Dawud b. Kathir al-Raqqi

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Dawud b. Kathir al-Raqqi
Full NameDawud b. Kathir al-Raqqi
Companion ofImam al-Sadiq (a)Imam al-Kazim (a)Imam al-Rida (a)
TeknonymAbu Sulayman
Well Known Asal-Raqqi • al-Kufi
Death/MartyrdomA short time after the martyrdom of Imam al-Rida (a)

Dāwūd b. Kathīr al-Raqqī (Arabic: داوود بن کَثیر الرَقّي) was an Imami prolific transmitter of hadiths in the 2nd/8th century and a companion of Imam al-Sadiq (a), Imam al-Kazim (a), and Imam al-Rida (a). He transmitted many hadiths concerning theology, fiqh, the exegesis of the Holy Qur'an, and ethics. Imam al-Sadiq (a) assimilated Dawud's place among his companions to Miqdad's place among the companions of the Prophet (s).

Many people transmitted hadiths from Dawud b. Kathir, including some People of Consensus. The book, al-Ahlija, is attributed to him.


According to al-Najashi, Dawud's kunya was Abu Sulayman, his father's name was Kathir, and his father's kunya was Abu Khalid. However, according to some hadiths and sources, "Abu Khalid" or "Abu Khulda" was the kunya of Dawud's grandfather. Thus, Shushtari holds that "Dawud b. Abi Khalid" as occurring in Rijal al-Kashshi is attributed to his grandfather, and "Abu Kalda" and "Abu Khalid" are distorted forms of "Abu Khalida".


Dawud was from al-Raqqah near Euphrates. According to Ibn Hazm, Dawud lived in this city for a while at least, and this is why he came to be known as "al-Raqqi". It seems that he also lived in Kufa for a while, which is why he is also known as "al-Kufi".

He must have heard the many hadiths that he has transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq (a) during the time when the Imam (a) lived in Iraq. This is evidenced by the hadith according to which Dawud b. Zarbi met Imam al-Sadiq (a) while Dawud al-Raqqi was present.

Companion of the Imams (a)

Dawud was a companion of Imam al-Sadiq (a), Imam al-Kazim (a), and Imam al-Rida (a).

According to a hadith, during the imamate of Imam al-Rida (a), Dawud was imprisoned for a while, since he wrote a letter to the Imam (a) and asked him to pray for him, and the Imam (a) replied to his letter.

He died a short time after the martyrdom of Imam al-Rida (a). Therefore, it is very improbable that he could transmit hadiths directly from Imam al-Baqir (a). So, Ibn Hamza's hadith according to which Dawud met Imam al-Baqir (a) cannot be trusted.

Moreover, a comparison of hadiths allegedly transmitted by Dawud from Imam al-Baqir (a) with other hadiths transmitted by him show that the former must be from Imam al-Sadiq (a).

Dawud was a prolific transmitter of hadiths; nearly 80 hadiths transmitted by him are collected in the Four Books. Although he transmitted many hadiths, al-Kashshi reported that Imam al-Sadiq (a) suggested Dawud to observe caution in transmitting hadiths from him and talking about the virtues of Amir al-Mu'minin (a).

According to al-Barqi, the Imam (a) asked Dawud not to reveal the secrets of Ahl al-Bayt (a) to the public and to avoid talking about their affairs except with his confidants.

A remarkable hadith indicating the very cautious attitude of Shi'as in the period is the one he transmitted form Abu Hamza al-Thumali according to which Imam al-Sadiq (a) appointed 4 people as the executors of his will in addition to Imam al-Kazim (a): his other son, 'Abd Allah, the caliph of the time, al-Mansur, and two other people.

Dawud transmitted hadiths which explicitly referred to the imamate of Imam al-Kazim (a) and Imam al-Rida (a). He also attended the funeral of Isma'il, Imam al-Sadiq's (a) son. He also testified for the death of Isma'il and his burial at the request of the Imam (a).

According to a hadith, Dawud asked Imam al-Rida (a) about a hadith transmitted from Imam al-Baqir (a) according to which Imam al-Kazim (a), the 7th Imam, was the Qa'im, and the Imam (a) explained the meaning of Imam al-Baqir's (a) remarks.

Hadith Transmission

Dawud has transmitted hadith from the following people:

The following people have transmitted hadith from Dawud:


In the View of Early Scholars of Rijal

Ibn Ghada'iri referred to Dawud as unreliable and as being deviated in his sect, and al-Najashi considered him to be very unreliable and to be a source of hadiths relied on by Ghulat (people who exaggerate about the position of the Imams). Al-Najashi quoted his teacher, Ahmad b. 'Abd al-Wahid, known as Ibn 'Abdun, as saying that there are few reliable hadiths transmitted by Dawud.

However, al-Kashshi believed that it was a claim made by Ghulat that Dawud was one of their main figures and they falsely attributed some hadiths to him, while Shiite masters never reprehended him.

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid mentioned Dawud as a close and special companion of Imam al-Kazim (a) and al-Shaykh al-Tusi held that he was reliable. However, the attribution of the view that he was reliable to Ibn Faddal in Ibn Dawud al-Hilli's al-Rijal is not accurate. Al-Hilli must have confused Dawud al-Raqqi with Dawud b. Farqad who was endorsed by Ibn Faddal.

In the View of Later Scholars of Rijal

Later scholars of rijal also disagree about the reliability of Dawud. Al-'Allama al-Hilli holds that Dawud's hadiths are acceptable, but al-Shahid al-Thani rejected al-'Allama al-Hilli's view according to the principle that in dubious cases, a transmitter of hadiths should be treated as unreliable.

Ibn Dawud al-Hilli suspended judgment about Dawud's reliability.

In the View of Contemporary Scholars of Rijal

Ayatollah Khu'i preferred the view of Ibn Ghada'iri and al-Najashi and held that Dawud al-Raqqi is unreliable. However, Muhammad Taqi Shushtari and Muhammad 'Ali al-Muwahhid al-Abtahi preferred al-Kashshi's view and took Dawud to be reliable.

Proponents of the reliability of Dawud do not accept Ibn Ghada'iri's remarks.

Moreover, some prominent scholars such as Ibn Babawayh, al-Kashshi, al-Shaykh al-Mufid, and al-Shaykh al-Tusi have emphasized on the greatness of Dawud, People of Consensus have transmitted his hadiths, and faqihs (or Shiite jurisprudents) have issued fatwas on the basis of his hadiths.

The fact that Ghulat have transmitted Dawud's hadiths is taken not to be a reason to consider him as unreliable, because:

  • Firstly, the mere fact that Ghulat transmit someone's hadiths does not imply the person's unreliability,
  • Secondly, as al-Kashshi has made it explicit, Ghulat have falsely attributed some hadiths to Dawud. What is more, some of his hadiths show that he did not believe in Ghuluww (exaggeration about the Imams).

According to al-Karbasi, the accusation of Ghuluww comes from the fact that Dawud was a confidant of the Imams (a) and has attributed features to them which are not comprehensible by ordinary people. Moreover, some Ghulat tried to justify themselves by attributing their views to Dawud.

One evidence appealed to by the proponents of Dawud's reliability is a hadith transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq (a) to the effect that the place of Dawud among his companions is like that of Miqdad among the companions of the Prophet (s).

In another hadith, Imam al-Sadiq (a) gave Dawud the good news that he will be martyred alongside Ahl al-Bayt (a) at the time of raj'a.

There is also a hadith transmitted from Imam al-Kazim (a) in which he endorsed Dawud, but Sayyid b. Tawus and al-Shahid al-Thani believed that this hadith is unreliable.

In the View of Sunni Scholars of Rijal

Ibn Abi Hatam, a Sunni scholar of rijal, quoted his father as saying that Dawud was unknown, although he has transmitted hadiths from 'Ali b. Zayd b. Jud'an (d. 131/748-9) and Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad b. Munkadir al-Qurashi (d. 130/747-8), and Yahya b. 'Abd al-Hamid al-Hammani (d. 218/833-4) has transmitted hadiths from him. However, al-Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani quoted Ibn Habban as saying that Dawud was reliable. Ibn Hazm referred to Dawud as a Rafidi.


Dawud's hadiths are concerned with various issues from kalam and fiqh to the exegesis of the Qur'an and ethics.

Kalami issues in his hadiths consist in:

  • Exaltation of God
  • Negation of anthropomorphism (al-tashbih) and the embodiment of God
  • The necessity of God's existence
  • Names of the Twelve Imams (a)

Ibn Hazm has referred to Dawud al-Raqqi as a Shiite scholar of kalam along with prominent people such as Hisham b. Hakam and Mu'min al-Taq. According to him, Dawud held meetings in al-Raqqah, and al-Mansur al-Namari, a prominent poet of the Safariyya Khawarij, converted to Imamiyya after frequently meeting Dawud.

There are many hadiths concerning imamate which are attributed to Dawud many of which are collected by al-Hurr al-'Amili in his Ithbat al-hidaya. Some of these hadiths contain miracles of Shiite Imams (a), such as:

  • Giving the news of the hidden or the unknown,
  • Bringing the dead to life.

In Tibb al-A'imma by Ibn Bastam brothers, some hadiths are attributed to Dawud.

Many of Dawud's hadiths are concerned with fiqh and are mainly citations of the Imam's answers to questions asked by others.

Dawud was also interested in the exegesis of the Qur'an, and asked the Imams (a) questions about the exegesis of some Quranic verses.

Moreover, some of his hadiths involve mystical or "batini" interpretations of some Quranic verses.

A question he was asked by a person from Khawarij about the exegesis of a Quranic verse is evidence that he was known as a Quranic interpreter and familiar with hadiths of the Imams (a).

Author of "Asl"

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi considered Dawud to be an author of an "asl" (a principle or a main work of the Imamiyya) transmitted by Hasan b. Mahbub. Given the repetition of the name of Hasan b. Mahbub in many hadiths, these hadiths might be based on this work. Although Ibn Babawayh's chain of transmission is different from that of al-Shaykh al-Tusi, he, too, transmitted some of Dawud's hadiths through Hasan b. Mahbub.

Al-Najashi has attributed a book, al-Ahlija, to Dawud which is, according to Nuri, evidence for Dawud's high ranking in monotheism and against his ghuluww. However, a book with the same title is attributed to Isma'il b. Mihran al-Sakuni, Hamdan b. Mu'afi al-Subayhi and Mufaddal b. 'Umar al-Ju'fi. The four books might contain the same text transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq (a), which will be evidence for the attribution of the book to the Imam (a).

Al-Najashi has also mentioned another work by Dawud called al-Mazar. Ibn Babawayh has transmitted a hadith about the ziyara of Imam al-Husayn (a) from Dawud, which might constitute the contents of this book.