In the Name of God بسم الله
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دعا له الصادق عليه السلام فقال: أقول لك ما قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم لحسان: لا تزال مؤيدا بروح القدس ما نصرتنا بلسانك I say to you what the Messenger of Allah said to Hassan b. Thabit: You will never stop being aided by the Holy Spirit so long as you keep defending us by your tongue [Imam al-Sadiq supplicates for Hisham b. al-Hakam] Hisham b. al-Hakam: Founder of a Theological School (Pt. 2) A Sect? A number of proto-Sunni heresiographical works list the so-called ‘Hishamiyya’ (followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam) when discussing splinter-sects within Imami Shi’ism. What do we make of this? Throughout the second century Hijri and as a direct consequence of the Arab conquests - large swathes of peoples from different cultures and civilizations became subsumed into the Islamic empire. This resulted into the introduction of foreign ideas - mainly Greek philosophical speculation - into the intellectual world of Islam. The scholarly response to this was split between those who propagated abstinence, considering any discussion of such subjects as a blameworthy innovation, and those who encouraged active engagement, with the realization that the questions raised needed to be answered. These latter were the practitioners of Kalam who wished to reconcile the new insights with revelationary knowledge. It is well documented that the Imams forbade the majority of their companions from undertaking the abstract thinking involved in Kalam. This was a precaution against the clear danger of making errors in the most sensitive of topics such as the attributes of God. The default statement of the Imams for the laity among their followers was ‘Describe God as He describes Himself’ and leave it at that. However, we have evidence that the Imams did not totally frown upon such activity. Indeed they trained and encouraged a select few - whose abilities they trusted - to construct rational arguments and participate in the wider controversy with the aim of preserving the authentic positions of Islam. One prominent example is Hisham b. al-Hakam who proceeded to develop theological positions mainly for polemical reasons e.g. to systemize the doctrine of Imama into a consistent logical framework. The favourable relations that successive Imams had with him goes a long way to confirm their approval of such endeavours. It is in this context that Hisham attracted a following and is spoken of as a leader of a ‘Madhhab’. To characterize this as a ‘sect’ is a misconception, for even the most prominent companion could not but submit to the Imam and dare not contradict him. Indeed, Hisham was also a narrator of Hadith from the ‘Aimma and his output consists of typical jurisprudential responsa that would not stand out when compared to that of a traditionalist-narrator who shuns Kalam. Much better then to speak of a school of thought led by Hisham having unique features (a distinctive mode of argumentation) and theological positions. The school was not set up to contradict the Imams but rather flesh out their general principles. Can we speak of such a school? There are some pieces of evidence that allude to the existence of a ‘school of Hisham’ (*) Hisham had a post-humous following: A companion asks the Imam al-Naqi a question about Tawhid while commenting ‘I follow the position of Hisham b. al-Hakam …’ الصقر بن دلف قال: سألت أبا الحسن علي بن محمد عليهما السلام عن التوحيد وقلت له: إني أقول بقول هشام بن الحكم ... Another companion asks the Imam al-Ridha whether he should pay Zakat to someone who differs with Hisham in the doctrine of Tawhid and receives a negative answer فنعطي الزكاة من خالف هشاما في التوحيد؟ فقال برأسه: لا The Imam al-Ridha asks al-Bazanti what their differences are with the ‘followers’ of Hisham in Tawhid أبي، عن البزنطي، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: قال لي: يا أحمد ما الخلاف بينكم وبين أصحاب هشام بن الحكم في التوحيد ؟ (*) Unusually, there are a number of individuals who are explicitly associated with Hisham in their biographical entries, which you would expect in a school with students loyal to the outlook of their master. Consider the examples provided below: علي بن منصور أبو الحسن: كوفي، سكن بغداد، متكلم من أصحاب هشام. له كتب منها كتاب التدبير في التوحيد والإمامة Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Mansur. Kufan. Resided in Baghdad. A practitioner of Kalam and a student of Hisham. He authored several books among them ‘the book of Deliberation on Tawhid’ محمد بن الخليل المعروف بالسكاك: صاحب هشام ابن الحكم، وكان متكلما من أصحاب هشام، وخالفه في أشياء إلا في أصل الامامة، له كتب منها: كتاب المعرفة، وكتاب في الاستطاعة، وكتاب في الامامة، وكتاب الرد على من أبى وجوب الامامة بالنص Muhammad b. al-Khalil. Popularly known as al-Sakkak. He became a companion of Hisham b. al-Hakam. A practitioner of Kalam from the students of Hisham. He differed with him (his master) in a number of matters except on the doctrine of Imama. He authored several books among them: A book on Recognition, a book on Human Capacity (to act independently), a book on Imama, a book Refuting the one who denies the Necessity of Imama continuing via Designation (Nass). (*) Another characteristic of a school is continuity i.e. having successive leaders taking the vacated seat of the former head of the school. This can be demonstrated in an auto-biographical note by al-Fadhl b. Shadhan: جعفر بن معروف، قال: حدثني سهل بن بحر الفارسي، قال: سمعت الفضل بن شاذان آخر عهدي به يقول: أنا خلف لمن مضى ... ومضى هشام ابن الحكم رحمه الله، وكان يونس بن عبد الرحمان رحمه الله خلفه، كان يرد على المخالفين، ثم مضى يونس بن عبد الرحمان ولم يخلف خلفا غير السكاك، فرد على المخالفين حتى مضى رحمه الله، وأنا خلف لهم من بعدهم رحمهم الله Sahl b. Bahr al-Farisi says that he heard al-Fadhl b. Shadhan saying in his last encounter with him: I am the successor of those who have passed on … when Hisham b. al-Hakam – may Allah have mercy on him – passed on it was Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman – may Allah have mercy on him - who succeeded him [took his place] in refuting the opponents. Then Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman passed on and did not appoint a successor other than al-Sakkak (Muhammad b. Khalil) who refuted the opponents until he passed on may Allah have mercy on him. I am the successor who takes their place after them may Allah have mercy on them all. Inter-Companion Rivalry Hisham b. al-Hakam’s specialization in this field was so complete and his expertise so masterful that we see the Imam ordering him to send him the argument he uses to answer the question of determinism versus free-will. حدثني ابراهيم الوراق السمرقندي، قال: حدثني علي بن محمد القمي، قال: حدثني عبد الله بن محمد بن عيسى، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم قال: قال أبو الحسن عليه السلام: قولوا لهشام يكتب إلي بما يرد به القدرية، قال: فكتب اليه يسأل القدرية أعصى الله من عصى لشيء من الله، أو لشيء كان من الناس، أو لشيء لم يكن من الله ولا من الناس؟ قال: فلما دفع الكتاب اليه، قال لهم: ادفعوه الى الجرمي، فدفعوه اليه، فنظر فيه ثم قال: ما صنع شيئا، فقال أبو الحسن عليه السلام: ما ترك شيئا. قال أبو أحمد: وأخبرني أنه كان الرسول بهذا الى الكاظم عليه السلام Ibrahim al-Warraq al-Samarqandi – Ali b. Muhammad al-Qummi – Abdallah b. Muhammad b. Isa – Ibn Abi Umayr – Hisham b. Salim who said: Abu al-Hasan عليه السلام said: Tell Hisham to write to me the argument he uses to rebut the Qadariyya (believers in absolute free-will). He (Hisham b. al-Hakam) wrote to him: ‘the Qadariyya are asked - the one who disobeys Allah does he disobey because of being compelled by Allah, or due to human factors, or due to a third cause apart from Allah or the people?’ He (Hisham b. Salim) says: when the letter was dispatched to him, he (the Imam) said: send it to al-Jurmi, so they took it to him. He (al-Jurmi) looked into it and said: ‘he has not done anything (i.e. it is a useless argument)!’ but Abu al-Hasan said: ‘he did not leave out anything! (i.e. it is an unsurmountable argument). Abu Ahmad (Ibn Abi Umayr) said: He (Hisham b. Salim) informed me that he was the messenger carrying this letter to al-Kadhim عليه السلام The partial independence which the Imams gave to some of their able companions to make theological inquiries led to difference of opinion between them. Hisham b. al-Hakam is said to have authored books to refute the position of two other major Shi’i theologians. He has a refutation of Hisham al-Jawaliqi (كتاب الرد على هشام الجواليقي) and a refutation of Muhammad b. Ali b. al-Nu’man al-Ahwal Mu’min al-Taq (كتاب الرد على شيطان الطاق) This situation sometimes required the Imam having to intervene to express the correct opinion. An example is provided below: حدثني حمدويه، قال، حدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن جعفر بن عيسى عن علي بن يونس بن بهمن قال: قلت للرضا عليه السلام: جعلت فداك ان أصحابنا قد اختلفوا! فقال: في أي شيء اختلفوا فيه احك لي من ذلك شيئا؟ قال: فلم يحضرني الا ما قلت، جعلت فداك من ذلك ما اختلف فيه زرارة وهشام بن الحكم، فقال زرارة: ان الهواء ليس بشيء وليس بمخلوق، وقال هشام: ان الهواء شيء مخلوق، قال، فقال لي: قل في هذا بقول هشام، ولا تقل بقول زرارة Hamduwayh – Muhammad b. Isa – Ja’far b. Isa – Ali b. Yunus b. Bahman who said: I said to al-Ridha عليه السلام: May I be made your ransom - our companions have differed! He said: in what thing have they differed, relate to me a thing from that (an example of that which they have differed in)? He (Ali) said: Nothing came to mind except that which I said (which is): May I be made your ransom, an example of that is what Zurara and Hisham b. al-Hakam had differed in. Zurara said ‘air is not a thing nor is it created’ while Hisham said ‘air is a created thing’. He (the Imam) said to me: affirm in this the position of Hisham and not the position of Zurara. Incidentally, this report indicates that the practitioners of Kalam were also influenced by the neo-Platonic primitive ‘scientific’ theories which were concerned with the natural world. Difference of opinion and the perennial competition to win favour from the Imam led some companion to even become rivals. It is in the context of theological disputation concerning the attributes of God that Hisham had a major falling out with Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj, himself a financial agent appointed by al-Kadhim over Iraq. علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني محمد بن موسى الهمداني، عن الحسن ابن موسى الخشاب، عن غيره، عن جعفر بن محمد بن حكيم الخثعمي قال: اجتمع هشام بن سالم، وهشام بن الحكم، وجميل بن دراج، وعبد الرحمن بن الحجاج، ومحمد بن حمران، وسعيد بن غزوان، ونحو من خمسة عشر رجلا من أصحابنا، فسألوا هشام بن الحكم أن يناظر هشام بن سالم فيما اختلفوا فيه من التوحيد وصفة الله عز وجل وغير ذلك لينظروا أيهما أقوى حجة. فرضي هشام بن سالم أن يتكلم عند محمد بن أبي عمير، ورضي هشام بن الحكم أن يتكلم عند محمد بن هشام، فتكالما وساق ما جرى بينهما. وقال، قال عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج لهشام بن الحكم: كفرت والله بالله العظيم وألحدت فيه، ويحك ما قدرت أن تشبه بكلام ربك الا العود يضرب به! قال جعفر ابن محمد بن حكيم، فكتب إلى أبي الحسن موسى عليه السلام يحكي له مخاطبتهم وكلامهم ويسأله أن يعلمه ما القول الذي ينبغي ندين الله به من صفه الجبار؟ فأجابه في عرض كتابه فهمت رحمك الله واعلم رحمك الله ان الله أجل وأعلى وأعظم من أن يبلغ كنه صفته فصفوه بما وصف به نفسه، وكفوا عما سوى ذلك Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Musa al-Hamdani – al-Hasan b. Musa al-Khashshab – Ja’far b. Muhammad Hukaym al-Khath’ami who said: Hisham b. Salim, Hisham b. al-Hakam, Jamil b. Darraj, Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj, Muhammad b. Humran, Sai’d b. Ghazwan and about fifteen men among our companions gathered together. They (those present) asked Hisham b. al-Hakam to debate with Hisham b. Salim about the differences they had regarding Tawhid, the attributes of Allah Mighty and Majestic and other matters, so that they could observe which one was stronger in argument. Hisham b. Salim agreed to be represented by Muhammad b. Abi Umayr (his student) while Hisham b. al-Hakam agreed to be represented by Muhammad b. Hisham. They began disputing and he (Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Hukaym) recounted in depth what transpired between them (in the debate) He (Ja’far) said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj said to Hisham b. al-Hakam: You have disbelieved - by Allah - in Allah the Almighty and have fallen in heresy. Woe be upon you - how could you dare to compare the words of your Lord to a stick (created object) which is used to hit with! Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Hukaym said: He (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) wrote to Abi al-Hasan Musa عليه السلام recounting for him their speech and talk (in the debate) and asking him to teach him what the correct position as regards the attributes of the al-Jabbar (the Irresistable) through which Allah can be worshipped is? So he (the Imam) answered him (writing) at the bottom of his letter: I have understood may Allah have mercy on you. Know - may Allah have mercy on you - that Allah is more majestic and elevated and great than for his attributes to be fully comprehended. Therefore describe Him the way He has described Himself and abstain from going beyond that. Attitudes towards Him It is for all these reasons recounted above that Hisham became a particularly polarizing figure who attracted both scorn and devotion within the larger Shi’ite community. In fact, large sections of al-Kashshi’s book can be seen as a competing ground for the different factions fighting each other over how to represent his person and legacy. Those close to Hisham, who can be said to have belonged to his school, such as his premier student Yunus and the Ubaydi clan including Ali b. Yaqtin, Muhammad and Ja’far the two sons of Isa, narrated narrations which cast him in a positive light, as an apologia to the excommunication he continued to suffer at the hand of his Qummi traditionalist opponents. His traditionalist opponents saw him as overstepping the mark by formulating his own world-view instead of a total and rigid attachment to the letter of the narrations. On the one hand we have a narration such as the one below where Imam Jawad is quoted as praising Hisham to the skies for his efforts: محمد بن مسعود العياشى، قال: حدثني جعفر، قال: حدثني العمركي قال: حدثني الحسين بن أبي لبابة، عن داود أبي هشام الجعفري قال: قلت لأبي جعفر عليه السلام: ما تقول في هشام بن الحكم؟ فقال: رحمه الله ما كان أذبه عن هذه الناحية Muhammad b. Masud al-Ayyashi – Ja’far – al-Amrikai – al-Husayn b. Abi Lubaba – Dawud Abi Hashim al-Ja’fari who said: I said to Abi Ja’far عليه السلام: What do you say about Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: May Allah have mercy on him. How great was his defense of this quarter (the holy threshold)! On the other hand we have questions about the validity of praying behind his ‘companions’ which in this context implies those who follow his theological positions. علي بن محمد، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن أبي علي بن راشد، عن أبي جعفر الثاني عليه السلام قال، قلت: جعلت فداك قد اختلف أصحابنا، فأصلي خلف أصحاب هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: عليك بعلي بن حديد، قلت: فآخذ بقوله؟ قال: نعم فلقيت علي بن حديد فقلت له: نصلي خلف أصحاب هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: لا Ali b. Muhammad – Ahmad b. Muhammad – Abi Ali b. Rashid – Abi Ja’far the Second. He (Abi Ali) said: I said: May I be made your ransom, our companions have differed (about this), should I pray behind the companions of Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: Upon you is Ali b. Hadid (ask this question to him). I said: Should I follow what he tells me? He said: Yes. I met Ali b. Hadid and said to him: should we pray behind the companions of Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: No. Is there any truth to the criticims levelled at Hisham? Or can we explain away all the hostility towards him as being borne out of jealousy towards his ability as the report below indicates. حدثنا حمدويه وابراهيم ابنا نصير، قالا: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، قال: حدثني زحل عمر بن عبد العزيز بن أبي بشار، عن سليمان بن جعفر الجعفري قال: سألت أبا الحسن الرضا عليه السلام عن هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: فقال لي: رحمه الله كان عبدا ناصحا أوذي من قبل أصحابه حسدا منهم له Hamduwayh and Ibrahim the two sons of Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – Zuhl Umar b. Abd al-Aziz b. Abi Bashshar – Sulayman b. Ja’far al-Ja’fari who said: I asked Aba al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه السلام about Hisham b. al-Hakam, so he said to me: May Allah have mercy on him. He was a loyal servant who was persecuted by his fellows because of their jealousy of him.
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) Biographical Details 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. بياع الكرابيس 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 al-Tusi says: 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 al-Tusi says: 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’.
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