Saturday, April 21, 2012

I am the Dot Under the Ba

I have been asked a question via the Contact Us form of the blog regarding the famous phrase attributed to Imām `Alī (عليه السلام), “I am the dot which is under the bā’”


Have you ever heard or read Imam Ali said:

"I am the dot under the letter BA'

What is the source to this saying? And is this saying by Imam Ali authentic?


This is not a ḥadīth of Imām `Alī (عليه السلام), rather this is a saying of Sūfīs that has been attributed to Imām `Alī (عليه السلام). This saying is not found in our classical books of Islām, either Sunnī or Shī`ah.

When looking through the books of both the Shī`ah and Sunnī, you actually find this phrase “I am the dot which is under the Bā’”[1] being attributed to another person and not Imām `Alī (عليه السلام). The earliest book that I could find that has this phrase is a book by the famous Sūfī, al-Ghazālī (b.450/1058-d.505/1111)[2]. In his book Iḥyā’ `Ulūm al-Dīn (Rebirth of the Sciences of Religion), which is said to be authored when he was influenced by the Sūfīs, he states:

وجاء رجل إلى الشبلي رحمه الله فقال له ما أنت وكان هذا دأبه وعادته فقال أنا النقطة التي تحت الباء
A man came to al-Shiblī[3], may Allāh have mercy on him, and he said to him, ‘Who are you?’ and this was his habit and custom. So he (al-Shiblī) said: ‘I am the dot (nuqṭah) which is under the bā’’[4]

The next time that this phrase[5] has been seen is by the extremist Sūfī, Ibn `Arabī (b.558/1164-d.638/1240), he is commonly known as Muḥyī al-Dīn Ibn `Arabī. Ibn `Arabī in his al-Fatūḥāt al-Makiyyah, his magnum opus, has related the same story that al-Ghazālī has mentioned.[6]

The first time that this phrase has been attributed to Imām `Alī (عليه السلام), is by the Sūfī Sunnī scholar Muḥammad b. Talḥah al-Shāfi`ī’s (b. 582/1186-d.652/1254)[7] book called al-Durr al-Mandham fī al-Surr al-A`dham[8]. He does not give a chain of narrators of this saying, nor does he give a source to where he got this from.

About Ibn Ṭalḥah al-Shāfi`ī

He is a Sunnī scholar with Sūfī leanings. This can be easily seen when reading through his works. al-Dhahabī (b. 673-d. 748) in his Tārīkh al-Islām  says, “And he entered in things from delirium and misguidance, and he acted on the circles[9], and claimed that he derived from it, knowledge of the unseen (al-ghayb) and knowledge of the Hour (Day of Judgment)”[10]

al-Dhahabī also says in his Siyar A`lām al-Nabulā’, “but he entered into the delirium of the knowledge of the letters (`ilm al-hurūf)”[11]

Ibn Kathīr in his Ṭabaqāt al-Fuquhā’ al-Shāfi`īn says, “And it is attributed that he occupied himself with the knowledge of the letters and patrimony, and that he would derive from that things from the unseen. And some say: ‘That he returned from that’. And Allāh Knows best.”[12]

About al-Durr al-Mandham fī al-Surr al-A`dham

As you read through this book, you can see what al-Dhahabī and Ibn Kathīr was talking about when they said “he occupied himself with the knowledge of the letters”. Throughout the book, he goes on-and-on about the different letters in the Qur’ān and what they mean. He even tries to do tafsīr (commentary) on the hurūf al-Muqaṭi`ah[13]

This book is still extant, and an old written manuscript of this book has been uploaded by Kind Saud University. In this old manuscript of Ibn Ṭalḥah’s al-Durr al-Mandham, you can see the famous saying that is attributed to Imām `Alī (عليه السلام), “I am the dot which is under the bā’”.

(Scanned Image of Old Manuscript of Ibn Ṭalḥah’s al-Durr al-Mandham)
(Click image to enlarge)

و اعلم أن جميع أسرار الله تعالى في الكتب السماوية و جميع أسرار الكتب السماوية في القرآن ، وجميع ما في القرآن في الفاتحة ، وجميع ما في الفاتحة في بسم الله، وجميع ما في بسم الله في باء بسم الله، وجميع ما في باء بسم الله في النقطة التي هي تحت الباء . قال الإمام علي : أنا النقطة التي تحت الباء
And know that all of Allāh’s (تعالى) secrets are in the heavenly books, and all of the secrets of the heavenly books are in the Qur’ān. And all of which is in the Qur’ān is in al-Fātiḥah, and all of which is in al-Fātiḥah is in bismillah, and all of which is in bismillah is in the bā’ of bismillah, and all of which is in the bā’ in bismillah is the dot (nuqṭah) which is under the bā’. Imām `Alī (عليه السلام) said: “I am the dot which is under the bā’”

This is the first time in history that this phrase “I am the dot which is under the ba” has been attributed to Imām `Alī (عليه السلام). As you can see, he never gives the source or the chain of narrators to allow us to see how he got this phrase. This is not uncommon when reading through this book as he never gives the source or complete chain of narrators to the ḥadīth he mentions.

The first Shī`ah source that mentions this phrase is from the Sūfī[14] Shī`ah scholar Rajab al-Bursī (d. 813), who is also into the knowledge of the letters (`ilm al-Hurūf)[15], in his Mashāriq al-Anwār.[16] Rajab al-Bursī has been linked with the ghulāt (exaggerators)[17]. And al-Majlisī has said that he does not rely on what he puts in his book, unless it is in other authentic books.[18] Since this phrase is not added in al-Majlisī’s Bihār al-Anwār, it is safe to assume that al-Majlisī thought that this phrase was da`īf (weak)al-Bursī does not also give a source, nor does he give a chain of narrators to this phrase.

(Taken from my personal copy of al-Bursī’s Mashāriq al-Anwār, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-`Alamī lil-Maṭbū`āt), pg. 21)
 (Click image to enlarge)

All the scholars that mention this phrase quote from either Ibn Ṭalḥah’s al-Durr al-Mandham or al-Bursī’s Mashāriq al-Anwār. For example, Sulaymān b. Ibrāhīm al-Qundūzī (d. 1294) quotes this phrase from al-Durr al-Mandham.[19] Or, al-Sayyid al-Mar`ashī al-Najafī (d. 1411) quotes this phrase attributed to Imām `Alī (عليه السلام) from al-Durr al-Mandham.[20]

In conclusion, this phrase is fabricated and misattributed to Imām `Alī (عليه السلام). This is not so surprising, since Sūfīs have been known to attribute false things to our A’immah (عليهم السلام), especially Imām `Alī (عليه السلام).

And Allāh Knows Best.

Nader Zaveri
Jamadi’ al-Awwal 29, 1433
April 21, 2012

[1] أنا النقطة التي تحت الباء – Tr. “I am the dot which is under the bā’”
[2] Abū Ḥāmid, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Ghazālī (450/1058-505/1111), he is known as the mujaddid (reviver) of the 5th century. It is stated that he has authored about 457 books. al-Ghazālī most famous books, which he has authored during his Sūfī days, is Iḥyā’ `Ulūm al-Dīn (Rebirth of the Sciences of Religion).
[3] This could be a reference to the Sūfī Abū Bakr al-Shiblī (b. 247/861). It is stated that he adhered to the Sūfī way, but was of the Mālikī madhhab.
[4] al-Ghazālī, Iḥyā’ `Ulūm al-Dīn, 4 vols., (Beirut: Dār al-Ma`rifah), vol. 3, pg. 342
[5] “I am the dot which is under the bā’”
[6] Ibn `Arabī, al-Fatūḥāt al-Makiyyah, 4 vols., (Beirut: Dār al-Ṣādir), vol. 1, pg. 102
[7] Abū Sālim, Muḥammad b. Ṭalḥah b. Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan, known as Kamāl al-Dīn, al-Shāfi`ī. He died in the city of Aleppo (Ḥalab) on the 27th of Rajab.
[8] الدر المنظم في السر الأعظم
[9] al-Dhahabī is most likely alluding to Ibn Ṭalḥah’s circular patterns with writings in them, which can be seen through his book al-Durr al-Mandham
[10] al-Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, ed. `Umar `Abd al-Salām Tudmirī, (Beirut: Dār al-Kitāb al-`Arabī, 1st ed., 1407), vol. 11, pg. 44-45 (ARABIC TEXT):
وقد دخل في شيءٍ من الهَذَيَان والضّلال ، وعمل دائرةً وادّعى أنّه يستخرج منْها علِم الغيب وعلْم السّاعة
[11] al-Dhahabī, Siyar A`lām al-Nabulā’, 25 vols., ed. Shu`ayb Aranā’ūt, (Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 3rd ed., 1405), vol. 23, pg. 293, person # 199
[12] Ibn Kathīr, Ṭabaqāt al-Fuquhā’ al-Shāfī`īn, 2 vols, 2004, Tenth Class of Shāfi`ī Scholars (ARABIC TEXT)
وقد نسب إلى الاشتغال بعلم الحروف والأوقاف ، وأنه يستخرج من ذلك أشياء من المغيبات ، وقيل : إنه رجع عنه ، فالله أعلم
[13] Lit. ‘The Segmented Letters’ – These are the letters that Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) has put in the beginning of some sūrahs (i.e. Alif-Lam-Mīm; Kaf-Ha-Ya-`Ayn-Sād)
[14] Muḥsin al-Amīn (d. 1371) calls Rajab al-Bursī a Sūfī. (See: Muḥsin al-Amīn, A`yān al-Shī`ah, (Beirut: Dār al-Tā`rif), vol. 6, pg. 465)
[15] Muhsin al-Amīn says that Rajab al-Bursī is into `ilm al-Hurūf and that it is nothing but a delusion, assumption and deceptive (See: ibid, pg. 466)
[16] al-Bursī, Mashāriq al-Anwār, ed. al-Sayyid `Alī Āshūr, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-`Alamī lil-Maṭbū`āt, 1st ed., 1419), pg. 29
[17] al-Hurr al-`Āmulī, Amal al-Āmul, vol. 2, pg. 117, person # 329
و في كتابه إفراط و ربما نسب إلى الغلو
“And in his book is excessiveness and it maybe that he is linked to ghuluww
[18] al-Majlisī, Biḥār al-Anwār, (Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah, 4th ed., 1362)  vol. 1, pg. 10 (ARABIC TEXT):
و لا أعتمد على ما يتفرد بنقله لاشتمال كتابيه على ما يوهم الخبط و الخلط و الارتفاع و إنما أخرجنا منهما ما يوافق الأخبار المأخوذة من الأصول المعتبرة
“And I do not rely on what he includes in his book alone,  and what is mislead, mixture, wrong and ghuluww. I only narrate from it what is agreed upon narrations taken from authentic fundamental (sources)”
[19] al-Qundūzī, Yanābī` al-Muwaddah, 3 vols., (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-`Alamī lil-Maṭbū`āt, 1st ed., 1418), vol. 1, pg. 81-82
[20] al-Mar`ashī al-Najafī, Sharḥ Iḥqāq al-Haqq, 33 vols., (Qum: Maktabah Mar`ashī al-Najafī), vol. 7, pg. 208

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hasan and Hussain Help Old Man With Wudu

I have been asked a question via the Contact Us form of the blog regarding the famous story of al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥussayn helping an old man with his wudū’

A very famous story I hear all the time is when Hasan and Hussain helping an old man to do wudu, and they teach him by performing wudu themselves, and he sees that he was doing it wrong. I tried to look online for this information, but no one gives the source to this.

What is the source to this story? And is this story authentic?


This is one of the most oft-repeated stories you hear about al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥussayn (عليهم السلام), speakers throughout the world use this story as an example of Amr bi’l Ma`rūf wa Nahī `Anil Munkar [1] .  When looking through the classical sources of ḥadīth in both Shī`ah and Sunnīs, you do not find this story mentioned. In Shī`ah books you do not find this ḥadīth mentioned at all, the only time you find this ḥadīth mentioned is when a Shī`ah scholar is quoting from a Sunnī book.

The first time this story can be seen in Shī`ah books is in a book called al-Manāqib Āl Abī Tālib (The Merits of the Family of Abī Tālib). The author of this book is Abī `Abd Allāh Muḥammad b. `Alī b. Shahrāshūb (commonly known as Ibn Shahrāshūb), he died in the year 588 AH. This book has four volumes and is a book of ḥadīth that has many merits and stories of the Ahl al-Bayt (عليهم السلام). All of the ḥadīth in this book do not contain a full connected chain of narrators, so all of the ḥadīth in this book will be classed as da`īf (weak) because of it being mursal (disconnected chain of narrators).

Ibn Shahrāshūb has taken this story from a book called `Uyūn al-Majālis. Al-Majlisī also adds this story in his book Bihār al-Anwār, quoting from `Uyūn al-Majālis. In Bihār al-Anwār the book that al-Majlisī quotes from is named `Uyūn al-Maḥāsin. This is either a transcription error or al-Majlisī made an error; unfortunately the editors of Bihār al-Anwār didn’t catch it. The name of the book is actually `Uyūn al-Majālis, and we have come to this conclusion because:

1.    A book named `Uyūn al-Maḥāsin has been authored by al-Ḥasan b. `Alī b. Muḥammad b. `Alī b. al-Ḥasan al-Tabarī (d. after 798)[2]. He is commonly known as `Imād al-Dīn al-Tabarī)[3]
2.    This book cannot be it, because Ibn Shahrāshūb (d. 588 AH) quotes from `Uyūn al-Majālis and he lived about two centuries before the author of `Uyūn al- Maḥāsin, so the book `Uyūn al- Maḥāsin was not authored during the life of Ibn Shahrāshūb.
3.    al-Majlisī also quotes other ḥadīth from the book `Uyūn al-Majālis[4], so he had access to this book and used this book in his encyclopedia of ḥadīth.

Here is the full ḥadīth that is in Ibn Shahrāshūb’s al-Manāqib and al-Majlisī’s Bihār al-Anwār:

(Taken from my personal copy of al-Majlisī’s Bihār al-Anwār[5])
(Click image to enlarge)

عُيُونُ المجالس عَنِ الرُّويَانِيِّ أَنَّ الْحَسَنَ وَ الْحُسَيْنَ مَرَّا عَلَى شَيْخٍ يَتَوَضَّأُ وَ لَا يُحْسِنُ فَأَخَذَا فِي التَّنَازُعِ يَقُولُ كُلُّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا أَنْتَ لَا تُحْسِنُ الْوُضُوءَ فَقَالَا أَيُّهَا الشَّيْخُ كُنْ حَكَماً بَيْنَنَا يَتَوَضَّأُ كُلُّ وَاحِدٍ مِنَّا فَتَوَضَّئَا ثُمَّ قَالَا أَيُّنَا يُحْسِنُ قَالَ كِلَاكُمَا تُحْسِنَانِ الْوُضُوءَ وَ لَكِنَّ هَذَا الشَّيْخَ الْجَاهِلَ هُوَ الَّذِي لَمْ يَكُنْ يُحْسِنُ وَ قَدْ تَعَلَّمَ الْآنَ مِنْكُمَا وَ تَابَ عَلَى يَدَيْكُمَا بِبَرَكَتِكُمَا وَ شَفَقَتِكُمَا عَلَى أُمَّةِ جَدِّكُمَا
`Uyūn al-Majālis: From my narrators, that al-Ḥasan (عليه السلام) and al-Ḥusayn (عليه السلام) passed by an old man (shaykh) who was performing wuḍū’, and he did not do it correctly. So they had a feud and said to one another, ‘you are not doing it correctly’. So they said: ‘O Shaykh (old man), each one of us will do wuḍū’, can you judge between us?’ So they did wuḍū’ and they said: ‘Which one of us is correct?’ He (the old man) said: ‘Both of you have correct wuḍū’, but this old man (i.e. himself) is ignorant, he did not do it correctly, and he has now learned from you two, and I seek repentance upon both your hands, your blessing, your compassion upon the Ummah of your grandfather’[6]

The only book in Islāmic history that is titled `Uyūn al-Majālis is by a Sunnī author named `Abd al-Wahhāb al-Baghdādī (d. 422 AH), a Mālikī scholar[7]. This is a fiqh book, it is a possibility that Ibn Shahrāshūb quoted from this book since he lived before Ibn Shahrāshūb’s time, and this book is extant.

This story is da`īf (weak) for many reasons:
1.    This book is a Sunnī book, and Sunnī books and Sunnī ḥadīth hold no weight to the Shī`ahs.
2.    The story does not mention a narrator who narrates the ḥadīth; it simply says “My narrators”. This does not count when it comes to ḥadīth science.
3.    You do not know who is saying this story, if it is coming from any of the Ahl al-Bayt (عليهم السلام), or from a saḥābah (companions) or tabi`īn (successor).

This story is also mentioned in another Sunnī book, much later without a chain of narrators, named Fayḍ al-Qadīr Sharḥ al-Jāmi` al-Saghīr min Aḥādīth al-Badhīr al-Nadhīr[8] authored by Muḥammad `Abd al-Ra’ūf b. Tāj al-Manāwī (b. 952 – d. 1031).[9]

وقد حكى أن الحسن والحسين رضي الله عنهما وعن والديهما وعلى جدهما أفضل الصلاة وأتم التسليم مرا بشخص يفسد وضوءه فقال أحدهما لأخيه تعال نرشد هذا الشيخ فقالا يا شيخ إنا نريد أن نتوضأ بين يديك حتى تنظر إلينا وتعلم من يحسن منا الوضوء ومن لا يحسنه ففعلا ذلك فلما فرغا من وضوئهما قال أنا والله الذي لا أحسن الوضوء وأما أنتما فكل واحد منكما يحسن وضوءه
And it is related that al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥussayn, (may Allāh be pleased with both of them and their fathers and their grandfather, with the greatest prayers and complete peace), passed by an individual who had a corrupt wudū’, and one of them said to his brother: ‘Come, let’s guide this shaykh (old man)’. So they said: ‘O Shaykh (Old man), we would like to do wudū’, can you help us and see us and let us know who has a better wudū’ from us, and who does not have a correct one?’ So they did that (wudū’), and when they finished their wudū. He (the old man) said: ‘I, by Allāh, was not doing my wudū’ correctly. And as for you, both of you two did the wudū’ correctly’[10]

Even though this story sounds like something our A’immah (عليهم السلام) would do, there is no definitive way to say that this story is accurate and correct. Therefore, we should not narrate these stories from our pulpit, and we should tell others not to narrate this story. We have many beautiful Ṣaḥīḥ (Authentic) aḥādīth and stories about Imām al-Ḥasan (عليه السلام) and Imām al-Ḥussayn (عليه السلام) that we do not need to narrate stories that are not authentic.

And Allāh Knows Best.
Nader Zaveri
Jamadi’ al-Awwal 27, 1433
April 19, 2012

[1] Tr. ‘Enjoining in good, and forbidding from evil’
[2] Agha Buzurgh al-Ṭehrānī, al-Dharī`ah ‘ila Taṣānīf al-Shī`ah, (Beirut: Dār al-Aḍwā’, 3rd ed., 1403),  vol. 15, pg. 382, book # 2385
[3] This `Imād al-Dīn al-Tabarī is different from the `Imād al-Dīn al-Tabarī (d. after 554 AH) who is the author of the famous book Bishārah al-Muṣṭafa.
[4] al-Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, (Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah, 4th ed., 1362),  vol. 79, ch. 19, pg. 150, ḥadīth # 1-2
[5] al-Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, (Beirut: Dār al-Turāth al-`Arabī, 3rd ed., 1403), vol. 43, ch. 13, pg. 319
[6] Ibn Shahrāshūb, al-Manāqib Āl Abī Tālib, 4 vols., (Qum: Mu’assasah al-`Allāmah lil-Nashr, 1379), vol. 3, Ch – Makārim Akhlāqumā (Their Noble Manners), pg. 400; al-Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, op. cit., vol. 43, ch. 13, pg. 319
[7] Ibn Qayyim in his Ijmā` al-Jayyūsh al-Islāmiyyah says about `Abd al-Wahhāb al-Baghdādī: “He is from the great Mālikī (scholars) of Iraq.”
[8] This book is a commentary of the famous book al-Jāmi` al-Saghīr of al-Suyūṭī (b. 849- d. 911). The ḥadīth in this book are categorized in alphabetical order, like `Abbās al-Qummī has done with his book Safīnah al-Bihār.
[9] He is from one of the major Sunnī scholars. It is said that he used to eat very little, because he was very careful about his food. He has authored over 80 books, and spent his life in Cairo, Egypt.
[10] al-Manāwī, Fayḍ al-Qadīr, (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-`Ilmiyyah, 1415), vol. 2, pg. 416

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tanbih al-Khawatir

A question was asked regarding the book Tanbīh al-Khawāṭir, which you too can ask via the Contact Us form on the blog.

What is this book? Tanbih al-Khawatir


The book’s full name is Tanbīh al-Khawāṭir wa Nazhah al-Nawādhir, another name for this book is called Majmū`ah Warrām. This is a book that mainly deals with akhlāq (mannerism) issues, and would be categorized as an akhlāq (mannerism) / tazkiyyah al-nafs (purification of the soul) book. The author of this book is Warrām b. Abī Fāris al-Mālikī al-Ashtarī (d. 605 AH), the book is extant and it has been published by many publishers. This book is originally in two volumes, but many publishers (i.e. Dār al-Ta`ārif in Beirut) have published both volumes in one volume binding. This book has not been translated in English.

Name: Warrām b. Abee Fāris b. Hamadān al-Mālikī al-Ashtarī[1]
From the lineage of al-Mālik al-Ashtari (companion of Imām `Alī (عليه السلام)), and he is the maternal grandfather of the famous scholar al-Sayyid ibn Ṭawus (d. 664)

There isn't an exact date for his birth, but it is stated that he was born in the 6th century of Hijrah in the city of al-Hilla[2]

Sadīd al-Dīn Maḥmūd b. `Alī al-Hamaṣī & `Alī b. Ibrāhīm al-`Alawī al-`Urayḍī  

Scholarly Opinion regarding him:
1.    Muntajab al-Dīn (d. 600) in his al-Fihrist[3] titles him al-Amīr al-Zāhid (The prince of asceticism) and calls him a good faqīh

2.    al-Sayyid ibn Ṭawus (d. 664) in his Falaah al-Saa'il[4]: "He is from who we emulate his actions"

3.    Hurr al-`Āmulī (d. 1104) in his Amal al-Āmul[5]: “Shaykh of great merit and importance”

4.    `Alī al-Namāzī al-Shāhrūdī in his Mustadarakāt `ilm al-Rijāl[6]: "Prince of asceticism, trustworthy, pious, and a good faqīh"

His Books:
1.    Tanbīh al-Khawāṭir wa Nazhah al-Nawādhir (also known as Majmū`ah Warrām)
2.    Mas'alah fee al-Mawāsi`ah wa al-Muḍāfah

His Death:
He died on the 2nd of Muharram in the year 605 in the city of al-Hilla[7]

About the book:
There are three major issues with this book:
1.    When reading this book, you would have a hard time believing that it was a Shī`ah book, because majority if not all the ḥadīth is either narrated by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) or Imām `Alī (عليه السلام). Many times it goes through major Sunni narrators such as `Ā’ishah, Abū Sa`īd al-Khudri, Ibn `Abbās. Rarely, if ever, does he narrate from the A’immah (عليهم السلام).

2.    All of the ḥadīth that have been narrated in this book is mursal (disconnect), meaning that there are no chain of narrators. Sometimes even the primary narrator is not mentioned.

3.    Hurr al-`Āmulī says this about this book, “It is good, except in it is inferior and poisonous (things)” (i.e. incorrect information)[8]

Some Chapter Titles: (Not in order)
1.    Chapter on Perfume and Scent
2.    Chapter on the Description on associating with the people and sitting with them
3.    Chapter on Names, Kunya, and Laqab
4.    Chapter on Traveling and Journeys
5.    Chapter on the Yearning for country of the family
6.    Chapter on Dhann (Speculation)
7.    Chapter on Lying
8.    Chapter on al-Gheebah
9.    Chapter on What has come about Gossiping
10.  Chapter on Anger
11.  Chapter on Condemnation of the World
12.  Explanation on the Remedy for Stinginess
13.  Chapter on the Condemnation of Riyaa' (Showing Off)
...And Many Others

Nader Zaveri
Jamadi’ al-Awwal 24, 1433
April 16, 2012

[1] Warām is from the lineage of the great companion of Imām `Alī (عليه السلام), Mālik al-Ashtar. This is the reason why he is called al-Mālikī al-Ashtarī (See: Ja`far al-Subhānī’s Mawsū`ah Ṭabaqāt al-Fuquhah, vol. 7, pg. 289)
[2] City 100 km south of Baghdād in Iraq
[3] Muntajab al-Dīn, al-Fihrist, (Qum: Maktabah Ayatullah al-Mar`ashī al-Najafī), pg. 128-129, person # 522
[4] al-Sayyid ibn Ṭawus, Falāḥ al-Sā’il wa Najāḥ al-Masā’il, pg. 75
[5] Hurr al-Āmulī, Amal al-Āmul, vol. 2, pg. 338, person # 1040
[6] `Alī al-Namāzī al-Shāhrūdī, Mustadarkāt `ilm al-Rijāl, (Tehran, 1st ed. 1412), vol. 8, pg. 98, person # 15682
[7] ibid
[8] Hurr al-Āmulī, Amal al-Āmul, vol. 2, pg. 338, person # 1040

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Is Aristotle a Prophet

I have been asked a question regarding Aristotle and his Prophethood. You, too, can ask via the Contact Us form on the blog. 

I remember once hearing that one of the Masoomeen (peace be upon the all) had referred to one of the Greek philosophers as a Prophet of God, who used to invite people to God using reason - I don't remember exactly who but I think it was Aristotle.

Can you give me a reference for this Hadith (if it exists and you know about it)? Sorry for giving you the trouble. If you can, please give a grading as well.


Aristotle in Arabic is referred to in two ways, one as أرسطو and another way as أرسطوطاليس.

When looking through the Shī`ah ḥadīth corpus, you do NOT find a hadeeth referring to Aristotle as a Prophet or a Waṣī / Walī. When you look through the Sunnī books you ALSO do NOT find any ḥadīth that refers to Aristotle as a Prophet.

One the other hand, the great companion of the sixth and seventh Imāms (عليهم السلام), Hishām bin al-Ḥakam, has authored a book called Kitāb al-Radd `Ala Aristotle fī al-Tawhīd (Book on Refutating Aristotle on Tawhīd - كتاب الرد على أرسطاطاليس في التوحيد). Both al-Najāshī and al-Ṭūsī have mentioned this as one of the books that Hishām has authored. Unfortunately, this book is not extant, but if Aristotle was a Prophet, how and why would Hishām refute him, especially on the major belief of Tawhīd?

I have found two shaadh (odd) sources that are attributed to Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) regarding Aristotle.

“It has been mentioned in the books of the people of haqq (truth)”:
أنا أرسطوطاليس هذه الأمة
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said: "I am the Aristotle of this Ummah"

Analysis of adīth:
There is no source given to this particular adīth, which isn’t found in any of the Sunni and Shī`ah books. The only thing said before this adīth is ذكر في كتب أهل الحق (It has been mentioned in the books of the people of truth). This doesn’t mean much.

The other source is found in Muhammad al-Daylami's book Mahbūb al-Qulūb, pg. 14:

يروى أن عمرو ابن العاص قدم من الإسكندرية على النبي فسأله عما رأى؟ قال : رأيت قوما يتطلسون ويجتمعون حلقا، ويذكرون رجلا يقال له أرسطو طاليس لعنه الله! فقال له النبي: مه يا عمرو!، إن أرسطو طاليس كان نبيا فجهله قومه
It is narrated that `Amr bin al-`Āṣ came from Alexandria to the Prophet and he (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) asked him (`Amr) about what he saw? He (`Amr bin al-`Āṣ) said: ‘I saw a group of people would gather in a halaqa, and they would mention a man, they called him Aristotle, may Allāh curse him. Then the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said to him (`Amr): ‘O `Amr, Aristotle is a Prophet, but his people were ignorant of him!’

Analysis of adīth:
There are many things wrong with this adīth.
1.)    There is no sanad (chain of narrators) to this adīth, and the book that this has been mentioned is a book that isn’t accepted by either Sunnī or the Shī`ah.
2.)   The primary narrator `Amr bin al-`Ā, is a narrator who would not be authentic per the Shī`ah science of adīth because of his stance after the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) death.
3.)   `Amr bin al-`Ā has never been mentioned to step foot in Alexandria until after the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) death, making this adīth impossible.

Unfortunately, you have Shī`ah scholars such as Kamāl al-Haydarī in his first dars (lesson) on al-Mantiq (Logic) where he mentions this adīth to prove or praise Aristotle. Kamāl al-Haydarī also says that Imām al-Sādiq (عليه السلام) “praises” Aristotle in Tawhīd al-Mufaḍḍal.

Putting aside the authenticity of Tawhīd al-Mufaḍḍal, which is not authentic. When reading the statement from Imām al-ādiq (عليه السلام) where he mentioned Aristotle, you will see that this is in no way praising Aristotle.

و قد كان أرسطاطاليس رد عليهم فقال إن الذي يكون بالعرض و الاتفاق إنما هو شي‏ء يأتي في الفرط مرة لأعراض تعرض للطبيعة فتزيلها عن سبيلها و ليس بمنزلة الأمور الطبيعية الجارية على شكل واحد جريا دائما متتابعا
"Aristotle refuted them by saying: ‘That which comes into being by accident and chance is something that comes one time due to certain factors in nature making something unusual and not like the natural matters that happen in one form continually and successively."
1.     Al-Mufaḍḍal bin `Umar, Tawhīd al-Mufaḍḍal, (Qum: Maktabah al-Dāwirī, 3rd ed., 1376 AH), Fourth Session, pg. 180

As you can see, this statement does not praise Aristotle at all. Imām al-ādiq (عليه السلام) only mentioned the view of Aristotle. This is equivalent to Shī`ah scholars mentioned the view of Sunnī scholars, that does not mean that they are praising that scholar.

There is NOT a adīth from the Ahlul Bayt (عليهم السلام) where they praise any of the Greek philosophers. I believe, the reason why you see some scholars try to make Aristotle or any other Greek philosopher a Prophet is because of the fact that it is mentioned in adīth that there are 124,000 prophets, only 25 of them are mentioned in the Qur’ān. Some scholars seeing the big discrepancy of Prophets that are not mentioned, they try to put names to some of them. This is of course pure dhann (speculation).

And Allah Knows Best.

Nader Zaveri
Jamadi’ al-Awwal 16, 1433
April 7, 2012