The book Al-Kāfī (The Sufficient Book) is a
ḥadīth collection compiled by Muhammad ibn Ya‘qūb
al-Kulaynī. It is divided into three sections: Usūl al-Kāfī,
which is concerned with epistemology, theology, history, ethics,
supplication, and the Qurʾān, Furūʿ al-Kāfī, which is concerned
with practical and legal issues, and Rawdat (or Rauda) al-Kāfī,
which includes miscellaneous traditions, many of which are lengthy
letters and speeches transmitted from the Imāms. In total,
al-Kāfī comprises 16,199 narrations.
1 Usūl(fundamentals) al-Kāfī
2 Furū al-Kāfī
3 Rawdat al-Kāfī
5 Scholarly remarks
6 Shia view of al-Kafi relative to other hadith books
7 See also
9 External links
Usūl al-Kāfī: The first eight books of al-Kāfī are commonly
referred to as Uṣūl al-kāfī. The first type-set edition of the
al-Kāfī, which was published in eight volumes, placed Usūl
al-kāfī in the first two volumes. Generally speaking, Usūl
al-kāfī contains traditions that deal with epistemology, theology,
history, ethics, supplication, and the Qurʾān.
Book of Intellect and Foolishness (Kitāb al-‘aql wa al-jahl) -
Book of Knowledge and its Merits (Kitāb fadl al-‘ilm) - 176
Book of God and his Oneness (Kitāb al-tawhīd) - 212 traditions
Book of Divine Guidance (Kitāb al-hujjah) - 1015 traditions
Book of Belief and Unbelief (Kitāb al-īmān wa al-kufr) - 1609
Book of Supplication (Kitāb al-du‘ā') - 409 traditions
Book of the Qurʾān and its Merits (Kitāb ‘adhamat al-Qur'an)
- 124 traditions
Book of Social Intercourse (Kitāb al-muʿāsharah) - 464
Usul al kafi is a book in which all the basic ingredients of twelver
shii theory may be found.
Furū al-Kāfī: Books 9 through 34 are referred to as Furūʿ
al-kāfī and are found in volumes three through seven of the first
type-set edition. Furūʿ al-kāfī contains traditions that deal
predominantly with practical and legal issues.
Book of Purity
Book of Menstruation
Book of Funeral Rites
Book of Prayer
Book of Charity
Book of Fasting
Book of Ḥajj
Book of Jihād
Book of Commerce
Book of Marriage
Book of Animal Sacrifice upon the Birth of a Child
Book of Divorce
Book of Emancipation
Book of Hunting
Book of Slaughtering
Book of Food
Book of Drink
Book of Clothing, Beautification, and Honor
Book of Domesticated Animals
Book of Testaments
Book of Inheritance
Book of Capital and Corporal Punishments
Book of Restitution and Blood Money
Book of Testimonies and Depositions
Book of Adjudication and Legal Precedents
Book of Oaths, Vows, and Penances
Rawdat al-Kāfī: The final book stands alone as Rawḍah al-kāfī,
which is found in volume eight. Rawḍah al-kāfī contains nearly 600
miscellaneous traditions, many of which are lengthy letters and
speeches, not arranged in any particular order.
Book of Miscellanea (literally a garden from which one can pick
many kinds of flowers)
Most Shia scholars do not make any assumptions about the authenticity
of a hadith book. Most believe that there are no "sahih" hadith books
that are completely reliable.
Hadith books are compiled by fallible
people, and thus realistically, they inevitably have a mixture of
strong and weak hadiths. Kulayni himself stated in his preface that he
only collected hadiths he thought were important and sufficient for
Muslims to know, and he left the verification of these hadiths up to
later scholars. Kulayni also states, in reference to
"whatever (hadith) agrees with the
Book of God (the Qur'an), accept
it. And whatever contradicts it, reject it"
According to the great Imami scholar Zayn al-Din al-`Amili, known as
al-Shahid al-Thani (911-966/1505-1559), who examined the asnad or the
chains of transmission of al-Kafi's traditions, 5,072 are considered
sahīh (sound); 144 are regarded as hasan (good), second category;
1,118 are held to be muwaththaq (trustworthy), third category; 302 are
adjudged to be qawī‘ (strong) and 9,485 traditions which are
categorized as da'if (weak).
The author (Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni) stated in his Preface of
"You said that you would love to have a sufficient book (kitāb
kāfin) containing enough of all the religious sciences to suffice the
student; to serve as a reference for the disciple; from which those
who seek knowledge of the religion and want to act on it can draw
authentic traditions from the Truthful [imams]—may God’s peace be
upon them—and a living example upon which to act, by which our duty
to God—almighty is he and sublime—and to the commands of his
Prophet—may God’s mercy be on him and his progeny—is
fulfilled...God—to whom belongs all praise—has facilitated the
compilation of what you requested. I hope it is as you desired."
Khomeini (a prominent 20th century Shī‘ah scholar) said:
"Do you think it is enough [kafi] for our religious life to have its
laws summed up in al-Kāfī and then placed upon a shelf?"
The general idea behind this metaphor is that
Khomeini objected to the
laziness of many ignorant people of his day who simply kept al-Kafi on
their shelf, and ignored or violated it in their daily lives, assuming
that they would somehow be saved from Hell just by possessing the
Khomeini argued that Islamic law should be an integral part of
everyday life for the believer, not just a stale manuscript to be
placed on a shelf and forgotten. The irony of the allusion is telling;
Khomeini implicitly says that al-Kafi (the sufficient) is not kafi
(enough) to make you a faithful Muslim or be counted among the
righteous, unless you use the wisdom contained within it and act on *
The famous Shī‘ah scholar Shaykh Sadūq didn't believe in the
complete authenticity of al-Kāfī.
Khoei points this out in his
"Mu‘jam Rijāl al-Hadīth", or "Collection of Men of Narrations", in
which he states:
أنّ الشيخ الصدوق : قدّس سرّه : لم
يكن يعتقد صحّة جميع مافي الكافي
"Shaykh as-Sadūq did not regard all of the traditions in al-Kāfī to
The scholars have made these remarks, to remind the people that one
cannot simply pick the book up, and take whatever they like from it as
truthful. Rather, an exhaustive process of authentication must be
applied, which leaves the understanding of the book in the hands of
the learned. From the Shia point of view, any book other than the
Qur'an, as well as individual hadiths or hadith narrators can be
objectively questioned and scrutinized as to their reliability, and
none - not even the Sahaba - are exempt from this.
The main criticism of al-Kafi as the basis for Shia fiqh, comes from
prominent Sunni writers who argue that finding some hadiths in al-Kafi
proves that the entire Shi'ite school is wrong. Shi'ites in reality do
not rest the basis of their entire faith on the complete authenticity
of this book (From where it got the name 'Al Kafi' (the sufficient).
They believe that any thing that goes against previously held ideas
must not be authentic. They also do not automatically accept some
hadiths from al-Kafi that have strong historical proofs.
The Qur'an is far more important to Islamic belief than any hadith
book, and Shia scholars have long pointed this out.
Shia view of al-Kafi relative to other hadith books
Khoei's opinion was not unique; nearly all Shia scholars are adamant
that al-Kafi is not 100% authentic, but that it is the best primary
hadith book currently available . Shia Muslims do not make any
assumptions about the authenticity of a hadith book; Shias believe
that there are no "sahih" hadith books that are completely reliable
according to most Shia.
Hadith books are compiled by fallible people,
and thus realistically, they inevitably have a mixture of strong and
Kulayni himself stated in his preface that he only collected hadiths
he thought were important and sufficient for Muslims to know (at a
time when many Muslims were illiterate and ignorant of the true
beliefs of Islam, and heretical Sufi and gnostic sects were gaining
popularity), and he left the verification of these hadiths up to later
scholars. Kulayni also states, in reference to hadiths: "whatever
(hadith) agrees with the
Book of God (the Qur'an), accept it. And
whatever contradicts it, reject it" .
The author of al-Kafi never intended for it to be politicized as
"infallible", he only compiled it to give sincere advice based on
authentic Islamic law (regardless of the soundess of any one
particular hadith), and to preserve rare hadiths and religious
knowledge in an easily accessible collection for future generations to
Al-Kāfī is the most comprehensive collection of traditions from the
formative period of Islamic scholarship. It has been held in the
highest esteem by generation after generation of Muslim scholars.
Shaykh al-Mufīd (d.1022 CE) extolled it as “one of the greatest and
most beneficial of Shīʿah books.” Al-Shahid al-Awwal (d.1385 CE)
and al-Muḥaqqiq al-Karakī (d.1533 CE) have said, “No book has
served the Shīʿah as it has.” The father of ʿAllāmah al-Majlisī
said, “Nothing like it has been written for Islām.”
List of Shi'a books
Sharh Usul al-Kafi, a commentary on the Usul al-Kafi
Branches of Religion
Branches of Religion (Furu al-din)
^ Meri, Josef W. (2005). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An
Encyclopedia. USA: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-96690-0.
^ Howard, I. K. A. (1976), "'Al-Kafi' by Al-Kulayni", Al-Serat: A
Journal of Islamic Studies, 2 (1)
^ Etan Kohlberg (1991). belief and law in imami shiism. Variorum.
^ "Selections from Al-Kulayni's Al-Kafi".
^ Islamic Texts Institute (2012). Al-Kafi
Book I: Intellect and
Foolishness. Taqwa Media. ISBN 9781939420008.
^ Wilayat al-Faqih: Al-Hukumah Al-Islamiyyah. p.72.
^ (Arabic reference)
'Usul al-Kafi English Translation, E-
Book Volumes 1-8', compiled by
Muḥammad Ya`qûb Kulaynî, translated by Muḥammad Sarwar,
published by the Islamic Seminary INC NY.
'Al-Kafi with translation and commentary by Islamic Texts Institute'
Selections from Usul al-Kafi
'Kiṫâbu-l-Kâfî', compiled by Muḥammad Ya`qûb Kulaynî,
published by the Islamic Seminary INC NY, translated by