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The signs of the rise of al-Qa’im

The signs of the rise of al-Qa’im

 

The signs of the rise of al-Qa’im

 

The early Imamite traditionists delineated five signs which would precede the rise of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi: first, the rise of al-Yamani, then the rise of al-Sufyani, thirdly the assassination of the Pure Soul (al-Nafs al-Zakiyya) in Mecca only fifteen days before the rise of alQa'im, fourthly an outcry in the morning from the sky in the name of al-Qa’im, and finally the sinking of an army into the earth (al-Bayda') during its march on Mecca[114]. Despite the fact that al-Nu`mani, al-Saduq and al-Tusi differ as to the chronological occurrence of these signs, they all agree that they will occur in the same year[115].
It seems that the delineation of these signs along with the expectations of the Imamites and al-Jarudiyya that al-Qa’im al Mahdi would rise in the near future[116] caused the `Abbasid authorities to be suspicious, since some of these signs were connected with their regime and indicated that al-Qa’im's uprising was directed mainly against them. The fact that the Imams had the `Abbasids in mind can be seen in the discussion between al-Riďa, the eighth Imam, and his adherent al-Hasan b. al-Jahm[117], who said to him:
"May Allah make you prosper! The people are saying that al Sufyani will rise after the fall of the `Abbasids." Al-Riďa said: "They lie. He will rise while they are still in power.[118]”
This statement has been confirmed in other traditions attributed to al-Sadiq. For example his companion Ya`qub b. al-Sarraj asked him:
"When will your Shi'a gain their release from suffering?" He replied, "When conflict occurs amongst the `Abbasids, and their power begins to decline. Then their partisans and their subjects will be encouraged to threaten the authorities. Thereafter al-Sufyani will rise from the West, while the Yamani will advance from the East, until they both reach Kufa, where they will destroy the `Abbasids. At the same time the Hasani will start his rebellion. Then the Master of this matter, al-Qa’im, shall advance from Medina towards Mecca to rebel.[119]"
According to al-Nu`mani, al-Sadiq added that because of these events, the fall of the `Abbasid regime was inevitable. Its fall would be similar to a piece of crockery dropped from the hand of its possessor, which then splits into pieces."[120]
In the light of these statements attributed to the Imams it is clear that from the time of al-Sadiq onwards, the Imamites awaited the political uprising of one of their Imams, called al-Qa’im while the `Abbasids were still in power[121].
Indeed the spread of these traditions caused the `Abbasids to fear the Imams, who might have been behind some `Alid revolts. Perhaps this is why the `Abbasid caliphs became suspicious of the Imams. Even the caliph al-Mansur himself related a tradition on the authority of al-Baqir stating that al-Qa’im would be from the progeny of 'Ali[122].
He restricted the movements of al-Sadiq and his followers and made it a policy to discriminate against them. Moreover he invested his sucessor Muhammad with the epithet "alMahdi" (158-169/775-785) in order to turn the attention of his subjects from the `Alid family toward the family of `Abbas[123].
Despite the fact that the movements of the seventh Imam, Musa al-Kazim, were also restricted by the authorities, so that he died in prison[124], the Shi’ite propaganda for the rise of an Imam in the name of al-Qa’im and al-Mahdi spread on a wide scale, particularly after the rebellion of Ibn Tabataba in 199/814.
Probably because of this situation the caliph al-Ma’mun devised a new policy towards the eighth Imam al-Riďa. He made overtures to him asking him to be his heir apparent. By this means he hoped to split the `Alids some of whom were in rebellion and to keep al-Riďa within the `Abbasid palace under close watch[125].
Al-Ma’mun followed this same policy with the ninth Imam, al-Jawad, marrying him to his daughter Umm al-Fadl, and keeping him under house-arrest[126]. Thereafter housearrest became the cornerstone of the policy of the caliphs towards the Imams. It obliged the Imams to stress the idea of the occultation as the means the Imam would employ to avoid the `Abbasid restriction, which increased from the time of al-Mutawakkil onwards.
Because his agents discovered connections between the underground activities of the Imamite agents in Baghdad, Mada'in and Kufa and the Imam al-Hadi, al-Mutawakkil followed the policy of al-Ma’mun. He wrote to al-Hadi a letter full of kindness and courtesy asking him to come to Samarra where they could meet. Afterwards al-Hadi was summoned to the capital in 233/848,[127] where he spent the rest of his life under surveillance. As a result he was prevented from meeting most of his adherents. He was only able to meet a few of his associate agents (wukala) in secret[128].
In fact al-Mutawakkil's policy managed to prevent the `Alids from rising in arms against his regime. However it failed to destroy the system of the Wikala or to end the underground activities of the Zaydites and the Imamites. These spread throughout the empire to the extent that they were capable of causing a revolt.
Between the years 245-260/859-874 the Imamite and Zaydite traditionists were relating traditions stating that al-Qa’im would be the Twelfth Imam and urging people to join his side when he rose. The Zaydite al-`Asfari (d. 250/864)[129] and the Imamite Ahmad b. Khalid al-Barqi (d.274-80/887-93) both related such traditions. For example, in 250/864 al-Barqi passed on a narration attributed to `Ali b. Abi Talib and the Prophet al-Khidr, which states explicitly that al-Qa’im al-Mahdi would be the Twelfth Imam[130].
The spread of such narrations encouraged the Imamites to expect the rise of al-Qa’im in the near future and to link his rising with `Abbasid rule. Some of them applied these traditions along with others concerning the signs of the rise of al-Qa’im to the circumstances surrounding the `Alid revolt which broke out in 250/864. Ibn `Uqda relates that the leader of the rebellion, Yahya b. `Umar, was expected to be al-Qa’im al-Mahdi, since all the signs concerning the rise of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi related by al-Sadiq occurred during the revolt[131].
Although Yahya b. `Umar died in 250/864, the `Abbasids' fear increased because of the continuation of this revolt and al-Hasan b. Zayd's .(250-270/864-884) success in establishing a Shi’ite state in Tabaristan. This fear is not surprising if one bears in mind the fact that there was a well-known Prophetic tradition which stated, "A people will appear in the East who will pave the way for the Mahdi's rise to power."[132]
This tradition, at that time, might seem to refer to the establishment of the `Alid state in Tabaristan, which would prepare the way for the rise of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi. Other factors supported the `Abbasid fears. According to al-Tabari, `Abbasid spies discovered secret correspondence between the founder of the `Alid state in Tabaristan, al-Hasan b. Zayd, and the nephew of Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Khalaf al- `Attar,[133] a follower of the tenth Imam al-Hadi. Moreover many pure Imamites took part in the `Alid revolt of 250/864, such as Muhammad b. Ma`ruf, who held the banner of the rebels in Mecca,[134] and `Ali b. Musa b. Isma`il b. Musa al-Kazim, who joined the rebels in al-Rayy and was arrested by the caliph al-Mu`tazz[135].
It seems that the `Abbasid authorities linked these factors with the activities of al-Hadi. Therefore they imposed tight restrictions upon al-Hadi and his followers, and arrested prominent figures in Baghdad, such as Abu Hashim al-Ja`fari, and Muhammad b. `Ali al-`Attar, and sent them to Samarra[136].
This campaign of arrest also included al-`Askari and Ja’far, al-Hadi's two sons[137].
Another reason the `Abbasids' feared the position of al-Hadi and his successor, al- `Askari, is the traditions of both the Prophet and the Imams concerning the series of the twelve Imams, the last of whom would be al-Qa’im al-Mahdi. This series could only be interpreted as applying to the Imamites' tenth Imam, al-Hadi, and his successor al`Askari. So it was plausible that the successor of the latter would be the Twelfth Imam, about whom so many traditions were being related. Moreover further traditions, attributed to al-Hadi and al`Askari, themselves appeared around this period emphasizing the important political and religious role of al-`Askari's son[138].
For example, Abu Hashim al-Ja’fari (d. 261/875), the associate and follower of al-Hadi, reports the latter as having said,
"The successor after me is my son al-Hasan but what will you do with the successor of my successor?" Al-Ja`fari said, "May Allah make me your sacrifice! Why?" The Imam said, "Because you will not see his physical body and it is not permissible for you to reveal his name." Al-Ja’fari said, "How shall we mention him?" Al-Hadi said, "Say `The proof [al-Hujja] is from the family of Muhammad.'[139]
It seems from al-Kulayni's report that the Imamites considered al-Hadi's statement as applying to al-Qa’im. Moreover, they felt it explained a statement by the eighth Imam, al-Riďa, who had said that the body of al-Qa’im would not be seen and his name would not be revealed.[140]" Perhaps al-Baqir and al-Jawad's interpretation of a Qur'anic verse, referred to on page 15, may be linked with the above two statements. For as we have seen, he stated that an Imam would go into concealment in 260/874, and would later rise like a bright, shooting star in the dark night[141].
On account of the spread of these Imamite traditions and the `Alid underground activities, the eleventh Imam, al-Hasan al- `Askari, was forced to stay in the capital under house-arrest and had to report to the `Abbasid court twice a week[142].
The authorities hoped that through these measures they would be able to prevent the appearance of any danger from the Twelfth Imam.
Notes:
[23]EI1, art. "al-Mahdi", 112.
[24]Sachedina, op.cit., 6-7.
[25] Ibn Hisham, Das Leben Muhammads (Wustenfeld, Gottingen, 1859), II, 1024.
[26] Goldziher, al-`Aqida wa-l-Shari'a, tr. Muhammad Yusuf (Cairo, 1378/1959), 327-8, 376-8.
[27] D.Sunan, IV, 201; Ibn Maja, Sunan, I, 16; Ibn A`tham al-Kufi, Kitab al-Futuh (Hyderabad, 1972), V, 31, 34.
[28]Tabari, II, 546. Ibn A`tham reports a letter attributed to the Kufans, sent to al-Husayn b. `Ali encouraging him to rebel against the Umayyads, in which they used the title al-Mahdi for al-Husayn as an honorific adjective:
Ibn A`tham, op. cit., V, 47.
[29] Rajkowski, op. cit., 166-7. There is evidence which supports the claim that Ka`b narrated traditions attributed to the People of the Book which predict the rise of al-Mahdi It is obvious from a line of poetry attributed to the poet Kutayr that those who applied this term to Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya were influenced by Ka'b. This can be noted in Kuthayyir's saying: Huwa al-Mahdi Akhbarnahu / Ka`bun Akhu al-Akhbar fi al-Huqab al-Khawali; al-Zubayri, Nasab Quraysh (Beirut, 1953), 41.
[30] Kama’l, 30-2.
[31] Al-Nawbakhti thinks that Ibn al-Hanafiyya died in 81/700 (Firaq, 24), whereas al-Saduq puts his death in 84/703; Kama’l, 36; Ikhtiyar,126.
[32] B. Firaq, 33-4.
[33] N. Firaq, 25-6; Milal, 111-2; B. Firaq, 17,27-8,38.
[34] N. Firaq, 29-30, 42-3. For a full account of the fact that the `Abbasid propaganda was the outcome of a branch of the Kaysaniyya movement, see al Ansari, Madhdhib ibtada`atha al-Siyasa fi al-Islam (Beirut, 1973), 152-8,199-214.
[35]Kama’l, 32-4; al-Zubayri, op.cit., 41-2.
[36]N. Firaq, 54; `Uyun, 155; Maqatil, 359; B. Firaq, 44.
[37]Ibn Tawus, al-Iqbal, 53.
[38]N. Firaq, 57; Kama’l, 37.
[39] al-Hasani, Sirat al-A'imma al-Ithna `Ashar (Beirut, 1977), 370.
[40] Kama’l, 40.
[41]al-Kafi,I,341;Kama’l, 325,330; N. al-Ghayba, 75.
[42] Ibn al-Furat, al-Tafsir, quoted by al-Majlisi in Bihar, LI, 50; Kama’l, 351.
[43]al-Kafi, VIII, 287.
[44]Ibn Hawshab, Kitab al-Kashf (London, Cairo, Bombay, 1952), 6.
[45]al-Kafi, VIII, 287.
[46] al-Tusi, al-Tibyan, VIII, 114-6.
[47] al-Tusi al-Tibyan, VII, 250; Sadr al-Din al-Sadr, al-Mahdi, (Tehran, 1358),11.
[48] `Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi Tafsir al-Qummi (Najaf, 1387), II, 68, 84, 205-6; T. al-Ghayba, 120; al-Tusi, al-Tibyan, VIII, 404
[49] Ibn Maja, Sunan, II, 519; Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, II, 208.
[50] al-Tirmidhi, IX, 74, 75; and the Cairo edition, IV, 505-6
[51] Ibn Maja, Sunan, II, 1368.
[52] Kama’l, 286-7. Al-Tirmidhi mentioned the same tradition on the authority of Ibn Mas`ud without any details concerning the occultation of the Mahdi. Al Tirmidhi, IV, 505-6; al-Darimi, Sunan, IV, 151.
[53]Mizan, III,160; Ibn Maja, Sunan, II, 1368; al-Musannaf, XI,372.
[54] al-Thalabi, `Ara'is al-Majalis, 363; al-Kanji, op.cit., 327.
[55] al-Haythami, al-Sawa`iq al-Muhriqa, 100.
[56] Osman, Mahdism in Islam, Ph.D. Thesis (Edinburgh, 1976), 204.
[57] Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali, Kitab Sulaym b. Qays (Najaf, n.d.), 56, 159-62. Although this book has received some criticism with regard to its authenticity, a careful examination of its contents which show that it was regarded as a source by such writers as al-Kulayni in al-Kafi, al-Mas`udi in al-Tanbih wa-l-Ishraf and al-Nu'mani in Kitab al-Ghayba.
[58] `Abd al-Muhsin al-`Abbad, `Aqidat Ahl al-Sunna wa-l-Athar fi al-Mahdi al Muntazar, al-Hadi (Qumm, 1971) I, part 1, 33-5; al-Tabsi, al-Shi`a wa-l-Raja(Najjaf, 1966), 36-54.
[59] For the Umayyad and the `Abbasid use of the epithet al-Mahdi so as to gain political success, see al-Ishfahani, al-Aghani, XVI, 88; al-Darimi, Sunan, IV, 152.
[60] Watt, The Majesty that is Islam, 169-170.
[61] al-Bukhari, al-Sahih (Cairo, 1355), IV, 175; M. Sahih, III, 190-3; al-Tirmidhi, IV, 501; Ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad (Cairo, 1313), V, 294.
[62] al-Kharraz, Kifayat al-Athar, quoted by al-Galbaygani, Muntakhab al-Athar, 28.
[63] Ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, I, 398; al-Karajuki, al-Istibsar, 12.
[64] Ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad, V, 86-90, 92-101, 106-8.
[65]N. al-Ghayba, 48-9; Kama’l, 270-3.
[66] For the biography of `Abbad and his Shi’ite sympathies see Ibn Hibban, al Majruhin, II, 172; Mizan, II 379-80, IV, 149; al-Najashi, 225.
[67] al-Hilli, al-Idah, 176; al-Galbaygani, op. cit., 5
[68] Mizan, II, 379-80
[69] Ibn Hibban, al-Majruhin, II, 172.
[70] al-`Asfari, Asl Abu Said al-`Asfari, Ms. f. 1-2.
[71] al-`Asfari, Asl Abu Said al-`Asfari, f. 2. Al-Kulayni includes these traditions in his work al-Hujja but, according to his transmission, the Prophet mentioned twelve Imams from his descendants and not eleven. Thus the number of the Imams along with `Ali would-be thirteen. Because al-Kulayni transmitted his narration on the authority of al-`Asfari, it appears that the latter's version is more accurate. al-Kafi, I, 533-4.
[72] Ibn `Uqda, Kitab al-Malahim, f. 74-5.
[73]EI1, art. "al-Mahdi", 112.
[74]N. al-Ghayba, 7,48,57-61, 31, 45; al-Saduq, Khisal, 436-45; `Uyun, 323, al Karajaki, al-Istibsar, Ms. f. 11-12; al-Kafi, I, 534; al-Tabsi al-Shi'a wa-l-Raja (Najaf, 1966), 129-30; Kama’l, 279.
[75] al-Barqi, Kitab al-Rijal, 4,7,8,9.
[76] Ibn al-Nadim, al-Fihrist, I, 535; N. al-Ghayba, 47.
[77] al-Hilali, Kitab Sulaym b. Qays, 135-7.
[78]Ibid., 109-10, 124-5, 165-6, 201, 204-6.
[79] al-Hilali, op. cit. 94; Kama’l, 285.
[80] al-Hilali,op. cit. 95.
[81] al-Mas`udi, al-Tanbih, 198.
[82]al-Kafi, I, 529; N. al-Ghayba, 38; 46, 274-8; T. al-Ghayba, 99.
[83]al-Tirmidhi, IV, 505-6; al-Darimi, Sunan, IV, 151.
[84] Kama’l, 259-61.
[85] Kama’l, 280. Another narration has been narrated by the companion Jabir al Ansari, which confirms that al-Mahdi would be from the progeny of `Ali b. al Husayn (al-Tusi, al-Amali II, 251), but al-Sahib b. `Abbad doubts its authenticity; Nusrat, Madhahib al-Zaydiyya, 208-9.
[86]al-Kafi, I, 531-3; al-Irshad, 393; Dala'il, 236-8, 249-51.
[87] al-Hadrami, Asl Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Shurayh, Ms. f. 32b; for other similar traditions see al-Kafi, VIII, 167, 536; Ibn Tawus, al-Igbal, 431.
[88] al-Saffar, Basa'ir al-Darajat, f. 19b, 49b; for similar traditions see al-Kafi, I, 243, 281, 338, 372, 411, 496, 536.
[89] Kama’l, 377. Al-Tusi reports another narration attributed to the tenth Imam who stated explicitly that the Twelfth Imam would be al-Mahdi (T al-Ghabya, 92). However, it might be that such narrations were not common among the Imamites. When the traditionist al-Fadl b. Shadhan (d. 260/874), talks about the role of al-Qa’im al-Mahdi, he does not attach this epithet to the Twelfth Imam; Ibn Shadhan, al-Idah, 475-6
[90]al-Irshad, 411; see also al-San`ani, al-Musannaf, XI, 472.
[91] See Chapter II.
[92]N. al-Ghayba, 104, 107, 159; al-Hadrami, op. cit., f. 48a; al-Kafi, VIII, 264
[93]N. al-Ghayba, 106-7; al-Kafi, VIII, 264, 310.
[94]N. al-Ghayba, 94, 96.
[95]al-Kafi, II, 223.
[96]N. al-Ghayba, 158
[97]al-Kafi, I, 342; Kama’l, 325.
[98] T. al-Ghayba, 278.
[99]al-Kafi, I, 368-9; Bihar, LII, 212.
[100] Ibn Maja, Sunan, II, 1366; al-Kanji, op. cit., 314.
[101] al-Kafi VIII, 225; N. al- Ghayba, 106, 160; al-Tabsi quotes a statement from Ibn A'tham attributed to `Ali which states that the partisans of al-Mahdi will start their activities from al-Talqan in Khurasan; al-Shi`a wa-l-Raj a, 141.
[102] Kama’l, 654
[103]N. al-Ghayba, 104,122,123. Al-Saffar reports that al-Qa’im will apply Islamic law according to the books of `Ali which he related directly from the Prophet; Basa'ir al-Darajat, f. 124.
[104] al-Saffar, op. cit., f. 50; al-Kafi, I, 298.
[105]N. al-Ghayba, 124, 125-6; al-Tabsi, op. cit., 218; `Ali b. Tawus, al-Malahim wa-l Fitan (Najaf, 1367), 53; Najm al-Din al-`Askari, al-Mahdi al-Maw`ud al Muntazar (Beirut, 1977), II, 10.
[106] Ibn Shadhan, Ithbat al-Raja, quoted by al-Tabsi, op. cit., 221; al-Kafi, VIII, 233; al-Saduq. `Ilal, II, 267; al-Majlisi includes in his work al-Bihar a book attributed to al-Mufaddil b. `Umar which deals with the occurrence which will take place after the rise of al-Qa’im; Bihar, LIII, 1-38; Dala'il, 239, 260; N. al Ghayba, 148.
[107]al-Kafi I, 465; al-Tusi, al-Amali, II, 33; al-Saduq, `Ilal, 229; Ibn Tawus, al Iqbal, 186.
[108] N. al-Ghayba, (the second editon), 308, 319.
[109] al-Himyari, op. cit., quoted by al-Galbagani, op. cit., 305.
[110]al-Kafi, I, 407-8.
[111]N. al-Ghayba, 103.
[112]N. al-Ghayba, 105
[113]al-Kafi, I, 240, 281, 370-2. Di`bil the poet recited a line of poetry concerning the militant role of al-Qa’im in the presence of al-Riďa; the latter confirmed this by saying that al-Qa’im would be from the progeny of al-Husayn. Di`bil, Diwan. 73,76; Kama’l, 327-4.
[114]N. al-Ghayba, 134, 139-40; Kama’l, 649; T. al-Ghayba, 286; al-Kafi, VIII, 225, 310.
[115]N. al-Ghayba, 136; T. al-Ghayba, 286; Bihar, LII, 232.
[116]N. al-Ghayba, 94.
[117] For his biography, see Ibn Dawud, Kitab al-Rijal, 104.
[118]N. al-Ghayba, 163-4.
[119]N. al-Ghayba, 135, 138, 144-5; al-Kafi, VIII, 224-5.
[120] N. al-Ghayba, 137; Bihar, LII, 232.
[121] al-Hadrami,Kitab Ja’far b. Shurayh, f. 39.
[122]al-Kafi, VIII, 209-210; al-Irshad, 404.
[123] It is reported that the Prophet said, "The Mahdi is from my progeny. His name is similar to mine" (al-Tirmidhi'. IV, 505). According to Abu Dawud, the Prophet also added, "And his father's name is similar to my father's name" (Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, IV, 106-7). According to the last phrase the name of al-Mahdi is Muhammad b. `Abd Allah. Perhaps al-Mansur took this point into account when he called his son, "Muhammad al-Mahdi" (al-Bidaya, X, 89). For a full account see Osman, op. cit., 266-9.
[124] See Chapter II.
[125] Ithbat, 205.
[126] Ithbat, 205.
[127]Ikhtiyar. 603, 607; al-Kafi, I, 501-2; T. al-Ghayba, 226-7.
[128]Ithbat, 262.
[129]Kama’l, 46. For examples, see al-`Asfari, Asl Abu Said al-`Asfari f. 1-2; Mizan, II, 379-80; Bihar, L, 185; al-Kindi op. cit., 229
[130]al-Kafi, I, 526-7, 338.
[131] Ibn `Uqda, Kitab al-Malahim, f. 72. According to al-Mufid only the Zaydites denied the death of Yahya b. `Umar and held that he was al-Mahdi (al-FUsul al-`Ashara, 30). But incidents seem to indicate that there was a common belief among the Imamiyya and the Jarudiyya from the years 245-60 onwards that the Twelfth Imam would be al-Qa’im al-Mahdi, but they were not sure about his identity, and whether or not he would be the son of al-`Askari.
[132] Ibn Maja,al-Sunan, II, 1368.
[133] Tabari, III, 1683.
[134] Ibn `Uqda, Kitab al-Malahim, f. 73.
[135] Muruj, VII, 404.
[136] Tabari, III, 1683-4,al-Kafi, I, 500.
[137] T. al-Ghayba, 141, 226; al-Kafi, I, 508.
[138] T. al-Ghayba, 98.
[139]Kama’l, 381; al-Kafi, I, 328, 332-3.
[140]al-Kafi, I, 333.
[141]Kama’l, 325,330; al-Kafi, I, 341.
[142] T. al-Ghayba, 139- 140.

 

 

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