Kashf al-ghumma fi ma'rifat al-a'imma (book)

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Kashf al-ghumma fi ma'rifat al-a'imma
Bibliographical Information
Bibliographical Information
Author'Ali b. 'Isa al-Irbili
Original title(کشفُ الغُمَّة فی مَعرِفَةِ الأئمّة(ع
SubjectExcellence of Ahl al-Bayt (a)
PublisherDar al-Adwa'

Kashf al-ghumma fī maʿrifat al-aʾimma (Arabic: کشفُ الغُمَّة فی مَعرِفَةِ الأئمّة, lit. lifting the hardship in knowing the Imams) is an Arabic book by Baha' al-Din 'Ali b. 'Isa al-Irbili (d. 692/1293), one of Shi'a scholars in the seventh/thirteenth century. This book includes biographies, virtues and miracles of the Fourteen Infallibles (a) and is organized into two sections.


Abu l-Hasan 'Ali b. 'Isa Hakkari, famous as Baha' al-Din al-Irbili, is a well-known Shi'a Muhaddith (Hadith Transmitter), historian, literary expert and poet in seventh/thirteenth century. He was born and raised in Irbil.[1] His father, Fakhr al-Din 'Isa, known as Ibn Jijni, was the governor of Irbil and its surrounding areas.


This book is about the Prophet (s), Lady Fatima (a), and the twelve Imams (a), their virtues and miracles. He also mentions the Lady Khadija (a).

Date of Compilation

The book has two sections; the first section was finished in 678/1279-80 and the second section in 682/1283-4.[2]


The author writes in the introduction: "I've been willing, since a long time ago, to make a collection of narrations about the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) … since Sunnis have not worked on the history and the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and even some Sunni scholars do not know the names of the Ahl al-Bayt (a). So I decided to work on the history and personality of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) so that their rightful position will be revealed for their enemies and those who possess hatred toward the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and so that Ghalis (exaggerators) will leave their claims. He continues:

Many people mock the visiting of the shrine of Imam al-Kazim (a), while most of these people visit the tombs of Darwishs and Sufis.[3]


In writing his book, al-Irbili has consulted early sources and has adopted most of the book's content from them. He merely adds some explanations and assessments under certain narrations and finishes the biography of each Imam by a poem in praising the Imam. One of the features of this book is that when narrating hadiths about the position and virtues of Imams (a), the author narrates hadiths from Sunni sources first then he narrates from Shi'a sources which makes the book more acceptable by the opponents.

The author makes use of his theological ideas and in the history of Shi'a Imams (a), he discusses the arguments and proofs of the their Imamate and narrates some of their virtues and miracles.[4]

When evaluating the beliefs of the opponents, the author tries to follow a scholarly method and make judgments based on historical reports.

In some cases the author has proposed opinions which are contrary to the opinion of other Shi'a scholars including his belief that Imam al-Rida (a) was not martyred by Ma'mun.[5]


  • Author's views are in accordance with mainstream Shi'a beliefs and he seems fair in presenting different discussions; however, he mentions various arguments in favor of Shi'a and against other deviant sects.
  • One significant merit of the book is its preservation of some narrations the original sources of which did not survive.
  • The method of the author is that he brings all content of a certain source, like al-Irshad or I'lam al-wara, about each Imam. Among these sources are some that have survived within this book only.
  • Al-Irbili's analyses and personal opinions as a prominent Shi'a scholar are presented in this book and are remarkable.

Translations and Commentaries

There are several (Persian) translations for this book:

  • Mihrab al-Qulub by: 'Ali b. Fayd Irbili
  • A translation by: Hasan b. Husayn Bayhaqi
  • A translation known as Manaqib by: 'Ali b. Husayn Zawware'i, a translator and exegete in 10th/16th century.
  • A translation by: Ni'mat Allah b. Quraysh Radawi Mashhadi.
  • Siyar al-a'imma or Iksir al-Tawarikh by: Mirza Muhammad b. Muhammad Rafi' Shirazi Malik al-Kuttab.
  • A translation by: Mulla 'Abd al-Latif Azarbayjani Mullabashi.[6]

Also al-Kaf'ami, the author of Misbah, has some glosses on this book.


  1. Farrukh, Tārīkh al-adab al-ʿarabī, vol. 3 p. 661.
  2. Aqā Buzurg Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-Shīʿa, vol. 18, p. 47-48.
  3. Irbilī, Kashf al-ghumma, vol. 1, p. 4-5.
  4. Jaʿfarīyān,Kashf al-ghumma fī maʿrifat al-aʾimma.
  5. Noor Digital Library
  6. Aqā Buzurg Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-Shīʿa, vol. 4, p. 130; vol. 12, p. 276, vol. 20, p. 147.


  • Dar shinākht-i imāmat, (Muʿarrafi-yi kitab-i "Kashf al-ghumma fī maʿrifat al-aʾimma)". Khiradnāma-yi Hamshahrī, No 26, Spring 1387.
  • Farrukh, ʿUmar. Tārīkh al-adab al-ʿarabī. Beirut: 1989.
  • Irbilī, ʿAlī b. ʿIsā al-. Kashf al-ghumma fī maʿrifat al-aʾimma. Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwāʾ, 1405 AH.
  • Irbilī, ʿAlī b. ʿIsā Bahā al-Dīn al-. Risāla al-laṭīf. Edited by ʿAbd Allāh Jabūrī. Baghdad: 1388 AH.
  • Tihrānī, Aqā Buzurg al-. Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-Shīʿa. Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwāʾ, 1403 AH.
  • Jaʿfarīyān, Rasūl. Kashf al-ghumma fī maʿrifat al-aʾimma. Majmūʿa Maqālāt-i Kungira-yi Shaykh al-Mufīd, No 28, [n.d].
  • Kitāb-i Shinākht-i sīra-yi Ma'sūmān. Noor Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences.
  • Kitāb-i Shinākht-i sīra-yi Ma'sūmān. Noor Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences.