Shaykh Tusi

Shaykh Tusi (Persian: شیخ طوسی‎), full name Abū Ja'far Muḥammad Ibn Ḥasan Tūsī (Persian: ابوجعفر محمد بن حسن طوسی‎), known as Shaykh al-Taʾifah (Arabic: شيخ الطائفة‎) 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 al-Tusi
Shaykh Tusi.png
TitleShaykh al-Taʾifah
BornOctober 995, Tus
Died2 December 1067 Najaf, Abbasid Caliphate (aged 72)
EraIslamic Golden Age
RegionPersia and Mesopotamia
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



Abu Jaʿfar Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. ʿAli b. al-Hasan al-Tusi was born in Tus in Persia in the year 995 AD/385 of the Islamic era.

Middle yearsEdit

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 Shiʿite 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.


After completing his preliminary studies, in 408/1017 he left Khorasan, fundamentally Shafi'i and to an increasing degree controlled by the G̲h̲aznawid Maḥmūd, in favour of Baghdad, where the Shia Buwayhids were dominant. There, he studied under leading Imāmī masters including Abu ʾl-Ḥasan Ibn Abī Ḏj̲ūd, Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Mūsā al-Ahwāzī, al-G̲h̲ad̓āʾirī, Ibn ʿAbdūn, and, in particular, the powerful doyen of Imāmī rationalists permeated by Muʿtazilī dialectic, al-S̲h̲ayk̲h̲ al-Mufīd [q.v.], of whom hequickly became, in spite of his youth, one of the favourite pupils (on the rationalist evolution of Imāmism, see Amir Moezzi, 1992, 15–48). On the deathof al-Mufīd in 413/1022, his disciple al-S̲h̲arīf al-Murtad̓ā ʿAlam al-Hudā [q.v.], who had also studied under the Muʿtazilī ʿAbd al-Ḏj̲abbār [q.v.], took over the leadership of the Imāmīs of the capital. Ṭūsī subsequently became his principal disciple. Eminent scholars and former pupils of al-Mufīd, such as al-Nad̲j̲ās̲h̲ī, al-Karād̲j̲akī or Abū Yaʿlā al-Ḏj̲aʿfarī, were still living in Baghdad, but on the death of al-Murtad̓ā in 436/1044 he was succeeded by Ṭūsī. 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 Ḳāʾim (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 Imāmī libraries of the time, that of the dār al-ʿilm founded by Sābūr b. Ardas̲h̲īr (more than 100,000 works) and that of al-Murtad̓ā (almost 80,000 works), Ṭūsī composed some fifty books and his house, in the Shia quarter of Kark̲h̲ [q.v.], became for a period of more than ten years the virtual intellectual centre of Imāmism.

Under the Buwayhids, numerous religious riots had caused bloodshed in the capital. In 447-8/1056-7, ¶ after the al-Basāsīrī episode, the invasion of Bag̲h̲dād by the Sald̲j̲ūḳṬog̲h̲ri̊l and the end of the Buwayhids, the anti-Shia coalition, led by Hanbali traditionalists, sacked the quarters of Kark̲h̲ and of Bāb al-Ṭāḳ. Al-Ṭūsī'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 Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan who succeeded him. Also worthy of mention among his disciples were Sulaymān al-Ṣahras̲h̲tī, al-Ḥasan b. al-Ḥusayn b. Bābawayh (nephew of Ibn Bābawayh al-Ṣadūḳ), Isḥāḳb. Muḥammad al-Ḳummī (grandson of al-Ṣadūḳ), S̲h̲ahrās̲h̲ūb al-Māzandarānī (grandfather of the famous author of the Manāḳib ) and also al-Fattāl al-Nīsābūrī.

In his work, Ṭūsī attempts to modify the radically rationalist and pragmatic positions of al-Murtad̓ā (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 ʿAbbāsid caliphate) is in certain circumstances desirable, and collaboration with a power claiming that its authority derives from the Hidden Imām (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-Murtad̓ā). At the same time, Ṭūsī has constant recourse to reasoned argumentation based on id̲j̲tihād and he begins to sketch the notion of the “general representation” (al-niyāba al-ʿāmma) of the Hidden Imām entrusted to jurist-theologians who may, if the need arises, exercise the prerogatives traditionally reserved for the historical Imāms. In completing and modifying the work of al-Mufīd and of al-Murtad̓ā, Ṭūsī succeeded in endowing Imāmī law with a structure and a scope of activity practically independent of the figure of the Imām. Thus his work was to provide rationalist Imāmism, known from the following century onward as al-uṣūliyya, with solid intellectual bases, enabling it to experience a lengthy evolution which would lead ultimately to an ever-increasing assumption of power by Imāmī mud̲j̲tahids in the economic, social and political fields. The immense and lasting influence of the work of Ṭūsī earned him the honorific nickname of S̲h̲ayk̲h̲ al-Ṭāʾifa [al-Imāmiyya] or simply al-S̲h̲ayk̲h̲ .

In his Fihrist, Ṭūsī gives a list of 43 of his own works; later he would have composed several more (Ṭihrānī, introd. to Tibyān). They are devoted to exegesis (3 titles), law (11), the foundations of law (2), ḥadīt̲h̲ (3), rid̲j̲āl (3), theology and heresiography (16), prayers and Imāmī piety (5), historiography (2), replies to the questions of disciples (3) [introd. by Wāʿiz̦-zāda to al-Ḏj̲umal wa ʾl-ʿuḳūd]. The following list is confined to the best known of these works (and the most widely available editions): al-Istibṣār and Tahd̲h̲īb al-aḥkām, ed. al-Ḵh̲arsān, Nad̲j̲af, respectively 1375-6 and 1378–82, which form with the Kāfī of al-Kulaynī (329/949-1) and the Kitāb man lā yaḥd̓uruhu ʾl-faḳīh of Ibn Bābawayh al-Ṣadūḳ(381/991), the Four Canonical Books (al-kutub al-arbaʿa) of Imāmī ḥadīt̲h̲; al-Tibyān fī tafsīr al-Ḳurʾān (first great Imāmī rationalist commentary; ed. S̲h̲awḳī and ʿĀmilī, Nad̲j̲af 1376–83, 10 vols., with introd. by Āg̲h̲ā Buzurg al-Ṭihranī); Fihrist kutub al-s̲h̲īʿa (ed. Sprenger and ʿAbd Ḥaḳḳ, Calcutta 1848, repr. Mas̲h̲had 1972); Kitāb al-G̲h̲ayba (on the occultation of the Twelfth Imām, ed. Nad̲j̲af 1385 AH); Rid̲j̲āl (revised summary of al-Kas̲h̲s̲h̲ī's Maʿrifat al-nāḳilīn, Nad̲j̲af ¶ 1381); al-Iḳtiṣād fīmā yataʿallaḳ bi ʾl-iʿtiḳād, Beirut 1406; al-Amālī, Nad̲j̲af 1384; ʿUddat uṣūl, Nad̲j̲af 1403 (these three last works concern ḥadīt̲h̲ and dogma); al-Mabsūṭ fi ʾl-fiḳh, ed. Bihbūdī, repr. Tehran 1387–8; al-Nihāya fī mud̲j̲arrad fiḳh wa ʾl-fatāwā, Beirut 1390; al-Ḏj̲umal wa ʾl-ʿuḳūd fi ʾl-ʿibādāt (with introd. and Persian tr. by Wāʿiz̦-zāda, Mas̲h̲had 1374); Miṣbāḥ al-mutahad̲j̲d̲j̲id (in two versions—al-kabīr and al-ṣag̲h̲īr—on Imāmī piety, Tehran 1398); (the two works entitled Duʿāʾ al-d̲j̲aws̲h̲an al-kabīr and al-d̲j̲aws̲h̲an al-ṣag̲h̲īr, mentioned by Hidayet Hosain in EI 1, are not al-Ṭūsī's, and are probably drawn from the Miṣbāḥof al-Kafʿamī [9th/15th century]).

Among modern studiesEdit

Among modern studies, see the 102-page introd. by Ṭihrānī to al-Ṭūsī's Tibyān, in Yād-nāma-yi S̲h̲ayk̲h̲ al-Ṭāʾifa... Ṭūsī, Mas̲h̲had 1348/1970; R. Brunschvig, Les uṣūl al-fiqh imâmites ā 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 schiʿitischen Rechts, Erlangen-Nuremberg-Cologne 1971, index, s.n.; M.J. McDermott, The theology of al-Shaikh al-Mufīd, 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 Ṭāwūs and his library, Leiden 1992, index; M.A. Amir-Moezzi, Le guide divin dans le shiʿisme originel, Paris 1992; idem, Remarques sur les critēres d’authenticité du hadithet l’authorité du juriste dans le shiʿisme 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 of 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 schoolEdit

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 reasonEdit

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 seminaryEdit

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.


The full name of this book is Al-Khilāf fī l-aḥkām. 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 the Shia school of law and the other schools; the differences exist merely about minor problems, namely furū`.[12] This book, as a compendium, not only rendered those opinions which the Shia hold uniquely, but also the conflicting Sunni opinions in much greater detail.[24]

See alsoEdit


  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 30 March 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-Ṭūsī: 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 Jaʻfar Subḥānī; 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.
  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. ^ Stewart, 1998 & Islamic Legal Orthodoxy: Twelver Shiite Responses to the Sunni Legal System, p. 143. See also the on-line encyclopedia article at

External linksEdit