Al-Ikhtiṣāṣ (Arabic: الإختصاص) is a diverse collection of hadiths by the Infallibles (a) concerning the principles of beliefs, biographies and history, wisdom and preaching, ethics, virtues and miracles of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and vices of their enemies. There is a disagreement about who the author of the book was: in different sources, the book has been attributed to al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Ja'far b. Husayn al-Mu'min, and Abu 'Ali Ahmad b. al-Husayn b. Ahmad b. 'Imran. Some people believe that the author of the book is unknown. However, the book is mainly known as being authored by al-Shaykh al-Mufid.
Al-Ikhtisas is not devoted to a single subject-matter, as the author has pointed out in his preface to the book:
- I have authored this book and gone through many troubles collecting it. I have collected different types of well-known hadiths, great works, and stories regarding many issues such as praising people, their virtues, the place of scholars and the degrees of their knowledge.
The main issue about the book is its author. There are at least four views about this:
Ja'far b. Husayn al-Mu'min
This view is attributed by the author of Kashf al-hujub to an unknown person.
Abu 'Ali Ahmad b. al-Husayn b. Ahmad b. 'Imran
This view is held by Sayyid Jawad al-Shubayri al-Zanjani. His grounds for this view are:
- Problems in chains of transmissions in the book
- The book was not mentioned in early reliable bibliographies of al-Shaykh al-Mufid
- The contents of the book are not similar to those of other known works of al-Shaykh al-Mufid.
In addition to these views, some people believe that al-Ikhtisas was originally a notebook written by an early scholar of hadith which was taken to be a book by a later scholar.
Style of Writing
Like other collections of hadiths, the author has cited the material with chains of transmissions. However, there is no unified style of citing such chains. Some of them are mursal hadiths which are directly cited from the Imam (a), and some are transmitted from the Imam (a) through eight consecutive transmitters. Some hadiths are cited without any chains of transmissions.
Structure and Contents
The book begins with a short preface (few lines), and then the book opens with two hadiths concerning the virtues of knowledge. Then the book contains hadiths about Shurtat al-Khamis, hadiths concerning the virtues of scholars and the companions of Shi'a Imams (a), hadiths concerning the events after the demise of the Prophet (s), Abu Hanifa's debate with Imam al-Sadiq (a), al-Farazdaq's poem or qasida, remarks by some scholars, the will of Luqman, among many other issues.
- The manuscript of al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili in the library of al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Samawi in Najaf written in 1087/1676.
Translations and Publications
Al-Ikhtisas has been translated by Husayn Sabiri. It was published by the following publishers:
- Qom, no date, photographed from the Beirut publication, Maktabat al-Zahra Publication.
- Najaf, edited by Sayyid Mahdi Khursan.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from الاختصاص in Farsi WikiShia.