Early Shi’i ‘Ilal Works Were Not Maqasid-Based Ijtihad

During 2018-2019 academic year’s lessons on legal theory by Shaykh Haider Hobollah, a brief discussion was opened up over two sessions (lesson 116 on April 6th, 2019 and lesson 117 on April 7th, 2019) in response to an analysis done by respected Ahl al-Sunnah scholars, Ahmad Raissouni and Khalid Zuhri. Both opine in some of their works that traces of Maqāṣid-based ijtihād can be found amongst the works of the classical Imāmī scholars. They predominantly cite the presence of various books written on ‘ilal (the causes or the reasons) by Shī’ī scholars, most significant of them being ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i of Shaykh Ṣadūq to argue their point.

Let us first read what Raissouni has said:

And from those who came after al-Tirmidhī and occupied and examined the causes of divine law, we find a leader of the Imāmīyyah, namely, al-‘Allāmah Ibn Bābuwayh al-Qumī Abū Ja’far Muḥammad b. ‘Alī – famously known as al-Shaykh al-Ṣadūq (d. 381 AH). The most important of his books mentioned for him on this subject is ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i, in which he has collected a large number of statements mentioning causes, and transmitted from the Imāms of the Shī’a and their scholars, beginning from the companions they consider reliable. These causes are inclusive of all chapters of the divine law, rather all chapters of religion as it contains reports on theology and history. I do not believe it to be far-fetched that al-Shaykh al-Ṣadūq was influenced by al-Shaykh al-Ḥakīm in his approach and inclination towards the causes.1

In addition, Khālid Zuhrī in his book Ta’līl al-Sharī’a Bayn al-Sunnah wa al-Shī’a: al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī wa Ibn Bābuwayh al-Qumī Namudhajayn engages in an extensive comparative study between al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī and Shaykh Ṣadūq. In this work he defends his claim that Shaykh Ṣadūq’s work ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i is evidence for the presence of Maqāṣid based ijtihād amongst early Shī’ī scholars.2 He says:

The books of al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī and Ibn Bābuwayh al-Qumī show that they were both from the most prominent Maqāṣid-based scholars and that both were from the earliest to write on the subject of objectives of divine law, that both accepted the causes of divine law, that the causes are sensible by the intellect and they defended their position with the intellect and the transmitted sources.3

We wish to see whether it is fair to conclude that Shaykh Ṣadūq was a Maqāṣid-oriented scholar as it was understood by later Ahl al-Sunnah scholars. Historically speaking, the Shī’ī approach to the discussion on Maqāṣid has been very different than the Ahl al-Sunnah – or perhaps better put, it has rather been non-existent. While Shī’ī scholars do believe divine law is subordinate to greater expediency or harm, they essentially refrained from any practical discussions on it, as it was done by the Ahl al-Sunnah. This is because discussions on Maqāṣid essentially originated from discussions linked to qiyās, while the Shī’a vehemently rejected qiyās. In fact, some Akhbārī scholars rejected those few categories of qiyās that even the Uṣūlīs accepted and implemented in their efforts to derive law. In addition, Shī’a scholarship also claimed that there was no way to determine the criterion and the exact cause behind any given ruling – hence making the discussion on Maqāṣid fundamentally pointless.

Some propose that because the Shī’a did not have discussions on qiyās, therefore they also were not at the forefront of discussions on Maqāṣid. Others opine that the reason why discussions on Maqāṣid did not historically exist amongst the Shī’a is that there was never a Shī’ī government established, while we see that after the Islamic Revolution of Iran these discussions have become much more mainstream and are considered necessary.

A third analysis argues that the Ahl al-Sunnah went towards Maqāṣid because they had fewer traditions, as opposed to the Shī’a school of thought who possess a much larger quantity of traditions. This is not an accurate analysis, because the Ahl al-Sunnah actually do have a lot of traditions, and in fact, if you count the number of traditions they consider probative, if they are not more, they are around the same. Even if they are less than the Shī’ī traditions, this lower quantity is not so low for it to warrant this analysis justified.

Books on ‘Ilal written by Imāmī Shī’a

The closest the Shī’a have ever gotten to discussions on Maqāṣid are the various traditions and books written on ‘ilal. There are hundreds of traditions from the Ahl al-Bayt (a) themselves on the reasons behind laws and they can be traced back to second century hijri. Interestingly, there is a well-known position held by some Ahl al-Sunnah scholars who claim that the Shī’a Imams would do qiyās. They possess secondary books of aḥādīth where they have traditions from Imam ‘Alī or even some later Imams depicting them doing qiyās. This is most likely because the Ahl al-Sunnah perceive the Imams as jurists and hence it would make sense for them to say they were doing qiyās. We even find this mentality amongst some of the companions of the Imams – hence why they were often condemned by their contemporaries or later scholars – although this post is not concerned with the opinions of these companions.

It is possible that if the Imams were providing reasons behind rulings, some companions could have used those as the criteria to perform ijtihād themselves.

We will compile a list of books on ‘ilal that have been written by earlier companions and narrators. These books are often referred to as al-‘Ilal, or sometimes as ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i, or ‘Ilal al-Ṣawm, or ‘Ilal al-Ṣalāt etc. Foremost, here is a list of books that have not come down to us, and are referred to as simply “Kitāb al-‘Ilal” without making it clear, the subject-matter:

  1. Aḥmad b. Muḥamad b. Ḥusayn al-Qumī: Najāshī says he had a Kitāb al-‘Ilal.4
  2. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. ‘Ammār al-Kūfī: Mentioned by Najāshī5 and Ṭūsī6
  3. ‘Alī b. Ḥasan b. ‘Alī b. al-Faḍḍāl: Mentioned by Najāshī7
  4. ‘Alī b. Abī Sahl b. Ibn Ḥātim al-Qazwīnī: Mentioned by Najāshī8
  5. Faḍl b. Shādhān: Mentioned by Ṭūsī9 and Najāshī10
  6. Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Barqī (the father): Mentioned by Najāshī11
  7. Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Dāwūd b. ‘Alī: Mentioned by Najāshī12
  8. Yūnus b. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān: Najāṣhī says he has a Kitab al-‘Ilal al-Kabir, Kitab ‘Ilal al-Ḥadīth and ‘Ilal al-Nikāḥh wa Taḥlīl al-Mut’ah.13Shaykh Ṭūsī only mentions his Kitāb al-‘Ilal14
  9. Ismā’īl b. Mihrān al-Sakūnī: Mentioned by Ṭūsī15

The question we are faced with, what exactly are these books about? They could have meant ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i and this is not a far-fetched possibility, especially since when we look at the entry of Shaykh Ṣadūq who we have an extant book called ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i, we find it being referred to by Ṭūsī as Kitab al-‘Ilal.

Another possibility is that at least some of these works were actually on the topic of ‘Ilal al-Ḥadīth. This was also a very popular genre in the second and third-century hijrī amongst both Sunnī and Shī’ī scholarship. For example, Ibn Nadīm attributes a Kitab al-‘Ilal to Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal – which is published today as ‘Ilal al-Ḥadīth – or when he talks about books of Tirmidhī he says the same thing. Another example is entry #10, where Ṭūsī mentions a Kitab al-‘Ilal for Barqī, but Najashi refers to it as Kitab ‘Ilal al-Ḥadīth.

It is also possible for these books to be ‘Ilal al-Nahw – although this is a weaker possibility.

From amongst the books that have not reached us, but whose titles clearly mention the subject-matter of the work, we had:

  1. Aḥmad b. Isḥāq b. ‘Abdillah b. Sa’d al-Ash’arī: Najāshī,16 Ibn Ghaḍāirī17 both say he has a book called ‘Ilal al-Sawm and that it was a large book. Ṭūsī says Kitāb ‘Ilal al-Ṣalāt,18 although this is most likely a scribal error or a mistake by Shaykh Ṭūsī.
  2. Ḥamdān b. Isḥāq al-Khorāsānī: Najāshī mentions he has a book called ‘Ilal al-Wuḍū. 19
  3. Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan b. ‘Abdillah al-Ja’farī: Najāshī mentions a book called ‘Ilal al-Farāiḍ wa al-Nawāfil.20
  4. Mufaḍḍal b. ‘Umar al-Ju’fī: Najāshī mentions an ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i for him.21
  5. Hishām b. Ḥakam: Najāshī mentions an ‘Ilal al-Taḥrīm for him.22
  6. Yūnus b. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān: He had an ‘Ilal al-Nikāḥ as per Najāshī.23

The aforementioned books were all written in the third and fourth centuries (although Hishām b. Ḥakam was second century and that would have been the early stages of the development of this genre amongst Shī’ī scholars).

From the books that are extant, there is only one work available to us. That is Shaykh Ṣadūq’s famous ‘Ilal al-Sharā’ī. Najāshī and Ṭūsī both mention that Ṣadūq has a Kitab al-‘Ilal Ghayr Mubawwbin, meaning a book which has been organized in chapters yet, but then Najashi says he has an ‘Ilal al-Sharā’ī – so it is possible that the former could be a different book. Both also mention a book called Jami’ Ilal al-Ḥajj and ‘Ilal al-Wuḍū. Based on this, it is either possible that Ṣadūq had four different books, or perhaps they could all just have been different parts of the extant ‘Ilal al-Sharā’ī.

Ṣadūq himself refers to his book in multiple places, such as in Kamāl al-Dīn, Ma’ānī al-Akhbār and twice in his al-Faqīh, but refers to it as ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i wa al-Aḥkām wa al-Asbāb.

The question is, why did the Imāmīyyah – and more importantly Shaykh Ṣadūq – write these books on ‘Ilal in the third and fourth centuries. ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i of Ṣadūq is a very large book, and there are two abridged versions of the book as well; one by Kaf’amī in the tenth century and a second by Sharaf al-Dīn al-Baḥrānī, also in the tenth century – although we do not know why they wrote these abridged versions. The original book has more than 1700 traditions and contains various different chapters.

What we can say for sure is that the book is not specific to traditions discussing the causes and objectives of law, rather, just a portion of it is. There are causes and reasons for theological beliefs, for Divine Names and so on. Unfortunately, Shaykh Ṣadūq did not even write an introduction to the book, so we do not know his motive behind it. In around fifty places of the book Ṣadūq comments or writes something with regards to the tradition he cites, otherwise there is nothing else mentioned for any other tradition. The few times he comments, he is usually explaining the meaning of a word, or trying to reconcile between reports, or critiquing it, bringing an contextual indicator to strengthen a tradition, but they are all very short statements. Later in this article, we will mention five or six possible reasons why Ṣadūq could have written this work.

Waḥīd Behbahānī on Ṣadūq’s Approach in ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i

The founder of the modern Uṣūlī school of ijtihād, Waḥīd Behbahānī briefly discusses Ṣadūq’s approach in this book, in a jurisprudential treatise. In his treatise concerning whether a man can marry two Fāṭimī women (women from the progeny of Fāṭima and ‘Alī), he begins discussing a number of traditions and brings his attention to the work of Ṣadūq which contains one such tradition seemingly prohibiting such a marriage.

Behbahānī is responding to those who claim that since Ṣadūq cites this tradition in his ‘Ilal but does not comment on it to reject it, it implies that he accepted it.

As for what has been said that since Ṣadūq did not reject this tradition nor try to explain it away, then this is evidence that he was a proponent of the contents of the tradition, and that his religious edict is in line with the prima-facie of the tradition, because he is in such and such state, and in the state of doing such and such – i.e. in the state of rejecting or explaining away traditions.

In response (we say): you have learned that he (r), like on other occasions which cannot be enumerated, has cited traditions whose prima-facie is obligation and their meanings literally imply that, rather at times its meaning in obligation is to its greatest extent, while at the same time his own intent is most definitely a recommendation (istiḥbāb), but he does not bother to explain away the tradition at all. Likewise, he has cited traditions whose prima-facie implies pre-determination (jabr), or immanence (tashbīh) and the corporeality (jismīyyah) of the Lord, or that he has a direction (samat), or that He is not Wise, or that good and bad are legislative, or that He obligates that which is outside of one’s capacity, and many other fundamental matters which are certainly invalid amongst the Shī’a.

And from such traditions is when Fāṭima (s) responds back to Allah’s words when He informs her that He will give her a son that the nation will kill, by saying, “I do not want this son and I have no need for him,” and other similar traditions which are very clearly and certainly problematic according to the Shī’a. Despite that, the transmitter of the tradition does not explain away the tradition at all whatsoever.

Likewise is the case in particular matters, and hence we restrict the reports of each one of them in many places with a report which another one has reported or with a consensus or with a rational argument, and likewise, one specifies it or predicates it on another matter most definitely.

In conclusion, what we have said is not hidden from anyone well familiar with the arguments of jurisprudence and the books of deductive arguments and traditions. As for the mentioning of the speculative traditions, then all have agreed upon transmitting them without necessarily explaining them away, while al-Sayyid (r) would reject them altogether, other than al-Sayyid the scholars have found it very difficult to accept these explanations. Such is the case in other (non-speculative) reports as well.

In fact books like al-Kāfī are filled with such reports, likewise Kitāb al-Tawḥīd of Ṣadūq, and others, without a doubt, and to such an extent that it is from the well-established matters amongst them that generally, the habit of the authors is to simply record all the traditions which they have transmitted in their works, whether they accept its content or not, they are satisfied with it or reject it. This is what has been alluded to in the introduction of al-Faqīh by Ṣadūq and also by al-Shaykh and other scholars.

And in his book al-‘Ilal, he also mentions many traditions that cannot be enumerated, of which he does not accept their prima-facie meaning for certain, rather perhaps he does not even accept some of those traditions at all. Despite that, he does not mention any justification or explanation for them at all.

As an example, what he reports in the chapter regarding the reason for creation: “Allah said to Adam (a): Speak, for your soul is my soul, and your nature is different from My being — until He says — I have placed differences in their forms (meaning the forms of the children of Adam), their bodies, their colours, their lifespans, their sustenance, their obedience and their transgression. I thus have made certain ones of them to be very fortunate or very unfortunate… till the end of the tradition.24 This whole tradition is extremely problematic.

And as another example of what has been mentioned and transmitted is the problematic and famous tradition which implies that Allah says, “I never hesitated in doing anything as I do regarding the death of My believing servant — until He says — and the one whom I love, I would be his hearing and eyesight.”25

It has also been reported in al-‘Ilal that, “One of the ears of Prophet Idrīs (a) was bigger than the other.”

There are many other traditions that cannot be enumerated due to their large amount, but he does not attempt to explain them away, nor reject them completely, and rather it is apparent in various places that this book is not a book of his religious edicts nor one to act by, rather it simply encompasses all traditions in which the contents mention a reason. Consider this and reflect upon it.26

As Behbahānī above explains, not everything Ṣadūq wrote in his book was necessarily accepted by him. In a few places where Ṣadūq does not agree with a tradition, he would comment on it – like in the chapter regarding why the Prophet (p) called Imam ‘Alī Abū Ṭurāb.27 However, at the same time, there are other traditions where we know Ṣadūq does not believe in them, but he does not comment on them at all. For example, the following tradition:

أَبِي رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا سَعْدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَرَفَةَ بِسُرَّ مَنْ رَأَى قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ إِسْرَائِيلَ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو صَالِحٍ عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ رَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ قَالَ: كُنْتُ‏ أَنَا وَ جَعْفَرُ بْنُ‏ أَبِي‏ طَالِبٍ‏ مُهَاجِرَيْنِ‏ إِلَى بِلَادِ الْحَبَشَةِ فَأُهْدِيَتْ لِجَعْفَرٍ جَارِيَةٌ قِيمَتُهَا أَرْبَعَةُ آلَافِ دِرْهَمٍ فَلَمَّا قَدِمْنَا الْمَدِينَةَ أَهْدَاهَا لِعَلِيٍّ ع تَخْدُمُهُ فَجَعَلَهَا عَلِيٌّ ع فِي مَنْزِلِ فَاطِمَةَ فَدَخَلَتْ فَاطِمَةُ ع يَوْماً فَنَظَرَتْ إِلَى رَأْسِ عَلِيٍّ ع فِي حَجْرِ الْجَارِيَةِ فَقَالَتْ يَا أَبَا الْحَسَنِ فَعَلْتَهَا فَقَالَ لَا وَ اللَّهِ يَا بِنْتَ مُحَمَّدٍ مَا فَعَلْتُ شَيْئاً فَمَا الَّذِي تُرِيدِينَ قَالَتْ تَأْذَنُ لِي فِي الْمَصِيرِ إِلَى مَنْزِلِ أَبِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص فَقَالَ لَهَا قَدْ أَذِنْتُ لَكِ فَتَجَلْبَبَتْ بِجِلْبَابِهَا وَ تَبَرْقَعَتْ بِبُرْقِعِهَا وَ أَرَادَتِ النَّبِيَّ ص فَهَبَطَ جَبْرَئِيلُ ع فَقَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُقْرِئُكَ السَّلَامَ وَ يَقُولُ لَكَ إِنَّ هَذِهِ فَاطِمَةُ قَدْ أَقْبَلَتْ إِلَيْكَ تَشْكُو عَلِيّاً فَلَا تَقْبَلْ مِنْهَا فِي عَلِيٍّ شَيْئاً فَدَخَلَتْ فَاطِمَةُ فَقَالَ لَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص جِئْتِ تَشْكِينَ عَلِيّاً قَالَتْ إِيْ وَ رَبِّ الْكَعْبَةِ فَقَالَ لَهَا ارْجِعِي إِلَيْهِ فَقُولِي لَهُ رَغِمَ أَنْفِي لِرِضَاكَ فَرَجَعَتْ إِلَى عَلِيٍّ ع فَقَالَتْ لَهُ يَا أَبَا الْحَسَنِ رَغِمَ أَنْفِي لِرِضَاكَ تَقُولُهَا ثَلَاثاً فَقَالَ لَهَا عَلِيٌّ ع شَكَوْتِينِي إِلَى خَلِيلِي وَ حَبِيبِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص وَا سَوْأَتَاهْ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص أُشْهِدُ اللَّهَ يَا فَاطِمَةُ أَنَّ الْجَارِيَةَ حُرَّةٌ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ وَ أَنَّ الْأَرْبَعَمِائَةِ دِرْهَمٍ الَّتِي فَضَلَتْ مِنْ عَطَائِي صَدَقَةٌ عَلَى فُقَرَاءِ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ ثُمَّ تَلَبَّسَ وَ انْتَعَلَ وَ أَرَادَ النَّبِيَّ ص فَهَبَطَ جَبْرَئِيلُ‏ فَقَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُقْرِئُكَ السَّلَامَ وَ يَقُولُ لَكَ قُلْ لِعَلِيٍّ قَدْ أَعْطَيْتُكَ الْجَنَّةَ بِعِتْقِكَ الْجَارِيَةَ فِي رِضَا فَاطِمَةَ وَ النَّارَ بِالْأَرْبَعِمِائَةِ دِرْهَمٍ الَّتِي تَصَدَّقْتَ بِهَا فَأَدْخِلِ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ شِئْتَ بِرَحْمَتِي وَ أَخْرِجْ مِنَ النَّارِ مَنْ شِئْتَ بِعَفْوِي فَعِنْدَهَا قَالَ عَلِيٌّ ع أَنَا قَسِيمُ اللَّهِ بَيْنَ الْجَنَّةِ وَ النَّارِ

My father (r) said, Sa’d b. ‘Abdillah narrated to us saying al-Ḥasan b. ‘Arafah narrated to us in Surra Man Ra’a saying Wakī’ narrated to us from Muḥammad b. Isrā’īl from Abū Ṣāliḥ from Abū Dharr (r) who said: Ja’far b. Abī Ṭālib and I were immigrating to Ḥabasha and Ja’far was gifted a slave girl whose price was four-thousand Dirham. When we returned back to Medina, he gifted her to ‘Alī (a) to be at his service. ‘Alī (a) placed her in the house of Fāṭima. One day Fāṭima entered and saw the head of ‘Alī (a) in the lap of the slave girl and said, ‘O Abā al-Ḥasan, did you anything with her?’ He said, ‘No by Allah, O daughter of Muḥammad, I did not do anything. What do you want?’ She said, ‘Permit me to go towards the house of my father the Messenger of Allah (p)’. He (a) said to her, ‘I permit you.’

She covered herself with her robe and with her drape and went towards the Messenger (p). Jibra’īl descended and said, ‘O Muḥammad, Allah sends his peace upon you and He says, Fāṭima is coming towards you to complain about ‘Alī. Do not accept anything from her regarding ‘Alī.’

Fāṭima entered and he (p) said to her, ‘You have come to complain about ‘Alī.’ She replied, ‘Yes, by the Lord of the Ka’ba.’ He (p) said to her, ‘Return back towards him and say to him “may my nose he besmeared with dust in your satisfaction.” So she returned back to ‘Alī (a) and said, “O Abā al-Ḥasan, may my nose be besmeared with dust in your satisfaction” and she repeated it three times. ‘Alī (a) said to her, ‘you complained about me to my friend, my beloved, the Messenger of Allah (p) – what an embarrassment in front of the Messenger of Allah (p). I testify to Allah – O Fāṭimah – that the slave girl is now free for the sake of Allah, and four-hundred dirham which were attained (through spoils of war) will be given as charity to the poor residents of the city of Medina.”

Then he wore his clothes and sandals and headed towards the Prophet (p). Jibra’īl descended and said, “O Muḥammad, Allah sends forth his peace upon you and says to you to say to ‘Alī, I have granted you authority over heaven due to you freeing the slave girl for the satisfaction of Fāṭima, and authority over the hellfire due to the four-hundred dirham which you gave as charity. So for the sake of my Mercy, you can let anyone you wish enter heaven, and for the sake of my Pardon you can let anyone you wish enter hellfire. So, it was then that ‘Alī (a) said, “I am the distributor of Allah between heaven and hellfire.”28

We know Ṣadūq does not accept this tradition because of his comments in another similar tradition depicting an argument between ‘Alī (a) and Fāṭima (s) but he does not mention anything over here.29  This is besides the fact that Abū Dharr never migrated to Ḥabasha to begin with.

Why Did Ṣadūq Write ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i?

Thus far we have seen that Ṣadūq did not believe everything he compiled in his work and therefore it is a big claim to make that he was a proponent of Maqāṣid-based ijtihād. However, the question remains then, if Ṣadūq did not believe in everything he compiled in his book, then what was the reason for compiling such a work to begin with? There are five possibilities that can be given:

1) Ahmad Raissouni says it is probable, rather most likely, that Ṣadūq wrote this work under the influence of Ḥakīm Tirmidhī. Shaykh Haider suggests this possibility can be further strengthened because Tirmidhī went to Naysabūr and Ṣadūq visited the city later on as well. Perhaps Ṣadūq became aware of Tirmidhī’s work and approach there and subsequently influenced by it.

However, the Shaykh still considers the above possibility problematic because we know that the notions of causation in Divine law between Tirmidhī and Ṣadūq are extremely different. The former was a Sufī and heavily into mysticism, whereas the latter was a very ḥadīth-oriented scholar. In addition, we have Shī’ī works on ‘ilal even before Ḥakīm Tirmidhī so it can be more reasonably argued that Ṣadūq was influenced by them, rather than by Tirmidhī.

2) Ṣadūq saw that the Ahl al-Sunnah have written many works on the ‘ilal genre, and in response to them he decided to write one as well, in light of the traditions of Ahl al-Bayt (a). Perhaps he wanted to demonstrate that the Shī’a also have the notion of ‘ilal, while at the same time rejecting qiyās.

3) He simply wanted to compile a book on ‘ilal to defend against the approach on ‘ilal taken by certain Shī’ī scholars such as Ibn Junayd or Ibn ‘Aqīl ‘Ummānī. Perhaps he wanted to demonstrate to their likes that if one does intend on relying on the causes in their ijtihād that it should be done through what is mentioned in the traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and not through what one’s intellect speculates.

4) He could have written the work due to the wide-spread theological discussions during his time, and in response to the type of theology that was developing in Baghdad – as we later see with the likes of Shaykh Mufīd and Sayyid Murtaḍa. This is why the book is not just inclusive of traditions concerning law, but it contains numerous theological traditions as well.

5) It is simply a literary piece. Scholars would do this a lot, especially Shaykh Ṣadūq who was known for it.

All in all, Ṣadūq’s book is not an early instance of a Maqāṣid-based ijtihād work nor a precedent to ‘ilal-based ijtihād amongst the Shī’a as what Raissouni and Zuhri have claimed.

In the subsequent post, we will look at the difficult and mysterious case of the usage of qiyās as attributed to Ibn Junayd – one of the earliest Shī’ī jurists.


  1. Source: Al-Baḥth fī Maqāṣid al-Sharī’ah – Nash’atuhu wa Taṭawwaruhu wa Mustaqbiluhu, by Aḥmad Raissounī
  2. The sections comparing the approaches of both scholars begins from pg. 193 onwards.
  3. Pg. 196
  4. Rijāl al-Najāshī, pg. 89.
  5. Ibid., pg. 95.
  6. al-Fihrist, pg. 70.
  7. Ibid., pg. 258.
  8. Ibid., pg. 263.
  9. al-Fihrist, pg. 361.
  10. Ibid., pg. 307.
  11. Ibid., pg. 335.
  12. Ibid., pg. 384.
  13. Ibid., pg. 447.
  14. al-Fihrist, pg. 511.
  15. al-Fihrist, pg. 28.
  16. Rijāl al-Najāshī, pg. 91.
  17. Rijāl Ibn al-Ghaḍāirī, pg. 122.
  18. Fihrist al-Ṭūsī, pg. 63.
  19. Rijāl al-Najāshī, pg. 139.
  20. Ibid., pg. 325.
  21. Ibid., pg. 416.
  22. Ibid., pg. 423.
  23. Ibid., pg. 447.
  24. This tradition is also present in al-Kāfī, vol. 2.
  25. A similar tradition is attributed to Imam Ṣādiq (a) in al-Kāfī, vol. 2, ch. 97, #6.
  26. Rasā’il Fiqhīyyah, pg. 191 onwards.
  27. ‘Ilal al-Sharā’i, vol. 1, pg. 156.
  28. Ibid., vol. 1, pg. 163.
  29. Ibid., vol. 1, pg. 156.

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