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.

Hujjat sae yeh Dunia Qaem Hai

Beautiful Qsaeeda By

Allama Qais Zangipuri

Hujjat sae yeh Dunia Qaem Hai

Qaem sae Zamana Qaem hai

Tum pardah utha dogey jis din duniya ka bharam khul jayega
Haq yeh hai tumhaare pardeh se ek ek ka pardah qayam hai

Inkar jinhen hai ghaibat se ae Qais woh imaan kho baithe
Hum ghaib pa imaan rakhte hein imaan hamara Qayam hai                                                   

Imam-e-Zaman (A.S.) in the Mirror of Dua-e-Nudba

Imam-e-Zaman (A.S.) in the Mirror of Dua-e-Nudba

‘Dua’ means ‘to call or to seek help’. ‘Nudba’ means to cry or wail. The Shia books of traditions lay great stress upon ‘Dua’. Dua is the weapon of the believer, the essence of belief and the connection between the Creator of the universe and his slaves. One of the treasure of Duas is a pearl, known as Dua-e-Nudba. It is an important and authentic Dua. It’s deep meaning penetrates to the depths of the heart. This is enough proof that these are not the words of an ordinary person. They are uttered by the personality who has connection with the celestial world (Aalam-e-Malakoot). Allamah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (r.a.) has quoted this Dua in ‘Zaad-ul-Maad’ from Imam Jafar-e-Sadiq (a.s.). It is for the Imam of the time. And Muhammad bin Ali bin Abi Khura has quoted this dua from the book of Muhammad bin Husain bin Sufyan Bazoofari, from Imam-e-Asr. Apart from this, great Shia scholar Sayed Raziuddin bin Tawoos has mentioned it in his book, “Iqbal” on page no.295 to 299. Muhammad bin Jafar Mashadi Haeri has recorded it in book Al-Mazaan (Dua no.107). Qutb Rawandi in Al-Mazaar also records it and so does Allamah Majlisi in ‘Zaad-ul-Maad’ and ‘Beeharul Anwaar’. Shaykh Abbas Qummi too has narrated it in his book, ‘Mafatihul Janan’.

Let us see how the magnificent personality of Imam-e-Asr (a.s.) is introduced in this Dua:

“Where is the Last Proof of Allah. The one who is a link of the chain of guidance of the purified progeny of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) without whose presence this system cannot remain?”

The word ‘Baqiyatullah’ is used here. It is from the verse of the Holy Quran

“What remains with Allah is better for you if you are believers.”

(Surah Hud, Verse 86)

It is evident that the world cannot be bereft of the Proof of Allah. And the one from the progeny of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) remaining of this earth is only our Imam Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.). It is reported in the traditions,

“If the Proof of Allah is not present the earth will sink.”

The earth is still remaining as it was. This proves the existence of a divine proof.

“Where is the One who will exterminate the followers of injustice ?”

Beginning from this sentence to the end of this article are various prophecies regarding Imam Mahdi (a.s.). The point to be noted here is that Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) will not at all tolerate any kind of injustice. Whether it is the injustice against one’s own self i.e. sin or it is against the rights of someone else. Because the last representative of Allah is to establish the scales of justice and equity.

Husain ibn Khalid says that he asked Imam Ali Ibne Musa Al-Reza (a.s.):

“O son of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who is the ‘Qaem’ (one who will rise) among you, the Ahle Bait (a.s.)?” He replied, “Qaem is my fourth lineal descendant. Son of the chief of the maids of Allah (Janab Narjis Khatoon). Allah will through him purify the earth from injustice and tyranny. And when he would reappear the earth will be illuminated by his radiance (light). He will establish scales of justice among the people. Thus no one will oppress anyone.”

Where is that venerated personality who is awaited to correct all kinds of weaknesses and vices?”

Unlike the other sects of Islam, it is the Shias of today who are distancing themselves from (religious) knowledge. Personal opinions are given the garb of religious authenticity. Personal view points are expressed as the elements of Islamic doctrine. And we accept all these without testing their authenticity and credibility. The learned scholars are stunned, the Maraaje stupefied. Not knowing what to do. A believer is being degraded and we are amused by it.

People of loose morals, the wealthy and rich are giving opinions regarding religious matters, and we are prepared to offer them co-operation. The school of Aale Muhammad (a.s.) is sidelined by the surrounding vices and evil deeds and we are immersed in the sleep of carelessness. What could be worse than this sloth and betrayal of religion. Seeing all these bad deeds of us all, a believer man fervently prays to Allah, “O Lord! where is Your last representative whom you have given the good news. And waiting for whom is prescribed as the best form of worship. Send him among us urgently so that he can correct the weaknesses and the wrong ways of humanity and the religion from the society. These shortcomings and vices which are the causes of the sorry state of the believers.

‘Where is the one who is the abode of hope, one who will put an end to the oppression and injustice?”

The word used in the metaphor means that in which hope is reposed. When the people of the world would be disappointed by each and every kind of government they will have only one last hope. This hope is the hope in the institution of Imamat or in the meritorious personality of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.).

“Where is the treasure (of Allah), one who will rejuvenate the obligatory commands and the recommended one?”

Yes, Imam-e-Asr (a.s.) is that treasure whom Allah has held back so that when the obligatory commands and the recommended actions are diseased by the germs of doubts, objections and misunderstandings, Imam (a.s.) will reappear and enable it, to have a purified life. After this, the Islamic commands, optional and obligatory, would be carried out in the correct form and with sincerity. The belief would be so much purified that no one would dare to ignore any religious command, either obligatory or recommended.

“Where is the One who is chosen to impart a new life to the Islamic world and to rejuvenate the Shariat law of Mustafa (s.a.w.a.)?”

His reappearance will imbibe a new life in the Islamic world. The shariat would be followed correctly. There would be neither discord nor any disagreement. The following verse would be fully acted upon:

“And Hold fast by the Covenant of Allah altogether and be not divided.”

(Surah Ale Imran, Verse 102)

“Where is the one, who, it is hoped, will revive the Quran and its laws ?”

True, when Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) would explain the ambiguous verses in the light of the unambiguous or the clear ones. At this time people of the world would become aware as to who are the ones “firmly rooted in knowledge”.

Who is the repository of all the knowledge of all the “land” and the “seas”? At this time the world would listen to the commentary of the manifest book by the manifested light. The divine mufassir (exegist of the Quran) would be listened to with attention and whole heartedly believed upon.

“Where is the One who will enliven the Islamic sciences and the teachers of religious education?”

In the last part of the time, the religious scholars and the Islamic knowledge are looked down on. The influence of wealth and self and power is stronger. In such a corrupted atmosphere the successor of Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) would expound the meaning of the tradition,

“I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.”

‘Where is the One who would destroy oppression and tyranny of the oppressors?”

“Where is the One who will raise the edifices of polytheism and hypocrisy to the ground?”

Today the monotheistic world is attacked by all sorts of doubts and misunderstandings. Polytheism and hypocrisy are on the look out to revile Islam and obliterate its name from the world, so that the people would begin to detest its name. But according to the divine promise all the evil designs of the satans will be useless. The promise is as follows:

“He is the One who sent His Prophet with guidance and the true religion, that He may make it overcome the religions, all of them, though the polytheist may be averse.”

(Surah Saff, Verse 9)

Moreover only the worship of the true God shall remain. Our Imam would study the intention of the people and give his judgment. So if any hypocrite thinks that he is living in the 1st century of Islam, he would be absolutely degraded.

“Where is the One who will destroy those who transgress and commit evil, those who are immersed in sins and those who raise their heads (against the affair of Allah?).

“Where is the One who will distend the branches of misguidance and disputes?”

“Where is the Destroyer of the signs of (evil) disease and egoistic tendencies?”

In the government of the Imam (a.s.) no one will be able to carry with him the diseases of hatred, malice and hostility. Nor will anyone be able to follow his selfish desires. First Imam (a.s.) will try to correct these people but if they still do not improve then Imam (a.s.) will put an end to their existence.

“Where is the severer of the ropes of falsehood and calumniation?”

These will no place for falsehood, deceit and cunning in the government of Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.). It will be a rule whose foundation has been laid by Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.). The only difference would be that in this government there would be no place for people like Talha and Zubair.

“Where is the Destroyer of the vicious and disobedient people?”

The quality of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) that will become apparent after the reappearance will be to put to sword anyone who dares to disobey Allah as also the traitors and the transgressors. For in his government only the Quranic law and the divine commands will be followed. No one will be able to offer any excuses.

“Where is the Eradicator of the followers of obstinacy and misguidance and the renegade?”

“Where is the One who honors the friends and degrades the enemy ?”

The word Awliya (friend) in this sentence is taken from ‘Maula’ (master). Thus whoever accepts the mastership of Imam (a.s.), will be honored by him (Imam (a.s.)). But whosoever does not, he will have to face degradation.

“Where is the Accumulator of the words of piety?”

The term ‘Kalima’ (word) is also used in the Quran to mean people. For eg. Hazrat Isa (a.s.) is mentioned as ‘Kalima’. In other words the companions and the helpers of Imam-e-Asr (a.s.) will be only the pious and abstentious ones. Not those who are sinful and disobedient. As the Quran has declared: “The hereafter is only for those who guard (against evil).

“Where is the Gate of Allah through which all should enter ?”

It means that whoever wishes to enter the world of knowledge and faith then he should do so only through the door of the purified Ahle Bait (a.s.). If anyone prefers for himself any other path, then he will surely be led astray.

“Where is the countenance of Allah through which the friends attend towards him?”

Every member of Holy Ahle Bait (a.s.) is a mirror of divine qualities (Face of Allah). It means the countenance of Allah. Obviously Allah does not possess a ‘face’ but it only means that whoever wants to turn towards Allah and wishes to have an intermediary to Allah can do so only through the Proof of Allah [Imam Mahdi (a.s.)]. Since the Imam is in occultation to have belief in him and to attend to him becomes all the more meritorious.

The following tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) also supports this argument:

“O Ali! In the last period there will be a people, most amazing in belief and the greatest in faith. They shall be those who will not have seen the Prophet of Allah and the Proof of Allah (Imam Mahdi (a.s.) will be hidden from them. The foundation of their belief shall be upon only certain writings.”

“Where is the Means which is stretching from the earth to the sky?”

If the universe becomes bereft of the “Proof of Allah’ it will be annihilated at once. For the Proof of Allah is the axis of the universe. He is that Perfect Man through whose grace the worlds derive their nourishment from the Almighty Creator (Allah).

“Where is the Master of the Day of victory and the One who will spread the flag of guidance?”

At this point the reciter of this Dua expresses a strange of melancholy that for how long does he have to bear the degradations which he has to suffer during the occupation? And when will these insults come to an end and the standard of truth raised upon the world?

“Where is the unites of the companions of virtue and divine pleasure?”

“Where is the Avenger of the blood of prophets and the children of the Prophets?”

“Where is the seeker of revenge for the blood of the martyred ones of Karbala?”

Undoubtedly, Imam (a.s.) must be weeping in sadness when he reaches this sentence. The murderers of Bam Israel used to slay up to seventy prophets in one night yet they got respite. But the tragedy of Karbala was the culmination of atrocities by the accursed Yazeed. The like of which is not to be found in the history of mankind. We all weep when these incidents are related to us by the fallible speakers. But the infallible Imam (a.s.) himself witnesses the carnage with his tear-filled eyes. He (Imam (a.s.)) says in Ziaarat-e-Nahiya:

“Then O my oppressed grandfather! Certainly I will wail for you morning and evening and I shed tears of blood for you.”

Doubtlessly the prime objective of Imam-e-Zarnan (a.s.) is to avenge the blood of Imam Husain (a.s.).

‘Where is the Triumphant one (who will overcome) over one who transgressed against him and maligned him ?”

“Where is the distressed one who will be answered when he supplicates?”

It is clear from this sentence that the ‘distressed one’ mentioned in the following verse of Quran is Imam Mahdi (a.s.):

“Or, who answers the distressed one when he calls upon Him…”

(Surah Naml, Verse 62)

And he is constantly praying to Allah for us. When a common person is compelled to express pity upon the deplorable condition of the present Islam and Muslims then how much aggrieved will be that Imam who is aware of all the happenings, whether apparent or not?

“Where is the president of all creatures, who is both the beneficent and God fearing?”

“Where is the son of the chosen (al-Mustafa) Prophet and the son of Ali-al-Murtuza?”

“And the son of Khadijat-ul-Gharra (the Luminous), and the son of Fatematul-Kubra (the Great)?

In this brief article we have discussed only those sentences of Dua Nudba which speak exclusively about Imam Mahdi (a.s.) After pondering over these we derive some conclusions. Foremost being that if we wish that the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) be hastened then we must recite the Dua every Friday. But it should not be only mechanical. We should recite in as if our beloved is away from us and we are restless due to his separation. In fact the purity of intention and constancy is necessary. The reappearance of Imam (a.s.) will not be only by wishing and praying. But it should be accompanied by pure intention and good deeds.

Another point that is derived is that when Imam Mahdi (a.s.) will reappear he will put an end to all kinds of injustice, oppression, falsehood, tyranny, shamelessness and devilish deeds. He will fill the earth with justice and equity. So, if any of us has any of these bad qualities we must try to correct ourselves immediately. Because Imam (a.s.) will strictly apply the divine commands and would spare none.

The third important thing is that the companions or the helpers of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) could be only those who are pious, who offer prayers regularly, follow the teachings of the Quran and obey Allah. If we do not possess these qualities then there is no place for us in the camp of the Qaem-e-Ale Muhammad (Imam Mahdi (a.s.)).

Let us then resolve that we shall pray night and day for the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.). We shall do everything which takes us nearer to the Imam (a.s.). And avoid all such acts which would take us away from our Master Imam Mahdi (a.s.). So if we ponder upon this we would realize that there is no one who cares for us except this benevolent Imam. We should not dissatisfy him with our deeds. Because if our Imam (a.s.) turns away from us (disregards us) then we shall have no shelter.



zeeshan.jpgBy Maulana Zeeshan Abidi

(Panel Ulema of AQYouth)


The benefits of Imam-e-Zaman’s existence from our view-point (i.e. Shi’ite view-point) are of two types:
Firstly, Hazrat like other people is alive and the common people derive benefit from his existence whether present or absent and whether apparent or concealed.
Secondly, the benefits which is derived from Hazrat’s occupation (of the earth) was previously reasoned that due to fear and insecurity it is not obligatory for Hazrat to carry out the second type. However benefits of the first type will necessarily be derived from Hazrat’s existence.

The simile which has come in the tradition of Jabir-ibn-Abdullah Ansari is as follows:
‘Imam is like a sun hidden behind the clouds’
This simile is one of the most elegant and beautiful kinds of simile.

Various benefits and effects are derived from the sun’s existence even though it may be covered by a cloud. Moreover, other benefits are derived from its rays if it is not covered by a cloud or rather anything else. Imam too is the same.

I believe, this comparison has been made from two aspects and there exists two reasons for this (one aspect when the sun is covered by clouds and the other aspect when the sun is not covered by any object and its light glimmers) Deriving benefit from the sun and making use of it by the living and rather the non-living creatures is something prevalent whether it is manifest or concealed under the clouds. Every creature derives its own pleasure and share from it with the difference that when it is manifest and glimmering, the benefit derived is more than when it is covered and concealed. Imam (A.S.) too is like the sun in these two afore-said cases.

This is the view of the Shia-Imamiyahs about Imam (A.S.). However the Sunnis believe that the benefits and effects derived from Imam’s existence is confined to the second type (i.e. non-absence of Imam).
To this, we reply as such:
Some of the Sunnis reckon Mahdi’s occultation to mean that he is invisible and cannot be seen. However, just as mentioned before, their reckoning is far from truth. Rather, his occultation means that he cannot be individually recognized and seen.
Thus, it has come down in some traditions that after Mahdi’s emergence people will say:- ‘We used to see him before too.’

Verily Mahdi is absent (amongst us) but attends the gatherings and meetings. He also speaks to the travellers and other people. Rather, very often he presents himself during the Haj season.

He wears the ‘Ehram’ (pilgrim’s garb), recites the call of ‘Labbaik’, performs the ‘tawaaf’ (circumbulation) and concludes his Haj by visiting his honoured grand-father and great fathers’ shrines especially at times of special ‘Ziarats’. Thus Mahdi is present amongst the Islamic community but is not physically recognized.

One the contrary, we say: Who can dare say that during the major occultation it is not possible to come in contact with Mahdi (A.S.) whereas historical and other books provide us with evidences that a section of people have received the honour of seeing and meeting him. This matter is not inconsistent with the tradition which says: ‘If anyone claims that he has seen Mahdi, they reject his saying’.

This is because by context of the first part of the tradition it only means that anyone who claims the special deputyship should be denied.Rather we can say: Mahdi is one of the members of society and rather the most important member. It is possible that he acts upon his responsibility even though it may not be obligatory for him.

Verily, it is possible that Mahdi may come in contact with the Kings, rulers, princes and ministers and make some recommendations to them about reforms, maintenence of order and running of the affairs whether they follow his recommendation or not.He sits with the Jurists, scholars, writers and the learned people and discusses with them such topics as divine theology, moral rectifications and literary matters. In every field, he guides them towards the truth and right way irrespective of whether they act upon his sayings or not. He meets the traditionists, historians, gene and scholars of ‘Rijal’ and guides them to the true saying, truthfulness of the concerned matter, authenticity of relation (of narration) and their incorrectness irrespective of whether they approve his sayings or not.

Talks takes place with the preachers, inviters (towards the Divine path), clergymen and guides too and he reveals to them the way of reaching their objective in an easier way be it they act upon it or not.

He visits the helpless, needy, sick and afflicted people and fulfills the wishes of the needy and cures the sick. Mahdi (A.S.) strives for all these affairs without being recognized and he is never stingy in doing good to others. So it’s absurd to say: How people benefit from the hidden Imam!?

Verily, very often Mahdi (A.S.) replies to matters having to do with principles and other secondary matters; very often he solves the religious or worldly affairs; very often he cures the sick; how often he delivers the poor; very often he helps the helpless; very often he quenches the thirsty and very often he holds the hands of the disabled.

This book and other books which have been written by reliable scholars (who were not recognizing each other and were living in different places and different times) contain such evidences which bear testimony to the truthfulness of what we have written. A person, after going through the particulars and contexts of these kind of evidences will gain certainty in the veracity of some of them.


zeeshan.jpgBy Maulana Zeeshan Abidi
(Panel Ulema of  AQYouth)

With regards to Mahdi’s fear and occultation and in the light of what we have mentioned before, there remain a few questions which is worth mentioning:

First Question: Why Allah, the Powerful doesn’t hinder Hazrat’s enemies from killing him!?
answer: God has commanded the Creation of hindrance which is not incompatible with duty and responsibility i.e. the commandment for obedience, assistance and submissiveness and forbiddance from disobedience and enmity of Hazrat Mahdi. However not forming any hindrance between Mahdi and his enemies is because it is incompatible with duty and renders the reward and punishment as null and void. Rather, such a hindrance will give rise to mischief and this cannot be the consequence of God.

 Question: Why is Mahdi (A.S.) absent amongst the people and why has he isolated himself from them considering that his great fathers were present amongst the people!?
Reply: Mahdi’s very foundation is based on emerging with the sword and revolting for God’s sake but such was not so in the case of his great fathers. Presence of Mahdi would expose him to danger especially when it is well-known and famous that Hazrat is waiting for an opportunity. Also it is a well-known fact that whenever Mahdi passed away there was another to succeed him as against Mahdi who if killed there would be no one to succeed him.

 Question: I f Mahdi’s occultation is due to fear of his enemies, then why has he concealed himself from his friends!?
Answer: If there existed for Hazrat’s friends and companions a channel to meet and visit him then, as a rule it was certain for his whereabouts to be discovered.

 Question: Reply to the third question is true only if the entire Shias are successful in meeting Hazrat. However if such a meeting is possible for only a particular group amongst Imam’s friends, then his whereabout will not be discovered.
Answer: Any secret which becomes known to more than two will no longer remain a secret.

Question: Why didn’t Hazrat’s minor occultation continue in the very manner in which the special deputies used to serve him!?
Answer: The non-continuation of Hazrat’s minor occultation may have been for two reasons:
Firstly that deputyship from Imam’s side is especially the post of special deputyship is a very high and lofty position. Since a group amongst the power-seekers falsely claimed the position of deputyship during the last days of Hazrat’s occultation, the door of special deputyship was hence closed.
Secondly the special deputyship too at that time was kept secret and hidden and except for some specific people, none were aware of it. If the minor occultation had continued and the position of special deputyship would become known, Hazrat’s deputies too would have been exposed to danger.


For our Master, Mahdi – the Expected one, there has been two occultations: The minor occultation and the major occultation.
The minor occultation started from the time of Hazrat’s birth and continued till the end of the special deputyship which lasted for seventy-four years.

The major occultation commenced after the minor occultation and will continue as long as God Wills Hazrat to emerge and revolt with his might.

In the book of «Esbath-ul-Wasiyah», Ali-ibn-Hussein-ibn-Ali Masoudi says:
‘It is narrated that Imam Ali an-Naqi (A.S.) disappeared from the Shias’ views but for a small group of his special Shias. When the affairs of Imamate were entrusted to Imam Hassan Askari, he used to converse with his special circle of Shias and others from behind the curtain except when he was mounted and would travel towards the Kings house.
Imam Askari (A.S.) and his father were acting in this manner so as to prepare the ground for Hazrat Mahdi’s concealment. This was so that the Shias would become familiar with the matter of occultation and would not deny it and would become habituated with Imam’s absence and concealment.

Verily, right from the time of Amir-ul-Mumineen Ali (A.S.) till the period of Imam Ali an-Naqi (A.S.) and Imam Hassan Askari (A.S.) it was customary for the Shias to meet their Imam whenever they wished. If they were deprived of this bounty all at once then doubt and hesitation would have overtaken them. Rather the faith of some of them would have become shaky. Thus Imam Ali an-Naqi (A.S.) and Imam Askari (A.S.) adopted this path as mentioned by Masoudi so that the Shias would gradually and gradually become

 acquainted with Imam’s concealment.

Imam Ali an-Naqi (A.S.) and Imam Hassan Askari (A.S.) took up this excellent path for this very reason. Strict alertness of the rulers who were contemporary to the afore-mentioned two Imams confirm this matter. This resulted in fewer meetings and contacts with them especially so in the case of well-known Shii’tes.

The apparent glory and magnificience of the afore-said two Imams (A.S.) and the great number of servants and slaves and their greatness and eminence (which would naturally become the cause of fewer meetings of the common Shias and rather their special Shias except at fixed and special times) too confirms the matter of occultation.

Later on, the policy of Bani-Abbass changed with regards to the twelve Imams and their policy demanded respect and honour of the Imams and this path was first put into practice by Ma’mun Abbassid.

Those who cast a glance over history of Hazrat Ali-ibn-Musa ar-Ridha Imam Muhammad Taqi, Imam Ali an-Naqi and Imam Hassan Askari will realize the way of association of the Caliphs with Imams. This is because they believed in the greatness and magnificience of Imams (A.S.) and had kept at their disposal house, goods, feather, dress, servants, slaves and wealth for such motives which they had in mind. The main motive of the Caliphs, as per their own imagination was to receive more ease and attention when in the company of the the Imam especially so in the case of the afore-said two Imams.

The reason why Imam Ali an-Naqi concealed himself from the views of the Shias on much lesser occasions than Imam Hassan Askari (A.S.) was that there was to be two occultation for our master Mahdi – One was the minor occultation during which period the deputies and special representatives of Mahdi (A.S.) were having access to Hazrat until the time when the Shias became familiar with the absence and concealment of Imam (A.S.) and the period of major occultation started wherein the special deputyship was cut off and unlike the Shias who had the privilege of meeting Hazrat’s great fathers, none have the opportunity of meeting the Imam officially.