Abul Qāsim Ali, son of Hussein, son of Mūsā, known as ‘Sayyed Murtadhā Alam-ul Hudā (Allāmah Helli called him ‘the teacher of Shia Imāmyya), was born in 355 H.
His name is Ali Ibn-e Hussein Tahir, son of Mūsā, son of Muhammad, son of Mūsā, son of Ibrāhim, son of Mūsā son of Jàfar (pbuh). His middle name is Alam-ul Huda and his title is Dhul Thamānin and Dhul Majdain (bearer of gratness), and Shareef-e Murtadhā.
He was born in to one of the noblest Sādāt (descendants of the holy prophet of Islām) family in the city of Baghdād. He was proud of having a very noble parentage.
About the title ‘Alam-ul Hudā’ it is cited that, Abū Sa’eed Muhammad Ibn-e Hussein the prime minister of Al-Qādiru-Billāh became ill in 420 H. once up on a night, he dreamed that, Amir-ul Mu’menin Ali (pbuh) ordered him: “ask Alam-ul Hudā to pray for your recovery”! The minister asked: “O’ Amir-ul Mu’menin, who is Alam-ul Hudā?” He answered: “He is, Ali Ibn-e Hussein Mūsavi (Sayyed Murtadhā)”.
Some dreams in righteousness are similar to revelations, and are a kind of divine awareness. One of these dreams is the one Sheikh Mufid dreamed of. He dreamed that, hadhrat-e Fātima Zahrā (pbuh) took Imām Hasan and Imām Hussein to him and ordered “O’ Sheikh, teach these two sons of mine the divine law”.
This dream amazed Sheikh and made him thoughtful. Next morning, Fātima ‘the mother of Sayyed Murtadhā and Sayyed Radhi’ took her two sons (sayyed Murtadhā and Sayyed Radhi), who were small children to the Sheikh and asked him: “O’ Sheikh teach my two sons divine law”.
Sheikh was affected and told about his dream to that great woman and accepted to educate those two brothers, and did his best in teaching them until they acquired a very high positions in scholarship and Ijtihād (religious jurisprudence). They both became valuable Muslim scholars, scientists and elites of their age.
Sayyed Murtadhā and his brother Sayyed Radhi (the collector Nahj-ul Balāghah) were Sheikh Mufid’s students and received their sciences and knowledge from him. Sheikh Mufid, whose greatness in science is no secret to anyone, is their first and the most important instructor.
The knowledgeable preacher, Ibn-e Nabātah and Sheikh Hasan Bāb-e-weih are also among his teachers.
Among his outstanding students, the followings can be named;
1- Sheikh Tūsee
2- Qādhi Ibn-e Barāj
3- Abū Salāh Halabi
4- Abul-fath Karājaki
5- Salār Ibn-e Abd-ul Aziz Deilami
The Political and Social Conditions of Baghdad at the Time of Sayyid Murtada
Baghdad faced great political, economic and security crises in the ۴th century AH. According to the reports by historians, famine, deaths as a result of famine, corruption and expensiveness had been accompanied by riots and political unrest. Furthermore, the city suffered from the attacks by the ones who claimed for the throne and the riots by the rebellions.The first Shia government in Baghdad was established by Ahmad ibn Buya. When the government of Buyids settled down, it was thought that they will eradicate caliphate; however, this did not happen. Some scholars believe that, the Buyid Amir legalized the government of Buyids in the eyes of his people, most of whom were Sunnites, by avoiding from changing the caliphate; furthermore, he removed the pretext out of the hand of the most dangerous enemies of Buyids, i.e. Samanids, who followed the Sunnite doctrine and intended to extend their realm west wise.
The Buyid rulers possessed the main power in Baghdad; meanwhile they were content with the weak caliphate of the Abbasid. In the mean time at the occasions when the Buyids weakened as a result of disputes, the caliphs thought of overthrowing them.
Sayyid Murtada was born in ۳۵۵ AH and grew under such conditions. His birth coincided with the caliphate of Al-Moti’ Allah (caliphate ۳۳۴-۳۶۳) and the ruling of Mu&#۳۹;izz al-Dawla (Ahmad ibn Buya). Sayyid Murtada, besides the caliphate of Al-Muti’, who died in the childhood of Sayyid, witnessed three other caliphs including al-Ta’i’ li Amr-i ‘llah (caliphate ۳۶۳-۳۸۱ AH / ۹۷۴-۹۹۱ AD), Al-Qadir (caliphate ۳۸۱-۴۲۲ AH / ۹۹۱-۱ ۰۳۱ AD) and then his son Al-Qa&#۳۹;im bi-Amr Allah (۴۲۲-۴۶۷ AH / ۱۰۳۱– ۱۰۷۵ AD). He has mentioned them in his Diwan (book of poems). In his Diwan, Sayyid Murtada has referred to the Buyid rulers, including Baha’ al-Dawla and his children Sharaf al-Dawla, Sultan al-Dawla and Rukn al-Din Jalal al-Dawla. He has also referred to Abu Kalijar Marzban ibn Sultan ibn Baha’ al-Dawla.
During this agitated period, Sayyid Murtada chose a moderate way toward the caliphs and rulers, and tried to take the chance and do his best in propagating, supporting and strengthening the Shia principles. At times, he praised the Abbasid caliphs and even their ancestors. In his poems, one comes up with some praises concerning Abbas, Mansur and Rashid, as well as al-Qadir bi-llah and Al-Qa’im bi-Amr Allah. The purpose behind such praises was to keep the conduct of the caliphs lenient toward the Shia. There are even some reports concerning his being a pioneer in allegiance with some of the caliphs. Concerning the events in ۴۲۲ AH / ۱۰۳۱ AD Ibn al-Jawzi writes that Sayyid Murtada was the first person to oath for allegiance with Al-Qa’im bi-Amr Allah , and he composed a piece of poem in his praise.
Meanwhile, there are some serious criticisms by Sayyid Murtada concerning the caliphs, which reveals that he was reluctant in his praises. Sometimes even, he expresses his hatred toward them, so that he composes “I praised, while I know my praises will vanish in the severe storm, as if I set up a fire in the middle of a hot day. Whatever faces toward you will be ruined. What I have done for you is like virtuous deeds sent to evil doers”.
His conduct toward the rulers of Buyids was also based on utilizing their power to serve the Shia and propagating the Shia views. His praises of them was because they provided his family with suitable opportunities and granted them important and honorable titles and status. He praises Baha’ al-Dawla for having granted him the epithet of Dhu al-Majdain. In most of the ceremonies and festivals, he admires the accomplishments of the Buyids and he even expresses his grief over the defeat of Buyids in an occasion.
All these were because Buyids, regardless of all the existing deficiencies in their government, paved the way for the prevalence of the Shiism in the world. During the period of the Buyids, Sayyid had the opportunity to write important books in the field of theology, Fiqh and interpretation. Through composing euphonious and attractive poems, he could even clarify the ideas and beliefs concerning some religious manifestations such as the Ghadir Celebration.
The Scientific and Cultural Conditions of Baghdad at the Time of Sayyid
The period of the ruling of Buyids during the fourth and fifth centuries AH is one of the best periods in the history of the Shia. Through the empowerment of the Shia, the Shia regained their liberty to hold their scholarly classes on philosophy, theology, astronomy and other sciences. This period can probably be considered as the period of the development of the structure and relative culmination of many Islamic sciences. Through a brief study on the conditions of sciences, one can notice the flourishing of sciences in these centuries. At the beginning, the interpretation of the Qur’an was based on traditions and narrations; although some scholars, including Mujahid, had already practiced a rational approach in their interpretation, which was called Dirayati (rational) interpretation. However in the fourth century, one can notice the formation of both interpretation approaches and development of numerous interpretation books with various approaches. In some books such as al-Amali and al-Shafi, Sayyid Murtada has employed the rational approach, and he has interpreted, similar to Mu’tazilah, some of the verses which do not seem to be in concordance with the common sense. Furthermore, some interpreters such as Abu Muslim al-Isfahani (d. ۳۲۲ AH / ۹۳۳ AD), Ali ibn ‘Isa al-Ramani (d. about ۳۸۴ AH / ۹۹۴ AD), Abu Bakr al-Naqqash Mu’tazili (died in Baghdad in ۳۵۱ AH / ۹۶۲ AD) lived in the same period.
The Sunnite tradition collections, including Sahih Muslem, Sahih Bukhari and Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal had been written before this period; however, the outstanding Shia tradition collections such as al-Kafi by Kulayni and Man La Yahzuruhu al-Faqih by Saduq were written in this period. According to the report by Zahr al-Islam, the tradition narrators held a higher status than that of the jurisprudents and grammarians.
Furthermore before this period, along with the development of tradition collections, some other sciences had developed, including the science of abrogating and abrogated traditions, the science of adaptation and the science of Rijal, which deals with the validity of the narrations. However in this century, one can notice the appearance of some outstanding scholars in the field of the mentioned sciences, which tried to further develop them. Among the greatest tradition narrators in this century, one can refer to Abu al-Hasan al-Daraqutni and Hakim al-Nishaburi. They categorized the previously compiled tradition books and dealt with the contradictions in them and wrote new books based on their discussions.
In this period, The Shia Fiqh flourished dynamically. One can refer to some outstanding jurists who appeared at the beginning of this century, including Hasan ibn Abi Aqil al-‘Ummani, and following him Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Junaid. The last two decades of the century as well, are the turning points in the history of the Shia Fiqh. At this time, there was a movement by the Shia theologians who set up a novel ground and balanced the dominance of the tradition-based approach among the Shia scholars. Shaykh Mufid and following him Sayyid Murtada, the two jurists who appeared in the school of the theologians, could develop a movement in the Shia Fiqh, which was in fact a continuation of the reformist movement by Ibn ‘Aqil al-‘Ummani; this movement influenced the fields of the Shia Fiqh for centuries. Although there are some minor differences between the Fiqhi instructions of these two, the general aspects of the Fiqhi approach taken by them were in agreement to a considerable degree.
Sayyid Murtada wrote some works in the field of comparative Fiqh taking a narration and discretion approach based on the works of outstanding scholars from the four Sunnites sects and some Shia Fiqhi works, as well. His two books, al-Nasiriyyat and al-Intisar, are among the best books which reveal his knowledge and discretion.
One can notice great developments in the field of theology. In the fourth century up to the end of the Buyids government, Iraq held the highest position in science, literature and philosophy.
In this period especially because of the settlement of the Buyid government, which was Shia and had philosophical and rational tendencies, argumentative discussions flourished and theology progressed. In this period, the following outstanding Sunnite characters in theology appeared: Abu Hashim al-Jubba&#۳۹;i (d. ۳۲۱ AH / ۹۳۳ AD), Abu al-Hasan Ash’ari (۲۷۰-۳۳۰ AH / ۸۷۴–۹۳۶ AD), Abu Bakr al-Baqilani (۳۳۰-۴۰۳ AH /۹۳۰– ۱۰۱۳ AD), Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Furak (d. ۴۰۶ AH / ۱۰۱۵ AD), Abu Ishaq al-Isfara&#۳۹;ini (d. ۴۱۸ AH) and also Mu&#۳۹;tazili al-Qadi &#۳۹;Abd al-Jabbar (d. ۴۱۵ AH / ۱۰۲۴ AD), who is considered as the head of Mu’tazilah in the periods to come.
Furthermore contemporary to the Shia society of that day, one can notice the advent of such outstanding theologians as Shaykh Mufid (۳۳۹-۴۱۳ AH / ۹۴۸-۱۰۲۲ AD), Sayyid Murtada (۳۵۵-۴۳۶ AH / ۹۶۵-۱۰۴۴ AD) and Shaykh Tusi (۳۸۵-۴۶۰ AH / ۹۹۵-۱۰۶۷ AD), who respectively undertook the presidency of the seminary school of Baghdad. Preceding this group, we can also notice the appearance of some Shia theologians and philosophers such as Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Musa al-Nawbakhti (d. ۳۱۰ AH / ۹۲۳-۲۴ AD) and Abu Sahl Ismail ibn Ali al-Nawbakhti (d. ۳۱۱ AH / ۹۲۳-۲۴ AD), who played a considerable role in the formation of the rational school in Baghdad.
In the fourth century, many Arabic language and literary sciences such as philology were of great interest. Furthermore, many outstanding characters appeared in the field of literature, including Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Duraid al-Azdi (۲۲۳ – ۳۲۱ AH / ۸۳۸ – ۹۳۳ AD), Abu Bakr ibn al-AnbarI (d. ۳۲۸ AH /۹۴۰ AD), Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani (۲۸۴-۳۶۲ AH / ۸۹۷–۹۶۷ AD), the author of Kitab al-Aghani (Book of Songs), Abu Ubaidullah Marzbani (d.۳۸۴ AH / ۹۹۴ AD), Ali ibn Muhammad Katib and ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Uthman ibn Yahya Daqaq. The last three characters were among Sayyid Murtada’s teachers in the field of narration. There were also great poets living in this century, like Abu al-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi (۳۰۳-۳۵۴ AH / ۹۱۵–۹۶۵ AD),and Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri (۳۶۳-۴۴۹ AH / ۹۷۳–۱۰۵۸).
Besides considerable developments in religious sciences in this century, one can also notice other cultural developments, as well, which are among important features of this century. These developments included establishment of scientific institutes, Dar al-‘Ilms (universities) and libraries, with the latter being also locations for instructions or at least paying salaries to their residents. According to historical reports, Sharif Razi (d. ۴۰۶ AH / ۱۰۱۵ AD), Sayyid Murtada’s brother and one of the famous poets and praisers of the Shia, transformed his house in Baghdad into a Dar al-‘Ilm, in which he hosted students and provided them with facilities. In addition, Sayyid Murtada had changed his house into a Dar al-‘Ilm, as well. These Dar al-‘Ilms were different from libraries, which were called Khazant al-Hikmah; libraries were just a part of Dar al-‘Ilms.
There was another point which was noticeable in this century and was very influential in the scientific-cultural conditions of Baghdad: after the occultation, narrators and jurists (faqihs) moved from different places to Baghdad. The first person among them was probably Uthman ibn Sa’id al-Asadi, the first deputy of the ImamPBHU. He immigrated to Baghdad after Imam Hasan ‘AskariPBUH passed away, and following him, the other particular deputies came to reside in Baghdad, as well. This changed Baghdad into a scientific and spiritual center for the Shia.
Among the immigrants to Baghdad, one comes across with characters like Ibn ‘Uqbah Shaybani and Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Zubair Qurashi, who moved there from Kufa. There were scholars among the immigrants from Basrah, Qum, Rey and even Samarqand. Among the first immigrants from Qum to Baghdad, we can refer to Muhammad ibn Ja’far ibn Butta, Ali b. Husayn ibn Musa ibn Babawayh al-Qummi (d. ۳۲۹ AH / ۹۴۰-۹۴۱ AD), Abu Ja’far Kulayni (d. ۳۲۹ AH / ۹۴۱ AD). Undoubtedly, this situation was effective in deepening the roots of the Shia traditions in Baghdad. This trend continued in Baghdad during the coming decades through the presence of some scholars like Ibn Dawud al-Qummi (d. ۳۶۸ AH / ۹۷۸-۷۹ AD), Ibn Qulawayh al-Qummi (d. ۳۶۸ AH / ۹۷۸ AD), and Abu Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn ʿAli ibn Al-Ḥusayn ibn Musa al-Qummi (۳۰۵-۳۸۱ AH / ۹۱۷-۹۹۱ AD).
Therefore, Baghdad somehow enjoyed a central scientific position in the fourth century, and hosted various sects and different trends; although in the Seminary School of Baghdad, the dominance was with the theological and rational trends and approaches.
The other point to be noticed is the translation movement in the world of Islam and in its role in the theological discourse of Baghdad. This movement started in ۲۱۵ AH / ۸۳۰ AD through the establishment of Bayt al-Hikmah by Mamun. In this period, a number of translators, most of whom were non-Muslim translated the philosophical works of the ancient Greece and the Neo-Platonic school of Alexandria into Arabic from among the original Greek works or from their Syriac translations. Alongside with these works, a number of further texts were translated from Pahlavi into Arabic.
Sayings of Great Men
-Allāma Helli in his book ‘Kholāsah’ cites about him:
“Alam-ul Hudā was the pillar of Imāmiya and their instructor. His compilations up to now (693 H) are authorized to be used by the followers of righteous sect”.
-Ibn-e Khallakān, one of Sunni sect historians says: “The superiorities of Sayyed Murtadhā are innumerable and his compilations in religion affairs and decrees are right signs, that he was a branch of that tree and a member of that great and respectful family” (household of the holy prophet of Islām).
-It is narrated, that Sayyed Murtadhā had endowed the income of one of his own villages to be paid for papers used by Fuqahā. Its income had been paid for compilations of Mojtahids (jurisprudents). Also, it is narrated: “there have been over 80,000 volumes of books in his library”.
He passed away in 436 A.H. in Baghdād. Najāshi cites in his book (Rijāl): “He passed away in the mentioned year. His son offered his prayer, and was buried in his house. I, Abū ya’li Jafari (sheikh Mufid’s son in law) and Salār Ibn-e Abd-ul Aziz, rinsed him after his death.
2-Al-intesār fi man-faradat bihil imāmyya min-al masāeel-ul Fiqhyya
3-Adh-dhari-ah fi usūl-esh-sharee-ah (in fundamentals of Fiqh)
4-Al Muh-kam wal Mutashābih