Thiqat al-Islām (Arabic:ثِقَة الاِسلام) is a general respectful title for some Imami scholars. Also, it is uniquely used for Muhammad b. Ya'qub al-Kulayni. In recent decades, the title signifies certain level of Shi'a seminary studies.
Lexicology and Terminology
Lexically, Thiqat means: a reliable and trustworthy person. In 'ilm al-Rijal, it is used to explicitly confirm the trustworthiness (Withaqa) and Justice ('idalat) of a narrator. It seems that in the combination of "Thiqat" with "Islam", both lexical and terminological merits were properly taken into account.
Thiqat al-Islam was first used as a title for Muhammad b. Yaqub al-Kulayni (d.329/941) the compiler of al-Kafi. It is even regarded as a unique title solely for him; which in general use refers to al-Kulayni. According to Mudir Shanachi, al-Kulayni was known as Thiqat al-Islam in his time, however he does not provide any evidence for this. Seemingly, the first who used this title for al-Kulayni in his works is al-Shaykh al-Baha'i; after him numerous Shi'a scholars used this title for al-Kulayni.
Title of al-Kulayni
Shaykh 'Abbas Qummi believes al-Kulayni became reputable as Thiqat al-Islam because he was known by his accountable and reliable position by both Shi'a and Sunni sects, and both sects used to refer to his Fatwas on different matters. This reason seems to be applicable for all who were known by this title rather than just al-Kulayni. For example Mazandarani in his commentary on Usul al-Kafi and al-'Allama al-Majlisi in Bihar al-Anwar both use the title Thiqat al-Islam for al-Shaykh al-Tusi and al-Tabrisi which seems to be based on the above mentioned reason.
In recent decades, the use of titles such as "Ayatollah" or "Ayatollah al-'uzma" has become prevalent for high ranking scholars and religious figures; likewise the title "thiqat al-Islam" is used for junior students of seminary or who start wearing the cleric outfit in lower levels. Meanwhile and considering its literal denotation and respectful application, the title is used for some great figures. For instance, Shaykh 'Abbas Qummi uses Thiqat al-Islam for his teacher, Muhaddith al-Nuri and 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din. Some other scholars are known by this title as well; two more famous of which are: Nur Allah Isfahani and Thiqat al-Islam Tabrizi.
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