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Al-Rayyan b. al-Salt

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Companion of Imam (a)
Al-Rayyan b. al-Salt
Companion of Imam al-Kazim (a), Imam al-Rida (a), Imam al-Jawad (a), Imam al-Hadi (a)
Teknonym Abu Ali
Religious Affiliation Shi'a
Wellknown Relatives 'Ali b. al-Rayyan (son)
Students 'Ali b. al-Rayyan b. al-Salt, 'Abd Allah b. ja'far al-Himyari
Works Two books

Abū ʿAlī al-Rayyān b. al-Ṣalt al-Ashʿarī al-Qummī (Arabic: أبوعلي الرَیّان بن الصلت الأشعري القمّي), known as al-Rayyān b. al-Ṣalt (Arabic: الریّان بن الصَلت), was a prominent Shi'a muhaddith in the 2nd/8th, and 3rd/9th centuries. He was originally from Khorasan or Baghdad, and lived in the periods of the imamate of Imam al-Kazim (a), Imam al-Rida (a), Imam al-Jawad (a), and Imam al-Hadi (a). He had two children called "Muhammad" and "'Ali" both of whom were reliable transmitters of hadiths and companions of Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a).

In the View of the Scholars of Rijal and Hadith

In the view of Shi'ite scholars, al-Rayyan was a reliable transmitter of hadiths. Al-Najashi writes in his Rijal: "he is a reliable, truthful, and trustworthy transmitter of hadiths." al-Shaykh al-Tusi says: "al-Rayyan was originally from Khorasan and was a companion of Imam al-Rida (a) and Imam al-Hadi (a)."

Ibn Dawud al-Hilli, al-Kashshi, Ibn Shahrashub, and many other prominent Shi'ite scholars have praised al-Rayyan b. al-Salt.

Teachers

Al-Rayyan was a student of three Imams (a) in his time and learned about Shi'ite beliefs, fiqh, and politics from them.

Students

Al-Rayyan had some prominent students, including 'Ali b. al-Rayyan b. al-Salt al-Ash'ari al-Qummi, 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far al-Himyari, and Ibrahim b. Hashim al-Qummi.

Children

Al-Rayyan had two sons both of whom were well-known Shi'ite scholars and transmitters of hadiths:

  • 'Ali b. al-Rayyan: he was a well-known Shi'ite author and transmitter of hadiths who lived in the period of the imamate of Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a). Scholars of rijal take him to be a reliable transmitter of hadiths and a well-known student of these two Imams (a). Some of his hadiths have been transmitted and cited by al-Shaykh al-Saduq and Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni.
  • Muhammad b. al-Rayyan: he was a prominent Shi'ite transmitter of hadiths in the 3rd/9th century who lived in the period of the imamate of Imam al-Jawad (a), Imam al-Hadi (a), and Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a). Scholars of rijal take Muhammad b. al-Rayyan to be a reliable, trustworthy transmitter of hadiths and act upon his hadiths. His hadiths are cited by al-Kulayni in his al-Kafi, al-Shaykh al-Saduq in his Tahdhib al-ahkam and al-Istibsar.

Work

One work attributed to al-Rayyan is a book mentioned by al-Najashi in which Imam al-Rida's (a) remarks about the difference between "Al" (family) and "Umma" (nation) are collected. Another work of his is a collection of hadiths he transmitted from Infallible Imams (a). Most of these hadiths are concerned with Imam al-Rida's (a) Succession of al-Ma'mun, the Imam's (a) departure to hold the Eid Prayer, the date of Imam al-Rida's (a) birth, the manners of fighting in battles, and different jurisprudential issues, such as prayer, fasting, zakat, renting, and the like. The hadiths have been cited and appealed to by Shi'ite faqihs (jurisprudents) throughout the Shi'ite history.

Jurisprudential Significance

Al-Kashshi has cited a hadith from 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Qutayni in his Rijal which is a clear piece of evidence for his jurisprudential significance. According to this hadith, al-Rayyan reproached people who claimed to be jurisprudents and encouraged them to learn and understand the rulings of the religion. What is more, it should be noted that most of the hadiths transmitted by al-Rayyan from the Imams (a) are concerned with different issues of fiqh (jurisprudence) which shows his special concern for jurisprudential issues and an accurate understanding of the juristic rulings.

Relation with Imam al-Rida (a)

In addition to his significance for Shi'ite scholars as a transmitter of hadiths, al-Rayyan was also honored by Infallible Imams (a). For example, in one hadith, al-Rayyan himself says that he wanted to ask Imam al-Rida (a) to give him one of his clothes and some money, but before he expressed his need, the Imam (a) gave him one of his clothes and some money, and then addressed Mu'ammar who was there and called al-Rayyan a "believer."

During al-Ma'mun's Caliphate

It is said that al-Rayyan was an orator in the caliphate of al-Ma'mun and one of his close companions and confidants. He was commissioned by al-Ma'mun and al-Fadl b. Sahl to carry out actions on their behalf. According to a hadith, one day, al-Ma'mun told him (al-Rayyan) to go to people and talk to them about the virtues of Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (a). In his talk, al-Rayyan said: "al-Ma'mun reported to me through his ancestors that the Prophet (s) said: "whoever I am his mawla, this 'Ali is his mawla," and he said: "'Ali to me is like Aaron to Moses."

However, it is obvious that al-Rayyan served in the caliphate of al-Ma'mun out of taqiyya (dissimulation), because the Abbasids persecuted the Alawites and the Shi'as, confiscated their property, and deported some of them from their cities. (Although in the period of al-Ma'mun, the Shi'as and Alawites started riots and uprisings, and the sovereignty of the caliphate was almost gone, the circumstances were not yet in favor of the Shi'as.)

Insight Regarding Imamate

According to the book, Ithbat al-wasiyya, after the martyrdom of Imam al-Rida (a) by al-Ma'mun, Imam al-Jawad (a) was just 7 years old, and thus, the Shi'as were worried about Imam al-Rida's (a) successor as the next Imam. Senior Shi'as gathered in the house of 'Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj. In this gathering, Yunus b. 'Abd al-Rahman said: "stop crying so that we can find out who is in charge of wilaya from now on, and whom we should consult in our questions and problems until this child [that is, Imam al-Jawad (a)] grows up."

Al-Rayyan b. al-Salt was irritated by Yunus's remarks and grappled with him, telling him: "you pretend to believe but you have doubts in your heart. If this child is God's hujja on the Earth, then even if he is one day old, he will be like someone who is 100 years old and his remarks are those of a mature, perfect Imam, and if he is not, then he will be like any other ordinary person even if he is 1000 years old." He then said: "this is how one should believe in the imamate of the Imams (a)."

References