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The Myth Of The Shia Mahdi


Nizari

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The Myth Of The Shia Mahdi

The 15th of Sha‘baan is a very significant date, both to the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. The Shi‘ah, however, have their own reason for ascribing significance to this night. To them it is the night of the birth of their twelfth Imam, the Hidden Mahdi.

Who is this Mahdi whose return to this world is so eagerly awaited by the Shi‘ah, and belief in whose existence in occultation forms such a integral aspect of the Shi‘i psyche? Before an adequate answer to this question may be given, there is a need to understand certain aspects concerning the Shi‘i doctrine of Imamah.

Background

The cornerstone of the Shi‘i faith is the belief that the spiritual and temporal leadership of this Ummah after the demise of Rasulullah is vested in the Imam, who is appointed, like the Nabi himself, by Allah, and who enjoys all the distinctions and privileges of the Nabi .

However, they believe that Imamah, unlike Nubuwwah, can never come to an end. In this regard there is a well-known Shi‘i hadith which says that “the world cannot exist without an Imam”, and another which goes that “if the earth were to be without an Imam for a single day it would sink.”

Thus, when it came to pass that the first of those whom they regard as their Imams— Sayyiduna Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu— left this world, a problem arose. Some of those who regarded themselves as his followers claimed that he did not in fact die, but that he will return to establish justice. Others said that he was succeeded as Imam by his son Hasan, who was in turn succeeded by his brother Husayn.

When Husayn died there were some who claimed to follow their other brother Muhammad (known as Ibn al-Hanafiyyah) as their Imam. When he died his followers claimed that he was in reality alive, and that he will return in due time. Others amongst the Shi‘ah took Sayyiduna Husayn’s son, Ali, surnamed Zayn al-‘Abidin, as their Imam, and upon his death transferred their loyalties to his son, Muhammad al-Baqir.

When al-Baqir died there were once again elements from amongst the Shi‘ah who denied his death and claimed that he would return one day, while others took his son Ja‘far as-Sadiq as their Imam.

When he died there was mass confusion amongst the Shi‘ah: each of his sons Isma‘il, Abdullah, Muhammad, Zakariyya, Ishaq and Musa was claimed by various groups amongst the Shi‘ah to be their Imam. In addition to them there was a group who believed that Ja‘far did not really die, and that he would return one day.

More or less the same thing happened at the death of his son Musa. Some of the Shi‘ah denied his death, believing that he will return, and others decided to take as their new Imam one of his sons. Some of these chose his son Ahmad, while others chose his other son Ali ar-Rida.

After him they took as their Imam his son Muhammad al-Jawwad (or at-Taqi), and after him his son Ali al-Hadi (or an-Naqi). At the death of Ali al-Hadi they looked upon his son Hasan al-Askari as their new— and 11th— Imam.

The Death Of Hasan Al-Askari

The above is a very brief synopsis of a tumultuous and confusing history— a history from which a dedicated researcher might extract some very revealing facts about the development of Shi‘ism.

However, that is not our concern at this moment. We have now arrived at the year 254 AH, the time when a major section of the Shi‘ah accepted as their Imam the 22-year old Hasan, son of Ali al-Hadi, and 10th lineal descendant of Sayyiduna Ali and Sayyidah Fatimah radiyallahu ‘anhuma. Six years later, in 260 AH, Hasan al-Askari, at the very young age of 28, is lying on his deathbed, but unlike any of his forefathers he leaves no offspring, no one to whom the Shi‘ah might appropriate as their new Imam.

The Shi‘ah who had been regarding Hasan al-Askari as their Imam were thrown into mass disarray. Does this mean the end of the Imamah? The end of the Imamah would mean the end of Shi‘ism. Were they prepared for that?

The confusion that reigned amongst the Shi‘ah after the death of Hasan al-Askari is reflected by the Shi‘i writer Hasan ibn Musa an-Nawbakhti, who counts the emergence of altogether 14 sects amongst the followers of Hasan al-Askari, each one with a different view on the future of the Imamah and the identity of the next Imam. It must be noted that an-Nawbakhti was alive at the time all of this was taking place. Another Shi‘i writer, Sa‘d ibn Abdullah al-Qummi, who also lived during the same time, counts 15 sects, and a century later the historian al-Mas‘udi enumerates altogether 20 separate sects.

Trends

There were four major trends amongst these various sects:

(1) There were those who accepted the death of Hasan al-Askari as a fact, and accepted also the fact that he left no offspring. To them Imamah had thus come to an end, just like Nubuwwah came to an end with the death of Rasulullah r . However, there were some amongst them who kept hoping for the advent of a new Imam.

(2) The second trend was one to which the student of the history of “succession to the Imamah” would be much more used to. This was the tendency to deny the death of Hasan al-Askari, and to claim that he would return in the future to establish justice upon earth. We have seen this tendency emerge amongst the Shi‘ah at more than one critical juncture in the history of the Imamah of the Shi‘ah; it is therefore only logical to expect it to resurface at a moment as critical as the death of Hasan al-Askari.

(3) The third trend was to extend the chain of Imamah to Hasan’s brother Ja‘far.

(4) The fourth trend was the claim that Hasan al-Askari did in fact have a son. It is the fourth trend which ultimately became the view of the dominant group in Shi‘ism.

The Missing Son

This trend was spearheaded by persons who had set themselves up as the representatives of the Imam, and who were in control of a network covering various parts of the Islamic empire— a network for the purpose of collecting money in the name of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt.

All followers of the Imams were obliged to pay one fifth of their income to the representatives of the Imams. (This is a practice which continues up to today.) At the head of this network was a man called Uthman ibn Sa‘id al-‘Amri. His manner of resolving the predicament was unique: Hasan al-Askari was dead, he admitted, but he was not childless. He had a 4-year old son, Muhammad, with whom no one but he— Uthman ibn Sa‘id— could have contact. And from that point onwards he would act as the representative (wakeel) of the Hidden Imam and collect money in his name.

To the fact that Hasan al-Askari’s own family were completely ignorant of the existence of any child of his, and that his estate had been divided between his brother Ja‘far and his mother, Uthman ibn Sa‘id and his ilk responded by denouncing Ja‘far as al-Kadhdhab (the Liar).

In due time a fantastic story was brought into circulation about the union between Hasan al-Askari and a Roman slave-girl, who is variously named as Narjis, Sawsan or Mulaykah. She is mentioned as having been the daughter of Yusha‘ (Joshua), the Roman emperor, who is a direct descendant of the apostle Simon Peter. But history shows that there never was a Roman emperor of that name. The Roman emperor of the time was Basil I, and neither he nor any other emperor is known to have descended from Peter. The story goes on to tell of her capture by the Muslim army, how she eventually came to be sold to Hasan al-Askari, and of her supernatural pregnancy and the secret birth of the son of whom no one— aside from Uthman ibn Sa‘id and his clique— knew anything. Everything about the child is enveloped in a thick and impenetrable cloud of mystery.

The Four Representatives

Uthman ibn Sa‘id remained the “representative of the Hidden Imam” for a number of years. In all that time he was the only link the Shi‘ah had with their Imam. During that time he supplied the Shi‘i community with tawqi‘at, or written communications, which he claimed was written to them by the Hidden Imam. Many of these communications, which are stilpreserved in books like at-Tusi’s Kitab al-Ghaybah, had to do with denouncing other claimants to the position of representatives, who had come to realise exactly how lucrative a position Uthman ibn Sa‘id had created for himself. The Shi‘i literature dealing with Uthman ibn Sa‘id’s tenure as representative is replete with references to money collected from the Shi‘i public.

When Uthman ibn Sa‘id died, his son Abu Ja‘far Muhammad produced a written communication from the Hidden Imam in which he himself is appointed the second representative, a position which he held for about 50 years. He too, like his father, had to deal with several rival claimants to his position, but the tawqi‘at which he regularly produced to denounce them and reinforce his own position ensured the removal of such obstacles and the continuation of support from a credulous Shi‘i public.

He was followed in this position by Abul Qasim ibn Rawh an-Nawbakhti, a scion of the powerful and influential Nawbakhti family of Baghdad. Before succeeding Muhammad ibn Uthman, Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti was his chief aide in the collection of the one-fifth taxes from the Shi‘ah. Like his two predecessors, he too had to deal with rival claimants, one of whom, Muhammad ibn Ali ash-Shalmaghani used to be an accomplice of his. He is reported in Abu Ja‘far at-Tusi’s book Kitab al-Ghaybah as having stated: “We knew exactly what we were into with Abul Qasim ibn Rawh. We used to fight like dogs over this matter (of being representative).”

When Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti died in 326 AH he bequethed the position of representative to Abul Hasan as-Samarri. Where the first three representatives were shrewd manipulators, Abul Hasan as-Samarri proved to be a more conscientous person. During his three years as representative there was a sudden drop in tawqi‘at. Upon his deathbed he was asked who his successor would be, and answered that Allah would Himself fulfil the matter. Could this perhaps be seen as a refusal on his part to perpetuate a hoax that has gone on for too long? He also produced a tawqi‘ in which the Imam declares that from that day till the day of his reappearance he will never again be seen, and that anyone who claims to see him in that time is a liar.

Thus, after more or less 70 years, the last “door of contact” with the Hidden Imam closed. The Shi‘ah term this period, in which there was contact with their Hidden Imam through his representatives-cum-tax-collectors, the Lesser Occultation (al-Ghaybah as-Sughra), and the period from the death of the last representative onwards the Greater Occultation (al-Ghaybah al-Kubar). The Greater Occultation has already continued for over a thousand years.

Activities Of The Representatives

When one reads the classical literature of the Shi‘ah in which the activities of the four representatives are outlined, one is struck by the constantly recurring theme of money. They are almost always mentioned in connection with receiving and collecting “the Imam’s money” his loyal Shi‘i followers. There is a shocking lack of any activities of an academic or spiritual nature. Not a single one of the four is credited with having compiled any book, despite the fact that they were in exclusive communion with the last of the Imams, the sole repository of the legacy of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.

When we look at the major sources upon which the Shi‘i faith is based, we find that most of them were written after the onset of the Greater Occultation. Those works, like al-Kafi, which was written during the latter decades of the Lesser Occultation, contain scarcely a reference to any of the four representatives as narrators from the Hidden Imam. Instead it is filled with thousands of reports which go back, via other channels, to the fifth and the sixth Imams. That is indeed strange, considering the fact that a man like Uthman ibn Sa‘id al-‘Amri is claimed to have been closely associated with the 10th, the 11th as well as the hidden 12th Imam, and also the fact that his son remained the Shi‘i community’s solitary link to that Imam for half a century. Would it not have been better and more authoritative for an author like al-Kulayni to report the hadith of his Imams from the Hidden Imam via his representatives who lived in Baghdad at the same time as he rather than to trace it all back to the fifth and sixth Imams through a myriad of doubtful channels?

But of course, he could not have done that, because the activities of those representatives did not have as much to do with authentically preserving the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt as with the collection of wealth in their names.

In light of the fact that the Shi‘ah explain the necessity of Imamah in terms of the need for an infallible guide who serves as the repository of the legacy of Ahl al-Bayt, it appears extremely incongruous that this particular guide has left no sort of legacy of his own whereby the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt can be known. Despite the fact that an infallible guide supposedly exists, it is upon fallible persons such as Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub al-Kulayni that the Shi‘ah must depend for that legacy.

The only bit of information that has come down to us regarding the Hidden Imam’s authentication of the hadith legacy of the Shi‘ah is what is recorded by Aqa Muhammad Baqir Khwansari in his book Rawdat al-Jannat. He writes that al-Kulayni’s book was presented to the Hidden Imam who looked at it and declared, “Hadha Kaafin li-Shi‘atina” (This is enough for our Shi‘ah). This is incidentally how the book received its name.

A report such as this creates a huge problem. It appears to be a ratification of the contents of the book al-Kafi by the infallible Imam. Yet, 9 centuries later the Shi‘i muhaddith, Mulla Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, would declare in his commentary on al-Kafi, named Mir’at al-‘Uqul, that 9,485 out of the 16,121 narrations in al-Kafi are unreliable. What did Majlisi know that the infallible Imam was so unaware of that he would authenticate a book, 60% of whose contents would later be discovered to be unreliable?

Evaluation

The Iraqi Shi‘i scholar, Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, finds proof for the existence of the Hidden Mahdi in what he calls “the experience of a community”. The existence of the Hidden Imam, he postulates, was experienced by the Shi‘i community as a whole in the written communications that the representatives used supplied them with.

The crux of this argument lies in the fact that an individual experience might be doubted, but never that of experience of an entire community. However, the glaring flaw in this line of reasoning is that it very conveniently overlooks the part of the representatives as the individual go-betweens.

The community never had the privilege of seeing or meeting the person they believed to be the author of the tawqi‘at. Their experience was limited to receiving what the representatives produced. Even the argument of a consistent handwriting in all the various tawqi‘at is at best melancholy. There is no way one can get away from the fact that the existence of the Hidden Imam rests upon nothing other than acceptance of the words of the representatives.

The activities of those representatives furthermore go a long way to show that they were much, much more inspired by the desire to possess than by pious sentiments of any kind.

So when the Shi‘ah commemorate the birth of their twelfth Imam on the 15th night of Sha‘ban, or when they seek to apply ahadith in Sunni sources which speak of twelve khalifas to their twelve Imams, then let us ask them on what basis do they accept the existence of the twelfth one?

History bears witness to the existence of eleven persons in that specific line of descent, but when we come to the twelfth one, all we have is claims made by persons whose activities in the name of their Hidden Imam give us all the reason in the world to suspect their honesty and integrity.

In Islam, issues of faith can never be based upon evidence of this kind.

Reference > http://www.islamicweb.com/beliefs/cults/shia_mahdi.htm

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Sorry sir,

we did not take religion from history or mouths of fallible men. Just because u deny Allah azwj is adil u deny imamah.

Our religion is based on Al Quran and ahadees e mohammad wa Aale mohammad asws.

U believe shaytan is a misguiding imam but don't believe in a guiding imam from Allah. And u denied more than 1/4 th of the quranic verses. Stories of our imam looks dramatic but ISA a.s's story is normal to u Jews and magians.

And our belief is to us and your's to you.

Ya Ali Madad

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I think it's an interesting article, especially on the part

Would it not have been better and more authoritative for an author like al-Kulayni to report the hadith of his Imams from the Hidden Imam via his representatives who lived in Baghdad at the same time as he rather than to trace it all back to the fifth and sixth Imams through a myriad of doubtful channels?

Anyone knows the answer from the Twelver Shia point of view?

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I think it's an interesting article, especially on the part

Anyone knows the answer from the Twelver Shia point of view?

(salam)

I don't have time to respond to the OP, but will just answer your question very briefly.

The last few Imams were under great watch and oppression, and they had to be more secretive than the others. It is nothing "doubtful" like the OP suggests. The majority of the ahadeeth come from the Imams al-Baqir and as-Sadiq, aleyhum assalam, since these two had a great amount of freedom to express themselves. Even thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni had to be careful; he could not always name from who he got a hadeeth from, so sometimes he simply says "from a number of our companions" or other similar statements, or otherwise their lives would have been in danger. (Thankfully, his students preserved these names so we know who the companion(s) is/are in different ahadeeth/chains).

There are saheeh ahadeeth of people who reported al-Qaim's, aleyhis salam, birth or saw him. However I will answer the OP another time.

Peace.

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(bismillah)

(salam)

When one reads the classical literature of the Shi‘ah in which the activities of the four representatives are outlined, one is struck by the constantly recurring theme of money. They are almost always mentioned in connection with receiving and collecting “the Imam’s money” his loyal Shi‘i followers. There is a shocking lack of any activities of an academic or spiritual nature. Not a single one of the four is credited with having compiled any book, despite the fact that they were in exclusive communion with the last of the Imams, the sole repository of the legacy of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.

i'd like to see a Shia response to this.

w/s

Edited by lotfilms
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i'd like to see a Shia response to this.

Why ?

It dos not disprove our belief in the twelvth Imam.

None of our Imams can be accused of anything other than being of the most sublime character.

Unlike the Imams of others,

  • who openly abused the treasury, and made lavish gifts to their relatives, all within half a century of the Prophet's death,
    or
  • those several centuries later, who played with wealth, lived in glittering palaces, drove fast cars, wallowed in worldly pleasures and whose children slept with Hollywood film stars.

In any case, that article comes from a Sunni site.

Many of us in this forum may not be knowledgeable enough to respond satisfactorily, but with their well-known urge to disparage Shia beliefs, the Sunni article has little or no credibility.

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Some of the issues i found with the article. It mentions how the Shia were confused after the first few Imams passed away; that perhaps one of them could have gone into occultation ala Imam Mehdi. Although, the article uses this to somehow prove its point, the irony is that actually strengthens the shia position because the belief in an Imam going into occultation existed very early in Islamic history. Disproving then that it was a concoction of the Safirs or advisors. This confusion also manifests itself later in history when Imam Jafar E Sadiq(as) was alive. A number of Shia took him to be Imam Mehdi(as) after the former passed away. This confusion continued up until Imam Hasan Al Askari(as). What this proves is that all throughout early Shia history, the concept of an Imam going into occultation and appear at a later time was very much embedded within the Shia subconscious. Basically we have hadith, from twelver and Ismali sources that discuss Imam Mehdi(as) going into occultation and so forth. These are hadith prior to the Safirs, going back in fact all the way to Imam Jafar E Sadiq(as). This is quite early in Shia history. The article seems to conveniently ignore facts whenever it disagrees with its thesis.

Another thing i found noteworthy was that the handwriting of the letters which were allegedly written by Imam Mehdi(as) had the same handwriting. So basically four different Safirs came and passed in a span of 60 years, yet the handwriting of the letters they presented to the Shia faithful was identical all throughout. This is something to consider.

Most of the questions the article raises can be easily answered by a brief study of history. Imam Hasan Al Askari(as) was under house arrest and under constant surveillance. Any information regarding his progeny had to remain as secretive as possible, reveled only on a need to know basis. I suppose this is why many doubted the existence of any descendants he had. It had to remain a secret to protect both Imam Hasan Al Askari(as) and his son, Imam Al Mehdi(as).

I have my questions regarding this topic, but this article really doesn't present anything thought provoking. I guess the only question i have is what purpose the khums and zakat money served. The article claims the Safirs manipulated the masses to gain wealth, yet i don't ever recall any of them being particularly wealthy.

Speculative at best.

Edited by Fiasco
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(bismillah)

(salam)

Although, the article uses this to somehow prove its point, the irony is that actually strengthens the shia position because the belief in an Imam going into occultation existed very early in Islamic history.

Thy belief of occultation is something that has existed since early in human history...

Every Muslim then and knows knows about the occultation of Nabi 'Isa (pbuh)

w/s

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(salam)

Those works, like al-Kafi, which was written during the latter decades of the Lesser Occultation, contain scarcely a reference to any of the four representatives as narrators from the Hidden Imam. Instead it is filled with thousands of reports which go back, via other channels, to the fifth and the sixth Imams.

It's not strange if you understand the situation. The early Shi`a were trying to protect the Mahdi's representatives. If al-Kulayni relied on the four representatives for his work, he'd be putting their lives more at risk. They, after all, would have been some of the few people who knew the location of the Imam (as). After all, the eleven Imams (as) preceding al-Qa`im were all killed, and many were imprisoned. The later Imams were not even in a position to publicly speak and narrate many hadiths because of their imprisonments and close watch by the Abbasids.

Remember that the Imams were not just ordinary scholars; they were their own Caliphate and divinely appointed persons. This can easily be seen as a threat to the corrupt rulers, who spent most of their time making sure the throne remained theirs. Look how close al-Ma`mun was to ar-Ridha (as) and al-Jawad (as) and the part he played in their deaths.

Thy belief of occultation is something that has existed since early in human history...

Every Muslim then and knows knows about the occultation of Nabi 'Isa (pbuh)

This is very different. Iesa (as) was risen up (physically or spiritually) and is no longer among us. He is either dead or far away, with no effect on the earth, while the doctrine of ghayba necessitates that al-Qa`im is still among us, alive, hidden, and still helping/ruling his community. Ascension and occultation do not have much in common.

But occultation truly did have a heavy place in the Shi`i subconscious long before ibn al-`Askari (as). And I don't just mean "going away" like Jesus (as) or Moses (as) before him, I mean a very specific doctrine: that the last Imam would be the Qa`im, and that he would be Hidden and living. Like the article mentions, when Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya died, he was thought to be the Qa`im in occultation. When as-Sadiq died, the Tawussiyya believed he went into ghayba. The Waqfiyya believed al-Kadhim was alive, the Qa`im, and in ghayba, etc. This proves that the doctrine of occultation wasn't just a backdoor solution the Imamiyya "made up" after al-`Askari died, but instead that there was a long expectation that the last Imam would be al-Qa`im, and he would be in occultation.

Edited by Qa'im
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(bismillah)

(salam)

Thy belief of occultation is something that has existed since early in human history...

Every Muslim then and knows knows about the occultation of Nabi 'Isa (pbuh)

w/s

The specific time period/belief system i'm referring to requires the Imam(as) be a direct descendant of Muhammad(saw) through the lineage of Ali(as) and Fatima(as). So if you're implying that early Shias were confusing Nabi Isa(as) with Imam Mehdi(as), then you are simply wrong.

They were understood as two distinct individuals. Although a level of confusion existed, it had nothing to do with what you are saying.

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This is very different. Iesa (as) was risen up (physically or spiritually) and is no longer among us. He is either dead or far away, with no effect on the earth, while the doctrine of ghayba necessitates that al-Qa`im is still among us, alive, hidden, and still helping/ruling his community. Ascension and occultation do not have much in common.

How can he be dead if he was physically risen up? You need to do more research on this matter.

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(salam)

How can he be dead if he was physically risen up? You need to do more research on this matter.

Because it depends on how you interpret the word wafaat. It literally means "to take back", though it also means "to die". When Allah in the Qur'an says He will take up Jesus (as), He uses the word tawaffeeka, which some have interpreted as "cause you to die" rather than "take you back". It's kind of similar to how in English we say "pass away" to mean die, even though it does not radically refer to death.

Shaykh Saduq for example believed that Jesus' second coming would be under the larger umbrella of raj`a. That is to say, Allah caused him to die, and he will be returned back to life along with others during the raj`a event.

Generally speaking, Sunnis formally believe Jesus (as) was raised physically to God, while the Shi`a do not have a formal opinion on the issue - either he is as the Sunnis say, or Allah caused him to die, and the ascension was spiritual. And Allah knows best.

Edited by Qa'im
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In the beginning, let me say that I'll put a skeptic hat on this issue. After all, the certainty achieved after doubt will be much better & stronger than the pseudo certainty when we just brushes all our doubts aside without facing them.

(salam)

It's not strange if you understand the situation. The early Shi`a were trying to protect the Mahdi's representatives. If al-Kulayni relied on the four representatives for his work, he'd be putting their lives more at risk. They, after all, would have been some of the few people who knew the location of the Imam (as). After all, the eleven Imams (as) preceding al-Qa`im were all killed, and many were imprisoned. The later Imams were not even in a position to publicly speak and narrate many hadiths because of their imprisonments and close watch by the Abbasids.

Remember that the Imams were not just ordinary scholars; they were their own Caliphate and divinely appointed persons. This can easily be seen as a threat to the corrupt rulers, who spent most of their time making sure the throne remained theirs. Look how close al-Ma`mun was to ar-Ridha (as) and al-Jawad (as) and the part he played in their deaths.

I think it's understandable that Imam Mahdi needed to be extra careful, since he was known as the Mahdi, the one that will rule the earth & fill it with justice. Of course the Abbasid would have tried their best to eliminate him since he was a great threat to the kingdom.

But, there are some issues that need to be resolved:

- The legitimacy of representatives: In the book "Imam Mahdi, the Just Leader of Humanity" (http://www.al-islam.org/mahdi/nontl/Toc.htm) chapter 6, there were differences in opinion regarding who were the representatives of the Imam between Sayyid Ibn Tawus, Syaikh Tusi, & the 4 accepted representatives right now. Since the Imam was in minor occultation, there was no way to verify someone's claim of being a representative. In short, the legitimacy of the representatives was under question

- Muhammad ibn Uthman, Husayn ibn Ruh, & 'Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samarri were deputies for quite a long time without being captured by the Abbasid. So why can't the Imam just dictate to them all the necessary knowledge & then the last deputy released these books shortly before his death (or shortly after his death by his family)? This way, the security of Imam & his deputies was still preserved

- There are a lot of knowledge that we really need right now that sadly not conveyed in full to us which raise the question on why Imam Mahdi left the affairs of his Shia in this way, such as:

- The correct recitation/reading of Al-Quran according to Ahlul Bayt

- The asbabun nuzul of each & every ayat to understand the Al-Quran better

- The authentic hadiths so that we don't have to conduct put every hadith on scrutiny to know its authenticity just as Sunni does

- The illat & asbabun nuzul of Islamic laws, so we understand what to do with new issues or classical law but under different circumstances (e.g. salat & fasting on areas close to north pole when sometimes

sun doesn't set for days)

But occultation truly did have a heavy place in the Shi`i subconscious long before ibn al-`Askari (as). And I don't just mean "going away" like Jesus (as) or Moses (as) before him, I mean a very specific doctrine: that the last Imam would be the Qa`im, and that he would be Hidden and living. Like the article mentions, when Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya died, he was thought to be the Qa`im in occultation. When as-Sadiq died, the Tawussiyya believed he went into ghayba. The Waqfiyya believed al-Kadhim was alive, the Qa`im, and in ghayba, etc. This proves that the doctrine of occultation wasn't just a backdoor solution the Imamiyya "made up" after al-`Askari died, but instead that there was a long expectation that the last Imam would be al-Qa`im, and he would be in occultation.

Interestingly, the existence of Shia sects such as Zaydi, Hanafiyya, Tawussiya, Ismailiya, Waqfiyya, etc prove that the hadith on 12 khalifa found in Bukhari is not universally accepted in the Shia community

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(salam)

Because it depends on how you interpret the word wafaat. It literally means "to take back", though it also means "to die". When Allah in the Qur'an says He will take up Jesus (as), He uses the word tawaffeeka, which some have interpreted as "cause you to die" rather than "take you back". It's kind of similar to how in English we say "pass away" to mean die, even though it does not radically refer to death.

I'm a little confused. If Jesus didn't die on earth like the Qu'ran says [shakir 4:157] And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the messenger of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure] How can we believe Allah killed Jesus then sent him away? I know wafaat has different meanings but it's illogical to think Allah killed Jesus, he died, and Allah will bring him back from the grave. The Shia opinion is Jesus was simply 'taken back' like you said, he's not dead nor will he ever die. It also makes sense that he's still alive because he will return with the Mahdi (hf)..otherwise why wouldn't Allah bring back all the Prophets (pbuh) and Ahlulbayt (as) with Jesus?

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I came along a very interesting article by the famous historian and social scientist Bernard lewis had said about the theory of oocultation in shia Islam.which endorses the point of the OP. Bernard Lewis said

"the idea of an Imam in occultation was not new in 873 but that it was a recurring factor in Shia history. Examples of this include the cases of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah Kaysanites Shia), Muhammad ibn Abdallah An-Nafs Az-Zakiyya, Musa al-Kadhim (according to the Waqifite Shia), Muhammad ibn Qasim (al-Alawi), Yahya ibn Umar and Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi (according to the Muhammadite Shia)"

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I came along a very interesting article by the famous historian and social scientist Bernard lewis had said about the theory of oocultation in shia Islam.which endorses the point of the OP. Bernard Lewis said

"the idea of an Imam in occultation was not new in 873 but that it was a recurring factor in Shia history. Examples of this include the cases of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah Kaysanites Shia), Muhammad ibn Abdallah An-Nafs Az-Zakiyya, Musa al-Kadhim (according to the Waqifite Shia), Muhammad ibn Qasim (al-Alawi), Yahya ibn Umar and Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi (according to the Muhammadite Shia)"

What's your point?

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Assalamu alaykum wa rahmetu Allahi wa barekato.

I will respond to the points the article actually made inshaa'Allah, and hence have deleted the excess:

Thus, when it came to pass that the first of those whom they regard as their Imams— Sayyiduna Ali radiyallahu 'anhu— left this world, a problem arose. Some of those who regarded themselves as his followers claimed that he did not in fact die, but that he will return to establish justice. Others said that he was succeeded as Imam by his son Hasan, who was in turn succeeded by his brother Husayn.

I have never heard that any group claimed that Imam Ali, aleyhis salam, did not die. A possibility may be left for the ghulaat. However the ghulaat were clearly not his real followers (they were not present with him, aiding him) and the vast majority of them came long after the Imam's death.

So this is rubbish. There was never any dispute that the Imamate passed down to Imam al-Hasan, aleyhis salam. The only people who did not follow Imam al-Hasan, aleyhis salam, as an Imam, were those who never believed in the Imamate in the first place, and so were not the true Shia.

Also this has no relevance to al-Mahdi, aleyhis salam.

al-Kafi by thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni, volume 1, kitab al-Hujjat, Chapter 66: Tacit and Explicit Testimony as Proof of al-Hassan Ibn Ali’s Divine Authority Over the People After

(Amir Al-Mu’minin) Ali, aleyhum assalam:

Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from Hammad ibn ‘Isa from Ibrahim ibn ‘Umar al-Yamani and ‘Umar ibn ’Udhayna from Aban from Sulaym ibn Qays who has said the following:

“I witnessed (Amir al-Mu’minin) Ali’s, aleyhis salam, will made before me in which he appointed his son, al-Hassan, aleyhis salam, as the executor of his will. He called al-Hussayn, aleyhis salam, Muhammad and all his other sons, all the leaders among his followers and his whole family to bear testimony to his will. He then delivered the Book and the Armament to his son al-Hassan, aleyhis salam, and said, ‘My son, the Messenger of Allah commanded me to appoint you as the executor of my will. (He commanded me) to deliver to you my Books and my Armament just as the Messenger of Allah did. He made his will in which he appointed me as the executor, delivered to me his Books and his Armament and commanded me to command you to deliver them to al-Hussayn, aleyhis salam, when you are about to leave this world. Then he turned to his son, al-Hussayn, aleyhis salam, and said, ‘The Messenger of Allah has commanded you to deliver them to your son, this one.’ Then he held with his hand Ali ibn al-Hussayn, aleyhis salam, and said to him, ‘The Messenger of Allah has commanded you to deliver them to your son, Muhammad ibn Ali and convey to him the greeting of the Messenger of Allah and my greeting.’”

al-Majlisi grades this hadeeth in his Mira'aat al-Uqool, volume 3, page page 291, "...ÍÓä Úáì ÇáÙÇåÑ¡ Èá ÕÍíÍ. ÅÐ ßÊÇÈ Óáíã ãÞÈæá ÚäÏ ÇáÞÏãÇÁ". (Appears to be Hasan/good in authenticity. But saheeh if Kitab Sulaym bin Qays is accepted by the ancients...).

When Husayn died there were some who claimed to follow their other brother Muhammad (known as Ibn al-Hanafiyyah) as their Imam. When he died his followers claimed that he was in reality alive, and that he will return in due time. Others amongst the Shi'ah took Sayyiduna Husayn's son, Ali, surnamed Zayn al-'Abidin, as their Imam,

There were very few Shia to follow Imam as-Sajjad, aleyhis salam, because most of them had either been killed by the oppressive regime or in Karbala, etc. So this situation is exceptional. As for the dispute of Imamate between Muhammed bin al-Hanafiyyah and Imam as-Sajjad, aleyhis salam, this was resolved by both giving their Salam to the Black Stone in Makkah, and the stone only replied to Hujjat Allah, Ali bin al-Hussayn, peace be upon him.

When al-Baqir died there were once again elements from amongst the Shi'ah who denied his death and claimed that he would return one day, while others took his son Ja'far as-Sadiq as their Imam.

So what? This only shows that there clearly is a belief in the arrival of al-Mahdi. Most of his followers follow as-Sadiq, aleyhis salam, anyway, so it's pointless to try to paint this as a situation of confusion.

When he died there was mass confusion amongst the Shi'ah: each of his sons Isma'il, Abdullah, Muhammad, Zakariyya, Ishaq and Musa was claimed by various groups amongst the Shi'ah to be their Imam. In addition to them there was a group who believed that Ja'far did not really die, and that he would return one day.

Yes, there were a small group, as there for many of the Imams, who said that the late Imam had gone into ghaybah and would return as al-Mahdi. This only shows there was a belief in this. Imam as-Sadiq, aleyhis salam, had to resort to great secrecy by the end of his life because the Abbaassids had stablised enough as rulers to consider possible threats to them as Khalifas. So some of his close followers knew that Musa al-Kadhim, aleyhis salam, had been designated as the succeeding Islam. Others did not know. However this was not problematic. Why? They assumed that the eldest surviving son, Abdullah, was the next Imam, however it soon became clear to them that he was not suitable, such as in knowledge, to be the Imam, and they met Imam al-Kadhim, aleyhis salam, who displayed his great knowledge.

As for the group that believed in Ismail, their existence has nothing to do with any weakness or doubt in the Imamate, like the author of this article is trying to make. Jafar as-Sadiq, aleyhis salam, made it very clear that Ismail had died (by repeatedly uncovering his face during the funeral), and there are also no ahadeeth (saheeh at least, although I have not seen any ahadeeth at all) that say that the Imam said that Ismail was his successor.

As for the other sons, I have not heard that they had groups who believed that they were the Imams. If there were such groups, they were very small and did not survive long.

The above is a very brief synopsis of a tumultuous and confusing history— a history from which a dedicated researcher might extract some very revealing facts about the development of Shi'ism.

This is no confusion. The only real time when there was a doubt over the identity of the succeeding Imam for some the Shia was after the 6th Imam's death, and that situation was quickly cleared up.

Six years later, in 260 AH, Hasan al-Askari, at the very young age of 28, is lying on his deathbed, but unlike any of his forefathers he leaves no offspring, no one to whom the Shi'ah might appropriate as their new Imam.

Please bring ahadeeth to evidence this .There are many ahadeeth to the contrary.

There were four major trends amongst these various sects:

(1) There were those who accepted the death of Hasan al-Askari as a fact, and accepted also the fact that he left no offspring. To them Imamah had thus come to an end, just like Nubuwwah came to an end with the death of Rasulullah r . However, there were some amongst them who kept hoping for the advent of a new Imam.

Actually, they were a group who accepted that Imam al-Askari, aleyhis salam, had died, but because the Imam had not announced publically his successor, and had not given them private correspondance about his successor, they assumed he had no successor. They used a hadeeeth which says that the Earth will always have an Imam unless Allah, azza wa jalla, because angry with its inhabitants; however in doing so, they went against other ahadeeth that said there would always be an Imam.

(2) The second trend was one to which the student of the history of "succession to the Imamah" would be much more used to. This was the tendency to deny the death of Hasan al-Askari, and to claim that he would return in the future to establish justice upon earth. We have seen this tendency emerge amongst the Shi'ah at more than one critical juncture in the history of the Imamah of the Shi'ah; it is therefore only logical to expect it to resurface at a moment as critical as the death of Hasan al-Askari.

This is a poor attempt to make this group look like they were simply copying those who had claimed that so-and-so Imam had gone into ghaybah. Actually, this group believed in al-Askari, aleyhis salam, being the Mahdi. They did not know of a son, because al-Askari (aleyhis salam) had not made any public announcement. So they assumed that there was no son. Since they knew there must always be an Imam, they concluded that the 11th Imam was the last Imam and hence the Mahdi.

(3) The third trend was to extend the chain of Imamah to Hasan's brother Ja'far.

This group knew there must always be an Imam so they chose the brother of Imam al-Askari, aleyhis salam. In believing this, the group went against the belief (supported by ahadeeth) that say that the Imamate will not pass from brother to brother after al-Hussayn, aleyhis salam. In recognition of this, many of this group then ended up rejecting the Imamate of al-Askari (aleyhis salam) in one way or another.

This group partly formed because of Jafar claiming the Imamate. However it became clear that his character was not suitable for one who is an Imam.

(4) The fourth trend was the claim that Hasan al-Askari did in fact have a son. It is the fourth trend which ultimately became the view of the dominant group in Shi'ism.

Actually this was always the dominant group. Nawbakhti also chose to be one of them. Only their beliefs are without the problems and uncertainities that the other groups suffered.

This trend was spearheaded by persons who had set themselves up as the representatives of the Imam, and who were in control of a network covering various parts of the Islamic empire— a network for the purpose of collecting money in the name of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt.

They were not just there to collect money but to act as official representatives of the 12th Imam, aleyhis salam. The Imam issued any instructions or letters through them.

All followers of the Imams were obliged to pay one fifth of their income to the representatives of the Imams. (This is a practice which continues up to today.) At the head of this network was a man called Uthman ibn Sa'id al-'Amri. His manner of resolving the predicament was unique: Hasan al-Askari was dead, he admitted, but he was not childless. He had a 4-year old son, Muhammad, with whom no one but he— Uthman ibn Sa'id— could have contact. And from that point onwards he would act as the representative (wakeel) of the Hidden Imam and collect money in his name. To the fact that Hasan al-Askari's own family were completely ignorant of the existence of any child of his, and that his estate had been divided between his brother Ja'far and his mother, Uthman ibn Sa'id and his ilk responded by denouncing Ja'far as al-Kadhdhab (the Liar).

The family were not ignorant of the existence of al-Hujjat al-Qaim, aleyhis salam. Indeed the 12th Imam's aunt, as an example, knew of him.

al-Kafi, volume 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, Chapter 80, hadeeth 19:

Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Muhammad ibn al-Husayn from ibn Mahbub from Ishaq ibn ‘Ammar who has said the following:

“Abu ‘Abd Allah (as-Sadiq), aleyhis salam, has said, ‘Al-Qa’im (the one who will rise with Divine Authority and power) will have two disappearances. One will be for a short time and the other for a longer time. No one will know his place during the shorter disappearance except the special persons from his Shi‘a. During his longer disappearance no one will see him except very special persons of his friends.’”

al-Majlisi grades this hadeeth in Mira'aat al-Uqool, volume 4, page 53, as "muwwathaq" (reliable).

This hadeeth was recorded before Imam Hasan al-Askhari, aleyhis salam, died by the Waqifites (those who said that Imam al-Kadhim was the last Imam) and this further confirms its authenticity.

In due time a fantastic story was brought into circulation about the union between Hasan al-Askari and a Roman slave-girl, who is variously named as Narjis, Sawsan or Mulaykah. She is mentioned as having been the daughter of Yusha' (Joshua), the Roman emperor, who is a direct descendant of the apostle Simon Peter. But history shows that there never was a Roman emperor of that name. The Roman emperor of the time was Basil I, and neither he nor any other emperor is known to have descended from Peter. The story goes on to tell of her capture by the Muslim army, how she eventually came to be sold to Hasan al-Askari, and of her supernatural pregnancy and the secret birth of the son of whom no one— aside from Uthman ibn Sa'id and his clique— knew anything. Everything about the child is enveloped in a thick and impenetrable cloud of mystery.

The story is indeed false, however there are other stories regarding Narjis's origin, radhiAllahu anha, and the birth of the Imam az-Zaman (the Imam of this time). To pick a weak story, paint it being the only information on the origin of the Imam's mother and the Imam's birth is dishonest.

There is a shocking lack of any activities of an academic or spiritual nature. Not a single one of the four is credited with having compiled any book, despite the fact that they were in exclusive communion with the last of the Imams, the sole repository of the legacy of Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam.

Hardly any books were compiled during that time. Same for the past few previous Imams. So the point is moot.

When we look at the major sources upon which the Shi'i faith is based, we find that most of them were written after the onset of the Greater Occultation. Those works, like al-Kafi, which was written during the latter decades of the Lesser Occultation, contain scarcely a reference to any of the four representatives as narrators from the Hidden Imam.

Yet the author has just pointed out that many of the letters of the four representatives, radhiAllahu anhum, were preserved in books such as those by ash-shaykh at-Tusi. Hence this point has been self-refuted. Furthermore, al-Kulayni never claimed to have preserved every single hadeeth. He simply collected what he deemed as "kafi"/"enough" for the Shia to continue practicing and know their religion. Since the letters of the Imam did not really contain any such instructions, from what little I know about them (nor did they need to since the previous 11 Imam's ahadeeths sufficed), it is not a surprise that al-Kulayni did not include them.

Instead it is filled with thousands of reports which go back, via other channels, to the fifth and the sixth Imams. That is indeed strange, considering the fact that a man like Uthman ibn Sa'id al-'Amri is claimed to have been closely associated with the 10th, the 11th as well as the hidden 12th Imam, and also the fact that his son remained the Shi'i community's solitary link to that Imam for half a century. Would it not have been better and more authoritative for an author like al-Kulayni to report the hadith of his Imams from the Hidden Imam via his representatives who lived in Baghdad at the same time as he rather than to trace it all back to the fifth and sixth Imams through a myriad of doubtful channels?

No. The represenatives were not reporting many ahadeeth from the Imam. Whereas the 5th and 6th Imams had narrated many thousands of ahadeeth. More than any other Imam. Hence more ahadeeth come from those two.

The only bit of information that has come down to us regarding the Hidden Imam's authentication of the hadith legacy of the Shi'ah is what is recorded by Aqa Muhammad Baqir Khwansari in his book Rawdat al-Jannat. He writes that al-Kulayni's book was presented to the Hidden Imam who looked at it and declared, "Hadha Kaafin li-Shi'atina" (This is enough for our Shi'ah). This is incidentally how the book received its name.

Please provide the evidence for this.

Yet, 9 centuries later the Shi'i muhaddith, Mulla Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, would declare in his commentary on al-Kafi, named Mir'at al-'Uqul, that 9,485 out of the 16,121 narrations in al-Kafi are unreliable. What did Majlisi know that the infallible Imam was so unaware of that he would authenticate a book, 60% of whose contents would later be discovered to be unreliable?

Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni himself said to reject any hadeeth that contradicted the Quran and Sunnah. Anyway, 2/3rds of the book cannot be proven. It does not mean it is false. One big problem is that alot of narrators are majhool (unknown), so a scholar did record that they were trustworthy. Otherwise, we could validate many more ahadeeth in al-Kafi.

So when the Shi'ah commemorate the birth of their twelfth Imam on the 15th night of Sha'ban, or when they seek to apply ahadith in Sunni sources which speak of twelve khalifas to their twelve Imams, then let us ask them on what basis do they accept the existence of the twelfth one?

On a wide variety of reasons including the muttawattir hadeeth just mentioned. Also on the hadeeth I quoted earlier which describes the ghaybah.

What a ridiculous article that did not nothing except try to instil doubt into the followers of Imam al-Mahdi, aleyhis salam.

Peace.

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(salam)

What's your point?

He has no point really. He is trying to say that we Shias are wrong for following the Imam al-Hujjah (ajt) because many people from the past believed their Imam went into occultation.

He is of course forgetting that believing in the Imam al-Mahdi(ajt) is an Islamic belief. Even Sunni believe in the Imam. They just rejected the Imam al-Mahdi(ajt) because he is among the ahlul bayt. Sunnis don’t acknowledge the Imams of ahlul bayt,

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- There are a lot of knowledge that we really need right now that sadly not conveyed in full to us which raise the question on why Imam Mahdi left the affairs of his Shia in this way, such as:

- The correct recitation/reading of Al-Quran according to Ahlul Bayt

- The asbabun nuzul of each & every ayat to understand the Al-Quran better

- The authentic hadiths so that we don't have to conduct put every hadith on scrutiny to know its authenticity just as Sunni does

- The illat & asbabun nuzul of Islamic laws, so we understand what to do with new issues or classical law but under different circumstances (e.g. salat & fasting on areas close to north pole when sometimes

sun doesn't set for days)

Quote

Have you ever considered that perhaps one of the wisdoms of the occultation of the Imam is to force us to spiritually grow up and think and believe critically instead of sitting back and regurgitating everything that we are told. It is through this searching that we gain greater certainty; anyone who has gone from the simple faith of believing everything they are told to this deeper examination of faith can tell you that it is like entering an entirely new universe. And if we make some small error in some tertiary matter of the law because we don't have someone to tell us exactly what to do does anyone really think that God is going to be displeased with us or it is going to negatively effect our spiritual growth? Do you really think that the Imam is awaiting a group of sheeplike followers? We need to take responsibility for ourselves and learn from the situation we have been placed in.

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(salam)

He has no point really. He is trying to say that we Shias are wrong for following the Imam al-Hujjah (ajt) because many people from the past believed their Imam went into occultation.

He is of course forgetting that believing in the Imam al-Mahdi(ajt) is an Islamic belief. Even Sunni believe in the Imam. They just rejected the Imam al-Mahdi(ajt) because he is among the ahlul bayt. Sunnis don't acknowledge the Imams of ahlul bayt,

sallams.. My only point was that the occultation which occurred in the case of Twelver's mehdi's was not something new for the shias. Earlier,many shia sects have claimed occultation for different Imams/people as mentioned by the OP.

We do believe in mehdi and we do believe that he will be the descendant of Hadrat Hassan Ra but he will be naturally born and will meet certain signs from which the people will recognize him.

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(salam)

Interestingly, the existence of Shia sects such as Zaydi, Hanafiyya, Tawussiya, Ismailiya, Waqfiyya, etc prove that the hadith on 12 khalifa found in Bukhari is not universally accepted in the Shia community

I don't think the idea that there would be twelve Imams was common knowledge amongst the Shi`a, because of all the sects that either did waqf and therefore had less than twelve Imams, or split off and had a lot more. So the common expectation for twelve probably was not there, but the expectation for al-Qa`im (as) and his occultation clearly was. It's just like saying the Jews and Christians didn't know how many prophets there would be - the number is not that relevant; what's relevant is who's message they were following, and what was coming next. Also, the fact that there was twelve, and that these twelve would span until Judgment day, can be confirmed in our hadiths and three Sunni hadiths on this topic. I believe macisaac has also demonstrated that the expectation for twelve Imams is also in Zaydi references.

I'm a little confused. If Jesus didn't die on earth like the Qu'ran says [shakir 4:157] And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the messenger of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure] How can we believe Allah killed Jesus then sent him away?

I didn't say Jesus (as) died via crucifixion. I am saying there is a possibility that Allah caused him to die in a later and unrelated event, such as death by natural causes. We know that all prophets are in communication with Allah at the time of their death, so the idea is not that far fetched.

I know wafaat has different meanings but it's illogical to think Allah killed Jesus, he died, and Allah will bring him back from the grave.

Why is that illogical? The concept of raj`a is thick in the Imamiyya. Several people will come back from their graves before the end times according to the Qur'an and hadiths.

The Shia opinion is Jesus was simply 'taken back' like you said, he's not dead nor will he ever die. It also makes sense that he's still alive because he will return with the Mahdi (hf)..otherwise why wouldn't Allah bring back all the Prophets (pbuh) and Ahlulbayt (as) with Jesus?

Like I said before, Shaykh Saduq, who is one of our biggest classical scholars, believed that Jesus' return was a part of raj`a (coming back to life). I'm not asking you to believe it, I'm saying we should accept it as a possibility. I think Shaykh at-Tusi took the position that he was physically raised prior to the crucifixion, so both opinions exist within classical scholarship.

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sallams.. My only point was that the occultation which occurred in the case of Twelver's mehdi's was not something new for the shias. Earlier,many shia sects have claimed occultation for different Imams/people as mentioned by the OP.

We do believe in mehdi and we do believe that he will be the descendant of Hadrat Hassan Ra but he will be naturally born and will meet certain signs from which the people will recognize him.

There still isn't any point to this. What conclusions are you attempting to draw from this?

Many Sunnis have also claimed to be Imam Mehdi. Some actually ended up convincing a significant number of Muslims.

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Apart from the silly article, what's especially ironic here is that we have an Ismaili (the OP) using Nasibi propaganda to argue against us. Ever hear of shooting yourself in the foot? Or, that one about people in glass houses throwing stones?

(wasalam)

Well ismailis are also nasibis they hate our last 6 Imams(as) and maybe also Imam Hassan(as)

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(wasalam)

Well ismailis are also nasibis they hate our last 6 Imams(as) and maybe also Imam Hassan(as)

i hope this doesnt offend you but

This is no way to condemn a sect- please prove/disprove your opinion via valid reasoning and refuting their arguments (if the present any)

i think , we shall not pass such remarks and be tolerant :-)

we must stop labelling sects as entirely being good or bad. :-)

maula waris

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(wasalam)

Well ismailis are also nasibis they hate our last 6 Imams(as) and maybe also Imam Hassan(as)

i hope this doesnt offend you but

This is no way to condemn a sect- please prove/disprove your opinion via valid reasoning and refuting their arguments (if the present any)

i think , we shall not pass such remarks and be tolerant :-)

we must stop labelling sects as entirely being good or bad. :-)

maula waris

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The Myth Of The Shia Mahdi

The 15th of Sha'baan is a very significant date, both to the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi'ah. The Shi'ah, however, have their own reason for ascribing significance to this night. To them it is the night of the birth of their twelfth Imam, the Hidden Mahdi.

Who is this Mahdi whose return to this world is so eagerly awaited by the Shi'ah, and belief in whose existence in occultation forms such a integral aspect of the Shi'i psyche? Before an adequate answer to this question may be given, there is a need to understand certain aspects concerning the Shi'i doctrine of Imamah.

Background

The cornerstone of the Shi'i faith is the belief that the spiritual and temporal leadership of this Ummah after the demise of Rasulullah is vested in the Imam, who is appointed, like the Nabi himself, by Allah, and who enjoys all the distinctions and privileges of the Nabi .

However, they believe that Imamah, unlike Nubuwwah, can never come to an end. In this regard there is a well-known Shi'i hadith which says that "the world cannot exist without an Imam", and another which goes that "if the earth were to be without an Imam for a single day it would sink."

Thus, when it came to pass that the first of those whom they regard as their Imams— Sayyiduna Ali radiyallahu 'anhu— left this world, a problem arose. Some of those who regarded themselves as his followers claimed that he did not in fact die, but that he will return to establish justice. Others said that he was succeeded as Imam by his son Hasan, who was in turn succeeded by his brother Husayn.

When Husayn died there were some who claimed to follow their other brother Muhammad (known as Ibn al-Hanafiyyah) as their Imam. When he died his followers claimed that he was in reality alive, and that he will return in due time. Others amongst the Shi'ah took Sayyiduna Husayn's son, Ali, surnamed Zayn al-'Abidin, as their Imam, and upon his death transferred their loyalties to his son, Muhammad al-Baqir.

When al-Baqir died there were once again elements from amongst the Shi'ah who denied his death and claimed that he would return one day, while others took his son Ja'far as-Sadiq as their Imam.

When he died there was mass confusion amongst the Shi'ah: each of his sons Isma'il, Abdullah, Muhammad, Zakariyya, Ishaq and Musa was claimed by various groups amongst the Shi'ah to be their Imam. In addition to them there was a group who believed that Ja'far did not really die, and that he would return one day.

More or less the same thing happened at the death of his son Musa. Some of the Shi'ah denied his death, believing that he will return, and others decided to take as their new Imam one of his sons. Some of these chose his son Ahmad, while others chose his other son Ali ar-Rida.

After him they took as their Imam his son Muhammad al-Jawwad (or at-Taqi), and after him his son Ali al-Hadi (or an-Naqi). At the death of Ali al-Hadi they looked upon his son Hasan al-Askari as their new— and 11th— Imam.

The Death Of Hasan Al-Askari

The above is a very brief synopsis of a tumultuous and confusing history— a history from which a dedicated researcher might extract some very revealing facts about the development of Shi'ism.

However, that is not our concern at this moment. We have now arrived at the year 254 AH, the time when a major section of the Shi'ah accepted as their Imam the 22-year old Hasan, son of Ali al-Hadi, and 10th lineal descendant of Sayyiduna Ali and Sayyidah Fatimah radiyallahu 'anhuma. Six years later, in 260 AH, Hasan al-Askari, at the very young age of 28, is lying on his deathbed, but unlike any of his forefathers he leaves no offspring, no one to whom the Shi'ah might appropriate as their new Imam.

The Shi'ah who had been regarding Hasan al-Askari as their Imam were thrown into mass disarray. Does this mean the end of the Imamah? The end of the Imamah would mean the end of Shi'ism. Were they prepared for that?

The confusion that reigned amongst the Shi'ah after the death of Hasan al-Askari is reflected by the Shi'i writer Hasan ibn Musa an-Nawbakhti, who counts the emergence of altogether 14 sects amongst the followers of Hasan al-Askari, each one with a different view on the future of the Imamah and the identity of the next Imam. It must be noted that an-Nawbakhti was alive at the time all of this was taking place. Another Shi'i writer, Sa'd ibn Abdullah al-Qummi, who also lived during the same time, counts 15 sects, and a century later the historian al-Mas'udi enumerates altogether 20 separate sects.

Trends

There were four major trends amongst these various sects:

(1) There were those who accepted the death of Hasan al-Askari as a fact, and accepted also the fact that he left no offspring. To them Imamah had thus come to an end, just like Nubuwwah came to an end with the death of Rasulullah r . However, there were some amongst them who kept hoping for the advent of a new Imam.

(2) The second trend was one to which the student of the history of "succession to the Imamah" would be much more used to. This was the tendency to deny the death of Hasan al-Askari, and to claim that he would return in the future to establish justice upon earth. We have seen this tendency emerge amongst the Shi'ah at more than one critical juncture in the history of the Imamah of the Shi'ah; it is therefore only logical to expect it to resurface at a moment as critical as the death of Hasan al-Askari.

(3) The third trend was to extend the chain of Imamah to Hasan's brother Ja'far.

(4) The fourth trend was the claim that Hasan al-Askari did in fact have a son. It is the fourth trend which ultimately became the view of the dominant group in Shi'ism.

The Missing Son

This trend was spearheaded by persons who had set themselves up as the representatives of the Imam, and who were in control of a network covering various parts of the Islamic empire— a network for the purpose of collecting money in the name of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt.

All followers of the Imams were obliged to pay one fifth of their income to the representatives of the Imams. (This is a practice which continues up to today.) At the head of this network was a man called Uthman ibn Sa'id al-'Amri. His manner of resolving the predicament was unique: Hasan al-Askari was dead, he admitted, but he was not childless. He had a 4-year old son, Muhammad, with whom no one but he— Uthman ibn Sa'id— could have contact. And from that point onwards he would act as the representative (wakeel) of the Hidden Imam and collect money in his name.

To the fact that Hasan al-Askari's own family were completely ignorant of the existence of any child of his, and that his estate had been divided between his brother Ja'far and his mother, Uthman ibn Sa'id and his ilk responded by denouncing Ja'far as al-Kadhdhab (the Liar).

In due time a fantastic story was brought into circulation about the union between Hasan al-Askari and a Roman slave-girl, who is variously named as Narjis, Sawsan or Mulaykah. She is mentioned as having been the daughter of Yusha' (Joshua), the Roman emperor, who is a direct descendant of the apostle Simon Peter. But history shows that there never was a Roman emperor of that name. The Roman emperor of the time was Basil I, and neither he nor any other emperor is known to have descended from Peter. The story goes on to tell of her capture by the Muslim army, how she eventually came to be sold to Hasan al-Askari, and of her supernatural pregnancy and the secret birth of the son of whom no one— aside from Uthman ibn Sa'id and his clique— knew anything. Everything about the child is enveloped in a thick and impenetrable cloud of mystery.

The Four Representatives

Uthman ibn Sa'id remained the "representative of the Hidden Imam" for a number of years. In all that time he was the only link the Shi'ah had with their Imam. During that time he supplied the Shi'i community with tawqi'at, or written communications, which he claimed was written to them by the Hidden Imam. Many of these communications, which are stilpreserved in books like at-Tusi's Kitab al-Ghaybah, had to do with denouncing other claimants to the position of representatives, who had come to realise exactly how lucrative a position Uthman ibn Sa'id had created for himself. The Shi'i literature dealing with Uthman ibn Sa'id's tenure as representative is replete with references to money collected from the Shi'i public.

When Uthman ibn Sa'id died, his son Abu Ja'far Muhammad produced a written communication from the Hidden Imam in which he himself is appointed the second representative, a position which he held for about 50 years. He too, like his father, had to deal with several rival claimants to his position, but the tawqi'at which he regularly produced to denounce them and reinforce his own position ensured the removal of such obstacles and the continuation of support from a credulous Shi'i public.

He was followed in this position by Abul Qasim ibn Rawh an-Nawbakhti, a scion of the powerful and influential Nawbakhti family of Baghdad. Before succeeding Muhammad ibn Uthman, Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti was his chief aide in the collection of the one-fifth taxes from the Shi'ah. Like his two predecessors, he too had to deal with rival claimants, one of whom, Muhammad ibn Ali ash-Shalmaghani used to be an accomplice of his. He is reported in Abu Ja'far at-Tusi's book Kitab al-Ghaybah as having stated: "We knew exactly what we were into with Abul Qasim ibn Rawh. We used to fight like dogs over this matter (of being representative)."

When Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti died in 326 AH he bequethed the position of representative to Abul Hasan as-Samarri. Where the first three representatives were shrewd manipulators, Abul Hasan as-Samarri proved to be a more conscientous person. During his three years as representative there was a sudden drop in tawqi'at. Upon his deathbed he was asked who his successor would be, and answered that Allah would Himself fulfil the matter. Could this perhaps be seen as a refusal on his part to perpetuate a hoax that has gone on for too long? He also produced a tawqi' in which the Imam declares that from that day till the day of his reappearance he will never again be seen, and that anyone who claims to see him in that time is a liar.

Thus, after more or less 70 years, the last "door of contact" with the Hidden Imam closed. The Shi'ah term this period, in which there was contact with their Hidden Imam through his representatives-cum-tax-collectors, the Lesser Occultation (al-Ghaybah as-Sughra), and the period from the death of the last representative onwards the Greater Occultation (al-Ghaybah al-Kubar). The Greater Occultation has already continued for over a thousand years.

Activities Of The Representatives

When one reads the classical literature of the Shi'ah in which the activities of the four representatives are outlined, one is struck by the constantly recurring theme of money. They are almost always mentioned in connection with receiving and collecting "the Imam's money" his loyal Shi'i followers. There is a shocking lack of any activities of an academic or spiritual nature. Not a single one of the four is credited with having compiled any book, despite the fact that they were in exclusive communion with the last of the Imams, the sole repository of the legacy of Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam.

When we look at the major sources upon which the Shi'i faith is based, we find that most of them were written after the onset of the Greater Occultation. Those works, like al-Kafi, which was written during the latter decades of the Lesser Occultation, contain scarcely a reference to any of the four representatives as narrators from the Hidden Imam. Instead it is filled with thousands of reports which go back, via other channels, to the fifth and the sixth Imams. That is indeed strange, considering the fact that a man like Uthman ibn Sa'id al-'Amri is claimed to have been closely associated with the 10th, the 11th as well as the hidden 12th Imam, and also the fact that his son remained the Shi'i community's solitary link to that Imam for half a century. Would it not have been better and more authoritative for an author like al-Kulayni to report the hadith of his Imams from the Hidden Imam via his representatives who lived in Baghdad at the same time as he rather than to trace it all back to the fifth and sixth Imams through a myriad of doubtful channels?

But of course, he could not have done that, because the activities of those representatives did not have as much to do with authentically preserving the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt as with the collection of wealth in their names.

In light of the fact that the Shi'ah explain the necessity of Imamah in terms of the need for an infallible guide who serves as the repository of the legacy of Ahl al-Bayt, it appears extremely incongruous that this particular guide has left no sort of legacy of his own whereby the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt can be known. Despite the fact that an infallible guide supposedly exists, it is upon fallible persons such as Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni that the Shi'ah must depend for that legacy.

The only bit of information that has come down to us regarding the Hidden Imam's authentication of the hadith legacy of the Shi'ah is what is recorded by Aqa Muhammad Baqir Khwansari in his book Rawdat al-Jannat. He writes that al-Kulayni's book was presented to the Hidden Imam who looked at it and declared, "Hadha Kaafin li-Shi'atina" (This is enough for our Shi'ah). This is incidentally how the book received its name.

A report such as this creates a huge problem. It appears to be a ratification of the contents of the book al-Kafi by the infallible Imam. Yet, 9 centuries later the Shi'i muhaddith, Mulla Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, would declare in his commentary on al-Kafi, named Mir'at al-'Uqul, that 9,485 out of the 16,121 narrations in al-Kafi are unreliable. What did Majlisi know that the infallible Imam was so unaware of that he would authenticate a book, 60% of whose contents would later be discovered to be unreliable?

Evaluation

The Iraqi Shi'i scholar, Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, finds proof for the existence of the Hidden Mahdi in what he calls "the experience of a community". The existence of the Hidden Imam, he postulates, was experienced by the Shi'i community as a whole in the written communications that the representatives used supplied them with.

The crux of this argument lies in the fact that an individual experience might be doubted, but never that of experience of an entire community. However, the glaring flaw in this line of reasoning is that it very conveniently overlooks the part of the representatives as the individual go-betweens.

The community never had the privilege of seeing or meeting the person they believed to be the author of the tawqi'at. Their experience was limited to receiving what the representatives produced. Even the argument of a consistent handwriting in all the various tawqi'at is at best melancholy. There is no way one can get away from the fact that the existence of the Hidden Imam rests upon nothing other than acceptance of the words of the representatives.

The activities of those representatives furthermore go a long way to show that they were much, much more inspired by the desire to possess than by pious sentiments of any kind.

So when the Shi'ah commemorate the birth of their twelfth Imam on the 15th night of Sha'ban, or when they seek to apply ahadith in Sunni sources which speak of twelve khalifas to their twelve Imams, then let us ask them on what basis do they accept the existence of the twelfth one?

History bears witness to the existence of eleven persons in that specific line of descent, but when we come to the twelfth one, all we have is claims made by persons whose activities in the name of their Hidden Imam give us all the reason in the world to suspect their honesty and integrity.

In Islam, issues of faith can never be based upon evidence of this kind.

Reference > http://www.islamicwe.../shia_mahdi.htm

IF I TELL U HE LISTENS TO US & WE SPEAK TO HIM.....HE IS OUR GUEST TONIGHT.....YOU ARE ALSO INVITED.

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i am happy an ismaili who claims to also be "shia" is starting a topic titled:"the myth of the shia mahdi".that is an obvious denial that ismailis are "shia".i am very happy that you are abandoning the name "shia" for us who believe in a "myth".thank you.

as for us,we are very happy with our "myth".leave us with our "myth".imamate is the completion of faith and there is no alternative to it and sunni islam presents non!as for those off-shoots like the ismailis and zaydis,you dont have anything better than believing in the 12th imam (as).the ismailis are in obvious error for their belief in false imams who have misled them.their current imam looks like a hollywood star and he has abandoned the basics of islam like salat,sawm and hajj.how can he claim to be an imam,that does not have solutions to the problems of the muslims?when will he free al-aqsa?ofcourse he is a western agent,claiming to be successor to the Prophet (pbuh).

1.) Did Imam Hassan al-Askari (as) die without fathering any children?

2.) The Four Representatives and Other Issues

& more about Imam Mahdi (as):

http://www.answering-ansar.org/answers/mahdi/en/index.php

NOTE:THE ARTICLE PRESENTED BY THE THREAD-OPENER (WRITTEN BY A WAHHABI) HAS BEEN REFUTED IN THE ABOVE LINK.

Edited by mehdi soldier
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