An Introduction to Kitab Al-Ghaybah by Shaykh Toosi (ar)

In this article, we introduce our readers to the famous book “Kitab Al-Ghaybah” by the revered scholar ‘Shaykhat-Taa’efah’ Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn Hasan al-Toosi (ar).The following are some of the titles conferred upon this great personality: “The Imam of the Imamiah sect after the Infallible Imams (as)”; “The Pillar of the Shiites” and “The Scholar of Fundamentals and Branches of Religion.”

Shrine of Shaykh Toosi in Najaf, Iraq

Some of our eminent scholars also praise him thus: The Learned, the Practitioner, the Way (sabeel), the Judicious, the Pure, the Noble, the Insightful, the Skilled in law, the Explainer, etc.

He has authored books on various aspects of Islamic sciences. He was celebrated as the standard in these sciences. His style and writings are an example for the Shias. Our scholars have benefited a lot from his writings and will continue to do so, Inshallah. (Read More about his Life)

Kitabal Ghaybah is one of his more famous compilations. It is an excellent source for dispelling misgivings and doubts about the occultation of Imam Mahdi (as). The author himself notes that he has collected authentic traditions to answer different queries regarding occultation.

Kitabal Ghaybah comprises of one preface and eight chapters.

A Note on the Chapter of Occultation

Shaykh Al-Toosi (ar) says that we use two ways to prove the occultation of Imam Mahdi (as).

The first approach is the necessity of the presence of an infallible Imam (as people are not infallible and are prone to wrong judgement or personal benefit). So, in every era, they need a guide and leader to direct their affairs. An infallible leader has to be always present, irrespective of whether he is apparent and manifest or in occultation and hidden.

We believe in the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari (as), His occultation and birth are validated (through proofs and traditions in the book). Following these proofs, there is further discussion on his birth and the causes of occultation.

The second approach is that it is not necessary that the occultation should be taken as a benchmark to prove the Imamat of Imam (as). (Rather if the Imamate of Imam Mahdi (as) is proved, then occultation of Imam (as) is consequently proven).

Therefore, if our opponents acknowledge our beliefs (i.e. there are only twelve successors to the Prophet (sawa) and Imam Mahdi (as) is the son of eleventh Imam Hasan Askari (as) and is already born) and after accepting the Imamate of Imam (as), the answer to the question of his occultation, should be their own liability. While, if they do not accept the Imamate of Imam (as), then their objection or question on the occultation of Imam (as) is not appropriate.

Whenever the proof of Imamate is demanded from us, we have proved through convincing arguments, at relevant junctures, that the presence of an infallible guide is necessary in all circumstances and in every era, in the midst of fallible people on whom religious responsibilities have been imposed.  We’ve also proved that infallibility is one of the necessary conditions for being an Imam.

Following this preamble, we say that the Muslims are divided in a few groups on the belief of Imam’s being.

  • The first believes that the Imam does not exist in midst of the people. But the evidences which we’ve offered counter and negate in every era their claims on the presence of an Imam.
  • The second acknowledges fallible humans as their Imams. This belief too is dismissed under our contention that infallibility is a must for an Imam. We can easily make out from their apparent state that they were transgressors and fallible. There’s no need to prove something which is clearly known and obvious.
  • The third is that of the Kaisaniyyah, who subscribe to the leadership of Mohammed Ibn Hanafiyyah. Similarly, the Nusiyyah say that Imam Jafar Sadeq (as) is still alive and he is the Imam of the last era. The Waaqefiyyah have not accepted any Imam after Imam Musa Kazim (as) and believe that he is still alive.

Our arguments (the arguments in the book ‘Kitabal Ghaybah’) clearly bring out the baselessness of these beliefs.

Some topics covered in this Book

  1. The rational and traditional proofs of Imam Mahdi’s (as) birth. (Pg 153-166)
  2. Incidents and narrations in which those who have met him (as) are mentioned. (Pg 167-189)
  3. The truth of Imam’s (as) Imamate in the Era of occultation proved through miracles. (Pg 189-222)
  4. The causes of the delay in Reappearance. (Pg 222-231)
  5. The emissaries and representatives in the period of occultation (Pages 231-279). There are two kinds of emissaries discussed here: the honoured ones and the censurable ones. The honoured personalities are those who were appointed by Imam Mahdi (as) and the criticised ones are those who transgressed and appointed themselves as emissaries and representatives of Imam (as).
  6. Imam Mahdi’s (as) long-life. (Pg 283).
  7. The signs of Reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) (Pg 289).
  8. Imam Mahdi’s (as) qualities, position, stature and way of life (Pg 310-354).

Brief extracts from Kitab al-Ghaybah

On the eve of his martyrdom, Holy Prophet (sawa) asked Ameerul Momeneen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as), O Abul Hasan, bring a pen and a paper. Then he (sawa) dictated his will, in which he said: O Ali, after me there will be twelve Imams… you are the first among them and Allah has named you Ali al-Murtaza, Siddique-e-Akbar, Farooque-e-Azam, Al-Maamoon and Mahdi. These names don’t befit anyone else… you are my vicegerent, upon my Ahle Bayt and upon my wives. After me, you are the caliph of my nation till you live. Then you hand this over to my son Hasan (as). Then he hands over to my son Husain (as), then… then…then….then…and then when the time of death arrives for Hasan al-Faazil, he will entrust it to his son Muhammad al-Mustahfiz. (Kitab al-Ghaybah, Shaykh al-Toosi (ar), Pg 107-108)

Ja’far Himyari asked Muhammad Ibn Usman (ar): Have you seen Saheb al-Amr (as)? He said: Yes and the last time I saw him was when he was near the Holy House of Allah (Kaabah), reciting: “O My Allah, Fulfill what You have promised me”

Then he [Mohammed bin Usman (ar)] said: Then I saw Imam (as) holding the cloth of the Kaabah and pray in a state of mourning, “O My Allah! Take revenge from your enemies through me.” (Pg 168)

A few people met Imam Mahdi (as) during the Hajj in 293 A.H. and narrated a few supplications from him (as). One such supplication, he said, Imam Ali ibn Husain Sayyad-us-Saajedeen (as) would recite at this (under the Hijrul Meezaab) place.

Abeedoka be Fenaaek

Miskeenoka be fenaaek

Faqeeroka be fenaaek

Saaeloka be fenaaek

Wa as-aloka ma la yaqdero alaihe ghairok (Pg 173).

Finally, we pray to Allah, ‘O Allah! Show us his handsome and illuminated visage, make our eyes capable of beholding him and hasten the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as). Aameen!

Read More on Books on Imam Mahdi (as)

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