Repeated Chains of Narrations in al-Kāfī

By Mohsin Jaffery

The original research was conducted by Muhammad Qurbani and published in a 24-page paper titled Asnād Pur-Tikrār Nishānī az Manābi’ Maktūb al-Kāfī. The paper attempts to collect chains of narrations that are most often repeated in al-Kāfī and tries to trace down the works that Shaykh al-Kulaynī (d. 329 AH) was making use of to compile his invaluable work over a span of 20 years. In this post, we have extracted the chains from the research paper and briefly translated some of the points regarding each chain.

Chains repeated more than 100 times

 عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ النَّوْفَلِيِّ عَنِ السَّكُونِيِّ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّه

1. Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father (Ibrahīm b. Hāshim) from al-Nawfalī from al-Sakūnī from Abī ‘Abdillah (a)

This chain has been repeated 462 times in al-Kāfī. The abundance of this chain indicates that Kulaynī has taken the chain from the book of Sakūnī. The people after Sakūnī, were the ones who transmitted this book to Kulaynī. Najāshī has written: I had read the book of Sakunī for Aḥmad b. ‘Alī b. Nūḥ and it was transmitted to me from Ḥasan b. Ḥamza from ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father from Nawfalī from Sakūnī. The people that Kulaynī took this tradition from are the same people Najāshī mentions transmitted Sakūnī’s book.

عَلِيُ‏ بْنُ‏ إِبْرَاهِيمَ‏ عَنْ‏ أَبِيهِ‏ عَنِ‏ ابْنِ‏ أَبِي‏ عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ‏ حَمَّادٍ عَنِ‏ الْحَلَبِيِ‏ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّه‏

2. ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father from Ibn Abī ‘Umayr from Ḥammād (b. ‘Īsa) from al-Ḥalabī from Abī ‘Abdillah (a)

This chain has been repeated 413 times in al-Kāfī. The transmitters mentioned in this chain are all authors of a book. It is possible that this has been taken from the book of Ḥalabī since the transmitters in his book are Ḥammād b. ‘Īsa and Ibn Abī ‘Umayr. ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm and his father in many instances are our source to this book.

عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنِ عَمَّارٍ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّه‏

3. ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father from Ibn Abī ‘Umayr from Mu’āwīya b. ‘Ammār from Abī Abdillah (a)

This chain has been repeated 194 times in al-Kāfī. Mu’āwīya b. ‘Ammār is the author of a book and one of the transmitters from the book is Ibn Abī ‘Umayr. Approximately 75% of the narrations from this book have been transmitted through this chain. His Kitāb al-Ḥajj was famous and was known to be copied down in different generations.

Chains repeated more than 50 times

عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ هِشَامِ بْنِ سَالِمٍ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّه‏

1. ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father from Ibn Abī ‘Umayr from Hishām b. Sālim from Abī ‘Abdillah (a)

This chain appears in al-Kāfī 99 times. Hishām b. Sālim is from the companions of Imām al-Ṣādiq (a) and al-Kāẓim (a). The transmitter of Hishām’s book is Ibn Abī ‘Umayr. Hence, the source for these traditions is the book of Hishām.

عِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ سَهْلِ بْنِ زِيَادٍ عَنْ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ الْأَشْعَرِيِّ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مَيْمُونٍ الْقَدَّاحِ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّه‏

2. From a number of our companions, from Sahl b. Ziyād from Ja’far b. Muḥammad al-Asharī from Ibn al-Qaddāh from Abī ‘Abdillah (a)

This chain appears 89 times. Most of the narrations from Ibn al-Qaddāh were in the possession of Ja’far al-Asharī and most of the traditions from Ja’far were in the possession of Sahl b. Ziyād.

مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ عَنِ الْفَضْلِ بْنِ شَاذَانَ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنِ عَمَّارٍ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّه‏

3. Muḥammad b. Ismāīl from Faḍl b. Shadhān from Ibn Abī ‘Umayr from Mu’āwīya b. ‘Ammār from Abī ‘Abdillah (a)

This chain has appeared just over 86 times. Most of the traditions from this chain are in the chapter of Ḥajj. Kitāb al-Ḥajj of Mu’āwīya b. ‘Ammār was one of the most popular Shī’ī books of the time.

عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ حَفْصِ بْنِ الْبَخْتَرِيِّ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّه‏

4. ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father from Ibn Abī ‘Umayr from Ḥafṣ b. al-Bakhtarī from Abī ‘Abdillah (a)

This chain has been repeated 73 times. The book of Ḥafṣ is the original source of these traditions since Ibn Abī ‘Umayr is the one who transmits this book.

عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ بْنِ هَاشِمٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ جَمِيلِ بْنِ دَرَّاجٍ عَن…‏

5. ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father from Ibn Abī ‘Umayr from Jamīl b. Darrāj from either Imam al-Bāqir or al-Ṣādiq (a)

This chain has been repeated 65 times and the narrations from this chain are from Imam al-Bāqir and al-Ṣādiq (a) and concern numerous jurisprudential chapters. Jamīl authored a book in which Ibn Abī ‘Umayr is the main narrator. Shaykh al-Ṭūsī also makes it clear that Jamīl had an Aṣl.

مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ فُضَيْلٍ عَنْ أَبِي الصَّبَّاحِ الْكِنَانِيِّ عَن‏

6. Muḥammad b. Yaḥya from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad from Muḥammad b. Ismāīl from Muḥammad b. Fuḍayl from Abī al-Ṣabbāḥ al-Kinānī from either Imam al-Bāqir or al-Ṣādiq (a).

This chain is repeated 61 times and all concern jurisprudential matters.

…عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي نَجْرَانَ عَنْ عَاصِمِ بْنِ حُمَيْدٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ قَيْسٍ عَن‏

7. ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father from Ibn Abī Najrān from ‘Āṣim b. Ḥumayd from Muḥammad b. Qays from either Imam al-Bāqir or Imam al-Ṣādiq (a)

This chain is repeated 59 times. Most of Muḥammad b. Qays’ narrations are from Imam al-Bāqir (a). He possessed a book titled Qaḍāya Amīr al-Mū’minīn and al-Nawādir which Abī Najrān and ‘Āṣim transmit from for Najāshī, while ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm along with his father were known for making these traditions more well known through their own transmissions.

 مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنِ ابْنِ مَحْبُوبٍ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ سِنَان‏ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّه‏

8. Muḥammad b. Yahya from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad from Ibn Mahbūb from ‘Abdillah b. Sinān from Abī ‘Abdillah (a)

This chain has been repeated 58 times. ‘Abdullah had a number of works such as al-Ṣalāh al-Kabīr and Sā’ir Abwāb al-Ḥalāl wa al-Ḥarām.

عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ حَمَّادٍ عَنْ حَرِيزٍ عَنْ زُرَارَةَ عَن‏

9.  ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father from Ḥammād from Ḥarīz From Zurārah from either Imam al-Bāqir or Imam al-Ṣādiq (a)

This chain has been repeated 56 times. The source of these narrations are possibly the books of Zurāra. Every narration that is from Ḥammād and Ḥarīz can be said to be from Zurāra which later on were passed down to Kulaynī through ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm and his father.

عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ هِشَامِ بْنِ الْحَكَم‏ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّه

10. ‘Alī b. Ibrahīm from his father from Ibn Abī ‘Umayr from Hishām b. al-Ḥakam from Abī ‘Abdillah (a)

This chain has been repeated 53 times. Ibn Abī ‘Umayr has transmitted the books of Hishām and in his own personal works he has made extensive use of the books of his contemporaries and the companions of the Imāms (a).

مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ الْحَكَمِ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي حَمْزَةَ عَنْ أَبِي بَصِيرٍ عَنْ

11. Muḥammad b. Yaḥya from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad from ‘Alī b. al-Ḥakam from ‘Alī b. Ḥamza from Abī Baṣīr from either Imam al-Bāqir or al-Ṣādiq (a)

This chain has been repeated 52 times. Abū Baṣīr is a companion of both Imam al-Bāqir and al-Ṣādiq (a). He was the author of two books, Yawm wa Laylah and Manāsik al-Ḥajj. Approximately 20 out of the 52 narrations appear in the chapter of Ḥajj. According to Shaykh Ṭūsi, one of the transmitters of this book regarding Ḥajj was ‘Alī b. Ḥamza.

There are other repeated chains in al-Kāfī but do not surpass 50 times.


Companions of Imam al-Bāqir & al-Ṣādiq (a) – 4th Ṭabaqah

Narrator Amount of times mentioned in chain, and topic of narrations Authored Book (s)
Abu Baṣīr al-Asadī Mentioned in 1021 chains and has around 110 narrations only on Ḥajj. He appears 223 times in Uṣūl al-Kāfī and then appears a significant amount of times in volume 6 and 7 of Furū’ al-Kāfī. Kitāb Yawm wa Laylah, and Kitāb Manāsik al-Ḥajj.
Zurāra b. A’yun al-Shaybāni He is mentioned in 950 chains throughout al-Kāfi. About 270 of his narrations are in volume 3: Kitāb al-Ṭahārah, Ḥayḍ, Janāiz, Ṣalāh, Zakāh etc. Kitab al-Istiṭā’ah wa al-Jabr as well as another untitled work.
‘Āṣim b. Ḥumayd al-Ḥannāṭ He is mentioned in 187 chains. An untitled book has been attributed to him.
‘Abdullah b. Maymūn al-Qaddāh Is mentioned in 149 chains. Most of his narrations are in volume 6. Mab’ath al-Nabī wa Akhbārihi and Kitāb Ṣifah al-Jannah wa al-Nār.
Muḥammad b. Qays Abū ‘Abdillah al-Bajalī He is mentioned in 128 chains and 66 of his traditions are found in volume 6 in the sections of ‘Aqīqah, Ṭalāq, ‘Itq, Ṣayd, Dhabāiḥ, al-Aṭ’imah wa al-Ashribah.

Qaḍāyā Amīr al-Mu’minīn and an Aṣl.

Companions of Imam al-Ṣādiq and al-Kāẓim (a) – 5th Ṭabaqa

Narrator Amount of times mentioned in chain, and topic of narrations Authored Book(s)
Ḥammād b. ‘Īsa Mentioned 811 times. 385 of his narrations are in the 3rd volume, 200 of which are in Kitāb al-Ṣalah and al-Zakāh. Kitāb al-Zakāh, where most of the traditions are taken from Ḥarīz.

Kitāb al-Ṣalāh and al-Nawādir

Ḥammād b. ‘Uthmān al-Nāb Mentioned 702 times. An untitled book has been attributed to him.
Ḥarīz b. ‘Abdillah Mentioned 583 times. 348 of his traditions are in volume 3, where 280 of them are in Kitāb al-Ṣalāh, al-Zakāh and al-Ṣawm. Kitāb al-Ṣalāh, Kitāb al-Zakāh, Kitab al-Ṣiyām, Kitāb al-Nawādir.
‘Abdullah b. Sinān Mentioned 558 times. Kitāb al-Ṣalāh, Kitāb al-Ṣalāh al-Kabīr, and Kitab Sā’ir Abwāb al-Ḥalāl wa al-Ḥarām.
Muā’wīyah b. ‘Ammār al-Dihnī Mentioned 522 times. 344 of his narrations are in the chapter of Ḥajj. His Kitāb al-Ḥajj is the most popular work amongst the companions of the Imāms. Kitāb al-Ḥajj, Kitāb al-Ṣalāh, Kitāb al-Zakāh, Kitāb Yawm wa Layla, Kitab al-Du’ā and Kitāb al-Ṭalāq.
Ismāīl b. Abī Ziyād al-Sakūnī Mentioned 507 times. Kitab al-Nawādir and an untitled work which is larger than al-Nawādir has been attributed to him.
‘Abdullah b. ‘Alī b. Abī Shu’bah al-Ḥalabī Mentioned 504 times. 18 of his narrations are recorded in Uṣūl and Rawḍah al-Kāfī. The remainder of his narrations are in various chapters. Kitāb al-Tafsīr and Kitāb Mubawwab fi al-Ḥalāl wa al-Ḥarām.
Jamīl b. Darrāj Mentioned 390 times. 93 of his narrations are recorded in the 7th volume. An untitled work and two other works which were co-authored.
Hishām b. Sālim Mentioned 382 times. 130 of his narrations are recorded in Uṣūl and Rawḍa. 93 of his narrations are in the 7th volume. Kitāb al-Ḥajj, Kitāb al-Tafsīr, Kitāb al-Mi’rāj and an untitled work.
‘Alī b. Abī Ḥamza al-Baṭā’inī Mentioned 289 times. 74 of his narrations are in volume 4, in Kitāb al-Zakāh, al-Ṣawm and al-Ḥajj. Kitāb al-Ṣalāh, Kitāb al-Zakāh, Kitāb al-Tafsīr and Kitāb Jām’i fi al-Abwāb al-Fiqh.
Ja’far b. Muḥammad b. ‘Ubaydillah b. al-Ash’arī Mentioned 126 times. An untitled work has been attributed to him.
Hishām b. al-Ḥakam Mentioned 126 times. Kitāb ‘Ilal al-Taḥrīm, Kitā al-Farāiḍ, Kitāb al-Imāmah, Kitāb al-Dalālah ‘ala Ḥadath al-Ajsām, Kitāb Radd ‘ala al-Zanādiqah, Kitāb al-Tawḥīd and more.
Ḥafṣ al-Bakhtarī Mentioned 122 times. An untitled work has been attributed to him.
Ibrahīm b. Na’īm Abū al-Ṣabbāḥ al-Kinānī Mentioned 118. An untitled work has been attributed to him.

Companions of Imam al-Riḍā (a) – 6th Ṭabaqa

Narrator Amount of time mentioned in chain, and a topic of narrations Authored Book (s)
Muḥammad b. Abī ‘Umayr Mentioned 2880 times. 577 of his narrations are in Uṣūl and Rawḍa al-Kāfī, while the rest are in Furū’ al-Kāfī. A total of 74 books on different topics are attributed to him.
Ḥasan b. Maḥbūb al-Sarrād Mentioned 1827 times, out of which 508 times in Uṣūl and Rawḍa al-Kāfī. He has around 500 traditions in volume 7. A great number of works have been attributed to him, such as Kitāb al-Ḥudūd, Kitāb al-Diyāt, Kitāb al-Farāiḍ and Kitāb al-Nawādir.
‘Alī b. al-Ḥakam Mentioned 842 times and 600 of these traditions are reported in Furū’ al-Kāfī. An untitled work has been attributed to him.
Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Abī Naṣr Bazantī Mentioned in 658 times. 173 of his narrations are mentioned in volume 4, in Kitāb al-Ṣawm and al-Ḥajj. Kitāb al-Jām’i and two Kitāb al-Nawādir have been attributed to him.
Ḥusayn b. Yazīd al-Nawfalī Mentioned 490 times. 130 of his narrations are in Uṣūl and Rawḍa al-Kāfī. 116 of his narrations are in volume 6, in Kitāb al-‘Aqīqah, Kitāb al-Ṭalāq, Kitāb al-‘Itq, Kitāb al-Ṣayd, Kitāb al-Dhabāiḥ, Kitāb al-Aṭ’imah wa al-Ashribah. Kitāb al-Taqīyyah wa al-Sunnah.
‘Abd al-Raḥmān Abī Najrān Mentioned 248 times. 50 of his narrations are in Uṣūl and Furū’ al-Kāfī. 63 of his traditions are in volume 7, 54 in volume 5, and 43 in volume 6. Kitāb al-Bay’ wa al-Shirā, Kitāb al-Maṭ’am wa al-Mashrab, Kitāb Yawm wa Laylah, and Kitāb al-Nawādir.
Muḥammad b. Fuḍayl al-Ṣayrafī Mentioned 184 times. 64 of his narrations are in Uṣūl and Rawḍa al-Kāfī. Most of his narrations are in volume 6, in Kitab al-‘Aqīqah, al-Ṭalaq, al-‘Itq, al-Ṣayd, al-Dhabāiḥ, al-Aṭ’imah wa al-Ashribah. 37 narrations begin with the phrase: ‘I asked Abā…’ or ‘I asked him…’, which means these are all from his work al-Masāil. An untitled book and Kitāb al-Masā’il are attributed to him.

Companions of Imam al-Jawād and al-Hādī (a) – 7th Ṭabaqa

Narrator Amount of times mentioned in chain, and topic of narrations Authored Book (s)
Ibrahīm b. Hāshim Mentioned 4832 times. 60 of his narrations deal with the legal verdicts of Amīr al-Mu’minīn. Kitāb al-Nawādir and Kitāb Qaḍāyā Amīr al-Mu’minīn.
Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. ‘Īsa Mentioned 4828 times. 1394 of his narrations are in Uṣūl and Rawḍa al-Kāfī. Some of his books are Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, Kitab Faḍl al-Nabī, Kitab al-Mut’ah and Kitāb al-Nawādir.
Sahl b. Ziyād al-Ādamī Mentioned 1918 times. 517 of his narrations are in Uṣūl and Rawḍa. Kitāb al-Tawḥīd and Kitāb al-Nawādir.
Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Barqi Mentioned 1773 times. 713 of his narrations are in Uṣūl and Rawḍa al-Kāfī. He has numerous works, some of which are Kitāb al-Maḥāsin, Kitāb al-Tablīgh wa al-Risālah, Kitab al-Tarāḥum wa al-Ta’āṭuf, Kitab al-Tabṣirah, Kitāb al-Rifāhiyyah, Kitāb al-Zīnah, Kitāb al-Marāfiq, Kitāb al-Ṣiyānah and others.
Faḍl b. Shādhān al-Nishabūrī Mentioned 580 times and most of them concern jurisprudence. It is mentioned that 180 compilations are attributed to him related to different topics such as theology, history, jurisprudence etc.

Mashāyikh of Shaykh al-Kulaynī

Narrator Amount of times mentioned in chain, and topic of narrations Authored Book (s)
‘Alī b. Ibrahīm Mentioned 5430 times. Numerous works such as al-Tafsīr, Kitāb al-Nāsikh wa al-Mansūkh, Kitāb Qurb al-Isnād, Kitāb al-Sharā’i, Kitāb al-Ḥayḍ, Kitāb al-Tawḥīd and others.
Muḥāmmad b. Yaḥya al-‘Aṭṭār Mentioned 4842 times. 1400 of his appearances are in Uṣūl and Furū’ al-Kāfī. He transmits numerous traditions and some of his works are Kitāb al-Maqtal and Kitāb al-Nawādir.