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Preliminaries

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Praise be to Allah, the Unique, the Besought of All: He does not beget, and He was not begotten. He has no partners: all things are unlike Him and He is unlike all things. Vision does not perceive Him, and He perceives all vision. The people cannot grasp Him with their imagination and we are incapable of describing Him. He is the Originator of all that exists, and His creation is wholly contingent upon Him. He is eternal: the First who is beyond beginnings, the Last who is beyond endings, and the everlasting who is beyond the likeness of all created things. Mankind cannot comprehend even one of His blessings while His blessings are many. So, may His blessings be upon the foremost of His prophets, the Righteous and Truthful (as-Sadiq al-Amin), His slave (`Abdullah), the Liberator (al-Fateh), the Seal of Prophethood (al-Khatim an-Nubuwwa), the Sufficient (al-Kafi), the First to be Resurrected (al-Hasher), the prophesied Prophet, Abu’l Qasem Muhammad b. `Abdillah b. `Abd al-Muttalib صلى الله عليه وآله, the Messenger of Allah and His mercy to the worlds. May Allah likewise bless his progeny, who have been purified from uncleanliness; the ones who inherited the Message and the divinely-appointed Caliphate to protect Allah’s religion from corruption. May the peace of Allah be upon His worshipers, who have held onto the Qur’an and Ahl al-Bayt عليهم سلام  and lived their life according to the submission to Allah (Islam).

Islam is the straight path and our Umma is the intermediate nation. Our religion was established to satisfy our needs in this world and the next. Out of His infinite majesty and mercy, Allah revealed His religion to humanity to give us a perfected means of organizing our lives and societies. As humans, we require systems in the spheres of politics and legislation, health and sanitation, social and familial relationships, and philosophical and spiritual fulfillment – and Islam has delivered all of that. Throughout the continual development of human civilizations, Allah has steadily built Islam through His communication with the nations.

He has communicated to us through His angels, His books, and His representativesعليهم السلام. Allah’s prophets and their deputies are the models of emulation for any society: they eat as men should eat, they sleep as men should sleep, they marry as men should marry, and they are the elite of the elites, set to guide us through all matters. The final Messenger صلى الله عليه وآله came with the finality of Allah’s religion, and through Him, Allah revealed the Noble Book and the Sunna by which all people should abide.

The death of Muhammadصلى الله عليه وآله  marked the end of divine revelation (wahi), and thus, the religion of Islam was brought to its final form. But, the representatives of Allah have not left us, as the Prophetصلى الله عليه وآله  left the Qur’an and his Householdعليهم السلام  to remain as two testaments for us to hold onto in his absence. The first is the Book of Allah, which are His verbatim words and Law. The second are the infallible Imams عليهم السلام, who became teachers of the pure interpretations, the protectors of the divinely-inspired exegesis, the failsafe leaders and judges, the legatees, the warriors, and the retainers of the Divine’s secrets. Just as the stars in the sky are a safeguard to the inhabitants of the heavens, Ahl al-Bayt عليهم السلام are the safeguard for the inhabitants of the Earth.

The first Imam was `Ali b. Abi Talib عليه السلام, the Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Mu’mineen), who was divinely appointed by the Messenger of Allahصلى الله عليه وآله  at Ghadir Khumm. The Imams were appointed successively by the predecessors, and were leaders in the midst of the people. They were experts in `aqeedah, jurisprudence, exegesis and hermeneutics, history, eschatology, and the sayings of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله. Their Shi`a were aware that the final Imam would soon be born, and would be the awaited one prophesied by the Messenger صلى الله عليه وآله. That Imam is the Qa’im, the Mahdi, the Proof from the Household, and Patron of this Affair عليه السلام. The Prophetصلى الله عليه وآله  said, “Even if there were only one day left in this life, Allah will lengthen that day so a man from my progeny may appear and establish justice and equity on Earth, as it would be fraught with injustice and oppression”.

As the Imams died and new Imams were appointed, narrations about the awaited Qa’im were orally and textually distributed within the Muslim community. It became widely narrated (mutawater) that the final Imam would be the Qa’im عليه السلام, who would go into occultation, and then emerge to establish justice. However, the identity of the Qa’im was in question, as many liars claimed to be the awaited one, and many Islamic sects mistakenly attributed this position to earlier personalities. As a result, many of our narrations regarding the Hidden Imam عليه السلام  have reached us via the disbelieving extremists (ghulat), the liars who intended to further their worldly agendas, and members of other Shi`i sects. Many narrations have also come to us through unknown (majhool) transmitters.

The twelfth Imamعليه السلام  has fulfilled the prophecies regarding his birth and occultation, and successfully guided his community for decades. But, his state in the minor and major occultation did not allow him to prevent the distribution of inauthentic or fabricated material. Hence, we must return to scholarly tools of ijtihad to determine which of these narrations come from reliable sources and which do not.

To initiate this task, I have resorted to the use of `ilm ad-diraya to separate stronger narrations from weaker ones. First, I collected a sample of hundreds of narrations about the Qa’imعليه السلام  from various classical books of hadith. Then, using both modern and classical Imami books of rijal, these narrations were graded based on a strict standard. This way, we could guarantee that the final group of narrations in this collection would be the most reliable.

That being said, one must consider the following. Firstly, the science of grading chains of narrators has some subjectivity to it. Not all transmitters labelled as weak are necessarily always lying, and not all transmitters labelled as reliable are necessarily always accurate. Some scholars disagreed with each other on the status of transmitters and how they were to be graded. Moreover, it seems that a major focus of our rijal books is the combatting of ghulat transmitters; and not all those associated with extremist beliefs or extremist individuals were necessarily inaccurate. It must also be considered that although our standards were strict, those who worked on this project are fallible people, and therefore some defects may exist in the research. Anything true is from Allah, and anything false is from us, and we pray that Allah forgives us for our shortcomings. Lastly, it must be known that only a sample of the existing hadith corpus was graded, and therefore, it is probable that much reliable material on this subject exists outside of this book.

For this collection, we used a variety of classical sources, including al-Kulayni’s al-Kafi, Saduq’s Kamal ad-Deen, Amali, Khisal, and `Uyoon Akhbar ar-Rida, Nu`mani’s Ghayba, Tusi’s Ghayba and Tahdheeb, Saffar’s Basa’ir ad-Darajat, Himyari’s Qurb al-Isnad, and Muslim’s Sahih. Gradings of ahadith from al-Kafi mostly coincide with those given by `Allama al-Majlisi in his Mirat al-`Uqool. Khoei’s Mu`jam ar-Rijal was used to collect biographical evaluations for this collection. We did not accept the tawtheeq of narrators present in Kanz al-`Ummal as a sufficient proof for their reliability. We accepted the narrators present in Tafsir al-Qummi as mamdooh as opposed to thiqa. The taraddi and tarahhum of Saduq’s shaykhs were partially accepted (but explicitly noted) in chains where a technically majhool shaykh is the only defect. Ibrahim b. Hashim was accepted as thiqa as opposed to mamdooh or majhool, because he was relied upon by Ibn al-Walid, Ibn Tawus, and other Shi`i scholars. Many narrations from Tusi’s Ghayba, Basa’ir ad-Darajat, and Qurb al-Isnad survive through technically unreliable turuq, and hence, most gradings from these three collections are based solely on the examination of the isnad. These are highly esteemed and classical books, and many have argued for their historical reliability. Their established (mu`tabar) contents are valuable in understanding the scholarly discourse on Islamic eschatology. The two narrations from Muslim’s Sahih were included for polemical reasons.

May Allah forgive our sins, send our salutations to the Hidden Imam عليه السلام, hasten his triumphant appearance, include us from among his followers, increase our knowledge and good deeds, accept our dead and our martyrs into Paradise, and have mercy on us in this world and the next.

 

حسبنالله ونعم الوكيل

Allah is Sufficient for us, for He is the Best Trustee.

لا تنسونا في دعائكم

Do not forget us in your du`a’,

Qa’im b. Mohamad

 

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