Ibrahim b. Muhammad al-Thaqafi al-Kufi

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Ibrahim b. Muhammad al-Thaqafi al-Kufi
Personal Information
TeknonymAbu Ishaq
Well-Known AsIbn Hilal al-Thaqafi
Religious AffiliationTwelver Shi'a
Well-Known RelativesSa'd b. Mas'ud al-Thaqafi (ancestor), Al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi
BirthAbout 200/815-6
Place of BirthKufa
ResidenceKufa, Isfahan
Studied inKufa
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsAban b. 'Uthman al-Bajali

Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm b. Muḥammad b. Saʿīd b. Hilāl al-Thaqafī al-Isfahānī (Arabic: أبوإسحاق إبراهیم بن محمد بن سعید بن هلال الثقفي الإصفهاني) (d. 283/896-7) known as Ibn Hilal al-Thaqafi (Arabic: إبن هلال الثقفي) was a Twelver Shi'a historian, jurist and muhaddith in the third/ninth century. He went from Iraq to Isfahan to promote Shi'a and stayed there.

Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi and al-Saffar al-Qummi were among distinguished narrators of al-Thaqafi's hadiths. Most of Shi'a scholars of rijal praised him and mentioned him among trustworthy transmitters of hadiths. His most famous book was al-Gharat which discusses the invasions of the army of Mu'awiya to regions ruled by the government of Imam Ali (a).

His Birth and Lineage

His great, great grandfather Abu Ishaq Sa'd b. Mas'ud al-Thaqafi was the uncle of al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi and among the companions of Imam Ali (a). He was appointed by Imam (a) as the governor of Mada'in. His great grandfather, Sa'id b. Hilal was also mentioned among the companions of Imam al-Sadiq (a).

The date of his birth is not known but according to his narration from Aban b. 'Uthman al-Bajali and other sources who passed away in the second decade of third/ninth century, he must be born around 200/815-6 or late second/eighth century. Al-Thaqafi was born and grew up in Kufa. He heard hadiths there and benefitted from some sources of hadiths.

His Sources of Hadiths

The names of some great people can be seen among his sources of hadiths, such as:

  • Aban b. 'Uthman al-Bajali al-Kufi (Aban al-Ahmar), a companion of Imam al-Sadiq (a) and Imam al-Kazim (a).
  • Abu Nu'aym Fadl b. Dukayn
  • Isma'il b. Aban al-Warraq al-Azdi
  • 'Ali b. Mu'alla
  • 'Ubbad b. Ya'qub
  • 'Abbas b. Bakkar

His Emigration to Isfahan

Al-Thaqafi was first Zaydi and later became Twelver. Later, he moved from Kufa to Isfahan and stayed there. Thus, Ibn Nadim called him al-Isfahani. The reports of al-Najashi and others about the cause of al-Thaqafi's emigration to Isfahan implies his great faith in Shi'a beliefs.

According to these reports, some scholars of Kufa considered al-Ma'rifa which he wrote about the virtues of Imam al-Sadiq (a) and the vices of his enemies against Taqiyya ( precautionary dissimulation) and asked him not to spread it. However, since he was certain about the authenticity of the hadiths in his book, swore that he would spread his book in Isfahan where was said to be the farthest city from Shi'a beliefs and opinions and he finally, did so.

In Isfahan, al-Thaqafi promoted and propagated Shi'a. It is said that a group of Shi'a scholars in Qom, including Abu Ja'far Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi went to al-Thaqafi in Isfahan and asked him to go to Qom, but he did not accept and passed away there in 283/896-7.

Although al-Thaqafi lived at the time of Imams (a), but he did not narrate any hadiths directly from them; however, he narrated some hadiths from Imams (a) in Mursal way.

Narrators of al-Thaqafi's Hadiths

Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi and al-Saffar al-Qummi were among distinguished narrators of al-Thaqafi's hadiths. Except from them, al-Thaqafi had many pupils and narrators of hadiths.

In the Views of the Scholars of Rijal

Shi'a scholars of rijal generally praised al-Thaqafi and mentioned him among authentic and trustworthy transmitters of hadiths.

  • Al-Khu'i considered the existence of al-Thaqafi in the chain of narration of Tafsir al-Qummi and also the way of narration by Ibn Qulawayh a sufficient reason for his authenticity.
  • Ibn Nadim too considered al-Thaqafi among authentic scholars.
  • Some Sunni scholars rejected him and abandoned his hadiths because of being Shi'a.
  • Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani regarded him among extremist Shi'a and gave a more comprehensive report about his smaller brother, Ali b. Muhammad al-Thaqafi (d. 282/895-96) who was in Isfahan as well and was Sunni.

His Works

Among the many works of Ibrahim al-Thaqafi which are more than fifty, only al-Gharat is remained in which the author reported about the invasions of Mu'awiya's commanders to regions ruled by the government of Imam Ali (a).

  • Al-Gharat

It seems that the name of the book is taken from one of the hadiths of Imam (a), "Shunnat 'alaykum al-gharat" ["destruction befell you"]. Al-Gharat is the report of events and history of the last months of Imam Ali's (a) rule, some descriptions of his personal and governmental conduct, his sermons and letters and some valuable information which cannot be found in other sources.

Shi'a scholars considered al-Gharat an authentic reference.

  • Kitab al-Ma'rifa

From the book al-Ma'rifa, which has been common among Shi'a scholars in different ways of narration, only some citations can be seen in some sources; for example, in I'lam al-wara, al-Tabrisi quoted the hadith of the Prophet (s) about the merit of Imam Ali (a) on the day of the Battle of Khaybar from al-Ma'rifa.

According to Sayyid b. Tawus who had an old manuscript of the book written by the author himself, the book had 4 parts including hadiths narrated by Sunni scholars. He cited some parts of the book about the virtues of Imam Ali (a) and why the Prophet (s) called him Amir al-Mu'minin [Commander of the Faithful]. In his other works, Ibn Tawus benefitted from al-Ma'rifa and advised his son to read it as an important book.

Among Great Historians

Al-Thaqafi must be considered among great historians and some of his single works such as al-Mubtada, al-Sira, and al-Maghazi can be parts of the general history. His other historical works are continua of Islamic historical events until the uprising of al-Mukhtar as well as different events until the beginning of Abbasid governments. Apparently, Sayyid b. Tawus had a copy of Tarikh al-Thaqafi which contained some details about the oppressions made against Imam Ali (a) and also vices of caliphs.

Among Shi'a Jurists

Al-Thaqafi was considered among Shi'a jurists. Titles such as al-Jami' al-kabir fi al-fiqh, al-Jami' al-saghir and Jami' al-fiqh wa al-ahkam which was seemingly a work independent from the other two can be seen in the list of his works. Al-Halal wa al-haram, which is another work of al-Thaqafi in jurisprudence which Ibn Tawus had an old copy of and cited from it, is perhaps another name for one of the above-mentioned books. Some of al-Thaqafi's hadiths in jurisprudence have been preserved in the Four Books and other sources in jurisprudence.