Misbah al-za'ir (book)

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Misbah al-za'ir
Misbah al-za'ir (book)
Misbah al-za'ir (book)
AuthorSayyid b. Tawus
Original titleمِصْباحُ الزّائر
Series1 volume
Subjectmanner of visiting the Infallible Ones (a)
PublisherMu'assisa Al al-Bayt (a)

Miṣbāh al-zā'ir (Arabic: مِصْباحُ الزّائر) is a book in Arabic written by the Shi'a scholar, Sayyid b. Tawus (b. 589/1193 - d. 664/1266). This book discusses about the manner of traveling and visiting the Infallible Ones (a), their descendants and other religious figures. The author did not mention the references and sources of ziyarah texts, but claimed that he adopted them from hadiths.

The Author

Sayyid Radi al-Din, Ali b. Musa b. Ja'far b. Tawus, known as Sayyid b. Tawus was the author of this book. He was the author of Luhuf and the leader of Shi'a during the rule of Mongols over Baghdad. Ibn Tawus's focus was more than anything on moral and spiritual issues and most of his works were related to such issues; including Misbah al-mutahajjid, Muhasabat al-nafs, Iqbal al-a'mal and Kashf al-mahajja.[1]


Aqa Buzurg Tihrani mentions the title of the book as Misbah al-za'ir wa janah al-musafir[2] which is also mentioned in the biography of Sayyid b. Tawus;[3] however, in printed versions of the book, only Misbah al-za'ir has been printed on the cover. Some have even speculated its title to be Minhaj al-za'ir and have added that "Minhaj" and "Misbah" are two titles for the same book.[4]


In Misbah al-za'ir, the author mentions the prerequisites of a journey, its manner and visiting the pure Imams (a), their descendants and believers.[5] In this book, Sayyid b. Tawus begins each chapter with hadiths and then mentions the manner of ziyarah and related practices. He did not mention the chains of transmission for hadiths, as he mentioned that he intended to be brief.[6]

The book begins with a short introduction about the blessings of Divine mercy, obligation of obeying the Prophet (s) and necessity of revering Imams (a) and their graves by intellectual reasons. Then, he refers to two hadiths and mentions the necessity and the rewards for visiting Imams (a) and travels for ziyarah and enters the discussion on the main topic of the book.[7]

Table of Contents

The book is written in twenty chapters:

  • First chapter: preliminaries and manner of traveling (ghusl for traveling, manner of farewell to the family, supplication for traveling, giving charity at the beginning of the journey, the merit of having some of the soil of the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a) in the journey, dhikrs upon fear)
  • Second chapter: merits of visiting the Prophet (s)
  • Fourth chapter: about enjoining to visiting the Prophet (s) and its manner from distance.
  • Seventh chapter: visiting Imam Ali (a) in different times: including a hadith which refers to visiting Imam (a) on the day of Ghadir, Ghadir sermon, and manner of prayer and ziyara of Imam (a) on this day; and also, the manner of visiting Imam (a) in the eve of Rajab 27th and on the day of Rabi' al-Awwal 17th.
  • Twelfth chapter: on visiting Imam al-Kazim (a). (including three hadiths on ziyara and its manner)
  • Twentieth chapter: on visiting the graves of the descendants of Pure Imams (a). (also visiting Salman and the Four Deputies)

The book ends with mentioning hadiths on the subject of the book, prayer for ziyara of Imam al-Husayn (a) and a story about the dignity of Imam Ali (a).[8]

Writing Approach

In most cases, Sayyid b. Tawus does not mention the sources and when he mentions the name of an author, he does not mention his work. For example, he quotes a ziyarah to be recited beside the grave of Imam al-Husayn (a) from al-Sharif al-Murtada, but does not mention the name of his book; or, when he quotes from al-'Umari, does not mention the name of his book. In some cases, al-Majlisi does not become certain about the sources Ibn Tawus referred to for a certain supplication. However, Ibn Tawus mentions that he has adopted supplications and ziyaras from hadiths.[9]


In Rawdat al-jannat, Muhammad Baqir Khwansari criticizes this approach of Sayyid b. Tawus that he believes that he can invent manner for visiting religious places such as the mosque of Kufa and as such, while such manners are not mentioned in previous works of Shi'a and do not match the words of any of Imams (a).[10] Mirza Husayn Nuri defended Sayyid b. Tawus in this regard and emphasized that all the instructions mentioned in Misbah al-za'ir are mentioned by others such as Shaykh al-Mufid in al-Mazar and Ibn al-Mashhadi in al-Mazar al-kabir.[11]

Versions and Prints

There are three versions of this book available in the library of Ayatullah Mar'ashi Najafi in Qom. Two of them are written in 1024/1615-6 and 1078/1667-8 and the other version is without a date.[12]

The only print of this book is published by the research of Mu'assisa Al al-Bayt (a) in Qom. This research is based on the three mentioned versions, corrected and the diacritics are printed on the texts.[13]


  1. Kohlberg, Kitābkhāna-yi Ibn Ṭāwūs, p. 50-111.
  2. Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa, vol. 21, p. 107.
  3. Ibn Ṭāwūs, Iqbāl al-aʿmāl, vol. 1, p. 15; Ibn Ṭāwūs, Kashf al-maḥajja, p. 139.
  4. Kohlberg, Kitābkhāna-yi Ibn Ṭāwūs, p. 82.
  5. Ibn Ṭāwūs, Miṣbāh al-zā'ir, p. 9.
  6. Hadith.net. (Persian)
  7. Hadith.net. (Persian)
  8. Ibn Ṭāwūs, Miṣbāh al-zā'ir, p. 541-546.
  9. Kohlberg, Kitābkhāna-yi Ibn Ṭāwūs, p. 85.
  10. Khāwnsārī, Rawḍāt al-jannāt, vol. 4, p. 330.
  11. Kohlberg, Kitābkhāna-yi Ibn Ṭāwūs, p. 85.
  12. Ibn Ṭāwūs, Miṣbāh al-zā'ir, p. 9-10.
  13. Hadith.net. (Persian)


  • Āgā Buzurg al-Tihrānī, Muḥammad Muḥsin. Al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa. Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwāʾ, [n.d].
  • Ibn Ṭāwūs, ʿAlī b. Mūsā. Kashf al-maḥajja li-thamart al-muhja. Najaf: Maṭbaʿat al-Ḥaydarīyya, 1370 AH.
  • Ibn Ṭāwūs, ʿAlī b. Mūsā. Iqbāl al-aʿmāl. Qom: Maktab al-Aʿlām al-Islāmī, 1414 AH.
  • Khāwnsārī, Muḥammad Bāqir. Rawḍāt al-jannāt fi aḥwāl al-ʿulamā wa al-sādāt. Edited by Asadullāh Ismāʿīlīyān. Qom: Intishārāt-i Ismāʿīlīyān, [n.d].
  • Kohlberg, Etan. Kitābkhāna-yi Ibn Ṭāwūs. Translated to Farsi by ʿAlī Qarāʾyī and Rasūl Jaʿfarīyān. Qom: Kitābkhāna-yi Ayatullāh Marʿashī Najafī, 1371 Sh.
  • Mardī, ʿAbbās ʿAlī. Miṣbāh al-zā'ir wa janāḥ al-musāfir. Hadith.net. visited in 2021/2/28.
  • Sayyid b. Ṭāwūs, ʿAlī b. Mūsā. Miṣbāh al-zā'ir. Qom: Āl al-Bayt, 1375 Sh.