While little is known about the author of this text, Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ya’qub al-Kulayni, the text itself gained widespread popularity through Shaykh al-Tusi who relied on it excessively in his fikh works. It soon came to be one, and even the most authoritative, of the four canonical collections of hadith on which the fikh ideology is based (Madelung, 1986, p.363).
The present copy was written by Ibrahim bin ‘Abdullah al-Khatib al-Mazindrani, a known Shi’a scholar active in Mecca, from a manuscript of his master Muhammad Amin Al-Astarabadi Al-Makki, who himself had written a commentary on the text.
Other known copies include two from the second half of the seventeenth century in the John Rylands Library, Manchester (Mingana, 1934, no.93, pp.117-119, and no.801, p.1141-42) along with nine copies of the work in the British Library, London, (Stocks and Baker, 2001, p.41) The earliest copy in the British Library is dated AH 1059-61/1649-51 AD. The present manuscript is, however, earlier than those recorded copies bearing numerous colophons dated between AH 1029 – 1034, with the final completion date following the index at the start of the manuscript.