Tusi, Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan (Shaykh Al-Ta?Ifa) (995–1067)

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Muhammad b. Hasan al-Tusi (d. 1067), who was given the honorific "Shaykh of the sect" (shaykh al-ta˓ifa), was an important Imami Shi˓ite thinker of the early period. He hailed from Tus in Khorasan, but made his name in Baghdad. His work represents both of the two main trends in early Twelver Shi˓ism: rationalism and hadith study. His commentary on the Qur˒an (tafsir), al-Tibyan, exemplifies this trend as both styles of argumentation are employed to explain the meaning of each Qur˒anic verse. His hadith works, the most famous being al-Tahdhib and al-Istibsar, are more than mere collections, but are also detailed expositions of the legal employment of the traditions of the imams. His work in law proper was similarly sophisticated, particularly his ˓Uddat alusul (a work in the principles of jurisprudence) and al-Mabsut (one of his many works of law). Tusi also wrote theological works, in which arguments in the Mu˓tazilite style were used alongside more text-based justification for the imamate. His activities in bibliography and biography enabled the discipline of biography (˓ilm al-rijal) to develop into a sophisticated science in Twelver Shi˓ism. His prolific output as a scholar can, in part, be explained by the criticism of the Twelver tradition by Sunni intellectuals—that they lacked a sufficient corpus of respectable writings. Tusi's response was to compile and collate works of great importance.


Stewart, Devin J. Islamic Legal Orthodoxy: Shiite Responses to theSunni Legal System. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1998.

Robert Gleave