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Imam Ridha (a.s.) and the Waqfis

Immediately after the demise of his father, Imam al-Rida (A.S.) was tried by an acute calamity which deepened the tragedy of losing his father. On one hand, he was suffering from the attempts of the rulers and their supporters at his life and, on the other hand, he was painfully and bitterly witnessing the horrible division which caused dissension among his father's followers. It was caused by the promotion of an invented idea which called for the Imamate to be terminated with Imam Mousa ibn Ja'fer (A.S.), claiming that he did not actually die but was still alive, that he was the Qa'im (Mehdi) of the Progeny of Muhammad (S.A.W.), that his absence was similar to the absence of Mousa ibn 'Imran (Moses son of Amram), and that, accordingly, the Imamate should not transfer to his son Imam al-Rida (A.S.).

Pioneer of Waqfism

The first to promote this idea were few men who were among the most distinguished followers of Imam Mousa ibn Ja'fer (A.S.) such as Ali ibn Abu Hamza al-Bataini, Ziyad ibn Marwan al-Qandi, and Uthman ibn Isa al-Ruwasi. These three persons are considered the first to invent this "sect," openly claimed to be its adherents, and invited others to promote it.

Objectives of the Waqfis

This new "sectarian" trend did not result from a pure belief and a mere conviction; rather, it was prompted by materialistic and worldly desires which affected the thinking of its inventors and caused them to deviate from the Right Path. Those individuals tried to find excuses for their falling into such "sect" by narrating narratives they had heard from Imam al-Sadiq (A.S.) without being actually familiar with their implications, nor did they accurately comprehend their contexts either. This may be deliberate especially since Imam Mousa ibn Ja'fer (A.S.), while still alive, had explained to them their actual implications.

For example, Al-Ghaiba quotes al-Hassan ibn al-Hassan saying: "I said to Abul-Hassan Mousa (A.S.): `Can I ask you a question?' He answered, `You must rather ask your own Imam.' I inquired, `What do you mean? I do not know of any Imam other than your own self.' He said: `He is my son Ali to whom I gave my title (of Imam).' I said: `Master! Please help me save myself from Hellfire! Abu Abdullah (A.S.) had said that you yourself are the Qaim, the caretaker of this issue.' He said: `Was I not?' Then he added, `O Hassan! No Imam preaches to a nation except when he is their Qaim; so, when he leaves them (dies), his successor will be the Qaim and the Hujja (Proof) till he too leaves. We (the Imams) are all Qaims; therefore, from now on, redirect all your dealings to my son Ali, for by God I swear twice that I did not do that but God did out of His love for him.'"53

This narrative reveals to us the reality behind the confusion in which those who deviated by Waqfism were swept. It also proves that the theory of Waqfism was not born after the demise of Imam Mousa ibn Ja'fer (A.S.) but was alive even during the time of Imam al-Sadiq (A.S.) according to the narration of events which could not be explained even by their narrators. In this narrative, the Imam tries to explain to these individuals their misunderstanding of those implications and their erroneous interpretation thereof in a way upon whose premise the Waqfis establish their claim.

Imam Denounces Waqfism

The Imam did his best to emphasize the error of that concept and its collision with reality by continuously stating that the Imamate after his demise would be the responsibility of his son Ali, and he even made a number of his followers and family testify to that. For example, Haider ibn Ayyub says: "We were in Medina at Qaba where we used to meet Muhammad ibn Zaid ibn Ali. He came to us one day much later than anticipated, so we asked him what caused him to be so late. He said, `Abu Ibrahim invited seventeen men of us, all descendants of Ali and Fatima, God's blessings be upon both of them, and he required us to bear witness to his will and testimony that his son Ali would be his successor and representative during the remainder of his own life and after his demise, and that the issue was in effect since then.' Then Muhammad ibn Zaid said, `By God, O Haider! He has today tied the knot of Imamate for him, and the Shi'as will accept him as the Imam after his father's demise.'"54

Abdullah ibn al-Harith said: "Abu Ibrahim called us to his presence and we responded. He said, `Do you know why I have gathered you all here?' We answered in the negative. He said, `Bear witness that this Ali, my son, is my regent, executor of my will, and my successor after me; whoever entrusted me with something, let him take it back from him, and whoever insisted on seeking audience with me, let him obtain his written approval for that.'"55

Abdul-Rahman ibn al-Hajjaj is quoted saying that Abul-Hassan Mousa ibn Ja'fer (A.S.) had nominated his son Ali for the Imamate and wrote a statement to this effect in the presence of sixty witnesses from among the most distinguished dignitaries of Medina.56

In these clear texts, and in others, he is seen emphasizing his nomination of his son as the Imam and, at the same time, he is declaring that his death was imminent, thus in advance falsifying the claim of the Waqfis.


53 Al Ghayba by Shaikh al-Toosi, p. 29.

54 'Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, Vol. 1, p. 28.

55 Ibid., p. 27.

56 Ibid., p. 28.

Adapted from: "Imam al-Ridha (a.s.), A Historical and Biographical Research" by: "Muhammad Jawad Fadlallah"

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