Shaykh Tusi
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Shaykh Tusi
Abu Ja'far al-Tusi
TitleShaykh al-Ta?ifah
BornOctober 995, Tus, Abbasid Caliphate
Died2 December 1067 Najaf, Abbasid Caliphate (aged 72)
EraIslamic Golden Age
RegionPersia and Mesopotamia
DenominationShia Islam
JurisprudenceTwelver Ja'fari jurisprudence
Main interest(s)Kalam, Tafsir, Hadith, Ilm ar-Rijal, Usul and Fiqh
Notable idea(s)Hawza of Najaf
Notable work(s)Tahdhib al-Ahkam, Al-Istibsar, Al-Tibyan, Al-Tibbyan Fi Tafsir al-Quran, others
Muslim leader

Shaykh Tusi (Persian: ?‎), full name Ab? Ja'far Mu?ammad Ibn ?asan T?s? (Persian: ? ? ?‎), known as Shaykh al-Ta?ifah (Arabic: ?‎) was a prominent Persian[1] scholar of the Twelver school of Shia Islam. He became known as "Sheikh of the Sect (Shaikh al-Ta'ifah)," authored two of the four main Shi'i books of hadith, Tahdhib al-Ahkam and al-Istibsar, and is believed to have founded the Najaf Hawza.[2] He also counts as the founder of Shia jurisprudence.[3]



Abu Ja?far Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. ?Ali b. al-Hasan al-Tusi was born in Tus in Persia in the year 995 AD/385 of the Islamic era.

Middle Years

Al-Shaikh ali-Tusi grew up in Tus and began his studies there. In 1018 AD/408 A.H. he left Tus to study in Baghdad. There he first studied under al-Shaikh al-Mufid, who died in 1022 AD/413 A.H. Leadership of the Shi'ite scholars then fell to al-Sharif al-Murtada. The latter remained in this position until his death in 1045 AD/436 A.H. During this time al-Shaikh al-Tusi was closely associated with al-Sharif al-Murtada. His vast scholarship and learning made him a natural successor of al-Sharif al-Murtada as the leading spokesman of Shi'ite Islam. So impressive was his learning that the Abbasid caliph, al-Qadir, attended his lectures and sought to honour him.

In the closing years of al-Shaikh al-Tusi's life the political situation in Baghdad and the domains of the Abbasid caliphate was in turmoil. The Saljuqids fiercely anti-Shia, were gaining commanding power in the centre of the Islamic Empire at the expense of the Buyids who had always seemed tolerant to Shi'ite views. In 1055 AD/447 A.H Tughril-bek the leaders of the Saljuqids entered Baghdad. At this time many of the 'ulama' in Baghdad, both Sunni and Shi?ite were killed. The house of al-Shaikh al-Tusi was burnt down, as were his books and the works he had written in Baghdad, together with important libraries of Shi'ite books. Fanaticism against the Shi'a was great.


Al-Shaikh al-Tusi, seeing the danger of remaining in Baghdad, left and went to al-Najaf. Al-Najaf, the city where 'Ali b. Abi Talib is buried, was already a very important city in the hearts of Shi'ite Muslims. However, it was al-Shaikh al-Tusi's arrival which was to give that city the impetus to become the leading centre of Shi'ite scholarship. This is a role, which it has maintained down to the present day. Al-Shaikh al-Tusi died in al-Najaf on the 22nd of Muharram in the year 460 A.H/2 December 1067. His body was buried in a house there, which was made into a mosque as he had enjoined in his will. Al-Tusi was succeeded by his son al-Hasan, who was known as al-Mufid al-Thani, and was himself considered an outstanding scholar.

His Ideas

After completing his preliminary studies, in 408/1017 he left Khorasan, fundamentally Shafi'i and to an increasing degree controlled by the G?h?aznawid Ma?m?d, in favour of Baghdad, where the Shia Buwayhids were dominant. There, he studied under leading Im?m? masters including Abu ?l-?asan Ibn Ab? ?jd, A?mad b. Mu?ammad b. M?s? al-Ahw?z?, al-G?h?adir?, Ibn ?Abd?n, and, in particular, the powerful doyen of Im?m? rationalists permeated by Mu?tazil? dialectic, al-S?h?ayk?h? al-Muf?d [q.v.], of whom hequickly became, in spite of his youth, one of the favourite pupils (on the rationalist evolution of Im?mism, see Amir Moezzi, 1992, 15-48). On the deathof al-Muf?d in 413/1022, his disciple al-S?h?ar?f al-Murtad ?Alam al-Hud? [q.v.], who had also studied under the Mu?tazil? ?Abd al-?j?abb?r [q.v.], took over the leadership of the Im?m?s of the capital. s? subsequently became his principal disciple. Eminent scholars and former pupils of al-Muf?d, such as al-Nad?js?h, al-Kar?d?j?ak? or Ab? Ya?l? al-?j?a?far?, were still living in Baghdad, but on the death of al-Murtad in 436/1044 he was succeeded by s?. In fact, by this time he had already amassed an impressive bibliography and had succeeded in gaining the support of numerous Buwayhids and of the caliph im (422-67/1031-75), who appointed him to the principal chair of theology, the most prestigious of the capital. Heir to a substantial proportion of the great Im?m? libraries of the time, that of the d?r al-?ilm founded by S?b?r b. Ardas?hr (more than 100,000 works) and that of al-Murtad (almost 80,000 works), s? composed some fifty books and his house, in the Shia quarter of Kark?h? [q.v.], became for a period of more than ten years the virtual intellectual centre of Im?mism.

Under the Buwayhids, numerous religious riots had caused bloodshed in the capital. In 447-8/1056-7, ¶ after the al-Bas?s?r? episode, the invasion of Bag?h?d?d by the Sald?j?og?h?ri?l and the end of the Buwayhids, the anti-Shia coalition, led by Hanbali traditionalists, sacked the quarters of Kark?h? and of B?b al-. Al-s?'s home and library were burnt and he himself took refuge in Najaf. There he remained until his death, continuing to teach a limited circle of disciples, including his own son Ab? ?Al? al-?asan who succeeded him. Also worthy of mention among his disciples were Sulaym?n al-?ahras?h?t?, al-?asan b. al-?usayn b. B?bawayh (nephew of Ibn B?bawayh al-?ad), Isb. Mu?ammad al-?umm? (grandson of al-?ad), S?h?ahr?s?hb al-M?zandar?n? (grandfather of the famous author of the Manib ) and also al-Fatt?l al-N?s?b?r?.

In his work, s? attempts to modify the radically rationalist and pragmatic positions of al-Murtad (positions already present in embryonic form in the work of al-Mufid): rehabilitation of the first traditionists, ilm-ul-hadith attested by a single authority so long as these are conveyed by reliable sources and conditional validity of traditions conveyed by transmitters professing "deviant" doctrines. In politics, serving an unlawful government (in this instance, the ?Abb?sid caliphate) is in certain circumstances desirable, and collaboration with a power claiming that its authority derives from the Hidden Im?m (a clear reference to the Buwayhids) can be commendable, but neither the one nor the other is ever obligatory (as was apparently advocated by al-Murtad). At the same time, s? has constant recourse to reasoned argumentation based on id?j?tih?d and he begins to sketch the notion of the "general representation" (al-niy?ba al-mma) of the Hidden Im?m entrusted to jurist-theologians who may, if the need arises, exercise the prerogatives traditionally reserved for the historical Im?ms. In completing and modifying the work of al-Muf?d and of al-Murtad, s? succeeded in endowing Im?m? law with a structure and a scope of activity practically independent of the figure of the Im?m. Thus his work was to provide rationalist Im?mism, known from the following century onward as al-uliyya, with solid intellectual bases, enabling it to experience a lengthy evolution which would lead ultimately to an ever-increasing assumption of power by Im?m? mud?j?tahids in the economic, social and political fields. The immense and lasting influence of the work of s? earned him the honorific nickname of S?h?ayk?h? al-ifa [al-Im?miyya] or simply al-S?h?ayk?h? .

In his Fihrist, s? gives a list of 43 of his own works; later he would have composed several more (?ihr?n?, introd. to Tiby?n). They are devoted to exegesis (3 titles), law (11), the foundations of law (2), ?ad?t?h? (3), rid?jl (3), theology and heresiography (16), prayers and Im?m? piety (5), historiography (2), replies to the questions of disciples (3) [introd. by Wiz?-z?da toal-?j?umalwa ?l-?ud]. The following list is confined to the best known of these works (and the most widely available editions): al-Istibr and Tahd?hb al-a?k?m, ed. al-?h?ars?n, Nad?j?af, respectively 1375-6 and 1378-82, which form with the K?f? of al-Kulayn? (329/949-1) and the Kit?b man l? ya?d?uruhu ?l-fah of Ibn B?bawayh al-?ad(381/991), the Four Canonical Books (al-kutub al-arba?a) of Im?m? ?ad?t?h?; al-Tiby?n f? tafs?r al-?urn (first great Im?m? rationalist commentary; ed. S?h?aw and mil?, Nad?j?af 1376-83, 10 vols., with introd. by ?g?h Buzurg al-?ihran?); Fihrist kutub al-s?ha (ed. Sprenger and ?Abd ?a, Calcutta 1848, repr. Mas?h?had 1972); Kit?b al-G?h?ayba (on the occultation of the Twelfth Im?m, ed. Nad?j?af 1385); Rid?jl (revised summary of al-Kas?h?s?h's Ma?rifat al-nil?n, Nad?j?af ¶ 1381); al-I?tid f?m? yata?alla? bi ?l-i?tid, Beirut 1406; al-Am?l?, Nad?j?af 1384; ?Uddat ul, Nad?j?af 1403 (these three last works concern ?ad?t?h? and dogma); al-Mabs fi ?l-fi?h, ed. Bihb?d?, repr. Tehran 1387-8; al-Nih?ya f? mud?j?arrad fi?h wa ?l-fat?w?, Beirut 1390; al-?j?umal wa ?l-?ud fi ?l-?ib?d?t (with introd. and Persian tr. by Wiz?-z?da, Mas?h?had 1374; Mi?b al-mutahad?j?d?j?id (in two versions--al-kab?r and al-?ag?hr--on Im?m? piety, Tehran 1398; (the two works entitled Du al-d?j?aws?h?an al-kab?r and al-d?j?aws?h?an al-?ag?hr, mentioned by Hidayet Hosain in EI 1, are not al-s?'s and are probably drawn from the Mi?bof al-Kaf?am? [9th/15th century]).

Among modern studies

Among modern studies, see the 102-page introd. by ?ihr?n? to al-s?'s Tiby?n, in Y?d-n?ma-yi S?h?ayk?h? al-ifa... s?, Mas?h?had 1348/1970; R. Brunschvig, Les ul al-fiqh imâmites ? leur stade ancien, in Le shiisme imâmite, Colloque de Strasbourg, Paris 1970; M. Ramyar, Al-Shaikh al-Tusi, his life and works, Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of London 1971, unpubl.; H. Löschner, Die dogmatischen Grundlagen des schi?itischen Rechts, Erlangen-Nuremberg-Cologne 1971, index, s.n.; M.J. McDermott, The theology of al-Shaikh al-Muf?d, Beirut 1978, index; S.A. Arjomand, The Shadow of God and the Hidden Imam, Chicago-London 1984, 32-65; H. Halm, Die Schia, Darmstadt 1988, 62-73, Eng. tr. Shiism, Edinburgh 1991, 56-8; E. Kohlberg, A medieval Muslim scholar at work. Ibn w?s and his library, Leiden 1992, index; M.A. Amir-Moezzi, Le guide divin dans le shi?isme originel, Paris 1992; idem, Remarques sur les crit?res d'authenticité du hadithet l'authorité du juriste dans le shi?isme imâmite, in SI, lxxxv (1997), 22 ff. He's the founder of seminary of Najaf.


Al-Tusi was succeeded by his son al-Hasan, who was known as al-Mufid al-Thani, and was himself considered an outstanding scholar. The seminary of Najaf Hawza#Hawza 'Ilmiyya Najaf, founded by Al-Tusi, remains the top Shi'ite theological institute in the world.

In Najaf, one of the largest collection of Shi'ite texts exists in a library named after al-Tusi. Online, the largest repository of Shi'ite digital e-books has been also labeled the Sheikh Tusi Digital Library. Both libraries are free for public use.

Tusi had important role in formation and revival of Shia jurisprudence and law. since that his time was coincidence with the burning of the great books and library,[4] nearly he must to revive the hadith and jurisprudence in a way.[5] He innovated in the sphere of jurisprudence. He tried to defend the application of jurisprudence in respect of religious laws. One of his accomplishments was that he could be successful in propagation and coherence of methodologies of argumentation and inference. His dominance was unrivaled until long Time. Nearly all jurisprudents only were affected by shaykh Tusi's opinions. The influence of shaykh Tusi continued until the emergence of Ibn Idris Hilli who criticized some views od shaykh Tusi.[6] Also Tusi Had given to shaykh Mufid a definite formulation in Ijtihad.[7] In fact three people including Shaykh Tusi had important role in leadership of Shia's school of law.[8] Some works of Tusi shows that he was influenced by precedent jurists like Sallar Deylami.[9]

Usuli School

In confliction between two schools of Akhbari and Usuli, Shaykh Tusi defended of Usuli school and calls akhbari as followers of literate or literalists.[7] Shaykh Tusi believed in principles of jurisprudence as a fundamental knowledge in acquiring the judgments of Islam religion.[10] he wrote in introduction of 'Al-Iddah' book as follow: " thus you may say, it is essential to attach the greatest importance to this branch of knowledge (namely Usul) because the whole of shariah is based on it and the knowledge of the any aspect thereof is not complete without mastering the principles.[11] Also he tries to compare different schools of law in Islam with each other and show there is a little divergence between them and they are near to each other and differences among them is in minor subject not major.[12] Shaykh Tusi, like his Masters, refuted the legal analogy(Qiyyas Fiqhi) in his manual of usul Fiqh.[13]

Importance of reason

His emphasis was on the rational dimension of religion such a way that he know principles like commanding to good and prohibiting of evil as something which is indispensable according to reason.[14] Even shaykh Tusi try to give validity to Consensus(Ijma) according to rational rule of Lutf. according to principle of Lutf, God must provide believers with conditions and situation for doing religious acts and nearing to good.principle of lutf requires the appointment of infallible imam and necessitates that the Imam reveals the truth about any problem on which a wrong agreement may have been reached.[15]


Tusi was leading in different majors of religious sciences such as Ilm-rijal(Biography),traditions(Hadiths) and Fihrist(Catalogue).He also starts important developments in that allow shia clerics to comprehend some of the roles permitted before only for Imam. these roles are to collecting and distributing the religious taxes and organizing the Friday prayers.[16]

Najaf Seminary

According to some scholars, Sheykh Tusi established the Hawzeh of Najaf after migrating from Baghdad.[17]


He wrote nearly over fifty works in different Islamic branch of knowledge such as philosophy, hadith,theology, biography,historiography,exegesis and tradition.[18] Of the four authoritative resources of the Shiites, two are written by Shaykh Tusi. These two basic reference books are: Tahdhib al-Ahkam and Al-Istibsar. Both of these pertain to Hadiths of Islamic Jurisprudential decrees and injunctions.


This book is one of the first books in the sphere of comparative jurisprudence written by Tusi. He tries to collect all opinions of law schools of Islam in this book. this book also shows that there is great accordance between Shia school of law and other schools.the differences exist merely in minor problem namely furu.[12] This book, as a compendium, not only rendered those opinions which Shia hold uniquely but also the conflicting Sunni opinions in much greater detail.[24]

See also


  1. ^ Frye, ed. by R.N. (1975). The Cambridge history of Iran (Repr. ed.). London: Cambridge U.P. p. 468. ISBN 978-0-521-20093-6.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Haytham Mouzahem. "Iraqi Shiite clerics maintain humility, influence". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ Hamid Dabashi (1988). Shi'ism: Doctrines, Thought, and Spirituality. SUNY Press. pp. 65-. ISBN 978-0-88706-689-4.
  4. ^ Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi. Prophecies about Occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.). Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania. pp. 13-. ISBN 978-9987-620-23-4.
  5. ^ Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, 1994 & The Divine Guide in Early Shi'ism: The Sources of Esotericism in Islam, p. 27
  6. ^ CHangizi Adihayi and Isa Al Hakimin Gholamali Haddad Adel, Mohammad Jafar Elmi, Hassan Taromi-Rad 2012, pp. 115-116
  7. ^ a b Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Brill Archive, 1989 & The Encyclopedia of Islam, Volume 6, p. 549
  8. ^ Linda S. Walbridge Adjunct Professor of Anthropology Indiana University (6 August 2001). The Most Learned of the Shi`a : The Institution of the Marja` Taqlid: The Institution of the Marja` Taqlid. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 216-. ISBN 978-0-19-534393-9.
  9. ^ Al-Shaykh al-s?: His Writings on Theology and their Reception* Hassan Ansari and Sabine Schmidtke,p.477
  10. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition: Supplement. Brill Archive. 1 January 1980. pp. 56-. ISBN 90-04-06167-3.
  11. ^ Dr. Alsyyed Abu Mohammad Naqvi (12 December 2013). Shia Dissociation from Usuli School. AuthorHouse. pp. 145-. ISBN 978-1-4918-8644-1.
  12. ^ a b c Ja?far Subn?; Reze Shah-Kazemi (7 December 2001). The Doctrines of Shi'ism: A Compendium of Imami Beliefs and Practices. I.B.Tauris. pp. 181-. ISBN 978-1-86064-780-2.
  13. ^ Dewin Stewart in weiss & Muhammad b. Dawud al-Zahiri's Manual of Jurisprudence: Al-Wusul ila ma'rifat al-usul 2002, p. 134
  14. ^ Hiroyuki Mashita (5 September 2013). Theology, Ethics and Metaphysics: Royal Asiatic Society Classics of Islam. Routledge. pp. 90-. ISBN 978-1-136-87198-6.
  15. ^ Abdulaziz Abdulhussein Sachedina. Islamic Messianism: The Idea of Mahdi in Twelver Shi'ism. SUNY Press. pp. 143-. ISBN 978-1-4384-1844-5.
  16. ^ [[#CITEREFMoojan_Momen_in_Holy_people_of_the_world_:_a_cross-cultural_encyclopedia_,_Phyllis_G._Jestice,_editor2004|Moojan Momen in Holy people of the world : a cross-cultural encyclopedia , Phyllis G. Jestice, editor 2004]], p. 870
  17. ^ Gholamali Haddad Adel; Mohammad Jafar Elmi; Hassan Taromi-Rad (31 August 2012). Hawza-yi 'Ilmiyya, Shi'i Teaching Institution: An Entry from Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam. EWI Press. pp. 116-. ISBN 978-1-908433-06-0.
  18. ^ Abul fazl Ezzati 2008, p. iv
  19. ^ Julie Scott Meisami; Paul Starkey (1 January 1998). Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature. Taylor & Francis. pp. 713-. ISBN 978-0-415-18572-1.
  20. ^ al-Qadi al-Numan, (19 January 2015). Disagreements of the Jurists: A Manual of Islamic Legal Theory. NYU Press. pp. 28-. ISBN 978-0-8147-7142-6.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  21. ^ Gholamali Haddad Adel; Mohammad Jafar Elmi; Hassan Taromi-Rad (31 August 2012). Education in the Islamic Civilisation: An Entry from Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam. EWI Press. pp. 105-. ISBN 978-1-908433-03-9.
  22. ^ Amirhassan Boozari (29 March 2011). Shi'i Jurisprudence and Constitution: Revolution in Iran. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 234-. ISBN 978-0-230-11846-1.
  23. ^ Yehoiakin ben Ya'ocov (17 July 2012). Concepts of Messiah: A study of the Messianic Concepts of Islam, Judaism, Messianic Judaism and Christianity. WestBow Press. pp. 26-. ISBN 978-1-4497-5745-8.
  24. ^ Steward, 1998 & islamic legal ortodoxy, p. 143

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