Shaykh Tusi

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Abu Ja'far al-Tusi
TitleShaykh al-Ta'ifah
Born385 H/
995 CE
Died460 H/
1067 CE
(aged 72)
EraIslamic golden age
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
Muslim leader
Influenced by

Shaykh Tusi (Persian: شیخ طوسی), full name Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi (Arabic: ابو جعفر محمد بن الحسن الطوسي, romanizedAbū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Ṭūsī), known as Shaykh al-Ta'ifah (Arabic: شيخ الطائفة, romanized: Shaykh al-Ṭāʾifah) was a prominent Persian[1] scholar of the Twelver school of Shia Islam. He was known as the "sheikh of the sect (shaikh al-ta'ifah)", author of two of the four main Shi'i books of hadith, Tahdhib al-Ahkam and al-Istibsar, and is believed to have founded the hawza.[2] He is also the founder of Shia jurisprudence.[3]


Shaykh Tusi was born 995 AD in Tus, Iran, and by 1018 AD[4] he was living under the rule of the Buyid dynasty.[5] Tusi's birth is considered a miracle, as he was born after the twelfth Imam of Shia, al-Mahdi's,[6] supplications. He started his education in Tus, where he mastered many of the Islamic sciences of that period.[7][8] He later studied in Baghdad, which was taken by Tughril-bek in 1055 AD. There he entered into the circles of Shaykh Al-Mufid as a paramount teacher.[7] He started writing some of his earlier works in his twenties. By the time he was forty-two, he had learned from Shaykh Murtaza,[9] attended the scholarly circle of Sunni scholars, and studied shafi fiqh[definition needed].[10] At this time many Muslim scholars in Baghdad were killed and Tusi's house burned down, along with his books and the works he had written in Baghdad. After the fall of Baghdad, he moved to al-Najaf, where he died on 2 December 1067.


Tusi had an important role in the formation and revival of Shia jurisprudence and law, as his life coincided with the burning of books and libraries.[11] It is even said that he revived hadith and Islamic jurisprudence.[12] He defended the application of jurisprudence in respect to religious laws. One of his main accomplishments was that he was successful in propagation and making his methodology of argumentation and inference coherent: he had given to Shaykh Mufid a definite formulation of ijtihad.[13] His dominance was unrivaled for a long time and nearly all Islamic jurisprudence was affected by Tusi's opinions. Some of Tusi's works show that he was influenced by precedent jurists like Sallar Deylami.[14] Tusi's influence persisted until Ibn Idris Hilli, who criticized some of Tusi's views.[15]

Usuli School[edit]

In conflict between the Akhbari and Usuli schools, Tusi defended the Usuli and claimed that the rival Akhbari were literalists.[13] He believed in principles of jurisprudence as the fundamental knowledge in acquiring judgment in Islam,[16] and wrote in the introduction to one of his works:

"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."

— Al Iddah', Shaykh Tusi[17]

He compared the positions of the different legal schools of Islam and showed that there is little difference between them.[18] Tusi, like his masters, refuted the legal analogy (Qiyyas Fiqhi) in his manual of Usul Fiqh.[19]

Importance of reason[edit]

His emphasis was on the rational dimension of religion, underlining that principles like the commandment to good and prohibition of evil are indispensable according to reason.[20] Shaykh Tusi also used rational arguments to validate consensus (ijma) as derived from the principle of lutf. According to lutf, God must provide believers with the conditions for religious obedience.[21]


Tusi was a leading intellectual who produced biographies (ilm-rijal), traditions, and compendia of knowledge (Fihrist). He also started developments that allowed Shia clerics to assume some of the roles previously permitted to only imams, such as collecting and distributing religious taxes, and organizing Friday prayers.[22]

Najaf Seminary[edit]

According to some scholars, Tusi established the Hawzeh of Najaf after migrating from Baghdad.[23]


Tusi wrote over fifty works in different Islamic branches of knowledge such as philosophy, hadith, theology, biography, historiography, exegesis, and tradition.[24] Of the four authoritative sources of the Shiites, two are by Tusi: the basic reference books Tahdhib al-Ahkam and Al-Istibsar. Both of them pertain to hadiths of Islamic jurisprudence. Other books include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frye, R.N., ed. (1975). The Cambridge history of Iran (Repr. ed.). London: Cambridge U.P. p. 468. ISBN 978-0-521-20093-6.
  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. ^ Abū al-Faz̤l ʻIzzatī (2008). Concise Description of Islamic Law and Legal Opinions. p. i.
  5. ^ Seyyed Hossein Nasr; Hamid Dabashi; Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr (26 April 1989). Expectation of the Millennium: Shi'ism in History. SUNY Press. pp. 253–. ISBN 978-0-88706-844-7.
  6. ^ Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi. Your Questions Answered volume V. Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania. pp. 37–. ISBN 978-9976-956-67-2.
  7. ^ a b ʻAlī Nāṣirī (28 February 2013). An Introduction to Hadith: History and Sources. MIU Press. ISBN 978-1-907905-08-7.
  8. ^ Hamid Wahed Alikuzai (October 2013). A Concise History of Afghanistan in 25 Volumes. Trafford Publishing. pp. 111–. ISBN 978-1-4907-1441-7.
  9. ^ Imam Khomeini (2003). The greatest Jihad. p. 20.
  10. ^ Devin J. Stewart, Islamic Legal Orthodoxy, 68–69.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi (1994). The Divine Guide in Early Shi'ism: The Sources of Esotericism in Islam. p. 27.
  13. ^ a b Bosworth, Clifford Edmund, ed. (1989). The Encyclopedia of Islam. Vol. 6. Brill Archive. p. 549.
  14. ^ Al-Shaykh al-Ṭūsī: His Writings on Theology and their Reception* Hassan Ansari and Sabine Schmidtke,p.477
  15. ^ CHangizi Adihayi and Isa Al Hakimin Gholamali Haddad Adel, Mohammad Jafar Elmi, Hassan Taromi-Rad 2012, pp. 115–116
  16. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition: Supplement. Brill Archive. 1 January 1980. pp. 56–. ISBN 90-04-06167-3.
  17. ^ Dr. Alsyyed Abu Mohammad Naqvi (12 December 2013). Shia Dissociation from Usuli School. AuthorHouse. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-1-4918-8644-1.
  18. ^ a b 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.
  19. ^ Stewart, Dewin (2002). Muhammad b. Dawud al-Zahiri's Manual of Jurisprudence: Al-Wusul ila ma'rifat al-usul. p. 134.
  20. ^ Hiroyuki Mashita (5 September 2013). Theology, Ethics and Metaphysics: Royal Asiatic Society Classics of Islam. Routledge. pp. 90–. ISBN 978-1-136-87198-6.
  21. ^ Abdulaziz Abdulhussein Sachedina. Islamic Messianism: The Idea of Mahdi in Twelver Shi'ism. SUNY Press. pp. 143–. ISBN 978-1-4384-1844-5.
  22. ^ Jestice, Phyllis G., ed. (2004). Moojan Momen in Holy people of the world : a cross-cultural encyclopedia. p. 870.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Abū al-Faz̤l ʻIzzatī 2008, p. iv
  25. ^ Julie Scott Meisami; Paul Starkey (1 January 1998). Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature. Taylor & Francis. pp. 713–. ISBN 978-0-415-18572-1.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Amirhassan Boozari (29 March 2011). Shi'i Jurisprudence and Constitution: Revolution in Iran. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 234–. ISBN 978-0-230-11846-1.
  29. ^ 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.

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