Makatib al-rasul (book)
|Author||Ayatollah Ahmadi Miyanaji|
|Original title||مکاتیب الرسول ص|
Makātīb al-rasūl (Arabic: مَکاتيب الرَسول) is a book by Ayatollah Ahmadi Miyanaji (d. 1421/2000) consisting the letters and written documents ascribed to the Holy Prophet (s). Apparently, the idea for such a book came to the author's mind as he was amending a book by al-Fayd al-Kashani, known as Ma'adin al-hikma fi makatib al-a'imma.
- Main article: 'Ali Ahmadi Miyanaji
Ayatollah Ahmadi Miyanaji is a contemporary scholar and professor at the Islamic Seminary of Qom. He was skilled in different disciplines like: Tafsir (Qur'anic exegesis), Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), History and Hadith (narrative traditions). He authored several books in these areas.
The book contains Holy Prophet's letters to the kings and rulers in other lands, governors of Muslim lands and written documents of different treaties, deals and various other topics.
Through the period of consolidation of Islamic narrative traditions, letters and written documents issued by the Holy Prophet of Islam (s) were preserved in different narrative, historical and exegetical sources. However, Makatib al-rasul is the first collection to hold, through a scrutinized analysis, all letters and written documents issued by the Holy Prophet (s).
'Ali Ahmadi Miyanaji has divided the letters into two main categories:
First, the manifests pertaining to practical matters, dictated by the Holy Prophet (s) and written down by 'Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (a).
Second, letters to the kings and monarchs of the time in order to invite them to Islam or to explain the required obligations according to their agreements and treaties. Some of other written documents are treaties, deals and trusteeship documents. Early historical accounts have recorded a total number of 255 letters and written documents, of which 226 survived to present day.
The book is in Arabic, in four volumes, fourteen chapters and a final section. The topics of chapters are as follow:
- First chapter: opening of letters by: "Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim";
- Second chapter: interpretation of the words that follow the opening;
- Third chapter: analysis of rhetorical and eloquent merits of the letters;
- Fourth chapter: lexicology and defining the difficult words;
- Fifth chapter: did the Prophet (s) use to write?
- Sixth chapter: clerks and penmen of the Holy Prophet (s);
- Seventh chapter: letters to the kings and rulers to invite them to Islam;
- Eighth chapter: letters that did not survive;
- Ninth chapter: Letters preserved by the Infallible Imams (a);
- Tenth chapter: manifests of public invitation to Islam;
- Eleventh chapter: letters to Muslim governors;
- Twelfth chapter: treaties and deals;
- Thirteenth chapter: documents of land and property conveyance;
- Fourteenth chapter: other letters.
In the final section, the author has presented all letters and written documents with needed explanations and analysis.
The author benefited from abundant sources. After quoting each letter, he has cited its sources in details, which are different sourcebooks of history, al-Sira, Hadith, etc., and consist both early documents and recent studies. As he was not satisfied with mere selection and compilation, the author has added different opinions of former scholars and analyzed them, this, in addition to citation of all sources, is the reason why the book is so voluminous.
In the introduction, Ayatollah Ahmadi Miyanaji introduces the book as a fruit of a lifelong effort which is a result of fifty years, working day and night. A project that, according to author's report, had started in 1369/1949, and ended in 1419/1998.
The first volume of the book was published in Chapkhaniy-i 'ilmiyya Qom Publications in 1380/1960, and a copy of it was republished in Beirut. The book received appreciations of scholars throughout Muslim lands. Eventually, in 1419/1998, the final version with the author's amendments and footnotes was published by Dar al-Hadith Publications in four volumes; with the main content in three first volumes and the last volume containing indexes and charts.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from مکاتیب الرسول in Farsi Wikishia.