Ithbat al-wasiyya li-l-Imam 'Ali b. Abi Talib (by al-Mas'udi)

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Ithbat al-wasiyya li-l-Imam 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a)
AuthorAli b. Husayn al-Mas'udi
Original titleاِثباتُ الوَصیةِ للإمام علی بن ابی طالب
Series1 vol.
Subjectlife history of and proofs for succession of Imams (a)
PublishedQom, 1404/1983-4
PublisherManshurat Radi

Ithbāt al-waṣīyya li-l-Imām ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (Arabic: اِثباتُ الوَصیةِ للإمام علی بن ابی طالب) is an Arabic book written by Ali b. al-Husayn al-Mas'udi (280/893-4 -346/957) concerning proofs for the succession of Shiite Imams (a) for Prophet Muhammad (s). After pointing to some hadiths emphasizing on the necessity of imamate, the author gives a brief biography of prophets who succeeded one another. After giving an account of the life of the Prophet (s), he gives an account of his successors, that is, the Twelve Imams (a), citing hadiths regarding the imamate and virtues of the Imams (a). The book gives a historical account of the lives of prophets, Imams (a), kings, and their contemporary caliphs.

The book is written in the style of other Shiite collections of hadiths, and its contents show its author's tendency to Shiism. In Shiite sources of 'ilm al-rijal and biography, the author of Ithbat al-wasiyya is considered to be the author of Muruj al-dhahab. However, contemporary scholars have cast doubts on the attribution of the book to the well-known historian, al-Mas'udi, because of the difference of the style of this book from that of al-Mas'udi's well-known works.


Ali b. Husayn al-Mas'udi was born in 280/893-4 in Babylon. He was a grandson of 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud, the Prophet Muhammad's (s) companion. Thus he came to be known as al-Mas'udi. Mas'udi is an author who travelled around most of the Islamic lands. Although some people cast doubts over al-Mas'udi's being a Shi'a, Shiite scholars consider him as a Twelver Shi'a. His works regarding imamate are evidence that he was a Shi'a.


The accuracy of the attribution of Ithbat al-wasiyya to al-Mas'udi is a controversial issue which is crucial as evidence for Mas'udi's sect. The book is written in the style of other Shiite hadith collections and its contents show that its author was a Shi'a. According to Shiite sources of 'ilm al-rijal and biography, the author of Ithbat al-wasiyya is the author of Muruj al-dhahab, that is, 'Ali b. Husayn al-Mas'udi. However, since the writing style of this book is different from other works by Mas'udi, contemporary scholars have cast doubts over the attribution of the book to Mas'udi.

The scholars who attributed the book to al-Mas'udi include: al-Najashi in Rijal Ibn Dawud, al-'Allama al-Hilli in Khulast al-aqwal, al-Shahid al-Thani in his commentaries on Khulasat al-aqwal, al-'Allama al-Majlisi in Bihar al-anwar, Abu Ali al-Ha'iri in Muntaha l-maqal, Khwansari in Rawdat al-jannat, Muhaddith al-Nuri in the epilogue of Mustadrak al-wasa'il, Mamaqani in Tanqih al-maqal, and Agha Buzurg Tihrani in al-Dhari'a.

Topic and Purpose

The book, Ithbat al-wasiyya, is concerned with proofs for the immediate succession of Imam Ali (a) for the Prophet (s), but it also deals with the succession of other Shiite Imams (a) as well in half of the book.

The author's purpose of writing the book was to prove that previous prophets had chains of successions that continued in Amir al-Mu'minin (a) and other Imams (a) after him. Thus he provides biographies of prophets from Adam (a) to Muhammad (s) and his successors.

Style of Writing

The book is written in the style of other Shiite collections of hadiths. However, the author did not cite his sources and did not mention the chains of of narrations. However, in the second part of the book, he mentioned some narrators, though without mentioning the whole chains of narrations, mentioning only some intermediate narrators. He gives a continuous and coherent account of the biographies of the prophets and Imams (a), distinguishing the content with the phrase "ruwia" (Arabic:رُویَ,that is, it is narrated).


The book elaborates the story of the creation of Adam (a) and biographies and miracles of the subsequent prophets to Prophet Muhammad (s) as well as kings who lived in their periods. He then elaborates the biographies and miracles of the Prophet (s) and the Twelve Imams (a) as well as their contemporary caliphs.

Contents of Ithbat al-wasiyya are cited in some subsequent sources such as al-Kafi, Basa'ir al-darajat or histories of the Imams (a). The book was referred to by others such as the author of al-Khara'ij wa l-jara'ih and other writers of the virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (a). It was also cited by more recent scholars such as al-'Allama al-Majlisi in Bihar al-anwar and Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita' in Asl al-Shi'a wa usuluha.

Al-Kutbi cited the whole Ithbat al-wasiyya in his Fawat al-wafayat. And it seems that by the book, Ta'yin khalifat al-madi, which is considered by Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani in his Lisan al-mizan to be one of the al-Mas'udi's works, he means Ithbat al-wasiyya.


Ithbat al-wasiyya is structured in two parts: the first part is concerned with God's Hujjas from Adam (a) to the Prophet (s), and the second part is concerned with the rest of Hujjas from the Prophet (s) to Imam al-Mahdi (a).

The book starts with a preface concerning the creation and Hadith of Junud al-'Aql wa l-Jahl by Imam al-Sadiq (a). The author cites the hadith of creation of intellect ('Aql) and emphasizes that the First Intellect (al-'aql al-awwal) is a spiritual entity created by God. He then refers to the creation of jinn and human beings, taking the angels' objections to the creation of Adam (a) to be because of their bloodshed and corruptions. He goes on to deal with the Fall of Adam (a) to the Earth, the story of Cain and Abel, succession of the prophet Seth (a), and the successions of other prophets.

The second part of the book starts with the birth of the Prophet (s) and concludes with the birth of Imam al-Mahdi (a). When he gives an account of the birth of the Prophet (s), he also gives an account of his ancestors and story of Abraha's army and their attack on the Ka'ba and 'Abd al-Muttalib's negotiations with Abraha. This part also deals with the attributes of 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet's (s) father. He holds that the Prophet (s) was born on Monday morning, and on another account, Friday morning, Rabi' I 12/May 4, 570. This part also mentions Hadith al-Dar, Quraysh's pact on sieging the Prophet (s) in Shi'b Abi Talib, mi'raj, hijra (the migration from Mecca to Medina), Laylat al-Mabit, and Hajjat al-Wida' (the last hajj by the Prophet (s)) each of which implies Imam Ali's (a) succession of the Prophet (s). Before the section concerning the demise of the Prophet (s), there is a section under "wasiyya" (succession) in which pledges of Ali b. Abi Talib (a) are cited. This part concludes with the demise of the Prophet (s) and Imam Ali's (a) taking care of the Prophet's (s) corpse, and his oration.

In the part regarding Imam Ali (a), his coming to believe in the Prophet (s), Abu Talib's support of the Prophet (s), Imam Ali's (a) birth and his being raised by the Prophet (s), events after the demise of the Prophet (s), his miracles and martyrdom. He also elaborated the birth and succession of other Imams (a) through Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a), and in the last part of the book, he elaborated the birth, the Occultation and imamate of Imam al-Mahdi (a).

Translation and Publication

Ithbat al-wasiyya was first lithographically printed and published by Ali Naqi b. Habib Allah al-Jaylani in Dar al-Tiba'a Sayyid Murtada in 1320/1902-3 with the handwriting of Muhammad Qummi at the command of Mirza Muhammad Rida Mustawfi. Other publishers of the book include Maktaba Haydariyya in Najaf, Manshurat Radi in Qom, and Maktaba Murtadawiyya in Najaf. the book was published, in 1384 sh/2005-6, by Ansariyyan Publications and its software version is available in the software of Jami' al-Ahadith by Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences.

The book was translated by Muhammad Jawad Najafi and published by Intisharat Islami in 1343 sh/1964-5. Its translation is also available in the above software.