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Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni

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Title: Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni  
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Language: English
Subject: Kitab al-Kafi, Muhammad al-Jawad, Razi, 941 deaths, Persian people
Collection: 10Th-Century Islamic Religious Leaders, 864 Births, 941 Deaths, People from Qom, Persian People, Scholars of Shia Islam
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni

Muslim scholar
Abu Ja'far Muhammad bin Yaqoub ibn Ishaq al-Kulainy
Title Thiqatul-Islam Kulainy
Born 250 AH
Died 329 AH
Era Islamic golden age
Region Iran & Iraq
Religion Islam
Denomination Shia Islam
Main interest(s) Hadith
Notable work(s) Kitab al-Kafi

Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Ya'qub ibn Ishaq al-Kulayni al-Razi (Persian: شیخ ابوجعفر محمّد بن یعقوب بن اسحاق رازی; c. 250 AH/864 CE - 329 AH/941 CE).[1]


  • Life 1
  • Mujaddid of third century AH 2
  • Thiqat ul-Islam 3
  • Work and contribution 4
  • His legacy 5
  • His Students 6
  • Early Islam scholars 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Al-Kulayni was born in Kulayn, a village or small town situated near Rey, in Iran.[2] His father was Mullah Ya'qub al-Kulayni, who is buried at Rey. He belonged to the era of the Minor Occultation of Muhammad al-Mahdi (the last Twelver Shia Imam who, according Shia belief, is currently in occultation and will appear near the Day of Judgment) and is claimed to have greatly benefited from al-Mahdi's divine knowledge by interacting with him through the Imam's deputies and emissaries.[3][4] For this reason he has an exalted status among the scholars of successive generations.

Kulayni belonged to a family of muhaddithun (hadith experts) and fuqaha (Islamic jurists). He spent the major part of his life in the 3rd century Hijri hence he is known as 'Mujaddid (reviver) of the 3rd century.'[5] Kulayni received his early religious education in his native town and went to Rey for further education, where he attended the lectures of famous contemporary scholars. There he received all his formal education and mastered Islamic sciences. Within a relatively short period he acquired fame as an eminent scholar and received students from far and near.

He is counted among a special class of muhaddithun known as Rihalah-ye hadith.[4] In Arabic, Rihlah means journey and those who travelled in order to collect ahadith and met the persons considered to be the authority on hadith. He travelled to Baghdad for this reason and lived there for twenty years, engaged in teaching and pursuing academic work, until he died in 329 AH/941 CE. He is considered the foremost Shia compiler of hadith and was the author of Kitab al-Kafi.[6]

Mujaddid of third century AH

He is acknowledged by the Twelver Shiites as Mujaddid (reviver) of the 3rd century of the Islamic calendar. It is a Shia belief that God chooses an alim (Islamic scholar) in every century for the task of reviving and strengthening Islam. Ibn Athir in his book Jami' al-usul in "kitab al-nabuwwah" quotes the hadith:

"God sends a person in every century with the responsibility for spreading and strengthening His Din."

He lists the names of persons who are regarded as mujaddidun among the Shia. According to him, the Mujaddid of the 1st century AH was Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, the Mujaddid of the 2nd century was Imam Ali ar-Ridha and the Mujaddid for the 3rd century was Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al Kulayni. Shaykh Abbas al-Qummi in his book Al-Kuna wa al-alqab has given the full list of the mujaddidun of Shiism and lists Kulayni as the Mujaddid of 3rd century AH.[4]

Thiqat ul-Islam

Kulayni is also known by the title of Thiqat ul-Islam. This title has not been bestowed upon any other Shia scholar. In ilm ar-Rijal, Thiqah means "a narrator of the tradition who is reliable." The Shia scholars Shaykh Tusi, Muhammad Baqir Majlisi and Qazi Nurullah Shustari are among those who remembered Kulayni by this name.[4] Kulayni died in 328 A.H. or 329 A.H. (939 or 940 A.D.).

Work and contribution

Although Shaykh al-Kulaynī is most famous for al-Kāfī, this opus was not his only accomplishment. The following is a list of his known works:

  • Kitab al-Kafi (extant)
  • Rasāʾil al-aʿimmah
  • Kitāb al-rijāl
  • Kitāb al-radd ʿalā al-qarāmiṭah
  • Kitāb mā qīla fī al-aʾimmah min al-shiʿr
  • Kitāb taʿbīr al-ruʾyā

Sadly, of these, only al-Kāfī has survived in its entirety.[7]

His legacy

The influence of Kulayni on his contemporaries and successive generations has been tremendous and among followers of Shia Imamiyya faith in particular. His influence has probably been single most important due to the number of reasons. The first being his importance as Mujaddid of his age places him at the highest position among his contemporaries and therefore his influence. His contemporaries and generations that followed into his footsteps based on the foundations he laid down in the field of hadith are indebted to him. According to Waheed Akhtar:

"Al-Kulayni took up the work of compilation of the traditions for the sake of arming the believers with sufficient body of hadith that could serve as a guide. He himself did not write any commentary on the traditions he compiled, but his preference for the traditions emphasizing the importance of reason and knowledge in placing them before all other traditions shows his own inclination towards rationalism."

And he brought balance between dogmatism and rationalism:

"He tried to save the faith from the arrogance of rationalism, which refused to accept any other authority except intellect. He aimed to strike a balance between dogmatism and extreme type of rationalism."

And on issues dealing with human problems:

"al-Kulayni's discourse on the duties and responsibilities of human beings prescribed by the law of Shari'ah is based on his rationalist approach to the problem, underlying the principle that God does not saddle human beings with impossible duties. The lack of this realization has led Muslim Ummah to accept many ideas and beliefs that are alien to Islam. Even in his brief introduction he emphasized the significance of knowledge and- reason."

According to Dr. M. Ismail Marcinkowski, "...the celebrated Abu Ja‘far Muhammad b. Ya‘qub al-Kulayni (d. 329/941) had compiled his Al-Kafi, a collection of Traditions which is counted among the 'canonical' Four Books of the Twelvers. Although Ibn Babawayh was not one of his direct disciples he seemed to have benefited to a high degree from al-Kulayni as a transmitter of Traditions. Ibn Babawayh himself was among the teachers of the celebrated Twelver scholar Muhammad b. Muhammad b. al-Nu‘man, known as al-Shaykh al-Mufid (336-413/948-1022), who is famous for his usuli-rationalist approach in legal theory. Interesting in this context is al-Mufid's controversy with his teacher in theological questions and in matters of procedure Al-Mufid gave Twelver Shi‘ite theological studies a new impetus and direction: he is said to have emphasized the role of discursive theology before or better side-by side with that of the science of Traditions.[8]

His work and his approach in dealing with various problems in the light of al-Kafi paved the way for generations in varied fields of Islamic science and philosophy. This is the reason why Shia contribution to Islamic science and philosophy has been so significant despite being always a minority.

His Students

A number of Shiite jurisprudents and scholars of hadith, who were among famous scholars in the first half of the 4th century AH in Iran and Iraq, totaling fifteen people altogether were Kulayni's students. Others are among the category of eminent scholars. Also teachers of a great number of renowned scholars of the second half of the 4th century AH are considered as some of Kulayni’s students.

  1. Ahmad ibn Ibrahim, popularly known as Ibn Abi Rafi Simri
  2. Ahmad ibn Katib Kufi
  3. Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Saeed Kufi
  4. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ali Kufi
  5. Abu Ghalib Ahmad ibn Muhammad Zarari (285-364 AH)
  6. Ja’far ibn Muhammad ibn Quluwiya Qumi (368 AH)
  7. Abdul Karim Abdullah ibn Nasr Bazaz Tanisi
  8. Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Musa Diqan
  9. Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Ni’mani well known as Ibn Abi Zainab, who was one of his special students and copied his book al-Kafi in his own hand writing
  10. Muhammad ibn Ahmad Safwan, the resident of Baghdad, was one of his special students and copied his book al-Kafi line by line in his own handwriting and learned theoretical knowledge and ethics from him and was praised by Kulayni for his knowledge of the Hadith
  11. Muhammad ibn Ahmad Sanani Zahri the resident of Rey
  12. Abul Fazl Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Matlab Shibani
  13. Muhammad ibn Ali Majluwiya
  14. Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Asam Kulayni
  15. Harun ibn Musa Talakbari Shibbani (b 385 AH)

Early Islam scholars

See also


  1. ^ Shaikh Mohammed bin Yaqoob bin Ishaq Kulaini & Al Kafi @
  2. ^ Ali Akbar al-Ghaffari's introduction to his eight-volume edition of al-Kulayni's Usul al-Kafi , Tehran, 3rd edition 1388-), I, 9-13.
  3. ^ Ali Akbar al-Ghaffari's introduction to his eight-volume edition of al-Kulayni's al-Kafi , Ibid. I, 13-14.
  4. ^ a b c d Syed Waheed Akhtar: Early Imammiyah Shiite Thinkers
  5. ^ I. K Howard
  6. ^ Meri, Josef W. (2005). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. USA: Routledge.  
  7. ^ Islamic Texts Institute. Al-Kafi Book I: Intellect and Foolishness. Taqwa Media.  
  8. ^ The Buyid Domination as the Historical Background for the Flourishing of Muslim Scholarship during the 4th/10th Century Dr. M. Ismail Marcinkowski*
  9. ^ The Quran
  10. ^ The Great Fiqh
  11. ^ Al-Muwatta'
  12. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari
  13. ^ Sahih Muslim
  14. ^ Jami` at-Tirmidhi
  15. ^ Mishkât Al-Anwar
  16. ^ The Niche for Lights
  17. ^ Women in Islam: An Indonesian Perspective by Syafiq Hasyim. Page 67
  18. ^ ulama,
  19. ^ 1.Proof & Historiography - The Islamic Evidence.
  20. ^ Atlas Al-sīrah Al-Nabawīyah. Darussalam, 2004. Pg 270
  21. ^ Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz by Imam Abu Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Hakam died 829

External links

  • Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature by Norman Calder, J A Mojaddedi, Andrew Rippin
  • The Formative Period of Twelver Shi'Ism: Hadith As Discourse Between Qum and Baghdad by Andrew J Newman
  • Great Shiite Works: Al-Kafi by Al-Kulayni by I. K. A. Howard in al Serat Journal.
  • 'Al-Kafi' by Al-Kulayni by Dr. I. K. A. Howard Al-Serat, Vol. 2 (1976), No. 1
  • The Trustworthy of Islam Kulayni No such page found - October 24, 2012
  • The Buyid Domination as the Historical Background for the Flourishing of Muslim Scholarship During the 4th/10th Century by Dr. M. Ismail Marcinkowski* No such page found - October 24, 2012
  • Shaikh Mohammed bin Yaqoob bin Ishaq Kulaini. & Al Kafi
  • Islamic Texts Institute
  • "Al-Kafi Book I: Intellect and Foolishness"
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