Translator's Introduction

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful…

All praise is due to Allah, the Exalted and Majestic; the One who has no partners or associates; the One who provides the light of guidance to His slaves so that they may attain spiritual perfection and illumination by means of it. May Allah send His choicest blessings upon His slave and seal of the Messengers, Muhammad bin Abdullah. May Allah bless his pure Progeny, righteous Companions, and those that follow them in excellence until the Day of Judgment. As to what follows…

Once the slave has attained belief and gnosis of his/her Lord, it is incumbent for him/her to acknowledge this belief in some way. This is because the manifestation of an inner state or quality is a natural consequence. For example, when we have a cold, it manifests itself with symptoms not unknown to those familiar with a cold. If someone is sad or upset, it manifests itself with a facial expression or sour disposition. Similarly, we say that belief manifests itself with action. 

The knowledge of jurisprudence and its sciences require a much specialised focus. Indeed, out of all of the sciences of Islam, the science of jurisprudence is the most misunderstood. The opponents of Islam see the development of jurisprudence as a haphazard array of opinions stemming from the egos of a parochial chauvinistic elite class. They imagine an almost Orwellian paradigm where a governing body (or individual) issues religious edicts as simply as one hands out leaflets and the masses are sheepishly forced to carry them out! 

The opponents of Islamic jurisprudence cannot fully appreciate the arduous process of developing religious rulings from the primary sources. These scholars—no matter their ideological leanings—consider the exercise of scholarly judgment to not only be a grave effort in itself, but also a sacred trust issued to them from the Most High! Imam ‘Ali bin Musa ar-Riđā, upon him be peace, narrated on the authority of his ancestors that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, said: ((Whoever issues a religious edict without knowledge, the heavens and earth curse him)). Therefore, the mufti and jurist were keen to deliberate before issuing a ruling lest the curse of heaven and earth be upon him/her.

There were jurists and imams amongst the school of the Prophet’s Progeny who took upon themselves this sacred trust. In addition to emphasizing the teachings of the Qur’ān and Prophetic Sunnah, those scholars and imams dedicated to the preservation of their ancestors’ legacy; two of whom were Imam al-Qāsim bin Ibrāhīm ar-Rassi and his grandson, al-Hādi ila al-Haqq Yahya bin al-Hussein, upon both of them be peace. They saw it as a religious duty to uphold the fundamentals of the Sacred School (al-madhhab ash-sharīf) and promulgate it to the masses. 

Imam al-Qāsim, Imam al-Hādi and the Zaydi School

Imam al-Qāsim ar-Rassi, upon him be peace, was based in Medina around the 2nd century after the Hijra. He was a theologian, philosopher, jurist, scholar, and imam who spent the majority of his time in the City of his Grandfather, the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny. Although he is more famous for his knowledge of theology and dialectics, he nevertheless was referred to regarding his jurisprudential opinions as well. 

Most of his jurisprudence can be derived from his replies to the issues and questions of his time. Some of these works include: Masā`il Ja’far bin Muhammad an-Nayrūsi, Masā`il ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Kallāri, Kitāb at-Tahāra, Kitāb as-Salāt al-Yawm al-Layla, Masā`il ‘Ali bin Jahshayār, Kitāb al-Farā`iđ wa as-Sunan, and Kitāb al-Manāsik. His jurisprudential positions were not written by him in a book rather, they were compiled in various fatwas and aforementioned replies to questions by his students.

Those unfamiliar with the development of the Zaydi School remark that since Imam al-Qāsim, upon him be peace, barely referenced Imam Zayd, upon him be peace, in his works, the former can’t be considered a Zaydi authority. We reply by saying that although Imam ar-Rassi hardly referenced Imam Zayd, upon him be peace, in his jurisprudential positions, he is nonetheless “Zaydi” in the sense that he relied upon the collective opinion of the Ahl al-Bayt in his rulings. This is the hallmark feature of the Zaydi School which differentiates it from any other School. For example, when he was asked about the permissibility of wiping over the leather socks (khuffayn), he said:

As for wiping over the leather socks, the Ahl al-Bayt concur 

That it is not permissible and invalid if that were to occur.                         

Therefore, Imam ar-Rassi, upon him be peace, is considered a Zaydi authority despite the fact that he barely referenced Imam Zayd bin ‘Ali specifically, upon them be peace.

It is also noteworthy that when Imam al-Qāsim, upon him be peace, made the call of the Imamate, among those that took the oath of allegiance to him was the grandson of Imam Zayd, Ahmed bin ‘Isa, upon them be peace. Imam Ahmed bin ‘Isa, upon them be peace, inherited the legacy of his grandfather in that he was recognised as “the Jurist of the Messenger’s Progeny (Faqīh Āli ar-Rasūl).” Yet, when he and other notables of the Prophet’s Progeny, like ‘Abdullah bin Mūsa and al-Hasan bin Yahya (another descendant of Imam Zayd) took the oath of allegiance to Imam al-Qāsim in 220 AH, they declared: “You have more right to this matter than we do by virtue of your knowledge!” Thus, two descendants and inheritors of Imam Zayd bin Ali, upon them be peace, acknowledged the qualifications of Imam al-Qāsim, upon him be peace, and followed him.

The jurisprudential book Al-Jāmi’ al-Kāfi fī Fiqh az-Zaydiyya lists the rulings of the four pillars of Zaydi jurisprudence and hadīth on various legal matters: Imam al-Qāsim bin Ibrāhīm, Imam Ahmed bin ‘Isa, Imam al-Hasan bin Yahya, and Muhammad bin Manšūr al-Murādi, upon all of them be peace. Suffice to say that not only was Imam ar-Rassi, upon him be peace, considered a Zaydi jurist, he was also considered an authority.

Imam al-Hādi ila al-Haqq Yahya bin al-Hussein, upon him be peace, was also based in Medina almost a century after his grandfather, Imam al-Qāsim, upon him be peace. He nevertheless, inherited the Prophetic legacy from his forebears and sought to promulgate the School of Ahl al-Bayt. His dedication to this ideology can be seen in one of his statements from his magnum opus, Kitāb al-Ahkām al-Halāl wal-Harām:

Verily, the Progeny of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, do not differ except in the case of negligence. Whoever is negligent amongst them concerning the knowledge of their forefathers and did not follow the knowledge of Ahl al-Bayt, disobey him. Disobey him until he stops at ‘Ali bin Abi Tālib, may Allah bless him, and the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny.  

Imam al-Hādi’s jurisprudence is present in his aforementioned magnum opus, Kitāb al-Ahkām as well as his book, Al-Muntakhab. His jurisprudential rulings also appear in his various letters written to students and governors. 

There is similar claim made that Imam al-Hādi, upon him be peace, was not Zaydi in his jurisprudence. His opponents (and some of his proponents) say that al-Hādi’s rulings differed drastically from that of Imam Zayd, upon him be peace. They even differentiate between the two of them by distinguishing the Zaydi School from the Hadawi (named after al-Hādi) School. 

Similar to what we stated regarding Imam al-Qāsim, Imam al-Hādi followed the Zaydi methodology, which held the collective consensus of the imams of Ahl al-Bayt to be authoritative. Although he seemingly differed from Imam Zayd in some jurisprudential positions, his position is still “Zaydi” in the sense that he applied the approach that was prevalent since the time of Imam Zayd, upon him be peace. 

However, unlike his grandfather, Imam al-Hādi frequently cited Imam Zayd, upon them be peace, in his works. In his Ahkām, he narrated numerous hadīths and reports on the authority of Imam Zayd bin ‘Ali, upon them be peace. In both the Ahkām and Al-Muntakhab, he related some of the jurisprudential rulings and statements of Imam Zayd, upon him be peace. 

Author’s Biography    

The author, or rather compiler, of this present work is Imam al-Mu’ayyad Billah Abul-Hussein Ahmed bin al-Hussein bin Hārūn bin al-Hussein bin Muhammad bin Hārūn bin Muhammad bin al-Qāsim bin al-Hasan bin Zayd bin al-Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Abi Tālib, upon them be peace. He was born in Tabaristan on 333 AH and passed from this world on 411 AH. 

Imam al-Mu’ayyad Billah, upon him be peace, was well-known in the scholarly circles. He was famous as an expert grammarian and scholar of hadīth. He also excelled in theology, the fundamentals of jurisprudence (usūl al-fiqh), literature, and poetry. He was also known as an ascetic devoted to purifying the lower self of corrupt desires. Among the adjectives used to describe him in biographies include: humble, forbearing, just, brave, and a pillar of God-consciousness. 

In 380 AH, he was involved in a failed rebellion against the Buyid governor of Tabaristan, as-Sāhib bin ‘Abbād. He then returned once again and called to himself as Imam. The Zaydis of Jīl and Daylam (both in Persia) gave him the oath of allegiance and formed a revolution. A series of battles were fought and they reached the city Hūsh before being pushed back to the city Ray.  He stayed engaged in an active jihad until he passed away on the day of ‘Arafat 411 AH. He left a legacy of written works that serve to prove that he was amongst {those who are firmly grounded in knowledge} (Q. 3:7).     

Amongst his works include:

1. Kitāb an-Nabūwāt (alternatively known as Ithbāt Nabuwwat al-Nabi)—This book is a theological tract dedicated to proving the Prophethood of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny. 

2. Kitāb Tajrīd Madhhab al-Imāmayn—This is the present book.

3. Kitāb ash-Sharh at-Tajrīd—This multi-voluminous is a commentary on the aforementioned book which proves its authenticity using Zaydi and Sunni sources. 

4. Kitāb al-Balāgha fil-Fiqh—This deals with the jurisprudence of Imam al-Hādi, upon him be peace. 

5. Al-Ifāda fil-Fiqh (alternatively known as At-Tafrīy’āt)—Another book dealing with issues of jurisprudence; however, this deals with his own jurisprudence. 

6. Az-Ziyādāt—This covers fatwas and religious issues, as well as their commentaries.

7. Naqđ al-Imāma ‘ala Ibn Qubba al-Imāmi—This is a letter written refuting the views of a 12er Shīte concerning the nature of the Imamate.  

8. Al-I’jāz al-Qur’ān fī ‘Ilm al-Kalām—This is a theological treatise. 

9. Kitāb at-Tabšira fīl-Usūl—This text is a theological text discussing Allah’s Oneness (at-Tawhīd) as well as His Justice (al-‘Adl).

10. Ta’līq ‘ala Sharh as-Sayyid Mānikdīm—This is a commentary upon the explanation of Sayyid Mān kadīm. 

11. Al-Hūsamiyāt

12. Kitāb al-Hasr li Fiqh an-Nāsr—This book deals with the jurisprudence of Imam an-Nasr al-Utrūsh, upon him be peace. 

13. Siyāsat al-Muridīn—This book deals with Islamic spirituality.  

14. Risāla Jawāb Qābūs fī at-T’an ‘ala al-As`hāb—This is a letter addressing the ruling concerning criticising and cursing the Prophet’s Companions.    

15. Kitāb ad-Da’wa

16. Diwān ash-Shi’r—This is a collection of his poetry.

17. Al-Amāli as-Sughra—This is a collection of hadīths and narrations. 

Content of the Book

The Tajrīd is simply a compendium of the jurisprudential rulings of Imams al-Qāsim and al-Hādi, upon them be peace. Much of it includes verbatim quotes from the two imams. In his commentary of the Tajrīd, Imam Mu’ayyad Billah, upon him be peace, identifies which works the direct quotes are from. However, his intention in this book is to present the fiqh of the two imams in the simplest way possible. He does not present the proofs of their rulings in this text. He reserves the Sharh at-Tajrīd for that purpose.  

We pray that the reader is able to benefit from this translation and gain some beneficial knowledge concerning the development of classical jurisprudence from the perspective of less-known contemporaries of the monolithic “four imams” of Sunni jurisprudence. We have attempted to stay close to a literal translation of the original meaning but yet evoke the use of idiomatic expressions when needed. 

The Imam Rassi Society

10th Sha’bān 1433 AH