Al-Dhari'a ila tasanif al-Shi'a (book)

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Al-Dhari'a ila tasanif al-Shi'a
Bibliographical Information
Bibliographical Information
AuthorAqa Buzurg Tihrani
Original titleالذَّريعَة إلی تَصانيف الشّيعَة
Series25 volumes
SubjectShi'a bibliography
PublisherDar al-Adwa'

Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-Shīʿa (Arabic: الذَّريعَة إلی تَصانيف الشّيعَة) is an encyclopedia about Shi'a books in 25 volumes. It is written by Muhammad Muhsin b. 'Ali b. Muhammad Rida b. Muhsin b. 'Ali Akbar b. Baqir Tihrani known as Āqā Buzurg Tihrānī, in Arabic. It is considered the greatest encyclopedia of Shi'a bibliography. Al-Dhari'a was organized in alphabetical order in 25 volumes, with 11239 pages; it includes 53510 written works, collections of poems, and translated books in Farsi, Arabic, Turkish, and Urdu. Besides, Shi'a scholars of different areas are introduced in this encyclopedia.

Aqa Buzurg employed the early sources of Shi'a's bibliographies such as Al-Fihrist by al-Shaykh al-Tusi, Al-Fihrist by al-Najashi and Fihrist al-'ulama in compiling this encyclopedia. Also, he employed indexes of different libraries and studied handwritten and published works. He also listened to reliable sources as part of his references.

It took over forty years for the publication and distribution of al-Dhari'a in Qom and Najaf, even some volumes were published after the author's death. Another volume was added to this collection which is considered as the first mustadrak of al-Dhari'a; in which the names of those books were mentioned that were not stated in al-Dhari'a.

Al-Dhari'a is not considered only an encyclopedia on Shi'a bibliography, it also includes research articles.


Muhammad Muhsin b. 'Ali b. Muhammad Rida b. Muhsin b. 'Ali Akbar b. Baqir Tihrani known as Aqa Buzurg Tihrani (b. Rabi I 11, 1293/April 6, 1876 – d. Dhu l-Hijja 13, 1389/February 20, 1970) was a faqih and Shi'a bibliographer who was born in Tehran.

His father and grandfather were notable clergymen of Tehran. His great-grandfather, Hajj Muhsin, was a merchant who established the first printing office in Iran with the help of Manuchihr Khan, known as Mu'tamid al-Dawla Gurji.

After struggling with a long-lasting illness, Aqa Buzurg passed away in Najaf. According to his will, he is buried in his library which was dedicated to scholars and clergymen.


According to 'Ali Naqi al-Munzawi, Aqa Buzurg's son, when Jurji Zaydan wrote in his book, Tarikh adab al-lugha al-'Arabiyya, he claimed in the early years of Islam, Shi'a Muslims lacked a notable faqih. Subsequently, three Shi'a scholars, al-Sayyid al-Hasan al-Sadr, Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita' and Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, decided to give a proper answer to him. Therefore, Aqa Buzurg Tihrani started writing al-Dhari'a to introduce the extended and diverse achievements of Shi'a Muslims and the efforts that Shi'a scholars have made.

In addition, we can understand the other motivations of Aqa Buzurg Tihrani from the introduction of the first edition of al-Dhari'a: Because he was engaged with the works of Shi'a scholars, he noticed that few numbers of them were famous and recognized among people. Besides, they were on the verge of being forgotten.[1] He noticed the mistakes and inefficient content of the important bibliographies of Muslims (Kashf al-Zunun by Haji Khalifa) along with the significant works of Shi'a scholars. Also, several Shi'a notable figures encouraged and requested him to start such work, such as al-Sayyid al-Hasan al-Sadr.[2]


Al-Dhari'a included 25 volumes which introduced a bibliography of Shi'a scholars in the last fourteen centuries of Islam. Aqa Buzurg stated in his book:

After finishing the arrangement of the book, I presented it to al-Sayyid al-Hasan al-Sadr (d. 1354/1935-6), then he praised and appreciated it and named it al-Dhari'a ila ma'rifa musannafat al-Shi'a.[3]


Al-Dhari'a is considered as a great book on the bibliography of Shi'a (Twelvers and non-Twelvers) works and also a few books of Sunni authors who wrote about Shi'a. Al-Dhari'a included fifty-five thousand written books, collections of poems, and translated books in Farsi, Arabic, Turkish, and Urdu about different subjects.[4]

Al-Dhari'a is an encyclopedia of Shi'a bibliography, in alphabetical order. It includes all the books and works that were written on Shi'a in fourteen centuries after the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (s).[5]

At first, al-Dhari'a was a handwritten encyclopedia in six volumes which was later published in thirty volumes; however, the last five volumes were the mustadrakat of al-Dhari'a.

Main Content of Volumes

  1. The first volume includes three introductions from author, Al-Shaykh Muhammad 'Ali Urdubadi and Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita' and a commentary by al-Sayyid al-Hasan al-Sadr. It also includes 800 [Ijaza] from Shi'a scholars with the most important chain of Aqa Buzurg and Tabaqat (levels) of Shi'a scholars.
  2. The second volume includes the four hundred principles/books.
  3. The fourth volume introduced the history of calendar writing in Iran and also a list of the books on Tafsir.
  4. The fifth volume includes a large number of Kalam books as Jawāb (answer) and Jawābāt (answers).
  5. The sixth volume introduced 763 books about Hadith which are sources of Shi'a laws. The author has brought the library sources he used at the end of the 6th, 7th, and 8th volumes of al-Dhari'a.
  6. The seventh volume includes the important sections about Khamsa and Khutba.
  7. The eighth volume explained the history of encyclopedia writing the history of storytelling and also the history of supplications writing.
  8. The ninth volume is dedicated to Shiite poems and poets which are arranged alphabetically by their pen-names. It includes the works of 8500 Shiite poets. It has a list of poets' titles which are arranged by the names of their cities, professions, and families. All the works of all poets are brought in another list. It must be said that the table of expressions and secrets of the ninth volume was not published in its first edition, but it was published only in its second edition; however, this section was omitted in the third edition of Beirut.
  9. The tenth volume: A number of books about Kalam and Rijal have been introduced.
  10. The eleventh volume has the names of some anonymous booklets as treatises.
  11. The twelfth volume: its most important sections are about the history of astrology among Shi'a Muslims, and Saqi namih for contemporary literature in the first era of Safavid dynasty which were explained under the titles of Zij.
  12. The thirteenth volume contains a number of mistakes. It is worth mentioning that only 1000 editions are completed which were published in Najaf.
  13. The fifteenth volume: the reviser brought the names of the writers of this volume at the end of it.
  14. The sixteenth volume was published after Ahmad Munzawi, author's son, revised it.
  15. The nineteenth volume includes 1150 poems in Mathnawi section.
  16. The twentieth volume starts with a biography of Aqa Buzurg in 12 pages.
  17. The twenty-fourth volume includes the history of astrology and Iranians' efforts in translating this knowledge into Arabic. Also, a brief history of writing short books in the first three centuries of Islam is stated in the section of Nawadir (Exceptionals), which includes the four hundred Principles Books of Shi'ism.
  18. The twenty-fifth volume: the brief history of the publication of twenty-five volumes of al-Dhari'a and a list of the names of the authors of the introduced books is stated here along with an Istidrak for the mistakes in previous volumes. It also has useful references in 143 pages.
  19. The twenty-sixth volume is considered as the first Mustadrak of al-Dhari'a which was printed and published with the determined attempt of al-Sayyid Ahmad al-Husayni on behalf of Astan Quds Radawi in 1405/1984-5.

Printing and Publishing

Aqa Buzurg was settling in Samarra until 1354/1935-6 when he intended to publish the encyclopedia.

After several anti-Shi'a and anti-Iranian activities by the people of Samarra such as killing Al-Shaykh Hadi al-Tihrani, it became obvious to Aqa Buzurg that he could not publish his book there; therefore, he migrated to Najaf.

Aqa Buzurg established a printing office, Matba'a al-Sada, in Najaf with the help of Habib Allah Muhsini, his merchant uncle, in order to print and publish his works. However, the government of Iraq banned it due to the Iranian nationality of Aqa Buzurg. They also tried to establish a printing office under the license of an Iraqi man, which failed due to the government's refusal.

After the first volume was published, the Ministry of Culture of Iraq banned its publishing for six months, only because the author was Iranian.[6]

Due to the mentioned problems in Iraq, Aqa Buzurg's son, Dr. 'Ali Naqi Munzawi, brought the books to Tehran for printing and publishing. Therefore, its volumes were published in Tehran and Najaf with the help of his sons. Aqa Buzurg passed away before the twentieth volume was published.[7] It took over forty years to print and publishing of the entire encyclopedia. It was reprinted many times by Iranian and Lebanese publishers.

Mustadrak al-Dhari'a

After the demise of Aqa Buzurg, 'Abd al-'Aziz Tabataba'i arranged a mustadrak for al-Dhari'a and corrected its mistakes. Also, he added the missing books to the encyclopedia.

However, a number of scholars wrote Istidrak on the gloss of al-Dhari'a including: 'Abd al-Husayn al-Ha'iri and Muhammad 'Ali Rawdati Isfahani, but they were not printed and published.

In addition, after becoming familiar with 'Abd al-Husayn Hairi's work, Muhammad Tabatab'i Bihbahani wrote a gloss on it with a brief explanation. His glosses combined with Hairi's reached 500 books. Then with enthusiastic support from Shahab al-Din Muhammad 'Ali Ahmadi Abhari, the head of the Library of Iranian Parliament, it was published under the name of Al-Shari'a ila istidrak al-Dhari'a.[8]


Despite the significance of al-Dhari'a, this book suffered inadequate documentation and recording information of some books due to the unavailability of sources, including brevity, changing the name of books, inaccurate biographies of authors, and title-less books. Even in some cases, the author was not introduced deservedly. The author of the encyclopedia was responsible for the mistakes and inefficient documentation; however, some may blame his sons who were responsible for printing and publishing books.


Aqa Buzurg has employed indexes of Shi'a books of the time in writing al-Dhari'a including:

  1. Al-Fihrist by al-Shaykh al-Tusi
  2. Al-Fihrist by al-Najashi
  3. Al-Fihrist al-'ulama by Ibn Shahr Ashub Mazandarani Sarwi
  4. Amal al-amil by al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili
  5. Khatima al-Mustadrak by al-Shaykh Mirza Husayn al-Nuri

In addition, he employed indexes of different libraries studied handwritten and published works, and also listened to a number of reliable sources.

Generally, the author has employed different sources such as private and public libraries, analyzing Rijal, history and Tadhkira books, indexes of libraries, and handwritten indexes of knowledgeable and well-informed scholars.

Interpretation, Glosses, and Equivalents


In 1427/2006-7, the Institute of Shi'a bibliography was established in Seminary of Qom in order to continue the life of al-Dhari'a. Except for two independent projects, Free Encyclopedia of Shi'a in Farsi and Tarikh al-turath al-shi'i in Arabic, they started a new project in completing and correcting al-Dhari'a. It includes a complete re-reading of al-Dhari'a according to the hand-written version of the book along with newly added information and edition and supplementary notes.


  1. Ṭabāṭabāyī, "al-Dharīʿa," p. 802.
  2. Ṭabāṭabāyī, "al-Dharīʿa," p. 802.
  3. Ḥusaynī Jalālī, Zindigī wa āthār-i shaykh Āqā Buzurg Tihrānī, p. 98.
  4. Rughanī, Kitābshināsī, p. 165.
  5. Āqā Buzurg, al-Dharīʿa, vol. 8, p. 296.
  6. Munzawi, Aqa Buzurg wa al-dhari'a, no.3,4 p.250
  7. Fikrat, Musannafat shi'a, preface p.8-9
  8. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Sharīʿa, p. 13-16.


  • Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, Muḥammad Muḥsin. Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa. Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwāʾ, 1403 AH.Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Sharīʿa, p. 13-16.
  • Ḥusaynī Jalālī, Muḥammad Ḥusayn. Zindigī wa āthār-i shaykh Āqā Buzurg Tihrānī. Tehran: Markaz-i asnād-i Majlis-i Shurā-yi Islāmī, 1382 Sh.
  • Rughanī, Shuhra. Kitābshināsī guzīda-yi tawṣīfī-yi tārīkh wa tamaddun-i milal-i Islāmī. Tehran: Samt, 1382 Sh.
  • Ṭabāṭabāyī Bihbahānī, Muḥammad. Al-Sharīʿa ilā istidrāk al-Dharīʿa, Tehran: Markaz-i asnād-i Majlis-i Shurā-yi Islāmī, 1383 Sh.
  • Ṭabāṭabāyī, Sayyid Kāẓim. "Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa." in Dānishnāma-yi Jahān-i Islām. Tehran: Bunyād-i Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i Islāmī, 1392 Sh.

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