Al-Sharif al-Murtada

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Al-Sharif al-Murtada
مرقد سید مرتضی در کاظمین.jpg
His tomb in al-Kadhimiya
Personal Information
Full Name Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn b. Musa b. Muhammad b. Musa b. Ibrahim
Well-Known As Al-Sharif al-Murtada, 'Alam al-Huda
Well-Known Relatives Al-Sharif al-Radi
Birth 355/965
Residence Baghdad
Studied in Baghdad
Death 436/1044
Burial Place Karbala or al-Kadhimiya
Scholarly Information
Professors al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Abu 'Ubayd Allah Marzbani
Students Shaykh al-Ta'ifa, Abu ya'la Sallar, Abu l-Salah Taqi al-Din b. Najm al-Halabi, Qadi Abu l-Qasim 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Barraj, ...
Works Al-Intisar, al-Shafi fi l-imama, ...

'Alī b. al-Ḥusayn b. Mūsā b. Muḥammad b. Mūsā b. Ibrāhīm b. Imām Mūsā al-Kāẓim (a) (Arabic: علي بن الحسين بن موسی بن محمد بن موسی بن ابراهيم بن الامام موسی الکاظم ع ) (known as al-Sharīf al-Murtaḍā, al-Sayyid al-Murtaḍā, and 'Alam al-Hudā) (b. 355/965 - d. 436/1044) was a Twelver Shia jurists and theologians. He was the elder brother of al-Sayyid al-Radi, the compiler of Nahj al-Balagha, supporter of Shia, Naqib of Talibids in Baghdad, Amir al-Haj and Mazalim after his brother al-Radi who had these positions after their father.

Among his most famous teachers were al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Husayn b. Ali b. Babawayh, brother of al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Sahl b. Ahmad al-Dibaji, Ibn Jundi al-Baghdadi, Ali b. Muhammad al-Katib and Ahmad b. Muhammad b. 'Imran al-Katib.

Also, some of his students were al-Shaykh al-Tusi, Sallar al-Daylami, Ibn Barraj and Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Karajaki.

He was a scholar of Shia fiqh and Kalam and their religious authority after his teacher al-Shaykh al-Mufid passed away. He was an expert in Kalam and argument in every Islamic sect. The expansion of his knowledge included fiqh, Usul, Arabic literature, lexicon, Tafsir, Tarikh and Tarajim.

Birth, Lineage and Death

Ali b. al-Husayn b. Musa b. Muhammad b. Musa b. Ibrahim b. Imam Musa al-Kazim (a) was born in 355/965. Al-Sayyid al-Murtada was the elder brother of al-Sharif al-Radi and was known as al-Sharif al-Murtada and 'Alam al-Huda. His kunya was Abu l-Qasim. His other titles were Dhu l-Majdayn, Abu l-Thamanin and Dhu l-Thamanin.

His father was the scholar, leader and representative of Talibids. His mother was daughter of Hasan (or Husayn) b. Ahmad b. Hasan b. Ali b. 'Umar al-Ashraf b. Ali b. al-Husayn b. Ali b. Abi Talib (a) (d. 385/995-6).

About the demise of al-Sayyid al-Murtada, al-Najashi said, "al-Sayyid al-Murtada passed away in 436/1044-5 and his son prayed upon his body in his house. He was buried in his house and I undertook performing his ritual bath and my companions were Abu Ya'la Muhammad b. Hasan Ja'fari and Sallar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz."

There are different opinions regarding his burial place; some have said that he was later taken to Karbala from Baghdad and was buried near the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his grave is now well-known to people. Also, Ibn Meytham's report supports this idea that the graves of al-Sayyid al-Radi and al-Sayyid al-Murtada are in Karbala. In his commentary on Nahj al-Balagha, he wrote, "al-Sayyid al-Radi and his brother, al-Sayyid al-Murtada were buried near their forefather, Imam al-Husayn (a)."

However, some believe that al-Sayyid al-Murtada and al-Sayyid al-Radi are buried in al-Kadhimiya. Now, near the grave of Imam Musa al-Kazim (a), there are two mausoleums, people say the graves of al-Sayyid al-Radi and al-Sayyid al-Murtada are there. Some people visit there and recite Sura al-Fatiha to be blessed.


He learned Arabic literature before Ibn Nubata (between 12 and 13 years old) and thus it seems that when his mother took him to al-Shaykh al-Mufid to receive education, his age was not below 15 years old because his brother al-Radi was 4 or 5 years smaller than him and it seems impossible that he was given teachings in fiqh before learning Arabic instructions since they are a prerequisite of learning fiqh.

His scientific and literary works prove that he tried best in acquiring knowledge since the very childhood, so that he was regarded an authority in Islamic fiqh and theology at the age of 27 and since then, the Twelver Shia and others referred to him by writing letters and treatises.

Social and Scientific Position

Al-Sayyid al-Murtada is considered among the greatest scholars of Twelver Shia and from his many works, it can be understood that he was knowledgeable in many disciplines of his time including Islamic theology, fiqh, Usul, Tafsir, divine philosophy, astronomy, different branches of Arabic literature ranging from lexicon, syntax, semantics, composition, poetry and as such. He focused his attention on fiqh, Islamic theology and Arabic literature and served Twelver Shia and strengthened their principles and secondary issues through them.

His method in the principles of religion was rational and thus, he not only opposed Ash'arites, but also Zahirids of Shia. He did not follow solitary reports and benefited from rational and literal principles and thus did not agree with Muhaddith and Akhbaris among Shia.

Al-Sayyid al-Murtada was Twelver Shia's great authority and scholar of fiqh and Islamic theology after the demise of his teacher, al-Shaykh al-Mufid. His debates with scholars of any sect and the book al-Shafi fi l-Imama are the greatest proofs on his expertise in Islamic theology. In fiqh and the principlesof fiqh, his rare books can demonstrated his expertise. His Amali is also a great proof for his comprehensive knowledge in Arabic literature, lexicon, Tafsir, history and Tarajim.

His student, al-Shaykh al-Tusi said, "He is unique in in many branches of knowledge. Everyone admits to his merits. He is a pioneer in different Islamic sciences such as Kalam, fiqh, Usul al-fiqh, Arabic literature, syntax, poetry, lexicon, etc."

Al-Najashi says, "he acquired knowledge so that none of contemporary scholars with him was at his level. He had heard many hadiths, he was a theologian, poet and a scholar of Arabic literature. He had a great position in knowledge, religion and the world."

He was a reliable authority for Shia and leader for Talibids in Baghdad. He was also leader of Hajj and the judge after his brother al-Sayyid al-Radi. These positions were of their father in the past. He gave his students stipend: 12 dinars monthly to al-Shaykh al-Tusi and 8 dinars to Qadi Ibn Barraj.

School of al-Sharif al-Murtada

He had a large house which he had turned into a seminary school and students of fiqh, Kalam, Tafsir, Arabic literature, poetry and other sciences such as astronomy, mathematics studied there. They also made discussions there as well. This house did not only host Shia students but also students from any sect and nationalities.


He and his brother al-Sayyid al-Radi learned Arabic lexicon and primary studies before the poet Ibn Nubata Sa'di. They learned fiqh and the Usul al-fiqh before al-Shaykh al-Mufid. Al-Sayyid al-Murtada was also a student of Abu 'Ubayd Allah Marzbani and he frequently quotes from him in his Amali.

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid was his teacher in most of the knowledge he learned, but he also quotes from some of the teachers of al-Shaykh al-Mufid. For example, he quoted from Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad b. 'Imran al-Marzbani al-Baghdadi (d. 378 AH) that the hadith of the sermon of Lady Fatima (a) (Khutbat al-Zahra (s)) is among those brought in al-Shafi.

In this book, he has also quoted from Abu l-Qasim 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Uthman b. Yahya b. Junayqa al-Daqqaq, Abu l-Hasan Ali b. Muhammad al-Katib and his other teachers from whom he learned hadith, fiqh and other sciences including the following ones:


Some of his students are as follows:

  1. Shaykh al-Ta'ifa Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Hasan al-Tusi
  2. Abu ya'la Sallar (Salar) b. 'Abd al-'Aziz Daylami
  3. Abu l-Salah Taqi al-Din b. Najm al-Halabi
  4. Qadi Abu l-Qasim 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Barraj
  5. Abu l-Fath Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Karajaki
  6. 'Imad al-Din Dhu l-Fiqar Muhammad b. Ma'bar al-Hasani
  7. Abu 'Abd Allah Ja'far b. Muhammad Duristi
  8. Abu l-Hasan Sulayman b. al-Hasan al-Sahrashti
  9. Abu l-Hasan Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Basrawi
  10. Abu 'Abd Allah b. Tabban al-Tabbani
  11. Shaykh Ahmad b. al-Hasan al-Naysaburi
  12. Abu l-Husayn Hajib
  13. Najib al-Din Abu Muhammad al-Hasan b. Muhammad al-Musawi
  14. Qadi 'Izz al-Din 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Kamil al-Tarabulusi
  15. Qadi Abu l-Qasim 'Ali b. Muhsin al-Tanukhi
  16. Mufid al-Thani Abu Muhammad 'Abd al-Rahman b. Ahmad b. Husayn
  17. Faqih Taqi b. Abi Tahir Hadi Naqib al-Razi
  18. Muhammad b. Ali al-Hilwani
  19. Sayyid Abu ya'la Muhammad b. Hamza al-'Alawi
  20. Faqih Abu l-Faraj Ya'qub b. Ibrahim al-Bayhaqi

Abu l-'Ala Ma'arri was also among those who attended scientific and literary classes of al-Sayyid al-Murtada. He stayed in Baghdad for two years. When he returned from Iraq to Ma'arrah in 400 AH, he was asked how he could describe al-Sayyid al-Murtada. He answered, "O one who ask me about him, beware that he is a person purified from any defect or scandal. If you go to him, undoubtedly you will see all people in one person and all times in a moment and the world in one house."


He had several works in different field of Islamic studies including fiqh, hadith, theology, and etc. The most important ones are:


Main article: Al-Intisar

It is a book on fiqh, including the rulings definitely or supposedly specific to Twelver Shia. This book contains 319 fiqhi issues and is important historically and scientifically, since it is the oldest Shia reference in fiqh which includes comparative issues and has mentioned different opinions.

Al-Shafi fi l-Imama

Al-Shafi fi al-Imama wa Ibtal Hujaj al-'Amma is among the most important theological books compiled by al-Sayyid al-Murtada 'Alam al-Huda on Imamate and answering questions about it. Al-Sayyid al-Murtada wrote this book to answer the questions of Qadi 'Abd al-Jabbar al-Mu'tazili about Imamate.

See Also


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from سید مرتضی in Farsi Wikishia.