Shaykh Yūsof al-Baḥrānī who was a Faqih and Muhaddith ( Hadith Scholars) belong to Akhbari School of thought and authored many works on Shiʻa thought and belief.
Shaykh Yūsof al-Bahrānī known as Mohaddith Bahrani and Sahib Hada’iq was born in Mahouz, Bahrain in 1107 AH/1695.
His Life and Education
Al-Bahrani spent his childhood under his grandfather’s supervision, Shaykh Ibrahim, who was a pearl merchant; Yusuf was taught the Qur’an and handwriting by a tutor in the house. Then, his father who happened to be an anti-akhbari, assumed responsibility for educating Yusuf until his death.
His lifetime was full of accidents because of which he had to move from one city to another, nevertheless, he never abandoned scholarly efforts and never separated himself from education and research.
In his childhood, he was a witness to tribal clashes between al-Hulah and al-Awtab tribes. He immigrated to Ghatif in Saudi Arabia, after Bahrain was repeatedly invaded by the king of Oman. After the death of his father, he undertook the responsibility of the family. In Ghatif, he stayed for two years, studying under the famous anti-akhbari faqih, Shaykh Mahwazi (d. 1181/1767).
After reconciliation between the governments of Iran and Oman and emancipation of Bahrain, he returned to his hometown; there, he studied under some scholars; finally after his journey to hajj and staying in Ghatif, due to financial difficulties and domestic crisis in Bahrain he moved to Iran in 1140/1727.
In Iran, he stayed in Kerman for a short period and then moved to Shiraz; there, he was held in high esteem by Muhammad Taqi khan the governor of Shiraz and therefore al-Bahrani found good opportunity to easily engage in teaching and writing books; in Shiraz, he also participated in the lessons of Shaykh ‘Abd Allah Biladi al-Bahrani (d. 1148/1735).
Due to the chaos in Shiraz and cholera outbreak, he moved to Fasa in 1157/1744 and was respected by the governor of the city; there, he continued his research activities while working in farming to make a living.
In 1165/1752, the governor of Fasa was assassinated, the city was plundered and al-Bahrani’s books and properties were lost. He inevitably moved to Istahbanat and finally immigrated to Karbala in 1186/1772. and there, he lived until his death.
Shaykh Hassan Mahouzi
Shaykh Abdullah Biladi Bahrani
His students in Shiraz are unknown, but some of his students in Karbala are as following:
- Mulla Mahdi Naraqi, the author of Jami’ al-sa’adat
- ‘Allama Bahr al-‘Ulum
- Abu ‘Ali Ha’iri, the author of Muntaha al-maqal
- Mirza Mahdi Khurasani
- Mirza Mahdi Shahristani
- Mirza-i Qummi, the author of Qawanin al-Usul
Al-Bahrani also has authorized some people to narrate hadiths, such as:
- Sayyid ‘Abd Allah Bahrani
- Muhammad Mahdi Futuni
- Shaykh Sulayman b. Maʻtuq al-ʻAmili
- Shaykh Khalaf b. ‘Abd ‘Ali
The number of al-Bahrani’s scholarly works, including books, treatises and questions-answers, reaches to 50. These works mainly deal with hadith, theology and fiqh. According to his own report, some of his works were lost during the invasion and plunder of Fasa.
The following are some of his works:
- Al-Hada’iq al-nadirah; a collection about Demonstrative fiqh
- Al-Durar al-najafiyyah min al-multaqatat al-yusufiyyah; about bases and rules of jurisprudential inference according to hadiths
- Lu’lu’at al-Bahrayn; which is one of the reliable sources of rijal
- Al-Sawarim al-qasimah li-zuhur al-jami’in bayn wuld Fatimah
- Jalis al-hadir wa anis al-musafir or Kashkul; this book contains various topics and he wrote it for his son
- Al-Khutab; a collection of his sermons in Shiraz
- Al-Arba’un hadith fi fada’il Amir al-Mu’minin (a)
- Gloss on Man la yahduruh al-faqih
- Al-Nafahat al-malakutiyyah; a treatise against Sufism.
A Modorate Akhbari
Al-Bahrani was one of the most prominent scholars and defenders of Akhbari fiqhi school of thought and the last most important figure of this school. He had many debates with Wahid al-Bihbahani, his contemporary anti-akhbari scholar. These debates are said to have a great influence on changing his ideas and the decline of Akhbari school of thought and the growth of Usuli school.
In al-Bahrani’s view, some late Shi’a scholars were Usulis and they were using Ijtihad in their verdicts, while some other scholars adopted Akhbari school, nevertheless, none of these two groups vilified the other; moreover, we find some famous Usuli scholars who shared same common verdicts with Akhbaris, such as al-Shaykh al-Mufid and al-Shaykh al-Tusi; and on the other side, there were some hadith scholars like al-Shaykh al-Saduq who shared same ideas with Usuli scholars.
In Karbala, al-Bahrani had a friendly relationship with Wahid al-Bihbahani which shows his moderate personality. It is also possible that he distanced himself from Akhbarism and tried to weaken its dominance in Karbala. This possibility, takes confirmation from al-Bihbahani’s remarks in praise of him, and the fact that he led funeral prayer over al-Bahrani’s body, and above all despite the fall of population in the Karbala, many scholars were in attendance at his funeral ceremony. Nevertheless, there is no explicit report from his students and contemporary scholars of his separation from Akhbari school.
He died in Karbala at the age 79 in the month of Rabi’ I of 1186 AH/1772. Based on his will, Wahid al-Bihbahani prayed over his body and was buried in the shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a).