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Persian Works by Imamis from the 7th till 10th Centuries

By: Rasul Ja'fariyan
Few Persian works written by the Imamī Shi'ites during the 7th-10th centuries AH have survived today. However, whatever extant literature of this type is available it is worth full consideration. The invaluable work entitled Naqz by 'Abd al-Jalīl Qazvīnī Rāzī is a kalāmī-historical book written in defence of Shi'ites as a refutation of a work written against the Shi'ites. This important work includes exclusive information from the sixth century AH especially on the Shi'ites, their cultural situation and the political circumstances of the time. In this book the author also mentions that he has written a book on hadīth ifk[46] in defence of 'Ayishah. He mentions this work in order to say that the Shi'ites do not insult the wives of Prophet Muhammad (S) as alleged.
Three works have been compiled by a very active Shi'ite writer of the late 7th century AH which are all of kalāmī-historical nature. 'Imād al-Dīn Tabarī the author of Kāmil Bahā'ī, Manāqib al-Tāhirīn and Tuhfat al-Abrār takes a kalāmī-historical look at important Shī'ah issues and occasionally gives information on the times they were written. The voluminous book Ahsan al-Kibār fī Ma'rifat al-A'immah al-Abrār by Sayyid Muhammad bin Abī Zayd bin 'Arabshāh Warāmīnī on the lives of the Imams was written in the year 740 AH. Several copies of this work are found including the manuscript in the Ayatullāh Mar'ashī Library. The summary of this book by 'Alī bin Hasan Zawāreh'ī titled Lawāmi' al-Anwār is also available.
The book Rāmesh Afzā-ye Al-i Muhammad by Muhammad bin Husayn Muhtasib is a ten-volume work on the history of the Prophets and Imams ('a). Muntajab al-Dīn Ibn Bābawayh had seen the book and studied part of it under the author.[47] Two quotations from it are also mentioned in the Manāqib of Ibn Shahr Ashub, one of which concerns the life of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba ('a) and the other on the knowledge of Imam Sādiq ('a).[48] Muntajab al-Dīn has mentioned this book in al-Fihrist but no trace has been found of it after the 8th century. Mabāhij al-Muhaj fī Manāhij al-Hujaj is the work of Qutb al-Dīn Kayzarī the outstanding Shi'ite writer who most probably lived in the sixth century AH. This book which is in Arabic was translated into Persian by Hasan bin Husayn Shī'ī Sabziwārī in the eighth century under the tllte Bahjat al-Mabāhij. He presented this translation to Khwājah Nizām al-Dīn Yahyā bin Shams al-Dīn who ruled in Khurāsān as one of the commanders of the Sarbedārān movement from 753-759 AH. Bahjat al-Mabāhij was rendered into rhyme during the 10th century AH by the poet Hayratī Tunī of Kāshān. Hasan Shī'ī Sabziwārī is also the author of Rāhat al-Arwāh wa Munis al-Ashbāh, a book which devotes itself to the life of Prophet Muhammad (S) and his Ahl al-Bayt ('a). Copies of this work are available.[50]
There is a work titled Tārīkh-i Muhammadī, or Tārīkh-i Rashīdī as it is also known. This book has also been mentioned by two other names: Tārīkh-i Dawāzdah Imām or Fihrist-i A'immah. The description of this book in the library catalogue says: "On the dates of the birth of the Prophet and the Imams as well as their places of birth, their agnomen, titles, geneology and resting place." The manuscript of this work is in the Tabrīz National Library, number 3626 and dated 20th of Dhī al-Qa'dah 819 AH.[51] The author of this book is Mullā Hasan Kāshī, who was close to Sultān Muhammad Khodā-Bandah and played an important role in the Tashayyu' of that era. He wrote this book in Hillah and Baghdad in the year 708 AH when he was sixty years old.[52] A book under the title Tārīkh-i 'Itrat was also compiled in the year 803 in Aleppo, Syria, and has recently been published by the late Dāneshpazhuh.[53]
Among the most detailed works on the early history of Islam by Persian-speaking Shi'ites is Nuzhat al-Kirām wa Bustān al -'Awām, written by Jamāl al-Dīn Murtazā Muhammad bin Husayn bin Hasan al-Rāzī who lived in the late sixth and early seventh century AH. This two-volume work has recently been researched and published by Muhammad Shīrwānī. The book contains narrations on the characteristics and biography of Prophet Muhammad (S) until the twenty-first chapter. After that until the 30th chapter of the first volume, the author writes about Abī Bakr and other topics. The second volume of the book till the sixtieth chapter focuses on the miracles of the 14 Infallibles till Imam Mahdī (may Allah hasten his reappearance). This work along with the book Ahsan al-Kibār should be considered the most comprehensive Shi'ite work in Persian written in the medieval period of Iranian history since the advent of Islam. It is worth noting that this book despite being in Persian, drew the attention of Ibn Tāwus who asked it to be translated into Arabic in view of its importance. In one case he has quoted some topics of this book in his own work Faraj al-Mahmum.[54] A maqtal written in Persian verse by Abu al-Mafākhir al-Rāzī in the 6th century, was used as a source for Rawzāh al-Shuhadā' by Mullā Husayn Kāshifī.
[46] Kitāb al-Naqz, pp. 115, 295.
[47] Muntajab al-Dīn, al-Fihrist, p. 108.
[48] Refer to Ta'līqat al-Fihrist, Muntajab al-Dīn, published by Urmawī, pp. 435, the letter Shīn, p. 394.
[50] Ibid, p. 785.
[51] Munzawī, 'Alī Naqī, List of Persian Manuscripts, p. 2704
[52] Storey, Persian Literature, p. 899.
[53] Refer to the Introduction in Bustān al-Kirām, p. 15, where the late Dāneshpazhuh has given a account of Arabic and Persian on the Ahl al-Bayt ('a) written by both the Sunnis and the Shi'ites. Unfortunately this information is not so complete.
[54] Kohlberg, Etan, A Medieval Muslim Scholar at Work - Ibn Tāwus & His Library, p. 306.

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