Jump to content
  • entries
    10
  • comments
    109
  • views
    2,488

The Ash’ari Family (3)

Sign in to follow this  
Ibn al-Hussain

692 views

The Ash’ari Family | History of Imami Shi’i Theology (3)

Original full post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-ashari-family-history-of-imami-shii-theology-3/

With the decline of intellectual theological discourse in Kufa, Qom had become the base for the Shi’as and would remain influential during the course of the 3rd and 4th century. Before we begin discussing any further, it is important to take a brief glance over how and why Qom became to be such an important city. This is by no means meant to be a thorough detailed analysis, and I have intentionally chosen not to mention many things and keep it as straightforward as possible.

The Ash’ari tribe of Yemen can be given credit for bringing Shi’ism to the city of Qom. This tribe’s history can be traced back to the days of Jahiliyyah, and they were even then known for their nobility and virtuous status in Yemen. The first person from this tribe to convert to Islam was Malik bin ‘Amir after having met the Prophet (s) in Makkah.[1] In any case, many members of the Ash’ari tribe later converted to Islam, the most notable one from early Islamic history being Abu Musa al-Ash’ari.

After the death of ‘Uthman, the Ash’ari tribe were divided into three factions. A group supported Mu’awiyah, another followed the lead of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, and a third group stayed loyal to Imam ‘Ali (s) and also formed part of his army during the civil wars. This last group, would become important as it was through them that Shi’ism was brought to the city of Qom.

There are multiple reasons given for why the progeny of this last faction moved to Qom. The Ash’aris may have had some familiarity with the city from the time of ‘Umar’s caliphate, since it is reported that Qom and Kashan were conquered by Abu Musa al-Ash’ari.[2] Malik bin ‘Amir also played a role in the conquest of Iran during the caliphate of ‘Umar, and thus his progeny may have had familiarity with the various cities. Nevertheless, most historians place the official migration of the Ash’ari family to Qom near end of the 1st century Hijri, during the reign of al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf al-Thaqafi, who is infamous in history for his brutal political policies.

Its relevant here to mention that Malik bin ‘Amir had two important sons named Sa’ib and Sa’d. Sa’ib was vehemently anti-Umayyad, whereas not much is known about Sa’d besides a few anecdotes and that he was also a notable figure in Kufa.

Some of the reasons given for why the Ash’aris moved to Qom do not appear to be historically accurate, so we will suffice with mentioning two of them. One possible reason for their migration is that al-Hajjaj exiled Muhammad the son of Sa’ib bin Malik to Azerbaijan, but he instead hid in Kufa. After al-Hajjaj found out about this, he ordered for him to be killed and it was then that the sons of Sa’d bin Malik (namely ‘Abdullah and Ahwas), as well as their nephews and nieces escaped to Qom.

Another reason given is that the Ash’aris were supporting ‘Abdul Rahman bin Muhammad bin Ash’ath bin Qays during his revolt against al-Hajjaj. When the latter’s revolt was crushed, al-Hajjaj had given them a few days to leave Kufa. Overall, it seems that the support and affinity this side of the family had towards the Alids as well as their anti-Umayyad stance, caused al-Hajjaj to crack down on them. It was thus a forced migration as they were no longer safe in the city of Kufa.

Whether ‘Abdullah and Ahwas intentionally decided to go to Qom, or whether they were on their way to a different city, but ended up in Qom, is not known with certainty. There are different reasons[3] mentioned as to how the Ash’aris ended up Qom:

  • It is said that when Malik bin ‘Amir was accompanying Abu Musa al-Ash’ari in the conquest of some of the Iranian cities, a group of fighters from Tabaristan had attacked Taghrud[4] – a village located between Qom and Aveh – and had taken their people as prisoners. Malik had fought this army off, and freed the prisoners as well as returned back their stolen property to them. After Malik returned to Kufa, he had narrated the incident to his sons. ‘Abdullah and Ahwas (the grandsons of Malik) would have known that these people would be willing to welcome them as they were given protection and safety by their grandfather during the conquests.
  • Another report mentions that it was Ahwas who chose Qom as a destination, but ‘Abdullah (who apparently joined the caravan late) instead wished to go to Isfahan or Qazwin. Ahwas informed his brother that those cities have been hit by cholera and convinced ‘Abdullah to remain in Qom.
  • The Daylamites would often send forces to attack various cities even after the conquest of Persia by the Muslims. On one occasion when they decided to attack Qom, they were unaware that the Ash’aris were in the region, who came out to defend the city. Their victory caused the residents of Qom to request them to stay as residents with them, and a contract was formed between the residents and the Ash’aris.

Nevertheless, what we can say for sure is that the Ash’aris were well informed about the various regions of Iran, including Qom. However, it isn’t very clear that they set off from Kufa to go to Qom, rather it is highly likely that they intended on going to Isfahan or Qazwin, and due to unforeseen circumstances were forced to stay in Qom.

Theological Views of the Ash’aris

It is not clear as to how the Ash’ari residents of Qom essentially all turned towards Shi’ism in the theological sense. Given that one of the main reasons why certain Ash’aris had to leave Kufa was their support for the Alids, it is only natural that these individuals brought with them their ideologies as well. It seems that moreso than being mere political Shi’as (i.e. followers of a certain camp due to political reasons – a trend that was common in Kufa[5]), those who moved to Qom also had a basic understanding of Shi’i theology – whose details of course were in their infancy. There is no doubt that belief in the Imamate of the Imams would have transferred over to Qom from Kufa because of the Ash’ari family. One report mentions that Musa bin ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d was the first person to express his theological belief in Shi’ism, which encouraged others to also express their beliefs in it.[6] Musa was an Imami who had been brought up in Kufa, and migrated to Qom with his father.

Regardless of which member of the Ash’ari family spread Shi’ism in Qom and its surrounding villages after their migration, what is certain is that it quickly became a major Shi’i city where Shi’i teaching and learning circles became active. In fact, the Shi’ism of the Ash’aris was so obvious that they were known for sending occasional gifts and Khumus money to the Imams from the income received through surrounding farms and gardens. The Imams were also known to have sent gifts to them and as well as coffins. It makes sense then, that we began seeing narrations like the ones below from Imam Sadiq (s):

قم‏ بلدنا و بلد شيعتنا – Qom is our city, and the city of our Shi’as.[7]

أَهْلُ‏ قُمَ‏ أَنْصَارُنَا – The residents of Qom are our helpers.[8]

These and many other similar narrations by the Imams show that Qom was indeed a city the Imams deemed important. The residents were Imami Shi’as who believed in the special role of the Imams as a source of guidance, and this formed the basis of their theology. With their continuous communication and relationship with the Imams, their theological understanding gained depth over the centuries, and this slowly began giving Qom a distinct identity.

Three Generations of Ash’ari Narrators

Even though Qom had become an important city after the Ash’aris migrated to it in 94 Hijri, it was still going to be Kufa that would dictate the norms of Imami theology for the next one-and-a-half century. As it was mentioned in the previous post, it was only after the decline of Kufa that Qom became the hub for such intensive discourse. Nevertheless, before we begin discussing Qom as a spearhead for Imami theological discourse, following the decline of Kufa, it is imperative that we learn about certain influential people of the city so we can later see how and why it was easy for Kufan scholars in the middle of the 2nd century Hijri to migrate to Qom.

First Group

The first group of Ash’aris are those who lived during the lifetime of Imam Baqir (s), Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). Some of these important figures are as follow:

  1. Musa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: It was previously mentioned that he was the first person to express his Shi’ism in the city of Qom. Shaykh Tusi says that he narrated ahadith from both Imam Baqir (s) and Imam Sadiq (s).
  2. Shu’ayb bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Also a narrator and companion of Imam Baqir (s) and Imam Sadiq (s).
  3. ‘Imran bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: He was an Imami scholar in Qom, and some of his meetings with Imam Sadiq (s) during Hajj and in Medina have been recorded in Rijal al-Kashi.
  4. Adam bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s).
  5. Abu Bakr bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s).
  6. ‘Abdul Malik bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: A companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and has been praised by the Imam himself.
  7. Yasa’ bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Although his name hasn’t appeared in primary Rijal works, nevertheless there are two ahadith reported on his authority from Imam Sadiq (s) which implies that he had met the Imam.
  8. Ya’qub bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) – though not much is known about him, Yaqut al-Hamawi in his Mu’jam al-Buldan says he was one of the scholars of Qom.
  9. Ishaq bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). It is possible he may have met Imam Baqir (s) as well – the confusion is due to another similar name who has been deemed a companion of Imam Baqir (s).
  10. Idris bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). Najashi also considers him to have narrated from Imam Ridha (s).
  11. ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: Companion of Imam Sadiq (s) and Imam Kadhim (s). There is a report in Rijal al-Kashi from Imam Sadiq (s) who says about him: Surely you are from us, the Ahl ul-Bayt.[9]
  12. Ahmad bin ‘Isa bin ‘Abdullah al-Ash’ari: His name appears in the chain of two narrations in Usul al-Kafi and one narration in Tahdhib ul-Ahkam of Shaykh Tusi where he is seen to be narrating directly from Imam Sadiq (s).

As it can be seen in the brief list above, all individuals are the immediate sons of ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d bin Malik.  There are some children of Ahwas who are recorded to have been scholars as well who are part of this generation, but not a lot is known about them. We have not mentioned them here as the intent was not to produce an exhaustive list of narrators, rather to show that there was a group of active individuals in Qom that was in contact with the Imams and had heard ahadith from them. In any case, below is a genealogy tree of the children of ‘Abdullah which is resourceful – taken from my personal copy of the Shi’a Atlas by Rasul Jafariyan:

Pg-161-Shia-Atlas.thumb.jpg.b4b8cfba7c289da1c916ea3388005835.jpg

In our next post, we will continue to build this list of scholars who lived during the two subsequent generations. Thereafter, we will return back to some of these individuals – such as Sa’d bin Abdullah al-Ash’ari, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa – and focus on their life in a bit more detail and attempt to describe some of their methods and views which would have played an influential role in shaping the theological school of Qom. As we chronologically reach the end of the middle of the 2nd century Hijri, we will begin discussing other influential figures such as Ibrahim bin Hashim, Ali bin Ibrahim, ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far al-Himyari, Muhammad bin Hasan al-Saffar etc. We will also have to briefly discuss certain trends that formed in Kufa – that of Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar al-Ju’fi and Hisham bin Salim al-Jawaliqi – and then show how those impacted theological discourse amongst Shi’i scholars in Qom.

Eventually we will also discuss some thematic issues such as discussions pertaining to knowledge of the Imams, infallibility of the Prophet and Imams, phenomenon of Ghuluww (exaggeration), role of the intellect in theology etc.


[1] A detail account of his conversion is recorded in the book Tarikh Qom by 4th century Hijri scholar Hasan bin Muhammad bin Hasan al-Qumi. Much information regarding the Ash’ari family and the history of Qom in general for this article and subsequent articles, is taken from this book.

[2] Origins of the Islamic State (English translation of Futuh al-Buldan) by al-Baladhuri, Volume 1, pg. 487. Translated by Philip Khuri Hitti, 1916

[3] All reasons are reported in the book Tarikh Qom

[4] This village still exists today. See: https://goo.gl/maps/XSB4i6ZFzdP2

[5] For more information on this aspect of history, please see the section Iraqi Shi’ism in Rasul Jafariyan’s work Shiism and its types during the early centuries available online here: https://www.al-islam.org/al-tawhid/general-al-tawhid/shiism-and-its-types-during-early-centuries-part-1-rasul-jafariyan-0#iraqi-shi-ism

[6] Tarikh Qom, Pg. 278-279

[7] Safinah al-Bihar, Volume 7, Pg. 359

[8] Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 57, Pg. 214

[9] Rijal al-Kashi, Hadith #610, Pg. 334

Sign in to follow this  


1 Comment


Recommended Comments

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Latest Blog Entries

    • By Sisterfatima1 in Fatima
         0
      My dear sweet daughter as time goes by I feel more and more we are being disconnected your birth was truly a blessing for me after a difficult time 
      you were my everything watching you grow up and having people around you caring for you and loving you when I can’t be there hurts me alot
      i wish I could be the one holding your hand and helping you during hard times 
      I would give anything to have one more day with you and just play with you like we used to play 
       
      I miss your laughter I miss holding you when you were sad I miss you singing to your brother 
      I’ve missed out on so much in your life I hate living with this 
      i wish daddy would let me know you more 
      if you ever read this one day my sweet girl know that mummy loves you and wants you no matter what anybody says I never abandoned you 
      I hope one day we can be reunited 
      I pray Allah will always keep you safe my precious baby 
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      The vegetarian industry holds that killing animals is bad. No doubt killing an animal means that it suffers a premature death. However nowadays, at least, it is because of the human need for meat that millions of animals have a life that they otherwise would not have had - because there would not have been an economic reason for them to be bred.
      The issue then, is one of premature death vs. not having a life at all.
      If people believe that animals are sentient and have some level of intelligence and should not be slaughtered as a result - surely those very arguments can be used to against denying those animals life as a vegetarian lifestyle would. 
      So the solution to the ethical/sustainability issues around meat eating is not to ban the practice altogether, rather it is to do with proper animal husbandry and a level of animal protein consumption that is lower than at present.
    • By Ali in ShiaChat.com Blog
         14
      [This will be a series of blog entries on the history of ShiaChat.com; how it was founded, major ups and down, politics and issues behind running such a site and of course, the drama!  I will also provide some feedback on development efforts, new features and future goals and objectives]
      Part 1 - The IRC (#Shia) Days!
      Sit children, gather around and let me speak to you of tales of times before there was ever high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, YouTube or Facebook; a time when the Internet was a much different place and 15 year old me was still trying to make sense of it all. 
      In the 90s, the Internet was a very different place; no social media, no video streaming and downloading an image used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how fast your 14.4k monster-sized dial up modem was.  Of course you also had to be lucky enough for your mom to have the common courtesy not to disconnect you when you’re in the middle of a session; that is if you were privileged enough to have Internet at home and not have to spend hours at school or libraries, or looking for AOL discs with 30 hour free trials..(Breathe... breathe... breathe) -  I digress.
      Back in 1998 when Google was still a little computer sitting in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s basement, I was engaged in armchair jihadi-like debates with our Sunni brothers on an IRC channel called #Shia.  (Ok, a side note here for all you little pups.  This is not read as Hashtag Shia, the correct way of reading this is “Channel Shia”.  The “Hash tag” was a much cooler thing back in the day than the way you young’uns use it today).
      For those of you who don’t know what IRC was (or is... as it still exists), it stands for Internet Relay Chat, which are servers available that you could host chat rooms in and connect through a client.  It was like the Wild West where anyone can go and “found” their own channel (chat room), become an operator and reign down their god-like dictator powers upon the minions that were to join as member of their chat room.  Luckily, #Shia had already been established for a few years before by a couple of brothers I met from Toronto, Canada (Hussain A. and Mohammed H.).  Young and eager, I quickly rose up the ranks to become a moderator (@Ali) and the chatroom quickly became an important part of my adolescent years.  I learned everything I knew from that channel and met some of the most incredible people.  Needless to say, I spent hours and dedicated a good portion of my life on the chatroom; of course the alternate was school and work but that was just boring to a 15 year old.
      In the 90’s, creating a website was just starting to be cool so I volunteered to create a website for #Shia to advertise our services, who we are, what we do as well as have a list of moderators and administrators that have volunteered to maintain #Shia.  As a result, #Shia’s first website was hosted on a friend’s server under the URL http://786-110.co.uk/shia/ - yes, ShiaChat.com as a domain did not exist yet – was too expensive for my taste so we piggy backed on one of our member’s servers and domain name.
      The channel quickly became popular, so popular that we sometimes outnumbered our nemesis, #Islam.  As a result, our moderator team was growing as well and we needed a website with an application that would help us manage our chatroom in a more efficient style.  Being a global channel, it was very hard to do “shift transfers” and knowledge transfers between moderators as the typical nature of a chatroom is the fact that when a word is typed, its posted and its gone after a few seconds – this quickly became a pain point for us trying to maintain a list of offenders to keep an eye out for and have it all maintained in a historical, easily accessible way.
      A thought occurred to me.  Why not start a “forum” for the moderators to use?  The concept of “forums” or discussion boards was new to the Internet – it was the seed of what we call social media today.  The concept of having a chat-style discussion be forever hosted online and be available for everyone to view and respond to at anytime from anywhere was extremely well welcomed by the Internet users.  I don’t recall what software or service I initially used to set that forum up, but I did – with absolutely no knowledge that the forum I just setup was a tiny little acorn that would one day be the oak tree that is ShiaChat.com.
      [More to follow, Part 2..]
      So who here is still around from the good old #Shia IRC days?
    • By Islamic Salvation in A Marginalia to Mu'jam
         13

       
      A small collection of 82 reliable narrations concerning Intellect and Knowledge translated into English with annotated footnotes. 
      Download PDF: https://www.scribd.com/document/361632457/Book-of-Intellect-and-Knowledge-Mu-jam-1-1
      This is an UNSECURED version to aid copy and paste.
       
      Preamble
      The first book of the first volume is the book of Intellect and Knowledge. Some short words on the Islamic conception of both is in order.
      Aql is the vehicle through which the initial queries about the reality of life and nature of the world is made. It is also an essential component towards the Ma’rifa [recognition] of Allah. Thus it becomes the preliminary ‘inner prophet’ which can lead to ‘outward’ guidance and consequently obedience of Allah. It has been attributed to al-Sadiq that he said when asked to define Aql:
      ما عبد به الرحمن واكتسب به الجنان
      That by which the Rahman [Most Merciful] is worshipped and by which the Gardens are acquired[1]
      Aql is what will be held accountable. The more perfect the Aql of the one doing the deed the more complete it becomes and vice versa. The messenger of Allah is supposed to have said:
      إذا رأيتم الرجل كثير الصلاة كثير الصيام فلا تباهوا به حتى تنظروا كيف عقله؟
      If you see a man who prays a lot and fasts a lot then do not be overly impressed with him until you observe how his Aql is[2]
      Knowledge and its pursuit has been given such importance in Islam that a Western Scholar like Rosenthal could speak of the ‘Empire of Reason’. Knowledge is of many types, but the one which has been obligated is acquiring the knowledge which will make one succeed in this world and hereafter i.e. knowledge of the creator and one’s obligations towards Him.
      It is not enough to gain knowledge in theoretical terms, in fact the very definition of knowledge is the one which is put into practise. This is best summed up in a narration attributed to the Commander of the Faithful:
      حسبك من العلم أن تخشى الله، وحسبك من الجهل أن تعجب بعلمك
      It is enough to be considered knowledge that you be in awe of Allah, and it is enough to be considered ignorance that you feel proud with that which you know[3]
        [1] al-Kafi: 1/11
      [2] al-Kafi: 1/26
      [3] Amali of al-Tusi: 1/62
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      Every day there is news of some new aspect of animal intelligence that has been discovered. Whether it is elephants, orcas or lobsters we are finding out about how these creatures manifest different aspects of what we consider intelligence to be.
      Of course, the irony is that whatever intelligence we observe was always there, what has changed is the development of tests on our part in order to measure it. Some of these tests are very simple and elegant, but what they highlight is the evolution in man's ability to identify phenomena and then develop measures to assess it.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      The critics of Islam hold up liberal democracy as a non-religious system of human collaboration that adheres to various ethical and moral tenets, where religion falls down. Chief amongst these is the equality of all people in being able to express their views. This is said to contrast with religious leadership which usually contains elderly men.
      The point about rationality and its link with scientificness is that it allows for the dumping of theories that no longer account for the observations we make of the natural world. In an editorial today the Financial Times identifies a problem the Brexit vote in the UK, which to my mind can be applied to democratic institutions more broadly.
      The FT observes that British parliamentarians are sliding down the slope of leaving the EU, knowing full well that this is economic and political disaster and the only reason they are doing this is the 'mystical status' (the FT's own words) of the referendum whose result started this bandwagon.
      And this is is because for some democrats referendums have an almost holy status. After all they are the purest expression of the will of the people. Of course, they have weaknesses and they can be manipulated, but the rationality of those limitations is overlooked in favour of what referendums represent.
      For me this just emphasises how religious belief is immanent in the human condition. Whether it is the beliefs of the Easter Islanders who continued to build their moai despite the environmental degradation that behaviour and ultimate destruction of their society that this caused or whether it is the national suicide being committed by the UK at the altar of democratic sacrifice. It all amounts to religious belief, no matter how many Greek philosophers you use to justify it.
    • By Islamic Salvation in A Marginalia to Mu'jam
         0
      اكتب وبث علمك في إخوانك، فإن مت فأورث كتبك بنيك
      Write down and spread your knowledge among your brothers. And if you are about to die then will your books to your children [What the Imam al-Sadiq is supposed to have said to al-Mufadhal]
       
      فلما انصرفت إلى الكوفة أقبلت علي الشيعة فمزقوني كل ممزق، يأكلون لحمي ويشتمون عرضي، حتى أن بعضهم استقبلني فوثب في وجهي، وبعضهم قعد لي في سكك الكوفة يريد ضربي، ورموني بكل بهتان
      When I reached Kufa and met the Shia, they tore me to shreds, eating my flesh and disparaging my honour, such that one of them faced me and punched me in the face, and one of them lay in ambush for me in the markets of Kufa wishing to beat me up, and they made false accusations against me [Mufadhal in his Last Will and Testimony]
       
      ما يقولون في المفضل بن عمر؟ قلت: يقولون فيه: هيئة يهوديا أو نصرانيا
      What do they say about al-Mufadhal b. Umar? They say: He has the appearance and manner of a Jew or a Christian [The General Populace of Kufa was not impressed by Mufadhal]
       
      Who was He?
      Abu Abdallah Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju’fi (d. before 179), a money-changer by profession, was a Kufan companion of the two Imams, al-Sadiq and al-Kadhim. He was charged with performing certain tasks for them.
      al-Tusi sees no problem in him. He includes him among the praiseworthy ‘intimate ones’ and ‘managers of the Imam’s affairs’ citing the following report as evidence:
      علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني سلمة بن الخطاب، عن علي بن حسان، عن موسى بن بكير قال: كنت في خدمة أبي الحسن عليه السلام ولم أكن أرى شيئا يصل إلى إلا من ناحية المفضل بن عمر، ولربما رأيت الرجل يجئ بالشئ فلا يقبله منه ويقول: أوصله إلى المفضل
      Ali b. Muhammad – Salama b. al-Khattab – Ali b. Hassan – Musa b. Bukayr: I was in the service of Abi al-Hasan  عليه السلام. Nothing [of the monetary dues] used to reach him [from any other route] except through Mufadhal b. Umar. I would sometimes see a man bringing something to the Imam directly and he [the Imam] would refuse to accept it and say: take it to Mufadhal.   
      That he was an important figure who exerted considerable influence on the Shi’ite community is undeniable. This can be glimpsed from the number of narrations under his name and the books attributed to him. 
       
      A Controversial Narrator
      However, there is a controversy about his status. A controversy which probably began in his own lifetime. Some saw him as the bearer of the ‘secrets’ of the Imams who was understandably misunderstood by the laymen who could not bear them, while others saw him as a crypto-syncretist who distorted the teachings of the Imam.
      There exists both praise and censure of him attributed to the Imams. Most of the narrations which extol him are narrated by the Ghulat who glorify him as one of their pillars.
      The books ascribed to him include partially surviving esoteric manuals like Kitab al-Sirat (‘The Book of the Way’) and Kitab al-Haft wa al-Azilla (‘The Book of the Seven and the Phantoms’) among others. These are treasured by contemporary Nusayri-Alawis but would be considered heretical in the Twelver Madhhab. It is unclear whether this attribution is historical or merely based on the communal memory of his significance for their teachings. Modern academic research sees these books as consisting of many layers, with unidentified authors adding material to the oldest core.
      al-Ayyashi encountered some of this suspect literature as he retells below:
       وأمّا أبو يعقوب إسحاق بن محمد البصري، فإنّه كان غالياً، وسرت إليه إلى بغداد لاكتب عنه وسألته كتاباً أنسخه، فأخرج إليّ من أحاديث المفضّل بن عمر في التفويض ، فلم أرغب فيه فأخرج إليّ من أحاديث مشيخته من الثقات
      As for Abu Ya’qub Ishaq b. Muhammad al-Basri then he was a Ghali. I went to him in Baghdad to write from him. I asked him a book to copy so he took out for me a collection of narrations from Mufadhal b. Umar regarding Tafwidh [that the ‘Aimma are independent beings who run the world after its initial creation] but I did not express any interest in that, then he produced narrations relayed by the trustworthy ones among his teachers …
      Traditionalist scholars like al-Najashi and Ibn al-Ghadhairi had a negative assessment of him for this very reason. They went through the works ascribed to him and found them to be unpalatable.
      Ibn al-Ghadhairi is scathing when he says:
      خطابي، وقد زيد عليه شئ كثير، وحمل الغلاة في حديثه حملا عظيما
      ‘A Khattabi. A lot of fabricated material has been attributed to him. The Ghulat have launched a full-scale attack on his narrations (i.e. they have invaded his original corpus infiltrating it with their own ideas)’
      al-Najashi warns:
      وقد ذكرت له مصنفات لا يعول عليها، وإنما ذكرنا للشرط الذي قدمناه
      ‘A number of books are listed as authored by him but they are not to be depended upon. I only include their names because of the condition which we have mentioned before [i.e. to list the titles of all Shi’i authors]’
      Even if he is not responsible for what circulates under his name, the fact that the Ghulat considered him one of their own should be reason enough for caution. Anonymous writers are  known to have penned material using his name seeking to enhance the authority of their works. It is an arduous task to sift the historical from the forged.
       
      A Khattabi?
      What can be asserted without doubt is that the historical Mufadhal was at one point in time connected to Abu al-Khattab and the Khatabiyya [there is even a splinter-sect of the Khatabiyya which was named after Mufadhal i.e. the Mufadhaliyya]. They are accused of deifying al-Sadiq in some way and of believing in continuation of prophecy. We have some narrations which indicate Mufadhal’s links with such beliefs:   
      حدثني الحسين بن الحسن بن بندار القمي، قال حدثني سعد بن عبد الله بن أبي خلف القمي، قال حدثني محمد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب و الحسن بن موسى، عن صفوان بن يحيى، عن عبد الله بن مسكان قال: دخل حجر بن زائدة و عامر بن جذاعة الأزدي على أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فقالا: جعلنا فداك، إن المفضل بن عمر يقول إنكم تقدرون أرزاق العباد ...
      al-Husayn b. al-Hasan b. Bundar al-Qummi – Sa’d b. Abdallah b. Abi Khalaf al-Qummi – Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. Abi al-Khattab and al-Hasan b. Musa from Safwan b. Yahya from Abdallah b. Muskan who said: Hujr b. Zaida and A’mir b. Judha’a al-Azdi entered upon Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and said to him: May we be made your ransom, Mufadhal b. Umar says that you are the ones who allot the Rizq of the slaves …
      علي بن محمد، عن صالح بن أبي حماد، عن محمد بن أورمة، عن ابن سنان، عن المفضل بن عمر قال: كنت أنا والقاسم شريكي ونجم بن حطيم وصالح بن سهل بالمدينة فتناظرنا في الربوبية، قال: فقال بعضنا لبعض: ما تصنعون بهذا نحن بالقرب منه وليس منا في تقية قوموا بنا إليه، قال: فقمنا فوالله ما بلغنا الباب إلا وقد خرج علينا بلا حذاء ولا رداء قد قام كل شعرة من رأسه منه وهو يقول: لا لا يا مفضل ويا قاسم ويا نجم، لا لا بل عباد مكرمون لا يسبقونه بالقول وهم بأمره يعملون
      Ali b. Muhammad – Salih b. Abi Hammad – Muhammad b. Awrama – Ibn Sinan – al-Mufadhal b. Umar who said:  I, al-Qasim al-Shariki, Najm b. Hutaym and Salih b. Sahl were in Madina when we disputed each other over the divinity [of the ‘Aimma]. He [Mufadhal] said: We said to each other - why are we speculating on this when we are nearby to him [the Imam] and he is not in Taqiyya with us [does not answer us in dissimulation], let’s go meet him. He [Mufadhal] said: We headed towards him - by Allah we had not reached the door before he came out bare-footed, without a cloak and all the hair on his head stood on end [in apprehension] saying: No - O Mufadhal, Qasim and Najm, No! “rather mere honored slaves, never preceding Him (Allah) in word, and they always follow His orders” (21:26-27)
      حدثني حمدويه وإبراهيم ابنا نصير، قالا: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، عن علي ابن الحكم، عن المفضل بن عمر أنه كان يبشر أبا الخطاب وفلان أنكما لمن المرسلين
      Hamduwayh b. Nusayr and Ibrahim b. Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – Ali b. al-Hakam: That he [Mufadhal b. Umar] used to give glad tidings to Aba al-Khattab and one other saying: ‘verily you are messengers’
      قال الكشى: وذكرت الطيارة الغالية في بعض كتبها عن المفضل: أنه قال لقد قتل مع أبي اسماعيل يعني أبا الخطاب سبعون نبيا ... وأن المفضل قال: أدخلنا على أبي عبد الله عليه‌ السلام ونحن اثنى عشر رجلا، قال: فجعل أبو عبد الله عليه‌ السلام يسلم على رجل رجل منا ويسمي كل رجل منا باسم نبي، وقال لبعضنا: السلام عليك يا نوح، وقال لبعضنا: السلام عليك يا ابراهيم، وكان آخر من سلم عليه وقال: السلام عليك يا يونس، ثم قال: لا تخاير بين الانبياء
      al-Kashshi said: The Tayyara Ghulat say in one of their books that al-Mufadhal said: Seventy prophets were killed with Aba al-Khattab … Mufadhal is also supposed to have said: Twelve of us entered in to see Abi Abdillah عليه‌ السلام. He [the Imam] began greeting each one of us individually and calling each one of us by the name of a prophet, saying to one of us ‘peace be upon you O Noah’ to another ‘peace be upon you O Ibrahim’, he greeted the last one of us saying: ‘peace be upon you O Yunus’. Then he [the Imam] said: do not distinguish between the prophets! 
       
      Mufadhal, The Khattabiyya and Ismail
      The Khatabbiya seem to have taken Ismail the son of al-Sadiq as their figure-head and pinned their hopes on him as the next Imam. It is hard to discern from the meager sources available whether Ismail’s participation in this was of his own volition or not.
      رجال الكشي: حمدويه بن نصير، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن الحكم وحماد بن عثمان، عن إسماعيل بن جابر قال: قال أبو عبد الله: ايت المفضل قل له: يا كافر يا مشرك ما تريد إلى ابني تريد أن تقتله
      Hamduwayh b. Nusayr – Ya’qub b. Yazid – Ibn Abi Umayr – Hisham b. al-Hakam and Hammad b. Uthman –  Ismail b. Jabir who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: Go to Mufadhal and say to him - O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you want for my son Ismail? Do you want to kill him!?
      The narration above has the Imam using very harsh language with Mufadhal in the context of the latter’s ‘grooming’ of Ismail which al-Sadiq felt was dangerous. 
      On the other hand, there also exists a countervailing narration as below:

      الكافي: محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن علي بن الحكم، عن يونس بن يعقوب قال: أمرني أبو عبد الله عليه السلام أن آتي المفضل واعزيه باسماعيل وقال: اقرأ المفضل السلام وقل له: إنا قد اصبنا بإسماعيل فصبرنا، فاصبر كما صبرنا، إنا أردنا أمرا وأراد الله عزوجل أمرا، فسلمنا لامر الله عزوجل
      Muhammad b. Yahya – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa – Ali b. al-Hakam – Yunus b. Ya’qub who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام ordered me to go to Mufadhal and condole him for [the death of] Ismail. He [the Imam] said: Convey my greetings of peace to Mufadhal and say to him: We have been tried through Ismail and have remained patient, so be patient the way we have been patient. We wanted something but Allah Mighty and Majestic wanted something else so we have submitted to the command of Allah Mighty and Majestic.   
      This one is much more warm. The Imam condoles Mufadhal on the occasion of Ismail’s death - the two must have been especially close - and commends him to be patient in emulation of the Imam’s own patience.   
      How can we explain this difference in tone?
       
      A Rapprochement?
      It seems that one way to reconcile between them is to posit that Mufadhal had a period of estrangement from the Imam - because of his involvement with the Khattabis and their intentions for Ismail, however, he later repented from this and broke away with Abu al-Khattab, consequently the relation with the Imam improved.
      Evidence for this can be found in the narration below:
      جبرئيل بن أحمد قال: حدّثني محمّد بن عيسى، عن يونس، عن حماد بن عثمان قال: سمعت أبا عبداللّه عليه السلام يقول للمفضّل بن عمر الجعفي: يا كافر يا مشرك ما لك ولابني، يعني إسماعيل بن جعفر، وكان منقطعا إليه، يقول فيه مع الخطابية، ثم رجع بعد
      Jibrail b. Ahmad – Muhammad b. Isa – Yunus – Hammad b. Uthman who said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying to al-Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju’fi: O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you have to do with my son - meaning Ismail b. Ja’far? - and he [Mufadhal] was loyal to him [Ismail], believing about him [that he is the Imam and much more] together with the Khatabiyya, then he returned afterwards.
      That Mufadhal returned back to the truth after deviation can be proved also by the fact that he was not among those followers of Abu al-Khattab who died with their leader when they were attacked by the men of Isa b. Musa [the Abbasid governor of Kufa] after barricading themselves in the central mosque as part of an aborted revolt.
      Another piece of evidence for this view is that Mufadhal seems to have a more cordial relation with al-Kadhim after the death of al-Sadiq [indeed there are no censures against him quoted from this Imam, which would tally with his reform in his later years]. 
      محمد بن مسعود، قال: حدثني عبد الله بن خلف، قال: حدثنا علي بن حسان الواسطي، قال: حدثني موسى بن بكير قال: سمعت أبا الحسن يقول لما أتاه موت المفضل بن عمر، قال: رحمه الله، كان الوالد بعد الوالد، أما انه قد استراح
      Muhammad b. Masud – Abdallah b. Khalaf – Ali b. Hassan al-Wasiti – Musa b. Bukayr who said: I heard Aba al-Hasan saying when he was informed of the death of al-Mufadhal b. Umar - May Allah have mercy on him, he was a father after the father [al-Sadiq i.e. a second father to him]. Verily he is now resting in peace.
       
      Summary 
      The case of al-Mufadhal is a complicated one. More needs to be done to collect all the relevant evidence and formulate a coherent position, if at all possible. This is obviously not the place for an in-depth study. Such research should also consider the provenance of famous books attributed to him like Tawhid al-Mufadhal, al-Ihlilaja etc. Having said all this, caution must be exercised as regards narrations attributed to him, specifically if the contents have to do with Imamology.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Blog Statistics

    65
    Total Blogs
    274
    Total Entries
×