Abū Muḥammad Ḥassan b. ʿAli al-Ḥadhāʾ al-ʿUmmānī or al-ʿAmmānī, known as Ibn Abī ʿAqīl was a Shi’a scholar of hadith, fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and kalam (theology) in the fourth/tenth century during the Minor Occultation (al-ghayba al-sughra) (260/879-329/941 ).
Shi’a scholars have confirmed his reliability as a narrator of hadith. Some take him to be the first Shi’a scholar of fiqh to have refined the discipline at the beginning of the Major Occultation (al-ghayba al-kubra), separating issues regarding the principles from those concerning the rules of fiqh by way of ijtihad. Ibn Abi ‘Aqil’s views in fiqh have been important for most of Shi’a scholars of fiqh, including Ibn Idris in his Al-sara’ir, Muhaqqiq al-Hilli in his Al-mu’tabar fi sharh al-mukhtasar, and al-‘Allama al-Hilli in his Mukhtalaf al-Shi’a.
Born and Family
Although many scholars of fiqh and hadith have cited him in their works, his birth and death dates are not known—indeed, it is not even known which Amman he belongs to. Since Ibn Qulawayh has cited hadiths from him, he must have been in the same generation of narrators as al-Kulayni, and lived in the period of the Minor Occultation (260/874-329/941).
Al-Shaykh al-Tusi is the first scholar who has cited the works of Ibn Abi ‘Aqil, calling him Hassan b. ‘Isa, but al-Najjashi, who has provided more detailed information about him, has called him Hassan b. ‘Ali.
Comments on him by al-Najashi and others
Al-Najashi takes Ibn Abi ‘Aqil to be a scholar of fiqh and a reliable narrator of hadith, referring to his book, Al-mutamassik bi habl-i ‘Al-i Rasul, as a well-known book among Imamiyya such that anyone who travels from Khurasan to Iraq (for pilgrimage) looks for, and purchases, this book. This shows the significance of Ibn Abi ‘Aqil’s works and his prominence in fiqh in the Islamic world.
Al-Najashi says that his mentor, al-Shaykh al-Mufid, has praised Ibn Abi ‘Aqil. He then cites Abu l-Qasim Ja’far b. Muhammad (Ibn Qulawayh) as saying that Ibn Abi ‘Aqil has permitted Ibn Qulawayh to cite his Al-mutamassik and other works. Al-Najashi himself has read Ibn Abi ‘Aqil’s Al-karr wa al-farr, concerning imamate, with al-Shaykh al-Mufid.
Other Shi’a scholars of hadith have also confirmed the reliability of Ibn Abi ‘Aqil.
The First Shi’a Scholar of Fiqh
Imamiyya scholars refer to Ibn Abi ‘Aqil and Ibn Junayd al-Iskafi al-Baghdadi (d. 381/991), who were contemporaries, as “al-qadimayn ” (the two early ones). Some people take Ibn Abi ‘Aqil to be the first Shi’a scholar of fiqh who has refined the discipline at the beginning of the Major Occultation, introducing the method of Ijtihad.
Views in Fiqh
Ibn Abi ‘Aqil’s views in fiqh have been cited and examined by most Shi’a scholars of fiqh, including Ibn Idris (d. 578/1182) in his Al-sara’ir, Muhaqqiq al-Hilli (d. 676/1279) in his Al-mu’tabar, and al-Allama al-Hilli in his al-Mukhtalaf.
Ibn Abi ‘Aqil has some peculiar views in fiqh, for example, he believes that trifle, or under-kurr, water (al-ma’ al-qalil) does not get ritually unclean (najis) when it is in contact with something unclean. The view was endorsed by few recent scholars of Shi’a fiqh, such as Mulla Muhsin al-Fayd al-Kashani