Open main menu

WikiShia β

Qamus al-rijal (book)

Qamus al-rijal
Author Muhammad Taqi Shushtari
Original title قاموس الرِجال
Language Arabic
Series 11 volumes
Subject Rijal
Genre critical
Published 1379/1959
Publisher Tehran, Mu'assisa Nashr Islami

Qāmūs al-rijāl (Arabic: قاموس الرِجال) is a book concerning rijal in Arabic written by Muhammad Taqi Shushtari. It was written as a criticism of the book, Tanqih al-maqal by 'Abd Allah Mamaqani. The author claims that he has corrected the mistakes and errors in Tanqih al-maqal. The author of Qamus al-rijal is criticized for his harsh tone in writing the book.


The Author

The author of Qamus al-rijal is Muhammad Taqi Shushtari (d. 1416/1996) was a scholar of rijal in the 14th/20th century.


At first, Shushtari intended to name his book, Tashih tanqih al-maqal (correction of Tanqih al-maqal), but at the suggestion of some of his companions, he called it Qamus al-rijal and it was finally published with the latter title. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani has referred to the book as Ta'liqat tanqih al-maqal and Hawashi tanqih al-maqal (annotations or commentaries on Tanqih al-maqal). It is also referred to as Sharh tanqih al-maqal (exposition of Tanqih al-maqal). It is said that the full title of the book was Qamus al-rijal: qamus 'amm li ahwal jami' ruwat al-Shi'a wa muhaddithihim bi sabk badi' wa daqiq lam yasbiqhu ghayruh min kutub al-rijal (literally: encyclopedia of rijal [i.e. transmitters of hadiths]: a general encyclopedia for the biographies of all Shiite transmitters and scholars of hadiths in a novel and precise style unprecedented in any other book of rijal).

Motivation for Writing

Muhammad Taqi Shushtari wrote down his criticisms and annotations on Tanqih al-maqal for six years (1354/1935 to 1360/1941) on the margins of his copy of the book. He then completed them, and at the suggestion of Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, he published them as an independent book.

In his introduction to Qamus al-rijal, Shushtari said: he wrote the book because of wrong information about transmitters of hadiths who were namesakes, vagueness in Mamaqani's method in the introduction of the companions of the Imams (a), and leaving out the biographies of certain transmitters of hadiths in Tanqih al-maqal.

The Writing Style of the Author

In Qamus al-rijal, Shushtari introduced the transmitters and companions of the Imams (a) in an alphabetic order. He first cites the remarks by Mamaqani and then comments on them by saying: "aqul" (I say). He also cites the views of other scholars of rijal (most of the early scholars) about transmitters of hadiths. In cases in which Mamaqani missed the biography of a transmitter of hadiths, Shushtari cites the biography. He claims that distortions have occurred in Tanqih al-maqal with regard to the names of some companions of the Imams (a), and in some cases, he explains the origins of Mamaqani's mistakes as well as his distortions.

Shushtari used abbreviations to refer to some companions of the Infallibles (a) as well as books of rijal.


Qamus al-rijal consists of an introduction, four parts, and an epilogue. The introduction consists, in turn, of 28 chapters, involving different issues, such as mistakes in Tanqih al-maqal, the principles according to which Shushtari objects to Mamaqani's views, and illuminations of some of rijal. In the introduction, he also claims that he has collected the biographies of all transmitters of hadiths, except a few people who were not known enough.

The book is then concerned with the biographies of the transmitters of hadiths in four parts:

  • The part concerning names: in this part, Shushtari has introduced 8567 transmitters of hadiths. This constitutes the bulk of the book.
  • The part concerning kunyas: Shushtari opens this part with an explanation of what kunyas are, and he then introduces transmitters of hadith who are known with their kunyas. He has introduced 1276 transmitters in this part.
  • The part concerning titles: 424 transmitters of hadiths are introduced in this part.
  • The part concerning female transmitters of hadiths: in this part, 521 female transmitters of hadiths are introduced.

Epilogue: this is a criticism of the epilogue of Tanqih al-maqal. He introduced 33 points of rijal in this epilogue.


Qamus al-rijal has been subject to a variety of objections. Some of them are as follows:

  • Using abbreviations to refer to books and Imams (a).
  • Failing to cite volume and page numbers of his sources.
  • It is also criticized for its inappropriate phrases and providing long biographies of some transmitters of hadiths.

Publication Status

Qamus al-rijal was published in Tehran in 1379/1959 in 11 volumes. Later, Shushtari added three volumes as addenda to the book and a new version of the book was published in Tehran in 1999 in 14 volumes. At the end of the 11th volume of the new edition, Shushtari's essay on "sahw al-Nabi" (blunder of the Prophet (s)) appears. The book was also published by Mu'assisa Nashr Islami in 1410/1989 in 14 volumes. Later the contents of the latter three volumes were merged in other volumes and the book was published in 1424/2003 in 12 volumes. In the 12th volume of the book, Shushtari's essays on "Tawarikh al-Nabi" (histories of the Prophet) and "al-Risalat al-mubsira" (regarding the biography of Abu Basir).