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In the Name of God بسم الله
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Blood on Hisham b. al-Hakam's Hands
Was Hisham Responsible for the Murder of al-Kadhim?
There exist narrations in our sources which hold Hisham responsible (directly or indirectly) for the murder of al-Kadhim عليه السلام by the Abbasid authorities. He stands accused of continuing to engage in public debate despite an explicit order from the Imam for him to refrain from doing that. He went on making waves in Baghdad such that the authorities took notice of the Shia and extended their talons towards the Imam.
علي بن محمد قال: حدثني محمد بن أحمد، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج قال: قال أبو الحسن عليه السلام: ايت هشام بن الحكم فقل له: يقول لك أبو الحسن: أيسرك أن تشرك في دم امرء مسلم فإذا قال لا فقل له: ما بالك شركت في دمي؟
Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Ahmad – Ya’qub b. Yazid – Ibn Abi Umayr – Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj who said: Abu al-Hasan عليه السلام said: Go to Hisham b. al-Hakam and say to him: Abu al-Hasan says to you: Are you pleased that you take part (have a role) in the murder of a Muslim man? If he says ‘No’ then say to him: Why do you take part in my murder? More detail about this delegation of Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj to Hisham is provided in the report below:
جعفر بن معروف قال: حدثني الحسن بن النعمان، عن أبي يحيى وهو إسماعيل بن زياد الواسطي، عن عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج قال: سمعته يؤدي إلى هشام بن الحكم رسالة أبي الحسن عليه السلام قال: لا تتكلم فإنه قد أمرني أن آمرك أن لا تتكلم، قال: فما بال هشام يتكلم وأنا لا أتكلم، قال: أمرني أن آمرك أن لا تتكلم وأنا رسوله إليك. قال أبو يحيى: أمسك هشام بن الحكم عن الكلام شهرا لم يتكلم ثم تكلم فأتاه عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج فقال له: سبحان الله يا أبا محمد تكلمت وقد نهيت عن الكلام! قال: مثلي لا ينهى عن الكلام. قال أبو يحيى: فلما كان من قابل، أتاه عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج فقال له: يا هشام قال لك أيسرك أن تشرك في دم امرء مسلم؟ قال: لا، قال: وكيف تشرك في دمي، فان سكت والا فهو الذبح؟ فما سكت حتى كان من أمره ما كان صلى الله عليه
Ja’far b. Ma’ruf – al-Hasan b. al-Nu’man – Abi Yahya (Ismail b. Ziyad al-Wasiti) – Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj. He (Abi Yahya) said: I heard him (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) relaying to Hisham b. al-Hakam the message of Abi al-Hasan عليه السلام saying: Do not speak - for he (the Imam) has ordered me to order you to abstain from speaking. He (Hisham) said: Why should Hisham (b. Salim) speak but I should refrain?! He (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) said: He (the Imam) has ordered me to order you to abstain and I am his messenger to you. Abu Yahya said: Hisham b. al-Hakam abstained from speaking for a month then resumed again. Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj came to him and said to him: Glory be to Allah! O Aba Muhammad - You engage in theological disputations while you have been forbidden from it! He (Hisham) said: the likes of me cannot be forbidden to speak! Abu Yahya said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj came to him after a year and said to him: O Hisham - he (the Imam) says to you: Are you pleased to participate in the murder of a believing man? He (Hisham) said: No. He (the Imam) says: then how come you are participating in my murder! For if you are to remain silent (murder can be avoided) but if not then it will be slaughter (Abu Yahya comments:) but he did not refrain until it happened to him (the Imam) what happened! Even Imam al-Ridha عليه السلام is quoted as holding Hisham squarely responsible in the murder of his father:
محمد بن نصير قال: حدثني أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن الحسين ابن سعيد، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن أبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام قال: أما كان لكم في أبي الحسن عليه السلام عظة ما ترى حال هشام بن الحكم؟ فهو الذي صنع بأبي الحسن ما صنع وقال لهم وأخبرهم، أترى الله يغفر له ما ركب منا
Muhammad b. Nusayr – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa – al-Husayn b. Sai’d – Ahmad b. Muhammad (b. Abi Nasr) – Abi al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه السلام who said: Is there not for you in (the case of) Abi al-Hasan (al-Kadhim) a warning! What do you think is the state of Hisham b. al-Hakam? For he is the one who did to Abi al-Hasan what he did, and he informed them and divulged to them (the secrets of the Madhhab). Do you think Allah will forgive him what he has perpetrated on us!
It is clear that this accusation levied against Hisham became widespread and needed a response from the pro-Hisham camp. Let us look at what Yunus (the principal exponent of Hisham's school) has preserved for us when he confronted his master directly about it.
حدثني حمدويه، قال حدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن يونس قال: قلت لهشام أصحابك يحكون أن أبا الحسن عليه السلام سرح إليك مع عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج أن أمسك عن الكلام و إلى هشام بن سالم قال: أتاني عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج و قال لي يقول لك أبو الحسن عليه السلام أمسك عن الكلام هذه الأيام، و كان المهدي قد صنف له مقالات الناس و فيه مقالة الجواليقية هشام بن سالم، و قرأ ذلك الكتاب في الشرقية و لم يذكر كلام هشام، و زعم يونس أن هشام بن الحكم قال له: فأمسكت عن الكلام أصلا حتى مات المهدي، و إنما قال لي هذه الأيام فأمسك حتى مات المهدي
Hamduwayh – Muhammad b. Isa – Yunus who said: I said to Hisham - Your companions (fellow Shia) relate that Aba al-Hasan عليه السلام sent (a message) to you via Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj saying ‘stop speaking’ and also (the same message) to Hisham b. Salim. Hisham said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj came to me and said to me: Abu al-Hasan عليه السلام says to you: Stop speaking in these days. For it was authored for al-Mahdi (the Abbasid Caliph) (a treatise which contained) the different theological stances of the people. In it was the stance of the Jawaliqiyya (followers of) Hisham b. Salim. That treatise was read in the Sharqiyya (Eastern quarter) and it did not mention the stance of Hisham (b. al-Hakam). Yunus asserted that Hisham b. al-Hakam said to him ‘I stopped speaking totally until al-Mahdi died, for he (the Imam) had said to me ‘these days’. Thus he stopped until al-Mahdi died. More detail about what Hisham said to Yunus in his defense is available in the report below:
وحدثني محمد بن مسعود العياشي قال: حدثنا جبريل بن أحمد الفاريابي، قال: حدثني محمد بن عيسى العبيدي، عن يونس قال: قلت لهشام انهم يزعمون أن أبا الحسن عليه السلام بعث إليك عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج يأمرك أن تسكت ولا تتكلم، فابيت أن تقبل رسالته، فأخبرني كيف كان سبب هذا؟ وهل أرسل إليك ينهاك عن الكلام أولا؟ وهل تكلمت بعد نهيه إياك؟ فقال هشام: انه لما كان أيام المهدي شدد على أصحاب الاهواء، وكتب له ابن المفضل صنوف الفرق صنفا صنفا، ثم قرأ الكتاب على الناس، فقال يونس: قد سمعت هذا الكتاب يقرأ على الناس على باب الذهب بالمدينة، ومرة أخرى بمدينة الوضاح. فقال ان ابن المفضل صنف لهم صنوف الفرق فرقة فرقة، حتى قال في كتابه: وفرقة منهم يقال لهم الزرارية، وفرقة منهم يقال لهم العمارية أصحاب عمار الساباطي، وفرقة يقال لها اليعفورية، ومنهم فرقة اصحاب سليمان الاقطع، وفرقة يقال لها الجواليقية. قال يونس: ولم يذكر يومئذ هشام بن الحكم ولا أصحابه، فزعم هشام ليونس ان أبا الحسن عليه السلام بعث اليه فقال له: كف هذه الايام عن الكلام فان الامر شديد، قال هشام: فكففت عن الكلام حتى مات المهدي وسكن الامر، فهذا الذي كان من أمره وانتهائي الى قوله
Muhammad b. Masud al-Ayyashi – Jibril b. Ahmad al-Fariyabi – Muhammad b. Isa al-Ubaydi – Yunus who said: I said to Hisham: They claim that Aba al-Hasan عليه السلام sent Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj to you ordering you to keep silent and not to speak (in defense of the Madhhab) but you refused to accept his message to you. Inform me what was the reason for this? and did he really send to you prohibiting you from speaking or not? and did you speak after his prohibition? Hisham said: Back in the days of al-Mahdi - he (the Caliph) severely restricted those he considered heterodox. Ibn al-Mufadhal wrote for him a treatise outlining all the different sects one after the other, this treatise was then read to the people. Yunus said: I heard this treatise being read to the people at the Golden Gate in the city (Baghdad) and also another time in the town of Wadhah. Hisham continued: Ibn al-Mufadhal authored for them (the authorities) the classification of all sects one after the other, such that he even said in his treatise ‘a sect among them called Zurariyya, a sect among them called Ammariyya the companions of Ammar al-Sabati, a sect called Ya’furiyya, a sect consisting of the companions of Sulayman al-Aqta, and a sect called the Jawaliqiyya’. Yunus said: He (Ibn al-Mufadhal) did not name Hisham b. al-Hakam or his companions at that time. Hisham asserted to Yunus that Aba al-Hasan عليه السلام had sent to him a message saying ‘abstain from speaking in these days for the matter is serious’. Hisham said: I stopped speaking until al-Mahdi died and the matter became settled, this then is what he had ordered me to do and my abiding with his command. This is a very important report because it gives us a glimpse of the socio-historical context of the time, the prevalent need for Taqiyya, the names of the most important companions of the Imams and their ‘Madhhabs’ (which as has been clarified are not really ‘sects’ in the traditional sense). It shows us that the Imami community was vibrantly engaged in theological argumentation such that they came under the radar of the authorities of the day.
To Blame or not to blame
Returning back to the all-important question - did Hisham have a role in al-Kadhim’s death? There certainly was a historical memory among some in the community that held him responsible. The fact that Hisham gained infamy as a Shi’i debater with a combative style must have attracted a lot of attention towards the Shia.
However, the more specific information given by Hisham himself seems to vindicate him. He interpreted the Imam’s instruction as a temporary order and obeyed it by abstaining from ‘speaking’ for a certain time during al-Mahdi’s Caliphate before resuming.
In any case, the fact that the Imam al-Kadhim was murdered in Harun al-Rashid’s time and the role of Muhammad b. Ismail b. Ja’far (al-Kadhim’s nephew) is more suggestive.
It is no surprise to find that the Yaqtin family, specifically the Ubaydi brothers, who were also members of Hisham and Yunus’s school, supporting him against this charge as the report below indicates:
و حدثني حمدويه بن نصير قال: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى العبيدي، قال حدثني جعفر بن عيسى قال: قال موسى الرقي لأبي الحسن الثاني عليه السلام: جعلت فداك روى عنك المشرقي و أبو الأسد أنهما سألاك عن هشام بن الحكم فقلت ضال مضل شرك في دم أبي الحسن عليه السلام فما تقول فيه يا سيدي نتولاه؟ قال نعم. فأعاد عليه نتولاه على جهة الاستقطاع قال نعم تولوه نعم تولوه، إذا قلت لك فاعمل به و لا تريد أن تغالب به، اخرج الآن فقل لهم قد أمرني بولاية هشام بن الحكم، فقال الرقي لنا بين يديه و هو يسمع ألم أخبركم أن هذا رأيه في هشام بن الحكم غير مرة
Hamduwayh b. Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa al-Ubaydi – Ja’far b. Isa who said: Musa al-Raqqi said to Abi al-Hasan the Second (al-Ridha) عليه السلام: May I be made your ransom - al-Mashriqi and Abu al-Asad relate from you that they had asked you about Hisham b. al-Hakam so you said: “Misguided and Misguiding others. He participated in the murder of Abi al-Hasan”. So what do you say about him O My Master - should we associate with him? He said: Yes. He (Musa) repeated the same question aiming to obtain certainty - ‘should we associate with him?’ He said: Yes. Associate with him. Associate with him. If I tell you something then abide by it and do not seek to overturn it. Go out now and say to them (those assembled): He has ordered me to associate with Hisham b. al-Hakam. Al-Raqqi said to us in in front of him (the Imam) while he (the Imam) was listening: Did I not inform you that this (i.e. approval) was his opinion of Hisham b. al-Hakam - more than once!?
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Hisham b. al-Hakam: Defender of the Madhhab (Pt 1)
ورفعه الصادق عليه السلام في الشيوخ وهو غلام. وقال: هذا ناصرنا بقلبه ولسانه ويده
al-Sadiq عليه السلام elevated him to be at par with the elders while he was still a youth. He said: This is our defender by his heart, tongue and hand [Manaqib of Ibn Shahr Ashub]
Hisham b. al-Hakam: The Defender of the Madhhab (Pt. 1)
هشام بن الحكم أصله كوفي، ومولده ومنشؤه بواسط، وقد رأيت داره بواسط، وتجارته ببغداد في الكرخ، وداره عند قصر وضاح في الطريق الذي يأخذ في بركة بني زرزر حيث تباع الطرايف والخلنج
al-Fadhl b. Shadhan (d. 260) the great Imami scholar says about him: Hisham b. al-Hakam had his origins in Kufa (his family), but was born and raised in Wasit. I have seen his house in Wasit. His business was in Baghdad in the Karkh (district). His house (when he later relocated to Baghdad) was in Qasr Wadhah in the road which is taken to reach the pond of Bani Zurzur where is sold oddities and wooden utensils.
al-Saduq identifies his profession as a seller of canvas (a strong and coarse cloth).
أبو محمد مولى كندة، وكان ينزل بني شيبان بالكوفة، إنتقل إلى بغداد
al-Najashi gives his Kunya as Abu Muhammad and declares him to be a client of the Kinda (an Arabian tribe with a lot of Christians in the Jahiliyya). He is said to have resided with the Bani Shayban (the patrons of the famous Shi’i family of the Bani A’yan) when in Kufa, before relocating permanently to Baghdad.
تحول من بغداد إلى الكوفة] [مات سنة تسع وسبعين ومائة بالكوفة في أيام الرشيد] [كان لاستتاره قصة مشهورة في المناظرات] ]
He had to flee Baghdad for Kufa, because of an intrigue against him, where he died in concealment in the year 179 during the Khilafa of al-Rashid.
His Personality and Interests
Hisham was a close companion of the two Imams al-Sadiq and al-Kadhim. He can be considered the most prominent mutakallim [theologian] of the entire first three centuries of Shi’ite Islam.
al-Najashi says about him:
وكان ثقة في الروايات
He was Thiqa [trustworthy] in narrations
وكانت له مباحثات كثيرة مع المخالفين في الأصول وغيرها ... وكان ممن فتق الكلام في الإمامة وهذب المذهب بالنظر وكان حاذقا بصناعة الكلام حاضر الجواب وسئل يوما عن معاوية ابن أبي سفيان أشهد بدرا قال: نعم من ذلك الجانب ...
He held many debates with the opponents concerning the essentials of belief and other subjects … He was one of the first to make use of theological arguments for Imama and defend the Madhhab through reason. He was skillful in the techniques of theological disputation, possessing a quick wit and a ready answer. He was asked one time whether Muawiya b. Abi Sufyan witnessed the battle of Badr so he said: ‘Yea - on the other side [of the Kuffar]’ …
Hisham’s interest in theology can be gleamed from some of the titles of his authored works which include: a book on Tawhid (كتاب التوحيد), a book on the differences between people concerning Imama (كتاب اختلاف الناس في الإمامة), a book on predestination and free-will (كتاب في الجبر والقدر), a refutation of the Zanadiqa (كتاب الرد على الزنادقة), a refutation of the Dualists (كتاب الرد على أصحاب الاثنين), a refutation of the Mu’tazila (كتاب الرد على المعتزلة), a refutation of Aristotle (كتاب الرد على أرسطاطاليس) etc.
Hisham occupies a special place in proto-Sunni heresiographical works where he is presented as the quintessential bogeyman. This is because he was the first to expose Imami positions to a wider audience and gained notoriety as an unmatched polemicist. His role as the systemizer of central Shi’i ideas such as Isma (infallibility) of the ‘Aimma must have contributed to this depiction of him.
Despite his predominant interest in rational theology, this did not stop him from being a prolific narrator of mostly Fiqhi [legal] narrations from the two Imams. He is an example of a hybrid-scholar i.e. the few companions who could bridge between the wholly rationalistic and the wholly traditionalistic trends among the early Shia. There are 167 narrations in whose chain he appears in our corpus as it stands today.
His special position with al-Sadiq
Hisham is said to have been influenced initially by the ideas of Jahm b. Safwan (d. 128). His ‘conversion’ to Shi’ism was borne out of an encounter with the master described below: It is narrated from Umar b. Yazid [who recounted] that - His nephew Hisham used to subscribe to the Jahmi Madhhab as far as religion was concerned and was devilishly adept at it. He asked me one day to arrange it so that he could enter in and meet Abi Abdillah عليه السلام. I requested permission [from the Imam] to allow Hisham to come meet him which he [Imam] approved. I stood to depart and took a few steps but began thinking about his [Hisham’s] viciousness and maliciousness [when arguing] so I returned back to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and informed him of these traits of his. Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said to me: O Umar - do you fear for me? I became ashamed of what I had said and recognized that I had overstepped my limits [tripped up]. I departed in a state of shame until I came to Hisham and informed him that permission had been granted but requested him to delay going to meet him [i.e. because of my embarrasment to meet the Imam so soon], but Hisham could not wait and hurried to see him. He knocked and entered and I went with him.
When we were seated in his presence Abu Abdillah عليه السلام asked him a question which Hisham hesitated over and could not answer. Hisham asked him [the Imam] to give him time [to come up with the answer] which Abu Abdillah عليه السلام agreed to. Hisham went away and sought to find the answer for several days to no avail. He retuned to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام at which point Abu Abdillah عليه السلام solved it for him. He [the Imam] proceeded to ask him other questions which invalidated his [Hisham’s] beliefs and creed. This caused Hisham to leave in sadness and confusion. He [Hisham] said: I remained for days with my confusion unresolved.
Umar b. Yazid said: Hisham asked me to seek permission for him to enter and meet Abi Abdillah عليه السلام for the third time. I went to see Abi Abdillah عليه السلام who said: He should wait for me in such and such place - which he named - in Hira so as we can meet tomorrrow if Allah wills. Umar says: I proceeded to Hisham and informed him of his [the Imam’s] words and instruction. He [Hisham] was very pleased and delighted by that and preceded him [the Imam] in reaching the location that he [the Imam] had mentioned.
Then I saw Hisham after that and asked him what had happened between them. He informed me that he was the first to reach the location that Aba Abdillah عليه السلام had appointed for him, as he was waiting he saw Abi Abdillah عليه السلام approaching on a mule of his. Hisham says: When I got a glance of him and he came near me I was overcome by awe at his visage, so much so that I could not find the words to speak and my tongue was motionless. Abu Abdillah عليه السلام stopped before me for a moment waiting for me to speak, but this just added to my amazement and astonishment. When he saw this he struck his mule and continued on until he entered one of the roads in Hira. I was sure that what had happened to me and my awe of him was not but from Allah Mighty and Majestic because of his [the Imam’s] great position and station in the eyes of the Majestic Lord.
Umar said: Hisham attached himself to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and abandoned his former Madhhab and converted to the true religion. Then he ascended to a position beyond that of all the companions of Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and all praise belongs to Allah.
al-Sadiq recognised the potential of Hisham as an able student almost instantly. He seems to have treated him preferentially to other disciples and favoured him beyond others. The Imam taught him the secrets of Tawhid and supplicated for him. It is this close nurturing of Hisham which allowed him to climb the ladder of ascent to the pinnacle of his field. Ali b. Ibrahim – his father – al-Nadhr b. Suwayd – Hisham b. al-Hakam - that he asked Aba Abdillah عليه السلام about the Names of Allah and their derivation [etymology] saying: What is Allah derived from? so he [the Imam] said to me: O Hisham, Allah is derived from … have you understood O Hisham? an understanding through which you can repel and defeat our enemies and those who betake another apart from Allah Mighty and Majestic [alone].
I said: Yes.
He said: May Allah benefit you by it and make you firm O Hisham.
Hisham said: By Allah no one has defeated me on the subject of Tawhid to this day when I stand in the position I do.
That Hisham reached the pinnacle is clear in the incident of the famous debate with the Syrian. It is the young Hisham who speaks last and best despite the presence of all the other major students much older than him garnering the praise of the Imam in the process. Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Qulawayh – Muhammad b. Ya’qub al-Kulayni – Ali b. Ibrahim – his father – a number of his men – Yunus b. Ya’qub who said: I was at Abi Abdillah’sعليه السلام when a man from the people of Syria came and said: I am a man who is proficient in theology, jurisprudence and the inheritance laws. I have come to debate your companions … He [the Imam] said to me: Go out the door and look for any of the experts and bring him in. He [Yunus] said: I brought in Humran b. A’yan who was good at debating, al-Ahwal who was also good, Hisham b. Salim who was good too, and I brought in Qays al-Ma’sir who was the best of them in my estimation. He [Qays] had learnt to debate at the hands of Ali b. al-Husayn عليهما السلام.
When the gathering settled down – this was in pavillion which had been pitched on a mountain near the sanctuary (Ka’ba) where Abu Abdillah عليه السلام used to spend a few days before the Hajj – Abu Abdillah عليه السلام peered outside the pavillion and saw a camel ambling.
He [the Imam] said: It is Hisham by the Lord of the Ka’ba! He [Yunus] said: We thought that ‘Hisham’ was a reference to a man from the descendants of Aqil greatly beloved to him, but it turned out to be Hisham b. al-Hakam whose beard had just sprouted for the first time, and there was no one among us who was not older than him.
He [Yunus] said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام made room for him … then he said: O Humran debate the man, Humran debated him and defeated him. He [the Imam] said: O Taqi debate the man, al-Ahwal debated him and won. Then he [the Imam] said: O Hisham b. Salim debate him, but they ended in a draw. Then Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said to Qays al-Ma’sir: debate him, so he debated him and Abu Abdillah عليه السلام began laughing at their talk because of what befell the Syrian [of defeat].
Then he [the Imam] said to the Syrian: debate this young man - that is Hisham b. al-Hakam ….
Yunus said: I thought that he [the Imam] would - by Allah - say to Hisham words similar to what he had said to the others [i.e. the Imam had found fault in all their argumentations] but instead he said: O Hisham, you never fall flat [settle on the ground], everytime it seems that you are about to come to ground [i.e. be defeated] you just bend your legs [to able to leap] and off you fly away again. The likes of you should debate the people. Therefore be wary of slipping and you will find that succor is around the corner if Allah wills.
al-Sadiq took great pride in Hisham’s achievements, and on at least one occasion asked Hisham to recount the details of a particularly momentous debate to the other disciples. Hisham had developed a decisive argument for the need for an Imam at all times in his debate with Amr b. Ubayd the Mu’tazili using an analogy of the centrality of the ‘heart’ relative to the other body functions to describe the centrality of the Imam to relative to the Umma. al-Ayyashi – Ali b. Muhammad b. Yazid al-Fayruzani al-Qummi – Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Yahya – Abi Ishaq – Muhammad b. Hammad – al-Hasan b. Ibrahim – Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman – Yunus b. Ya’qub who said: There were with Abi Abdillah عليه السلام a large number of his companions. Among them were Humran b. A’yan, The Believer of Taq (al-Ahwal), Hisham b. Salim, al-Tayyar and others among them Hisham b. al-Hakam who was just a young man. Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: O Hisham, he [Hisham] said: at your service O the son of the Messenger of Allah! He [the Imam] said: Will you not inform me how you dealt with Amr b. Ubayd and your questions to him? Hisham said: I revere you and am thus self-conscious in front of you! My tongue does not speak in your presence. Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: If I order you to do something then do it … Abu Abdillah laughed with delight [after Hisham recounted his debate] and then said: Who taught you this O Hisham? He said: O the sone of the Messenger of Allah the words were made to flow through me tongue! He [the Imam] said: I swear by Allah that this is written in the scrolls of Ibrahim and Musa!
His special position with al-Kadhim
Hisham enjoyed an especially close relation with al-Kadhim عليه السلام
كان من خواص سيدنا مولانا موسى بن جعفر عليه السلام
He was one of the intimates of our master Musa b. Ja’far عليه السلام
This can be seen in the examples below:
Hamduwayh b. Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – al-Hasan b. Ali b. Yaqtin who said: Whenever Abu al-Hasan [al-Kadhim] عليه السلام wanted some neccessities for himself, or something of a personal nature, he would write to my father Ali: ‘purchase for me this and that or acquire for me such and such, and the one to undertake that should be Hisham b. al-Hakam’. But if it had to do with his [the Imam’s] more general responsibilities he would just write: ‘purchase for me this and that’ and not mention Hisham unless it was personal.
It is also said that his [the Imam’s] favour towards him [Hisham] and his [Hisham’s] status in his [the Imam’s] estimation reached such a level that he [the Imam] sent him [Hisham] fifteen thousand gold coins and said to him: ‘do business with them and keep the profits thereof returning to us only the capital’. Hisham did as instructed. May Allah bless Abi al-Hasan.
Hamduwayh and Ibrahim the sons of Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – Zuhl – Asad b. Abi al-Ala who said: Abu al-Hasan the First عليه السلام wrote to those who had come up from his Shia in one of the years during the pilgrimage season [to make the Hajj] about fulfilling a certain need of his, no one took it up [responded positively] except Hisham b. al-Hakam. He [Asad] said: He [the Imam] later wrote to him - that is Hisham b. al-Hakam - ‘may Allah make your reward paradise’.
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, The Madhhab of Hisham?
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 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.
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.
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Uthman the ‘brother’ of Ali?
ذهبت ولم تلبس منها بشيء
The prophet when the body of Uthman passed by: “You have gone without involving yourself in any of it (the Dunya)”
A Monastic Life?
Uthman loved to worship Allah, this reached such an extent that he decided to lead a monastic lifestyle and disengage himself from all the fleeting things of this world including conjugal relations. The prophet intervened to explain to him why that would be against the Sunna.
- Abi Abdillah عليه السلام said: The wife of Uthman b. Madh`un came to the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله and said: O messenger of Allah, Uthman b. Madh`un fasts in the day time and spends the whole night standing in worship, so the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله came out whilst angry and carrying his slippers [in his hands] until he reached Uthman and found him praying. When Uthman saw that it was the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله he cut-off his prayer. He [the prophet] said to him: O Uthman, Allah the Exalted did not send me with monasticism rather he sent me with a simple and lenient Hanifiyya. I fast and pray but also interact with my wives, so whoever loves my character should follow my Sunna, and marriage is part of my Sunna.
- Sa`ib b. Abi al-Waqqas said: When the affair of Uthman b. Madh`un - who was one of those who abandoned women - occurred, the messenger of Allahصلى الله عليه وآله sent for him and said: O Uthman, I have not been ordered to lead a monastic life, do you seek something else apart from my Sunna? He said: No, O messenger of Allah. He [the prophet] said: part of my Sunna is to pray and then sleep, I sometimes fast and at other times eat, I marry and divorce, so whoever seeks something apart from my Sunna then he is not from me. O Uthman, your wife has a right over you, and your own body has a right over you. Sa`d said: by Allah, there was a group of Muslim men who were ready and willing to castrate themselves and become celibate if the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله had allowed Uthman to continue in what he had done.
- Uthman b. Madh`un said: O messenger of Allah - I desire to to become celibate, the prophet said: wait Uthman, the celibacy of my Umma is fasting and prayers. Uthman said: I desire to lead a wandering life [like some monks], the prophet said: wait Uthman, the wandering life of my Umma is to remain in the Masjid and wait for the next Salat after the last one finishes. Uthman said: I desire not to eat meat [to become a vegetarian], the prophet said: wait Uthman, for I myself do eat meat and enjoy it, if I could have it every day I would, and if I were to ask Allah for that He would give it to me. Uthman said: O prophet of Allah, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you - I desire not to use perfume ever, the prophet said: wait Uthman, for I do use perfume and I like fragrance, and it is my Sunna and the Sunna of the prophets before me.
The Prophet’s Grief
Uthman participated in the battle of Badr in the year 2 AH and went on to die soon after, becoming the first Muhajir to die in Madina and the first to be buried in Baqi. The prophet grieved at his death.
- Aisha said: I saw the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم kissing the dead of body of Uthman b. Madh`un until I saw his tears flowing.
- Abi Abdillah عليه السلام said: the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه kissed Uthman b. Madh`un after his death.
How do you Know?
There is an interesting exchange which happened between the prophet and a woman after Uthman's death.
- Abi Abdillah عليه السلام said: the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله heard a woman saying after the death of Uthman b. Madh`un: glad tidings of paradise to you O Abu al-Sa`ib [i.e. Uthman]! so the prophet said to her: and how do you know [that he is in paradise]? it is enough for you to say: he used to love Allah Mighty and Majestic and His prophet …
The prophet rebuked the woman to teach us to avoid complacency and a false sense of security.
The prophet did not leave the grave of Uthman without marking it so that he can recognize its location and come visit him.
- Ali b. Abi Talib عليه السلام said: when Uthman b. Madh`un died, the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله kissed him, and when he had buried him he sprinkled water on top of the soil of the grave and stretched out a piece of cloth over the grave. He [Uthman] was the first person over whose grave the prophet stretched out a cloth. The prophet went on to level the soil of the grave, then he called for a stone, it was said: O messenger of Allah - what will you do with it? he said: I will mark his grave by it so that I can bury my relations near him, then he placed the stone near the head of the grave.
- al-Muttalib said: when Uthman b. Madh`un died, his body was taken out in a procession and was buried. Then the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله ordered a man to bring him a stone, but the man was not able to carry it, so the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله stood himself, went towards it and rolled up his sleeves - [al-Mutallib said: the one who reported this to me about the messenger of Allah said: it is as though I can still see the whitness of his forearms when he rolled up his sleeves] - then he carried it and placed it at the head and said: I mark with it the grave of my brother so that I can bury next to it those who die of my family.
What a great status Uthman must have had for the prophet to want to bury his family members next to him. Note also that the prophet called him ‘his brother’, some have explained this by noting that Uthman was the foster-brother of the prophet because they both suckled from the same woman. It is also possible that he used this as a term of endearment with an eye to his elevated kinship in Islam.
The prophet did indeed go ahead with his wish to bury his relations near the grave of Uthman. First when his daughter Ruqayya died and then when Ibrahim his son passed away. He also uses the enigmatic term سلف الصالح which has been rendered here as righteous predecessor but which can also mean righteous ancestor. Perhaps it the latter which is meant keeping in mind that if Uthman was the foster-brother of the prophet then his children would be related to him in some manner.
- One of the two [al-Baqir or al-Sadiq] عليه السلام said: when Ruqayya the daughter of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآلهdied, the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: meet up with our righteous predecessors Uthman b. Madh`un and his fellows …
- Ibn Abbas said: when Uthman b. Madh`un died a woman said: congratulations to you O Ibn Madh`un for you have entered paradise! So the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله looked at her angrily and said: what made you know? for by Allah I am the messenger of Allah but do no know what is going to be done with me, she said: O messenger of Allah he was your warrior and companion. This conversation weighed heavy on the minds of the companions of the messenger of Allah because of what he had said about Uthman while he [Uthman] was the best of them. It went on like this until when Ruqayya the daughter of the messenger of Allah died and he [the prophet] said: meet up with our goodly predecessor Uthman b. Madh`un [i.e. this is when they knew that Uthman must have had a good destination].
The women cried [when Ruqayya died] so Umar began hitting them with a whip, the prophet said to Umar: let them cry! but beware of the screeching of the Shaytan. Then the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: whatever issues from the heart [grief] and the eyes [tears] then it is from Allah and it is a form of mercy, whetever issues from the hand [like beating oneself] and the tongue [like words of despair] then it is from Shaytan.
The messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله stood at the edge of the grave while Fatima was at his side crying, so the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله began to wipe away the tears of her eyes with the side of his clothes in sympathy for her.
- Aba Abdillah عليه السلام said: … when Ibrahim the son of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله died the eyes of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله overflowed with tears and he said: the eyes tear-up and the heart grieves but we do not say that which may anger our Lord, we sure are saddened because of you O Ibrahim. Then the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله saw a disparity in his grave so he levelled it out with his hand and said: when one of you does any work then he should do it well, then he said: meet up with you righteous ancestor Uthman b. Madh`un …
Ali Remembers a Brother
Recall that the prophet is said to have said “I will mark with it the grave of my brother …” referring to Uthman as his brother. He also buried both his blood relations Ruqayya and Ibrahim near this brother of his and said at the time “meet up with our righteous Salaf …” where Salaf can mean ancestor.
A pattern emerges when we note that Ali, who is himself well-known as being the brother of the prophet, also referred to Uthman as a brother.
- Abu al-Faraj said: Uthman b. Ali about whom it is narrated from Ali that he said: I name him with the name of my brother Uthman b. Madh`un.
This Uthman b. Ali went on to sacrifice his life to defend Aba Abdillah al-Husayn عليه السلام in Karbala.
It comes as no surprise then that one of the candidates for the anonymous ‘brother’ Ali speaks of in his famous words has been taken refer to Uthman b. Madh`un.
- Ali عليه السلام said: In the past I had one I considered a brother in the way of Allah, he became prestigious in my eyes because of how lowly he considered the world to be in his eyes, the needs of the stomach did not have sway over him, he did not long for what he did not get; if he got a thing he would not ask for more; most of his time was spent in silence, but if he spoke he silenced the other speakers and quenched the thirst of questioners, he was weak and considered weak, but at the time of seriousness he was like the lion of the forest or the serpent of the valley, he would not put forth an argument unless it was decisive.
He would not reproach anyone in an excusable matter unless he had heard the excuse, he would not speak of any ailment except after its disappearance, he would do what he says, and would not say what he would not do, even if he could be excelled in speaking, he could not be excelled in silence; he was more eager to listen than to speak, if two things confronted him he would see which was more akin to the longing of the heart and would then oppose it [do the other].
Betake yourself to these and implement them and try to compete with each other in them. even if you cannot do it fully then know that acquiring a part is better than giving up the whole.
What Could Have Been
It is not a stretch to say that had Uthman been alive at the time of the Fitna (sedition) after the death of the messenger of Allah - when the Umma betrayed his testament for the Ahl al-Bayt - he would have sided with Ali in the events to come.
One circumstantial evidence for this is that when the prophet paired together one Muhajir with an Ansar in the so-called Ukhuwwa, he paired Uthman b. Madh`un with Abu al-Haytham Malik b. Tahiyyan. We know that this pairing was not random, but a bond which the prophet made using his special insight. He would gather two men who were closest to each other and had an affinity even in their spiritual states.
Abu al-Haytham went on die fighting on the side of Ali at Siffin.
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Ghulu: The Case of Mughira the Sorcerer
وكان يخرج إلى المقبرة فيتكلم فيرى أمثال الجراد على القبور
Mughira used to go to the graveyard and intone something. Insects like locusts would then be seen crawling over the graves
أول من سمعته يتنقص أبا بكر وعمر المغيرة المصلوب
The first person I heard abusing Aba Bakr and Umar was al-Mughira the Crucified
al-Mughira b. Sai’d al-Bajali was a blind Mawla (non-Arab origin) of Khalid al-Qasri, the governor of Iraq under the Umayyads. He claimed to be a follower of Imam al-Baqir عليه السلام but perverted the Imam’s teachings while cultivating a personal following around himself in Kufa.
قال الصادق: ... المغيرة بن سعيد لعنه الله دس في كتب أصحاب أبي أحاديث لم يحدث بها أبي ...
Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “…al-Mughira b. Said - may Allah curse him - has interpolated into the books of the companions of my father (i.e. al-Baqir عليه السلام) narrations which were not narrated by my father …”
قال الصادق: ... فكلما كان في كتب أصحاب أبي من الغلو فذاك ما دسه المغيرة بن سعيد في كتبهم
Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “… so whatever is in the books of the companions of my father - of Ghulu - then that is what was interpolated by al-Mughira b. Sa’id in their books”
After the death of al-Baqir, Mughira shifted his allegiance to Muhammad b. Abdallah b. al-Hasan al-Nafs al-Zakiyya who claimed to be the Mahdi. The going into hiding of this “Mahdi” due to fear of the Abbasids was the cue for Mughira to claim that there would be no Alid Imam after him. Mughira now claimed that authority had devolved to him and would remain so until the return.
With this new-found authority, Mughira began teaching a highly esoteric doctrine influenced by an allegorical interpretation of the Qur’an and remnants of Gnostic thought in the sectarian milieu of Iraq.
One explanation for Mughira’s success is his ability as a magician dabbling in the occult. The sinister powers imputed to Mughira indicate the sort of charismatic hold he appears to have had over his followers.
قال الصادق: لعن الله المغيرة ابن سعيد، ولعن يهودية كان يختلف إليها يتعلم منها السحر والشعبذة والمخاريق ...
Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “May Allah curse al-Mughira b. Said, and may Allah curse the Jewess, he (al-Mughira) used to go to her (the Jewess) regularly and learn from her sorcery, magical illusions and wondrous tricks …”
The end for al-Mughira b. Sa’id came when he joined forces with another Ghali named Bayan b. Sam’an and rose in revolt in 119 AH against the aforementioned Khalid.
The rebellion was quickly put down and the two leaders as well as some of their followers were executed.
قال الرضا: كان المغيرة بن سعيد يكذب على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فأذاقه الله حر الحديد
Imam al-Ridha عليه السلام said: “al-Mughira b. Sa’id used to attribute lies to Abi Ja’far عليه السلام so Allah made him taste the heat of the iron”
Mughira was Mawla (freed-man) who spoke ungrammatical Arabic. This has led to speculation that his beliefs were influenced by prior religious traditions in the communities of late antique and early Islamic Mesopotamia. We know, for example, of the presence of Marcionites, Manicheans, Mandeans, and various gnosticized pagans in seventh and eighth-century Iraq.
The task of specifying the exact tradition from which he emerged is made all the more difficult when one notes that Mughira, both as sorcerer and as Gnostic, was working in a line of Aramaic syncretists who followed a ‘free borrowing of formula’ for their wonder-working and propaganda. At the same time, caution must be exercised because most of the information about Mughira comes from heresiographers who came centuries later and had their own polemical axes to grind.
In spite of this, the following are some distinctive teachings linked to Mughira and tentative identifications that scholars have drawn for their origins:
Mughira promulgated a notorious creation drama. He had a Man of Light (anthropomorphic God) create both light waters and dark waters and then create mankind out of these waters before proceeding to write their future acts of belief and unbelief on his palm with his finger. This cosmogony has parallels with what the Baptizing sectarians of Iraq have their Mandean demiurge doing.
Mughira explained the creation of the sun, moon, heavens and stars in this way: “Then looking into the ocean, He (the Man of Light) saw His shadow, so He went forth to seize it. He plucked out its two eyes and created out of them two suns and He blotted out some light from the moon. Then, out of the physical forms of His shadow, He created the heavens and the stars …”
Friedlaender has recognized that the image of Mughira’s Man of Light looking down into the dark waters to create is an echo of such Mandean imagery as: “When Life ... had thus spoken, Abatur rose and opened the gate. He looked into the Dark Water and at the same hour was formed his image in the Dark Water”.
Mughira shares with the Mandeans the mythic idea of the substantiality of an image, reflection, or shadow as representing a real part of the original entity from which it became detached.
Mughira had an obsessive concern with the ritual purity of water and preventing its defilement. This echoes the centrality of ‘living’ or ‘flowing’ waters in Mandean rituals, hence the necessity of living near rivers, as opposed to ‘stagnant’ or ‘turbid’ water which was seen as insufficient.
عن الأعمش قال: جاءني المغيرة ... ثم قال: طوبى لمن يروى من ماء الفرات. فقلت: ولنا شراب غيره؟ قال: إنه يلقى فيه المحايض والجيف. قلت: من أين تشرب؟ قال: من بئر
al-A’mash reports: Mughira came to me … and said: Blessings be on the one who drinks water of the Euphrates. I said to him: Do we have anything else to drink from? He said: Not if menstrual blood and corpses are thrown into it. I said: Where do you drink from. He said: From a well.
كان يقول بتحريم ماء الفرات وكل نهر أو عين أو بئر وقعت فيه نجاسة
Ibn Athir claims that Mughira used to forbid water from the Euphrates or any river or spring or well into which Najasa (pollution) had fallen.
عن أبي هلال: سألت الصادق عليه السلام: أينقض الرعاف والقيء ونتف الإبط الوضوء؟ فقال: وما تصنع بهذا؟ هذا قول المغيرة بن سعيد، لعن الله المغيرة ...
Abu Hallal asked Imam al-Sadiq: Do nosebleed, vomit, and armpit hair nullify ritual purity? Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام replied: Why are you meddling in such matters? This is the doctrine of Mughira b. Sa’id. May God curse al-Mughira …
Particularly noteworthy is Mughira’s preoccupation with menstrual blood, which is not surprising in light of what we are told in Sefer Ha-Razim, that, the ‘impurity’ of the menstruating woman nullifies the success of the Jewish magician.
زرارة قال: قال - يعني أبا عبد الله عليه السلام: إن أهل الكوفة قد نزل فيهم كذاب، أما المغيرة فإنه يكذب على أبي عليه السلام قال: حدثني أن نساء آل محمد إذا حضن قضين الصلاة وكذب والله، عليه لعنة الله، ما كان من ذلك شيء ولا حدثه ...
Zurara quotes Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام saying: A liar has descended amidst the people of Kufa. As for Mughira then he lies about my father and says: ‘he (al-Baqir) narrated to me that the womenfolk of the family of Muhammad do make up the prayer (Qadha) after their menstruation cycle’ but he has lied by Allah! May Allah curse him. No such thing happens and nor did he (al-Baqir) inform him of this …
In this instance, we see Mughira overriding the ancient taboo by the superior purity of the house of Muhammad, an example of the old ways which he transformed in his new version of Islam.
There is some evidence that al-Mughira b. Sai’d was called by the title al-Abtar.
المغيرة بن سعيد لقبه الأبتر
This might be of significance.
The centerpiece of Mughira’s revelation was the figure of the creator. Here, reconstructed from several reports, is one description:
“He is a man of light, with a crown of light on his head, He has the body and limbs of a man. His body has an inside, within which is a heart, whence wisdom flows. His limbs have the shape of the letters of the alphabet [abjad]. The mim represents the head; the sin the teeth; the sad and dad the two eyes; the ‘ain and ghain the two ears; as for the ha’, he said: You will see in it a Great Power, and he implied that it was in the place of the genitalia and that he had seen it [on a heavenly ascent]; the alif was in the place of the foot …”
Mughira’s description of his ‘Object of Worship’ with its famous depiction of a Man of Light with the letters of the alphabet corresponding to his members - employs a Gnostic technical term ‘Great Power’ associated with the divine figure.
It happens that the coincidence of the name ‘Abatur’ and the term ‘Great Power’ is attested to in an eighth-century account by one Bar Khonai while describing the doctrines of the Mandeans: “They said that before the heaven and the earth were - there were great powers resting on the waters. They had a son whom they would call Abitour”.
The coincidence of name, doctrine, place, and date would all support a possible connection with Mughira.
The Imams shared something of the divine attributes in Mughira’s theology. Ghulat used the term Tafwidh to cast Muhammad and/or ‘Ali as demiurges, who were ‘entrusted’ with over-seeing some crucial activities after the initial creation was begun by God. ‘Ali was especially favored for this demiurgic role. Some evidence for this can be found in statements made by Mughira which assign to Ali the ability to give life to the dead (independent of Allah).
قال: قلت: دعنى من هذا كان علي يقدر أن يحيي ميتا؟ قال: أي والذي فلق الحبة لقد كان قادرا أن يحيى ما بينى وبينك إلى آدم
al-A’mash reports that he asked Mughira: Was Ali able to give life to the dead? Mughira said: By the one who split the seed - he (Ali) was able to resurrect all those between me and you up to Adam (all mankind).
لو شاء أحيا عادا وثمود. قلت: من أين علمت ذلك؟ قال: أتيت بعض أهل البيت فسقاني شربة من ماء فما بقي شيء إلا وقد علمته
In another variant Mughira is supposed to have said: If he (Ali) wishes he gives life to Ad and Thamud. When al-A’mash asks him about how he came to know that - he said: I went to one of the Ahl al-Bayt who gave me water to drink - which made me know everything.
This is why the Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said when speaking about Mughira:
لعن الله من قال فينا مالا نقوله في أنفسنا، ولعن الله من أزالنا عن العبودية لله الذي خلقنا وإليه مآبنا ومعادنا وبيده نواصينا...قال الصادق: ...
May Allah curse the one who says about us what we do not claim for ourselves. May Allah curse the the one who excludes us from being servants to Allah who created us, to whom will be our return and in whose hand is our foreheads [we are totally submissive to him].
Wasserstrom, Steve. “The Moving Finger Writes: Mughīra B. Saʿīd's Islamic Gnosis and the Myths of Its Rejection.” History of Religions, vol. 25, no. 1, 1985, pp. 1–29.
Panzerwaffe reacted to beardedbaker for a blog entry, Death of the Shi'i Intellectual Pt2-Death by chain
A placeholder for the second chapter, summarising my research findings into the decline of Shi'i Intellectual thought production, which will focus on:
- how the 'chain/sanad' method contributed to this decline, killed off any hope of academic revival ,and dumbed down the level of scientific research within the Religious seminaries.
- the foremost scholar to establish this method of eliciting religious rulings and verifying narrations (knowingly or unknowingly) - S AbulQassim alKhoei, may God bless his soul,and the people who followed his method after him.
I want to be absolutely clear that my research focuses entirely on the methodologies used by these different currents (Akhbaris/Usoolis etc), and not the individuals who became famous as a result of it.
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, An Ode to Scholarly Pursuits
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين حَمْدًا يُوافِي نعمه ويكافئ مزيده
Those who have spent time poring over old tomes in the way of medieval scribes can witness to the pleasure and solace that delving into their words can give. There is no greater joy in noticing hidden links and joining the dots as it were - gaining in confidence that the `Aimma were building for us a supra-structure of the Deen the bricks of which fit intricately.
It is hoped that through this blog: wisdom might be uncovered that jurists looking for the law might have overlooked, the socio-historical context of those times can be brought into sharp relief, obscure lexical etymology of words can be highlighted, but perhaps more importantly - an invitation can be given to all and sundry to aid a translator who can sometimes find himself at sea in the face of the daunting challenges such as having to explain away abstruse passages, mystical-philosophical language and the pre-modern cosmology that runs through our corpus.
The Ahadith of the `Aimma are rich in connotation and different individuals who come to it bring different perspectives based on their back-ground (no one can have all the tools to decode every implication). This should be encouraged as it enriches understanding and can flesh out meanings not considered before, especially those that are relevant to our times. Despite this, not every subjective thinking which we have can be elevated and considered definite. Caution should prevail and the Shuruh of the Ulama [as found in numerous Hashiya] should be given preference.
We have to adopt a highly critical attitude towards our own theories if we do not wish to argue in circles: the attitude of trying to refute them.
– Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
– Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Abu Amra al-Ansari - A Forgotten Man Pt. II
Abu Amra al-Ansari - A Forgotten Man in Early Shi`ism
“I Swear to Thee … Obedience unto Death”
و عدّه البرقي في أولياء أصحاب أمير المؤمنين عليه السّلام و في شرطة خميسه
Al-Barqi confirms that he was among the closest companions of the commander of the faithful عليه السّلام and adds that he was part of his Shurta al-Khamis.
There has been an ongoing debate about the etymology of Shurta al-Khamis and its origins.
The most convincing explanation is that Khamis, meaning five, is a synonym for the whole army, because armies at the time were normally divided into five divisions. Thus the ‘Shurta of the army’ would be its elite vanguard. Our sources inform us that Ali’s Shurta al-Khamis consisted of around 6000 soldiers. The Shurta would be at the tip of the formation bearing the brunt of any offensive. They would see the riskiest action being the first to penetrate enemy lines.
A clue as to what made them distinct from the rest of the army is provided by a narration in al-Ikhtisas of pseudo-Mufid where a man asks al-Asbagh b. Nubata, himself a member of the Shurta, the secret behind the name:
قلت له: كيف سميتم شرطة الخميس يا أصبغ؟ فقال: إنا ضمنا له الذبح وضمن لنا الفتح
I said to him: how was it that you came to be called the Shurta al-Khamis O Asbagh? He said: we guaranteed to fight for him and he guaranteed victory for us [in this world or the next].
This indicates that the Shurta were Ali’s most loyal soldiers because they had sworn a personal oath to him in their zeal for him. Agreeing to join the Shurta meant fighting Ali’s enemies until death or victory, whichever comes first, without turning back.
The Shurta were the backbone of Ali’s force whom he could expect to remain steadfast when others faltered. This contingent fought not for worldly gain or political expedient but because they recognized him as their only leader. They were always around him like worker bees around their queen. He said to them once:
أنتم الأنصار على الحقّ، والإخوان في الدين، والجُنَن يوم البأس، والبِطانة دون الناس، بكم أضرب المُدبِر، وأرجو طاعة المُقبِل، فأعينوني بمناصحةٍ خَلِيّة من الغشّ، سليمة من الريب؛ فوَاللَّه إنّي لأولى الناس بالناس
You are supporters of truth, brothers in religion, shields on the day of attack, you are the faithful apart from the rest, by you do I strike the one lagging behind, and by you do I compel the outriders to obedience, so aid me with an assistance free of any deception and safe from any doubt, for by Allah I am the most rightful of men among all men [Nahj al-Balagha]
If Ali could not mobilize enough men to renew his attack against Muawiya after Nahrawan it is only because most of the Shurta had already given their lives in previous battles. A fact which he never stopped grieving over.
Contribution to the War Effort
عمرو بن محصن ... هو الذى جهز أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام بمائة ألف درهم في مسيره إلى الجمل
Al-Tusi notes in his Rijal that Amr b. Mihsan [sic. Abu Amra b. Amr b. Mihsan] … supplied the commander of the faithfulعليه السلام with one hundred thousand Dirhams when he began his march to Jamal.
Delegate to Muawiya
He was chosen by Ali to be part of the team that makes first contact with Muawiya at Siffin. This shows the level of trust the Imam had on this old hand [Ta`rikh al-Tabari]:
تاريخ الطبري عن عبدالملك بن أبي حرّة الحنفي - بعد ذكر القتال على الماء -: مَكث عليّ يومين لا يرسل إلى معاوية أحداً، ولا يرسل إليه معاوية. ثمّ إنّ عليّاً دعا بشير بن عمرو بن محصن الأنصاري، وسعيد بن قيس الهمداني، وشبث بن ربعي التميمي، فقال: ائتوا هذا الرجل، فادعوه إلى اللَّه، وإلى الطاعة والجماعة
Ali did not send anyone to Muawiya for two whole days nor did Muawiya send anyone to him. Then Ali called Bashir b. Amr b. Mihsan al-Ansari, Sa`id b. Qays al-Hamdani and Shabath b. Rib`i al-Tamimi and said to them: go to this man and call him to Allah and to obedience and unity.
فقال له شبث بن ربعي: يا أميرالمؤمنين!ألا تُطمعه في سلطان تولّيه إيّاه، ومنزلة يكون له بها اُثرة عندك إن هو بايعك؟
Shabath b. Rib`i said to him: O commander of the faithful! won’t you tempt him with a rule which you could promise to hand over to him or by appointing him to a position which he desires so that he can incline towards you - if he were to give you the pledge of allegiance?
فقال عليّ: ائتوه فالقوه واحتجّوا عليه، وانظروا ما رأيه. - وهذا في أوّل ذي الحجّة
Ali said: go meet him, reason with him, and observe what he intends. [This was in the beginning of Dhul Hijja]
فأتوه، ودخلوا عليه، فحمد اللَّه وأثنى عليه أبوعمرة بشير بن عمرو، وقال: يا معاوية! إنّ الدنيا عنك زائلة، وإنّك راجع إلى الآخرة، وإنّ اللَّه عزّوجلّ محاسبك بعملك، وجازيك بما قدّمت يداك، وإنّي أنشدك اللَّه عزّوجلّ أنْ تفرّق جماعة هذه الاُمّة، وأن تسفك دماءها بينها
They went and entered upon him, then Abu Amra Bashir b. Amr praised and extolled Allah and said: O Muawiya! this world will recede away from you and you are to be returned to the next abode wherein Allah the Mighty and Majestic will take you to account for your deeds, and recompense you for what your hands sent before. I beseech you in the name of Allah Mighty and Majestic that you shatter the unity of this Umma and you shed blood between them.
فقطع عليه الكلام، وقال: هلّا أوصيت بذلك صاحبك؟
He (Muawiya) interrupted his speech and said: didn’t you say all this to your man [Ali]?
فقال أبوعمرة: إنّ صاحبي ليس مثلك، صاحبي أحقّ البريّة كلّها بهذا الأمر في الفضل والدين والسابقة في الإسلام، والقرابة من الرسول صلى اللّه عليه وآله وسلم
Abu Amra said: my man is not your equal, my man is the most rightful of all men in this matter [Khilafa] if you are to look at merit, religion, precedence in accepting Islam and closeness in ties to the messenger صلى اللّه عليه وآله وسلم
قال: فيقول ماذا؟
He (Muawiya) said: what does he (Ali) say?
قال: يأمرك بتقوى اللَّه عزّوجلّ، وإجابة ابن عمّك إلى ما يدعوك إليه من الحقّ، فإنّه أسلم لك في دنياك، وخير لك في عاقبة أمرك
He (Abu Amra) said: he (Ali) orders you to fear Allah Mighty and Majestic, and to submit to your cousin (Bani Hashim and Umayya are related afterall) in what he calls you towards which is the truth, for that is more secure in your worldy affairs and better for you in terms of your final destiny.
قال معاوية: ونُطلّ دم عثمان! لا واللَّه، لا أفعل ذلك أبداً
Muawiya said: and we are to leave the blood of Uthman unavenged! No by Allah! that will never happen!
فذهب سعيد بن قيس يتكلّم، فبادره شبث بن ربعي فتكلّم، فحمد اللَّه وأثنى عليه، وقال: يا معاوية! إنّي قد فهمت ما رددت على ابن محصن، إنّه واللَّه، لا يخفى علينا ما تغزو وما تطلب
Sa`id b. Qays wanted to speak but was beaten to it by Shabath b. Rib`i who praised and extolled Allah and then said: O Muawiya! I have understood your answer to Ibn Mihsan, by Allah it is not hidden from us what you are fighting for and what you seek!
کان ابن محصن من اعلام اصحاب علي (ع)، قتل في المعرکه، و جزع علي (ع) لقتله
Nasr b. Muzahim: He was among the most knowledgeable of Ali’s companions. He died in battle [of Siffin]. Ali was greatly saddened by his death.
روى عبادة بن زياد عن محمد ابن الحنفية قال: رأَيت أَبا عَمرَةَ الأَنصاري يوم صِفَّيْن، وكان عَقَبيًا بَدْرِيًّا أُحُدِيًّا، وهو صائم يتلوّى من العَطَش، فقال لغلام له: تَرِّسْنِي، فَتَرَّسَه الغُلاَم، ثم رمى بسهم في أَهل الشام، فنزع نزعًا ضعيفًا، حتى رمى بثلاثة أَسهم، ثم قال: إِني سَمِعتُ رسول الله صَلَّى الله عليه وسلم يقول: مَنْ رَمَى بِسَهْمٍ فِي سَبِيْلِ الله، فَبَلَّغَ أَوْ قَصَّرَ، كَانَ ذَلِكَ الْسَّهْمُ لَهُ نُورًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، وقتل قبل غروب الشمس
Ubada b. Ziyad narrates from Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya who said: I saw Abu Amra al-Ansari at Siffin, he was an Aqabi [was there at the pledge at Aqaba], a Badri and an Uhudi, he was fasting and bent-over [weak] because of thirst, he said to a servant of his: shield me, and the servant shielded him, then he placed the arrow to his bow very weakly, and could only throw three of them, then he said: I heard the messenger of Allahصَلَّى الله عليه وسلم say: whoever throws an arrow in the way of Allah, whether he hits the target or not, that arrow will be for him a light in the day of judgment, he was killed before the setting of the sun [al-Mustadrak ala al-Sahihayn]
There could not be a greater honour among the Arabs then to have your death being important enough to merit poetry on your behalf. This is what happened for Ibn Mihsan. It came from opposing sides.
Najashi the poet of Iraq [who was on the side of Ali] composed a long poem mourning his death, it begins:
لنعم فتى الحيّين عمرو بن محصن
What a good man was Amr b. Mihsan …
On the other hand, an anonymous Syrian woman taunted Ali and his followers with this invective:
لا تعدموا قوما أذاقوا ابن ياسر
Do not deem as insignificant a people who have sent Ibn Yasir to his death
And ends with:
فنحن قتلنا اليثربي ابن محصن خطيبكم و ابني بديل و هاشم
For we are the ones who killed the Yathribi Ibn Mihsan … your pre-eminent speaker, and the two sons of Badiyl and Hashim [b. Mirqal] too
In conclusion, any historical study of early Islam must take into account the wealth of poetry we have about the period. These have not been analyzed thoroughly because of the difficulty of dealing with the highly complex language involved. An argument can be made that that these can serve as more reliable than prose documentation because of the difficulty of fabricating things in the medium. A treasure trove awaits any historian brave enough to delve into them.
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Did the Sahaba become Kafir?
هلك الناس أجمعون قلت: من في الشرق و من في الغرب؟ قال: فقال: إنها فتحت على الضلال
All the people were destroyed. I said: whomever was in the east and the west? he said: it (the whole earth) was opened up to misguidance
هلكوا إلا ثلاثة ثم لحق أبو ساسان و عمار و شتيرة و أبو عمرة فصاروا سبعة
All were destroyed except three - then they were joined by Abu Sasan, Ammar, Shatira and Abu Amra, so they became seven [Ja`far al-Sadiq]
Did the Sahaba Apostatize?
There are narrations which indicate that all the companions were destroyed except three, these were then joined by four others, so they became seven who were saved. However, most of the scholars have understood this Halak [destruction] to be that of Dhalal [misguidance] i.e. perished in Salvific terms, not Kufr [disbelief] - which is the opposite of Islam.
Who are the three?
They are the pillars of the Madhhab. They are explicitly named in some of the narrations below:
أبي بصير قال: قلت لأبي عبد الله عليه السلام: ارتد الناس إلا ثلاثة: أبو ذر، و سلمان، و المقداد؟ قال: فقال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام: فأين أبو ساسان، و أبو عمرة الأنصاري؟
[al-Kashshi] Abi Basir said: I said to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام: all the people turned back except for three - Abu Dhar, Salman and Miqdad? Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: so where is Abu Sasan and Abu Amra al-Ansari?!
أبي بكر الحضرمى قال: قال أبو جعفر عليه السلام: ارتد الناس إلاثلاثة نفر سلمان وأبو ذر والمقداد. قال: قلت: فعمّار؟ قال عليه السلام: قد كان جاض جيضة ثم رجع ... ثم أناب الناس بعد فكان أول من أناب أبو ساسان الانصاري وأبوعمرة وشتيرة وكانوا سبعة فلم يكن يعرف حق أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام إلاّ هؤلاء السبعة
[al-Kashshi] Abi Bakr al-Hadhrami said: Abu Ja`far عليه السلام said: the people turned back except three individuals - Salman, Abu Dhar and Miqdad, I said: what about Ammar? He عليه السلام said: he wobbled a bit then he returned [to the truth] … then the people repented after that, so the first ones to return [to the truth] were Abu Sasan al-Ansari, Abu Amra, Shatira, and they became seven, none recognized the right of the commander of the faithful عليه السلام except these seven.
'then the people repented after that, so the first ones ...' This shows that it was not just these seven, rather, these were the foremost of them. علي بن أبي طالب عليهم السلام قال: خلقت الارض لبسبعة بهم ترزقون وبهم تنصرون وبهم تمطرون منهم سلمان الفارسي والمقداد وأبو ذر وعّمار وحذيفة رحمة اللّه عليهم. وكان علي عليه السلام يقول: وأنا إمامهم وهم الذين صلوا على فاطمة صلوات الله عليها
[al-Ikhtisas] Ali b. Abi Talib عليه السلام said: the earth was created for seven, because of them you are given sustenance, and because of them you are assisted, and because of them is rain made to fall on you, among them are Salman al-Farsi and al-Miqdad and Abu Dhar and Ammar and Hudhayfa - may Allah have mercy on them. Ali عليه السلام used to say: and I am their Imam, and they are the ones who prayed [Salat al-Mayyit] upon Fatima صلوات الله عليها
The Three had a higher status than the Four
حمران قال: قلت لأبي جعفر عليه السلام: ما أقلنا لو اجتمعنا على شاة ما أفنيناها قال: فقال: ألا أخبرك بأعجب من ذلك قال: فقلت: بلى قال: المهاجرون و الأنصار ذهبوا إلا (و أشار بيده) ثلاثة
[al-Kashshi] Humran said: I said to Abi Ja’far عليه السلام - how few we (the Shias) are! if we gather to eat a sheep we will not be able to finish it, he (Humran) said: so he عليه السلام said: should I not inform you of something even more bewildering? he (Humran) said: I said: yes (do so), he said: the Muhajirun and the Ansar all diverted (i.e. went astray) except for - and he gestured with his hand - three.
In al-Kulayni’s variant the narration continues:
قال حمران: فقلت: جعلت فداك ما حال عمار؟ قال: رحم الله عمارا أبا اليقظان بايع وقتل شهيدا، فقلت في نفسي: ما شئ أفضل من الشهادة فنظر إلي فقال: لعلك ترى أنه مثل الثلاثة أيهات أيهات
Humran said: may I be made your ransom - what is the status of Ammar? He said: may Allah have mercy on Ammar Aba al-Yaqdhan, he pledged allegiance and died a martyr, I said in my heart: what thing is better than martyrdom, so he [the Imam] looked at me and said: perhaps you think that he [Ammar] is like the three [in status], how far! how far! [from truth that opinion is].
Does this mean all others became apostates?
The crux is the meaning of Ridda (ردّة) in these narrations. Whether it is to be understood in a linguistic sense or the technical sense of apostasy. If the latter is taken then it means all the Sahaba became Kafir [out of Islam] for not sticking to Ali.
Irtidad in the linguistic sense refers to ‘turning back from something’. It has been used with this meaning in a number of verses such as:
فَلَمَّا أَن جَاء الْبَشِيرُ أَلْقَاهُ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ فَارْتَدَّ بَصِيرًا قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللّهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
(i) So when the caravan herald [fore-runner] came he threw it on his face so he returned to seeing, he said: did I not say to you that I know from Allah what ye do not (12:96)
قَالَ الَّذِي عِندَهُ عِلْمٌ مِّنَ الْكِتَابِ أَنَا آتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَن يَرْتَدَّ إِلَيْكَ طَرْفُكَ
(ii) The one who had knowledge of a part of the Book said: I will bring it to you before your glance returns back to you [i.e. you blink and open your eyes again] (27:40)
مُهْطِعِينَ مُقْنِعِي رُءُوسِهِمْ لاَ يَرْتَدُّ إِلَيْهِمْ طَرْفُهُمْ وَأَفْئِدَتُهُمْ هَوَاء
(iii) Racing ahead, their heads bowed down, their glances not returning back to them [i.e. unblinking] and their hearts void (14:43)
Whenever Irtidad from the Diin - ‘turning back’ from the Diin i.e. apostasy in the technical sense is meant, the Qur`an qualifies it by explicitly mentioning Diin.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَن يَرْتَدَّ مِنكُمْ عَن دِينِهِ فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللّهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَهُ
(i) O you who believe, whoever turns back from his Diin from among you then Allah will bring about a people whom He loves and they love Him (5:54)
وَمَن يَرْتَدِدْ مِنكُمْ عَن دِينِهِ فَيَمُتْ وَهُوَ كَافِرٌ فَأُوْلَئِكَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ
(ii) And whoever among you turns back on his Diin and dies whilst being a Kafir then those are they whose deeds have been nullified in the world and the hereafter (2:217)
It is clear that the narrations about the Irtidad of the Sahaba are not qualified by Diin. To understand that meaning from it would require further proof.
The Chosen Interpretation
The Irtidad in the narrations should be understood [in light of other narrations] as people turning away, after the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله, from what they had made incumbent on themselves in his صلى الله عليه وآله lifetime, when they gave the Bay`a to Ali b. Abi Talib as the leader of the believers i.e. Irtidad from Wilaya not apostasy from Islam.
Instead, they decided to give the Bay`a to someone else because of expediency and other reasons. This was a betrayal of epic proportions that opened up the door of misguidance and innovation in the Diin, however, they had not exited the apparent Islam, nor were all on the same level of liability for this.
This interpretation is aided by the following texts:
أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: كان الناس أهل ردة بعد النبي صلى الله عليه وآله إلا ثلاثة. فقلت: ومن الثلاثة؟ فقال: المقداد بن الأسود، وأبو ذر الغفاري، وسلمان الفارسي، رحمة الله وبركاته عليهم، ثم عرَف أناسٌ بعدَ يسير. وقال: هؤلاء الذين دارت عليهم الرحا وأبوا أن يبايعوا، حتى جاؤوا بأمير المؤمنين مكرَهاً فبايع، وذلك قوله تعالى: وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلاَّ رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَى أَعْقَابِكُمْ وَمَن يَنقَلِبْ عَلَىَ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَن يَضُرَّ اللّهَ شَيْئًا وَسَيَجْزِي اللّهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ
(i) [al-Kafi] Abi Ja`far عليه السلام said: the people were the people of Ridda after the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله except three. I said: who are the three? He said: al-Miqdad b. al-Aswad, Abu Dhar al-Ghiffari and Salman al-Farsi, may Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon them, then the people came to know after a while [the truth], these [three] are those around whom the banner revolved and they refused to give Bay`a [to Abu Bakr], until when they brought the commander of the faithful عليه السلام by coercion and he gave the pledge of allegiance, and that is His words the Elevated - “Muhammad is not but a messenger, messengers have come and gone before him, if he dies or is killed, will you turn back on your heels, and whoever turns back on his heels then he will not harm Allah a thing and Allah will recompense those who are grateful” (3:144).
The narration indicates that the uniqueness of the three was that they did not give the Bay`a to the usurper because of knowing the true status of Ali, it was only when Ali was forced to give the Bay`a, and he did [for the Masliha which Allah willed], that the three also agreed to do it. The meaning of 'then the people came to know after a while ...' is that some people recognized their fault, and acknowledged that the commander of the faithful was the most rightful person to assume leadership. That all the others apart from the three were paralyzed by fear is shown in the narration below:
أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: جاء المهاجرون والأنصار وغيرهم بعد ذلك إلى علي عليه السلام فقالوا له: أنت والله أمير المؤمنين وأنت والله أحق الناس وأولاهم بالنبي عليه السلام هلم يدك نبايعك فوالله لنموتن قدامك! فقال علي عليه السلام: ان كنتم صادقين فاغدوا غدا علي محلقين فحلق علي عليه السلام وحلق سلمان وحلق مقداد وحلق أبو ذر ولم يحلق غيرهم؛ ثم انصرفوا فجاؤوا مرة أخرى بعد ذلك، فقالوا له أنت والله أمير المؤمنين وأنت أحق الناس وأولاهم بالنبي عليه السلام عليه السلام هلم يدك نبايعك فحلفوا فقال: إن كنتم صادقين فاغدوا علي محلقين فما حلق إلا هؤلاء الثلاثة قلت: فما كان فيهم عمار؟ فقال: لا؛ قلت: فعمار من أهل الردة؟ فقال: إنّ عمارا قد قاتل مع علي عليه السلام بعد ذلك
(ii) [al-Kashshi] Abi Ja`far عليه السلام said: the Muhajirun and Ansar and others came after that [the coup at Saqifa] to Ali عليه السلام and said to him: you are by Allah the commander of the faithful, and you are by Allah the most rightful person and closest to the prophet, put forth your hand so that we can pledge allegiance to you, for by Allah we are going to die in front of you [in your defense], Ali said: if you are truthful then come to me tomorrow having shaved your head [which would visually identify the ‘rebels’ to the authorities], so Ali shaved, so did Salman, Miqdad and Abu Dhar, and no one else did, then they came a second time after the first and said: you are by Allah the most rightful person and closest to the prophet, put forth your hand so that we can pledge allegiance to you, and they swore an oath, he said: come to me tomorrow having shaved your head if you are truthful, so no one shaved except three. I said: Ammar was not among them? He said: No, I said: Ammar is from the people of Ridda? He said: Ammar fought together with Ali after that.
This reaffirms that the uniqueness of the three is related to them not giving in and remaining with Ali to the end as far as his right is concerned. Note also how Ammar is not included among the Ahl al-Ridda, even in a historical sense, because of his later support for Ali. In fact, one of the reasons behind Ali accepting to give Bay`a after his show of dissent was so that the masses do not renounce the faith totally. Recall that the Islamic polity was still unstable and there were a lot of Arab tribes whose allegiance had been personally to the prophet and not the Diin per se, the Jahiliyya was not far from their psyche.
أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: إن الناس لما صنعوا ما صنعوا إذ بايعوا أبا بكر لم يمنع أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام من أن يدعو إلى نفسه إلا نظرا للناس و تخوفا عليهم أن يرتدوا عن الاسلام فيعبدوا الاوثان ولا يشهدوا أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وكان الاحب إليه أن يقرهم على ما صنعوا من أن يرتدوا عن جميع الاسلام وإنما هلك الذين ركبوا ما ركبوا فأما من لم يصنع ذلك ودخل فيما دخل فيه الناس على غير علم ولا عداوة لامير المؤمنين عليه السلام فإن ذلك لا يكفره ولا يخرجه من الاسلام ولذلك كتم علي عليه السلام أمره وبايع مكرها حيث لم يجد أعوانا
(iii) [al-Kafi] Abu Ja'farعليه السلام said: When the people did what they did - when they gave allegiance to Abu Bakr, nothing prevented the commander of the faithful عليه السلام from calling to himself (i.e. gather support to rival them publicly) except his fear for the people - that they would apostate from Islam, and begin worshiping the idols anew, and reject witnessing that there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger; and it was more beloved to him to acquiesce to what they had done rather than them apostatizing from the whole of Islam. Verily, those who clambered upon this (opposing Ali for rulership) have been destroyed. As for the one who did not contribute anything to that (opposing Ali for rulership) and entered into what the people entered into without knowledge (about his status) nor enmity towards him then this act of his does not make him a disbeliever, and it does not remove him from Islam, and this is why Ali kept quiet about his matter (status), and gave allegiance while displeased, when he could not find any supporters.
The narration makes it clear that had the Imam fought for his leadership i.e. a civil war it would cause irreparable damage, this is because of the tenuous position that Islam had, even the outward Islam (the Islam of the Shahadatyn) would have been wiped out. There were a lot of external and internal enemies waiting for this infighting to make sure that the whole foundation of Islam crumbles.
The Umma became, for the most part, misguided after their prophet. This is something that had also happened to the communities of past prophets. But this misguidance should not be understood to have taken all of them out of Islam as a whole, rather, by ignoring a central commandment of the prophet they have done a great sin which struck a blow to the pristine Islam.
Furthermore, the protagonists differ relative to their role in the fiasco. Some were quite unaware of the whole thing and lacked full knowledge of the Haqq of Ali and his Ma`rifa, this could be because they were blind to the order of the prophet (total ignorance); had some doubts; did not have the ability to influence the outcome because of some constraints [swept away by the wave of events]; or because they showed cowardice and faltered in coming to Ali’s aid. Others later acknowledged their mistake and made up for it in the following years. All these in their different categories can be said to be the majority. Their fate in the next world of “realities” is left to Allah
On the other hand, there were those who administered the whole thing. They had full knowledge of what the prophet had ordered them and what the divine commandment required them to do. They also knew the position of Ali. Despite this, they fought against this explicitly. These are those who should be treated as apparent Muslims in the daily life in this world [according to most scholars]. This is, after all, how Ali himself treated them, praying in their mosques, visiting them in sickness, helping them out when they faced challenges, eating with them etc. part of which is Taqiyya and safeguarding the greater principles of Islam, but they are undoubtedly people of the fire in the next world.
Note that this interpretation is dependent on the position of differentiating between the Dharuriyat of the Diin and that of the Madhhab and considering the Shahdatayn alone to be enough in making someone a Muslim [unless taken out for some other reason]. Whilst this is a popular position among scholars today, it has had its detractors among the scholars of the past, one of them being someone like Shaykh Yusuf al-Bahrani, who considered the rejectors of the Wilaya as Kafirs with the fullest implication this has [even in this world].
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Abu Amra al-Ansari - A Forgotten Man Pt. I
Abu Amra al-Ansari - A Forgotten Man in Early Shi`ism
قلت لأبي عبد الله عليه السلام: ارتد الناس إلا ثلاثة: أبو ذر، و سلمان، و المقداد؟ قال: فقال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام: فأين ... أبو عمرة الأنصاري؟
I said to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام: all the people turned back except for three - Abu Dhar, Salman and Miqdad? Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: so where is … Abu Amra al-Ansari?
Who was Abu Amra?
There exists Ikthilaf over the real name of Abu Amra among the scholars but it is most likely Bashir. The problem is compounded when he is confused in the sources for his father Amr b. Mihsan.
al-Kalbi gives it as follows [See: Nasab Ma`ad wa al-Yaman al-Kabir]
ابو عمرة بشير بن عمرو بن مِحصن بن عَمرو بن عَتِيك بن عمرو بن مَبْذول، واسمه عامر بن مالك بن النجار بن ثعلبة بن عمرو بن الخزرج الأَنصاري
Abu Amra Bashir b. Amr b. Mihsan b. Amr b. Atik b. Amr b. Mabdhul - and his i.e. Mabdhul’s name was A`mir - b. Malik b. al-Najjar b. Tha`laba b. Amr b. al-Khazraj al-Ansari.
This means he was from the Ansar, helpers who welcomed the prophet in Madina, specifically, from the Amr b. Mabdhul of the Banu al-Najjar who were Khazraji.
Abu Nuaym says [See: Ma`rifat al-Sahaba]:
شهد بدرًا وأُحدًا والمشاهد
He witnessed Badr, Uhud and the rest of the battles.
He was a very early convert to Islam and participated in all the battles which gives him a station that we cannot fathom. He has a few narrations from the prophet recorded in the books of Hadith.
The Banu Najjar Connection
The Muslim sources on genealogy assert that Ali and Muhammad’s great grandmother, the mother of Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim, was Salma bint Amr from the clan of Banu Najjar of the Khazraj. Abd al-Muttalib spent his childhood with his mother in Madina, before he was claimed by his uncle Muttalib and brought to Makka after the death of his father Hashim.
This explains why the Banu Hashim always saw the Banu Najjar of the Khazraj as their Akhwal [maternal uncles].
Abd al-Muttalib said in verse [See: Ta`rikh al-Tabari]
أبلغ بني النجار إن جئتهم ... أني منهم وابنهم والخميس
Tell the Bani al-Najjar if you reach them … That I am one of them, their son and of their company
يا طول ليلي لأحزاني وأشغالي ... هل من رسول إلى النجار أخوالي
O how long is my night due to my sorrows and worries … Would someone serve as a messenger to my maternal uncles (the Bani) Najjar
Another piece of evidence is that most accounts regarding the circumstances preceding the death of the prophet’s father, Abdallah, place his final illness in Madina, where he is said to have stayed with his maternal uncles, the Banu Adiyy b. al-Najjar, among whom he eventually died and was buried
This pre-existing relation helps explain why this particular branch of the Khazraj were overly represented in the move of the prophet from Makka to Madina. A move which gave him safety when all other doors were closed.
As`ad b. Zurara of the Bani Najjar was critical to the prophet’s migration to Madina. He was the first to accept Islam from among the inhabitants of Yathrib. This happened when he and a small group of five others [all from Khazraj, including another member of the Bani Najjar] happened to meet the prophet when they went to seek settlement for a dispute from the Qurayshi elders [specifically Utba b. Rabi`a]. They returned next year in what is called the first pledge of Aqaba [delegation of the inhabitants of Yathrib that pledged their support to Muhammad prior to the Hijra].
In the accounts of the first pledge of Aqaba, 10 of the 12 men listed were from the Khazraj and 3 of those were from the Banu al-Najjar. Of the 70 or so men and 2 women who pledged their allegiance to Muhammad during the second meeting of Aqaba, 62 men and one woman were from the Khazraj and 12 of these were of the Banu al-Najjar.
The prophet initially resided with them when he emigrated to Madina [specifically with Abi Ayyub al-Ansari who was of the Banu Najjar], similarly, his Masjid and later homes were built in the Najjari quarter.
No surprise then that the prophet said [See: Sahih al-Bukhari]:
خير دور الأنصار بنو النجار
The best of the Ansari homes [in terms of genealogical honour] are those of the Banu Najjar.
It is my thesis that Abu Amra being from the Najjar would have added reason to support Ali because there was a familial relation between them. But this is not the main reason why most of the Ansar placed their hope in Ali.
How do we explain Ansari support? There is no doubt that the major driving force behind it was the coalescing of grievance felt by the Ansar as a result of the consolidation of the Qurayshi monopoly. They saw in the sympathetic figure of Ali [who had also been sidelined by the Qurashis] someone who could redress that balance.
A Witness at Ghadir
وفي اسد الغابة لابن الاثير روى بسنده عن الاصبغ بن نباتة قال: نشد علي (ع) الناس في الرحبة: من سمع النبي (ص) يوم غدير خم ما قال الا قام، ولايقوم الا من سمع رسول اللّه (ص) يقول، فقام بضعة عشر رجلا فيهم ابو ايوب الانصاري، وابو عمرة بن عمرو بن محصن ... فقالوا: نشهد انا سمعنا رسول اللّه (ص) يقول: الا ان اللّه عزوجل وليي، وانا ولي المؤمنين، الا فمن كنت مولاه فعلي مولاه، اللهم وال من والاه، وعاد من عاداه، واحب من احبه، وابغض من ابغضه، واعن من اعانه
Ibn Athir reports in Usd al-Ghaba via his chain to al-Asbagh b. Nabata who said: Ali عليه السلام called out to the people in al-Rahba: whoever heard what the prophet صلى الله عليه واله وسلم said on the day of Ghadir should stand, no one should stand except if he heard the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه واله وسلم directly. More than ten men stood up among them Abu Ayyub al-Ansari and Abu Amra b. Amr b. Mihsan … they said: we bear witness that we heard the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه واله وسلم saying: Verily Allah Mighty and Majestic is my master, and I am the master of the believers, whomsoever’s master I am then Ali is also his master, O Allah be a guardian to the one who takes him as a guardian, and be an enemy to the one who makes him an enemy, and love the one who loves him and hate the one who hates him and aid the one who comes to his aid.
The Secret Bay`a
We are told that the first Bay`a [pledge of allegiance] to Ali was given at Abu Amra’s home by a few of the closest Ashab. Kufan tradition maintains that it was al-Ashtar who extended his hands first. This happened, in one of the greatest ironies of history, on Friday the 18th of Dhul Hijja 35 AH. It was followed by the public pledge at the Masjid the next day.
The fact that he got this private Bay`a from the Ansari warriors of the Bani Najjar [who were the core of the early Muslim armies] is significant. Ansari support in Madina was critical to nullifying the claims of Talha and Zubayr in that period of paralysis when Madina was over-run by forces from the provinces.
قال ابن السَّمَرْقَنْدِي: أخبرني العباس بن هشام عَن أبيه قال: بويعَ علي بن أبي طالب بن عَبْد المُطَّلِب بن هاشم بن عَبْد مَنَاف بالمدينة، يوم الجُمعة حين قُتِل عُثْمَان، لاثنتي عشرة ليلة بقيت من ذي الحجة فاستقبلَ المُحرم سنة ستّ وثلاثين وقال غير عباس: وكانت بيعتهُ في دار عمرو بن محصن الأنصاري ثم أحد بني عمرو بن مبذول يوم الجمعة، ثم بويع بيعة العامة من الغد، يوم السبت في مسجد رَسُول اللَّه (ص)
Ibn al-Samarqandi said: al-Abbas b. Hisham narrated to me from his father that: Ali b. Abi Talib b. Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim b. Abd Manaf was given the Bay`a in Madina, on Friday, the day Uthman was murdered, twelve nights remaining from the month of Dhul Hijja, the coming Muharram being the new year thirty six [after Hijra]. And someone other than Abbas said: His Bay`a was in the house of Amr b. Mihsan al-Ansari whereupon Bani Amr b. Mabdhul swore fealty on a Friday, then the public oath was on the next day, Saturday, in the Masjid of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه واله وسلم
ابي المليح قال: لما قتل عثمان، خرج علي الى السوق، وذالك يوم السبت لثماني عشره ليلة خلت من ذى الحجة، فاتبعه الناس وبهشوا في وجهه، فدخل حائط بني عمرو بن مبذول، وقال لأبي عمرة بن عمرو بن محصن: اغلق الباب فجاء الناس فقرعوا الباب فدخلوا ...
Ibn Mulayh said: when Uthman was killed, Ali came out to the market, and that was on Saturday, eighteen nights having passed from Dhul Hijja, the people followed him and thronged in front of him, so he entered the walled garden of Bani Amr b. Mabdhul and said to Abi Amra b. Amr b. Mihsan: close the door, but the people came and banged on the door and entered …
To be continued ...
Panzerwaffe reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Possessionist Imamology
إن بيانا تراءى له الشيطان في أحسن ما يكون صورة آدمي من قرنه إلى سرته
The Devil appeared to Bayan in the most handsome form that a human can have from the top of the head to the navel [Ja`far al-Sadiq]
God caused the holy pre-existent spirit which had created the whole of creation to dwell in flesh that He desired [Shepherd of Hermas]
He keeps appearing every now and again ... he takes Adam’s clothes off and puts it on again [Epiphanius]
Bayan b. Sam`an and the Bayaniyya
The status of the Imam was a question that was fiercely debated in the second century of the Islamic Era before the different positions crystallized. It is important to go back to history to hear the different voices in the debate. This is relevant because we find some unease to this day between what is believed in the popular Shi`i consciousness and our literary sources. One such key figure who participated in developing a peculiar Imamology was Bayan b. Sam`an.
Who was Bayan?
Bayan b. Sam`an (most likely from the South Arabian tribe of Nahd) was a seller of straw in Kufa. We would classify him as a Ghali and he was indeed cursed by the `Aimma. He is said to have associated himself with Hamza b. `Ammara, a speculator about the divinity of Ibn al-Hanafiyya [heading a splinter of the Kaysaniyya]. Bayan later attached himself to the claim of Abu Hashim the son of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya.
What did the Bayaniyya believe?
We do not have any extant documentary evidence that comes directly from Bayani circles, but we have early statements of contemporaries reformulating their beliefs, we also have the entries of the heresiographers whose work it was to classify different sects based on their belief-systems.
The concept of a Demiurge
In a report in al-Kashshi, Hisham quotes Bayan as saying:
إن بيانا يتأول هذه الآية وَ هُوَ الَّذِي فِي السَّماءِ إِلهٌ وَ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلهٌ، أن الذي في الأرض غير إله السماء، و إله السماء غير إله الأرض، و أن إله السماء أعظم من إله الأرض، و أن أهل الأرض يعرفون فضل إله السماء و يعظمونه فقال: و الله ما هو إلا الله وحده لا شريك له إله من في السماوات و إله من في الأرضين
'Bayan interprets this verse “and He is the one who is God in Heaven and God on Earth” (43:84) that the one on Earth is not the God of Heaven, and the God of Heaven is not the God of Earth, and that the God of Heaven is greater than the God of Earth, and that the people of the Earth recognize the merit of the God of Heaven and magnify Him'
This is an important piece of evidence, because it shows that the sectarians were influenced by the concept of the Demiurge in their cosmology. I use this word in the sense of a second divine power in heaven. This power could assume many different names like Wisdom of God, Spirit of God, Logos, Metatron etc. It owes its origins to Gnosticism [and Middle-platonic notions], which had a long pre-Islamic pedigree in the melting pot that was Kufa. Gnosticism presents a distinction between the highest, unknowable God and the lesser power that was pre-existing with the unknowable God. The latter is the ilah al-ard [lesser god] in Bayan’s terminology, the site of God's power on the Earth. The real unknown God is so distant and incomprehensible to humans that they can only know him through a lesser being which can interact with matter.
Who is the Lesser God on Earth?
The Bayaniyya held that the Imam was deified because of housing the indwelling Demiurgic divine-light particle. This particle transmigrated (Tanasukh) i.e. passed down - from the Biblical patriarchs, to the Prophet Muḥammad, to the Shiʿi Imams.
قال بيان بالهية علي عليه السلام، وأن جزءا إلهيا متحد بناسوته، ثم من بعده في ابنه محمد بن الحنفية ثم في أبي هاشم ولد محمد بن الحنفية، ثم من بعده في بيان هذا
In other words, the bodies of prophets and `Aimma were receptacles to be filled with a divine spark or Spirit. It would at some point leave the body of the Imam when he dies and transmigrate to another. All the supernatural abilities of the Imam derives from being a host to the divine particle, without it the Imam is just an ordinary human.
I term this a “possessionist” Imamology. Anyone who has studied early Jewish-Christian Christologies will notice how closely those parallel what has been presented here.
This particle is said to have passed through Ali > Ibn al-Hanafiyya > Abu Hashim and potentially Bayan himself.
Al-Baghdadi says in al-Farq bayn al-Firaq:
ان بَيَانا قَالَ لَهُم: ان روح الْإِلَه تناسخت فى الانبياء والائمة حَتَّى صَارَت الى ابى هَاشم عبد الله ابْن مُحَمَّد بن الْحَنَفِيَّة ثمَّ انْتَقَلت اليه مِنْهُ يعْنى نَفسه فَادّعى لنَفسِهِ الربوبية على مَذْهَب الحلولية
Bayan said: the Divine Spirit transfused into the prophets and the `Aimma until it reached Abi Hashim Abdallah b. Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya then it went into me [i.e. he deified himself].
al-Shahristani says in al-Milal wa al-Nihal:
قال بيان: حل في علي جزء إلهي، واتحد بجسده، فيه كان يعلم الغيب اذا اخبر عن الملاحم وبه قلع باب خيبر
Bayan said: The divine particle transfused into Ali, and united with his physical body, with it [in this divine particle] did he know the knowledge of the Unseen when he used to inform others about the trials [at the end of times] and by it [not his physical body] was he able to uproot the door of Khaybar.
What is the Implication of this?
In essence, the Bayaniyya and many other Ghulat were marked out from other 'orthodox' Muslim communities in that they did not close the door to prophecy. Prophecy continues because the access to the divine realm did not end with the Muhammad. Since they deified the Imams, anyone who is a legitimate deputy of this Imam-god would be a “prophet”. At first, Bayan saw himself as the “prophet” of the one with the divine spark.
Sa`d b. Abdallah says in his al-Maqalat that Bayan sent a letter to al-Sadiq announcing his prophethood and commanding him among other things “to surrender so as to be safe … for you cannot know where God will place his prophethood .. and whoever warns has been excused”. The Imam ordered the messenger who brought the letter, a hapless man called Umar b. Abi Afif al-Azdi, to eat the letter in front of him, and that was his reply.
There are clues, however, that he later evolved from this position and claimed to have possessed the spark himself. Consequently, he claimed to have access to special kind of knowledge which enabled him to predict the future [as a corollary] among other powers.
Interpretation of the Qur`an
The Ghulat in general are characterized by dabbling in Ta`wil [esoteric interpretation of the Qur`an]. The Bayaniyya, in particular, developed a literalist anthropomorphic interpretation of the Qur`an. They considered the unknowable God as being a Man of Light based on Q. 24:35. This Man of Light has various constituent parts e.g. having a hand based on Q. 48:10. In this vein, they considered that all will be destroyed [including God’s other parts] except for His face based on Q. 28:88.
A key feature of most of the Ghulati groups was the belief in the return of the dead before the day of judgment initiated by the eschatological return of of the expected messianic deliverer. The Bayaniyya believed in the Raj`a of Abu Hashim as the Mahdi.
In 119/737 AD, Bayan and another Ghali al-Mughira b. Sa`id joined forces and rose in revolt against the Umayyad governor of Iraq, Khalid b. `Abdallah al-Qasri. The rebellion was quickly put down and the leaders as well as some of their followers were executed and then burned.
As the Imam says:
كان بيان يكذب على علي بن الحسين عليه السلام، فأذاقه الله حرَّ الحديد، وكان المغيرة بن سعيد يكذب على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فأذاقه الله حرَّ الحديد
Bayan used to lie about al-al-Sajjad عليه السلام and al-Mughira b. Sa`id used to lie about al-Baqir عليه السلام so Allah made them to taste of the heat of the iron [put to the sword].
Panzerwaffe reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, The Transfer of Kufa’s Hadith Heritage to Qom (5)
Original full post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-transfer-of-kufas-hadith-heritage-to-qom-history-of-imami-shii-theology-5/
During the Imamate of Imam Baqir (s) and Sadiq (s), there was a lot of encouragement from the Imams to their students and companions to begin recording down traditions. As this shift from oral to a written tradition became a culture amongst them, there was naturally a large output of written works over the next century. Kufa being the hub for Shi’i activity naturally possessed the most written works at the time.
As scholars from Qom would initially travel to Kufa to acquire traditions of the Imams from the various scholars and companions that resided there, the tables would eventually turn as Kufa’s scholarly circles began to diminish and its heritage began being transferred to Qom. Scholars who played a role in transferring this heritage to Qom include personalities such as Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed al-Ahwazi, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari, Ibrahim bin Hashim and others. To analyze this phenomenon in a little more detail, bibliographical works are utilized to see how books were being moved around from one place to another.
Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi and his son Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Barqi are two other individuals who played a role in this transfer. Most of their teachers appear to be from Kufa, whereas their students appear to be from Qom. Both father and son also seem to have traveled to Kufa like Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and tooks narrations from there and then returned back to Qom to transmit them. Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi seems to be the earliest person to have brought over some of the Kufan hadith heritage to Qom. However, he does not seem to have very cautious in who he would take narrations from and was accused of even narrating from weak narrators. There are also hardly any traditions that he narrates from reliable scholars such as Hasan bin Mahbub or Ibn Abi ‘Umayr. This eventually even leads to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari (the next scholar) exiling Muhammad al-Barqi out of Qom.
Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari who was one of the greatest scholars of Qom during his time, played a great role in bringing over the Kufan heritage by traveling to Kufa himself. Some of the works that he was able to bring back to Qom with himself were the book of ‘Ala bin Zarin, Aban bin ‘Uthman al-Ahmar, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Abi Nasr al-Bazanti, Hasan bin Mahbub al-Kufi, Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal, Safwan bin Yahya al-Bajali, ‘Abdul Rahman bin Abi Najran, ‘Ali bin Hadid al-Mada’ini, Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, and Muhammad bin Sinan Zahiri.
What is of interest here is that the books Ahmad was bringing with him were those that were famous, well-known and reliable works within Shi’i scholarly circles. This indicates that Ahmad was very cautious of the narrations he accepted and transmitted, and we see this translating into him exiling many narrators from Qom (like the aforementioned al-Barqi) who he found to be narrating from weak narrators.
Husayn bin Sa’eed bin Hammad bin Sa’eed bin Mehran al-Ahwazi was another Kufan scholar who played a role in bringing over some works to Qom. Him and his brother Hasan first leave Kufa and travel to Ahwaz and then migrate to Qom. They bring with themselves the works of Rib’iyy bin ‘Abdillah al-Basri, Shu’ayb al-‘Aqr Qufiyy, Hamid bin Muthanna, Qasim bin Muhammad Jawhari al-Kufi, Qasim bin Sulayman al-Baghdadi, Qasim bin ‘Urwah al-Baghdadi, Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, Zur’ah bin Muhammad al-Hadhrami and more. Husayn also brings with himself thirty of his own written works to Qom and transmitted them to various students.
Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Ibrahim bin Musa al-Sayrafi – known as Abu Sumaynah, a Kufan narrator who was eventually exiled from Qom by Ahmad bin Muhammad as well, brought with him the book of Ishaq bin Yazid bin Ismail al-Ta’i, some books of Ismail bin Mehran bin Abi Nasr al-Sakuni, book of Hafs bin ‘Asim Salami, book of Sulaym bin Qays, book of Salam bin ‘Abdillah al-Hashimi, book of Haytham bin Waqid Jazari, book of Abu Badr al-Kufi and the book of Nasr bin Mazahim al-Kufi. He will be referred to again in a later post when we discuss the phenomenon of certain narrators being exiled from the city of Qom.
Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Jabbar al-Qumi – known as Ibn Abi al-Sahban, a companion of Imam Jawwad, Hadi, and ‘Askari. He was also one of those scholars who traveled to Kufa and brought back with him some of Kufa’s hadith heritage. His most important teachers in Kufa were Safwan bin Yahya, Muhammad bin Ismail Bazi’, and Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal. It doesn’t seem like he had any book of his own, and was merely recognized as someone who was able to transfer over some of the hadith works from Kufa to scholars in Qom. Most of his narrations in Qom are narrated by Ahmad bin Idris, ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far al-Himyari, Muhmmad bin al-Hasan al-Saffar and Muhammad bin Yahya al-‘Attar.
Perhaps the most prolific scholar who is renowned for bringing much of Kufa’s hadith heritage to Qom is Ibrahim bin Hashim. He is remembered as the first scholar to bring Kufa’s hadith to Qom and to have spread it. Some of the works he brought with him were: the Asl of Ibrahim bin ‘Abd al-Hamid, books of Ismail bin Abi Ziyad al-Sakuni, books of Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, book of ‘Abdullah bin Sinan, books of Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, books of Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, Asl of Hisham bin Salim, some books of Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar, book of Zayd Narasi, book of Sulaym Farra’, book of Yahya bin ‘Imran bin ‘Ali bin Abi Shu’ba al-Halabi just to name a few.
For at least the next 150 years, Qom would become the most important city when it came to Shi’i theological discourse. Eventually much of Qom’s hadith heritage does return back to Iraq, to the city of Baghdad when the likes of Shaykh Mufid begin gaining authority.
With regards to the topic of Kufa’s heritage moving over to Qom, Ibrahim bin Hashim is notably remembered by multiple scholars as being the first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom was him. However, when we look at the list above, we see that Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed and Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa were all scholars who had already brought with them a lot of traditions from Kufa much before Ibrahim bin Hashim. So why is it that the latter scholars gave this honour to Ibrahim rather than those who were prior to him? There could be a few possible reasons for this and a closer look at the other three scholars may help us in determining this.
One thing to note is that the attribution given to Ibrahim bin Hashim is that the works he brought to Qom were widely-spread, not that he merely transmitted them or passed them down to his students. That being said, when we consider al-Barqi, it is known that one of the reasons he was exiled from Qom by Ahmad al-Ash’ari was because he would narrate from unknown or weak people. This would have been enough of a reason for many of the scholars of Qom to act cautiously with regards to his narrations, leading to his narrations not having spread to such an extent where it would be deemed as spreading the Kufan heritage. Some have suggested that it is possible al-Barqi may have returned back to his own town on the outskirts of Qom called Barqah-Rud, and that would have been a plausible reason why his ahadith did not spread in Qom – however this seems far-fetched, simply because Qom seems to be the most sensible location for a scholar of hadith to have returned back to, and also when we see that Ahmad al-Ash’ari exiled him from Qom it indicates that he was in Qom to begin with.
As for Husayn bin Sa’eed, he had thirty of his own written works in Kufa which he brought with him to Qom. His main focus had been to spread these narrations which he had compiled himself, and not the rest of the heritage he had brought with him. Furthermore, Husayn bin Sa’eed did not live too long after coming to Qom, dying a short while after, which could mean that he simply didn’t have enough time to spread and transmit all the works he had brought with him to such an extent that would merit him the status of being the first one to widely-spread the heritage of Kufa in Qom.
When it comes to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari – who was also the authority in Qom – it seems that there may been another reason he is not given this description. He not only had more of an opportunity to widely spread the heritage of Kufa that he had brought back with him to Qom, but he also had many of the same teachers as Ibrahim bin Hashim and both were living during the same era. The one factor that could have caused the scholars to still give Ibrahim bin Hashim the credit for spreading the heritage of Kufa in Qom the fact that Ibrahim was someone who was brought up and raised in Kufa, whereas Ahmad was originally a scholar of Qom. In other words, Ibrahim was the first Kufan scholar who have come to Qom and have the Kufan heritage widely-spread in the city.
Another side point that should be mentioned here is that Ibrahim bin Hashim is credited for carrying over the theological teachings of the school of the great theologian and companion Hisham bin Hakam from Kufa to Qom as well. Ibrahim bin Hashim is claimed to have been the student of Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman who himself was one of the strongest students of Hisham bin Hakam. Whether Ibrahim was indeed a student of Yunus or not is disputed as there is no narration which Ibrahim narrates directly from Yunus (as is the natural case in a student-teacher relationship), and every narration from Yunus appears to have an individual between them. Nevertheless, Ibrahim does seem to have been influenced by this school of thought, and likewise his son Ali bin Ibrahim who will be discussed in a later article as well.
This is important to know because figures such as Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and many later Qom scholars were staunchly against some of the theological ideas of Hisham bin Hakam, and had even written books against him and Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman. Despite this, they were still welcoming of Ibrahim bin Hashim and his narrations which indicates the level of trust and respect Ibrahim must have had in the city of Qom.
 One of the works I have heavily relied on for this blog post is the research paper: Sayr-e Intiqal-e Mirath-e Maktub-e Shi’eh dar Ayeneh-ye Fihrist-ha written by Ruhullah Shaheedi and Dr. Muhammad Ali Mahdawi-Raad.
 Al-Fihrist of Shaykh Tusi, pg. 52
 Refer to Najashi’s al-Rijal and Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist. About 19 more works can be found in Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist and 3 more in Najashi’s al-Rijal.
 The famous line as recorded in Najashi’s al-Rijal is this: أصحابنا يقولون: أوّل من نشر حديث الكوفيين بقم, هو (Our scholars have said: The first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom, was him)
Panzerwaffe reacted to Hameedeh for a blog entry, Minimalism
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:
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.
♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
Panzerwaffe reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Hoor al-`Ayn are not White Chicks
There is a common misconception among modern Muslim men that they will be rewarded with white women in Paradise. This attitude has even caused some to justify their preference of light-skin women and Western women through Islamic texts that describe beautiful women in this world and the Hereafter. They put white skin on a pedestal, which both sidelines women with darker complexions, and objectifies women with lighter skin. I would like to investigate the claim that the heavenly maidens of Paradise are essentially "white girls".
Heaven is unlike anything
In the hadith literature, Paradise is described as what the eye has not seen, what the ear has not heard, and what the heart has not imagined. ( مَا لَا عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ وَ لَا أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَ لَا خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ ). You will be an entirely new creation in Paradise, which will cause those who suffered most in this world to completely forget their suffering. Therefore the descriptions of the pleasures of Paradise are, at most, symbols of things that we cannot exactly know.
The meaning of abyad
The word that modern Arabs use to refer to the colour "white" ( أبيض ) has certainly been used to describe the women of Paradise. In one narration, the Prophet (s) says that the women of Paradise will be every shade of "white" ( ان في الجنة نهرا حافتاه الابكار من كل بيضاء ). In another narration, Imam ar-Rida recites a poem in which he describes beautiful "white" women ( أَرَى الِبيضَ الْحِسَانَ يَجِدْنَ عَنِّي ). Other narrations associate this "whiteness" with pleasure ( سعادة الرجل أن يكشف الثوب عن امرأة بيضاء ).
But what does all of this mean? Abyad comes from the root word bayada ( بيض ), which means "to lay eggs". An egg is a bayda ( بيضة ), and eggs can be white or brown, depending on the colour of the feathers of the chicken. In Arabic, there is no special word for either type of egg, both are given the name bayda, which is related to the word for "white".
Several Arabic dictionaries have interpreted abyad to mean pure, fair, and without blemish; rather than strictly "white". Here are a few references:
In Lisan al-`Arab:
إذا قالت العرب فلان أبيض، وفلانة بيضاء، فالمعنى نقاء العرض من الدنس والعيوب لا يريدون به بياض اللون، ولكنهم يريدون المدح بالكرم، ونقاء العرض من العيوب وإذا قالوا: فلان أبيض الوجه، وفلانة بيضاء الوجه، أرادوا نقاء اللون من الكلف والسواد الشائن
“When the Arabs say that a man is white or a woman is white, they mean that he has an appearance that is pure and clear from defects. They don’t mean that he has a white complexion, but they mean that someone has an appearance that is pure from defects. When they say that a man or woman has a white face, they mean that their colour is pure from blemish and darkness.
”العرب لا تقول : رجل أبيض من بياض اللون إنما الأبيض عندهم الطاهر النقي من العيوب”
The Arab does not say that a man is white in terms of the colour white. Rather, the "white" for them is he who is pure from any defects.
Abu Tayyib al-Lughawi says in Kitab al-Idad al-`Arab:
” و انما الأبيض من الناس البعيد من الدنس، النقي من العيب“
The whitest of people are those who are far from impurity, and are purified from defects.
Ibn Atheer says in an-Nahaya fii Ghareeb al-Hadith:
الغر : جمع الأغر ، من الغرة : بياض الوجه ، يريد بياض وجوههم بنور الوضوء يوم القيامة
The innocent (al-ghurr); its plural is al-aghur, from al-ghurra: a white face, meaning, a face whitened by light and illumination on the Day of Resurrection.
al-Dhahabi says in Siyar A`laam an-Nubala':
“إن العرب إذا قالت: فلان أبيض ، فإنهم يريدون الحنطي اللون بحلية سوداء”
When Arabs say a person is white, they mean tawny in colour with black hair.
So according to these dictionaries, "whiteness" in a person is either: (1) purity in their reputation, (2) purity in their appearance with no blemishes or defects (scars, birth marks, discolouration, wrinkles, moles, bumps), (3) tawny or wheat-coloured skin, (4) light and illumination, (5) a strong contrast between their face and hair colours.
The meaning of hoor al-`ayn
The Quran describes the houri (hoor al-`ayn) as a heavenly beauty that has been gifted exclusively to a good, believing person. The Quran does not provide much more detail than that. The hoor al-`ayn can be translated as "one with contrasting eyes", and it is often tied to the related word hawra', which refers to a person who has a strong contrast between her dark pupil and white sclera (white part of the eye). If this is the meaning of hooriya, then her "whiteness" may have more to do with her eyes than her skin. The word hawar can also mean "to bleach", but also "to tan". The same word is used in the Quran to refer to the apostles of Jesus, who were "purified" from evil ( فَسُمِّيَ الْحَوَارِيُّونَ حَوَارِيِّينَ لانَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُخْلَصِينَ فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَمُخْلِصِينَ لِغَيْرِهِمْ مِنْ أَوْسَاخِ الذُّنُوبِ ). The word therefore may also be an indication to the maiden's spiritual purity and not just her physical beauty.
The word hoor also means to change, alter, remodel, and modify, so perhaps one feature of this heavenly beauty is constant rejuvenation and transformation.
Another related word means to converse and discuss - it is possible that there is more to the houri than her looks!
I have heard that there may be a relationship between hooriya and hayara, which means "to be confused, bewildered, perplexed, baffled, embarrassed", because the believer will be perplexed by the startling beauty of the hoor al-`ayn.
Remember that we cannot imagine Paradise, so the skintone of the heavenly beauty would also be beyond comprehension.
The word for "pale" in Arabic is actually yellow
When Arabs describe a pale complexion, such as a pale face of an ill person, they use the word musfar (مصفر), which means "yellowed", rather than saying he has been whitened.
The Prophet's colour
Many hadiths describe the Prophet Muhammad (s) as being abyad, but these could be descriptions of the fairness of his skin or the purity of his character. Other hadiths say that the Prophet was reddish. To reconcile both sets of narrations, one can say that he had a tawny or wheatish complexion, which was light in Arabia but unlike the pale western Europeans. While modern Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, and Germanic peoples have a monopoly on "whiteness" today, most people in the Middle East would have never met such people by the 7th century.
White faces on the Day of Resurrection
The Quran describes the believers' faces on the Day of Resurrection as "white" (3:106), but this will be due to their illumination. Some hadiths describe that the body parts washed in wudu will glow in the Hereafter, which includes the face, and other hadiths say that the wudu washes sins away from a person. Similarly, other narrations discuss the illumination of the faces of those who stay up to pray at night. These are not references to pigment.
"Whiteness" will be due to light, and the colour of light, which was found in the Sun, Moon, and fire, ranges from orange to light yellow.
Lady Fatima was a human houri
Several narrations describe Lady Fatima (as) as a human houri. Her houri nature in Paradise was a dazzling light ( نورا ساطعا ) - first she was beneath the Throne, and then she resided within a fruit in Paradise - both in the form of a beautiful lady of light.
Paradise is much more than this world
In conclusion, there is much more to look forward to in the next world than conquering a colonial inferiority complex. Muslims have a very complicated relationship with white folks - from lust, to hatred, to jealousy, to emulation - and our relationships with other races are no where near as complex. The first step to overcome something is to realize and understand it. Allah gave us all of our hues so that we may learn about one another, and understand that the Creator of spectrums is beyond all spectrums Himself. If the hoor al-`ayn is simply a pretty white girl, then she would not be a sufficient reward for the believers, since there are plenty of them in this dunya. Paradise is more than a brothel, open bar, and buffet. It's a chance to gain true proximity to Allah, through His Prophet and Ahl al-Bayt, and to gain gnosis. The journey into timelessness starts in this world, and it culminates in the Hereafter.