The Eldest Son: A Forgotten Imamate

Note: Some websites disingenuously copy information / analysis listed without credit. Anything presented in my articles is fully original.


“Midway upon the road of our life I found myself within a dark wood, for the right way had been missed.”

This quote from Italian poet Dante in his work Inferno echoes to us a timeless, eternal truth. A truth so great, that our Imams (as) crystallized it as the defining feature of the era of Ghayba (occultation):

The remembrance of the Qa’im shall die, and misguidance shall proliferate.

In the words of Imam al-Sadiq:

(Ma’any al-Akhbar of al-Saduq)

“So I said to him (al-Sadiq): O son of the Messenger of God, why was he named Al-Qaim? He said: Because he will rise after the death of his remembrance (i.e, the Shi’a will forget him as the Qa’im) and the apostasy of most of those who believe in his Imamate”

بالحق المنتظر . فقلت له : يا ابن رسول الله لم سمي القائم ؟ قال : لأنه يقوم بعد موت ذكره وارتداد أكثر القائلين بإمامته

Whoever the Qa’im is, the Shi’a originally believed in his Imamate and then foresook him. 

Since Imam al-Sadiq is the speaker in this hadith, he is clearly referring to the Qa’im as someone in his progeny.

Imam al-Sadiq goes on to clarify in the report that the Qa’im will “rise after the death of his remembrance”.

Although one may be inclined to believe the collective forgetfulness of the Qaim’s memory may be due entirely due to the Shi’a themselves corrupting the truth –

This couldn’t be farther than reality.

In fact, as I argue in my book Misguiding the Shi’a, our Imams themselves fed the Shi’a false doctrine to misguide them and hide the truth from them:

(Al-Kafi, vol 8, page 101)

“Narrated Abaan, from Abu Baseer who said: 

‘I was seated in the presence of Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq) when Um Khalid whose limb had been cut off by Yusuf ibn Umar came up, seeking permission to see him 


Imam al-Sadiq said: ‘Would you like to listen to her speech?’ I said, ‘Yes’. 

He Said: ‘Grant her permission’, and he made me sit alongside him  upon the seat. Then she came in. She spoke eloquently. 

So she asked about Abu Bakr and Umar. 

Imam al-Sadiq said: ‘Have wilayah (loyalty, love) for the two of them’.

She then said, ‘Shall I say to my Lord (azwj) when I meet Him (azwj) that you ordered me to have wilayah for them?’ 

The Imam said: Yes.”

71 - أبان، عن أبي بصير قالكنت جالسا عند أبي عبد الله (عليه السلامإذ دخلت علينا أم خالد التي كان قطعها يوسف بن عمر تستأذنعليه فقال أبو عبد الله (عليه السلام): أيسرك أن تسمع كلامها؟ قالفقلتنعم، قالفأذن لها، قالوأجلسني معه على الطنفسة (1) قال:

ثم دخلت فتكلمت فإذا امرأة بليغة فسألته عنهما، فقال لهاتوليهما؟ قالتفأقول لربي إذا لقيتهإنك أمرتني بولايتهما، قالنعم،

Now, one may certainly argue that Imam al-Sadiq was performing taqiyya here. 

In fact, when people of higher comprehension of the Imam’s status read the full hadith – they will deduce just that: 

The Imam spoke in taqiyya.

In a house with three people present (the Imam, Abu Basir, and Um Khalid) – 

the Imam ordering Um Khalid to have wilayah for Abu Bakr and Umar, is not an attempt to dissimulate from Abbasid spies.

Rather, the Imam is misguiding his Shi’i follower into developing a false aqeeda system – away from the truth.

Um Khalid, after all was Imamite Shi’i – however, she is recorded to have strongly leaned to the cause of Zayd ibn Ali and was injured in his cause. 

Such description of Zaydi-leaning Imamites is elaborated in Rijal books by the epithet "يتزيد” (Leaning on Zayd’s cause). 

(Rijal al-Kashi)

“On the authority of Ali ibn al-Hasan ibn Faddal, he said: 

Yusuf ibn Umar was the one who killed Zayd ibn Ali and was in charge of Iraq. He had also cut off the hand of Umm Khalid, a righteous woman who professed Tashayyu’ and was inclined towards Zayd ibn Ali

عن علي بن الحسن (بن فضالقاليوسف بن عمر هو الذي قتل زيداً وكان على العراقوقطع يد أم خالدوهي أمرأة صالحة على التشيعوكانت مايلة إلى زيد بن علي

And whom does history tell us ordered the wilayah of Abu Bakr and Umar, in opposition to the followers of Imams al-Baqir and al-Sadiq?

(Al-Wafi bil Wafiyat, vol 15, page 21)

“As for the Rafidha, the first time they engaged in rafdh was when they came to Zayd ibn Ali said: ‘Disavow Abu Bakr and Umar so that we may support you’.

Zayd said: ‘Rather, I have wilayah for them two (Abu Bakr and Umar), and I disassociate from those who disavow them.”

أما الرافضة فأول ما ترفضت جاءوا إلى زيد بن علي حين خرج وقالوا تبرأ من أبي بكر وعمر حتى نكون معك قال بلأتولاهما وأبرأ ممن يبرأمنهما 

So what becomes clear is that Um Khalid’s beliefs about wilayah towards Abu Bakr and Umar, a prominent feature of Zayd’s beliefs –

If they did not originate directly from Imam al-Sadiq, they were at least legitimized by him as he ordered Um Khalid to espouse such belief.

Neither scenario is out of the ordinary, as Imam al-Sadiq says:

(‘Ilal al-Shara’ie by Shaykh al-Saduq)

“On the authority of Muhammad ibn Bashir and Hariz, on the authority of Abi Abdillah [al-Sadiq], peace be upon him, who said:

I said to him [The Imam]: There is nothing more difficult for me than the differences of our companions.

He (the Imam said): I ordered that.

Allama Majlisi clarification on meaning of hadith:

What I informed them (the companions) out of taqiyya, and ordered them to do for the greater good”

علل الشرائعأبي، عن سعد، عن محمد بن الوليد والسندي، عن أبان بن عثمان، عن محمد بن بشير وحريز، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلامقالقلت لهإنه ليس شئ أشد .علي من اختلاف أصحابنا، قالذلك من قبلي

.بيانأي بما أخبرتهم به من جهة التقية وأمرتهم به للمصلحة

It is clear now that Imam al-Sadiq had ordered his Shi’a to take upon false theology (such as wilayah for Abu Bakr and Umar), out of taqiyya and for the greater good. 

Thus, one can imagine that the Qaim’s remembrance being forgotten is not simply due to personal endeavors by the Shi’a at corruption. 

Rather, it is also clear that the Imams ordered the Shi’a to adopt different, false, and contradictory beliefs to forget the Qa’im.

In the midst of Imam-sanctioned misguidance and the clergy’s corruption of the truth, the average Shi’i would find himself lost “within a dark wood, for the right way had been missed” – as Dante eloquently described.

If misguidance and corruption could perforate even the ahadith of nass (designation of Imamate), how can the Shi’a even know who the Imam of their Time is?


The identity of the Imam can be deduced by a clear, crisp methodology – available not by secret evidence, but by facts available to the public regardless of status (rich, poor, educated, uneducated, etc).

The reason for this is that once a person enters Tashayyu’, they will no longer have an excuse to not follow the right Imam.

Al-Ridha outlines this methodology, saying:


“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،

The first criterion of Imamate mentioned by al-Ridha to be discussed comprehensively will be the topic of the post:

Being the eldest son of the Imam

So without further adue

Let us begin!




(Firaq al-Shi’a, by Sa’d al-Ash’ari al-Qummi)

“Narrated Imams al-Baqir and al-Sadiq

The Imamate rests in the eldest of the Imam’s sons.”

واعتلّوا بحديث يروونه عن (أبيه وعن جدهأنهما قالاالإمامة في الأكبر من ولد الإمام، 

In the Islamic Shari’a, a wasiya (will) has two facets:

  1. A will where a 1/3rd of a man’s wealth is distributed to named individuals – while the rest of his wealth is divided up fairly with his heirs
  2. directive will where the man gives instructions on how his estate, property, slaves, etc will be managed after his death. 

For the purpose of this article, we will focus our reflections on the directive will due to its exclusive correlation with Imamate.

After all – managerial position over the Imam’s estate and inheritance signifies managerial position over the Imam’s subjects (the Shi’a).

The directive will in a typical Islamic will is usually made with the eldest sons in mind.

In it – the deceased father would instruct his eldest sons in his will on how they can manage his estates, at a time where their younger children have not yet become of age and thus cannot manage.

The following report clarifies:


“2. Muhammad has said the following: “

Once Muhammad ibn al-Hassan al-Saffar wrote to Abu Muhammad about the case of a man who made a bequest for his children consisting of adults and minor ones.

If it is lawful for the eldest sons to execute the will, pay off his debts to the rightful creditors according to just witnesses before the young children (minors) become adults. 

He (the Imam) signed the answer that said, ‘The eldest (adult) sons must pay the debts of their father and they must not allow him to remain imprisoned thereby (the debts).”’”

5487 وكتب محمد بن الحسن الصفار - رضي الله عنه - إلى أبى محمد الحسن بن علي (عليهما السلام) " رجل أوصى إلى ولده وفيهم كبارقد أدركوا (6) وفيهم صغار أيجوز

للكبار أن ينفذوا الوصية ويقضوا دينه لمن صحح على الميت بشهود عدول (1) قبل أن يدرك الصغار؟ فوقع (عليه السلام): على الأكابر منالولد أن يقضوا دين أبيهم ولا يحبسوه بذلك

Knowing this and that the ahadith of the Imams forbid Imamate except in one person at a single time

The directive will determines Imamate only so as it is placed as the eldest son of the Imam is made its sole executor.

All the eldest adult sons cannot be the executors of the will, because there can only be one Imam.

Thus, the eldest son of them all is the sole trustee of his father in executing his will.

Al-Hasan al-Askari brings the matter into more perspective for us:

(Al-Khara’ij wal Jara’ih)

“You have asked me about what my followers have differed upon (Imamate).

If the Imam claimant has the wasiya (will) and is the eldest son – then there is no doubt in his Imamate.”

إذا أراد أن يجمع غنمه جمعها بأدون السعي، ذكرت ما اختلف فيه موالي، فإذا كانت الوصية والكبر فلا ريب، ومن

Al-Askari characterizes two main traits to make an Imamate undoubtable, in the sense that God would not absolve a Shi’i for not following this Imam if they satisfy the following requirements:

- Holding the wasiya. 

al-Hasan al-Askari is referring to the directive will which would make an Imam-claimant the sole executor of his father Imam’s will.

- Being the eldest son.

Al-Hasan al-Askari is referring to how the eldest sons are the ones who execute their father’s will. 

However, with regards to Imamate – only the eldest son of them all is undoubtedly the Imam and the sole executor.

To further contextualize – the transition of managerial powers from the deceased to his eldest (adult sons), necessitates that the eldest sons manage not only his wealth –

Rather - the eldest sons, as executors of their father’s will, also pay off their father’s debt.

However, with regards to Imamate – only the eldest son among all the male children is made to be the sole executor of his father’s to manage his wealth and have exclusive ability to pay off his father’s debts.

This is to signify his Imamate, him alone.

We see this in the example of Ali al-Ridha below:


“Narrated al-Makhzumi whose mother was one of the children of Ja‘far ibn abu Talib has narrated the following:

“Abu al-Hassan Musa once called all of us to see him. We all gathered and then he said to us, “Do you know why have I called you?” We said, “We do not know.” He then said, “Bear testimony that this my son is the executor of my will, the director of my affairs and the succeeding Imam.

Whoever has a debt due on me should demand that debt from my son, this one (Ali al-Ridha).To whoever I may have promised anything should also acquire from him. Whoever must see me must not come to see me with writing from him.”

7 - أحمد بن مهران، عن محمد بن علي، عن محمد بن الفضيل قالحدثني المخزومي وكانت أمه من ولد جعفر بن أبي طالب عليه السلامقالبعث إلينا أبو الحسن موسى عليه السلام فجمعنا ثم قال لناأتدرون لم دعوتكم؟ فقلنالا فقالاشهدوا أن ابني هذا وصيي و القيمبأمري وخليفتي من بعدي، من كان له عندي دين فليأخذه من ابني هذا، ومن كانت له عندي عدة فلينجزها منه ومن لم يكن له بد من لقائي فلايلقني إلا بكتابه

For this same reason, prophet Muhammad proclaimed that no one will pay his debt except his successor - the sole Imam, Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).

(Manaqib Ibn Abi Shahr Ashoob)

“Ali is from me and I am from him, and no one pays my debt except myself or Ali.”

علي مني وأما منه ولا يقضي عني ديني إلا أنا أو علي،

Yet, when this concept is applied to Musawi Imams such as Ali al-Ridha – 

The alleged directive will above making Ali al-Ridha the executor of the will was nothing but a secret will(batin wasiya).

After all, Musa al-Kadhim’s public will dedicated that several of his eldest sons were to “take part in al-Kadhim’s instructions with Ali al-Ridha”. 

They were all a part of the “directive will”. They were all equal, and none of them could claim Imamate (a sole executor) position because of this.

To provide a solution to this tremendously mindbending issue, the hadith alleges that al-Kadhim gave his “directive will to Ali al-Ridha in a batin wasiya (secret will), where he alone was made executor.


““O Abu ‘Umara, I can inform you that when I came out of my house, I gave my will to my son, so and so and in a dhahir wasiya (public will). I allowed my other sons to take part in my instructions with him but I gave my directive will to him in a batin wasiya (secret will), where he alone was made executor. 

Had it been up myself I would have placed my directive will with my son al-Qasim because of my love for him and sympathy. However, it is up to Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, who places it ((Leadership with Divine Authority) wherever He wants.

أخبرك يا أبا عمارة أني خرجت من منزلي فأوصيت إلى ابني فلان، وأشركت معه بني في الظاهر، وأوصيته في الباطن، فأفردته وحده ولمكان الامر إلي لجعلته في القاسم ابني، لحبي إياه ورأفتي عليه ولكن ذلك إلى الله عز وجل، يجعله حيث يشاء

Even more bizarrely, the above hadith claims Rasul Allah consoled Musa al-Kadhim in this hadith as he made Ali al-Ridha his successor – instead of his favorite son, al-Qassim.

Rasul Allah justifies this to al-Kadhim by comparing the situation to the case of Ismail:

Had Imamate been based on love, Isma‘il had been more beloved to your father (Ja’far al-Sadiq) than you were. However, it is the decision of Allah”

فقال رسول اللهما رأيت من الأئمة أحدا أجزع على فراق هذا الامر منك، ولو كانت الإمامة بالمحبة لكان إسماعيل أحب إلى أبيك منك، ولكنمن الله

Yet – in continuing this somber note, the tragedy of the “secret will” did not culminate here.

Rather, al-Kadhim gave specific instructions that no person shall open his secret will or publicize it. Because its content (giving Ali al-Ridha exclusive power) would be different from his public will:

“No one has the right to open the document of my (batin) will or publicize it when it would be different from what I have said and specified publicly (in my public/dhahir will)

وليس لاحد أن يكشف وصيتي ولا ينشرها وهو منها على غير ما ذكرت وسميت

Ali al-Ridha was to claim Imamate, without providing any proof of it (such as this secret will) – as “no one has the right to open the document of the (batin) will or publicize it”. 

The reader now is struck back and put on a complete standstill.

How exactly did Ali Al-Ridha simply expect his Imamate to be believed without any objective proof of some kind?!

The answer is simple:

Al-Ridha could not feasibly assert Imamate without evidence, unless he had precedent in this act.

That precedent would be none other than his father Musa ibn Ja’far (as) – who similarly claimed Imamate, without proof.

How exactly did this happen?

As the hadith above shows, Ismail was clearly the chosen favorite of Imam al-Sadiq (as), as Rasul Allah allegedly tells al-Kadhim:

Had Imamate been based on love, Isma‘il had been more beloved to your father (Ja’far al-Sadiq) than you were. However, it is the decision of Allah”

Yet however, this statement does not reflect reality, as from al-Ridha’s words, we can see that Ismail (as) was in Kitab al-Sadaqa in the will of Imam al-Sadiq.

Kitab al-Sadaqa meaning the properties of Imam Ali, passed down from one Imam to his successor, to act as its executor. 

Inheriting this position of “executor of the will” signified Imamate. 

At times, the properties of Imam Ali would be seized by the ruler or his Hasanid allies, similar to how Fadak was seized by Abu Bakr.

However, when in hands of the Imam – it can only be passed to the Imam’s successor, the sole executor of the will. 

By al-Ridha’s admission, Ismail was named in the will of Kitab al-Sadaqa (i.e, became its executor) and by that virtue was an Imam in his own right.

(Rijal al-Kashi)

“Ismail was in the will of Imam al-Sadiq in Kitab al-Sadaqa, and he (Ismail) was an Imam!”

الحسن عليهما السلام، وهم اليوم مختلفون، قالما كانوا مجتمعين عليه، كيف يكونون مجتمعين عليه وكان مشيختكم وكبراؤكم يقولونفيإسماعيل وهم يرونه يشرب :كذا وكذا، فيقولون هذا أجود، قالواإسماعيل لم يكن أدخله في الوصية؟ فقال

قد كان أدخله في كتاب الصدقة وكان إمام

To demonstrate further, Ismail was showcased as the executor of his father’s will when Imam al-Sadiq had Ismail personally execute the killer of al-Sadiq’s slave Mu’ala ibn Khunays. 

Slaves are part of a person’s property, so Ismail been appointed by Imam al-Sadiq to kill his slave’s killer signifies that Ismail is entitled to manage the Imam’s property:

(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 675)

“When the death of al-Mu’ala was reported to Aba Abdilah [al-Sadiq] he went entered upon Dawud ibn Ali (the governor) with Ismail his son (i.e, al-Sadiq’s son) behind him).”

Upon knowing the details of the killer of his representative, the Imam told his son Ismail:

“O, Ismail. Take care of the matter (qisas):

Ismail left, taking his sword and killed him (the killer of al-Mu’ala) in his majlis.”

قالفلما بلغ ذلك أبا عبد الله عليه السلام خرج يجر ذيله حتى دخل على داود بن علي، وإسماعيل ابنه خلفه

قال يا إسماعيل شأنك به قالفخرج إسماعيل والسيف معه حتى قتله في مجلسه.

By making it clear that Ismail is his successor, Imam al-Sadiq had decked the cards to make Ismail the subject of the dhahir wasiya.

In other words, when the commoners and children go on to ask - “who is the executor of al-Sadiq’s will?

They will answer: “His eldest son Ismail”


“He (the Imam’s successor) should be so clearly the one declared by the Divine Leader to be his Trustee that when you enter the town and ask the children or the common people about whom the Divine Leader has established as his Trustee, everyone refers to him

محمد العطار، عن الأشعري، عن الخشاب، عن يزيد بن إسحاق شعر، عن الغنوي، عن عبد الأعلى، قالقلت لأبي عبد الله عليه السلام:

ما الحجة على المدعي لهذا الأمر بغير حق؟

قالثلاثة من الحجة لم يجتمعن في رجل إلا كان صاحب هذا الأمر:

أن يكون أولى الناس بمن قبله.

ويكون عنده سلاح رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله.

ويكون صاحب الوصية الظاهرة، الذي إذا قدمت المدينة سألت العامة والصبيانإلى من أوصى فلان؟ فيقولونإلى فلان

As the subject of the dhahir wasiya, Ismail was known to be executor of al-Sadiq’s will and by that virtue - the Imam after him:

(Al-Mufid’s Ikhtisas, page 99)

“Narrated Kardayn:

I entered upon Imam al-Sadiq, and with him was his son Ismail – whose Imamate we Shi’a believed in after his father (al-Sadiq)”

أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، ومحمد بن عبد الجبار، عن محمد بن خالد البرقي، عن فضالة بن أيوب، عن رجل من المسامعة اسمه مسمع بنعبد الملك ولقبه كردين، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قالدخلت عليه وعنده إسماعيل ابنه ونحن إذ ذاك نأتم به بعد أبيه 

The reason for making it public knowledge to all (even to commoners and children) of Ismail’s executor of the will, is so that none would dispute he is the will’s rightful trustee and thus the next Imam.

Imam al-Sadiq demonstrates this fact in the hadith below.

When al-Baqir was making his will to al-Sadiq, he asked for Quraysh and the people of Medina to be witness to it.

When Imam al-Sadiq enquired saying, Father, had you commanded me, I would have done all these things you instructed in your will. 

Why did you decide to call these people to be witnesses?’”

Imam al-Baqir replied, ‘My son I did it so no one will dispute (that you will be the sole executor of my will).

(Al-Kafi, vol 3, page 200)

“Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq):

‘One day my father during his illness said to me:

‘Son, call people from Quraysh and people of al-Madinah, so I can appoint them as witness.’ 

I then called a number of people. He said, ‘O Ja‘far, when I die, give Ghusl (bath) to me, place me in the shroud, raise the surface of my grave by four fingers above the ground and sprinkle water on it.’ 

When they left I asked, ‘Father, had you commanded me, I would have done all these things. 

Why did you decide to call these people to be witnesses?’ He said, ‘My son I did it so no one will dispute (that you will be the sole executor of my will).

الكافيعلي، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن حماد بن عثمان، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قالإن أبي عليه السلام قال لي ذات يوم فيمرضه:

يا بني أدخل أناسا من قريش من أهل المدينة، حتى أشهدهم قالفأدخلت عليه أناسا منهم، فقاليا جعفر إذا أنا مت فغسلني وكفني،وارفع قبري أربع أصابع ورشه بالماء، فلما خرجوا قلتيا أبت لو أمرتني بهذا صنعته، ولم ترد أن ادخل عليك قوما تشهدهم، فقاليا بنيأردت أن لا تنازع (4

Thus, when Imam al-Sadiq made two of his eldest sons equally executors of his will – it led to the biggest upset ever experienced by the Imamite Shi’i community.

(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

With two sons in Imam al-Sadiq’s public will (dhahir wasiya), both of them are obligated the following:

The eldest (adult) sons must pay the debts of their father

As discussed earlier, the debts of the Imam predecessor is to be paid only by his successor – the executor of his will.

Either both Abdullah and Musa are Imam - which is not possible, as Imamate is impermissible in brothers after Hasan and Husayn.

Or neither of them are Imam.

To further add salt to injury, al-Mansur and a slave of Imam al-Sadiq were also mentioned as executors of the will.

This leads us to two conclusions:

A )The dhahir wasiya no longer could feasibly act as an indicator of Imamate, as it includes the name of a taghut (oppressor) and a fallible slave.

The goal of the dhahir wasiya was ensuring that the executor of the Imam’s will was indisputed. 

With this purpose defeated, the dhahir wasiya is abolished as a reliable and objective way of ascertaining Imamate.

B ) The position of eldest son, which is intrinsically linked to managing the will of his   father and equivalent to Imamate. 

Since two of the eldest sons were made equal in managing their father’s property –

The criteria of eldest son is also abolished as it can no longer reliably determine the status of sole executor of the will and thus Imam.

With Ismail ibn Ja’far as the last person to satisfy these requirements, and Imam al-Sadiq had made the majority of Shi’a to believe he predeceased the Imam –

This action by Imam al-Sadiq singlehandedly offset the biggest blow to the Shia’s hearts!


Since Imam al-Sadiq abolished the dhahir wasiya and eldest son positions as reliable indicators of Imamate, the landscape of Tashayyu’ became very different.

The Shi’a were hungry for an Imam after Ismail, and hungry to apply the principles of Imamate on a person, after Imam al-Sadiq passed and Ismail was in ghayba.

Then came Abdullah, son of Imam al-Sadiq, to quench their thirst:

(Firaq al-Shi’a, by Sa’d al-Ash’ari al-Qummi)

The fifth group among the Shi’a said that the Imamate after Jaafar is in his son Abdullah ibn Jaafar Al-Aftah.

That is because when Jaafar passed away, Abdullah was the eldest of his sons in age and Abdullah sat in his father seat and  claimed the Imamate by his father’s will

The followers of Abdullah cited a hadith they narrated from Imams al-Sadiq and al-Baqir that they both said: 

‘The Imamate rests in the eldest of the Imam’s sons.’

So the ones who inclined to Abdullah, and the view of his Imamate are the majority of those who believed in the Imamate of his father, Jaafar ibn Muhammad.”

والفرقة الخامسة منهم قالت الإمامة بعد جعفر في ابنه عبد الله بن جعفر الأفطح، وذلك أنه كان عند مضي جعفر أكبر ولده سنا وجلسمجلس أبيه (بعده وادعى الإمامة بوصية أبيه). واعتلّوا بحديث يروونه عن (أبيه وعن جدهأنهما قالاالإمامة في الأكبر من ولد الإمام، فمالإلى عبد الله والقول بإمامته جل من قال بإمامة أبيه جعفر بن محمد

Abdullah had made the claims described above but as he died only 70 days after claiming Imamate - and the Shi’i community switched to following al-Kadhim,

Musawi Shi’i narrators and scholarship grappled with two highly unsatisfying facts:

1 ) Abdullah claimed the Imamate by his father’s will

The fact Abdullah was made an executor of his father’s will was undeniable, along with Musa al-Kadhim. 

There is no exclusive position to either. If one claims the Imamate based on that will, the other could as easily claim so too.

The solution for this – to distinguish al-Kadhim was to claim Imam al-Sadiq had a secret will specifically for Musa al-Kadhim, teaching it only to the most elite companions. 

Yet, because such secret wills are unverifiable and disputable - 

They hold no probative value, as the indisputable dhahir wasiya did. 

This means that nass for the Shi’a post-Ismail would disintegrate into a “he said / she said” phenomenon.

If one party claims to have heard the nass, the other party could as easily deny it.

We can see this in the case of the 2nd Twelver safeer of Imam al-Mahdi – who occupied the Imam’s worldly duties.

Some Shi’a claimed the Imam designated him in nass, arguing to detractors:

They said: “If you have not heard (of the Imam’s nass to the safeer), others have.”

The other Shi’a in response said: 

You follow what you have heard.” 

Without the dhahir wasiya to ensure indisputability, the nass becomes useless as a merely secret document.

(Al-Ghayba of Tusi)

“And when Hasan (a.s) passed away, the Shia said to Ibn Hilal, “The community is with him. Will you not accept the leadership of Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn Uthman and refer to him, when the Imam, whose obedience is obligatory, has clearly assigned him in a nass as his representative?” 

He said, “I have not heard the Imam mention him as his representative. I do not deny the deputization of his father [meaning, Uthman Ibn Saeed], though. However, if I were certain that Abu Ja’far were the representative of the Master of the Age, I would not defy him.” 

They said: “If you have not heard, others have.” He said: “You follow what you have heard.” 

قال أبو علي بن همام كان أحمد بن هلال من أصحاب أبي محمد عليه السلام فاجتمعت الشيعة على وكالة محمد بن عثمان رضي الله عنهبنص الحسن عليه السلام في حياته ولما مضى الحسن عليه السلام قالت الشيعة الجماعة لهألا تقبل أمر أبي جعفر محمد بن عثمان وترجعإليه وقد نص عليه الإمام المفترض الطاعة؟فقال لهملم أسمعه ينص عليه بالوكالة،وليس أنكر أباه-يعني عثمان بن سعيد-فأما أن أقطع أن أباجعفر وكيل صاحب الزمان فلا أجسر عليهفقالواقد سمعه غيركفقالأنتم وما سمعتمووقف على أبي جعفر فلعنوه وتبرءوا منه.ثم ظهرالتوقيع على يد أبي القاسم بن روح بلعنه والبراءة منه في جملة من لعن.

2 )  Second, the eldest son position prophesied by the ahadith clearly fit Ismail.

If Musawi clergy were to claim that the Imam is the one who is the eldest of surviving sons after his father’s passing –

Then this also wouldn’t fit, because Abdullah was the eldest after Imam al-Sadiq’s passing.

Seeing, they hastily interpolated the following addition to the hadith: ما لم تكن به عاهة (provided he exhibits no physical faults).

Musawi clergy and narrators did this to disqualify disqualify both Abdullah and Ismail.

They claimed Abdullah ibn Ja’far was “aftah”, suffering a physical deformity in either head or legs. 

But if this were true, why did the topmost Shi’i scholarship (such as Hisham ibn Salim and Mu’min al-Taq), along with most Shi’a – believe that Abdullah satisfied the requirement of the hadith:

“He was the eldest son, who did not exhibit physical faults”

Because he satisfied the condition of being eldest son with no physical faults, they sought to question his knowledge of Imamate:


“Narrated Hisham ibn Salim who has said the following: 

“We were in Madina after Imam al-Sadiq left this world. People had gathered around ‘Abdallah ibn Ja’far thinking that he was the in charge of this task (Leadership with Divine Authority) after his father. I and Sahib al-Taq went to see him while people were around him because of a hadith that they would narrate from abu ‘Abdallah that said, “The one in charge of the task (Leadership with Divine Authority) will the the eldest son, provided he does not exhibit any physical faults

7 - محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن أبي يحيى الواسطي، عن هشام بن سالم قالكنا بالمدينة بعد وفات أبي عبد اللهعليه السلام أنا وصاحب الطاق والناس مجتمعون على عبد الله بن جعفر انه صاحب الامر بعد أبيه، فدخلنا عليه أنا وصاحب الطاق والناسعنده وذلك أنهم رووا عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام أنه قالإن الامر في الكبير ما لم تكن به عاهة

Similarly, some Twelver clergy labeled Ismail ibn Ja’far as “al-A’raj” (one with crippled legs).

Like Abdullah, if this is true – why did the entirety of Imam al-Sadiq’s followers, including learned ones such as Abu Basir, believe Ismail to be the Imam after his father?

Did no one seriously notice the physical faults in either Ismail or Abdullah, when choosing to follow their Imamate? Not even the topmost scholars?

The Twelver fixation of Imamate without physical faults, ultimately represents a daunting escapism from their own reality.

This is seen in an intriguing hadith which seemingly prophesies the Imamate of Musa ibn Ja’far, and one which the Waqifa used as evidence to support his being the Qa’im:

Musa ibn Ja’far is the one with physical faults!

He had hollow eyes, dandruff, and a mark on his face!

(Al-Ghayba of Nu’mani)

“Hamran ibn A’yan had said: “I said to Abu Ja’far al-Baqir:

I have come to Medina with thousand dinars in my bag. I have promised Allah either to spend the money a dinar after another at your door or you answer me to what I am going to ask you about.” 

He said: “O Hamran, ask and I will answer and do not spend your money.” 

I said: “I ask you by your kinship to the Prophet (S); are you the man of the matter (deliverance)?” 

He said: “No, I am not.” I said: “May my father and mother die for you! Who is he then?” 

He said: “It is he, who has a red face, hollow eyes, high eyebrows, wide shoulders, dandruff in his head and a mark in his face. 

May Allah have mercy upon Musa (ibn Ja’far).”

فمن هو بأبي أنت وأمي؟ فقالذاك المشرب حمرة، الغائر العينين، المشرف الحاجبين، العريض ما بين المنكبين، برأسه حزاز وبوجهه أثر، رحمالله موسى

Putting things into perspective, if the hadith of “Imamate without physical faults” is true – 

Maybe it was why the Shi’a sought Abdullah, instead of al-Kadhim, immediately after al-Sadiq’s passing.

Both of them were the “eldest sons” in charge of the will, and both of them were in their father’s will.

Yet, only the one without physical faults could be followed.

Of course, after Musa al-Kadhim came into power, the Musawi Shi’i narrators conceived of different ways to prove Imamate such as miracles and whatnot. 

This would be due to the obvious problems which the “dhahir wasiya” and “eldest son” objective criterion would cause.

After all, a ‘community consensus’ is no longer reflective of the dhahir wasiya.

If one would go to Medina and ask who the heirs of Imam al-Sadiq are, the average people would name the 5 individuals named in Imam al-Sadiq’s public will.

Not simply one sole executor, as had been done with Ismail and previous Imams.

Thus, the people of Medina following Abdullah after Imam al-Sadiq’s “death” has no theological bearing. Nor is them following al-Kadhim after Abdullah useful for us either.

Similarly, the ‘eldest son’ position also has no fruit for the same reason – there is no longer any sole executor of the Imam’s will.

Even if Abdullah is mentioned before other sons of al-Sadiq, or Ali al-Ridha is mentioned before other sons of al-Kadhim in their dhahir wills –

This does not suggest favorability, or be a sign of them being sole executors of their fathers’ will.

The companion of the Hasan al-Askari explains:

(Al-Ghayba of Tusi)

“Ibn Ayyash mentioned: One day I was with Abu Dalf. We mentioned Abi Bakr Baghdadi. He said: “Do you know how our master, the Shaykh, may Allah bless his soul, was great?” He made Abi Bakr Baghdadi higher than Abul Qasim Husain Ibn Rauh and others. I said: “I don’t know.” He said: “Because Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn Uthman mentioned his name before the name of Abul Qasim Husain in his final will.” 

I said to him, “On this account, then Caliph al-Mansur must be higher than our master Imam Abul Hasan Musa 

He said: “How?” 

I said: “Because Imam Sadiq mentioned Mansur’s name before his successor in his final will.” 

387 - وذكر ابن عياش قالاجتمعت يوما مع أبي دلف، فأخذنا في ذكر أبي بكر البغدادي فقال ليتعلم من أين كان فضل سيدنا الشيخقدس الله روحه وقدس به على أبي القاسم الحسين بن روح وعلى غيره؟ فقلت لهما أعرف قاللان أبا جعفر محمد بن عثمان قدم اسمه علىاسمه في وصيته، قالفقلت لهفالمنصور [إذا] (4) أفضل من مولانا أبي الحسن موسى عليه السلام، قال:

وكيف؟ قلتلان الصادق عليه السلام قدم اسمه على اسمه في الوصية.

فقال ليأنت تتعصب على سيدنا وتعاديه، فقلت (5): والخلق كلهم تعادي أبا بكر البغدادي وتتعصب عليه غيرك وحدك، وكدنا نتقاتل ونأخذبالازياق

Since al-Mansur is the first person in Imam al-Sadiq’s will, one cannot claim superiority due to being the first mentioned in the will.

Thus, to reiterate – 

After the ghayba of Ismail, nass transformed from an objectively verifiable matter to a purely hearsay and easily disputable subject.

If one claims they heard the nass of Musa’s Imamate, another person could just as easily deny it. 

Nothing short of a total nightmare for the Shi’a! 

Yet however, this was necessary in order to usher for the singular greatest event to ever happen to the Shi’a:

The coming of the Qa’im.


By the time Ismail “died”, those adhering to his Imamate were restless.

A group among the Shi’a recognized that Ismail’s “death” was deception, like the two apparent deaths he faced before it yet was still seen alive (to be discussed in a future article.

Since Imam al-Sadiq declared Ismail to be his successor and the Qa’im, they persisted in this belief as there is no badaa’ in neither Imamate nor Qa’im.

(Firaq al-Shi’a by al-Qummi)

“And a group claimed that the imam after Jaafar ibn Muhammad was his son Ismail bin Jaafar, and denied the death of Ismail during the life of his father.

They said Ismail’s death was deliberate deception from his father (al-Sadiq) upon the people because he was afraid for him, and thus put him to a ghayba.

He told the Shi’a that Ismail is their master (i.e, the Qa’im) and the Imam does not say except truth.

So when Ismail died an apparent death, they know al-Sadiq had told the truth and that Ismail is the Qa’im and that he had not died.

This group is the pure Ismailiyya”

وفرقة زعمت أن الإمام بعد جعفر بن محمد ابنه إسماعيل بن جعفر، وأنكرت موت إسماعيل في حياة أبيه وقالوا كان ذلك على جهة التلبيسمن أبيه على الناس لأنه خاف

فغيبه عنهم

وأخبرهم أنه صاحبهم والإمام لا يقول إلا الحق، فلما ظهر موته علمنا أنه قد صدق وأنه القائم وأنه لم يمتوهذه الفرقة هي الإسماعيليةالخالصة

This group known as the ‘pure Ismailiyya’ is none other than the Khattabiya – elite of Imam al-Sadiq (as)

(Firaq al-Shi’a by Sa’d al-Ash’ari al-Qummi)

As for the pure Ismailiyya - they are the Khattabiya, followers of Abu al-Khattab Muhammad ibn Abi Zaynab al- Ajda’”

أما الإسماعيلية الخالصة فهم الخطابية أصحاب أبي الخطاب

،محمد بن أبي زينب الأسدي الأجد

Although the Khattabiya was led by the elite and vanguard of Imam al-Sadiq who clinged to their belief in Ismail’s ghayba –

It was still a religious order that contained people from all walks of life. 

As discussed in my book Misguiding the Shi’a, at one point - the majority of Kufa’s 50,000 population fell under the Khattabiya’s spell. Of course, not all of them were as enlightened as the organization’s leaders and those on top.

Some of the lay members of the Khattabiya did accept Ismail to have died, due to their low comprehension. Whereas, the top leaders believed that an Imam is God and God does not die.

Given some of these lay members’ taqsir and belief in Ismail’s death, they joined a pre-existing order which believed Ismail had died and his son Muhammad was successor:

“(Firaq al-Shi’a by Sa’d al-Ash’ari al-Qummi)

As for the pure Ismailiyya - they are the Khattabiya, followers of Abu al-Khattab Muhammad ibn Abi Zaynab al- Ajda’. 

And a group among them entered the group of Muhammad ibn Ismail, and affirmed the death of Ismail in his father’s lifetime.”

فأما الإسماعيلية الخالصة فهم الخطابية أصحاب أبي الخطاب محمد بن أبي زينب الأسدي الأجدع، وقد دخلت منهم فرقة في فرقةمحمد بن إسماعيل وأقروا بموت إسماعيل بن جعفر في حياة أبيه

Like their compatriots in taqsir from the mainstream Shi’a, the early followers of Muhammad ibn Ismail believed in a similar concept of badaa’ (change in God’s will).

Believing in the Imamate of al-Hasan ibn Ali (as) – as opposed to modern Ismailis, and by belief in the principle that Imamate cannot be between brothers after al-Hasan and Husayn.

They professed that only Muhammad ibn Ismail was worthy of the Imamate:

“(Firaq al-Shi’a by Sa’d al-Ash’ari al-Qummi)

“And they said that the matter was for Ismail during the life of his father.

When Ismail died before his father, Ja’far ibn Muhammad made the matter of Imamate for Muhammad bin Ismail, and the right was his.

And nothing else would be possible other than this, because Imamate does not transfer between brothers after Hasan and Husayn – it is only transferred through progeny”

وقالوا إن الأمر كان لإسماعيل في حياة أبيه فلما توفي قبل أبيه جعل جعفر بن محمد الأمر لمحمد بن إسماعيل وكان الحق له ولا يجور غيرذلك لأن الإمامة لا تنتقل من أخ إلى أخ بعد الحسن والحسين ولا تكون إلا في الأعقاب

Agreeing with the mainstream muqasir idea that Ismail died during his father’s life, and unlike:

(1) The later Ismailis who believed Ismail went into hiding and later died in hiding, before passing the Imamate to Muhammad ibn Ismail

(2) The Khattabiya’s belief that Ismail cannot truly die, and he is the Qa’im

The followers of Muhammad ibn Ismail argued that Allah performed badaa’ (change of will), but dissimilar to the belief of Twelvers that the Imamate changed and was transferred to Musa al-Kadhim –

They believed the Imamate was removed from Ismail and placed in Muhammad ibn Ismail. 

This was to make Muhammad ibn Ismail fit the Imams’ prophecy of there being “7 Imams, the seventh of them is the Qa’im”.

(Al-Usul al-Sitta ‘Ashr, pge 91)

The Bab (gate) of Imam al-Sadiq, Dhurayh, narrates from Imam al-Sadiq:

From among us (Imams) after the Prophet will be seven awsiya’ (trustees to the will of the Prophet - Imams, upon whom obedience has been made obligatory. The seventh of them is the Qa’im, if Allah the Mighty and Wise wills he will come soon, and if He wills he will come later, and He is the Mighty and Wise.

Then, after the Qa’im there will be eleven Mahdis from the progeny of Husayn.”

I narrator said: “May my soul be your sacrifice! Tell me who this Seventh Imam will be? He said this three times.

Imam al-Sadiq replies:

After me will be your Imam who will also be your Qa’im امامكم وقائمكم

ان منا بعد الرسول صم سبعة اوصياء ائمة مفترضة طاعتهم سابعهم القائم انشاء له ان الله عزيز حكيم يقدم ما يشاء ويؤخر ما يشاء وهوالعزيز الحكيم ثم بعد القائم احد عشر مهديا من ولد الحسين فقلت من السابع جعلني الله فداك امرك قلت ثلث مراة قال ثم بعدي امامكم وقائمكم.

Seeing no possible exit from Ismail being the 7th Imam and fulfiller of the prophecy, they sought to remove an existing figure from the line of Imams.

Given that Imam al-Sadiq said that the Imam after him will be the Qa’im, the best contender to be removed was none but Ismail (as) himself:

“When Ali passed away, peace be upon him, the Imamate transferred to to Al-Hasan, then it transferred from Al-Hasan to Al-Husayn, then it transferred to Ali ibn Al-Husayn, then to Muhammad ibn Ali, then it was in Jafar ibn Muhammad, then it was cut off from Jafar during his lifetime and became in Ismail ibn Jafar just as the message was cut off from Prophet Muhammad in his life. 

Then God Almighty performed badaa’ in the leadership of Jaafar and Ismail, so He made it in Muhammad ibn Ismail. 

And they back this claim with a hadith they narrated on the authority of Jaafar bin Muhammad, that he said: “I have not seen badaa’ done by God, like the badaa’ done to Ismail”

فلما مضى علي عليه السلام صارت الإمامة في الحسن ثم صارت من الحسن في الحسين ثم صارت في علي بن الحسين ثم في محمد بنعلي ثم كانت في جعفر بن محمد، ثم انقطت عن جعفر في حياته فصارت في إسماعيل بن جعفر كما انقطعت الرسالة عن محمد 

 في حياتهثم إن الله عز وجل بدا له في إمامة جعفر وإسماعيل فصيرها في محمد بن إسماعيلواعتلوا في ذلك بخبر رووه عن جعفر بنمحمد

واعتلوا في ذلك بخبر رووه عن جعفر بن محمد أنه قالما رأيت مثل بداء بدا لله في إسماعيل

Essentially, they believed that Imam al-Sadiq’s Imamate ceased during his lifetime - but he continued in the line of Imamate.

Ismail ibn Ja’far took Imam al-Sadiq’s place, until Allah committed an immense act of badaa – the removal and transfer of Imamate, which they interpret in Imam al-Sadiq’s words:

“I have not seen badaa’ done by God, like the badaa’ done to Ismail”

With this act of badaa’, Ismail ibn Ja’far was removed from the line of Imamate and the Imamate placed in Muhammad ibn Ismail:

For the Khattabiya however, this was total fiction.

First of all, it is not possible for Imamate to be changed nor transferred.

Secondlyit is possible for the Qa’im to enter ghayba (occultation) during his father’s lifetime.

Ghayba is the idea that an Imam was present, visible to the public as a whole, but then he goes into hiding.

While Twelver scholarship conventionally proposes the Twelfth Imam (the Qa’im in their view) entered ghayba after his father’s death –

The majority of Shi’a had clearly not witnessed his existence during his father’s lifetime, hence splitting into 13 different groups after his death.

If the Twelfth Imam was in hiding after his father’s death, and before his father’s death – then there was no ghayba (absence after previously being present).

Thus, in trying to pinpoint when the Twelfth Imam went into ghayba and simultaneously explaining how the majority of Shi’a had not seen him in his father’s lifetime –

Twelver narrators places the Twelfth Imam’s ghayba during his father’s lifetime, where he was seen only by few of his father’s Shi’a and never physically seen again:

(Al-Ghayba of Tusi, vol 1, page 378)

Imam al-Askari tells his Shi’a

“You came to ask me about the Divine Proof (Hujjah) after me.” They said: “Yes.” Suddenly, there came a boy, as he were a piece of the moon and more similar to Imam Hasan Askari than all the people. The Imam said: ‘This is your Imam after me and my caliph over you. Obey him and do not disperse after me, lest you will perish in your religion. Behold, you will not see him after this day until Allah makes him live for a certain period of time. So, accept from Uthman what he says and obey his order and accept his word, because he is the caliph of your Imam and the affairs are in his hands.”

وخليفتي عليكم ، أطيعوه ولا تتفرّقوا من بعدي ، فتهلكوا في أديانكم ، ألا وإنّكم لا ترونه من بعد يومكم هذا ، حتى يتمّ له عمر ، فاقبلوا منعثمان ما يقوله ، وانتهوا إلى أمره ، واقبلوا قوله ، فهو خليفة إمامكم ، والأمر إليه

Never again did the Shi’a see their Twelfth Imam, after his father presented him to them during that specific day. 

From that day, they were obligated to follow Uthman ibn Sa’id as “caliph of their Imam” – instead of the Imam directly himself.

Thus, the Twelfth Imam’s ghayba started during his father’s lifetime. 

This means one shouldn’t discount that Ismail - as the Qa’im - had gone to ghayba while his father al-Sadiq was still Imam.

Third, the “eldest son” criteria was necessarily abolished by Imam al-Sadiq so as to make way for the the Qa’im. 

With the eldest son criteria having been abolished, Muhammad ibn Ismail would have no “God-given right” to simply ascend to the Imamate after Ismail.

After all –

The Qa’im will be succeeded not by his son – but by Imam Husayn, and then Imam Ali – going against the conventional order and signifying that the 7 Imams are in essence, one.

(Tafsir al-‘Ayyashi, vol 2, page 326) 

Imam al-Baqir tells his Bab (gate) Jabir ibn Yazid: 

The Qa’im will rule for 19 years, then he will pass. 

After the Qa’im passes, there will be a period of lawlessness for 50 years.

Then al-Muntasir (the Victor) will rise seeking revenge for the shedding of his and his companion’s blood, and will eventually be killed.

Then al-Saffah (the Slaughterer) will rise - out of anger for al-Mansur’s killing.

The Slaughterer will kill all the enemies of Ahlulbayt.

And will rule the Earth for 309 years. 

That ‘Victor’ is Imam Husayn, and that ‘Slaughterer’ is Imam Ali (peace and blessings be upon them).

Fourth,  the Qa’im will have children who will not automatically succeed.

The guardian of the Qaim’s matter (one who takes charge of the matters of the Qa’im’s Imamate, in the Qaim’s ghayba) – can either be from his children or from outside his children.

(Bihar al-Anwar, vol 52, page 152 - from al-Nu’mani’s Ghayba)

“Narrated Abdullah ibn Jabbala, from Abdullah ibn al-Mustaneer, from al-Mufaddal ibn Umar al-Ju’fi that Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq (as) had said: 

‘The man of this matter disappears twice. One of them lasts so long that some people will say that he has died, some say that he has been killed and others say that he has gone. None of his companions will still believe in him except a very few people. No one knows his place – neither from his children nor others أحد من ولده، ولا غيره.

Except the guardian, who manages his matter (i.e, Imamate).’

عبد الله بن جبلة، عن عبد الله بن المستنير، عن المفضل بن عمر قالسمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقولإن لصاحب هذا الامر غيبتينإحداهما تطول حتى يقول بعضهم مات، ويقول بعضهم قتل، ويقول بعضهم ذهب، حتى لا يبقى على أمره من أصحابه إلا نفر يسير، لا يطلععلى موضعه أحد من ولده، ولا غيره إلا المولى الذي يلي أمره

In some renditions, “his children” is turned to ولي (legal heir) to obfuscate the idea of the Qa’im having children. The meaning in the end is essentially the same.

However, given that the narrator of the hadith was Waqifi (Abdullah ibn Jabala) and  also sought to prove that being the children of the Qa’im, who is Musa al-Kadhim in his belief, did not have automatic rights to Imamate – 

The phrase “his children”, as in the version of Allama Majlisi is more likely to have been the original.

Given that Abdullah ibn Jabbalah narrates this hadith from Mufaddal ibn Umar, Bab (gate) of Imam al-Sadiq.

We can further notice the motifs of the Qaim’s children claiming Imamate, but they do not truly deserve it.

Imam al-Sadiq speaks of the divergent beliefs of the Shi’a that will emerge after the ghayba of the Qa’im, saying:

(Al-Hidaya al-Kubra)

Narrated Mufaddal from Imam al-Sadiq:

He said: By God, our affair is brighter and clearer than it, and it will be said that the Mahdi was born in his occultation and died.

And they will believe in the Imamate of his children.”

And most of them deny his birth and his being.

Those are upon them the curse of God and all people.”

قالوالله لأمرنا انور وابين منها وليقال ولد المهدي في غيبته ومات،

ويقولون بالولد منه، واكثرهم تجحد ولادته وكونه، اولئك عليهم لعنة الله والناس اجمعين.

Thus, the Qa’im’s children are not awarded Imamate nor could they feasibly pass the criterion of determining Imamate, such as being the eldest son or dhahir wasiya.


One may now ask:

If the Qaim’s children do not have right to inherit his Imamate, then how come they have the right to inherit his property?

This is answered by the hadith of Mufaddal ibn Umar:

(Al-Ghayba of Tusi)

Mufaddal ibn Umar that he said: I heard Imam Ja’far Sadiq say: 

Soon the Abbasids would conspire against this son of minebut they would never be able to reach him (i.e, he would go to ghayba).

Then he said: Women would mourn for him, his body (in their false belief) would be taken, his inheritance would be distributed, and his slavegirls sold.

58 - قالوروى علي بن عبد الله، عن زرعة بن محمد، عن مفضل قالسمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقولإن بني العباس سيعبثون بابنيهذا ولن يصلوا إليه.

ثم قالوما صائحة تصيح، وما ساقة تسق، وما ميراث يقسم وما أمة تباع

With Ismail’s ghayba, Imam al-Sadiq inherited him and handled his wealth.

Hence, he could marry off Ismail’s slavegirls (a part of Ismail’s property, and thus inheritance). 

This shows that Ismail’s wealth was inherited by Imam al-Sadiq, after Ismail went into ghayba.


4. It is narrated from the narrator of the previous Hadith from Muhammad ibn Ali from Dhubyan ibn Hakim from Buhlul ibn Muslim from Yunus ibn ‘Ammar who has said the following: 

Abu ‘Abd Allah gave in marriage to me a slave-girl who belonged to ‘Isma’il, his son and said, ‘Be good to her.’ I then asked, ‘What is the meaning of ‘be good to her’?’ He (the Imam) said, ‘Provide her with sufficient food, clothes and forgive her sins against you.’ He (the Imam) then said to her, ‘You must go (with him), may Allah keep you on the middle path in what is for him.’”

4 - عنه، عن محمد بن علي، عن ذبيان بن حكيم، عن بهلول بن مسلم، عن يونس ابن عمار، قالزوجني أبو عبد الله (عليه السلامجاريةكانت لإسماعيل ابنه، فقالأحسن إليها فقلتوما الاحسان إليها؟ فقالأشبع بطنها واكس جثتها واغفر ذنبها، ثم قالاذهبي وسطك اللهماله

Once Imam al-Sadiq passed away – Ismail’s wealth, property, and inheritance was a part of Imam al-Sadiq’s wealth.

Only five people thus acted as executors of Ismail’s wealth (by virtue of it being a part of Imam al-Sadiq’s):

(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

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

None of these are Ismail’s children, and as discussed earlier – none of these figures could plausibly be Imam.

Rather naming them to control the Qaim’s inheritance is to fulfill one of the defining features of the Qa’im:

To have his inheritance divided. 

(Al-Saduq’s Ikmal al-Deen)

A man from Hamdan said:

I hear al-Husayn ibn Ali say:

The Qa’im of this ummah is the ninth Imam from the from my progeny. He is the one who will experience occultation, and his inheritance will be divided in his lifetime

3 - إكمال الدينالمعاذي، عن ابن عقدة، عن أحمد بن موسى بن الفرات، عن عبد الواحد بن محمد، عن سفيان، عن عبد الله بن الزبير، عنعبد الله بن شريك، عن رجل من همدان قالسمعت الحسين بن علي صلوات الله عليهما يقولقائم هذه الأمة هو التاسع من ولدي وهوصاحب الغيبة وهو الذي يقسم ميراثه وهو حي

For this reason, the Waqifa did not believe Ali al-Ridha was Imam - even if he was mentioned in the will, giving him capability to control the wealth of al-Kadhim (who is the Qa’im, according to them)

After all, other people were also mentioned in the will.

This means there was no sole executor of al-Kadhim’s public will.

Similarly, there was no sole executor of al-Sadiq’s will.

Given Twelvers may claim the report of the Qaim’s inheritance to be divided is solitary and thus not authoritative –

Let look deeper into it.

To understand this, we must dwell to the figure of Hakima daughter of Muhammad al-Jawad:

(Al-Saduq’s Kamal al-Deen vol 2 p 501 & Al-Tusi’s Ghayba vol 1 page 254)

Aḥmad b. Ibrāhīm narrated to us:

“I went to Ḥakīma, the daughter of Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Riḍa (upon him be peace) the sister of Abī al-Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī [al-Hādī] (upon him be peace) in the year two hundred and eighty in Medina. I conversed with her from behind the curtain and asked her about her religion. She named to me the Imams she followed and then she said, “And Fulān [al-Mahdī] b. al-Ḥasan b. Ali,” and she mentioned his name.”

Hakima is described by Allama Majlisi in the following way:

(Bihar al-Anwar, vol 99, page 79)

“(Hakima, daughter of al-Jawad) held a special position to the imams, peace be upon them, and was the the depository of their secrets.

She took care of the mother of the Qa’im with her, and was present at the Qaim’s birth, peace be upon him.

She used to see him from time to time during the life of Abu Muhammad al-Askari, peace be upon him, and she was one of the sufara’ and Babs after of the Qa’im after al-Askari’s death.

، وأنها كانت مخصوصة بالأئمة عليهم السلام ومودعة أسرارهم، وكانت أم القائم عندها وكانت حاضرة عند ولادته عليه السلام، وكانت تراهحينا بعد حين في حياة أبي محمد العسكري عليه السلام وكانت من السفراء والأبواب بعد وفاته

So immense was Hakima’s status that one of the Shi’a who came to her with religious enquiries, left her saying:

(Al-Saduq’s Ikmal al-Deen)

“Muhammad ibn Abdullah said: By God, Hakima told me things that no one knew except God Almighty, so I knew that this was truth and justice from God Almighty, because God Almighty had informed of what no one of His creation had seen.”

قال محمد بن عبد اللهفوالله لقد أخبرتني حكيمة بأشياء لم يطلع عليها أحد إلا الله عز وجل، فعلمت أن ذلك صدق وعدل من الله عز وجل، لانالله عز وجل قد أطلعه على ما لم يطلع عليه أحدا من خلقه

Hakima was evidently a safeer/Bab of Twelver Imams and depository of their secrets. 

Her words to Shi’a are binding to the Twelver practitioner, and reflect the Imam’s judgement whom she is entrusted with infallibly transmitting – not her personal opinion.

Thus, when she tells the Shi’a in the hadith of Ahmad ibn Ibrahim quoted above:

“And the knowledge coming from ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn (upon him be peace) was attributed to Zaynab b. ʿAlī in order to maintain secrecy over ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn (upon him be peace).” 

Then she said, “You are the companions [scholars] of narrations. Have you not narrated that the inheritance of the ninth from the sons of al-Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī will be divided in his lifetime?”

اقتداء بالحسين بن علي عليه السلام والحسين بن علي أوصى إلى أخته زينب بنت علي في الظاهر وكان ما يخرج عن علي بن الحسين عليهالسلام من علم ينسب إلى زينب سترا على علي بن الحسين عليه السلام ثم قالتإنكم قوم أصحاب أخبار أما رويتم أن التاسع من ولدالحسين بن علي عليه السلام يقسم ميراثه وهو في الحياة.

Hakima, the Bab/safeer of the Twelver Qa’im, confirms that hadith of Imam Husayn that the Qaim’s inheritance is divided while he was alive!


The idea of the eldest son succeeding an Imam is insurmountably nullified and becomes void, after the Qa’im becomes Imam.

Neither the children of Ismail ibn Ja’far, nor any other claimant plausibly fulfill the criteria of eldest son” in order to assume the Imamate.

Neither can they feasibly match the criteria of “dhahir wasiya, to claim consensus over their Imamate as verifying it.

Both aspects as objective and verifiable meters of measuring Imamate ended with Ismail ibn Ja’far, as they solidified him as the 7th Imam and Qa’im.

So the question to you now, dear reader:

Will you become one of the “few Allah reserves” to follow the Qa’im, after his remembrance dies?

Only you can answer that

May Allah bless you all


John Andaluso