Born in Kufa, Ahmad b.Muhammad al-Barqi was both a scholar and historian who was well-known for his narrations of Twelver Shi’a hadith. The study of hadith and jurisprudence was common amongst Al-Barqi’s family, as al-Barqi’s father was also a renowned scholar who was a disciple to Imam al- Kazim (a.s), Imam al-Rida (a.s), and Imam al- Jawad (a.s). Many Shi’a scholars have attested to the works and narrations of al-Barqi, such as al-Najashi, al-Shayk al-Tusi, and al’-Allama al-Hilli, along with various Sunni scholars. One of his most important contributions to hadith studies is that of Al-Mahasin, also known as The Beauties.
Al-Mahasin is a book that contains a large collection of various Shi’a hadith from hundreds of collections on topics such as fiqh, tawhid, principles of religion, wisdom, the reasons behind religious regulations, and the legislated actions within Islam. Out of this large hadith collection, only a part containing 2604 hadiths is available today in 11 books.
The first of these books is Kitab al-ashkal wa l-qara’in, also known as the book of diagrams and evidences, which include hadith that have used the number 3 through 10, as well as advice from Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and the Ahlul-Bayt. Kitab thawab al-a’mal, the book of rewards of actions, stays true to its title as it contains hadith regarding the rewards of good deeds, and in contrast, Kitab ‘iqab al-a’mal, consists of hadith that discusses sins and punishments for various misdeeds. Kitab al-safwat wa l-nur wa l-rahma, the book of elite and mercy, contains hadith about the position of the Holy Prophet and his family, the Ahlul-Bayt. The remaining 7 books are as follows:
- Kitab masabih al-zulam, also recognized as the book of the Lanterns of darkness, which includes hadiths on issues regarding recognition, and knowledge of the truth.
- Kitab al-‘ilal, also known as the book of causes, discusses religious rulings within Islam
- Kitab al-safar, the book of traveling, consists of hadith and rulings with regards to travelling.
- Kitab al-ma’akil, also known as the book of what is eaten, includes hadith and information on food and beverages.
- Kitab al-ma’, the book of waters, contains rulings about waters.
- Kitab al-manafi’, the book of interests, discusses rulings around consulting.
- Lastly, Kitab al-marafiq, the book of amenities, discusses the rulings of the house, cleaning and transportation vehicles.