibana fi ma'rifat al-kutub al-khazana,
  • Asrar al-salat
  • Al-Sa'adat al-'ibadat
  • Farhat al-nazir wa bahjat al-khawatir
  • A commentary on Nahj al-balagha
  • Al-Masra' al-shin fi qatl al-Husayn (a)
  • Al-Mazar[7]

Social and Political Life


Ibn Tawus moved from Hillah to Kadhimiya in order to be educated. Later he married and settled in Baghdad. During his fifteen years stay in Baghdad, he educated students and taught various subjects. He entered Baghdad in the year 625/1227.

As pressures increased on Ibn Tawus to accept governmental positions by the Abbasid government, he moved out of Baghdad and back to his birthplace, Hillah.

He lived in Tus, the city where Imam al-Rida (a) is buried, for three years as well. Then he moved to Najaf and Karbala and stayed in each one for approximately three years. During this period, he educated students and taught various subjects, but put his main effort on mysticism and spirituality.

During his stay in Karbala, he wrote the book Kashf al-mahajja as a will to his children, who were small at the time.

Ibn Tawus's went to Baghdad in the year 652/1254. He stayed there and accepted the position of niqaba. He was in Baghdad when the Mongols attacked and invaded the city.


When Ibn Tawus lived in Baghdad he was offered various positions, such as, minister and ambassador, by the Abbasid Caliph, al-Mustansir, but he rejected all of the them, explaining to the Caliph that:

"If I act based on your interests, I have cut my connection with God, and if I act by the commands of God, which is justice and fairness, your family, ministers, ambassadors, and leaders will not tolerate me and shall tell you that 'Ali b. Tawus wants to convey that this is how he would rule if he had power."

Al-Sayyid b. Tawus accepted the position of niqaba in the reign of Hulagu Khan, although he always rejected it under the Abbasid caliphate.[8]

Naqib was the greatest scientific and religious position for the Sayyids, whom controlled all events regarding the Sayyids, which included handling disputes, helping the poor and needy, guardianship of the orphans, etc.


Finally, al-Sayyid b. Tawus went back to his birthplace, where he lived for the rest of his life. He died on Monday, the fifth of Dhu al-Qa'da 664/1265, at the age of 75. In respect to his will, his body was taken to Najaf, and buried in Amir al-Muminin's shrine.

In the Opinion of Other Great Scholars

Al-'Allama al-Hilli (d. 726/1326) says, "al-Sayyid b. Tawus had some acts of wonder which he had told me himself, and also father narrated some of them for me."

Al-'Allama al-Majlisi says, "al-Sayyid b. Tawus was naqib, authentic, devout, and the beauty of the mystics (Jamal al-'Arifin)." [9]

Muhaddith Qumi says, "al-Sayyid Radi al-Din was honorable, pious, devout, beatitude, the leader of the mystics, the light of the vigil, had many acts of wonder."[10]


  1. Al-Kammuna al-Husayni, 'Abd al-Razzaq, Mawarid al-ithaf, Vol. 1. P. 107-108.
  2. Qumi, 'Abbas, al-Kuna wa l-alqab, Vol. 1. P. 341.
  3. Khwansari, Muhammad baqir, Rawdat al-jannat, Vol. 4. P. 325
  4. Shahidi Gulpaygani, Muhammad Baqir. Rahnama-ye sa'adat. P. 14
  5. Al-Sayyid b. Tawus, 'Ali b. Musa. Kashf al-mahajja. P. 294.
  6. Agha Buzurg, Tihrani. Tabaqat a'lam al-Shi'a. P. 117.
  7. Kohlberg, A Medieval Muslim Scholar at Work: Ibn Tawus and His Library, pp. 50-111
  8. Ibn 'Inaba, al-Fusul al-fakhriyya, P. 131-132
  9. Al-Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir. Bihar al-anwar. Vol. 107. P. 63-64.
  10. Qummi, 'Abbas, al-Fawa'id al-Radawiyya, Vol. 1. P. 542.


  • The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from علی بن موسی بن جعفر بن طاووس in Farsi wikishia.
  • Agha Buzurg, Tihrani. Tabaqat a'lam al-Shi'a. Beirut, 1972.
  • Ibn 'Inaba. Al-Fusul al-fakhriyya. Tehran: 'Ilmi wa Farhangi, 1363 Sh.
  • Kammuna al-Husayni, 'Abd al-Razzaq al-. Mawarid al-ithaf. Njaf: Nashr al-Adab. 1388 AH.
  • Khwansari, Muhammad baqir. Rawdat al-jannat.
  • Kohlberg, Etan. A Medieval Muslim Scholar at Work: Ibn Tawus and His Library. Tr. 'Ali Qara'i and Rasul Ja'faiyan. Qom: Kitabkhana-yi Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi.
  • Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir al-. Bihar al-anwar. Beirut: Mu'asissat al-Wafa, 1403 AH.
  • Qumi, 'Abbas. Al-Fawa'id al-Radawiyya. Qom: Bustan-i Kitab, 1385 Sh.
  • Qumi, 'Abbas. Al-Kuna wa l-alqab. Najaf: Nashr Haydariyya, 1389 AH.
  • Sayyid b. Tawus, 'Ali b. Musa al-. Kashf al-mahajja. Tr. Asad Allah Mubashshiri. Tehran: Farhang-i Islami, 1368 Sh.
  • Shahidi Gulpaygani, Muhammad Baqir. Rahnama-yi sa'adat. Tehran: Sa'di, 1382 AH.