ḎARĪʿA elā TAṢĀNĪF al-ŠĪʿA, AL-, a comprehensive bibliography of Imami Shiʿite works in twenty-five volumes compiled by Shaikh Moḥammad-Moḥsen Āqā Bozorg Ṭehrānī (1293-1389=1349 Š. /1876-1970); it contains about 55,000 entries for works written up to 1370 Š./1950-51. Āqā Bozorg initially conceived the project as a response to the work of Jerjī Zaydān (1278-1332/1861-1914), who was considered to have belittled the Imami contribution to Arabic literature (cf. Zaydān, p. 6). The original title, al-Ḏarīʿa elā maʿrefat moṣannafāt al-Šīʿa, was suggested by Āqā Bozorg’s teacher Sayyed Ḥasan Ṣadr (Ṣadr-al-Dīn; 1272-1354/1856-1935). Āqā Bozrog began work on 25 Ḏū’l-qaʿda 1329/17 November 1911, shortly after settling in Sāmarrā in Iraq. By 1331/1913 he had produced a one-volume draft of abbreviated titles of works to be cited. He completed a six-volume draft of the entire work three years later and made it available to interested scholars. Technical problems caused repeated delays in publication; some volumes took more than two years to print. Only volumes I-XIX had been published, at Najaf (I-III, XIII-XIV) or Tehran, by the time of Āqā Bozorg’s death. The final volume apppeared in Tehran in 1398=1357 Š./1978. A supplement, edited by Aḥmad Ḥosaynī and entitled Mostadrakāt al-moʾallef, was published as volume XXVI in Mašhad in 1405=1364 Š./1985.

Most of the volumes were edited by the author’s sons, ʿAlī-Naqī (vols. IV-XII, XV, XXIV-XXV) and Aḥmad Monzawī (XVI-XXIII); volumes XIII and XIV were, however, edited by Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Baḥr-al-ʿOlūm (Ḏarīʿa XXVI, p. 5). Some volumes include French or English title pages, and from volume XVI on there are author indexes. Beginning with volume XVII titles of Ismaʿili works mentioned in the Fehrest of Esmāʿīl Majdūʿ were included; the edition by ʿAlī-Naqī Monzawī was used. The material on poetry, originally planned for volumes IX and X, was published in four separately paginated parts, numbered IX/1 through IX/4. In preparing his magnum opus Āqā Bozorg read widely in Imami literature and also traveled in Iraq, Persia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and the Ḥejāz, in order to visit public and private libraries and to consult their catalogues (Ḏarīʿa VI, pp. 400-04, VII, pp. 289-94, VIII, pp. 297-99). He also consulted catalogues of libraries in Turkey, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some European countries (Ḏarīʿa XX, p. hāʾ) and made use of material that he requested from various scholars. The result is a work of meticulous scholarship and remarkable industry. All branches of Imami literature are fully represented, from koranic exegesis and works of tradition, history, theology, and law to science, poetry, and belles lettres. Major topics are preceded by illuminating introductory remarks, and issues in the history and transmission of problematic texts are treated in a clear and concise manner. Entries vary in length from a few lines to several pages. For many works Āqā Bozorg provided summaries of the contents, as well as lists of manuscripts and printed editions known to him. Where there were doubts about the author’s identity he reviewed the available evidence, occasionally offering his own views. Cross-references are provided for works known under more than one title. For those no longer extant Āqā Bozorg noted where he had found references to them. As Āqā Bozorg noted more than once, ideally a work on the scale of the Ḏarīʿa requires the cooperation of a team of scholars, and he was aware that some errors or inaccuracies were inevitable. They are impressively few, however, and the Ḏarīʿa is generally a sound and reliable guide. It surpassed by far anything previously available, including the Kašf al-ẓonūn by Ḥājī Ḵalīfa (1017-67/1609-57), which contains little on Shiʿite literature, and Kašf al-ḥojob wa’l-astār by Sayyed Eʿjāz-Ḥosayn Kantūrī (1240-86/1824-70; see Āqā Bozorg, pp. 149-50). Its importance, which was immediately obvious to Muslim scholars, was soon recognized in the West as well. Carl Brockelmann used it in the second edition of his Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur (though he had only the first two volumes at his disposal; cf. GAL I, p. 196), and it has since become an indispensable tool for all students of Imami literature.



J. Āl-e Aḥmad, “Moʿarrefī-e jeld-e panjom-e al-Ḏarīʿa,” Soḵan 2/11-12, 1324 Š./1946, pp. 907-09.

Āqā Bozorg, Ṭabaqāt aʿlām al-Šīʿa II, Najaf, 1374/1954.

Aʿyān al-Šīʿa, 3rd ed., I/2, Beirut, 1370/1951, p. 468 (with some critical remarks). “Dānešmandān-e moʿāṣer wa āṯār-e ānhā. Šayḵ Āqā Bozorg Ṭehrānī,” Rāhnemā-ye ketāb 4/5-6, 1340 Š./1961, pp. 525-29.

Ḏekrā al-Šayḵ Āḡā Bozorg al-Ṭehrānī, ṣāḥeb al-Ḏarīʿa, Najaf, 1391/1971.

E. Majdūʿ, Fehrest al-kotob wa’l-rasāʾel, ed. ʿA.-N. Monzawī, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965.

M.-ʿA. Modarres, Rayḥānat al-adab I, Tabrīz, 1346 Š./1965, pp. 52-54.

ʿA.-R. Moḥammad-ʿAlī, Šayḵ al-bāḥeṯīn Āḡā Bozorg al-Ṭehrānī, Najaf, 1390/1970.

S. Nafīsī, “Ketāb-e Ḏarīʿa wa moʾallef-e ān,” Soḵan 2/11-12, 1324 Š./1946, pp. 887-89.

J. Zaydān, Taʾrīḵ ādāb al-loḡat al-ʿarabīya III, Cairo, 1931.

(Etan Kohlberg)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 17, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 1, pp. 35-36