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The Authenticity of Ziyarat ʿĀshūrāʾ

The following is a translation of Sayyid Musa al-Shubayrī al-Zanjānī’s response to a question regarding the authenticity of the widely-recited Ziyarat ʿĀshūrāʾ.

The version of the ziyārat that Sayyid al-Zanjānī speaks to, and that is found in by Shaykh ʿAbbās al-Qummī’s Mafātīh al-Jinān, is originally cited in Shaykh al-Ṭūsī’s compilation of prayers, entitled Miṣbāḥ al-Mutahajjid. This response is particularly noteworthy for the expertise and nuance brought to bear on questions of authenticity, which simultaneously establishes a place for spiritual validity. The translation was provided by Shaykh Haziq Sheikh, and has been emended for clarity.

In His Name, The Exalted

Setting aside the spiritual evidence derived from reliable sources that supports the reliability of Ziyārah ʿĀshūrāʾ, the chain of transmission mentioned in Shaykh al-Ṭūsī’s Miṣbāḥ al-Mutahajjid following the Ziyārah is sound (sanadun ṣaḥīḥun).

To explain further, after transmitting the Ziyārah of Sayyid al-Shuhadāʾ (ʿa) from ʿAlqamah, the following is mentioned in Miṣbāḥ al-Mutahajjid:

Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī narrated from Sayf b. ʿAmīrah, who said: I traveled to al-Gharī[1] with Ṣafwān b. Mihrān al-Jammāl and a group of our companions. When we finished our ziyārah[2], Ṣafwān turned and faced toward the direction of Imam Husayn (ʿa). He told us, “You are to perform the ziyārah of Husayn (ʿa) from this place, near the head of Amīr al-Muʾminīn (ʿa). It was from this very place that, while I was accompanying him, Imam al-Sadiq (ʿa) pointed towards the Imam (Husayn).” Then Ṣafwān performed the ziyārah that ʿAlqamah b. Muḥammad al-Ḥaḍramī narrated from Imam al-Baqir (ʿa) on the Day of ʿAshuraʾ…[3]

It is understood from this excerpt that Imam al-Sadiq (ʿa) pointed towards the Prince of Martyrs (Sayyid al-Shuhadāʾ, ʿa)  and performed the very same ziyārah that ʿAlqamah narrated from Imam al-Baqir (ʿa).

As for the chain of transmission, there is no dispute in the reliability of Sayf b. ʿAmīrah and Ṣafwān b. Mihrān. Only two issues remain: the first is the chain of transmission to Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī, and the second is in regard to the reliability of Muḥammad b. Khālid himself. As for the chain to al-Ṭayālisī, there are two ways to establish its reliability:

The first method: the expression “Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī narrated” instead of “it is narrated from Muḥammad b. Khālid” evidently indicates that Shaykh al-Ṭūsī had personally verified the attribution of this narration to Muḥammad b. Khālid. This suffices in confirming the reliability of this aspect of the chain.

The second method: this hadith was taken from the book of Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī, to whom Shaykh al-Ṭūsī has attributed a book in his bibliographical index al-Fihrist. He narrates the book from: Ḥusayn b. ʿUbaydallāh al-Ghaḍāʾirī—from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Yaḥyā al-ʿAṭṭār—from his father—from Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. Maḥbūb—from Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī. These narrators are all major scholars of the Imami Shiʿis, and reliable authorities. As for Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Yaḥyā al-ʿAṭṭār, he is from the shuyūkh al-ijāzah, scholars regarding whom it is established—through considerable research—that their trustworthiness does not depend on a testimony to their reliability (al-tawthīq).

What remains is the trustworthiness of Muḥammad b. Khalid al-Ṭayālisī himself. A number of factors attest to this:

First: Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. Maḥbūb, one of the pillars of the community, narrates al-Ṭayālisī’s books. This indicates his reliance upon [al-Ṭayālisī].

Second: al-Ṭayālisī is the narrator for certain esteemed and trustworthy scholars and is their source to the books of particular individuals, among which are (the books of) Sayf b. ʿAmīrah and Muḥammad b. Maʿrūf. Muḥammad b. Jaʿfar al-Razzāz, one of the most well-regarded teachers of the sect, narrates both books (of Sayf and Muḥammad) from al-Ṭayālisī. This indicates that al-Razzāz relied upon (and trusted) al-Ṭayālisī.

Included in this group (of books is that of) Ruzayq b. al-Zubayr. ʿAbdullāh b. Jaʿfar al-Himyarī narrates from Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī from Ruzayq. Also Ḥumayd b. Ziyād—who both Shaykh al-Ṭūsī and al-Najāshī have deemed trustworthy despite his being wāqifī—narrates many primary aḥādīth from Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī.

Third: a number of esteemed trustworthy narrators transmitted from him. In addition to those already mentioned are the following individuals: Saʿd b. ʿAbdullāh; Salmah b. al-Khaṭtāb (who is certainly trustworthy); [al-Ṭayālisī’s] own son, ʿAbdullāh b. Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī; ʿAlī b. Ibrāhīm [al-Qummī]; ʿAlī b. Sulaymān al-Zurārī; Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Ṣaffār; Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn b. Abū al-Khaṭṭāb; and Muʿāwiyah b. Ḥukaym.

These are some of the strongest indicators supporting Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī’s trustworthiness. He has also not been disparaged by anyone, not even by Ibn al-Ghaḍāʾirī, from whom there are reports wherein he incorrectly disparages many trustworthy narrators. Therefore, Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Ṭayālisī’s trustworthiness should not be doubted.

From the preceding evidence, we can conclude this chain of transmission for Ziyārat ʿĀshūrāʾ is sound.


[1] al-Gharī is an alternative name for the city of Najaf, Iraq

[2] This first ziyārah would be of the first Imam, Imam ʿAli, in Najaf

[3] al-Ṭūsī, Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan, Miṣbāḥ al-Mutahajjid (Beirut: Muʾassassat al-Aʿlamī, 1998) pg. 539-40


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