|Author||Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni|
|Subject||Beliefs, ethics, jurisprudence, ...|
|Published||Qom, 1387 SH.|
|En. publisher||The Islamic Seminary Inc.|
Al-Kāfī (Arabic: الکافي, the Sufficient) is a collection of hadith of the Twelver Shi'a. It is the most important and authentic collection among the Four Books. It was compiled by thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni (d. 329/940-1) in the period of the Minor Occultation. Al-Kafi consists of three parts: Usul (principles), Furu' (branches), and Rawda (miscellaneous issues); Usul is the most important part. Al-Kulayni tried to collect hadiths in such a way that they agree with the consensus and there is no incompatibility between them and the Qur'an.
It also could have been named Al-Kafi due to a report that when it was presented to Imam al-Mahdi (a), he said, "Al-Kafi is Kafi (i.e. sufficient) for our Shi'a."  However, there is no such a report and it is just a claim.
In the Words of Great Scholars
Purpose of Writing
According to the preface of al-Kafi, al-Kulayni has written this book in response to a person he calls, "a brother in religion":
- O brother! You asked why people have to be ignorant and blindly religious; because they are religious due to habit and imitation of their fathers…
- You reminded that you have difficulty in some matters and do not understand the truth in them due to incompatibility of hadith… and that you do not have access to any trustworthy scholar about which you can speak about. You said that you want to have a book addressing all religious sciences to suffice the learner and be the reference for the seeker [of truth]… You said that you hope God Almighty assists our fellows in this school of religion and takes them to their leaders.
- Praise be to God who made writing of the requested book possible and I hope it would be as that you requested."
Al-Kulayni states in his introduction that he has collected hadith in such a way that they agree with the consensus and there is no incompatibility between them and the Qur'an. Furthermore, when he saw no preference between two incompatible hadiths, he chose the one he deemed more correct and authentic.
Features and Advantages
At the time of writing al-Kafi, al-Kulayni used 'The four hundred hadith booklets' written by the companions of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), known as Usul arba'a mi'a. He met with those companions of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) - or those who had seen them - to collect the hadith which had the shortest chain of transmission. Being contemporary with the Four Deputies paved the way for him to best verify these hadiths. However, about the last part of this statement it should be said that it was not common to present hadith books to Ahl al-Bayt (a) and the number of books presented is very small compared to the number of books which has not been presented. Furthermore, al-Kulayni had no special connection with the Four Deputies.
An important feature of al-Kafi is its order and comprehensiveness. Al-Kafi is also known for its large number of hadiths, clear classification of hadith, completeness in chains of transmitters, and coverage of various topics in theology, jurisprudence, ethics, etc.
Al-Kulayni has tried to bring the most detailed, authentic and clear hadith at the beginning of each section, and the more concise and ambiguous ones later.
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||329/940-1||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||1091/1680-1||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||1405/1985||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||contemporary||23,030||564 non-jurisprudential (not regarding fiqh) topics|
|al-Hayat||Muhammad Rida Hakimi||contemporary||12 volumes||40 chapters regarding theoretical and practical issues|
Al-Kafi consists of three main sections: usul al-kafi, which contains hadiths regarding beliefs, furu' al-kafi which contains fiqhi hadiths and rawda which is about history. Usul al-kafi contains a few books in itself including Kitab al-Hujja.
Usul al-Kafi contains hadiths regarding beliefs and is comprised of eight chapters (i.e. books):
- Kitab al-'aql wa l-jahl (The Book of Intellect and Ignorance)
- Kitab fadl al-'ilm (The Book of the Merits of Knowledge)
- Kitab al-tawhid (The Book of Divine Unity)
- Kitab al-hujja (The Book of the Proof)
- Kitab al-iman wa l-kufr (The Book of Belief and Disbelief)
- Kitab al-du'a' (The Book of Supplication)
- Kitab fadl al-Qur'an (The Book of the Merits of the Qur'an)
- Kitab al-'ishra (The Book of Social Ethics)
Furu' al-Kafi contains hadiths regarding jurisprudential rulings and is comprised of 26 chapters:
- Kitab al-tahara (The Book of Purity)
- Kitab al-hayd (The Book of Menstruation)
- Kitab al-jana'iz (The Book of Corpses)
- Kitab al-salat (The Book of Prayer)
- Kitab al-zakat wa l-sadaqah (The Book of Zakat and Charity)
- Kitab al-siyam (The Book of Fasting)
- Kitab al-hajj (The Book of Hajj)
- Kitab al-jihad (The Book of Jihad)
- Kitab al-ma'isha (The Book of Living)
- Kitab al-nikah (The Book of Marriage)
- Kitab al-'aqiqa (The Book of Sacrifice for the New Born)
- Kitab al-talaq (The Book of Divorce)
- Kitab al-'itq wa l-tadbir wa l-mukataba (The Book of Emancipation, Management and Writing)
- Kitab al-sayd (The Book of Hunting)
- Kitab al-dhaba'ih (The Book of Slaughtering)
- Kitab al-at'ima (The Book of Foods)
- Kitab al-ashriba (The Book of Drinks)
- Kitab al-zi wa l-tajammul wa l-muruwwa (The Book of Garment and Beautification and Ettiquete)
- Kitab al-dawajin (The Book of Livestock)
- Kitab al-wasaya (The Book of Wills)
- Kitab al-mawarith (The Book of Inheritance)
- Kitab al-hudud (The Book of Punishments)
- Kitab al-diyat (The Book of Atonements)
- Kitab al-shahadat (The Book of Witnesses)
- Kitab al-Qada' wa l-ahkam (The Book of Judgment and Rulings)
- Kitab al-ayman wa l-nudhur wa l-kaffarat (The Book of Oaths and Nadhrs and Atonements/Reparation)
Rawda al-Kafi consists of miscellaneous hadiths that are in no particular order. Although some do not consider it to be a part of al-Kafi, both al-Najashi and al-Shaykh al-Tusi have asserted that Rawda is al-Kafi's last chapter. It includes hadiths pertaining to the following topics:
- Interpretation of some verses of the Qur'an
- Advices of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)
- Dreams and their types
- Health problems and cures
- Creation of the universe and some phenomena
- The history of some prophets (a)
- The merit of Shi'a and their duties
- Some historical issues of early Islam and the time of Imam 'Ali's (a) government
- Imam al-Mahdi (aj), his attributes, companions and the attributes of his time
- The biographies of some companions and other individuals
Number of Hadiths
Yusuf al-Bahrani, in Lu'lu' al-bahrayn, counts the number of hadiths in al-Kafi to be 16,199, Dr. Husayn 'Ali Mahfuz, in the preface to al-Kafi, counts 15,176, al-Allama al-Majlisi counts 16,121 and some contemporary scholars such as al-Shaykh 'Abd al-Rassul al-Ghaffar consider them to be 15,503.
The reason for this variance in number is due to different methods of counting. For example, some scholars count a hadith transmitted from two different chains as two hadiths, while others count it as one. Also, some have included Mursal hadiths (those hadith which do not have a complete chain of transmitters), while others have not. There are also rare cases where some hadiths are not mentioned in certain manuscripts, and therefore may or may not have been counted.
Researches Carried Out on al-Kafi
Since al-Kafi has always been a topic of discussion among scholars of hadith, many researches have been carried out on it. In al-Dhari'a, Agha Buzurg Tihrani has listed 27 commentaries on Usul al-kafi or the whole of al-Kafi, and 10 marginal notes on al-Kafi.
- Mulla Sadra's commentary
- Fayd al-Kashani's al-Wafi
- Al-Allama al-Majlisi's Mir'at al-'uqul
- Mulla Salih Mazandarani's commentary
- Mulla Khalil Qazwini's Persian commentary called Safi, and an Arabic commentary called Shafi
- Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Muhaqqiq Damad's al-Rawashih al-samawiyyah fi sharh al-Kafi
- Amir Isma'il Khatunabadi's commentary
Marginal Notes and Glosses
- Al-Ta'liqat 'ala kitab al-Kafi written by Muhammad Baqir Hussayni, known as Mirdamad (d. 1041/1632)
- Jami' al-ahadith wa l-aqwal written by al-Shaykh Qasim b. Muhammad b. Jawad b. al-Wandi (d. 1100/1689)
- Al-Durr al-manzum min kalam al-ma'sum written by al-Shaykh 'Ali b. Hasan b. Zayn al-Din al-Shahid al-Thani (d. 1104/1693)
- Al-Hashiyat ala usul al-Kafi written by Rafi' al-Din Muhammad b. Haydar al-Na'ini
- Marginal notes written by Abu l-Hasan Sharif Futuni 'Amili
- Marginal notes written by Sayyid Mir Abu Talib b. Mirza Bayk Findiriski
- Marginal notes written by al-Shaykh Zayn al-Din Abu l-Hasan 'Ali b. Shaykh Hasan, the author of Ma'alim
- Marginal notes written by al-Shaykh Muhammad b. Hasan b. Zayn al-Din al-Shahid al-Thani, known as al-Shaykh Muhammad Sibt 'Amili (d. 1030/)
Muhammad Sarwar has translated al-Kafi to English published in eight volumes by Islamic Seminary Incorporated.
Taqwa Media has published a translation and commentary by Islamic Texts Institute under direction of Rizwan Arastu. The first three chapters of al-Kafi are now available.
- al-Kafi. vol. 1, p. 14 (Introduction)
- Ghaffar, Abd allah al-rasul.al-Kulayni wa l-kafi. p. 392.
- Al-Shaykh al-Mufid.Tashih al-i'tiqadat al-imamiyya. p. 70.
- Al-Kulayni, Muhmmad b. Ya'qub.al-Kafi. vol. 1. p. 27.
- Al-Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir. Mir'at al-uqul. vol. 1. p. 3.
- Tihrani, Agha Buzurg. Al-Dhari'a. vol. 17, p. 245.
- Astarabadi, Muhammad Amin. Al-Fawa'id al-madaniyyah. p. 520.
- Al-Khoei, Abu l-Qasim. Mu'jam rijal al-hadith. vol. 1. p. 99.
- Al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 5.
- Al-Kafi, vol. 1, pp. 8 - 9.
- Sayyid b. Tawus, 'Ali b. Musa. Kashf al-Mahajja. p. 159.
- Mustafawi, Javad. Tarjuma usul al-kafi. vol. 1. p. 10.
- Afandi, 'Abd Allah b. 'Isa. Riyad al-'ulama. vol. 2. p. 261.
- Al-Najashi, Ahmad b. 'Ali. Rijal al-Najashi. p. 377; al-Shaykh al-Tusi. Al-Fihrist. p. 210.
- Ghaffar, Abd allah al-rasul. al-Kulayni wa l-kafi. p. 401-402.
- Agha Buzuer, Tihrani .al-Dhari'ah. vol. 13. p. 95-99.
- AL-KAFI, volumes 1 through 8 OF 8 – now available, The Islamic Seminary
- Al-Kafi Series, Taqwa Media
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