The stance of `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu and the Ahl al-Bayt

Refutation of these assertions and a brief overview of the sources which prove the existence of Ibn Sabaʼ
March 23, 2015
ʿAbd Allah ibn Sabaʼ: Fact not Fiction
March 23, 2015

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The stance of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the Ahlul Bayt

Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:


Two groups will be destroyed on account of me; those who will be extreme in their love for me, which will lead them to ascribe to me what I do not possess and others who will be extreme in their hatred towards me, which will lead them to ascribe to me what I do not possess. The best of people with regards to me are those who tread the middle path. Attach yourself to them and attach yourself to the majority, for verily the help of Allah is with the Jama’ah.[1]


This is how Allah Ta’ala intended to divide the people regarding Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu; that is into three groups. The first group are those who harbour hatred and malice for him, they are those who criticise him and in fact so me of them transgress the limits by declaring him to be a kafir, such as the Khawarij.

The second group are those who are so intense in their love for him that their love leads them to exaggeration until they equate him to a nabi. In fact, some even surpass this and ascribe divinity to him.

As for the majority, they are the Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah, from the pious predecessors to the present day. They love ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the Ahlul Bayt in line with Shari’ah and do so because of their nearness to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied to the accusations of the first group and fought them, after debating with them bore no fruits, the details of which are well-known and can be found in the books of history. We now wish to study closely the position of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his Ahlul Bayt towards Ibn Sabaʼ and his followers.

After Ibn Sabaʼ announced his acceptance of Islam, outwardly portraying himself to be calling towards good and forbidding evil, winning the admiration of a few; he sought to draw closer to Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, expressing great love for him. After he gained confidence, he began fabricating and ascribing falsehood to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Imam ‘Amir al Sha’bi (103 A.H) of the senior Tabi’in reports:


The first to begin fabricating narrations was ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ. He would ascribe falsehood to Allah and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would say, “What relation do I have with this wicked black man (referring to Ibn Sabaʼ).” He would speak ill of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu as well.[2]


Ibn al ‘Asakir has also reported that when Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu learnt of Ibn Sabaʼ belittling Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he summoned him and then called for his sword so that he could behead him. However, others intervened and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “I swear by Allah, he cannot live in the same city as I.” So he exiled him to Al Madaʼin.[3]

Ibn al ‘Asakir has also reported from Imam Jafar al Sadiq (83-148 A.H), who is considered to be the sixth Imam by the Shia, who reported from his pious forefathers on the authority of Jabir radiya Llahu ‘anhu:


When ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was given the pledge of allegiance he addressed the people. ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ stood and said to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu: “You are the Dabbat al Ard.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu exhorted him: “Fear Allah!” Ibn Sabaʼ said: “You are an angel.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu again remarked: “Fear Allah!” Ibn Sabaʼ continued: “You have created life and you distribute rizq.” On this ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ordered him to be executed but the Rawafid gathered together and said: “Leave him be and instead exile him to Al Madaʼin; because if you kill him in Kufah then his companions will march against us.” So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu exiled him to Al Madaʼin, from where the Qaramitah and Rawafid later emerged.


On account of the tireless efforts of Ibn Sabaʼ, a headquarters for the movement was finally established.

Jabir radiya Llahu ‘anhu then said:


A group, comprising of eleven men, then confronted ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and they were the followers of Ibn Sabaʼ. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to them: “Retract! Because I am ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, my father and my mother are well-known and I am the cousin of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” They replied: “We will not retract, you abandon these demands.” So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had them all burnt and their graves are in the desert. Those of them who remained alive, who did not reveal themselves to us, began saying ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is Allah.


They substantiated their claim from the narration of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu: “Only the creator of the fire may punish with it.”[4]

This is the stance of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu towards ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ and his followers, exiling him to Al Madaʼin and burning a group of his followers.

Whoever is not satisfied with these narrations, some of which have been reported by the ‘infallible’ Imams, choosing to deny them audaciously and obstinately, we will quote for them the reports of this incident as has been recorded in authentic books of the Ahlus Sunnah and thereafter those reported by the Shia as well.

Imam al Bukhari has reported in his Sahih (Chapter of Jihad/ section entitled: “Do not punish with the punishment of Allah”), with his chain of narration from ‘Ikramah:

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu burnt a group of people as punishment. The news of this reached Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu who said: “Had it been me then I would not have burnt them, as Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has said: “Do not punish with the punishment of Allah.” But I would have definitely executed them because Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has said: “Whoever forsakes his religion, execute him.”


Imam al Bukhari has also reported in his Sahih (Chapter of urging those who forsake their religion to repent and fighting against them) with his chain of narration to ‘Ikramah, similar to the above with a slight variation:

A group of heretics were brought to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he had them burnt alive.[5]


The same has been reported by Imam Abu Dawood in his Sunan (Chapter of punishments/ section: the ruling for those who forsake Islam) with his chain of narration to ‘Ikramah with a slight variation in wording and in the end of the narration it is reported that the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu reached ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he said: “May Allah have mercy on Ibn Abbas.”

The same has been reported by Imam al Nasa’i in his Sunan.[6]

Imam al Tirmidhi reports this in his Jami’ (Chapter of punishments/ section: what has been reported regarding those who forsake Islam) and in the end of the narration he reports:

News of this reached ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he said: “Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu is correct.”

He then comments on its authenticity saying it is sahih hassan (authentic and reliable) and that it is practiced upon by the scholars.[7]

Imam al Bukhari has narrated in his Sahih (Chapter of urging those who forsake Islam to repent) with his chain of narration to ‘Ikramah similar to the above, stating that a group of heretics were brought to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he had them all burnt alive.[8]

Tabrani has reported in his Mujam al Awsat on the authority of Suwaid ibn Ghaflah:

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu learnt of a group who had forsaken Islam and he summoned them before him. He fed them and invited them to return to Islam but they refused. He had a trench dug and brought them forward, he then severed their heads and threw them inside. He ordered wood to be thrown on top of their bodies and they were all burnt. He then said: “Allah and His Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have spoken the truth.”[9]


In the third part of the hadith of Abu Tahir al Mukhlis, on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn Sharik al ‘Amiri from his father, it is reported:

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was told about a group of people standing at the door of the masjid, claiming that he was their Rabb. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu summoned them and said: “Woe to you! What are you saying?” They replied: “You are our Rabb, our creator and our sustainer.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu remarked: “Woe to you! I am but a slave like yourselves, I eat as you do and I drink as you do. If I obey Allah then He will reward me if He wishes and if I disobey Him then I fear that He will punish me. Fear Allah and return (to Islam).” They refused to repent. The following day they came to him again and Qanbar arrived, who said: “By Allah they have returned, saying the same.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ordered them to sit before him and he spoke to them as he had the previous day. On the third day he told them: “If you make these claims again, I will kill you all in a most ruthless manner.” However, they still refused to repent. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu then ordered: “O Qanbar! Summon for me a few labourers with their shovels and dig for them a trench between the door of the masjid and the palace.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “Dig and dig deep into the earth.” Wood was then brought and a fire lit in the trench. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu threatened them: “Return (to Islam) or I will throw you into it.”, but they still refused and they were all thrown into it and burnt to death, upon which ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

اوقدت نارى و دعوت قنبرا

انى اذا رايت امرا منكرا

When I saw an evil act being carried out

I lit a fire and called upon Qanbar

Hafiz Ibn Hajar has said that this hadith is hassan (reliable).[10]

In addition to the above mentioned narrations, Al Kulayni has reported in his Al Kafi, which is the equivalent of Sahih al Bukhari to the Shia (in the chapter of punishments-under the section of the punishment for those who forsake Islam) with his chain of narration to Imam Jafar:

A group of people came to Amir al Muʼminin and said to him: “Peace be upon you, O our Rabb!” So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu urged them to repent but they did not. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu then had a trench dug and a fire lit in it. He then had another dug adjacent to it, linking the two. When they did not repent, he threw them into the trench and lit a fire in it as well, until they died.[11]


Al Mamaqani, who is above all scrutiny to the Shia, has also reported a few narrations defaming the extremists, amongst whom are the followers of Ibn Sabaʼ.

When ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was with his wife, the mother of ‘Umar, Qanbar arrived and said: “There are ten people at the door who claim that you are their Rabb.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu instructed him to allow them to enter. When they entered, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu questioned them about what they had been saying and they replied: “We say that you are our Rabb and it is you who has created us and it is you who sustains us.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied: “Woe to you all! Do not say this; I am but a creation and the same as you all.” They refused to listen and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu again said: “My Rabb and your Rabb is Allah. Woe to you! Repent and return (to Islam).” They said: “We will not return, You are our Rabb, who sustains us and who has created us.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu called for Qanbar and said to him: “Summon for me a few labourers.” So Qanbar left and returned with ten men carrying their shovels. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ordered them to dig into the earth and once they had completed digging a few trenches, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ordered them to fill it with wood and light a fire in it. Once the fire was ablaze, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to them: “Repent!” but they replied: “We will not!” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu threw them one after the other into the fire, after which he recited:

اوقدت نارا و دعوت قنبرا

انى اذا بصرت امرا منكرا

When I saw an evil act being carried out

I lit a fire and called upon Qanbar[12]


It appears that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu issued this punishment to others as well, namely the people of Zat.

Imam al Nasa’i has reported in his Sunan on the authority of Anas ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

A few people from Zat, who worshipped idols, were brought to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he had them burnt alive. Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrated that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whoever forsakes Islam, execute him.”[13]


Ibn Abi Shaibah has reported on the authority of Qatadah (the same hadith), regarding which Hafiz Ibn Hajar remarked: “There is a break in its chain.” He also adds:

If this is proven then it will refer to another incident.


Ibn Abi Shaibah has also reported from Ayub, who reported from No’man, who said to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

There are a few people in this house who worship an idol that they have placed there. So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu went to the house and discovered that it was true. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ordered the house to be burnt over them.[14]


Al Kashshi has reported in his book- Ma’rifah Akhbar al Rijal, after the biography of ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ, under the heading: “Seventy people of Zat who claimed divinity for ‘Ali”, with his chain of narration to Imam al Baqir:


After ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu completed fighting against the people of Basrah, seventy people from Zat came to him, they greeted him and spoke to him in their tongue and he replied to them in their own tongue. He said to them: “I am not what you claim me to be, I am a servant of Allah, whom He has created.” However, they refused to accept his argument and said: “You are indeed Him.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu warned them: “If you do not refrain from what you say about me and repent to Allah, I will have you all executed.” They still refused to refrain from this and repent so ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had a number of trenches dug, linking one to the other and flung them into it. He sealed the top of it and a lit a fire at the end of one of the trenches in which none of them were, causing the smoke to fill the other trench and suffocate all of them.


It is reported in Bihar al Anwar, quoting the book Manaqib Al Abi Talib:

So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had trenches dug and a fire lit in it. Qanbar lifted each of them by their shoulders and flung them into the fire. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

اوقدت نارى و دعوت قنبرا

انى اذا رايت امرا منكرا

وقنبر يحطم حطما منكرا

ثم احترقت حفرا فحفرا

When I saw an evil act being carried out

I lit a fire and called upon Qanbar

I then set each of the trenches alight

And Qanbar threw firewood upon it


Ibn Shahar Ashub commented on this narration:

These beliefs were later revived by Muhammad ibn Nusayr al Namiri al Basri, who claimed that Allah did not manifest Himself except in that era and He is none other than ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is the person that the Nusayriyyah sect ascribes themselves to. The Nusayriyyah are a sect who permit everything, discard ‘ibadah (worship) and the laws of Shari’ah, and legitimise that which is prohibited and unlawful in Shari’ah. They also say: “The Jews are upon the truth but we are not with them and the Christians are on the truth but we are not with them.”[15]


It is only appropriate for us to mention another incident while discussing ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu burning the followers of Ibn Sabaʼ and those who forsook Islam, which has been reported by Ibn Abi al Hadid in his commentary on Nahj al Balaghah:

وروى ابوالعباس احمد بن عبيد عمار الثقفى عن محمد بن سليمان بن حبيب المصيصى المعروف بنوين: وروى ايضا عن على بن محمد النوفلى عن مشيخته, “ان على عليه السلام مر بقوم و هم ياكلون فى شهر رمضان نهارا فقال اسفر ام مرضى قالوا لا و لا واحدة منها قال فمن اهل الكتاب انتم فتعصمكم الذمة و الجزية قالوا لا قال فما بال الاكل فى نهار رمضان فقاموا اليه فقالوا: انت انت يومئون الى ربويتة فنزل عليه السلام عن فرسه فالصق خده بالارض و قال: ويلكم انما انا عبد من عبيد الله فاتقوا الله و ارجعوا الى الاسلام فابوا فدعاهم مرارا فاقاموا على كفرهم فنهض اليه و قال: شدوهم وثاقا و على بالفعلة و النار و الحطب ثم امر بحفر بئرين فحفرتا فجعل احداهما سربا والاخرى مكشوفة و القى الحطب فى المكشوفة و فتح بينهما فتحا و القى النار فى الحطب فدخن عليهم و جعل يهتف بهم و يناشدهم ليرجعوا الى الاسلام فابوا فامر بالخطب و النار فالقى عليهم فاحرقوا فقال الشاعر:

اذا لم ترمنى فى الحفرتين

لترم بى المنية حيث شائت

فذاك الموت نقدا غير دين

اذا ما حشنا حطبا بنار

فلم يبرح عليه السلام حتى صاروا حمما

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu passed by a group of people who were eating in the month of Ramadan and asked them: “Are you travellers or ill?” They replied that they were neither of the two, so he asked them if they were from the Ahl al Kitab, under the protection of Jizyah and again they replied that they were not. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu then enquired: “So then what has permitted you to eat in the days of Ramadan?” They walked towards him and said: “You are, you are.” Suggesting that he was their Rabb. So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu dismounted and placed his cheek on the ground. He then said: “Woe to you! I am but a servant from the servants of Allah. Fear Allah and return to Islam.” They refused to do so and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu repeated this a number of times but they remained adamant upon their kufr. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu went towards them and ordered: “Bind them in shackles and bring for me labourers, fire and wood.” He then ordered two trenches to be dug; one closed and the other open. Wood was thrown into the open one and a tunnel dug, linking the two. The wood was then set alight, causing the smoke to engulf them. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu called out to them, advising them to return to Islam but they refused. So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ordered wood to be thrown upon them also and they were burnt. A poet said:

Fate may cast at me whatever it desires.

As long as it does not cast me in the two trenches.

Where we set alight the firewood.

That will be instant death with no respite.

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not leave from there until they were burnt to ash.[16]


These are the narrations that we find reported from amongst the authentic and reliable reports and historical narrations as well as from the books of the Shia, whether they be ‘aqa’id, fiqh, narrators or history; all of which prove with certainty that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had a group of renegades who believed him to be Allah burnt alive, amongst whom were the followers of the cursed Ibn Sabaʼ.

As for Ibn Sabaʼ, the narrations of both the Ahlus Sunnah and of the Shia confirm that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu sufficed with exiling him to Al Madaʼin after the Rawafid interceded for him.

Al Nawbakhti writes in his book- Firaq al Shia, under the biography of Ibn Sabaʼ:


He was amongst those who expressed hatred towards Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and the Sahabah; absolving himself from them. He would say that he has been commanded to do so by ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu captured him and interrogated him about his beliefs, to which he confessed. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ordered him to be killed but people objected: “O Amir al Muʼminin! Will you kill a person who calls towards loving you, the Ahlul Bayt, and towards your authority, as well as absolvement from your enemies?” So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu exiled him to Al Madaʼin.[17]


Ibn Saba’ propagates his beliefs in Al Mada’in

‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ found a fertile ground for the propagation of his beliefs and deviation after being exiled, as now he was at a safe distance from the sword of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He now began positioning his followers and propagating his beliefs amongst the soldiers of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Al Madaʼin. When they received news of the martyrdom of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu; he and his followers refused to accept it. Let us now read through these events as has been narrated by Al Khatib Al Baghdadi, who reports with his chain of narration to Zuhar ibn Qais Al Ju’fie, regarding whom ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu has said that whoever wishes to see a living martyr should look at him. He narrates:

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu dispatched four hundred men of Iraq under my command to Al Madaʼin. I swear by Allah, we were resting at sunset on the road when a person came to us, his steed worn out. We asked him from where he had come and he replied that he had come from Kufah. We asked him when he had left and he replied that very day. We asked him if there was any important news and he replied: “Amir al Muʼminin came out to perform the fajr salah and he was attacked by Ibn Bajrah and Ibn Muljam. One of them stabbed him. People survive even worse attacks than this and others die of even less.” He then left. ‘Abdullah ibn Wahab al Sabaʼi then raised his head towards the sky and said: “Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!” We asked him what was wrong and he replied: “Even if he had informed us that he had seen the brains of Amir al Muʼminin coming out of his head, I would still be certain that he will not die until he shepherds the Arabs with his staff.”


In the narration from Al Jahir in Al Bayan wa al Tabyin it is reported that he said:

If you bring before us his head in a hundred bags, we will still not be convinced that he has died. He cannot die until he gathers them with his staff.


Returning to the narration of Al Khatib Al Baghdadi:

We had only slept the night, when the letter of Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu reached us, which read: “From the servant of Allah- Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Amir al Muʼminin, to Zuhar ibn Qais, Take the pledge from those before you.” We then said to him (i.e. ‘Abdullah ibn Wahab): “Now what do you have to say about your claim?” He replied: “I believed that he will die.”[18]


Hassan ibn Musa al Nawbakhti reports:

When ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ heard the news of the death of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Al Madaʼin, he said to those who brought him the news: “You have spoken a lie! Even if you came with his head in seventy bags and you bring seventy witnesses testifying to his death, we still know that he is not dead nor was he killed and he will not die until he controls the world.”[19]


The narration of ‘Abd a l-Jabbar al Hamdani regarding the standpoint of Ibn Saba’ and his followers

‘Abdul Jabbar al Hamdani al Mu’tazili comments while discussing the standpoint of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu towards Ibn Sabaʼ:


He urged them to repent but they did not, so he had them burnt alive. They were a small group. ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ was exiled from Kufah to Al Madaʼin. When ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was martyred, Ibn Sabaʼ was asked: “‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu has been killed and he is dead and he has been buried; what is it you used to say regarding him going to Syria?” Ibn Sabaʼ replied: “I heard him say: “I will not die until I stretch my legs in the vast expense of Kufah and establish peace in it, and I travel to Damascus and destroy every brick of its Masjid…” Thus, even if you were to bring his severed head before me, I will still not believe that he has died.” When he was disgraced (by the truth being revealed), he was baffled (and could not reply).

He would ascribe to Amir al Muʼminin untrue statements. At the present moment there are many Shia in Kufah who say the same as he did. Amongst them and amongst those of Iraq; all say that Amir al Muʼminin approved of his statements and of those whom he had burnt, and he only had them executed because they revealed his secret but he brought them back to life thereafter. They say: “If what you say is indeed true (that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu disapproved of these beliefs) then inform us why he did not execute Ibn Sabaʼ as well?” We reply that ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ did not admit to the same beliefs as they did but rather was accused of it and was therefore exiled. Then too if he had burnt him with the rest, it still would not help as then you would say that he did so only because he disclosed his secret.[20]


The reaction of Ibn Saba’s followers when they learnt of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu martyrdom

As for the followers of Ibn Sabaʼ; they did not content themselves with denial only but proceeded to Kufah, openly declaring their baseless beliefs of their mentor and guide, Ibn Sabaʼ.

Sa’d ibn ‘Abdullah al Qummi; who is considered to be reliable by the Shia, has reported in Al Maqalat wa l-Firaq:

The followers of Ibn Sabaʼ said to those who brought the news of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu demise: “You have spoken a lie, O enemy of Allah! Even if you were to bring, by Allah, his severed head and seventy reliable witnesses to testify to his death, we would still not believe you. We know that he has not died nor was he killed and that he will not die until he shepherds the Arabs with his staff and takes control of the earth.” They then proceeded to the door of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, calling out to him and seeking permission to enter as one convinced of him being in the house would. Those present in the house, from his family and companions, said to them: “Subhan Allah! Do you not know that Amir al Muʼminin has been martyred?” They replied: “We know full-well that he has not been killed nor has he died and he will not die until he shepherds the Arabs with his sword and whip, just as he led them with his arguments and proofs. He hears our supplications and knows what lies beneath the heavy veils and he gleams in the darkness just as a polished sword.”[21]


From amongst them was a man named Rashid al Hijri, who exposed his beliefs before Imam ‘Amir al Sha’bi, who narrates:

I went to him one day and he related to me: “I left with the intention to perform hajj and I said to myself that I will take a vow to do so in the presence of Amir al Muʼminin. So I went to his house and called out: “Give me permission to enter, O Amir al Muʼminin!” Someone replied: “Has he not passed away?” I replied: “He might be dead to you but I take an oath by Allah, he is breathing at this very moment.” A reply came: “If that is the case then you are aware of the secret of the family of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” I was then permitted to enter and I entered upon Amir al Muʼminin, who informed me of events that were going to transpire.” Al Sha’bi said to him: “If you are lying then may the curse of Allah be upon you.” News of this reached Ziyad, who had him arrested, his tongue cut out and hanged at the door of ‘Amr ibn Hurayth.[22]


Hafiz al Dhahabi has narrated this in Tadhkirat al Huffaz, where he reports that Rashid said:

I asked a person there to permit me to see Sayed al Mursalin. The reply came that he is asleep. He thought I was referring to Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu so I said to him: “I do not refer to Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu but to the Amir al Muʼminin, the Imam of the pious and the leader of the radiant steeds.” They said: “Has he not passed away?” I replied: “By Allah! He is breathing at this very moment and he knows what lies beneath the heavy veils.”[23]


This is why Imam Sha’bi would say:

Falsehood has not been ascribed to anyone else in this Ummah as it has been ascribed to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[24]

Ibn Habban has said about this very same Rashid:

He believed in raj’ah.[25]


Al Tusi has mentioned him amongst the companions of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and said his full name to be Rashid al Hijri al Rayyash ibn ‘Adi al Taʼi.[26]

Rashid is considered to be amongst the lieutenants of the Imams, and specifically a lieutenant of Hussain ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[27]


The stance of the Ahlul Bayt towards Ibn Saba’

The Ahlul Bayt of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam opposed ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ in the same manner that Amir al Muʼminin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu opposed him; they refuted him and absolved themselves from his propaganda and falsehood. Al Kashshi has reported with his chain of narration from Aban ibn ‘Uthman:


I heard Imam Jafar say: “May the curse of Allah be upon Ibn Sabaʼ. He claimed divinity for Amir al Muʼminin and I swear by Allah, he was only a servant (of Allah). Destruction be upon those who fabricate in our names. People attribute to us qualities that we do not attribute to ourselves. We absolve ourselves from them and surrender to Allah.”[28]


Al Kashshi has also reported with his chain of narration from Abu Hamzah al Thumali:


‘Ali Ibn Hussain said: “May the curse of Allah be upon those who fabricate in our names. When I think of ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ, every hair of my body stands on end. He propagated a most heinous belief, what is wrong with him, May Allah curse him. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a pious slave of Allah, a brother of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He only achieved honour from Allah, on account of his obedience to Allah, and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not achieve honour except on account of his obedience to Allah.”[29]


Al Kashshi has also narrated with his chain of narration from ‘Abdullah ibn Sinan:


Imam Jafar said: “We the Ahlul Bayt are all truthful and have not been spared from liars who fabricated against us and tarnish our honesty with their falsehood. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the most truthful of people in his speech and the most truthful of all creation but Musaylamah would fabricate against him. Amir al Muʼminin was the most truthful of those who were created after Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the one who would fabricate against him and belied his honesty, fabricating against Allah was ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ. May Allah’s curse be upon him.”[30]


These are the narrations of Al Kashshi from the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt. What is certain is that the book of Al Kashshi- Ma’rifat al Naqilin ‘an al Aʼimmah al Sadiqin has been thoroughly investigated by one of the esteemed and respected scholars of the Shia, whom they awarded the title of “Sheikh al Taʼifah”- Muhammad ibn Hassan ibn ‘Ali al Tusi (460 A.H). He then revised it and corrected it. He named this revised version Ikhtiyar al Rijal, which he then dictated to his students in Mash-had. He began dictating this book on Wednesday 26 Safar 456 A.H. This has been clarified by Al Sayed Radi al Din ‘Ali ibn Taʼus in Faraj al Mahmum, who quoted from the copy of Sheikh al Tusi, which clearly states that it is a summary of the book written by Abu ‘Amr Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al Kashshi. The copy present today was printed in Bombay 1317 A.H. In fact, the copy used by Allamah al Hilli too was the summary of the narrators of Al Tusi, as the original was not available.[31] It is with these reports and clear narrations of the Shia that the realty of ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ becomes apparent to us. Whoever of the Shia will contest this will in actual fact be contesting his own books, which report the curses these Imams heaped out upon this Jew. It is impermissible and in fact impossible to fathom that the ‘infallible’ Imams were cursing a fictional character. Similarly it is impossible for the Shia to accuse the Imams of lying. This is what has become apparent to us in proving the existence of this wicked personality. As far as his involvement in the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu is concerned and his propaganda during the khilafah of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as well as his impression upon the beliefs of the Shia; this requires a separate discussion and an entirely different treatise.

ربنا لا تزغ قلوبنا بعد اذ هديتنا و هب لنا من لدنك رحمة انك انت الوهاب

ربنا آمنا بما انزلت و اتبعنا الرسول فاكتبنا مع الشاهدين



[1] Sharah Nahj al Balaghah 2/306

[2] Tarikh Damashq, Tahdhib Tarikh Damashq 7/430

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] Sahih al Bukhari ma’ Fath al Bari 6/151

[6] Sunan al Nasaʼi 5/105

[7] Tirmidhi 4/59

[8] Sahih al Bukhari ma’ Fath al Bari 12/268, Al Nukt al Zaraf 5/108, Tarikh al Nisabur by Al Hakim

[9] Fath al Bari 12/270

[10] Fath al Bari 12/270

[11] Al Kafi 7/257-259

[12] Maqabis al Hidayah 89, 90, Tanqih al Maqal

[13] Sunan al Nasaʼi 7/104

[14] Fath al Bari 12/270

[15] Manaqib Al Abi Talib of Ibn Shahar Ashub 1/227, Bihar al Anwar 25/285

[16] Sharah Nahj al Balaghah 2/308,309

[17] Firaq al Shia page 44, Qamus al Rijal 5/463

[18] Tarikh Baghdad 8/488

[19] Firaq al Shia page 53, Qamus al Rijal 5/463

[20] Tathbit Dalaʼil al Nubuwwah 2/539-550

[21] Al Maqalat wa l-Firaq page 21

[22] Al Majruhin 1/298, Mizan al I’tidal 2/52

[23] Tadhkirat al Huffaz 1/84

[24] Tadhkirat al Huffaz 1/82

[25] Al Majruhin 1/298, Al Mizan al I’tidal 2/53

[26] Rijal al Tusi page 41

[27] Al ‘Alawiyyun Fidaʼiyu al Shia al Majhulun of ‘Ali ‘Aziz Al ‘Alawi page 31, Lieutenant used here is a translation of the Arabic word “Bab”, which is a term used to refer to one who liaises with the Imam.

[28] Rijal al Kashshi page 100, Tanqih al Maqal 2/183, Qamus al Rijal 5/461

[29] Rijal al Kashshi page 100, Tanqih al Maqal 2/183, Qamus al Rijal 5/461

[30] Rijal al Kashshi page 100, Tanqih al Maqal 2/183, Qamus al Rijal 5/462

[31] Rijal al Tusi page 62