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Al-Rijal (by Ibn al-Ghada'iri)

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Rijal Ibn al-Ghada'iri
Bibliographical Information
Author Ibn al-Ghada'iri
Original title رِجال إبن غَضائِری
Language Arabic
Series 1 volume
Subject Rijal
Published 1422/2001
Publisher Dar al-Hadith

Rijāl Ibn al-Ghadāʿirī (Arabic: رِجال إبن غَضائِری) or al-Ḍuʿafāʾ (الضُعَفاء, literally: the unreliable) is one of the 8 main Shiite books of rijal, written by Ahmad b. al-Husayn b. 'Abd Allah al-Ghada'iri, known as Ibn al-Ghada'iri, a scholar of rijal in 4th/10th and 5th/11th centuries. There is no hint of the book in work written between the 5th/11th and the 7th/13th centuries, and the first person who mentioned the book was Sayyid Jamal al-Din b. Tawus (d. 673/1274). Prominent scholars of rijal disagree over whether the book was really written by Ibn al-Ghada'iri or not.

Rijal Ibn al-Ghada'iri is alphabetically ordered and is concerned with the biographies of Shiite transmitters of hadiths. The book counts as an early original source of Shiite rijal, but some scholars have questioned the credibility of Ibn al-Ghada'iri's views because he considered some prominent Shiite transmitters of hadiths as unreliable, while they count as obviously reliable in other sources of rijal.

The Author

Ibn al-Ghada'iri was an Imami scholar of hadith and rijal in the 4th/10th and 5th/11th centuries. He was contemporary to al-Najjashi and al-Shaykh al-Tusi.

Origination of the Book

There is no hint of the book, al-Du'afa' by Ibn al-Ghada'iri in work available to us from the 5th/11th to the 7th/13th centuries. The first person who mentioned the book was al-Sayyid Ahmad b. Tawus al-Hilli (d. 673/1274) who referred to the book as al-Du'afa' . In his al-Fihrist, al-Shaykh al-Tusi mentions two books by Ibn al-Ghada'iri under Fihrist al-musannafat (literally: list of written works) and Fihrist al-usul (literally: list of principles), and in his book, al-Najjashi has referred to Ibn al-Ghada'iri's book as Tarikh (literally: history). On the other hand, al-'Allama al-Hilli has, in his Khulasat al-aqwal, referred to two books by Ibn al-Ghada'iri as al-Mamduhim (literally: people who were praised) and al-Madhmumin (literally: people who were disapproved). They might refer to two chapters of Rijal Ibn al-Ghada'iri.

However, al-Sayyid Jamal al-Din b. Tawus was the first person who found a manuscript attributed to Ibn al-Ghada'iri, citing it in his own book of rijal, Hall al-ishkal fi tarajim al-rijal, emphasizing that he does not transmit the book and he has no permission to transmit it from anyone. He referred to the book as al-Du'afa' .

After al-Sayyid b. Tawus, his students, al-'Allama al-Hilli and Ibn Dawud, cited the contents of the alleged Ibn al-Ghada'iri's book that were cited by al-Sayyid b. Tawus, in their own books of rijal.

After four centuries, Mulla 'Abd Allah Shushtari (d. 1021/1612) extracted the materials of Rijal Ibn al-Ghada'iri from Ibn Tawus's Hall al-ishkal and his student, 'Inayat Allah Quhpa'i, cited his teacher's text in his book of rijal, and thus, the manuscript of Ibn al-Ghada'iri's book became available to us.

Attribution to Ibn al-Ghada'iri

There is a disagreement among Shiite scholars as to whether or not the book was written by Ibn al-Ghada'iri or someone else. Some of them reject the attribution of the book to Ibn al-Ghada'iri and others defend such an attribution.

Aqa Buzurg Tihrani and Ayatollah Khu'i strongly reject the attribution of the book to Ahmad b. Abi 'Abd Allah al-Ghada'iri, holding that the book was written by adversaries of Shiism who mixed Ibn al-Ghada'iri's book with distorted and false claims in an attempt to damage the reputation of prominent Shiite figures. They believe that Ibn al-Ghada'iri was a friend and a companion of al-Najjashi, and so, if he had a book of rijal, al-Najjashi would cite it in his book. Thus, the views cited by al-Njjashi from Ibn al-Ghada'iri were the ones he heard them from him, and so, such citations do not imply that Ibn al-Ghada'iri had written a book of rijal. This view can also be supported by the fact that the only transmitter of the book was Ahmad b. Tawus who admits that he did not receive the book via a connecting chain of transmission.

People who defend the attribution of the book to Ibn al-Ghada'iri appeal to al-Shaykh al-Tusi's explicit mention of two books of rijal by Ibn al-Ghada'iri in his al-Fihrist. They also appeal to the reliance of certain scholars of rijal, such as Ahmad b. Tawus and al-'Allama al-Hilli, on the book to show that the book is reliable. Moreover, Ibn Tawus and al-'Allama al-Hilli attribute the book to Ibn al-Ghada'iri, rather than his father. Ibn Dawud al-Hilli, al-Fadil al-Tuni, al-Wahid al-Bihbahani, al-Muhaqqiq al-Kalbasi, and Muhammad Taqi Shushtari defend the attribution of the book to Ibn al-Ghada'iri.

Credibility of Ibn al-Ghada'iri's Views in Rijal

In the book attributed to Ibn al-Ghada'iri, a large number of Shiite figures and some of the Shiite transmitters of hadiths are considered as unreliable, while they count as reliable by other scholars of rijal or other Shiite scholars in general. One criterion on which Ibn al-Ghada'iri relied to discredit transmitters of hadiths was their tendency to ghuluw (exaggeration about the Imams (a)) or their transmission of hadiths that contain ghuluw. For example, he considered all people who transmitted miracles by the Imams (a) to be unreliable.

Such a method adopted by Ibn al-Ghada'iri that led to the conclusion that many prominent Shiite scholars and transmitters of hadiths were unreliable was the main reason why some Shiite scholars have doubted the credibility of Ibn al-Ghada'iri's views or the correctness of the attribution of this book to him. However, doubts about the credibility of Ibn al-Ghada'iri's views in rijal are not the same. Some prominent Shiite scholars of rijal, such as Ibn Tawus, al-'Allama al-Hilli and Ibn Dawud, who wrote books of rijal, have relied on, and cited, Ibn al-Ghada'iri's views in their books. but some Shiite scholars of hadiths, such as 'Allama al-Majlisi and Muhaddith Nuri, consider Ibn al-Ghada'iri's views to be unacceptable.

Opponents of Ibn al-Ghada'iri's views have, in addition to casting doubts on the attribution of the book to Ibn al-Ghada'iri, rejected his views because he has considered some transmitters of hadiths as unreliable on the basis of his personal speculations and in a careless and excessive way. With regard to such criticisms, two points should be noted: First, Ibn al-Ghada'iri has sometimes considered some transmitters as reliable while other scholars of rijal take them to be unreliable, and this shows that his views about the unreliability of some transmitters of hadiths were not careless or as a result of his preference for viewing people as unreliable. Second: much of what is available to us from Ibn al-Ghada'iri's book might be from the "unreliable" part of his book, rather than the part concerning praised transmitters. Thus, the fact that Ibn al-Ghada'iri seems to take many transmitters of hadiths to be unreliable might be because of the unavailability of the part of his book in which reliable transmitters of hadiths are mentioned.

Some Shiite scholars of rijal have adopted a middle way with respect to the credibility of Ibn al-Ghada'iri's views: they believe that his views are credible when he takes a transmitter of hadiths to be reliable, while they are not credible when he takes a transmitter of hadiths to be unreliable.

Contents of the Book

The book is alphabetically ordered. At the beginning of each alphabet, the author refers to the number of people whom he will discuss. For example, in "الف" (alif), he says: 18 people will be mentioned. He then introduces the given transmitter of hadiths with all his or her features and then refers to their reliability or unreliability or their being unknown.

Features of the Book

People who defend the attribution of the book to Ibn al-Ghada'iri hold that Ibn al-Ghada'iri had abandoned any prejudices about the status of transmitters of hadiths on the basis of his preconceptions. Instead, he discussed and evaluated them with maturity and on the basis of precise scholarly principles in a methodical way.

Here are some features of Rijal Ibn al-Ghada'iri:

  • Use of scholarly terms and phrases in providing his arguments for the unreliability or reliability of transmitters of hadiths.
  • Distinguishing the grounds for their unreliability, such as a problem in their religious tendency, a problem in their transmission of hadiths, and the like.
  • Disambiguating namesakes: When there are two transmitters of hadiths with the same name, Ibn al-Ghada'iri says which one is reliable.
  • Reference to the generation of the transmitter of hadiths, such as his being from the Sahaba or Tabi'un.
  • Introducing the written work of transmitters of hadiths with their titles or subject-matters, as well as referring to whether the book is authentic or fake. For example, he explicitly said that Kitab Sulaym and Tafsir al-Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) were unauthentic.
  • Referring to fake and fabricated names.
  • Identifying careless transmitters of hadiths.
  • Being realistic and having independent views in criticizing the figures and transmitters of hadiths.
  • Extensive field research about the biographies of transmitters of hadiths.
  • Appealing to the views of reliable figures, such as the Infallibles (a), scholars of rijal, reports in rijal, and his father Husayn b. 'Abd Allah al-Ghada'iri.
  • Reluctance to consider people as reliable or unreliable on the contrary to what is well-known.

Manuscripts and Publication

Two manuscripts of the book have so far been identified:

The book has been published by Dar al-Hadith Publications in (1422/2001) as edited by Sayyid Muhammad Rida Husayni Jalali.