Jesus through Shiite Narrations
Translated by: Al-Hajj Muhammad Legenhausen
Bihàr al-Anwàr is a collection of hadiths in Arabic written by Mawlà Muhammad Bàqir ibn Muhammad Taqí, known as Majlísí the Second, or simply ‘Allàmah Majlísí (A.H. 1037-1110). He is one of the most prolific Shí‘í writers, and was Shaykh al-Islàm during the Safavid period. He authored thirteen books in Arabic and fifty-three in Farsi. His largest and most important work is Bihàr al-Anwàr al-Jàmi‘ah li-Durar Akhbàr al-A’immah al-Athàr. This is the most comprehensive of all collections of Shí‘í hadiths, and it includes almost all hadiths attributed to the Prophet (‘s) through Shí‘í chains of transmission, almost all of the ahàdíth qudsí (narrations of the words of God revealed to the Prophet (‘s) not included in the Qur’àn) and other narrations attributed to the Imams. One of the features of this work is that ‘Allàmah Majlísí went to great pains to separate his own views from the transmission of the ahàdith. It took him thirty-six years to compile the work, from A.H. 1070 to A.H. 1106, with the cooperation of other scholars of the day and students. In the first volume, he identifies his sources, and later in the same volume he evaluates their reliability. His sources include close to four hundred titles, among which are sixteen works of Shaykh Saduq, sixteen works of Shaykh Tusí, eighteen works of Shaykh Mufíd, twelve works of Sayyid Murtadà, twelve works of Shahíd Awwal, twenty-one works of Sayyid ibn Tàwus, twenty-three works of ‘Allàmah Hillí and twelve works of Shahíd Thàní. He also made use of ninety works by Sunní authors for correcting the words of the narrations or determining their meanings, and he mentions each of these sources by name in his introduction. There are three extant editions that have been published of Bihàr, one is a lithograph print in twenty-five volumes, known as the old edition. The second is that of Dar al-Kutub al-Islàmiyyah, Tehran, Bazàr SulTàní, in one hundred ten volumes (no date), known as the new edition. In the Terhan edition, volumes 54, 55 and 56 contain a table of contents. The third edition is really just a reprint of the Tehran edition published by Mu’assasah al-Wafà’ of Beirut. In the Beirut edition, the contents have been moved to volumes 108, 109 and 110, and a volume 0 was added in which there is an introduction to the author and the authors of his sources.8 We have used the new edition published in Tehran.
Tuhaf al-‘Uqul fí Mà Jà’a min al-Hikam wa al-Mawà‘iz ‘an Àl al-Rasul by Abu Muhammad Hasan ibn ‘Alí ibn Husayn ibn Shu‘bah Harràní Halabí is one of the most well known collections of Shí‘í narrations. The author was a contemporary of Shaykh Saduq and died in A.H. 381. Shaykh Mufíd reports narrations from him, and he, in turn, reports traditions from Shaykh Abu ‘Alí Muhammad ibn Hammàm, who died in A.H. 336. The book contains narrations from the Prophet (‘s) followed by narrations of the first eleven Imams in order. After this, there are four more parts to the book:
- the whispered counsel (munàjàt) of God to Moses;
- the whispered counsel of God to Jesus (‘a);
- the advice of the Messiah in the gospel and other places;
- Advice of Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar, one of the companions of Imam Sàdiq (‘a) to the Shí‘ah.
In the introduction to this work, Ibn Shu‘bah writes:
“I did not mention the chains of transmission in order to reduce the volume of the book and keep it short. Most of the narrations in this book are ones I have heard. Most of them pertain to manners and wisdom which testify to their own validity and the correctness of their attribution.”
Scholars in this field consider the work to be reliable and refer to it in support of their opinions about hadiths and fiqh. The book was first published in A.H. 1303 in Iran, and later in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran.9 The edition we have used is that of Qom: Mu’assasah al-Nashr al-Islàmí, A.H. 1416.
The narrations we have translated from Tuhaf al-‘Uqul are given without mention of a chain of transmission, although there is an indication in this work that they are reported by Imam Musà ibn Ja‘far al-Kàzimu.10 Part of the narration may also be found in al-Kàfí, Vol. 2, p. 319, attributed to Imam Sadiq (‘a).
Al-Kàfí is one of the four most authoritative sources of Shí‘í narrations. It was written by Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub ibn Ishàq al-Kulayní al-Ràzí (d. A.H. 328) and contains six thousand narrations divided into thirty-four sections. It took twenty years to write during the minor occultation of the twelfth Imam. It has been published in eight volumes in Tehran by Dàr al-Kutub al-Islàmiyyah. We have used the 1362/1983 edition. The whispered counsel of God to Jesus (‘a) translated below from al-Kàfí, Vol. 8, 131-141, may also be found in Tuhaf al-‘Uqul, p. 496, without mention of the name of the Imam from whom it was narrated, and in Al-Amàlí of Shaykh Saduq it is narrated from Imam Sàdiq (‘a).
Another of the “four books” of Shí‘í narrations containing reports about Jesus (‘a) is Tahdhíb al-Ahkàm by Shaykh al-Tà’ifah Abu Ja‘far Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Alí al-Tusí (b. A.H. 385, d. A.H. 460). There are said to have been four hundred small books of Shí‘í narrations extant during the author’s lifetime, known as Usul al-Arba‘ah Mi’ah, and the author claims to have compiled this collection from these. This book is a commentary on Al-Muqni‘ah of Shaykh Mufíd, a work of jurisprudence containing references to hadiths. The edition of the Tahdhíb al-Ahkàm we have used is that of Tehran: Dàr al-Kutub al-Islàmiyyah, no date.
Mustadrak al-Wasà’il wa Mustanbat al-Masà’il by Hàjj Mírzà Husayn Nurí al-Tabarsí ibn Muhammad Taqí (A.H. 1254-1320) contains more than twenty-three thousand narrations and has been published in Qom by Mu’assasah Àl al-Baytu li Ihyà’ al-Turàth, first edition published in A.H. 1408. This is considered one of the four most important collections of Shí‘í hadiths of the modern period, that is, after the eleventh/seventeenth century, the others being Al-Wàfí by Fayd Kàshàní, Bihàr al-Anwàr by ‘Allàmah Majlísí and Wasà’il al-Shí‘ah by Shaykh Hurr al-‘Àmilí. It was written in order to complete the narrations not included in the Wasà’il al-Shí‘ah.11
8. This infomation is given in the article “Bihàr al-Anwàr” by Bahà’ al-Dín Khoramshàhí in Dayirah al-Ma‘àrif Tashshayyu‘, Vol. 3, (Tehran: Mu’assasah Dayirah al-Ma‘àrif Tashshayyu‘, 1371/1992), p. 91-98.
9. See the article “Tuhaf al-‘Uqul” by Sayyid Mahdí Hà’irí in Dayirah al-Ma‘àrif Tashshayyu‘, Vol. 4, (Tehran: Mu’assasah Dayirah al-Ma‘àrif Tashshayyu‘, 1373/1994), p. 169.
10. Tuhaf al-‘Uqul, p. 392.
11. I would like to express my gratitude to ‘Abbas Husayni for assitance in the translation of some of the hadithsand to Muntazar Qaim for his guidance in the translation of all of them. Thanks also are due to Prof. Tofighi, Hadi Yusufi Gharavi for their Suggestions. We are also grateful to the Imam Khoemini Education and Research Institute for providing the opportunity for this work