Why would the Imams do taqiyya from their most trusted companions?
In the hadith below, Zurara rejects the content of many of the Shi’a ahadith because he could not comprehend them.
One of them is the hadith of 1000 Adams before prophet Adam.
Zurara could not comprehend them because of an incorrect understanding he had, which Imam al-Baqir corrected.
Despite Zurara’s great status as a faqih of Kufa, and being followed by many.
If Zurara could not comprehend such ahadith to the extent he desired to burn them. It is very much possible that the Imams did taqiyya from him in other contexts to prevent Zurara from deviating, and the Shi’a who hold him highly following that path as well
(Basa’ir al-Darajat , Tarikh Al Zurara)
I entered upon Abi Ja’far [al-Baqir] and he asked me: ‘What do you have from the ahadith of the Shi’a?’
I said: ‘I have many of them, which I strived to pour fire on and burn them.’
The Imam said: ‘And why is that? Show me what you have rejected from among them.’
[Zurara said]: ‘The ahadith of the Adamites [i.e, that there were 1000 Adams before Adam] came to my mind’
The Imam said: [They are true], why else would the angels tell Allah “Do you place on Earth those who cause corruption in it and shed blood.”
(i.e, how would angels know of the nature of mankind if Adam never shed blood nor caused corruption. There has to be human civilizations, different Adams before Adam, for the angels to know this).
حدثنا أحمد بن محمد عن أحمد بن محمد بن أبي نصر عن الحسن بن موسى عن زرارة قال دخلت على أبى جعفر عليه السلام فسئلني ماعندك من أحاديث الشيعة قلت إن عندي منها شيئا كثيرا قد هممت ان أوقد لها نارا ثم أحرقها قال ولم هات ما أنكرت منها فخطر على بالىالادمون (2) فقال لي ما كان على الملائكة حيث قال أتجعل فيها من يفسد فيها ويسفك الدماء.
The Imams entrusted Salman al-Farsi with immense esoteric knowledge, that if Abi Dharr knew of these secrets (i.e, incomprehensible ahadith to him) - he would kill Salman, as seen in hadith below. Because he could not understand them.
In another hadith, he would perform takfir of Salman (3).
“Taqiyya was mentioned one day in the presence of Ali ibn al-Husayn.
So he said: ‘By Allah, if Abu Dharr knew what was in the heart of Salman [from secret esoteric knowledge], he would have killed him.
Despite Rasul Allah [himself] having made peace between them.
So what about the rest of the creation? [i.e, they would not be able to handle this secret esoteric knowledge of the Imams].
Indeed, the knowledge of the ‘Ulama [i.e, people of knowledge aka the Ahlulbayt] is difficult. It cannot be handled by anyone except a sent Prophet, or a close angel, or a believing slave whom Allah had tested his heart for belief.’
So he [the Imam] said: ‘Salman became one of the Ulama because he is a figure from us Ahlulbayt, so he was attributed to the Ulama’ [i.e, hence deserving to be taught this esoteric knowledge while other people do not receive it].’
أحمد بن إدريس، عن عمران بن موسى، عن هارون بن مسلم، عن مسعدة بن صدقة، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلام) قال: ذكرت التقية يوماعند علي بن الحسين (عليهما السلام) فقال: والله لو علم أبو ذر ما في قلب سلمان لقتله. ولقد آخى رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) بينهما،فما ظنكم بسائر الخلق، إن علم العلماء صعب مستصعب، لا يحتمله إلا نبي مرسل أو ملك مقرب أو عبد مؤمن امتحن الله قلبه للإيمان، فقال: وإنما صار سلمان من العلماء لأنه امرؤ منا أهل البيت فلذلك نسبته إلى العلماء.
It is possible for the Imam to perform taqiyya with even his most closest and trusted companions, such as Abi Dharr. By Imam Ali entrusting certain knowledge to Salman but not to Abi Dharr - because if Abi Dhar if he heard Salman utter this knowledge, he would do takfir or kill Salman because he (Abi Dharr) can’t comprehend it.
What if Abi Dharr hears it from the Imam himself? It seems quite likely he may apostate (even with his immensely great status). Accordingly, the Imam did not share this knowledge with him. Imam doing taqiyya to deny this knowledge to Abi Dharr is more than likely.
Similarly, it is possible for Imam al-Baqir and al-Sadiq to hide knowledge from even their most trusted companions and fuqaha like Zurara.
Because Zurara, like other companions, is a mere fallible. And if he goes down by apostating, many Shi’a will go down with him.
Wa Allahu A’lam :)
(1) Basa’ir al-Darajat, page 256
(2) Tarikh Al Zurara, page 72
(3) Al-Wafi by Al-Faydh al-Kashani, vol 1, page 11
(4) Al-Kafi, volume 1, page 401