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In the Name of God بسم الله

The Twelve Caliphs

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Seekingtruth14

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Salam!

I know that you have discussed this topic many times. But I just want to know what kind of conclusion you have reached regarding the twelve commanders/Imams/ successors.

Below are the questions I have no answers to:

1. Do your Sunni brothers/sisters believe in the hadith of the twelve Imams?

2. How is the hadith of the twelve Imams interpreted? Do you regard that Islam will only have Twelve Caliphs until the Day of Judgment or not?

The Prophet said:

"The matter (life) will not end, until it is passed by twelve Caliphs." He then whispered a sentence. I asked my father what the Prophet said. He said, the Prophet added: "All of them will be from Quraish."

[sahih Muslim, Arabic version, Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, v3, p1452, Tradition #5]

Is this hadith understood that the Prophet will only have Twelve Caliphs?

3. The Prophet (S) received the revelation about the number of his Caliphs. According to Sunni Islam, is it possible that he also received the names of these Caliphs? if not, why did he only receive information from Allah (swt) about their number, but not who they were?

4. What is the significance of these Caliphs?

Thanks for helping me understand more.

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Yes, as you can clearly see Muhammad al-Mustafa (sawa) said there will be 12 Caliphs until the day of Judgement. The Ithna Ashari's (!2ver's) are the only group of Muslims who believe in the Prophet having 12 Caliphs after his death until the day of Judgement. He did know their names and we have narrations which say he even stated each of their names and it was the names of the Imams of Ahlul Bayt (as)

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Yes, as you can clearly see Muhammad al-Mustafa (sawa) said there will be 12 Caliphs until the day of Judgement. The Ithna Ashari's (!2ver's) are the only group of Muslims who believe in the Prophet having 12 Caliphs after his death until the day of Judgement. He did know their names and we have narrations which say he even stated each of their names and it was the names of the Imams of Ahlul Bayt (as)

Just to let you know, the usual counterargument that Sunnis use, is that our 12 Imams (as) could not all fit the criteria of the 12 caliphs described in the hadith, because only the first Imam (as) was a caliph, (a leader of the ummah), while the later Imams (as) were never leaders of the ummah, they were stripped off their rights.

Edited by Naruto
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2. How is the hadith of the twelve Imams interpreted? Do you regard that Islam will only have Twelve Caliphs until the Day of Judgment or not?

Yes they do believe, but they claim not to know the names of the imams, save the last.

3. The Prophet (S) received the revelation about the number of his Caliphs. According to Sunni Islam, is it possible that he also received the names of these Caliphs? if not, why did he only receive information from Allah (swt) about their number, but not who they were

Sunnis believe the names were never relayed by the Prophet saws, even if he knew. They will point to authentic hadith that the Prophet saws stated there would be 12 hypocrites, but did not relay their names nor the mutajid of every century.

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Just to let you know, the usual counterargument that Sunnis use, is that our 12 Imams (as) could not all fit the criteria of the 12 caliphs described in the hadith, because only the first Imam (as) was a caliph, (a leader of the ummah), while the later Imams (as) were never leaders of the ummah, they were stripped off their rights.

And this argument comes crumbling down to the ground because the word Khalifa refers to succession because a Caliph is one who inherits, succeeds, comes after, substitutes, ect.

The word caliph/khalifah is not restricted to a type of formal leadership, it means a successor as well, does it not?

Whether or not the Imams (as) held political power or not is irrelevant, because they were not considered the Khalifah of the people who held the seat of power, rather they were the Khalifah of Allah's earth.

It's like how people argue it was the Will of Allah that Abu Bakr became the Caliph. He was the caliph who held political power, but Imam Ali (as) was still the Khalifa of Allah (swt) and the Imam of the time. Abu Bakr and co couldn't touch that. All they did was simply steal the seat of power.

Edited by Ali Musaaa :)
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And this argument comes crumbling down to the ground because the word Khalifa refers to succession because a Caliph is one who inherits, succeeds, comes after, substitutes, ect.

The word caliph/khalifah is not restricted to a type of formal leadership, it means a successor as well, does it not?

Whether or not the Imams (as) held political power or not is irrelevant, because they were not considered the Khalifah of the people who held the seat of power, rather they were the Khalifah of Allah's earth.

It's like how people argue it was the Will of Allah that Abu Bakr became the Caliph. He was the caliph who held political power, but Imam Ali (as) was still the Khalifa of Allah (swt) and the Imam of the time. Abu Bakr and co couldn't touch that. All they did was simply steal the seat of power.

Another thing is that Sunnis will say that Allah subhanu wa taala did not actually appoint a successor (s) to the Prophet saws, but then are completely turned around by having to explain Imam Mehdi as from their own sources.

Edited by Merdan
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Salam!

Waleykum Salsam,

1. Do your Sunni brothers/sisters believe in the hadith of the twelve Imams?

Yes we believe in that Hadith of 12 Rulers/Amirs/Caliphs. Are you sure the Hadith uses the word 'Imam'?

2. How is the hadith of the twelve Imams interpreted? Do you regard that Islam will only have Twelve Caliphs until the Day of Judgment or not?

The Prophet (saw) simply made a prophecy that there would be 12 Caliphs all from Quraish. Islam would be dominant and strong during their RULE.

Is this hadith understood that the Prophet will only have Twelve Caliphs?

What do you mean Prophet (saw) will only have twelve Caliphs? The Hadith doesn't say anything about that.

3. The Prophet (S) received the revelation about the number of his Caliphs. According to Sunni Islam, is it possible that he also received the names of these Caliphs? if not, why did he only receive information from Allah (swt) about their number, but not who they were?

Because this issue isn't really important and it was just a prophecy. The Prophet (saw) didn't say anything like 'follow these 12 caliphs' or 'these caliphs would be pious people'. Nothing like that.

4. What is the significance of these Caliphs?

Islam would be dominant and Strong during their RULE. The Hadith doesn't say anything about their character, whether they are good or bad caliphs. Thats it.

Thanks for helping me understand more.

No Problem. Remember except Ali (ra) and Hussain (ra) none of the 12 Imams were RULERS so this Hadith can't be about them.

Edited by Abul Hussain Hassani
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Another thing is that Sunnis will say that Allah subhanu wa taala did not actually appoint a successor (s) to the Prophet saws, but then are completely turned around by having to explain Imam Mehdi as from their own sources.

Weren't you a sunni before?

I don't think is a problem in how sunnnis explain Imam Mehdi...

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No Problem. Remember except Ali (ra) and Hussain (ra) none of the 12 Imams were RULERS so this Hadith can't be about them.

Ermm, yes it can. The word Khalifa means successor and the Prophet foretold that there would be 12 Caliphs until the day of Judgement, all of them being from Quraysh. So if the Caliph and successor of the Prophet (sawa) is not in Occultation, who is the current Qurayshi Caliph?

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It's interesting because it gives stronger evidence to the Imami (Twelver) claim that the Prophet (pbuh) did mention that there would be exactly 12 caliphs after him. These ahadith were clearly in circulation among Sunnis during the time of our Imams like al-Baqir and as-Sadiq (as). So, it kind of weakens the position of other early Shi'i sects that claimed anything less than 12. In terms of how the Sunnis explain this, there really is no reasonable response.

(wasalam)

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حَدَّثَنَا حَجَّاجٌ، وَأَبُو نُعَيْمٍ، قَالَا: حَدَّثَنَا فِطْرٌ، عَنِ الْقَاسِمِ بْنِ أَبِي بَزَّةَ، عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ، قَالَ حَجَّاجٌ: سَمِعْتُ عَلِيًّا رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، يَقُولُ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص: " لَوْ لَمْ يَبْقَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا يَوْمٌ، لَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ رَجُلًا مِنَّا، يَمْلَؤُهَا عَدْلًا كَمَا مُلِئَتْ جَوْرًا "، قَالَ أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ: " رَجُلًا مِنّي "، قَالَ: وَسَمِعْتُهُ مَرَّةً يَذْكُرُهُ، عَنْ حَبِيبٍ، عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ، عَنْ عَلِيٍّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ص

It was narrated from Hajjaj: I heard Ali say: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

''If there was only one day left of this world, Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, would send a man from us [Ahlul-Bait] to fill it with justice as it was filled with injustice.'' Abu Nu'aim said: ''A man from me.'' He said: On one occasion I heard him narrate it from Habeeb from Abut-Tufail from Ali from the Prophet (pbuh)

______________________

Sunni - Salafi References:

Source: Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal by Imam Ahmad, Volume 1, page 390, Hadith Number # 773

Grading of Shakir: ( Sahih )

As we can see Allah sends not only Prophets (as) but also Imams / Caliphs ;)

Edited by Rasul
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^ Good point. If they know that a Mahdi will arrive (even though we know that to be Hujjat ibn al-Hassan (as)), how do they account for him in their theology? He is clearly not a Prophet, yet he will be sent as a representative of Allah (swt). He will perform miracles, establish a Divine government, and we will all pay allegiance to him. You can call it what you want, but that's basically an Imam chosen and sent by Allah (swt).

(wasalam)

Edited by Ibn al-Hassan
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Sunni hadiths say that there will be a group who will be superior to Prophets.

Umar ibn al-Khattab reported the Prophet (pbuh) as saying: "There are people from the servants of Allah who are neither prophets nor martyrs; the prophets and martyrs will envy them on the Day of Resurrection for their rank from Allah, the Most High. They (the people) asked: Tell us, Apostle of Allah, who are they? He replied: They are people who love one another for the spirit of Allah (i.e. the Qur'an), without having any mutual kinship and giving property to one. I swear by Allah, their faces will glow and they will be (sitting) in (pulpits of) light. They will have no fear (on the Day) when the people will have fear, and they will not grieve when the people will grieve. He then recited the following Qur'anic verse: "Behold! Verily for the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 23, Number 3520) (Al-Albani says: "Saheeh!!!")

I wonder who these people will be? ;)

(but there is an inconsistency, because the hadith says they people will not be martyrs, but we believe that our Imams (as) are martyrs)

Edited by Naruto
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Salam!

Thanks for your reply!

Yes we believe in that Hadith of 12 Rulers/Amirs/Caliphs. Are you sure the Hadith uses the word 'Imam'?

Thanks for pointing that out. But let’s investigate the following hadith:

The Prophet (saaws) said: "The matter (life) will not end, until it is passed by twelve Caliphs." He then whispered a sentence. I asked my father what the Prophet said. He said, the Prophet added: "All of them will be from Quraish."

[sahih Muslim, Arabic version, Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, v3, p1452, Tradition #5]

What is a Caliph according to your understanding?

What is a Caliph according to the understanding of the Messenger of Islam?

The Prophet (saw) simply made a prophecy that there would be 12 Caliphs all from Quraish. Islam would be dominant and strong during their RULE.

Is that your interpretation? Is this the reason why the Messenger told this prophecy?

What do you mean Prophet (saw) will only have twelve Caliphs? The Hadith doesn't say anything about that.

The Prophet (saaws) said: "The matter (life) will not end, until it is passed by twelve Caliphs."…

what happens with life if the last of the twelve Caliphs passes away?

The messenger said there Will be 12 caliphs? Do you believe that the Messenger meant that there will be more than 12 caliphs, or did he just mean that Islam will only have 12 caliphs?

Please shed some light on this issue.

Because this issue isn't really important and it was just a prophecy. The Prophet (saw) didn't say anything like 'follow these 12 caliphs' or 'these caliphs would be pious people'. Nothing like that.

How do you know that this issue is not important? Immediately after the death of the Messenger the Islam splitted just because of this important issue. Don’t you agree that this issue is important? if this issue did not have any value, why then, did the Muslims argue about it for hundreds of years and is still a hot topic?

Islam would be dominant and Strong during their RULE. The Hadith doesn't say anything about their character, whether they are good or bad caliphs. Thats it.

Tell me about the character of the last twelfth Caliph, what did the Messenger say about him?

A true Chaliph of Rasullulah, do you belive he is bad?

Many thanks for your help dear brother.

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1. Do your Sunni brothers/sisters believe in the hadith of the twelve Imams?

Yes, the hadith is authentic according to both Shia and Sunni sources.

2. How is the hadith of the twelve Imams interpreted? Do you regard that Islam will only have Twelve Caliphs until the Day of Judgment or not?

The Prophet said:

"The matter (life) will not end, until it is passed by twelve Caliphs." He then whispered a sentence. I asked my father what the Prophet said. He said, the Prophet added: "All of them will be from Quraish."

[sahih Muslim, Arabic version, Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, v3, p1452, Tradition #5]

Is this hadith understood that the Prophet will only have Twelve Caliphs?

Yes, as the the world will be destroyed after the 12th one.

"This religion shall always be upright till there are twelve from Quraish. When they are no more, the earth will be destroyed (swallowed) with all its inhabitants"

Kanz al-Ummaal, vol 12, pg 34, Tr. No. 3386

- Kash al-Astaar, part 1, pg 99 narrating from al-Ebaanah

- E'laam al-Waraa pg 384

- Muqtazab al-Asar, pg 3-4

- Manaaqeb of ibn Shar Aashob, vol 1, pg 290

- Behaar al-Anwaar vol 36, pg 267, Chap 41, Tr. No. 87

- Al-Insaaf, pg 361

3. The Prophet (S) received the revelation about the number of his Caliphs. According to Sunni Islam, is it possible that he also received the names of these Caliphs? if not, why did he only receive information from Allah (swt) about their number, but not who they were?

A Jewish man named Na'thal, went to the Prophet and among the questions he asked who would succeed him. The Prophet said, specifying them, "After me, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and then my two sons, Hasan and Husayn and after Husayn, nine Imams will follow from his children." "The Jewish man said, 'Name them.' "The Prophet said, "When Husayn leaves this world, his son, 'Ali, and after him, his child Muhammad and after Muhammad, his son Ja'far and after Ja'far, his son Musa and after Musa, his son 'Ali and after 'Ali, Muhammad. After Muhammad, his child, 'Ali and after 'Ali, Hasan and after Hasan, his child Muhammad al-Mahdi. These are the twelve Imams."

Yanabi' al-Muwadat, p. 431

Plus the Prophet (pbuh) said several times that Ali (as) is his successor several times. In fact, it was one of the first things he did as a Prophet.

4. What is the significance of these Caliphs?

They maintained true Islam and protected it from all deviations that would lead people astray.

"Surely this religion will always overcome its opponents and no enemy or deserter can ever harm it while there are twelve caliphs from my nation in it. All of them will be from Quraish"

Musnad-e-Ahmad, vol 5, pg 87

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Salam!

Thanks for the great article!

I have cited one part of the article and would like to ask you something about it:

here is the citation:

There is a Hadith narrated in Musnad Ahmad which states:

“There shall be twelve Caliphs for this community, all of them from Quraish.”

… There is no doubt that the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) did in fact prophecize in Hadith that there would be twelve Caliphs, and many Sunni scholars do believe that the last of the twelve will be Imam Mehdi who will fill the earth with justice. This is most definitely a belief of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah, well-known to the scholars even if it is not well-known amongst the lay-persons from amongst the Sunnis."

Before we debate about the Twelve Caliphs, let us investigate the basic words used in the hadith of the twelve Caliphs.

Let us use Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah as a source of understanding this important issue.

What is the definition of a Caliph? I want the definition from the Messenger of Islam himself.

The Messenger said: “There shall be twelve Caliphs for this community, all of them from Quraish.”

Answer these questions based in the hadith. Imagine, you are living during the time of the Messenger (S) and you hear the Messenger (S) mention the hadith on the pulpit. These are the questions that I have in my mind. I am sure that you also have these questions in your mind too:

  1. What is the meaning of Caliph mentioned in the hadith?
  2. Why shall there be twelve Caliphs? Why not more (ex. 14 or 25 caliphs?)
  3. How is the Caliph chosen?
  4. How is the character of the Caliph?
  5. Are the caliphs the inheritors of the Messenger?
  6. Is it obligatory to obey the Caliph?
  7. What is the mission of the Caliph?
  8. When will the caliphs come? After the death of the Messenger or before?
  9. who are the twelve caliphs? who is the first? who is the last?

etc.

Above are some questions that came to my mind when I heard the Messenger said this hadith on the pulpit. do you think that these questions are good and based on logic? Do you believe that these questions were already asked to the Messenger? If yes, where are the answers?

Many thanks for your help dear brother!
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