It is the unanimous belief of the Shias that the system of special deputyship came to an end with the passing away of the great Shaykh, Ali Ibne Muhammad Saymoori (r.a.) He was the last of the four special deputies of Imam (as) during the lesser occultation (Ghaibat-e-Sughra). After the passing away of Ali Ibne Muhammad Saymoori (r.a.) the period of Greater occultation started and during this period the points of reference for Shias are the scholars of religion well-versed in jurisprudence and on the pinnacle of piety.
Thus anyone who claims to be a special deputy of Imam (as) during this period is a liar and a renegade. Rather, it is indispensable tenet of Imamiyah faith and none of our scholars have disputed it. This is the best proof. Moreover, the good prophecy of Imam (as) with regard to the birth of Shaykh Sadooq also proves this. The book Kamaluddin has a narration from Abu Muhammad Hasan bin Ahmad Mukattib who says that in the year of Ali Ibne Muhammad Saymoori’s death he visited Baghdad. He went to meet Ali Ibne Muhammad Saymoori a few days before his demise. Ali Ibne Muhammad Saymoori showed the people a letter from Imam (as) (Tawqee).
It was as follows: “In the Name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful. O Ali Ibne Muhammad Saymoori: May Allah give good rewards to your brethren concerning you (i.e. on your death), for indeed you shall die after six days. So prepare your affairs and do not appoint anyone to take your place after your death. For the second occultation has now occurred and there can be no appearance until, after a long time, when Allah gives His permission, hearts become hardened and the world is filled with injustice.
And someone will come to my partisans (Shia) claiming that he has seen me, beware of anyone claiming to have seen me before the rise of al-Sufyani and the outcry from the sky, for he shall be a slanderous liar. And there is no strength and might except for Allah, the High and the Mighty.”
Mukattib says that he copied the tawqee and went away from there and when he returned on the sixth day he found Ali Ibne Muhammad Saymoori in a dying condition. When he was asked regarding his successor, he said: “The Almighty Allah shall Himself take the affair to its completion.” And he passed away after saying this and these were the last words heard from him.1
I say: Here our discussion will deal with two aspects: One: Chain of narrators of the tradition and two: Its point of evidence on the point under discussion.
Issue One: It is that according to terminology this tradition is ‘highly correct’ because it is narrated from our master by three different persons. First is the venerable Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali bin Muhammad Saymoori, who is in no need of description due to his majestic position and fame.
Second: Shaykh Sadooq Muhammad bin Ali bin Husain bin Musa Babawayh Qummi who is also famous for his books and hardly needs explanation.
Third: Abu Muhammad Hasan bin Ahmad Mukattib, as mentioned by Maula Inayatullah in Majmaur Rijal he is, Abu Muhammad Hasan bin Husain bin Ibrahim bin Ahmad bin Hisham Mukattib and Sadooq has often narrated from him, may Allah bless him; and it is a sign of correctness and reliability as mentioned by Maula Inayatullah in Majmaur Rijal and he has mentioned many proofs for it that cannot be stated here. Mukattib means one who teaches writing.
Note: There are two mistakes in two books that have come to my attention and it is better to clarify them here.
First: In the book of Ghaibah of the venerable Shaykh, Muhammad bin Hasan Tusi, in the copy I am having, it is mentioned: Narrated to us a group from Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ali bin Husain bin Babawayh that he said: Narrated to me Abu Muhammad Ahmad bin Hasan Mukattib that: I was in Medinatul Islam (Baghdad)…2
In the same way this tradition is mentioned by Ibne Babawayh in Kamaluddin. But he has narrated from Hasan bin Ahmad.3 Apparently this mistake has occurred from the scribes of Ghaibah Shaykh Tusi. That which supports that this mistake is from the scribes, is that Haaj Mirza Husain Noori has mentioned the same tradition in his book, Jannatul Mawa quoting from Ghaibah Shaykh Tusi from Hasan bin Ahmad Mukattib.4 And Allah knows best.
Second: In the book of Mustadrakul Wasail, written by Mirza Husain Noori, he quoted a tradition from Shaykh Sadooq but he, despite his awareness, does not mention his name with respect and just says: Sadooq. Now we all know that it was only an oversight. There are many examples of such oversights that the coming scholars must take care to correct.
Thus we must all make efforts in this regard and the Almighty Allah will not make us lose hope. Perhaps the mistake occurred because they have narrated from Maula Inayatullah who in turn has taken from Rabius Shia of Sayyid Ibne Tawoos and he has narrated from Hasan bin Ahmad Mukattib. Thus we come to know that the narrator from Abul Hasan Saymoori (r.a.) is same Hasan bin Ahmad through whom Ibne Babawayh has narrated.
Among the proofs of correctness of this tradition and that it is narrated from the Imam is that Shaykh Tabarsi, author of Ihtijaj, has mentioned it directly without chain of narrators. While in the beginning of the book he has stated that whenever he has not mentioned the chain of narrators it implies that the tradition is well known or tradition scholars have unanimity on it or unanimity on it by way of logic.5
Thus it becomes clear that the above mentioned tradition is needless of chain of narrators either because there is unanimity of scholars or its fame or both. In the same way among the proofs of its correctness is that all scholars since the time of Shaykh Sadooq till the present age have accepted it and none have expressed any reservations in it as is clear to all those who are conversant with their writings. Thus it became known that the above mentioned tradition is absolute and there is no doubt in it. It is a tradition regarding which the Imam has said: Indeed, there is no doubt in that in which there is unanimity.
Issue Two: In the proof of the mentioned tradition on the subject under discussion, the matter explained is that the saying of Imam (as): “Indeed, the second Ghaibat has occurred” is the cause for statement, “Do not appoint anyone as your successor”; thus it proves that Ghaibat Kubra is one in which there is Wikala and special representation; then this is emphasized with, “And whoever claims to have met me would come to my Shias…”
From the first context there is no doubt in the statement that ‘meeting’ here means that special type of meeting that was reserved only for the four special representatives of Imam (as) during the first occultation (Ghaibat Sughra) and it became famous through the statement of Imam (as) that, “One who claims such a thing in Ghaibat Kubra, has lied; and there is no might and power except by Allah, the High and the Mighty.”
The conclusion is that ‘meeting’ in the above statement is meeting in sense of ‘Babiyat’ or special representation like that of the four special representatives during Ghaibat Sughra and it does not mean direct meeting and it restricts the meaning of ‘meeting’, whether by common mention or special intention and in this way to use the word in many of its meanings; like one says: “I bought meat” or “Buy meat”. Here it denotes special meat of sheep and not absolute meat. In the same way the context mentioned in the present matter is as the Almighty Allah says:
قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ
Say: We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq and Yaqoob and the tribes. (Qur’an, Surah Aale Imran 3:84)
The word of ‘tribes’ (Asbath) is a general term but it denotes something special, because heavenly scriptures were not revealed on all grandsons of Yaqoob, it was revealed only on some of them. In the same way, in the blessed epistle, the meaning of ‘meeting’ is a special type of meeting, which we shall explain by the help of the Almighty. This shows that there is no contradiction between this epistle and many sayings of His Eminence, in Biharul Anwar, Najmus Thaqib and Darus Salaam of Shaykh Iraqi. As these incidents prove that numerous people met the Holy Imam (as) during the period of Ghaibat Kubra. May Allah, the Mighty and Sublime give us all Taufeeq to meet him and also bestow on us his intercession; Allah is nearest to His servants and one who fulfills the prayers.
In reconciling these remote justifications there is no need for us to deviate from them and reject them. What we have explained is like a brilliant light (Noor) on Mt. Tur, the Taufeeq is from Allah.
That which proves the discontinuation of ‘Babiyat’ and special representation in Ghaibat Sughra is: No scholar since the time of the Imams has even indicated in any tradition such a thing. In spite of the fact that they have gathered and compiled traditions on different topics. While on the other hand we have numerous incidents that mention how people met the Holy Imam (as). So much so, that there are not even weak traditions on the subject of special representation of Imam (as). Thus we can rest assured that the Imam’s Wikala and special representation came to an end after Ghaibat Sughra, even though we might not be having any other reason, this is sufficient.
We can thus conclude that not finding a proof is itself proof of its non-existence; it is one of the most important rule that scholars of Usool follow. Also, we see in all the matters related to the world and the hereafter; earnings and social relations, during all the times, depend on this rule only, that in whichever subject you have doubts, when you don’t find any proof against it even though you have searched it thoroughly, you can assume that it does not exist. In other words it can be said that no sensible person, after research in something about which there is no confirmed order, especially after the Imams (as) have mentioned everything that people will need and established a system of jurisprudence.
Contemplation on this principle leads us to conclude that it is false what the Sufis say regarding allegiance to a Gnostic Shaykh and his obedience as we mentioned previously. In the same way it disproves the claim of Shaykhiyah sect when they say: “Following a special person is obligatory at all times and that person is called a pure Shia, and they think that he is the mirror of the qualities of the Imam, and knowing him is one of the four pillars of faith.”
It is so because there is no proof in its favor and there are definite proofs against it as mentioned in its proper place. We beseech the Almighty to keep us steadfast on true faith and protect us from the deviations of Satan.
The above points can also be supported by many traditions. For example, there is a tradition to this effect, narrated by Shaykh Nomani (r.a.) in the Book of Ghaibat. In which it is narrated from Abdullah bin Sinan that he said: “I and my father came to Abi Abdullah (as) and he said: How will you be when you will not be able to see your Imam or know his location? And none will get salvation from it except those who recite Dua Ghareeq. My father asked: What shall we do in such circumstances? He replied: When such a time comes, remain steadfast on religion till the matter becomes correct for you.”6
Shaykh Sadooq has also recorded this report in Kamaluddin wa Tamamun Ni’ma, in which it is stated: Till the matter becomes clear on you.7
I say: Ponder on this tradition and rely on the saying of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) when he spoke of full Ghaibat of Imam (as) and discontinuation of his special representation in Ghaibat Kubra, telling them to continue to follow their original faith till the Imam reappears. The meaning of ‘what you have in your hands’ is following scholars and tradition experts in principles and practical laws and Sunnah.
Shaykh Nomani (r.a.) has mentioned this only when he says: In the tradition of Abdullah bin Sinan it was said: “…that you don’t find an Imam of guidance nor any banner.” This referred to what had really happened and confirmed the matter of the deputies, who had been between the Imam and his Shias, but their job stopped after some time.
The deputy between the Imam, during his disappearance, the Shia was like the banner. When people were afflicted with the ordeal, the banners disappeared and would not reappear until the expected Imam would reappear.
Also the confusion that the infallible Imams had told of occurred. The second disappearance of al- Qaim (aj) also took place. It will be discussed in the next chapter.” We beseech the Almighty to bestow us insight and the right path through His mercy and give us Taufeeq to do what He likes.8
Among the traditions that prove this point is a report quoted in Kamaluddin from Zurarah through correct chain of narrators in which he said: Abi Abdullah (as) said: “There will come upon the people a time when the Imam will disappear from them. It was asked: What should they do in such circumstances? He replied: They should remain attached to the faith they were on before, till the matter becomes clear to them.”9
I say: The pronoun in Imam’s statement, “till it becomes clear to them” is a hidden pronoun which returns to the Imam. That is it is the duty of people in his Ghaibat that they must stick to their original beliefs and not to testify for one who claims a special successorship of the Imam till their Imam reappears.
This shows that the Imam wanted to say that you must not follow anyone who claims to have a special office of the Hidden Imam (as) till he reappears with the signs and miracles foretold by his forefathers.
To support this there is a tradition that Shaykh Sadooq (r.a.) has narrated from Aban bin Taghlib that he said: His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) said: A time will come on the people, when Sibtah will come on the people. Till the narrator said: I asked: What is Sibtah? He replied: Fatra and Ghaibat. The narrator asked: What should we do at that time? Imam (as) replied: Remain on your original beliefs till the Almighty Allah makes your star shine for you.
I say: The shining of the star is an allusion to reappearance of the Imam. That which proves this is a tradition that Shaykh Nomani through his own chain of narrators has narrated from Aban bin Taghlib from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) that he said: O Aban, a time will come on the people…till the narrator asked: May I be sacrificed on you, what will we do and what will happen then? He replied: Keep to what you have kept to until Allah brings the master (of the matter) for you.10
There is also a tradition from Thiqatul Islam Muhammad bin Yaqoob Kulaini (r.a.) through a correct chain of narrators from our master, Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) that he said: Indeed, we are like the stars of the sky, that when one star sets another rises and point at it with your fingers then the Angel of death comes to take it (him) with him. After that you remain for a period of time. The progeny of Abdul Muttalib become the same in this regard and none will be distinguished from the other, then your star will appear. Praise Allah and accept it.11 Shaykh Nomani has narrated as follows: “The example of my family is like the stars of the sky. Whenever a star sets another shines until a certain star shines and you glance at it and point at it with your fingers then the Angel of death comes to take it (him) with him. After that you remain a period of time. The progeny of Abdul Muttalib become the same in this regard and none will be distinguished from the other, then your star will appear. Praise Allah and accept it.”12
Nomani has also through his own chain of narrators, related from Imam Sadiq (as) from his forefathers from the Messenger of Allah (S) that he said: “The example of my family among this Ummah is like the stars of the sky. Whenever a star sets, another shines until when you stretch your eyebrows towards (a shining star) and point with your fingers at it, the Angel of Death comes to take it with him. Then you remain for a period of time unknowing which one it is and so the progeny of Abdul Muttalib become the same in this regard. While you are so, Allah will make your star shine again. Then you are to praise Allah and to accept your star.”13
With the help of Allah and with the blessings of His Awliya and from this correct tradition it becomes known that it is not lawful to testify to the claim of anyone who thinks he has a special office of Imam’s embassy during the period of Ghaibat Kubra.
Also in support of this is what the venerable Shaykh Kulaini has mentioned through correct chains of narrators from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) that he said: There are two Ghaibats for the Qaim (aj), one is of a short duration and one is long. In the first Ghaibat no one will know his location except his special Shias. And in the second Ghaibat, except for his special friends no one will know where he is.14
After quoting the above tradition, the author of Wafi says: As if the Imam’s phrase ‘except his special friends’ means the special servants of His Eminence, because all the Shias do not have access to them. Whereas in the first Ghaibat, there were special deputies of the Imam who brought epistles of the Imam to his Shias. The first deputy was Abu Amr Uthman bin Saeed Amari (r.a.). And when Uthman bin Saeed passed away he made a bequest in favor of his son, Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Uthman. And Abu Ja’far made a bequest in favor of Abul Qasim Husain bin Rauh. Abul Qasim made a bequest in favor of Abul Hasan Ali bin Muhammad Saymoori (r.a.). When the last moment of Saymoori approached and they wanted him to make a bequest, he said: The matter belongs to Allah and He will take it to its end. Thus this is Ghaibat Kubra which occurred after the passing away of Saymoori.
Also supporting this is a tradition that Shaykh Sadooq has narrated from Umar bin Abdul Aziz from Abi Abdullah (as) that he said: “When days and nights pass in such a condition that you are unable to see the Imam whom you can follow, you must continue to love what you love and continue to hate what you hate till Allah, the Mighty and Sublime brings him out.”15
Kulaini (r.a.) in Usool Kafi through the author’s own chain of narrators has narrated from Mansoor from someone who mentioned him from His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) that the narrator asked him: What shall we do when we pass our days without seeing an Imam we can follow? He replied: Continue to be friendly with those you were before it and continue to be inimical as before, till the Almighty Allah reveals it (the Imam).16
Nomani through his own chain of narrators has narrated from Ahmad bin Mansoor Saiqal from his father, Mansoor that His Eminence, Abi Abdillah Imam Sadiq (as) said: “If you spend a day and a night without finding an imam of Muhammad’s progeny, then still love whom you have loved before, hate whom you have hated before, follow whom you have followed and wait for the deliverance day and night.”17
I say: These traditions command us not to follow anyone who claims Imamate, Babiyat or Niyabat Khassa during the period of Ghaibat till the Almighty Allah makes His awaited Wali reappear. Because the Imam’s statement, “You must continue to love what you love…” means that we must ignore those who lay claims to special Imamate or Niyabat Khassa in Ghaibat. That is if someone is claiming something special to himself we must not accept his call and must not follow him. This is denial of his claim as is very much clear.
Among traditions that prove discontinuation of embassy of the Imam, is a tradition that Nomani has quoted from Mufaddal bin Umar Jofi from Imam Sadiq (as) that he said: “The man of this matter disappears twice. The first one lasts long until some people say that he has died, some say that he has been killed and others say that he has gone. None of his companions will still believe in him except a very few people. No one knows his place except the guardian, who manages his affairs.”18
Nomani says: If regarding Ghaibat there had not been any other, it would have sufficed for consideration.
Beneficial conclusion: You know that, these four mentioned personalities were special representatives of the Imam in the first Ghaibat and the Shias referred to them in their matters since their deputyship of the Imam was proved through the Imam’s Nass in their favor as mentioned with regard to Uthman bin Saeed19 and his son, Muhammad from Imam Hadi and Imam Askari (as). With regard to Abul Qasim Husain bin Rauh, it was confirmed by Muhammad bin Uthman through the order of Imam (as). And Husain bin Rauh declared Imam’s bequest in favor of Abul Hasan Ali bin Muslim Saymoori. Many miracles were shown by these special deputies as mentioned in books of Ghaibat.20
Sayyid Ibne Tawoos has narrated incidents about them in his book, Majmaur Rijal. In Rabius Shia, Sayyid Ibne Tawoos has clarified that miracles were shown by them. In the same way, Maula Inayatullah has narrated incidents about them in Majmaur Rijal as have other scholars. Without any doubt, Wikala and Niyabat Khassa is not proved except through three methods: Nass of Imam; or Nass of his (Special Deputy) Naib Khaas or through a miracles at the hands of one who claims to have this special office. If this were not so, every materialist person will raise the claim of special deputyship as happened many times when Imam (as) had to issue epistles in their refutation, cursing them and seeking immunity from them. The names of Naseeri and Numairi are found in books of Ghaibat and those who are interested may refer to them.
In the period of Ghaibat Kubra the door of Wikala and special deputyship is closed; but as per the traditions of the Holy Prophet (S) and the Holy Imams (as) it has given general deputyship to the scholars and jurisprudents, who are experts of religion and well versed in the traditions of the Holy Imams (as). Thus the general believers are obliged to refer to them in their religious matters.
There are numerous traditions on this subject like the saying of the Holy Prophet (S) when he said thrice: O Allah, forgive my caliphs. It was asked: O Messenger of Allah (S), who are your caliphs? He replied: Those who will come after me and narrate by traditions and Sunnah.
It is mentioned in the blessed epistle: “…And as for new problems, refer to those who are narrators of our traditions; they are my proofs on you and I am the proof of Allah on them.”21 And there are many other traditions mentioned at proper occasions.
Here it would be appropriate to mentioned two points:
First: It is that some of our scholars are of the view that general Wilayat is proved for our jurisprudents in the period of Ghaibat. That is they have all the powers and functions that the Imam has, except those which are only with regard to the special deputyship. Some scholars have denied it and said: Their deputyship is only in issues that are specifically mentioned like issue of verdicts and giving of decisions when there is dispute among the people. And this is the truth; and what the former scholars have claimed is based on weak arguments.
Second: When a person belonging to our school of thought claims for himself or anyone else special deputyship of Hazrat Hujjat (aj) during the period of occultation, knowing that it is a principle of faith to believe that the system of special deputyship has ended during Ghaibat Kubra, he has committed heresy and become apostate. Because it denotes that he has denied the principles of faith and therefore committed infidelity. In the same way, if he knows through consensus and traditions and still claims of special deputyship, he is a Kafir. But if he does not know that it is a principle of faith, and he denied the special deputyship during Ghaibat Kubra and considered it for himself, it is sure that such a person is a misguided soul.
But there is no proof for his apostasy and leaving Islam is doubtful. Because no legal proofs are found for it that he has denied something is necessary in the view of Muslims that should be reason for his apostasy and infidelity; what to say of denying the principals of faith! Rather the denial that makes one an apostate is testimony of the Holy Prophet (S) with regard to something that he has brought. The same is the case of Ahle Sunnah who do not believe in that which we consider necessary; that is the immediate successorship of Amirul Momineen (as). The great Faqih, Muqaddas Ardebeli is also of the same view and many other jurisprudents have also accepted it. Some others are of the view that denying any Islamic creed is absolute cause of infidelity, like denying one of the two Shahadatain etc. They take support of traditions that fall short in proving their point, and its details will be given in proper place. Allah knows best.
- 1. Kamaluddin, Vol. 2, Pg. 516, Chapter 45, Tr. no. 44
- 2. Al-Ghaibah, Shaykh Tusi, Pg. 242
- 3. Kamaluddin, Vol. 2, Pg. 516
- 4. Jannatul Maawa, Pg. 18
- 5. Al-Ihtijaaj, Vol. 2, Pg. 297
- 6. Ghaibat Nomani, Pg. 81
- 7. Kamaluddin, Vol. 2, Pg. 348, Chapter 33, Tr. no. 40
- 8. Ghaibat Nomani, Pg. 83
- 9. Kamaluddin, Vol. 2, Pg. 350, Chapter 33, Tr. no. 44
- 10. Ghaibat Nomani, Chapter in praise of the period of occultation
- 11. Usool Kafi, Vol. 1, Pg. 328
- 12. Ghaibat Nomani, Pg. 79
- 13. Ghaibat Nomani, Pg. 79
- 14. Usool Kafi, Vol. 1, Pg. 340
- 15. Kamaluddin, Vol. 2, Pg. 348, Chapter 33, Tr. no. 37
- 16. Usool Kafi, Vol. 1, Pg. 342
- 17. Ghaibat Nomani, Pg. 81
- 18. Ghaibat Nomani, Pg. 89
- 19. Al-Ghaibah, Shaykh Tusi, Pg. 242
- 20. Al-Ghaibah, Shaykh Tusi, Pg. 242
- 21. Kamaluddin, Vol. 2, Pg. 484