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Ma'alim al-'ulama' (book)

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Ma'alim al-'ulama'
Author Ibn Shahrashub
Original title معالم العلماء
Language Arabic
Subject 'Ilm al-Rijal (Biographical evaluation)
Publisher Najaf: al-Matba'a al-Haydariyya

Maʿlim al-ʿulamāʾ fī fihrist kutub al-Shiʿa wa ʾasmāʾ al-muṣannifīn qadīman wa ḥadīthan (Arabic: مَعالِم العُلَماء فى فِهرِست كُتُب الشّيعَة و أسماء المُصَنِّفين‌ قَدیماً و حَدیثاً) also known as Ma'alim al-ulama' is a reference in rijal written by Ibn Shahrashub (d. 588/1192). This book is a complementary work for al-Shaykh al-Tusi's al-Fihrist. In Ma'alim al-'ulama, Ibn Shahrashub gives a short description of 600 Shi'a works and their authors.

In al-Dhari'a, Aqa Buzurg Tihrani mentions a rijal reference for Ibn Shahrashub and says that this book is different from Ma'alim al-'ulama.

Author

Main article: Ibn Shahrashub

Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad b.'Ali b. Shahrashub Sarawi Mazandarani (b. 488/1095 – d. 588/1192) known as Ibn Shahrashub, with the titles of Rashid al-Din and 'Izz al-Din, was among the great Shi'a narrators and scholars of 6th/12th century. He was born in Sari and went to Baghdad to continue his education. He wrote great works such as Manaqib Al Abi Talib, Mutashabih al-Qur'an wa mukhtalifuh, etc.

Date of Compilation

This book is not written later than 581 AH/1185; because in his permission to Shaykh Jamal al-Din Abu al-Hasan 'Ali b. Sha'ra al-Hilli al-Jama'ni which was issued on Jumada II 15, 581/September 20,1185, the author has mentioned his book, Ma'alim al-ulama'. Also, it is famously reported that Ma'alim al-'ulama and Shaykh Muntajab al-Din's al-fihrist are close to each other regarding the date of compilation and both books are supplements to Shaykh Tusi's al-Fihrist.

Reason of Writing

In his introduction to the book, the author writes:

Ma'alim al-'ulama' is on listing of Shi'a books and their authors, whether old or new ones. Although, our great teacher Abu Ja'far Muhammad al-Tusi wrote a great book on the mentioned topic in his time but I should say that my concise book has additional and useful information which can be considered a complementary work for al-Shaykh al-Tusi's work. In this book, I have added almost 600 other authors and have also mentioned information omitted from al-Shaykh al-Tusi's work, although there are many books with similar topic.

Structure

Firstly in the introduction, Ibn Shahrashub have mentioned the history of listing and bibliography and has criticized al-Ghazali's saying that the first person who has written a book has been Ibn Juraij. Ibn Shahrashub knows the first authors in Islam as Imam 'Ali (a), then Salman the Persian, Abu Dhar, Asbagh b. Nubata, 'Ubayd Allah b. Abi Rafi' and Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (a) and then mentions the authors of the Four Hundred Principles (Usul arba' mi'ah).

The structure of the book after introduction is as following,

  • First is the names of the authors in alphabetical order.
  • A chapter on introducing those who are known by their Kunyas.
  • A chapter on introducing those who are known either by their title, their tribe or town.
  • A chapter on the names of the books with unknown authors. This chapter is the last part of the content, in which 2301 titles of books have been introduced.
  • Introducing poets who composed poems for the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in four chapters of Mujahirin, Muqtasidin, Sadat, sahaba (the companions of the Prophet) and Tabi'un and introducing the companions of Imams (a) in two chapters of Muttaqin [the Pious] and Mutakallifin [the Obligated].

Features

Some of the features of the book are as follows,

  1. In this book, 43 people's authenticity have been justified including Ibrahim b. Salih al-Anmati al-Kufi, Ibrahim b. 'Abd al-Hamid, Isma'il b. Mihran b. Muhammad b. Abi Nasr al-Sakuni, Isma'il b. Shu'ayb al-'Arishi and Isma'il b. 'Ammar.
  2. The book mentions 67 people who wrote an Asl including, Ibrahim b. Mahzam al-Asadi, Ibrahim b. 'Uthman Abu l-Khazzaz al-Kufi, Ibrahim b. Abi l-Bilad, Ibrahim b. Yahya, Ibrahim b. 'Umayr al-Yamani
  3. The book lists 53 generations
  4. The book has used new expressions for introducing narrators such as, "Majfuww al-riwayah" ("his narration was ignored"), "Min ghilman al-Ayyashi" ("one of the students of al-Ayyashi"), "al-Zakat 'ala nasaq al-fiqh" ("[the book of] Zakat written from fiqh perspective"), "lahu kitab mu'awwal 'Alayh" ("he has a book which is reliable"), "min ajilla' al-kuttab" ("one of the greatest authors")
  5. For some of the narrators, their school or their reputation are mentioned; for example it is written that Ibrahim b. Ishaq al-Nahawandi is accused; Ibrahim b. Abd al-Hamid is a Waqifi; Isma'il b. 'Ammar was a Fahti; Ahmad b. 'Ali Abu l-'Abbas was accused of exaggeration.
  6. Although this book is about the list of Shi'a works and their authors, it has also mentions some Sunni scholars who have had books about the Ahl al-Bayt (a) or Shi'a, such as,

Importance

Although Ma'alim al-'ulama is more concise than other books of rijal but it is among the references for scholars of rijal such as al-'Allama al-Hilli, the author of Khulasat al-aqwal; al-Hurr al-'Amili, author of Amal al-amil; Sayyid Mustafa Tafrishi, author of Naqd al-rijal; Mirza Muhammad Astarabadi, al-'Allama al-Majlisi, al-Shaykh Abu 'Ali Ha'iri and Aqa Muhammad Baqir Khwansari.

References