Existence of Imam Mahdi in Hadith “My caliphs are twelve persons” (1)

Description

There are numerous narratives in Shia and Sunni resources in which messenger of Allah [PBUH] says: “My successors are twelve persons”. Amongst Shia and Sunni hadith narrators this narrative is known as “My caliphs are twelve persons”. Question is that id this narrative indicates the existence of imam “Mahdi” [a.s] or not?

Respond

Narrative of “My caliphs are twelve person” is amongst narratives that indicates the existence of one of Shia imams until day of resurrection to protect and continuity of Islam religion. So, in current age, one of “Ahl al-Bayt” [a.s] must exist so that Islam religion remains stable. In this article, we’ll study this matter in perspective of Shia and Sunni relying on authentic resources of Sunni.

Text of narrative with different phrases

Phrase of “Twelve caliphs”

This narrative with above phrase has been quoted by different persons in “Sahih Muslim” book:

عن جَابِرِ بن سَمُرَةَ قال: دَخَلْتُ مع أبي علي النبي صلي الله عليه وسلم فَسَمِعْتُهُ يقول: إِنَّ هذا الْأَمْرَ لَا يَنْقَضِي حتي يَمْضِيَ فِيهِمْ اثْنَا عَشَرَ خَلِيفَةً. قال: ثُمَّ تَكَلَّمَ بِكَلَامٍ خَفِيَ عَلَيَّ قال: فقلت لِأَبِي: ما قال؟ قال: كلهم من قُرَيْشٍ.

“Jabir ibn Samarah” says: I went to messenger of Allah [PBUH] with my father. I heard that he said: the matter of Islamic caliphate won’t end unless twelve successors rule amongst them. Then he said a sentence that was unclear to me, I said to my father: what did messenger of Allah [PBUH] say? My father said: all these caliphs will be from “Quraysh” tribe.(1)

And “Muslim ibn Hajjaj” quotes in another narrative:

… سمعت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلي الله عليه وآله يوم جُمُعَةٍ عَشِيَّةَ رُجِمَ الْأَسْلَمِيُّ يقول: لَا يَزَالُ الدِّينُ قَائِمًا حتي تَقُومَ السَّاعَةُ أو يَكُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ اثْنَا عَشَرَ خَلِيفَةً كلهم من قُرَيْشٍ.

Amir ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas” says: my slave and I wrote to “Jabir ibn Samarah” to write for us what he’s heard from messenger of Allah [PBUH]. “Jabir” wrote: “I heard from messenger of Allah [PBUH]: religion will always remain stable until resurrection is set up and you’ll have twelve caliphs that all of them are from “Quraysh”.(2) To comply with the observation, we quote next narratives written on page 1452 without their document:

... يقول لَا يَزَالُ الْإِسْلَامُ عَزِيزًا إلي اثني عَشَرَ خَلِيفَةً.

Messenger of Allah [PBUH] said: Islam is always dear until twelve caliph rule the people.

... لَا يَزَالُ هذا الْأَمْرُ عَزِيزًا إلي اثني عَشَرَ خَلِيفَةً.

This religion is always dear until twelve caliphs govern on people.

... لَا يَزَالُ هذا الدِّينُ عَزِيزًا مَنِيعًا إلي اثني عَشَرَ خَلِيفَةً.

This religion is always dear and strong until twelve successors govern on people.(3)

 “Abu Dawud Sajistani”, one of Sunni scholars quotes this narrative with another phrase:

عن جَابِرِ بن سَمُرَةَ قال سمعت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلي الله عليه وسلم يقول لَا يَزَالُ هذا الدِّينُ قَائِمًا حتي يَكُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ اثْنَا عَشَرَ خَلِيفَةً كلهم تَجْتَمِعُ عليه الْأُمَّةُ فَسَمِعْتُ كَلَامًا من النبي صلي الله عليه وسلم لم أَفْهَمْهُ قلت لِأَبِي ما يقول قال كلهم من قُرَيْشٍ.

“Jabir ibn Samurah” says: I heard from messenger of Allah [PBUH] who said: this religion is always stable until twelve caliphs come. Then he said a sentence that was unclear to me, I said to my father: what did messenger of Allah [PBUH] say? My father said: all these caliphs will be from “Quraysh” tribe.(4)

عن جَابِرِ بن سَمُرَةَ قال: سمعت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلي الله عليه وسلم يقول: لَا يَزَالُ هذا الدِّينُ عَزِيزًا إلي اثْنَيْ عَشَرَ خَلِيفَةً قال فَكَبَّرَ الناس وَضَجُّوا ثُمَّ قال: كَلِمَةً خفية قلت لِأَبِي يا أَبَتِ ما قال؟ قال: كلهم من قُرَيْشٍ.

“Jabir ibn Samurah” said: I heard from messenger of Allah [PBUH] who said: religion is always dear until twelve caliphs come. “Jabir” says: people said “Takbir”. Then messenger of Allah [PBUH] said a sentence that I didn’t understand, I said to my father: why did he say? He said: messenger of Allah [PBUH] said: all of them are from “Quraysh”.(5)

2: “Twelve chieftains”

In some narratives the word “Chieftain” has been used instead of “caliph”: “Ahmad ibn Hanbal” has quoted this narrative on two pages of his “Musnad” book:

عن مَسْرُوقٍ قال: كنا جُلُوساً عِنْدَ عبد اللَّهِ بن مَسْعُودٍ وهو يُقْرِئُنَا الْقُرْآنَ فقال له رَجُلٌ: يا أَبَا عبد الرحمن هل سَأَلْتُمْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلي الله عليه وسلم كَمْ تملك هذه الأُمَّةَ من خَلِيفَةٍ؟ فقال عبد اللَّهِ بن مَسْعُودٍ: ما سألني عنها أَحَدٌ مُنْذُ قَدِمْتُ الْعِرَاقَ قَبْلَكَ ثُمَّ قال: نعم. وَلَقَدْ سَأَلْنَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلي الله عليه وسلم فقال: اثْنَا عَشَرَ كَعِدَّةِ نُقَبَاءِ بني إِسْرَائِيلَ.

“Masrough” said: we were siting along with “Abudullah ibn Masud” and he was reading Quran for us, a man told him: O “Aba Abd ar-Rahman”! Didn’t you hear from messenger of Allah [PBUH] that how many caliphs will come after him? “Abdullah” said: no one has asked me about it since I’ve arrived to “Iraq”, we asked messenger of Allah [PBUH] and he said: my caliphs are twelve persons like the number of chieftains of children of Israel.(6)

Some of Sunni big scholars such as; “Asimi Macci”, “Mubarfakuri”, “Ibn Hajar Asqalani”, “Suyuti”, “Ibn Hajar Haythami” say frankly that narrative quoted by “Masud” has authentic document:

أما حديث بن مسعود فأخرجه أحمد والبزار بسند حسن أنه سئل كم يملك... (7)

 “Ibn Hajar Asqalani” has quoted narrative as follow:

عن مسروق قال: جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ فَقَالَ: هَلْ حَدَّثَكُمْ نَبِيُّكُمْ صلي الله عليه وآله كَمْ يَكُونُ بَعْدَهُ مِنَ الْخُلَفَاءِ؟ فَقَالَ: نَعَمْ. وَمَا سَأَلَنِي أَحَدٌ قَبْلَكَ وَإِنَّكَ لَأَحْدَثُ الْقَوْمِ سِنّاً نَعَمْ. قَالَ:يَكُونُ بَعْدِي عِدَّةُ نُقَبَاءِ مُوسَي اثني عشر نقيبا.

A man came to “Abdullah ibn Masud” and said: Did your Prophet tell you that how many caliphs will be after him? He answered: Yes, He did. And no one asked me such thing before you and you’re the youngest person. He said: there will be twelve chieftains after me, as much as “Moses” chieftains. He says at the end:

(هذا اسناده حسن)

Document of this narrative is authentic. (8)

Continue in the next article: ( Existence of Imam Mahdi in Hadith “My caliphs are twelve persons” (2) )

NOTES:

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1. “Muslim ibn Hajjaj” – Sahih Muslim – vol. 3, p 1452

2. “Muslim ibn Hajjaj” – Sahih Muslim – vol. 3, p 1453

3. “Muslim ibn Hajjaj” – Sahih Muslim – vol. 3, p 1452

4. “Al-Sajistani” – Sunan Abi Dawud – vol. 4, p 106

5. “Al-Sajistani” – Sunan Abi Dawud – vol. 4, p 106. This narrative has been quoted by other Sunni elders such as; chief of “Hanbli” denomination, “Ahmad ibn Hnabal” in “Musnad” book, p 86 to 107, “Hakim Nishapuri” in “Al-Mustadrak”, vol. 3, p 715 and 716.

6. “Ahmad ibn Hanbal” – Musnad “, vol. 1, p 398

7. “Ibn Hajar Asqalani” – Fath al-Bari – vol. 13, p 212 /// “Al-Suyuti” – The History of caliphs – vol 1, p 10 /// “Ibn Hajar Haythami” – al-Sawa’iq al-Muhraqa, vol. 1, p 54 /// “Al-Mubarfakuri” – Tuhfah al-Ahuozi – vol. 6,p 394

8. “Al- Asqaani Shafi’i” – Al-Matalib al-‘Aliyah – vol. 9, p 577