The Role of Traditions in the Occultation of the Twelfth Imam

The Role of Traditions in the Occultation of the Twelfth Imam

By: Jassim M. Hussain

Taken From
After the martyrdom of al-Husayn, the Imamite Imams from `Ali b. al-Husayn to al-Hasan al-`Askari followed a quiescent policy towards the Umayyads and the `Abbasids. But they expected that all their suffering would be terminated by al-Qa’im, whose rising in arms they were awaiting. The Imamites based their expectations on their interpretation of certain Qur’anic verses and on numbers of traditions attributed to the Prophet concerning the political and religious role of al-Qa’im. So it is essential to discuss some of these Qur’anic verses and traditions in order to see their effect upon the attitude of the `Abbasids towards the Imamites, and consequently their reactions to the question of the occultation (al-Ghayba) of the Twelfth Imam.

1. The early usage of the term al-Mahdi
The term al-Mahdi, which means “the one who is guided by Allah”, is the passive participle of the stem hada, “to guide”. A term that occurs twice in the Qur’an is the active participle of the same stem, al Hada, the Guide. The first verse states, “Allah is surely the Guide of those who believe” (XXII, 53), while the second states, “But the Lord is a sufficient Guide and Helper” (XXV,33). In the usage of the Qur’an the eighth form of the same stem, ihtada, “he accepted the guidance for himself”, is used strictly as a reflexive passive, whose participle is Muhtada.So Man, who is guided by Allah, is not simply guided, but reacts himself to the divine guidance (hidaya)[23], either by instinct or intellect. Through these two means he can acquire knowledge of Allah, which leads him to worship Him by following His laws on earth. However, Allah’s laws cannot be discovered through these two sources of knowledge, so throughout the course of history Allah has revealed His knowledge and laws to a group of people who have been divinely guided to lead mankind towards His straight path. These people are called “Prophets” and possessed charismatic qualities which enabled them to implement the commands of Allah and to lead the people without error. Hence they are called in the Qur’an al Hudat (sing. al-hadi), because they were already rightly guided (muhtadin) by Allah[24].
The term al-Mahdi (the guided one) has the same meaning as al-Muhtadi. However, it has been applied to certain individuals in the early Islamic period as an honorific title, while also being applied to al-Qa’im. Many examples can be cited showing that the term al-Mahdi was used in these two senses. For example the poet Hassan b. Thabit (d. 54/673) applied the term al-Mahdi to the Prophet in a qasida when he says[25]:
Sorrow for the Mahdi who is buried!
O best of those who walked on Earth, be not far!
The poet Jarir applies this term to Ibrahim, the prophet[26].
The Sunnites often applied it to the four caliphs after the Prophet, who were called al-Khulafa’ al-Rashidun al-Mahdiyyun, the divinely guided caliphs.[27]‘ Sulayman b. Surd called al-Husayn, after his martyrdom, Mahdi b. al-Mahdi[28].
As for the theological usage of this term, according to Rajkowski, Abu Ishaq Ka’b b. Mati’ b. Haysu` al-Himyari (d. 34/654) was the first individual to speak of al-Mahdi as the Saviour[29]. But it is worth mentioning that the second caliph, `Umar b. al-Khattab, had spoken of occultation before Ka’b. When the Prophet died in 11/632, ` Umar contended that Muhammad had not died but had concealed himself as Moses did and would return from his occultation. `Umar’s claim, however, was refuted by Abu Bakr, who reminded him of the Qur’anic verse revealing the death of the Prophet[30] which states: “Surely you shall die and they [too] shall surely die. Then surely on the Day of Resurrection you will contend with one another before your Lord” (al-Zumar, XXXIX, 30-1).
The follower of Ibn al-Hanafiyya (d. 81-4/700-3)[31], al-Mukhtar, who was in revolt in Kufa in 66/685, named him as claimant to the Imamate and called him al-Mahdi in the messianic context[32].
Later the name of Ibn al-Hanafiyya became associated with the Kaysaniyya sect, which denied his death and held that he was the promised Mahdi, who had concealed himself in Mound Radwa, and who would rise in arms to eliminate injustice[33].
The Kaysaniyya dogma played an important role in Islamic political history during the Umayyad period, since the `Abbasid propaganda, which brought about the collapse of the Umayyads, was in fact derived from this sect[34].
The dogma of al-Kaysaniyya can be seen in the poetry of Kuthayyir (d. 105/723) and al-Sayyid al-Himyari (d. 173/789). The latter had followed this sect, but it is said that he became an Imamite after a discussion with al-Sadiq, who clarified for him that the concealed Imam mentioned by the Prophet was not Ibn al-Hanafiyya but the Twelfth Imam from the progeny of al-Husayn[35].
The Zaydites also applied the term al-Mahdi in its eschatological sense to their leaders who rose in arms against the `Abbasids, such as Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya (d. 145/762), Muhammad b. Ja`far al-Sadiq (d. 203/818), and Muhammad b. al-Qasim al-Talqan, who disappeared in the year 219/834.’[36]
An example of the Zaydite usage of this term is recorded by Ibn Tawus[37], who states on the authority of Ibrahim b. `Abd Allah b. al-Hasan, the brother of al-Nafs al Zakiyya, that the latter had rebelled hoping that Allah might make him the Mahdi promised by the Prophet:
As for the Imamites, a considerable body among them applied the title of al-Mahdi in its messianic sense to each Imam after his death. This can be seen in the claim of al-Nawusiyya, al-Waqifa and the followers of al- `Askari, the eleventh Imam. After the death of al-Sadiq in the year 148/765 the Nawusiyya group held that he was al-Qa’imal-Mahdi and that he did not die but went into occultation[38].
The Waqifa group applied this title to the seventh Imam Musa alKazim (d. 183/799) and denied his death, contending that he was al-Qa’im al-Mahdi and that he would rise to fill the earth with justice after it had been filled with tyranny[39].
Other Imamites held that the eleventh Imam al- `Askari was al-Qa’imal-Mahdi,[40] whereas the last important usage of this term was given to the Twelfth Imam, who became the magnate of the Imamites’ hope in their struggle for justice and equity.
It is worth mentioning that all these claims relating to the eschatological usage of the term `al-Mahdi’ were based mainly on Prophetic traditions concerning a future restorer of Islam. Hence it is essential to discuss the traditions of the Prophet and the Imams, especially these traditions which concern the Twelfth Imam, so as to see their role in the question of his occultation.

2. The Occultation of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi in the Qur’an
In Shi’ite exegesis many Qur’anic verses are regarded as references to the role of al-Qa’im and his occultation.
The most important is the following verse: O, but I call to witness the planets, the stars which rise and set [al-Takweer, LXXXI, 15-6]
According to Imam al-Baqir, this verse means that an Imam would go into occultation in the year 260/847; then he would reappear suddenly like a bright shooting star in the dark night[41].
Ibn al-Furat, al-Kafi and al-Saduq interpret the following Qur’anic verse: “Say: Have you thought: If (all) your water were to disappear into the earth, who then could bring you gushing water” [al-Mulk LXVII, 30]
They maintain that this verse is a metaphor for the concealment of the Imam, whose presence among people is like the water they need to drink[42].
The Isma’ili writer Mansur al-Yaman (ca. 4th century A. H.) agrees with al-Kulayni that some Qur’anic verses which apparently deal with the Day of Judgement actually concern the appearance of al-Qa’im after his occultation. According to al-Kulayni the verse “And those who sincerely believe in the day of Judgement” [al-Mi`raj, LXX, 26] refers to those who believe in the reappearance of al-Qa’im[43]. Mansur al-Yaman gives a similar esoteric interpretation of another verse:
And of mankind are some who say, we believe in Allah and the Last Day, when they believe not. They think to beguile Allah and those who believe, but they beguile none save themselves; but they perceive not. [al-Baqara, II, 8-9]
Mansur al-Yaman states that the Last Day (al-Yawm al-Akhir) in this verse is the “Commander of the Age” (Sahib al-Zaman), that is al-Qa’im al-Mahdi[44].
Al-Kulayni interprets many Qur’anic verses with the same kind of approach and links them to the future role of al-Qa’imal-Mahdi.’ In his view, when al-Qa’im reappears he will establish the political state of the “People of the House” (Ahl al-Bayt) that is, the Imams, upon the ruins of the state of inequity. This is al-Kulayni’s esoteric commentary on the verse: “And say: The truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Surely falsehood is a vanishing thing.” [Banu Isra'il, XVII, 81][45]
Al-Tusi follows in al-Kulani’s footsteps in commenting on certain Qur’anic verses. Take, for example, this passage:
And We desired to show favour unto those who were oppressed in the earth, and to make them Imams and to make them the inheritors. And to establish them in the earth, and to show Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts that which they feared from them. [al-Qasas XXVIII, 5-6]
Al-Tusi holds that the above verses predict the establishment of the state of Justice by al-Qa’im al-Mahdi, who would inherit what had been in the possession of the wrong-doers[46].
Other Imamite scholars maintain that the fifth Imam, al-Baqir, said that Allah’s promise of victory to an Imam from the People of the House is mentioned explicitly in the following verse:
And verily We have have written in the scripture (al-Zabur), after the Reminder My righteous slaves will inherit the earth. [al-Anbiya', XXI, 105][47]
Other verses have also been interpreted by the Imamites to be connected with the role of al-Qa’im, after his rising from occultation, such as the verse:
Allah has promised such of you as believe and do good works that He will surely make them to succeed (the present rulers) in the earth even as He caused those who were before them to succeed (others); and He will surely establish for them their religion which he has approved for them, and will give them in exchange safety after their fear. They serve Me. They ascribe nothing as a partner unto Me. Those who disbelieve henceforth, they are the wrong doers. [al-Nur, XXIV, 55]
Al-Qummi and al-Tusi report that the People of the House mentioned that this verse concerns the Mahdi because he would live during his concealment in a state of fear, would appear after the removal of fear, and would certainly become victorious[48].

The traditions concerning the Twelfth Imam and his occultation

The traditions concerning al-Qa’im al-Mahdi
There are many traditions attributed to the Prophet in the books of tradition concerning the identity of al-Mahdi, his family, his epithet (kunya) and his character. The conclusion of these numerous traditions is that al-Mahdi is a descendant of the sons of Fatima[49], the daughter of the Prophet; and more particularly, that he is of the progeny of her son al-Husayn. His colour is similar to that of the Arab, and his body is like the Israelite, and his name and kunya are similar to,the name and kunya of the Prophet[50].
Moreover some traditions claim that the Prophet said that al-Mahdi’s father’s name is like the name of the Prophet’s grandson, al-Hasan. Below are a number of these traditions.
i) We, the family of `Abd al-Muttalib, are the Masters of the inhabitants of Paradise: I, Hamza, Ja’far, `Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn and al-Mahdi[51].
ii) Al-Mahdi is from my progeny. His name is similar to mine and his epithet is similar to mine. In his physique and character he looks exactly like me. He will be in a state of occultation and there will be confusion (Hayra) in which people will wander about. Then he will come forth like a sharp, shooting star to fill the earth with justice and equity as it was filled before with injustice and inequity[52].
iii) Al-Mahdi is from my family (`itra) from the sons of Fatima. It is worth mentioning that this tradition was reported on the authority of Umm Salama by `Ali b. Nufayl, who died in 125/742.[53]
iv) On the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, the Prophet is reported to have said, “How shall Allah destroy a nation whose beginning is myself, whose end is Jesus and whose very centre is al-Mahdi, who will be from my family?[54]
v) The name of al-Mahdi’s father is similar to the name of my son al-Hasan[55].
The conclusion of Osman concerning these traditions seems to be rather forced. “All these hadiths are weak and contradictory (mutadarib), therefore their attribution to the Prophet Muhammad is to be very much doubted[56].
For the use of the epithet al-Mahdi by numerous Islamic groups, particularly the Zaydites, in their struggle for power during the Umayyad period shows that these traditions were well-known among the Muslims of that period. Moreover, many traditionists from different Islamic sects transmitted these traditions before the downfall of the Umayyads in 132/749, and later they were collected in the books of tradition (hadith).
The earliest of these books was Kitab Sulaym b. Qays, attributed to Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali, who died between the years 80-90/699-708. He reports many Prophetic traditions concerning al-Mahdi, his occultation and his reappearance[57].
It appears from these two points that Osman’s judgement is somewhat hasty, particularly if one takes into account the fact that Prophetic traditions regarding al-Mahdi were narrated by twenty-six companions of the Prophet. On their authority thirty-eight traditionists recorded these traditions in their collections of hadith[58].
The evidence suggests that from the earliest times in Islam there was a belief that the Prophet had given his followers a promise about a man from the progeny of al-Husayn, who would rise in arms in the future to purify Islam from innovation. But political rivalry amongst the Muslims encouraged some people to exploit this hope and to distort these Prophetic traditions in order to use them in their struggle for power[59].
These traditions only mention that al-Qa’im al-Mahdi will be from the progeny of the Prophet. But there are also other traditions attributed to the Prophet which state that al-Mahdi will, in fact, be the Twelfth Imam.
It is true that Montgomery Watt objects that,
Until al-`Askari died on 1st Jan. 874, there was nothing to make people expect that the number of the Imams would be limited to twelve or that the Twelfth would go into occultation. It follows the theory of the twelve Imams was worked out after 874.[60]
Nevertheless, there is ample proof that traditions claiming a-lQa’im would be the Twelfth descendant of the Prophet were in circulation before 874. It is thus necessary to throw light upon these traditions, which were,transmitted by Sunnites and Zaydites as well as Imamites, so that one can see to what extent these traditions were used by the Imamite scholars to support the belief that the Twelfth Imam had not died but was in a state of occultation.

The traditions of the Sunnites (Ahl al-Hadith)
The Sunnite books of tradition report three Prophetic traditions pertaining to the twelve Imams who would be the successors of the Prophet. These were narrated on the authority of seven companions of the Prophet, namely Jabir b. Samura, `Abd Allah b. Mas`ud, Anas b. Malik, `Umar b. al-Khattab, Wa’ila b. Asqa’, `Abd Allah b. `Umar and Abu Hurayra.
i) Jabir b. Samura narrates that he heard the Prophet say, “There will be after me twelve Amirs. “Then he mentioned something which I did not hear, so I asked my father, who was sitting beside me, who said, “All of whom will be from Quraysh.[61]‘’
ii) `Umar b. al-Khattab reports that he heard the Prophet say, “The Imams (al-A’imma) after me will be twelve, all of whom will be from Quraysh.[62]“
iii) `Abd Allah b. Mas’ud was once reciting the Qur’an in the mosque in Iraq, when a young man came and asked him if the Prophet had informed them about the number of his successors. Ibn Mas`ud replied, “The Prophet informed us that his successors will be twelve caliphs, whose number is similar to the number of the leaders (al-nuqaba) of Banu Isra’il.[63]”
These traditions have been related by the traditionists and considered authentic. Ibn Hanbal narrates the first with thirty-four chains of transmitters (sanad), all of which are on the authority of Jabir b. Samura[64], although there are slight differences in the versions. Some of the narrators used the words Ami’r and Khalifa instead of Imam. But these traditions, as reported by the Sunnites, indicate only that the Prophet would be succeeded by twelve successors; none reveals that the Twelfth would go into occultation, nor that he would be al-Qa’im al-Mahdi. But the Zaydite and the Imamite narrators relate the same traditions with phrases which indicate that the Twelfth Imam would be al-Qa’im al-Mahdi[65].

The Twelfth Imam in the Zaydite traditions
The Zaydite sect, the Jarudiyya, narrate many traditions attributed to the Prophet and al-Baqir concerning the political role of the Twelfth Imam. One of their distinguished scholars in Kufa was Abu Said `Abbad b. Ya’qub al-Rawajini al-`Asfari (d. 250/864)[66]. He wrote a book entitled Kitab Akhbar al-Mahdi[67].
Al-Dhahabi reports that `Abbad was a Rafidite propagandist, and was awaiting the rise of al-Mahdi in the near future. He used to carry a sword, and once said that he kept his sword ready in order to fight for al-Mahdi[68]. It is worth mentioning that `Abbad held this view before the occultation of the Twelfth Imam in 260/874, since he died in 250/864.[69] He reports three Prophetic traditions concerning the Twelfth Imam. Below are two of them:
i) The Prophet is believed to have said, “From my descendants there will be eleven leaders [who will be] noble, receivers of tradition [and] possessed of knowledge, the last of whom will be `al-Qa’im bil-Haqq’ who will fill it [i.e. the world] with justice, just as it was filled with tyranny[70].
ii) The Prophet is reported to have said: “I and eleven of my descendants and you, O ‘Ali, are the axis of the earth, that is, its tent pegs and its mountains. By us Allah has secured the world so that it will not sink with its people. For when the eleventh of my descendants has died the world shall sink with its people without warning[71].
These traditions along with other sayings predicting the historical circumstances and the signs which would precede the rise of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi were used by the Shi’a in their struggle for power. This can be seen in the events of the general `Alid uprising which occurred in 250-1/864-5, when many Shi’ites applied the Prophetic traditions concerning the signs of the rise of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi to the historical circumstances surrounding this revolt. Ibn `Uqda (d. 333/944) reports that al-Sadiq said:
A man from the People of the House of the Prophet will rise in arms in Mecca holding a white standard in his hand: the Euphrates will become dry, and, at the same time, a group of people, whose eyes are small, will advance towards you from the East and will force you to leave your houses. Moreover, the graves of your dead will be opened and predatory animals will attack your houses. Afterwards a fair-complexioned man will install a chair in Mecca calling people to curse `Ali b. Abi Talib, and killing many people, but he will be killed on the same day.[72]
According to `Ali b. al-Husayn b. al-Qasim al-Kharraz (d. ca. 250/864) all these signs occurred during the revolt of Yahya b. `Umar in 250/864. As a result, some Shi’ites, particularly the Jarudiyya, believed that the leader of this revolt, Yahya b. `Umar, was himself al-Qa’imal-Mahdi[73].

The Twelfth Imam in the Imamite traditions
The Imamite traditionists are distinguished from the Sunnites and the Zaydites by their claim that the Twelfth Imam mentioned in the Sunnite and the Zaydite traditions is in fact Muhammad the son of the eleventh Imam al- `Askari, and that he is al-Qa’im al-Mahdi. Moreover they have written in more detail about his occultation, and his political role, the signs which would precede his reappearance and the social and political conditions which might pave the way for it.

The traditions concerning the Twelfth Imam
The Prophetic traditions concerning the twelve Imams related by the Sunnite and the Zaydite traditionists were also narrated by the Imamites[74].
They applied these traditions to their twelve Imams and added traditions of the Imams themselves which indicate explicitly that the successor of the eleventh Imam was al-Qa’im. The traditions attributed to the Prophet do not indicate explicity that al-Qa’im would be the successor of al-`Askari, the eleventh Imam, whereas the sayings of the Imams do.
The earliest reference to a Prophetic tradition concerning the Twelfth Imam is recorded by the Imamite traditionists on the authority of Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali. He was a companion of five Imams, ‘Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, `Ali b. al-Husayn and al-Baqir, and died in 90/701.[75] The Imamites regard his work as the first Shi’ite collection of Hadith[76]. He reports numerous narrations concerning the twelve Imams and the political role of the last Imam. The first of these narrations is attributed to a Christian monk who met `Ali after his return from the battle of Siffin. He informed him that he had found in the Gospels that the successors of the Prophet Muhammad would be twelve; the last of them would fill the world with justice, and Jesus would perform the prayer behind him[77].
All the other narrations in Sulaym’s work are attributed to the Prophet. The most important of these is quoted on the authority of the companions `Ali, `Abd Allah b. Ja’far al-Tayyar, Salman al-Farisi, Abu al-Haytham b. al-Tayhan, Khuzayma b. Thabit, `Ammar b. Yasir, Abu Dharr, al-Miqdad and Abu Ayyub. They narrated that the Prophet gathered his companions together at Ghadir Khumm and said to them:
O people, the legal power (al-wilaya) is granted only to `Ali b. Abi Talib and the trustees from my progeny, the descendants of my brother `Ali. He will be the first, and his two sons, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, will succeed him consecutively. They will not separate themselves from the Qur’an until they return to Allah.[78]
Sulaym adds that the Commmander of the Faithful, ‘Ali, told him, “O brother, son of Hilal, the Mahdi of my nation is Muhammad, who shall fill the earth with justice and equity as it was filled with tyranny and injustice. I know who will pay the oath of allegiance to him.[79]“
Sulaym states that he met al-Hasan and al-Husayn in Medina after the assassination of their father, ‘Ali, and related to them this tradition on ‘Ali’s authority. They confirmed that they had also heard it from the Prophet. Sulaym adds that he informed `Ali b. al-Husayn, the fourth Imam, in the presence of his son al-Baqir about this tradition, and they also confirmed its authenticity. Moreover Abban b. Abi `Ayyash reports that he met al-Baqir during the rite of pilgrimage and mentioned Sulaym’s tradition to him, and that he confirmed its authenticity[80].
But al-Mas`udi doubts the authenticity of this tradition claiming that this tradition was transmitted only through Sulaym[81].
Despite the fact that this tradition is related on the authority of Sulaym b. Qays by many Imamite scholars, such as al-Kulayni, al-Nu`mani, and al-Tusi[82], it was related and confirmed by others as well[83]. In addition al-Saduq relates the above tradition on the authority of `A1i[84],and he narrates another prophetic tradition on the authority of Abd Allah b. `Abbas:
I am the master of the Prophets and ‘Ali the master of my trustees, of whom there will be twelve; the first one is `Ali, and the last is al-Qa’im.[85]
Moreover the Imamite scholars relate numerous traditions attributed to their Imams, which confirm that the Twelfth Imam will be al-Qa’im al-Mahdi[86]. It is worth noting that al-Hadrami (fl. 3rd/9th century) reports a tradition which gives the Imam who will rise in arms the epithet al-Qa’im[87].
At the same time other narrations employ the epithet al-Mahdi, particularly in the works of al-Saffar (d. 290/902)[88].
The use of these two terms caused such confusion amongst the followers of al-Jawad that some were not sure whether al-Qa’im and al-Mahdi were the same individual or not. Therefore, according to al Saduq, al-Jawad was reported as having said that al-Qa’im is from “us” and that he would be al-Mahdi; he must be awaited by his followers during his occultation and obeyed at his rising and that he would be his descendant in the third generation[89]. The Imamites of the fourth/ninth century called the Twelfth Imam al-Qa’im al-Mahdi. Al-Mufid states that he was called al-Mahdi because he would guide people to a forgotten dogma and law[90].

The political role of al-Qa’im
It has already been pointed out that the Imams from `Ali b. alHusayn onwards adopted publicly a quiescent policy towards the Umayyads and the `Abbasids. Accordingly, they stressed the propagation of their teachings, which they expected, would result in religious and political awareness among the people and would prepare the ground for the task of al-Qa’im.
Al-Nu`mani reports that al-Baqir advised his partisan Abu al-Jarud to keep quiet at home, and not to implicate himself in the militant activities of some `Alids against the Umayyads, since the Umayyad state had a natural lifespan and the moment of its downfall had not yet come[91]. He added that any `Alid who rebelled against tyranny before the rise of al-Qa’im would inevitably fail[92].
Al-Sadiq and the later Imams followed the same policy. They ordered their followers not to allow despair to find a place in their hearts and to wait for the rise of al-Qa’im in the near future[93]. This policy enabled the Imamites to spread their doctrine and at the same time to organize themselves – during the period between 132-260/749-874 – into a well-established political and financial organization (al-Wikala). It seems probable that this underground organization was preparing for the rise of al-Qa’im. For they expected his rising[94] and placed important political and relgious duties upon his shoulders.
Several narrations suggest that the quiescent policy of the Imams was established after their followers caused two abortive rebellions. According to al-Kulayni, al-Sadiq once said:
This matter (al-Amr), that is, the endeavour to reach power, was hidden until it reached the hands of the Kaysaniyya. They revealed it on the roads and circulated it among the villagers of al-Sawad[95].
According to al-Numani the Imamites endeavoured to rise in arms twice, first in the year 70/689 and second in the year 140/758, but their followers spoiled their plans by revealing the name of their leader to their foes[96], an act which resulted in the arrest or the assassination of the Imams. In this connection a conversation between al-Baqir and his partisan `Abd Allah by `Ata al-Wasiti is revealing. Al-Wasiti said to the Imam:
You have many followers in Iraq and there is no one among your family who has the merit for leadership but you. So why do you not rise in arms? Al-Baqir replied: O `Abd Allah, do not listen to the masses, because none of us has his name mentioned by the people nor a hand pointing at him as the Imam, without soon facing inevitable death. So search for him whose birth is concealed from the people, because he will be the one who will manage such an affair.[97]
Moreover al-Sadiq was reported to have said:
This matter (the rising in arms) was vested in me, but Allah delayed it; He shall do with my progeny whatever He wants[98].
These sayings indicate that the Imams had suffered the consequences of revealing the fixed dates of their militant endeavours to reach power. Hence the later Imams did not reveal explicitly to their followers which Imam would be al-Qa’im with the sword. At the same time they encouraged their followers to follow their instructions[99], for this would pave the way for one of the Imams to reach power under the title of al-Qa’im.
Several traditions reveal that the establishment of al-Qa’im’s political state will occur through the “natural” course of events. A Prophetic tradition states that a group of people from the east will start underground activities and pave the way for the installation of al-Mahdi by military means[100].
The latter will struggle for power without any miraculous aid and will face difficulties and opposition against the propogation of his teachings, similar to the opposition which the Prophet faced with Quraysh[101]. Furthermore he will not take any militant action unless he has at least 10,000 partisans[102].
According to al-Baqir the main goal of al-Qa’im will be to establish an Islamic state and to apply Islamic law as it was revealed to the Prophet. Al-Sadiq asserts that he will follow the Prophet’s policy by eliminating and demolishing all the innovations which derive from a situation of ignorance (al-Jahiliyya) and apply Islam in a new form[103].
Other narrations indicate that he will apply the law of David and Solomon along with the Islamic law[104] and apply the rules of the Torah to the Jews and the rules of the Gospel to the Christians. According to al-Nu’mani, his state will include, in addition to the Islamic lands, the territories of Rum, Sind, India and China[105].
Some functions attributed to al-Qa’im indicate the unrest and disappointment felt by the Imamites in the face of the political and economic situation of the time. Al-Fadl b. Shadhan (d. 260/873) and al-Kulayni report that al-Qa’im will rise with the sword as God’s avenger against those who caused troubles to `Ali and his wife Fatima. He would also take vengeance against those who were responsible for the suffering of the Imams and their followers[106], particularly against those who assassinated al-Husayn. Al-Sadiq considered al-Husayn’s assassination the main reason for the rise of al-Qa’im as an avenger[107].
Other functions of al-Qa’im depict the political annoyance of the Imams towards the allegiance of the Arabs, and especially towards the clan of Quraysh who had monopolized political authority since the death of the Prophet. Al Nu`mani mentions a tradition attributed to Imam al-Sadiq: “When al-Qa’im rises he will deal with the Arabs and Quraysh only by the sword[108].
The Imamites also vested al-Qa’im with another task which reveals their dissatisfaction with the economic system of the `Abbasid state. According to al-Himyari, al-Baqir stated that when al-Qa’im rose allthe feudal systems would be abolished[109].
Al-Kulayni agrees with al Himyari and adds that al-Qa’im, after carrying out this operation, may allow his partisans to administer and cultivate the lands with the condition that they pay the legal land-tax[110].
In the light of these hopes and the repeated failure of the Zaydite uprisings, as had been expected by the Imams, the Imamites concentrated all their hopes on the uprising of al-Qa’im, whose state had been awaited since the time of al-Baqir[111]. Al-Nu`mani reports that when tie `Abbasid revolution broke out in Khurasan and black baners were raised, Abu Bakr al-Hadrami and Abban went to the Imam al-Sadiq, and asked his opinion about participating in the revolution. He warned them against it saying: “When you see us follow a man, then you must join us with weapons.”[112]
Although the Imam did not reveal the identity of the man to be followed, he confirmed that he would struggle for power by militant means and eliminate the rule of his opponents[113].
It appears that because of the militant role of al-Qa’im the Imams refrained from giving any explicit statement of his identity. However, they did indicate that since the rulers, first the Umayyads and then the `Abbasids, had reached power by “natural” means, their fall would also occur by “natural” means.
There is a good deal of evidence to indicate that some of the Imams would have taken militant action if they had had strong and faithful partisans. But they delayed this task indefinitely until the intellectual activites of their followers could bear fruit and be converted into a political awareness which might enable one of the Imams to gain power by militant means.
The Imams also wanted their partisans to be more optimistic in gaining immediate success, and not to leave the task of propagation of their teachings to al-Qa’im, whose military uprising relied on the outcome of the activities of the Imamites themselves. Finally, it seems most likely that the uprising of the Imam who would be al-Qa’im, was later attributed to the Twelfth Imam, because the Imamite propaganda reached a developed, political stage during the life-time of the Tenth and the eleventh Imams, and this might have enabled the Twelfth Imam to reach power.

The signs of the rise of al-Qa’im
The early Imamite traditionists delineated five signs which would precede the rise of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi: first, the rise of al-Yamani, then the rise of al-Sufyani, thirdly the assassination of the Pure Soul (al-Nafs al-Zakiyya) in Mecca only fifteen days before the rise of alQa’im, fourthly an outcry in the morning from the sky in the name of al-Qa’im, and finally the sinking of an army into the earth (al-Bayda’) during its march on Mecca[114]. Despite the fact that al-Nu`mani, al-Saduq and al-Tusi differ as to the chronological occurrence of these signs, they all agree that they will occur in the same year[115].
It seems that the delineation of these signs along with the expectations of the Imamites and al-Jarudiyya that al-Qa’im al Mahdi would rise in the near future[116] caused the `Abbasid authorities to be suspicious, since some of these signs were connected with their regime and indicated that al-Qa’im’s uprising was directed mainly against them. The fact that the Imams had the `Abbasids in mind can be seen in the discussion between al-Riďa, the eighth Imam, and his adherent al-Hasan b. al-Jahm[117], who said to him:
“May Allah make you prosper! The people are saying that al Sufyani will rise after the fall of the `Abbasids.” Al-Riďa said: “They lie. He will rise while they are still in power.[118]”
This statement has been confirmed in other traditions attributed to al-Sadiq. For example his companion Ya`qub b. al-Sarraj asked him:
“When will your Shi’a gain their release from suffering?” He replied, “When conflict occurs amongst the `Abbasids, and their power begins to decline. Then their partisans and their subjects will be encouraged to threaten the authorities. Thereafter al-Sufyani will rise from the West, while the Yamani will advance from the East, until they both reach Kufa, where they will destroy the `Abbasids. At the same time the Hasani will start his rebellion. Then the Master of this matter, al-Qa’im, shall advance from Medina towards Mecca to rebel.[119]“
According to al-Nu`mani, al-Sadiq added that because of these events, the fall of the `Abbasid regime was inevitable. Its fall would be similar to a piece of crockery dropped from the hand of its possessor, which then splits into pieces.”[120]
In the light of these statements attributed to the Imams it is clear that from the time of al-Sadiq onwards, the Imamites awaited the political uprising of one of their Imams, called al-Qa’im while the `Abbasids were still in power[121].
Indeed the spread of these traditions caused the `Abbasids to fear the Imams, who might have been behind some `Alid revolts. Perhaps this is why the `Abbasid caliphs became suspicious of the Imams. Even the caliph al-Mansur himself related a tradition on the authority of al-Baqir stating that al-Qa’im would be from the progeny of ‘Ali[122].
He restricted the movements of al-Sadiq and his followers and made it a policy to discriminate against them. Moreover he invested his sucessor Muhammad with the epithet “alMahdi” (158-169/775-785) in order to turn the attention of his subjects from the `Alid family toward the family of `Abbas[123].
Despite the fact that the movements of the seventh Imam, Musa al-Kazim, were also restricted by the authorities, so that he died in prison[124], the Shi’ite propaganda for the rise of an Imam in the name of al-Qa’im and al-Mahdi spread on a wide scale, particularly after the rebellion of Ibn Tabataba in 199/814.
Probably because of this situation the caliph al-Ma’mun devised a new policy towards the eighth Imam al-Riďa. He made overtures to him asking him to be his heir apparent. By this means he hoped to split the `Alids some of whom were in rebellion and to keep al-Riďa within the `Abbasid palace under close watch[125].
Al-Ma’mun followed this same policy with the ninth Imam, al-Jawad, marrying him to his daughter Umm al-Fadl, and keeping him under house-arrest[126]. Thereafter housearrest became the cornerstone of the policy of the caliphs towards the Imams. It obliged the Imams to stress the idea of the occultation as the means the Imam would employ to avoid the `Abbasid restriction, which increased from the time of al-Mutawakkil onwards.
Because his agents discovered connections between the underground activities of the Imamite agents in Baghdad, Mada’in and Kufa and the Imam al-Hadi, al-Mutawakkil followed the policy of al-Ma’mun. He wrote to al-Hadi a letter full of kindness and courtesy asking him to come to Samarra where they could meet. Afterwards al-Hadi was summoned to the capital in 233/848,[127] where he spent the rest of his life under surveillance. As a result he was prevented from meeting most of his adherents. He was only able to meet a few of his associate agents (wukala) in secret[128].
In fact al-Mutawakkil’s policy managed to prevent the `Alids from rising in arms against his regime. However it failed to destroy the system of the Wikala or to end the underground activities of the Zaydites and the Imamites. These spread throughout the empire to the extent that they were capable of causing a revolt.
Between the years 245-260/859-874 the Imamite and Zaydite traditionists were relating traditions stating that al-Qa’im would be the Twelfth Imam and urging people to join his side when he rose. The Zaydite al-`Asfari (d. 250/864)[129] and the Imamite Ahmad b. Khalid al-Barqi (d.274-80/887-93) both related such traditions. For example, in 250/864 al-Barqi passed on a narration attributed to `Ali b. Abi Talib and the Prophet al-Khidr, which states explicitly that al-Qa’im al-Mahdi would be the Twelfth Imam[130].
The spread of such narrations encouraged the Imamites to expect the rise of al-Qa’im in the near future and to link his rising with `Abbasid rule. Some of them applied these traditions along with others concerning the signs of the rise of al-Qa’im to the circumstances surrounding the `Alid revolt which broke out in 250/864. Ibn `Uqda relates that the leader of the rebellion, Yahya b. `Umar, was expected to be al-Qa’im al-Mahdi, since all the signs concerning the rise of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi related by al-Sadiq occurred during the revolt[131].
Although Yahya b. `Umar died in 250/864, the `Abbasids’ fear increased because of the continuation of this revolt and al-Hasan b. Zayd’s .(250-270/864-884) success in establishing a Shi’ite state in Tabaristan. This fear is not surprising if one bears in mind the fact that there was a well-known Prophetic tradition which stated, “A people will appear in the East who will pave the way for the Mahdi’s rise to power.”[132]
This tradition, at that time, might seem to refer to the establishment of the `Alid state in Tabaristan, which would prepare the way for the rise of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi. Other factors supported the `Abbasid fears. According to al-Tabari, `Abbasid spies discovered secret correspondence between the founder of the `Alid state in Tabaristan, al-Hasan b. Zayd, and the nephew of Muhammad b. ‘Ali b. Khalaf al- `Attar,[133] a follower of the tenth Imam al-Hadi. Moreover many pure Imamites took part in the `Alid revolt of 250/864, such as Muhammad b. Ma`ruf, who held the banner of the rebels in Mecca,[134] and `Ali b. Musa b. Isma`il b. Musa al-Kazim, who joined the rebels in al-Rayy and was arrested by the caliph al-Mu`tazz[135].
It seems that the `Abbasid authorities linked these factors with the activities of al-Hadi. Therefore they imposed tight restrictions upon al-Hadi and his followers, and arrested prominent figures in Baghdad, such as Abu Hashim al-Ja`fari, and Muhammad b. `Ali al-`Attar, and sent them to Samarra[136].
This campaign of arrest also included al-`Askari and Ja’far, al-Hadi’s two sons[137].
Another reason the `Abbasids’ feared the position of al-Hadi and his successor, al- `Askari, is the traditions of both the Prophet and the Imams concerning the series of the twelve Imams, the last of whom would be al-Qa’im al-Mahdi. This series could only be interpreted as applying to the Imamites’ tenth Imam, al-Hadi, and his successor al`Askari. So it was plausible that the successor of the latter would be the Twelfth Imam, about whom so many traditions were being related. Moreover further traditions, attributed to al-Hadi and al`Askari, themselves appeared around this period emphasizing the important political and religious role of al-`Askari’s son[138].
For example, Abu Hashim al-Ja’fari (d. 261/875), the associate and follower of al-Hadi, reports the latter as having said,
“The successor after me is my son al-Hasan but what will you do with the successor of my successor?” Al-Ja`fari said, “May Allah make me your sacrifice! Why?” The Imam said, “Because you will not see his physical body and it is not permissible for you to reveal his name.” Al-Ja’fari said, “How shall we mention him?” Al-Hadi said, “Say `The proof [al-Hujja] is from the family of Muhammad.’[139]
It seems from al-Kulayni’s report that the Imamites considered al-Hadi’s statement as applying to al-Qa’im. Moreover, they felt it explained a statement by the eighth Imam, al-Riďa, who had said that the body of al-Qa’im would not be seen and his name would not be revealed.[140]” Perhaps al-Baqir and al-Jawad’s interpretation of a Qur’anic verse, referred to on page 15, may be linked with the above two statements. For as we have seen, he stated that an Imam would go into concealment in 260/874, and would later rise like a bright, shooting star in the dark night[141].
On account of the spread of these Imamite traditions and the `Alid underground activities, the eleventh Imam, al-Hasan al- `Askari, was forced to stay in the capital under house-arrest and had to report to the `Abbasid court twice a week[142].
The authorities hoped that through these measures they would be able to prevent the appearance of any danger from the Twelfth Imam.
[23]EI1, art. “al-Mahdi”, 112.
[24]Sachedina, op.cit., 6-7.
[25] Ibn Hisham, Das Leben Muhammads (Wustenfeld, Gottingen, 1859), II, 1024.
[26] Goldziher, al-`Aqida wa-l-Shari’a, tr. Muhammad Yusuf (Cairo, 1378/1959), 327-8, 376-8.
[27] D.Sunan, IV, 201; Ibn Maja, Sunan, I, 16; Ibn A`tham al-Kufi, Kitab al-Futuh (Hyderabad, 1972), V, 31, 34.
[28]Tabari, II, 546. Ibn A`tham reports a letter attributed to the Kufans, sent to al-Husayn b. `Ali encouraging him to rebel against the Umayyads, in which they used the title al-Mahdi for al-Husayn as an honorific adjective:
Ibn A`tham, op. cit., V, 47.
[29] Rajkowski, op. cit., 166-7. There is evidence which supports the claim that Ka`b narrated traditions attributed to the People of the Book which predict the rise of al-Mahdi It is obvious from a line of poetry attributed to the poet Kutayr that those who applied this term to Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya were influenced by Ka’b. This can be noted in Kuthayyir’s saying: Huwa al-Mahdi Akhbarnahu / Ka`bun Akhu al-Akhbar fi al-Huqab al-Khawali; al-Zubayri, Nasab Quraysh (Beirut, 1953), 41.
[30] Kama’l, 30-2.
[31] Al-Nawbakhti thinks that Ibn al-Hanafiyya died in 81/700 (Firaq, 24), whereas al-Saduq puts his death in 84/703; Kama’l, 36; Ikhtiyar,126.
[32] B. Firaq, 33-4.
[33] N. Firaq, 25-6; Milal, 111-2; B. Firaq, 17,27-8,38.
[34] N. Firaq, 29-30, 42-3. For a full account of the fact that the `Abbasid propaganda was the outcome of a branch of the Kaysaniyya movement, see al Ansari, Madhdhib ibtada`atha al-Siyasa fi al-Islam (Beirut, 1973), 152-8,199-214.
[35]Kama’l, 32-4; al-Zubayri, op.cit., 41-2.
[36]N. Firaq, 54; `Uyun, 155; Maqatil, 359; B. Firaq, 44.
[37]Ibn Tawus, al-Iqbal, 53.
[38]N. Firaq, 57; Kama’l, 37.
[39] al-Hasani, Sirat al-A’imma al-Ithna `Ashar (Beirut, 1977), 370.
[40] Kama’l, 40.
[41]al-Kafi,I,341;Kama’l, 325,330; N. al-Ghayba, 75.
[42] Ibn al-Furat, al-Tafsir, quoted by al-Majlisi in Bihar, LI, 50; Kama’l, 351.
[43]al-Kafi, VIII, 287.
[44]Ibn Hawshab, Kitab al-Kashf (London, Cairo, Bombay, 1952), 6.
[45]al-Kafi, VIII, 287.
[46] al-Tusi, al-Tibyan, VIII, 114-6.
[47] al-Tusi al-Tibyan, VII, 250; Sadr al-Din al-Sadr, al-Mahdi, (Tehran, 1358),11.
[48] `Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi Tafsir al-Qummi (Najaf, 1387), II, 68, 84, 205-6; T. al-Ghayba, 120; al-Tusi, al-Tibyan, VIII, 404
[49] Ibn Maja, Sunan, II, 519; Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, II, 208.
[50] al-Tirmidhi, IX, 74, 75; and the Cairo edition, IV, 505-6
[51] Ibn Maja, Sunan, II, 1368.
[52] Kama’l, 286-7. Al-Tirmidhi mentioned the same tradition on the authority of Ibn Mas`ud without any details concerning the occultation of the Mahdi. Al Tirmidhi, IV, 505-6; al-Darimi, Sunan, IV, 151.
[53]Mizan, III,160; Ibn Maja, Sunan, II, 1368; al-Musannaf, XI,372.
[54] al-Thalabi, `Ara’is al-Majalis, 363; al-Kanji, op.cit., 327.
[55] al-Haythami, al-Sawa`iq al-Muhriqa, 100.
[56] Osman, Mahdism in Islam, Ph.D. Thesis (Edinburgh, 1976), 204.
[57] Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali, Kitab Sulaym b. Qays (Najaf, n.d.), 56, 159-62. Although this book has received some criticism with regard to its authenticity, a careful examination of its contents which show that it was regarded as a source by such writers as al-Kulayni in al-Kafi, al-Mas`udi in al-Tanbih wa-l-Ishraf and al-Nu’mani in Kitab al-Ghayba.
[58] `Abd al-Muhsin al-`Abbad, `Aqidat Ahl al-Sunna wa-l-Athar fi al-Mahdi al Muntazar, al-Hadi (Qumm, 1971) I, part 1, 33-5; al-Tabsi, al-Shi`a wa-l-Raja(Najjaf, 1966), 36-54.
[59] For the Umayyad and the `Abbasid use of the epithet al-Mahdi so as to gain political success, see al-Ishfahani, al-Aghani, XVI, 88; al-Darimi, Sunan, IV, 152.
[60] Watt, The Majesty that is Islam, 169-170.
[61] al-Bukhari, al-Sahih (Cairo, 1355), IV, 175; M. Sahih, III, 190-3; al-Tirmidhi, IV, 501; Ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad (Cairo, 1313), V, 294.
[62] al-Kharraz, Kifayat al-Athar, quoted by al-Galbaygani, Muntakhab al-Athar, 28.
[63] Ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, I, 398; al-Karajuki, al-Istibsar, 12.
[64] Ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, V, 86-90, 92-101, 106-8.
[65]N. al-Ghayba, 48-9; Kama’l, 270-3.
[66] For the biography of `Abbad and his Shi’ite sympathies see Ibn Hibban, al Majruhin, II, 172; Mizan, II 379-80, IV, 149; al-Najashi, 225.
[67] al-Hilli, al-Idah, 176; al-Galbaygani, op. cit., 5
[68] Mizan, II, 379-80
[69] Ibn Hibban, al-Majruhin, II, 172.
[70] al-`Asfari, Asl Abu Said al-`Asfari, Ms. f. 1-2.
[71] al-`Asfari, Asl Abu Said al-`Asfari, f. 2. Al-Kulayni includes these traditions in his work al-Hujja but, according to his transmission, the Prophet mentioned twelve Imams from his descendants and not eleven. Thus the number of the Imams along with `Ali would-be thirteen. Because al-Kulayni transmitted his narration on the authority of al-`Asfari, it appears that the latter’s version is more accurate. al-Kafi, I, 533-4.
[72] Ibn `Uqda, Kitab al-Malahim, f. 74-5.
[73]EI1, art. “al-Mahdi”, 112.
[74]N. al-Ghayba, 7,48,57-61, 31, 45; al-Saduq, Khisal, 436-45; `Uyun, 323, al Karajaki, al-Istibsar, Ms. f. 11-12; al-Kafi, I, 534; al-Tabsi al-Shi’a wa-l-Raja (Najaf, 1966), 129-30; Kama’l, 279.
[75] al-Barqi, Kitab al-Rijal, 4,7,8,9.
[76] Ibn al-Nadim, al-Fihrist, I, 535; N. al-Ghayba, 47.
[77] al-Hilali, Kitab Sulaym b. Qays, 135-7.
[78]Ibid., 109-10, 124-5, 165-6, 201, 204-6.
[79] al-Hilali, op. cit. 94; Kama’l, 285.
[80] al-Hilali,op. cit. 95.
[81] al-Mas`udi, al-Tanbih, 198.
[82]al-Kafi, I, 529; N. al-Ghayba, 38; 46, 274-8; T. al-Ghayba, 99.
[83]al-Tirmidhi, IV, 505-6; al-Darimi, Sunan, IV, 151.
[84] Kama’l, 259-61.
[85] Kama’l, 280. Another narration has been narrated by the companion Jabir al Ansari, which confirms that al-Mahdi would be from the progeny of `Ali b. al Husayn (al-Tusi, al-Amali II, 251), but al-Sahib b. `Abbad doubts its authenticity; Nusrat, Madhahib al-Zaydiyya, 208-9.
[86]al-Kafi, I, 531-3; al-Irshad, 393; Dala’il, 236-8, 249-51.
[87] al-Hadrami, Asl Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Shurayh, Ms. f. 32b; for other similar traditions see al-Kafi, VIII, 167, 536; Ibn Tawus, al-Igbal, 431.
[88] al-Saffar, Basa’ir al-Darajat, f. 19b, 49b; for similar traditions see al-Kafi, I, 243, 281, 338, 372, 411, 496, 536.
[89] Kama’l, 377. Al-Tusi reports another narration attributed to the tenth Imam who stated explicitly that the Twelfth Imam would be al-Mahdi (T al-Ghabya, 92). However, it might be that such narrations were not common among the Imamites. When the traditionist al-Fadl b. Shadhan (d. 260/874), talks about the role of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi, he does not attach this epithet to the Twelfth Imam; Ibn Shadhan, al-Idah, 475-6
[90]al-Irshad, 411; see also al-San`ani, al-Musannaf, XI, 472.
[91] See Chapter II.
[92]N. al-Ghayba, 104, 107, 159; al-Hadrami, op. cit., f. 48a; al-Kafi, VIII, 264
[93]N. al-Ghayba, 106-7; al-Kafi, VIII, 264, 310.
[94]N. al-Ghayba, 94, 96.
[95]al-Kafi, II, 223.
[96]N. al-Ghayba, 158
[97]al-Kafi, I, 342; Kama’l, 325.
[98] T. al-Ghayba, 278.
[99]al-Kafi, I, 368-9; Bihar, LII, 212.
[100] Ibn Maja, Sunan, II, 1366; al-Kanji, op. cit., 314.
[101] al-Kafi VIII, 225; N. al- Ghayba, 106, 160; al-Tabsi quotes a statement from Ibn A’tham attributed to `Ali which states that the partisans of al-Mahdi will start their activities from al-Talqan in Khurasan; al-Shi`a wa-l-Raj a, 141.
[102] Kama’l, 654
[103]N. al-Ghayba, 104,122,123. Al-Saffar reports that al-Qa’im will apply Islamic law according to the books of `Ali which he related directly from the Prophet; Basa’ir al-Darajat, f. 124.
[104] al-Saffar, op. cit., f. 50; al-Kafi, I, 298.
[105]N. al-Ghayba, 124, 125-6; al-Tabsi, op. cit., 218; `Ali b. Tawus, al-Malahim wa-l Fitan (Najaf, 1367), 53; Najm al-Din al-`Askari, al-Mahdi al-Maw`ud al Muntazar (Beirut, 1977), II, 10.
[106] Ibn Shadhan, Ithbat al-Raja, quoted by al-Tabsi, op. cit., 221; al-Kafi, VIII, 233; al-Saduq. `Ilal, II, 267; al-Majlisi includes in his work al-Bihar a book attributed to al-Mufaddil b. `Umar which deals with the occurrence which will take place after the rise of al-Qa’im; Bihar, LIII, 1-38; Dala’il, 239, 260; N. al Ghayba, 148.
[107]al-Kafi I, 465; al-Tusi, al-Amali, II, 33; al-Saduq, `Ilal, 229; Ibn Tawus, al Iqbal, 186.
[108] N. al-Ghayba, (the second editon), 308, 319.
[109] al-Himyari, op. cit., quoted by al-Galbagani, op. cit., 305.
[110]al-Kafi, I, 407-8.
[111]N. al-Ghayba, 103.
[112]N. al-Ghayba, 105
[113]al-Kafi, I, 240, 281, 370-2. Di`bil the poet recited a line of poetry concerning the militant role of al-Qa’im in the presence of al-Riďa; the latter confirmed this by saying that al-Qa’im would be from the progeny of al-Husayn. Di`bil, Diwan. 73,76; Kama’l, 327-4.
[114]N. al-Ghayba, 134, 139-40; Kama’l, 649; T. al-Ghayba, 286; al-Kafi, VIII, 225, 310.
[115]N. al-Ghayba, 136; T. al-Ghayba, 286; Bihar, LII, 232.
[116]N. al-Ghayba, 94.
[117] For his biography, see Ibn Dawud, Kitab al-Rijal, 104.
[118]N. al-Ghayba, 163-4.
[119]N. al-Ghayba, 135, 138, 144-5; al-Kafi, VIII, 224-5.
[120] N. al-Ghayba, 137; Bihar, LII, 232.
[121] al-Hadrami,Kitab Ja’far b. Shurayh, f. 39.
[122]al-Kafi, VIII, 209-210; al-Irshad, 404.
[123] It is reported that the Prophet said, “The Mahdi is from my progeny. His name is similar to mine” (al-Tirmidhi’. IV, 505). According to Abu Dawud, the Prophet also added, “And his father’s name is similar to my father’s name” (Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, IV, 106-7). According to the last phrase the name of al-Mahdi is Muhammad b. `Abd Allah. Perhaps al-Mansur took this point into account when he called his son, “Muhammad al-Mahdi” (al-Bidaya, X, 89). For a full account see Osman, op. cit., 266-9.
[124] See Chapter II.
[125] Ithbat, 205.
[126] Ithbat, 205.
[127]Ikhtiyar. 603, 607; al-Kafi, I, 501-2; T. al-Ghayba, 226-7.
[128]Ithbat, 262.
[129]Kama’l, 46. For examples, see al-`Asfari, Asl Abu Said al-`Asfari f. 1-2; Mizan, II, 379-80; Bihar, L, 185; al-Kindi op. cit., 229
[130]al-Kafi, I, 526-7, 338.
[131] Ibn `Uqda, Kitab al-Malahim, f. 72. According to al-Mufid only the Zaydites denied the death of Yahya b. `Umar and held that he was al-Mahdi (al-FUsul al-`Ashara, 30). But incidents seem to indicate that there was a common belief among the Imamiyya and the Jarudiyya from the years 245-60 onwards that the Twelfth Imam would be al-Qa’im al-Mahdi, but they were not sure about his identity, and whether or not he would be the son of al-`Askari.
[132] Ibn Maja,al-Sunan, II, 1368.
[133] Tabari, III, 1683.
[134] Ibn `Uqda, Kitab al-Malahim, f. 73.
[135] Muruj, VII, 404.
[136] Tabari, III, 1683-4,al-Kafi, I, 500.
[137] T. al-Ghayba, 141, 226; al-Kafi, I, 508.
[138] T. al-Ghayba, 98.
[139]Kama’l, 381; al-Kafi, I, 328, 332-3.
[140]al-Kafi, I, 333.
[141]Kama’l, 325,330; al-Kafi, I, 341.
[142] T. al-Ghayba, 139- 140.

We must not accept any honour from oppressors

We must not accept any honour from oppressors

The most common way of helping the oppressors is to accept some post or position from them, especially if that post is a cause for any type of oppression. For example the post of maintaining law and order. If a person assumes such an assignment from the oppressors and as a result unleashes oppression on innocent people, such an appointment and such an acceptance of the post is a Greater Sin. If as a result of it, innocent people are subjected to hardships, the doer of such actions is sure to have a severe punishment from the Almighty.
There is one very well known tradition of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and it is quoted here from Tohful Uqūl. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says: “The Harām post is the post of an oppressive ruler and the posts of those who are busy in the assignments entrusted by the tyrants. Hence it is Harām to fulfill the duty of this post. One who takes up this post will become involved in Divine punishment. Whether the job is significant or paltry, any attempt to help the oppressor is a Greater Sin. Because accepting a post from an oppressor will result in the trampling of rights, the manifestation of injustice, the spread of corruption and disturbance, the destruction of heavenly books, the murder of Prophets, the demolishing of mosques and the interpolation of religious laws. Therefore it is Harām to work with them. Except when there is a condition of utter helplessness, like when it becomes permissible to drink blood and eat the flesh of dead.” (Tohful Uqūl)..

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says: “If a person has authority in a particular affair of the people and he deals with justice with them and the doors of his house are open for those who refer to him and seek his help and he does not remain aloof from the people. Then the Almighty Allah will keep him safe from dread and fear on the Day of Qiyāma and make him enter Paradise.” (Wasa’il ul-Shia)
It must be remembered, however, that this is a vast subject and it is not possible to discuss all its facets. Hence those who wish to study in detail may refer to books of jurisprudence.

Man faces different types of examination in the world.

Allah, the Wise, has said: (Who created death and life that He may try you (to prove) which of you is best in deeds; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving)[70]

Imam Sajjad (a.s.) said: (Allah created the world and its inhabitants in order to examine them in it.)[71]

Short Explanation

Man faces different types of examination in the world. He is tested through fear, hunger, diseases, death of one’s near and dear ones, financial constraints, false accusations, evil neighbours, and so on Since this world is a place of deeds and examinations, blessed and happy are those who do not fail at any stage of life.

On one occasion, a person is tested by means of wealth and on another occasion by indigence. He achieves success by resorting to thanksgiving during affluence and patience during poverty. Everyone, without exception, is subjected to trials and examinations which vary only in their ‘quality’ and ‘quantity’. Do you not see how some people, who are accustomed to boasting, lose their patience and fail miserably in the face of examinations?

1 – Haroon Makki

Sahl Khorasani approached Imam Sadiq (a.s.) and complained: “Why is it that in spite of the truth being on your side, you do not stage an uprising? At the present time, there are one hundred thousand of your Shiites, who upon your orders, would immediately unsheathe their swords for battle.”

The Imam (a.s.), with the intention of giving him a practical answer, ordered the furnace to be lighted. He then instructed Sahl to jump into the flames.

Sahl said, “O’ My Master! May God shower you with His grace and favours! Do not place me in the fire. I take back my words and request you to withdraw your instruction too.”

Meanwhile, one of the sincere companions of the Imam (a.s.), by the name of Haroon Makki, happened to arrive. Just as he entered, the Imam (a.s.) told him to take off his shoes and walk into the hot furnace. As soon as Haroon heard the Imam’s (a.s.) order, he entered the furnace and sat within the flames.

The Imam (a.s.) then turned to Sahl and started to brief him about the circumstances prevailing in Khorasan, as if he had been there to witness the events taking place.

After a while, he said to Sahl, “Get up and have a look inside the furnace.”

When Sahl peered into the furnace, he saw Haroon sitting cross-legged and unharmed inside, surrounded by the fiery flames.

“How many individuals like this one exist in Khorasan?” the Imam (a.s.) questioned Sahl.

“ By Allah! Not a single person like Haroon Makki exists in Khorasan,” replied Sahl.

The Imam (a.s.) then explained, “I shall not stage an uprising when I do not have even five sincere companions. (And do remember) we are very well aware as to when we should stage an uprising.”[72]

2 – Buhlool Succeeds!

Haroon Al-Rashid, the Abbasid Caliph, wished to appoint a judge in Baghdad. After conferring with his courtiers, it was unanimously agreed that none, except Buhlool, possessed the right qualities for the post.

Buhlool was summoned and the post was offered to him. But Haroon declined to accept, saying that he was neither worthy of the post nor capable of undertaking the task.

Haroon said, “All the inhabitants of Baghdad are of the opinion that none except you, is worthy of the post and you deny it!”

Buhlool explained: “I am more aware of myself than any of you. Whatever I have stated is either true or false. If the reason I have given is true, then it would be improper of me to assume the office of judge when I am not capable. On the other hand, if I have lied to you, then a liar does not deserve to take this post.”

But Haroon insisted that Buhlool took up the responsibility. Buhlool requested that he be granted one night to reflect over the offer. The next morning, Buhlool feigned insanity and placing a staff between his legs ran through the streets and markets of Baghdad, screaming: “Make room for my horse and keep away lest it kicks you.”

As soon as the people noticed his antics, they commented that Buhlool had gone insane. When Haroon Al-Rashid was informed of this, he said: “Buhlool has not become insane; rather he has saved his religion and has escaped our clutches. He has enacted this in order to prevent himself from interfering in the affairs and the rights of the people.”[73]

Author’s note: Yes, each one is subjected to a specific examination. Not only was Buhlool offered authority, but the Caliph would send him food. Buhlool, however, would not eat it, saying,: Throw it to the dogs behind the bath. Even they, if they were to realize that it was the Caliph’s food would refuse to eat it!

3 – Abu Hurairah Failed!

Abu Hurairah embraced Islam in the year 8 A.H. He was therefore in the company of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) for only two years. He died in the year 59 A.H., at the age of 78.

Abu Hurairah had come to be regarded as one of the companions of the holy Prophet. However, he failed to benefit from the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) holy company and protect himself from blunders and errors. On the contrary, he misused his position and sold himself for the material gains of this world.

Abu Huairah used to forge traditions and ascribe them to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) in return for riches. On the first of the occasions when this occurred, the second Caliph prohibited him from narrating traditions; on the second occasion, the Caliph punished him by lashing him, and on the third occasion, he had him expelled from the city.

When A’laa, the governor of Bahrain passed away in the year 21 A.H., U’mar appointed Abu Hurairah as governor in his place. But within a short period, a large amount of money (four hundred thousand dinars) had found its way into Abu Hurairah’s own pockets. As a result, U’mar dismissed him from his post.

Mua’wiyah used to compel some of the companions and the ‘followers’ to forge traditions against Amirul Mu’mineen (a.s.) and one of the principal personalities in this act was Abu Hurairah.

Once Asbagh Ibn Nubata said to Abu Hurairah, “Contrary to the teachings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) you befriend A’li’s (a.s.) enemies and harbour enmity towards his (peace be upon him) friends!”

Hearing this, Abu Hurairah sighed deeply and simply said, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raajiu’n.”

Another of the evil deeds committed by Abu Hurairah was that, in order to acquire riches from Mua’wiyah, he accompanied the latter to the mosque of Kufah and slapping his forehead several times in full view of the gathering, said: “O’ People of Iraq! Do you think I shall ascribe a lie to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and thereby burn myself in the fire of Hell? By Allah! I have heard theHoly Prophet (s.a.w.) say: ‘For every prophet there is aholy sanctuary and mine is in Madinah, between the mountains of E’er and Thaur. Whoever establishes an innovation in my sanctuary, may the curse of Allah, the angels and all the people be upon him’. I take Allah as my witness that A’li (a.s.) introduced an innovation within the sanctuary of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).” (God Forbid).

Mua’wiyah was so pleased with this statement that he rewarded Abu Hurairah and made him the ruler of Madinah.[74]

4 – Ibrahim (a.s.) and the Sacrifice of Ismai’l (a.s.)

God ordered Ibrahim (a.s.) to sacrifice his son Ismai’l (a.s.). He did this to examine Ibrahim’s (a.s.) patience and obedience to Allah. If Ibrahim (a.s.) passed this test, he would demonstrate his worthiness of Allah’s grace and favour.

Having been bestowed with a child after years of loneliness without any children, he was being ordered by God to sacrifice with his own hands the apple of his eyes, who had grown up to become a young boy of 13.

Ibrahim (a.s.) said to Ismai’l (a.s.): “O’ My beloved son! I have dreamt that I am sacrificing you; what do you think about this?”

“Dear father! Act as you have been ordered and, God willing, you shall find me of the steadfast ones,” Ismai’l (a.s.) replied.

Then, he strengthened his father’s resolve by advising: “Father, death is very painful and I am so fearful of it that its very thought leaves me disturbed and distressed, so bind my hands and legs firmly, lest I beat about with them while my throat is being slit and thereby reduce the rewards ordained for me. In addition, sharpen the knife so that I am put at peacequickly. Also, place me with my face towards the ground and not upon my cheeks for I fear that if your eyes fall upon my face, compassion might overtake you and prevent you from complying with the Divine commandment. Take off your garments so that my blood does not taint them and my mother does not see my blood. If you deem it fit, take my clothes to my mother; they might serve to console her and lessen her grief at my death.”

Hearing this speech, Ibrahim (a.s.) responded, “O’ Son! You are indeed an excellent aide (to me) in executing God’s commandment.”

Ibrahim (a.s.) took his son to Mina (the place of sacrifice), sharpened the knife and then binding Ismai’l’s (a.s.) hands and legs, laid him with his face towards the ground. Ibrahim then raised his head towards the heavens and placed the knife on his son’s throat. But, as he did so, he realized that the knife did not cut. Looking at it, he noticed that the sharp knife had turned blunt. This occurrence was repeated several times, when suddenly a heavenly voice was heard saying: O’ Ibrahim! Indeed, you have acted as you had dreamt and have complied with the commandment given to you.

As a substitute for the sacrifice of Ismai’l (a.s.), Jibraeel brought a goat, which Ibrahim (a.s.) subsequently sacrificed. From here, it became a custom that those performing the hajj every year should offer a sacrifice at Mina.[75]
5 – Sa’d and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w)

One of the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), by the name of Sa’d, was very poor and was regarded as one of the People of the Ledge[76]. He used to offer all his prayers behind the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), who was greatly distressed by Sa’d’s poverty. One day, the Holy Prophet promised him that if he got some money, he would give it to Sa’d. Time passed but no money came to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) who became even more distressed at Sa’d’s situation. It was at this time that Jibraeel descended from the skies, bringing with him two dirhams.

He said to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), “Allah has said: We are aware of your distress in connection with Sa’d’s poverty. If you want him to emerge from this state, give him these two dirhams and ask him to engage himself in trade.”

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) took the two dirhams and set out of the house for the Dhuhr prayers when he found Sa’d waiting for him near one of the rooms of the mosque.

Turning to him, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) asked: “Can you engage yourself in business?”

“By Allah! I have no capital with which I can do business,” replied Sa’d.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) handed him the two dirhams and told him to start trading with this capital.

Sa’d took the money and after offering the Dhuhr and A’sr prayers set about to earn his livelihood.

God blessed him in such a way that whatever he purchased for a dirham, he would sell it for double the amount. Consequently, his financial state gradually improved. This continued till he eventually purchased a shop near the mosque and began conducting his business from there.

As his business picked up, he began to become lax with respect to his acts of worship, even to the extent that when Bilal recited the adhaan he would not get ready for the prayers. Previously, he was ready well before adhaan was recited!

When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) noticed Sa’d’s lateness for prayers, he said to him: “Sa’d, this world has made you so busy that it has even weaned you away from your prayers.”

Sa’d replied, “What can I do? If I leave my wealth unattended, it will go to waste and I will end up in loss. From one person, I have to collect the money for the goods sold, while from another I have to take possession of the goods purchased.”

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) was disturbed at Sa’d’s involvement with his wealth and his negligence with respect to his acts of worship. At that moment, Jibraeel descended and said: “Allah has said: ‘We possess knowledge of your distress. Which of the two states do you prefer for Sa’d?”

The Holy Prophet indicated that the previous state was beneficial for Sa’d.

Jibraeel agreed, “Yes, love for the world causes man to become heedless of the hereafter. Take back the two dirhams, which you had given to him previously.”

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) approached Sa’d and asked him if he could return the two dirhams that he had given to him.

“If you desire, I shall even give you two hundred dirhams,” said Sa’d.

“No, just give me the two dirhams, which you had taken from me.”

Sa’d handed the money to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and within a short time, his financial situation turned a full circle and before long he found himself in his previous state.[77]


[70] Holy Qur’an, ch. Al-Mulk (67), vs. 2.

[71] Al-Kafi, vol. 8, pg. 75, (New Edition).

[72] Hikaayat-ha-e-Shanidani, vol. 4, pg. 65; Safinah al-Bihaar, vol. 2, pg. 714.

[73] Pand-e-Taareekh, vol. 1, pg. 181; Raudhaat al-Jannaat, pg. 36; Gharaaib al-Akhbaar of Sayyid Ne’matullah Jazaairi.

[74] Paighambar Wa Yaaraan, vol. 1, pg. 154-166.

[75] Taareekh-e-Anbiya, vol. 1, pg. 164-169.

[76] These were the people, who did not possess a house of their own and so, lived in the veranda or the rooms of the mosque.

[77] Daastaan-ha Wa Pand-ha, vol. 2, pg. 78; Hayaat al-Quloob, vol. 1, pg. 578.

Refrain from Hurting and harassing others

Refrain from Hurting and harassing others

Allah, the Wise, has said: (Verily those who annoy Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter.)[105]

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said: (It is not permissible for a Muslim to look at a brother Muslim in a manner that hurts and inconveniences him.)[106]

Short Explanation:

All creatures belong to the household of (the Creation of) God and pre-eminent amongst them are the believers. Any person who is of benefit to the creation, becomes the beloved of God, while one who harasses and inconveniences others, especially the believers, in any way, is as if he has declared war upon God.

On the Day of Judgment, God shall call out: Where are those who harassed and tormented My friends in the world. A group of people whose bodies would be bare of flesh, would step forward whereupon God shall order them to be hurled into Hell.

Thus, it is essential to refrain from hurting and harassing others – parents, neighbours, friends, and so on. If one has committed this act, forgiveness ought to be sought from those concerned.

1 – Harassment of Imam Sajjad (a.s.)

During the time of Imam Sajjad, there lived a person in Madinah, who used to make people laugh to earn his livelihood.

Some people suggested that they should invite Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and allow this person to make him laugh a little in an attempt to sidetrack the Imam from his deep lamentation. They gathered together and were on their way to his house when they saw him coming towards them, accompanied by two of his slaves. When the Imam (a.s.) came near, the comediantook the cloak off Imam Sajjad’s (a.s.) shoulders and put it over his own. The people around burst out laughing when they saw this antic.

The Imam (a.s.) inquired, “Who is this person?”

The people around him answered, “He is a person who makes people laugh and receives money from them for his antics.”

“Inform him that those who expend their lives in a futile way performing absurd acts shall be the losers on the Day of Judgment,” advised the Imam (a.s.).

After hearing this, the comedian stopped his annoying behaviour and mended his ways.[107]

2 – Qaroon and Musa (a.s.)

Prophet Musa (a.s.), in the course of propagating his religion, had to face severe adversity and hardship from the likes of Firo’un, Bala’m, Bao’ora and even his cousin Qaroon. Qaroon was immensely rich and possessed so much wealth that several strong youths were required to carry just the keys of his treasury. He was one of the high ranking and influential nobles, who used to oppress his inferiors.

Musa (a.s.), in compliance with God’s orders, sought zakaat from him, but Qaroon used to say: “I too possess knowledge of the Torah and am not inferior to Musa in any way; why should Ipay zakaat to him?”

Eventually, his arrogance forced him to resort to dirty tactics to try to demean Prophet Musa. He approached a woman who was of bad character but was also extremely beautiful and attractive.

He said to her, “I shall pay you a hundred thousand dirhams provided that tomorrow, when Musa (a.s.) is delivering a sermon to Bani Israel, you shout out in front of the people that Musa has committed adultery with you.”

The woman accepted the offer. The next day Bani Israel had gathered and Musa (a.s.), with the Torah in hand, was engaged in preaching to them. Qaroon, in all his finery, was also present in the crowd along with his attendants. Suddenly, the woman stood up, but as she looked at the saintly face of Musa (a.s.), she experienced a change of heart and cried out aloud: “O’ Musa! Do know that Qaroon has promised me a hundred thousand dirhams if I accuse you, in front of Bani Israel, of having committing adultery with me; but (I declare that) you have never committed such an act and God has protected your holy personality from such uncleanness.”

When he heard this, Musa (a.s.) was devastated and heartbroken, and he cursed Qaroon by saying, “O’ Earth! Seize Qaroon and take him within you.”

Upon Divine orders, the ground underneath split apart and Qaroon and all his wealth fell in.

According to another report, Musa had been preaching the people about his Sharia’h when, in the course of his lecture, he said: “A person who does not have a spouse and indulges in adultery shall be punished with one hundred lashes and a person who possesses a spouse and (yet) commits adultery, shall be stoned to death.”

At that moment, Qaroon stood up and remarked, “(Would this be true) even if you were to commit such an offense?”

“Yes,” replied Musa.

“The Bani Israel are under the impression that you have committed adultery withsuch and such woman.”

“Bring the lady here,” demanded Musa. “If she testifies to this claim, you are at liberty to act according to the law.”

The woman was brought before Musa (a.s.) who, placing her under oath to speak the truth, asked her: “Have I committed adultery with you?”

The woman suddenly began to experience a change in her thinking and gave an answer which was opposite to what she had intended.

“No! They lie”, she said. “Qaroon paid me such and such amount in order that I level this accusation at you.”

Qaroon stood humiliated while Musa (a.s.) began weeping, fell down in prostration and supplicated: “O’ God! Your enemy has hurt me and sought to disgrace me by means of calumny. If I am Your Prophet, grant me ascendancy over him.”

Then he cursed Qaroon whereupon Divine punishment overtook him and the earth consumed him.[108]

3 – It is Forbidden to Hurt a Mu’min

Husain Ibn Abi al-A’laa narrates: I started out for Makkah in the company of twenty other persons. At every resting place, I would slaughter a goat, in order to provide the people with food. When I arrived in the presence of Imam Sadiq (a.s.), he said to me: “O’ Husain! Woe be unto you that you hurt and cause inconvenience to the Mu’mineen.”

“I seek refuge in God from such an act,” I said.

He explained, “I have been informed that at every resting-place you used to slaughter a goat for your companions.”

“Yes, but By God, it was only for His happiness that I acted in this manner”.

The Imam (a.s.) continued, “Don’t you realize that amongst the group there were some, who desired to possess wealth so they too could perform good deeds like you, but not having the means, they have become upset.”

“I repent over my actions and resolve never to act in that way again,” I said.

The Imam (a.s.) advised, “A Mu’min, in the eyes of God, is more honourable than the angels, the mountains, the seven skies, the seven earths and everything that exists in them.”[109]

4 – Harassing Amirul Mu’mineen (a.s.) is akin to Harassing the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)

A’mr Ibn Shaas Aslami, one of the companions present during the treaty of Hudaibiyah, narrates: Once, A’li (a.s.) and I had embarked upon a journey towards Yemen. During the journey, I happened to get upset with him and my heart was filled with malice towards him.

As I returned from the trip, I proceeded to the mosque and complained to the people about his behaviour. Unfortunately, it so happened that my words eventually reached the ears of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).

One morning, on entering the mosque, I noticed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) present there together with a few of his companions. As soon as his eyes fell upon me, he gazed at me in anger and continued to do so till I had seated myself.

“O’ A’mr! By God, you have surely harassed me!” he said crossly.

I exclaimed, “I seek refuge in God from ever harassing or annoying you”.

He said, “Yes, you have troubled me for whoever has troubled A’li (a.s.) has troubled me too.”[110]
5 – Maltreatment by Mutawakkil

One of the worst Abbasid caliphs was Mutawakkil, who left no stone unturned in his attempt to harass and torment Imam Hadi (a.s.), the descendants of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), the Shiites and the pilgrims of Imam Husain (a.s.).

The governor of Madinah, A’bdullah Ibn Muhammad, acting on Mutawakkil’s instructions, troubled Imam Hadi (a.s.) to such an extent that the Imam (a.s.) was compelled to write a letter of complaint to Mutawakkil.

Later on, Mutawakkil forced the Imam (a.s.) to move from Madinah to Saamarra. Here, he initiated a fresh wave of persecution and harassment, some instances of which follow: One night, Mutawakkil called Sa’eed, his doorkeeper, and instructed him to climb into Imam’s house and snoop around with a view to finding wealth or weapons. If they were found, he should confiscate them.

On another occasion, relying on a false accusation, he ordered a group of Turks to rush into the Imam’s house, take possession of everything they could find and bring him to the court. When the Imam (a.s.) was brought to the court, Mutawakkil was busy consuming wine and (out of mockery) offered it to the holy Imam (a.s.) and said: “Recite poetry for me!”

On yet another occasion, he had the Imam (a.s.) brought before him and ordered four Khazar Jilfi slaves[111] to attack him with swords, but the Imam (a.s.), utilizing the power of Imamate, miraculously repulsed this attack.

In the year 237 A.H., Mutawakkil ordered the grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) and the houses in its vicinity to be destroyed and wanted the area to be used for farming and cultivation.

He decreed that a hand or a leg of anyone who came for the pilgrimage of Imam Husain (a.s.) should be amputated.

U’mar Ibn Faraj, who was made the governor of Makkah and Madinah by Mutawakkil, was ordered to prevent the people from helping or showing kindness to the descendants of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). The people, out of fear, refrained from assisting these descendants whose condition became so miserable and adverse that they did not even have proper garments to wear. This harassment and torture reached such a stage that Muntasir, Mutawakkil’s son, out of love for Amirul Mu’mineen (a.s.) was eventually promptedto murder his own father.[112]


[105] Holy Qur’an, ch. Al-Ahzaab (33), vs. 57.

[106] Jaame’ al-Sa’adaat, vol. 2, pg. 215.

[107] Darsi Az Akhlaaq, pg. 120; Al-Amaali (Sheikh Mufid), pg. 128.

[108] Hikaayat-ha-e-Shanidani, vol. 5, pg. 122; Bihaar al-Anwaar, vol. 13, pg. 253.

[109] Namunah-e-Ma’arif, vol. 2, pg. 453; La-aali al-Akhbaar, pg. 135.

[110] Daastaan-hai Az Zindagi-e-A’li, pg. 112; Mustadrak al-Sahihain, vol. 3, pg. 122.

[111] These were stupid, brutish and wee-eyed people.

[112] Muntahal Aa’maal, vol. 2, pgs. 378 – 384.

Jealousy and pride have nothing to do with Heaven Hadrat Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s.)

Jealousy and pride have nothing to do with Heaven Hadrat Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s.)

Jealousy and pride have nothing to do with Heaven Hadrat Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s.) says in the Sermon of Qaasiya quoted in the Nahj al-Balaagha: “O people! Satan has rendered himself accursed because of his jealousy. Beware, you too might get involved in jealousy meet the same fate as Satan. Allah (S.w.T.) banished Satan from the Heaven because of his jealousy. He earned the displeasure and ire of Allah (S.w.T.) because of his pride and jealousy. How will you expect to achieve Heaven if you too are proud and jealous! When the mentor of the angels, Iblīs, was sent out of the Heaven because of his pride and jealousy, how can ordinary mortals like you dream of entering the Heaven if they practice these undesirable traits.”
Satan was busy supplicating to Allah (S.w.T.) for long years but for one act of pride he earned the displeasure of Allah (S.w.T.) to be banished from the Heaven for all time. It must be remembered, therefore, that pride and greatness is only for Allah (S.w.T.)! Allah (S.w.T.) says, ‘Magnificence and Greatness only suit Me! You humans! What use your bragging? Conceit and pride are not your raiment. Talking big doesn’t suit you. All men in the eyes of Allah (S.w.T.) are beggars and needy. Allah (S.w.T.) says, ‘Worship Me that there is no god other than Me!’
If man becomes proud and conceited, he will become a partner of Satan!