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Tanqih al-maqal fi 'ilm al-rijal (book)

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Tanqih al-maqal fi 'ilm al-rijal
Author 'Abd Allah Mamaqani
Original title تَنْقیحُ المَقال فی اَحوالِ الرّجال
Language Arabic
Series 3 vol.
Subject 'ilm al-rijal
Published Qom
Publisher Al al-Bayt li Ihya' al-Turath

Tanqīḥ al-maqāl fī aḥwāl al-rijāl (Arabic :تنقیح المقال فی أحوال الرجال) or Tanqīh al-maqāl fī ʿilm al-rijāl (Arabic:تنقیح المقال فی علم الرجال), well-known as Tanqīh al-maqāl (Arabic: تنقیح المقال) is a comprehensive Arabic book on 'Ilm al-rijal. It was written by Shaykh 'Abd Allah Mamaqani (d. 1351/1933), a Shi'a scholar and jurist of the 14th/20th century. The author studied more than 16000 narrators in this book. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani believed that it was the most comprehensive work in rijal. Al-Amin and Shushtari have expressed some criticisms about the book. Mamaqani's son have published some volumes of the book along with his own explanations and glosses; he plans to publish other volumes as well.


Main article: 'Abd Allah Mamaqani

'Abd Allah Mamaqani was born in Rabi' I 15, 1290/May 13, 1873 in Najaf. He is a Shi'a scholar in rijal. He was one of the great scholars of Najaf and had many students, including Sayyid Shihab al-Din Mar'ashi Najafi. He has written some works, the most important of which is Tanqih al-maqal. Holding mourning sessions and founding a library in Najaf are some of his social activities. Mamaqani passed away on Sunday, Shawwal 16, 1351/February 12, 1933, at the age of 61 and was buried in his father mausoleum located in al-'Imara neighborhood in Najaf.


Mamaqani started authoring Tanqih al-maqal, his last work, in 1348/1929 and finished authoring and revising it in 1350/1931. During this short period, he referred to the most important rijal books and reliable Shi'a biographies and collected the opinions of early and late scholars. The book—as he claims—will suffice researchers from referring to the earlier books. He also has benefited from Sunni rijal sources, especially Usd al-ghaba fi ma'rifat al-sahaba.

Mamaqani writes in Tanqih al-maqal:

"When I was writing the book, I saw the grace of God several times. Sometimes, I wanted to look up something in a book and just when I opened the book it was in front of my eyes. I rarely needed to flip through a book for finding a topic. One night I had to refer to al-Tahdhib and it would take me a long time, while I did not want an interruption in the writing of the book; thus I appealed to Imam al-Mahdi (a) and begged him to help me in this path. At this time, it occurred to me to go toward the old books – which were about Arabic grammar and also exegesis of the Qur'an and were stacked up in the corner of the closet. I went towards them while I was sure that al-Tahdhib is not among them; yet I reached out for a book and picked it up and opened it. It was the part of al-Tahdhib that I needed. The book was new and written by a beautiful handwriting. I wrote down the topic that I needed and put the book in a corner. The next day, I searched for the book; but I could not find it. I counted that as a Divine grace. This incident increased my enthusiasm for writing and completing Tanqih al-maqal more than ever."


The book contains biographies of Sahaba, Tabi'un, the companions of the infallible Imams (a) and other narrators up to the 4th/10th century. There are also biographies of some great hadith scholars, Mashayikh al-Ijaza, and famous authors in 'ilm al-rijal. The author's glosses on the book and also the section Khatimat al-Khatima contains the points that he has missed in the main text.

16307 names are mentioned and studied in the book—1328 of them are reliable (Thiqa), 1665 of them are Hasan, 46 of them are Muwaththaq and the rest are Da'if, Majhul, or Muhmal.


An important feature of the book is an index titled as Nata'ij al-tanqih fi tamyiz al-saqim min al-sahih at the beginning of the book. This lengthy index consists of the results (whether a narrator is Thiqa, Hasan, Muwaththaq or …) of the discussions about each narrator. As the index is alphabetically arranged and the name of narrators are numbered the same number they have in the main text, referring to the main entry of each narrator is easy and efficient.

A noteworthy point about the book is its comprehensiveness and details; although authoring, editing and publishing it took a very short time; to the extent that writing the book in this period was regarded as a supernatural work and a Divine grace. Some said that this book is the most extensive Shi'a rijal book or rather the most comprehensive work in 'Ilm al-rijal.

From Others' Perspectives

Although Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin counted this book among the sources of A'yan al-Shi'a, he said that it is full of mistakes. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani praised this work and its author and said that it needs to be edited and revised.

Despite regarding this work as the best book on rijal regarding the comprehensiveness and collection of the opinions of rijal scholars, Muhammad Taqi Shushtari (d. 1416/1995) has criticized it more than others. At first he wrote his criticisms as glosses on the margin of the book, then he compiled them independently under the title Qamus al-rijal and later it was published by the same name.

Understanding the high value of Qamus al-rijal, some have criticized it for its harsh tone and some inappropriate phrases and counted them as weaknesses of this work.


According to the dates mentioned in some volumes of the book, some parts of the book were published lithographically during the lifetime of the author and under his supervision, while the rest were published after his demise.

Tanqih al-maqal and the index of Nata'ij al-tanqih fi tamyiz al-saqim min al-sahih along with the book Miqbas al-hidaya fi 'Ilm al-dirayanother work by the author—were published lithographically in three folio volumes in Najaf. A new edition of the book with additional points and glosses by the author's son, Muhy al-Din Mamaqani, has started to publish in Qom from 1423/2002, and some volumes of it has been published so far.