Al-Amali (by al-Sharif al-Murtada)

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Amali al-Murtada
AuthorAl-Sharif al-Murtada
Original title الأمالي
Series1 vol.
SubjectExegesis, hadith, theology
PublishedEgypt, Cairo, 1998
PublisherDar al-Fikr al-'Arabi

Al-Amālī (Arabic: الأمالي) is a book written by al-Sayyid al-Murtada, the Shi'a scholar of the 5th/11th century. In this book, in addition to providing exegeses of some ambiguous and abstruse verses of the Qur'an and the explanation of problematic hadiths, he discussed a number of controversial theological problems between Shi'as and other Islamic denominations, elaborating the stance of the 'Adliyya denomination with regard to these issues. The book is significant with respect to diraya (the understanding of hadiths), exegesis of the Qur'an, and theology.


'Ali b. Husayn b. Musa b. Muhammad b. Musa b. Ibrahim b. Imam Musa al-Kazim (355/965-6-436/1044), known as "al-Sayyid al-Murtada", "al-Sharif al-Murtada", and "'Alam al-Huda". He was the older brother of al-Sayyid al-Radi who collected Nahj al-balagha. He was a supporter of Shi'as, head of sadat and 'Alawis in Baghdad, the leader of the pilgrims of hajj after his brother, al-Sayyid al-Radi. These positions used to be occupied by their father.

He was the faqih and theologian of the Imamiyya and their authority after the death of his teacher, al-Shaykh al-Mufid. He was an expert of theology and theological debates with every denomination. He mastered fiqh, usul al-fiqh, Arabic literature, Arabic philology, exegesis of the Qur'an, history, and biographies.

Title of the Book

Scholars of hadiths know the book as Amali l-Murtada. But in old bibliographies, the book is known as al-Ghurar wa l-durar. It is also known as al-Amali fi l-tafsir, Ghurar al-fawa'id wa durar al-qala'id, Majalis al-ta'wilat, and Majalis kashf al-ayat.

Style of Writing

The style of the book is the style of other Amalis (dictations). It is said that al-Sayyid al-Murtada dictated al-Ghurar wa l-durar to his students on their way to Hijaz in every station where they had a sojourn, and they wrote down what they heard from al-Sayyid al-Murtada. According to another account, he dictated everything to his students in his house at different times. It is not known when the meetings began, but the last dictation (imla') occurred on Thursday, Jumada I 28, 413/August 29, 1022.

Structure and Contents

With regard to its structure, the book consists of 80 meetings and a supplement, but with regard to its content, it contains different topics. Here are the topics dealt with in the book:

  • The exegesis of some Quranic verses in accordance with the 'Adliyya views. His huge memory of poems, words, and hadiths helped him in providing interpretations of the verses. The verses selected by al-Sayyid al-Murtada for interpretation are usually the ones whose exegesis is not available to us through his other works.
  • Explanations of a number of hadiths the interpretation of which is subject to controversies among scholars. Al-Sayyid al-Murtada explained those hadiths in accordance with 'Adliyya views.
  • The elaboration of 'Adliyya views concerning some controversial theological problems, such as seeing God, the creation of people's actions, God's will with respect to wrong actios, and objections to the views of others.
  • Exposition and critique of some poems and literary prose and poems of the Jahiliyya period and the early Islam.

In addition to the main part of the book, there are addenda at the end organized in terms of problems and added to the book as "Takmilat al-ghurar". Amali l-Murtada ends with this supplement.

The variety of topics of the book provided scholars of literature, theology, exegesis of the Qur'an, and the like with issues of their interest. Many scholars have admired the book for its contents. It was even cited by Sunni scholars.


  • Most of the hadiths in the book are problematic; there are few hadiths with complete chains of transmitters. In fact, most of the hadiths count as unreliable because they are mursal, marfu', etc.
  • It is a good source for the understanding of hadiths for Shi'as. It can be consulted for the meanings of some scarce, abstruse words occurring in hadiths or for rhetorical and literary techniques used in hadiths.
  • Al-Sayyid al-Murtada has a theological approach to his exposition of hadiths as well. In addition to citing the Shiite view on the matter, he also cites Sunni views. It provides us with information about Imami and Sunni approaches and views in theology and fiqh at that time.
  • Al-Sayyid al-Murtada's use of Jahiliyya poems in his exploration of abstruse words occurring in hadiths reveals the importance of these poems for the understanding of hadiths. Moreover, the book can be consulted as a source for learning about the accurate phrasings of some poems together with their meanings and implications.


There are four manuscripts of the book:

  • A manuscript written in 567/1171-2. The permission of the transmission of this book goes to al-Sayyid al-Murtada through five people. There are many annotations on this manuscript for the explanation of some sentences by the writer of the manuscript. There are symbols in this manuscript referring to other manuscripts with which it was compared. For example, one of these four manuscripts is that of Sharif Abu Ya'la in which the date of the last dictation of al-Sayyid al-Murtada appears, that is, Thursday, Jumada I 28, 413/August 29, 1022. Its original copy is available in the Escorial Library.
  • A manuscript which was written by Muhammad b. Abi Tahir b. Abi l-Husayn al-Warraq on Rajab 15, 586/August 18, 1190. There are additional materials in this manuscript which were missing in the earlier one. Its original copy is kept at the Library of Istanbul.
  • A manuscript which was written in 619/1222-3, containing only the first 34 meetings. The name and the date of the writer are not available. It is kept in the Library of Egypt.
  • A manuscript with the handwriting of Hashim b. al-Husayn al-Husayni. It was written on Sha'ban 10, 1067/May 24, 1657. There is a note at the end of the manuscript to the effect that it was compared with the original manuscript.

The book has been published many times.


Shaykh Muhsin, the son of Muhammad Hasan Najafi (the author of Jawahir al-kalam), wrote an exposition for the book that has not been published yet. Its manuscript is available, however.