بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم
والصلوة والسلام على رسوله الكريم
وعلى آله واهل بيته اجمعين
Confused Shi’ite Doctrine of Imamate (Part 4)
In this entry I will focus on the Kaysaniya sect and their fragmentation over the issue of the Imamate and succession. The name “Kaysan” was either the title of Mukhtar b. Abi Ubaid al-Thaqafi, who championed the cause of the Imamate of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya, a son of Ali b. Abi TalibRA by his wife Khawla bint Ja’far from the Bani Hanifa tribe; or it was the name of one of the mawali of Amir-ul-Mu’minin Ali b. Abi TalibRA, who was the originator of some of the basic ideas that came to characterise this particular sect.
As I have mentioned in an earlier entry, the concept of Ghayba or occultation among the Shi’a originated with the Kaysaniya sect. Some of the Kaysaniya, such as the followers of Abu Karib al-Darir, i.e., the Karibiya, believed that their Imam, Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya, did not die, but rather went into hiding on Mt. Radwa near Medina. They hold that he is the awaited Mahdi.
Nevertheless, the bulk of the Kaysaniya recognised the death of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya, and gathered around his son Abu Hashim Abdallah b. Muhammad as his father’s legitimate successor. They were naturally known as the Hashimiya. Apparently Abu Hashim had no son, and so the Hashimiya fragmented upon his death concerning his succession. It is said that Abu Hashim bequeathed the Imamate to Muhammad b. Ali b. Abdallah b. Abbas, known as “Muhammad al-Imam”, the progenitor of the Abbasid dynasty. In this way, the Abbasid movement inherited much of the Hashimiya and Kaysaniya following. Another subsect held that the Imamate was transferred from Abu Hashim to Abdallah b. Mu’awiya, a descendant of Ja’far b. Abi Talib. This sect became known as the Janahiya or Tayyariya. Abdallah b. Mu’awiya led an uprising to establish his own Imamate. He sought asylum in Khurasan, but was imprisoned and killed under the orders of the general for the Abbasid revolution, Abu Muslim al-Khurasani. Some of the followers of Abdallah b. Mu’awiya refused to accept his death, instead positing that he was hidden somewhere in the mountains of Isfahan and would return as the Mahdi (Messianic Beliefs & Imperial Politics in Medieval Islam: The Abbasid Caliphate in the Early Ninth Century, p.25).
Other factions of the Hashimiya refused to accept that Abu Hashim had transferred the Imamate outside of the family of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya, especially to the non-Alids like the Abbasids. Some of them said that after Abu Hashim, the Imamate passed to his nephew al-Hassan b. Ali b. Muhammad b. Abi Talib, while others disputed this, saying the Imamate passed first to his brother Ali, then to Ali’s son al-Hassan (Abu Hashim’s nephew). The Imamate then passed from al-Hassan b. Ali to his son Ali b. al-Hassan, who then passed the Imamate to his son al-Hassan b. Ali b. al-Hassan b. Ali b. Muhammad b. Ali b. Abi Talib. In this way, according to them, the Imamate remained within the progeny of Imam Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya. Finally, there was a faction of the Hashimiya who refused to the accept the death of Abu Hashim Abdallah b. Muhammad, instead believing he is alive and the awaited Mahdi.
Reference: Firaq al-Shi’a, p.44; al-Milal wan-Nihal, p.150
1. Ali b. Abi Talib
2. al-Hassan b. Ali
3. al-Hussain b. Ali
4. Muhammad b. Ali
5. Abdallah b. Muhammad
6. Ali b. Muhammad
7. al-Hassan b. Ali
8. Ali b. al-Hassan
9. al-Hassan b. Ali