Credibility of ‘The Book of Sulaim’

This is a follow up note regarding the WhatsApp discussion on the topic of 'the authenticity of Shia ahadith'. The topic came up when I presented few ahadith from the Shias sources confirming the event where the enemies of Islam forced Imam Ali (as) out of the house with the rope around the neck for the sake of allegiance to Abu Bakr (la). The discussion took a different turn after one of our brothers Br. Hashim rejected the references saying that the narrators of the provided ahadith are not reliable. Br Hashim's argument has brought serious doubts on the reliability of the Shias ahahith, especially doubts regarding "Kitab al-Sulaim".

The reason knowing this book is so essential is because all our Shia scholars of the early centuries (of Hijir calendar) like Yuqub al-Kulaini, Sheikh Suduq, Sheikh Tusi, Sheikh Mufid, Allamah Hilli, Taqi Majlisi, Baqir Majlisi and etc have quoted ahadith from "Kitab al-Sulaim". Then many scholars from the recent past have quoted Ahadith from the aforementioned scholars like Allamah Tabatabai (ra), Sayyid Khomaini (ra), Shaheed Mutahari, Sheikh Hurr Aameli and etc.

 

The book "Kitab al-Sulaim"[1] was first and the foremost book of ahadith in the history of Islam. This is the book of the First century which was compiled by the companion of Amir Ul Momineen Imam Ali (as) by the name "Sulaim bin Qays al-Hilali". The book is very important historical manuscript, because this book narrates those events which caused the deep-divide between the Muslims and sowed the seed of extremism in the minds of Muslims. Turning the spotlight on the inception of extremism and hate in the Muslim world is necessary to understand the global effect and exploitation of that division and the cause of the disturbance in the Muslim world today. This book is very important to Shias because it identifies the oppressors, the oppressed and the oppression committed by the oppressors. In essence it unveils the criminals who committed the atrocities on the holy household (as). It doesn’t come as a surprise to know that this book have always been a target of extermination and defamation, but our scholars have always guarded this book from the enemies.

The words of the sixth Imam (as) should suffice to comprehend the importance of this book:

الشَّيْخُ عَبْدُ النَّبِيِّ الْكَاظِمِيُّ فِي تَكْمِلَةِ الرِّجَالِ، نَقْلًا عَنْ خَطِّ الْمَجْلِسِيِّ رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ قَالَ أَقُولُ وَجَدْتُ نُسْخَةً قَدِيمَةً مِنْ كِتَابِ سُلَيْمٍ بِرِوَايَتَيْنِ بَيْنَهُمَا اخْتِلَافٌ يَسِيرٌ وَ كُتِبَ فِي آخِرِ إِحْدَاهُمَا تَمَّ كِتَابُ سُلَيْمِ بْنِ قَيْسٍ الْهِلَالِيِّ إِلَى أَنْ قَالَ رُوِيَ عَنِ الصَّادِقِ ع أَنَّهُ قَالَ: مَنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ عِنْدَهُ مِنْ شِيعَتِنَا وَ مُحِبِّينَا كِتَابُ سُلَيْمِ بْنِ قَيْسٍ الْهِلَالِيِّ فَلَيْسَ عِنْدَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِنَا شَيْ‏ءٌ وَ لَا يَعْلَمُ مِنْ أَسْبَابِنَا شَيْئاً وَ هُوَ أَبْجَدُ الشِّيعَةِ وَ سِرٌّ مِنْ أَسْرَارِ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ ع.

The sheikh Abdul Nabi al-Kadhimi in Takmalat al-Rijaal said: ‘I copied from the writing of al-Majlisi (ra) who said: ‘I found an old copy of the Book of Sulaim by two chain of reports, between which were simple difference, and at the end of each copy of the book it was written ‘This brings the Book of Sulaim bin Qays al-Hilali to end.’ Then it says – A report from Al-Sadiq (as) that he said:

"He who is among our Shias and the devotees does not have the book of Sulaim has nothing from our authority, and he does not have the knowledge of our policy as it (the book of Sulaim) is the fundamentals (letters/abjad) of the Shias, and a secret from the secrets of Ale-Muhammad (SA).”  [Mustadrak al-Wasa'il wa Mustanbit al-Masa'il by Nouri, Husain b. Mohammad Taqi (1902): Hadith: 21397, Vol 17/page 298/Al al-Bayt Institute (Qom 1987]

 

Brief account about Sulaim ibn Qays:

Sulaim was a staunch follower of the holy household and a known companion of Imam Ali (as).  Sulaim spent most of his life in recording various events of the history of Islam from companions like Salman, Abu Zarr, Mighdad, Ammar and other Shias of Imam Ali (as).  Sulaim would compile his work in a form of a manuscript and then he would go to Imam Ali (as) and read the narrations to confirm its truthfulness.  Thus, Sulaim received the information first hand from the Imams (as) or from those companions who were the eye-witness to the events.

Sulaim made it a practice to read his manuscript in front Imam Ali (as), Imam Hasan (as), Imam Husain (as), Imam Zainul Abideen (as) and Imam Baqir (as), thus he would receive the confirmation of truthfulness from the Imams (as). In the difficult times of Hajjaj ibn Yusuf (la) - the most tyrant ruler after Yazid (la) Sulaim spend his life on the run eventually migrating to Iran where he met Abaan ibn abi Ayyash. After knowing with certainty that Abaan is a trustworthy Shia of Imam Ali(as), Sulaim took a pledge from Abaan that after Sulaim’s death Abaan will guard the book and pass it down only to a reliable person.  The book which Sulaim clutched to his chest for most of his life eventually handed it to Abaan on his death bed. It is every important to know that the ONLY person Sulaim has given the book was Abaan who was a trustworthy and reliable person. 

 

When Abaan took charge of the book of Sulaim, he narrated ahadith to 12 different narrators in various times and places. Thus each of the twelve narrators have handed down the ahadith to their trustworthy followers, and then those follower handed down to their trustworthy followers and so on so forth until scholars like Sheikh Kulaini, Sheikh Suduq, Sheikh Mufid and etc copied the ahadith from that chain, especially the incident of the burning of the door of Lady Fatima (sa) and other incidents surrounding it. If someone says that “The book of Sulaim” is not reliable then it means that he is trying to cover up the crimes of the senior criminals. 

 

There is three volume book published in Iran by Musawi Al Khoeeni al Zinjani who carefully analyzes the chain of the book of Sulaim and proves that the ahadith presented in this book are authentic as they are found in other different sources. 

In the book Mukhtasar al Basaer, it is written that Abaan ibn Abi Ayaash read the book of Sulaim "Asrar al Imamat" to Imam Zainul Abideen (as) in front of other companions like Abu Tufail. Imam Zainul Abideen (as) attested that it is from our authentic ahadith. The book was read in front of Imam al Baqir (AS) who wept and said, "Sulaim has spoken the truth". 

Here are statements from the scholars confirming the authenticity of Kitab al-Solaim in the order of their year-of-demise:

1.       Omar Ibn Abi Salma who was the scholar of the first century, who said:  “There is no tradition in this book except what I have heard from Ali (AS), Salman, Abu Zar and Meghdad.”

2.       Abu Al-Tafeel who is among the scholars of the first century said:  “Each Hadith in this book are the ones which I have heard from Ali (AS), Salman, Abu Zar, and Meghdad.”    

3.       Masoudi who is one of the fourth century scholars said:  “Solaim Ibn Qays Helali has mentioned the principle of the Shia doctrines of The Twelve Imams”[2]

4.       Ibn -Nadim scholar of the fourth century said:  “The first book that has become obvious and famous for the Shiia is the same book of Solaim Ibn Qays.”[3]

5.       Sheikh Najashi who is one of the scholars of the fifth century said:  “Now we mentioned the name of a person from the past who was amongst the pious ones and who have made it a priority for compiling.”  Then he named Solaim and his book.[4]

6.       Sheikh Tousi who is one of the fifth (5th) century scholars, who said:  “Solaim Ibn Qays’ whose title (Kunia) was Abu Sadeq has a book, it has come to our hands with these documents...”[5]

7.       Sheikh Nu’mani who is one of the fifth (5th) century scholars said:  “Among all Shiia scholars and narrators there is no disagreement that Solaim Ibn Qays Helali’s Book is the oldest book of greatest principles...  this book is one of the book of principles used by Shiias as a reference due their trust in it.”[6]

8.       Sheikh Ibn Shahraashoub h is one of the sixth (6th) century scholars said:  “Solaim Ibn Qays Helali is the owner of the narration and has a book.”[7]

9.       Sayyad Jamal -Al-Deen-Ibn-Tawos who is one of the fifth (5th) century scholars said:  “This book contains subjects which certainly give this book distinction over other books (also because) it has a reliable compiler and it is authentic book.”[8]

10.   Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Majlesi who is one of the eleventh (11th) century scholars said:  “Sheikh Tousi and Sheikh Najashi have decreed the authenticity of this book and its message leads to the right path.”  Also he said:  “Sheikh Kulaini’s and Sodouq’s confidence in Solaim’s Book is enough, this book remains close to me also because its text bears witness to its authenticity.”[9]

11.   Allameh Sayyad Mostafa Tafrashi greatest scholar who was one of the twelfth century scholars said:  Truth and honesty of this book is obvious from the beginning until its end.”[10]

12.   Greatest scholar Sheikh Hurr Aameli is one of the twelfth century scholars who said:  “I have quoted traditions from the books which are not only very reliable and whose compilers as well as others have testified to its authenticity, but also its contents itself bears witness to prove it.  These books have come to our hands by its compilers through a continuous chain hence there is no doubt about the books and its compilers.”[11]

13.   Allamah Sayyad Hashem Bahrani one of the greatest twelfth (12th) century scholars said:  “Solaim’s Book is a reliable famous book that other compilers have quoted from it in their own books [12]

14.   Greatest scholar Sheikh Mohammad Baqir Majlesi who is one of the twelfth (12th) century’s scholars, who has cited the Solaim’s Book completely in his 110 volumes Behar-Al- Anwar meanwhile and he said in the beginning of the Behar:  “Solaim Ibn Qays’ Book is extremely famous, and it is true and right and this book is one of the credible bases or principles.”  Also he said:  “That is a famous book between the narrators that Koleini and Sadouq and other older scholars have trust in it, and most of the news is adjusted or compromised to whatever we have received with the correct documents in the credible books.”[13]

15.   Mowla Hydar Ali Shirwani one of the twelfth (12th) century scholars said:  “The truth of Solaim’s Book is clear because it has been quoted from the reliable companions of the Imams and their own companions from various yet authentic ways, the subjects addresses important topics of different religious aspects. Had it been not authentic then is it possible that such a book became remained outside the all-encompassing knowledge of the Imams (G.T.T.) and they have no attention of that?”[14]

16.   Greatest scholar Mir Hamed Hossein Hindi who is one of the fourteenth (14th) century A.H. scholars said:  “As for the book of Solaim we can say it is the most earliest and the highest of all the books of Shiia traditions.”  He also said:  “Most of the narrations of that book were accepted and confirmed as the true traditions.”[15] He is one of the most renowned and well respected scholars in the school of Shia who travelled from Lucknow India to Najaf to study. His book Abqaat al-anwaar is still taught in the seminaries in Najaf and Qom.

17.   Greatest fourteenth (14th) century scholars Sayyad Mohammad Baqir Khuansari said: “The Book of Solaim was the foremost effort in Islam in compilation and collection of (Prophetic) narrations.”[16]

18.   Greatest scholar Mohaddeth -E- Nori said:  “The Book of Solaim is one of the famous book of principles, and our scholars have many documents referring to that book.”  Also he said:  “Solaim’s Book is a distinguished book because greatest narrators have quoted from that book.”[17]

19.   Haaj Molla Hashem Khorasani said:  “The Book of Solaim handed to Abaan is eminent (book).”[18]

20.   Great narrator Haajj Sheikh Abbas Qumi said:  “Solaim’s Book is the first book that has become obvious among the Shiia, and it is famous among the narrators like Sheikh Kolaini and Sudouq and others have trusted it.”[19]

21.   Greatest scholar Mamaqani said:  “Solaim’s book is extremely credible.”[20]

22.   Sayyad Hossein -Ibn-Muhammad Riza Boroujerdi said:  “Solaim was one of the Shi’a of Ahl-ul-Bayt’s (AS) and his book is fundamental that greatest scholars have quoted from it.”[21]

23.   Mirza-Muhammad Ali Modarres Khiabani said:  “ Solaim’s Book  is one of  the famous book among the four hundred fundamental books, and it is the first book that became the possession of the Shiia; Sudouq and Kolaini and other great narrators have trusted in it completely.”[22]

24.   Great scholar Haajj Agha Borzorg Tehrani said:  “The Book of Solaim Ibn Qays is one of the fundamental book which was compiled before the time of  Imam Sadiq (AS).”  He also said:  “Solaim’s Book is one of the fundamental books famous among the Shiia and non  Shiia.”[23]

25.   Sayyad Hassan Sadr said:  “Solaim has an important and valuable book, and he has quoted the subjects from Imam Ali (AS), Salman, Abu Zar, Meghdad, Ammar and from the group of  greatest companions.”[24]

26.   Greatest scholar Sayyad Ahmad Sefaee Khuansari said:  “Solaim’s Book is one of  the Greatest and earliest fundamental book that has been declared as truth. This book has been presented to Imams (AS) and they have attested that the traditions in the book as truth.”[25]

27.   Greatest scholar Amini said:  “Solaim’s Book is one of the eminent fundamental bases from earliest era which the narrators and the historians among the Shiia and others have trusted.”[26]

28.   Greatest scholar Sayyad Saadeq Bahr-Al-Uloum said:  “Greatest scholars have approved the book of Solaim because the book is extremely credible and its narrations are truth and reliable.”[27]

29.   Great scholar Marashi-E-Najafi from the fifteenth (15th) century A.H. said:    “Solaim’s Book is one of the righteous and earliest Shiia book, some non Shiia scholars have written about the truth of this book.”  He also said:  “The book of Solaim is a famous published book which reached out to us and was considered by most of the Shiias to be reliable confirmed by the Imams (AS).”[28]

 

Names of Scholars Who Answered /the Doubts

Most of those who have spoken about Solaim and his book have proceeded to answer the obscurities as part of their discussions; their names have been mentioned as follows: 

 

1.       Allamah Majlesi first in Rowzat-Al-Mottaqeen: Volume 14, Page 371.

2.       Mirza-E- Astar Aabadi in Menhaj -al- Maqal :  Page  15, and 171.

3.       Fazel Tafrashi in Naqd-al-Rejal :  Page  159.

4.       Sheikh Hurr Aameli in Wasel-al-Shiia:  Volume 20, Page 210.

5.       Allamah Majlesi in Behar-al-:  Volume 8 Old One, Page 195, Volume 22, and Page 150.

6.       Waheed -E-Behbahani in Taliqah Menhaj-al-Maqal:  Page 171.

7.       Sheikh Abu Ali Haeri in Montahi-al-Maqal:  Page 153.

8.       Greatest scholar Mir Hamid Hossein in Esteqsaa -al- Afham: Volume 1, Pages 464, and 466, 514, 554, 581,and 855.

9.       Sayyad Ejaz.Hossein in Kashf-al-Hojb Wa- Al-Estar:  Page 445.

10.   Sayyad Khansari in Rowzat-al-Jannat: Volume 3, Page 30 and Volume 4, page 71.

11.   Greatest scholar Mannqani Tanqeeh -al-Maqal:  Volume 2, Page 52.

12.   Greatest scholar Sayyad Mohsen Ameen Ayan -al-Shiia:  Volume 5, Page 50, Volume 35, and Page 293.         

13.   Ayatullah Khouie in Mojam- Rejal-al-Hadeeth:  Volume 1, Page 102x.

14.   Greatest scholar Sheikh Mohammad Taqi Testari in Qamos-al-Rejal : Volume 4, Page 452

15.   Greatest scholar Mowahhed Abtahi in Tahzeeb-al-Moqal: Volume 1, Page 186.

16.   Hojjat-al-Eslam Sayyad Alaa-al-Deen Mosawi in Introduction of Solaim’s Book.

Sayyid Khoei (ra) expressed his negative "opinion" regarding the reliability of just ONE narrator in one of the twelve chains, however sheikh Tusi and Kulaini didn’t consider that narrator (in question) unreliable and quoted Ahadith in their books from the same narrator. So even if we agree with the Rijaal of Sayyid Khoei, the reliability of the book and the other 11 narrators is unquestionable!

 

[1] This book is also published with titles as "Asrar al Imamat" or "Asrar aale-Muhammed".

[2] Al-Tanbih Wa Al-Ashraaf: Page 198.

[3] Fehrist Ibn Nadim:  Page 275.

[4] Rejal Al-Najashi :  Page  6.

[5] Fehrist from Sheikh Tousi: Page 81, number 336.

[6] Ghaibat Al-Nu’mani:  Page 61.

[7] Maalem-Al-Ulama: Page 58, number 390

[8] Tahrir At-Tawousi” Page 136, number 175.   Tanqih-Al-Maqal:  Volume 2, Page 52

[9] Rowzat -Al- Muttaqin:  Volume 14, page 372, Tanqih -Al-Maqal: Volume 2, page 53

[10] Naqd-al-Rejal:  Page 159

[11] Wasael -Al-Shiia:  Volume 20, page 36 and 42

[12] Ghaayat Al-Maraam:  Page 546

[13] Behar-Al-Anwar:  Volume 1, page 32, and the Old One Volume 8, page 198

[14] Resalah Fi Kaifiyat Estenbat -Al- Ahkam min Al- Aathar Fi Zaman  Al-Ghaibiya (Manuscript): End of   the Book.

[15] Abaqat -Al-Anwar: Volume 2,  page  61.  Isteqsa’a-Al-Afham:  Volume 1, page 579

[16] Rowzat -Al- Jannah: Volume 4, page 67.

[17] Mostadrak-Al-Wasael:  Volume 3, Page 733.   Nafas-Al-Rahman :  Page  56

[18] Montakhab -Al-Tawarikh: Page 210

[19] Al-Kunia Wa Al-Alqaab:  Volume 3   page 243

[20] Tanqih -Al-Maqaal: Volume 2, page 54

[21] Nakhbat -Al-Maqal: Page

[22] Rihanat -Al-Adab:  Volume Page 369.

[23] Al-Zariyah:  Volume 2, Page 152

[24] Al-Shiia Wa -Funoon -Al-Islam: Page 68.

[25] Kashf-Al- istaar:  Volume 2, Page 130

[26] Al-Ghadeer:  Volume 1, Page 195.

[27] Preface Kitab al-Solaim (Published in Najaf) page 10[28] Ikhaaq al-Haq (volume 1, page 55) (volume 2, page 421)