His Scholarly Heritage
The biographers of Sayyid Abd al-Azim mention two books, which are attributed to
him. 1) Khutab Amir al-Mu ‘minin (a.s.). Al-Najashi mentions this work in his
biographical entry for Sayyid Abd al-Azim, number 651. 2) Al-Yawm wa al-Layla.
Sahib bin Abbad has mentioned this work in a special treatise in which he
documents Sayyid Abd al-Azim’s biography. Excerpts from this treatise are
presented below. The author of al-Dhariah attributes this book to him citing
from the Rijal of al-Najashi. However we did not find this attribution there!
His Position near the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)
His station near the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) comes to light in the course
of their statements in his favor. Thus he was a brilliant traditionist, a source
of reference in matters of the faith, trustworthy in matters of religion and
here we mention some of their statements. Shaykh al-Saduq (d 381 AH/991 AD)
reports from Sayyid Abd al-Azim that he said: ‘I visited my master Ali bin
Mohammad bin Ali bin Musa bin Ja’far bin Mohammad bin Ali bin Hussein bin Ali
bin Abi Talib (a.s.). When he caught sight of me, he exclaimed: “Welcome O Abu
al-Qasim, you are indeed our true friend!”
So I said: “O son of the Messenger (pbuh&hh), I wish to present to you my
beliefs. If they are correct then I will affirm and adhere to them till I meet
Allah, Great and Exalted”. So the Imam said: “Then present them O Abu al-Qasim”.
So I said: “I maintain that Allah, Blessed and Exalted is one. There is nothing
like Him. He is beyond the two limits, the limit of negation and annulment (of
attributes) and the limit of anthropomorphism.
And that He has neither a body nor a form, nor dimension nor a material core.
Rather He is the One who creates bodies and gives forms, the Creator of
dimensions and matter. Lord of everything and its Possessor, Creator and
Originator. And (I maintain) that Mohammad was His servant, His Messenger and
the Seal of the Prophets. There is no prophet after him till the Day of
Judgement. And (I maintain) that the Imam, the Caliph and the Guardian of the
affair (of guidance) after him was Amir al-Mu ‘minin Ali bin Abi Talib, and then
al-Hasan, then al-Hussein, then Ali bin al-Hussein, then Mohammad bin Ali, then
Ja’far bin Mohammad, then Musa bin Ja’far, then Ali bin Musa, then Mohammad bin
Ali and thereafter, you my master”.
So the Imam said: “And after me will be my son al-Hasan. However, I wonder how
the people will react with regards to his successor” I asked: “Why do you say
that, O master?” He replied, “Because none will see his person, nor will it be
permissible to mention his name till he appears, when he will fill the earth
with justice and equity as it was previously filled with oppression and
So I responded: “I accept (what you have informed me) and I maintain that their
friend is the friend of Allah, their enemy is the enemy of Allah. Obedience to
them is obedience to Allah; disobedience to them is disobedience to Allah. I
maintain that the (Prophet’s) night journey did occur, that questioning in the
grave will happen, that heaven and hell exist, that accounting of deeds will
occur and that the Hour will undoubtedly arrive when Allah will resurrect those
in the graves.
I further maintain that the (religious) obligations after al-Wilaya (i.e. love
and adherence to the Ahlul Bayt) are: Prayers, the zakat levy, fasting,
pilgrimage to Mecca , striving (in the path of Allah), commanding good and
On hearing this, Ali bin Mohammad (a.s.) said: “O Abu al-Qasim, what you have
mentioned is, by Allah, the religion which Allah has chosen for His servants and
one with which he is satisfied. So adhere to it, may Allah cause you to stay
steadfast on the established faith, in this world and in the hereafter.”
Ibn Qawlawayhi narrates from Ali bin al-Hussein bin Musa bin Babwayhi, who
narrates from Mohammad bin Yahya al-Attar, who narrates from some of the natives
of Ray, (one of whom said): ‘I visited Abu al-Hasan al-Askari (a.s.). He asked
me: “Where were you?” I replied: “I was visiting the grave of al-Hussein bin Ali
(a.s.).” He said: “However, if you had visited the grave of Abd al-Azim which is
situated near you, then your status would have been similar to the one who
visited al-Hussein (a.s.).”
Perhaps (the authenticity of) this tradition may be disputed because of the
unknown identity of the narrator transmitting the report from the Imam. But a
response in its defence may be made by maintaining that Mohammad bin Yahya
al-Attar who was the authority of Shaykh al-Kulayni (d 329 AH/940 AD) would not
rely in such an important matter on the statement of a person whom he did not
know or had any confidence in. Moreover, being a native of Qum himself, he would
know the Shi’ites of Ray.
Perhaps another question may be posed here, which is: How can a pilgrimage to
the grave of Sayyid Abd al-Azim be of equal stature to the pilgrimage to
al-Hussein bin Ali (a.s.)? A possible response to this may be that the Imam
uttered this statement in harsh circumstances and intended to bring to light the
nature of the reign of Mutawakkil and his cohorts who used to tyrannize and
murder the Shi’ites on the basis of any pretext.
Mutawakkil reigned from 234 AH/848 AD till the year 247 AH/861 AD when he was
murdered by his son. The reign of his son did not last long either as the
Caliphate was taken over by one claimant after another such as al-Musta’in (r.
248 AH/862 AD – 252 AH/866 AD) then al-Mu ‘tazz Billah famously known for his
enmity to the Ahlul Bayt (deposed in 255 AH/869 AD), then al-Muhtadi (r. 255
AH/869 AD – 256 AH /870 AD) and then al-Mu’tamad (r. 256 AH/870 AD – 279 AH/892
The prevailing policy in the ruling court was that of deception, enmity and
oppression against the Alids and the Shi’ites.
Thus in such circumstances, the Imam may have advised the Shi’ites to content
themselves by visiting the grave of Sayyid Abd al-Azim in order to protect their
lives and belongings from destruction and loss. Nevertheless, this does not mean
that there is a reduction in the status of al-Hussein (a.s.) or an exaggeration
in the status of Sayyid Abd al- Azim.
Further, it is clear from what Sahib bin Abbad narrates, that Sayyid Abd al-Azim
was a ‘source of reference’ in matters of the faith and an interpreter of
Islamic law for the Shi’ites in regard to issues which seemed ambiguous and
unclear to them. Thus Abu Turab al-Ruyani says: ‘I visited Ali bin Mohammad (a.s.)
in Samarra ‘ and I asked him some questions relating to the permissible and
impermissible. He answered all of them. When I was bidding him farewell, he
said: “O Hammad, if something regarding religion confuses or confounds you then
refer it to Abd al-Azim, and convey to him my regards.”
This report expresses his position as a person who possessed the capability of
ijtihad similar to Zurara bin A’yan, Mohammad bin Muslim, Yunus bin Abd al-Rahman
and Zakariyya bin Adam whom Imam al-Ridha’ (a.s.) praised in response to one who
asked him (something) by saying: ‘Refer to Zakariyya bin Adam, (who is)
trustworthy in worldly and religious affairs.’
To be continued ...
* By : Ayatullah