Friday, 31 August 2018

Twelve Caliphs of Quraysh


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم

وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين

والعاقبة للمتقين

The Ithna Ashari or Twelver sect of Shiism point to the Hadith of the Twelve Caliphs narrated by sayyidina Jabir bin Samurah ؓ to justify their doctrine of there being twelve infallible Imams, beginning with Amir ul-Muminin Ali bin Abi Talib ؓ and ending with their supposed “Mahdi”, Muhammad bin Hasan al-Askari. The Prophet Muhammad said:
لاَ يَزَالُ الإِسْلاَمُ عَزِيزًا إِلَى اثْنَىْ عَشَرَ خَلِيفَةً
“Islam will not cease to be mighty until there have been twelve caliphs”
كُلُّهُمْ مِنْ قُرَيْشٍ
“Each of them will be of Quraysh” (Sahih Muslim)
In another version:
لاَ يَزَالُ الدِّينُ قَائِمًا حَتَّى تَقُومَ السَّاعَةُ أَوْ يَكُونَ عَلَيْكُمُ اثْنَا عَشَرَ خَلِيفَةً كُلُّهُمْ مِنْ قُرَيْشٍ
“The Religion will not cease to be established until the establishment of the Hour or until there have been over you twelve caliphs, each of them of Quraysh” (Sahih Muslim)
The Twelver Shiah naturally assert that this prophecy is a reference to their twelve Imams. However, this is impossible because the Hadith describes them as being khalifah which necessitates that they are individuals who will actually rule over the Muslims. None of the twelve Imams of the Shiah, with the exception of the first, Amir ul-Muminin Ali bin Abi Talib and his son sayyidina Hasan , wielded political authority over the Muslim community or were caliphs. Secondly, if the Prophet was referring to the twelve Imams of the Shiah, he would have said that each of them will be from my ahl al-Bayt, or at the very least, from among Banu Hashim or Banu Abd ul-Muttalib. Instead, the Prophet said each of them will be from Quraysh, a broader category which includes other clans that are not from the ahl al-Bayt. Likewise, it would make more sense for him to say that with the exception of sayyidina Ali himself, each of them would be from the progeny of sayyidatuna FatimahAS, or he could have said that they are sayyidina Ali and eleven others from his children, or he could have said they are all Talibids, from the children of Abu Talib. Rather, he said they are all from Quraysh. Imagine a group of tourists, each and every one being from China, visit New York City. A curious local asks them: “where are you all from?”, and in response they say “we are all from Asia”, instead of “we are all from China”! It would only make sense for them to say “we are all from Asia”, if they were from different countries within Asia, but since they are all from the same country, China, they should say “we are from China” instead of “we are from Asia”. In summary, these are some of the compelling reasons to reject the Shiite interpretation of the Hadith of Jabir bin SamurahRA that it is a reference to their twelve Imams.
But from our perspective, if not the twelve Imams, then who are the twelve Caliphs of Quraysh, under whose rule Islam shall not cease to be mighty and established, referring to? The first thing the reader should keep in mind is that this Hadith is not necessarily a commendation of the twelve caliphs. It is only a prophecy that declares that Islam will continue to be strong and established in the time of these twelve individuals, who are described as “caliphs”. Secondly, it should also be noted that according to the wording of this Hadith, it is not necessary that these twelve caliphs of Quraysh come one after another consecutively. From the orthodox and mainstream Sunni perspective, the Prophet’s first four rightly-guided successors, namely, sayyidina Abi Bakr al-Siddiq ؓ, sayyidina Umar al-Faruq ؓ, sayyidina Uthman bin Affan ؓ, and sayyidina Ali al-Murtada ؓ are obviously the first four of these twelve caliphs of Quraysh. There is a very strong case to say that sayyidina Hasan al-Mujtaba ؓ is the fifth of the twelve caliphs of Quraysh, although his caliphate lasted for only six months before he abdicated for the noble purpose of putting an end to the civil war that had split the Muslims in his time. Now in my view, which is perfectly in tune with the wording of the prophecy, the sixth of the twelve caliphs of Quraysh was Umar bin Abd ul-Aziz, an Umayyad ruler who was a Mujaddid that revived the Sunnah and the system of the Khilafat al-Rashidah. I believe that another one of these twelve caliphs is yet to come, but the Prophet has described him:
يَكُونُ فِي آخِرِ الزَّمَانِ خَلِيفَةٌ يَقْسِمُ الْمَالَ وَلاَ يَعُدُّهُ
“There will be, in the end of time, a Caliph who will distribute wealth without counting it” (Sahih Muslim)
This is regarded as a reference to the Imam al-Mahdi , a man from the ahl al-Bayt and progeny of FatimahAS, who will establish justice in the land after it was filled with tyranny and oppression. Now we know that the system of Khilafat ala Minhaj an-Nubuwwah will in the future be revived, perhaps in connection with the advent of Imam al-Mahdi, and its restoration proceeds a period of coercive, dictatorial rule:
ثُمَّ تَكُونُ مُلْكًا جَبْرِيَّةً ، فَتَكُونُ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ ، ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ، ثُمَّ تَكُونُ خِلَافَةً عَلَى مِنْهَاجِ النُّبُوَّةِ  ثُمَّ سَكَتَ
“Then there shall be coercive kingship, so it shall be as long as Allah wills it to be, then He will obliterate it when He wills to obliterate it, then there shall be Caliphate upon the methodology of Prophethood. Then he was silent.” (Musnad Ahmad) The caliphs of that restorative period, if they are of Quraysh, are certainly elligible for being described as being among those twelve caliphs regarding whom the Prophet said that they are those through whom Islam shall not cease to be mighty and established. According to a version of the Hadith of Jabir bin SamurahRA:
كُلُّهُمْ تَجْتَمِعُ عَلَيْهِ الأُمَّةُ
“The Ummah will be in concensus regarding each of them” (Sunan Abi Dawud #4279)
However, these words are not authentically established from the Prophet .

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