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The confusion happened after every imam died as it was recorded by a 3rd century shia scholar al-Hasan bin Musa al-Nawbakhti in his book Firaq al-Shia. It all started after Ali’s a.s death and it is repeated every time an imam passed away. When the 11th imam died, his followers were divided into 14 different groups, each one has their own unique opinions. Here are some examples of perplexion/confusion. 1. Ali a.s is Mahdi “….Ali was not killed and he did not die. They said that he would not die until he has driven the Arabs with his cane and filled the earth with justice and fairness after it has been filled with oppression and injustice. This was the first sect in Islam which believed in waqf (imamate ended with Ali as hidden imam) after Rasulullah. They are also the first extremists. They are called Saba’iyyah, the follower of Abdullah bin Saba’ who publicly criticised Abu Bakar, Umar…“ “…some scholars who were close to Ali (AS) said that Abdullah bin Saba’ was a Jew before he converted to Islam…” “….he (Abdullah bin Saba’) was the first to declare that the imamate of Ali (AS) was mandatory…” [The first people who hated Abu Bakar & Umar (ra) were the followers of Abdullah bin Saba] 2. Muhammad bin al Hanafiyya is Mahdi “….they said al Hasan bin Ali went to war against Mu’awiyah with the permission of Muhammad and made treaty also with his permission. al Husein also, they said, fought Yazid with his permission, if not, both of them (al Hasan & al Husein) will be astray and ruined…” [Hasan & Husein are followers of the true imam, Muhammad al-Hanafiyah] 3. Abdullah bin Muhammad bin al Hanafiyya (Abu Hashim) is Mahdi “….he is called Abu Hashim and he is his father’s eldest son. His father appointed him as his successor….he is al Mahdi and he did not die….” [Muhammad al-Hanafiyah’s son, not Hasan nor Husein as the next imam & Mahdi] 4. Abdullah bin Mu’awiyah bin Abdullah bin Ja’far bin Abi Talib (appointed by Abu Hashim) is Mahdi “….Abdullah bin Mu’awiyah is al Mahdi, who was mentioned by Rasulullah and his Ahlulbait and he will lead the world, to fill it with goodness and justice after it was filled with injustice and oppression. Then, when he died, he will leave his position to someone from Bani Hashim – from the descendant of Ali bin Abi Talib….” [Imamate would be in the hands of Bani Hashim from Ali bin Abi Talib, not just exclusively to Husein’s progeny] 5. Muhammad bin Abdullah bin al Hasan (al-Mutsanna) bin al Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Talib is Mahdi (known as an-Nafs az-Zakiya) “When Abu Ja’far (AS) dies, his followers were divided into 2 groups. The first believed in the imamate of Muhammad bin Abdullah bin al Hasan bin al Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Talib who revolted in Madina and was killed there. He claimed that he was al Mahdi and he did not die….” [Mahdi is Hasan’s progeny who was martyred in Madina] 6. Ja’far al-Sadiq is Mahdi “His followers (Ja’far al Sadiq) were divided into 6 groups…..Ja’far bin Muhammad did not die and he will not die until he revolts and rule the people and he is al-Mahdi….” [Ja’far al-Sadiq is Mahdi, however after his death the majority of Shia’s scholars & respected figures believed in Abdullah, not Musa al-Kadhim as the next imam. After Abdullah died, they then followed Musa al-Kazim] 7. Ismail bin Ja’far al-Sadiq is Mahdi “….they denied the death of Ismail during his father’s life – saying it was a trick plotted by his father, who was afraid for him, so he hid him. They claimed Ismail would not die until he ruled the world and cared for the people and that he was al-Mahdi, because his father appointed him for the imamate after him….” [The true imam was Ismail not Musa al-Kadhim] 8. Muhammad bin Ismail bin Ja’far al Sadiq is Mahdi “….There were only 7 imam after Rasulullah and his Ahlulbait. They were Ali bin Abi Talib, al-Hasan, al-Husein, Ali bin al-Husein, Muhammad bin Ali, Ja’far bin Muhammad, Muhammad bin Ismail bin Ja’far, who was al-Qaim al-Mahdi….” [True imam were only 7 not 12] 9. Musa al Kadhim is Mahdi “….Musa bin Ja’far did not die, nor will he die until he rules the world from east to west. He would fill it with justice after it had been filled with oppression. They claimed that he was al-Qaim al-Mahdi….” [Imamate ended with al-Kadhim, did not continue after him. Ali al-Ridha and others after him were only al-Kadhim’s deputies, not true imam] 10. Muhammad bin Ali bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Musa is Mahdi “….when Ali bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Musa al-Ridha (AS) died, a group from his followers believed in the imamate of his son, Muhammad, who died in Samarra during his father’s life…They claimed that he was al-Mahdi….” [Ali al-Ridha did not appointed Muhammad al-Jawad/al-Taqi as the next imam as he was not a mature adult] 11. Hasan bin Ali al-Askari is Mahdi “….his followers became fourteen 14 groups after his death. One group said that al-Hasan bin Ali is alive, but he disappeared and he is al-Mahdi, for it is impossible for him to die not leaving an acknowledged son….” [This is one of the most confusing death as his followers were divided into this many groups] Source: 3rd century shia scholar al-Hasan bin Musa al-Nawbakhti's book Firaq al-Shia The belief of Imamate which supposed to prevent the people from misguidance became the doctrine which misguide and confused shias and even confused the close companions/scholars during the time of every Imam.
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