In Defense of al-Mufaddal, p3: Praised Only By Himself & Associates?

 Ammar Muslim makes the following claim regarding the reports praising al-Mufaddal

Narrator-analysis of the reports allows us to identify the pro-Mufaḍḍal ‘trend’ because they exhibit a common pattern: they all, without fail, are narrated either by Mufaḍḍal himself, or those somehow connected to him (i.e. primarily associates and students), who also happen to be independently accused of Ghuluww.

Just how true is this very bold statement?

Let us analyze this by presenting a few ahadith, to arrive at a conclusion on who al-Mufaddal was.


Al-Mufaddal & Ismail

Hadith #1

Muhammad b. Yahya from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa from Ali b. al-Hakam from Yunus b. Ya’qub who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام ordered me to go to Mufadhal and condole him for [the death of] Ismail. He [the Imam] said: Convey my greetings of peace to Mufadhal and say to him: We have been tried through Ismail and have remained patient, so be patient the way we have been patient. We wanted something (i.e, Ismail’s Imamate) but Allah Mighty and Majestic wanted something else so we have submitted to the command of Allah Mighty and Majestic.

وروى عن محمد بن يحيى، عن علي بن الحكم، عن يونس بن يعقوب، قال:

أمرني أبو عبد الله عليه السلام أن آتي المفضل وأعزيه بإسماعيل، وقالإقرأ المفضل السلام وقل لهإنا قد أصبنا بإسماعيل فصبرنا،فأصبر كما صبرنا، إنا أردنا أمرا، وأراد الله عز وجل أمرا، فسلمنا لأمر الله عز وجلالكافيالجزء 2، كتاب الايمان والكفر 1، باب الصبر47، الحديث 16.

  • Evaluation:

Sayyid al-Khoei says: “This report indicates the very close relationship al-Sadiq (a) had with al-Mufaddal ibn Umar. Additionally, the report is sahih (authentic)” (Mu’jam Rijal al-Hadith, vol 19, page 327)

أقولهذه الرواية تدل على شدة علاقة الصادق عليه السلام بالمفضل بن عمر، والرواية صحيحة

Accordingly, there are no ghulat in the chain, all are thiqa, nor are they related to al-Mufaddal in any way. 

Content-wise, the Imam’s desire for Ismail’s Imamate (as evident in ahadith I’ve presented in my Ismail ibn Ja’far series) is reflected on al-Mufaddal who had been ordering people to state that Ismail is the next Imam.

(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 618)

I entered upon Abi Abdillah, peace be upon him, and listed the the names of Imams to him until I mentioned his name (al-Sadiq), and then I said: 

Ismail after you (as Imam). 

He (al-Sadiq) said: As for that - no (he is not the Imam after me)

So Hammad said: I said to Ismail ibn ‘Amir (the narrator)

What called you to say, ‘And Ismail (ibn Ja’far) after you?’

He said: Al-Mufaddal ibn Umar ordered me.”

حدثني حمدويه، قالحدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن حماد بن عثمان، عن إسماعيل بن عامر، قالدخلت على أبي عبد اللهعليه السلام، فوصفت إليه الأئمة حتى انتهيت إليه، فقلتإسماعيل من بعدك، فقال:

أما ذا فلا، فقال حمادفقلت لإسماعيل وما دعاك إلى أن تقول وإسماعيل من بعدك؟ قالأمرني المفضل بن عمر

Analyzing this from a dhahir (apparent sense), not taking into evidence of the possibility that Ismail was alive and protected by Imam al-Sadiq, as I highlight in part 8 of my Ismail ibn Ja’far series:

Al-Mufaddal not being able to accept Ismail’s death and ordering the Shi’a to state that he is the successor to Imam al-Sadiq is the apparent cause for Imam al-Sadiq’s letter to him.

The Imam consoles al-Mufaddal asking him to be patient and accept the death. Which he would not do if Mufaddal were a deviator.

For to give him further proof of Ismail’s death, Imam al-Sadiq had al-Mufaddal personally inspect Ismail and be assured of his death. In case al-Mufaddal needed proof the Imam’s statement was not said in taqiyya or to protect Ismail. 

This is shown hadith #2 narrated by Zurara.

Hadith #2 

(Kitab al-Ghayba by al-Nu’mani, vol 1, p 345)

Narrated Zurara ibn A’yan:

“I entered upon Abi Abdullah (peace be upon him) and on his right the master of his sons, Musa (peace be upon him) and in front of him was a covered casket, and he said to me: 

O Zurara, bring me Dawud ibn Katheer Al-Ruqi, Humran and Abi Baseer.

Then Al-Mufaddal ibn Umar entered upon him. And people kept entering one by one until we were thirty men in the house.

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-Sadiq], 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. Then he covered him (Ismail), and when he was done - he said to al-Mufaddal:

‘Uncover his face’.

So he uncovered his face.

He (the Imam) asked: Is he dead or alive?

Mufaddal said: Dead”

وروي عن زرارة بن أعين، أنه قال:

دخلت على أبي عبد الله (عليه السلاموعن يمينه سيد ولده موسى (عليه السلاموقدامه مرقد مغطى، فقال لييا زرارة، جئني بداود بنكثير الرقي وحمران وأبي بصير، ودخل عليه المفضل بن عمر، فخرجت فأحضرته من أمرني بإحضاره، ولم يزل الناس يدخلون واحدا إثرواحد حتى صرنا في البيت ثلاثين رجلا، فلما حشد المجلس قاليا داود، اكشف لي عن وجه إسماعيل، فكشفت عن وجهه.

فقال أبو عبد الله (عليه السلام): يا داود، أحي هو أم ميت؟

قال داوديا مولاي، هو ميت، فجعل يعرض ذلك على رجل رجل حتى أتى على آخر من في المجلس وانتهى عليهم بأسرهم، كل يقولهو ميت،يا مولاي.

فقالاللهم اشهد، ثم أمر بغسله وحنوطه وإدراجه في أثوابه، فلما فرغ منه قال للمفضليا مفضل، احسر عن وجهه، فحسر عن وجهه،فقالأحي هو أم ميت؟


  • Evaluation:


The matter of confirming whether or not Ismail died is a very crucial matter.

If Ismail is alive, the Shi’a who mostly believed that he will be the heir of the Imam will continue in their belief.

After all, being the eldest son is an identifying son for who the Imam is:

(Al-Kafi, vol 1, page 284)

I said to Abu al-Hasan al-Ridha, peace be upon him: If the Imam dies, what traits will the one after him be known by?

So he (the Imam said): There are signs identifying the (next) Imam, among them that he will be the eldest son of his father and that he will have merit and the wasiya (will).

محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن ابن أبي نصر قالقلت لأبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلامإذا مات الامام بم يعرف الذي بعده؟ فقالللامام علامات منها أن يكون أكبر ولد أبيه (2) ويكون فيه الفضل والوصية،

To the extent, some had even narrated a will by Imam al-Sadiq to make Ismail the next Imam.

(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.

Breaking these tightly held conceptions of the Shi’i community about Ismail can only happen by Ismail’s death.

If Ismail dies, the Imam can proclaim badaa’, the idea that Allah put the Shi’a into trial by believing Ismail is the next Imam whereas Allah’s true will is that al-Kadhim is the next Imam.

And that is what happened, according to mainstream Shi’i understanding of these ahadith. 

That Badaa’ happened after the deaths of Ismail ibn Ja’far and Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi respectively for Allah to reveal the true Imams al-Kadhim and al-Askari.

If Ismail did not die, the Shi’a would not change their beliefs.

Therefore, Imam al-Sadiq making al-Mufaddal identify whether or not Ismail died has two implications:

(1) Corroborates the first hadith, in that Imam al-Sadiq valued al-Mufaddal and Mufaddal’s relationship with Ismail. 

(2) Shows he is of very high standing - as giving al-Mufaddal the option to identify whether Ismail died changes the course of Shi’i history.

If Ismail did not die, then badaa’ did not happen. And the Shi’a will remain on the belief of his Imamate, leading to deviation (from the mainstream perspective).

Mufaddal’s identification is related to the guidance of the Shi’a - highlighting his very high station and status in the eyes of Imam al-Sadiq.


At the beginning of the hadith, Al-Nu’mani omits the full chain of the narration and simply uses the phrase “It was narrated from Zurara” وروي عن زرارة.

This is to suggest he found the hadith in a book instead of being directly transmitted it - a valid form of narration known as wijada, which al-Kashi for example does very frequently from narrators such as Jibraeel ibn Ahmad. 

At the end of the hadith, however, al-Nu’mani cites the chain (none of the narrators are associated with pro-Mufaddal circles). He mentions he found the hadith from one of his Shi’i brothers in faith, who mentioned the following chain below.

Is it likely the esteemed and famed al-Nu’mani would refer to one of the ghulat as his brothers? No.

Is it likely that brother is one of of the disciples/students of al-Mufaddal or al-Mufaddal cited the hadith itself? 

No, different time era and they all died by then.

Aside from that, their struggle with Zurara is enough for them not narrate from him nor cast him in a position of deputyship (i.e, the Imam ordering him to bring along certain companions).

And a quick reading of the text makes it very the text is not intended to support any side.

“I found this hadith from one of our (Shi’i) brothers. 

He mentioned that he copied the hadith from Abi al-Marja ibn Muhammad al-Ghamr al-Taghlibi, who mentioned that it was narrated to him by Abu Sahl, who narrated it on the authority of Abu Al-Faraj Warraq Bindar al-Qummi, on the authority of Bindar, on the authority of Muhammad ibn Sadaqah and Muhammad bin Amr, on the authority of Zurara.

Abu Al-Marji mentioned that he presented this hadith to one of his brothers, and he said: It was narrated to him by Al-Hasan bin Al-Mundhir with a chain of transmission for him on the authority of Zurara”

ووجدت هذا الحديث عند بعض إخواننا، فذكر أنه نسخه من أبي المرجى بن محمد الغمر التغلبي، وذكر أنه حدثه به المعروف بأبي سهل يرويهعن أبي الفرج وراق بندار القمي، عن بندار، عن محمد ((2)) بن صدقة، ومحمد بن عمرو، عن زرارة.

وأن أبا المرجي ذكر أنه عرض هذا الحديث على بعض إخوانه، فقالإنه حدثه به الحسن بن المنذر بإسناد له عن زرارة

Hadith #3

“1. [1/267] Rijal al-Kashshi: Hamduwayh b. Nusayr from Ya’qub b. Yazid from Ibn Abi Umayr from Hisham b. al-Hakam and Hammad b. Uthman from Ismail b. Jabir who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: Go to Mufadhal and say to him – O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you want for my son Ismail? Do you want to kill him!?

267] رجال الكشيحمدويه بن نصير، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن الحكم وحماد بن عثمان، عن إسماعيل بن جابرقالقال أبو عبد اللهإئت المفضل قل لهيا كافر يا مشرك ما تريد إلى ابني تريد أن تقتله

  • Evaluation & mini-conclusion to part A:

To an outsider, this hadith may appear as a condemnation to al-Mufaddal and his group for deviating Ismail with their beliefs.

But if we go by Ammar Muslim’s idea that Mufaddal was always a ghali deviator, then we are forced to reconcile this hadith with ones above it.

If Imam al-Sadiq consoled Mufaddal for Ismail’s death, and allowed Mufaddal to personally inspect him.

Then his condemnation of Mufadda for misguiding Ismail (and Mufaddal never changed his views, then the only logical conclusion is Imam al-Sadiq’s condemnation is out of taqiyya.

And that Imam al-Sadiq was in fact secretly supporting Mufaddal and his group, the Khattabiya - accused of heresies. It definitely calls into question the ahadith condemning them.

B) Mufaddal - None Is Like Him

Sayyid al-Khoei narrates the following hadith from al-Ikhtisas attributed to Shaykh al-Mufid.

Ammar Muslim may reject the attribution of al-Ikhtisas to al-Mufid, but this doesn’t mean that his stance is congruant with scholars of the mainstream who mainly agree with that attribution. And thus this hadith would be binding on them.

Attribution aside, the text’s content anyway matches with texts from the classical era - making some attribute it to other authors from that time period or slightly before it.

Sayyid al-Khoei agrees with the attribution to al-Mufid and he quotes the following hadith, agreeing it is of authentic isnad:

And Sheikh Al-Mufid narrated with an authentic chain of narrators, on the authority of Abdullah ibn al-Fadl al-Hashimi, he said: 

I was with Al-Sadiq Ja’far bin Muhammad, peace be upon them, when Al-Mufaddal ibn Umar entered, and when he saw him he laughed at him, then said: “To me, O Mufaddal! O Mufaddal, if all of my companions knew what you know, two of them would not differ (the hadith).”

وروى الشيخ المفيد بسنده الصحيح، عن عبد الله بن الفضل الهاشمي، قالكنت عند الصادق جعفر بن محمد عليهما السلام إذ دخلالمفضل بن عمر، فلما بصر به ضحك إليه، ثم قالإلي يا مفضل، فوربي إني لأحبك وأحب من يحبك، يا مفضل لو عرف جميع أصحابي ماتعرف ما اختلف اثنان، (الحديث).

  • Evaluation:

The hadith of authentic chain, as clarified above, is free of any associates with al-Mufaddal or Mufaddal himself.

It shows that al-Mufaddal was blessed with such a high status with al-Sadiq, that he:

(1) Laughed to him

(2) Says he loves him and whomever loves him (is this implicit support of the Khattabiya?)

(3) If the companions of Imam al-Sadiq knew all of what Mufaddal knew, they would not differ. This suggests al-Mufaddal was bestowed with high esoteric (batin) knowledge, which the bulk of companions did not have.

So is the companions actions against Mufaddal & his companions justified?

Definitely not.

C) “Do not sit with the people of innovation”?

(Amali of Shaykh al-Tusi) Al-Tusi 

Al-Hussein ibn Ubaid Allah Al-Ghadhairi, on the authority of Al-Talakbari, on the authority of Muhammad ibn Hammam, on the authority of Abdullah Al-Hamiri, on the authority of Ahmed ibn Muhammad bin Isa, on the authority of Ali ibn Al-Hakam, on the authority of Saif ibn Omairah:

Abi Abdullah, peace be upon him, said to Al-Mufaddal bin Omar: 

O Mufaddal, if you want to know whether a man’s status is wretched or blessed [in eyes of Allah, per surah Hud verse 105], then look at his righteousness and kindness to whom does he make it? 

If he does it for someone who deserves it, then know that it will lead to good.

If he does not do it to someone who deserves it, know he has no good in the eyes of Allah”

أمالي الطوسيالحسين بن عبيد الله الغضائري، عن التلعكبري، عن محمد بن همام عن عبد الله الحميري، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى،عن علي بن الحكم، عن سيف بن عميرة، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال للمفضل بن عمريا مفضل إذا أرت أن تعلم أشقيا الرجل أمسعيدا فانظر بره ومعروفه إلى من يصنعه؟ فان صنعه إلى من هو أهله فاعلم أنه إلى خير يصير، وإن كان يصنعه إلى غير أهله فاعل أنهليس له عند الله خي

  • Evaluation:

Firstly, none of the narrators are linked to Mufaddal.

Secondly, how is Mufaddal, the purported “ghali”, being given advice by the Imam on how to decipher who is a person that is wretched or blessed in the eyes of Allah?

Whatever happened to the Imam saying “The Ghali returns to us and we do not accept him” - to which the Imam explains that is because “the Ghali was used to leaving prayer, zakat, fasting, and hajj - and he cannot leave his habit. And cannot return to the obedience of God ever.

Why give Mufaddal advice related to the obedience of God?

Thirdly, the phrase “then look at his righteousness and kindness to whom does he make it?” suggests the Imam recognizes that Mufaddal knows whom is righteous and whom isn’t.

Would al-Mufaddal associate with the Khattabiya if they were unrighteous?

Fourth, what, happened to the Imam’s command to his Shi’a of “Do not befriend the people of innovation nor sit with them, lest people consider you one of them” (al-Kafi,  vol 2, page 375).

A righteous companion (Sayf ibn Umara) was present when the Imam gave Mufaddal his advice, suggesting they in a teaching session of the Imam.

So is the Imam deviating his companions by making them in his presence or is Mufaddal not one of the people of deviations?

D) Accepting al-Mufaddal’s gifts

(Al-Kafi, vol 6, page 355)

Ali bin Muhammad bin Bandar, on the authority of his father, on the authority of Muhammad bin Ali al-Hamdani, on the authority of Abdullah bin Sinan, on the authority of Dursat ibn Abi Mansour, he said: 

Al-Mufaddal ibn Umar sent me to Abi Abdullah, peace be upon him, with a lutf (gift) so I entered him on a summer day and before him a dish was served consisting of  green apples.

I was patient until I eventually told him (concern regarding this food)..

علي بن محمد بن بندار، عن أبيه، عن محمد بن علي الهمداني، عن عبد الله بن سنان، عن درست بن أبي منصور قالبعثني المفضل بنعمر إلى أبي عبد الله عليه السلام بلطف (5) فدخلت عليه في يوم صايف وقدامه طبق فيه تفاح أخضر فوالله إن صبرت أن (1) قلت لهجعلتفداك أتأكل من هذا والناس يكرهونه؟ فقال لي كأنه لم يزل يعرفني وعكت (2) في ليلتي هذه فبعثت فأتيت به فأكلته وهو يقلع الحمى ويسكنالحرارة، فقدمت فأصبت أهلي محمومين فأطعمتهم فأقلعت الحمى عنهم.

  • Evaluation:

None of the narrators are of the pro-Mufaddal trend, the narrator Dursat ibn Abi Mansour who was sent by al-Mufaddal was one of the authors of the usul.

Meaning, the Imam gave him ahadith and supervised its writing to Dursat’s notebooks - highlighting his great status.

The mere fact Imam al-Sadiq does not reject al-Mufaddal’s gift shows that al-Mufaddal was accepted by the Imam and was not ghali.

Since our ahadith considered a ghali to be najis (spiritually and ritually impure), Imam al-Sadiq would not have allowed the gift into his house.

More so, would the Imam let in to his house a gift from a wicked individual who does not pray, does not fast, and corrupts the Imam’s own son?!

As he would know through ‘ilm al-ghayb what a person has in mind before they even say it, a trait of our Imams which can be observed throughout the ahadith.

Although the hadith does not describe the gift (described as ‘lutf’, meaning it was sent as a gesture of seeking the Imam’s approval / his graciousness).

If the Imam did not reject the gift, it can be assumed he had graciousness and approval for al-Mufaddal.

Hope this post helped you all!