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['Aalim Network QR] Reliability of Ahadith (Follow-up)

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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
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Assalamu 'alaykum

The following questions and answers are a follow up to the question on
reliability of ahadith. They were kindly answered by Dr. Liyakatali Takim.

Salaams & Duas
Ummulbanin Merali - Moderator - 'Aalim Network


Also, it says in al-kafi that Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (as) "gave permission
for his followers to assign supernatural qualities to the imams as long as
they didn't defy them."  what does this mean exactly with reference to what
is the truth? 

As for your 2nd question, I would like to see the source of your statement.
I haven't seen the hadith myself. Please forward me the chapter name or
hadith number. I do recall reading a hadith in Kashshi's Rijal  in which
Imam al-Sadiq said: "May Allah curse the person who  attributes things  to
us which we do not claim for ourselves" 


I apologize, actually the word was "deify," not "defy."
Another author cited the hadith and gave the reference.  I haven't found 
the exact citation however I found something similar cited by an author 
named Hossein Modaressi, who says that it was said that the Imams said 
that they "permitted the attribuation of whatever supernatural quality or 
miracle one wanted to the Imams as long as one did not identify them with 
God."  He cites this from Ibn Babuye/Khisal 614 as well as from some 
other sources.


If you read Modaressi's book carefully, you will see that he attributes the
fabrication of these genres of traditions to the Ghulat. For example, he
states on pg. 19 :"[The Qur'an] speaks of Muhammad as an ordinary person
whose only difference from other people was that he received revelation from
God in order to deliver it to mankind. Muhammad was asked by God especially
to emphasize this point to those who asked him to perform miracles and to
prove that he was someone special". 

On page 21 Modarressi goes on to emphasize that during the times of Imam
Ja'far al-Sadiq (AS), another category of extremists emerged who had
borrowed many Kaysani ideas. They did not deify the Imams but regarded them
as supernatural beings. It is clear that the author regards such traditions
as falsely attributed to the Imams. Please read his chapter 2 carefully and
you will be able to discern his main thesis.

The book is entitled: "Crisis and Consolidation in the formative Period of
Shi'ite Islam" by Hossein Modarresi


Why was there such a problem in Islamic history during the time of the Imams
with gholaat/extremist Shi'a versus taqsir/over-normative Shi'a? Wouldn't
the guidance of the Imams have made plain what was and what wasn't true?


The answer to your 3rd question is in part answered in my 1st reply. The
ghulat were often anxious to claim authority on behalf of the Imams. So
they claimed to have inherited supernatural powers from the Imams like even ism
al-'azam and esoteric knowledge. Those who were accused of taqsir (falling
short in  acknowledging the eminent status of the Imams) were at the
opposite extreme i.e. they did not give the Imams their due status. 
Despite the Imams' continuous warning, some Shi'as were influenced by the
ghulat and others did the taqsir. I hope this clarifies the issues.


How do we know they didn't receive any form of esoteric knowledge?

There are  traditions which indicate that the Imams certainly knew what we
do not know. However, they only knew what Allah wanted them to know. The
question of the esoteric knowledge and extent of this knowledge has been
subject to much controversy in our literature. For example, an eminent
theologian like Shaykh a-Mufid writes in Awa'il Maqalat that an Imam in a
court of law may not have access to what is in the mind of a defendant and
would therefore judge by what is presented outwardly (zahir). This judgement
may not necessarily correspond to what is in reality. 

Shaykh Saduq even said that the Prophet had  committed an act of
inadvertance (sahw) in prayer, he forgot a part of it. See his Man La
Yahduru hu'l Faqih. These views indicate the diversity of opinions on the
esoteric knowledge of the Imams. The Imams knew more than us however the
extent of this knowledge has been subject to much speculation as indicated
by Modarressi and other quotations above.

And Allah knows best.


Liyakatali Takim


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