Hadith of 12 Imams and Shia’s belief


Assalam u alayekum Syedi Sheikh Hisham!
I read the hadith of 12 Imams. I heard from one Shia that this hadith refers to their 12 aa’immah (from Hazrat Ali to Imam Mahdi). Is it so? Also, I have read that Imam Abu Hanifa respected Imam Jafar Sadiq and Imam Muhammad very much. But when it comes to their books i.e “Asul al Kafi“,ahl-as-sunnah don’t consider them credible. Please tell what is the credibility and authenticity of these books :
“Asul-Al-kafi”, “Saheefa-e-Kaamila”, “Nehaj-ul-Balaghaa“?
Shukran ya syyedi. Forgive me if I made any mistake in asking this question.


`Alaykum as-Salam,

By request of Mawlana Shaykh Hisham (Allah bless him and preserve him):

Yes, the Ja`fari Shi`is, also known as the Twelver Shi`is, consider the hadith of the twelve imams to refer to twelve important descendents of the Holy Prophet, upon him and them blessings and peace whereas Ahl al-Sunnah consider it to mean twelve prominent political Qurayshis such as the Umayyads and `Abbasids, or only the righteous among them, such as the Four Rightly-Guided, then al-Hasan, then `Umar b. `Abd al-`Aziz, and those of that high righteous rank. Two replies have already been posted regarding the latter.

Yes, Imam Abu Hanifa respected Sayyidina Ja`far as-Sadiq and said he never saw greater in fiqh than him. He also respected Sayyidina Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya(*) and reportedly supported his claim to political authority against the caliph al-Mansur, which may be the reason why he died in the seat of the caliphate in Baghdad, i.e. in jail, due to that political allegiance, otherwise he lived in al-Kufa and normally should have died there. Allah have mercy on all of them.

(*) Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, whose full name is Muhammad b. `Abd Allah b. al-Hasan b. al-Hasan b. `Ali b. Abi Talib (Allah be well-pleased with all of them) who refused to give baya` to the `Abbasid Caliph, Abu Ja`far al-Mansur when he made hajj in 144 then disappeared, whereupon the latter made it his mission to arrest him, imprisoning his father and his whole family and interrogating under torture every single Hashimi he could find, at which time Sayyiduna Ja`far as-Sadiq went into hiding. After Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya and his brother Ibrahim organized a rebellion in Madina and Basra they almost took over the caliphate but al-Mansur sent his army against them and al-Nafs al-Zakiyya was killed in 145. At the time many of the prominent Madinan jurist descendents of the Companions had supported the latter and some of them had even considered him to be the Mahdi.

As for “Usul al-Kafi“, it was not authored by Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya (d. 145) or Jaafar al-Sadiq (d. 148) but by Muhammad b. Yaqub al-Kuléni (d. 328). It is not considered reliable by Ahl al-Sunnah nor, to our knowledge, by any of the masters of our Golden Chain, because it contains false reports such as the claim that the real Qur’an is supposedly 17,000 verses, and insults against the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. Al-Kuléni himself in his preface warns that his book may contain forgeries and the knowledgeable Shi`is themselves consider that most of its narrations are probable forgeries, about 9,500 out of a total of 16,000 according to the Shi`i scholar, Sayyid Hashim Ma`ruf al-Husayni in his book, “Diraasaat fil-Hadith wal-Muhaddithin” (p. 132-137). Many of the early Shi`i scholars also attacked the claim made against the Qur’an as heresy, such as al-Saduq, al-Tabarsi and al-Murtada. And putting such a claim in the mouth of Imam Jaafar al-Sadiq and others from Ahl al-Bayt adds insult to injury.

As for the “Sahifa Sajjadiyya“, also known as the “Kamila“, Ahl al-Sunnah love this beautiful du`a which contains full respect for all the Sahaba and the affirmation of the Vision of Allah (both of which are not Shi`i but Sunni doctrinal tenets) even if its chain is not authentically established to its purported author, Zayn al-`Abidin `Ali b. al-Husayn al-Sajjad (d. 94), Allah have mercy on him.

As for “Nahj al-Balagha“, it is read by many among Ahl al-Sunnah, including the Ba`Alawi Shuyukh in Tarim because of its beneficial advice and the beauty of its Arabic style, but of course they reject whatever part of it contradicts Sunni doctrine. Keeping respect for *all* of the Sahaba, at the risk of repeating ourselves, is non-negotiable. As Habib Ali al-Jifri said during the Mawlid of al-Husayn (Allah be well-pleased with him) in Cairo a few years ago, emphasis is on the possessive “OF THE PROPHET” when we say phrases such as “Family of the Prophet” and “Companions of the Prophet.” So we respect and love all of them for HIS sake – upon him and them blessings, peace, mercy, benedictions, and honor from pre-eternity to post-eternity.

Finally, “Nahj al-Balagha” is also not by Sayyidina `Ali (Allah ennoble his face) but was authored centuries later by al-Sharif al-Murtada Abu Talib `Ali b. Husayn b. Musa al Musawi (355-436). Al-Dhahabi said of it:

Some of it is falsehood and it contains some truth, however, there are in it forgeries of which the Imam is completely innocent and never said – but where is he that judges fairly? It is also said that al-Murtada’s brother is the compiler, ‘al-Sharif al-Radi.’

The late Egyptian philologist and hadith scholar Mahmud Shakir in his “Jamharat al-Maqaalaat” (2:1062) considers only one-tenth of it, at most, to be authentically related from our liegelord `Ali, and Allah knows best.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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