When did al-Ghayba al-Sughra really end?

When did al-Ghayba al-Sughra truly end?

(Al-Ghayba by al-Nu’mani, volume 1, page 193) 

“Narrated Muhammad ibn Humam, from Ja’far ibn Muhammad ibn Malik, from Umar ibn Turkhan, from Muhammad ibn Ismail, from Ali ibn Umar ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn (as), from Abu Abdilah Jafar ibn Muhammad (as), that he said: 

‘The Qa’im from my progeny will live the age of al-Khalil [prophet Ibrahim]: 120 years, where he will be known.

Then he undergoes an occultation for an [unspecified] period of time, and appears in the form of a young man of 32 years. Until then, a group of people will back away from him, and he will fill the earth with justice after it had been filled with oppression”

44 - حدثنا محمد بن همام، قالحدثنا جعفر بن محمد بن مالك، قالحدثني عمر بن طرخان، قالحدثني محمد بن إسماعيل، عن عليبن عمر بن علي بن الحسين (عليهما السلام)، عن أبي عبد الله جعفر بن محمد (عليه السلامأنه قال:

القائم من ولدي يعمر عمر الخليل عشرين ومائة سنة، يدرى به، ثم يغيب غيبة في الدهر ويظهر في صورة شاب موفق ابن اثني وثلاثينسنة، حتى ترجع عنه طائفة من الناس، يملأ الأرض قسطا وعدلا كما ملئت ظلما وجور” 

  • The hadith thus indicates that the Qa’im will live for 120 years where is known by the people [i.e, does not cut communication with them]. And after these 120 years, he will have an occultation. 

This does not match the common timeline of al-Ghayba al-Sughra, which lasted for 67 years (between 874-941 CE)- in which the people had direct communication with the Imam.

There is a period of 53 years (941-994 CE), which is unaccounted for. 

It seems this period consisted of communication with 12 scholars who lead and guide the Shi’a - and who communicated with the Imam in the same time period. Not one after another. 

After the Mahdi ceases communication with his Shi’a through his deputies who represented him in word & action - and led & took khums in his name. 

He began communicating with the Shi’a after this through commoner scholars - who operated for the Imam together, hence being classified as a ‘nation’. 

These scholars are inspired with divine guidance from the Imam, hence, they are termed “al-mahdiyyun” (the guided ones):

  1. (Kamal al-Deen wa Tamam al-Ni’ma by Shaykh al-Saduq, page 386)

“Narrated Ali ibn Abi Hamza, from Abi Basir: 

I told al-Sadiq Jafar ibn Muhammad: 

‘O son of Rasul Allah, I have heard your father say:

After the Qa’im there will be 12 mahdiyyun. 

The Imam said: Indeed, he said 12 mahdiyyun and not 12 Imams [after the Qa’im], as they (12 mahdiyyun) are [merely] a nation from our Shi’a who call the people to follow us and have ma’rifa in our right”

عن علي بن أبي حمزة، عن أبي بصير قالقلت للصادق جعفر بن محمد عليهما السلام يا ابن رسول الله إني سمعت من أبيك عليه السلامأنه قاليكون بعد القائم اثنا عشر مهديا فقالإنما قالاثنا عشر مهديا، ولم يقلإثنا عشر إماما، ولكنهم قوم من شيعتنا يدعون الناسإلى موالاتنا ومعرفة حقنا.

  • It becomes evident these fallible scholars are given their position in society by the will of the Twelfth Imam - being described as “Imams” and “heirs apparent” of the Twelfth Imam (1) (despite being mere scholars and infallible Imams, as the ahadith above) clarifies.

There scholars will also all be from the family of al-Mahdi, i.e, from the lineage of Husayn and thus patrilineal relatives of the Mahdi. 

منتخب البصائرمما رواه السيد علي بن عبد الحميد بإسناده عن الصادق عليه السلام أن منا بعد القائم عليه السلام اثنا عشر مهديا منولد الحسين عليه السلام.

“Mukhtasar al-Basa’ir: 

Imam al-Sadiq said: ‘From us, after the Qa’im, is 12 mahdiyyun from the lineage of al-Husayn” (2)

There is much more on the topic, but this will be it for now. 

Wa Allahu A’lam :)


(1) Jamal al-Usbu’ by Sayyid ibn Tawus, page 310 http://shiaonlinelibrary.com/الكتب/1372_جمال-الأسبوع-السيد-ابن-طاووس/الصفحة_306

(2) http://shiaonlinelibrary.com/الكتب/1484_بحار-الأنوار-العلامة-المجلسي-ج-٥٣/الصفحة_152