• Date: 2010 Jun 27

Al-Kafi; one of the most reliable books of Shiite Hadith

The book al-Kafi is one of the most important and most reliable books of Shiite Hadith and the most outstanding work of the Truthful of Islam Kulayni. This book consists of three separate sections:
1. The Fundamentals
2. The Branches
3. The Sermons or Recitations
In the first section of the book, the worthy author has embarked upon explaining and clarifying the fundamentals of Shiite belief and other issues related to beliefs in eight topics.
He has divided every topic in various chapters and has narrated a number of Hadiths in every chapter. Some of these topics have more than two hundred chapters. Of course the number of Hadiths cited in every chapter is very variable; sometimes only one Hadith has been cited in one chapter despite that in some of the chapters tens of Hadiths have been recorded.
The Main Topics of the Book and Some of their Characteristics
1. The topic ‘Reason and Ignorance’ (al-aql wal jahl) which only has one chapter, consisting of thirty four Hadiths. Imam Kazims (a) advices to Hisham are in this book.
2. The topic ‘Knowledge’ (al-ilm) which has uncountable chapters, consisting of such topics as ‘the incumbency of acquiring knowledge’, ‘those who earn their bread by means of knowledge’, ‘the attributes of knowledge, the virtues of learning and the learned person’, ‘writing and its virtues’, ‘the attributes of the scholar’, ‘following the verdict of and imitating the qualified religious jurist’, ‘the rights of the scholar’, ‘heretical innovated practices in religion and independent reasoning and judicial analogical deduction’, ‘prohibition of talking without knowledge’ and ‘the existence of all of man’s needs in the Qur’an’.
3. Under the topic Monotheism (at-Tawhid) themes such as ‘the creation and the creator of the universe,’ ‘the lowest levels of knowledge of Allah’, ‘prohibition of discussing the qualities of Allah’, ‘nullifying the notion of seeing Allah with the naked eye’, ‘the attributes of the essence of Allah’, ‘will and the other attributes of Allah’s actions’, ‘the meanings of the names of Allah’, ‘divine will and decree’, ‘prosperity and affliction’, ‘predestination and intermediate position’ have been embarked upon too.
4. Under the topic ‘Demonstrative Proof and Reasoning’, which after the topic ‘Belief and Disbelief’ is the most expansive section of al-Kafi a great deal of Hadiths have been narrated in more than one hundred and thirty chapters. We will hereunder refer to their main chapters:
    A) The Need for Demonstrative Proof and Reasoning
    B) The Levels of the Apostolic Prophets (a) and Imams (a)
    C) The Difference between the Apostle [or Messenger], Prophet and Scholar of Hadith
    D) Knowing the Imam (a) and the Need to follow Him
    E) The Attributes of the Imams (a) (the Leaders, the Custodians of Knowledge, the Divine Lights, the Pillars of the Earth and…)
    F) The Presentation of Deeds to the Imams (a)
    G) The Imams (a) are the Inheritors of the Knowledge f the Prophets (a)
    H) That which is in the Possession of the Imams (a) (Complete knowledge of the Qur’an, the Books of the Prophets, the Collection of the Sayings of Her Holiness Fatima Zahra (a), Arithmomancy, the Society and …)
    I) The Knowledge of the Imams (a) and the Abundance of its Different Aspects
    J) The Explicit Texts denoting the Imamate of every one of the Twelve Imams (a)
    K) Summaries of the History of the Lives of the Infallibles (a)
5. The topic ‘Belief and Disbelief’ is the most expansive section of Usul Kafi and is made up of more than two hundred topics. The main subject matters of this book consist of ‘the creation of a believer and an unbeliever’, ‘the meaning of Islam and Faith’, ‘the Attributes of a Believer and the Realities of Faith’, ‘The Fundamentals and Branches of Faith’, ‘Sins and their Effects, Levels and Types’ and ‘the Types of Disbelief’.
6. The topic Supplication (Dua) has been arranged in two sections:
    The first section is about the virtues of supplication and its rites. In this section, ‘the Effects of Supplication’, ‘Changing the Divine Decree by means of Supplication’, ‘the Cure for all Pains’ and ‘Acceptance or Granting of Supplication’ have initially been embarked upon. Then after that the rites of supplication such as ‘Priority in Supplication’, ‘sitting in the direction of the Qibla and remembrance of Allah during supplication’, ‘secret supplication’, ‘suitable times for prayer’ and ‘the congregational supplication’ have been explained.
    In the second section, the texts of some of the supplications and short invocations which have been collected either in their absolute or special form, like supplications at the time of waking up from sleep or when leaving the house, supplications after the ritual prayers (salat), supplications when one is sick or at the time of reciting the Qur’an.
7. The topic ‘the Virtues of the Qur’an’ subdivided in fourteen chapters; the virtues of the bearers of the Qur’an, and also the virtues of learning, memorizing, and slow melodic recitation of the Qur’an. Likewise the amount of reward for reciting the Qur’an everyday has been made clear in this book.
8. In the last topic of the section of Usul (the Fundamentals) of Kafi, the need for having relations with people, good and bad relations and also some of the manners and duties of having relationships and social intercourse like greeting one another [or saying salaam to one another], respecting elderly people, respecting kind people, observing trusts in gatherings, the rights of the neighbor, the rights of the spouse, writing letters and …have all been explained.
The second section of the book ‘Kafi’ which is called the Branches of Kafi (Furu’l Kafi) consists of Hadiths concerning jurisprudential issues. In this section, the following topics are found:
1. The book of purification
2. The Book of menstruation
3. The Book of Corpses
4. The Book of Ritual Prayers
5. The Book of Alms and Charity
6. The Book of Fasting
7. The Book of the Pilgrimage (Hajj)
8. The Book of Jihad
9. The Book of Earning Livelihood
10. The Book of Marriage
11. The Book of Sacrifice Offering on the Seventh Day of a Newly Born Child
12. The Book of Divorce
13. The Book of Emancipation and Management and Correspondence
14. The Book of Hunting and Fishing
15. The Book of Sacrificial Slaughter
16. The Book of Foods
17. The Book of Drinkables
18. The Book of Luxury and Generosity
19. The Book of Quilts [or Beddings]
20. The Book of Wills and Testaments
21. The Book of Inheritance
22. The Book of Prescribed Penalties
23. The Book of Blood Money
24. The Book of Witnesses
25. The Book of Duties and Laws
26. The Book of Faith and Vows and Disbelief.
The Branches of Kafi (Furu’l Kafi) is considered as the biggest section of the book ‘Kafi’.
In the third section of the book ‘Kafi’ by the name of Sermons [or Recitations], Hadiths in relation to different and various topics have been collected without any special order and classification. We will, as for example, hint at some of its topics:
1. Hermeneutics and interpretation of some of the verses of the Gloriuos Qur’an
2. The advices and recommendations of the Imams (a)
3. Dreams and their Kinds
4. Pains and their Cures
5. The Quality of the Creation of the Existing World and some of its Manifestations
6. The History of Some of the Prophets (a)
7. The Virtues of the Shiites and their Duties
8. Some of the Issues in regard to the Early Days of Islam and the Period of the Caliphate of Amir al Mu’mineen (a)
9. Mahdi (a) and his attributes and also his Companions and the characteristics of the Period of the Re-appearance
10. The history of some of the companions and individuals like Abu Thar, Thamama bin Athal, Zaid bin Ali, Salman, Ja’far bin Abi Talib
The Number of Hadiths
They have mentioned different figures for the number of Hadiths in the book ‘Kafi’: Yusuf Bahrani in his book ‘Lulut al-Bahrain’ has counted 16199 Hadiths, Doctor Hussain Ali Mahfuz, in the introduction of ‘Kafi’, has counted 151176 Hadiths, and some contemporaries such as Sheikh Abdu Rasul Ghafari have counted 15503 Hadiths.
Of course this difference of figures and the methods of counting the Hadiths is because some of the Hadiths which have two chains of transmission have been counted as two hadiths by some and as one Hadith by others. Some people too have counted Hadiths lacking the name of the first transmitter (incomplete Hadiths known as ‘Mursala’) as one Hadith and other people have not counted them altogether. Of course in a few cases too the cause of differences has been the lack of some Hadiths and in some the lack of texts.
In order to perceive the importance of this book, we will initially mention the sayings of eminent scholars of Hadith and the leaders in this field and then after embark upon explicating some of the characteristics of this book.
Sheikh Mufid, who is considered as one of the contemporaries of Kulayni, writes in regard to the book ‘Kafi’, ‘the book Kafi is one of the most eminent and useful books of the Shiites.’ (Tashih al Itiqad, Page 202).
The First Martyr Muhammad bin Makki, in his permission to Ibn Khazin, while listing Shiite books of Hadith, writes, ‘Among the Shiite books of Hadith, no book similar to Kafi has ever been written.’ (Bahar al Anwar Vol. 108 Page 138)
The Second Martyr in his permission to Sheikh Ibrahim Misa, has counted the book ‘Kafi’ as one of the three books ‘Min La Yahthar al Fiqh’, ‘Tahthib al Ahkam’ and ‘Istibsar’ (Bahar al Anwar Vol. 108, Page 138).
Allama Muhammad Taqi Majlisi asserts, ‘Among the Muslims, no book similar to Kafi has ever been written.’
Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi in the book ‘Mar’at al Uqul’ , his detailed exposition of Kafi, writes, ‘The book Kafi is firmer and more comprehensive and more important and better than all the books written by the Shiites.’ (Mar’at al Uqul Vol. 1 Page 3)
Allama Sheikh Abdullah Mamaqani writes, ‘There has never been a book similar to Kafi written in the Islamic world and it has been said that this book was presented to the Imam of the Age and he accepted it and stated, “This book suffices for iour Shiites.”’ (Tanqihul Miqal Vol 3 Page 303)
Some Characteristics of the book ‘Kafi’:
1. The author of this book perceived the period of the four representatives and a part of the time of Imam Hassan Askari (a);
2. Because of the proximity of time with the writers of the fundamentals [of religion and/ or jurisprudence], the author of this book managed to narrate Hadiths with lesser intermediaries; it is for this same reason that a part of the Hadiths of Kafi have been narrated with three intermediaries; (refer to Amin Tirmis Amili, Thatlathiyat al-Kulayni and Qurb al-Asnad).
3. It has short and declarative titles which indicate the contents of the chapter;
4. Hadiths have been narrated without any interference and meddling and the author’s explanations have not been intermixed with the Hadiths;
5. The author has endeavored to place corrector and clearer Hadiths in the first chapter and then after mentions obscure and vague Hadiths; (Usul Kafi Vol 1. Page 10 translator’s introduction Seyyid Jawad Mustafawi)
6. The whole chain of transmission has been cited and it is for this reason that it differs with the books ‘Tahzib’ and ‘Istibsar’ and ‘Min La Yahthar al Fiqh’;
7. He narrates Hadiths which are compatible with the chapter and abstains from narrating those Hadiths which are incompatible with the chapter
8. He has not placed Hadiths in other than their chapters;
9. It has accurate order and classification; he has begun with ‘Reason and Ignorance’ and thereafter ‘Knowledge’ and then ‘Monotheism’; in reality he has placed epistemological subjects at the beginning and then after subjects related o Monotheism and the Imamate, then he narrates Hadiths in regard to ethics and then comes Haiths about the branches and laws and then he has gathered miscellaneous an various Hadiths at the end.
10. The comprehensiveness of Kafi in regard to matters of belief, ethics and jurisprudence is another of its distinctions.
Objections against Kafi
The eminent scholars in the field f Hadith, despite praising the book Kafi, have also made objections to it; amongst them:
Allam Feiz Wafi Kashani, in the introduction of the book ‘Wafi’, has made the following objections against the book ‘Kafi’:
1. He has not mentioned a great deal of jurisprudential issues;
2. In some instances he has not hinted at the Hadiths of opposing views;
3. He has not explained difficult and obscure terms;
4. In some topics, chapters and Hadiths, he has not observed the order under consideration and sometimes he has placed a Hadith in other than its proper place, or has cancelled out a topic and/ or listed a topic which is not necessary.
    B) The presence of conflicting Hadiths or Hadiths opposed to the indisputable principles of the Shiite school of thought is another objection which has been made against Kafi. For instance, they have said that Hadiths asserting that the Qur’an has been distorted, a belief incompatible with the Shiite school of thought, are found in the book Kafi.
    C) Some names such as Muhammad, Ahmad, Hussein or even Muhammad bin Yahya and Ahmad bin Muhammad and the likes of them who are among the common narrators, have been mentioned in this book and the author has not given much details in regard to the narrators. For this reason, it does not become clear which one of the narrators is meant by the author. Of course sometimes it is possible to distinguish the narrator by means of the narrator and from whom the Hadith has been narrated, but sometimes even this method is not helpful and the individual intended still remains obscure.
    D) The other objection is that without the least doubt Kulayni did not hear all the Hadiths from his teachers, but only heard some of them and narrated the rest from their books on their permission and of course both of them have concurrent and reliable chains of transmission, but Kulayni did not believe in the difference between those two and connected these Hadiths one to the other with the word ‘from’ despite that some of the authors have believed in the difference between these two kinds of Hadith.
    E) Some people have found fault with Kulayni as to why he has narrated Hadiths from indisputably weak narrators in the book Kafi and they have listed a number of those weak narrators, amongst them: Wahab bin Wahab (Abul Bakhtari), Ahmad bin Hilaal, Muhammad bin Walid Sairafi, and /or Abdullah bin Qasim Harithi. The whole set of these objections has been discussed in the books al-Kulayni wal Kafi and al-Kulayni wal Kitaba al-Kafi and all in all, overlooking the judgments and verdicts of this book, it is clear that assuming all of them to be correct, yet still nothing of Kulayni and confidence in his book is reduced and of course and of course no book save the Glorious Qur’an which is from Allah the High has remained immune and preserved from mistakes and no person save the infallibles (a), who have been protected by Allah, is immune from error.
Is the ‘Sermons [or Recitations]’ a part of Kafi?
Some people do not consider the section of ‘Sermons [or Recitations]’ is a part of the work of Kulayni, but have attributed it to Ibn Idriss the author of ‘Sarair (the Secrets or Mysteries)’; for this reason they do not count it as a part of Kafi. In contrast, a lot of individuals have considered it as a section of Kafi and a work of Kulayni. In order to follow up on this discussion, reference can be made to the book al-Kulayni wal Kafi (Kulayni and the Kafi) pages 408- 415 and also the book Kulayni wa Kitabuhu al-Kafi (Kulayni and His Book the Kafi) pages 132- 140.
Research Work done in regard to Kafi
Since the early days, the book Kafi has been the object of attention of scholars and researchers of Hadith; for this reason, a great deal of research in regard to it has been done.
Sheikh Aqa Buzurg Tehrani, in the book al-Thariah, has mentioned twenty seven expositions with the whole book about Kafi; (al-Thariah ila Tasanif as-Shiah vol 13 Pages 94,100; vol 14 pages 26- 228; al-Mu’jam al-Mafharis lilalfafi Bahar al Anwar vol. 1 Pages 66-67) in the same way that he has counted ten marginal [notes] about this book (al-Thariah ila Tasanif Shiah vol. 6 Page 181; al-Mu’jam al Mafharis lilalfaz Bahar al Anwar vol. 1 Page 66).
Likewise some other authors have mentioned a great deal of writings in regard to Kafi, a lot of which has either not yet been printed up to now or are out of reach. (Thamin Hashim Habib, as-Sheikh al-Kulayni al-Baghdadi wa Kitab al-Kafi Pages 157- 177).
It is worthy mentioning that the International Congress for Honoring the Truthful of Islam Kulayni has presently published a considerable amount of works in relation to Kulayni which had not been published yet.
We will hereunder introduce some of the works in regard to the book Kafi which have been published:
A) Exposition and Marginal Notes
1. ‘At-taliqa ala Kitabul Kafi (A Glossary on the Book al-Kafi)’, Muhammad Baqir Husseini well known as Mirdamad (b. 1041 Hegira), research: Seyyid Mahdi Rajai (Qum, Matbat Khayam, 1403 Hegira), 22 + 404 pages. This glossary goes so far as the Book of Proofs (al-Hujjat) and the texts of the Hadiths too have been quoted alongside the glossary. Likewise, the interpreter has authored another book by the name of ‘ar-Rawashih as-Samawiyyah in which he has mentioned some of the principles of the science of Hadith and has written an exposition on the introduction of the book Kafi, and it is considered as the first volume of this glossary.
2. Sharh Usul Kafi (An Exposition of the Fundamentals of Kafi), written by Sadr ad-Din Shirazi (b. 1050 Hegira), Tehran, Maktabat Mahmudi 1391 Hegira) 492 pages. This exposition goes so far as the end of the Book of Proofs (al-Hujjat) of the book Kafi. In the meantime, this exposition with the corrections of Muhammad Khawajawi has been printed in two volumes by the Cultural Research and Study Institute. Likewise, Khawajawi has translated this exposition in two volumes and that same research institute has printed it.
3. Rafi ad-Din bin Haidar an-Naini, research: Muhammad Hussein Dirayati (Qum, Daral Hadith, 1383 Iranian calendar) 673 pages, Waziri.
4. Al-Hashiya ala Usul al-Kafi (A Glossary of the Fundamentals of Kafi), Seyyid Badr ad-Din bin Ahmad al-Husseini al-Amuli, research: Ali Fazili (Qum, Daral Hadith, 1383 Iranian calendar) 353 pages, Waziri
5. Ad-Darul Manzum Min Kalam al Ma’sum, Ali bin Muhammad bin Hassan bin Zainuddin Amuli (b. 1103 or 1104 Hegira), research: Muhammad Hussein Dirayati (Qum, Daral Hadith, 1385 Iranian calendar) 717 pages, One volume, Waziri.
6. Mar’atul Uqul, Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (b. 111 Hegira) (Tehran, Daral Kutubul Islamiya, 1404 Hegira, 26 volumes)
7. Sharh al-Kafi, al-Usul wal Ruza (An Exposition of the Kafi, the Fundamentals and Sermons), Muhammad Salih al-Mazandarani, marginal notes: Mirza Abul Hassan Sha’rani (Tehran, al-Maktabat Al-Islamiya, 1347) 12 volumes
8. As-Shafi fi Sharh al-Usul al-Kafi, 3 volumes, Abdul Hussein al-Muzafar (Najaf, 1389 Hegira)
B) Translation
1. Usul Kafi, translation and exposition, Seyyid Jawwad Mustafawi (Tehran, Office for the Propagation of the Culture of the Ahlul Bait (a)), 2 volumes; this translation is alongside the text of the Hadiths.
2. Ar-Rauza min al- Kafi (the Sermons from Kafi), translation and exposition, Seyyid Hashim Rasuli Mahalatti (Tehran, Intisharat Ilmiya Islamiya) 2 volumes, 297 + 259 pages. In this book, the Arabic texts of the Hadiths have been quoted.
3. Al-Kafi, translation into English by the World Organization for Islamic Services. Thirteen volumes of this book have so far been published.
1. A Summary of Kafi, translation and exposition, Muhammad Baqir Behbudi (Tehran, Shirkat Intisharat Ilmi wa Farhangi 1363), six sections in three volumes (Vol. 1: The Sciences and Ethics; Vol. 2: Purification and the Ritual Prayers; Vol. 3 the Alms and Fasting; Vol. 4 Hajj; Vol. 5. Marriage and Drinkables; Vol. 6 Beautification)
2. A Summary of Usul al-kafi, translation: Ali Asghari Khusrawi Shabstari (Tehran, Amiri Bookshop, 1351 Iranian calendar) 270 pages.
3. Sahih min al-Kafi, 3 volumes, Muhammad baqir Bihbudi (al-Dar al-Islamiya, 1401 Hegira)
4. A Shining Ray from the Fundamentals of Kafi (Usul Kafi), Seyyid Muhammad Husseini hamadani (Qum, 1406 Hegira).
D) Encyclopedia and Guide
1. Al-Mu’jamul Mufharis lilalafazil Usul al-Kafi, Elias Kalantari (Tehran, Intisharat al-Ka’ba).
2. Al-Mu’jamul Mufaharis lilalafalil Usul Minal Kafi, Ali Reza Barazesh (Tehran, Manzumatul Ilamul Islami, 1408 Hegira) 2 Volumes 2011 pages.
3. Al-Hadi ila al-Fazi Usul al_Kafi, Seyyid Jawad Mustafawi (Astan Quds Razavi, Mashhad 1406), Vol. 1, 413 pages.
4. Fihris Ahadith Usul al-Kafi, Majma al-Buhuth al-Islamiya (Astan Quds Razavi, Mashhad, 1409 Hegira).
5. Fihris Ahadith ar-Rauza minal Kafi, Majma al-Buhuthul Islamiya (Astan Quds Razavi, Mashhad, 1408 Hegira).
6. Fihris Ahadith al-Furu’l Kafi, Majma al-Buhuthul Islamiya (Astan Quds Razavi, Mashhad, 1410 Hegira).
7. Fihris Ahadith al-Kafi, the Foundation for Islamic Research, Astan Quds Razavi.
E) Chains of Narration and the Narrators of Kafi
1. Tajrid Asanid al-Kafi wa Tanqiha, Hajj Mirza Mahdi Sadiqi (Qum, 1409 Hegira).
2. Al-Mausat ar-Rijjaliya, Hussein Tabatabai Burjirdi, seven volumes, correction and completion: Mirza Hassan an-Nuri (Majmal Buhuthil Islamiya, Mashhad, 1413 Hegira)
H) About Kafi
1. In Defense of Kafi (Difa anil Kafi), Thamir Hashim Habib al-Amidi (Markaz al-Ghadir lil Darasatul Islamiya, 1415 Hegira) two volumes, 768 + 789 pages.
2. Sheikh al-Kulayni al-Baghdadi wa Kitabuhul Kafi, Thamir Hashim Habib al-Amidi (Maktabul ilam Islamiya, Qum, 1414 Hegira) 495 pages. In this book a detailed account of the personal and academic life of Kulayni, the academic efforts in regard to the book Kafi and Kulayni’s method in the Furu have been dealt with.
3. Bainal Kulayni wa Khusumuhu, Mauqaf Muhammad Abu Zuhra minal Kulayni, Abdu Rasulul Ghafar (Daral Mujaja Misri)
4. Buhuth Haul Riwayat al-Kafi, Amin Tirmis al-Amuli (Muasisat Daral Hajrah, Qum, 1415 Hegira) 200 pages.
5. Darasat fil Kafi lil Kulayni wa Sahih al-Bukhari, Hashim popularly known as al-Hassani 1388 Hegira.
The author of this book has discussed related and comparative subjects between Kafi and Sahih Bukhari and has chosen topics and adjudged between them.
6. Thalathiyat al-Kulayni wa Qurb al-Kulayni, Amin Tirmis al-Amuli (Muasisa Daral Hadith at-Thaqafiya, qum, 1418 Hegira) 445 pages. In this work- after the introduction, which is an exposition of the life of Kulayni and corrections of Thalathiyat- Hadiths of Kulayni which go back to the named narrator through three intervals have been gathered the total of which is 135 Hadiths.
7. Kulayni and the Kafi (al-Kulayni wal Kafi), Doctor Abdu Rasul Ghafar (Institute of Islamic Publications, Qum, 1416 Hegira) 589 pages.
1. Hayat Sheikh Muhammad bin Kulayni (The Life of Sheikh Muhammad bin Kulayni), Doctor Thamir Amidi
2. Farhang Kutub Shia (Dictionary of Shiite Books), Seyyid Mahmud Madani Bajastani
3. Ashnai ba Mutun Hadith wa Nahjul Balagha (Acquiantance with Texts of Hadith and Nahjul Balagha), Mahdi Mahrizi.

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