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Muntaha l-maqal fi ahwal al-rijal (book)

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Muntaha al-maqal fi ahwal al-rijal
Author Abu 'Ali al-Ha'iri
Original title منتهی المقال فی احوال الرجال
Language Arabic
Series 7 volumes
Subject Rijal
Published 1416/1995
Publisher Al al-Bayt Institute

Muntahā al-maqāl fī aḥwāl al-rijāl (Arabic: مُنْتَهی المَقال فی أحْوال الرِجال), known shortly as Muntahā al-maqāl, is a book written by Abu 'Ali al-Ha'iri regarding the biographies of the transmitters of hadiths.

In this book, the author has provided the biographies of the transmitters of hadiths in an alphabetic order. In the preface of the book, he outlines some issues, such as the biographies of the Imams (a) and some problems of the science of rijal. Al-Ha'iri did not mention unknown transmitters of hadiths in this book. The book was later supplemented by his student, Darwish 'Ali al-Ha'iri in the essay, Takmila rijal Abi 'Ali and by Muhammad b. Qasim Al Kashkul al-Ha'iri in the book, Kamal muntaha al-maqal. In 1416/1995, Muntaha al-maqal was edited and published by Al al-Bayt Institute in 7 volumes.

The Author

Main article: Abu 'Ali al-Ha'iri

Muhammad b. Isma'il b. 'Abd al-Jabbar, known as Abu 'Ali al-Ha'iri (1159/1746-1215-6/1800-1), was an Imami scholar of rijal and fiqh in the 13th/19th century. He was from the progeny of Ibn Sina and a student of al-Wahid al-Bihbahani.

Motivation for Writing

Early in the 11th/17th century, Mirza Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Ibrahim al-Astarabadi (d. 1028/1618) wrote his book concerning rijal under Nahj al-maqal fi tahqiq ahwal al-rijal. The book attracted the attentions of many jurists and scholars of rijal, many of whom wrote commentaries on it, such as Ta'liqa manhaj al-maqal known as al-Ta'liqat al-Bihbahaniyya by Muhammad Baqir b. Muhammad Akmal al-Wahid al-Bihbahani (d. 1205/1790). Abu 'Ali al-Ha'iri found that students no longer consult the two books, so he decided to write a book concerning rijal which has their advantages in a shorter and more focused way. Thus, he wrote the book, Muntaha al-maqal fi ahwal al-rijal where the title follows that of Manhaj al-maqal fi tahqiq ahwal al-rijal.

Method

In this book, the author cites the views of Astarabadi in his great book of rijal and then the commentaries of al-Wahid al-Bihbahani about transmitters of hadiths — alphabetically ordered — and then cites the views of other scholars, followed by his own view distinguished by the phrase, "qultu" (I said) or "aqul" (I say). He ends each entry with the citation of the view of Shaykh Muhammad Amin Kazimi in his Hidayat al-muhaddithin.

For the sake of brevity, al-Ha'iri introduced some abbreviations in the preface of the book which refer to certain persons, books, and the like. For example, "ل" (L) refers to the Sahaba and "صه" (ṣah) refers to the book, Khulasat al-aqwal fi ma'rifat al-rijal.

Sources

al-Ha'iri used the folowing books as the sources of his book Muntaha al-maqal:

Contents

The author has structured the book into 5 introductions, one main part, and an epilogue. In the introductions, he discussed the life histories of the Imams (a), people who met Imam al-Mahdi (a) or knew of his miracles, the kunyas of the Infallibles (a) as known by scholars of rijal, common names (names that are common to more than one transmitter of hadiths and might be confused if used without qualifications), and some points in rijal that he had learned from his teacher, al-Wahid al-Bihbahani.

After the introductions, the author discusses the biographies of transmitters of hadiths in an alphabetic order, and then discusses people who are known with their kunyas, which is, in turn, organized into different sections, such as:

  • People whose kunyas begin with "ab" (the father of).
  • People whose kunyas begin with "ibn" (the son of).
  • People whose kunyas begin with "akh" (the brother of).
  • Titles.
  • Female transmitters of hadiths or female companions of the Imams (a).

The book ends with an epilogue that, according to the author, contains 12 main points in the science of rijal. However, he only mentions 5 points. Some recent scholars believe that this part remained unfinished because of his engagement with other writings.

Date of Writing

In the introduction of the book, the author sometimes refers to al-Wahid al-Bihbahani (d. 1205/1790) as followed by the phrase, "sallamah Allah" (may God keep him healthy) and sometimes with, "rahimah Allah" (may God bless him), which implies that he wrote part of the book during the lifetime of al-Wahid al-Bihbahani and another part of it after al-Wahid's death.

Expositions and Commentaries

In this book, the author did not mention unknown transmitters of hadiths (that is, people who are not mentioned in books of rijal, although they appear in the chains of the transmission of hadiths), because he believed that this was pointless. Abu 'Ali's student, Darwish 'Ali al-Ha'iri wrote an essay under Takmila rijal Abi 'Ali discussing people who were not mentioned in his teacher's book (the unknown transmitters of hadiths) in order to supplement his book. Also, Muhammad 'Ali b. Qasim Al Kashkul al-Ha'iri supplemented al-Ha'iri's book at the command of his teacher, Sharif al-'Ulama', under Kamal muntaha al-maqal.

Here are some scholars who wrote commentaries on Muntaha al-maqal:

  • Sayyid Sadr al-Din al-'Amili: he wrote unorganized commentaries on the book which were later organized by his brother's grandson, Sayyid Hasan Sadr al-Din, under Nukat al-rijal.
  • Sayyid Abu Turab khansari
  • Mirza Husayn Nuri
  • Shaykh Mulla Ali b. Mirza Khalil Tihrani
  • Sayyid Sharaf al-Din Ali b. Muhammad Mar'ashi Tabrizi
  • Sayyid Abi Muhammad Hasan b. Sayyid Hadi b. Muhammad Ali the brother of Sadr al-Din Musawi al-Amili

Manuscripts

  • A manuscript in Tehran University, no. 985. It was dedicated to the library of Tehran University by Sayyid Muhammad Mishkat. In the catalogues of the library, the manuscript is ascribed to the author himself. It has the date Rabi' al-Awwal 18, 1194 (March 24, 1780) on it.
  • A manuscript in the Library of Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi in Qom, no. 5274. It is with the hand-writing of the author's own son. It was written on Dhu l-Qa'da 2, 1245 (April 25, 1830).
  • A lithographical copy of a manuscript written by Shaykh Muhammad Taqi b. Muhammad 'Ali al-Khwansari on Sunday Jamadi al-Awwal 6, 1267 (March 9, 1851).

Publication

Muntaha al-maqal was edited and published in 7 volumes by Al al-Bayt Institute in 1416/1995 on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Abu 'Ali's death. It was edited on the basis of two manuscripts and one lithographic copy, and it seems that one of the two manuscripts—the one in Tehran University—was written by the author himself. The book involves many abbreviations. Although the author explained them at the beginning of the book, it is hard to memorize them and it is very difficult to refer to the introduction now and then. In the published version, the problem is solved by references to the main sources. The editors made a lot of efforts in adding helpful footnotes and correcting the names of people mentioned in the main text which do not match the ones in the main sources.

References