Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Rawandiyya: "Prophet was Succeeded by Abbas"

سُبُّوحٌ قُدُّوسٌ رَبُّ الْمَلاَئِكَةِ وَالرُّوحِ

Holy, Holy, Lord of the Angels and the Spirit


The Imamiyya Shi’a, who insist that the Prophet Muhammad was meant to be succeeded by someone from his Ahl al-Bayt or family, namely Ali b. Abi Talib ؓ should consider the Rawandiyya and Abbasiyya sects which claimed that the Prophet was succeeded by his closest male relative, his paternal uncle al-Abbas ؓ. Like the Rawafid who disassociate from and anathemize the Prophet’s first three caliphs (successors) recognized by normative, Sunni Islam, namely, Abi Bakr ؓ, Umar ؓ and Uthman ؓ the Rawandiyya likewise believed: “the community fell into unbelief after Muhammad, the messenger of God, may God bless him and his family, by preventing al-Abbas from assuming the imamate and they repudiate Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and the rest of the companions who supported these men in what they did.” (Madelung, Wilferd and Walker, Paul E. An Ismaili Heresiography p.99)
According to this theory, the Imamate passed from al-Abbas ؓ to his son, Abd Allah b. Abbas ؓ, then Ali b. Abd Allah, then Muhammad b. Ali, then Ibrahim b. Muhammad, then the Abbasid “caliphs” al-Saffah and al-Mansur (ibid).
The Rawandiyya are attributed to al-Qasim b. Rawand, who formulated this theory. However, it was also promulgated by the third Abbasid caliph: “al-Mahdi, for his part, put forth the claim that al-Abbas has been the Prophet’s successor in more than the formal or legal sense: al-Abbas, in fact, was the imam – the legatee of the Prophet and his successor as the community’s guide. With such a position, the Shi’ite world view – stressing ideas of wasiyya and imama – was not immediately renounced, only the Alid dramatis personae were replaced by Abbasid ones: the imamate no longer had to be derived from Ali through Ibn al-Hanafiyya and Abu Hashim, but could directly be traced back to al-Abbas himself. The question once again arises: if al-Abbas and his successors were the imams all along, would not the ’rightly-guided’ caliphs who actually succeeded Muhammad have been illegitimate? A group of the Abbasid Shi’a of al-Mahdi’s time are in fact reported to have regarded the patriarchal caliphs as usurpers, though they apparently found it politic to keep this opinion of theirs secret.” (Religion and Politics under the Early Abbasids p.46)
The Rawandiyya cite the Ayah of the Qur’an as proof that al-Abbas ؓ was the rightful heir of the Prophet :
وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَىٰ بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّـهِ
But those of blood relationship, some of them are nearer to another in the Book of Allah
(Sura 8:75)
They also cite a Hadith attributed to the Prophet in which he said to al-Abbas ؓ:
وَأَنْتَ عَمِّي ، وَصِنْوُ أَبِي ، وَبَقِيَّةُ آبَائِي ، وَوَارِثِي ، وَخَيْرُ مَنْ أَخْلِفُ مِنْ بَعْدِي مِنْ أَهْلِي
“You are my paternal uncle, my father’s twin brother, the remnant of my fathers, my heir and the best of those after me of my family.” (Mu’jam al-Awsat of al-Tabarani)
The Rawandiyya believe that the promised Mahdi will come from the progeny of al-Abbas.

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