Sahib al-Madarik

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Sahib al-Madarik
Personal Information
EpithetSahib al-Madarik
Well-Known Relativesal-Shahid al-Thani (grandfather)
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsAhmad b. Muhammad Ardabili
StudentsMuhammad Amin Istarabadi
WorksMadarik al-Ahkam

Al-Sayyid Muḥammad b. 'Ali al-Mūsawī al-ʿĀmilī (Arabic:سیّد محمد بن علی الموسَوی العامِلی) (b. 946/1539-40 - d. 1009/1600), known as Ṣāḥib al-Madārik (Arabic: صاحِب المَدارِک, the author of Madarik al-ahkam), was a Shiite faqih and a grandson of al-Shahid al-Thani.

Scholars of rijal have praised his knowledge and piety, taking him to be a keen scholar. His teachers include his father, Sayyid Nur al-Din 'Ali al-Musawi al-'Amili, and al-Muqaddas al-Ardabili. Sayyid Muhammad was a classmate of his uncle, Hasan b. Zayn al-Din al-'Amili, the author of Ma'alim al-din, and had many students, including Muhammad Amin Istarabadi.

It is said that Sayyid Muhammad did not write much, although he had a lot of scholarly researches. However, he wrote remarkable books such as Madarik al-ahkam fi sharh shara'i' al-islam, commentaries on al-Istibsar, and commentaries on Tahdhib al-ahkam.

He is one of the Shiite scholars who believed that Friday Prayer is an individual obligation (al-wajib al-'ayni) during the Occultation period. He also believed in wilayat al-faqih. Sayyid Muhammad died in 1600 at the age of 62.

Birth and Lineage

Al-Sayyid Shams al-Din Muhammad b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn b. Abi l-Hasan al-Musawi al-'Amili al-Jaba'i was born in 946/1539-40. His father was al-Sayyid Nur al-Din 'Ali al-Musawi al-'Amili and his mother was a daughter of al-Shahid al-Thani. His father was considered as a prominent scholar in his time. After al-Shahid al-Thani's martyrdom, he married the mother of Hasan b. Zayn al-Din, known as the author of Ma'alim al-din. Al-Sayyid Nur al-Din 'Ali was born in this marriage.

Scholarly Significance

Madarik al-ahkam, written by Sayyid Muhammad al-Musawi al-'Amili

Al-Sayyid Muhammad is well-reputed and praised in Shiite sources of 'ilm al-rijal (biographies of narrators of hadiths). He is characterized as being very meticulous in his researches and teachings. According to al-Shaykh Hurr al-'Amili, al-Sayyid Muhammad was a generous person, and a knowledgeable, skillful and keen scholar. He was pious and ascetic. He mastered different branches of knowledge and had a great place. Mustafa al-Tafrishi in Naqd al-rijal, count him as one of the senior Shia scholars. Al-Shaykh Yusuf al-Bahrani said: "the virtues of Sayyid Muhammad and his uncle Sayyid Hasan are too well-known to deny."

About his meticulousness in researches, it is said that Sayyid Muhammad followed the methodology of his teacher, al-Muqaddas al-Ardabili, in fiqh. He explored hadiths himself and never relied only on the views of other scholars.

According to some sources, because of their piety, Sayyid Muhammad and the author of Ma'alim did not visit the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Rida (a) since they feared that Shah 'Abbas Safawi would ask them to work for his government if they went to Iran.

Education and Teachers

Al-Sayyid Muhammad studied Arabic literature, logic, mathematics, philosophy, rational and traditional sciences, and ancillaries of the religion with his father, Sayyid Nur al-Din 'Ali and a scholar called al-Sayyid 'Ali Sa'igh al-Husayni al-Jazini, both of whom were al-Shahid al-Thani's students.

He and the author of Ma'alim studied logic, and books such as al-Mutawwal, Hashiya Khata'i, Hashiya Mulla 'Abd Allah, Tahdhib al-mantiq as well as fiqh (jurisprudence) and hadiths with Mulla 'Abd Allah Yazdi, the author of Hashiya Mulla 'Abd Allah.

Another teacher of his was al-Shaykh Ahmad b. Hasan al-Nabati al-'Amili. He also studied with al-Shaykh Husayn b. 'Abd al-Samad, al-Shaykh al-Baha'i's father, who was a student of al-Shahid al-Thani, and through him, he narrated hadiths from al-Shahid al-Thani.

After a while, al-Sayyid Muhammad and his uncle, the author of Ma'alim, moved to Najaf to continue their studies. They attended the lectures of al-Muqaddas al-Ardabili, and since they could not stay in Iraq for a long time they asked their teacher to teach them with a different method: they studied the texts in advance and the teacher explained to them only what they could not understand. In this method, al-Sayyid Muhammad and al-Sayyid Hasan studied usul al-fiqh, logic, kalam and books such as al-Sharh al-mukhtasar, Sharh shamsiyya and Sharh al-matali' with al-Muqaddas al-Ardabili.

Their presence in Najaf coincided with the time when al-Muqaddas al-Ardabili was writing Majma' al-fa'ida wa l-burhan, an exposition on the book al-Irshad by al-'Allama al-Hilli. He presented them with drafts of his work so that they could edit it.


He had many students, the most important of them were Muhammad Amin al-Istarabadi who was the founder of Akhbarism, and Muhammad b. Hasan b. Zayn al-Din al-'Amili, grandson of al-Shahid al-Thani, was author of Istiqsa' al-i'tibar.


Al-Sayyid Muhammad is known as a scholar who made a lot of researches but did not write much. His few books, however, exhibit his keen insights and include rejections of many well-established theories of fiqh and usul al-fiqh among recent scholars. Some of his works are as follows:

According to Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin in A'yan al-Shi'a, the attribution of last two books to al-Sayyid Muhammad is a mistake. These two books were indeed authored by other people.

His Different Fatwa on Friday Prayer

He is one of few Shiite scholars who believed that Friday Prayer is a wajib ta'yini in the Occultation period.


Al-Sayyid Muhammad had a son, called al-Sayyid Najm al-Din. He and his two sons (Sayyid Muhammad's grandsons), Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad and Abu l-Salah 'Ali, had permissions from the author of Ma'alim.

Another son of al-Sayyid Muhammad was al-Sayyid Husayn about whom al-Shaykh Hurr al-'Amili said: "He was a knowledgeable faqih, an expert, highly respected and a student of his father and al-Shaykh al-Baha'i."

Al-Sayyid Husayn held the position of Shaykh al-Islam in Mashhad, and al-Sayyid al-Murtada, a contemporary scholar of al-'Allama al-Majlisi, was from his progeny.


Al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Musawi al-'Amili passed away on Rabi' I 10, 1009/September 19, 1600 in the Jaba' village at the age of 62. According to other sources, he passed away on Rabi' I 18/September 27.

After his death, his uncle, Hasan b. Zayn al-Din (the author of Ma'alim), inscribed the verse 23 of Sura al-Ahzab on his gravestone.

He also composed plaintive and mournful poems for al-Sayyid Muhammad after his death. These poems were also inscribed on his gravestone.