The first one to speak about jurisprudence in Islam was Imam Ali bin Abi Talib(a.s), he dictated sixty different kinds of studies connected with the Holy Qur’an.
Imam Ali (a.s) mentioned that in the Qur’an there were verses which abrogated the others and these which were abrogated (Nasikh and Mansukh): that there were verses clear in their meaning (Muhkam) and others which were not (mutashabah) and that there were verses which had their particular application and other having general application. These principles were the foundation stone of all discussions relating to this branch of knowledge.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s)and Imam Ja’far Sadiq(a.s) were the foremost after Amir-ul-Mu’minin(a.s) to open the gate of Principles of Jurisprudence. Imam Shafi’i came long after them. Both of them explained their companions the most important issues relating to jurisprudence.
Imam Ja’far Sadiq(a.s)threw light on the following issues:
i) conditions and pre-requisites of Ijtihad;
ii) permission of following another person (Taqlid);
iii) denotative value of the apparent meaning of words;
iv) permissibility of action according to the general and absolute senses, etc.;
v) permissibility of framing secondary injunctions and finding out secondary rule from the basic principles;
vvi) permissibility of reporting the Traditions according to the meaning and not the words (indirect narration)
vvvi) impermissibility of imposing an action upon a person which is far beyond his capacity;
ix) obligation to refrain from that which is doubtful;
x) admissibility of reasoning with reference to a precedent and non-admissibility of analogous inferences (guess work) that is al-Qiyas;
Similarly bout Imam Muhammad al-Baqir(a.s)and Imam Ja’far Sadiq(a.s)clarified the following issues relating to the Principles of Jurisprudence.
i) arriving at a decision in case of the doubtful despite the absence clear-cut information.
ii) dealing with contradictory information, which issue relates to striking and balance and exercising one’s discretion and preference;
Similarly, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir(a.s), Imam Ja’far Sadiq(a.s) and Imam Musa al-Kazim(a.s) clarified that it is obligatory to refer to the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah in order to deduce results and give judgments, as well as that the apparent meaning are sufficient for the sake of reasoning and admissible. Imam Sadiq (a.s)and Imam al-Kazim(a.s) prohibited the use of analogy and guess-work in arriving at judgments. In the same way, Imam Sadiq (a.s) and Imam Reza(a.s)declared it permissible to act in accordance with the general and the absolute as well as admissibility of framing rules on the basis of fundamental principles and abstract rules. Imam Ali al-Hadi(a.s) and Imam al-Hasan al-‘Askari(a.s) gave their judgment on the admissibility of one circumstancial evidence information which is authentic. Similarly, Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) declared the admissibility of circumstantial evidence and so on and so forth.
Some of our contemporary writers have said that the first person to distinguish himself in writing down these discussions in the form of a book was Hishan bin al-Hakam, a student of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) who composed a book, titled, Kitab-ul-Alfaz Wa Mabahithiha, which is one of the important discussion of this branch of studies.
Our opinion is that there has been mentioned a book as referred to above among the books written by Hisham but its topic is not known. It cannot said as to whether this book deals with the discussion of the words which belongs to the field of Jurisprudence or not. Nor does the statements of our contemporaries give any indication to this effect. But the correct position is that the first one to put down these discussions to book-form was Yunis bin Abdur Rahman who was an ally to Yaqtin family. He wrote a book titled Ikhtilaf-ul-Hadith which deals with exactly in jurisprudence that is the question of balancing the views which are contradictory and exercising one’s discretion in giving a judgment. This is a part of the discussions relating to the Principles of Jurisprudence. He died in the beginning of the third century.
Other notable figures who did work in this field are as described below:
1. Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi wrote a book on contradictory opinions and question of giving judgment. He died in 274 A.H.
2. Muhammad bin Abdur-Rahman bin Qibbah ar-Razi has expressed his ideas on the availability of one piece of evidence which is quite known. He died in the beginning of the fourth century.
3. Muhammad bin Muhammad bin an-Nu’man known as Al-Mufid.
He has a small book on Ilm-Usul which is printed.
4. Al-Sharif Murtada Alam-ul-Huda Ali bin al-Husain.
Allama has described him in Al-Khullasah as a man of all arts whose position is admitted by all. He was profound in knowledge and different studies, which included the knowledge of Usul-ul-Fiqh (principles of Jurisprudence) which is a way to the Principles of Law (Shari’ah). His ideas and opinions are quite well known in the books of both the Sunnite and the Shi’ite writers. He died in 436 A.H.
5. Al-Shaikh Abu Ja’far Muhmmad bin al-Husain at-Tusi
He is called Shaikh-ut-Ta’ifah or simply as Al-Shaikh. A -number of his books on the Principles are found in print. He died in 460 A.H.
6. Sadid-ud-Din Mahmud bin Ali al-Humsi was also one of the scholars who were known for knowledge of Usul. He died during the sixth century.
7. Al-Muhaqqiq Ja’far bin Yayha bin Sa’id al-Hilli
He is the author of Ma’arij-ul-Wusul Ila ‘Ilm-il-Usul which. has been printed. He also collected the fundamental rule relating to Ilm-ul-Usul in brief in a book form which is first of its kind. He died in 676 A.H.
8. Yahya bin Sa’id al-Hilli was a cousin of Al-Muhaqqiq Ja’far. He wrote Al-Madkal Fi Usul-il-Fiqh. His death occurred in 690 A.H.
9. Al-Allamah al-Hilli al-Hasan bin Yusuf bin al-Mutahhar. He was a pupil of Al-Muhaqqiq. Among his books are An-Nukat-ul-Badi’ah, Ghayat-ul-Wusul, Tahdhib-ul-Wusul (in two volumes), Nahjul Wusul which is a medium sized book. He died in 726 A.H.
10. As-Sayyid ‘Amid-ud-Din Abdul Muttalib bin Muhammad al-A’raji al-Husaini was a nephew of al-Allamah and his pupil. He wrote an explanation and commentary on his uncle’s book Tahdhib-ul-Wusul. He died during the eighth century.
11. Al-Shaikh-ul-Jalil Muhammad bin Ali al-Jurjani was also a pupil of Al-Allamah. He wrote Ghayat-ul-Badi Fi Sharh-il-Mabadi Fi Usul-il-Fiqh written by his teacher. He wrote this book in the name of An-Naqib ‘Amid-ud-Din Abdul Muttalib Ibn Al-Naqib Shams-ud-Din Ali Bin Al-Mukhtar Al-Husaini. I have a copy of this book. He died during the eighth century.
12. Al-Shahid Muhammad bin Makki al-‘Aamili al-Jizzini collected the fundamental rules of the Principles of Jurisprudence in a book form. He also composed Kitab-ul-Qawa’id Fil Qawa’id il-Fiqhiyyah. He was martyred in 786 A.H.
13. Al-Shaikh Zain-ud-Din Ali al’Aamili al-Jaba’i continued the work started by Al-Shahid and composed Tamhid-ul-Qawa’id. He was also martyred in 966 A.H. and is called Al-Shahid-Uth-Thani.
The lead given by these two martyrs was taken by the following scholars:
14. Al-Shaikh Hasan bin Zain-ud-Din al-Shahid uth-Thani Al-‘Amili who is known as Khatib-ul-Usuliyyin, wrote Al-Ma’alim Fil Usul. Before this book was written, the people used to study this subject through Sharh-ul-Amidi ‘Alat Tahdhib which has already been mentioned, along with Usul Ibn-il-Hajib and Usul-ul-‘Adadi. But after its composition, the teaching and learning of this subject was based upon it He died in 1011 A.H.
15. Al-Shaikh Muhammad bin al-Shaikh Hasan bin Zain-ud-Din was the son of the author of Al-Ma’alim, as mentioned above, and was one of those persons who wrote commentaries on this book. He died in 1030 A.H.
16. Sayyid Husain known as Khalifah Sultan wrote a commentary on Al-Ma’alim. He died in 1066 A.H.
17. Mulla Saleh al-Mazandrani wrote a commentary on Al-Ma’alim.
18. Muhmmad bin al-Hasan Al-Shirwani known as Mulla Mirz wrote another commentary on Al-Ma’alim. He died in 1099 A.H.
19. Al-Mulla Abdullah At-Tuni.
He wrote Al-Wafiyah Fil Usul which became very famous and many scholars wrote commentaries on it. He died during the mid-eleventh century.
20. Al-Shaikh ul-Baha’i, Muhammad bin al-Husain wrote Zubdatul Usul. He died in 1031 A.H.
21. Al-Shaikh Jawad bin Sa’d ullah al-Kazmi who is commonly known as Al-Fadil al-Jawad was a pupil of Al-Shaikh ul-Baha’i. He wrote Ghayatul Ma’mul Fi Sharhi Zubdatul Usul. He died during the eleventh century.
22. Al-Shaikh Asadullah bin Isma’il at-Tustari al-Kazimi. He wrote Kashful-Qina’ ‘Anil Wujuh-i-Hujjiyatul Ijma’. In this book he gave a summary of what his predecessors had written and supplemented with the contemporary opinions on admissibility of Ijma’. He has been followed by those who came after him up to our own ago. He died in 1220 A.H.
23. Sayyid Muhammad al-Jawwad bin Muhammad al-Husaini al-‘Aamili an-Najafi is the author of Miftah-ul-Kirmah. He also wrote a commentary on Al-Wafiyah by At-Tuni. He deid in 1226 A.H.
24. Sayyid Muhsin al-A’raji al-Baghdadi, Khatib-ul-Usuliyyin who is also known as al-Muhaqqiq-ul-Kazimi is the author of Al-Mahsul Fil Usul. He also wrote a commentary on Al-Wafiyah of At-Tuni which was titled by him as Al-Wafi. He died in 1226 A.H.
25. Al-Shaikh Ja’far ibn Al-Shaikh Khidar al-Najafi. He briefly dealt with the issues relating to Usul in the beginning of his book Kashf-ul-Ghita’ ‘Anil Mahasin-ish-Shari’at-al-Gharra’. He died in 1226 A.H.
26. Sayyid Husain bin Abul Hasan Musa al-Husaini al-Amili al-Shaqra’i was the brother of the grandfather of the author of the present work. He was the most famous among the scholars of Usul in Iraq in his age. The scholars of Najaf chose him to debate with Mirza al-Qummi on the issue of ‘admissibility of Absolute Probability’ when the latter visited Iraq and asked for a debate on this issue. He died in 1230 A.H.
27. Al-Mirza Abul Qasim al-Qummi wrote Qawanin ul-Usul on which people depended for their study of Usul, in addition to Al-Ma’alim. Many commentaries have been written on this book which will be discussed later on. He died in 1233 A.H.
28. Al-Shaikh Muhammad Taqi bin Abdur Rahim at-Tehrani Al-Ha’iri.
He wrote a voluminous book on Usul and named it as Al-Hashiyah ‘Alal Ma’alim. He died in 1248 A.H.
29. Al-Shaikh Muhammad Husain bin Abdur Rahim al-Isfahani Al-Ha’iri was brother of Al-Shaikh Muhammad Taqi. He wrote Al-Fusul Fil Usul. He died in 1261 A.H.
30. Mirza Abdul Fattah bin Ali al-Husaini al-Maraghi.
He was one of the pupils of the sons of Shaikh Ja’far al-Janaji an-Najafi. He has books on the pattern of al-Qawa’id of al-Shahid of Tamhid-ul-Qawa’id by Shahid-uth-Thani. He died during the thirteenth century.
31. Shaikh Murtada bin Muhammad Amin at-Tustari al-Ansari is known as Murabbi-ul-Ulama’ (Teacher of the scholars). He wrote a well-known book, titled Ar-Rasa’il which is used for teaching of this subject (Usul) along with al-Ma’alim and al-Qawanin. He gives a summary of his predecessors in connection with important principles. He has been followed by those who were his juniors. He dealt with the issues of Usul in such a way that he became the guiding soul for all to come later. Many commentaries have been written on this book and have been printed too. Many books have been compiled from his discussions on Usul from which the people have benefited. He died is 1281 A.H.
32. As-Sayyid Mehdi al-Qazwini al-Hilli al-Najafi is the author of Ta’lif Fil Usul. He died in 1300 A.H.
33. Shaikh Musa bin Amin Aal Shararah al-‘Amili wrote a poem on the subject which has on parallel. He died in 1304 A.H.
34. Mirza Musa at-Tabrizi is one of the contemporaries. He has written Hashiyah (notes) on the Rasa’il of Shaikh Murtada, which is quite a voluminous book and has been printed. He died during the fourteenth century.
35. Mirza al-Sayyid Muhammad Hasan al-Shirazi was domiciled in Samara. He was one of the most famous teachers of Usul and trained many a scholar. He was himself a pupil of Al-Shaikh Murtada. Among his writings is a book Risalah Fil Mushtaqq. He died in 1312 A.H.
36. Mirza Habib Ullah Ar-Rashti was pupil of Shaikh Murtada. He was a very famous teacher of Usul and wrote a book named Bada’i’-ul-Usul. He died in 1313 A.H.
37. Mirza Shaikh Muhammad Hasan al-Ashtiyani al-Tehrani was a pupil of Shaikh Murtada. He wrote a commentary on ar-Rasa’il which has been printed. He died in 1322 A.H.
38. Shaikh Mulla Kazim al-Khurasani al-Najafi was our teacher and our Shaikh. He was one of most famous teachers of Usul in our age. He polished up the subject and simplified it. He has written a commentary on the Rasa’il of Shaikh Murtada as well as Al-Kifayah Fil Usul in which he treated all the necessary topics of the subject, with the result that the students and teachers bank upon it along with Al-Ma’alim, Qawanin and Rasa’il. Nowadays, Al-Qawanin has been left out and the study of Usul is confined to three books, namely, Al-Ma’alim, Ar-Rasa’il and Al-Kifayah. He died in 1329 A.H.
39. Al-Shaikh Mahdi al-Khalisi al-Kazimi was one of the pupils of Shaikh Mulla Kazim Khurasani. He wrote a commentary on al-Kifayah and has written on many subjects in Usul. He died in 3143 A.H.
40. Sayyid Abul Hasan Isfahani.
41. Shaikh Mirza Husain Na’ini
42. Shaikh Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi
43. Shaikh Ziya-ul-Din al-Iraqi an-Najafi was a student of Shaikh Mulla Kazim and was a very famous teacher. He has written a commentary on Al-Kifayah. He died in 1361 A.H.
In addition to those mentioned above, many scholars of our age as well as in the past have written books which are numerous and printed. To estimate the work done by the Shi’ite scholars in this field is difficult, not to speak of enumerating the scholars and teachers on this subject.
Selection taken from “Shorter Shi’ite Encyclopedia” by Hassan Amine.