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A'yan al-Shi'a (book)

A'yan al-Shi'a
Author Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin
Original title أعيان الشيعة
Language Arabic
Series 11 vols.
Subject An encyclopedia of great Shi'a figures
Genre Biography
Published 1421/2000, Beirut
Publisher Dar al-ta'atuf

Aʿyān al-Shīʿa (Arabic: أعيان الشيعة) is an Arabic work of the great Shi'a scholar, al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin (d. 1371/1952) on the introduction of great Shi'a figures and a significant part of it is about the lives of Imams (a).



This book is a great biographical encyclopedia of great Shi'a figures since the beginning of Islam until the time of the author including those among Companions, Followers (Tabi'un), and experts in different fields such as transmission and collection of hadiths, recitation of the Qur'an, fiqh, theosophy, theology, Arabic poetry, Arabic linguistics and literature, logic, mathematics, medicine, astronomy and even the names of kings and government officials.

Author's Motive

In the introduction to the book, the author wrote:

"It was a long time I wanted to write a book about notable figures among Twelver Shi'a, but my other occupations prevented me to do that until I saw others' interest in this topic and since there was no written work available in this regard, I began writing it."[1]


About his method, the author wrote,

"I have not discussed contemporary ones in this book. Names are sorted alphabetically and about every person, the information given includes his date of birth and death, lineage, scholars' quotations about him, his life conduct and a short sample of his poem or prose if available. And sometimes, some events have been explained extensively if appropriate in some cases their analyses are given. Even though it would be better that forgotten names and discussions remembered after writing of a volume are compiled in a separate volume or in the form of mustadrak but, since they could be forgotten or the author does not find the chance to do so, they have been mentioned at the end of every volume."[2]


The book contains around 12,000 biographies. The original edition was 10 volumes.


Some scholars and researchers' criticisms about the book are as follows;

  • Broadness of the topic of the book in contrast to its actual range
  • Lack of accuracy in quotations
  • Typos
  • Obsoleteness and inaccuracy of information
  • Lack of coherence
  • Confusion of some entries and people
  • Missing information
  • Lack of diacritics in necessary places
  • Inaccurate numbering of entries
  • Biased information
  • Mentioning non-Shi'a
  • Mentioning footnotes and additional information in the text
  • Lack of reference verification
  • Repetition of some entries
  • Problem in alphabetical sorting
  • Missing references
  • Contradictory information
  • Inaccuracy in proper names
  • Inaccuracy in mentioning verses of the Qur'an

Completing A'yan al-Shi'a

After al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin passed away, his son, al-Sayyid Hasan began completing the book and wrote Mustadrak a'yan al-Shi'a. He also wrote different lists of content for the original book. He wrote,

"My father did not mention living personalities. I collected the names of those who passed away after my father and those my father missed and wrote the mustadrak."[3]

See Also


  1. Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin, A'yan al-Shi'a, Vol.1, P.16
  2. Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin, A'yan al-Shi'a, Vol.1
  3. Al-Sayyid Hasan al-Amin, Mustadrakat a'yan al-Shi'a, Vol.1, P.5


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from اعیان الشیعة in Farsi Wikishia.
  • Amin al-'Amili, al-Sayyid Hasan al-. Mustadrakat a'yan al-Shi'a. Beirut, Dar al-Ta'aruf, 1418/1998;
  • Amin al-'Amili, al-Sayyid Muhsin al-. A'yan al-Shi'a. Beirut, Dar al-Ta'aruf, 1421/2001;