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Riyad al-masa'il (book)

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Riyad al-masa'il
Author Sayyid Ali b. Muhammad Ali Tabataba'i
Original title ریاضُ المَسائل فی بَیان الأحکام بِالدّلائِل
Language Arabic
Series 2 Vol.
Subject Jurisprudence
Publisher Al al-Bayt li Ihya' al-Turath inistitute

Rīyāḍ al-masāʾil fī bayān al-aḥkām bi-l-dalāʾil (Arabic:ریاضُ المَسائل فی بَیان الأحکام بِالدّلائِل) is a book of jurisprudence in Arabic written by Sayyid Ali b. Muhammad Ali Tabataba'i (d. 1231/ 1816). The book is one of the most authoritative and credible expositions of al-Nafi' fi mukhtasar al-shara'i'—known as al-Mukhtasar al-nafi' —written by al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli (d. 676/1277). Riyad al-masa'il is a comprehensive course of demonstrative jurisprudence. It cites the views of prominent scholars of jurisprudence such as al-Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Shaykh al-Saduq, al-'Allama al-Hilli, al-Shahid al-Awwal, al-Shahid al-Thani, Qadi Sa'id al-Din, al-Kulayni, Muhammad Baqir Sabziwari, al-Tabrisi, Qutb al-Din al-Rawandi, Fadil Miqdad, Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin, Muqaddas Ardabili and others. The book was so well-known that its author is mostly known as the Author of Riyad (Sahib al-Riyad).

Titles of the Book

The book is known as:

  • "Riyad al-masa'il wa hiyad al-dala'il",
  • "Riyad al-masa'il fi bayan al-ahkam bi l-dala'il",
  • "Riyad al-masa'il fi tahqiq al-ahkam bi l-dala'il".

It is also known as "al-Sharh al-kabir" (the great exposition).

About the Book

The book, Mukhtasar al-nafi', is a credible textbook of jurisprudence relied upon by all prominent scholars of jurisprudence since it was written. Many reliable expositions have ever since been written on this book, such as Kashf al-rumuz, Riyad al-masa'il, Ghayat al-maram, and the like. Al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli himself—the author of Mukhtasar al-nafi' —also wrote the well-known book, al-Mu'tabar, as an exposition of this book.

Riyad al-masa'il was a textbook in Islamic seminaries. This is why it has been frequently printed and published and referred to by scholars. The book is one of the best expositions of Mukhtasar al-nafi' .

In addition to this exposition, known as al-Sharh al-kabir (the great exposition), the author wrote another exposition on Mukhtasar al-nafi' known as al-Sharh al-saghir (the minor exposition) or Hadiqat al-mu'minin.

Date of Writing

According to sources, as the author himself is cited as saying, he did not intend to write a book in the standard way. Thus he wrote the material of the book without going along with the order of Mukhtasar al-nafi' .

According to al-Dhari'a, the author first wrote its second volume—from issues of renting (ijara; إجارة) to the end of ransoms (diyat; دیات) in 1192/1778. And then wrote its first volume—from issues of cleanliness (tahara; طهارة) to those of loan and trust (al-'ariya wa l-wadi'a; العاریة و الودیعة) in 1196/1781. Since the author was born in 1161/1748, he was 35 years old when he finished the book.


The structure of the book in dealing with each problem of jurisprudence is as follows: the author first sketches and formulates the problem and illuminates the notions involved in it. He then cites different views about the problem and their arguments and criticizes them in an argumentative way. Then he appeals to available evidence to argue for his own view or fatwa. The logical order of the views, arguments and their criticisms is such that the reader never feels bored. This is the reason why the book was a textbook in Shiite seminary schools for a very long time. It is still referred to by scholars and jurists.

Views of Prominent Scholars

According to the author of Muntaha l-maqal, "Riyad al-masa'il contains most of the views and arguments in jurisprudence in a very brief and excellent way with expressive and rhythmic phrases. It was referred to by prominent scholars. The book is an exposition of Mukhtasar al-nafi' written by al-Muhaqqiq al-Awwal. It was frequently published in Iran and is known as al-Sharh al-kabir."

According to Shaykh Asad Allah Kazimi, the author of Maqabis al-anwar, "Sayyid 'Ali Tabataba'i wrote two expositions for Mukhtasar al-nafi'. One is al-Sharh al-kabir (the great exposition) known as Riyad al-masa'il, and the other al-Sharh al-saghir. They both concern the main problems of jurisprudence and are among the best available books in the field."

According to the author of al-Dhari'a: "this is an exposition mixed with the main text. It is very accurate and commonly referred to by scholars. It is said that the book is a summary of al-Muhadhdhab al-bari' , Al-Rawda al-bahiyya and al-Hada'iq al-nadira. Others believe that it is a summary of the latter two plus Kashf al-litham and Sharh al-mafatih al-faydiyya by Wahid Bihbahani."


Riyad al-masa'il was frequently referred to by prominent scholars of jurisprudence ever since it was written. There are many commentaries and expositions on the book:

  1. Anwar al-riyad by Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Samad al-Shahshahani (d. 1287/ 1870).
  2. Miftah al-riyad, by Isma'il b. Najaf al-Husayni al-Marandi (lived in 1293/ 1876).
  3. Zuhar al-riyad, by Muhammad Salih b. Muhammad Hasan al-Tihrani, known as Damad (d. 1303/ 1885). He was the grandson of the author of Riyad.
  4. Wathiqa al-wasa'il by Ahmad b. 'Ali al-Husayni al-Rashti (written in 1320/ 1902).
  5. Al-Misbah al-munir, written by one of the author's students.
  6. Tara'iq al-riyad, written by Ghulam Husayn b. 'Ali Asghar Darbandi (d. 1323/ 1905).
  7. Commentaries on Riyad by Sayyid Muhsin Hakim (d. 1390/ 1970).
  8. Idah al-riyad, written by Habib Allah b. Mawla 'Ali Madad Sawuji Kashani (d. 1340/ 1921).
  9. Rayahin al-riyad, written by Mirza 'Ali Naqi b. Lutf 'Ali Tabrizi (d. 1381 / 1961).
  10. Hiyad al-zala'il fi sharh riyad al-masa'il, written by Muhammad 'Ali Mudarris Tabrizi (d. 1373 / 1953).
  11. Rumuz al-riyad, written by Shaykh 'Abd al-Nabi b. Shaykh 'Ali Astarabadi Shari'atmadari (d. 1340/ 1921).
  12. Al-Ta'ammuliyyat or commentaries on Riyad, written by Mulla Agha Khu'i.

Here are some other people who wrote commentaries on Riyad al-masa'il:

  1. Mirza Abu l-Hasan b. Muhammad Husayni Angaji (d. 1357/ 1938).
  2. Shaykh Muhammad Baqir b. Muhammad Hasan Qayini Birjandi (d. 1352/ 1933).
  3. Mulla Muhammad Taqi b. Husayn Isfahani Ha'iri (d. 1299/ 1881).
  4. Sayyid Muhammad Taqi b. Amir Mu'min Husayni Qazwini (d. 1270/ 1853).
  5. Sayyid Husayn Taqawi Kihnawi (d. 1273/ 1856).
  6. Sayyid Shafi' b. Sayyid 'Ali Musawi Japluqi (d. 1280/ 1863).
  7. Mulla 'Abd al-Karim Irawani (d. 1260/ 1844).
  8. Mirza 'Abd al-Wasi' b. Muhammad Zanjani (d. 1269/ 1852).
  9. Mulla 'Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1262/ 1845).
  10. Mulla Muhammad 'Ali b. Ahmad Qaracha Daghi.
  11. Shaykh 'Ali b. Muhammad Jawad Marandi (d. 1287/ 1870).
  12. Mirza Muhammad 'Ali b. Mulla Muhammad Nasir Mudarris Chahardihi (d. 1334/ 1915).
  13. Mirza Muhammad b. Sulayman Tunikabuni.
  14. Sayyid Mustafa Kashani (d. 1336/ 1917).
  15. Mirza Nasr Allah Mudarris Farsi (d. 1291 / 1874).
  16. Sayyid Murtada Kishmiri
  17. Shaykh Ahmad b. Mustafa Khu'ini Mulla Aqa Qazwini (d. 1333/ 1914), a student of Mirza Habib Allah Rashti.
  18. Sayyid Husayn Radawi Kashani.


There are 14 manuscripts of the book relied upon and compared for the published version of the book:

  • 2 manuscripts in the Sepahsalar Library of Tehran.
  • A manuscript in the Library, Museum and Document Center of Iran Parliament in Tehran.
  • 4 manuscripts in the library of the department of law and political sciences of Tehran University.
  • A manuscript in the Central Library of Tehran University.
  • A manuscript in the Vaziri Library of Yazd.
  • A manuscript in the library of Astan Quds Radawi.
  • A manuscript in the Library of Tabriz.
  • A manuscript in the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad.
  • Two manuscripts in the Library of the Holy Shrine of Fatima al-Ma'suma (a) in Qom.

Software Version

CRCIS (Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences) has designed a software featuring a topic-based lexicon of Riyad al-masa'il to be used by scholars of jurisprudence. The software includes, among other things, 15 Shiite books of fiqh in 52 volumes, including al-Mukhtasar al-nafi' fi fiqh al-Imamiyya and its expositions with the option of finding relations between the text and its expositions.