I used to visit the grave of our master Abd al-Azim al-Hasani occasionally and
whenever good fortune permitted me, for he was one of the descendants of the
eldest grandson of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh&hh), al-Hasan bin Ali (a.s.). He
was a scion of that lofty and blessed tree (of Prophethood), whose branches are
spread out in Iran, ‘Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other places.
However, after I had delved thoroughly into his biography and read the words and
statements of the biographers in his favour, as well as the descriptions of
honour and respect with which Sahib bin Abbad described him in a biographical
treatise, which he devoted to his life, I was overcome with shame and realized
my shortcomings and negligence with respect to him.
This is because Sayyid Abd al-Azim al-Hasani was one of the defenders of the
true beliefs by his speech and conduct and he was one of the ‘sources of
reference’ in matters of the faith. This is evidenced by the directive of the
tenth Imam to his Shi’ites to turn to him (i.e. Sayyid Abd al-Azim al-Hasani) in
respect of religious matters, which appeared ambiguous and complex to them. The
text of that directive will be presented soon.
The Imami scholar and biographer Shaykh al-Najashi (d 450 AH/1058 AD) has
recorded his lineage at the beginning of his biography as: Abd al-Azim bin
Abdullah bin Ali bin al-Hasan bin Zayd bin al-Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.)
and this is his correct lineage. However, he then writes at the end of the
biography: ‘He (i.e. Abd al-Azim) died and when he was undressed so that the
funeral bath could be given to him, a small piece of paper was found in one of
his pockets in which was written his lineage, as follows: “I am Abu al-Qasim Abd
al-Azim bin Abdillah bin Ali bin al-Hasan bin Zayd bin Ali bin al-Hasan bin Ali
bin Abi Talib (a.s.).” But the first rendering of his lineage is correct for
Imam al-Hasan’s progeny continued through the agency of two sons, who were:
1) Zayd bin al-Hasan, and
2) Al-Hasan al-Muthanna
Thus it is apparent that Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) did not have a son by the name of
Ali through whom he may have had grandchildren (as the second version of Sayyid
Abd al- Azim’s lineage above implies). Therefore on the basis of the above,
Sayyid Abd al-Azim was separated from Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) by four generations
only (as implied by the first version of his lineage).
As a poet says, as if placing these words in the mouth of Sayyid Abd al-Azim,
There is not between myself and al-Mujtaba ‘ (i.e. Imam al-Hasan (a.s.)) Save
two Ayns (ع] and a Ha ‘ (حاء), and then a zay (ز).
Did he meet Imam Rida (a.s.)?
The Imami jurist, traditionist and biographer Shaykh al-Tusi (d 460 AH/1067 AD)
has considered him in his biographical work (Rijal) to be from the companions of
the Imams al-Hadi and al-Askari (a.s.), whilst Sayyid al-Tafrishi, Mirza ‘ al-Astarabadi
and al-Quhpa ‘i have considered him among the companions of Imam al-Jawad (a.s.).
There is no doubt that he was from the companions of the Imams al-Jawad and al-Hadi
(a.s.), on the basis of the many traditions which he transmits from them, but as
for his being from the companions of Imam al-Askari (a.s.) during the period of
his Imamate, that is a matter that needs careful scrutiny. This is because Imam
al-Hadi died in 254 AH/867 AD and Imam al-Askari undertook the responsibilities
of the Imamate after the death of his father in that year in the month of Rajab,
whilst Sayyid Abd al-Azim died in the year 252 AH/866 AD. Thus he did know the
person of the Imam al-Askari during the Imamate of his father but due to the
fact that he died well before the tenth Imam, would negate the possibility of
him being from the companions of the eleventh Imam.
The question now is: Did he meet Imam al-Rida (a.s.) or not? Now it may be
inferred that he did so, on the basis of the tradition, which he transmits from
Hisham bin al-Hakam who died in 199 AH/814 AD (and it is said, perhaps even
This tradition is as follows: Al-Kulayni reports from Ahmad, who reports from
Abd al-Azim al-Hasani, from Hisham bin al-Hakam, from Abu Abdillah al-Sadiq (a.s.)
‘This is the path of Ali, which is straight.’
Therefore if Sayyid Abd al-Azim al-Hasani’s age at the time of receiving this
report was twenty years, then he would be from those who were born around 180
AH/796 AD, and Imam al-Rida (a.s.) died in 203 AH/818 AD, which may suggest that
he did meet the eighth Imam. All this would stand true if this chain were
authentic and correct.
However the chain itself provides a clue to our problem, which is: that it is
known that Sayyid Abd al-Azim al-Hasani narrates a lot from those who died in
the second and third decades of the third century hijri, while Hisham died
before 200 hijri (815 AD) and so this indicates a missing link between the
Sayyid and Hisham. Add to the above, the fact that the Sayyid narrates a lot
from Imam al-Rida (a.s.) via intermediaries. All of this would combine to
suggest that he did not meet the eighth Imam after all.
Perhaps it may be inferred that he met Imam al-Rida (a.s.) on the basis of a
tradition which Shaykh al-Mufid (d 413 AH/1022 AD) records in his Kitab al-Ikhtisas
where he writes: ‘it is narrated from Sayyid Abd al-Azim al-Hasani, from Abu al-Hasan
al-Rida (a.s.) that he said: “O Abd al-Azim, convey my greetings to my
friends and tell them not to let Satan have recourse to their souls.
Command them to be truthful in their speech and to return faithfully what is
entrusted to them. Order them to maintain silence and leave off wrangling and
disputations regarding that which does not concern them and to embark upon
visiting each other for that is most beloved to me…They must not engage in
maligning each other for I have vowed that one who does that and vexes a friend
of mine, then I shall call upon Allah to punish him in this world with a severe
punishment and he will be from the losers in the hereafter.
And inform them that Allah has forgiven and pardoned the evil deeds of the
good-doers from among them except one who associates another with Allah or hurts
a friend from my friends or harbours ill-will towards him, for Allah will not
forgive him till he desists from it, if he desists. However if he does not, then
the spirit of faith will be removed from his heart and he will secede from my
friendship. Nor will he have any luck in this world and I seek refuge in Allah
But there seems to have occurred a mistake in the chain of this tradition, for
the Imam identified by the epithet Abu al-Hasan’ is Abu al-Hasan the third (i.e.
the tenth Imam al-Hadi) rather than Abu al-Hasan the second (i.e. the eighth
Imam al-Rida) while al-Mufid erroneously wrote Al-Rida in place of Al-Hadi’ (a.s.).
The evidence for this claim is that Sayyid Abd al-Azim would have been a young
teenager throughout the life of al-Rida (a.s.) and it would have hardly been
fitting for him to have been the carrier of the Imam’s message to his Shi’ites
and friends, indeed it would not be fitting except for one advanced in age and
well-know among men for his love and loyalty.
To be continued ...
* By : Ayatullah