Abu al-Khattab, part 3: Examples of Batinism


In our last article of the Abu al-Khattab series, our topic of discussion was centered on the batini nature of our Imams which led to our Imam’s companions being cursed the way they were.

We learned that we cannot compare the ahadith of our Imams to the Quran to affirm their probative value - because the Imam is the Quran itself.

We cannot compare the ahadith of our Imams to the sunnah - because the Imam is the sunnah itself. 

In other words, the idea that there is no methodology, rule or law by which our Imams must adhere to. 

Rather - the Imams ARE the law itself. 

Thus, it is possible for their commands to be contradictory - or even have no basis in mainstream Islamic belief. 

In essence, the Imam can issue ahadith and fatwas providing a “subjective” truth to different companions due to their level of comprehension - while the giving “objective” truth only to his most trustworthy companions. 

The further one studies the ahadith of the Babs (sufara’ of the Imam), the further the batini nature of these reports reveals a faith nearly completely alien to not only the mainstream Shi’i conception - but also Islam. 

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to shed more light on the feasibility of such a conception by providing examples the Imam using their batin authority in guiding the Shi’a.

Let us get started


Defining Deen by the Batin

  1. Days of Ramadan?

(Al-Kafi, vol 4, page 79)

“Narrated Muadh ibn Katheer, on the authority of Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) who said: The month of Ramadan is only thirty days, and by Allah - it never decreases from that.

محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن ابن سنان، عن حذيفة بن منصور، عن معاذ بن كثير، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلامقالشهررمضان ثلاثون يوما لا ينقص والله أبدا

  • Evaluation

Mainstream Islamic fiqh - both Sunni and Shi’i - dictates that the holy month of Ramadan can extend for 29 or 30 days.

Our Imams however issued contradictory commands. One conforming to mainstream thought, the other ruling that Ramadan lasts for a static 30 days. 

Most Shi’i scholars took the mainstream view, except Shaykh al-Saduq who mentions the ahadith of the latter in Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih (vol 2, page 169).

By including the ahadith of Ramadan being 30 static days, al-Saduq is making a statement that he believes in the hadith’s authenticity and issues a fatwa for others to take upon it.

As al-Saduq says in the introduction of Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih:

I have listed only ahadith which I issue a fatwa in favor of - and whose authenticity I rule upon, and I believe in it that it is an argument (hujja) between me and my Lord.”

وصنفت له هذا الكتاب بحذف الأسانيد لئلا تكثر طرقه وإن كثرت فوائده، ولم أقصد فيه قصد المصنفين في إيراد جميع ما رووه، بل قصدتإلى إيراد ما أفتي به وأحكم بصحته (1) وأعتقد فيه أنه حجة فيما بيني وبين ربي

Now, the true question is: 

Why would the foremost scholar al-Saduq take upon a fatwa in a hadith contradicting mainstream Shi’i (and overall Islamic) thought?

Simple. He believed the hadith adhered by most Shi’a to be a case of taqiyya performed by the Imam.

(Al-Saduq’s Ma’any al-Akhbar, page 157)

The Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them, do not differ, but they issue fatwas to the Shi’a with the matter of truth.

And perhaps they issued them fatwas in taqiyya. Whatever difference in their (Imams) words is out of taqiyya, and taqiyya is mercy to the Shi’a.”

قال محمد بن علي مؤلف هذا الكتابإن أهل البيت عليهم السلام لا يختلفون ولكن يفتون الشيعة بمر الحق وربما أفتوهم بالتقية فما يختلفمن قولهم فهو للتقية والتقية رحمه للشيعة

Al-Saduq believes the Imam gave fatwas representing the objective truth to only Shi’a he trusted, whereas the Imam excercised taqiyya from Shi’a he did not trust.

(‘Ilal al-Shara’ie, vol 2, page 347)

He (the Imam) wore it (black clothing) out of taqiyya. Indeed, he informed Hudhayfa ibn Mansur that it is the clothing of people of hellfire - because he trusted him.

Whereas a group of Shi’a came to him (the Imam) asking him about wearing black, and he did not trust them in keeping the secret so he excercised taqiyya on them.”

قال مؤلف هذا الكتابلبسه للتقية وإنما أخبر حذيفة بن منصور بأنه لباس أهل النار لأنه إئتمنه وقد دخل إليه قوم من الشيعة يسألونه عنالسواد ولم يثق إليهم في كتمان السر فاتقاهم فيه.

It becomes increasingly obvious that al-Saduq believed the Imam’s fatwa of Ramadan being 30 static days (not any less) was the objective truth.

Whereas, the Imam hid this truth from most Shi’a (whom he did not trust) and issued a contradictory fatwa to them.

From this insight by the most prominent Shi’i muhadith in the post-Ghayba age, we can ascertain it is the Imam who defines the fareeda (obligatory act) and when it is carried out.

So can Abu al-Khattab can be blamed for taking the month of Sha’ban as a month of obligatory fasting, if we assume the Imam permitted this to him - even if it contradicts mainstream Islamic thought?

Can Mufaddal be blamed for praying Fajr before the ‘official time’ (as allegations by his opponents stated), if the Imam permitted this? 

Definitely not to both. It is within the Imam’s batin powers to issue any commandment or provide any information in hadith, regardless of how contradictory it is.

But for us Shi’a to achieve ma’rifa (knowledge of the Imam’s status), we must strive to learn the objective truth by studying the words of the Imam’s Babs (sufara) and follow where they lead us. 

Even regardless of this information contradicting the basic foundation of Shi’ism which we grew up with.

  1. Praying With Clothes Touched By Alcohol

(Al-Kafi, vol 3, page 407)

Abdullah ibn Muhammad to Abu Al-Hasan (peace be upon him): 

May I be sacrificed for you - Zurara narrated on the authority of Abu Jaafar and Abi Abdullah, may God’s prayers be upon them both, in the matter of wine that falls on a man’s clothes, that they (Imams) said: 

There is nothing wrong with praying with clothes has wine on it, however - it is forbidden to drink it (wine). 

While companions other than Zurara narrated on the authority of Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) that he said: 

‘If wine or wine gets on your dress - meaning intoxicant - then wash it if you know its location, and if you do not know its location, wash it all, and if you pray in it, repeat your prayer.’

So let me know (O Aba al-Hasan), upon what fatwa I will take? 

He signed his (peace be upon him) handwriting: 

Take upon what Abi Abdullah (peace be upon him) said.

قرأت في كتاب عبد الله بن محمد إلى أبي الحسن (عليه السلام): جعلت فداك روى زرارة، عن أبي جعفر وأبي عبد الله صلوات الله عليهمافي الخمر يصيب ثوب الرجل أنهما قالالا بأس بأن يصلي فيه إنما حرم شربهاوروى غير زرارة، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلامأنه قالإذا أصاب ثوبك خمر أو نبيذ - يعني المسكر - فاغسله إن عرفت موضعه وإن لم تعرف موضعه فاغسله كله وإن صليت فيه فأعد صلاتك - فأعلمني ما آخذ به؟ فوقع بخطه (عليه السلام): خذ بقول أبي عبد الله (عليه السلام).

  • Evaluation:

One of Imam al-Kadhim’s companions writes to the Imam, informing him the ahadith highlight two contradictory commandments regarding praying with clothes which have alcohol on them.

The companions says that one set of ahadith (narrated by Zurara) from Imams al-Baqir & al-Sadiq permit praying clothes befallen by alcohol. However, this alcohol is still forbidden.

However, another set of ahadith narrated by companions other than Zurara - from Imam al-Sadiq only - clarified that alcohol is forbidden and one must rinse his clothes from it. 

If prayed with it, one repeat his prayer if alcohol touched his clothes. 

Imam al-Kadhim implicitly affirms both ahadith, but tells his companion to take open the ahadith narrated by Imam al-Sadiq only.

There is no way to reconcile between the ahadith, both types of alcohol are clearly depicted to be forbidden.

Yet, it is the Imam who decides which hadith for you personally to take. 

This shows that is within the Imam’s authority and power to make halal to one person, what he would make haram from another person.

There is absolutely no limit to the Imam’s power.

This contradiction - and the reason why Imam al-Sadiq’s hadiths in both of the aforementioned fatwas contradict - is out of taqiyya. And such fatwas are binding on an individual, even if said in taqiyya.

(Al-Kafi, vol 2, page 217)

On the authority of Abu Amr al-Kinani, he said: 

Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) said to me: 

O Abu Amr! What if I told you a hadith or gave you a fatwa, and then you came to me after that and asked me about it, and I told you differently from what I told you previously, or I gave you a fatwa contradicting what I said previously, which one would you take? (i.e, the earlier hadith / fatwa or the one said later contradicting it?

I said: 

I will take upon the later hadith / fatwa and leave the previous.

The Imam said: 

You are right, O Amr. God only refused to be worshipped except secretly.

By by God, if you do that, it is better for me and you, God Almighty refuses to us in His religion except for taqiyya.”

وعن محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن الحسن بن محبوب، عن هشام بن سالم، عن أبي عمرو الكناني قالقال لي أبوعبد الله (عليه السلام): يا أبا عمروأرأيت لو حدثتك بحديث أو أفتيتك بفتيا ثم جئتني بعد ذلك فسألتني عنه فأخبرتك بخلاف ما كنت أخبرتكأو أفتيتك بخلاف ذلك بأيهما كنت تأخذ؟

قلتبأحدثهما وأدع الاخر فقالقد أصبت يا با عمرو، أبى الله إلا أن يعبد سرا، أما والله لئن فعلتم ذلك إنه لخير لي ولكم، أبى الله عز وجللنا في دينه إلا التقية.

In the midst of these contradictions, one can only be relieved from the burden and shackles of the taqiyya commandments the Imam bound you to through ma’rifa of His status.

You cannot simply say the Imam ordered the cursing of Fulan and Fulan is the objective truth. Rather, it was a commandment the Imam bound to companions he did not trust.

Thus if you seek a glimpse of the objective truth, then follow the path and hadith of the Babs.

  1. Permissibility of Seafood

It is not hidden that mainstream Shi’ism sees consumption of all sea animals to be forbidden except prawn and fish which has scale. 

Shi’i jurists (such as al-Hurr al-‘Amili in Wasa’il al-Shi’a, vol 24, p 130) cites ahadith such as the following prove that fish which has no scale is indeed forbidden. 

  • Supporting claim:

(Al-Kafi, vol 6, page 219)

On the authority of Muhammad ibn Muslim, he said: Abu Jaafar, peace be upon him, recited to me something from the books of Ali, peace be upon him, and said:

Through this, I forbid you from catfish, al-Zameer (form of catfish), al-Marmahi, al-Taffi and al-Tuhhal (types of fish).

He said: I said: O son of the Messenger of God, may God have mercy on you - we are given fish which has no scale.

He (the Imam) said: Eat that has a scale of fish, and that which has no scale, do not eat it.

باب) * (آخر منه) * 1 - عدة من أصحابنا، عن سهل بن زياد، ومحمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد جميعا، عن ابن محبوب، وأحمد بنمحمد بن أبي نصر جميعا، عن العلاء، عن محمد بن مسلم قالأقرأني أبو جعفر عليه السلام شيئا من كتب علي عليه السلام فإذا فيهأنهاكم عن الجري والزمير و المارماهي والطافي والطحال قالقلتيا ابن رسول الله يرحمك الله إنا نؤتى بالسمك ليس له قشر؟ فقالكلماله قشر من السمك وما ليس له قشر فلا تأكله.

  • Opposing claim:

Muhammad ibn Muslim asks Imam al-Sadiq regarding the exact same fatwa he was given by Imam al-Baqir. 

And he is given a contradictory answer:

(Tahdheeb al-Ahkam, vol 9, page 6).

On the authority of Muhammad bin Muslim, he said: I asked Abu Abdullah, peace be upon him, about catfish, al-Zameer (form of catfish), al-Marmahi, al-Taffi and al-Tuhhal (types of fish)

He (Imam al-Sadiq) said: What is forbidden is only what God and His Messenger prohibited in His Book. But they (prophets) used to abstain from some foods, so we (Ahlulbayt) abstain from them.”

عنه عن عبد الرحمان بن أبي نجران عن عاصم بن حميد عن محمد بن مسلم قالسألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن الجري والمارماهيوالزمير وماله قشر من السمك حرام هو فقال لييا محمد اقرأ هذه الآية التي في الانعام (قل لا أجد فيما أوحى إلي محرما على طاعميطعمهقالفقرأتها حتى فرغت منها فقالإنما الحرام ما حرم الله ورسوله في كتابه ولكنهم قد كانوا يعافون أشياء فنحن نعافه

Imam al-Sadiq is telling Muhammad ibn Muslim that only food prohibited in the Quran is haram. Thus, Imam al-Sadiq makes it halal to Muhammad ibn Muslim to eat fish without scale as the only forbidden food in the Quran is pork.

Imam al-Baqir clarifies to Zurara what is forbidden in the Quran and how fish without scale is not forbidden there, thus it is not haram:

(Al-Istibsar, vol 4, page 60)

On the authority of Zurara, he said: I asked Aba Jaafar, peace be upon him, about hagfish, and he said: What is hagfish?

So I explained it to him.

He (Imam) then said: (I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden to one who would eat it unless it be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine - for indeed, it is impure) (Quran 6:145) - to the end of the verse.

Then he (Imam) said: God did not prohibit anything from the animals in the Qur’an except the pig itself.

And everything from the sea which does not have scale is not haram. Rather, it is merely makrooh.”

الحسين بن سعيد عن محمد بن أبي عمير عن ابن أذينة عن زرارة قالسألت أبا جعفر عليه السلام عن الجريث فقالوما الجريث؟

فنعته له فقال: (لا أجد فيما أوحى إلي محرما على طاعم يطعمه) (1) إلى آخر الآية ثم قاللم يحرم الله شيئا من الحيوان في القرآن الاالخنزير بعينه، ويكره كل شئ من البحر ليس له قشر مثل الورق وليس بحرام إنما هو مكروه.

  • Evaluation:

Looking at these hadith, one may be tempted to say that the Imam’s fatwa permitting fish without scale is said in taqiyya. Why? Because it confirms to Sunni fiqh, in that all seafood are halal.

One, however, must not rush to make such a generalized statement. 

It is evident the the Hanafi school (the largest Sunni school of thought) actually regulates the consumption of seafood. Just like modern mainstream Shi’i, food such as crab and lobster are forbidden.

According to the Hanafi sect, fishes such as turbot, carp, flipper and eel are permissible to eat. However, sea vermins such as crab, mussel, oyster, lobster, crawfish and prawn are not eaten. Also, other water animals which are not in the shape of fish such as walrus, sea pig etc. are not eaten as well. According to other three sects (Shafi, Maliki, Hanbali), all of the sea foods are eaten.”

Who’s to say that the Imams did not issue the fatwa forbidding fish without scale, out of taqiyya from Sunnis? 

And who’s to say that the Imams did permit all seafood, out of taqiyya from Sunnis?

What if both were said in taqiyya? 

Just because Imam al-Baqir said he found the prohibition in Kitab Ali does not mean this is a definitive prohibition. Rather, the Kitab of Imam Ali continuously changes per circumstance, “It travels with precision, like the Sun and Moon”. (Re: my series on Allama Majlisi: Nuqsan al-Quran, part 5).

The matter of the fact is that there is no inherent prohibition in either commandment. The Imam makes halal and haram whatever he wishes, and can give contradicting information, to whomever he wishes.

However, why are we choosing one set of ahadith over the other? Even though one set clearly and explicitly describes fish without scald as ‘makrooh’ and ‘not forbidden’?

Because it is due to the consensus of classical and later Shi’i scholars aiming to make Shi’ism clearly defined and fiqh-oriented - so as to make it closer to “orthodoxy”, to Sunnism.

This poses an important question:

Is Shi’ism today following the religion of the Imams, or are we following a religion - a bulk of which is carefully crafted by later jurists?

Are we cursing personalities - from the Imam’s companions - whom the Imams wanted us to curse? Are we following ahkam our Imams wanted us to follow?

Think critically, dear brothers and sisters.

  1. Voiding the Dhahir, In Favor of the Batin

(Bihar al-Anwar, vol 100, p 138 - from Tafsir al-Qummi)

On the authority of Ishaq bin Ammar, he said: I asked Abu Ibrahim (al-Kadhim) peace be upon him, about the saying of God Almighty, ‘Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He will multiply it for him and he will have a noble reward? ‘Quran 57:11)

He said: It was revealed about the Silat al-Rahm (i.e, verse is about spending on one’s family and relatives).

تفسير علي بن إبراهيمأحمد بن إدريس، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن علي بن الحكم، عن أبي المعزا، عن إسحاق بن عمار قالسألت أباإبراهيم عليه السلام عن قول الله تعالى " من ذا الذي يقرض الله قرضا حسنا فيضاعفه له وله أجر كريم " (4) قالنزلت في صلة الأرحام

On the authority of Al-Khaybri and Yunus ibn Dhubyan who said: We heard Abu Abdullah, peace be upon him, say, “There is nothing more beloved to God than giving one’s dirhams to the Imam.” 

For who does so, God will give him dirhams in Paradise as big as the mountain of Uhud.

Then he (Imam) said: God Almighty says in his book: “Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He will multiply it for him and he will have a noble reward? ‘Quran 57:11)” 

He said: Wallah, this verse is exclusively referring to Silat al-Imam (i.e, giving the Imam your money).”

عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن الوشاء، عن عيسى بن سليمان النحاس، عن المفضل بن عمر، عن الخيبري ويونس بن ظبيانقالاسمعنا أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول ما من شئ أحب إلى الله من إخراج الدراهم إلى الامام وإن الله ليجعل له الدرهم في الجنة مثلجبل أحد، ثم قالإن الله تعالى يقول في كتابه: " من ذا الذي يقرض الله قرضا حسنا فيضاعفه له أضعافا كثيرة (5) " قالهو والله فيصلة الامام خاصة

  • Evaluation:

We can observe that the Imam redefined verses and their commandments, as he wished.

While the dhahir of the verse is about spending righteously generally (including on relatives, which it was revealed about), the Imam makes the batin interpretation of the verse as the only interpretation and commandment to be derived from the verse.

And that is: 

One must give the Imam his money (khums).

And just like this, the Imam used his batin authority to redefine many commandments and void their dhahir. As will be shown in the final example of this article below.

  1. ‘Awrah of Non-Muslims

(Al-Kafi, vol 6, page 501)

“Abi Abdillah al-Sadiq said:

Looking at the ‘awrah of whomever is not Muslim is like looking at the ‘awrah of a donkey’”

27 - علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن غير واحد، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قالالنظر إلى عورة من ليس بمسلم مثلنظرك إلى عورة الحمار

  • Evaluation:

In Islam, ‘Awrah is defined as intimate parts of a person which must be covered, especially which cause sexual excitation. And it is obligatory for the believer to not look at these parts.

The Imam however declares that a non-Muslim (i.e, non-Shi’i) has no ‘awrah like other humans. Rather, one is free to look at their intimate parts because it is like looking at the intimate parts of a donkey.

The purpose of the hadith is not to permit sexually inclined gaze at non-Shi’a, rather - it is to highlight the spiritual shame that they are in by virtue of not being Shi’a.

Similar to the shame Allah put prophet Adam to, as he made him descend onto earth naked (7:22), as punishment.

Thus, the Imam transcends the conventional fiqhi definition of ‘awrah by using his batin interpretation to place non-Shi’a in the same category as animal awrah.

The batin (non-Shi’a = animals) thus voids the dhahir (human awrah treated equally, aside from concubines).

As with the previous example of al-Saduq, traditionist scholars such as Saduq and Kulayni took upon the Imam’s batin fatwa. 

The muhaqiq (editor) of al-Kafi vol 6 says:

It is apparent from the author (al-Kulayni) and Ibn Babawayh (al-Saduq) - may Allah have mercy upon them - their belief in the commandment of this report

While it is apparent from al-Shahid (al-Thani) and a group (of scholars) that there is no dispute in it being forbidden.

يظهر من المؤلف وابن بابويه رحمهما الله القول بمدلول الخبر ويظهر من الشهيد و جماعة عدم الخلاف في التحريم

More discussion onto this topic will continue onto the next part

Wa Allahu Ta’ala A’lam