The False Claimants of Deputyship of Imam Mahdi (a.s.)
The False Claimants of Deputyship of Imam Mahdi (a.s)
Hitherto we have read about the false claimants of Mahdaviyat in various articles and more or less we are aware of their lives and times. In the history of Islam some men were such who claimed the ‘Special Deputyship’ of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) but the divine chastisement descended on them in such a way that their names disappeared into the oblivion. But history has neatly preserved their names in its indelible annals, only to expose their mischief for the common masses, so that they may become aware, learn a lesson and may not commit the formidable mistake of claiming the deputyship for themselves. In Islamic parlance deputyship means ‘representation’ and deputy means ‘representative and plenipotentiary’. Hence the deputy of Imam (a.s.) means that he is an intermediary between the people and Imam (a.s.). This implies that he conveys the message of Imam (a.s.) to the people, refers the questions and problems of the people to Imam (a.s.) and in turn delivers the replies and solutions given by Imam (a.s.) to the people. He is known as ‘the Deputy of Imam (a.s.)’.
The Types Of Deputyship:
There are two types of Deputyship viz. Special Deputyship and General Deputyship. Special Deputyship purports that some person is appointed as a deputy of Imam (a.s.), directly by Imam (a.s.) himself with his name. Then this person is the special deputy of Imam (a.s.). He is given the right to contact Imam (a.s.) directly whenever he deems fit or whenever they were faced with an unsolvable problem or some calamity befell them. The series of special deputyship continued upto 329 A.H. This era, where special deputies met Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) directly is known as Minor Occultation (Ghaibat-e-Sughra).
The period since 329 A.H. upto this date and uptill the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) is called The Major Occultation (Ghaibat-e-Kubra). Those scholars who are executing their tasks as deputies of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.), in this era, are known as ‘General Deputies’ of Imam (a.s.). Particularly those highly learned jurists (Marjae Taqleed) are ‘General Deputies’ of Imam (a.s.) then whosoever claims special deputyship in Ghaibat-e-Kubra is a blatant liar. Although the special deputyship was assigned by Imam (a.s.), but of course it was approved by Allah and since this status was regarded as very sublime and high and hence some wayward, greedy, wanton, power-crazy and naive persons who wanted to enjoy the privileges of this position claimed special deputyship. Allah disgraced and defamed them by unmasking their true faces. In this article we shall briefly mention the life-sketch of such imposters, who maliciously claimed the special deputyship and were declared as apostates forever. As the list of false claimants of Mahdaviyat is long in history, so is the list of false claimants of special deputyship.
The Special Deputies and Intermediaries:
Since the special deputies were an intermediary between the common populace and Imam (a.s.) and conveyed the messages and solutions to the problems from Imam (a.s.) to the people. Hence even these false claimants also claimed to be intermediaries and consequently a whole lot of naive people rallied around them. Shaikh Mufid (a.r.) and Shaikh Tusi (a.r.) in their respective books’ Al-Ghaibat’, Sayed Mohsin Jabal Aameli in his book Ayanush Shia’ and Allama Majlisi in his book ‘Beharul Anwar’ have recorded the life-history of some of the false claimants of special deputyship. A few of those imposters are mentioned over here:
1. Abu Mohammed Hasan Shariee:
He was the first person to claim the special deputyship. He was regarded as the companion of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) and Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) during their respective times. Though he claimed the most coveted post but was not benefited to the least because he desired for such a position which was already decided by Allah and His Prophet. This infamy and ignominy became his lot. Imam (a.s.) cursed him in his Epistle and Shias were told to keep aloof from him thus his infidelity was disclosed and his fate was sealed.
(Ayanush-Shia, Persian Translation Vol. 4 pg. 59, Beharul-Anwar Vol. 5 pg. 367)
There is also a sect named after Shariee by the name of Shuraiyye. They are considered as Ghulaat (extremists) and Hululiye (believers in incarnation).
(Khandaane-Naubakhti by Abbas Iqbal pg. 235)
2. Mohammed bin Naseer Numairi:
He claimed deputyship in the tenure of the second special deputy Janab Mohammed bin Usman. In short, he claimed for the position of Janab Mohammed bin Usman Amri but because of his apostasy and paganistic claim Allah the Almighty disgraced him. Mohammed bin Usman Amri also cursed him. When he learnt of this he went to the house of Amri for apology but was not allowed to enter the house. He not only claimed the deputyship but also claimed for prophethood. He was also one of the extremists, was convinced of the divinity of Imam Hadi (a.s.) and posed as a Prophet sent by him. Unfortunately some persons gathered around him too and a new sect came into existence by the name of ‘Numairiyyah’. He opined that marriage was permitted with ‘Mahram’ (those ladies with whom Islam has forbidden the marriage viz. mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, granddaughters, nieces, aunts, etc.) also considered homosexuality as permissible. Mohammed bin Musa Hasan bin Furaat promoted his religion. When he grew old, his tongue was literally tied and hardly could he speak anything. When people inquired of him about his successor. He grumbled: “Ahmed”. Nobody could understand any thing and as a result his followers were divided into three groups. A group followed his son Ahmed, while another went after Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Musa Hasan bin Furaat and the third group made Ahmed bin Abil Husain bin Bashr their leader.
(Ayanush Shia, Persian translation, pg. 959-60, Behar, vol. 51, pg. 367)
3. Abu Tahir Mohammed bin Ali bin Hilal:
Abu Tahir was enumerated among the companions of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.). But he denied the deputyship of Janab Mohammed bin Usman Amri and claimed the same for himself. It is reported that he was having some ‘Sahme Imam’ with himself which he did not give to Janab Mohammed bin Usman Amri and claimed the deputyship for himself. The Shias rebuked and lambasted him and later an Epistle came foreboding his fate of destruction.
(Al Ghaibat-Tusi, pg. 260)
4. Husain bin Mansur-e-Hallaj:
He was a Bezai Sufi and wanted to preach his ideals in the centers of Shias like Qum and Baghdad, which were prominent in the time of Ghaibat-e-Sughra. Thus to achieve his end he extensively traveled in Shia cities and made some followers. When he reached Qum and while during the course of meeting with Shia Scholars he introduced himself as a special deputy, he was condemned severely and had to flee from Qum. Infact, Hallaj harbored animosity towards the clan of Naubakhti and when in the year 305 A.H., Janab Abul Qasim Husain bin Rauh Naubakhti became the third special deputy then in order to give vent to his enmity he claimed the deputyship of Imam (a.s.). Hallaj was very cunning and crafty. He planned to win over Abu Sahl Ismail-e-Naubakhti who was himself an honored elder, a pragmatic scholar and an influential statesman. He wielded a tremendous clout among the masses and in the court. Hallaj knew that if he would convert then a big chunk of people will come under his command. Thus he wrote to Abu Sahl: “l am a deputy of Sahebuz Zaman (a.s.) and am instructed by his honored self to write to you and whatever Imam (a.s.) has decided. I should aid and assist you so that you may believe in him and may not grope into doubt and skepticism.” Abu Sahl was intelligent enough to read between the lines. Hence he gave a quixotic reply. “I have heard a lot about your miraculous abilities and hence I seek a solution from you for a minor problem of mine. I am in love with my maid and many of her clan-men are under my influence. But the problem is that I cannot express my love to her because on any Friday if I miss to dye my mane then perchance my old age will be revealed and she will dump me for good. This is the only problem which is constantly harassing me, I wish if I could get rid of this problem. If you could turn my grey hair into black then I will accept your invitation wholeheartedly. I will be convinced of your beliefs and moreover I will preach your ideology.”
When Hallaj read this shrewd reply of Abu Sahl, he understood that he could not achieve his aim and thus was disappointed from Abu Sahl. Abu Sahl scoffed at his apostasy and disbelief and castigated him to an immeasurable extent.
(Khandane-Naubakhti by Abbas Iqbal, pg. Ill to 114 quoted from Ghaibat, pg. 261 & 262, Shaikh Tusi and Fehriste Tusi, pg. 233)
5. Abu Jafar Mohammad bin Ali Shalmaghani:
He was popularly known as Ibn Abil Azaqir. He was very much revered among Bani Bastaam for Janab Husain bin Rauh Naubakhti, the third deputy himself has accorded honor to him, because initially Shalmaghani was a genuine believer and had written many books based on Shia beliefs. The books were accumulated and approved by Janab Husain bin Rauh Naubakhti. He strayed from the right path when Janab Husain bin Rauh Naubakhti went in reclusion for a while. In this period Janab Husain bin Rauh made him his deputy so that he may serve as a link between the masses and Janab Husain bin Rauh. His aberration began in Zilhajj of 312 A.H. and in the same year an Epistle was received from Imam (a.s.) cursing him to the core.
(Khandane-Naubakhti pg. 418)
Whatever paganistic ideas and falsehood he was spreading among Bani Bastaan he was ascribing the same towards Janab Husain bin Rauh. When Janab Husain bin Rauh got this intelligence, he immediately wrote to Bani Bastaan to curse Shalmaghani and drive him off. But Bani Bastaan did not react because somehow Shalmaghani convinced them that because he had exposed Janab Husain bin Rauh hence he has written such a letter against him. He also added that it is such a closely-guarded secret that its truth will not be grasped except by the Ulul-Azm Prophets or Great Angels or those believers whose faith has been tested. When Janab Husain bin Rauh learnt of such mendacious statements of Shalmaghani he again wrote to Bani Bastaan to curse him and remain aloof from him. When Bani Bastaan showed this letter to Shalmaghani, he started weeping and wailing and said, “The meaning of Janab Husain bin Rauh’s words are profound the depth of which could not be understood. As he had written curse (La’nat) upon me which implies distancing from the wrath of Allah’ and not from mercy of Allah. Now I have recognized my actual position.” But when these crocodile tears could not affect Bani Bastaan then he started dabbing his face with sand and started expressing remorse over himself in these words:
“Alas! If only you would have kept this secret.” When the people did not trust him anymore. He maintained a stiff silence for a while and then declared that the spirit of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had incarnated into Mohammad bin Usman Amri, the spirit of Hazrat Ali (A. S.) has entered into Janab Husain bin Rauh and the spirit of Fatema Zahra (s.a.) has incarnated into Umme Kulsum, the daughter of Mohammad bin Usman Amri. When Janab Husain bin Rauh heard of this he remarked that: “All such talks of Shalmaghani are pure infidelity and apostasy. He wants to attract the people towards himself so that next he can claim of Divinity and say that Allah, the Almighty has entered into his body.”
The Epistle which was received from Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) in 312 A.H. stated that: “May Allah bestow on you recognition of goodness, prolong your life, make you aware of all goddesses. May you end be on righteousness and your intentions be sincere. May Allah provide your all brethren with desire of doing good. Well, Mohammad bin Ali known as Shalmaghani has turned apostate and deserted Islam. He is a heretic who ascribed falsehood to Allah. He has committed a major sin of calumny.”
(Ghaibat, Shaikh Tusi, pg. 253 and Beharul Anwar, vol.51, pg 380)
No sooner this Epistle was received the Imamiyyah Scholars of Baghdad dumped Shalmaghani. He was cursed and condemned in every gathering. When he saw this, he approached some Shia veteran scholars and implored them from arranging a meeting with Janab Husain bin Rauh. He proposed that if fire descended from the skies and it does not engulf Janab Husain bin Rauh in itself then he is on the right path otherwise my claim is genuine. When the Abbaside Caliph Razi Billah heard this proposition he passed the orders for slaying Shalmaghani. Thus in 323 A.H. he met his end.
(Ayanush Shia (Persian), Kitab al Imam Mahdi al-Muntazar, pg. 63)
6. Abu Bakr Mohammad bin Ahmad bin Usman Baghdadi:
He was a nephew of Janab Mohammad bin Usman Amri, the second deputy of Imam (a.s.). He claimed the special deputyship and was consequently cursed by Imam (a.s.) through his Epistle.
7. Ahmed bin Helal Karkhi:
He was enumerated amongst the companions of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.). He rejected the deputyship of Janab Mohammad bin Usman. Imam (a.s.) has cursed him in his Epistle.
When the lives of these false claimants are observed closely then it can be inferred that the majority of these imposters were once among the companions if Imam (a.s.) but at the last moments of their life they were deprived of the love of Ahle Bait (a.s.).
But why? Only because they yearned for power and position and their craziness so increased that they turned away from the righteous representatives of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) and claimed the special deputyship for themselves. It was here that their intellect deserted them and their yearning for position sealed their fates eternally.