When Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) was in his sickbed, he summoned his son, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) to appoint him as his successor. Imam al-Baqir’s brother, Zayd b. ‘Ali said, “It would not be unwarranted if you treated me like al-Hasan and al-Husayn (meaning made me your successor).”
His holiness answered: “Trusts are not tied to examples and caliphates are not run by customs; rather, they are matters already predetermined concerning the proofs (Hujja) of the Almighty and Glorious Allah.”
Then, his holiness called in Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah Ansari and told him: “O Jabir! Tell the story of that Sahifa (scroll) that you saw.” Jabir said, “Yes, I went to my lady Fatima (a.s.), daughter of the Apostle of Allah (S), to congratulate her for the birth of al-Husayn (a.s.). I saw a scroll radiating in her hand; I asked: “O Chief of the ladies! What is in your hand?” She said, “There are the names of the leaders and Imams from among my children in it.” (In another hadith, she is quoted as saying: “This is a tablet that the Almighty and Glorious Allah gave to His Messenger, and there are in it the names of my father, my husband, two sons, and the names of the successors from among my children. My father gave it to me to make me delighted.)
Jabir went on to say: “I asked her to give it to me to see. She said, “I would give it to you, if it were not forbidden, but nobody except the Prophet (S), or his successor, or his Ahl al-Bayt would not touch it. However, you may take a glance inside it.”
Jabir said, “I took a look and saw there was written: Abu al-Qasim Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-Mustafa, whose mother is Amina; Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali b. Abi Talib al-Murtadha, whose mother is Fatima bint Asad b. Hashim b. ‘Abd Manaf; Abu Muhammad al-Hasan b. ‘Ali al-Birr, Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Husayn b. ‘Ali al-Taqi, whose mothers are Fatima daughter of Muhammad (S); Abu Muhammad ‘Ali b. al-Husayn al-‘Adl, whose mother is Shahrbanu daughter of Yazdgerd1; Abu Ja‘far Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Baqir, whose mother is Umm ‘Abd Allah daughter of Hasan b. ‘Ali b. Abi Talib; Abu ‘Abd Allah Ja‘far b. Muhammad al-Sadiq, whose mother is Umm Farwah daughter of Qasim b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr; Abu Ibrahim Musa b. Ja‘far, whose mother is a female slave (jariya) named Hamida; Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali b. Musa al-Ridha, whose mother is a female slave named Najma; Abu Ja‘far Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Zaki, whose mother is a female slave named Khayzuran; Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Amin, whose mother is a female slave named Susan; Abu Muhammad Hasan b. ‘Ali al-Rafiq, whose mother is a female slave named Samana whose patronymic is Umm al-Hasan; Abu al-Qasim Muhammad b. al-Hasan, who is the Authority of Allah (Hujjat Allah), the Upriser (Qa’im), whose mother is a female slave named Narjis – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all.”2
The author says: the account of the above writing is related in numerous traditions and some Shi‘a dignitaries such as Shaykh al-Saduq (ra), Shaykh al-Tusi, Shaykh al-Mufid, Shaykh al-Tabarsi (Tabrisi) al-Nu‘mani, al-Kulayni, and others have reported its content with slight differences in their own books.