The history of Islam records the events of some men who claimed to be a special deputy of Imam Mahdi (as). A study of these events is important from two aspects. Firstly, it is a lesson for the masses to understand that after the fourth special deputy of Imam Mahdi (as), the door for any person to claim a direct channel to Imam Mahdi (as) has been closed forever. No person can claim to enjoy this special relationship. Secondly, history has exposed the mischief of such false claimants so that others may learn a lesson and not commit the mistake of claiming such deputyship for themselves.In Islamic terms, the deputy of Imam (as) means that he is an intermediary between the people and Imam (as). This implies that he conveys the message of Imam (as) to the people, refers the questions and problems of the people to Imam (as) and in turn delivers the replies and solutions given by Imam (as) to the people. He is known as ‘the Deputy of Imam (as)’.
Types Of Deputyship
There are two types of Deputyship – Special Deputyship (Khassah) and General Deputyship (Aammah).
Special Deputyship means that some person is appointed as a deputy of Imam (as), directly by Imam (as) himself with his name. It is through this appointment that such a person achieves this special status of the special deputy of Imam (as). He is given the right to contact Imam (as) directly whenever he deems fit or whenever he is faced with an unsolvable problem or some calamity befalls him. The series of special deputyship continued upto 329 AH. This era, where special deputies met Imam Mahdi (as) directly is known as minor occultation (Ghaybate’ Sughra). During this period there were four special deputies of Imam Mahdi (as).
The period since 329 AH upto this date and uptill the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) is called the major occultation (Ghaybate’ Kubra). During this period, those scholars who are executing their tasks as deputies of Imam Mahdi (as), in this era, are known as ‘General Deputies’ of Imam (as). Particularly the highly learned jurists (Marjae’ Taqleed) are ‘General Deputies’ of Imam (as). Then whosoever claims special deputyship in Ghaybate’ Kubra is a blatant liar.
Although the special deputyship was assigned by Imam (as), but of course it was approved by Allah. Therefore this status was regarded as very sublime and high. Some wayward, greedy, wanton, power-hungry and naive persons who wanted to enjoy the privileges of this position falsely 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 the position of Imam Mahdi (as) is long in history, so is the list of false claimants of special deputyship.
The Special Deputies and Intermediaries
The special deputies were an intermediary between the common populace and Imam (as) and conveyed the messages and solutions to the problems from Imam (as) to the people. Hence even these false claimants also claimed to be intermediaries and consequently a whole lot of naive people rallied around them. Shaykh Mufid (ar) and Shaykh Tusi (ar) in their respective books’ Al-Ghaybah’, Sayed Mohsin Jabal Aameli in his book Ayanush Shiah and Allama Majlisi in his book ‘Beharul Anwar’ have recorded the life-history of some of the false claimants of special deputyship.
False Claimants of Deputyship
A few imposters are mentioned here:
Abu Mohammed Hasan Shariee
He was the first person to claim the special deputyship. He was regarded as the companion of Imam Ali Naqi (as) and Imam Hasan Askari (as) during their respective times. Imam (as) cursed him in his Tawqee and Shiahs were told to keep aloof from him thus his infidelity was disclosed and his fate was sealed. (Ayanush-Shiah Persian tr. volume 4 page 59, Beharul Anwar volume 5 page 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 page 235)
Mohammed bin Naseer Numairi
He claimed deputyship during the tenure of the second special deputy Janab Mohammed bin Usman (ra). Due to his apostasy and paganistic claim, Allah the Almighty disgraced him. Mohammed bin Usman Amri (ra) also cursed him. When he learnt of this he went to his house to apologise 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 (as) 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 anything 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 Shiah Persian translation, page 959-60, Beharul Anwar, volume 51, page 367)
Abu Tahir Mohammed bin Ali bin Hilal
Abu Tahir was counted among the companions of Imam Hasan Askari (as). But he denied the deputyship of Janab Mohammed bin Usman Amri (ra) 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 Shiahs rebuked and lambasted him and later an Tawqee was issued by Imam Mahdi (as) which foretold his destruction. (al-Ghaybah by Shaykh Tusi, page 260)
Husain bin Mansur-e-Hallaj
He was a Bezai Sufi and wanted to preach his ideals in the centers of Shiahs like Qum and Baghdad, which were prominent in the time of Ghaybate’ Sughra. Thus to achieve his end he extensively traveled in Shiah cities and made some followers. When he reached Qum and while during the course of meeting with Shiah Scholars he introduced himself as a special deputy, he was condemned severely and had to flee from Qum. In fact, Hallaj harbored animosity towards the clan of Nawbakhti and when in the year 305 AH, Abul Qasim Husayn bin Rauh Nawbakhti became the third special deputy then, in order to give vent to his enmity, he claimed the deputyship of Imam Mahdi (as).
Hallaj was very cunning and crafty. He planned to win over Abu Sahl Ismail Nawbakhti who was an honored elder, a pragmatic scholar and an influential statesman. He wielded 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 Imam Mahdi (as) and am instructed by his honored self to write to you and whatever Imam (as) 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 impractical 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 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 hair then perchance my old age will be revealed and she will leave 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, page 111 to 114 quoted from al-Ghaybah by Shaykh Tusi, page 261 & 262, and Fehriste Tusi, page 233)
Abu Jafar Mohammed bin Ali Shalmaghani
He was popularly known as Ibn Abil Azaqir. He was very much revered among Bani Bastaam for Janab Husain bin Rauh Nawbakhti, the third deputy himself has accorded honor to him, because initially Shalmaghani was a genuine believer and had written many books based on Shiah beliefs. The books were accumulated and approved by Janab Husain bin Rauh Nawbakhti. He strayed from the right path when Janab Husain bin Rauh Nawbakhti 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 AH and in the same year an Tawqee was received from Imam (as) cursing him to the core. (Khandane-Nawbakhti page 418)
He ascribed his ideas and falsehood towards Janab Husain bin Rauh. When this came to the knowledge of Janab Husain bin Rauh, 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 deceitful 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 (sawa) had incarnated into Mohammed bin Usman Amri, the spirit of Imam Ali (as) has entered into Janab Husain bin Rauh and the spirit of Hazrat Fatemah Zahra (sa) has incarnated into Umme Kulsum, the daughter of Mohammed 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.”
A Tawqee received from Imam Mahdi (as) in 312 AH stated, “May Allah bestow on you (Husain Ibne Rauh) 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, Mohammed 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 falsehood.” (Ghaybah, Shaykh Tusi, page 253 and Beharul Anwar, volume 51, pg 380)
No sooner this Tawqee (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 Shiah 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 AH he met his end. (Ayanush Shiah (Persian), Kitab al Imam Mahdi al-Muntazar, page 63)
Abu Bakr Mohammed bin Ahmad bin Usman Baghdadi
He was a nephew of Janab Mohammed bin Usman Amri, the second deputy of Imam (as). He claimed the special deputyship and was consequently cursed by Imam (as) through his Epistle.
Ahmed bin Helal Karkhi
He was enumerated amongst the companions of Imam Hasan Askari (as). He rejected the deputyship of Janab Mohammed bin Usman. Imam (as) has cursed him in his Tawqee.
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 (as) but at the last moments of their life they were deprived of the love of Ahle Bayt (as).
But why? Only because they yearned for power and position and their lust so increased that they turned away from the righteous representatives of Imam Mahdi (as) and claimed the special deputyship for themselves. It was here that their intellect deserted them and their yearning for position sealed their fates eternally.
Read More About Ghaybat
- Where is Imam Mahdi (as) Today?
- Has Ghaybat been discussed in Quran?
- Has Ghaybat Been Discussed in Traditions?
- Understanding the Meaning of Ghaybat
- Is Ghaybat Unique to Imam Mahdi (as)?
- Ghaybat Sughra – The Four Special Deputies
- Hidden Imam Is Like The Sun Behind The Clouds
- Why Imam Mahdi (as) Is In Ghaybat?
- Scholars Are The Protectors of Wilayat