Ja'fari School

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Shia Islam

Jaʿfarī School is another title for Twelver Shi'ism seen especially from its juristic aspect. The immense number of the hadiths of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a), compared to those from the other Imams (a), is the reason why Twelver Shi'ism and its fiqh received the eponym "Ja'fari".

Origin of the Eponym

After the demise of the Prophet (s), Imam Ali (a) was a point of reference for the caliphs and the companions of the Prophet (s) in religious and juristic issues. However, when the Imam (a) was martyred, Ahl al-Bayt (a) and their followers faced persecutions and the contacts between the Imams (a) and the Shi'a were restricted. On the other hand, many hadiths were forged and falsely attributed to the Prophet (s) for the benefit of the rulers or other worldly purposes, such that distinguishing the authentic hadiths from the forged ones became difficult. It can be said that from 40/661 until the end of the 1st/7th century, people—except a small number of the Companions and the Followers—were deprived of the authentic fiqh of Ahl al-Bayt (a).

However, at the time of Imam al-Baqir (a) the persecutions and restrictions were gradually alleviated and at the time of Imam al-Sadiq (a) the best situation for teaching and disseminating the true knowledge was prepared. This was a result of the Abbasid revolution and the decline of the Umayyad rule and the relative religious and political freedom that followed. Imam al-Sadiq (a) used this great opportunity to spread the authentic teachings of Islam.[1]

Ibn Hajar writes about Imam al-Sadiq (a): "People narrated so much knowledge from him that its news reached all towns. Great Imams, such as Yahya b. Sa'id, Ibn Jurayh, Malik, Sufyan b. 'Uyayna, Sufyan al-Thawri, Abu Hanifa, Shu'ba, and Ayyub al-Sakhtiyani, narrated from him."[2]

According to the Imami viewpoint, "Ja'fari School" was definitely not a school invented by Imam al-Sadiq (a); rather, it was the school of Imam Ali (a) that had preserved the authentic teachings of the Prophet (s). The reason why the eponym "Ja'fari" was chosen for this school was the great role of Imam al-Sadiq (a) in disseminating its teachings in a special historical context when different schools of thought were emerging one after the other, and, in order to distinguish between them, the name of individuals who had major roles in the formation of the schools were given to them. Some evidence shows that the title "Ja'fari" was used for the school of Imam al-Sadiq (a) during his own lifetime.[3]


  1. Shahīdī, Zindigānī-i Imām Ṣādiq (a), p. 47.
  2. Haytamī, al-Ṣawāʿiq al-muḥriqa, p. 201.
  3. Pākatchī, "Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq" quoted from Ibn Qutayba, al-Maʿārif, p. 215; Ḥimyarī, Qurb al-asnād, p. 357.


  • Haytamī, Aḥmad b. Ḥajar al-. Al-Ṣawāʿiq al-muḥriqa. Cairo: Maktabat al-Qāhira, Markaz-i 1385 AH.
  • Pākatchī, Aḥmad. "Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (a) ". Dāyirat al-maʿārif buzurg-i Islāmī. Tehran: Dāyirat al-maʿārif buzurg-i Islāmī, 1389 Sh.
  • Shahīdī, Sayyid Jaʿfar. Zindigānī-i Imām Ṣādiq (a). Tehran: Daftar-i Nashr-i Farhang-i Islāmī, 1384 Sh.