Birth and Childhood
The life of Sayyid Razi who was born in 359 AH/970 CE in Baghdad and died in the year 406/1015 in his hometown, coincided with the era of the Buyid dynasty. It was the golden age of Arabic literature and among his contemporaries mention could be made of the great poets Al-Mutinabbi and Abual-AlaMuarri.
Sayyid Razi was born in a prominent household directly descended from the Prophet (pbuh), as is clear from the epithets of “Sayyid” and Sharif, by which he was referred.
Sayyid Razi’s Father
His father Abu Ahmad Husayn bin Musa was fifth in line of descent from the 7th Imam, Musa al-Kazim (AS), and held the prestigious position of the “Naqib al-Nuqaba” of Iraq, a responsibility which required the managing of affairs of the Sadats (Prophet’s descendants). He was given the title of “Tahir Awhad Dhu al-Manaqib” and died in 396 and was buried in the shrine of Imam Husayn (AS) in Karbala. At his death, Sayyid Razi, who had been acting as his father’s deputy since 381, officially became the Naqib al-Nuqaba and held the position till his own death in 406/1015.
His father’s genealogy reads: Husayn bin Musa bin Muhammad bin Musa bin Ibrahim Mujab bin Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS).
Sayyid Razi’s Mother
Sayyid Razi’s mother Fatimah also traced her lineage to the Prophet (pbuh) and was the daughter of Husayn bin Abu Muhammad al- Hasan al-Utrush bin Ali bin Hasan bin Umar al-Ashraf the son of the 4th Infallible Imam, Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (AS). She was a pious and noble lady, and was held in high esteem by scholars and other notables. At her request, the great scholar Shaykh Mufid compiled the book Ahkam al-Nisa which contains the fiqhi rules for women. Her family had carved out an independent principality in Tabaristan on the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea. She died in Baghdad in 385 AH.
Islamic Education And Knowledge
There is an interesting story how Sayyid Razi and his elder brother Ali Abual-Kasim Sayyid Murtaza started their formal Islamic education. According to Ibn Abi al-Hadid in his book “Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah”, Shaykh Mufid saw a dream that a lady appearing to be the Prophet’s daughter Hazrat Fatimah Zahra (AS) entered his mosque in the Karkh locality of Baghdad with two small boys and asked him to teach them fiqh. The Shaykh woke up in a rather perplexed state of mind in view of his own paucity of knowledge when compared to Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husayn (AS).
But the next day when Fatimah, the wife of the Naqib al-Nuqab, entered the mosque with her two sons and requested him to teach them Islamic sciences, he understood the purport of his dream and accepted her request with great honor.
The two brothers together soon mastered different branches of Islamic sciences under Shaykh Mufid and other leading scholars of Baghdad, but unlike Sayyid Razi who was more inclined towards politics and literature, Sayyid Mortaza was deeply interested in fiqh.
Sayyid Murtaza, who acquired the epithet of Alam al-Huda, was four years older than his brother and died at the age of 81 years in 436/ 1044. He served as Naqib al-Nuqaba after the death of Sayyid Razi and was considered a master of kalam, fiqh, usul al-fiqh, literature, grammar, poetry and other fields of knowledge. His divan or poetical composition runs into more than 20,000 verses. He authored several books such as al-Shafi fl al-Imamah, al- Dhakhirah fi Usul al-Fiqh, al-Ghurar wa al-Durar, and al-Tanzih.
Abu al-Hasan Muhammad ibn al-Husayn al-Musawi, popularly known as Sayyid or Sharif Razi, lived a brief but highly fruitful life. So great has been his contribution to Islamic sciences that a study of his life and works requires an analysis of almost all works on history, biographies and literature written since the 5th century AH.
Sayyid Razi’s only son Abu Ahmad Adnan was also a prominent scholar of his time and after the death of his uncle Sayyid Murtaza, he was entrusted with the post of Naqib al- Nuqaba. He was given the title of his grandfather “Taher Dhu al- Manaqeb” by the Buhid ruler and was highly respected for his knowledge and nobility of character.
Compiling of Nahj al-Balaghah
Nahj al-Balaghah is that most reputed collection of the utterances of Amirul Momineen Ali Bin Abi Talib, peace and greetings be upon him, which was compiled by Sayyid Razi, brother of Sharif Murtaza, the ensign of guidance, towards the close of the 4th century of Hijra.
Thereafter in the first decade of the fifth century he died, and from the style of writing of Nahj al-Balaghah it appears that he had collected the utterances of Amirul Momineen from various places add hid left blank pages in between which must have taken a long time while the work of additions therein must have continued till his last
days, so much so that if an utterance reached him after the compilation of the book he inserted it in haste in a place other than its due without looking for its proper location, but gave a note that according to some other tradition this utterance has been placed somewhere else. This mode of collection and compilation is in itself enough to convince an unbiased person that Sayyid Razi’s own style of writing or power of expression has nothing to do with it, but that he has confined himself to collecting Amirul Momineen’s utterances from various places and putting them together.