Ismail ibn Ja’far, The Great Badaa


Some websites have edited their old articles to add information from this article onto it. However, the research presented in my article is fully original

I am the son of the Roots of the Earth [i.e., Ismail son of prophet Ibrahim], I am the son of Ibrahim, God's Friend.” (Al-Kafi, vol 1, page 473)

These were the words of Imam al-Sadiq as his house was burned by Abbasid caliph al-Mansur - due to the rebellious activities of the Ja’fariya (also known as the Khattabiya) rebel group, which his son Ismail was part of.

To an outside observer with no knowledge of the events, this is a simple expression of pride in lineage by Imam al-Sadiq (a).

To the researcher however, Imam al-Sadiq proclaiming he is the son of prophet Ismail is only a fascinating manifestation of the mysteries of Ahlulbayt. 


Because of its relation to the badaa’ (defined either as change or revelation of God’s true will) with regards Imam al-Sadiq’s son Ismail. This will be elaborated on below.


This article will challenge some traditional assumptions in mainstream Shi’ism, because the topic is discussed from an academic lens. Not for the purpose of proving or debunking a religious viewpoint.

As such, the assumptions I present do not reflect my personal religious views, yet - the goal is for the reader to think, analyze, and form their own conclusions. 

Because I believe these conclusions, in the end, will only strengthen our faith in Shi’ism in the midst of doubt. 

I will make a post in the future, however, reconciling these ahadith from a Twelver perspective.

With that being said, let us begin.

1 ) Badaa of Ismail, My Father

1A) Prophet Ismail’s badaa’

(Al-Tawhid by Shaykh al-Saduq, p 336)

“Narrated from al-Sadiq (a) that he said:

Allah did not perform badaa on anything like He did with Ismail my father (i.e, my ancestor prophet Ismail) - when He (Allah) ordered his father (Ibrahim) to slaughter him (Ismail), then ransomed him with a Great Sacrifice

وهو أنه روى أن الصادق عليه السلام قالما بدا لله بداء كما بدا له في إسماعيل أبي إذا أمر أباه بذبحه ثم فداه بذبح عظيم.

Imam al-Sadiq describes Allah as not having performed badaa’ (Allah’s true will being revealed after the opposite was believed) to anyone like he did with prophet Ismail. 

Meaning, the most significant amount of badaa was done on prophet Ismail - when Allah ordered Ibrahim to slaughter him, then revealed his true will that Ismail must live.

Then Allah revealed the commandment to kill the cattle, the Great Sacrifice (ذبح عظيم) instead of Ismail.

1B) Badaa of Ismail ibn Ja’far

Interestingly enough, just like Imam al-Sadiq described prophet Ismail’s badaa as “Allah did not perform badaa’ on anything like he did with Ismail my father”. This was when Allah decreed death on Ismail, but Allah revealed his true will to Ibrahim that Ismail is to live.

Imam al-Sadiq uses the exact same phrase when describing the badaa’ of his son Ismail, as shown in hadith below. Allah decreed death twice on Ismail ibn Ja’far, but He revealed his true will to Imam al-Sadiq that his son Ismail is to live. 

It makes one wonder:

Was Ismail ibn Ja’far was born to have the same destiny as his ancestor prophet Ismail; living after being decreed to be killed?


(Kitab al-Fusul by Shaykh al-Mufid)

Abi Abdilah [al-Sadiq] said:

Allah (swt) decreed death upon my son Ismail twice - so I asked Him (Allah) to save him (Ismail) from this fate (and He accepted).

Indeed, Allah did not perform badaa’ on anything, like He did with Ismail

عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام أنه قال: " إن الله عز وجل كتب القتل على ابني إسماعيل مرتين، فسألته فيه فرقا (1)، فما بدا له في شئ كمابدا له في إسماعيل 

1C) The Mysterious Death of Ismail

As we learned in part 1 of this series, the first time Allah decreed death on Ismail was after Caliph al-Mansur planned to kill him when Ismail accompanied Imam al-Sadiq to al-Hira, Iraq. But Allah revealed his true will of Ismail living, after Imam al-Saduq requested it from Allah. 

When was the second time Allah decreed death on Ismail, but then revealed his true will that Ismail must live? 

Exploring this question necessitates exploring the situation of Ismail ibn Jafar’s mysterious death.

  • Hadith #1 

(Al-Ghayba by al-Nu’mani, vol 1, page 345) 

When he assembled the assembly, he said: O Dawud, reveal to me the face of Ismail, so I revealed his face, so Abu Abdullah [al-Saduq], peace be upon him, said: O Dawud, is he alive or is he dead? 

Dawud said: O my master, he is dead.

So he (the Imam) began to present Ismail to his companions man by man, until he came to the last of those in the assembly, and everyone said: He is dead, my master.

Then then Imam al-Sadiq said: Oh God, bear witness.”

فلما حشد المجلس قاليا داود اكشف لي عن وجه إسماعيل، فكشفت عن وجهه فقال أبو عبد الله عليه السلاميا داود أحي هو أم ميت؟ قالداوديا مولاي هو ميت، فجعل يعرض ذلك على رجل رجل، حتى أتى على آخر من في المجلس وكل يقولهو ميت يا مولاي، فقالاللهماشهد ثم أمر بغسله وحنوطه، و إدراجه في أثوابه.

One must wonder:

Why did Imam al-Sadiq make his companions one by one view Ismail’s body and testify that died?

Because Ismail was witnessed alive after his supposed death!

Hadith below clarifies

  • Hadith #2

After Ismail’s apparent death, people continued to report seeing him.

Imam al-Sadiq responds that it is a shaytan taking the image of Ismail, and that a shaytan does not appear in the image if a prophet or succsssor of a prophet. Despite the Imam asking Allah to bring Ismail back to life, to make Ismail the successor.

This is to prove Ismail was not the Imam. Hence, a shaytan could never take the image of Imam al-Sadiq’s son Musa. 

The below hadith is from Asl Zayd al-Narsi, in a hadith directly copied by a companion of Imam al-Sadiq into his notebook (asl) - making it more reliable.

It is not taken from a compilation of ahadith, as is the case of most hadith books.

(Al-Usul al-Sittat ‘Ashar, p 197) 

He (Imam al-Sadiq) said that a Shaytan has been captivated by my son Ismail, posing in his image as a test (from Allah) to the people. And that a shaytan does not appear in the image of a prophet or a successor of a prophet. 

So whomever tells you from the people that my son Ismail is alive and not dead - that is Shaytan taking the image of Ismail.

I continued bequesting Allah to bring my son Ismail back to life and that he be my successor, but my Lord refused that.

And this matter is not that a man among us can choose however he wants. Rather, that is a covenant from God, the Mighty and Sublime, that He entrusts to whomever He wills, so God willed that Musa my son become my successor, and he refused to be Ismail. 

And if Shaytan were to try to take the inage of my son Musa - he will never be able to, ever.”

قال إن شيطانا قد ولع بابني إسماعيل يتصور في صورته ليفتن به الناس وانه لا يتصور في صورة نبي ولا وصي نبي فمن قال لك منالناس ان إسماعيل ابني حي لم يمت فإنما ذلك الشيطان تمثل له في صورة إسماعيل ما زلت ابتهل إلى الله عز وجل فيإسماعيل ابني ان يحييه لي ويكون القيم من بعدي فأبى ربى ذلك وان هذا شئ ليس إلى الرجل منا يضعه حيث يشاء وإنما ذلكعهد من الله عز وجل يعهده إلى من يشاء فشاء الله أن يكون موسى ابني وأبى أن يكون إسماعيل ولو جهد الشيطان ان يتمثل بابنيموسى ما قدر على ذلك ابدا والحمد لله زيد عن محمد بن علي الحلبي عن أبي عبد الله ع قال قلت له كانت

  • Evaluation

The hadith poses difficult questions because of these below portions:

And that a shaytan does not appear in the image of a prophet or a successor of a prophet.

“And if Shaytan were to try to take the inage of my son Musa - he will never be able to, ever.”


Because there are reports seemingly suggesting that a shaytan did take the image of Imam al-Kadhim.

Muhammad ibn Bashir, a heretical Shi’i preacher (who believed himself to be a reincarnation of a prophet), brings back the image of Imam al-Kadhim even after al-Kadhim’s death to prove his claim. 

Whomever saw the image agreed there was no doubt it was Imam al-Kadhim, as seen below:

  • Hadith 3

Even if the figure Muhammad ibn Bashir manifested in the image he had were not Imam al-Kadhim, the image still took Imam al-Kadhim’s form. 

(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 778)

So he (Muhammad b Bashir) used to say to his companions: Abu al-Hasan is with me, so if you would like to see him and identify him, and to prove that I am a (reincarnation of) prophet. Come, I will present him to you.

He used to bring them to his house, holding a folded image, and ask:

Do you see anybody residing in the room, or see in it anybody except you and me?

They say: No, and there is no one in the house. 

So he (Ibn Bashir) says: Go out, and they go out of the room, so he is behind the curtain (i.e, he is facing the audience).

He lowers the curtain between him and them.

Then he presents that image, raises the curtain between him and them.

And then the image becomes standing and a person appears looking like Abu Al-Hasan (al-Kadhim), peace be upon him, and they do not deny anything from him (i.e, that it is actually the Imam). 

He (Ibn Bashir) stands near him, and he shows them - through magic - that he is talking to him and engaging in secret conversation.

Then he winks to them (the audience) to step away, and closes the curtain and reopens, and they do not see anybody there.

Abu Amro (al-Kashi) says: Muhammad ibn Isa narrated this story, and so did Yunus ibn Abd al-Rahman..”

فكان يقول لأصحابهإن أبا الحسن عندي فان أحببتم أن تروه وتعلموه وأنني نبي (9) فهلموا أعرضه عليكم، فكان يدخلهم البيت والصورةمطوية معه فيقول لهم:

هل ترون في البيت مقيما أو ترون فيه غيركم وغيري؟ فيقولونلا، وليس في البيت أحد فيقولفاخرجوا فيخرجون من البيت فيصير هو وراءالستر ويسبل الستر بينه وبينهم، ثم يقدم تلك الصورة ثم يرفع الستر بينه وبينهم، فينظرون إلى صورة قائمة وشخص كأنه شخص أبيالحسن عليه السلام لا ينكرون منه شيئا، ويقف هو منه بالقرب فيريهم من طريق الشعبذة أنه يكلمه ويناجيه ويدنو منه كأنه يساره (1) ثميغمزهم أن يتنحوا فيتنحون ويسبل الستر بينه وبينهم فلا يرون شيئا.

قال أبو عمرووحدث بهذه الحكاية محمد بن عيسى العبيدي رواية له،

وبعضهم عن يونس بن عبد الرحمن، وكان هاشم بن أبي هاشم قد تعلم منه بعض

تلك المخاريق، فصار داعية إليه من بعده ".

Moreover, another heretical preacher Hamza ibn ‘Amara al-Barbari manifested the image of Imam al-Baqir after Imam al-Baqir’s death:

  • Hadiths 4 & 5:

(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 593) 

On the authority of Burayd ibn Muawiyah al-Ajli, who said: 

Hamza ibn ‘Amara al-Yazidi, May God curse him, says to his companions: Abu Ja’far (al-Baqir), peace be upon him, comes to me every night.

There has not been a person who did not claim that he (Hamza) had shown the Imam to him.

So it happened to me that I met Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq) (1) peace be upon him, and I spoke to him with what Hamzah says, he said: 

God cursed him, he has lied. Shaytan cannot appear in an image of a prophet nor a prophet's successor.

سعد، قالحدثني أحمد بن محمد، عن أبيه، والحسين بن سعيد، عن ابن أبي

عمير، وحدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن يونس، ومحمد بن أبي عمير، عن محمد بن

عمر بن أذينة، عن بريد بن معاوية العجلي، قالكان حمزة بن عمارة اليزيدي،

لعنه الله، يقول لأصحابهإن أبا جعفر عليه السلام يأتيني في كل ليلة، ولا يزال

إنسان يزعم أنه قد أراه إياه، فقدر لي أني لقيت أبا جعفر عليه السلام فحدثته

بما يقول حمزة، فقالكذب عليه لعنة الله، ما يقدر الشيطان أن يتمثل في صورة

نبي ولا وصي نبي.

  • Note: 

  • (1) Scribal error, Imam al-Sadiq is meant here as shown in hadith below.

(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 589)

On the authority of Zurara, he said: Abu Abdullah, peace be upon him, said:

Tell me about Hamza, does he claim that my father comes to him? 

I said yes. 

He said: He has lied, wallah. 

The only one who comes to him is al-Mutawakin, Shaytan has empowered a devil who is called al-Mutakawin to come to people in any form he wants. If He wills in a large picture, and if He wills in a small picture, and by God.

However, he cannot come the image of my father, peace be upon him.”

وجدت بخط جبرئيل بن أحمدحدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن علي بن

الحكم، عن حماد بن عثمان، عن زرارة، قالقال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام:

أخبرني عن حمزة أيزعم أن أبي يأتيه؟ قلتنعمقالكذب والله ما يأتيه إلا

المتكون، إن إبليس سلط شيطانا يقال له المتكون يأتي الناس في أي صورة شاء،

إن شاء في صورة كبيرة وإن شاء في صورة صغيرة، ولا والله ما يستطيع أن يجئ

في صورة أبي عليه السلام ".

  • Evaluation of hadiths 3-5

We have discovered that Hamza is not simply making up a claim. He does in fact have access to a demon who takes the image of people.

Such an overwhelming amount of people claimed that Hamza showed them the image of deceased Imam al-Baqir.

Same with the amount of people who claimed Ibn Bashir showed them Imam al-Kadhim. 

The reason why these preachers gained a large following is because of the principle given by our Imams that Shaytan cannot take the image of awsiya’ (successors of prophets).

Thus, these preachers cannot by lying (by this understanding).

If we however take our Imam’s words literally - that these preachers were lying, that a shaytan cannot take the form of Imams.

Then this does not explain how such a large amount of people agreed it was in fact the Imam (as the case of Hamza) or that it was undeniable this was the Imam (as in the case of ibn Bashir). 

It begs the question: 

What is the purpose of Shaytan not being able to take the image of awsiya’, if a very large amount of people can mistake that shaytan’s image for a wasi?

We two solutions here: 

(1) Either those heretical preachers are in fact not heretical, as the public believed. And the Imam denied their capabilities as a form of taqiyya from even his closest companions.

For an idea on why the Imams did taqiyya from their companions, check here.

For an idea why the Imam did taqiyya from Zurara, check here. 

(2) A shaytan can in fact take the image of awsiya’.

  • If we attempt to implement solution 1 to Ismail, it becomes possible Ismail was alive even after his supposed death - but the Imam did taqiyya from his companions because they will expose the secret. 

Hence, he labeled Ismail’s sight as that of a “shaytan” taking Ismail’s image, similar to the image brought by the heretical preachers which he denounced as Shaytan taking those images.

  • If we attempt to implement solution 2, then it is not a proveable assumption that a shaytan did take the image of Ismail.

Nonetheless, assuming it is possible Ismail living after his apparent death.

That Ismail’s “apparent death” is the 2nd decreed death Allah saved Ismail from - in relation to Imam al-Sadiq’s hadith:

“Allah (swt) decreed death upon my son Ismail twice - so I asked Him (Allah) to save him (Ismail) from this fate (and He accepted).”

Then this assumption will pose a whole different questions; which will be discussed in the next section.

2 ) What is the need to protect a mere fallible like Ismail?

2A) Protecting a mere fallible

The true question is - was Ismail indeed a mere fallible?

Imam al-Hadi clarifies below that Imam al-Sadiq in fact both indicated Ismail would be his successor and also appointed him.

  • Hadith #1

(Al-Tusi’s Ghayba, vol 1, p 224)

It was narrated by Saad bin Abdullah Al-Ash’ari, he said: 

Abu Hashim Dawud ibn al-Qasim al-Ja’fari told me: 

I was with Abu al-Hasan (al-Hadi), peace be upon him, at the time of the death of his son Abi Jaafar (Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi) - and he had made evident (that Muhammad will succeed him) and indicated him as his successor.

This made me think and say: This is the case of Abu Ibrahim and the case of Ismail. 

Then Abu al-Hasan (al-Hadi), peace be upon him, came and said: 

Yes, Abu Hashem, Allah did badaa’ to Abi Ja’fad, and put in his place Abu Muhammad (al-Hasan al-Askari).

Just like Allah did badaa’ in Ismail after Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq), peace be upon him, indicated him (as successor) and appointed him.

فقد رواه سعد بن عبد الله الأشعري قالحدثني أبو هاشم داود بن القاسم الجعفري قالكنت عند أبي الحسن عليه السلام وقت وفاة ابنهأبي جعفر - وقد كان أشار إليه ودل عليه - فإني لافكر في نفسي وأقولهذه قضية أبي إبراهيم وقضية إسماعيل، فأقبل علي أبو الحسنعليه السلام فقالنعم يا أبا هاشم بدا لله تعالى في أبي جعفر وصير مكانه أبا محمد، كما بدا لله في إسماعيل بعدما دل عليه أبو عبد اللهعليه السلام ونصبه

  • Hadith #2 - The Wasiya of Ismail

A companion of Imam al-Sadiq named Abd al-Jalil testified that Imam al-Sadiq gave his wasiya (will of Imamate) to Ismail, three years before Ismail’s death.

Imam al-Sadiq denies this, which upon analysis, such denial is likely out of taqiyya.

Otherwise, it is inappropriate to indicate Ismail is the next Imam, appoint him in that position

And more than that - write a wasiya (divine will) which some companions witnessed saying Ismail is the successor about 3 years before Ismail’s death

(Ghaybat al-Nu’mani, vol 1, page 343)

I told Abi Abdilah (al-Sadiq):

Abd al-Jalil had narrated to me that you gave your wasiya to Ismail while he was alive, before his death by three years..

قالفقلت ذلك لأبي عبد الله (عليه السلام): إن عبد الجليل حدثني بأنك أوصيت إلى إسماعيل في حياته قبل موته بثلاث سنين.

2B) If Ismail hadn’t become Imam yet or if we assume he died before his father, then how can he be seen as more than a mere fallible?

At any time (in the Imamates before al-Mahdi), there will be two Imams.

The Imam authorized to speak, propagate, and implement religion in the position of Imam. This is the natiq Imam (the speaking Imam). 

And his successor, his appointed heir and holder of his wasiya - who is not authorized to speak in the position of Imam while his predecessor is alive. This is the samit Imam (the silent Imam).

Ismail, being appointed as the next Imam and holding the wasiya, would be the samit Imam - thus infallible, even if he did not ascend to the position Imamate.

Below are some ahadith highlighting this concept of natiq and samit Imam:

  • Hadith #1

(Al-Saduq Ma’any al-Akhbar, page 111)

I asked Abu Abdullah, peace be upon him, about the saying of God Almighty: (And an idle well and a lofty palace). 

He said: The idle well is the samit (silent) Imam, and the lofty palace is the natiq (speaking) Imam.”

معاني الأخبارمحمد بن إبراهيم بن أحمد الليثي (7) عن علي بن فضال عن أبيه عن إبراهيم بن زياد قالسألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلامعن قول الله عز وجل: (وبئر معطلة وقصر مشيدقالالبئر المعطلة الامام الصامت، والقصر المشيد الامام الناطق 

  • Hadith #2

(Bihar al-Anwar, vol 26, page 4)

And I (Imam Ali) became the holder of the Prophet’s wasiya as Al-Murtada, and Muhammad became the natiq (Imam), and I became the samit (Imam).

In every era, there must be a natiq and samit.”

وصرت أنا وصيه المرتضى، وصار محمد الناطق، وصرت أنا الصامت، وإنه لا بد في كل عصر من الاعصار أن يكون فيه ناطق وصامت، ياسلمان صار محمد المنذر وصرت أنا الهادي، وذلك قوله:

  • Hadith #3

(Al-Kafi, vol 1, page 176) 

I asked Abi Abdilah (as):

Can the Earth exist without an Imam?

He said: No

I asked: Can there be two Imams?

He said: No, except with one being samit.

عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، بن أبي عمير، عن الحسين بن أبي العلاء قالقلت لأبي عبد الله عليه السلامتكون الأرضليس فيها إمام؟

قاللا، قلتيكون إمامان؟ قاللا إلا وأحدهما صامت.

  • Hadith #4

(Basa’ir al-Darajat)

I asked (Imam al-Sadiq):

Can there be two Imams?

He said: No, except with one as a samit who does not speak until his predecessor dies

3 - بصائر الدرجاتمحمد بن الحسين، عن الحسن بن محبوب، عن العلا، عن عبد الله ابن أبي يعفور، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قالكان علي بن أبي طالب عليه السلام عالم هذه الأمة، والعلم يتوارث، وليس يمضي منا أحد حتى يرى من ولده من يعلم علمه ولا تبقى الأرضيوما بغير إمام منا تفزع إليه الأمة، قلتيكون إمامان؟ قال:

لا إلا وأحدهما صامت لا يتكلم حتى يمضي الأول

2C) Where is the Wasiya of Ismail? Why don’t we see exact ahadith on it in our hadith books?


Our ahadith books are all compilations. Meaning, their authors selectively took ahadith from pre-existing ahadith books or from the usul (foundation books of hadith narrated directly from our Imams).

If a hadith was not found to be relevant to the faith of the Shi’a by our classical scholars, or did not match their criterion - they would not add it to their books.

For example -

Shahawiyah ibn Abdullah al-Jallab, a companion of Imam al-Hadi states:

I used to narrate from Abu al-Hasan al-‘Askari (i.e, Imam al-Hadi) ahadith indicating Abi Ja’far (Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi) is the next Imam.

When Abi Ja’far died, I panicked because of that. I remained perplexed - not moving forth nor back. I was scared to write to him (Imam al-Hadi) asking him about that, as I do not know how he will respond..”

Imam al-Hadi, through ‘ilm al-ghayb, informs Shahawiyah that his successor is Imam al-Askari - despite Shahawiyah not asking the Imam about the matter.

عن شاهويه بن عبد الله الجلاب (١)، قال:

كنت رويت عن أبي الحسن العسكري عليه السلام في أبي جعفر ابنه روايات تدل عليه، فلما مضى أبو جعفر قلقت لذلك، وبقيت متحيرا لاأتقدم ولا أتأخر، وخفت أن أكتب إليه في ذلك، فلا أدري ما يكون.

This report evidently suggests there were narrations suggesting Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi is the successor to Imam al-Hadi.

They were definitely quite numerous, as the majority of the Shi’a believed he would be the Imam’s successor.

But today, where are the narrations indicating Muhammad will be the successor?

Not a single one exists - as ahadith would be vetted by our classical scholars before adding them to their hadith corpus. As these ahadith would only add confusion to the average practicing Shi’i, instead of strengthening his faith.

This is why ahadith on Ismail’s wasiya were not added to our hadith corpus, given the cases of Muhammad and Ismail are directly compared in our ahadith.

Ismail’s wasiya would only add confusion to the Shi’a who need strengthening of their faith in a time already so perplexing like the Ghayba al-Kubra.

3 ) Why claim Ismail is dead, when he wasn’t? Is it possible the reports on Ismail being appointed is to maintain taqiyya on Imam al-Kadhim?

As discussed earlier, al-Mansur had desires to kill Ismail.

Ismail was the face of the Khattabiya (aka Ja’fariya) rebel movement, and his position as heir of Imam al-Sadiq was publicly preached by al-Mufaddal ibn Umar (deputy of Imam al-Sadiq) - as discussed in part 4 and 6.

The Imam deputized Ismail, as discussed in part 1.

The Shi’a public was also widely aware of Ismail being the Imam.

Whereas - Imam al-Kadhim (a) for example and Abdullah ibn Ja’far (the 2nd oldest son of Imam al-Sadiq), they were not in imminent danger in the time of al-Mansur.

There would be no reason to protect al-Kadhim, as al-Mansur himself said.

In this hadith from al-Kafi, Imam al-Sadiq creates a “public” wasiya consisting of 5 people:

(Al-Kafi, vol 1, page 310) 

Imam al-Sadiq gave his wasiya to Abu Ja’far al-Mansur (the caliph), Abdullah, Musa (ibn Ja’far al-Sadiq), and Muhammad ibn Ja’far (slave of Imam al-Sadiq)

Abu Ja’far (al-Mansur) said: “These people are not susceptible to be killed (by me)

علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن النضر بن سويد بنحو من هذا إلا أنه ذكر أنه أوصى إلى أبي جعفر المنصور وعبد الله وموسى ومحمد بنجعفر مولى لأبي عبد عبدالله يه السلام قالفقال أبو جعفرليس إلى قتل هؤلاء سبيل

4 ) What if the Imam’s will was different from Allah’s?

  • Hadith 1

(Basa’ir al-Darajat, page 492)

“Narrated Abi Abdilah (al-Sadiq):

I asked Allah, requested him, and urged to make this matter pass onto Ismail - but Allah refused except to make it pass onto Abu al-Hasan Musa

حدثنا أحمد بن محمد عن علي بن الحكم عن أبيه عن ابن أبي حمزة عن أبي بصير عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال سئلته وطلبت وقضيت(1) إليه ان يجعل هذا الامر إلى إسماعيل فأبى الله الا ان يجعله لأبي الحسن موسى ع.

  • Hadith 2

(Al-Kafi, vol 2, p 92)

The Imam tells Yunus greet al-Mufaddal with “al-Salam [alaykum]” on behalf of Imam al-Sadiq, and to tell him: 

We have been struck by [the death] of Ismail, so we were patient. So be patient, [O Mufaddal], like we had been patient. We had wanted a matter [that Ismail become the next Imam], but Allah desired a different matter. So we had submitted our will to the will of Allah.”

16 - عنه، عن علي بن الحكم، عن يونس بن يعقوب قالأمرني أبو عبد الله (عليه السلامأن آتي المفضل وأعزيه بإسماعيل وقالاقرأالمفضل السلام (1) وقل لهإنا قد أصبنا بإسماعيل فصبرنا، فاصبر كما صبرنا، إنا أردنا أمرا وأراد الله عز وجل أمرا، فسلمنا لأمر الله عزوجل. (1) 

  • Hadith 3 - Can the Imam’s will be different from Allah?

The Imams follow the will of Allah, if he wills something - they will it. They don’t act independently in matters of religion.

So it’s not possible for Imam al-Sadiq to ask Allah to make Ismail his successor, unless this was Allah’s will. 

(Al-Khara’ij wal Jara’ih)

The Qa’im was asked regarding the Mufawidda. 

He said: ‘They have lied. Our hearts follow the will of Allah. So if he wills [something], we will it.’ 

Then he recited this verse: 

وَمَا تَشَآءُونَ إِلَّآ أَن يَشَآءَ ٱللَّهُ رَبُّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ

And you do not will except that Allah wills - Lord of the worlds” (81:29)

في الخرائجعن القائم (عليه السلامإنه سئل عن المفوضة قالكذبوا، بل قلوبنا أوعية لمشيئة الله عز وجل فإذا شاء شئنا، ثم تلا هذه الآية(2).”

  • Evaluation

As the Imam cannot will something without Allah willing it, different groups and thinkers have formed different conclusions regarding  the Imamate of Ismail and Musa al-Kadhim.

Nasir-i-Khosrow, the famed Ismaili philosopher believed Musa al-Kadhim was a mustawada’ Imam - an Imam entrusted with leading the Shi’a to protect the true Imam (from his perspective, Ismail).

(Isamilis in Middle Ages, p 230) 

The author himself contradicts this condition in the following paragraph in which he makes Musa al-Kazim a mustawda Imam of the mustaqarr Imam, Isma’il

Him making such a conclusion is not strange - given that (1) Ismailis largely depend Twelver ahadith from imams before al-Kadhim if resorting to ahadith, and (2) the Imam cannot willing something if Allah does not will it.

Then Imam al-Sadiq asking Allah to make Ismail his successor - even after Allah otherwise, could make sense to the portion of Ismailis who believed Imam al-Sadiq designating al-Kadhim as Imam was to protect the true Imam, Ismail.

Khosrow clarifies the Ismaili conception of mustaqar and mustawda’ Imam below:

(The Ismailis in Middle Ages, page 84)

Now we have to explain the difference between the real hereditary Imam, mustaqarr, and the trustee Imam, mustawda The difference between them exists only in so far as the question of inheritance is concerned, as in the case of Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn. The trustee Imam, mustawda is a son of the Imam who also knows all the mysteries of imamate, and so long as he discharges his duty he is the greatest of all people of his time. But he is not endowed with the privilege of transmitting his imamate to his descendants, who can never become Imams, only Sayyids. The hereditary Imam, mustaqarr, is endowed with all the privileges of imamate, and transmits them to his successors.”

4 ) Solutions

It becomes evident that the badaa of Ismail cannot be simplified to Allah’s will being different from the expectation of the general public among Shi’a. 

There is much more depth to it, and more I haven’t discussed in this post.

I also have not discussed why I believe all these reports can be reconciled to indicate al-Kadhim is the successor to al-Sadiq.

This is because I would like the reader to form their own conclusion. Anyone willing to learn more should feel free to message me on Twitter (Andaluso24).

May Allah bless you all