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Al-Gharat (book)

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Al-Gharat (book)
Author Ibrahim b. Muhammad al-Thaqafi
Original title ألغارات
Language Arabic
Series 2 vol.
Subject The raids conducted by Mu'awiya's army on the territory of Imam Ali's (a) Caliphate
Genre History
Published 1395/1975

Al-Ghārāt (Arabic:ألغارات) is an Arabic book written by Ibrahim b. Muhammad al-Thaqafi al-Kufi (d. 283/896-7). Al-Gharat is one of the earliest Shi'a history books. The book contains selected parts of Imam Ali's (a) life, some of his sermons, letters, advice and also the reports about the battles and conflicts during and after his caliphate. Because the book contains the reports about the raids launched by Mu'awiya's army on Imam Ali's (a) territory, it was called "al-Gharat" (the Raids). The author has narrated form both Shi'a and Sunni hadith transmitters, which made the book a rich history source. Shi'a scholars have always paid attention and referred to al-Gharat. Al-'Allama al-Majlisi and Ibn Abi l-Hadid played an important role in the survival of this book. Al-Gharat is translated into Persian several times.


Main article: Ibn Hilal al-Thaqafi

Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. Sa'id b. Hilal al-Thaqafi al-Isfahani, known as Ibn Hilal al-Thaqafi is a Shi'a muhaddith, faqih and historian of the 3rd/9th century. He traveled to Isfahan to propagate Islam and resided there. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi and Saffar al-Qummi are among the most eminent narrators who have narrated hadiths from Ibn Hilal. Most Shi'a scholars praised him and counted him among the reliable narrators. His most famous book is al-Gharat, which is about the raids conducted by Mu'awiya's army on the territory of Imam Ali's Caliphate.


In some sources, the name al-Istinfar wa l-gharat and in some al-Asfar wa l-gharat are mentioned as the title of the book.[1] However, among scholars and also in scholarly circles it is widely known as al-Gharat. It seems that the title of the book is taken from a phrase in one of Imam Ali's (a) sermons.

Cause of Writing

The purpose of the author from writing the book was reporting the raids conducted by Mu'awiya's army, after the Battle of Nahrawan, on the territory controlled by Imam Ali's Caliphate; therefore, the book was called al-Gharat (the raids). Writing about this topic was common at that time, as other historians, such as: Kalbi, Abu Mikhnaf, Mada'ini and Nasr b. Muzahim - all of whom are among the masters (Mashayikh) of Ibn Hilal - have written books about this subject and under the same title.[2]


Although the subject of the book is the raids conducted by Mu'awia's army on the territory of Imam Ali's Caliphate, other useful topics that are not related directly to the main subject are mentioned in the book, such as: a brief history of Imam Ali's life, his administrative procedure, economic policies, political and moral behaviors, his sermons, some of his representatives such as Qays b. Sa'd, Muhammad b. Abi Bakr, Malik al-Ashtar and what happened to them.[3]


From early centuries, this book was referred to and used by both Shi'a and Sunni scholars and historians. Ahmad b. Khalid al-Barqi in al-Mahasin, Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar in Basa'ir al-darajat, al-Shaykh al-Kulayni in al-Kafi, al-Shaykh al-Saduq in Man la yahdur, al-Shaykh al-Mufid in al-Amali, al-Shaykh al-Tusi in al-Tahdhib, Sayyid al-Murtada in al-Shafi, Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi in Tafsir al-Qummi, Ibn Qulawayh in Kamil al-ziyarat, Ibn Shahr Ashub in al-Manqib, al-Tabrisi in I'lam al-wara, Sayyid b. Tawus in al-Yaqin and Iqbal al-a'mal, Sayyid 'Abd al-Karim b. Tawus in Farhat al-ghari, 'Imad al-Din al-Tabari in Bisharat al-Mustafa, Qutb al-Din al-Rawandi in al-Khara'ij wa l-jara'ih, Hurr al-'Amili in Ithbat al-hudat and Wasa'il al-Shi'a, Muhaddith Nuri in Mustadrak al-Wasa'il and Muhaddith al-Qummi in Safinat al-bihar have widely quoted from the book.[4] Al-'Allama al-Majlisi has narrated the book in Bihar al-anwar and Ibn Abi l-Hadid has narrated many of the historical reports of the book in his Commentary on Nahj al-balagha.

The chapters, their titles and the structure of the book is very well-arranged and its content is very rich. Ibn Hilal hardly narrated form Shi'a Imams and narrators in his book, rather he narrated from famous Sunni narrators such as the narrators of Hadiths in al-Sihah al-Sitta and famous Sunni Musnads.[5]

Narration of the Book

'Abbas b. al-Sari, Muhammad b. Zayd al-Rattab and Ahmad b. 'Alawiyya al-Isfahani, known as Ibn Aswad al-Katib, have reported the index of the books written by Ibn Hilal. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq narrated Ibn Hilal's books from his father, who has narrated them from 'Abd Allah b. Hasan Mu'addib, who has narrated them from Ahmad b. 'Alawiyya al-Isfahani. However, it is not known that how some books such as al-Gharat were narrated; although some scholars such as Ibn Abi l-Hadid and Hasan b. Sulayman al-Hilli, the student of al-Shahid al-Awwal, have quoted from it directly.[6] According to Muhaddith al-Urmavi the copies of the book were very scarce from the early centuries.[7]

Keeping the Book Alive

The editor of al-Gharat writes in his introduction to the book, that he owes his success in editing the book to two people:

  1. 'Abd al-Hamid b. Abi l-Hadid al-Mu'tazili al-Baghdadi, the commentator of Nahj al-balagha, who has narrated most of the content of al-Gharat in his commentary on Nahj al-balagha. In some cases, he replaced the difficult words with simpler ones and in some cases he has explained some phrase of it.
  2. Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi who has narrated the whole book without any changes in Bihar al-Anwar, except for some parts that he explicitly said he had summarized. Moreover, in some cases he explained some phrases of it as well.

In the following, he also mentioned two other Shi'a scholars:

  1. Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Hurr al-'Amili, the author of al-Was'il al-Shi'a
  2. Mirza Husayn Nuri, the author of Mustadrak al-Was'il

as they have inserted Hadiths - about theology, jurisprudence and ethics - narrated in al-Gharat into their books.

Manuscripts and Publication

Despite the reputation and importance of the book, not many manuscripts of it are available. As the editor of the book, Muhaddith al-Urmavi, said the copies of the book were very scarce since early times. The earliest known manuscript of the book was in possession of al-'Allama al-Majlisi. This manuscript was transcribed during Safavid era.

Al-Gharat was published twice:

  • In 1395/1975 by the Publication of Anjuman Athar Milli (National Heritage Association) in two volumes. Sayyid Jalal al-Din Muhaddith al-Urmavi has researched, edited and written extensive glosses on the book. He has also written an introduction of about 100 pages (16 in Persian and the rest in Arabic) to the book.
  • In 1370/1991 by Dar al-Kitab al-Islamiyya Publication. 'Abd al-Zahra' al-Husayni al-Khatib[8] has researched and edited this edition.


  1. Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa, vol. 2, p. 35; Pāknīyā, Ashnāyī ba manābiʿ muʿtabar-i shī'a (al-Ghārāt).
  2. Thaqafī, al-Ghārāt, p. 4.
  3. Thaqafī, al-Ghārāt, p. 3-4.
  4. Pāknīyā, Ashnāyī ba manābiʿ muʿtabar-i shī'a (al-Ghārāt).
  5. Noor Digital Library
  6. Bayāt, Muʿrafī al-Ghārāt.
  7. Thaqafī, al-Ghārāt, p. 11.
  8. Pāknīyā, Ashnāyī ba manābiʿ muʿtabar-i shī'a (al-Ghārāt).


  • Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, Muḥammad Muḥsin. Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa. Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwāʾ, [n.d].
  • ʿĀlīmī, Khadīja. Murūrī bar kitāb-i al-Ghārāt. Summer 1379, No 33.
  • Kitāb-i Shinākht-i sīra-yi Maʿsūmān. Noor Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences.
  • Mīrsharīfī, Sayyid ʿAlī. Al-Ghārāt wa tarjuma-yi ān. Waqf-i Mīrāth-i Jāwīd, 1374, No 9.
  • Pāknīyā, ʿAbd al-Karīm. Ashnāyī ba manābiʿ muʿtabar-i shī'a (al-Ghārāt). 1388 Sh, No 113.
  • Thaqafī, Ibrāhīm b. Muḥammad. Al-Ghārāt. Qom: Dār al-Kitāb, 1410 AH.
  • Thaqafī, Ibrāhīm b. Muḥammad. Al-Ghārāt. Translated by ʿAbd al-Muḥammad Āyatī. Tehran: Wizārat-i Irshād, 1374 Sh.