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Kitab Al-Irshad
Kitab Al-Irshad.jpg
AuthorShaykh Al-Mufid

The book Kitab Al-Irshad is the earliest surviving history of the Shi'ite Imams which describes the circumstances of Imamate.  

About the author[edit | edit source]

Shaykh Al-Mufid was born and lived in a village until his father took him to Baghdad to further his education. There he worked largely with Shi’i and Mu’tazili scholars. He showed such promise that one of his teachers recommended that he study under one of the leading scholars of the period, ‘Ali b. ‘Isa al-Ramani. He also studied under the leading Shi’i traditionist of the time, al-Shaykh al-Saduq. The Buyids, who were in power during this period, were much more tolerant of Shi’ism than some previous and subsequent rulers, so this was a good time for someone with Shi’i affiliations to work in Baghdad. He acquired the name of Shaykh Mufid (‘he who provides benefit’) due to his skill in argument, in particular for the subtle distinctions he managed to draw in theological debate. Shaykh Mufid wrote a large number of books on a wide variety of topics and died in the month of Ramadan in the year AH 413/1022. Shaykh Mufid’s work was restricted largely to the field of theology but was of great import as it took Shi’i thought to a new conceptual level: as a result of his efforts the movement became highly systematic and logically organized. Of particular significance is his book al-Irshad, which deals with the twelve Shi’i Imams.

About the book[edit | edit source]

This book written by Shaykh Al-Mufid and translated by I. K. A. Howard was published in Al-Burāq (December 1, 1982). It has 556 pages and best sellers rank of 4,282,353 in books.

The present book describes the circumstances of the Imamate of each Imam, the miracles that each performed by which he gave evidence of his Imamate, the virtues of each, and the circumstances of the death of all the Imams as well as the disappearance of the last Imam. It also outlines the nass, or nomination, of each Imam.

Abstract of chapters[edit | edit source]

Part I[edit | edit source]

This part is devoted to the life of the first Imam, Ali ibn Abi Talib. It concentrates particularly on his actions and bravery during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad and his family.

Chapter 1: Background to the Life of the Commander of the Faithful[edit | edit source]

This chapter gives an an account of the Commander of the faithful, the first of the Imams of the believers, of the rulers (wulat) of the Muslims and of God's (appointed) successors in religion after the Apostle of God, the truthful one and the trusted one, Muhammad b. 'Abd Allāh, the seat of the Prophets.

Chapter 2: Virtues, Qualities and Achievements of the Commander of Faithful[edit | edit source]

This Chapter includes a sample of the reports about the Commander of the faithful, including his virtues and his eminent qualities, together with some of what has been preserved of his wise sayings and sermons, and some of what is told of his miracles, legal judgements and explanations.

Chapter 3: The Military Exploits of the Commander of the Faithful[edit | edit source]

This chapter refers to the outstanding fame of the Commander of the faithful, among the people in the armed struggle by which the rules of Islam were established and by the establishment of which the religious stipulations and laws of the community were settled.

Chapter 4 The Role of the Commander of the Commander of the Faithful in the Last Year of the Prophet’s Life[edit | edit source]

This chapter gives an account of the Imam after 'Ali b. al-Husayn, the date of his birth, the evidence for his Imamate, the age he reached, the period of his succession, the time and cause of his death, the place of his grave, the number of his children, and a summary of the reports about him. The author examines outstanding virtues of the Commander of the faithful, which has mentioned with regard to the Farewell Pilgrimage. This evidence indicates that he was especially characterized by them in a way that nobody else of mankind shared. Each one of them was a special category of virtue which stood in its own right without needing anything else to explain its significance.

Chapter 5: Legal Decisions of the Commander of the Faithful[edit | edit source]

This chapter provides reports which have demonstrated the Commander of faithful’s outstanding quality in the legal decisions he has given with regard to religion and the laws he has propounded for which all the believers were in need. This kind of reports are too numerous to be counted and too illustrious to be dealt with properly, as are those which have been confirmed with regard to his precedence in traditional knowledge, his supremacy over the community in gnosis and understanding.

Chapter 6: Memorable Words and Speeches of the Commander of the Faithful[edit | edit source]

This chapter gives a brief account of some of the words of the Commander of the faithful, concerning the necessity of knowing God, the Exalted, His unity and the denial of anthropomorphism, together with a description of God’s justice, the different kinds of wisdom and the evidence and proof of these.

Chapter 7 Some of the Miracles of the Commander of the Faithful[edit | edit source]

In this chapter we see some of the signes of God, the Exalted, and His clear proof of the Commander of the faithful, which indicates his position with regard to God, the Mighty and High, and his special endowment with miracles by which he was set apart from everyone else through the call for obedience to him, to remain steadfast in respecting his authority and closeness to God, to recognize his rights and the certainty of His Imamate, and to be aware of his protection from error, perfection and the demonstration of the proof of him.

Chapter 8: The Children of the Commander of the Faithful[edit | edit source]

This chapter gives an account of twenty-seven children (male and female) of the Commander of the faithful, their number and names, and a selection of reports about them.

Part II[edit | edit source]

This part deals with the other Imams:

Hasan ibn Ali, Husayn ibn Ali, Ali ibn Husayn, Muhammad ibn Ali, Ja'far ibn Muhammad, Musa ibn Ja'far, Ali ibn Musa, Muhammad ibn Ali, Ali ibn Muhammad, Hasan ibn Ali ibn Muhammad (Al-Askari), and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan.

The author provides a brief outline of the reports about Imams’ date of birth, the evidence for their Imamate, the period of their succession, the time of their death, the place of their grave, and the number of their children.