Documentation of the Hadith by Imam Reza (A.S.)
By: Sayyid Ali Al-Shahristani
As has been previously cited, reference books of the Ahl al-Bayt—the most important of which was the Book of Imam `Alī, al-Jafr, and al-Jāmi`ah—was transferred from one Imam to another. It thus reached Imam `Alī ibn Mūsā al-Ridā from his father.
As regards, the al-Jafr, al-Kishiy in his famous book of biography (i.e. al-Rijāl) has recorded that Nasr ibn Qābūs was in the house of Imam Mūsā al-Kādhim when he saw his son `Alī (i.e. Imam al-Ridā) reading in a book. Imam al-Kādhim commented, “This is my son `Alī, and the book he is reading is al-Jafr.”
It has been also narrated on the authority of `Alī ibn Ibrāhīm, on the authority of Muhammad ibn `Īsā, on the authority of Yūnus, on the authority of Abu’l-Hasan (i.e. Imam `Alī ibn Mūsā al-Ridā), and on the authority of his father that Ibn Faddāl said, “As I showed him the Book of `Alī, Imam `Alī ibn Mūsā al-Ridā confirmed it, saying: Amīr al-Mu'minīn issued a verdict about the blood money for the wounds of the organs.”
It has been also narrated on the authority of `Alī ibn Ibrāhīm on the authority of Muhammad ibn `Īsā on the authority of Yūnus on the authority of Imam `Alī ibn Mūsā al-Ridā, and on the authority of his father on the authority of Ibn Faddāl that he said, “I showed the Book (i.e. Kitāb al-Farā'id)before Abu’l-Hasan (Imam al-Ridā) as investigation of its authenticity.”
It has been also narrated on the authority of `Alī ibn Ibrāhīm on the authority of his father that Ibn Faddāl, Muhammad ibn `Īsā both narrated that Yūnus said, “As we presented before him the Kitāb al-Farā'id that is reported from Amīr al-Mu'minīn, Imam al-Ridā confirmed its authenticity.”
It is true that in the age of Imam al-Ridā, a new era commenced. It was the era of compilation, foundation, and documentation of the records that are claimed or supposed to have quoted the materials of the Book of Imam `Alī as well as the religious laws reported by the Ahl al-Bayt. During this era, their disciples used to compile and present these books before the holy Imams in order to document them.
This course began noticeably during the age of Imam `Alī ibn Mūsā al-Ridā. In this respect, it has been narrated that Ibn Faddāl and Yūnus ibn `Abd al-Rahmān said, “As we showed him Kitāb al-Farā'id (The Book of Laws of Inheritance) that is reported from Amīr al-Mu'minīn, Imam al-Ridā confirmed it.”
It has been also narrated that `Abdullāh al-Ju`afiy said: I, once, visited Imam `Alī ibn Mūsā al-Ridā carrying with me a sheet of paper on which it was written, “It is reported that (Imam) Ja`far (al-Sādiq) said that this world has been represented for the Owner of this Matter (i.e. Imam al-Mahdī) like a half of a walnut that is split.” Imam al-Ridā commented, “This is unquestionably true. Copy it to a sheet made of leather.”
In this narration, a Hadīth that was reported from Imam Ja`far al-Sādiq is presented before Imam `Alī ibn Mūsā al-Ridā in order to investigate whether it is authentic or nor. Imam al-Ridā, of course, would either check for the Hadīth from the Book of Imam `Alī or, more generally, from the Hadīths that he had received from his father and forefathers. At any rate, the aim of presenting the Hadīths before Imam al-Ridā was to document these narrations that were reported from the three holy Imams—Muhammad al-Bāqir, Ja`far al-Sādiq, and Mūsā al-Kādhim. Naturally, these narrations were mainly reported from Imam `Alī who had reported from the Holy Prophet.
It has been also narrated on the authority of Hamzah ibn `Abdullāh al-Ja`fairy that Abu’l-Hasan said, “I, once, wrote down on a sheet of paper (the Hadīth) that this world has been represented for the Imam (i.e. al-Mahdī) like a half of a walnut that is split, and I presented it before Imam al-Ridā saying, ‘May Allah accept me as ransom for you! Our companions have reported a Hadīth that I could not deny; rather I would like to hear it from you.’ As the Imam looked in the paper, he folded it until I thought that he could not stand the matter. He then said, ‘This is true. Write it down on a sheet of leather.’”
Out of his extensive interest in the recordation of the religious heritage, Imam al-Ridā used to offer an inkpot to everyone who would write down for the sake of knowledge and the religion. In this respect, it has been narrated that `Alī ibn Asbāt said that Imam al-Ridā, once, said, “The treasure about which Almighty Allah, in the Holy Qur'ān, says,
‘And there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them...’ [Holy Qur’ān: 18/82]...”
On hearing this, I said to the Imam that I would like to write down his saying. He immediately extended his hand to take the inkpot and put before me. But I hurried to his hand, kissed it, took the inkpot, and wrote down the saying.
In addition, Imam al-Ridā used to confirm that all that which he would say was the pure truth that was inherited from the Holy Prophet and that the genuine heritage of Prophethood was held by none except him. In this respect, it has been narrated that Ya`qūb ibn Ja`far said that he was accompanying Imam `Alī ibn Mūsā al-Ridā in Makkah when a man said to him, “You are interpreting the texts of Allah’s Book (i.e. the Holy Qur'ān) in an unprecedented way.” Answering the man, Imam al-Ridā said,
“Before it was revealed to the people, the Qur'ān had been revealed to us; and before it was explained to the people, it had been explained to us. We thus know best what is lawful and what is unlawful therein... This is the knowledge of what I have conveyed to you so long as I am bound by this duty. If you accept from me, you should then thank; and if you neglect, then it is Almighty Allah Who witnesses all things.”
It has been also narrated that `Abd al-Salām ibn Sālih al-Harawiy said that on hearing Imam al-Ridā saying, “May Allah have mercy upon him who enlivens our Matter,” I asked, “How is your Matter enlivened?” The Imam answered,
“It is enlivened by learning our knowledge and conveying it to the people. Had the people been acquainted with our excellent wording, they would certainly have followed us.”
It has been also narrated that Abū-Nasr said to Imam al-Ridā, “May Allah accept me as ransom for you! Some of our companions claim that they hear the traditions that are reported from your fathers and you and then analogize and act upon them!” The Imam answered,
“How strange this is! Nay, by Allah! This does not belong to the religion of Ja`far (al-Sādiq)! These people have nothing to do with us. They have neglected the obedience to us and occupied our positions. Where is the submission that they have shown to Ja`far and the father of Ja`far? Ja`far has said: Act not upon analogy. Nothing matches analogy except analogy that breaks it.”
About those who were entrapped by spurious arguments and were confused as regards the religious affairs, Imam al-Ridā says,
“They have been deceived by spurious matters; therefore, the fact of their religion was confused for them. As they wanted to be guided to the right path of their own accord, they asked why, when, and how. As a result, perdition came upon them from the very place of their expectation. That was because of what their own hands have committed; verily, ‘And thy Lord is not at all a tyrant to His slaves.’ They have not been ordered to do such; rather in such situations what is obligatory upon them is only to stop at situations of perplexity and refer what they have ignored to the learned ones who can infer it (from the Holy Qur'ān), for Almighty Allah says in His Book,
‘Whereas if they had referred it to the messenger and to such of them as are in authority, those among them who are able to infer the matter would have known it’ [Holy Qur’ān: 4/83]
These are certainly the Family of Muhammad. It is they who can infer it from the Qur'ān, and it is they who know best what is lawful and what is unlawful, and it is they who are Almighty Allah’s arguments against His creatures.”
Imam al-Ridā is also reported to have written a book entitled Sahīfat al-Ridā that he reported from his forefather. This Sahīfah has been frequently published.
He also wrote down the al-Risālah al-Dhahabiyyah (the Golden Epistle) for al-Ma'mūn, the `Abbāsid ruler, who ordered this epistle to be written with liquid gold and thus it took the title of the Golden Epistle. Yet, other historians have mentioned other reasons for this title. This epistle has been published many times.
It is also narrated that the book of al-Ahlīlījiyyah (The Ellipse) was written by Imam al-Ridā. About this book, Sayyid al-Amīn says, “It comprises effective arguments and excellent topics concerning theology.”
Furthermore, Imam al-Ridā dictated to his disciples as well as the Muslim jurisprudents and students of jurisprudence numerous items of knowledge, since his sessions were dedicated to teaching and dictations of knowledge.
It has been narrated on the authority of `Alī ibn `Alī al-Khuzā`iy (brother of Di`bil, the famous poet) that Imam `Alī ibn Mūsā al-Ridā, in the city of Tūs in the year AH 198, dictated to us a narration that he reported from his father, Mūsā ibn Ja`far.
This narration clearly demonstrates that Imam al-Ridā, having been interested in the recordation and the records of the religious knowledge, used to dictate Islamic knowledge to the scholars and students of religious knowledge who used to attend his sessions.
 Shaykh al-Tūsiy: Rijāl al-Kishiy 382.
 Shaykh al-Tūsiy: Tahdhīb al-Ahkām 10: 292 H. 1135.
 Shaykh al-Kulayniy: al-Kāfī 7:327 H. 7.
 Shaykh al-Kulayniy: al-Kāfī 7:330 H. 1.
 Shaykh al-Kulayniy: al-Kāfī 7:33 H. 1.
 Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Saffār: Basā'ir al-Darajāt 408 H. 2.
 Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Saffār: Basā'ir al-Darajāt 408 H. 4.
 Shaykh al-Kulayniy: al-Kāfī 2:59 H. 9.
 Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Saffār: Basā'ir al-Darajāt 198 H. 4.
 Shaykh al-Sadūq: Ma`ānī al-Akhbār 180; `Uyūn Akhbār al-Ridā 1:307.
 Al-Himyariy al-Qummiy: Qurb al-Isnād 356 H. 1275.
 Al-Hurr al-`Āmiliy: Wasā'il al-Shī`ah 27:171 H. 56 as written in al-`Ayyāshiy’s book of Tafsīr 1:260 H. 206. See also Al-Borujerdiy: Jāmi` Ahādīth al-Shī`ah; 1:232.
 Shaykh al-Tūsiy: al-Amāliy 1:370-382; al-Najāshiy: al-Rijāl 277 No. 727.