Rijal al-Barqi (book)
|Author||Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi|
|Publisher||Imam al-Sadiq (a) Institute|
Rijāl al-Barqī (Arabic: رِجال البَرْقی) was an early Shiite source of rijal (assessment of the reliability of transmitters of hadiths). The book is also known as Ṭabiqāt al-rijāl (Arabic: طَبِقات الرِجال) or al-Ṭabiqāt (Arabic: الطَبِقات). transmitters of hadiths are mentioned in this book in the order of their generations (tabiqat). According to the widely accepted view, the book was written by Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi, a companion of Imam al-Jawad (a) and Imam al-Hadi (a). Given extant evidence, some scholars have supported the probability of the attribution of the book to Ahmad b. Muhammad's grandson. It is believed by some others that the book was written collectively by al-Barqi Family.
Tabiqat al-rijal or al-Tabiqat was famously written by Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi, and is commonly known as Rijal al-Barqi. The book counts as one of the five Shiite principles of rijal (al-usul al-rijaliyya al-khamsa), along with Rijal al-Kashshi, Rijal al-Najashi, Rijal al-Shaykh al-Tusi, and al-Fihrist by al-Shaykh al-Tusi. These five books constitute the early Shiite sources of rijal. The significance of rijal for the process of ijtihad and the privileged place given to early sources of rijal have made Rijal al-Barqi an important source for demonstrative jurisprudence.
Disagreement about the Author
It is matter of general agreement that the author of the book was a person from al-Barqi Family. However, there is a disagreement over the identity of this person. Members of al-Barqi Family were Shi'as who migrated from Kufa to Qom after the murder of their great grandfather (Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Barqi) by the Umayyads. The book was famously attributed to Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi. Given the approximate date of Ahmad's death (274/887 or 280/893), he is considered as a companion of Imam al-Jawad (a) and Imam al-Hadi (a).
Ahmad al-Barqi is mentioned in the chains of transmitters of 830 hadiths, and about 13 people have transmitted his hadiths. He wrote about 100 books and essays regarding the exegesis of the Qur'an, hadith, and rijal, including al-Mahasin, Afadil al-a'mal, Akhass al-a'mal, and al-Masajid al-arba'a. Ahmad al-Barqi was so well-known that some Sunni scholars, including al-Dhahabi, al-Safdi, Ibn Hajar, and Zirikli, wrote biographies for him. Probably he was known in rijal, not because of this book, rather because of other books that are not available today.
It is believed by some people that Rijal al-Barqi was written by Ahmad’s father, that is, Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi, known as "al-Barqi al-Kabir" (al-Barqi the senior) or "al-Barqi the father" who was a companion of Imam al-Kazim (a), Imam al-Rida (a), and Imam al-Jawad (a). On another account, it is probable that the book was written by Ahmad's grandson, Ahmad b. 'Abd Allah b. Ahmad al-Barqi who was a teacher of Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni. The views can be assessed by reference to the contents of the book and transmitters of hadiths mentioned therein. Thus, given that companions of Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) are mentioned in the book, the view that the book was written by Ahmad's grandson will be supported. It is also possible that Rijal al-Barqi was collectively written by some scholars from al-Barqi Family. For example, Ahmad's grandson, that is, Ahmad b. 'Abd Allah b. Ahmad al-Barqi, might have completed the work of Muhammad b. Khalid and Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi.
Rijal al-Barqi is organized in the order of the generations of hadith transmitters. Thus, transmitters of hadiths are ordered in accordance with periods of time when they lived and the Imam (a) they transmitted hadiths from.
Of the early five sources of Shiite rijal, Rijal al-Barqi and Rijal of al-Shaykh al-Tusi are organized in terms of generations. This will allow scholars to know about the generation of a transmitter of hadiths, whereby it is easy to recognize marfu'a hadiths (those in which some transmitters are left out).
Rijal al-Barqi has introduced 1451 transmitters of hadiths, and thus it includes the second greatest number of transmitters among the early five sources of rijal (Rijal al-Najjashi includes 1269 transmitters, Rijal al-Kashshi includes 1151 transmitters, Rijal al-Shaykh al-Tusi includes 6429 transmitters, al-Fihrist by al-Shaykh al-Tusi includes 912 transmitters. Rijal al-Barqi mentions the transmitters of hadiths in a chronological order beginning from the period of the Prophet (s) and ending in the period of Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a). Female transmitters of hadiths are mentioned in the same fashion.
Critiques of the Author and the Work
Rijal al-Barqi is very well-known, but it was subject to two critiques regarding technical issues of rijal:
The attribution of the book to al-Barqi Family is agreed upon, but there are objections to its attribution to Ahmad al-Barqi. According to al-Shaykh al-Tusi and al-Najashi, Ahmad al-Barqi was reliable himself, but he transmitted hadiths from unreliable transmitters and relied on mursal hadiths (the ones with incomplete chains of transmitters). However, if the book was not written by Ahmad al-Barqi, the objection will not go through.
Another weakness of Rijal al-Barqi is that it only mentions the transmitters of hadiths in different generations, without pointing to how reliable they were.
Manuscripts and Publications
Six manuscripts of the book have so far been consulted by scholars and editors of the book: Two manuscripts in the Library of Muhaddith Urmawi, one in the Library of Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi, one in the Library of Astan Quds Razavi, and one in the Center for the Revival of the Islamic Heritage (Markaz-i Ihya'-i Turath-i Islami). Sayyid Kazim Musawi Miyamawi, the editor of the published version of the book, consulted another manuscript as well, but he did not specify its identity.
Rijal al-Barqi has also been published.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 9.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 7.
- Ṭūsī, al-Rijāl, p. 373, 383; Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 76.
- Shabistarī, al-Nūr al-hādī, p. 46.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 76; Ṭūsī, al-Fihrist, p. 62-64; Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 76.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 13.
- See: Subḥānī, Kullīyāt fī ʿilm al-rijāl, p. 71.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 18; Subḥānī, Kullīyāt fī ʿilm al-rijāl, p. 73.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 19; Subḥānī, Kullīyāt fī ʿilm al-rijāl, p. 73.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 8.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 376-385.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 20; Ṭūsī, al-Fihrist, p. 62.
- Barqī, Rijāl al-Barqī, p. 12.
- Barqī, Aḥmad b. ʿAbd Allāh al-. Rijāl al-Barqī. Edited by Ḥāydar Muḥammad ʿAlī Baghdādī. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Imām al-Ṣādiq, 1433 AH.
- Najāshī, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-. Rijāl al-Najāshī. Edited by Mūsā Shubayrī Zanjānī. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1418 AH.
- Shabistarī, ʿAbd al-Ḥusayn al-. Al-Nūr al-hādī ilā aṣḥāb al-Imām al-Hādī. Qom: al-Maktabat al-Tārīkhīyya al-Mukhtaṣṣa, 1421 AH.
- Subḥānī, Jaʿfar. Kullīyāt fī ʿilm al-rijāl. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1425 AH.
- Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Al-Fihrist. Edited by Jawād al-Qayyūmī. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1415 AH.
- Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Al-Rijāl. Edited by Jawād al-Qayyūmī. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1417 AH.