As such the discussion is not restricted to al-Kafi but extends itself to the Four Books of Shi'te tradition.
Here we will look at the claim and its worth generally in relation to all the four books and conclude by making observations in particular with al-Kafi.
The point of debate being the claim made chiefly by the traditionists (akhbariyun) in relation to the authenticity and validity of the traditions contained within the four books of tradition and their issuance from the Imams (as) and hence the needlessness of scrutinising the worth of the traditions through subjecting every link of the chain of the reporters to in depth biographical studies (rijali). This entailing a criticism of the futility of the quadruple categorisation of the solitary narration by 'Allamah al-Hilli1 into authentic (sahih), trustworthy (muwathaq), meritorious (hasan) and weak (da'if), by the reasoning that the shi'ite traditions are derived from these four books whose compilers in turn derive them from the authentic traditions recorded by the companions of the Imams popularly known as usul arba'ah miah (the four hundred principles).
The four books being-
1. Al-Kafi by Abu Ja'far Muhammad b Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi (d.328/29 h)
2. Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih by Abu Ja'far Muhammad b 'Ali b al-Husayn b Musa b Babaway al-Qummi (d.381 h)
3. Tahdhib al-Ahkam and al-Istibsar by Abu Ja'far Muhammad b al-Hasan al-Tusi (d.460 h)
According to Dr. Hadi Fadli in his book titled 'ulum al-Hadith the controversy began from the assertions of Mirza Muhammad Amin al-Asterabadi,2 a traditionist who in his work al-Fawaid al-Madaniyah maintains that the traditions contained within the four books should be deemed as authentic and the existence of permissibility of adhering to them due to the fact that the traditions are continuous (mutawatir) in their transmission from the authors to their compilers. He goes on to mention twelve reasons in support of his claim. Astarabadi's views were supported by a group of scholars most of them traditionists like himself but in particular he was supported by Hur al-Amili3 the author of wasa'il al-Shi'ah who has stated twenty-two