Biography of Shaikh Saduq 1

Name and Lineage

Mohammed bin Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babawayh; Abu Ja’far As-Saduq* al-Qummi –i.e. of Qum-; the master Sheikh and the head of the narrators. His father was the respectful Sheikh Abu al-Hasan Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babawayh: the master Sheikh of Qum in his time. He was also the most precedent, the master jurisprudent, and the most trustful of the ulema of his time.

Birth and Early Life

Sheikh As-Saduq was born in Qum. Although it was impossible to define the very year in which he was born, it is well known that he was born after the death of Mohammed bin Othman al-Omari (the second representative), which was in the year 305 A.H. That was the opening year of the representation of Abu al-Qasim al-Hussein bin Rawh (the third representative), who died in 326 A.H. As confirmation of this estimation, we provide the words of Sheikh As-Saduq himself in his book titled Kamal ud-Din wa Tamam un-Ni’ma:

Abu Ja'far Mohammed bin Ali al-Aswad related to us:

After the death of Mohammed bin Othman al-Omari, Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babawayh (i.e. As-Saduq’s father) asked me to tell Abu al-Qasim Ar-Rawhi –i.e. bin Rawh- to ask our master Sahib uz-Zaman to pray to Allah for giving him a male baby.

Abu al-Qasim informed that he asked the Imam, who rejected. Three days later, Abu al-Qasim informed that the Imam (a) had prayed to Allah for Ali bin al-Hussein and he would be given a blessed male baby who would be the means by which Allah, Exalted is He, would benefit (many people). Moreover, many boys would come after that baby.

(Abu Ja’far Mohammed bin Ali al-Aswad said) After a period, Ali bin al-Hussein was given Mohammed (i.e. As-Saduq) followed by many other boys.

Another Narrative

Sheikh At-Tusi said that some people narrated from Abu Ja’far Mohammed bin Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babawayh and Abu Abdullah al-Hussein bin Ali bin Musa bin Babawayh (his brother) that Abu Ja’far Mohammed bin Ali al-Aswad related to us:

After the death of Mohammed bin Othman al-Omari, Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babawayh (i.e. As-Saduq’s father) asked me to tell Abu al-Qasim Ar-Rawhi to ask our master Sahib uz-Zaman (a) to pray to Allah for giving him a male baby. Abu al-Qasim informed that he asked the Imam, who rejected. Three days later, Abu al-Qasim informed that the Imam (a) had prayed to Allah for Ali bin al-Hussein and he would be given a blessed male baby who would be the means by which Allah, Exalted is He, would benefit (many people). Moreover, many boys would come after that baby.

(Abu Ja’far Mohammed bin Ali al-Aswad said) I asked him to pray to Allah to give me a male baby, but he did not answer. He said: This is impossible. After a period, Ali bin al-Hussein was given Mohammed (i.e. As-Saduq) followed by many other boys. For me, I was not given anything. Abu Ja’far bin Babawayh commented: As he noticed me attending the classes of our master Mohammed bin al-Hussein bin al-Waleed frequently while I was interested in recording and retaining the items of knowledge, Abu Ja’far Mohammed bin Ali al-

Aswad used to say to me, ‘It is not strange for you to have such an insistent desire for learning since you came to this world by the supplication of the Imam (a). Ar-Rawandi, in his al-Kharaa’ij, related the like of the previous narrative, yet brief. Besides, At-Tabirsi, in his book titled A’lam ul-Wara, Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani, in his Tabssirat ul-Wali, and Sayyid Ali bin Abdul-Karim An-Najafi, in his Muntakhab ul-Anwar il-Mudhee’a, referred to the same narrative. Imaduddin Mohammed bin Ali At-Tusi, in his Thaqib ul-Manaqib, referred to a part of that narrative.

In his reference to the biography of Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa; As-Saduq’s father, An-Nejashi said that the man was in Iraq when he met Abu al-Qasim al-Hussein bin Rawh, Allah may have mercy be upon him, and asked him many questions. After that, As-Saduq’s father corresponded with Abu al-Qasim at the hands of Ali bin Ja’far bin al-Aswad and asked him to deliver a paper to Imam al-Mahdi, Allah may hasten his return, in which he asked for a male baby. The answer was, ‘We have prayed to Allah for you and you will be given two virtuous male babies.’ Hence, Abu Ja’far and Abu Abdullah, whose mother was a bondwoman, were born.

From the previous we can conclude that Sheikh As-Saduq, Allah may have mercy be upon him, had come to this world out of the prayer of Imam al-Hujja (a) after the death of Mohammed bin Othman al-Omari; after the year 305 A.H., when his father Sheikh Ali bin al-Hussein traveled to Iraq and met Abu al-Qasim al-Hussein bin Rawh and asked him some questions… etc. Hence, Sheikh As-Saduq was born in about 306 A.H.

Sheikh As-Saduq used to take pride in such a birth and say, ‘I was born due to the prayer of Imam al-Mahdi (a).’ Sheikh As-Saduq grew up in the laps of virtue; his father used to feed him with the knowledge, shower him with the abundance of his knowledge and moralities, and circulate on him the lights of his purity, God-fearing, piety, and ascetics. All these contributed in the scholastic perfection and growth of Sheikh As-Saduq who lived under the wing of his father for more than twenty years during which he drank these knowledges and took from the great flow of his father’s information, moralities, and conducts. In addition, he grew up in the city of Qum which was swarming with the scholars and narrators, such as the master of the scholars of Qum Mohammed bin al-Hasan bin Ahmed bin al-Waleed and Hamza bin Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Ja’far bin Mohammed bin Zaid bin Ali as well as many others whose sessions and lectures were frequently attended by Sheikh As-Saduq.

After a short while, Sheikh As-Saduq became that great figure by whom people were benefiting. He also became such a distinctive sign of retaining and intelligence. He exceeded his companions in fields of virtue and knowledge and became such an unparalleled person. Furthermore, the political circumstances of that period played a significant role in crystallizing the personality of Sheikh As-Saduq who lived in the reign of the Buyid in Iraq and Persia (321-447 A.H.), the Fatimids in Northern Africa (296-567 A.H.), and the Hamdanian State in Mousel –Northern Iraq- and Syria (333-394 A.H.) It is well known that all these states were declaring their loyalty to the leadership of the Prophet’s household. In other words, they were Shia.

Scholastic Journeys

Not only was the intention of Sheikh As-Saduq to suffice with receiving knowledge from the master scholars of his town, but also it rose higher to encourage him to travel and emigrate far away from his hometown for seeking studies and knowledge. In the beginning, he traveled to the city of Ray to answer the summons of Rukn ad-Dawla al-Buwayhi (the Buyid), who died in 366 A.H. There, Sheikh As-Saduq met the scholars of that city, such like Sheikh Abu al-Hasan Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Ali bin Asad al-Asadi whose famous nickname is Abu Jurada al-Barda’i. That was in 347 A.H. He also met Ya’qoub bin Yousuf bin Ya’qoub, Ahmed bin Mohammed bin As-Saqr As-Sa’igh al-Adl (the decent), Abu Ali Ahmed bin al-Hasan al-Qattan and many others.

He then traveled to the city of Khurasan for the visitation of the Holy Shrine of Imam Ar-Ridha (a) in 352 A.H. After that, he returned to the city of Ray. In 367 A.H., he made his second journey to the Holy Shrine of Imam Ar-Ridha (a). During his third journey which was made in 368 A.H., he passed by the cities of Istrabad and Jurjan where he attended the lectures of Sheikh Abu al-Hasan Mohammed bin al-Qasim Alistrabadi—the famous exegesist (of the Holy Quran) and orator. He also attended the classes of Sheikh Abu Mohammed al-Qasim bin Mohammed Alistrabadi, Sheikh Abu Mohammed Abdous bin Ali bin al-Abbas al-Jurjani, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Ali Alistrabadi.

Continue in the next article: ( Biography of Shaikh Saduq 2 )

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