Fiqh al-Hadith as Viewed by Ayatollah Burujirdi

Muhammad-Ali Sultani

Ayatollah Sayyed Husayn Tabatabayi-Burujirdi (d. 1339 Sh/1961) was one of special Shiite faqihs of the present century who had special theories and doctrines in the fields of diraya [hadith criticism] and rijal. His rijal-oriented views and perspectives exerted influence on his understanding of fiqh rules, all leading on to a remarkable change in the history of Shiite fiqh, hence a new school in Shiite fiqh was established which was based on the identification, interpretation, and criticism of hadith.  Burujirdi's doctrines in fiqh al-hadith feature nine characteristics which are as follows:

 1. He regarded early Shiite fiqh sources as hadith texts, hence he regarded them very highly; however, as for fiqh texts of the ijtihad period, he regarded them no more than a mujtahid's achievements.

 2. He held that knowledge of the time, conditions of life, the dominant fiqh of the time, and the circumstances in which a hadith is issued play a significant part in understanding the hadith.

 3. He accepted paraphrasing in hadith, hence he regarded several hadiths as one, never accepted insistance on the words actually used in a hadith.

 4. He regarded the mental capacity and calibre of the inquirer of a hadith -from an Infalliable Imam - as a significant factor in figurig out the meaning of the hadith.

 5. To him, familiarity with kalam was of prime importance in order to distinguish sound hadiths from unsound ones.

 6. He favoured considering the hadiths, rather than rejecting some of them.

 7. He had a basic value for the Imams' associates as to practicing in accordance with a hadith or not.

 8. He divided the Infalliables' hadiths as suggestive and directive; he regarded the former as not strictly necessary to obey.

 9. He held that since Shiite rijal books were written for varied purposes, it would be unjust to expect and to infer something beyond the scope of the works.

 All the evidence, cited in the article, are taken from Nahayat al-Taqrir, being the lecture notes of the Usul lessons of Ayatollah Burujirdi, edited by Ayatollah Muhammad Fadil-Lankarani) 3rd ed., 3 vols, Qum, 1378 Sh/2000)

Key Words: Ayatollah Sayyed Husayn Tabatabayi-Burujirdi, Diraya [Hadith Criticism], Rijal, Theories, Doctrines, Fiqh al-Hadith.

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