Kitab al Kafi    Author:al Kulayni
The Kitab al Kafi consists of three parts, Usul, Furu and Rawdah.
Usul al Kafi II volumes
Kitab Firushi Islamiyyah, Tehran 1388 A.H


First volume:

A brief introduction of 6 pages beginning with the praise of God
and the description of the attributes of His beauty and power, deals with
the purpose of creation, particularly of man; after the mission of
God's messengers ending with the last Prophet (S) and the significance
of the Quran and Amir al muminin (A) is discussed amd the need for a
continioous chain of infallible Imams (A) is substantiated with the
support of the traditions. In the following paragraphs the importance
and necessity of the knowledge of Divine Laws is emphasized, and al
Kulayni wonders how people of his age are satisfied with their
ignorance and rely upon the current customs and their ancestors
traditions without bothering about the real teachings of Islam. He also
complains against the people's complacency with regard to the capacity
of human intellect. It seems that an over-confident rationalism was
predominant in those days, which ignored the guidance provided by the
tradition. Al-Kulayni took up the work of compilation of the traditions
for the sake of arming the believers with sufficient body of hadith that
could serve as a guide. He himself did not write any commentary on the
traditions he compiled, but his preference for the traditions emphasiz-
ing the importance of reason and knowledge in placing them before all
other traditions shows his own inclination towards rationalism. He was
a muhaddith, and it is generally believed that mahaddithun were anti-
rationalists but in the case of al-Kulayni this yard-stick is not
He tried to save the faith from the arrogance of rationalism, which
refused to accept any other authority except intellect. He aimed to
strike a balance between dogmatism and extreme type of rationalism.
We shall discuss his view of reason in a separate section of our article.
Here it would suffice to mention that al-Kulayni's discourse on the duties
and responsibilities of human beings prescribed by the law of Shari-ah
is based on his rationalist approach to the problem, underlying the
principle that God does not saddle human beings with impossible
duties. The lack of this realization has led Muslim Ummah to accept
many ideas and beliefs that are alien to Islam. Even in his brief
introduction he emphasized the significance of knowledge and- reason.

So far as the confusion created by different and sometimes
contradictory traditions is concerned al-Kulayni adopts a balanced
view. He writes:

You have brought to my notice that the meaning of the traditions were
difficult for you to understand due to the contlicting records in various
books, and it was even more difficult to ascertain whether differences
arose because of difference in the reasons and motives; you also
complained of having no access to a reliable scholar (of Islamic sciencest
with whom through dialogue and discussion you could arrive at a
conclusion, neither you had any book that could cover all the branches of
'ilm e Din to save a seeker of truth from the labour of referring to many
books and which could suffice as a guide and source of spiritual light in
the matters of theology and the traditions of the rightly guided true
Imams (A). You expressed urgent need of such a book, and I hope that the
present book would serve this purpose ... Nobody is able to distinguish
between one and the other tradition received from the Imams (A) except
with the guidance of an Imam (or the rule laid down by an Imam). There are
three ways to do this (1) Compare a tradition with the Quran. if it is
contrary to the Quran, reject it. (2) A tradition that is reported on the
basis of a popular belief, do away with it. (3) A tradition that is
generally accepted, select it, for unanimity is undisputable. Aecording to
this rule, only a few traditions ean be specified (as authentie). In the
matter of traditions that are conilieting, the easiest way is suggested by
the Imam (A), i.e. any one of the two you are free to choose. 

Besides the introduction, the first volume consists of four books in
the following order:

The first book is kitab al-'aql wa al-jahl, which has one chapter
consisting of thirty-four traditions. Among them one tradition deals
with the accompanying forces of reason ('uql) and ignorance (jahl).

The second book kitab fadl al-'ilm is divided into thirty-two
chapters and contains 176 traditions on the whole. Some of the
chapters deal with the following issues: significance of knowledge and
distinguishing features of wise men; three meanings of 'ilm; three types
of useful knowledge; types of human beings; characteristics of scholars;
reward for scholars and students; the place and rights of a scholar;
death of a scholar; forbiddance from speaking without knowledge;
devotion to knowledge; distributors and guardians of knowledge;
heresies and opinions; virtues and importance of writing; reference to
the Quran and hadith; the problem of differences in the traditions; four
types of the narrators of tradition; how to derive truth from the sayings
of the Prophet (S); four meanings of the word sunnah.

The third book kitab al-tawhid consists of thirty-six chapters and
212 traditions. This book deals with the problems that form the main
body of 'ilm al-kalam. Some of the basic issues are as follows:

    Contingent nature of the world; nature of Divine Essence and
    Personality; God's Knowledge of Himself; stages of the realization of
    God; existence and space; refutation of the visibility of God; 
    forbiddance from defining God; absence of plurality in God; Divine 
    Attributes; Attributes of Essence and Attributes of Divine Action; 
    Divine Will is an Attribute of Divine Action; Divine Names and their 
    nature; motion and transference; Seat of God ('arsh wa kursi); soul; 
    origin (mabda') and its meaning; intention and will; examination and 
    test; contraction (qabd) and expansion (bast) in relation to God; 
    felicity and vice; good and evil; free will and determinism (qadar wa 
    jabr) and intermediate stage ('amr bayna al-'amrayn); belief in 
    determinism, freedom and delegated freedom (tafwid); meaning of Divine 
    permission; grace (lutf); Divine proofs; Divine guidance.

The fourth book consists of two parts, the first part having 110
chapters, and the second part having histories of the lives of the
Prophet (S) and Fatima al-Zahra' (A) and the twelve infallible Imams
(A), at the end of which four discourses are included that sum up the
general issues related to the role and place of the Imams. This book is
entitled kitab al-hujjah, i.e., 'Arguments or proofs of God'. This is the
longest and the most detailed book of the first volume of Usul al-Kafi,
and deals with man's need for Divine guidance in the form of prophets
and Imams. Some chapters deal with the nature of the prophets'
guidance and their role in human society, describing their specific
characteristics and virtues. The first part of this book contains
arguments for the presence of a Divinely guided prophet or Imam in the
earth, which can never remain without such guidance. The later
chapters describe the signs of the Imam and necessity of following him.
The topics that are emphasized are: explanation of the Quranic verse
"...wa uli al-'amr min Qum"; Imams are trustees of Divine Command,
His vicegerents, His Light, they are signs of God and they are
embodiment of all the virtues and excellences; the Quran and the
Imams are inseparable; the Quran leads us to know the Imams; Divine
origin of 'Ali's wilayah (trusteeship); comprehensive nature of the
Imam's knowledge. The second part, as mentioned above, gives brief
account of the lives of the fourteen Infallibles (ma'sumun). This book
consists of 1015 traditions.

Second Volume:

It also consists of four books. The first book is kitab al-'iman wa
al-kufr (the book of belief and unbelief), and is the most exhaustive and
the lengthiest book of the whole compendium, which covets two-third part
of the second volume. It contains 209 chapters, in which a total number of
1609 traditions are recorded. The issues discussed in this book ean be
summarized under the following general headings: 
    nature of belief (iman) and unbelief (kufr), 
    meaning of tawhid (Divine Unity) and shirk (dualism or polytheism), 
    nature of Islam (faith) and nifaq (hypocrisy), yaqin (firm conviction), 
    the problem of individual and collective belief and unbelief and 
    unity and disunity, 
    praiseworthy or desirable and cursed or undesirable qualities and 
    habits etc. 

The last topics are dealt with in details. In short it may be justifiably
said that no issue related with various forms and signs of belief and
unbelief is left undiscussed in length. 

The second book is kitab al-du'a' (book of invocations), consisting
of four chapters and covering 409 traditions.

The third book is kitab 'agamat al-Qur'an (the book concerning
the virtues and greatness of the Quran), which consists of fourteen
chapters and covers 124 traditions. This book deals with different
aspects of the Quran and serves as a key to the understanding of the
Holy Book.

The fourth book, that is the last part of Usul al-Kafi, concerns
with social issues, and is entitled as Kitab al-mu'ar.harah. It deals with
the most profound problems of the Islamic ethies and social
philosophy. The issues paid special attention are: an individual's
responsibilities towards others, Muslims in partieular and non-Muslims
in general; obligations and rights of Muslims in relation to each other
and to the enemies of Islam. The discussion about these issues covers all
major aspects of a Muslim's individual and social life. This book consists
of thirty chapters and 464 traditions in all. The total number of ahadith
of the second volume is 2346. If we add to this 1437 hadith of the
first volurne, total number of the traditions recorded in Usul al-Kafi is


The second part of al-Kafi is Furu' al-Kafi. It is compiled after the
pattern of Usul. While Usul deals with the fundamentals of Islamic
belief concerning various tenets of the faith, Furu' serves as a guide
to Islamic jurisprudence, covering all aspects of life from tahdrah
(cleansing) to diyat (blood-money). Al-Kulayni has arranged the
traditions according to the main issues concerning fiqh, and classifica-
tion also is in conformity with the natural order of the problems of
fiqh. He has neither expressed his own views nor reported others' judge-
ments in order to preserve impartiality of the book, so that a scholar
should remain free to form his own opinions. He did not want to
prejudice others' minds with a biased explanation of ahadith. This
approach is aimed at preserving the purity of the traditions and is a
clear sign of his objectivity. A brief resume of the contents of all the
five volumes of Furd' al-Kafi is given below:

First Volume:

    Kitab al-taharah deals with all general and particular issues
    concerning the prescribed process of cleansing one's body, the basic
    rules and their derivations, in three parts. (A) Taharan wa najasah and
    related issues in 64 chapters covering 360 traditions. (B) Uayd
    (menstruation) in 24 chapters covering 93 traditions. (C) Mayyit
    (dead body) in 95 chapters covering 412 traditions.
    Kitab al-salat is a detailed discussion of legal (fiqhi) issues
    concerning salat (prayer). It consists of 103 chapters and covers 927
    Kitab al-zakat is the third and last part of the first volume and
    contains only a part of the traditions regarding the laws of alms-giving
    or poor-due. This part of the book consists Qf 47 chapters and 277
Second Volume:
    This volume begins with the second part of 
    Kitab al-zakat, consisting of 43 chapters and 251 traditions. On the whole 
    this book contains 528 traditions.
    Kitab al-sawm is the second book of this volume dealing with
    Al-Kulayni and His Works the issues concerning fasting and consists 
    of 452 traditions divided into 83 chapters.
    Kitab al-haij consists of 1485 traditions divided into 236
    The second volume of the Furfi' contains total number of 2188
Third Volume:
    This volume contains three books that deal with the issues
    concerning jihad (struggle in the way of God), trade and commerce, and
    Kitab al-jihad: The word jihad is usually translated as holy war,
    but no English word can communicate the true sense of the term, for
    jihad covers very wide range of connotations. The term can be roughly
    defined as covering all the acts that promote the Divine cause as well
    as welfare of human individual and society. It embraces in its fold
    another principle of Islam, i.e. al-'amr bi al-ma'ruf wa al-nahy 'an al-
    munkar, which in itself embraces almost all the areas of human activity,
    both physical and intellectual or spiritual. Jihdd and the other principle
    'enjoining good and forbidding evil', if elaborated in details and
    stretched to their logical corollaries, cover the whole socio-political
    system of Islam. Kitab al jihad consists of 149 traditions divided into
    23 chapters. Al-Kulayni has taken great care in compiling the relevant
    traditions in such an order that the fundamental rules governing Islamic
    state and society are laid down in unambiguous terms.
    2. Kitab al-tijarah provides the key to understanding and following
    the rules laid down by Islam with regard to economics. All the issues of
    jurisprudential significance compiled under ma'ishah (economy)
    concern with different aspeets of eeonomie aetivity at individual and
    social levels, such as, means of livelihood, just earning, forbidden 
    earnings (makdsib muharramah), contracts, dealing in money matters, 
    loan (dayn), mortgage (rahn), farming, trade, renting (ijarah), 
    something found by chance (luqtah), right of pre-emption (shuf'ah), 
    surety or guaranty (daman), etc. This book consists of 1061 traditions 
    divided into 159 chapters.
    3. Kitab al-nikah deals with the permissible forms and conditions
    of marriage and marital relations, covering all the aspects of man-
    woman relationship: social, economic, psychological, dower, legal rights
    of husband and wife etc. This book consists of 1191 chapters and 990
    The third volume contains a total number of 2200 hadith.

Fourth Volume:

    1.  Kitab al-'aqiqah deals with the issues related to child-birth,
    education and upbringing of children, and the rights of sons and
    daughters. It covers 223 traditions and 38 chapters.

    2. Kitab al-talaq, divided into 82 chapters, deals with the issues
    concerning ila' a form of divorce in which a man vows not to have
    connections with his wife for more than four months; zihdr, a kind of
    divorce which results from likening one's wife to the husband's mother
    or other immediate female kins with whom one is not permitted to
    marry; li'an, mutual cursing, in which a man accuses his wife of
    adultery and the wife swears for her chastity. These issues are
    usually discussed under separate headings by fuqaha', but al-Kulayni
    has brought them under one topic. This book consists of 499 traditions.
    3.  This book deals with the rules of 'itq, manumission (freeing) of
    slave, tadbir, management (of individual affairs), and Kitabah (writing),
    and consists of 114 traditions divided into 19 chapters.
    4 & 5. Kitab al-sayd and kitab al-dhabh: These are two separate
    books which deal with the issues related to hunting and slaughter or
    sacrifice of animals. Kitab al-sayd covers 119 traditions under 17
    headings, and Kitab al-dhabh contains 74 traditions under 15 different
    6.   Kitab al-'at'imah, dealing with the rules of eating, consists of
    503 hadith under 290 chapters.
    7.  Kitab al-'ashribah, dealing with the issues related to drinking
    (permissible and prohibited), covers 62 traditions under 11 sections. As
    an appendix to this book abwdb al-nabd'idhah (wines and alcohol;v;
    drinks) is added, which consists of 24 chapters, of which the last two
    chapters are devoted to the issues dealing with ghind ' (music), nard
    (gambling with dice) and shatrani (chess). The total number of tradi-
    tions of this book is 268.
    8.   Kitab al-libas wa al-tajammul wa al-zinah: This book covers the
    traditions concerning the matters related to dress, make-up, ornament
    and decorations under three heads, libas, tajammul and zinah. It covers
    553 traditions divided into 69 chapters.
    9.    Kitab al-dawajin deals with issues pertaining to the
    domesticated and pet animals, under 13 chApters and records 104
    The total number of traditions of this volume is 2655.
Fifth Volume:
    Kitab al-wasaya deals with various forms of bequest, testament,
    last will and legacy. It consists of 240 traditions under 42 chapters.

    Kitab al-'irth deals with the issues of inheritance. It is the 
    most detailed book of this volume, and covers 310 traditions under 72

    Kitab al-hudud deals with the punishments prescribed by the
    Quran and Sunnah. It covers a long range of crimes and sins which
    invite the prescribed punishments. It consists of 448 traditions divided
    into 66 chapters.
    Kitab al-diyat, a natural sequel of kitab al-hudud, deals with the
    prescribed amount of cash or kind payable to the victim or the victim's
    heirs as compensation for the atrocity committed against a person. This
    book contains 369 traditions under 67 heads.

    Kitab al-shahadah deals with the laws and rules of making
    witness or testimony in the matters of legal importance. It consists of
    119 traditions under 23 sections.

    Kitab al-qada' wa al-hukumah deals with the most important
    aspect of jurisprudence, for it deals with the problems of social and
    political justice and lays down the fundamental principles of
    governance and implementation of the Islamic laws. This subject has
    various dimensions and multiple facets, and is dealt with in 19 chapters
    consisting of 78 traditions.

    The last book of the Furu' is Kitab al-qasam (oath or swearing),
    wa al-nadhr (offering or vow) wa al-kaffdrdt (atonement or expiation).
    These issues are usually treated as separate issues by most of the Islamic
    jurisprudents, but al-Kulayni has put them together in this book, and
    divided the book into 18 chapters covering 140 traditions. With this
    book the Furfi' ends.
    The total number of traditions recorded in this volume is 1704.
    The total number of ahadith of the Furu' is 11156 (first volume:
    2409, second vol. 2188, third vol. 2200, fourth vol. 2655, and fifth vol.
    1704). Added to this number 3783 traditions (first vol. 1437, and
    second vol. 2346) of the Usul, both the books have together 14939
    hadith, all ref which are properly authenticated and meticulously
    checked and scrutinized.

This is the last of the series of al-Kafi, a book that contains the
khutab (sermons or speeches) and the letters of- the Infallibles. As the
Usul and the Furu' were meant to be compendium of the fundamental
principles and rules of Islamic jurisprudence, morality and
socio-political laws, many letters, sermons, wasaya and sunan of the Imams
could not find place in them for they could not have been placed under any
of the above-mentioned heads or sub-heads. Al-Kulayni compiled them
under the name of the Rawdah, a garden embracing a variety of flowers
and fruits picked up and gathered from the fields cultivated by the
Imams. In all, 636 issues are covered, which range from the tenets of
belief to the highly sophisticated and complex problems of ethics and
sciences. This volume contains also the utterances, sermons and letters
of the Prophet (S).

  Source The Early Imamiyah Shi'ite Thinkers
                           Syed Waheed Akhtar
                        Ashsih Publishing House
                           New Delhi, India
Publisher:      W.O.F.I.S
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Languages:      An Incomplete set of 13 vols. in English is available from the above distributors