Ma'ani l-akhbar (book)
|Original title||معاني الأخبار|
Maʿānī l-ʾAkhbār (Arabic: مَعانِي الأخبار ) [lit. the meanings of the Hadiths] is a book compiled by al-Shaykh al-Saduq, who was a prominent Shi'a scholar in fourth/tenth century. It is a collection of the Hadiths narrated from the Prophet (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a) which explain and interpret around 500 terms in the Qur'an, other Hadiths, theology, jurisprudence (fiqh) and other areas of Islamic sciences.
- Main article: al-Shaykh al-Saduq
Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Husayn b. Musa b. Babawayh al-Qummi, reputably known as al-Shaykh al-Saduq, is one the most prominent scholars in fourth/tenth century. He was born after 305/917 and passed away in 381/991 and was buried in Rey, Iran. He was the greatest Muhaddith (Hadith scholar) and jurist (faqih) in the Hadith school of Qom. He wrote around 300 scholarly works many of which did not survive. The book Man la yahduruhu al-faqih, one of Shi'a Four Books, is compiled by al-Shaykh al-Saduq.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq finished Ma'ani l-akhbar in 331/942 after he had authored Kitab al-Tawhid and 'Ilal al-sharayi'. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani writes: Sayyid b. Tawus has mentioned in his book, al-Tara'if, that al-Shaykh al-Saduq wrote Ma'ani l-akhbar in 331/942.
The content of Ma'ani l-akhbar has been organized in five different Hadith groups: Qur'anic exegetical Hadiths, jurisprudential Hadiths, theological, ethical and historical Hadiths. Proportionate part of the book is dedicated to the first category, i.e. Qur'anic exegetical Hadiths. The total number of the compiled Hadiths in this book is 809, classified in 429 different sections, ranging from a single Hadith in a section to 100 in the other.
Titles of the Sections
From among the titles of these 429 sections, the followings can be mentioned:
- The meaning of Bismi Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim
- the meaning of Subhan Allah
- the meaning of Muqatta'at (abbreviated and disjoined letters at the beginning of certain suras in the Holy Qur'an)
- the meaning of: Man kuntu mawlahu fa hadha 'Ali un mawlahu (the reputable Prophetic phrase from the Mutiwatir Hadith of Ghadir: to whomever I'm master, 'Ali shall be master too)
- the meaning of bay' al-hasat (the transaction of Stones an illegal form of transaction based on random chance)
- the meaning of lawh and qalam (the tablet and the pen)
- the meaning of marriage between two lights
- the meaning of futuwwa (chivalry)
- the meaning of unity and division
- the meaning of sunna (original practice of the Prophet(s)) and bid'a (innovation, heresy)
- the meaning of ikhtilaf (disagreement/frequent visiting) in the famous Prophetic narration: Ikhtilaf of my Umma is a blessing.
- the meaning of neighbor and the extent of neighborhood
- the meaning of Ghayba (backbiting, gossiping) and buhtan (accusation, allegation) etc.
The method applied in this book has remarkable merits:
- The author reports that he had asked the meaning of some Hadiths from his teachers.
- He mentions the time and location where he heard each Hadith.
- He cites and takes into account some of the opinions of lexicological experts.
- He expresses his own theological arguments.
- He narrates some Hadiths about the recitation of "Ziyarah Al Yasin".
- He gives references to other sources.
- He narrates famous Sunni Hadiths through Shi'a chains of transmission and clarifies the true meaning of those Hadiths.
- He discusses the chains of transmission of the Hadiths.
Authenticity and the Value
Copyreader of Ma'ani l-akhbar writes at his introduction to the book:
- the distinctive importance of this book among other works of al-Shaykh al-Saduq, rests in its unique subject. For this book aims to clarify the ambiguities and problems of the Hadiths through the explanations given by the Ahl al-Bayt (a) themselves… the history has not witnessed similar work in this particular field and no other book is compiled in this fashion and its merits are not to be found anywhere else.
Ma'ani l-akhbar, like other works of al-Shaykh al-Saduq, has always been at the center of attention and consideration by Shi'a great scholars and jurists, and is regarded as one of the most authentic Shi'a narrative sources and many of its Hadiths have been adopted by great Shi'a Hadith compilers in chief collections of Shi'a Hadiths, like: the Four Books, Bihar al-anwar and Wasa'il al-shi'a.
Aqa Buzurg Tihrani has attributed a book to Dawud b. Hasan b. Yusuf Awali al-Bahrani, wherein he arranged the content of Ma'ani l-akhbar according to alphabetical order. Also there is a commentary of Ma'ani l-akhbar authored by Mulla 'Abd al-Nabi Tassuji. This work has been translated to Persian language by Aqa Muhammad Ibrahim b. Muhammad Ali Abadi Yazdi and 'Abd al-'Ali Muhammadi Shahrudi.
Manuscripts and Copies
- A manuscript in the Library of the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Rida (a). this manuscript was copied by al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili in his own handwriting.
- A manuscript in the Library of 'Allama Tabataba'i. This copy had been verified and copyread in 1073/1662 by Muhammad b. Muhammad Muhsin b. Murtada known as: 'Alam al-Huda.
- A manuscript in Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi Library.
Ma'ani l-akhbar has been published in different prints for numerous times in Iran.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from معانی الاخبار in Farsi Wikishia.