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The Madhhab of Hisham?

Islamic Salvation

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دعا له الصادق عليه السلام فقال: أقول لك ما قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم لحسان: لا تزال مؤيدا بروح القدس ما نصرتنا بلسانك

I say to you what the Messenger of Allah said to Hassan b. Thabit: You will never stop being aided by the Holy Spirit so long as you keep defending us by your tongue [Imam al-Sadiq supplicates for Hisham b. al-Hakam]

 

Hisham b. al-Hakam: Founder of a Theological School (Pt. 2)

 

A Sect?

A number of proto-Sunni heresiographical works list the so-called ‘Hishamiyya’ (followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam) when discussing splinter-sects within Imami Shi’ism.

What do we make of this?

Throughout the second century Hijri and as a direct consequence of the Arab conquests - large swathes of peoples from different cultures and civilizations became subsumed into the Islamic empire. This resulted into the introduction of foreign ideas - mainly Greek philosophical speculation - into the intellectual world of Islam.

The scholarly response to this was split between those who propagated abstinence, considering any discussion of such subjects as a blameworthy innovation, and those who encouraged active engagement, with the realization that the questions raised needed to be answered. These latter were the practitioners of Kalam who wished to reconcile the new insights with revelationary knowledge.     

It is well documented that the Imams forbade the majority of their companions from undertaking the abstract thinking involved in Kalam. This was a precaution against the clear danger of making errors in the most sensitive of topics such as the attributes of God. The default statement of the Imams for the laity among their followers was ‘Describe God as He describes Himself’ and leave it at that.

However, we have evidence that the Imams did not totally frown upon such activity. Indeed they trained and encouraged a select few - whose abilities they trusted - to construct rational arguments and participate in the wider controversy with the aim of preserving the authentic positions of Islam.

One prominent example is Hisham b. al-Hakam who proceeded to develop theological positions mainly for polemical reasons e.g. to systemize the doctrine of Imama into a consistent logical framework. The favourable relations that successive Imams had with him goes a long way to confirm their approval of such endeavours.

It is in this context that Hisham attracted a following and is spoken of as a leader of a ‘Madhhab’. To characterize this as a ‘sect’ is a misconception, for even the most prominent companion could not but submit to the Imam and dare not contradict him.

Indeed, Hisham was also a narrator of Hadith from the ‘Aimma and his output consists of typical jurisprudential responsa that would not stand out when compared to that of a traditionalist-narrator who shuns Kalam.  

Much better then to speak of a school of thought led by Hisham having unique features (a distinctive mode of argumentation) and theological positions. The school was not set up to  contradict the Imams but rather flesh out their general principles.

 

Can we speak of such a school?

There are some pieces of evidence that allude to the existence of a ‘school of Hisham’

(*) Hisham had a post-humous following:

  • A companion asks the Imam al-Naqi a question about Tawhid while commenting ‘I follow the position of Hisham b. al-Hakam …’

الصقر بن دلف قال: سألت أبا الحسن علي بن محمد عليهما السلام عن التوحيد وقلت له: إني أقول بقول هشام بن الحكم ...

  • Another companion asks the Imam al-Ridha whether he should pay Zakat to someone who differs with Hisham in the doctrine of Tawhid and receives a negative answer

  فنعطي الزكاة من خالف هشاما في التوحيد؟ فقال برأسه: لا

  • The Imam al-Ridha asks al-Bazanti what their differences are with the ‘followers’ of Hisham in Tawhid

أبي، عن البزنطي، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: قال لي: يا أحمد ما الخلاف بينكم وبين أصحاب هشام بن الحكم في التوحيد ؟

 

(*) Unusually, there are a number of individuals who are explicitly associated with Hisham in their biographical entries, which you would expect in a school with students loyal to the outlook of their master. Consider the examples provided below:

علي بن منصور أبو الحسن: كوفي، سكن بغداد، متكلم من أصحاب هشام. له كتب منها كتاب التدبير في التوحيد والإمامة

Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Mansur. Kufan. Resided in Baghdad. A practitioner of Kalam and a student of Hisham. He authored several books among them ‘the book of Deliberation on Tawhid’

محمد بن الخليل المعروف بالسكاك: صاحب هشام ابن الحكم، وكان متكلما من أصحاب هشام، وخالفه في أشياء إلا في أصل الامامة، له كتب منها: كتاب المعرفة، وكتاب في الاستطاعة، وكتاب في الامامة، وكتاب الرد على من أبى وجوب الامامة بالنص

Muhammad b. al-Khalil. Popularly known as al-Sakkak. He became a companion of Hisham b. al-Hakam. A practitioner of Kalam from the students of Hisham. He differed with him (his master) in a number of matters except on the doctrine of Imama. He authored several books among them: A book on Recognition, a book on Human Capacity (to act independently), a book on Imama, a book Refuting the one who denies the Necessity of Imama continuing via Designation (Nass).    

 

(*) Another characteristic of a school is continuity i.e. having successive leaders taking the vacated seat of the former head of the school. This can be demonstrated in an auto-biographical note  by al-Fadhl b. Shadhan:

  جعفر بن معروف، قال: حدثني سهل بن بحر الفارسي، قال: سمعت الفضل بن شاذان آخر عهدي به يقول: أنا خلف لمن مضى ... ومضى هشام ابن الحكم رحمه الله، وكان يونس بن عبد الرحمان رحمه الله خلفه، كان يرد على المخالفين، ثم مضى يونس بن عبد الرحمان ولم يخلف خلفا غير السكاك، فرد على المخالفين حتى مضى رحمه الله، وأنا خلف لهم من بعدهم رحمهم الله

Sahl b. Bahr al-Farisi says that he heard al-Fadhl b. Shadhan saying in his last encounter with him: I am the successor of those who have passed on … when Hisham b. al-Hakam – may Allah have mercy on him – passed on it was Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman – may Allah have mercy on him - who succeeded him [took his place] in refuting the opponents. Then Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman passed on and did not appoint a successor other than al-Sakkak (Muhammad b. Khalil) who refuted the opponents until he passed on may Allah have mercy on him. I am the successor who takes their place after them may Allah have mercy on them all. 

 

Inter-Companion Rivalry

Hisham b. al-Hakam’s specialization in this field was so complete and his expertise so masterful that we see the Imam ordering him to send him the argument he uses to answer the question of determinism versus free-will.

حدثني ابراهيم الوراق السمرقندي، قال: حدثني علي بن محمد القمي، قال: حدثني عبد الله بن محمد بن عيسى، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم قال: قال أبو الحسن عليه‌ السلام: قولوا لهشام يكتب إلي بما يرد به القدرية، قال: فكتب اليه يسأل القدرية أعصى الله من عصى لشي‌ء من الله، أو لشي‌ء كان من الناس، أو لشي‌ء لم يكن من الله ولا من الناس؟ قال: فلما دفع الكتاب اليه، قال لهم: ادفعوه الى الجرمي، فدفعوه اليه، فنظر فيه ثم قال: ما صنع شيئا، فقال أبو الحسن عليه‌ السلام: ما ترك شيئا. قال أبو أحمد: وأخبرني أنه كان الرسول بهذا الى الكاظم عليه‌ السلام

Ibrahim al-Warraq al-Samarqandi – Ali b. Muhammad al-Qummi – Abdallah b. Muhammad b. Isa – Ibn Abi Umayr – Hisham b. Salim who said: Abu al-Hasan عليه‌ السلام said: Tell Hisham to write to me the argument he uses to rebut the Qadariyya (believers in absolute free-will). He (Hisham b. al-Hakam) wrote to him: ‘the Qadariyya are asked - the one who disobeys Allah does he disobey because of being compelled by Allah, or due to human factors, or due to a third cause apart from Allah or the people?’ He (Hisham b. Salim) says: when the letter was dispatched to him, he (the Imam) said: send it to al-Jurmi, so they took it to him. He (al-Jurmi) looked into it and said: ‘he has not done anything (i.e. it is a useless argument)!’ but Abu al-Hasan said:  he did not leave out anything! (i.e. it is an unsurmountable argument). Abu Ahmad (Ibn Abi Umayr) said: He (Hisham b. Salim) informed me that he was the messenger carrying this letter to  al-Kadhim  عليه‌ السلام     

The partial independence which the Imams gave to some of their able companions to make theological inquiries led to difference of opinion between them.

Hisham b. al-Hakam is said to have authored books to refute the position of two other major Shi’i theologians. He has a refutation of Hisham al-Jawaliqi (كتاب الرد على هشام الجواليقي) and a refutation of Muhammad b. Ali b. al-Nu’man al-Ahwal Mu’min al-Taq (كتاب الرد على شيطان الطاق)

This situation sometimes required the Imam having to intervene to express the correct opinion. An example is provided below:

حدثني حمدويه، قال، حدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن جعفر بن عيسى عن علي بن يونس بن بهمن قال: قلت للرضا عليه‌ السلام: جعلت فداك ان أصحابنا قد اختلفوا! فقال: في أي شي‌ء اختلفوا فيه احك لي من ذلك شيئا؟ قال: فلم يحضرني الا ما قلت، جعلت فداك من ذلك ما اختلف فيه زرارة وهشام بن الحكم، فقال زرارة: ان الهواء ليس بشي‌ء وليس بمخلوق، وقال هشام: ان الهواء شي‌ء مخلوق، قال، فقال لي: قل في هذا بقول هشام، ولا تقل بقول زرارة

Hamduwayh – Muhammad b. Isa – Ja’far b. Isa – Ali b. Yunus b. Bahman who said: I said to al-Ridha عليه‌ السلام: May I be made your ransom - our companions have differed! He said: in what thing have they differed, relate to me a thing from that (an example of that which they have differed in)? He (Ali) said: Nothing came to mind except that which I said (which is): May I be made your ransom, an example of that is what Zurara and Hisham b. al-Hakam had differed in. Zurara said ‘air is not a thing nor is it created’ while Hisham said ‘air is a created thing’. He (the Imam) said to me: affirm in this the position of Hisham and not the position of Zurara.

Incidentally, this report indicates that the practitioners of Kalam were also influenced by the neo-Platonic primitive ‘scientific’ theories which were concerned with the natural world.

Difference of opinion and the perennial competition to win favour from the Imam led some companion to even become rivals. It is in the context of theological disputation concerning the attributes of God that Hisham had a major falling out with Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj, himself a financial agent appointed by al-Kadhim over Iraq.

علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني محمد بن موسى الهمداني، عن الحسن ابن موسى الخشاب، عن غيره، عن جعفر بن محمد بن حكيم الخثعمي قال: اجتمع هشام بن سالم، وهشام بن الحكم، وجميل بن دراج، وعبد الرحمن بن الحجاج، ومحمد بن حمران، وسعيد بن غزوان، ونحو من خمسة عشر رجلا من أصحابنا، فسألوا هشام بن الحكم أن يناظر هشام بن سالم فيما اختلفوا فيه من التوحيد وصفة الله عز وجل وغير ذلك لينظروا أيهما أقوى حجة. فرضي هشام بن سالم أن يتكلم عند محمد بن أبي عمير، ورضي هشام بن الحكم أن يتكلم عند محمد بن هشام، فتكالما وساق ما جرى بينهما. وقال، قال عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج لهشام بن الحكم: كفرت والله بالله العظيم وألحدت فيه، ويحك ما قدرت أن تشبه بكلام ربك الا العود يضرب به! قال جعفر ابن محمد بن حكيم، فكتب إلى أبي الحسن موسى عليه السلام يحكي له مخاطبتهم وكلامهم ويسأله أن يعلمه ما القول الذي ينبغي ندين الله به من صفه الجبار؟ فأجابه في عرض كتابه فهمت رحمك الله واعلم رحمك الله ان الله أجل وأعلى وأعظم من أن يبلغ كنه صفته فصفوه بما وصف به نفسه، وكفوا عما سوى ذلك

Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Musa al-Hamdani – al-Hasan b. Musa al-Khashshab – Ja’far b. Muhammad Hukaym al-Khath’ami who said: Hisham b. Salim, Hisham b. al-Hakam, Jamil b. Darraj, Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj, Muhammad b. Humran, Sai’d b. Ghazwan and about fifteen men among our companions gathered together. They (those present) asked Hisham b. al-Hakam to debate with Hisham b. Salim about the differences they had regarding Tawhid, the attributes of Allah Mighty and Majestic and other matters, so that they could observe which one was stronger in argument. 

Hisham b. Salim agreed to be represented by Muhammad b. Abi Umayr (his student) while Hisham b. al-Hakam agreed to be represented by Muhammad b. Hisham. They began disputing and he (Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Hukaym) recounted in depth what transpired between them (in the debate)

He (Ja’far) said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj said to Hisham b. al-Hakam: You have disbelieved - by Allah - in Allah the Almighty and have fallen in heresy. Woe be upon you - how could you dare to compare the words of your Lord to a stick (created object) which is used to hit with!

Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Hukaym said: He (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) wrote to Abi al-Hasan Musa عليه السلام recounting for him their speech and talk (in the debate) and asking him to teach him what the correct position as regards the attributes of the al-Jabbar (the Irresistable) through which Allah can be worshipped is?

So he (the Imam) answered him (writing) at the bottom of his letter: I have understood may Allah have mercy on you. Know - may Allah have mercy on you - that Allah is more majestic and elevated and great than for his attributes to be fully comprehended. Therefore describe Him the way He has described Himself and abstain from going beyond that.

 

Attitudes towards Him

It is for all these reasons recounted above that Hisham became a particularly polarizing figure who attracted both scorn and devotion within the larger Shi’ite community. In fact, large sections of al-Kashshi’s book can be seen as a competing ground for the different factions fighting each other over how to represent his person and legacy.

Those close to Hisham, who can be said to have belonged to his school, such as his premier student Yunus and the Ubaydi clan including Ali b. Yaqtin, Muhammad and Ja’far the two sons of Isa, narrated narrations which cast him in a positive light, as an apologia to the excommunication he continued to suffer at the hand of his Qummi traditionalist opponents.

His traditionalist opponents saw him as overstepping the mark by formulating his own world-view instead of a total and rigid attachment to the letter of the narrations.

On the one hand we have a narration such as the one below where Imam Jawad is quoted as praising Hisham to the skies for his efforts:

محمد بن مسعود العياشى، قال: حدثني جعفر، قال: حدثني العمركي قال: حدثني الحسين بن أبي لبابة، عن داود أبي هشام الجعفري قال: قلت لأبي جعفر عليه‌ السلام: ما تقول في هشام بن الحكم؟ فقال: رحمه‌ الله ما كان أذبه عن هذه الناحية

Muhammad b. Masud al-Ayyashi – Ja’far – al-Amrikai – al-Husayn b. Abi Lubaba – Dawud Abi Hashim al-Ja’fari who said: I said to Abi Ja’far عليه‌ السلام: What do you say about Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: May Allah have mercy on him. How great was his defense of this quarter (the holy threshold)!    

On the other hand we have questions about the validity of praying behind his ‘companions’ which in this context implies those who follow his theological positions.

علي بن محمد، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن أبي علي بن راشد، عن أبي جعفر الثاني عليه السلام قال، قلت: جعلت فداك قد اختلف أصحابنا، فأصلي خلف أصحاب هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: عليك بعلي بن حديد، قلت: فآخذ بقوله؟ قال: نعم فلقيت علي بن حديد فقلت له: نصلي خلف أصحاب هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: لا

Ali b. Muhammad – Ahmad b. Muhammad – Abi Ali b. Rashid – Abi Ja’far the Second. He (Abi Ali) said: I said: May I be made your ransom, our companions have differed (about this), should I pray behind the companions of Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: Upon you is Ali b. Hadid (ask this question to him). I said: Should I follow what he tells me? He said: Yes. I met Ali b. Hadid and said to him: should we pray behind the companions of Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: No.

Is there any truth to the criticims levelled at Hisham? Or can we explain away all the hostility towards him as being borne out of jealousy towards his ability as the report below indicates.

حدثنا حمدويه وابراهيم ابنا نصير، قالا: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، قال: حدثني زحل عمر بن عبد العزيز بن أبي بشار، عن سليمان بن جعفر الجعفري قال: سألت أبا الحسن الرضا عليه‌ السلام عن هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: فقال لي: رحمه‌ الله كان عبدا ناصحا أوذي من قبل أصحابه حسدا منهم له

Hamduwayh and Ibrahim the two sons of Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – Zuhl Umar b. Abd al-Aziz b. Abi Bashshar – Sulayman b. Ja’far al-Ja’fari who said: I asked Aba al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه‌ السلام about Hisham b. al-Hakam, so he said to me: May Allah have mercy on him. He was a loyal servant who was persecuted by his fellows because of their jealousy of him.



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It is terribly sad that not much of Hisham b. al-Hakam's work has remained, other than a full treatise that Ibn al-Qayyim recorded for polemical purposes. only bits and pieces remain.

Whereas the works of 'Abd Allah ibn Yazid, the Khariji theologian, who was the best friend and business-partner of Hisham b. al-Hakam, have been preserved by the Ibadhis of Oman and Algeria. Manuscripts from him are quite extant.

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      علي بن إبراهيم ، عن أبيه ، عن ابن أبي عمير ، عن عبد الله بن سنان ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله في خطبته ألا أخبركم بخير خلائق الدنيا والآخرة العفو عمن ظلمك وتصل من قطعك والإحسان إلى من أساء إليك وإعطاء من حرمك.
      Grading: Hasan-like-Saheeh
       
      عنه ، عن الهيثم بن أبي مسروق ، عن هشام بن سالم ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله لرجل أتاه ألا أدلك على أمر يدخلك الله به الجنة قال بلى يا رسول الله قال أنل مما أنالك الله قال فإن كنت أحوج ممن أنيله قال فانصر المظلوم قال وإن كنت أضعف ممن أنصره قال فاصنع للأخرق يعني أشر عليه قال : فإن كنت أخرق ممن أصنع له قال فأصمت لسانك إلا من خير أما يسرك أن تكون فيك خصلة من هذه الخصال تجرك إلى الجنة؟.
      Grading:  Hasan
       
       
      عدة من أصحابنا ، عن أحمد بن محمد ، عن ابن فضال ، عن عاصم بن حميد ، عن أبي حمزة الثمالي ، عن أبي جعفر عليه‌السلام قال خطب رسول الله عليه‌السلام في حجة الوداع فقال يا أيها الناس والله ما من شيء يقربكم من الجنة ويباعدكم من النار إلا وقد أمرتكم به وما من شيء يقربكم من النار ويباعدكم من الجنة إلا وقد نهيتكم عنه ألا وإن الروح الأمين نفث في روعي أنه لن تموت نفس حتى تستكمل رزقها
       Grading: Saheeh and comes through multiple chains
       
      عنه ، عن أبيه ، عن سليمان الجعفري ، عن أبي الحسن الرضا ، عن أبيه عليه‌السلام قال رفع إلى رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله قوم في بعض غزواته فقال من القوم فقالوا مؤمنون يا رسول الله قال وما بلغ من إيمانكم قالوا الصبر عند البلاء والشكر
      عند الرخاء والرضا بالقضاء فقال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله حلماء علماء كادوا من الفقه أن يكونوا أنبياء إن كنتم كما تصفون فلا تبنوا ما لا تسكنون ولا تجمعوا ما لا تأكلون واتقوا الله الذي إليه ترجعون.
      عدة من أصحابنا ، عن أحمد بن محمد بن خالد ، عن محمد بن إسماعيل بن بزيع ، عن محمد بن عذافر ، عن أبيه ، عن أبي جعفر عليه‌السلام قال بينا رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله
      Grading: Saheeh and contains multiple chains.
       
       
      عدة من أصحابنا ، عن أحمد بن محمد ، عن عبد العظيم بن عبد الله الحسني ، عن أبي جعفر الثاني عليه‌السلام ، عن أبيه ، عن جده صلوات الله عليهم قال قال أمير المؤمنين عليه‌السلام قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله إن الله خلق الإسلام فجعل له عرصة وجعل له نورا وجعل له حصنا وجعل له ناصرا فأما عرصته فالقرآن وأما نوره فالحكمة
      وأما حصنه فالمعروف وأما أنصاره فأنا وأهل بيتي وشيعتنا فأحبوا أهل بيتي وشيعتهم وأنصارهم فإنه لما أسري بي إلى السماء الدنيا فنسبني جبرئيل عليه‌السلام لأهل السماء استودع الله حبي وحب أهل بيتي وشيعتهم في قلوب الملائكة فهو عندهم وديعة إلى يوم القيامة ثم هبط بي إلى أهل الأرض فنسبني إلى أهل الأرض فاستودع الله عز وجل حبي وحب أهل بيتي وشيعتهم في قلوب مؤمني أمتي فمؤمنو أمتي يحفظون وديعتي في أهل بيتي إلى يوم القيامة ألا فلو أن الرجل من أمتي عبد الله عز وجل عمره أيام الدنيا ثم لقي الله عز وجل مبغضا لأهل بيتي وشيعتي ما فرج الله صدره إلا عن النفاق. 
      Grading: Hasan
       
       
      عنه ، عن عثمان بن عيسى ، عن عبد الله بن مسكان ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال إن رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله كان في سفر يسير على ناقة له إذا نزل فسجد خمس سجدات فلما أن ركب قالوا يا رسول الله إنا رأيناك صنعت شيئا لم تصنعه فقال نعم استقبلني ـ جبرئيلعليه‌السلام فبشرني ببشارات من الله عز وجل فسجدت لله شكرا لكل بشرى سجدة.
      Grading: Muwathaq
       
       
      قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله من صدق الله نجا
      Grading: Hasan-Like Saheeh
       
       
       
      محمد بن يحيى ، عن أحمد بن محمد ، عن ابن محبوب ، عن أبي ولاد الحناط ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلامقال أربع من كن فيه كمل إيمانه وإن كان من قرنه إلى قدمه ذنوبا لم ينقصه ذلك قال وهو الصدق وأداء الأمانة والحياء وحسن الخلق.
      Grading: Saheeh
       
      علي بن إبراهيم ، عن أبيه ومحمد بن إسماعيل ، عن الفضل بن شاذان جميعا ، عن ابن أبي عمير ، عن إبراهيم بن عبد الحميد ، عن قيس أبي إسماعيل وذكر أنه لا بأس به من أصحابنا رفعه قال جاء رجل إلى النبي صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآلهفقال : يا رسول الله أوصني فقال احفظ لسانك قال يا رسول الله أوصني قال احفظ لسانك قال : يا رسول الله أوصني قال احفظ لسانك ويحك وهل يكب الناس على مناخرهم في النار إلا حصائد ألسنتهم.
      Grading: Marfu’ , however the content is corroborated by many authentic chains, such as: 
      محمد بن يحيى ، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى ، عن علي بن الحكم ، عن إبراهيم بن مهزم الأسدي ، عن أبي حمزة ، عن علي بن الحسين عليه‌السلام
    • By Qa'im in Imamology
         6

       
      The first creation of Allah is His will (mashi’a). The mashi’a is a created light that operates on the realm of the creation and interacts with the rest of creation. Since the mashi’a is subject to change and affect, it is separate from His Unified and Unknowable Essence.
      علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن عمر بن اذينة، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: خلق الله المشيئة بنفسها ثم خلق الاشياء بالمشيئة.
      Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq (as) said, “Allah created the will (mashi’a) by its self. Then, He created the things by the will.”
      The mashi’a is one entity (ذات بسيطة) with four degrees (معلقات). These four degrees are His will (mashi’a), His desire (irada), His determining (qadr), and His actualization (qada).
      3يا يونس تعلم ما؛ المشيئة قلت لا قال هي الذکر الاول فتعلم ما الارادة قلت لا قال هي العزيمة على ما يشاء فتعلم ما القدر قلت لا قال هي الهندسة و وضع الحدود من البقاء و الفناء قال ثم قال و القضاء هو الابرام و اقامة العين
      Imam ar-Rida (as) said, “O Yunus! Do you know what the will (mashi’a) is?” Yunus said, “No.” Imam ar-Rida (as) said, “It is the first utterance (الذکر الاول). So do you know what the wish (الارادة) is?” He said, “No.” The Imam said, “It is the invitation to what He wants. So do you know what determining (qadr) is?” He said, “No.” The Imam said, “It is designing and organizing the parameters from beginning to end. And actualization (qada) is the confirmation and the establishment of the thing.”
      The mashi’a and the desire (irada) both denote the same object. However, when used together, they refer to different degrees within the mashi’a’s process. The first degree is the wish for a thing, the second degree is the assertion of that wish, the third degree is the organization of the parameters needed to bring about that wish, and the fourth degree is its execution. All of these levels are really one process, but in our understanding, it takes place in four stages.
      Mashi’a is a unity of action (fi`l) and reception (infi`al). While irada, qadr, and qada are masculine activities, the mashi’a is feminine in its receptivity to all of these active phases. This way, the mashi’a constitutes both self-acting and self-receiving. This reality is called the Great Depth (العمق الأكبر). Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i uses the term “the Kaf that Encircles Itself” (الكاف المستديرة على نفسها) to describe the duality of the mashi’a, because a circled letter Kaf resembles the yin-yang, and a yin-yang represents the complementary nature of contrary forces. The mashi’a is compared to Adam and Eve, the first promulgators of their species, through whose dimorphic reproduction all people came into existence.
      There are two types of divine actions (ja`l ilahi) in the Quran: formative action (جعل تكويني) and designative action (جعل تشريعي). Formative action refers to creating, establishing, and building. Allah says, “[He] who made (ja`ala) for you the earth as a bed and the sky as a ceiling” (2:22). Designative action refers to divine selection and legislation. Allah says, “Allah has made the Ka`ba, the Sacred House, an establishment for mankind.” (5:97) These two actions are further duplicated inversely in a dialectical process, which we will describe later.
      The mashi’a exists on the sempiternal plain (سرمد), which is a created level of infinity that is beyond the rest of creation. Allah, however, is Eternal (أزل), and therefore beyond sempiternity. In Allah’s Essence (ذات), there is no action; and He is beyond understanding. In the hierarchy of creation, the mashi’a is the first barrier (hijab), and there is nothing beyond it.
    • By Islamic Salvation in A Marginalia to Mu'jam
         1
      كان من غلمان أبي شاكر الزنديق، وهو جسمي ردي
      He was a student of Abi Shakir the Zindiq and a wretched corporealist
      - Sa’d b. Abdallah al-Qummi (d. 301) was not a fan of Hisham
       
      A Body Unlike Other bodies
      Would not considering God to be a body be likening Him to his creatures (who happen to be bodies)? It is to avoid this that Hisham formulated his compromise as demonstrated in the report below:
      محمد بن أبي عبدالله، عن محمد بن إسماعيل، عن علي بن العباس، عن الحسن ابن عبدالرحمن الحماني قال: قلت لابي الحسن موسى بن جعفر عليهما السلام: إن هشام بن الحكم زعم أن الله جسم ليس كمثله شئ، عالم، سميع، بصير، قادر، متكلم، ناطق، والكلام والقدرة والعلم يجري مجرى واحد، ليس شئ منها مخلوقا فقال: قاتله الله أما علم أن الجسم محدود والكلام غير المتكلم معاذ الله وأبرء إلى الله من هذا القول، لا جسم ولا صورة ولا تحديد وكل شئ سواه مخلوق، إنما تكون الاشياء بإرادته ومشيئته من غير كلام ولا تردد في نفس ولا نطق بلسان
      Muhammad b. Abi Abdillah – Muhammad b. Ismail – Ali b. al-Abbas – al-Hasan b. Abd al-Rahman al-Himmani who said: I said to Abi al-Hasan Musa b. Ja’far عليهما السلام: Hisham b. al-Hakam asserts that ‘Allah is a body - there is nothing like Him. All-Knowing, All-Hearing, All-Seeing, All-Powerful, Master of Speech, Speaker. Speech, power and knowledge are of the same type (essential attributes), nothing of them is created’. He (the Imam) said: Woe be upon him! Does he not know that a body is limited, and that speech is distinct from the Speaker. I seek refuge in Allah and disassociate to Allah from this doctrine. (He is) Not a body nor a human form. No delimitation (applies to Him). Everything apart from Him is created. The things are brought into existence by His intention and will, without speech, or deliberating in Himself, or intoning by tongue.          This indicates that while Hisham maintained that God was a body he tried to escape the error of Tashbih (likening God to His creatures) by defining God as a body incomparable to any thing else and therefore beyond imagination. While we should affirm that He is a body (because God is something) we cannot describe the body further. This makes it clear that all the lurid anthropomorphic descriptions attributed to him are false.
      In fact, he was a severe opponent of some of the traditionalist among the Shia and the school of Hisham b. Salim which relied on spurious narrations to ascribe Human form (shape) to God i.e. they understood ‘God creating humans in His image’ literally.  
      أبي، عن البزنطي، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: قال لي: يا أحمد ما الخلاف بينكم وبين أصحاب هشام بن الحكم في التوحيد؟ فقلت: جعلت فداك قلنا نحن بالصورة للحديث الذي روي أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله رأي ربه في صورة شاب! فقال هشام ابن الحكم بالنفي بالجسم. فقال: يا أحمد إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله لما اسري به إلى السماء وبلغ عند سدرة المنتهى خرق له في الحجب مثل سم الابرة فرأى من نور العظمة ما شاء الله أن يرى، وأردتم أنتم التشبيه، دع هذا يا أحمد لا ينفتح عليك منه أمر عظيم
      My father – al-Bazanti – al-Ridha عليه السلام who said: O Ahmad, what is the difference between you and the followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam concerning Tawhid? I (Ahmad) said: May I be made your ransom - we hold the position of ‘the human form’ because of the report which is narrated from the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله that he saw his Lord in the form of a youth! While Hisham b. al-Hakam denies that and upheld ‘the body’. He said: O Ahmad, when the Messenger of Allahصلى الله عليه وآله  was made to ascend to the heaven and reached the ‘Furthest Lote tree’, the veils were rent for him the size of a needle’s eye, and he saw of the Light of sublimity what Allah wished him to see. But you seek by this Tashbih (ascribe an image to him). Leave this O Ahmad, lest something dreadful befall you on account of it.   Hisham’s views came to be summed up in the famous dicta:
      He is a body unlike other bodies (هو جسم لا كالأجسام)
       
      An Example of Hisham’s Argumentation
      None of Hisham’s written works, including his Kitab al-Tawhid (كتاب التوحيد), are available to us. This makes it difficult to speak of his thought as a whole. Instead, we have to rely on fragmentary evidence, such as the report below, to provide insight into his mode of argumentation.
      This is done with the caveat that generalizations must be avoided because the narrators might not be conveying the nuance of Hisham’s complex system accurately. Furthermore, Yunus b. Dhabayn is a particularly unreliable narrator (accused of Ghulu) and could very well be biased against Hisham.
      محمد بن أبي عبدالله، عن محمد بن إسماعيل، عن الحسين بن الحسن، عن بكر بن صالح، عن الحسن بن سعيد، عن عبدالله بن المغيرة، عن محمد بن زياد قال: سمعت يونس بن ظبيان يقول: دخلت على أبي عبدالله عليه السلام فقلت له: إن هشام بن الحكم يقول قولا عظيما إلا أني أختصر لك منه أحرفا فزعم أن الله جسم لان الاشياء شيئان: جسم وفعل الجسم فلا يجوز أن يكون الصانع بمعنى الفعل ويجوز أن يكون بمعنى الفاعل فقال أبوعبدالله عليه السلام: ويحه أما علم أن الجسم محدود متناه والصورة محدودة متناهية فإذا احتمل الحد احتمل الزيادة والنقصان وإذا احتمل الزيادة والنقصان كان مخلوقا قال: قلت: فما أقول؟ قال: لا جسم ولا صورة وهو مجسم الاجسام ومصور الصور، لم يتجزء ولم يتناه ولم يتزايد ولم يتناقص، لو كان كما يقولون لم يكن بين الخالق والمخلوق فرق ولا بين المنشئ والمنشأ لكن هو المنشئ فرق بين من جسمه وصوره وأنشأه، إذ كان لا يشبهه شئ ولا يشبه هو شيئا
      Muhammad b. Abi Abdillah – Muhammad b. Ismail – al-Husayn b. al-Hasan – Bakr b. Salih – al-Husayn b. Sai’d – Abdallah b. al-Mughira – Muhammad b. Ziyad who said: I heard Yunus b. Dhubyan saying: I entered in to see Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and said to him: Hisham b. al-Hakam holds a grave position. I will summarize it for you in a few words - He claims that ‘Allah is a body, because there can only be two things: ‘body’ and the ‘action of a body’. It is not possible for the Maker to be defined as an action, but it is permissible to define him as an actor’. Abu Abillah عليه السلام  said: Woe be upon him - does he not know that a corporeal body is limited and transient (comes to an end), and that a human form is limited and transient. When he allows the possibility of limits (bounds) then he has allowed the possibility of increase and decrease, and if he allows the possibility of increase and decrease then that one is a created. He (Yunus) said: What should I believe? He said: Not a corporeal body nor a human form. He is the embodier of bodies and the fashioner of forms. He has no constituent parts nor does He perish. He does not increase nor decrease. If He were as they say then there would not be any difference between the creator and the created, nor a difference between the originator and the originated. However he is the originator who differentiated between those whom he made into a body, and others to whom He gave form and those He originated, for nothing is like Him nor is He like anything.  To Recap: Hisham’s view was that God is ‘something’ and as such ‘an existent body’. As a body, God can be a carrier of ‘characteristics’, namely His attributes (Sifat) which, are neither He Himself nor are they not He Himself; therefore, they have no independent existence and according to their nature are action.
      Or put somewhat differently: there is nothing except bodies and their action (fiʿl). But action is also always caused (fiʿl); for this reason God cannot be action (fiʿl). Therefore, He is a body. One can also turn this the other way round; action, can only come forth from a body; therefore, God must be a body.
       
      The Influence of Abu Shakir al-Daysani
      The argument above is so close to what is attributed to Abu Shakir al-Daysani that a link between the two cannot be avoided. Consider the words of the latter reproduced below (from Qadi Abd al-Jabbar’s Mughni):
      وحكى عن أبي شاكر انه ... يثبت الحركة ويزعم أنها صفة للتحرك لا هي هو ولا غيره وأنكر ان تكون شيئا او تكون لا شيء وقال ان التغاير والقول بأنه شيء لا يقعان الا على الأجسام والحركة ليست بجسم
      He held that there is action (movement) and maintained that it is an attribute of acting (by the Actor) and is neither identical with the latter (the Actor) nor different from Him. He would neither concede that it is something nor that it is nothing. By way of explanation he said: Mutual difference and being designated as ‘something’ are only valid for bodies; action, however, is not a body. Note the same dichotomy between body and the action of a body, as well as the notion that only a body can be referred to as ‘thing’.
      It is not surprising then to encounter a report that makes their association explicit:
      علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني محمد بن أحمد، عن العباس بن معروف عن أبي محمد الحجال، عن بعض أصحابنا، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: ذكر الرضا عليه السلام العباسي، فقال: هو من غلمان أبي الحارث يعني يونس بن عبد الرحمن، وأبو الحارث من غلمان هشام، وهشام من غلمان أبي شاكر الديصاني، وأبو شاكر زنديق
      Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Ahmad – al-Abbas b. Ma’ruf – Abi Muhammad al-Hajjal – one of our companions – al-Ridha عليه السلام. al-Ridha عليه السلام mentioned al-Abbasi and said: He is one of the students of Abi al-Harith, that is Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman, and Abu al-Harith is one of the students of Hisham, and Hisham is one of the students of Abi Shakir al-Daysani, and Abu Shakir is a Zindiq. This example of shared language should not be taken to mean that Hisham was a blind-follower for he was a theologian in his own right. Hisham sought to re-frame the statements of the Imam into a coherent system while interacting with other thinkers of the time. Proof of this can be demonstrated by the fact that he authored the book Radd ‘alal-zanadiqa (كتاب الرد على الزنادقة) refuting Abu Shakir and his peers.
      In fact, the main influence of Abu Shakir on Hisham was confined to his theories on the natural world, what we might label ‘physics’. His theory of the interpenetration (mudakhala) of bodies corresponds, as is known, to the dualist belief in the mixture of light and darkness. Hisham’s support of this theory entailed the rejection of atomism in favour of infinite divisibility of matter and the thesis that bodies may pass from one place to another without moving through the intervening space (tafra).   
       
      Who was Abu Shakir?
      It is appropriate at this juncture to delve a bit more into this enigmatic person. Abu Shakir figures in many debates with Imam al-Sadiq in our literature. The historicity of these encounters cannot be confirmed. He is presented as a proto-Atheist who doubts the createdness of the world. The most popular question he is supposed to have asked the Imam was whether God could fit the whole world in an egg without enlarging the egg or making the world smaller.  
      Abu Shakir has been labelled a Zindiq. The exact connotation of this term is open to debate as it lacks a precise definition and has been used in different contexts over time. The word generally means apostate or freethinker but can also have a much more precise meaning of ‘Manichean’ (followers of Mani). The latter was a religious movement well-known for its Dualist cosmology as a model for explaining the world i.e. the idea of two principles which ‘mixed together’ and caused everything to emerge from them.
      In this case, the latter interpretation seems better supported in light of the fact that Abu Shakir has been referred to with the title ‘al-Daysani’. The Daysanites were distant followers of one called Bardesanes (Ibn Daysan) who died six years before Mani was born. Ibn al-Nadim says that Bardesanes ‘was called Daysan after the river near which he was born’. Bardesanes (d. 223) had indeed lived in Edessa as ‘the son’ of the Daysan which flowed through the city and occasionally overflowed its banks. His school lived on in Edessa into the late 7th or early 8th century.
      Bardesanes was a major influence on Mani and his followers became virtually indistinguishable within the larger Manichean tradition. All these streams subscribed to variations of the same dualist cosmology.
      Abu Shakir lived in a Kufa that was a boiling pot wherein diverse traditions mixed. It was a mileu without rigid boundaries between different sects and where borrowing was rampant. What were seen as heresies and persecuted by certain rulers were tolerated by others. Abu Shakir became infamous for his polemics and was finally crucified in the Khilafa of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi before the year 785.
       
      The Correct Position
      What was the Aimma’s position in this debate? The answer is very clear from the reports presented. They never spoke using Greek-influenced neo-platonic terminologies. They rejected the use of the term ‘body’ for God, pointing out the fact that any ‘body’ would by definition be finite and mortal - qualities which do not apply to God.
      What is not understood is how Hisham answered this charge. How was he able to reconcile between the truism that every body by definition has constraints (limits) with his conception of God? It is possible that he felt his statement ‘a body unlike all other bodies’ was inclusive of transcending the limits inherent in other bodies. But if that were case then what would be the the sense of holding God to still be a body. Does not the term lose significance? God must share one or some aspects with other bodies for the word to retain meaning. What aspect would that be?
      It is possible that his acceptance of the system of Abu Shakir and Jahm was so complete that he felt that the definition of any ‘thing’ (shayy) as ‘existent body’ (jism mawjud) was axiomatic. A starting point which must be accepted before any further theological speculation can continue. God had to be a thing because if He was not then he was nothing, from which follows ‘God was a body’ in his system. What kind of body? A body unlike any other body. But still a body in at least some sense. And that is the rub of the problem. 
       
      To be continued ... 
    • By Abu Nur in Pearls of Wisdom
         1
      Then to Him belongs praise,
      in place of His every favour upon us
      and upon all His servants, past and still remaining,
      to the number of all things His knowledge encompasses,
      and in place of each of His favours,
      their number doubling and redoubling always and forever,
      to the Day of Resurrection;
      a praise whose bound has no utmost end,
      whose number has no reckoning,
      whose limit cannot be reached,
      whose period cannot be cut off;
      a praise which will become
      a link to His obedience and pardon,
      a tie to His good pleasure,
      a means to His forgiveness,
      a path to His Garden,
      a protector against His vengeance,
      a security against His wrath,
      an aid to obeying Him,
      a barrier against disobeying Him,
      a help in fulfilling His right and His duties;
      a praise that will make us felicitous
      among His felicitous friends,
      and bring us into the ranks
      of those martyred by the swords of His enemies.
      He is a Friend, Praiseworthy!
      Al-Sahifat al-Sajjadiyya Supplication 1
    • By Hameedeh in Think Positive
         13
      Two years ago I became a minimalist. I'm not talking about music, sculpture or painting, but minimalism in my life. I read about creating a minimalist home, but I did not buy the book:
      http://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home/
      So, I am thrifty and I buy very little. Whenever I am shopping and see a dozen things I want to own, I question myself. Do I have storage space for this? Is this really necessary? Will I really love it or is it just something that I never had before and always wanted to have one? Just wanting to possess something is not a good reason to buy it. Could I take a photo of it and just look at it, without spending my money? This must be a good reason to join Pinterest, to have all the things you want to look at, but never need to buy, store or move them. 
      As you have seen, my ShiaChat blog is minimalist by nature. I usually say very little, because if there is one thing that I know, it is that I recognize great writing when I see it, but I am not a good writer. I hope to become a better writer some day, and in the meantime, I invite you to my tumblr. Please, if you can, start at the last page which shows my first post (a prayer for the safety of 12th Imam AJ) and then scroll your way up, and over to previous pages in chronological order, the way my brain was working. 
      http://hameedeh.tumblr.com/page/3
      ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
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