Objection:

Some scholars interpret that the Twelve Caliphs are after the demise of al-Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). That is after the death of Imam al-Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), twelve rulers will govern, six from the progeny of Hasan (a.s.), five from that of Husain (a.s.) and one from someone else!!!

Reply:

Such an interpretation is clearly against the evident texts (nass) of the traditions, which mention in no uncertain terms, ‘twelve caliphs after me’, ‘this religion will always be mighty and lofty’ etc., which proves the connection of the caliphs’ era with that of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), their continuity till the final epoch and the confinement of the caliphs to them as has been elucidated in the narration of Ibn Masood.

This is in addition to the fact that these traditions are applicable for the twelve Imams (a.s.), who are famous and renowned among all the Muslim sects, thereby establishing the truth and validity of the prophecy of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) in clear terms. Then, what is the point in struggling to force these traditions to imply others, who do not fit in its description by any means?

If you argue: Although these characteristics are not found in anybody but the twelve Imams (a.s.), it is quite likely that they may be present in the future in some other individuals.

Reply: Amazing, indeed! How can we talk of something being present in the future when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) has prophesied them to exist in his (s.a.w.a.) immediate successors, whose time is joined with his (s.a.w.a.) time? Are not such interpretations a clear violation of his (s.a.w.a.) prophesy and a breach of his (s.a.w.a.) foretelling? In this case, we have to assume the impermissibility of the era of these caliphs being joined with that of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and the non-consideration of such traditions. But when there exists, a clear interpretation on which these traditions fit, it is not allowed to refute this claim with an argument of future probability.

Do you not see that Allah — the High — predicted the appearance of our Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the Old and the New Testaments with qualifying descriptions; but when he (s.a.w.a.) appeared exactly as foretold, the Jews and the Christians denied his (s.a.w.a.) Prophethood arguing that such a prophet will emerge in the future!! Allah has condemned them in the Holy Quran and refuted their argument that the prophecy will occur in the future.

As for their reliance on the tradition, ‘twelve caliphs will succeed al-Mahdi, of which six will be from the progeny of Hasan (a.s.)…’ to lend credibility to this argument, we say that apart from its contradiction to a number of traditions that have been narrated by both Shias and Sunnis, it also goes against the peculiar characteristics of these traditions. That is, the restriction of the number of caliphs to twelve, the continuity of their existence and the joining of their era with that of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). The apparent difference between the two narrations is that while the original tradition says, ‘after me, there will be…’ this narration says, ‘after Mahdi, there will be…’

Moreover, this tradition is considered to be weak and unreliable as has been explicitly mentioned by Ibn Hajar, when he says in his al-Sawaaeq al-Mohreqah that this tradition is truly absurd and cannot be relied upon. He has quoted this on the authority of his namesake Ibn Hajar, the author of Fath al-Baari.

This is apart from the fact that in all likelihood such a probability is derived from the Israaeliyyaat (i.e. the fabrications of the Jews in the Islamic texts). They have resorted to such interpolations to deviate these traditions from their clear interpretations.

Ibn Munaadi writes, ‘We take notice of these traditions because we find them in the Book of Daniyaal.’ If you want to know the background of this book and what has been said about it, refer to the beginning of al-Malaahem by Ibn Munaadi that you may know how a nation is afflicted with superstitions, absurdities and junk when they refuse to take true knowledge from its owners viz. the Imams (a.s.) of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). They are the ones for whom Allah has ordered the Muslim nation to fasten unto along with the Holy Quran.

(Abridged from the English translation of the book ‘Muntakhab al-Asar’, vol. 1, (published by Naba Publications, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran) by Ayatollah Lotfollah Saafi Golpaygani (may Allah prolong his life))!

Twelve Caliphs refers to Caliphs after Imam Mahdi (a.s.)