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Abstract:
On apparently-conflicting hadiths (sayings ascribed to the prophet Muhammad) regarding the Hidden Imam and the Qa'im.
Notes:
Mirrored with permission from adibmasumian.com. The original Tablet can be found in Máʼidiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 2, pp. 50–52, available for download in DOC and PDF format.

A Tablet from 'Abduʼl-Bahá regarding the Twelfth Imám

by Abduʼl-Baha

translated by Adib Ma'sumian.
2016

In a Tablet to Ḥájí Ṣadr-i-Hamadání, the title of which is “O Ṣadruʼṣ-Ṣudúr! The unrolled scroll hath been read aloud,” the Center of the Covenant—exalted be His praise—hath said:

As to the question of the twelfth Imám, there existeth in the ḥadíths an apparent contradiction. In one ḥadíth, Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan [1]—peace be upon Him—is considered the promised Qáʼim, yet in another, it is mentioned that the death of that same Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan will precede the birth of the awaited Qáʼim in the End of Time. [2] One cannot reconcile these two ḥadíths, unless he be certain that the twelfth Imám—the promised Qáʼim—existed spiritually in the Kingdom of God, and was manifested physically, in the form of another person, at the Hour of Revelation. “And no one thing is there, but with Us are its storehouses; and We send it not down but in settled measure” [3]. That which is manifest in the contingent world existed first in the Kingdom of God.

The matter of the twelfth Imám and the promised Qáʼim is mentioned in a chain of highly questionable ḥadíths. Were one to judge the matter fairly, he would not give credence to any of these various narratives that contradict each other. Every one of the holy Imáms was considered by the Shíʻihs of His time to be the Qáʼim, and they awaited His emergence from the occultation. [4] With the passing of Imám Ḥasan ʻAskarí, [5] the leading divines realized that the foundation of hope for Shíʻihs would soon be utterly destroyed, and that they would fall into great despair. As these divines wished to preserve that hope, they made allusions, invoked metaphors, created allegories, and offered interpretations. Consequently, various narratives began to emerge, and the fact of the matter is that, after the passing of Imám Ḥasan ʻAskarí—peace be upon Him—the Shíʻihs had become divided into three groups. One group clung to the ignorant Jaʻfar, [6] and congratulated him on his accession to the Imámate. Another group came to renounce totally their belief in the role of the Imám. The other group attached themselves to belief in the occultation, and every day awaited the Qáʼim’s emergence therefrom. For a thousand years they have anticipated His advent, and to this day they have yet to grow tired of this futile anticipation.

Gracious God! The appearance of His Manifestation is mentioned explicitly in the Qurʼán, without any need for commentary or interpretation: “And thy Lord shall come and the angels rank on rank” [7]. And yet have they regarded this matter with doubt, been unsettled by it, offered tenuous interpretations to explain it, and clung to narratives that have ultimately caused confusion and vacillation. They have deemed these narratives to be the explicit Text, and have used them to oppose anyone who should disagree with them. What foolishness, what folly have seized these people, and what stupidity they demonstrate! How utterly lost they are in their error! Salutations and praise be upon thee.

___________

Notes:

[1] The son of Imám Ḥasan ʻAskarí (the eleventh Imám of Shíʻih Islám), believed by Shíʻih Muslims to be the twelfth Imám.

[2] cf. Encyclopedia Iranica, “The Concept of Mahdi in Twelver Shiʿism”: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/islam-in-iran-vii-the-concept-of-mahdi-in-twelver-shiism

[3] Qurʼán 15:21.

[4] cf. Encyclopedia Iranica, “Ḡayba”: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/gayba

[5] The eleventh Imám of Shíʻih Islám.

[6] The brother of Imám Ḥasan ʻAskarí, known to Twelver Shíʻihs as “Jaʻfar-i-Kadhdháb” (“Jaʻfar the Liar”). For more information, refer to this Tablet from Baháʼuʼlláh: https://adibmasumian.com/translations/existence-of-qaim/ [Mirrored on site at http://bahai-library.com/bahaullah_masumian_existence_qaim]

[7] Qurʼán 89:22.

A typed version of the complete Persian text of this tablet appears below.

در لوح حاجی صدر همدانی که عنوانش ای صدر الصدور رقّ منشور قرائت گشت می‌باشد مرکز ميثاق جلّ ثنائه فرموده‌اند

امّا مسئله امام دوازدهم چون در نفس احاديث ائمّه بحسب ظاهر مناقشه واقع، در جائی محمّد بن الحسن عليه السلام را نفس قائم موعود شمردند، و در جائی ديگر و حديثی ديگر وفات محمّد بن الحسن عليه السلام و تولّد قائم منتظر را در آخر الزمان بيان می‌فرمايند. پس بجهت توافق بين دو حديث چاره از برای نفسی نه مگر آنکه تيقّن نمايد که امام دوازدهم قائم موعود در حيّز ملکوت روحاً موجود بود و در يوم ظهور جسماً مشهود گشت باين تجسّم شخصی ثانی گشت. وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِندَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَ مَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَّعْلُومٍ. آنچه در حيّز ملک ظاهر گردد اوّل در حيّز ملکوت بوده و حکم وجود داشت. اين مسئله امام دوازدهم و قائم موعود در احاديث مسلسله بسيار متزلزل است. اگر نفسی انصاف داشته باشد هيچيک از اين روايات مختلفه متباينه متعارضه را اعتماد ننمايد. حضرات شيعيان هر يک از ائمّه اطهار را در يومش قائم می‌دانستند و منتظر خروج او بودند. بعد از حضرت امام حسن عسکری رؤسا ملاحظه کردند بنياد اميد شيعيان بکلّی ويران خواهد شد و مأيوس و مضمحل خواهند گشت. خواستند بوسيله‌ای نگهداری کنند لهذا کنايه و استعاره و مجاز و تأويل بکار برده و روايات مختلفه پديدار شد و حقيقت حال اينست که شيعيان بعد از امام حسن عسکری عليه السلام سه قسم شدند. قسمی بامامت جعفر نادان تشبّث نمودند و او را تهنيت و تبريک بامامت گفتند. و قسمی بکلّی منصرف شدند. و قسمی ديگر بغيبوبت تشبّث نمودند و هر روز منتظر خروج بودند. هزار سال است که انتظار می‌کشند و هنوز کلال و ملال نياورده‌اند. سبحان الله ظهور حقّ با وجود آنکه بنصّ صريح من دون تفسير و تأويل منصوص قرآن است، قوله تبارک و تعالی: «وَجَاءَ رَبُّكَ وَالْمَلَكُ صَفّاً صَفّاً» در اين شبهه نمايند و تزلزل بنمايند و تأويل رکيک کنند و برواياتی که در نهايت تزلزل است تشبّث نمايند و نصّ صريح گمارند و بآن معارضه کنند. اين چه بلاهت است و نادانی و اين چه حماقت و سرگردانی. و عليک التحيّة و الثّناء ع ع

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