Al-Istibsar (book)

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AuthorAl-Shaykh al-Tusi
Original titleالاستبصار فی ما اختلف من الاخبار
Subjectjurisprudence hadith
PublishedBeirut, 1426/2005-6
PublisherMu'assisa al-a'lami li l-matbu'at

Al-Istibṣār fī mā ukhtulif min al-akhbār (Arabic: الاستِبصار فی ما اختُلِفَ مِن الاَخبار) is the fourth book of the Four Books. It is a hadith collection compiled by al-Shaykh al-Tusi (d. 460/1067 ) known as al-Shaykh al-Ṭa'ifa.


This book contains jurisprudential hadiths and is more concise than Tahdhib al-ahkam. The order of the chapters in al-Istibsar is so that the first two parts are dedicated to issues regarding worship (except Jihad) and the last part (part three) is about other jurisprudential issues such as contracts, unilateral obligations, fixed punishments, and financial compensations.

According to statistics that the author has given about the hadiths recorded in al-Istibsar, they are 5511 hadiths,[1] while in a researched publication of the book, the number of hadiths is 5558 and this difference might be due to the way of counting some special hadiths.[2]

In the first two parts, al-Shaykh al-Tusi has recorded almost all hadiths with their references. Still, in the last part, the references are mentioned in a brief way and similar to the style of Tahdhib al-ahkam and more similar to the style of al-Shaykh al-Saduq in Man la yahduruh al-faqih the references of hadiths to hadiths Usul [original references] are mentioned at the end of the work.[3]

Most Important Hadith Books
(The Four Books)
Al-KafiMan la yahduruh al-faqihTahdhib al-ahkamAl-Istibsar
(The Authentic Six)
Sahih al-BukhariSahih MuslimSunan Abu DawudSunan Ibn MajaJami' al-TirmidhiAl-Sunan al-sughra

Purpose of Compilation

Some scholars and students of al-Shaykh al-Tusi asked him to write a book where he collects conflicting hadiths, analyzes them, and marks the correct and incorrect ones. In this book, al-Shaykh al-Tusi first brought authentic and correct hadiths and then has mentioned conflicting ones and has tried not to miss one and finally has tried to reach a conclusion after discussing the two kinds of hadiths.

Manner of Compilation

In this work, in addition to collecting all hadiths related to one issue at one place, al-Tusi has reviewed their references and meanings and in each chapter, has suggested his own opinion for removing apparent disagreements between hadiths or the priority of some of them over others. Methods for reach agreements and conclusions between hadiths and removing their disagreements have a special position in the al-Shaykh al-Tusi's fiqh, and has been reflected especially in his al-Istibsar.

Therefore, this book should not be regarded as a mere collection of hadiths and ignore its jurisprudential value. Similar to other books among the Four Books, the order of the chapters of al-Istibsar is based on the usual order in jurisprudential works.

Although in compiling al-Istibsar, al-Shaykh al-Tusi has so much relied on his previous work Tahdhib al-ahkam , but al-Istibsar has its own characteristics regarding the general purpose of compilation as well as the chaptering and the order of hadiths in each chapter and is regarded as an independent work. This independence is clearly seen in a list of the author's works[4] and in the words of his contemporary scholar, al-Najashi.[5]


This is the first book that has been published to make an agreement between conflicting hadiths.

In addition to its great credit, al-Istibsar has excellent coverage so that Ibn Tawus says, "If there is any disagreement about an issue, it must have been mentioned in al-Istibsar."

At the beginning of every chapter, first, the authentic or reliable hadith(s) are mentioned and then other hadiths are listed.


This book is among the most authentic Shia hadith books and every faqih or Mujtahid needs to refer to it when judging about rulings.

Al-Istibsar is one of the Four Books and at the same level with al-Shaykh al-Kulayni's Al-Kafi, al-Shaykh al-Saduq's Man la yahduruh al-faqih and al-Shaykh al-Tusi's another book, Tahdhib al-ahkam which was written previous to al-Istibsar.

Regarding the significance and value of al-Istibsar, its name has always been in the list of references and Shia scholars and faqihs gave permission of narrating its hadiths to each other.

Comparison with Other Collections of Hadiths

Important Shi'i hadith collections Author Death Number of hadiths descriptions
al-Mahasin Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Barqi 274/887-8 about 2604 Hadiths regarding different topics such as fiqh and ethics
al-Kafi Muhammad b. Ya'qub al-Kulayni 329/941 about 16000 Variety of hadiths regarding the principles of beliefs, ethics, conducts, and fiqh
Man la yahduruh al-faqih al-Shaykh al-Saduq 381/991-2 about 5500 Hadiths regarding fiqh
Tahdhib al-ahkam al-Shaykh al-Tusi 460/1067 about 13600 Hadiths regarding fiqh
Al-Istibsar al-Shaykh al-Tusi 460/1067 about 5500 Hadiths regarding fiqh
al-Wafi al-Fayd al-Kashani 1091/1680 about 50,000 Collection of hadiths in the Four Books with eliminating repeated hadiths and explaining some hadiths
Wasa'il al-shi'a al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili 1104/1693 35850 Hadiths regarding fiqh in the Four Books and over 70 other collections of hadiths
Bihar al-anwar al-'Allama al-Majlisi 1110/1699 about 85,000 Hadiths from most of the Infallibles (a) regarding various issues
Mustadrak al-wasa'il Mirza Husayn Nuri 1320/1902 23,514 Supplementation of hadiths regarding fiqh in Wasa'il al-shi'a
Safinat al-bihar Shaykh 'Abbas Qummi 1359/1941 10 volumes an alphabetically ordered index for Bihar al-anwar
Mustadrak safinat al-bihar Shaykh 'Ali Namazi 1405/1984-5 10 volumes Supplementation of Safinat al-bihar
Jami' ahadith al-Shi'a Ayatollah Burujirdi 1380/1961 48,342 Including all Shiite hadiths regarding fiqh
Mizan al-hikma Muhammad Muhammadi Reyshahri 2022 23,030 564 non-jurisprudential (not regarding fiqh) topics
al-Hayat Muhammad Rida Hakimi 2021 12 volumes 40 chapters regarding theoretical and practical issues

Old Copies

About old copies of al-Istibsar, first, the incomplete manuscript transcribed by Ja'far b. Ali Mashhadi must be mentioned that Aqa Buzurg Tihrani[6] reports that was available in the library of Sayyid Hadi Kashif al-Ghita' in Najaf. According to this report, the mentioned copy has been compared with the handwriting of al-Shaykh al-Tusi and the job has finished in 573/1177-8.

Then, a copy kept in Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi Library in Qom should be mentioned that has been transcribed in the eighth/fourteenth century.

Commentaries and Glosses

Compiling works as commentary, gloss or marginal notes on al-Istibsar can be seen particularly since late 10th/16th century, among the most important ones of which are the following:

See Also


  1. Ṭūsī, al-Istibṣār, vol. 4, p. 343.
  2. Group of authors, "al-Istibṣār," p. 161.
  3. Dānishpazhūh, Nashrīya-yi kitābkhāna, vol. 3, p. 1086-1087.
  4. Ṭūsī, al-Fihrist, vol. 1, p. 240.
  5. Najāshī, al-Rijal, vol. 1, p. 403.
  6. Āqā Buzurg, al-Dharīʿa, vol. 2, p. 14-15.


  • Āqā Buzurg Tihrānī, Muḥammad Muḥsin. Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-Shīʿa. Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwāʾ, 1403 AH.
  • Dānishpazhūh, Muḥammmad Taqī. Nashrīya-yi kitābkhāna-yi markazī Dānishgāh-i Tihrān. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Dānishgāh-i Tihrān, 1362 Sh.
  • Group of authors. "al-Istibṣār." In Dāʾirat al-maʿārif buzurg-i Islāmī, vol. 8. Tehran: Markaz-i Dāʾirat al-maʿārif Buzurg-i Islāmī, 1377 Sh.
  • Najāshī, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-. Al-Rijāl. Edited by Mūsā Shubiyrī Zanjānī. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1407 AH.
  • Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Al-Fihrist. Edited by Muḥammad Jawād Qayyūmī. Qom: Muʾassisat Nashr al-Fiqāha, 1417 AH.
  • Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Al-Istibṣār. Edited by Ḥasan Mūsawī Kharsān. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1390 AH.