Reports and Counter-reports: The Case of Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar (Pt. II)

Cursed or Not?

The most important report concerning Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar is the one in which two men come and present his belief to the Imam.

One of these men is Ḥujr b. Zāʾida.

The Imam’s reaction is not pretty if you are a Mufaḍḍal supporter.

ʿAbdallāh b. Muskān narrates:

Ḥujr b. Zāʾida and ʿĀmir b. Judhāʿa al-Azdī entered upon Abī ʿAbdillāh and said: May we be made your ransom, al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar says that you are the ones who allot the Rizq (sustenance) of the slaves?

He (i.e. the Imam) said: By Allah – none allots our Rizq except Allah. I was in need of food for my family once, so my chest became constrained, and I fell in deep thought over that, until I began keeping guard of their strength, only then did my soul get pleased (i.e. my supplication for Rizq was answered).

May Allah curse him and disassociate from him!

They both said: Do you curse him and disassociate from him?

He (i.e. the Imam) said: Yes! So you two also curse him and disassociate from him. May Allah and his Messenger disassociate from him![1]

Ḥujr and ʿĀmir’s report has the Imam not only cursing and disassociating from Mufaḍḍal for his belief in Tafwīḍ[2] but also demanding both his interlocutors do the same.

This report, transmitted by individuals with an outstanding reputation in the Madhhab[3], must have gained wide circulation and been a hard-hitting blow to those who esteemed Mufaḍḍal.

It should have become amply clear why Ḥujr was included in the group of ‘complainers’ caricatured in the report discussed in Part I.

Caricaturing Ḥujr (blackening his name) in this way was one response offered up by the pro-Mufaḍḍal trend, but more, evidently, needed to be done.

There is no better argument for the historicity of Ḥujr and ʿĀmir’s report (that it genuinely occurred) than the presence of a number of counter-reports fabricated by the usual suspects and aiming to neutralize the very specific charge it contained i.e. the Imam cursed Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar[4] in the presence of Ḥujr and ʿĀmir.

Critically, these pro-Mufaḍḍal counter-reports do not resort to the usual defense in such cases i.e. the Imam cursed Mufaḍḍal because of Taqiyya (so let no modern-day defender tread where his forebears dared not) but rather present their own version of the event.

Consider the report below which I call Counter-report A.

Muḥammad b. Sinān (him again) quotes Bashīr al-Dahhān (sic. al-Nabbāl) as saying:

Abū ʿAbdillāh said to Muḥammad b. Kathīr al-Thaqafī: What do you say about al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar?

He (i.e. Muḥammad b. Kathīr) said: What can I say about him!

If I were to see upon his neck a crucifix and upon his middle a Kustīj[5] I would still be sure that he is upon the truth, after having heard you say about him what you have said (i.e. in praise of him).

He (i.e. the Imam) said: May Allah have mercy on him (i.e. Mufaḍḍal)!

But Ḥujr b. Zāʾida and ʿĀmir b. Judhāʿa came to me and reviled him in my presence, so I said to them both ‘do not do this – for I am fond of him’ but they did not accept. I pleaded with them and informed them that desisting from (attacking) him is my wish but they did not comply!

So may Allah not forgive them both!

Verily! If I were truly dear to them both then he would be dear to them the one who is dear to me.

Kuthayyir of ʿAzza (i.e. a poet) was more truthful in his love for her (i.e. his woman ʿAzza) than them both in their supposed love towards me – when he said:

She has come to know from afar that I am betraying her *** Since he is not dear to me the one who is dear to her

Verily! If I were truly dear to them both then he would be dear to them the one who is dear to me[6]

al-Kashshī proceeds to give a second chain for the same report:

Abū al-Qāsim Naṣr b. al-Ṣabbāḥ narrated to me – and he was a Ghālī. He said: Abū Yaʿqūb Isḥāq b. Muḥammad al-Baṣrī narrated to me – and he is a Ghāl and a pillar from among their pillars moreover. He said: Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan b. Shammūn narrated to me – and he is also from among them (i.e. the Ghulāt). He said: Muḥammad b. Sinān narrated to me – and he is likewise (i.e. from among them) – from Bashīr al-Nabbāl that he said: Abū ʿAbdillāh said to Muḥammad b. Kathīr al-Thaqafī – and he is from among the associates of al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar – what do you say about al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar? … and he quoted the like of the Hadith of Isḥāq b. Muḥammad al-Baṣrī (i.e. the previous report) identically[7]

The words in bold are interjections by al-Kashshī, noting that this chain is full of Ghulāt (one at every link), and revealing his personal skepticism towards it.

Is it any surprise, in light of all we have learnt, that a report with such a chain comes out in favour of Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar?!

Instead of the episode between the two men and the Imam ending with the Imam disassociating from Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar and commanding others to do the same, here we encounter a totally different twist and an alternate ending.

We are told that what actually happened in the meeting is the Imam tried to stop the duo from reviling Mufaḍḍal but the two kept it up. The report portrays the Imam as repeatedly begging two of his erstwhile companions to desist from attacking Mufaḍḍal to no avail. The Imam is powerless in the face of this. All he can do is complain to another companion while asking Allah not to forgive the two men for such insolence.

The report ends with the Imam questioning whether the two are truthful in their claims of loving him, citing a couplet from the poet Kuthayyir on the nature of true love. If someone truly loves his lover, then all those beloved to his lover become beloved to him as well. Now since the Imam loves Mufaḍḍal how is it that those two men who claim to love him do not love Mufaḍḍal as well!    

Needless to say, both versions of the same event cannot be true!

One side is lying and any fair-minded reader is forced to choose between the two!

The level of creativity demonstrated in this fabrication should give pause to anyone who thinks that such reports can be detected easily.

 

These Two Men’

This same defense of Mufaḍḍal can be found in a report in al-Kāfī (Counter-report B) wherein another known associate of Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar called Yūnus b. Ẓabyān[8] narrates the following in the first-person:

I said to Abī ʿAbdillāh: Will you not hold back these two men from (attacking) that man!

He (i.e. the Imam) said: Who is that man? And who are these two men?

I said: Will you not hold back Ḥujr b. Zāʾida and ʿĀmir b. Judhāʿa from (attacking) al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar?

He said: O Yūnus – I had asked them both to desist from (attacking) him but they did not do it. I called out to them, pleaded with them, wrote to them both, made it my demand from them, but they did not desist from (attacking) him[9], so may Allah not forgive them both!

I swear by Allah that Kuthayyir of ʿAzza is more truthful in his love than them in their claim to love me – since he said:

Behold! She ascertained from afar that I do not love her *** Since he is not dear to me the one who is dear to her

I swear by Allah! If they had both truly loved me they would also love the one I love[10]

Apparently we are to believe that the Imam was quoting Kuthayyir’s couplet to all Mufaḍḍal’s associates whenever the subject of the Ḥujr and ʿĀmir episode came up.  

But can we believe Yūnus b. Ẓabyān?

After all, Yūnus b. Ẓabyān was an accursed Ghālī. It is enough to know what kind of person he was by referring to a reliable report which recounts how one of the Ṭayyāra came to al-Riḍā and related to him Yūnus’s claim that he was making the Ṭawāf one day when he heard a voice from above addressing him and it turned out to be the angel Gabriel. The Imam become so furious at hearing this that he said:

Get away from me! May Allah curse you! May He curse the one who reported this to you! And may He curse Yūnus b. Ẓabyān a thousand curses! Followed by another thousand curses! Each curse of these sufficient to expel you to a pit of Hell.

I bear witness that no one called out to him except a Shayṭān. Verily Yūnus is together with Abī al-Khaṭṭāb in the severest of punishments, bound together with their followers unto that Shayṭān, together with Pharaoh and the people of Pharaoh in the severest of punishments![11]

It is also reported that when one of the daughters of Abū al-Khaṭṭāb died Yūnus glanced at her grave and said: 

Peace be upon you O daughter of the Messenger of Allah[12]

 

Who was the Fabricator?

The chains of the two pro-Mufaḍḍal counter-reports, one preserved by al-Kashshī and the other by Kulaynī, are diagrammed below:

The lower chain of Counter-report B is one of the strongest chains in the Madhhab and there is no way the fabrication could have originated from these men whose status is beyond reproach. The responsibility for coming up with such a report must ultimately lay with either Ḥusayn b. Aḥmad al-Minqarī or Yūnus, and indeed both men would have sufficient motive to do so in defense of their mentor Mufaḍḍal. When we consider the historical information available on both men, it seems more likely that the report was fabricated by Yūnus b. Ẓabyān who presents it as a conversation between himself and al-Ṣādiq (although Ḥusayn’s hand in it cannot be totally ruled out).

Additionally, our two reports are clearly derivative, in the sense that one report became the inspiration for the other. Counter-report B seems to have been the original version because of its shorter length, and would have been taken by someone in the chain of Counter-report A as the basis for his lengthier fabrication.

My best bet at identifying the culprit in question would be Muḥammad b. Sinān. This is not because the report couldn’t have been fabricated by someone downstream in the chain (which is full of Ghulāt), but because he is the closest suspect to the event in question, and his use of the Majhūl Bashīr al-Nabbāl as a source is confirmed elsewhere[13].

Muḥammad b. Sinān (unlike Yūnus) could not have portrayed himself as being in the presence of al-Ṣādiq (the two did not meet) and chooses to depict his source Bashīr as reporting a conversation between al-Ṣādiq and the otherwise totally unknown Muḥammad b. Kathīr al-Thaqafī. The fact that the latter is only known because of being mentioned in this incident and nothing else (he has no independent narrations to his name and his entry in the Rijālī dictionaries is solely limited to citing this report) is a big red-flag![14]   

I am confident with this identification. It is not for no reason that Muḥammad b. Sinān and Yūnus b. Ẓabyān have another thing in common apart from their connection to Mufaḍḍal. They are grouped together by the great Nishāpūri scholar al-Faḍl b. Shādhān (d. 260) in one of his books as follows:

The infamous liars are Abū al-Khaṭṭāb, Yūnus b. ẒabyānMuḥammad b. Sinān[15]

 

Did it Work?

Did the counter-reports succeed in damaging Ḥujr and ʿĀmir’s reputation in the Madhhab?

I posit that these attempts by the pro-Mufaḍḍal camp to diminish Ḥujr did not have the desired effect because they could not dampen Ḥujr’s genuine status as remembered in the collective memory of the sect as a whole.

After all, Ḥujr and ʿĀmir’s names are mentioned together in a report which lists the Ḥawārī (elite disciples) of each Imam as they will be announced on the Day of Judgment.

Asbāṭ b. Sālim quotes Imam al-Kāẓim as saying:

When it will be the Day of Judgment a caller will cry out ‘Where are the disciples of Muḥammad b. ʿAbdallāh the Messenger of Allah, those who did not break the covenant and passed on while faithful to it?’

So Salmān, Miqdād and Abū Dharr will stand.

Then a caller will cry out ‘Where are the disciples of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib the Successor of Muḥammad b. ʿAbdallāh the Messenger of Allah …

Then he will call out ‘Where are the disciples of Muḥammad b. ʿAlī and the disciples of Jaʿfar b. Muḥammad?’

So ʿAbdallāh b. Sharīk al-ʿĀmirī, Zurāra b. Aʿyan, Burayd b. Muʿāwiya al-ʿIjlī, Muḥammad b. Muslim, Abū Baṣīr Layth b. al-Bakhtarī al-Murādī, ʿAbdallāh b. Abī Yaʿfūr, ʿĀmir b. ʿAbdallāh b. Judhāʿa, Ḥujr b. Zāʾida, Ḥumrān b. Aʿyan …[16]

Thus al-Najāshī has no qualms in describing Ḥujr as:

Thiqa. Correct in Madhhab. Righteous. Belonging to this Ṭāʾifa (sect)[17]

 

How we Fabricate

To catch a precious glimpse at how fabricated reports with particular agenda such as these came into being – consider the case-study below:

An unknown Hishām b. Aḥmar reports:

I entered upon Abī ʿAbdillāh intending to ask him about al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar al-Juʿfī, while he (i.e. the Imam) was in a small farm-land of his on a day of severe heat such that sweat was flowing onto his chest.

So he pre-empted me by saying: ‘How excellent – by Allah other than whom there is no God – [a man][18] al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar (is)!’

Until I counted him saying and repeating it (i.e. this phrase) thirty-something times!

He (i.e. the Imam) (also) said: He is indeed a father after the father[19]

This report seeks to vindicate Mufaḍḍal in the face of the claim that Imam al-Ṣādiq had disassociated from him.

But how can we tell that it is fabricated?

By a combination of chain and Matn analysis.

Already al-Kashshī is uncomfortable with the report and casts doubt on its authenticity by commenting on a narrator in the chain:

                Asad b. Abī al-ʿAlā narrates Manākīr (objectionable content)

But he does not go all the way in judging it a fabrication and leaves open the door for it having occurred when commenting:

Perhaps this report was narrated (i.e. occurred) in the period of al-Mufaḍḍal’s uprightness before he became a Khaṭṭābī

Yet al-Kashshī has missed to point out another weak narrator in the chain i.e. al-Ḥusayn b. Aḥmad who can be identified as al-Minqarī[20]. This is the same al-Ḥusayn b. Aḥmad al-Minqarī who happens to narrate Yūnus b. Ẓabyān’s report in al-Kāfī about ‘the two men’ given above. It cannot be a coincidence that he occurs in the chains of both reports which share a common theme of defending Mufaḍḍal.

Najāshī says about Ḥusayn:

He narrated from Abī ʿAbdillāh – peace be upon him – a Shādh (uncorroborated) report that is disproven, and he was weak, this was mentioned by our Aṣḥāb (i.e. prior scholars) – may Allah have mercy on them, he transmitted from Dāwūd al-Raqqī and did so prolifically[21]

Now being a prolific student of Dāwūd b. Kathīr āl-Raqqī[22] places Ḥusayn firmly in the pro-Mufaḍḍal orbit, at least this is how later Ghulāt saw it.

Ḥusayn b. Ḥamdān al‑Khaṣībī (d. 346 or 358), the most important authority among the Nuṣayrīs states:

The Shīʿa, for example, Yūnus b. Ẓabyān, Muḥammad b. Sinān, Dāwūd al-Raqqī, and their like, used to address him (i.e. al-Mufaḍḍal) (as follows) ‘O the Grace of Allah and His Mercy’[23]

All the above demonstrates how the data in the chains are not superfluous as assumed by some western academics who believe the whole Hadith system to be a whole-scale invention, in fact, the system worked and produces results that are useful.

But even without such an analysis of the chain and ignoring the weakness of multiple narrators found in it, if al-Kashshī and the scholars after him, who have included this report in their books without any reflection on it, would have studied its contents closely they would have discovered tell-tale signs of forgery. The fact that our scholars don’t traditionally engage in such analysis is a cause for concern!

It is fair to say that the Imam repeating this one phrase ‘thirty-something times’ stretches the bounds of credulity, but more critically, Mufaḍḍal was a junior contemporary of al-Ṣādiq and it makes no sense for the latter to call Mufaḍḍal, someone much younger than him a ‘second father’ i.e. a father after the biological father (al-Bāqir)!

How do we explain this?

What seems to have happened is that the fabricator concocted his report based on another report which does not contain such embellishments.

Mūsā b. Bakr claims to have heard Imam al-Kāẓim[24] (who was junior to Mufaḍḍal in age) say the following ‘when the news of the death of al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar reached him’:

May Allah have mercy on him, he was a father after the father, he has surely attained rest[25]

Our forgerer took al-Kāẓim’s statement above as his starting point and wanted to provide a better back-ground story for how it came to be uttered. But he made the mistake of attributing it to al-Ṣādiq (perhaps thinking this would enhance Mufaḍḍal’s reputation further)!

This, then, is the mechanism behind a lot of fabrications: Statements attributed to the Imams are taken, given different back-ground stories and re-adapted for different purposes.

 

The Nuṣayrī Adaptation

To drive the point home, consider how the same statement ‘Mufaḍḍal was a father after the father’ was imported by the Nuṣayrīs from an Imāmi source and applied in a totally different context and with a different agenda.

In a report found in a Nuṣayrī work, Muḥammad b. Sinān quotes al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar as saying:

I heard Abā ʿAbdillāh say: Allah has mentioned the killers of al-Ḥusayn in the End of Times, so they will visit his grave and seek intercession from his Soil, but it is they who are the killers of the prophets in every age!

Muhammad b. Sinan continues:

I presented this Hadith to al-Riḍā ʿAlī b. Mūsā, so he said: al-Mufaḍḍal spoke the truth, and he is the Bāb (Gateway) of Allah on the Earth, and the Lantern for the Believers in the Darknesses, and he is a father after the father.

I said: O my master – after which father?

He said: After Abī al-Khaṭṭāb

He (i.e. Muḥammad b. Sinān) said: I said: So who are these killers of the prophets in every age?

He said: Those who claim our Wilāya but are not from us, so upon them be the curse of Allah, and the curse of those who curse[26]

This report is undoubtedly a fabrication. It aims to portray the wider Shīʿī community who did not share the Esoteric beliefs of the Nuṣayrīs as ‘killers of the prophets in every age’, that is, the persecutors of the Nuṣayrī leaders who were considered to be prophets by them.

The non-Esotericists are cursed and not ‘from us’ even though they claim to have Wilāya and visit the grave of al-Ḥusayn and seek intercession from his Soil.

Mufaḍḍal is portrayed as the Bāb (Gateway) of Allah on the Earth, and the originally mundane statement of the Imam is re-adapted to assume cosmic significance in line with their theology, such that the term ‘father’ is taken to be the ‘father’ of the community of ‘orphans’[27] after the former ‘father’, Abū al-Khaṭṭāb!

 

Conclusion

Biographical profiles containing reports concerning certain narrators or ‘men around the Imams’ can at times resemble a battle-ground, with contradictory material abounding, just consider the profile of Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar in Rijāl al-Kashshī for a case in point. It is my thesis that this fact can be explained by virtue of there being different ‘trends’ in the wider Shīʿī community who fought it out between themselves. A positive depiction (in the best possible light) of certain controversial figures whom they identified with was the over-arching aim and the reports attributed to the Imams was the main weapon at hand. I hope to have demonstrated how such fabrications evolved and given ways to detect them.

It is my suggestion that instead of reconciling these reports as best we can (e.g. positing a convenient chronological solution), or totally discounting one set or the other by grading their chains, as has been the common approaches so far, one can creatively mine the information they provide (e.g. apply mirror-reading) as a way to know more about early Shīʿī trends and communities. In other words, we should see all the reports as having something valuable to say to us. There was a reason, after all, why each report was circulated in the first-place, instead of aiming for simplistic resolution that is unconcerned with the messy historical reality.    

As for the question of the historical Mufaḍḍal himself, can we get a glimpse at the man himself in the face of all the smoke-and-mirrors surrounding him? It is difficult to say, but I will make the following point: if men independently accused of Ghuluww were consistently esteeming Mufaḍḍal, and if the pro-Mufaḍḍal trend was ‘Esoteric’ in nature, then does not this imply something about the historical Mufaḍḍal? There must have been something intrinsic in him to invite the whole legacy that came to be built around him[28].

 

Appendix 1: The Miracles Ascribed by Yūnus b. Ẓabyān to his Mentor Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar as found in Nuṣayrī Sources[29]

(A) Muḥammad b. Sinān from Yūnus b. Ẓabyān – who said:

We were conversing at Mufaḍḍal’s place until a portion of the night passed, so we spent the night at his place, but the night was a dark one such that we could not even see the palms of our own hands, so when we left his place, he displayed for us his palm and his fingers stood out as thought they were flashes of lightening, so we did not cease walking in its glow until we entered our houses.   

(B) Yūnus b. Ẓabyān said:

I entered upon al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar while he was seated on top of a room, in the roof-terrace over-looking the court-yard of the house, so I said to him: O the Grace of Allah and His Mercy – if you were to favour me with a vision of what Allah has graced you with, such that I can leave with it (i.e. the report of what you showed me) to the Shīʿa and they increase in faith and certitude.

So he took with his hand a white, unadorned and unwritten (blank) mat that was to one side of him and spread it out on the air (i.e. made it levitate), climbed onto it, and prayed two units, then he returned to his original location, sat, took the mat, folded it and placed it on his side.

 

Footnotes

[1] Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pg. 271, No. 587.

[2] This was the doctrine that God had ‘delegated’ to the Imams functions that are normally considered to be His exclusive domain, such as, allocating sustenance, creating and destroying, Law-making etc. 

[3] This is true of all the men in the chain except al-Kashshī’s immediate authority i.e. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Ḥasan b. Bundār al-Qummi who is Majhūl (unknown), but this does not harm the report’s strength in my opinion, for he is merely a Shaykh al-Ijāza.

[4] This episode shows how esteemed the words of the Imams were, they had a significant impact in making or breaking someone’s reputation.

[5] A girdle or thick cord which was required to be worn by a non-Muslim Dhimmī as a means of identification. Is the fabricator, by using such distinctive expressions, giving a nod to the charge of Mufaḍḍal’s ‘Jewish or Christian appearance’ which we have already come across in a different context in Part I? I would say so.

[6] Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pg. 270, No. 583. See also Rijāl al-Kashshī: Pg. 341, No. 764 which is clearly a reworking of the same report with slight variation. The chain is disconnected with al-Ḥusayn b. Saʿīd narrating it in a Marfūʿ manner from ʿAbdallāh b. al-Walīd.

[7] Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pg. 270, No. 584.

[8] Yūnus was an older contemporary of Mufaḍḍal and an extremely close associate of his. A report recounts Yūnus b. Ẓabyān entering together with al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar, Fayḍ b. al-Mukhtār and someone explicitly called Qāsim Sharīk al-Mufaḍḍal (i.e. Qāsim the associate of Mufaḍḍal) to see Imam al-Ṣādiq who discloses to them that al-Kāẓim will be ‘the One to fill the Earth with fairness and justice after it was filled with injustice and oppression’. See Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Ṭūsī (d. 460), Kitāb al-Ghayba, eds. ʿAbbādallāh al-Ṭihrānī & ʿAlī Aḥmad Nāṣiḥ (Qum: Muʾassasat al-Maʿārif al-Islāmiyya, 1425), Pgs. 49-50, No. 37, quoting from Fī Nuṣrat al-Wāqifa of ʿAlī b. Aḥmad al-ʿAlawī; Using language depicting them as part of a clique, al-Ḥusayn b. Thuwayr (b. Abī Fākhita) recounts how he, Yūnus b. Ẓabyān, al-Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar and one Abū Salama al-Sarrāj were seated together in the presence of Imam al-Ṣādiq and ‘the one who used to speak from among us was Yūnus b. Ẓabyān and he was the eldest of us in age …’ (al-Kafi, Vol. 9, Pgs. 306-314, No. 2/8158);  The same four men (i.e. Ḥusayn, Yūnus, Mufaḍḍal and Abū Salama) are pictured together in the presence of Imam al-Ṣādiq when the latter performs the miracle of bringing out gold from the earth as proof that the Imams possess the treasures of the whole Earth and the keys to it (al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pgs. 532-534, No. 4/1284); It also occurs that a narrator narrates a report from both Yūnus and Mufaḍḍal together, with them speaking in the plural, indicating that they were together in the presence of the Imam e.g. al-Kafi, Vol. 4, Pg. 771, No. 7/3787, al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pgs. 711-712, No. 2/1415 (check the footnote which corrects errors in the chain); finally, Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar is known to report from his older contemporary Yūnus in a number of narrations. See for example, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Ṣadūq (d. 381), al-Khiṣāl, ed. ʿAlī-Akbar al-Ghaffārī (Qum: Muʾassasat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1434), Vol. 1, Pgs. 360-361, No. 20. See Appendix 1 for the association between Yūnus and Mufaḍḍal as found in a key Nuṣayrī work.

[9] Waḥīd al-Bihbihānī had already cast doubt on this report based on its contents saying: ‘there are things in it which the intellect may perhaps not accept’. See Muḥammad Bāqir (al-Waḥīd) al-Bihbihānī (d. 1205), Taʿlīqa ʿalā Manhaj al-Maqāl (Isfahan: Markaz al-Qāʿimiyya bi-Isfahān li l-Taḥriyāt al-Kumbyūtariyya, n.d.), Pg. 115. Sayyid Muḥsin al-Amīn explains that this refers to: ‘The Imam requesting them to desist from (attacking) him but they do not do so, then he calls to them and pleads with them but they do not do so, then he writes to them and puts emphasis on that but they do not do so, for the intellect does not accept that this (disregard) could be done by one who believes in his Imāma’. See Sayyid Muḥsin al-Amīn (d. 1371), Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, ed. Ḥasan al-Amīn (Beirut: Dār al-Taʿāruf li l-Maṭbūʿāt, 1403), Vol. 4, Pgs. 568-569. What these learned scholars failed to recognize is that this report was circulated in response to the anti-Mufaḍḍal report narrated by Ḥujr. This being the case, it continues the theme of depicting the anti-Mufaḍḍal companions as insufficiently submissive to the Imams in their quest to extol their heroes/pillars even at the expense of detracting against the personality of the Imam (see part I where I picked up on the same theme in a different report originating from the same milieu of the Ghulāt).

[10] al-Kāfī, Vol. 15, Pgs. 819-820, No. 562/15377. The same basic report on the authority of Yūnus b. Ẓabyān is also found in Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pgs. 275-276, No. 598 with some variation (e.g. the two men go unnamed) and with the Imam declaring إذن أغريهما به ‘then I will instigate them (i.e. the two men) through him (i.e. Mufaḍḍal)’. The report is claiming that the Imam will set Mufaḍḍal up as a stumbling block to the weak-in-faith, whereby their hatred for him after hearing the Imam’s apparent disassociation from him will be their undoing. This was a common technique used by the Esotericists to counteract the Imam’s reported disapprobation of their pillars/heroes. For example, Muḥammad b. Sinān claims that the Imam al-Jawād told him ‘O Muḥammad – how will you be when I curse you and disassociate from you and make you a test for the worlds – I guide through you whom I wish and misguide through you whom I wish?’, Muḥammad replied ‘Do with your slave what you will O master, for you are capable of all things!’ (Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pg. 481, No. 1091).

[11] Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pgs. 305-306, No. 673.

[12] Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pg. 306, No. 674.

[13] Muḥammad b. Sinān is the principal transmitter of the three or so Bashīr al-Nabbāl reports found in al-Faqīḥ as documented in the Mashshyakha. See Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn b. Mūsā b. Bābawayh al-Ṣadūq (d. 381), Man Lā Yaḥḍuruhū al-Faqīḥ, ed. ʿAlī-Akbar al-Ghaffārī (Qum: Muʾassasat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1429), Vol. 4, Pg. 487.

[14] See Abū al-Qāsim al-Mūsawī al-Khūʾī (d. 1413), Muʿjam Rijāl al-Ḥadīth (Najaf: Maktabat al-Imām al-Khūʾī, n.d.), Vol. 18, Pg. 184, No. 11664 for a representative entry. It is true that al-Kashshī states that Muḥammad b. Kathīr al-Thaqafī was from ‘the associates of Mufaḍḍal b. ʿUmar’ whilst giving the chain of the report but this is probably inferred from the report itself.

[15] Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pg. 451, No. 1033.

[16] Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pgs. 20-21, No. 20. All the Rijāl in the chain are Thiqa except ʿAlī b. Sulaymān b. Dāwūd and Asbāṭ b. Sālim (the father of the Thiqa ʿAlī b. Asbāṭ) who are both Majhūl.

[17] Rijāl al-Najāshī, Pg. 148, No. 384.

[18] Correcting al-Kashshī’s corrupted text by adding the critical word الرجل as found in Ṭūsī’s Ghayba (Pg. 346-347, No. 297).  Further, the vocalization of al-Kashshī’s editor makes no sense and should be corrected from نَعَمْ to نِعْمَ. The Imam’s statement should therefore be read as نِعْمَ وَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الرَّجُلُ الْمُفَضَّلُ بْنُ عُمَرَ الْجُعْفِيُّ

[19] Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pgs. 270-271, No. 585.

[20] By looking at the chain of the same report in Ṭūsī’s Ghayba

[21] Rijāl al-Najāshī, Pg. 53, No. 118. Ṭūsī also grades him as ‘weak’ (See Rijāl al-Ṭūsī, Pg. 334, No. 4977).

[22] Dāwūd’s connection to the Ghulāt (whether real or imaginary) is no secret and led to a genuine case of disagreement between our early Rijālī authorities. Kashshī knows of the Ghulāt claiming him as ‘one of their Pillars’ and even came across Manākīr (objectionable content) containing Ghuluww being narrated on his authority, but was not willing to lay the blame for this on Dāwūd himself because ‘I have not heard anyone among the Mashāyikh (scholars) of the ʿIṣāba (sect) criticizing him’ nor could he find any negative report from the Imams about him (See Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pgs. 341-342, No. 766). Ibn al-Ghaḍāʾirī draws no such distinction between person and corpus attributed to him, stating explicitly that Dāwūd was ‘Corrupt in Madhhab, weak in narration, no consideration is given to him (whatsoever)’ (See Rijāl Ibn al-Ghaḍāʾirī, Pg. 58, No. 46). Ṭūsī does the opposite when he grades him Thiqa likely on the basis of reports containing praise for him (See Rijāl al-Ṭūsī, Pg. 336, No. 5003). Najāshī supports Ibn al-Ghaḍāʾirī and contradicts Ṭūsī when he states that Dāwūd was ‘Very weak, the Ghulāt transmit from him’. He then quotes his teacher Aḥmad b. ʿAbd al-Wāḥid (d. 423) as stating ‘only rarely do I see a correct Hadith from him’ (See Rijāl al-Najāshī, Pg. 156, No. 410).

[23] Ḥusayn b. Ḥamdān al Khaṣībī (d. 346 or 358), Taʾrīkh al-Nabī wa-l Aʾimma wa Muʿ jizātihim al-Musammā bi-l Hidāya al-Kubrā, ed. Muṣṭafā Ṣubḥī al-Khiḍr al-Ḥimṣī (Beirut: Shirkat al Aʿlamī li l Maṭbūʿāt, 1427), Pg. 573.

[24] The report simply refers to the Imam in question as Abā al-Ḥasan without specifying which one it is, al-Awwal (i.e. al-Kāẓim) or al-Thānī (i.e. al-Riḍā). This has caused a few claimants of knowledge, such as the editor of the popular edition of Tawḥīd al-Mufaḍḍal (and copied from him in countless online articles), or the public speaker Ghizzi (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bJzzcsA524) to believe that Mufaḍḍal lived up to the times of al-Riḍā and was a companion of the latter, who then spoke such words at his death. But if they had the least bit of insight in this field they would have realized that the narrator Mūsā b. Bakr al-Wāsiṭī was a Wāqifī who does not narrate from al-Riḍā only al-Kāẓim (See Rijāl al-Ṭūsī, Pg. 343, No. 5108). Moreover, there is a crucial report (which I discussed in part I) which can be used to pin-point Mufaḍḍal’s death-date. The report in question is narrated by Muḥammad b. Sinān (Mufaḍḍal’s primary student) from al-Kāẓim ‘a year before he (i.e. the Imam) was carried away to Iraq’ and clearly assumes that al-Mufaḍḍal had already passed away by this time, since the Imam al-Kāẓim says that it is Ibn Sinān not Mufaḍḍal who will go on to confirm al-Riḍā and al-Jawād’s Imamate (See Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pgs. 423-424, No. 982). Hossein Modarressi uses this report, combined with the knowledge that al-Kāẓim was arrested by Hārūn al-Rashīd in Medina prior to the Hajj in Shawwal of the year 179 (See al-Kāfī, Vol. 2, Pg. 539), to fix Mufaḍḍal’s death date as ‘during lifetime of the latter (i.e. al-Kāẓim) before 179’. See Tradition and Survival: A Bibliographical Survey of Early Shiʿite Literature (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003): Vol. 1, Pg. 333.

[25] Rijāl al-Kashshī, Pg. 269, No. 582.

[26] Taʾrīkh al-Nabī wa-l Aʾimma wa Muʿ jizātihim al-Musammā bi-l Hidāya al-Kubrā, Pg. 574, No. 2.

[27] A term the Ghulāt used for themselves

[28] I will present my final assessment of Mufaḍḍal in a future article that will be a major reworking of my former piece: https://www.shiachat.com/forum/blogs/entry/363-mufadhal-b-umar-sinner-or-saint/  

[29] Taʾrīkh al-Nabī wa-l Aʾimma wa Muʿ jizātihim al-Musammā bi-l Hidāya al-Kubrā, Pgs. 574-575, Nos. 3 & 4.

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