Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Tabari

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Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Tabari
Personal Information
Full NameMuhammad b. 'Ali al-Tabari
Well-Known As'Imad al-Din al-Tabari
Birth5th/11th century
Studied inAmol, Najaf, Hillah
Death6th/12th century
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsAbu 'Ali al-Hasan b. Muhammad al-Tusi, Abu Muhammad al-Hasan b. al-Husayn b. Babwayh, ...

Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Ṭabarī (Arabic: محمد بن علي الطبري, well known as ʿImād al-Dīn al-Ṭabarī (Arabic: عمادالدین الطبري) was an imami scholar and muhaddith in 5th and 6th centuries. His pupils and narrators were Shadhan b. Jibra'il al-Qummi, Ibn Bitriq al-Hilli, Qutb al-Din Abu l-Husayn al-Rawandi, Muhammad b. Ja'far al-Mashhadi, and 'Arabi b. Musafir al-'Ibadi. The prominent book of his is Bisharat al-Mustafa li Shi'at al-Murtada.

Name and Lineage

Muntajab al-Din Razi mentions his name 'Imad al-Din Muhammad b. Abi l-Qasim b. Muhammad b. 'Ali. He himself points out that his father's name was Abu l-Qasim 'Ali b. Muhammad b. 'Ali. In printed text of Ma'alim al-'Ulama', written by Ibn Shahrashub, his father's name has been brought wrongly.

Even though the majority of sources have recorded his title "'Imad al-Din", his title is "Jamal al-Din" in a copy of Al-Fihrist written by Muntajab al-Din, which had been kept by al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-'Amili.


There is no information about his exact birth, but regarding the city he was related to under the titles of Kajji Tabari and Tabari Amuli Kajji, it is said that he was born in Kajjah, a city between Amol and Chalus and a region from Ruyan which is well-known today as Kajur.

Scientific Journeys

Due to the documents and dates which al-Tabari has referred to in Bisharat al-Mustafa, his masters are known and it is possible to depict his travels. Based on these documents, al-Tabari travelled to Ray in 510/1116-7, after obtaining knowledge in Amol until the year 509/1115-6. A year later he travelled to Najaf and then returned to Amol. Since it is known that he was taught hadith by Abu Ishaq Isma'il b. Abi l-Qasim al-Daylami in 520/1126-7.

Living in Hillah

According to what Ibn Isfandiyar has written, Amir b. Warram b. Abi Firas al-Hilli (d. 605/1208-9) kept al-Tabari for two years in Hillah, and allocated a yearly pension to him. Meanwhile, Shi'a Arabs from Baghdad and Kufa joined his circle-shaped teaching classes. Israndiyari also writes that Warram got married with al-Tabari's daughter.


His death date is not known. On the basis of Ibn al-Mashhadi's report, al-Tabari had been living in 'Alawi Mashhad (Najaf) up to the year 553/1158-9. Therefore, he was alive until that time.

Scientific Rank

Muhammad b. al-Mashhadi and Ibn Bitriq al-Hilli, of his pupils and narrators, mention his with titles like Al-Shaykh Al-Faqih Al-'Alim and Al-Shaykh Al-Faqih. Muntajab al-Din al-Razi, who narrated through somebody from al-Tabari, named him Al-Shaykh Al-Imam, and has praised him because of fiqahat and withaqat (means reliability). In seventh century, Ibn Isfandiyar called him Khawjah Imam and Faqih 'Al Muhammad.


His masters, the time and the place of qira'at, sima', and riwayat by them, in order are:

  • Sayyid Abu Talib Yahya b. Muhammad al-Jawwani al-Husayni al-Hasani al-Amuli, in Amol in 509/1115-6
  • Abu Muhammad al-Hasan b. al-Husayn b. Babwayh al-Razi, in Ray in 510/1116-7
  • Abu l-Najm Muhammad b. Abd al-Wahhab b. 'Isa al-Razi, in Ray in 510/1116-7
  • Abu 'Ali al-Hasan b. Muhammad al-Tusi, in Najaf in 510 and 511/1117-8 and 1118-9
  • Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Shahriyar al-Khazin, in Najaf in 512/1118-9, 514/1120-1, and 516/1122-3
  • Abu l-Baqa' Ibrahim b. al-Husayn al-Basri, in Najaf in 516/1122-3
  • Sharif Abu l-Barakat 'Umar b. Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. Hamza al-Husayni al-Kufi, a ziydiyyah scholar, in Kufa in 512/1118-9 and 516/1122-3
  • Abu Ghalib Sa'id b. Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Thaqafi al-Kufi, in Kufa in 516/1122-3
  • Abu 'Ali Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Qarwash al-Tamimi, in Najaf in 516/1122-3
  • Abu Muhammad Jabbar b. 'Ali b. Ja'far al-Razi, in Najaf in 516/1122-3
  • Abu Ishaq Isma'il b. Abi l-Qasim b. Ahmad al-Daylami, in Amol in 520/1126-7
  • Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Abi l-Hasan 'Ali b. 'Abd al-Samad al-Tamimi, in Neyshabur in 524/1129
  • Abu l-Qasim 'Ali b. Muhammad b. 'Ali, al-Tabari also has brought some hadiths through his father, without mentioning the date, or through Wajadah's narration from his hand-written book, in Bisharat al-Mustafa
  • Abu Muhammad al-Hasan b. al-Husayn b. Babwayh in 510/1116-7, in his khanqah, in Ray, and Abu 'Ali al-Tusi in 511/1117-8, in Imam 'Ali (a)'s Mashhad in Najaf, have written a permission for narration for al-Tabari.
  • Al-Tabari also has written some hadiths from Abu Muhammad al-Hasan b. al-Husayn b. Babwayh, from the original book of his, then has read to his offspring.

Among his masters, seemingly his major education had been by Abu 'Ali al-Tusi. As he has brought many hadiths by al-Tusi narration in his book and has praised him.

View about Khabar Wahid

Regarding this fact that al-Tabari was counted as one of al-Shaykh al-Tusi's pupils through Abu 'Ali al-Tusi and others, his opinion about the state of uncertainty of khabar wahid (a hadith which is narrated by people whose number does not reach that of mutawatir one), which is against the well-known idea of al-Shaykh al-Tusi is worth attention.


Of his pupils and narrators are: Shadhan b. Jibra'il al-Qummi, Ibn Bitriq al-Hilli, Qutb al-Din Abu l-Husayn al-Rawandi, Muhammad b. al-Mashhadi, and 'Arabi b. Musafir al-'Ibadi. In addition to these, according to Muhammad Taqi al-Majlisi, Ibn Shahrashub and Ibn Idris al-Hilli have narrated al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya through al-Tabari.


Bisharat al-Mustafa

Bisharat al-Mustafa is his most prominent book in which very precious discourses of the Prophet's hadith are discussed, and the superiority and rightfulness of shi'a are proven in it through prophet's speech. Along with these hadiths, very good poems are applied due to various occasions in order to mention the goodness and superiority of Imams (a) and to scold their enemies.

Other Works