Major Hadith Books

The most famous and authoritative collections of Shi'ite hadiths are . 

1  Al-Kafi al-Kafi fi 'ilm al-din (The Sufficient in the Knowledge of Religion)
 Author: Thiqat al-Islam al-Shaykh Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. Ya`qub b. Ishaq al-Kulayni (d. 328/329 A.H./940)
 Size: 8 vols  It contains 16099 Traditions with their authorities and sources, related to both Usul and Furu
.   Some Parts are translated here 
2  Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih (For him not in the Presence of Jurisprudent)
 Author: al-Shaykh Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. `Ali b. Husayn b. Babawayh  al-Qummi (al-Shaykh al-Saduq) (d. 381 A.H./991)
 Size: 4 vols 666 chapters 5998 Traditions
3  Tahdhib al-Ahkam (Rectification of the Statutes)
 Author: Shaykh al-Ta'ifah, Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. Hasan al-Tusi  (d. 460 A.H./1068)
 Size: 10 vols  Contents:1359 ahadiths 393 sections
4  Al-Istibsar (al-Istibsar fi ma ukhtulif fihi min al-akhbar (Reflection upon the Disputed Traditions)
 Author: al-Shaykh Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. Hasan al-Tusi (d. 460 A.H./1068 ad)
 Size: 4 vols  Contents:5511ahadiths
5  Bihar al-Anwar (Oceans of Lights)
 Author: Muhammad Baqir b. Muhammad Taqi al-Majlisi (d. 1110 A.H./1690 ad)
 Size: 110 vols
6  Wasa'il al-Shi`ah
 Author: al-Shaykh Muhammad b. Hasan al-Hurr al-`Amili (d. 1104 A.H.)
 Size: 29 vols  Contents:35868 ahadiths
7  Mustadrak al-Wasa'il wa Mustanbat al-Masa'il
 Author: al-Hajj Mirza Husayn al-Nuri al-Tabarsi (d. 1320 A.H.)
 Size: 18 vols & 23000 traditions

Link to more info on major books

Online Above books in Arabic /Farsi    

Background  Introduction to above books

Abu Rafeh is recognized by us as the First Tabqa (Stratum) of narrators of the traditions. Hazrat Ali (a.s) himself dictated the incidents to him to write down. The Second Tabqa was during the times of Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain (a.s). The Third Tabqa was during the period of Imam Zain al Abedin (a.s) when the Sahifa e Kamila was compiled. The Fourth Tabqa of the traditionalists was during the periods of the Fifth and Sixth Imams (a.s) who compiled as many as 400 books. During the Ghaibat e Sughra of the 12th Imam the difficulties of the followers became many- fold. Then it was decided to condense the contents of all the 400 books into one to facilitate easy access to the information. 

Who are called Mohammedoon Thalatha & their achievements 

Therefore three persons took upon themselves the task of condensing the 400 books into one. The first one was Mohammed Yaqub Kulaini who compiled the book “Usool e Kaafi” in Baghdad. Then at Qum, Sheik Sadooq wrote “Man la Yahdar al Faqih”. After these two great scholars passed away Sheik Toosi compiled 2 books. Thus the ‘Kutub e Arba’ --The Four Books, came about.  

As the time passed research on the traditions continued. Khwaja Naseer ud Deen compiled his book after intensive research of 14 years. But the minister of that time consigned it to the waters of the River Dajla because of his bias against the Progeny of the Prophet (s.a). Those were the times when hands were bound and the tongues that praised the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) were severed. When the reins of administration came in the hands of the followers of the Progeny of the Prophet (s.a), the first thing they did on top priority was to compile the tomes on the Fiqh and to write the Commentaries on the Holy Quran. The first person to busy himself in this work was Mulla Kashani. He wrote “Al Waafi” and “Al Kaafi”. “Al Waafi” comprises of 14 volumes. Immediately after “Al Waafi” Sheik Hur al Amili wrote the book “Wasail ash Shia”. Then came Allama Majlisi who wrote the great book “Bahar al Anwaar”These three great scholars ---Mohammed Mohsin Faiz Kashani, Mohammed ibn e Hassan Hur al Amili and Mohammed Baqir Majlisi--- are called Mohammedoon Talata---The Three Mohammeds!  

The need for completing these great works in the short time was that there were continuous skirmishes from the caliph of Turkey on Iran. Shah Abbas was tired of these uncalled for attacks and he made a pre-emptive attack on the Turkish territory. The Turkish Ambassador rushed to Najaf to appeal to the Mujtahids there whether the Fiqh of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) permitted unprovoked pre-emptive attacks? They ruled that such attacks are not permissible and the approval of the Mujtahids based on valid reasons was mandatory! Sheik Bahai had already expired and there wasn’t any senior Mujtahid in Iran at that time. The Mujtahids from Najaf wrote to Shah Abbas to call back his forces forthwith. Shah Abbas accepted the edict and called back his men from the front. Thus the three great scholars realized that the respite was short and they had to accomplish their great scholastic task in the time at their disposal. Thus came about the monumental works of these doyens of Shia Scholarship!

 Source Urdu Lectures of Moulana Sadiq Hassan Book

An Extract from the Book 'A shi'ite Encyclopedia '

            Ash-Shaikh Al-Baha’I has said in Al-Wajizah that the contents of our books on the Traditions are much more than the total contained in Sihah Sittah 1, as would be clear to a person who follows the Traditions collected by both the groups. A large number of scholars have written about these four collections of the Traditions in the forms of explanations, notes and commentaries. We cannot discuss all this work at this place. These books have been discussed at their proper places where we have taken up the life account of their authors. A few of these are: 

i.                     Sharh-ul-Istibsar by Ash-Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Ash-Shaikh Hassan (the author of Al-Ma’alim) which contains many useful biographical pieces;

ii.                   Mirat-ul-Uqul Fi Sharhil Kafi by Al-Majlisi;

iii.                  Sharh Usul-il-Kafi by Mulla Saleh Al-Mazandarani;

iv.                 Sharh Usul-il-Kafi by Mulla Sadra;

A large number of commentaries of At-Tahdhib and Al-Faqih the details of which will need much space and time here and are given in the latter chapters. In addition to these, a number of collections were prepared on the basis of the aforementioned four books,

Shi’ite Books On Tradition During The Period  From Eleventh To Fourteenth Century

 1.         Al-Wafi  

It was compiled by Ash-Shaikh Muhammad Bin Murtada who was actually called as Mulla Muhsin Al-Kashi. al Fayd( d1091 AH)He collected all the Traditions which are found in the Four Books and are related to Usul or Furu. He further arranged them into different chapters, explained difficult points wherever it was necessary and clarified the reasons for putting together some of the Traditions which appeared to be contradictory. He wrote about two hundred books. He died in 1091 AH.  It contains 14 books & 50,000 traditions

2.         Wasa’il-ush-Shai’ah Ila Ahadith-ush-Shariah. 

It was compiled by Ash-Shaikh Muhammad bin Al-Hassan Bin Al-Hurr Al-Aamili. He collected the contents of the four books from the eighty books owned by him and seventy others. He edited these Traditions which related to Furu’a only, divided them into different chapters, explaining some of the important points. This book became he most popular book as a source of reference with the teachers as well as students. Al-Wafi did not meet such success in becoming popular as was w\written in store for Al-Wasa’il. This was because of the fact the arrangement of these traditions in Al-Wasa’il was better than Al-Wafi although the explanations given Al-Wafi are more convincing amd ore acceptable, but the success achieved by A;-Easail was much more than the former and the remaining four books are also based upon it. The author of Al-Wasail died in 1104 AH. It contains 35850 traditions & took 20 yrs to compile

3.         Bihar-ul-Anwar Fi Ahadith-in-Nabiy Wal A’immatil Athar  

it was compiled by Ash-Sahikh Muhammad Baqir Ibn Ash-Shaikh Muhammad Taqi, known as Al-Majlisi,(d1110) in 26 volumes. One needs a lifetime just to copy it not to speak of collecting the data on different branches of knowledge dealt with herein, including the biographies of the Prophet (SAWW) Sayyidah Fatimah Az-Zahra (S.A) and the Twelve Imams (A.S.) their virtues, merits, ideas and opinions. The authors collected all this material without exercising any choice. Most of it is not found in the four books. It was through the efforts of first mentioned three persons named Muhammad (Al-Kalini, As-Suddiq and At-Tusi) and the last mentioned three scholars named Muhammad (MuhsIin Kashi, Muhammad Al-Aamili and Al-Majilisi) that the information and sayings of Ahl-Al-Bait (A.S.) were save. They collected such information, edited it and arranged in book forms. All three persons mentioned first and the two of those mentioned last exercised their choice according to their authorities (which means Al-Majlisi did not).

4.         Al-Awalim Fil Hadith. 

It was compiled by the great Traditionist Al-Mawia Abdullah bin Nurullah Al-Bahrani in 100 volumes. It did not meet with such a success and did Bihar. The author died in the earlier twelfth century. 

5.         Ash-Shifa Fi Hadith-i-Aal-i-Mustafa           

It is a voluminous book, containing many volume on the Traditions. It was completed by Ash-Shaikh Muhammad Ar-Rida Bhin Al-0Faqih Ash-Shaikh Abdullah At-Tabrizi who died in 1158 Ah. 

6.         Jami’ul Ahkam 

It was compiled by As-Sayyid Abdullah Ash-Shabari in 25 big volumes, probably the biggest ever. The author died in 1242 Ah

7.         Mustadrakat-us-Wasa’il 

It was compiled by Mirza Hussain An-Nuri. He collected all those traditions which the author of Al-Wasail had missed out and arranged them into chapters.

But he has included Al-Fiqh-ur-Ridawi in this book, which is not finally proved to be the work of Imam Ali Rida (A.S.). There are many such instances in this book. It is not really supplementation of Al-Wasail to add such things, which were not reliable and certain in the opinion of the author of al-Wasail. He has given biographical data in the latter part of the book, which is not found anywhere else. Most of this data is obviously based upon Jamiur Rawat by Al-Hajj Muhammad Al-Ardbili who was a contemporary of Al-Majlasi. Mirza Hussain Nuri, the author of the book, died in 1320 AH. 

8.         Al-Bahr-uz-Zakhkhar Fi Sharh-i-Adadith-il-A’Immatil-Athar 

It was started by Sayyid Muhsin Al-Amin (the author of the present work) and three volumes could be completed that he died.

Shi’ite books of traditions numbering 6600 

The earlier Shi’ites belonging too the Athna ashariyyah group who were contemporaries to the Imams, from Ali Bin Abi Talib (A.S.) to the time of Imam Al-Hassan Al-Askari (A.S.) compiled 6600 books of the Traditions through the agency of Imams from the Ahl-Al-Bait. These books are mentioned in those relating to Rijal (biographies) and have been recorded by As-Shaikh Muhammad Bin Al-Hassan Bin Al-Hurr Al-Aamili, belonging to thirteenth century, in the fourth note of his book Al-Wasa’il. He got the names of these books from the accounts of their authors scattered in various other books. He collected what the authors of Rijal had recorded and the number came upto 6600. having reached this point of discussion, we would like to remind the reader that these books contain 400 volumes on the subject of Usul (Principles of Jurisprudence)( and four big selections. If this is against what we are following in distribution of these authors according to their groups, it is because of the fact that we do not like to make our discussion of the books of the Traditions disrupted; we rather like it to be in one place and complete. 

Four Hundred Books Of Usul  

Among these 6600 books, 400 were distinguished for their treatment of Usul which are known to the Shiite as Al-Usul-ul-Araba Miah. Ash-Shaikh Al-Mufid has said. The Imamite composed four hundred books which are named as Usul during the period from the life time of Imam Ali Hin Abi Talib A.S. to that Imam Al-Sasan Al-Askari. The meaning of Usul they say is that these books belong to the origin (Asl). Similarly At-Tabrisi has said in A’lam-ul-Wara that four hundred books were compiled from the replies given by Imam Jafar Sadiq A.S. These books are known as Usul and have been reported by his companions and the companions of his father Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir. According to Al-Muhaqqiq, the author of Al-Mutabar, that the number of books compiled from the replies given by Imam Jafar Sadiq A.S. to various questions is four hundred, which are named Usul.  

What Al-Mufid has said, as referred to above, indicates that four hundred Usul have been reported from all the Imams, while what At-Tabrisi, Al-Muhaqqiq and Ash-Sahid have said, shows that these books were solely reported from Imam Jafar Sadiq A.S. It is possible to compromise between this. There might be Usul based upon the reports of Imam Jafar Sadiq A.S. and another collection based upon the report of all the Imams.