Sunday, August 24, 2014

A note on al-Ḥasan al-Ḥillī [fl. 15th century] and his Mukhtaṣar [or Muntakhab] Baṣāʾir al-darajāt

ʿIzz al-Dīn al-Ḥasan b. Sulāymān al-Ḥillī was born in around 742/1341 in al-Ḥilla but probably moved later to Jabal ʿĀmil, which might explain his ijāza from Ibn Makkī al-Jizzīnī (al-Shahīd I) for transmission of ʿIlal al-sharāʾiʿ of al-Ṣadūq on 12 Shaʿbān 757/10 August 1356.[1] He apparently also studied with al-Miqdād al-Siyūrī [d. 826/1422].[2] He studied with a number of other figures and appears in the chain of narrators for al-Ṣaḥīfa al-Sajjādīya in the recension of Shaykh Bahāʾ al-Dīn al-ʿĀmilī through his grandfather Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad al-Jubʿī [d. 886/1481].[3] His other teachers in ḥadīth were Sayyid Bahāʾ al-Dīn ʿAlī b. Ghiyāth al-Dīn Ḥusaynī Nīlī Najafī [d. after 803/1400], and Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm al-Maṭārābādī.[4] He was still alive on 23 Muḥarram 802/25 September 1399, the date of the ijāza that he gave to Shaykh ʿIzz al-Dīn al-Ḥusayn al-Jūyānī for the transmission of al-Khiṣāl of al-Ṣadūq.[5] Another student of his, Zayn al-Dīn ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan Astarābādī [d. 837/1433], described him as a major scholar of the second half of the eighth century hijri. Perhaps his most famous student seems to have been the major Ḥillī scholar Jamāl al-Dīn Aḥmad b. Muḥammad Ibn Fahd al-Ḥillī.

He does not seem to have written much – and the corpus is mainly ḥadīth compilation, the most famous of which is the so-called Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt usually including his Risālat al-Rajʿa wa-l-radd ʿalā ahl al-bidʿa.[6] It is called Mukhtaṣar because it claims to be based on the non-extant Baṣāʾir al-darajāt of Saʿd b. ʿAbdullāh al-Ashʿarī [d. 301/913].[7] In the Safavid period, it was better known as Muntakhab Baṣāʾir al-darajāt as attested by Majlisī and Afandī; the editor mentions 24 manuscripts many of which date from the later Safavid period especially the 1070s and 1080s.[8] The text clearly draws upon a number of earlier ḥadīth compilations from Baṣāʾir al-darajāt of al-Ṣaffār, Kitāb Sulaym, various Kitāb al-ghayba versions, al-Kāfī and ʿIlal al-sharāʾiʿ as well as a number of prayer manuals such as Kitāb al-ziyārāt of Ibn Qūlawayh and al-Miṣbāḥ of al-Ṭūsī.

The text is broadly divided into two overlapping parts. Part one includes various chapters on the doctrine of walāya and theology of the imamate – however, two important parts stand out as independent treatises incorporate: one is the aforementioned Risālat al-rajʿa wa-l-radd ʿalā ahl al-bidʿa that comprises material not in the work of Saʿd b. ʿAbdullāh but on the authority of Shahīd I based on both a long sermon of ʿAlī as well as excerpts in the famous ziyāra jāmiʿa narrated from Imam ʿAlī al-Hādī,[9] and the other is a series of narrations from Imam al-Ṣādiq rebuking the esotericism of Abū-l-Khaṭṭāb and instructing Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar.[10] In this part is also a long series of narrations on the need to guard the esoteric doctrine – kitmān al-ḥadīth.[11]

1)          Various reports on the knowledge/disciplines of the Imams – contains 54 reports mainly from Baṣāʾir of al-Ṣaffār and al-Kāfī; report 33 is a long letter from Imam al-Riḍā to Aḥmad b. ʿUmar al-Ḥallāl on how to know the next Imam
2)         On the cycles and their states (al-karrāt wa-ḥālātiha) – 46 narrations that include this report from al-Ṣādiq that there are three battles of God (ayyām Allāh): the battle when the Qāʾim (the Avenger) rises, when the return (al-karra) takes place, and day of judgement.[12]
3)         The independent Kitāb al-rajʿa that he says is based on narrations not from Saʿd b. ʿAbdullāh. The chain of narration begins with various Ḥillī figures from Shahīd I, and moves through al-Ṭusī to Ibn Bābawayh through to the sermon of ʿAlī.[13] It starts with him saying three times the famous phrase ‘ask me before you miss me’, after which Ṣaʿṣaʿa b. Ṣawḥān asks him about the rising of the Dajjāl, the dābba and the rising of the Mahdī. This is immediately followed by a long ḥadīth of Imām Ṣādiq from Abū Ḥamza al-Thumālī again citing a sermon of ʿAlī that includes not only the notion that the primordial pact was to help the Prophet and his waṣī, but also a list of identifications of who he is (anā ṣāḥib al-nār wa-l-janna) reminiscent of Mashāriq anwār that includes the phrase ‘I am a cycle after cycles, and have return after return’.[14] In all there are 49 narrations including from kitāb al-ghayba.
4)         Reverts to Saʿd’s text with a chapter on the people on the Aʿrāf that includes 13 narrations
5)         The next chapter is on the excellences of the Imams reported in the Qurʾān and includes 48 narrations.
6)        Two chapters deal with submitting to what the Imams teach and refuting those who reject those teachings. 36 narrations on the former and 24 on the latter.
7)         These chapters are divided by an exchange between Imam Ṣādiq and Mufaḍḍal made up of 5 long reports designed to demonstrate a rejection of the divinity of the Prophet and the Imams.
8)         A short chapter of 4 reports follows on the attributes of the Imams.
9)        The last chapter of this section is on the key notion of the kitmān al-sirr. 34 reports

The second part resumes the selection for Saʿd b. ʿAbdullāh on a variety on issues including the narrations that he transmitted on rajʿa.[15] Contained in this section is also an independent treatise on the origins of the creation of humans – on the pre-eternal world of the atom (ʿālam al-dharr).[16] Overall what seems to be clear is the overlap that much of this material has with the so-called Mufaḍḍalīyāt material associated with the ghulāt, or alternatively one could – with Amir-Moezzi – see these themes as central to the esoteric core of Shiʿi Islam in the classical period with its focus on the supernatural nature of the Imams, their pre-existence (and role in creation in ʿālam al-dharr), their cosmic authority (walāya takwīnīya), and their role in the eschaton (rajʿa).[17]

[1] Āqā Buzurg, al-Ḥaqāʾiq al-rāhina, p. 41; Āqā Buzurg, al-ḍiyāʾ al-lāmiʿ, IV, p. 34; Afandī, Riyāḍ al-ʿulamāʾ, III, 374; al-Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Amal al-āmil, vol. II, p. 66; Introduction to al-Ḥasan al-Ḥillī, al-Majmūʿa al-ḥadīthīya al-maʿrūf bi-Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, Qum: Maktabat al-ʿAllāma al-Majlisī, 1388 Sh/2009, pp. 11–14; cf. Jaʿfar al-Muhājir, Jabal ʿĀmil bayn al-shahīdayn, Damascus: IFEAD, 2005, pp. 154, 158, 166; cf. al-Shammarī, al-Ḥayāt al-fikrīya, pp. 161–63, 314, 324–25.
[2] Al-Ṣadr, Takmilat Amal al-āmil, p. 336.
[3] Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, CIV, p. 213; cf. Āqā Buzurg, al-Ḍiyāʾ al-lāmiʿ, p. 34.
[4] According to Sayyid Muḥsin al-Amīn, Maṭārābād is in the vicinity of Basra – see Aʿyān al-shīʿa, V, p. 220, VI, p. 390. My thanks to Mushegh Asatryan for this information.
[5] Muḥammad al-Samāmī al-Ḥāʾirī, ‘Ijāzat al-Ḥasan al-Ḥillī li-l-Jūyānī’, Turāthunā, pp. 107–14.
[6] This particular risāla has been published separately before attributed to Sayyid Muḥammad Muʾmin b. Dūst Muḥammad Ḥusaynī Astarābādī [exe. 1088/1677], son-in-law of the famous Astarābādī and ḥadīth teacher of Majlisī. Cf. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, CX, pp. 127–28; al-Dharīʿa, I, p. 94, 456.
[7] Recently Hasan Ansari has argued that the text that we know as Baṣāʾir al-darajāt of al-Ṣaffār al-Qummī is not his work as he was a juridically inclined tradent not known for transmitting theological doctrine, but rather a later recension of Saʿd b. ʿAbdullāh’s lost work. This would perhaps explain why there is a large element of overlap in the concerns of the Baṣāʾir and this Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt with practically identical chapter headings. However, Amir-Moezzi is not so sure – see Le Coran silencieux et le Coran parlant, Paris: CNRS, 2011, p. 134.
[8] Al-Ḥillī, Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, pp. 19–22.
[9] Al-Ḥillī, Muhktaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, pp. 155–204.
[10] Al-Ḥillī, Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, pp. 279–99.
[11] Al-Ḥillī, Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, pp. 327–50.
[12] Al-Ḥillī, Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, p. 117.
[13] Al-Ḥillī, Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, p. 155.
[14] Al-Ḥillī, Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, pp. 161–62.
[15] Al-Ḥillī, Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, pp. 511–86.
[16] Al-Ḥillī, Mukhtaṣar Baṣāʾir al-darajāt, pp. 457–510.
[17] Mushegh Asatryan, Heresy and Rationalism in Early Islam: The Origins and Evolution of the Mufaḍḍal-Tradition, unpublished PhD dissertation, Yale University, 2012; Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, Le guide divin dans le shīʿisme original, Paris: Verdier, 1992; on pre-existence, see idem, La religion discrète, Paris: Vrin, 2006, pp. 109–33.

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