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Friday 1st of July 2022
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The Place of al-Mufid in the Development of Shi'i Kalam and Fiqh(Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Khamene’i)

One thousand years ago on a tumultous day, the grounds at the Ushnan Square in Baghdad could hardly contain the crowds of people who had gathered there on account of a sorrowful event. Thousands wept and mourned for a man whose death was a terrible loss. Tens of thousands offered funeral prayers for a sublime human being who had for fifty years, like a shining torch, illuminated a vast expanse of the Islamic world with his wisdom and knowledge, and who, at Baghdad by the side of the Tigris, had set flowing another Tigris of knowledge and learning. The storms of bitter and bloody events and the winds of prejudice and resentment that blew through the `Abbasid capital had failed to put out the lamp of knowledge and righteousness that drew its oil from the olive tree of the Qur'anic sciences and the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them, and whose flame drew its brilliance from the light of human intelligence. The thorny growth of twisted judgement and guile could not stop the surging floods in their auspicious course that had carried Islamic jurisprudence and theology, reason and narration to fertile lands.

On that day when the large crowds of mourners attended his funeral and offered prayers, led by the Sayyid al-Sharif 'Ali al-Murtada, over his body, there were others who, with hearts full of malice and devoid of wisdom and foresight, thought that everything had ended for that great man, and they foolishly proceeded to celebrate his death.

However, every thoughtful person could see clearly that the death of that august thinker could not spell an end for someone who through half a century of effort had originated numerous springs of wisdom and learning, morality and high culture, through the realms of human thought, that the will of God and the laws of history had guaranteed its fecundity and exuberance in its perpetual movement through generations, centuries and eras, right up to its merger into the endless ocean of ultimate human edification.

On that day the emaciated body of al-Mufid was consigned to the earth in his house at Darb al-Rabah, to be transferred later to the Shrine of Imam Abu Ja'far al-Jawad, may peace be upon him, and laid to rest in that abode of peace and Divine mercy. But the spirit of this warrior, indomitable and unforgettable, would linger before the gaze of time and would never be forgotten. It is still very much alive to this day and at work in the growth and fruition of the fiqh, kalam and religion of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them.

Today, one thousand years later, this al-Shaykh al-Mufid Millennium held with your precious efforts commemorates that event and pays homage to that epitome of learning and piety whose sublimity has not been diminished by ten centuries of growth of science and culture, nor whose visage has been dimmed by the mists of time.

In fact, by paying homage to al-Mufid and publishing his written works, the scholarship of this generation pays in fact the debt of gratitude to a man whose personality and ideas have had a continued presence throughout the rich and fruitful growth of the fiqh and kalam of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them. They have served as the cornerstone of the high edifice of Shi'i theological and legal studies of the last thousand years.

Al-Mufid's presence in the assembly of living theological ideas and scholarly pursuits does not lie in publication of his books and discussion of his views, although the publication of his writings and the discussion of his ideas and views is an expression of gratitude for the debt that all theologians and jurists that came after him owe him. Rather, this radiant presence lies in the continuity of the tradition in fiqh and kalam established by him. The holding of this millennium of gratitude and homage, firstly, makes the present generation more familiar with the visage of this great man and prepares the ground for better recognition and utilization of his legacy by this and the future generations. 

Secondly, it provides researchers in the field of the history of fiqh and the rational sciences the opportunity to obtain new insights concerning the history of development of these sciences and the formation and growth of their formative elements during a critical period. This point acquires greater significance when we study the 4th/10th and the 5th/llth centuries as an outstanding and brilliant phase in the cultural, scientific and literary development of the Islamic world.

Thirdly, it will be conducive to the expansion of acquaintance with the basic theological teaching of Shi'ism on behalf of Muslim scholars and masses irrespective of school or sect. The importance of this becomes obvious when we observe the venomous pens and mercenary hands, of the enemy or his malicious agents, write and publish such lies and slanders concerning the beliefs of the Shi'ah, one of the major sects of Islam and today the heralds of Muslim awakening, as are comparable to those fabricated throughout the entire course of history. 

Unfortunately, political motives and colonial designs are active in such moves, aimed to deceive the public. They are even more evident today than they were at the time when Umayyad and `Abbasid caliphs considered malign propaganda against the Shi'ah as part of their all-out campaign against the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them, and a necessary prerequisite of their suppression. In view of this, any effort to inform the public concerning the Shi'i doctrines and teachings is also conducive to the establishment of Muslim solidarity and brotherhood. Because the enemies of Islam have always tried to misrepresent the doctrinal and juristic principles of Muslim sects to one another in order to divide Muslims.

 

Three Aspects of al-Mufid's Work

 

I thank the distinguished scholars with whose efforts this high-level scholarly gathering is being convened and I thank all of you, scholars and experts, who will enrich it with your scholarly presence. I would like to participate in your momentous collective enterprise by discussing an important point relating to the scholarly personality of al-Mufid, that glorious Shaykh, and do my share of the job in unveiling the luminous visage of this man of centuries and eras. This point concerns "the place of Mufid in the development of Shi`ism in the fields of kalam and fiqh."

 

I have reached these conclusions with the help of reliable evidence based on his statements, views, and writings, as well as the statements of his pupils and biographers.

That thesis, put briefly, is that al-Shaykh al-Mufid is not merely an eminent theologian and jurist amongst Imamiyyah scholars. Rather, far more than that, he is the founder and progenitor of the evolving tradition in the fields of kalam and fiqh that continues to this day in the centres of Shi'i learning. And though not entirely free of historical, geographical and ideological influences, it has preserved its basic framework and original characteristics.

 

The exposition of this thesis and its affirmation is important because this tradition underwent such a rapid and astonishing growth and change in the period of half a century following him that the seminal role of al-Shaykh al-Mufid has been often ignored. Here, a point to be emphasized is that the brilliant and distinguished scholarly achievements of al-Shaykh Mufid's outstanding pupil, that is, al-Sayyid al-Murtada `Alam al-Huda (d. 432/1040), and the high peak of this chain as represented by the era of Shaykh al-Ta'ifah Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi (d.46411067), are, in fact, a continuation of the tradition whose founder was Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Nu'man al-Mufid. In order to explain this thesis, it is essential to elucidate the influential and decisive role of al-Mufid in the following three aspects:

 

1. establishment of the independent identity of the school of the Ahl-Bayt, may peace be upon them;

 

2. creation of a correct pattern and model for the development of Shi'i fiqh;

 

3. devising a method in fiqh and kalam based on logical compatibility between reason and revelation.

 

The high edifice built by Shi'i jurists and theologians during the last ten centuries and the incomparably rich literary tradition created by them through their works, rest on the foundations laid down by al-Shaykh al-Mufid through these three facets of his work.

 

Yet, before these three aspects are explained, it should be noted that al-Shaykh al-Mufid and the Shi'i centre of learning at Baghdad, each of them is a phenomenon that did not have a precedent in Shi'i history up to that time.

 

Undoubtedly, before that time, active Shi'i centres of learning were scattered everywhere from Syria to Transoxiana. Qumm, which succeeded the Kufah of the 2nd/8th and the 3rd/9th centuries as a major centre of hadith, and Ray, from which the well-known figures of al-Kulayni and Ibn Qibah al-Razi, among others, came, were only two of the numerous centres of Shi'i learning of that era. In the east, the centres of Transoxiana, two of whose famous representatives are al--`Ayyashi from Samarqand and Abu `Amr al-Kashshi, and the centre at Aleppo, whose Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Sabi'i al-Halabi and 'Ali ibn Khalid al-Halabi's names appear among the teachers of al-Mufid, should have been, as suggested by available evidence, important Shi'i centres of learning. A glance at the list of al-Kashshi's teachers shows what a remarkable number of scholars and traditionists received their training in the regions of Khurasan and Transoxiana far from the original Shi'i centres. This lends weight to the presumption that, perhaps, there were more than one centre of Shi'i learning engaged in the training of the learned in these regions. At least ten of the teachers of the above-mentioned scholars belonged to Samarqand or Kashsh (near Samarqand) and about the same number came from the cities of Bukhara, Balkh, Herat, Sarakhs, Nayshabur, Bayhaq, Fariyab and other towns of the region. 

 

The names of these scholars-all or most of whom were presumably Shi'ah-with nisbahs related to the towns of Transoxiana and Khurasan, lend support to the surmise that al-`Ayyashi-the doors of whose house according to al-Najashi, remained open in generous hospitality for learned Shi'is and scholars (kanat marta'an lil-Shi`ah wa ahl al-`ilm)  and which "like a mosque, was full of people including copyists, proofreaders,qaris and commentators --lived at Samarqand and not Baghdad  (also, it is very improbable that someone from Kufah or Baghdad would have gone seeking such a number of shaykhs from Khurasan and Turkistan), and this indicates the prevalence of the teachings and sciences of the Ahl al-Bayt and the presence of a very active centre of Shi'i learning in that city.

 

Also in Greater Syria and particularly Aleppo, in view of its large Shi'i population and the rule of the Hamdanids, who were themselves Shi'i and observed Shi'i customs and ceremonials,  there undoubtedly existed a considerable centre of learning, though in view of its proximity to Iraq and the presence of its traditionists and jurists in Baghdad, and later, during the times of al-Shaykh al-Tusi, in Najaf, it cannot be reckoned amongst the major centres.

 

This was in brief the position of Shi'i centres of learning during the period leading up to al-Mufid's times. The centre at Baghdad was also active during that period and was engaged in the study of the Islamic sciences and teachings. But with the appearance of al-Shaykh al-Mufid on the scene and the gradual spread of his scholarly renown, Baghdad, which was the political and geographical centre of the domains of Islam, also became the main centre of Shi'i learning. It became not only the central authority to which the religious and intellectual problems of the Shi'is were referred for solution,  but also the Mecca of those who aspired to acquire scholarship and learning.

 

Although an exhaustive list of all of al-Mufid's pupils-whose number must have been quite large-is not available, the number of those who are mentioned in the biographical sources amongst his pupils is very small, far less than what someone like al-Mufid must have trained during a period of about half a century of intellectual leadership of the Shi'ah. But the fact that a genius such as al-Shaykh al-Tusi was drawn towards Baghdad from Tus and not towards any of the centres near his native Tus (that is, those of Khurasan and Transoxiana), and his unwillingness to settle down in Rayy or Qumm, as well as the absence of any famous and prominent figure in these centres for a period that was not after all so short-all these indicate that with the rise of al-Mufid into prominence Baghdad assumed a place that none of the Shi'i centres of learning is known to have acquired earlier. That is, through a dominant position in all the sciences current in the different Shi'i centres, it eclipsed the fame of all the other centres throughout the Islamic world and continued to be reckoned the crown of Shi'i centres of learning until the birth of the auspicious and virgin centre of Najaf (in 448/1056 or 449/1057).

Without doubt, the active hub and the shining core of this centre was al-Shaykh al-Mufid. With his genius, extraordinary talents, and unceasing efforts, and by utilizing the unique position of Baghdad as the political and geographic centre of the Islamic world and the rendezvous of scholars of the various schools and sects, he attained a station which was unprecedented in its inclusiveness, which made him the cynosure and the rallying point of the Shi'i centre of Baghdad during his lifetime.

A study of the works of this august Shaykh as well as evidence from other sources make it clear that al-Mufid represents a wonderful confluence of most of the diverse qualities for which some eminent Shi'i figures until that time were famed: he combined in himself the fiqh of the early legists such as Ibn Babawayh and Ja'far ibn Qulawayh, the kalam of Ibn Qibah and the Nawbakht family, the `ilm al-rijal of al-Kashshi and al-Barqi, thehadith of al-Saduq, al-Saffar and al-Kulayni, in addition to his unique formidable talents for polemic and intellectual wrestling as well as other distinguished qualities. Of course, each of them is a torch that illuminates one of the paths relating to the teaching of the Ahl al-Bayt. But al-Mufid, like a candelabrum, combines of all their brilliance. And this is something which we do not find in any of the scholars before him. The statement of Ibn al-Nadim (d.380/990) suffices as a proof of his singular talents when he describes al-Mufid at an age of less than 44 years  as the leading Shi`i scholar of fiqh, kalam and hadith. And al-Dhahabi who, in hisTa'rikh al-'Islam, speaks of him in a biased and hostile tone, nonetheless cites Ibn Abi Tayy's statement about him:

"He was unrivalled in all the sciences: in the two usul [i.e usul al din andusul al fiqh], in fiqh -tradition, the science of rijal, the Qur'an and exegesis, grammar and poetry ... In all these sciences he was unequalled by anyone and he debated followers of any creed." 

Thus al-Mufid is one who combined in himself the sciences of his predecessors and it was through the means of such a versatile and multi-faceted personality that the tradition of Shi'i learning, as continued for centuries after him, came to be founded. In it fiqh, kalam, usul, literature,hadith and rijal were taught, studied and developed as complementaries of one another and side by side. It was this tradition whose sublime peak is represented by al-Sayyid al-Murtada and the zenith of whose perfection was the Shaykh al-Ta'ifah Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi.

 

In view of what we have said concerning the unprecedented character of al-Shaykh al-Mufid and the contemporary centre of Baghdad, al-Mufid must be considered the true progenitor of the Shi'i centres of learning of the following centuries with their characteristic constitution as places where all the Islamic sciences based on reason and tradition were taught and learnt and whose graduates were well-versed in all or most of those sciences. 

At least until the era of al-Shahid al-'Awwal-that is, the time when speciality in fiqh and its prerequisites became the overwhelming concern of Shi'i centres of learning-the same constitution is observable in all or most of the centres and their human products. And this was a continuation of the tradition originated by the person of al-Mufid and the academic centre created by him: that is, the centre of Baghdad until the year 413/1022 

Therefore, it is not surprising if it is claimed that such a unique and distinguished figure was the originator and pioneer of a new path along the threefold lines mentioned earlier.

Now we shall discuss the threefold aspects of al-Mufid's intellectual personality.


source : http://dawoodi-bohras.com/news/99/64/Recostruction-of-Islamic-thought/d,pdb_detail_article/
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