The first deputy, Janab Usman Ibne Saeed Al-Amri was succeeded by his son Mohammed Ibne Usman Saeed Al-Amri.
Imam Hasan Askari (as) declared, “Abu Amri (Usman Ibne Saeed (ra)) and his son (Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra)) are both reliable and trustworthy (in narration). Whatever they both convey to you they convey from us.” (Tarikhe Ghaybate’ Sughra by Syed Mohammed al-Sadr page 403)Imam Mahdi (as) reiterates, “He is for us, trustworthy and reliable, from the time of his father (Usman Ibne Saeed (ra))” (Tarikhe Ghaybate’ Sughra by Syed Mohammed Sadr page 403)
Our salutations to that great personality, who is considered as trustworthy and reliable by two infallible Imams (as).
We bear witness, O Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) (during the period of Ghaybate’ Sughra you were the door to reach Imam Mahdi (as) and that you accomplished this responsibility in the most excellent manner, and that you were a trustworthy representative. And we bear witness that Allah chose you for this deputyship with His Light.
In the backdrop of this information, we shall now learn more about this esteemed personality.
Name, Title and Agnomen
His name was Mohammed and his father’s name was Usman and his grandfather’s name was Saeed. His grandfather was from Amr, hence Amri is added to his name and he is known as Mohammed Ibne Usman Ibne Saeed Amri. His agnomen (Kuniyyat) is Abu Jafar and no other agnomen is found in the books other than this. His titles are Amri, Asadi, Kufi, Sammaan and Askari.
Opinions of Scholars
We have already gauged his importance in the beginning through the sayings of the guided Imams (as). Hereunder are the opinions of some scholars.
Shaykh Tusi (ra) writes in his book of Rejaal, “Mohammed Ibne Usman Ibne Saeed Amri (ra), his agnomen is Abu Jafar and that of his father is Abu Amr. Both of them were the representatives of Imam Mahdi (as) and had an esteemed position among the Imamite Shiites.” (Rejaal al-Tusi, No. 101 page 509)
A similar narration is recorded by Allama Hilli (ra) in his book on Rejaal, Part 1, under the alphabet of meem, no 57.
Marhoom Maamqaani (ra) records in his book Tanqeehul Maqaal – ‘The great position and high status of this man (Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra)) is renowned and does not warrant any explanation and proof. While studying the conditions of the life of his father it becomes evident that he (Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra)) during the life of his father itself had received the testimonial of being the representative of Imam Mahdi (as) after his father.’
Marhoom Maamqaani (ra) has narrated the above with references from Beharul Anwar of Allama Majlisi (ra) Ayatullah Uzma Syed Abul Qasim Al Khoei (ra) writes in his book Mojamul Rejaal
‘The traditions that have been narrated regarding the majesty and greatness of his position are numerous.’
Some scholars of Rejaal have also called him as a compiler and author. Hence a famous saying is narrated as follows:
Ibne Nuh (Abul Abbas Ahmad Ibne Ali Ibne Nuh Sairafi) says, Abu Nasr Hebatullah, maternal grandson of Umme Kulthum, daughter of Abu Jafar (Umme Kulthum was the daughter of Mohammed Ibne Usman and Abu Nasr Hebatullah was the maternal grandson of Umme Kulthum) says that Abu Jafar Mohammed Ibne Usman has written books on Fiqh in which he has collected all the traditions from Imam Hasan Askari (as), Imam Mahdi (as) and from his father Usman Ibne Saeed (ra) who in turn has narrated from Imam Ali Naqi (as) and Imam Hasan Askari (as). Among these books is one titled Al Ashrebah. Umme Kulthum daughter of Abu Jafar (ra) narrates, ‘This book as per the will of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) had reached to the third deputy Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). Abu Nasr says, ‘I assume that after Husain Ibne Rauh (ra), it must have been passed on to the fourth deputy Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Mohammed Samari (ra). (Al Ghaybat of Shaikhe Tusi page 363)
The late Ayatullah Uzma Aqae Al Khoei (ra) in his book Mojamur Rejaal writes after this narration, ‘This narration proves two things,
- Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) is an author of books.
- He has narrated traditions from Imam Hasan Askari (as) and Imam Mahdi (as).
Refuge of Shiahs
When we look at the conditions of the life of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) and study the traditions and Imam’s (as) letters (Tawqees) that have reached us through him, it is evident that his representatives across several cities were referring to him for matters related to jurisprudence, theology (kalaam) and society and he used to solve them.
Abul Hasan Ali Ibne Ahmad al-Dallal al-Qummi narrates: ‘Among the Shiahs there was a difference of opinion on whether Allah has delegated creation and distribution of sustenance to the Imams (as). One group argued that this is impossible because no one can create the bodies except Allah, while the other group believed that Allah has delegated the power of creation and distribution of sustenance to the Imams (as) and therefore they can create and provide sustenance. This disparity intensified with every passing day. Finally someone suggested: ‘Why don’t you refer the matter to Abu Jafar Mohammed Ibne Usman Amri (ra) so that he clarifies the truth for you? He is the representative of Imam Mahdi (as).’ Everybody agreed. The query was written and delivered to Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). He referred the matter to Imam Mahdi (as).
In reply, he received a Tawqee wherein Imam (as) had written: ‘Undoubtedly only Allah creates the bodies and distributes the sustenance. He neither has a body nor does He assume any form and there is none like Him. He is the All-Hearing and All-Knowing and the infallible Imams (as) seek from Him and He Himself creates. They request Him and He accepts their request and to honour and elevate them He delegates to them the power to create and sustain’.
The period of Mohammed Ibne Usman’s (ra) deputyship was quite lengthy and as we have already mentioned that in this period, he served as a sanctuary for the Shiahs. He solved numerous issues related to jurisprudence, society and belief. During his deputyship all that has been received by him from Imam Mahdi (as) in the form of Tawqees is present in different books under different topics. However, there are some books dedicated to the Tawqees and one can find them all in one place.
Here is a part of an important Tawqee received by Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) from Imam Mahdi (as) which was addressed to Ishaq Ibne Yaqub in reply to various questions put forth by him:
Ishaq Ibne Yaqub says that this Tawqee has been written by the blessed hand of my master Imam Mahdi (as) and is as follows: ‘May Allah guide you and keep you steadfast upon the true beliefs. As for your concern that some of my relatives and paternal uncles and cousins have denied my existence, know that Allah does not recognise relations with anyone (when it comes to believing in us) and the one who denies us is not from us. The path that he is treading is the path of the son of Nuh (as). And my paternal uncle Jafar and his sons have chosen the path of the brothers of Yusuf (as).’
Other topics in this Tawqee include
- ‘As for fuqaa’ (alcohol from barley) it is prohibited but there is no harm in drinking shalmaab (shalmaab is made from sheelam which resembles barley).’
- ‘And as for that wealth which you send us as gifts, we accept them in order that your sins are forgiven. Therefore there are those who wish to send us gifts while others don’t know that whatever Allah has given us is better than what you give.’
- ‘None knows the time of reappearance.’ In the same Tawqee Imam (as) adds: ‘The time of my reappearance is linked to Allah’s wish. Whoever fixes a time for reappearance is a liar.’
‘And when you come across any new issues then refer to the narrators of our traditions because they are our proofs upon you and I am the Proof of Allah.’
Thereafter, Imam (as) has emphasised on numerous issues like the reliability of Mohammed Ibn Usman Amri (ra), a supplication for the hearts satisfaction and dispelling the doubts of Ali Ibn Mahziyaar Ahwaazi, the illegitimacy of wealth of singing women, enumeration of Mohammed Ibn Shazaan Ibn Naeem Neshapuri among the lovers of Ahle Bayt (as), cursing Abul Khattab Mohammed Ibn Abi Zainab and his followers, etc.
Improper use of Sahme Imam
On this topic Imam (as) warns, ‘And as for those who keep our wealth with them, and if they consider some part of it permissible for themselves and they spend it, then it is as if they have taken fire into their bellies…’
Reason for occultation
‘And as for the reason for Ghaybat, Allah, the Almighty, cautions in the Holy Quran: ‘O you who believe! Do not question about things which if declared to you, may trouble you.’ (Quran, Surah Maedah, verse 102)
Imam Mahdi (as) will not pay allegiance to anyone
In the same Tawqee, Imam (as) informs, ‘My forefathers (as) have lived their lives under the tyrannical reign of despots. However, I shall reappear at a time when there shall be no allegiance upon me…’
He further explains that people can benefit from his existence in occultation just as they benefit from the sun when it goes behind the clouds.
This Tawqee has been recorded by Shaykh Sudooq (ra) in his book Kamaluddin volume 2 page 483, tradition 4 and by Allama Majlisi (ra) in Beharul Anwar vol 53 page 180 tradition 10.
Similarly there are many such Tawqeeat that have been conveyed by Imam Mahdi (as) for his Shiahs through Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). Some other personalities who have been sent Tawqeeat by Imam (as) as are follows:
Abul Hasan Mohammed Ibne Jafar Asadi
He was the representative of Janab Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) in the city of Rayy (near Tehran). He expired in Rabius Saani 312 AH It was about him that it was said in the Tawqee, “Keep up prayer (Namaz) as you are the one who asked about the timing of Namaz during the rising and setting of the sun. It is as the people say that the sun rises from between the two horns of Satan and also sets between his two horns. That is why there is nothing better than Namaz if one wants to rub Satan’s nose in dust. So keep up prayer and put Satan’s nose in dust (i.e. humiliate him).” (Kamaluddin volume 2 page 520, tradition 49)
End of dispute between husband and wife
Before mentioning this Tawqee it will be in order to first review its practical aspect. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the infallible Imams (as) are the fathers of the Islamic nation. In this regard we have outlined earlier that Allah, the Almighty, due to their honour and respect has blessed them with great powers. They have been delegated the task of distributing sustenance to the creation. This implies that whatever they desire from Allah, He grants them. They are the ones through whom difficulties are relieved and calamities are repelled. In this Tawqee, this particular point has been highlighted.
Abu Ghalib Ahmed Ibne Mohammed Zorari says: ‘There arose serious differences between me and my wife. This resulted in a lot of hostility between us and reconciliation was almost ruled out. Due to the nature of this problem, I was under a lot of stress. So I wrote a letter and gave it to Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) to present it in the service of Imam Mahdi (as). In this letter I had requested Imam (as) to pray for me. It was quite some time since I had sent the letter and there was no reply. One day when I met Abu Jafar (Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra)) he told me, ‘The reply of your letter has come.’ I went to his house. He took out a register and flipped through its pages and finally took out a letter from it. He gave it to me. In it was written: And as for the query regarding the problem between the husband and wife, know that Allah has decreed peace and reconciliation between them.
Abu Ghalib Zorari says, “Earlier my wife always behaved harshly with me. But after this event there were no problems and differences. In fact sometimes I intentionally did certain things just to irritate her but she did not react.”(Pazohashi Payramune Zindagaaniye Nawwaabe Khaase Imam-e-Zamana (as) page 176)
Note: In all problems and difficulties we should approach the door of Ahle Bayt (as). In this era, that door of access is Imam Mahdi (as). He is Allah’s Gate (Babullah) and hence we send salutation upon him in the Ziyarat: Peace be upon you O Allah’s Door
Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) and False Claimants
Due to the restrictive and sensitive conditions prevalent in their times, Imam Ali Naqi (as) and Imam Hasan Askari (as) attended public gatherings sparingly and cautiously. Therefore, they had appointed special representatives so that they could maintain contact with the general people through them. Another rationale behind the practice of representation was to acquaint the Shiahs with this method and prepare the ground for the Ghaybate’ Sughra when this practice was to gain prominence. Finally the people were accustomed to this method and after the onset of Ghaybate’ Sughra; they regularly sent their letters to Imam Mahdi (as) through the special deputies and got their replies in the same way. During this period some selfish and opportunistic people tried to take advantage of this and claimed to be the deputy of Sahebul Amr (Master Of the Affair), Imam Mahdi (as).
We mention below the names of those imposters who advanced such claims during the deputyship of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). Read More
- Abu Mohammed Hasan Shariee
- Mohammed Ibne Naseer Numairy
- Ahmad Ibne Halal Abartaee
- Abu Tahir Mohammed Ibne Ali Ibne Bilal
- Abu Bakr Mohammed Ibne Ahmed Ibne Usman popular as Abu Bakr Baghdadi. He was the nephew of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra)
- Ishaq Ibne Ahmed
- Husain Ibne Mansoor al-Hallaj
It is noteworthy that all of them rivaled Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) and refuted his deputyship. Their beliefs were distorted and their faith was weak. They were declared as fanatical and wretched during the period of Imam Hadi (as) and Imam Hasan Askari (as) itself. By this we can easily gauge the extent of their jealousy towards Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) and the problems they posed in his working. But Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) dealt with them all with the help of Imam (as) and fulfilled all his duties.
Why did the people trust Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra)?
During Mohammed Ibne Usman’s (ra) period, the false claimants wanted to deceive the people and desired to usurp the religious dues (Khums, Zakaat) from them. They nearly injured Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). It was a difficult trial for the people in that era to recognise the true deputy of Imam (as). Under such circumstances to win the confidence of the people and overcome the enemies was a gigantic task.
The people reposed their confidence in Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) due to various reasons. The most important among them were those Tawqeeat, which were sent by Imam (as) to him. Not only did they contain the replies to various social and religious problems, but also information about some hidden affairs which acted as a compelling argument for the people to accept his deputyshipage There are many incidents wherein news of hidden affairs was given by Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). We narrate one such incident hereunder:
News of the Unseen
Jafar Ibne Mohammed Matteel narrates that Abu Jafar Mohammed Ibne Usman Samman (ra), who was famous as Amr, called me and gave me some pieces of cloth and a purse containing some dinars. He told me that it is necessary that I immediately go to Wasit (a place between Kufa and Basra) and hand over this property to the first person I meet proceeding towards Shatta. I felt aggrieved at the thought that a (honourable) person like me has been chosen for this petty assignment. Anyway, I mounted my horse and proceeded towards Wasit. I asked the first person I met about the conditions of Hasan Ibne Mohammed Quttat Saidalaani who was the representative in Wasit. He replied, ‘I am Hasan Ibne Mohammed, who are you?’ I replied, ‘I am Jafar Ibne Mohammed Ibne Matteel.’ He recognised me and we exchanged salutations. I told him that Abu Jafar Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) has conveyed salutations to you and sent these pieces of cloth and purse for you. He said, ‘All Praise is for Allah! Since Mohammed Ibne Abdullah Aameri has died, I am on my way to arrange for his shroud (kafan). When we opened the purse there was money in it for the burial expenses. I took part in the burial and returned home.” (Kamaluddin page 504, chap of Tauqee’aat, Beharul Anwar volume 51 chapter 21)
If Imam Mahdi (as) had not informed Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) about such incidents, he would not have had knowledge about them.
When we read the life sketches of the deputies, we find many such episodes wherein Imam (as) has informed them about future events of which none else had the faintest inkling.
For details, readers may refer to the book of Kamaluddin of Shaykh Sudooq (ra) and Beharul Anwar of Allamah Majlisi (ra).
Traditions Narrated by Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra)
The Tawqeeat addressed by Imam (as) to Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) are still found among the people in the form of traditions. However, we have taken this opportunity to narrate some traditions in this regard. The reason being that some scholars of Rejaal have not included him among the narrators of traditions from Imams (as) and some of our scholars have also objected to the fact that he was not considered as a narrator of traditions. Without delving too much on this dispute, we shall proceed to narrate some traditions narrated by him:
Mohammed Ibne Hammam says, “I heard from Mohammed Ibne Usman Amri, ‘I have received a Tawqee from the pure personality (Imam (as)) in a script (handwriting) which I recognise i.e. in the writing of Imam Mahdi (as) and it was written in that, ‘May Allah curse the one who calls me by my name in any assembly or gathering.’
Abu Ali Mohammed Ibne Hammam says that I wrote a letter to Imam (as) enquiring about the time of his reappearance. He (as) informed, ‘Those who fix the time of my reappearance are liars.’ (Kamaluddin volume 2 page 486 tradition no 3, Beharul Anwar volume 51 chapter 21)
Note: Imam (as) himself has explained the rationale behind the prohibition of uttering his (as) name in public: ‘…or one should refrain from taking the name so that he may become deserving of heaven or he should talk (about him) so that he is put in hell because those who are aware of his name will spread it and if they become aware of his residence, then they will inform the people.’ (Beharul Anwar volume 51, chapter 21)
The author of Wasaailush Shiah (Shaykh Hurre Aameli (ra)) has mentioned in volume 16, page 240, chapter 33, tradition 21, 460 that the reason for prohibition of taking the name was due to dissimulation (taqayyah) and fear of enemies.
Abdullah Ibne Jafar Himyari says that I told Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra), ‘I wish to ask you the same question that Hazrat Ibrahim (as) asked Allah and said: And when Ibrahim said: My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead. He said, ‘What! And do you not believe?’ He replied, ‘Yes (I believe), but (I ask) that my heart may be at ease.’ (Surah Baqarah, verse 260)
‘Please inform me whether you have seen Sahebul Amr (Master of the Affair)? Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) replied, ‘Yes and his neck is like this and he pointed towards his own neck with his hand.’ (Kamaluddin, Chapter 1 – Those who have witnessed Qaem (as) tradition 3)
Abdullah Ibne Jafar Himyari narrates that I heard from Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra), ‘I swear by Allah that Sahebul Amr (as) visits Mecca every year (at the time of Hajj). He sees the people and recognises them and the people also see him but do not recognise him.’
Note: Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) witnessed Imam (as) in Masjidul Haram near the Kaabah praying, ‘O Allah! Fulfill the promise that You have made unto me.’ (Kamaaluddin, Chapter 1 – Those who have witnessed Qaem (as) tradition 9)
He also narrates the following tradition: I saw Imam (as) near Babul Mustajaar clutching the cloth of Kaaba, beseeching Allah, ‘O my Lord, let me take revenge from my enemies (or Your enemies).’ (Beharul Anwar volume 2, page 30)
Imam Mahdi (as) is awaiting Allah’s permission for his reappearance and is vehemently praying for it. We too should always pray for his reappearance, especially at those sanctified places where supplications are accepted like at the time of Hajj at al-Mustajaar.
The famous Dua-e-Simaat has been communicated to the Shiahs through Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) This supplication is recorded in Mafatihul Jinan. It is also called as Dua-e-Shabboor and is recommended to be recited in the late evening (Asr) of Friday. Shaykh Abbas-e-Qummi (ra) has reported this supplication from old, authentic and reliable sources. This supplication has also been narrated from Imam Mohammed Baqir (as) and Imam Jafar Sadiq (as). Allama Majlisi (ra) has narrated this supplication in Beharul Anwar along with its interpretation.
Caliphs of Bani Abbas
Following is the list of Bani Abbas caliphs who ruled during the deputyship of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra):
- Motamid Billah (256 AH – 279 AH)
- Motazid Billah (279 AH – 289 AH)
- Muktafi Billah (289 AH – 295 AH)
- Muqtadir Billah (295 AH – 320 AH)
Duration of Representation
It is famous among the scholars of Rejaal that the period of Mohammed Ibne Usman’s (ra) representation lasted for approximately 50 years, although this seems improbable. The reason being that Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) died in 305 AH, 45 years after the martyrdom of Imam Hasan Askari (as). The period of the Ghaybate’ Sughra begins after the demise of Imam Hasan Askair (as) i.e. 260 AH After Imam Hasan Askari’s (as) martyrdom, Usman Ibne Saeed (ra) assumed deputyship for 5 years, until his expiry. Therefore the actual period of Mohammed Ibne Usman’s (ra) deputyship works out to forty (40) years.
As per the available records, Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) died in Jamadiul Ulaa 305 AH Some writers have also mentioned it in 304 AH Abu Ghalib Zorari, who was the representative of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) in Kufa and was also very close to Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) has recorded his death in 305 AH The scholars of research have given precedence to this narration.
Mohammed Ibne Usman had himself informed about his death two months in advance. Abul Hasan Ali Ibne Ahmed al-Dallal Qummi narrates, ‘One day I was with Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) and saw a slate in front of him, on which he was making some sketches and writing the verses of the Holy Quran. And in the margins of that tablet, he was writing the names of the Holy Imams (as). I asked him about it. He replied, ‘This is for my grave and I will be kept on this” or according to another report, he said, “This will be my pillow”. Then he revealed, ‘Everyday I enter my grave, pray one part of the Quran and then I come out.’
In another tradition, it is narrated that after this Abul Hasan Ali Ibne Ahmed says that Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) caught my hand and took me near his grave. After looking at it he said, ‘On such and such date of such and such month of such and such year, I will die and be laid in this grave and this tablet will be with me.’ I remembered his words and waited for that time. Just after a few days he became sick and finally expired on the same day, month and year which he had prophesied to me and was buried in the same grave which he had shown.’ (Tarikhe Siyaasie Ghaibate Imam-e-Dawaazdahum, page170)
A similar tradition has also been narrated by Mohammed Ibne Ali Ibne Aswadi Qummi. For details, please refer Beharul Anwar volume 51, chapter 21; Kamaluddin volume 2, page 502, tradition 29.
Visitation of his grave
Those whose hearts have been sealed will not recognise Imam Mahdi (as), much less his deputies. In order to break open the seal of the hearts, one should go to the grave of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) and see that even today this grave is informing us of his representation and deputyship. His grave is situated in East Baghdad in a very clean, posh and populated area in a mosque, famous as Khallani. Till date Shiahs visit his shrine and recite his Ziyarat, ‘I bear witness that you are the door of mercy of my Master …. I have come to you after recognising your right on which you remained firmly established and I know that you have not breached the trust reposed in your deputyship or in conveying the news. Peace be upon you O the most expansive door of mercy! (Mafatihul Jinan translated by Allama Jawadi (ra), page 897)
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