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Shi'ism and the Transmitted Sciences

Shi'ism and the Transmitted Sciences

The Islamic sciences, which owe their existence to the ulamd of Islam who organized and formulated them, are divided into the two categories of intellectual ('aqli) and transmitted (naqli). The intellectual sciences include such sciences as philosophy and mathematics. The transmitted sciences are those which depend upon transmission from some source, such as the sciences of language, hadith or history. Without doubt, the major cause for the appearance of the transmitted sciences in Islam is the Holy Qur'an. With the exception of a few disciplines such as history, genealogy and prosody, the other transmitted sciences have all come into being under the influence of the Holy Book. Guided by religious discussions and research, Muslims began to cultivate these sciences, of which the most important are Arabic literature (grammar, rhetoric and the science of metaphors) and the sciences pertaining to the external form of religion (recitation of the Qur'an, Qur'anic commentary -Tafsir-, hadith, biography of learned men, the chain of transmission of hadith and the principles of jurisprudence).

Shi'ites played an essential role in the foundation and establishment of these sciences. In fact, the founders and creators of many of these sciences were Shi'ites. Arabic grammar was put into a systematic form by Abu'l-Aswad al-Du'ali, one of the companions of the Holy Prophet, and by 'Ali. 'Ali dictated an outline for the organization of the science of Arabic grammar. 1 One of the founders of the science of eloquence (rhetoric and the science of metaphors) was Sahib ibn 'Abb?d, a Shiite who was a vizier of the Buyids. 2 The first Arabic dictionary is the Kit?b al-'Ayn composed by the famous scholar, Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Basri, the Shiite who founded the science of prosody. He was also the teacher of the great master of grammar, Sibuwayh.

The Qur'anic recitation of 'Asim goes back to 'Ali through one intermediary, and 'Abdull?h ibn 'Abbas, who in hadith was the foremost among the companions,. was a student of 'Ali. The contributions of the Household of the Prophet and their associates in hadith and jurisprudence are well known. The founders of the four Sunni schools of law are known to have associated with the fifth and sixth Shi'ite Imams. In the principles of jurisprudence, the remarkable advances accomplished by the Shiite scholar, Wahid bihbah?ni and followed by Shaykh Murtada Ansari have never been matched in Sunni jurisprudence according to existing evidence.
1 Wafiyyat al-A'y?n of Ibn Khilakan, Tehran. 1284, pp. 78: A'yan al-Shi'ah of Muhsin al-Amili, Damascus, 1935 onward, vol. Xl, pp. 231.

2 Wafiyyat al-A'yan, pp. 190; A'yan al-Shi'ah and other works on the biography of the learned men.

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