|Author||Muhammad b. 'Umar al-Kashshi|
|Original title||إختیارُ مَعرفَة الرّجال|
|Publisher||Mu'assisa Al al-Bayt li Ihya' al-Turath|
Ikhtīyār maʿrifat al-rijāl (Arabic: إختیارُ مَعرفَة الرّجال), known as Rijāl al-Kashshī (Arabic: رجال الکَشّی) or Maʿrifat al-nāqilīn (Arabic: معرفةُ النّاقلین), is a book concerning Shiite and Imami rijal. The book is a selection of a book written by Muhammad b. 'Umar al-Kashshi (d. c. 340/951-2). The original text is not available today. What is available today is a selection of the book made by al-Shaykh al-Tusi known as Ikhtiyar ma'rifat al-rijal. It is one of the four main sources of Shiite rijal.
- Main article: al-Kashshi
Abu 'Amr Muhammad b. 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Kashshi was prominent Shiite scholar in the 3rd/9th and 4th/10th centuries. Al-Kashshi was a student of Muhammad b. Mas'ud al-'Ayyashi, the author of Tafsir al-'Ayyashi. On some accounts, al-Kashshi died around the middle of the 4th/10th century—around 340/951-2.
Title of the Book
Ibn Shahrashub reported that the book's title was "Ma'rifat al-naqilin 'an al-a'immat al-sadiqin" (knowing the transmitters of the truthful Imams). Al-Shaykh al-Tusi referred to it as "Ma'rifat al-rijal", and Aqa Buzurg al-Tihrani mentioned it as "Ma'rifat al-naqilin".
Method of Writing
In this book, the author cites reports about transmitters of hadiths and the companions of the Imams (a), without adding any comments on them. The book is only concerned with Shiite transmitters of hadiths; Sunni transmitters of hadiths are only mentioned if they transmit hadiths from Shiite Imams (a).
The book contains 1151 hadiths in 6 parts. The book begins with 11 hadiths concerning the importance and value of learning hadiths and then it enumerates Shiite transmitters of hadiths from the period of the Prophet Muhammad (s) to the periods of Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) in chronological terms. He also points to some hadiths by these people.
Some people maintain that al-Shaykh al-Tusi selected and edited the book because of errors in the original text or its manuscripts.
Features and Advantages
The book is one of the most important sources of rijal, which also contains valuable biographical information about the Imams (a) themselves. The main goal of the book, however, is to assess the reliability or unreliability of transmitters of hadiths. Al-Kashshi lived in the early period of Occultation and found it necessary to evaluate and refine hadiths.
- Al-Kashshi's book was written near the period of the presence of the Imams (a). For example, al-Kashshi transmits hadiths from prominent companions of the Imams (a), such as Ibn Faddal, through one person in between.
- Since earlier sources of rijal in Baghdad, Kufa, Qom and other areas were destroyed, al-Kashshi's book was the only comprehensive book concerning rijal which is still available to us.
- The book discusses the main Shiite sects who played a role in hadiths, such as Ghulat, Waqifa, Fatahiyya, Tabariyya, Murji'a, Zaydiyya, Nawusiyya, Kaysaniyya, 'Aliyawiyya, Tahiriyya, 'Ijliyya, 'Abd Allah b. Saba and others.
- The titles of earlier books of rijal cited by al-Kashshi in the book, such as an essay by 'Ali b. Mahziyar, the book, al-Jami', and the book, al-Dawr.
- The book also deals with transmitters of hadiths from the viewpoint of the Infallibles (a) and with Shiite correspondences with the Imams (a).
Manuscripts of the Book
No manuscript of the main text of al-Kashshi's work has been found. Available manuscripts of the book are the ones edited and selected by al-Shaykh al-Tusi. After writing his books concerning Shiite bibliography and rijal, al-Shaykh al-Tusi (d. 460/1067) found new materials in al-Kashshi's book, and thus, he dictated a summary of the book to his students in 456/1063-4. The book is called "Ikhtiyar ma'rifat al-rijal" (selections of Ma'rifat al-rijal) because parts of al-Kashshi's book were selected.
No trace of the original book can be found in reports and documents of the 6th/12th and 7th/13th centuries. Thus, the only manuscripts of the book available to us are al-Shaykh al-Tusi's selected version:
- A manuscript of 577/1181-2 including hadith 3 to hadith 857 with the handwriting of Mansur b. 'Ali b. Mansur al-Khazin. At the margins of the book, the word, "Muqabala (comparison)", can be seen.
- A manuscript in the Library of Tehran University including the beginning of part 4 to the end of the book written in 602/1205-6 with the handwriting of Abu Ahmad b. Abi l-Ma'ali. It was compared with a manuscript with the handwriting of al-Shaykh al-Tusi.
- A manuscript in the Library of Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi in Qom together with the book, Ma'alim al-'ulama' in one volume.
- The book has been published in 1348SH/1969-70 during the Congress of the Millennium of al-Shaykh al-Tusi. It was edited by Hasan al-Mustafawi in the University of Mashhad with a preface by Muhammad Wa'iz Zada Khurasani.
- It was also published 1382SH/2003-4 by the Organization of Publications of the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance of Iran, edited by Muhammad Taqi Fadil Maybudi and Abu l-Fadl Musawian.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from اختیار معرفة الرجال (کتاب) in Farsi Wikishia.