Is al-Kafi completely authentic like Sahih Bukhari?
Reply to the Statement of al-Kulayni which is mostly considered to be the acceptance of his all the hadeeth in his book to be Saheeh.
Al-Kulayni, in his introduction of Al-Kafi, wrote:
“Verily, you solemnly wished that you possess a book (Al-Kafi) which is sufficient, brings together the entire Islamic sciences of the knowledge of religion within it, wholly satisfies the needs of the student, acts as a reference for the seekers of guidance, and would be used by those who want to attain the knowledge of religion and practice upon it by deriving Saheeh (authentic) narrations of the as-Sadiqayn (truthful ones) (as) and the upright and acted upon traditions from it—through which the compulsory duties of Allāh, the Powerful and Exalted, and the tradition of His Prophet (saws) can be fulfilled."
The statment says "Saheeh narrations from as-Sadiqayn, where as-Sadiqayn are al-Baqir and as-Sadiq. Now the question is, did al-Kulayni only narrate from as-Sadiqayn?, the answer is No, he also narrates from other than as-Sadiqayn from the Imams, and even from non-Ma'sumin.
Sayyed al-Khoei views on word "Sadiqayn":
أولا : إن السائل إنما سأل محمد بن يعقوب تأليف كتاب مشتمل على الآثار الصحيحة عن الصادقين سلام الله عليهم ، ولم يشترط عليه أن لا يذكر فيه غير الرواية الصحيحة ، أو ما صح عن غير الصادقين عليهم السلام ، ومحمد بن يعقوب قد أعطاه ما سأله ، فكتب كتابا مشتملا على الآثار الصحيحة عن الصادقين عليهم السلام في جميع فنون علم الدين ، وإن إشتمل كتابه على غير الآثار الصحيحة عنهم عليهم السلام ، أو الصحيحة عن غيرهم أيضا إستطرادا وتتميما للفائدة
Firstly: what the questioner (who prompted the writing of the book) had asked of Muhammad b. Yaqub was the authorship of a book which encompasses the Sahih Athar(narrations) from as-Sadiqayn, and he did not put forth as a condition that it should not contain any Athar which are not Sahih from as-Sadiqayn, nor that all the Athar should only be from as-Sadiqayn, and Muhammad bin Yaqub gave him what he asked for, so he wrote a book that encompasses the Sahih Athar from as-Sadiqayn in all aspects of Ulum al-Diin, but he did not burden himself with only Sahih Athar from as-Sadiqayn or only narrating from Sadiqayn, and what proves what we have just pointed out is the fact that Muhammad b. Yaqub narrates alot in al-Kafi from Ghayr as-Sadiqayn.
(i.e. in other words, if he can narrate from Ghayr as-Sadiqayn, then he can also narrate what is not Sahih, that is, he did not bind himself with ONLY including Sahih Athar from as-Sadiqayn, as his practise in narrating from Ghayr as-Sadiqayn shows).
Source: Mu'jam Rijaal al-hadeeth by Sayyed al-Khoei,Vol 1,Pg 82
As Sayyed al-Khoei says: he(Kulayni) did what was asked of him, he wrote a book that encompasses the Sahih Athar from as-Sadiqin, but he did not limit himself to this, and also included what is not from as-Sadiqin.
Now if he can narrate from the Non-Sadiqin, then that is enough proof that this statement of his is not a Statement of Hasr ie. etablishing limit of what he is going to do, but rather it is a statement of preponderance, ie. he thinks that Most of what I am going to do is include Sahih Athar from as-Sadiqin.
Argument of word as-Sadiqayn:
And if some one argue regarding word as-Sadiqayn (the truthful ones), and believe it to be as-Sadiqeen (all the truthful Imams). which mean Shekih Kulayni was referring to all the Imams. which proves that he had narrated only saheeh hadeeth. This can be answered with the fact that Sheikh Kulyani has not simply narrated hadeeth from Masumeen (ie Imams) but rather there are narration from Ghayr Masomeen (ie Non Imams) also. Which proves that not all what he has narrated in his books are saheeh.
And in the case of whether narration in al-Kafi are only from Masumeen or with Ghayr Masumeen, al-Khoei states that:
وهذا الكلام ظاهر في أن محمد بن يعقوب لم يكن يعتقد صدور روايات كتابه عن المعصومين عليهم السلام جزما ، وإلا لم يكن مجال للاستشهاد بالرواية على لزوم الاخذ بالمشهور من الروايتين عند التعارض ، فان هذا لا يجتمع مع الجزم بصدور كلتيهما ، فإن الشهرة إنما تكون مرجحة لتمييز الصادر عن غيره ، ولا مجال للترجيح بها مع الجزم بالصدور.
Source: Mu'jam Rijaal al-hadeeth by Sayyed al-Khoei,Vol 1,Pg 25
Views of some of the Scholars on Authenticity of al-Kafi
Though,there are some Shia scholar who believe in complete authenticity of al-Kafi on simply basis of the above statement of Kulayni which al-Khoei has refuted.While majority of scholar do not consider it to be completely Saheeh.
#1: Sheikh Sadooq (d.381 AH):
And Sheikh Sadooq who was Student of Sheikh Kulayni, did not considered all of the hadeeth in his book (ie al-kafi) to be authentic (saheeh).
أنّ الشيخ الصدوق : قدّس سرّه : لم يكن يعتقد صحّة جميع مافي الكافي
Source: Mu'jam Rijaal al-hadeeth by Sayyed al-Khoei,Vol 1,Pg 85
#2: Sheikh Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (d.1111 AH):
Allamah Baqir Majlisi wrote a commentary on Al-Kafi ie "Mirat ul Uqool" where he as explicitly graded each Hadeeth.
Allamah Baqir Majlisi states in his commentary that 58% of narrations in al-Kafi are unreliable.
#3: Muhammad Muhsin Aqa Buzurg Tehrani (d.1389):
و هو اجل الكتب الاربعة الاصول المعتمدة عليه لم يكتب مثله فى المنقول من آل الرسول . لثقة الاسلام محمد بن يعقوب بن اسحاق الكلينى الرازى ، ابن اخت علان الكلينى ، و المتوفى328 مشتمل على اربعة و ثلاثين كتابا ، و ثلاثمائة و ستة و عشرين بابا ، و احاديثه حصرت فى ستة عشر الف حديث ، الصحيح 5072 . الحسن 144 ، الموثق 178 ، القوى302 ، الضعيف9485 .
Source: Dharee`ah ila tasaaneef al-Shee`ah by al-Tehraani,, Vol 17, Pg 245.
#4: Sayyid Hashim Ma'ruf al-Hasani (d.1403 AH):
There was no consensus(Ijma) among the earlier scholars as to the reliability of all of al-Kafi's narrations in their generalities as well as in their details. He went on to say: "In the ahadith contained in al-Kafi, whose total is 16199, only 5072 are authentic (sahih), 44 are hasan, 1128 are muwath-thaq, 302 are qawiyy (strong) and 9553 are dhaif (weak)."
Source: Diraasaatun Fil Hadith Walmuhaddithiyn by Hashim al-Hasani,Pg 132-137
#5: Ayatullah Sayyed al-Khoei (d. 1413 AH):
لانّ فيها مرسلات وفيها روايات في اسنادها مجاهيل، ومن إشتهر بالوضع والكذب
Source: Mu'jam Rijaal al-hadeeth by Sayyed al-Khoei,Vol 1,Pg 85
How Sheikh al-Kulayni actually wanted us to take hadeeth from his books
al-Kulayni himself brings some rules of how to resolve contradictions, and to shift between authentic material and otherwise in the very same Muqadima.
فاعلم يا أخي أرشدك الله أنه لا يسع أحدا " تمييز شئ مما اختلف الرواية فيه عن العلماء عليهم السلام برأيه، إلا على ما أطلقه العالم بقوله عليه السلام: " اعرضوها على كتاب الله فما وافى كتاب الله عز وجل فخذوه، وما خالف كتاب الله فردوه " و قوله عليه السلام: " دعوا ما وافق القوم فإن الرشد في خلافهم " وقوله عليه السلام " خذوا بالمجمع عليه، فإن المجمع عليه لا ريب فيه " ونحن لا نعرف من جميع ذلك إلا أقله ولا نجد شيئا " أحوط ولا أوسع من رد علم ذلك كله إلى العالم عليه السلام وقبول ما وسع من الأمر فيه بقوله عليه السلام: " بأيما أخذتم من باب التسليم وسعكم
Source: al-Kafi by Kulayni,Vol 1,Pg 8.
al-Kulayni is laying down some principles for resolving variation in Hadith by looking at what the Imams had to say about it, thus:
1. "Compare a narration with the text of the Holy Quran. Whatever agrees with the Holy Quran is acceptable and what does not agree is rejected."
2. "Leave alone what agrees with the views of the others because the right is in what is opposite to them."
3. "Follow what is unanimously agreed upon because there is no harm in what is unanimously agreed upon."
He then says 'We are only able to apply such principles to very few of such cases'.
Thus, we do not find any thing better and more precautionary than:
4. "Which ever you would follow in submission and obedience is excusable for you."
Thus, If a person who himself guide how to resolve Variation in his tradition,then how come he at the same time believe in complete authenticity of his books.
I would like to thanks brother IslamicSalvation form Shiachat.com, for providing translation of Sayyed al-Khoei views and arguments on authenticity of al-Kafi.