On the basis of this story, early Shia scholars have placed his birth after the year 305 A.H. probably 306 A.H. For al-Husayn ibn Rawh was the agent of the Hidden Imam from 305 A.H. until his death in 326 A.H. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq was born and grew up in Qom. He was educated by his father and came into close contact with all the leading scholars of Shia Islam in Qom and studied under many of them.
Abu Ja'far Mohammed bin Ali al-Aswad related to us: After the death of Mohammed bin Othman al-Omari, Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babawayh (i.e. As-Saduq's father) asked me to tell Abu al-Qasim Ar-Rawhi -i.e. bin Rawh- to ask our master Sahib uz-Zaman1 to pray to Allah for giving him a male baby. Abu al-Qasim informed that he asked the Imam, who rejected. Three days later, Abu al-Qasim informed that the Imam had prayed to Allah for Ali bin al-Hussein and he would be given a blessed male baby who would be the means by which Allah, would benefit (many people). Moreover, many boys would come after that baby.
(Abu Ja'far Mohammed bin Ali al-Aswad said) After a period, Ali bin al-Hussein was given Mohammed (i.e. As-Saduq) followed by many other boys.
(Another Narrative) Sheikh At-Tusi said that some people narrated from Abu Ja'far Mohammed bin Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babawayh and Abu Abdullah al-Hussein bin Ali bin Musa bin Babawayh (his brother) that Abu Ja'far Mohammed bin Ali al-Aswad related to us: After the death of Mohammed bin Othman al-Omari, Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babawayh (i.e. As-Saduq's father) asked me to tell Abu al-Qasim Ar-Rawhi to ask Imam Mahdi to pray to Allah for giving him a male baby. Abu al-Qasim informed that he asked the Imam, who rejected. Three days later, Abu al-Qasim informed that Imam Mahdi had prayed to Allah for Ali bin al-Hussein and he would be given a blessed male baby who would be the means by which Allah would benefit (many people). Moreover, many boys would come after that baby.
(Abu Ja'far Mohammed bin Ali al-Aswad said) I asked him to pray to Allah to give me a male baby, but he did not answer. He said: This is impossible.
After a period, Ali bin al-Hussein was given Mohammed (i.e. As-Saduq) followed by many other boys. For me, I was not given anything. Abu Ja'far bin Babawayh commented: As he noticed me attending the classes of our master Mohammed bin al-Hussein bin al-Waleed frequently while I was interested in recording and retaining the items of knowledge, Abu Ja'far Mohammed bin Ali al-Aswad used to say to me, 'It is not strange for you to have such an insistent desire for learning since you came to this world by the supplication of the Imam, .
Ar-Rawandi, in his al-Kharaa'ij, related the like of the previous narrative, yet brief.1 Besides, At-Tabirsi, in his book titled A'lam ul-Wara2, Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani, in his Tabssirat ul-Wali3, and Sayyid Ali bin Abdul-Karim An-Najafi, in his Muntakhab ul-Anwar il-Mudhee'a, referred to the same narrative.
Imaduddin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Tusi, in his Thaqib ul-Manaqib,5 referred to a part of that narrative. In his reference to the biography of Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa; As-Saduq's father, An-Nejashi said that the man was in Iraq when he met Abu al-Qasim al-Hussein bin Rawh (r) and asked him many questions. After that, As-Saduq's father corresponded with Abu al-Qasim at the hands of Ali bin Ja'far bin al-Aswad and asked him to deliver a paper to Imam Mahdi in which he asked for a male baby.
The answer was, We have prayed to Allah for you and you will be given two virtuous male babies.
Hence, Abu Ja'far and Abu Abdullah6, whose mother was a bondwoman, were born.
From the previous we can conclude that Sheikh As-Saduq (r) had come to this world out of the prayer of Imam Mahdi after the death of Mohammed bin Othman al-Omari; after the year 305 A.H., when his father Sheikh Ali bin al-Hussein traveled to Iraq and met Abu al-Qasim al-Hussein bin Rawh and asked him some questions… etc. Hence, Sheikh As-Saduq was born in about 306 A.H.
Sheikh As-Saduq used to take pride in such a birth and say, 'I was born due to the prayer of Imam Mahdi Sheikh As-Saduq grew up in the laps of virtue; his father used to feed him with the knowledge, shower him with the abundance of his knowledge and moralities, and circulate on him the lights of his purity, God-fearing, piety, and ascetics. All these contributed in the scholastic perfection and growth of Sheikh As-Saduq who lived under the wing of his father for more than twenty years during which he drank these knowledges and took from the great flow of his father's information, moralities, and conducts. In addition, he grew up in the city of Qum which was swarming with the scholars and narrators, such as the master of the scholars of Qum Mohammed bin al-Hasan bin Ahmed bin al-Waleed and Hamza bin Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Ja'far bin Mohammed bin Zaid bin Ali as well as many others whose sessions and lectures were frequently attended by Sheikh As-Saduq.
After a short while, Sheikh As-Saduq became that great figure by whom people were benefiting. He also became such a distinctive sign of retaining and intelligence. He exceeded his companions in fields of virtue and knowledge and became such an unparalleled person. Furthermore, the political circumstances of that period played a significant role in crystallizing the personality of Sheikh As-Saduq who lived in the reign of the Buyid in Iraq and Persia (321-447 A.H.), the Fatimids in Northern Africa (296-567 A.H.), and the Hamdanian State in Mousel - Northern Iraq- and Syria (333-394 A.H.)
It is well known that all these states were declaring their loyalty to the leadership of the Prophet's household. In other words, they were Shia.
The importance of traditions is emphasized by al-Shaykh al-Saduq and he quotes traditions against speculative theology. His works reflect this interest in traditions and nearly all of them take the form of compilations of traditions. However he did write a creed of Shi'ite Islam al-I'tiqadat. His pupil, the eminent theologian Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, wrote a correction of this creed Tashih al-i'tiqad where he criticises him on several points.
The number of al-Shaykh al-Saduq's works is considerable. al-Shaykh Al-Tusi says that they numbered over 300 but list only 43 of them that he has immediately in his possession, while al-Najashi lists 193 of them. Curiously enough al-Najashi does not mention the important work Man la yahduruhu al-faqih. Many of the works of al-Shaykh al-Saduq have been lost but a considerable number survive and have been published. There are also other works not yet published but extant in manuscript form. As has been mentioned during his life al-Shaykh al-Saduq devoted most of his energy to the collection and compilation of traditions; he was also a great teacher of tradition. During the last years of his life al Shaykh' al-Saduq lived in Ray. He had been invited there by the Buyid Rukn al-Dawla. He seems to have been well-treated and honoured there by Rukn al-Dawla and took part in many discussions with him. However it is reported that his teaching was eventually restricted by the Buyid Wazir Ibn 'Abbad. The attack appears to have been aimed at traditions for several Sunni traditionists also suffered similar restrictions at the hands of Ibn 'Abbad.
He then traveled to the city of Khurasan for the visitation of the Holy Shrine of Imam Ar-Ridha (a) in 352 A.H. After that, he returned to the city of Ray.
In 367 A.H., he made his second journey to the Holy Shrine of Imam Ar-Ridha, . During his third journey which was made in 368 A.H., he passed by the cities of Istrabad1 and Jurjan2 where he attended the lectures of Sheikh Abu al-Hasan Mohammed bin al-Qasim Alistrabadi-the famous exegesist (of the Holy Quran) and orator. He also attended the classes of Sheikh Abu Mohammed al-Qasim bin Mohammed Alistrabadi, Sheikh Abu Mohammed Abdous bin Ali bin al-Abbas al-Jurjani, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Ali Alistrabadi.
In his journey back from the visitation of the Holy Shrine of Imam Ar-Ridha (a) Sheikh As-Saduq passed by the city of Nisapur and resided there for a period.
About this residence, he said:
"After I had satisfied my wishes for the visitation of Imam Ali bin Musa Ar-Ridha (a) I was back in Nisapur where I resided. I found that the majority of the Shia there, who were frequently referring to me, were perplexed by the Invisibility -Ghaybah- and doubted the matter of al-Qa'im, . They therefore left the right course of the submission (to Allah) to join the path of personal opinions and analogy. Hence, I exerted all my efforts for guiding them to the right and taking them back to the path of correctitude by means of the relevant narratives of the Prophet and the Imams, peace be upon them."
In Nisapur, Sheikh As-Saduq related the lessons of most of the scholars of that city, such like Sheikh Abu Ali al-Hussein bin Ahmed al-Bayhaqi, Sheikh Abdul-Wahid bin Mohammed bin Abdous An-Nisapuri, Sheikh Abu Mansour Ahmed bin Ibrahim bin Bakr al-Khuzi, Sheikh Abu Saeed Mohammed bin al-Fadhl bin Mohammed bin Ishaq al-Muthekkir An-Nisapuri, Sheikh Abu at-Tayyib al-Hussein bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Ar-Razi and many others.
As he passed by the cities of Marwalruth and Sarakhs1, Sheikh As-Saduq attended the classes of Sheikh Mohammed bin Ali al-Marwalruthi, Sheikh Abu Yousuf bin Abdullah bin Abdul-Malik, and Sheikh Abu Nasr Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Tamim As-Sarakhsi. In the years 352 and 355 A.H., Sheikh As-Saduq was in Baghdad where he learnt from Sheikh Abu al-Hasan Ali bin Thabit Ad-Dawalibi, Sheikh Abu Mohammed al-Hasan bin Mohammed bin Yahya al-Husseini al-Alawi; Ibn Tahir, and Sheikh Ibrahim bin Harun al-Hiti as well as many others.
In 354 A.H., Sheikh As-Saduq had the honor to pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah. In his way, he passed by Kufa and learnt from the master scholars there, such like Sheikh Mohammed bin Bakran An-Naqqash, Sheikh Ahmed bin Ibrahim bin Harun al-Fami, Sheikh al-Hasan bin Mohammed bin Saeed al-Hashimi, Sheikh Abu al-Hasan Ali bin Easa al-Mujawir, Sheikh Abu Tharr Yahya bin Zaid bin al-Abbas bin al-Waleed al-Bezzaz, Sheikh Abu al-Qasim al-Hasan bin Mohammed As-Sakuni al-Kufi and many others.
He also traveled to many cities such as Hamadan, Ilaq, Balkh, Samarqand, Faraghana2 and others.
In such journeys, Sheikh as-Saduq attended the lessons of many scholars in the cities that he passed by.
Sheikh At-Tusi; the master scholar of the sect mentioned Sheikh As-Saduq with the following words: Mohammed bin Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babawayh al-Qummi is the lofty master. His surname is Abu Ja'far. He was so admirable, good narrator of hadith, skillful knowing of men, and bright criticizer of narrations. Besides, he was such distinct relater and encyclopedic that no one of the people of Qum could attain his rank. He had written about three hundred books.
An-Nejashi referred to Sheikh As-Saduq with the following wording:
Abu Ja'far al-Qummi who resided in Ray was our Sheikh and master jurisprudent. He was the representative of the sect (of Shiism) in Khurasan.
In his Me'aalim ul-Ulemaa, Ibn Shahrashoub said the following about Sheikh As-Saduq: He was the best of the scholars of Qum. He wrote about three hundred books.
In As-Saraa'ir, Ibn Idris referred to Sheikh As-Saduq with the following wording: He was trustworthy, highly reverent, well versed in narrations, good criticizer of the reports, well knowing of men, and well memorizer. He was the master of our Sheikh al-Mufid Mohammed bin Mohammed bin An-Nu'man.
Sheikh Hussein bin Abdus-Samad al-Harithi -father of Sheikh al-Bahaa'i- said about Sheikh As-Saduq: He was highly reverent, high-ranking scholar among the upper class as well as the ordinary people, good narrator of hadith, well knowing of jurisprudence and men, good discerning of the mental and analytical sciences, and good criticizer of reports. He was also the master scholar, jurisprudent, and chief of the Saved Sect (Shia) in Khurasan and Iraq of the non-Arabs; (i.e. Persia). In the fields of narration and abundance of knowledge, he was so distinct over all those who lived in his time.
The previous models have been few wordings of praise and extolment that were said about Sheikh As-Saduq. To know more about this respectful personality, it is recommendable to refer to the numerous reference books that recorded the biography of him some of which we have just excerpted.
A good look in his numerous books, such as al-Amali, Men La Yahdhuruh ul-Faqih, At-Tawhid, Thawab ul-A'maal and many others, proves that he rested upon many of the Shiite and Sunni master scholars in the field of narrations. He also depended upon such scholars in the fields of hadith regarding a great variety of sciences and fields. The famous names of the master scholars upon whom Sheikh As-Saduq depended in relation of the reports are innumerable.
For avoiding lengthiness, we ask the dear reader to refer to the numerous books of biography so as to have an idea about the teachers of Sheikh As-Saduq.
The students and the narrators on the authority of Sheikh As-Saduq are also too many to be mentioned in this book. Reference books of biography referred to some famous names such as the lofty Sheikh Mohammed bin Mohammed bin An-Nu'man At-Tal'akbari whose nickname is Sheikh al-Mufid, the trustworthy Sheikh Ali bin Ahmed bin al-Abbas (father of Sheikh An-Nejashi), Sheikh Abu al-Hasan Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Ali bin Shathan al-Qummi, Sayyid al-Murtedha Alam ul-Huda, and many others that we could not mention their names in details. To have more information about such names, it is recommendable to refer to the many books that discussed this topic and from which we excerpted this brief biography.
Today, his tomb is one of the famous shrines whom are frequently visited by people who seek blessings there. In nearly 1238 A. H., Sultan Fat'h Ali Shah the Qajar reconstructed that holy shrine after the spread of the news of the good charismata that had been seen there.Madinat al-'ilm, in this number. Al-Tusi mentions that the latter work was bigger than Man la yahduruhu al-faqih. It appears that this book is no longer existent. It seems to have been concerned with usual al-din (the principles of religion) rather than the furu', which are the practical regulations for carrying out the shari'a (Islamic law).
As its title implies Man la yahduruhu al faqih was concerned with furu'. It has be neatly translated by E. G. Brown as "Every man his own lawyer. In his introduction to the book al-Shaykh al-Saduq explains the circumstances of its composition and the reason for its title. When he was at Ilaq near Balkh, he met Sharif al-Din Abu 'Abd Allah known as Ni'mah whose full name was Muhammad ibn Al-Husayn ibn Al-Husayn ibn Ishaq ibn Musa ibn Ja'far ibn Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib. He was delighted with his discourses with him and his gentleness, kindness, dignity and interest in religion. He brought a book compiled by Muhammad ibn Zakaria al-Razi entitled Man la yahduruhu al-Tabib or "Every man his own doctor" to the attention of al-Shaikh al-Saduq. He, then, asked him to compile a book on Fiqh (jurisprudence), al-halal wa al-haram (the permitted and prohibited), al-shara-i' wa-'l-ahkam (revealed law and (ordinary) laws) which would draw on all the works which the Shaykh had composed on the subject. This book would be called Man la yahduruhu al-faqih and would function as a work of reference.
In fact the work represents a definitive synopsis of all the traditions which al-Shaikh al-Saduq had collected and included in individual books on specific legal subjects. In the lists of books of al-Shaikh al-Saduq, individual works are attributed to him on every subject of the furu'; examples are such works as Kitab al-nikah ("Book of Marriage") or Kitab al-hajj ("Book of the Pilgrimage"). That this was the intention of both the author and the learned member of Ahl al-bait is emphasised by the author when he says that Sharif al-Din had asked him for this work despite the fact that he had copied or heard from him the traditions of 145 books.
Another element in the work that stresses that it was conceived as a reference book to help ordinary Shi'ites in the practise of the legal requirements of Islam is the general absence of the Isnads or traditions. The isnads - or the chain of authorities by which the tradition had been received from the Prophet or one of the Imams - was, and is, an all-important feature of the science of traditions. Therefore this book was not meant to be a work for scholars, who would want to check the authorities. Scholars could check the isnads in the numerous individual studies compiled by al-Shaykh al-Saduq. This book was a summary of the study of legal traditions by one of the great scholars of traditions. Al-Shaikh al-Saduq says that he complied with the request for him to compile the book:
"... because I found it appropriate to do so. I compiled the book without isnads (asanid) so that the chains (of authority) should not be too many (-and make the book too long-) and so that the book's advantages might be abundant. I did not have the usual intention of compilers (of books of traditions) to put forward everything which they (could) narrate but my intention was to put forward those things by which I gave legal opinions and which I judged to be correct.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq also gives an account of some of the earlier works which he referred to. These works were the books of Hariz ibn 'Abd Allah al-Sijistani - he died during the life time of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq; the book of 'Ubaid Allah ibn 'Ali al-Halabi - who was also a contemporary of Imam Ja'far; the books of Ali ibn Mahziyar - who took traditions from Imam 'Ali al-Rida, Imam Muhammad al-Jawad and Imam al-Hadi; the books of al-Husayn ibn Sa'id - who also heard traditions from those three Imams; the Nawadir of Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn 'Isa - who died in 297 A.H. and also heard traditions from those three Imams; the Kitab nawadir al-hikma of Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn 'Imran al-Ash'ari; Kitab al-rahma of Sa'd ibn 'Abd Allah - who died in 299 A.H. or 301 A.H.; the Jami' of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan - who was one of the teachers of the Shaykh and died in 343 A.H.; the Nawadir of Muhammad b. Abi 'Umayr - who died in 218 A.H.; the Kitab al-Mahasin of Ahmad ibn Abi 'Abd Allah al-Barqi (i.e. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid al-Barqi) who died in 274 A.H. or 280 A.H. (this book has been published in Teheran); and the Risala which his father had written to him. The Shaikh goes on to mention that he also consulted many other works whose names occur in the book-lists. This inclusion of the list of some of the works consulted is useful evidence that the works of both al-Shaykh al-Saduq and his predecessor, al-Kulayni, who compiled the first of the four major books of Shi'ite traditions, al-Kafi, represent the culmination of works of traditions which had been compiled in a continuous process from the earliest times and at least from the time of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq.
In addition to these references which the author gives in his introduction he frequently refers to his own works during the course of the book. Thus at the end of his Bab nawadir al-hajj (Chapter of Exceptional Traditions of the Pilgrimage), he says: "I have published these nawadir with isnads with others in Kitab jami', nawadir al-hajj.
Another feature of the work is the method used by the author. He does not leave the traditions to speak for themselves but frequently draws rules from the traditions or explains their meaning. In a summary of the various traditions on the pilgrimage, he gives a long outline of all the rituals which should be performed by the faithful with very few traditions intervening in his outline.
The book covers most of the points concerned with the furu' (practices) of fiqh jurisprudence. It is not arranged in chapters (kutub) but in smaller sections (abwab), with the various categories such as fasting and pilgrimage following closely after each other. As indicated, its lack of isnads and al-Shaikh al-Saduq's own explanations make it an extremely useful compendium of law for ordinary Shi'ite Muslims of the period.
The book, naturally as one of the four major works of traditions, has had many commentaries written on it. Among the significant Shi'ite writers who have written such commentaries are al-Sayyid Ahmad b. Zain al-'Abidin al-'Alawi al-'Amili (died 1060 A.H.) and Muhammad Taqi al-Majlisi al-Awwal (died 1070 A H ). The book itself has been recently published in four volumes in Teheran.