His name was Husain, his agnomen (Kuniyat) was Abul Qasim. His father’s name was Rauh and his grandfather’s name was Abu Jafar. He belonged to the Nawbakht family.
He was known by his name – Husain Ibne Rauh-e-Nawbakhti (ra). His exact date of birth has not been recorded in books of history.
Historians have recorded that after Abu Sohail Ismail Ibne Ali, Husain Ibne Rauh Ibne Abi Bahr was the most famous personality in the Nawbakhti family. The cause and reason of his fame and recognition was attributed to his religious position. He is counted amongst the four special deputies of Imam Qaem (as).
Shaykh Tusi (ra) in his book Rejaal has not made any mention of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). Early Islamic scholars seem to have taken a cue from Shaykh and have not shed light on the life of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). Scholars of the present era have only mentioned his name. However, in his book Al Ghaybat, Shaykh Tusi (ra) has narrated many traditions regarding him, highlighting the various aspects of his life.
Ibn Shahr-e-Aashob (ra) has included Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) amongst the close companions of Imam Hasan Askari (as)
Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) during the period of the 2nd special deputy
According to popular narrations, he was amongst the companions of Imam Hasan Askari (as) and was considered amongst the close companions and supporters of the second special deputy Janab Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) enjoyed the unequivocal confidence of the second deputy so much so that the latter divided the chiefs of the Imamiyah sects into various levels and grades and appointed Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) at the highest and the foremost group. He was the first amongst the chiefs who was permitted to directly meet him.
Note: A critical aspect of the lives of the deputies of Imam (as) is underscored in the above discussion. They were special Shiahs who performed their administrative duties in an extraordinary manner. Although they were in close contact with Imam (as) and knew his residence, they ensured that it remained a secret from the prying eyes of others around them. This trait is even commendable when we consider that the period of short occultation was not a period of 1 or 2 years, but a long era spanning close to seven decades. Over this prolonged duration, to keep constant touch and contact with Imam (as) and at the same time to regularly communicate the problems of the people to Imam (as) and seek a solution from him (as) underlines their capabilities. They had to deal with constant requests and pressures from the people for being allowed to meet Imam (as) and they had to all along be careful never to disclose Imam’s (as) location to the people.
The readers will appreciate the fact that if we try to conceal something, while the people are aware that we are trying to hide something from them, and we are also aware that people are trying to discover the hidden thing, then it is indeed a difficult task to conceal that hidden object from the inquisitive eyes of the people. It may be possible to divert their attention and delay the matter for a few days, but certainly not for a year or years or decades. These points will help us appreciate how well Imam (as) must have trained the deputies.
Mohammed Ibne Usman (ar) had made Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) a link between himself and the agents around Baghdad. During this period, Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) came to establish an influential presence in the court of the Bani Abbas rulers by virtue of a pre-determined plan. Consequently he even succeeded in solving some problems prevailing in the government.
Do read the following incident carefully:
Shaykh Sudooq (ar) has narrated from Abu Mohammed Hasan Ibne Hasan Ibne Yahya Alawi that Abul Hasan Ali Ibne Ahmed Ibne Ali Aqiqi in the year 298 AH came to meet Ali Ibne Esa Ibne Jarrah who was the vizier at that time, so that he could advise him regarding his government and to advance his needs to him. The vizier replied, ‘You have many relatives in this city and if all of them start asking their needs and if we decide to entertain all of them, then it will become a huge task and we will never be able to resolve this matter.’ Aqiqi replied, ‘Therefore I am asking my need from the One through whom difficulties are solved.’ Ali Ibne Esa queried, ‘Who is he?’ He replied, ‘Allah, the Almighty.’ With this he went out of the room angrily. Aqiqi used to say, ‘I came out angrily and was saying, ‘Allah, the Lord of the Universe, gives patience on every destruction and solves every difficulty.’ Uttering this statement I left from there.
Then a messenger from Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) came to me with a message from him. I complained to him about the vizier and he in turn narrated my complaint about the vizier to Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). That messenger returned and gave me 100 dirhams. I counted all of them and weighed them. He also gave me a handkerchief and some quantity of Hunoot (camphor) and a few shrouds and declared, ‘Your master has conveyed salutations to you and said that whenever any difficulty or sorrow befalls you then at that time wipe this handkerchief over your face. This is your master’s handkerchief. Take this money, camphor and shroud along with you and know that tonight your wishes will be fulfilled’ He also said, ‘When you reach Egypt, Mohammed Ibne Ismail will die 10 days before you and then after 10 days, even you will leave this world. This shroud and camphor are for you.’
I took it from the messenger and he left. At that moment, all of a sudden, I saw myself at the doorsteps of my house. At that moment a voice called out. I asked my servant ‘Is everything alright? Go and see, who is there.’ He went to see and replied, ‘Everything is fine. The vizier’s paternal cousin Hamid Ibne Mohammed Kaatib’s servant has come.’ He brought him to me. The servant said to me, ‘The vizier and my master Hamid have called you.’ I mounted my horse and went ahead till I reached the lane of ‘Vazzaneen’ and saw that Hamid was sitting and waiting for me. When he saw me, he advanced towards me and shook hands with me and both of us headed for the vizier’s house. The vizier said to me, ‘O old man! Allah has fulfilled your wish.’ Then he apologised to me (for his past behaviour) and gave me some official papers bearing his seal. I took them and came out.
From the above incident we can gauge the degree of influence that Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) exerted in the court. We can also conclude that Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) was the beneficiary of Imam’s (as) special care and attention, while he had not yet become a special deputy as this incident occurred in 298 AH – 7 years before Mohammed Ibne Usman’s (ra) demise, after which Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) assumed special deputyship.
Selection of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra)
More than 3 years before his own death, Mohammed Ibne Usman had started directing some of the Shiahs who were bringing Khums and other monies for Imam (as) to Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). In this manner he was preparing the ground for the appointment of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) to the position of special deputyship. If someone raised any doubt or objection to this practice, Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) would affirm that this was on the order of Imam (as) himself. In this regard, there are several traditions, of which, we narrate just one:
Mohammed b Ali Aswad narrates, ‘When some financial donations (waqf) used to be brought to me, I would surrender the same to Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) and he used to accept it from me.
Once, during the last days of his life, I took some monies and went to him, but Mohammed Ibne Usman ordered me to hand over the wealth to Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). I went to Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) and handed the money to him and asked him for a receipt. Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) complained about this to Mohammed Ibne Usman, so Mohammed Ibne Usman ordered me not to demand a receipt from Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) in future. He stressed, “Whatever wealth you deposit with Abul Qasim Husain Ibne Rauh (ra), it is as if you have deposited the same with me.” After this incident, I never sought a receipt for any amount deposited with Husain Ibne Rauh (ra).
A similar incident has been narrated by Abu Abdillah Jafar Ibne Mohammed Madai famous as ‘Ibne Qazooda’. Shaykh Tusi (ra) has narrated it in his book ‘al-Ghaybah’, pg 367.
Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) took particular care in appointing Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) as his successor. He endorsed his successorship while he was alone with him, at times in the assemblies of sincere Shiahs and at other times in front of his representatives. The reason for adopting such an approach was because there were no clear narrations from the holy Imams (as) about the reliability and the trustworthiness of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). Neither the representatives of Baghdad nor the special and common Shiahs expected the deputyship of Imam (as) to fall on the relatively unknown and unfamiliar shoulders of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). Hence Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) took advantage of every opportunity to impress upon the Shiahs the deputyship of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra).
Jafar Ibne Mohammed Ibne Qoolwyah relates: ‘Our teachers used to say that we had no doubt that after the demise of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra), none other than Jafar Ibne Ahmad Ibne Muttayal or his father would succeed him. This was because he possessed characteristics similar to Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). Also, we were aware that he stayed frequently in his house. In addition to that, in his last days, Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) ate food, which was prepared in the house of Jafar Ibne Muttayal and his father or personally visited their house for food.’
There was no doubt whatsoever in the minds of the special Shiahs that in the case of any eventuality, Jafar Ibne Muttayal would succeed Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). However, when Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) appointed Abul Qasim Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) as his successor, everyone submitted to him and accepted him and their conduct towards him was like their conduct towards Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). Jafar Ibne Muttayal worked in a similar manner (with Husain Ibne Rauh (ra)) as he had worked during the deputyship of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra).
‘This is a characteristic of Imam’s (as) chosen servants, whose actions do not alter with the change in personality.’
Jafar Ibne Mohammed Ibne Qoolwayh Qummi says, ‘Then whoever speaks evil of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) has in fact maligned Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). Whoever maligns Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra), in reality he has spoken ill about Imam Mahdi (as) and has criticized him (as).
The abovementioned chronicles underline the fact that some of Mohammed Ibne Usman’s (ra) deputies were closer to him than Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) spent more time meeting these deputies than he did in meeting Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). This led the Shiahs to believe that one of these proximate deputies would eventually succeed Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). Also, it is clear from the previous quotes, that although Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) was subtly appointing Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) as his successor, this fact was not well-known among the general Shia populace.
Abu Ali Mohammed Ibne Hamala says that before his demise, Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) gathered the leaders and chiefs of the Shiahs and announced, ‘After my demise, Husain Ibne Rauh-e-Nawbakhti (ra) will be my successor. I have been ordered to appoint him in my place. Therefore, turn towards him and have faith in him regarding your works.’
First Tawqee (a signed letter) to Husain Ibne Rauh (ra)
Abul Abbas Ibne Nuh states that Mohammed Ibne Nafees wrote a letter from Ahwaz. I read the very first Tawqee concerning Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) from Imam Mahdi (as). In it was written:
‘We know (Husain Ibne Rauh), may Allah confer all His Goodness and Pleasure on him and bestow His Bounties on him. We are aware of his letter, which is the cause of our reliance and certainty (upon him). We deem him meritorious, which makes him happy. May Allah increase His Favours and Goodness on him.’
This Tawqee reached Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) on Sunday, 6th of Shawwal, 305 AH
The rationale behind the appointment of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) as deputy of Imam Zaman (as) can be enumerated as follows:
- He was appointed as the deputy largely due to his faith, intelligence, patience, generosity and sincerity. These qualities were to prove very useful in that political environment so as to stifle jealousy and enmity. There were numerous jurisprudents and theologians in that period and the people had their eyes fixed on them.
- He was the wisest among Shiahs and Sunnis. Also, he had placated the enemies and also pleased his friends. In the last Tawqee received by Shaykh-e-Tusi (ra) through Husain Ibne Rauh (ra), Imam (as) asserted, ‘Abul Qasim (ra) is the wisest of the people, for foes and friends and his practises dissimulation (Taqaiyyah).’
There are numerous incidents of his Taqaiyyah. Shaykh Tusi (ra) in his book ‘Al Ghaibah’ narrates from Abu Nasr Hebatullah Ibne Mohammed that in the house of Abu Yasaar, the vizier of Muqtadirbillah Abbasi, in the presence of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra), there were five Ahle Sunnah scholars discussing the most superior Muslim after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). One of them said: The superior one after Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was Abu Bakr, then Umar, then Ali (as). The other claimed this superiority for Ali (as). Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) solved the problem in a manner placating the Sunnis and also safeguarding the Shiahs in the process. The people present in that gathering became the adherents of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra).
- Another reason for Husain Ibne Rauh’s (ra) selection was the possibility of people accusing Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) of appointing his close relatives according to his own whims and Imam Mahdi (as) not being involved in the decision. (We have mentioned earlier that Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) was very close to Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) but apparently it seemed that Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) was closer to other people)
Commencement of his Deputyship
After the demise of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra), as per his will, a gathering was organised at Daarul Niyaabah in Baghdad where along with the leaders of Shiahs, Abul Qasim Husain Ibne Rauh Nawbhakti (ra) was present. This incident has been narrated by Sayyed Ibne Taoos (ra) in his book ‘Mohajud Daawaat’. After the expiry of Shaykh Abu Jafar Mohammed Ibne Usman Ibne Saeed Amri (ra), Shaykh Abul Qasim Husain Ibne Rauh Ibne Abi Bahr (ra) went to the house of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra). A servant named Zuka of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra) handed over him the following:
- Some documents that were wrapped together and a scroll
- A staff
- A painted wooden trunk
He took them and said to the inheritors of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra), ‘In this scroll are narrated the sayings of Holy Imams (as).’ He opened it and showed them the same. It contained supplications and Qunoot of the Infallible (as). The inheritors left it and said, ‘Certainly the trunk contains gold and jewelry.’ Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) asked them whether they would like to sell the trunk to him. Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) signaled Abul Hasan i.e. Ibne Shabeeb-e-Kooshari to give them 10 dirhams in exchange for the wooden trunk. They were not satisfied with it. Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) increased it till it reached 100 dirhams. Yet, they were not satisfied with the amount.
Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) warned them that if they do not close the deal at that rate they would regret later. On his insistence, they finalised the deal at 100 dirhams. Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) put aside the staff and scroll and picked up the trunk. When the matter of the trunk was resolved he explained: This staff belongs to Abu Mohammed Imam Hasan Askari (as). He had given it to Shaykh Usman Ibne Saeed (ra) as his will at the time of his death. The staff is still present and regarding the trunk, it contains the rings of the Holy Imams (as). The rings have special characteristics and then he showed it to the people.’
It is clear from the aforementioned incident that the period of Husain Ibne Rauh’s (ra) deputyship was more prominent among the common Shiahs than the period of the first and the second deputies. Due to this, many Shiahs directly contacted Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) instead of his deputies in their areas. In his period of deputyship, he witnessed lesser opposition compared to the previous deputies.
Deniers of Deputyship
In the year 307 AH, Mohammed Ibne Fazl Mosuli denied the deputyship of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). However, with the guidance of Hasan Ibne Ali Wajnaa and after witnessing some of the affairs of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra), he repented.
It is necessary to point out over here that some people have written that Hasan Ibne Wajnaa rejected the deputyship of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). Some have written his name as Hasan Ibne Ali Wajnaa and some have recorded it as Husain.
In this regard, Ayatullah al-Uzma al-Khui (ra) in his book ‘Mojam-o-Rejaalel-Hadees’ vol. 5, page 130 has recorded his name as Abu Mohammed Hasan Ibne Mohammed Wajnaa Nasibi. He has narrated traditions from Imam Hasan Askari (as) and he had met Imam Mahdi (as).
Shaykh Tusi (ra) has included him as the supporter of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra). Hasan Wajnaa was deputy of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) in the area of Nasibeen. He was also writing letters for the people of Egypt. Similarly, Qasim Ibne Alaa and his two friends Abu Hamid Imran Ibne Mufleen, Abu Ali Hajdar in Azerbaijan and Mohammed Ibne Jafar Asadi were deputies till 312 AH in the city of Rayy (Teheran). Mohammed Ibne Hasan Sairafi was in Balkh. They all were the media between the people and Husain Ibne Rauh (ra).
Political Aspect (295 – 320 AH)
In Muqtadir Abbas’s reign, Husain Ibne Rauh was highly respected by the ministers (Viziers). But he was subsequently arrested in the reign of Muqtadir. Muqtadir donned the mantle of Caliphate at a very young age. Till the time the post of Vizier was in the family of Furat, Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) had a say in the government’s decision-making. But this changed when Hamid Ibne Abbas, an evil person who thought nothing of abusing people when he was angry, became the Vizier. He harassed the family of Furat and the Shiahs were imprisoned. At that time Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) had to face increased difficulties under very hostile conditions. The hostility persisted for approximately five years i.e. from Jamaadiul Aakhar 306 AH till Rabiul Aakhar, 311 AH During this period, Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) lived a secluded life and his activities were largely clandestine. After the difficult era of Hamid Ibne Abbas, the conditions of the Shiahs improved. Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) recommenced his activities openly. In the year 314 AH, the government arrested him.
Historians have cited the following reasons for his arrest:
- Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) was blamed of promoting links with the Qaraameta. He had written a letter to Abu Tahir Qarameta and invited him to Baghdad so as to lay siege to it. Abu Tahir had attacked pilgrims (Hajis) of Baghdad and imprisoned them. Among the Hajis were the relatives of Caliph Muqtadir.
- Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) was accused of accepting money from the people. Some have written that the government had demanded wealth from him, which he refused to pay.
- Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) was once again imprisoned in Zilhajj 312 AH till Moharrum 317 AH After being released from prison, he got engrossed in his activities. The conditions improved for him because people from the family of Nawbakht viz. Abu Yaqub Ishaq Ibne Ismail (killed in 322 AH), Abu Ali Nawbakhti (244 – 324 AH) and Abu Abdullah Husain Ibne Ali Nawabakhti (d. 326 AH) were appointed at senior positions in the government.
Indeed what can be said about the knowledge of the one who had unrestricted access to the Proof of Allah (i.e. Imam Mahdi (as)) and his bestowals, attention, care and respect!
Mohammed Ibne Ibrahim Ibne Ishaq Talaqi asked the questions of Ali Ibne Esa Qasri to Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) that whether Imam Husain (as) was Wali (appointee) of Allah? And whether his killer was enemy of Allah? Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) replied in the affirmative. Then he was asked whether Allah allows His enemy to overpower His appointee? After receiving the replies, Mohammed Ibne Ibrahim fell in doubt as he could not digest this subtle point. The next day when he went in the presence of Husain Ibne Rauh (ra), before he could utter anything, Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) exclaimed: ‘O Mohammed Ibne Ibrahim! It would have been better had I fallen from the sky and became a morsel for birds than advance my views concerning Allah’s Religion. Whatever I had replied, its source was the Proof of Allah (i.e. Imam (as)) and I myself heard this from him.’
Husain Ibne Rauh’s (ra) discussion with Mohammed Ibne Ibrahim on Allah’s Enemy and His Wali can be summarised in a simple manner. Allah does not converse with the people openly like we do. Rather, He converses through the Prophets (as), who are mortals. He bestows miracles upon them, which are beyond all others in their respective nations. Despite evident miracles, few people from their nations testified to their claims, while others rejected them outright. So, sometimes Prophets (as) overpower the enemies and sometimes they were vanquished and confronted with calamities. If Allah made the Prophets (as) defeat all their adversaries in all matters, then the people would have taken them as Allahs and patience, calamities and examination would have no meaning and purpose.
Hence, Allah has conferred characteristics on these mortals that they should be patient at all times be it in comfort or difficulties. In times of ease and triumph (over the enemy) they should thank Allah. They should be humble in all situations and abstain from rebellion and disobedience. In this way, people may understand that Allah is the Creator and in all affairs, He has some purpose and wisdom.
For more details on Husain Ibne Rauh’s (ra) knowledge, the following books of traditions may be referred to:
- Al-Ghaybah of Shaykh Tusi (ar) – page 390 tradition 356, page 378, tradition 346 and pg 373, tradition 345
- Kamaluddin of Shaykh Sudooq (ar) – volume, page 519, tradition 48
- Beharul Anwaar of Allama Majlisi (ar) – volume 53, chapter 21
Miracles and Manifestations
There are many incidents that highlight the above mentioned traits of which we are narrating only two:
Husain Ibne Ali Babawayah (ra) (brother of Shaykh Sudooq (ra)) narrates, Some people from the city of Qum (in 311 AH), prepared to go for Hajj, when the Qaraamatah attacked the Hajis. My father (Ali Ibne Babawayah (ra)) wrote a letter to Shaykh Abul Qasim Husain Ibne Rauh Nawbakhti (ra) to present it to Imam Mahdi (as) and seek permission for Hajj that year. Imam Mahdi (as) ordered him not to go for Hajj. My father wrote another letter saying that the Hajj was obligatory and whether it is permissible to stay away from it? Imam (as) replied: ‘If you cannot avoid it, then travel with the last caravan.’
As my father left for Hajj with the last caravan, he was saved while the people with the earlier caravan were killed.
When Ahmed Ibne Ishaq Qummi requested for permission to go for Hajj, Husain Ibne Rauh (ra) granted him permission and gave him a cloth. When Ahmed Ibne Ishaq saw the cloth, he exclaimed, “This is the news of my death.” On his return from Hajj, he expired at a place called Halwaan.
He was appointed as a deputy in the year 305 AH and departed from this transitory world in the year 326 AH He served as a direct deputy of Imam (as) for 21 years. If we add another 2-3 years, during which he served as a deputy during the deputyship of Mohammed Ibne Usman (ra), it adds upto 23 years.
His grave is situated in Baghdad in Nawbakhtia, near the door of the house of Ali Ibne Ahmad Nawbhakti. He expired on Wednesday, 18 Shabaan, 326 AH His grave is still there. However, the place is now known as Suq Al-Attaareen. Visitors should not forsake the visitation of this great deputy of Imam Mahdi (as) when they visit Kazmayn for ziyarat.
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