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Alteration and Reorientation of Text in Twelver Shi'ism - I

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful



In the Twelver corpus of hadith, there is an abundance of narrations which they will draw upon to support their prime contention of there having been twelve Imams designated by God to lead this Umma after the Prophet's صلى الله عليه وآله passing, the knowledge of which is necessary to one's own salvation and the denial of which leads to one's eternal damnation.  But were the Shia - even the Imami Shia - themselves aware of this in their own formative stages?  Were the companions of the Imams and their students themselves aware that there would be twelve of them, even knowing the names of each?  A surface reading of Twelver literature composed after the formation of a distinctive Twelver identity would seem to show that, but how reliable in this record?  In the follow articles, we will look at some examples of how earlier material from their sources was repurposed and reformulated to argue a new doctrine, that is, the belief that there would be twelve Imams.



The Asl of Abu Sa`id al-`Usfoori, the tablet of Fatima  عليه السلام, and hadiths indicative of there being thirteen Imams


We will now turn our attention to several narrations present within the Twelver hadith corpus that indicate there having been a belief in thirteen Imams prior to the crystallization of a view denoting twelve. In particular, we will cite some hadiths from one of the sixteen usool collections, the Asl of Abu Sa`id al-`Usfoori, whose compiler died in the year 250 AH. We will then compare the narrations found therein with those found in other Twelver compilations, some also coming down on the authority of Abu Sa`id. In fact, there appears to be sufficient evidence to suggest that tampering did occur with these hadiths over some period of time.


First, we present the hadiths from the Asl indicating twelve Imams:



عباد عن عمرو عن ابى حمزه قال سمعت على بن الحسين (ع) يقول ان الله خلق محمدا وعليا واحد عشر من ولده من نور عظمته فاقامهم اشباحا في ضياء نوره يعبدونه قبل خلق الخلق يسبحون الله ويقدسونه وهم الائمة من ولد رسول الله



`Abbad from `Amr from Abu Hamza. He said: I heard `Ali b. al-Husayn عليهما السلام saying: Verily Allah created Muhammad and `Ali and eleven from his sons from the light of His majesty. So He raised them as phantoms in the luminosity of His light. They worshipped Him prior to the creation of creation, glorying Allah and sanctifying Him. And they are the Imams from the sons of the Messenger of Allah.



عباد رفعه إلى ابى جعفر (ع) قال قال رسول الله (ص) من ولدي احد عشر نقيبا نجيبا ( نقباء نجباء خ د ) محدثون مفهمون اخرهم القائم بالحق يملاءها ( الارض خ د ) عدلا كما ملئت جورا



`Abbad going up to Abu Ja`far عليه السلام. He said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: From my sons are eleven highborn chiefs, spoken to (i.e. by the angel) (muhaddathoon), made to understand (mufahhamoon); the last of them is the Qa’im by the Truth; he will fill it (the earth – in another manuscript) with justice as it had been filled with inequity.



عباد عن عمرو بن ثابت عن ابي جعفر عن ابيه عن ابائه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وعليهم نجوم في السماء امان لاهل السماء فإذا ذهب نجوم السماء اتى اهل السماء ما يكرهون ونجوم من اهل بيتي من ولدي احد عشر نجما امان في الارض لاهل الارض ان تميد باهلها فإذا ذهبت نجوم اهل بيتي من الارض اتى اهل الارض ما يكرهون



`Abbad from `Amr b. Thabit from Abu Ja`far from his father from his fathers. He said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وعليهم said: The stars in the sky are a safeguard for the people of heaven; so when the stars of the sky go that which the people of heaven dislike will come. And the stars of my Ahl al-Bayt from my sons, the eleven stars, are a safeguard in the earth for the people of the earth lest it may shake with its people. And when the stars of my Ahl al-Bayt go away from the earth, that which the people of the earth are averse to shall come.



عباد عن عمرو عن ابي الجارود عن ابي جعفر (ع) قال قال رسول الله (ص) إني وأحد عشر من ولدي وأنت يا علي رز (2) الأرض أعني (3) أوتادها [و] جبالها، وقد (4) وتد الله الأرض أن تسيخ بأهلها، فإذا ذهب الأحد عشر من ولدي ساخت الأرض بأهلها ولم ينظروا



`Abbad from `Amr from Abu ‘l-Jarud from Abu Ja`far عليه السلام. He said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: Verily I and eleven of my sons and you, O `Ali, are the knobs of the earth, I mean its pegs [and] its mountains. And Allah has fastened the earth lest it sink with its people. So when the eleventh from my sons goes, the earth will sink with its people and they shall not be granted respite.



As it stands today, the above narrations - though they have weak chains of narration in terms of their authenticity - would stand as some of the most convincing argument that the pre-ghayba Imamis had awareness of there being twelve Imams.  While we do not deny that some Shias may have entertained such a notion at some point (along with others competing ideas such as there being seven Imams, or an indeterminate continual line of Imams till the end of the world), on closer analysis the following narrations fall short of being convincing proof for that.


The original narrations in this Asl most likely contradicted the Twelver view, stating that there would be thirteen Imams (that is, `Ali عليه السلام + twelve Imams from the descendants of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله), a view that shows up in a number of hadiths apart from here. The fact that the compiler of this collection is listed as having been a Jarudi Zaydi might also lend support to this view.


So where is the proof of this contention? It’s the fact that we can find the same narrations from Abu Sa`id quoted elsewhere in an early Imami collection (al-Kafi, whose author al-Kulayni would have upheld the Twelver view and clearly would not have been manipulating the narrations in such a way as to contradict his own beliefs) but with a different count in key parts of the text.


So looking at the second narration, here is what we find. In al-Kafi, it reads:



18 - وبهذا الاسناد، عن أبي سعيد رفعه، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: من ولدي اثنا عشر نقيبا، نجباء، محدثون، مفهمون، آخرهم القائم بالحق يملاها عدلا كما ملئت جورا



By this isnad (Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. Ahmad from Muhammad b. al-Husayn) from Abu Sa`id going up from him from Abu Ja`far عليه السلام. He said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: From my sons are twelve highborn chiefs, spoken to (i.e. by the angel) (muhaddathoon), made to understand (mufahhamoon); the last of them is the Qa’im by the Truth; he will fill it with justice as it had been filled with inequity.



One might not catch the problem with this right away, just seeing the mention of twelve, but the issue here is that Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام was not a son/descendant of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله. Evidently, a later transmitter of the hadith saw the problem with this, and so “corrected” the count in his transmission of the Asl. Again, al-Kulayni would have had no interest in falsifying the text from eleven to twelve here, so his is likely the original (and for Twelvers, the problematic) version. Later on, Ibn ShahrAshoob quotes the same narration in his al-Manaqib, but now the mention of sons is dropped and exchanged for “from my Ahl al-Bayt”:



وفي حديث أبي جعفر (ع) قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: من أهل بيتي اثنا عشر نقيبا محدثون مفهمون منهم القائم بالحق يملأ الأرض عدلا كما ملئت جورا



And in the hadith of Abu Ja`far عليه السلام, he said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: From my Ahl al-Bayt are twelve highborn chiefs, spoken to (i.e. by the angel) (muhaddathoon), made to understand (mufahhamoon); from them is the Qa’im by the Truth; he will fill it with justice as it had been filled with inequity.



Since Ibn ShahrAshoob came onto the scene much later (d. 588AH), it would be reasonable to regard his text here as a later revision of the original to try to get it more in line with the Twelver ideology. Though, that said it is interesting how in his version it drops the mention of the Qa’im being the last of them and simply says “from them”.


As to the third hadith, it doesn’t look like we have another version elsewhere than in this Asl. There is, however, another narration that is similar in content found in `Ilal ash-Shara`i, but narrated by Jabir b. Yazid al-Ju`fi instead of Abu Sa`id. It reads:



حدثنا محمد بن إبراهيم بن اسحاق الطالقاني رضى الله عنه قال حدثنا عبد العزيز بن يحيى قال حدثنا المغيرة بن محمد قال حدثنا رجاء بن سلمة عن عمرو ابن شمر، عن جابر بن يزيد الجعفي، قال: قلت لابي جعفر محمد بن علي الباقر عليهما السلام لاي شئ يحتاج إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وآله والامام؟ فقال لبقاء العالم على صلاحه وذلك ان الله عزوجل يرفع العذاب عن أهل الارض إذا كان فيها نبي أو أمام قال الله عزوجل وما كان الله ليعذبهم وأنت فيهم وقال النبي صلى الله عليه وآله النجوم أمان لاهل السماء وأهل بيتي أمان لاهل الارض فإذا ذهبت النجوم اتى اهل السماء ما يكرهون وإذا ذهب اهل بيتي اتى أهل الارض ما يكرهون



Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Ishaq at-Taliqani رضى الله عنه narrated to us. He said: `Abd al-`Aziz b. Yahya narrated to us. He said: al-Mughira b. Muhammad narrated to us. He said: Raja b. Salama narrated to us from `Amr b. Shimr from Jabir b. Yazid al-Ju`fir. He said: I said to Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. `Ali al-Baqir عليهما السلام: For which thing does one have need of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله and the Imam? So he said: For the remaining of the Earth upon its goodness, and that is that Allah عزوجل lifts the punishment from the people of the Earth when there is a prophet or an Imam in it. Allah عزوجل said “And Allah would not punish them while you are amongst them”. And the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said: : The stars are the safeguard for the people of heaven and my Ahl al-Bayt are the safeguard for the people of the Earth; so when the stars of heaven go that which the people of heaven dislike will come. And when my Ahl al-Bayt go, that which the people of the earth are averse to shall come.



The latter part of the hadith is evidently quoting the same tradition as this one, however notice there is no mention in it of a specific number with regards to the Ahl al-Bayt.


The fourth hadith we do have, again also found in al-Kafi, and with the same notable differences as before, supporting our contention that this is what the original text probably read like. One occurrence of this in Kafi might be dismissible as a mistake, but when you see the same thing happening twice from the same source it’s highly unlikely to be the case, especially when you keep in mind how this would have been going against the Twelver beliefs of the book’s compiler.



محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن أحمد، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن أبي سعيد العصفوري، عن عمرو بن ثابت، عن أبي الجاورد، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله

إني واثني عشر من ولدي وأنت يا علي زر الأرض يعني أوتادها وجبالها، بنا أوتد الله الأرض أن تسيخ بأهلها، فإذا ذهب الاثنا عشر من ولدي ساخت الأرض بأهلها ولم ينظروا:



Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. Ahmad from Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Abu Sa`id al-`Usfoori from `Amr b. Thabit from Abu ‘l-Jarud from Abu Ja`far عليه السلام. He said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: Verily I and twelve of my sons and you, O `Ali, are the knobs of the earth, meaning its pegs and its mountains. By us Allah fastened the earth lest it sink with its people. So when the twelfth of my sons goes, the earth will sink with its people and they shall not be granted respite.



The language in this one is even more problematic than the earlier one, as `Ali عليه السلام is distinctly mentioned separately from the twelve Imams from the descendants of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله (which again, he was not a descendant of his in the first place).


This concept of their being thirteen Imams finds support in narrations elsewhere, so it must have been one of the concepts floating around in these times. Incidentally, the Twelver attempt to explain these away is pretty unconvincing, for example suggesting that Fatima عليها السلام might be included in the twelve being mentioned. The point of this is of course not to actually suggest that there were thirteen Imams, but rather to demonstrate that the notion of their being only twelve Imams was not a definitive doctrine (to the exclusion of other ideas) earlier on, but at best would have been one amongst other competing notions, as well as to suggest that some of the twelve Imam narrations might in fact be reflective of this (now rejected) understanding. That is of the twelve Imams being the descendants of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله and `Ali عليهما السلام, the latter not being included in said twelve (though of course still being an Imam).


Now, let us return back to these two hadiths from al-Kafi:



محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن أحمد، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن أبي سعيد العصفوري، عن عمرو بن ثابت، عن أبي الجاورد، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: إني واثني عشر من ولدي وأنت يا علي زر الأرض يعني أوتادها وجبالها، بنا أوتد الله الأرض أن تسيخ بأهلها، فإذا ذهب الاثنا عشر من ولدي ساخت الأرض بأهلها ولم ينظروا



Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. Ahmad from Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Abu Sa`id al-`Usfoori from `Amr b. Thabit from Abu ‘l-Jarud from Abu Ja`far عليه السلام. He said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: Verily I and twelve of my sons and you, O `Ali, are the knobs of the earth, meaning its pegs and its mountains. By us Allah fastened the earth lest it sink with its people. So when the twelfth of my sons goes, the earth will sink with its people and they shall not be granted respite.



وبهذا الاسناد، عن أبي سعيد رفعه، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: من ولدي اثنا عشر نقيبا، نجباء، محدثون، مفهمون، آخرهم القائم بالحق يملاها عدلا كما ملئت جورا



And by this isnad from Abu Sa`id going up from him from Abu Ja`far عليه السلام. He said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: From my sons are twelve highborn chiefs (naqeeb), spoken to (i.e. by the angel) (muhaddathoon), made to understand (mufahhamoon); the last of them is the Qa’im by the Truth; he will fill it with justice as it had been filled with inequity.



Interestingly, Tusi quotes the first narration in his Ghayba, however it reads:



وبهذا الاسناد عن محمد بن عبد الله بن جعفر، عن أبيه، عن محمد بن أحمد بن يحيى [عن محمد بن الحسين، عن أبي سعيد العصفري] (1) عن عمرو بن ثابت (2)، عن أبي الجارود عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم: إني وأحد عشر من ولدي وأنت يا علي زر الأرض - أعني أوتادها وجبالها - بنا أوتد الله الأرض أن تسيخ بأهلها، فإذا ذهب الاثنا عشر من ولدي ساخت الأرض بأهلها ولم ينظروا



And by this isnad from Muhammad b. `Abdullah b. Ja`far from his father from Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Abu Sa`id al-`Usfari from `Umar b. Thabit from Abu ‘l-Jarud from Abu Ja`far عليه السلام. He said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله: Verily I and eleven of my sons and you, O `Ali, are the knobs of the earth, meaning its pegs and its mountains. By us Allah fastened the earth lest it sink with its people. So when the twelfth of my sons goes, the earth will sink with its people and they shall not be granted respite.



Here, it has the “twelve of my sons” changed to “eleven of my sons” at the beginning, but then it neglects to change it at the end, so it still reads “when the twelfth of my sons goes”.


Though, these are not the only narrations of this sort. Elsewhere in Usool al-Kafi, in the context of a long narration with the following chain:



محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن مسعدة بن زياد، عن أبي عبدالله ومحمد بن الحسين، عن إبراهيم، عن أبي يحيى المدائني، عن أبي هارون العبدي، عن أبي سعيد الخدري



Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Mas`ada b. Ziyad from Abu `Abdillah and Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Ibrahim from Abu Yahya al-Mada’ini from Abu Harun from Abu Sa`id al-Khudri


There is this statement attributed to Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام:



إن لهذه الامة اثني عشر إمام هدى من ذرية نبيها وهم مني 



There are twelve Imams for this Umma – Imams of guidance – from the progeny of its Prophet, and they are from me.



The latter expression doubly confirms that all of the twelve are not only from the descendants of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله, but they are also of the descendents of Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام, hence the latter could not be counted in them.


Then there is the tablet narration, which is found in multiple sources with several variations. It would presumably be due to the difficulties in reconciling its count to a purely Twelver view, hence alterations were introduced to the text in order to try to fix the “problem”. 


So, we begin with al-Kafi:



محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن ابن محبوب، عن أبي الجارود، عن أبي جعفر (عليه السلام) عن جابر بن عبدالله الانصاري قال: دخلت على فاطمة (عليها السلام) وبين يديها لوح فيه أسماء الاوصياء من ولدها، فعددت اثني عشر آخرهم القائم (عليه السلام)، ثلاثة منهم محمد وثلاثة منهم علي



Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Ibn Mahbub from Abu ‘l-Jarud from Abu Ja`far عليه السلام from Jabir b. `Abdullah al-Ansari. He said: I entered upon Fatima عليها السلام and before her was a tablet in which there were the names of the awsiya from her children. So I counted twelve, the last of them being the Qa’im عليه السلام. Three of them were Muhammad and three of them were `Ali.



From a Twelver angle, there are a couple major problems here. First would be that there are not twelve awsiya from her children according to the Twelver belief, there would be eleven. And if the twelve mentioned here is supposed to include Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام in its list, then there would not be three named `Ali, there would be four (1st, 4th, 8th and 10th Imams).


Just to give you an idea of the mental gymnastics Twelver scholars indulge in to try to explain away such narrations, they say that the narration is separated up into three parts. So “the names of the awsiya from her children” is one part, the “I counted twelve” is a separate part and is supposed to include Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام, but then the “three of them were `Ali” goes back to the “from her children” part, bypassing the twelve.


In case one might think the above is just a fluke or a copyist error in al-Kafi, the same narration can be found in Saduq’s Khisal via a route separate from al-Kulayni:



حدثنا أبي رضي الله عنه قال: حدثنا سعد بن عبد الله قال: حدثنا محمد ابن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب، عن الحسن بن محبوب، عن أبي الجارود، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام، عن جابر بن عبد الله الأنصاري قال: دخلت على فاطمة عليها السلام وبين يديها لوح فيه أسماء الأوصياء فعددت اثني عشر أحدهم القائم، ثلاثة منهم محمد وثلاثة منهم علي



My father رضي الله عنه narrated to us. He said: Sa`d b. `Abdullah narrated to us. He said: Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. Abi ‘l-Khattab narrated to us from al-Hasan b. Mahbub from Abu ‘l-Jarud from Abu Ja`far عليه السلام from Jabir b. `Abdullah al-Ansari. He said: I entered upon Fatima عليها السلام and before her was a tablet in which there were the names of the awsiya. So I counted twelve, the last of them being the Qa’im عليه السلام. Three of them were Muhammad and three of them were `Ali.


Notice here that Saduq doesn’t include the “from her children”, however the tradition still presents a problem anyway in that it says three of them were named `Ali, so without the first part it’s an even bigger issue for them, since they can’t then claim it refers back to the first part of the sentence, as unlikely an interpretation as that is to begin with. 


However, by the time you get to his `Uyun Akhbar ar-Rida, the tradition is changed yet again, but now it not only drops the “from her children” part, the last bit now reads “and four of them were `Ali”:



حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن يحيى العطار رضي الله عنه قال: حدثنا أبي عن محمد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب عن الحسن بن محبوب عن أبي الجارود عن أبي جعفر عن جابر بن عبد الله الأنصاري قال: دخلت على فاطمة عليها السلام وبين يديها لوح فيه أسماء الأوصياء فعددت اثنا عشر آخرهم القائم ثلاثة منهم محمد وأربعة منهم علي عليهم السلام


حدثنا الحسين بن أحمد بن إدريس رضي الله عنه قال: حدثنا أبي عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى وإبراهيم بن هاشم جميعا عن الحسن بن محبوب عن أبي الجارود عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام عن جابر بن عبد الله الأنصاري قال: دخلت على فاطمة عليها السلام وبين يديها لوح فيه أسماء الأوصياء فعددت اثنا عشر آخرهم القائم عليه السلام ثلاثة منهم محمد وأربعة منهم على عليهم السلام



To make it even more confusing, however, there are yet even more versions found in his Kamal ad-Deen and al-Faqih:



حدثنا محمد بن موسى بن المتوكل رضي الله عنه قال: حدثني محمد بن يحيى العطار، وعبد الله بن جعفر الحميري، عن محمد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب، عن ابن محبوب عن أبي الجارود، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام، عن جابر بن عبد الله الأنصاري قال: دخلت على فاطمة عليها السلام وبين يديها لوح فيه أسماء الأوصياء من ولدها (2) فعددت اثني عشر آخرهم القائم ثلاثة منهم محمد، وأربعة منهم علي صلوات الله عليهم أجمعين


وروى الحسن بن محبوب عن أبي الجارود عن أبي جعفر (عليه السلام) عن جابر بن عبد الله الأنصاري قال: دخلت على فاطمة (عليها السلام) وبين يديها لوح فيه أسماء الأوصياء من ولدها فعددت اثنى عشر أحدهم القائم، ثلاثة منهم محمد وأربعة منهم على - عليهم السلام - 



So now we do have the “from her children” part, but then it ends with “and four of them were `Ali”.


Al-Mufid’s version of it in his Irshad does not really help much either:



أخبرني أبو القاسم جعفر بن محمد، عن محمد بن يعقوب، عن محمد ابن يحيى، عن (محمد بن الحسين) (4)، عن ابن محبوب، عن أبي الجارود، عن أبي جعفر محمد بن علي عليهما السلام، عن جابر بن عبد الله الأنصاري قال: دخلت عل فاطمة بنت رسول الله عليهما السلام وبين يديها لوح فيه أسماء الأوصياء والأئمة من ولدها، فعددت اثني عشر اسما آخرهم القائم من ولد فاطمة، ثلاثة منهم محمد، وأربعة منهم علي 



Abu ‘l-Qasim Ja`far b. Muhammad reported to us from Muhammad b. Ya`qub from Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Ibn Mahbub from Abu ‘l-Jarud from Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. `Ali عليهما السلام from Jabir b. `Abdillah al-Ansari. He said: I entered upon Fatima عليها السلام and before her was a tablet in which there were the names of the awsiya and the Imams from her children. So I counted twelve names, the last of them being the Qa’im عليه السلام, from the children of Fatima. Three of them were Muhammad and four of them were `Ali.



So, here the narration is even more confusing from a Twelver angle, expanding and changing the wording in a few places, namely “and the Imams” being added after the awsiya, while the “from her children” is retained. The “names” is added after twelve and the explicit “from the children of Fatima” is also added (thus nullifying the explanation that the twelve here is not referring back to the first reference of “from her children”). But then it finishes it off with “four of them were `Ali”.


Continuing on, there is this narration from al-Kafi, explicitly stating the twelve Imams are from the progeny of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله  and `Ali عليه السلام:



أبوعلي الاشعري، عن الحسن بن عبيد الله، عن الحسن بن موسى الخشاب، عن علي بن سماعة، عن علي بن الحسن بن رباط، عن ابن اذينة، عن زرارة قال: سمعت أبا جعفر (عليه السلام) يقول: الاثنا عشر الامام من آل محمد كلهم محدث من ولد رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) وولد علي بن أبي طالب (عليه السلام) فرسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) وعلي (عليه السلام) هما الوالدان



Abu `Ali al-Ash`ari from al-Hasan b. `Ubaydullah from al-Hasan b. Musa al-Khashshab from `Ali b. Sama`a from `Ali b. al-Hasan b. Rabbat from Ibn Udhayna from Zurara. He said: I heard Abu Ja`far عليه السلام saying: Twelve Imams from the Family of Muhammad, all of them are muhaddath from the children of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله and the children of `Ali b. Abi Talib عليه السلام. So the Messenger of Allah and `Ali عليهما السلام are the two fathers.



The same tradition is found in Tusi’s Ghayba.



And the same narration is again repeated here in al-Kafi:



محمد بن يحيى، عن عبدالله بن محمد الخشاب ، عن ابن سماعة، عن علي بن الحسن بن رباط، عن ابن اذينة، عن زرارة قال: سمعت أبا جعفر (عليه السلام) يقول: الاثنا عشر الامام من آل محمد (عليهم السلام) كلهم محدث من رسول الله صلى عليه وآله ومن ولد علي ورسول الله وعلي (عليهما السلام) هما الوالدان، فقال علي بن راشد وكان أخا علي بن الحسين لامه وأنكر ذلك فصرر أبوجعفر (عليه السلام) وقال: أما إن ابن امك كان أحدهم



Muhammad b. Yahya from `Abdullah b. Muhammad al-Khashshab from Ibn Sama`a from `Ali b. al-Hasan b. Rabbat from Ibn Udhayna. He said: I heard Abu Ja`far عليه السلام saying: Twelve Imams from the Family of Muhamad, all of them are muhaddath from the children of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله and from the children of `Ali b. Abi Talib عليه السلام. So the Messenger of Allah and `Ali عليهما السلام are the two fathers. So `Ali b. Rashid - and he was a brother of `Ali b. al-Husayn by his mother – denied that, so Abu Ja`far عليه السلام shouted at him and said: Indeed the son of your mother was one of them!


In Kifayat al-Athar, in the context of the narration saying what Imam al-Hasan b. `Ali عليه السلام said after he was poisoned, it has him say:



أن هذا الأمر يملكه اثنا عشر إماما من ولد علي عليه السلام وفاطمة عليها السلام، ما منا إلا مسموم أو مقتول



Twelve Imams from the children of `Ali عليه السلام and Fatima عليها السلام will possess this amr. There is none from us but that he is poisoned or killed.



Again, all of these references to the twelve Imams having descended from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله would thereby exclude Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام. Moreover, saying they are the descendents of `Ali عليه السلام as well would doubly exclude such a notion.


We can also find this reference in the book of Sulaym b. Qays. In his entry on him, Ibn al-Ghada’iri says in his book:


Sulaym b. Qays. Al-Hilali. Al-`Amiri. Narrated from Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام, al-Hasan عليه السلام, al-Husayn عليه السلام and `Ali b. al-Husayn عليه السلام. This famous book is attributed to him. Our companions would say that Sulaym is not known, and not mentioned in (any) report. I have found mention of him in places other than from the direction of his book, and not from the narration of Aban b. Abi `Ayyash from him. Ibn `Uqda has made mentioned hadiths from him in ‘Rijal Amir al-Mu’mineen.’ The book (attributed to Sulaym) is a forgery, no doubt about it. There is evidence showing what we have mentioned about it. From it: what it mentions about Muhammad b. Abu Bakr exhorted his father at his death. And for it: that the Imams are thirteen. And other than that. The isnads of this book vary. Sometimes by the narration of `Umar b. Udhayna from Ibrahim b. `Umar as-San`ani from Aban b. Abi `Ayyash from Sulaym. And sometimes it is narrated from `Umar from Aban without an intermediary.


In this context and confirming the above, there is also Ibn Barniyya about whom Najashi says:




هبة الله بن أحمد بن محمد: الكاتب، أبو نصر المعروف بابن برنية ، سمع حديثا كثيرا، وكان يتعاطى الكلام ويحضر مجلس أبي الحسين بن الشيبة العلوي الزيدي المذهب، فعمل له كتابا وذكر أن الأئمة (عليهم السلام) ثلاثة عشر مع زيد بن علي ابن الحسين (عليه السلام)، واحتج بحديث في كتاب سليم بن قيس الهلالي أن الأئمة (عليهم السلام) اثنا عشر من ولد أمير المؤمنين (عليه السلام). له كتاب في الإمامة وكتاب في أخبار أبي عمرو وأبي جعفر العمريين، ورأيت أبا العباس بن نوح قد عول عليه في الحكاية في كتاب أخبار الوكلاء، وكان هذا الرجل كثير الزيارات، وآخر زيارة حضرها معنا يوم الغدير سنة أربعمائة بمشهد أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام



Hibatullah b. Ahmad b. Muhammad the scribe, Abu Nasr, known as Ibn Barniyya, he heard many hadiths and would collect kalam and attend the majlis of Abu ‘l-Husayn b. ash-Shayba al-`Alawi who was Zaydi in madhhab. So he made a book for him, and mentioned that the Imams are thirteen with Zayd b. `Ali b. al-Husayn عليه السلام, and argued by means of the hadith in the book of Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali that the Imams are twelve from the descendants of Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام. He had a book on the Imamate, and a book regarding the reports of Abu `Amr and Abu Ja`far al-`Amriyayn (i.e. the first and second safirs). And I saw Abu ‘l-`Abbas b. Nuh has relied upon him in narration in the book Akhbar al-Wukala. This man used to do many ziyarat, the last ziyara which he was present with us was on the day of Ghadir in the year 400 at the mashhad of Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام.


So, the notion of thirteen Imams does indeed seem to have been in circulation, at the very least, among the later Imamis. It was only through the efforts of Twelver scholars that the view of there being twelve Imams crystallized. However, this was not without altering narrations to fit within the overall Twelver scheme.