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Imam Khomeini (ra) and Fiqh al-Hadith

Author : Mahdi Mehrizi
Subject : Hadith understanding
Translator : Ahmad Rezwani
Editor : Mahdi Baqi

25 May 2010
Hadith Sciences 1


the paper first surveys some aspects of Imam Ruhullah Khomeini's school of hadith scholarship, followed by the topic of fiqh al-hadith 'hadith appreciation' from his perspective. To represent Imam Khomeini's views in the realm of fiqh al-hadith, the writer extracted eight principles with pivotal role from his fiqh, usul, hadith, and mystic works, followed by some discussions. The above principles are as follows: 1. common-sense understanding of the hadith, 2. Words serve to express the senses, 3. Noticing the social character of the prophet and the Imams, 4. invitation to rational, logical affairs, 5. content wise criticism of the hadith, 6. abstaining from dogmatism in understanding hadiths, 7. attention to spantio-temporal changes in hadith appreciation, and 8. Attention to contradictory hadiths.

Key Words

Fiqh al-hadith


Great personalities, who enjoy scholarly integrity and practical thoroughness, are hardly known; because, oftentimes one aspect of their erudition, conduct, or traits cause the concealment of their other personality aspects and dimensions.

In the contemporary era, Imam Khomeini (ra) is among the few thinkers, theoreticians, and reformers whose political dimension has veiled the other dimensions of his personalities. Many of his followers inside the country and his advocates abroad as well as many of the academic centers are unaware of his thoughts and know his only as a politician or at most a reformer who made endeavors in awakening the Muslims and was able to topple a deeply rooted system of government with the empathy and accompaniment of a zealous and discerning nation.

The one hundredth birth anniversary of Imam Khomeini which was named as the year of Imam Khomeini provided an opportunity for the scholarly aspects of that great man to be unfolded. To pay homage to the contributions that Imam Khomeini (ra) made to sunna and ḥadīth, ‘Ulūm-i Ḥadīth Quarterly dedicated one issue to his viewpoints on ḥadīth, hoping to share in the introduction of the scholarly figure of that learned ḥadīth expert.

In addition to the commentaries he wrote on traditions (such as: Chihil Ḥadīth [Forty Traditions], Sharḥ-i Ḥadīth-i Junūd-i ‘Aql wa Jahl [Commentary on the Tradition of the Soldiers of Intellect and Ignorance], Sharḥi Du‘ā-yi Saḥar [Commentary on the Dawn Supplication]), Imam Khomeini has brought up valuable viewpoints on sciences of ḥadīth amidst his theological, legal, mystical, and even his lectures, which if compiled can be an introduction to his school of ḥadīth. In this special issue [of ‘Ulūm-i Ḥadīth quarterly], the board of writers have each attempted to address an aspect of these viewpoints, such as:

1. Imam Khomeini (ra)'s viewpoint on Fiqh al-ḥadīth,

2. Rijālī opinions of Imam Khomeini (ra),

3. Imam Khomeini (ra)'s views on ḥadīth books,

4. Introducing Imam Khomeini (ra)'s commentaries on traditions, and so forth.

The present article undertakes the first discourse and tries to delve into fiqh al-ḥadīth from the viewpoint of Imam Khomeini (ra), and to introduce his methodology in the science of fiqh al-ḥadīth by presenting objective examples from among his own words and sayings.

Editor in Chief

The rules of Fiqh al-Hadīth in View of Imam Khomeini (ra)

Fiqh al-ḥadith, which is equivalent to the science of understanding the traditions and commenting and interpreting them, has its principles and rules. Whoever turns to the commentary and interpretation of traditions has to be informed of these rules, even though he had not formulated it and failed to deal with it at the early steps of his scholarly work. Therefore, we believe that the approach of commentators of ḥadīth can be figured out by means of their commentaries; as it is also possible to extract the approach of the jurists in fiqh al-ḥadīth through their legal and theological books.

On this basis, with a brief examination of Imam Khomeini's legal, theological, mystical, and commentary of ḥadīth books, we have figured out certain principles and rules in his fiqh al-ḥadīth as follows:

1. Understanding of ḥadīth based on understanding conventional discussions;

2. The rule of devising words for the core of the meaning;

3. Paying attention to the social dimension of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the Imams (A.S.);

4. Directing the traditions to the intellectual realities;

5. Paying attention to the content criticism of the ḥadīth;

6. Refraining from dogmatism in understanding the ḥadīth;

7. Paying attention to the temporal and spatial developments in understanding of ḥadīth.

8. Cognition of the methods for reconciliation between contradictory traditions.

Now, we proceed to explain each of the above principles along with an example and explication of the impact each one of them may have on fiqh al-ḥadīth.

One: Understanding of ḥadīth based on understanding conventional discussions

Imam Khomeini (ra) believed that the discussions (muḥāwirāt) of the Book and sunna are based on conventions and the lawmaker (shāri‘) has no other procedure to convey his words than convention. Thus, the jurists and legists (mujtahid) have to be closely familiar with these discussions in order to be able to correctly understand what the Book and sunna intend to imply:

One of the prerequisites of legal reasoning (ijtihād) is close familiarity with the conventional discussions and comprehension of its topics, as the methodology of the Book and sunna is discussion in that accord. Among other prerequisites of ijtihād is the refrainment from intermixing between precise intellectual concepts and conventional meanings, because this way many blunders will be made; since for many of those educated in intellectual discussions and even in principles of jurisprudence (with its contemporary meaning), an intermixing has taken place between the conventional meanings common among the people (which is the foundation of the Book and sunna) and the precisions beyond conventional understanding. Some have also made the same mistake by intermixing philosophical and mystical terminology with conventional meanings.[1]

He has said somewhere else:

In his conveyance of the rulings to the religious community, the lawmaker is like one of the people. His discussion and addressing is similar to the discussion of people with one another; in the same way that if the conventional lawmaker decrees a ruling to the impurity of blood, the subject of those words in concept and referent is the same as what the convention judges. Thus, he does not regard paint as blood and the paint would not be ruled as impure. It is also the same with the rules that the lawmaker has conveyed in convention; the concepts of his rulings are conventional and realizing its referent is also subject to the convention.[2]

He has made the same remark in other instances, as well.[3]

The impact of these rules on the comprehension of legal traditions is beyond any doubt; however, it seems unlikely that he intended to have generalized this principle to the traditions of ideology and ma‘ārif.

Two: The rule of devising words for the core of the meaning

One of the principles regarded as the key to resolving many problems in understanding ideological traditions and religious knowledge is paying attention to the fact that words have been devised for the core of the meaning. A number of Muslim traditionists and thinkers have asserted this basic tenet in their commentaries and interpretations of religious texts, included among whom are Fayḍ Kāshānī[4] and ‘Allāma Ṭabāṭabā’ī.[5]

Imam Khomeini has asserted this point, too:

Has the allusions of the mystics and those united with God reached you that "words have been devised for the core of the meaning and their reality"? And have you deliberated on this precept? I swear to my soul that thinking on this discourse is an epitome of this ḥadīth that: "One hour of thinking is better than sixty years of prayer"; as this point is the key to ma‘rifat and the basis for understanding the mysteries and secrets of the Qur'an, the repercussion of which is the clarification of the reality of "communication" and "teaching" in various realms.[6]

Having clarified this rule, ‘Allāma Ṭabāṭabā’ī draws the following conclusion:

It behooves us to get informed that the criteria in the truthfulness of names is the inclusiveness of the referent in the end and purpose, rather than confining the wording (lafẓ) to a single and specific form which bears no fruits. Of course, habit and familiarity withholds this generalization, and this has caused the imitators (i.e., Ḥashwiyya [the literalists] and Mujassima [the corporealists]) among the scholars of ḥadīth to practice dogmatism in [their] interpretation of the Qur'anic verses; and this is in fact different from holding on to the outer aspects of the verses; rather, it is practicing dogmatism out of habit and familiarity.[7]

Fayḍ Kāshānī has commented on ṣirāṭ (pathway), mīzān (balance), qalam (pen), lawḥ (tablet), etc. on the basis of this same rule, too.[8]

Three: Paying attention to the social dimension of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the Imams (A.S.)

Not all the traditions related from the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the Imams (A.S.) are propagational and expressive of Divine ordinances; rather, a group of the issued commands are done so from the position of guardianship. Obviously, the first group are constant and eternal and for all times; but the second group are subject to specific conditions and circumstances. On the basis of the same rule, part of the contradictions in the practical lifestyle and conduct of the Infallible (ma‘ṣūmīn), and their different positioning would be resolved.

Imam Khomeini (ra) was aware of this issue and took it into consideration and applied it in comprehension of traditions and legal inferences. He believed in three positions for the Prophet (S.A.W.): promotion of laws, leadership of the society, and judgment – which all have been transferred to the Infallible Imams. Based on this division, Imam Khomeini regarded the ḥadīth of lā ḍarār [wa lā ḍirār] (there is no harm or reciprocating harm in Islam) as a constitutional and administrative ruling:

[In the ḥadīth of lā ḍarār] There is a fourth possibility which crossed my mind and I have not heard from other scholars, and that is the prohibition in this ḥadīth is not meant to be a Divine prohibition so as to be a Divine ordinance like the prohibition of drinking wine and the prohibition of gambling; rather, it is meant to be an administrative prohibition issued by the Prophet (S.A.W.) as the head of state and government, and not as the one who expresses ordinances of the religious law.[9]

On the basis of the same ruling, he has said that wherever the terms qaḍā (ordained), amara (ordered), and ḥakama (ruled) are used, they are meant to be administrative rulings.[10]

Then, he says that of this group there are many among our traditions, and gives examples as follows:[11]

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) said: I judge among you with evident proof and swearing.[12]

Amīr al-Mu’minīn ‘Alī (A.S.) said: The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) judged among people with evident proof and swearing.[13]

Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) said: The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) judged with a witness and swearing of the claimant.[14]

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) would judge with a witness and a swearing.[15]

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) deemed as permissible the testimony of a witness and the swearing of the claimant demanding rights.[16]

Imam Bāqir (A.S.) said: If we were in charge of the government, we would accept the testimony of an honest man and the swearing of the enemy about the people's rights; but we would not do so about the rights of Allah (the Almighty and Glorious) and sighting of the crescent.[17]

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) made the following judgment concerning date palm orchard, where someone who had one or two date palms in someone else's land and thus a disagreement had arisen between them: for every palm an amount of land equal to the spread of its branches over that land on the day of its sale is dedicated [to the owner of the palm(s)].[18]

The Prophet (S.A.W.) judged about someone who had sold a date palm orchard and excluded one palm, as follows: The land used as pathway and the amount of land lying under the branches belongs to the seller.[19]

The Prophet (S.A.W.) judged about the irrigation of soft soil lands that the [irrigating] water should be held until it reaches [inundates] the shoe-lace, and for date palms until it reaches a lower level than that.[20]

The Prophet (S.A.W.) said: Kill the pagans and leave their elderly and children alive.[21]

Whenever the Prophet (S.A.W.) dispatched an expedition on a battle, he would have them sit near him and would say: Move on in the name of Allah and by assistance from Allah and in the way of Allah and by the sunna of the Apostle Allah [S.A.W.]. Do not chain people; do not amputate anyone; do not cheat and deceive, do not kill the elderly, the babies, and the women; and do not cut off the trees, unless it is inevitable.[22]

When he was in a battle, Amīr al-Mu’minīn (A.S.) would say: You do not start the fighting, except when they begin. You – thanks God – have your own proofs for fighting, and their starting the fight would be another proof for you. When you defeat them, do not kill those who have turned their backs on the war. Do not kill the injured, do not denude the killed of their clothing, and do not amputate them.[23]

Four: Directing the traditions to the intellectual realities

There is no doubt that the content of some traditions confirm the methodology of the intellectuals in life. In such instances, if this point is not taken into consideration, the tradition is not correctly understood.

One of the examples emphasized in Imam Khomeini's writing is the traditions concerning drawing lots and its referents, like: "lots are drawn about everything unknown"[24] and "in any dubious affair drawing lots is performed."[25]

Many traditions have been related on this issue and a lot of referents have been mentioned for them which Imam Khomeini has deeply investigated.[26]

After relating the traditions, he said that the jurists have encountered difficulty understanding these traditions, since the general traditions have many particularizations and wherever there are many particularizations, the general issuance would be immodest. Therefore, they have rendered the generalities concerning drawing lots as invalid.[27]

Imam Khomeini has resolved this problem by drawing attention to following point:

Drawing lots is an intellectual affair and one of the ways for resolving disputes where there is no preference and the dispute is over public rights. This has been common among people since long past.[28]

Therefore, the traditions on drawing lots concern this same intellectual affair and do not have a generality so as to require being particularized as immodest.[29]

His view in brief is that the traditions concerning drawing lots are not in apposition to state a devotional issue so that we may face the aforementioned problem; rather, it is a confirmation of an intellectual affair, and does not have a generality beyond that.

Five: Paying attention to the content criticism of the ḥadīth

Assessment of the issuance of ḥadīth and its attribution is not always based on sanad and the rijāl of the ḥadīth; for, the forgers and fabricators have tried to present their lies in a format pleasing to the scholar. Thus, besides paying attention to the sanads and the rijāl, the content criticism has to be taken into consideration, as well; and the content is to be exposed to the Qur'an, the indisputable sunna, common sense, and the indubitable history, and then judgment is to be made about its soundness and unsoundness. Ignorance of this issue has made many scholars falter and caused a distorted and inconsistent visage to appear about the sunna of the Infallible (A.S.).

Imam Khomeini was fully aware of this principle and applied it well and properly in comprehension of traditions. Here, we point out some examples:

1. There is no doubt in the prohibition of usury, because the Qur'an has decisively banned it and many traditions have been related regarding its rejection and condemnation. However, we see some traditions that somehow instruct how to play legal tricks allowing usury and teach how to get round the law [against it], like this one:

Muḥammad b. Isḥāq said: I said to Imam Kāẓim (A.S.) that I had several dirhams owed to me by a man and he asked me for a respite and to pay me interest instead. So, I gave him a fur cloak which cost a thousand dirhams for ten thousand dirhams and gave him respite. The Imam (A.S.) said: "There is no problem."[30]

Stressing on the Qur'anic verses disapproving usury and the principle of justice, Imam Khomeini does not accept such traditions and says:

The word of Almighty God: ﴾And if you repent, then you will have your principal, neither harming others, nor suffering harm﴿ suggests that according to the Lawmaker getting money in addition to your principal is injustice; and this same injustice is the wise reason or cause for its prohibition. This injustice will not be removed by change of the title. It is also said that the sound traditions have logically reasoned the prohibition of usury in terms of causing people to shun legal transaction and labor, for which reason it is regarded as corruption and injustice.[31]

On the same basis, Imam Khomeini (ra) says that traditions of trickery are fabricated and are used for distorting the reputation of the Infallible Imams (A.S.):

I do not deem it unlikely that these traditions are forged to mar the countenance of the purified Imams (A.S.).[32]

2. Love of friends of Allah and belief in their virtues and excellences has been accompanied with extremism. This historical phenomenon has formed in the early days of Islamic history and has remained up to date. This extreme love has sometimes caused a display of an unfavorable and irrational image of the religious leaders. One example is the traditions related on the interpretation of the āyah, ﴾Your guardian is only Allah… ﴿[33] as follows:

Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) has said in his interpretation of the āyah, ﴾Your guardian is only Allah…﴿: … Amīr al-Mu’minīn [Imam ‘Alī (A.S.)] was performing the noon prayer. He had said two rak‘as and was bowing down in prayer. He had a garment on, which cost a thousand dinars [worth about five thousand grams of gold] and the Prophet (S.A.W.) had given it to him as a gift, and that was a gift from al-Najāshī [the Christian King of Ethiopia] to the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.). A beggar came to him and said: "Peace to you, O friend of Allah, you who are more entitled to the faithful than themselves! Give alms to the indigent!" And he [the Imam] dropped off the garment and beckoned to the beggar to pick it.[34]

Criticizing these traditions, Imam Khomeini has said with an emphasis on the historic and heavenly personality of Amīr al-Mu’minīn ‘Alī (A.S.):

You notice, someone who is the caliph of the Muslims and a ruler, what must his state of affair be. Being a caliph, he wanted to lead Friday prayer but did not have a spare shirt. He climbed up the minbar (pulpit), while waving his shirt to dry since – as it is related – he did not have a spare shirt.[35]

He was mending his own shoes. His holiness asked someone [Ibn ‘Abbās]: "How much do these shoes cost?" He answered: "Nothing!" The Imam (A.S.) said: "So is my ruling over you, my caliphate; it is worth as much as these shoes, or even less than that, unless I [manage to] carry out justice."

Where can you find a person to be a caliph and yet to be in such a state? Imam ‘Alī (A.S.) was truly a victim of injustice and he still is, even among the Shī‘as. When they want to praise him, they praise him by means of things unreal and derogatory to him. For example, they say that the ring that he wanted to give to a beggar as a present had cost as much as the land tax of Damascus! Does a person who dress that way wear a ring that costs the land tax of Damascus?! This is a lie that even if there is a tradition relating it – which there is none – it is a lie.[36]

Six: Refraining from dogmatism in understanding the ḥadīth

Deliberation and intellection for understanding a ḥadīth is that, keeping in mind its sanctity, it should not be treated out of simplicity and idiocy; rather, it is to be attempted to understand it with the belief that: the utterers of the ḥadīth have been sagacious, farsighted, humanist, and aware of the hidden and the manifest aspects of the world of being. Also it should be known that their addressees are all the human beings throughout the ages, among whom are the erudite and the genius as well.

This principle has two drawbacks: one is legal reasoning vs. Revealed Text which means recklessness in encountering with the Revealed Text, intellectual rebellion towards religious text, prioritizing opinions over religious law, and violating the revealed law.

The second drawback is dogmatism and bigotry, which is not less hazardous than the first one, as dogmatism leads to failure of religion in managing the life and displays a violent, inflexible, and heedless image of human realities.

Imam Khomeni has emphasized on avoiding the hazards of dogmatism and bigotry and has also obliged himself to do so in jurisprudence. In reply to one of his students, he wrote:

I should express my sorrow about your understanding of traditions and Divine ordinances. According to your writing, legal alms (zakāt) is only to be used for the poor and for other matters as has been specified, and now that its use is multiplied to hundreds of times that of earlier, there is no alternative [to amend it]; that, wagering in racing and arrow throwing is reserved for the bow and arrow and horse race and the like, which have been employed in wars in the past and today are restricted to those instances only. And for anfāl (the spoils of war) – which has been rendered lawful for the Shī‘as – today the Shī‘as can destroy the forests and ruin what preserves the environment's sanitary without any prohibition with the help of such and such machineries, endangering millions of people's lives and no one should have the right to prevent them. Houses and mosques which stand in the way of new streets and avenues to be constructed for solving intricate traffic problems must not be demolished, and so forth.

In a word, by the way you have understood the traditions, the new civilization must be totally destroyed and the people remain shanty-dwellers and forever live a nomadic life.[37]

He has added to the end of this same letter:

I did not expect you, as a well-educated and achieved person, to have such an impression and ascribe it to Islam. You know well that I like you and realize you as a fruitful person; however, let me give you a fatherly piece of advice: try to always keep God in mind and do not be influenced by the sanctimonious and illiterate mullās, since if we are supposed to loose our reputation and status with the idiot sanctimonious and illiterate mullās for our proclaiming and disseminating Divine ordinances, let it be more so![38]

Except for emphasizing the avoidance of dogmatism in understanding the traditions which this would lead to failure of religion to manage life, Imam Khomeini (ra) has pointed out three other issues in this letter, which we will briefly touch upon as follows:

1. Spending of alms tax. In the Qur'anic verses and traditions, specific directions have been given for spending the alms tax, which are enumerated in the following verse:

﴾Charities are only for the poor and the needy, and those employed to collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and for [the freedom of] the slaves and the debtors, and in the way of Allah, and for the traveler. [This is] an ordinance from Allah﴿[39]

There are many traditions commenting on this verse and its interpretations which we will dispense with here.[40]

2. Racing and arrow throwing. In the traditions, wagering on racing matches has been restricted to arrow throwing, horseback riding, and swimming:

Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) said: [wagering] is not permissible in racing except for camel riding, horseback riding, and arrow throwing.[41]

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) said: [wagering] is not permissible in racing except for horseback riding, arrow throwing, and camel riding.[42]

3. Lawfulness of spoils for the Shī‘as during Occultation. According to certain traditions, spoils of war (anfāl) have been rendered lawful for the Shī‘as and everybody can make use of it:

Imam Bāqir (A.S.) Said: O Najiyya! According to the Qur'anic verses, khums (one fifth tax) belongs to us; anfāl belong to us; the best of the property belongs to us… O Allah we made all of them lawful for our followers.[43]

Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) said: Any land that is in the hands of our followers is lawful for them until our Qā’imrises up.[44]

Except for these three instances, there are other instances in the Imam [Khomeini]'s works which are touched upon as follows.

4. Chess. In many traditions playing chess has been prohibited, such as:

Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.): …Allah has made unlawful the tools which yield nothing but depravity, such as harps, reed pipes, and chess.[45]

Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) said: Backgammon, chess, and arba‘ata ashar (a type of board game) are the same and whatever is won or lost by them is regarded as gambling and unlawful.[46]

The renowned majority of the jurists imply particularity from this tradition and consider playing chess as unlawful, even though it is not used as a gambling tool; however, Imam Khomeini has gone beyond this dogmatism and has said in response to a query about chess:

Question: if chess has totally lost its gambling feature and since it is used nowadays only as mental athletic devise, what ruling is there on playing it?

Answer: Presuming what is mentioned [in the question], and if it is not intended for gambling, there is no problem [playing it].[47]

5. Equipment for implementing qiṣāṣ (punishment in retaliation). According to some traditions, the renowned majority of the jurists believe that qiṣāṣ has to be carried out with a sword; since it is related so in the traditions, such as the following:

The Prophet (S.A.W.) said: Qiṣāṣ is not [carried out] except by sword.[48]

We asked Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.): A man beat another man to death with his walking stick. Should the killer be left at the disposal of the legal guardians of the killed one to kill him? The Prophet (S.A.W.) Imam said: "Yes, but they should not be left to kill him in whatever way they want; they should punish him with a sword strike."[49]

In his Taḥrīr al-Wasīla, Imam Khomeini has departed from the widely known fatwā (verdict) and declared as permissible the retaliation by means of modern devices (such as rifle and electric chair):

Retaliation for murder or for injury to body organs is not permissible with blunt tools such as a saw and the like of it or whatever inflicts more pain than the sword strike, and if someone does so, he has committed sin and must be penalized, but not mulcted. Retaliation should be carried out only with sword or the like. Of course, it is not unlikely that retaliation can be executed with an easier tool than a sword (such as rifle and electric chair).[50]

Seven: Paying attention to the temporal and spatial developments in understanding of ḥadīth

There is no doubt that some periods of life are accompanied with changes and developments. Most of the instruments, forms, and patterns transform over time and lose their previous forms. In such cases, religious rulings and ordinances are universal and reflexive enough to play their directional role. Dogmatic dependence on a particular form and tool would lead to religion's inability in management of life. Those who follow religious texts should not be heedless of this issue; otherwise, they would slip into pitfalls and deviations. Imam Khomeini was aware of this and emphasized it in comprehension of traditions. Following are some examples in this regard:

1. Arms Sale to the Disbelievers

He maintains that arms sale is subject to the expedients of the time. Sometimes arms sale may end up in the reinforcement of the disbelievers and should be banned, and sometimes not. The criterion and touchstone is not peace or war; as it is not the purchaser's being infidel or idolater, either. In any time, the circumstances and expedients have to be examined, as traditions have also pointed out the same; if other wise, it will be ta’wīl:

In a word, this issue is related to the state and government and has no law; rather, it is subject to the circumstances and state of affairs.

Thus, neither peace in general is an object of the rational and legal ruling nor the disbeliever or infidel…

Obviously, the traditions do not imply beyond what we said, and if a tradition is generalized beyond this to allow buying and selling [of arms] in case of any threat to Islam and Shī‘īsm or ban buying and selling, if giving up the deal is detrimental, it ought to be constrained.[51]

In a similar vein, he has interpreted such traditions as the following two as per mentioned above:

I asked if the Muslims could sell merchandise to the disbelievers. He answered: if it is not arms, there is no problem.[52]

It is related in the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s advice to ‘Alī (A.S.): Ten of this umma have blasphemed Allah…, among them are the sellers of arms to the war-mongers.[53]

2. Using the Unclean Objects

He believes that unclean objects (such as blood, carrion, etc.) can be utilized except for eating; and that the traditions denoting unlawfulness merely include eating, since in that time it did not have any other uses than eating; however, today as due to the scientific and industrial developments reasonable use is made of blood, etc, there is no prohibition to it.

Thus, he restricts the following two traditions to eating:

It is related from Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.): "The price [paid] for the carrion is unlawful."[54]

"Seven things from the sheep are made unlawful: blood, testicles, and so on."[55]

And he allows its other uses and says:

To sum it up, all the unclean things (najāsāt) can be used and there is no reason for their unlawfulness; as there is no prohibition for their sale, either.[56]

In any case, he has stated the following as a general rule:

It is incumbent on the jurist that in order to get impressions from the traditions or to claim relinquishment, dominance, and rarity [of a tradition] to take into consideration the time and place of the issuance of the tradition.[57]

Eight: Cognition of the methods for reconciliation between contradictory traditions

One of the key principles in fiqh al-ḥadīth is to know how the contradictory traditions are reconciled. This issue, which has been a focus of attention since long time ago is not yet placed in its real position.[58]

Imam Khomeini has referred to several basic points in this respect in his Al-Ta‘ādul wa al-Tarjīḥ which are significant:

1. He believes that the issue of contradiction in the methodology of Islamic principle (‘ilm al-uṣūl) is to be allowed for the contradiction of traditions, as contradiction in other areas than traditions and narrations is rare:

Although the issue of contradiction is a general topic and beyond the contradiction of traditions and narrations, since other types of contradictions are not common in these times (due to their rarity as well as the importance of the issue of contradiction in traditions), so the issue in question is better be named as contradiction in traditions.[59]

2. He maintains that the two contradictory traditions are to be considered in a legislative ambience, as the lawmaker first suggests the principles and general terms and then goes on to state the provisos and terms:

In order to identify two contradictory traditions and two different ḥadīths, they should be taken to belong to the area of legislation; i.e., in an area in which the utterer's method is to state general rules and principles and after that deals with the terms and conditions.[60]

Accordingly, he concludes that the evidences for the real ordinances and the evidences for ordinances of suspicion, the arbitrator and the arbitrated, the vulgar and the noble are not contradictory and are not included in the remedial traditions (akhbar ilājiyya). He has regarded these instances as of conventional combination and gathered them in one place.

A. Instances of naṣṣ (explicitness) and ẓāhir (apparent meaning) of ẓāhir and aẓhar (more apparent), such as:

1. One of the two reasons to be so much as certain in conversation;

2. The particularization of one of the two reasons to be immodest;

3. One of the two reasons to be applicable to the object of legal reasoning (ijtihād) and contradiction.

B. The existence of indicative preference, such as:

1. Contradiction of generality and absoluteness,

2. Circulation between particularization and abrogation,

3. Circulation between absolute constraint or ascription of command and prohibition to preference and repugnance.

C. Contradiction among more than two reasons, such as:

1. One general and two particulars,

2. Two generals and one particular.[61]

3. Imam Khomeini (ra) in his discussion of moderation and preference has dealt with the analysis of remedial traditions while abandoning abstract and subjective discussions.


So far we have briefly extracted a batch of the principles and rules in the field of fiqh al-ḥadīth from amidst the works and sayings of that great man, with the hope that this writing will open up more widespread and deeper discussions.

[1] Al-Rasā’il, vol. 2, pp. 96-97.

[2] Al-Istiṣḥāb, p. 22.

[3] Ibid, pp. 218-219.

[4] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 7, p. 242; ‘Ilm al-Yaqīn, vol. 2, p. ?.

[5] Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Al-Mīzān, vol. 1, p. 10, 14, 129-130.

[6] Miṣbāḥ al-Hidāya, p. 79.

[7] Al-Mīzān, vol. 1, p. 10.

[8] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 7, p. 242

[9] Badā’i‘ al-Durar fī Qā‘ida al-Ḍarar, p. 86, 113-114.

[10] Ibid, p. 109.

[11] Badā’i‘ al-Durar fī Qā‘ida al-Ḍarar, pp. 109-113.

[12] Al-Kāfī, vo. 7, p. 414; Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 18, pp. 169.

[13] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 18, pp. 169-170.

[14] Ibid, p. 193.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid, 195.

[17] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 18, pp. 195-196.

[18] Ibid, vol. 17, p. 337.

[19] Ibid, vol. 19, p. 406.

[20] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 17, pp. 334.

[21] Ibid, vol. 11, p. 48.

[22] Ibid, 43.

[23] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 11, pp. 69.

[24] Ibid, vol. 18, 189.

[25] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 88, p. 234.

[26] Al-Istiṣḥāb, pp. 384-391.

[27] Al-Rasā’il, p. 423; Kifāyat al-Uṣūl, p. 493; Fawā’id al-Uṣūl, vol. 4, p. 680; Nihāyat al-Afkār, vol. 4, p. 107 (Part Two); Durar al-Fawā’id, pp. 613-614.

[28] Al-Istiṣḥāb, p. 392.

[29] Ibid, p. 393.

[30] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 12, p. 380.

[31] Kitāb al-Bay‘, vol. 2, p. 451.

[32] Ibid, vol. 5, p. 354.

[33] Al-Qur'an, 5: 55: ﴾Your guardian is only Allah, His Apostle, and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakāt while bowing down.﴿

[34] Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn, vol. 1, p. 643; Al-Burhān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān, vol. 2, p. 317.

[35] Al-Ḥayāt, vol. 2, p. 229, t. 7.

[36] Ṣaḥīfa-yi Nūr, vol. 20, 185.

[37] Ṣaḥīfa-yi Nūr, vol. 21, 34.

[38] Ṣaḥīfa-yi Nūr, vol. 21, 35.

[39] Al-Qur'an, 9:60.

[40] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 9, pp. 209-213.

[41] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 11, p. 253.

[42] Ibid, p. 253.

[43] Ibid, vol. 9, p.549.

[44] Ibid, p. 548.

[45] Ibid, p. 12, p. 57; Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 100, p. 48.

[46] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, chap. 101, t. 1.

[47] Ṣaḥīfa-yi Nūr, vol. 21, 15.

[48] Mustadrak al-Wasā’il, vol. 18, p. 254 (chap. 51, tt. 1, 2, 3, 4); Ibn Māja, Sunan, vol. 2, p. 889 (chap. 25, t. 2667).

[49] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 19, p. 95.

[50] Taḥrīr al-Wasīla, vol. 2, p. 535.

[51] Al-Makāsib al-Muḥarrama, vol. 1, pp. 228-229.

[52] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 12, p. 70.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid, p. 62.

[55] Ibid, vol. 16, p. 359.

[56] Alo-Makāsib al-Muḥarram, vol. 1, p. 56.

[57] Kitāb al-Bay‘, vol. 4, p. 180.

[58] See: ‘Ulūm-i Ḥadīth, No. 9, pp. 2-8.

[59] Al-Ta‘ādul wa al-Tarjīḥ, p. 31.

[60] Ibid, p. 33.

[61] Ibid.

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