Al-Hidaya al-kubra (book)
|Author||Husayn b. Hamdan al-Khasibi|
|Original title||اَلهِدایَة الکُبری|
|Subject||The life and miracles of the Fourteen Infallibles|
|Publisher||Al-Balagh Institute, Beirut|
Al-Hidāya al-kubrā (Arabic: اَلهِدایَة الکُبری ) is a book concerning the life and miracles of the Fourteen Infallibles by al-Husayn b. Hamdan al-Khasibi (d. 334/946 or 346/958). The work is one of the oldest texts seeking to show the imamate of each Imam by their miracles (mu'jiza)—miracles that are demonstrated by narrations with purportedly reliable chains of narrators. However, some early Shiite scholars and contemporary writers have been critical of the author of this book, taking the hadiths cited in this work to be exaggerative (Ghali).
Many Shiite scholars of hadith have cast doubt on his reliability. For example, al-Najashi says of him that he has "false religious beliefs" (fasid al-madhhab). However, some others have tried to justify his reliability and beliefs.
The followers of the Nusayriyya sect take him to be one of their leaders, holding that he had connections with Muhammad b. Nusayr, the head of this sect. Al-Husayn b. Hamdan is alleged to have taken Muhammad b. Nusayr as the gate (or representative) of the Twelfth Imam (a).
The book's historical contents have been expressed by drawing on hadiths, with the author mentioning the whole chains of the narrators. The book's 14 parts have been organized around the Fourteen Infallibles, each part being divided into two main sections: the first section concerns general biographical information about each Infallible, and the second part deals with the chains of narrations leading to Imams (a) pointing to miracles and supernatural powers of each Infallible, including their prophecies and knowledge of the unseen, their supernatural manipulation of the world such as reviving the dead and tayy al-ard (travelling the earth in a blink of an eye), their speaking various languages, their talks with animals and plants, and so on.
The amount of information varies from one Infallible to another; for example, the information about the Twelfth Imam (a) is way more than other Imams (a). There are hadiths about raj'a (the return of some people upon the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam (a) from his Major Occultation) and the long narration of Mufaddal b. 'Umar from Imam al-Sadiq (a). The book also contains detailed information about the fellows of Faris b. Hatam al-Qazwini that cannot be found in any other sources, as well as some information about the Shiite community after the martyrdom of Imam Hasan al-'Askari (a) and the activities of Ja'far al-Kadhdhab.
For long, there have opposing views about the contents of the book. Some took it to be inauthentic and exaggerative, and some considered it to be a book pertaining to the Nusayriyya sect. However, the book has had a rather good place among later Imamiyya works that cite its hadiths.
In recent years, Ni'matullah Safari Foroushani published a paper criticizing this book (both with respect to the reliability of its chains of narrators and with respect to its contents). The paper takes the book to be based on the narrations of Ghali Shiites (those who exaggerate the status of Imams). Safari takes some hadiths in the book as evidence for his view.
On the other hand, some scholars replied to Safari's view—responding to doubts about the character of al-Husayn b. Hamdan and hadiths about the miracles of Imams (a).
There are five manuscripts of the book all of which are in Iran:
- 11th/17th century, the Library of Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi, Qom.
- 1080/1669, the Library of Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi, Qom.
- 1101/1689, the Library of Astan Quds Radawi, Mashhad.
- 1315/1897, the Library of Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi, Qom (this version is the basis of its printed version).
- 1319/1901, the Library of Majlis, Tehran.
- The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from الهدایة الکبری in Farsi wikishia.