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Tafṣīl wasāʾil al-shīʿa ilā taḥṣīl masāʾil al-sharīʿa (Arabic:تفصیلُ وَسائل الشیعة إلی تَحصیلِ مسائل الشّریعة) reputably known as: Wasail al-shia (وسائل الشیعة) is a Shi’a Hadith collection, compiled by al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-‘Amili (d.1104/1693). It consists of Shi’a narrative traditions from early Shi’a hadith collections like The Four Books and other sources, pertaining exclusively to jurisprudential matters.
About the Author
Muhammad b. Hasan b. ‘Ali b. Muhammad b. Husayn, widely known as: al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-‘Amili, is an Imami jurist and expert in Hadith in 11th/17th century, who, along his magnum opus, wrote several valuable books. In scholarly circles, he is famous as: “the author of al-Wasa’il”. He passed away in Mashhad and was buried in one of the courtyards of the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Rida (PBUH).
An Overview of the Book
Wasa’il al-shi’a is an extensive collection of authentic narrations from the Prophet (PBUHH) and the Ahl al-Bayt (PBUH) regarding Shi’a jurisprudence and practical laws. The narrations are classified in 50 categories, and the final section presents various discussions about Hadith sources, the chains of narration and ‘ilm al-Rijal (study of transmitters of Hadith). al-Shaykh al-Hurr al-‘Amili compiled these narrations within 20 years, finishing in 1082/1671. The book holds distinctive scholarly merits which made it a necessary reference for all scholars and Mujtahids since its compilation.
This great collection, contains 36,000 narrations, dealing with: practical laws, obligations and rituals. The book is an scrutinized selection from authentic early Shi’a Hadith collections and primary manuscripts of early companions.
Recording the chain of transmission for each narration. Classification of the narrations and presenting all related narrations in the specified category. Author’s random explanation about certain narrations, particularly those that seemingly conflict with other narrations.
The author’s final inference of all narrations in each group, which is represented as the title for the group. Long and complex narrations were fractionated by the author to fit in their addressed categories. Reference to other related groups at the end of each group. These references in recent published versions have been analyzed and specified by volume and page number in the footnote.
An authenticity-based order in each group. That is, each group begins with the most authentic narrations and ends with the weak ones (according to author’s viewpoint).
The Twelve Discussions at the final section, introducing Hadith sources and discussing some topics within the discipline of Hadith and ‘ilm al-Rijal.
The Motive For Compilation
In the introduction, the author writes: For a long time, I had this idea in mind, to collect narrations about Shari’a and practical laws from reliable books that are at the reach of the scholars. For these books, in addition to redundancy and repetition, contain other unrelated traditions that are not helpful for jurists. Therefore, I started to compile narrations pertaining to practical laws, I did whatever I could and I did not take but from reliable and reputable books.
Views about the Book
Sayyid Husayn Sadr says: Whenever a jurist or Mujtahid looks in this book, he finds what he needs like neatly ordered pearls. There’s no issue but to get addressed in this book, which gained the admiration of scholars and is distinguished from other books, like the way the verses of Qur’an are distinguished from other words.
‘Allama Amini writes: There’s no biographical account of al-Shaykh al-Hurr, but to contain admiration and appreciations of his great work, Wasa’il al-shi’a (Al-Amini, Vol.11, P.336)
Manuscript in the library of the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Rida (PBUH) in Mashahd. this is the first draft of the book, written by the author himself. The author has dated it: Rabi’ I 1072/Oct.-Nov. 1661.
Manuscript in the library of late Ayatollah Mar’ashi Najafi in Qom. This is the second version of the book, written by the author himself and is dated 1082/1671.
Second manuscript in the Library of the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Rida (PBUH), which dates back to 1114/1702. This manuscript is a copy of the third version, which had been written down by the author. Also, this version bears the final amendments and footnotes in the author’s handwriting.
After being recopied countlessly in scholarly circles, the book was published for the first time with the amendments by Ayatollah Shahid Shaykh Fadl Allah Nuri in six volumes. Its 20-volume version, with ‘Abd al-Rahim Rabbani Shirazi’s footnotes was published in 1403/1983. In 1414/1993, Al al-Bayt Foundation published the book in 30 volumes.
The material for this article is mainly taken from وسائل الشیعة in Farsi Wikishia.
Al-Amini, ‘Abd al-Husayn, Al-Ghadir, Dar al-kutub al-‘arabi, Beirut, 1397/1977;