What kind of a book is Manaqib Murtazawi by Sayyid Muhammad Saleh Tirmidhi Kashfi? Are its contents reliable and authentic?

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What about the book Kokab e Durri written by Syed Mohammad Saleh? Is there anything authentic in this book? Please tell the opinions of Ulema of Ilmul Rijal about hadiths or sermons mentioned in these books??

Concise answer

The book “Kawkab Durri” or “Manaqi Murtazawi” was authored by Sayyid Saleh Tirmidhi Kashfi. He is a follower of Sunni school of jurisprudence and theology but he is a lover of the Ahlul-Bayt. He is intellectually a Shia who believes in each of the fourteen Infallibles, peace be upon them. He loves them from the core of his heart.

Manaqib Murtazawi whose other name is “Kawkab Durri fi Fadhail Ali Karramallah Wajhoh” is a book on the merits and virtues of the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (A.S). The text of this book includes literary, religious and mystical contents. Despite the author being a Sunni, his extreme tendency towards the Ahlul-Bayt and his close ties with Shia have caused him to write a book not so different from the works authored by Shia scholars.

Generally speaking, we cannot give a definitive view about accepting or not accepting all the contents of Manaqib Murtazawi. However, we would say briefly that if we know that the infallible Imams (A.S) were means of divine grace and guidance and that they possessed virtues and extra-ordinary merits, it will become clear to us that most of what has been reported about Imam Ali’s love and Gnosticism are virtues and merits which are not only characteristic of Infallibles such as Imam Ali (A.S.) but the greatest and most important of these merits are the smallest and pettiest things to them.

The author of this book reports narrations from sources such as the six main Sunni books, Mustadrak of Hākim-e Neishaburi, ‘Uyoon Akhbar al-Redha and Kashf al-Ghummah.  In his Ithbat al-Hodat bin-Nosus wa al-Mu’jizat, Sheikh Hurr Amili has reported narrations from Manaqib Murtazawi. Likewise, Qadhi Noorullah Mar’ashi has reported narration from Manaqib Murtazawi in Ihqaq al-Haq wa Izhaq al-Batil”.

Detailed Answer

Sayyid Amir Muhammad Saleh Husseini Tirmidhi (Kashfi) son of Mir Abdullah Husseini Tirmidhi[1] is one of India’s Muslim scholars. He lived in the tenth and eleventh centuries of the Islamic calendar.[2] His date of birth is not known. His family comes originally from Tirmidh in Uzbakistan but they moved to India and began to frequent to Akbar Shah’s court. Muhammad was born in India and in a literary family. His father was, due to his calligraphy skill, surnamed as “mishkin qalam” meaning “musk-scented pen” or “jet-black pen”[3]. He considered himself as being a descendant of Shah Neimatullah Wali. In terms of methodology also, he was a follower of him.[4] Mir Muhammad Saleh Kashfi have been praised as such: “He was a man of high spiritual degree and unique of his time because of his abundant religious and worldly knowledge”.[5]

His works include a collection of his poems, a book titled ‘Raaz’ (Secret) which includes special poems known as Tarji’, I’jaz Musatafawi Dar Zindagani Khulafa wa Ma’sumeen and Manaqib Murtazawi.[6] He died in the year 1040[7] or 1060 or 1061 of the Islamic calendar.[8]

Religion and Methodology

As for the religion of Amir Muhammad Saleh Tirmidhi, there is no doubt that he is a follower of Sunni school of jurisprudence and theology but he is a lover of the Ahlul-Bayt. He is intellectually a Shia who believes in each of the fourteen Infallibles, peace be upon them. He loves them from the core of his heart. To put it more clearly, it can be said that he is a follower of the religion of love and wilayah of the household of the Holy Prophet (S). This love cannot be obtained or achieved unless one adheres and dedicates himself to the Ahlul-Bayt (A.S) who were divine leaders as well as the fore-runners of knowledge as he puts it in one of his poems as such:

Manam sunni pak-o payrawi shar’e rasolullah

Zi ‘ishq murtaza nadan be rafzam muttahm darad

Agar ishq Ali raz ast, pas rafz ast imanam

Khuda zin shiwa dar mahshar mara bas muhtaram darad

Amirul Mumeneen Haider Ali bin Abi Talib

Chu darad haami khod “kashfi” az dushman chi gham darad.

A free translation of his poems is as such:

I am a pure Sunni and follower of the religion of the Messenger of Allah

They accuse me of being a Rafedhi (rejectionist) due to my love of Ali Murtaza

If love of Ali amounts to being a Rafedhi, then it (rafdh) is my faith;

Indeed, God will admire me on the Day of Resurrection for it (love of Ali);

The Commander of the Faithful, Haider Ali bin Abi Talib is “Kashfi’s” supporter

Kashfi is not afraid of the enemy in the least.[9]

His words in different parts of his Manaqib Murtazawi are replete with love and dedication towards the household of the Holy Prophet (S). When it comes to his methodology, he was a follower of Qadiriyah sect and as he has said, he was aided by his spiritual father to tread the path and reach Sheikhiyah.[10]

Definitely, he confesses that the three caliphs were formal and governmental caliphs who always sought Imam Ali’s help and guidance considering him as his advisor. Anyway, he is of the opinion that only Ali bin Abi Talib (A.S) was eligible and qualified for leadership of the Muslim Ummah and if he was leading them in practice and allowing others  to take power, it was for the good of the believers and because of their unity alone.[11] Additionally, he believes that this position was, after him, delegated to his noble descendants and ended with Imam Mahdi (A.S).[12]

Bibliography of “Manaqib Murtazawi” (Kawkab Durri)

Manaqib Murtazawi whose other name is “Kawkab Durri fi Fadhail Ali Karramallah Wajhoh” is a book on the merits and virtues of the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (A.S). The text of this book includes literary, religious and mystical contents. In the introduction to his book, Mir Muhammad Saleh Kashfi explains the reason why he wrote the book. He says that he was in a gathering of people who were discussing the mystical (irfani) position of Ali (A.S). A fanatic person from the Sunni community started opposing others and the discussion led to contention and debate. Thereupon, some people asked him to write a book on Imam Ali’s spiritual rank and position. He then started writing the book and presenting his arguments and proofs on the greatness and glory as well as succession of the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (A.S) to the Prophet (S) giving reliable references from some of the major Sunni and Shia books.[13]

A major part of the book pertains to the virtues and merits of Ali bin Abi Talib (A.S). The author constantly sorts out the points from one another by using the term ‘manqabat’ which means a devotional poem, in praise of Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Despite the author being a Sunni, his extreme tendency towards the Ahlul-Bayt and his close ties with Shia have caused a book not so different from the works authored by Shia scholars. His style of writing is a combination of prose and poetic text with its content having a mystical approach. Given the fact that the author is Indian, he has followed an Indian style of writing relying not only on verses and traditions but also the sayings of great mystics and poets as well as on proverbs, wise sayings and poems.

The text is mixed with poems most of which composed by the author or his father as stated therein. He has also made use of the poems of famous Persian poets such as Mawlavi, Hafez, Sa’adi, Jami and also Indian poets like Kahi, Sahabi, Charagh Dehlavi etc. The text is mixed with poetic rendition based on the circumstances and type of discussion presented in the book. The poems are fluent reflecting the true mood of the writer on paper and history.[14]

When it comes to the validity and invalidity of Manaqib Murtazawi, we must say that, generally, accepting or rejecting the entire content of a book is not scientific nor is it advisable according to the ethics of research. In fact, it is necessary to see every detail of the book to see if it is coherent and logical; correct or incorrect. Therefore, we cannot give a definitive remark about all the contents of Manaqib Murtazawi. However, if we look at the text of the book from a positivist perspective[15], there are many parts of the book that apparently look like the writer is tangibly making a myth which is not consistent and harmonious with conventional logic or reason. If we look at things from a Gnostic perspective according to which the Infallible Imams (A.S) were means of divine grace and guidance and that they possessed virtues and extra-ordinary merits, it will become clear to us that most of what has been reported about Imam Ali’s love and gnosticism are virtues and merits which are not only characteristic of the Infallibles such as Imam Ali (A.S.) but the greatest and most important of these merits are the smallest and pettiest things to them. As stated by Najm Dayah in “Mirsad al-Ibad”, whoever has passed his life purifying his soul, living an ascetic life and guarding himself against evil will attain the very rank.[16] Thus, why shouldn’t we believe that Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (A.S) possessed such excellences, merits and virtues?

The sources from which the author has reported are many and he has provided the references at different parts of the book. He makes mention of the source before discussing a point. The titles of some of the sources used by him are the following: The six major Sunni hadith books (Sehah Sittah), Musnad of Ahmad, Mustadrak of Hākim, Hilyatul Awlia, Shawahid al-Nubuwah, ‘Uyoon Akhbar al-Ridha, Kashful Ghummah, Tafsir Imam Askari, Rawzat al-Safa, Habib al-Seyar, Al-Sawa’eq al-Muhriqah, Fasl al-Khitab, Zuhrat al-Riyadh, Mustaqsa, Fotuhat al-Quds, Masabi al-Qulub and Rawzat al-Shuhada. Obviously, some of the sources of this book are famous and some are unknown.

In his Ithbat al-Hodat bin-Nosus wa al-Mu’jizat, Sheikh Hurr Amili has reported narrations from Manaqib Murtazawi. Likewise, Qadhi Noorullah Mar’ashi has reported narrations from Manaqib Murtazawi in Ihqaq al-Haq wa Izhaq al-Batil”. As well, in some theological books, narrations which are not in opposition to Shia’s tenets and principles as well as authentic traditions have been reported from Manaqib Murtazawi.

Some of the narrations which have been reported in this book:

The Commander of the Faithful, Ali, (may Allah honor his face) said: “I am the one who are the keys of the unseen; no one knows them (sciences) after Muhammad except me.”[17] This tradition is part of Al-Bayan Sermon by Imam Ali (A.S)[18] which has been reported in some theological, narrative and mystical sources.[19] “I am the All-Knowledgeable.”[20] This sentence has also been reported in hadith books compiled by scholars during the early Islamic centuries as well as books authored by recent scholars.[21]

The book “Manaqib Murtazawi” consists of twelve chapters and each chapter includes several manqabat which are documented in some of the best Sunni and Shia books in different  branches of Islamic sciences such as history and sirah (normative conducts of the Infallibles). After quoting the books – sometimes directly, other times indirectly – the writer writes a short or a long criticism depending on the nature of the theme which is discussed in the book reaffirming what the biographers say. To make the point interesting and further acceptable, he sometimes renders the points in poems.

The chapters of this book are, as per the order of the book, as under:

1. Qur’anic verses regarding Imam Ali (A.S.)[22]

2. Prophetic Traditions[23]

3. Merits and Virtues of Ali[24]

4. Marriage of Ali bin Abi Talib to the Chiefs of Women (A.S.)[25]

5. Knowledge and Intuition[26]

6. Extra-ordinary traits and virtues[27]

7. Piety and continence[28]

8. Generosity[29]

9. Strength and bravery [30]

10. Cleverness and prudence [31]

11. Becoming capable of taking over the formal and spiritual caliphate[32]

12. Departure from the mortal world to the eternal world[33]

As Muhammad Saleh Kashfi himself says in a poem, it took him three years to compile this book:

“I thank God, the Exalted for His grace;

Owing to which I accomplished this treatise in almost three years.”[34]

[1] Sheikh Hurr Amili, Muhammad bin Hasan, Amal al-Aamil, vol.2, p. 277, Maktabat al-Andulus, Baghdad, 1385 A.H; Aqa Buzurg Tehrani, Al-Dhari’at Ela Tasanif al-Shi’ah, vol.22, p. 334, Ismailiyan, Qom, 1408 A.H.

[2] Hasani Talibi, Abdul Hayy bin Fakhruddin, Nuzhat al-Khawatir wa Bahjat al-Masami’ wa al-Nawazi, vol.5, p. 637, Dar Ibn Hazm, Beirut, first edition, 1420.

[3] Al-Zari’ah ila Tasanif al-Shi’ah, vol.22, p. 334; Husseini (Kashfi), Muhammad Saleh, Manaqib Murtazawi, p. 5, Rowzana Publications, Tehran, first edition, 1380.

[4] Manaqib Muratazawi, Introduction, p. 7 and 9.

[5] Ghulam Sarwar bin Mufti, Khazinat al-Asfiya, vol.2, p. 350, Nolkishwar Publications, Kanpur.

[6] Manaqib Muratazawi, Introduction, p. 9

[7] Nuzhat al-Khawatir wa Bahjat al-Masami’ wa al-Nawazir, vol.5, p. 637.

[8] Manaqib Muratazawi, Introduction, p. 9; Khazinat al-Asfiya, vol.2, p. 350.

[9] Manaqib Muratazawi, p. 228.

[10] Ibid, Introduction, p. 10.

[11] Vide: Manaqib Muratazawi, p. 462.

[12] Ibid, p. 130.

[13] Vide: Ibid, p. 5 – 6.

[14] Ibid, Introduction, p. 11.

[15] According to modern history, books like “Tadhkiratul Awlia”, Kashful Mahjub”, “Israr al-Tawhid” and the likes are not scientific and rational because they are not compatible with the positivist principles of the science of history. Therefore, talking about the miracles of the prophets and virtues of divine saints is basically rejected.  However, the same positivist thinkers have not noticed that Gnosticism is not but intuitive understanding and knowledge of abstract realities which are not included in any empirical or experimental sciences.  In addition, men of knowledge who have very little knowledge (you have been granted but very little knowledge) are people who have no idea of mystical experience and the hidden forces of the gnostics. They do not know and will not know it until they experience it.

[16] Najmuddin Razi Dayah, Mirsad al-Ibad, researched and corrected by Riyahi, Muhammad Amin, Cultural Scientific Publication’s Company, Tehran, 8th edition, 1379.

[17] قال امیر المؤمنین- کرّم اللّه وجهه: «انا الّذى عندى مفاتیح الغیب لا یعلمها بعد محمّد غیرى.» Manaqib Murtazawi, p. 135.

[18] Vide: Khutbat al-Bayan, 19468; A Study of the Authenticity of Iftikhariyah Sermon, Al-Bayan and Tutunjiyah of Imam Ali (A.S), 24279.

[19] Hafiz Borsi (d. 813 A.H.), Rajab bin Muhammad, Mashariq Anwar al-Yaqin fi Asrar Amir al-Momeneen (A.S), researched and corrected by Ashur, Ali, p. 268, A’lami, Beirut, first edition, 1422 A.H.; Dehdari Shirazi (d. 1016 A.H.) Muhammad bin Mahmood, A Commentary of Al-Bayan Sermon, researched and corrected by Akbari Saawi, Muhammad Hussein, p. 13, Nashr Saeb, Tehran, second edition, 1380; Mar’ashi, (d. 1019 A.H.), Qadhi Norullah, Ihqaq al-haq wa Izhaq al-Batil, vol.7, p. 608, Ayatollah al-Mar’ashi al-Najafi Library, Qom, first edition,1409 A.H.; Faiz Kashani (d. 1091 A.H.), Mulla Mohsen, Kalimat Maknoonah min Uloom Ahl al-Hikmah wa al-Ma’refah, researched and edited, Atarudi, Azizullah, p. 196, Farahani Publications, Tehran, second edition, 1360; Abdul Samad Hamedani (d. 1216), Bahrul Ma’aref, researched and crrected by Ustad Wali, Hussein, vol.2 p. 562, Hikmat Publications, Tehran, first edition, 1387 of the Islamic solar calendar.

[20] قال امام المتّقین- کرّم اللّه وجهه: «انا بکلّ شى‏ء علیم.» Manaqib Murtazawi, p. 136.

[21] Vide: Ibn Shahr Ashub Mazandarani (d. 588), Manaqib Aal-e Abi Talib (A.S), vol2, p. 385 and 386, Allamah Publication’s, Qom, first edition, 1379 A.H.; Alawi (fifth century), Muhammad bin Ali bin Al-Hussein, al-Manaqib (al-Kitab al-Atiq) researched and edited by Musavi Boroujardi, Hussein, p. 15, Dalil Maa Publication’s, Qom, first edition, 1428 A.H.; Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Behar al-Anwar, vol.39, p. 347, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, second edition, 1403 A.H.

[22] The chapter begins with these words: “The First chapter  on the Quranic verses regarding the position of the Commander of the Faithful, Ali, Qudwat al-Mohaqqeqin, Ya’sub al-Wasileen, Matlub al-Kamileen, Imam al-Mashariq wa al-Magharib, Asadullah al-Ghalib, Ali bin Ab Talib, (may Allah honor his face) and whatever related to it “; Manaqib Murtazawi, p. 31.

[23] “The second chapter is about sayings of the Chief of Messengers, peace be upon him and his family, regarding the merits of the Commander of the Faithful (may Allah honor his face) and whatever related to it “; Ibid, p. 5.

[24] “The third chapter is about the merits of the best of the successors, the first of the Awlia, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam of the Gnostics, Ali Murtaza (may Allah honor his face) and whatever related to it “; Ibid, p.135.

[25] “The fourth chapter is marriage of the king of the Awlia, Ali Murtaza to Fatima Zahra (peace and benedictions be upon her and whatever related to it”; Ibid, p. 237.

[26] The fifth chapter is about the knowledge and intuition of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam al-Muttaqin wa al-A’lamin Asadullah al-Ghalib Ali bin Abi Talib (may Allah honor his face)” and whatever related to it; Ibid, p. 245.

[27] “The sixth chapter is about the extra-ordinary traits and virtues of the Imam of Gnostics, Ali Murtaza – may Allah honor his face – and whatever related to it ” Ibid, p. 301.

[28] The seventh chapter is about the piety and continence of the Commander of the Faithful (may Allah honor his face) and whatever related to it” Ibid, p. 349.

[29] Ibid, 359.

[30] The ninth chapter is about the valor and strength of Asadullah al-Ghalib, the Commander of the Faithful, and the leader of the valorous, Ali bin Abi Talib – may Allah honor his face – and whatever related to it “; Ibid, p. 371.

[31] Ibid, p. 445.

[32] “The eleventh chapter is about the formal and spiritual caliphate of Imam Ali who deserved to be the caliphate, Asadullah al-Ghalib, the Commander of the Faithful, the successor of the Chief of Messengers, Ali bin Abi Talib – may Allah honor his face – and whatever related to it”, Ibid, p. 457.

[33] The twelfth about the departure of the Commander of the Faithful, Ali Murtaza from the mortal world to the eternal world by dint of martyrdom and getting united with the essence of God, the Glorified, and whatever related to it.” Ibid, p. 473

[34] Ibid, p. 487.

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