Usul al-kafi (book)
|Original title||أصول الكافي|
|Subject||Collection of hadith|
Uṣūl al-kāfī (Arabic:أصول الكافي) is the title of the first part of the three parts of al-Kafi, a major Shiite book in hadith. In this part of al-Kafi, we can find hadiths concerning the beliefs of Shiites, the biographies of Imams (a), and how a Muslim should behave.
Usul al-kafi is the most significant source of hadiths for the Shiite beliefs. It has frequently been published as a separate book, it has been translated by several people, and numerous commentaries have been written on it.
- Main article: al-Shaykh al-Kulayni
The author of Usul al-kafi is Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Ya'qub b. Is'haq al-Kulayni al-Razi (d. 329/940-1) known as Thiqa al-Islam al-Kulayni. He was a scholar of hadith in the period of Minor Occultation. He was among the greatest Shi'a hadith scholars and the author of al-Kafi, the most authentic Shi'a hadith collection and one the Four Books. He was born after the martyrdom of Imam al-'Askari (a), at the time of Imam al-Mahdi (a) and met some hadith transmitters who directly had heard hadiths from Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam al-'Askari (a). It is said that al-Kulayni was very accurate in transmitting hadiths.
Usul al-kafi is the title of the first part of the three parts of al-Kafi— a Shiite book in hadith. In this part of al-Kafi, we can find hadiths concerning the beliefs of Shiites, the biographies of Imams (a), and how a Muslim should behave. It contains 3,785 hadiths.
The other two parts of al-Kafi contains hadiths concerning fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and ethical advice.
Since al-Kafi is the only book among the Four Books (the four major books of Shiites in hadiths) which has addressed the principles of beliefs, it has always been central for Shiites, and this is why it has been published separately. Shiite scholars have written several commentaries on it.
Usul al-kafi contains 8 general sections (or as al-Kulayni calls them, "kitab"s or books). Here are the titles of these sections:
- The section on intellect and ignorance (kitab al-'aql wa al-jahl),
- The section on the virtues of knowledge (kitab faḍl al-'ilm) in 22 subsections,
- The section on monotheism (kitab al-tawhid) in 35 subsections,
- The section on Imamate (kitab al-hujja) in 130 subsections containing hadiths concerning the necessity of Imamate, the names of Shiite Imams, their virtues, their lives, and the arguments for their Imamate,
- The section on faith and infidelity (kitab al-iman wa al-kufr) in 209 subsections,
- The section on supplication (kitab al-du'a') in 60 subsections,
- The section on the virtues of the Qur'an (kitab faḍl al-Quran) in 14 subsections,
- The section of companionship (Kitab al-'ishra) in 29 subsections.
There are two sorts of commentaries on Usul al-kafi: some people have written commentaries on the whole al-Kafi, including Usul al-kafi, and some have only written commentaries and expositions on Usul al-kafi. Here are some well-known commentaries of the latter sort:
- Sharh usul al-kafi by Sadr al-Din Muhammad al-Shirazi, known as Mulla Sadra (d. 1050/1640-1641). This commentary on Usul al-kafi has been published in 3 volumes.
- Sharh al-kafi by Mulla Salih Mazandarani (d. 1110/1699) in Arabic. The book contains a commentary on Rawda al-kafi as well. It has been published in 12 volumes.
- Al-Dhari'a ila hafiẓ al-shari'a by Muhammad b. Muhammad Mu'min Gilani in Arabic, published in two volumes.
- Al-Hashiya 'ala usul al-kafi by Muhammad Amin al-Astarabadi, published by Dar al-Hadith.
- Al-Hashiya 'ala usul al-kafi by Sayyid Ahmad b. Zayn al-'Abidin al-'Alawi al-'Amili.
- Al-Hashiya 'ala usul al-kafi by Sayyid Badr al-Din b. Ahmad al-Husayni al-'Amili.
- Dirakhshan partu'i az usul-i kafi (A shining light of Usul al-kafi) by Sayyid Muhammad al-Husayni al-Hamadani in Farsi, published in 6 volumes.
In addition to these commentaries on Usul al-kafi, there are some incomplete commentaries. All of these commentaries are available in the form of a multimedia software called Kulayni Software.
Muhammad Sarwar has translated al-Kafi to English published in eight volumes by Islamic Seminary Incorporated.
Taqwa Media has published a translation and commentary by Islamic Texts Institute under direction of Rizwan Arastu. The first three chapters of al-Kafi are now available.
- English translation of al-Kafi by Muhammad Sarwar.pdf
- Translation and commentary on first chapter of al-Kafi, The Book of Intellect and Ignorance. pdf
- The material for this article is mainly taken from اصول کافی in Farsi WikiShia.