The traditions that indicate he will have two occultations and one will be shorter than the other
Comprised of ten traditions
599. Al-Kāfī1: Muḥammad b. Yaḥyā, from Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn, from ibn Maḥbūb, from Isḥāq b. `Ammār, from (Imam) Abū `Abd-Allah, peace be on him, who said: “The Qā’im will have two occultations: one of them will be short and the other long. In the first occultation, no one will know his whereabouts except his special followers (khāṣṣatu shī`atih). As for the other, no one will know his whereabouts except his special servants (khāṣṣatu mawālīh).”
600. Yanābī` al-mawadda2: Citing al-Maḥajja fī mā nazala fī l-Qā’im al-Ḥujja, concerning the saying of Allah, the Exalted, “And he made it a firm word in his future generations so that they may return” (Quran 43:28). From Thābit al-Thumālī, from Imam `Alī b. al-Ḥusayn, from his father, from his grandfather Amīr al-Mu’minīn `Alī b. Abī Ṭālib, may Allah be satisfied with him, who said:
This verse was revealed about us. Allah has put Imamate in the generation of al-Ḥusayn until the Day of Judgment. Our Qā’im will definitely have two occultations: one of them will be longer than the other and no one will remain steadfast in his Imamate except those who have strong certitude and correct recognition.
601. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī3: Narrated to us Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Sa`īd, from `Alī b. al-Ḥasan, from `Abd al-Raḥmān b. Abū Najrān, from `Alī b. Mahziyār, from Ḥammād b. `Īsā, from Ibrāhīm b. `Umar al-Yamānī who said: “I heard (Imam) Abū Ja`far, peace be on him, say, ‘The master of this affair will surely have two occultations.’ I also heard him say, ‘The Qā’im will not rise while having anybody’s allegiance on his neck [i.e. The Qā’im will rise while he will not have pledged allegiance to anyone].’”
602. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī4: Informed us Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Sa`īd, from al-Qāsim b. Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan b. Ḥāzim, from his book, from `Ubais b. Hishām, from `Abd-Allah b. Jabala, from Ibrāhīm b. al-Mustanīr, from al-Mufaḍḍal b. `Umar al-Ju`fī, from (Imam) Abū `Abd-Allah al-Ṣādiq, peace be on him, who said:
The master of this affair will surely have two occultations: one of them will be prolonged to such an extent that some of them will say, “He has died,” some will say, “He has been killed,” and some of them will say, “He has gone.” No one from his companions [i.e. followers] will remain [steadfast] in his affair except for very few. No one will know his whereabouts from his friends or anybody else except a servant who looks after his affairs.
603. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī5: Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Sa`īd b. `Uqda, from Muḥammad b. al-Mufaḍḍal b. Ibrāhīm b. Qays and Sa`dān [Sa`d] b. Isḥāq b. Sa`īd and Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn [al-Ḥasan] b. `Abd al-Malik and Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. al-Ḥasan al-Qaṭawānī, all of them from al-Ḥasan b. Maḥbūb, from Ibrāhīm [b. Ziyād] al-Khāriqī, from Abū Baṣīr who said:
I said to (Imam) Abū `Abd-Allah, peace be on him, that (Imam) Abū Ja`far, peace be on him, used to say, “The Qā’im from the family of Muḥammad will have two occultations and one of them will be longer than the other.” He said, “Yes, and this will not occur until the family of so and so clash with each other, war rages (taḍīq al-ḥalqa), the Sufyānī appears, calamities intensify, death and killings engulf the people, and they seek refuge in the Sanctum of Allah (ḥaram Allāh) and the Sanctum of His Messenger (ḥaram rasūlih), Allah’s blessings be on him and his family.”
604. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī6: `Abd al-Wāḥid b. `Abd-Allah, from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Rabāḥ, from Aḥmad b. `Alī al-Ḥimyarī, from al-Ḥasan b. Ayyūb, from `Abd al-Karīm b. `Amr, from al-`Alā b. Razīn, from Muḥammad b. Muslim al-Thaqafī, from (Imam) al-Bāqir Abū Ja`far, peace be upon him, who said: “The Qā’im will have two occultations. In one of them, [some will say] ‘he has perished’ and [others will say,] ‘No one knows where he is.’”
605. Al-Kāfī7: Muḥammad b. Yaḥyā and Aḥmad b. Idrīs, from al-Ḥasan b. `Alī al-Kūfī, from `Alī b. Ḥassān, from `Abd al-Raḥmān b. Kathīr, from al-Mufaḍḍal b. `Umar who said:
I heard (Imam) Abū `Abd-Allah, peace be on him, say, “The master of this affair will have two occultations: in one of them, he will return to his family. As for the other, [some will say] ‘he has perished’ and [others will say,] ‘No one knows where he is.’” I asked, “What should we do when this happens?” He replied, “When somebody claims [to be him], ask him about matters that only someone like him can answer.”
606. Al-Kāfī8: Al-Ḥusayn b. Muḥammad, from Ja`far b. Muḥammad from al-Qāsim b. Ismā’īl al-Anbārī, from Yaḥyā b. al-Muthannā, from `Abd-Allah b. Bukair, from `Ubaid b. Zurāra, from Abū `Abd-Allah, peace be on him, who said: “The Qā’im will have two occultations. In one of them, he will be present during the Hajj season; he will see the people but they will not be able see him.”
607. `Iqd al-durar9: From (Imam) Abū `Abd-Allah al-Ḥusayn b. `Alī, peace be on him, who said: “The master of this affair—meaning the Mahdī, peace be on him—will have two occultations. One of them will become so elongated that some will say, ‘he has died,’ others will say, ‘he has been killed,’ and others will say, ‘he has gone.’ No one will be aware of his whereabouts, not his friends nor anybody else, except the servants who look after his affairs.”
The following tradition also proves the above concept: 254.
- 1. Al-Kāfī, vol. 1, chap. “Fī l-ghayba,” p. 340, no. 19; Mir`āt al-`uqūl, vol. 4, p. 52, no. 19; Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, chap. 10, p. 170, no. 2, with a slight difference. Al-Nu`mānī has also recorded this tradition on p.170, no. 1: “From ibn `Uqda, from `Alī b. al-Ḥasan al-Taimulī, from `Umar b. Uthmān, from al-Ḥasan b. Maḥbūb, from Isḥāq b. `Ammār al-Ṣairafī, from (Imam) Abū `Abd-Allah, peace be on him, who said, ‘The Qā’im will have two occultations: one will be long and the other short. In the first occultation, his special followers (khāṣṣatu shī`atih) will know his whereabouts. As for the other, no one will know his whereabouts except his special servants.’” In this tradition, the long occultation has been mentioned before the shorter one which should have been first. This does not affect our goal and intention for mentioning this tradition.
- 2. Yanābī` al-mawadda, chap. 71, p. 427; al-Maḥajja fī mā nazala fī l-Qā’im al-Ḥujja, p. 200, under verse 43:28.
- 3. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, p. 171, no. 3.
- 4. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, pp. 171–172, no. 5.
- 5. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, pp. 172–173, no. 7; Dalā’il al-imāma, sect. “Ma`rifat mā warada min al-akhbār fī wujūb al-ghayba,” p. 293, to his saying: “He said, ‘Yes.’”
- 6. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, p. 173, no. 8.
- 7. Al-Kāfī, vol. 1, chap. 138, p. 340, no. 12; Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, chap. 10, pp. 175–176, no. 9, which says: “He will return in one of them” and “Then ask him about those great matters that only someone like him can answer”; Mir`āt al-`uqūl, vol. 4, p. 54, no. 20.
I say: When he speaks about him returning in one of the occultations to his family, he might mean that the his whereabouts will still be known to his special (followers) and that they will be in touch with him—may my father and mother be sacrificed for him—either through correspondence or the privilege of directly meeting him or through representatives and ambassadors between him and his followers. Al-Majlisī, may Allah have mercy on him, says: “‘He will return to his family,’ means the dependents of his father or to his representatives and ambassadors. ‘Only someone like him can answer,’ means that only someone like the Qā’im, peace be on him, can answer such questions that are known to no one except an Imam; things like informing all the people about the unseen and questions about difficult issues and the sciences that only they have knowledge about. If he answers these correctly—and his answers are in accordance with what has reached you from their forefathers, peace be on them—then know that he is the Imam; and this [questioning] must be specifically performed by the knowledgeable scholars.”
- 8. Al-Kāfī, vol. 1, chap. 138, p. 339, no. 12; Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, chap. 10, pp. 175–176, no. 16; Mir`āt al-`uqūl, vol. 4, p. 47, no. 12.
- 9. `Iqd al-durar, chap. 5, p. 134; al-Burhān fī `alāmāt Mahdī ākhir al-zamān, chap. 12, pp. 171–172, no. 4; Bishārat al-Islām, chap. 4, p. 81, no. 4.
The esteemed Shaykh, ibn Abī Zainab al-Kātib al-Nu`mānī, writes: “The traditions which mention that the Qā’im, peace be on him, will have two occultations are regarded by us as true and authentic, Praise be to Allah. Allah has made clear what the Imams, peace be on them, had said and has shown the proof of their truthfulness in these traditions. The first occultation, is the occultation in which there were ambassadors in it—whom connected the Imam and the people. The ambassadors were appointed from amongst apparent and prominent personalities. Difficult sciences, abstruse talks of wisdom, and the answer to all the hard and problematic questions which were asked were delivered by them. This was the short occultation; whose time has expired and its period has come to an end. The second occultation is the one in which the ambassadors and emissaries were removed because of an affair desired by Allah, the Exalted, and the strategy which He had implemented amongst His creation, so that those who claim (to follow) this affair will be sifted, examined, tested, separated, and purified—just as Allah, Mighty and Majestic be He, says, ‘Allah will not leave the believers in the state which you are in until He distinguishes the evil from the good; nor will Allah inform you of the unseen . . .’ (Quran 3:179). Indeed, this time has certainly come and may Allah make us steadfast in the truth and make us one of those who will not pass through the sieve of fitnas. This is the meaning of the saying that ‘he will have two occultations.’ At the end, we ask Allah to hasten the relief (faraj) of His friends and appoint us amongst the best of those who obey him, and the purest of those who follow him, and from the best of those who He deems fit for and has selected to help His friend and Caliph. Surely, He is the Master of kindness, the Munificent, the Benefactor” (Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, pp. 173–174).
In I`lām al-warā, sect. 1 of the 3rd chap., 2nd part of the 4th pillar, it has been mentioned that “the traditions of occultation precede the era of al-Ḥujja, peace be on him, and even the era of his father and grandfather, and that Shia traditionalists have immortalized them in their Principles (Uṣūl books) compiled during the time of the two masters, al-Bāqir and al-Ṣādiq, peace be on them, and traced (their chains) from the Holy Prophet and the Imams, peace be on them, one after the other, and this is why the belief in the Imamate of the Master of the Time is correct; because he possesses these attributes and an occultation that has been mentioned amongst his attributes and no one can refute this.” He then says: “Amongst the reliable Shia traditionists and authors is al-Ḥasan b. Maḥbūb al-Zarrād who wrote the book al-Mashīkha more than a hundred years before the period of occultation—which amongst the Shia Uṣūl books is more famous than the book of al-Muzanī and its kind. He has recorded in it some of what we have mentioned about the occultation. All these occurred just as they had been foretold and everything that they had guaranteed occurred without any variation. From these, is what he narrated from Ibrāhīm al-Khāriqī, from Abū Baṣīr, from (Imam) Abū `Abd-Allah . . . (he then mentions the fifth tradition in this chapter and says,) see how the two occultations have occurred for the Master of the Affair, peace be on him, exactly like how the aforementioned narrations from his forefathers and ancestors had guaranteed” (Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, pp. 173–174).
Al-Mufīd writes in al-Fuṣūl al-`ashara: “The traditions narrated from the late Imams of the family of Muḥammad, peace be upon them, complement each other in concluding that the awaited Qā’im must definitely have two occultations and one of them will be longer than the other. In the shorter occultation, some special people will have news about him and in the longer occultation, no one from the public will know of his abode except for a few of his reliable companions who will have the privilege of being at his service and who will only serve him and no one else. Such traditions have existed in the writings of the Shia Imāmī authors before the birth of Abū Muḥammad (al-`Askarī), his father, and his grandfather, peace be on them. There truth became apparent with the advent of the representatives and ambassadors—whom we already named, may Allah have mercy on them—and the truthfulness of the narrators also became clear with the start of the major occultation. This was indeed a magnificent sign about the truthfulness of the Shia Imāmī belief.”
I say: The fact that these traditions were recorded in al-Kāfī during the minor occultation, and the minor occultation ending and the beginning of the second occultation after it, is also evidence of their authenticity. For `Alī b. Muḥammad al-Samurī, may Allah be satisfied with him—who was the last ambassador—passed away in the month of Sha`bān, 329 AH, while al-Kulainī died in 328 AH. According to another report, al-Kulainī died in 329 AH, the same year in which the fourth ambassador died; who had died in the middle of Sha`bān, 329AH. Others believe that even if al-Kulainī died in the year 329 AH, it was before the death of al-Samurī. The fact that he has recorded these traditions in al-Kāfī during the minor occultation is by itself proof of their authenticity and correctness.
You should know that the occultation of our master Imam al-Mahdī—may my father and mother be sacrificed for him—has also been mentioned in the poems of Shia poets like al-Ḥimyarī (d. 173 AH), who said in his poem (see al-Ghadīr, vol. 2, p. 247) addressed to our master al-Ṣādiq, peace be on him,
We have been informed about the successor of Muḥammad
And what has been said is not a lie
That the master of this affair will be not be found and will become unseen
Hidden, like he who is fearful and waiting
Then the wealth of the lost one will be distributed as if
. . .
He will live for some time then will rise
Like the rising of a Star in the horizon
I hold my Lord as a Witness that your saying is a proof
Upon all the creatures, obedient and sinners
That the Master of the Affair and the Qā’im
Is the one whom my soul flies to with delight
For him is an occultation which is inevitable
And Allah sends salutations upon this concealed person
He will stay thus for a while and then appear
And fill with justice the East and the West