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The seas of lights (Behar al-Anwar) is the name of an Arabic book by Allameh Majlesi. It could be called as the Shia encyclopedia.
Allameh Muhammad Baqer Majlesi, born into an educated family, was the most cwlebrated Twelver Shia scholar and traditionist in the middle of the second half of the17th and the first ten years of the 18th century in Isfahan. Allameh was the 3rd son of “Allameh Muhammad Taqi Majlesi” who ####was one of the most prominent Shia schoalr. Allameh Majlesi studied most of the religious sciences in the presence of his father. The following are some of his masters:
1- Mullah Saleh Mazandarani
2- Mullah Hasan Ali Shushtari
3- Mirza Rafi’ al-Din Tabatabaei
4- Mir Muhammad Qahpaei Isfahani
5- Mullah Muhammad Sharif Isfahani
6- Sheilk Abdullah Aameli
7- Sheikh Ali Aameli
8- Mullah Mohsen Feiz Kashani
9- Seyyed Mirza Jazayeri
10- Mullah Muhammad Taher Qomi
1- Seyyed Ne’mat Allah Jazayeri
2- Mir Muhammad Sulh Khatun Abaadi
3- Abul Hasan Sharif Aameli
4- Sheikh Suleyman Bahreini
5- Mullah Muhammad Sarab
6- Mirza Abdullah Tabrizi
7- Mir Muhammad Hossein Khatun Abaadi
8- Mulalh Muhammad Majlesi , etc.
There are different ideas about the number of his books; some sources indicate that there are left 70 Arabic and Persian books altogether. The book “Reyhant al-Adab” indicate: 77 books.
The book “al-Zari’e” shows 169 books of Allameh Majlesi.
Some of his Persian books:
1- Hayat al-Qolub (Life of hearts), 3 volumes, one of his most important books. The 1st volume on history of propherts, the 2nd on life of the Holy Prophet and the 3rd on life of the Imams and history of caliphs.
2- Eyn al-Hayat (spring of life)
3- Meshkat al-Anwar (Lamp of lights)
4- Jala al-Oyun (Polishing eyes) on life of the Imams
5- Zaad al-M’aad (The book is on prayers)
6- Spring of weeks, etc.
Some of his Arabic books:
1- Mirror of intellect
2- Answers of various questions
3- Arba’ein (Forty) on principles and branches of religion
4- Arba’ein (Forty) on Imamate
5- Superiority of Imam Ali over all people except the Holy Prophet
6- Proving genie
7- Religions and nations
8- Method of narrating “Sahifeh Sajjadiyeh” (belonged to Imam Sajjad “the 4th Imam of Shias”
9- Path of disciples (on principles of religions)
10- Path of paradise
11- Stories of prophets
12- Rules of Islam
13- The treatise “beliefs”, etc.
The book structure
Behar al-Anwar is the most comprehensive corpus of Shia Hadiths in which many Koranic verses with their exegeses and almost most of the Prophetic and some of the Holy Hadiths, all are mentioned in the book. It includes the beliefs, the principles of religion, the secondary articles of faith, atheism, all the branches of commandments, celebrated Shia scholars, the Prophet’ and Imams’ companions, the scientific and empirical views, medical, mathematical, astronomical and social subjects, culture and history of Shias, the prophets’ stories, from Adam the prophet up to Muhammad and all the Islamic and Shias’ beliefs and commandments. It is a unique encyclopedia which was written during 36 years (1959 – 1964). It was published in 110 volumes which totally includes 2327 chapters and 40000 pages. Behar al-Anwar is criticized by some; they believe that some of the topics are weak and baseless and some contradictions in some of the volumes. For example the re is a Hadith or miracle in a chapter which is attributed to Imam Reza (the 8th Shia Imam) but in another chapter it is attributed to Imam Kazem (the 7th Shia Imam). Although there are weak topics in some chapters, but the author’s aim was to gather the Hadiths from reliable sources; it is important for the readers and researchers to correspond the contradictory Hadiths with the complete version of Hadiths in the reliable sources.
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