Muhammad Amin al-Istarabadi
|Full Name||Muhammad Amin b. Muhammad Sharif|
|Burial Place||al-Ma'lat Cemetery in Mecca|
|Professors||Hasan b. Zayn al-Din al-'Amili (Sahib al-Ma'alim) • Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Ibrahim al-Istarabadi|
|Works||al-Fawa'id al-madaniyya• commentary on al-Istibsar|
Muḥammad Amīn b. Muḥammad Sharīf (Arabic:مُحَمَّد اَمین بن مُحَمَّد شَریف) (d. 1036/1626-7), known as Amin al-Istarabadi (Arabic:امین استرآبادی) (also recorded as al-Istarabadi) is one of the Shi'a scholars and the founder of Akhbarism. He tried to introduce ijtihad of usulis as a threat; so that by referring to hadiths, he can revive the tradition of the predecessors. Throughout his book al-Fawa'id al-madaniyya his critical attitude towards al-Muhaqqiq al-Karaki's method of ijtihad and sometimes towards usuli, in general, is evident. He believed that the Infallible Imams (a) are the main addressees of the Holy Qur'an and only they can deduct rulings from the Qur'anic verses that have several possible meanings. According to his viewpoint all hadiths in the Four Books (the four main Shi'a hadith sources) are authentic (Sahih).
There is no information from the early stage of his life. However, it is known that he spent a period of his youth in Shiraz and Studied intellectual sciences under Shah Taqi al-Din Nasabi for four years. Apparently, he moved to Najaf afterwards and studied narrative sciences under Sayyid Muhammad Ali 'Amili, whom he mentioned as his first teacher in Hadith and Rijal. He also studied under Shaykh Hasan b. Zayn al-Din, Sahib Ma'alim, and received a Permission (of narration or Ijtihad) form him.
A phrase in his book al-Fawa'id implies that during his second residence in Shiraz (from about 1010/1601), he has traveled to Mecca and stayed there for a while. The exact year of his arrival in Mecca is unknown, however it must not be sooner than 1014/1605, as there is a manuscript by his handwriting, written in this year (1014/1605) in Shiraz. His last teacher in Fiqh, Hadith and Rijal was Mirza Muhammad al-Istarabadi, who resided Mecca. He studied under Mirza Muhammad al-Istarabadi for about ten years beginning from 1015/1606.
Zayn al-'Abidin b. Nur al-Din Ali Kashani (d. 1040/1631) and Husayn Zuhayri al-'Amili are among his students in Mecca. Risalat fi l-su'al 'an ba'd al-masa'il al-mu'dala min al-asliyya wa l-far'iyya is the result of Zuhayri'a discussions with his teacher, al-Istarabadi. Mulla Muhsin al-Fayd al-Kashani was his student in Mecca for a while.
The movement that al-Istarabadi founded was not unprecedented in Shi'a jurisprudential-theological tradition. He tried to introduce himself as the follower of the method of the early Shi'a Muhaddiths, such as al-Kulayni and Saduqayn (Ibn Babawayh and al-Shaykh al-Saduq). However, his opponents did not accept this claim. Without a doubt, there was Akhbarism thought before Amin al-Istarabadi, but his reading and method of Akhbarism was special and different.
He tried to introduce Ijtihad of Usulis (the scholars who believe that 'Ilm al-Usul (Principle of Jurisprudence) is necessary for deduction of a ruling) as a threat; so that by referring to Hadiths, he can revive the tradition of the predecessors. The atmosphere of religious thoughts in Safavid era and role of some scholars such as Muhaqqiq al-Karaki and their method in Ijtihad were effective in preparation the grounds for emergence of Akhbarism thoughts by Amin al-Istarabadi. However, his critical attitude toward Muhaqqiq al-Karaki's method of Ijtihad and sometimes toward Usulis, in general, is evident throughout his book al-Fawa'id al-madaniyya.
Principles of His Thought
Sources of Religion
Al-Istarabadi believed that all religious rulings are expressed in the Qur'an and Hadiths. Based on the fact that the Qur'an is the first source of the religion and also on a Hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), he insisted: “everything that two people have disagreement on, there is for sure a principle in God's book for it, although people's mind cannot reach it.” He believed that the interpretation (Ta'wil) of the Qur'an based on personal opinions and thoughts are invalid, and it is only the infallible Ahl al-Bayt (a) that are allowed to interpret the Qur'an. Accordingly, deducting rulings from the verses that have the possibility of several meanings is impossible for people, except for the infallible Ahl al-Bayt (a) who are the true addressees of the Qur'an.
Sunna of Prophet (s)
He believed that deduction of rulings from the Hadiths narrated form Prophet Muhammad (s) is not permissible without searching and knowing the circumstances, abrogators and the abrogated (al-Nasikh and al-Mansukh) of them, and this knowledge is only acquired by referring to Ahl al-Bayt (a). In fact, al-Istarabadi founded his theory about the religion (Shari'a) on two bases: first, the perfection of the religion is in the Qur'an and Prophet's (s) Hadiths. Second, the key for knowing the religion is reference to the knowledge of an infallible Imam, who is the heir of the Prophet (s) in this regard.
Al-Istarabadi believed that all Hadiths in the Four Books and most Shi'a Hadiths are authentic and correct. He argued that the source of the Four Books is Asls that the companions of Ahl al-Bayt (a) had compiled and acted upon. He strongly rejected the division of Hadiths into four kind: Sahih, Hasan, Muwaththaq and Da'if, by later Shi'a scholars, and said that it is not valid. He argued that it was not the method of the earlier Shi'a Muhaddiths and faqihs.
Al-Istarabadi thought that acquiring religious rulings by reason and intellect is not accepted; because relying on reason leads to Usuli and Fiqhi disputes, and defeats the purpose of sending prophets and descending divine books. Moreover, in his approach to Kalam (Islamic theology), he said that relying on Kalam which is based on logic and rational reasoning is wrong.
His only published work is al-Fawa'id al-madaniyya fi l-radd 'ala man qal bi l-Ijtihad wa l-Taqlid fi nafs al-ahkam al-ilahiyya which introduces and explains the basis of his thoughts rejecting the the jurisprudential method of Usulis. The most important works among his handwritten manuscripts are:
- Sharh al-Istibsar or al-Fawa'id al-Makkiyya: is an incomplete commentary on al-Istibsar, written by al-Shaykh al-Tusi. The introduction of this commentary contains some discussions of 'Ilm al-Hadith and diraya. He also has written some glosses on al-Istibsar.
- Sharh Tahdhib al-ahkam: an incomplete commentary on Tahdhib, written by al-Shaykh al-Tusi. In 1133/1720, his glosses on Tahdhib and al-Istibsar were compiled together in one book titled as Jami' al-hawashi.
- His glosses on al-Kafi, written by al-Kulayni. Fadil al-Qazwini has collected his glosses and compiled this book.
- Danishnam-i Shahi: is a Persian treatise about Kalam and other topics. Al-Istarabadi has authored this book in Mecca and after the first or the second edition of al-Fawa'id al-madaniyya. He dedicated this work to Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah Dakani; thus Kolberg guessed that he has probably stayed some years in India.
Other manuscripts that have remained form him are:
- Glosses on Unmudhaj al-'ulum, written by al-Dawani.
- Al-Masa'il al-thalath al-kalamiyya
- Risalat fi l-Bada'.
- Glosses on Ma'arij al-usul, written by al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from محمدامین استرآبادی in Farsi WikiShia.