Muhammad b. Yahya al-'Attar

Priority: c, Quality: b
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Muhammad b. Yahya al-'Attar
Personal Information
Full Name Muhammad b. Yahya al-'Attar al-Qummi
Teknonym Abu Ja'far
Religious Affiliation Twelver Shi'a
Birth He must have lived in the second half of the 3rd century AH until the early 4th century AH
Scholarly Information
Professors Ibrahim b. Hashim al-Qummi, Ahmad b. Muhammad b. 'Isa al-Ash'ari, 'Abd Allah b. ja'far al-Himyari
Students al-Kulayni, al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Ibn al-Walid al-Qummi
Works Maqtal al-Husayn, al-Nawadir

Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad b. Yaḥyā al-ʿAṭṭār al-Qummī (Arabic: ابو جعفر محمد بن يحيی العطّار القمّي) one of the great personalities of Qom at his time and a teacher of al-Kulayni. He appears in the chains of transmitters of many hadiths in al-Kafi. He was a contemporary of Sa'd b. 'Abd Allah al-Ash'ari and Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar. He produced several works and was trusted by scholars. He is praised as being muwaththaq (trustworthy) and 'ayn (prominent personality).

Since he used to work as a perfume-seller, he was called al-'Attar.

Birth and Teknonym

Although the dates of birth and demise of Muhammad b. Yahya are not mentioned in rijal sources, because he studied with Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Yahya (d. 280/893-4) and Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. al-Khattab (d. 262/875-6) and because he was a teacher of al-Kulayni, al-Shaykh al-Saduq, and Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. al-Walid al-Qummi, he must have lived in the second half of the third century AH until the early fourth century AH (The late of ninth century until the half of the tenth century).

His teknonym is Abu Ja'far.

In the Eyes of Scholars

Those scholars of rijal who have mentioned Muhammad b. Yahya have praised his trustworthiness, honesty, knowledge, and righteousness. Al-Najashi writes:

"Muhammad b. Yahya, Abu Ja'far al-Qummi, was our teacher at his time. He was significant, trustworthy, and distinguished, who quoted many hadiths. He wrote many books, including Maqtal al-Husayn and al-Nawadir."

According to al-Shaykh al-Tusi and al-Hasan b. Dawud al-Hilli, he did not directly quote any hadiths from the Imams (a), but he was the trustworthy teacher of al-Kulayni.

Wherever al-Muhaddith al-Nuri mentions a hadith in whose chain of transmitters is Muhammad b. Yahya and the other transmitters are trustworthy, he writes:

"All of them are from trustworthy transmitters and there is no disagreement about them" or "This chain of transmitters is at the highest level of authenticity" or "All the transmitters in this chain are among the prominent figures, and there is no doubt about them."

Regarding a chain of transmitters which consists of Muhammad b. Yahya and other trustworthy hadith transmitters, Mirdamad writes: "It is sahih with excellent chain of transmitters." He has praised Muhammad b. Yahya for his trustworthiness, his abundant hadith transmission, and for being the teacher of al-Kulayni.

Similar Names

The name Muhammad b. Yahya appears in the chains of transmitters of many hadiths, and it may refer to two people other than Muhammad b. Yahya al-'Attar:

  • Muhammad b. Yahya b. Sulayman al-Khath'ami al-Kufi, who was one of the companions of Imam al-Sadiq (a), and his name appears in the chains of transmitters of more than twenty-nine hadiths.
  • Muhammad b. Yahya al-Khazzaz from Kufa and one of the companions of Imam al-Kazim (a).

According to al-Shahid al-Thani, all three are trustworthy, and the way to recognize which Muhammad b. Yahya is meant is by considering the generation (tabaqa), dates, and the type of the hadith quoted. However, if the name appears in the beginning of a chain of transmitters quoted by al-Kulayni, Muhammad b. Yahya al-'Attar is certainly meant because he was in the generation of al-Kulayni's teachers.

The Number of Hadiths

The number of the hadiths in whose chains of transmitters the name Muhammad b. Yahya appears amounts to 5,986 hadiths, by most of which Muhammad b. Yahya al-'Attar is meant (based on such indications as the next transmitter being 'Ali b al-Husayn b. Babawayh, al-Kulayni, Muhammad b. Ali Majilawayh, or Muhammad b. Al-Hasan b. al-Walid). The number of the hadiths in whose chains of transmitters the epithet al-'Attar is mentioned amounts to fifty-eight. Wherever al-Kulayni starts the chain of transmitters with the phrase "'iddat min ashabina" (a number of our companions), he means Muhammad b. Yahya, 'Ali b. Musa al-Kumaydani, Dawud b. Kawra, Ahmad b. Idris, and 'Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi.


Teachers and Students




There is not enough information about his children. What is certain is that he had a child named Ahmad, who was the transmitter of his father's books and one of the teachers of al-Shaykh al-Saduq and Harun b. Musa al-Talla'ukbari. Some scholars have also counted him among the teachers of al-Najashi, an idea rejected by Ayatollah al-Khoei. The year of the transmission of some of the hadiths he transmitted is 356/966-7, which shows that he was alive at that time. His father and Sa'd b. 'Abd Allah were among his teachers; his students include al-Husayn b. 'Ubayd Allah and Abu l-Husayn b. Abi Jid.