Revisiting Abu al-Khattab and the Khattabiyya (A Response)

كان أبو الخطاب أحمق فكنت أحدثه فكان لا يحفظ، و كان يزيد من عنده

Abu al-Khattab was a fool – I would narrate to him so he would not preserve it, and he would add from himself[1]

Imam al-Sadiq

 

Introduction

The first installment of a promised multi-part ‘response’ to my incomplete series on Mufaddal b. Umar has been shared with me. I do not know brother John Andaluso beyond a passing acquaintance with his blog, and if my Mufaddal posts were supposed to be a response to a series on his blog then that is news to me. But this is neither here nor there.

Coming to the point, I was bemused to discern the underlying motive of this so-called ‘response’. Does John seek to rehabilitate Abu al-Khattab as I am told he has attempted in the past before back-tracking? If so, he should come out and state his case plainly.

My responsibility would then merely be to alert readers that his is a lone voice going against centuries-strong consensus of Twelver scholars from the earliest times to the present-day. In other words, the status of Abu al-Khattab is not an issue of Ikhtilaf (disagreement), not even close.

 

The Crime(s) of Abu al-Khattab

What led al-Sadiq to curse and disassociate from Abu al-Khattab to such an extent that he was totally abandoned by the Shia (apart from the Khattabiyya who stuck with him)?

Abu al-Khattab’s primary crime was attributing divinity to the Imam.

Musadif a Mawla of Imam al-Sadiq reports:

لما لبى القوم الذين لبوا بالكوفة دخلت على أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فأخبرته بذلك، فخر ساجدا و ألزق جؤجؤه بالأرض و بكى، و أقبل يلوذ بإصبعه و يقول بل عبد الله قن داخر مرارا كثيرة، ثم رفع رأسه و دموعه تسيل على لحيته فندمت على أخباري إياه …

When the group who called out the Talbiyya in Kufa did so (i.e. aiming it to al-Sadiq and proclaiming him as their Lord) – I entered upon Abi Abdillah and informed him of it, so he dropped himself into prostration, clung his chest onto the ground and began crying, after which he raised his fingers (to the sky) and began saying – ‘rather a mere slave of Allah and a humble bondman’ – repeating it constantly, then he raised his head (from prostration) and his tears were flowing down to his beard, so I felt regret at having informed him of it …

The report ends with the Imam stating:

يا مصادف إن عيسى لو سكت عما قالت النصارى فيه لكان حقا على الله أن يصم سمعه و يعمى بصره، و لو سكت عما قال في أبو الخطاب لكان حقا على الله أن يصم سمعي و يعمى بصري

O Musadif, if Isa had remained silent after what the Christians had said about him then it would have been appropriate for Allah to deafen his hearing and blinden his sight, and If I remain silent after what Abu al-Khattab has said about me then it would be appropriate for Allah to deafen my hearing and blinden my sight![2]

In another report, when the interpretation of ‘Ja’far b. Waqid and a number of the associates of Abu al-Khattab’ of the verse “He is the One who in the heaven is God, and in the earth God” (43:84) was relayed to the Imam (to the effect that the God on Earth is the Imam), the latter exclaimed:

لا و الله لا يأويني و إياه سقف بيت أبدا، هم شر من اليهود و النصارى و المجوس و الذين أشركوا … و الله لو أقررت بما يقول في أهل الكوفة لأخذتني الأرض، و ما أنا إلا عبد مملوك لا أقدر على شي‏ء ضر و لا نفع

No – by Allah! A roof of a house will never shelter me and him at the same time ever! They are more evil than the Jews, and the Christians, and the Zoroastrians, and those who associate (i.e. the polytheists) …

If I were to agree to what the people of Kufa say about me the earth would take (i.e. swallow) me, I am not but a bonded slave, I do not have power over anything – to avert evil or bring about good[3]

 

The Charge of Antinomianism

But if I have misread brother John, and he has the more modest intention of solely vindicating Abu al-Khattab from the charge of antinomianism, then while there may be a way to do it, his is not it!

My linking of Abu al-Khattab and antinomianism is not ‘based on the view of Mukhalif heresiographers distant from Tashayyu’ as he claims but rather on a letter from the Imam al-Sadiq himself:

 كتب أبو عبد الله عليه السلام إلى أبي الخطاب بلغني أنك تزعم أن الزنا رجل و أن الخمر رجل و أن الصلاة رجل و أن الصيام رجل و أن الفواحش رجل، و ليس هو كما تقول أنا أصل الحق و فروع الحق طاعة الله، و عدونا أصل الشر و فروعهم الفواحش، و كيف يطاع من لا يعرف و كيف يعرف من لا يطاع

Abu Abdillah wrote to Abi al-Khattab saying: It has reached me that you claim that Zina (adultery) is a man, Khamr (wine) is a man, Salat (daily prayer) is a man, Sawm (fasting) is a man, and the Fawahish (abominable acts) is a man, but it is not as you say!

Verily we (the Imams) are the root of Truth and the branches of Truth is obedience to Allah (by performing all the Wajibat and abstaining from the Muharramat), and our enemy is the root of Falsehood and its branches are the abominable acts.

How can He be obeyed One who is not recognized? And how can He be recognized One who is not obeyed?[4]

If the import of ‘Salat is a man’ or ‘Zakat is a man’ is not clear from this report, there are other reports wherein the import of such pithy statements that summarize a whole doctrine is clarified.

You see, the same belief resurfaces in Qum in the time of Imam al-Askari and caused some degree of confusion therein:

قال حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى: كتب إليه في قوم يتكلمون و يقرءون أحاديث ينسبونها إليك و إلى آبائك فيها ما تشمئز فيها القلوب، و لا يجوز لنا ردها إذا كانوا يروون عن آبائك عليهم السلام، و لا قبولها لما فيها … من أقاويلهم أنهم يقولون إن قول الله تعالى إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ تَنْهى عَنِ الْفَحْشاءِ وَ الْمُنْكَرِ معناها رجل، لا سجود و لا ركوع، و كذلك الزكاة معناها ذلك الرجل، لا عدد درهم و لا إخراج مال، و أشياء من الفرائض و السنن و المعاصي تأولوها و صيروها على هذا الحد الذي ذكرت، فإن رأيت أن تبين لنا و أن تمن على مواليك بما فيه السلامة لمواليك و نجاتهم من هذه الأقاويل التي تخرجهم إلى الهلاك فكتب (عليه السلام) ليس هذا ديننا فاعتزله

Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa said: It was written to him (i.e. the Imam al-Askari) about a group ‘that speaks (i.e. disseminates their beliefs) and reads-out reports which they attribute to you and to your forefathers, the contents of which repel the hearts, but it is not permissible for us to repudiate them since they are being narrated on the authority of your forefathers, nor can we accept them because of what they purport

Among their beliefs is that they say the words of Allah the Exalted: “Verily Salat safeguards from indecency and wrong-doing” (29:45) refers to a man (i.e. Salat is embodied in a man), not to prostration nor bowing. Similarly, Zakat refers to that man, not to a set number of gold coins nor the giving out of wealth. They have done likewise in regards injunctions concerning the Obligatory, the Mandated and the Forbidden – they have interpreted and transformed it in a way akin to that which I have described.

So if you deem it proper to clarify for us and to favour your Mawali (followers) by that (answer) in which lies their safety and salvation from these beliefs leads them to perdition (then do so).

So he (i.e. the Imam) wrote: This is not our religion therefore disassociate from it[5]

I hope it is clear now what ‘Salat is a man’, a statement already attributed to Abu al-Khattab, refers to.  It refers to an esoteric Ta’wil by which all the verses that command establishing prayer are re-interpreted to mean ‘recognition of a man i.e. the Imam’, such that one who recognizes him does not need to ‘bow’ nor ‘prostrate’.

Similarly, the verses that forbid adultery are re-interpreted to mean ‘disassociating from a man i.e. the enemy of the Imam’, such that one who disassociates from him can ‘perform intercourse outside marriage’.

 

A More Plausible Reconciliation

As for the report that Abu al-Khattab taught that the Maghrib should not be prayed ‘until the redness of the sky disappears’, or al-Tusi attributing to them a belief in the obligatoriness of fasting the month of Shaban, then this need not absolve Abu al-Khattab and his followers from the charge of eventual antinomianism.

Such an argument only works if we accept that Khattabi beliefs were all static from the get-go, when we know this is not the case. Abu al-Khattab himself had a period of steadfastness before his fall, and who is to say that the vacillation stopped thereafter.

Nor should these two matters be treated identically, for while there was genuine Khilaf (disagreement) among the companions about the time for Maghrib (whether it was marked by the simple disappearance of the disk or the disappearance of the redness) with both sides attributing contrasting reports to the Imams[6], having to make Kaffara for breaking a fast in the month of Shaban is a doctrine limited solely to the Khattabiyya.

Even with the timing of Maghrib, other reports re-state Abu al-Khattab’s position which is revealed to be more radical than just ‘disappearance of redness’.

A companion asks the Imam whether he:

أؤخر المغرب حتى تستبين النجوم

Should postpone the Maghrib until after the stars can be seen?

The Imam replies:

خطابية، إن جبريل أنزلها على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله حين سقط القرص

Khattabiyya! Verily Jibrail brought it to the Messenger of Allah  when the disk (of the sun) disappears[7]

In another report the Imam says to Zurara:

 إن أهل الكوفة قد نزل فيهم كذاب، أما المغيرة فإنه يكذب على أبي يعني أبا جعفر عليه السلام قال حدثه أن نساء آل محمد إذا حضن قضين الصلاة، و كذب و الله، عليه لعنة الله، ما كان من ذلك شي‏ء و لا حدثه، و أما أبو الخطاب فكذب علي، و قال إني أمرته أن لا يصلي هو و أصحابه المغرب حتى يروا كوكب كذا يقال له القنداني، و الله إن ذلك لكوكب ما أعرفه

The liars have descended upon the people of Kufa. As for al-Mughira then he lies upon my father – meaning Aba Ja’far – he says that he (al-Baqir) narrated to him that the women of the family of Muhammad remake the Salat which they miss when they menstruate, and I swear by Allah that he has lied, upon him be the curse of Allah, there is nothing like that, nor did he (al-Baqir) narrate it to him.

As for Abu al-Khattab then he lies upon me, and he says that I ordered him and his companions not to pray the Maghrib until they see a certain star – which is called al-Qandani – while by Allah it is a star that I do not know![8]

This explains why the Imam used the term أفسد أهل الكوفة ‘he corrupted the inhabitants of Kufa’, but Andaluso immediately follows this quotation from the Imam by asking the question ‘is this corruption?’ and then answers ‘not at all!’ – truly words have lost all meaning.

In light of all this, why would we need to resort to the explanation that the Imam was the source of mandating fasting in the month of Shaban, when we are talking about the words of someone who is, at the end of the day, a liar (as per the words of the Imam).

A person who does not shirk from attributing divinity to the Imams – what is stopping him from doing the same in Fiqhi matters!

There is a reason why the Qudama would reject the uncorroborated reports of someone accused of Ghulu, this is because these figures had no compunction in lying, as Imam al-Sadiq says about the Ghulat

                ان فيهم من يكذب حتى أن الشيطان ليحتاج الى كذبه

Among them is one who lies so well such that even the Shaytan makes recourse to his lies[9]

A more plausible reconciliation of these two sets of reports is that Abu al-Khattab’s views progressed from a stage of promulgating distinctive Law among his followers to that of wholesale abrogation. 

There are a number of motives that can explain this progression, ranging from creating confusion in the ranks of the ‘rabble’, as the Ghulat termed those who remained unaware of the esoteric secret and thereby shackled to the Law, to Abu al-Khattab testing his followers on these issues that went contrary to the position of the Imams as accepted among the mainstream Kufan Shia so as to confirm their obedience to him, before gradually ending up abrogating the whole thing.

 

Loving their Enemy

We would only need to resort to a different explanation if we have Husn al-Dhann (extending benefit of doubt) about Abu al-Khattab – but why would we have that!

I mean, Abu al-Khattab is in the same category of liars as Musaylima and Abdallah b. Saba about whom Imam al-Sadiq says:

إنا أهل بيت صادقون لا نخلو من كذاب يكذب علينا فيسقط صدقنا بكذبه علينا عند الناس … ثم ذكر المغيرة بن سعيد و بزيعا و السري و أبا الخطاب و معمرا و بشارا الأشعري و حمزة البربري و صائد النهدي، فقال لعنهم الله إنا لا نخلو من كذاب أو عاجز الرأي، كفانا الله مؤنة كل كذاب و أذاقهم الله حر الحديد

We the Ahl al-Bayt are always truthful but do not lack a liar lying against us and degrading our truthfulness by his lies to the masses … then he mentioned … Aba al-Khattab … and said: May Allah curse them – we do not lack a liar or one deficient in intellect (tormenting us).

May Allah suffice us against ever needing the help of any liar and may Allah make them taste the heat of the sword (put them to the sword)![10]

And indeed this supplication of the Imam was answered, and when the failed revolt of Abu al-Khattab and his followerss was put down[11], the Imam did not show any remorse for the brutal manner of Abu al-Khattab’s killing.

Muyassir reports that he said to Imam al-Sadiq in the year 138 AH:

جعلت فداك عجبت لقوم كانوا يأتون معنا إلى هذا الموضع فانقطعت آثارهم و فنيت آجالهم

May I be made your ransom, I am bewildered at a group who used to come with us to this place but their traces have been cut-off and their terms have ended

When the Imam asks who he is referring to, Muyassir responds:

أبو الخطاب و أصحابه

Abu al-Khattab and his fellows (who had been massacred)

The Imam was resting on a cushion but sat up-straight (when he heard Muyassir say this) and raised his fingers to the sky and said:

على أبي الخطاب لعنة الله و الملائكة و الناس أجمعين، فأشهد بالله أنه كافر فاسق مشرك، و أنه يحشر مع فرعون في أشد العذاب غدوا و عشيا

Upon Abi al-Khattab be the curse of Allah, His angels and all the people together, for I swear by Allah that he is a Kafir, Fasiq and Mushrik. He will be resurrected with Pharaoh in the most severe punishment by morning and night

Then the Imam said:

أما و الله إني لأنفس على أجساد أصيبت معه النار

By Allah – I sigh (i.e. feel pity) at the bodies that have entered the fire with him[12]

Abu al-Khattab was such a no-go that there is no report countering all the opprobrium thrown at him in our sources[13].

Personally I would be terrified of having Husn al-Dhann towards Abu al-Khattab when Imam al-Sadiq says about him in a reliable report:

لعن الله أبا الخطاب و لعن من قتل معه و لعن من بقي منهم و لعن الله من دخل قلبه رحمة لهم

May Allah curse Aba al-Khattab, may He curse those who were killed with him, may He curse those who are remaining (alive) from them, and may He curse the one to whose heart enters mercy for them![14]

 

Playing the Taqiyya Card

What does someone who wants to rehabilitate Abu al-Khattab in the face of all the reports above do? Call the Imam’s genuine emotion as evinced in front of his close companions, and which would make the heart of any true follower of the Imam break, an act of simulation!

The fact that the Imam needed to use Taqiyya[15] to take the heat off of himself and some of his closest companions (by distancing himself from them in a way that goes public) is now exploited to defend against those who were actually disassociated from.

This is not a new trump reverse card but one that is already found in our sources. A comic example of this occurs when the Imam sends one of his companions called Murazim to a particularly atrocious Ghali called Bashshar – the latter believed that all the Imams are re-incarnations of Ali while he is a reincarnation of Muhammad who was a slave to Ali – to say to him: 

يقول لك جعفر يا كافر يا فاسق يا مشرك أنا بري‏ء منك

                Ja’far says to you ‘O Kafir, O Fasiq, O Mushrik – I am disassociate from you!’

Do you think such shameless slaves to their own delusion would be chastised by this, it serves only to confirm their delusions further since they re-interpret the Imams words and consider it Taqiyya

Bashshar’s reply to this was:

و قد ذكرني سيدي؟

And has my master mentioned me?

Murazim replies:

!نعم ذكرك بهذا الذي قلت لك

 Yes – he has mentioned in you in the way I have just relayed to you!

So Bashshar goes:

جزاك الله خيرا و فعل بك

May Allah reward you with good, and may he do (so and so) for you[16]

And he began supplicating for Murazim!

The report ends here, with Murazim left stumped, and indeed what is there left to be said at this point!

It as this point when you realize why the solution to this was coming across one of them on a dark night, in an abandoned alleyway, carrying a large rock with you, since nothing else can save someone whose mind-set allows him to go too deep into the Taqiyya rabbit-hole[17]

But I digress.

 

How to Tell

Having said this, the reader may rightly feel at this juncture that this leaves us in a bind – how can we differentiate between a true instance of disassociation from the false disassociation which was said in Taqiyya

Indeed, how can we navigate contradictory statements issued from the Imams on any subject? Didn’t the Imams know that by doing this they were leaving their followers in confusion?

Of course they did, but they also presented us with a solution: They gave us certain general principles that can eliminate ‘false’ positions (a statement said out of Taqiyya or a lie being attributed to them) and come down to the ‘true’ position[18].

Brother John (to his credit) is aware of this line of reasoning, and that is why his article makes what would seem to any casual reader (since he doesn’t take the reader along, his writing style being a bit disjointed) to be a sudden and irrelevant jump from defending Abu al-Khattab against the charge of antinomianism to attacking the principles the Imams outlined for Tarjih (i.e. preferring one set of reports over another).  

The sum of it is that he doesn’t accept any of them, his preferred solution is there is no system, or as he puts it much more memorably (this can be quoted forever more) ‘there was no legal/fiqh system, because there was no fiqh anyway’. In other words, ‘just follow whatever the Imam says however contradictory and don’t ask any questions’ although even he has to admit that ‘there is a true position’ in that jumble of positions[19]

But why is Andaluso running away from these principles even though he knows they were taught by the Imams? Is it because he is aware that applying these principles will enable us to debunk his defense of Abu al-Khattab and the latter’s teachings?

In fact, these principles from the Imams are so strong and far-sighted (may my life be sacrificed for them), that they were not only the bane of the Ghulat in the historical past, curtailing their freedom to attribute whatever they wanted (which accord with their desires) to the Imams, but continue acting as safe-guards against any modern day pretender.

They really were nails in the Ghulati coffin.

 

1. Go with what is United Upon

The first principle is:

خذوا بالمجمع عليه فإن المجمع عليه لا ريب فيه

                Take that which is united upon, for there is no doubt in that which is united upon

Put another way:

 يترك الشاذ الذي ليس بمشهور عند أصحابك فإن المجمع عليه لا ريب فيه

The Shaadh (rare) which is not famous with your companions (i.e. the scholars) is abandoned, for there is no doubt in that which is united upon

In other words, though the Imam will introduce conflict at times, the Imam will deck the cards just so such that positions that become overwhelmingly dominant within the Ta’ifa will always be the true one. After all, this is a Taifa that accepts the authority of the Imams and submits to them, why would they leave the overwhelmingly dominant position within the Taifa remain the ‘false’ one.  

Equally, while liars would lie about the Imams as is their wont, this principle makes their job much harder since they would have to make their position become the ‘united upon’ (in the face of the Imam calling them out on it) or face the prospect of over-turning positions that are ‘united upon’ to succeed.

I am not saying that all issues reached this level of consensus[20], indeed a lot of them remain murkier, this principle is useless for them, but those that became ‘united upon’ can never be ‘untrue’ since we had active Imams at the helm. 

Consider the case of Zurara and Abu al-Khattab for demonstrative purposes.

There exist multiple reports that praise Zurara very highly and while there are some that do the opposite – the earliest community (including companions of the Imams), under the guiding hand of the Imams[21], arrived at the ‘true position’ and concluded that the negative reports were Taqiyya (indeed there exist clear Nass that this was Taqiyya), thus it is that the whole Taifa (sect) united upon his utmost Adala and submitted to his superior Ilm. Zurara was then enshrined among the elite Ashab al-Ijma already in the lifetime of the Imams themselves.

al-Kashshi documents the following:

اجتمعت العصابة على تصديق هؤلاء الأولين من أصحاب أبي جعفر عليه السلام و أبي عبد الله عليه السلام و انقادوا لهم بالفقه، فقالوا: أفقه الأولين ستة زرارة و معروف بن خربوذ و بريد و أبو بصير الأسدي و الفضيل بن يسار و محمد بن مسلم الطائفي، قالوا: و أفقه الستة زرارة

The whole sect is united in deeming truthful these foremost ones amongst the companions of Abi Ja’far and Abi Abdillah, and have submitted to them with respect to Fiqh, so they said: The most Afqah (knowledgeable) of the foremost ones are six: Zurara, Ma’ruf b. Kharrabudh, Burayd, Abu Basir al-Asadi, al-Fudhayl b. Yasar and Muhammad b. Muslim al-Ta’ifi.

They also said: The most Afqah of the six is Zurara[22]

As for Abu al-Khattab, there are no praise reports that exist, and if they existed they were expunged after his fall, because accepting his disassociation as true is one of the relatively few things the Taifa was united upon. And that is why our books of Hadith do not include his reports barring a very few exceptions (and which also hasten to add that this report was narrated prior to his fall).

The only way to avoid this conclusion is to form a new Taifa – which some did (i.e. the Khattabiyya and its offshoots).

Andaluso knows that this principle destroys his agenda from its very foundation – thus he has no option but to reject this principle and believe (as the Ghulat before him did) that the Imams were doing Taqiyya even within the Taifa to such an extent that the overwhelmingly dominant position could be false, with the truth (e.g. Salat is a man) remaining only in the hands of an ‘elite few’ as he puts it.

 

2. Go with the Later Imam

Sometime a situation of Taqiyya may have caused the Sadiqayn to rule one way but the later Imams may have been in an environment to clarify the true position.

Equally, if a liar takes advantage of the fact that the previous Imams are dead to attribute fabricated reports to them, then the presence of a living Imam means the task of the liars has become that much harder since the companions could just ask a later Imam for a clarification which sets things right.

In the case of Zurara, the later Imams after Zurara’s death had only praise for him, recall how Imam al-Kadhim and al-Ridha defended him from the charge that he did not know the Imam of his Time[23].

This is not the case with Abu al-Khattab.

In fact, the later Imams did not reverse the curse on Abu al-Khattab, and in fact confirmed it when they were asked about it.

When Imam al-Kadhim was asked how it was that Aba Abdillah had said about Abu al-Khattab what he said at first (i.e. to associate with him) then there came the edict of disassociating from him – the Imam responded:

أكان لأبي عبد الله عليه‌ السلام أن يستعمل وليس له أن يعزل

Was it for Abi Abdillah (the authority) to appoint but not to dismiss![24]

In another report Imam al-Kadhim describes Abu al-Khattab as one of those:

و إن أبا الخطاب كان ممن أعاره الله الإيمان فلما كذب على أبي سلبه الله الإيمان

Whose faith was loaned out to him by Allah, so when he lied about my father – Allah snatched away that faith from him[25]          

Imam al-Ridha says about him:

و كان أبو الخطاب يكذب على أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فأذاقه الله حر الحديد

Abu al-Khattab used to lie about Abi Abdillah so Allah made him to taste the heat of the iron[26]

Imam al-Jawad says about him:

لعن الله أبا الخطاب و لعن أصحابه و لعن الشاكين في لعنه و لعن من قد وقف في ذلك و شك فيه

May Allah curse Aba al-Khattab, curse his companions, curse those who question his cursing, and curse those who abstain from doing it (cursing him) doubting its propriety[27]

So are we to believe that there was a perpetual Taqiyya about Abu al-Khattab that was never lifted throughout the age of the manifest presence of the Imams?!

 

3. Compare with the Qur’an and the Established Sunna

Another principle given by the Imams is:

اعرضوها على كتاب الله فما وافق كتاب الله عز وجل فخذوه، وما خالف كتاب الله فردوه

Compare it with the Book of Allah, so what agrees with the Book of Allah Mighty and Majestic then take it, and what opposes the Book of Allah then repudiate it

Andaluso spills much proverbial ink about this principle. He cannot deny that the principle exists but twists himself into bits trying to deal with it.

At one point he says ‘there is no such thing as conformance to the Qur’an’, later ‘so how can we possibly compare to the Quran as instructed by our Imams’, yet again ‘Thus, rejecting a hadith based on ‘comparison’ to the Quran is impossible’. He even randomly throws out the fact that this report exists in the Zaydi corpus as if that changes anything.

Perhaps the reason why he struggles so much with this principle is that it was cited by the Imam with the Khattabiyya in mind.

When Yunus travels to Iraq and hears the reports from the companions there and obtains their books only to return with them to Madina to present them to Imam al-Ridha, the latter rejects quite a few of these reports as being genuinely from Imam al-Sadiq and says:

إن أبا الخطاب كذب على أبي عبد الله عليه السلام لعن الله أبا الخطاب و كذلك أصحاب أبي الخطاب يدسون هذه الأحاديث إلى يومنا هذا في كتب أصحاب أبي عبد الله عليه السلام

Verily Aba al-Khattab had lied upon Abi Abdillah – may Allah curse Aba al-Khattab – and likewise, the companions of Aba al-Khattab do interpolate these (forged) Hadiths into the books of the companions of Aba Abdillah to this day of ours

The solution the Imam gives is:

فلا تقبلوا علينا خلاف القرآن، فإنا إن تحدثنا حدثنا بموافقة القرآن و موافقة السنة إنا عن الله و عن رسوله نحدث

So do not accept on our authority that which is against the Qur’an, for we – when we narrate – only narrate that which is in agreement with the Qur’an and in agreement with the Sunna. We only narrate on the authority of Allah and on the authority of the prophet …[28]

But if we take Andaluso at his word then the Imam is giving us a principle that is impossible to work with!   

I say: In fact this principle is very workable, and the Qur’an having a Batin (esoteric side) does not make it defunct since the book has Muhkam Dhawahir which should not be contradicted as a first check or safe-guard against Ghulati tampering (it’s not a closed Book to us on all its levels). In other words, the Imams words can never contradict (in the true sense) any aspect of the Qur’an (be it Dhahir available to us or Batin available to them) since the Imams are the best preservers of it.

Don’t you see how the Qummis could not accept the statement that the ‘Salat is a man’ even if this statement was being attributed to the Imams, this is because it went against everything they knew of the verses contained in the Qur’an and the Established Sunna, they decided to make Tawaqquf (suspend judgment) on this until they obtained clarification from the Imam[29].

Having this principle meant the Ghulat would not be able to introduce their alien ideas easily into Islam, and indeed this principle can be used to filter of a lot of their delusions to this day. 

 

4. The Imams do not Abrogate the Primary Law

What is clear in the reports of the Imams is that they considered the Muhammadan canon closed and declared that no new Law will come.

Imam al-Sadiq says:

                حلال محمد حلال أبدا إلى يوم القيامة، وحرامه حرام أبدا إلى يوم القيامة، لا يكون غيره ولا يجيئ غيره

The Halal of Muhammad is Halal forever unto the Day of Judgment and his Haram is Haram forever unto the Day of Judgment, there will be nothing other than it and nothing apart from it will come[30]

They were merely its authoritative exponents, they would not innovate into it from their own.

Imam al-Sadiq says:

ما من شئ إلا وفيه كتاب أو سنة

                There is nothing except there is about it (a ruling in the) Book or Sunna[31]

Imam al-Kadhim was asked if everything is in the book of Allah and the Sunna of His prophet or whether they (i.e. the Imam) ‘have a say in it?’

The Imam replies:

Rather everything is in the Book of Allah and the Sunna of the prophet[32]

In fact, the aforementioned principle of conformance with the Qur’an and the Established Sunna in of itself means that the Imams were not delegated the power to abrogate the Law.

This being the case, if a Ghali comes and says that that the Imam has abrogated Salat or mandated the fast of Shaban as a Fardh he is automatically considered a liar.

Thus the last hope of the Ghali to somehow circumvent the whole Law by claiming that an Imam told him to stop praying etc. is dashed!

 

Conclusion

If brother John wishes to resolve the problem of contradictions in our corpus then there is a way to understand the causes behind this and the proposed way out[33] without attempting an imaginative and idiosyncratic grand synthesis which takes care of all of the raw-data but ends up being lesser than the sum of its parts since it treats all the data equally (without factoring in authenticity for example).

There is an insightful statement he makes to the effect that to get to the truth we need to go to the Imam’s ‘most trustworthy, unquestioning and closest ones’, he is right about this, because we do not have direct access to the Imams except through those ‘men around the Imams’ or ‘their companions’. In other words, those men are almost as important as the Imams themselves, since we get to the Imams through them. It is clear that they were not all of the same level, and if one chooses the wrong gate-ways to access the Imams (just as the Amma did for the prophet) you end up with a problem.

The Madhhab had long ago made up its mind as to who these gateways would be, and my appeal to him, since he is a smart fellow with not inconsiderable talent, is to get this right and use his capabilities in defending the Madhhab instead of experimenting with ‘academic research’ that is edgy.

 

Footnotes

[1] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 522

[2] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 531

[3] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 538

[4] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 512

[5] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 994

[6] The whole thing seems to have been based on a simple misunderstanding, where the disappearance of the disk is the time and the disappearance of the redness a way to confirm that the latter has occurred.

[7] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 510

[8] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 407

[9] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 526

[10] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 549

[11] You can read the eye-witness account of the sole survivor of this failed revolt who went on to repent from his earlier ways here: https://thaqalayn.net/hadith/9/3/38/1. They barricaded themselves in the mosque, pretending to be there for worship purposes, thinking they would catch their enemy by surprise and induce the sympathy of others.

[12] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 524

[13] The chapter on Abu al-Khattab is one of the longest in our premier Rijal work (i.e. of al-Kashshi) and the one-sided nature of the reports contained therein can be sampled here: https://thaqalayn.net/chapter/9/3/83

[14] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 521

[15] I do not deny that the Imam gave answers in Taqiyya in the presence of the non-Shia (to avoid repercussion), or even to his own companions for the sake of bringing about a divergence in their public ritual (so they do not form a distinctive body) – so bringing this up was irrelevant. Furthermore, it is uncontested that any answer given by the Imam, even if not the ‘true’ one, remains binding. The much bandied about Hukm Al Dawud simply means that the final Imam in the messianic age will not require Bayinna (formal proof e.g. two witness) to judge a case (since he will base it on the inspiration), furthermore, the Imams are also known to have used the term in the context of justifying their prerogative to withhold giving the true position to anyone they choose.   

[16] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 744

[17] Those who know what I am alluding to – know

[18] A famous iteration of these principles is found in the report of Umar b. Hanzala called the Maqbula. The same report, because of its importance, forms the bed-rock of Kulayni’s response to his friend (who was also confused by contradictions) as recorded in the Introduction to his magnum opus al-Kafi.

[19] A more based (if ultimately wrong) solution would be to say ‘whatever the Imam says becomes the Law since he makes the Law up as he goes along’ i.e. full Tafwid in Legislation, but he hasn’t gone that far (yet).

[20] Some examples that come time mind are the legality of temporary marriage, wiping on the feet, such that the Shaadh reports saying otherwise are definitely Taqiyya.

[21] The Imam managed this conclusion by giving very strong praise which defeats the censure, giving undue access to Zurara such that he became the primary repository of his Ilm, this is covered by the idea اعرفوا منازل الرجال منا على قدر رواياتهم عنا – ‘Recognise the ranks of the Rijal (narrators) in relation to us based upon the amount of their reports from us’, and the top-gun in the amount of reports ranking is Zurara.

[22] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 431. See also: https://shiiticstudies.com/2019/08/18/who-was-the-greatest-companion-of-them-all/

[23] See for example https://thaqalayn.net/hadith/9/3/33/7 and https://thaqalayn.net/hadith/9/3/33/9

[24] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 521

[25] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 523

[26] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 544

[27] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 1012

[28] Rijal al-Kashshi: No. 401. For numerous other reports requiring us to ‘compare with the Qur’an’ (a distinctive position of our Madhhab) see: https://thaqalayn.net/chapter/9/2/9

[29] In fact, if they had been bolder in applying this principle like Yunus and co. were it would have been much better for them and for us! But not to worry, later Rijalis took care of this in weakening the narrators who would bring what is Munkar

[30] https://thaqalayn.net/chapter/9/2/3  

[31] https://thaqalayn.net/chapter/9/2/2

[32] ibid

[33] I address some related matters here: https://shiiticstudies.com/2020/07/21/sayyid-sistani-on-why-shi%ca%bfa-%e1%b8%a5adith-contradict-pt-i/ and here: https://shiiticstudies.com/2020/02/17/tusi-and-the-tahdhibayn-pt-i/

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