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Shaikh Hurr Ameli

ImageHe was born Muhammad ibn Hassan ibn Ali in Jabal Amil, Lebanon, in 1033 AH to a scholarly family. He received his early education from his father and uncles in Jabal Amil. Hurr was a family title, and being from Jabal Amil, he became known as Hurr Ameli.

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Arsalan Rizvi

The little boy knew he was dreaming, but it was a most amazing dream. He saw the Holy Prophet of Islam and the Twelve Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) appear. One by one, they shook his hands. When the last one of them came, the boy pleaded with the Imam of His Era (may Allah hasten his reappearance). "I do not wish to die so early," he said. "Please help me feel healthy again." The Imam smiled, and then he held a cup of water to the boy's mouth. "Do not worry," he said. "We have asked Allah to grant you a long age." Just then, the boy woke up from his dream. To the great delight of his parents, who had given up on his health only a few hours ago, their ten-year-old son was once again healthy and strong. Little did they know, their child had the special blessings of his Imam, who had chosen him for a very important task.

He was born Muhammad ibn Hassan ibn Ali in Jabal Amil, Lebanon, in 1033 AH to a scholarly family. He received his early education from his father and uncles in Jabal Amil. Hurr was a family title, and being from Jabal Amil, he became known as Hurr Ameli.

At the age of 40, he moved to Iraq, and two years later, to Iran, where Allama Baqir Majlisi was the leading religious authority. Shaikh Hurr Ameli quickly took a liking to him, and the two became very close friends. Whereas Allama Majlisi lived and taught in Isfehan, the capital of the Safavid Sultan Suleiman, Shaikh Hurr Ameli established himself in Mash'had, where he began holding classes and catering to the religious and spiritual needs of the masses. Two of his sons also went on to become great jurisprudents.

During his life, Shaikh Hurr Ameli authored several notable books. Among these was a discussion on the concept of Raj'a (the return of the Infallibles), an extensive collection of poetry in honor of the Ahlul Bayt, and an exhaustive list of all the mandatory and prohibited acts of Islam (1537 and 1448, respectively, according to his research). However, his most noteworthy academic contribution came in the form of his collection of narrations.

In the early days of the Major Occultation, Shaikh Kulayni, Shaikh as-Saduq, and Shaikh Tusi had compiled extensive collections of narrations. However, these consist of four different books, and often times, a single narration deals with several different and unrelated matters.  A jurist would therefore have to go through several  different books to find out all the various narrations in regards to a particular ruling. Shaikh Hurr Ameli took it upon himself to collect and categorically organize these narrations within one collection instead of four. In addition, if a single narration dealt with several different topics, he broke it down and categorized the various sections of it according to the subject. Seventeen years of a nonstop struggle finally culminated into the book that is famously known today as Wasail al-Shia. It is said that by condensing all the various narrations into one collection, Shaikh Hurr Ameli has greatly reduced the time that it takes for a jurist to issue an edict. In the last three centuries, it has been impossible for anyone to become a jurist without having extensive relied upon the narrations in this book. (Although no English translations have been attempted to date, the entire Arabic collection is available online at http://rafed.net.)

Fulfilling the promise his Imam had made to him, Shaikh Hurr Ameli lived to a ripe age of 71. In 1104 AH, he passed away in Mash'had. He was laid to rest in the shire of Imam Ridha (peace be upon him).


EDITOR'S NOTE: These articles are adaptations of lectures delivered by Maulana Sadiq Hasan in Karachi, Pakistan, during the 1980s on the lives of the great scholars of Islam. The Urdu lectures can be accessed at Hussainiat.com. For previous articles in this series, please look under the History section.

About Arsalan Rizvi

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