Question 064: So are the books containing all shia fiqh basically the volumes of al-Kahfi? To what Hadithic book does the the Four Books Al-Kutub al-Arba’ah refer?
Answer 064: Al-Kutub al-Arba’ah, the Four Books is an Arabic term by the Twelver Shi’a, referring to the four best-known hadith collections. The great Shi’a works are as follows:
1) al-Kafi compiled by Muhammad ibn Ya’qub bin Ishaq known as Thiqatul Islam Kulayni, during the Minor Occultation period. It contains 16,199 hadith narrated from the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and Ahlul Bayt (pbuth). These Ahadith are divided into three divisions: Usul, Furu’ and Rawdhah. The Usul contains ahadith related to the beliefs, Furu’ contains ahadith related to Fiqh (Islamic Laws), and Rawdhah contains ahadith related to Akhlaq (ethic) and morality.
Shadid Thani (ra) said: the ahadith mentioned in Kafi are more than ahadith mentioned in Sihah al-Sitta of Ahlul Sunna. Because, there are 16199 hadith mentioned in Kafi while there are 9483 hadith mentioned in Sihah al-Sitta.
Sheikh Mufid (ra) said: Kafi is one of the best and most useful Shia books.
Allamah Faydh Kashani (ra) said: Kafi is the most valuable, authentic, complete and the most comprehensive Shia traditional book. Because, it contains all Usul without any unrelated additions.
Allamah Majlesi (ra) said: Kafi is the most completed and comprehensive principle of Hadith Book. It is one of the greatest and the best book written by Shia.
2) Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih compiled by al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Muhammad ibn Babawaih al-Qummi. This book is compliled in four volumes and contains 666 chapters. Actually, most of Fiqhi issues had been collected in this book. Some of which are: Taharah and Najasat, Preliminaries of the Prayers, like Wudhu, Ghusl and Tayammum, rules of death, Judgment and the like. According to the Sheikh, most of these traditions mentioned in this book are quoted from: the book Hariz bin Abdullah Sajestani, Ubaid Allah bin Ali Halabi, Books of Ali bin Mahziyar Ahwazi, boks of Hussain bin Saeed, Nawader Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Eisa and the others. Sheikh Saduq quoted about 6,000 (according to some of researchers it exactly contain 5,998 hadith that 3943 of these ahadith are Sahid with complete Sanad and the rest of them are Mursal meaning that don’t have complete Sanad) hadith related to Fiqhi issues and practical rulings. The Sheikh quoted these ahadith from 510 narrators.
3) Tahdhib al-Ahkam compiled by Sheikh Muhammad Tusi. This book is the Sheikh Tusi’s first work that was compiled at the age of 26. Tahdhib al-Ahkam contains fiqhi issues and practical rules. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi compiled this work by the order of al-Shaykh al-Mufid as a commentary to al-Mufid’s al-Muqni’a. It contains 393 chapters and 13,988 hadith (It is said that it contains 13590, according to Muhaddith Noori). There is a section on mashikhah at the end of this book which includes al-Tusi’s chain of authorities for the sources he quoted narrations from.
This book was published in 10 volumes in Arabic language by Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah in Tehran City in Iran.
Allamah Bahr al-Ulum (ra) said: this book makes other Fiqhi books unnecessary for a scholar.
Ibn Tawoos (ra) said: Kafi and Tahdhib are two greatest Fiqhi book. Also, Allamah Hilli (ra) said: this book is the main source and basis of Fiqh. It is, along with Muqniaha, one of the greatest resources.
4) Al-Istibsar, the second book complied by Sheikh Muhammad Tusi. In response to his students and scholar who admired his first book, Tahdhib al-Ahkam, sheikh Tusi decided to collect different ahadith so that new scholars and researchers can benefit from this book. The Sheikh firstly collected those fatawa and ahadith related to each Fiqhi chapter that were most authentic and then complied other news and ahadith contrary to his own authentic ahadith. He explained the way to combine between the two different kinds of ahadith.
This book consists 5,511 hadith complied in 925 chapter. Like other fiqhi references, the categorization of topics in this book begins with taharah and ends with diyat. So, under each topic, he firstly mentioned the ahadith he regarded as authentic, then mentioned those that apparently contradict them, and finally, attempts to harmonize the both different categorizations of ahadith.
The previous mentioned books are the collection of the four hundred principles, called ‘Al-Usul Al-Arba`Mi’ah’, The Four Hundred Principles.
These books especially The Four Books are very famous due to their reliable resources and references according to the Shia, however there are many other collections of ahadith, such as Tuhaf ul-Uqul, Bihar al-Anwar, Wasael al-Shia, that are considered to have very reliable references and resources. The reason the four main works are most often used, is that the authors of these four collections were very famous, the books have the most reliable references and resources and are known for their appropriate categories.
 . Al-Madkhal ila Elm al-Rijal wa al-Dirayat, Pg. 138.
 . Dirayat al-Noor Software.
 . Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 25, Pg. 67.
 . Mir’atul Uqul, Vol. 1, Pg. 3.
 . For further information, please refer to: Al-Zariat ila Tasanif al-Shia, Vol. 22, Pg. 233.
 . Hussain bin Muhammad Taqi Noori, Khatimah Mustadrak al-Wasael, Vol. 6, Pg. 415, Qom, 1415-1420 A.H.
 . Modir Shanehchi. Tarikh e Hadith. Pgs. 138-140.
 . Hussain abin Muhammad Taqi Noori, Khatimah Mustadrak al-Wasael, Vol. 6, Pg. 169, Qom. 1415-1420 A.h., Ibid, Pg. 13; Abdullah bin Noor al-Din Jazayeri, al-Ijazat al-Kabirah, Vol. 1, Pg. 215, Muhammad Samami Haeri Publication, Qom, 1409 A.h.
 . Hasan bin Yousif Allamah Hilli, book Al-sarayer al-Havi Li Tahrir al-Fatawa, Vol. 1, Pgs. 334-335, Qom, 1410-1411 A.H.
 . Sheikh Tusi, Abu Ja’afar Muhammad bin Hasan, al-Istibsar fima Ikhtalafa min al-Akhbar, Khutbah of author, Vol. 1, Pg. 2, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran, first edition, 1390 A.H; Payam (message) of Payambar (prophet), translation preface, Pgs. 23-28; Modir Shanehchi. Tarikh-i Hadith. p. 148 – 150.
 . Sheikh Sadouq, Ma’ani al-Akhbar, Muhammadi Shahroodi, Abdul Ali, introduction, Pg. 11, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya, Tehran, second edition, 1998.