A'yan al-Shi'a (book)

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A'yan al-Shi'a
A'yan al-Shi'a.jpg
AuthorAl-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin
Original titleأعيان الشيعة
Series11 vols.
SubjectAn encyclopedia of great Shi'a figures
Published1421/2000-1, Beirut
PublisherDar al-ta'atuf

Aʿyān al-Shīʿa (Arabic: أعيان الشيعة) is an Arabic work of the great Shi'a scholar, al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin (d. 1371/1951-2) on the introduction of great Shi'a figures and a significant part of it is about the lives of Imams (a).


This book is a great biographical encyclopedia of great Shi'a figures since the beginning of Islam until the time of the author, including those among Companions, Followers (Tabi'un), and experts in different fields such as transmission and collection of hadiths, recitation of the Qur'an, jurisprudence, theosophy, theology, Arabic poetry, Arabic linguistics and literature, logic, mathematics, medicine, astronomy and even the names of kings and government officials.[1]

Author's Motive

In the introduction to the book, the author wrote:

"It was a long time I wanted to write a book about notable figures among Twelver Shi'a, but my other occupations prevented me from doing that until I saw others' interest in this topic and since there was no written work available in this regard, I began writing it."[2]


About his method, the author wrote,

"I have not discussed contemporary ones in this book. Names are sorted alphabetically, and about every person, the information given includes his date of birth and death, lineage, scholars' quotations about him, his life conduct, and a short sample of his poem or prose if available. Some events have been explained extensively if appropriate in some cases, their analyses are given. Even though it would be better that forgotten names and discussions remembered after the writing of a volume are compiled in a separate volume or the form of mustadrak but, since they could be forgotten or the author does not find the chance to do so, they have been mentioned at the end of every volume."[3]


The book contains around 12,000 biographies. The original edition was 10 volumes.


Some scholars and researchers' criticisms about the book are as follows;

  • Broadness of the topic of the book in contrast to its actual range
  • Lack of accuracy in quotations
  • Typos
  • Obsoleteness and inaccuracy of information
  • Lack of coherence
  • Confusion of some entries and people
  • Missing information
  • Lack of diacritics in necessary places
  • Inaccurate numbering of entries
  • Biased information
  • Mentioning non-Shi'a
  • Mentioning footnotes and additional information in the text
  • Lack of reference verification
  • Repetition of some entries
  • Problem in alphabetical sorting
  • Missing references
  • Contradictory information
  • Inaccuracy in proper names
  • Inaccuracy in mentioning verses of the Qur'an[5]

Completing A'yan al-Shi'a

After al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin passed away, his son, al-Sayyid Hasan began completing the book and wrote Mustadrak a'yan al-Shi'a. He also wrote different lists of content for the original book. He wrote,

"My father did not mention living personalities. I collected the names of those who passed away after my father and those my father missed and wrote the mustadrak."[6]

See Also


  1. ʿAbbāsī, The efforts of Sayyid Ḥasan al-Amin in fulfillment of Aʿyān al-Shīʿa and it complementary.
  2. Amīn al-ʿĀmilī, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa. vol. 1, p. 16.
  3. Amīn al-ʿĀmilī, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa., vol. 1. Introduction of the book.
  4. The book Shinākht-i Sīra-yi maʿṣūmān.
  5. ʿAlawī, Pazhūhishha-yi dar dast-i ijrā: taṣḥīḥ Aʿyān al-Shīʿa.
  6. Amīn al-ʿĀmilī, Mustadrakāt aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 1, p. 5.


  • Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, Muḥammad Muḥsin. Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa. Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwāʾ, [n.d].
  • Amīn al-ʿĀmilī, al-Sayyid Muḥsin al-. Aʿyān al-Shīʿa. Beirut: Dār al-Tʿāruf, 1421 AH.
  • Amīn al-ʿĀmilī, al-Sayyid Ḥasan al-. Mustadrakāt aʿyān al-Shīʿa. Beirut: Dār al-Tʿāruf, 1418/1998;
  • ʿAbbāsī, Mehrdād. The efforts of Sayyid Ḥasan al-Amin in fulfillment of Aʿyān al-Shīʿa and it complementary. Spring 1381 Sh. No 65.
  • ʿAlawī, Sayyid Rasūl. Pazhūhishha-yi dar dast-i ijrā: taṣḥīḥ Aʿyān al-Shīʿa. Fall and Spring 1389 Sh. No 2.
  • The book Shinākht-i Sīra-yi maʿṣūmān. Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences.