Motivation to write al Kafi

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Motivation to write al Kafi
« on: September 13, 2017, 06:35:03 PM »
As you may know, a lot of discussions between Sunni's and Shia's revolves around the issue of Tahreef. One of the most used arguments by Sunni's is the vast number of narrations in Shia literature that propagate this concept as something that ocurred historically. Basically, the counter argument is that all these narrations are not true and could not even be true in principle.

Related to that is the issue of early Shia scholars who did believe in it and why a lot of Shia scholars kept writing these narrations down. According to most Shia's, even if someone were to believe in them, that doesn't necessarily constitute kufr and as for the scholars that wrote them down, most of them didn't believe in them. I believe that in order to judge that, we need to know the motivation behind writing these narrations. ThatThe mprivation to write something down or not is what I set out to explore in this thread and where I chose al Kafi by al Kulayni as an example.

He was a compiler and an authenticator
He wrote down what he considered reliable
This is probably what most Sunni's and some Akhbari Shia's believe, ie that he compiled, edited and ultimately authenticated what the narrations and presented what are the correct views of his belief. This doesn't necessitate however that he believed EVERY single narration. At the very least, he wrote down what could POSSIBLY be true and this is problematic enough for some narrations.

He was a collector and historian
He wrote down what was available to him
This is probably the least chosen view. This was said in the early days of English polemics by some laymen Shia's to counter the first option. Problematic with this view is that he hardly shares any narrations that propagates distinct Sunni views for example. He also hardly narrates from them and other sects despite the presence of these narrators and narrations and lacks on many issues to be considered a historical book. This view has also been largely abandoned in my experience and not used in arguments.

He was a religious scholar and jurist
He wrote down what is comprehensive and could be useful for Shia readers
This is probably what most Shia's believe and counter with nowadays. The point is that he had a Shia audience in mind and was trying to create a comprehensive work of Imami narrations that he was able to collect and presented it to them. The goal then was not to collect every narration available or to authenticate them, rather to create an encyclopedia of some sorts that illuminated what was shared in Imami circles in his time. This may solve the problem of both the absence of distinct Sunni views and absolve him of the narrations regarding problematic narrations like pro-Tahreef ones, however there remains another thing that is problematic:

If you read al Kafi, you will notice that it is very structured and systematically presented, at least Usul al Kafi. Most of the narrations are fairly consistent, they are fairly coherent and a uniform (Mu'tazili inspired) worldview is presented. If it is just an encyclopedia, one question that one can ask is "Where are all the opposing views?" Especially when it comes to theology, it seems as if a single view is propagated. (I have to admit here, that I haven't read al Kafi completely and of what I read, I skimmed through it very quickly, so this entire thread is premature but it seemed to me as if a single theological stance was presented.)

One can say that the Shia community may have had differences regarding Fiqh but they were fairly uniform when it comes to theology at that time. This is not true however, one clear example is the antropomorphistic worldview that is mostly absent in al Kafi. Where are all the antropomorphistic narrations for example? The fact that Shia's who believed this existed is attested to by Shareef al Murtada for example. There is even a narration in al Kafi that confirms these Shia's still existed in Askari's time:

Our people differ on the issue of the Oneness of Allah. There are those who say that He has a body and others say He has a certain form.

This is less than 75 years before al Kulayni's death, yet you find in al Kafi primarily narrations that refute this very idea, so how come there are none of these narrations present in al Kulayni's comprehensive Imami Shia encyclopedia?

My prediction of a response will be along the lines of: "Al Kulayni had almost no doubts regarding the correct theological concepts so he only shared what was his view, it was only narrations dealing with Fiqh that he wanted to share the different opinions held." Keeping in mind that something like Tahreef has hardly any theological consequences for them, it is just a wrong opinion according to them. And so the saga continues ....


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