In His Name and With the Remembrance of His Last Hujjat (a.s.)
Yahya bin Khalid used to hold a debate every week at his house in which scholars of all the sects participated and tried to prove the veracity of their faith and expose the defects of the religion of their opponents. When Harun Rashid came to know about this he asked Yahya bin Khalid: O Abbaside, what type of gatherings you have at your place where the participants undertake discussions?
He replied: O chief of believers, these gatherings is the highest example of all the honors that you have bestowed me. I bring together the scholars of all the sects so that they may expose each other and thus the falsity of all of them is proved.
Harun Rashid said: I would also like to attend this gathering and listen to the participants but the audience and participants should not learn about my presence because they would not be able to have a frank talk due to my fear. Yahya said: Arrangement will be made as per the wish of the chief of believers. Harun told him to swear that his presence will be kept confidential and Yahya swore to assure that. However the Motazela people learnt about it somehow. They discussed this among themselves and then decided that they would argue with Hisham bin Hakam on the subject of Imamate so that Harun Rashid comes to know what the faith of Hisham is with regard to Imamate.
On the appointed day they all reached the venue of debate. Among those present were Hisham bin Hakam and Abdullah bin Yazid Abazi, who was the most truthful person. He was from the Khawarij sect and was a business partner of Harun Rashid. When Hisham entered, he greeted Abdullah bin Yazid. Yahya bin Khalid told Abdullah bin Yazid: O Abdullah, talk to Hisham on the subject of Imamate.
Hisham said: O Vizier, we cannot speak on this subject because these people were having unanimity with us on the Imamate of the same person, but after that they separated from us without knowledge and recognition. And even after separating from us on this matter it is not known why they separated. That is why they neither have any objection against us nor a reply to any objection, so how can they talk to us?
Bannan, who was associated with the Hururiya sect, said: Hisham, tell me whether the people who were among the forces of the day of arbitration, were they believers or disbelievers? Hisham said: There were three types of people: Believers, polytheists and misguided. Believer were those who believed that Ali (a.s.) is an Imam appointed by Allah and that Muawiyah is not worthy of Imamate. Thus these believers had faith in what Allah had appointed for Ali (a.s.).
The second group was that of the polytheists who used to claim that Ali (a.s.) is an Imam and Muawiyah is also worthy of Imamate. Thus with Ali (a.s.) they also made Muawiyah a partner in Imamate. The third group was that of the misguided who had joined the forces due to tribal loyalties. They were absolutely ignorant about such things.
Then he asked: What is your opinion about the companions of Muawiyah? Hisham said: They are also of three kinds: Disbelievers, polytheists and deviants. Disbelievers are those who say that Muawiyah is Imam and Ali (a.s.) is not worthy of Imamate. Thus they disbelieved in two ways: one was denying Ali’s divine appointment as an Imam and another was appointing an Imam from their own side.
Polytheists were those who said that Muawiyah is an Imam and Ali (a.s.) is also worthy of Imamate. Thus with Ali (a.s.) they also made Muawiyah a partner in Imamate.
Deviants were those who had come to fight on the side of Muawiyah only on the basis of their tribal bigotry. In this Bannan’s voice was finally silenced. Dirar said: Hisham, I want to question you about this. Hisham said: You cannot question me. He asked: Why? Hisham replied: Because you all reject the Imamate of my master, hence I should ask you the reason of your denial and you don’t have the right ask another question. And I must find out your point of view regarding this.
Dirar said: Ask. Hisham said: Do you believe that Allah is just? And that He does not commit injustice? Dirar said: Yes, He is just, He does not commit injustice. Hisham asked: If Allah makes it obligatory for a cripple to go to the masjid or go to jihad, or He commands a blind man to read books etc, He would be just or unjust? Dirar said: Allah does not issue such commands.
Hisham said: Can Allah issue such commands regarding debate that a thing should be proved when it does not have any supporting arguments?
Dirar said: If He issues such commands He would be called unjust. Hisham said: Has not Allah, the Mighty and Sublime made it incumbent for all to follow one and the same religion and that there is no controversy that He will accept only the religion that He has made incumbent to follow? Dirar agreed.
Hisham said: Did Allah fix some proof for this religion or He made it incumbent without a proof? Just as a blind may be commanded to read a book or a cripple may be ordered to attend the mosque? Dirar fell silent for a moment. Then he said: There is indeed proof for that but it does not justify the Imamate of your Imam.
Hisham smiled and said: You have yourself accepted the existence of Imamate. Now the only point of difference between us is the identity of that Imam.
Dirar said: I would like to use your statement against you and ask you a question. Hisham said: Ask. Dirar asked, “How is Imamate established and confirmed? Hisham replied: “As Allah established Prophethood.” Dirar said: “So he is a Prophet?” Hisham said: “No, because Prophethood is established by the Beings in heavens, and Imamate is established by the people of the earth. So the ratification of Prophethood is by the angels, and the ratification of the Imam is by the Prophet (peace be upon him). The two are established by the will of Allah”.
Dirar then said: What evidence do you have for that? Hisham replied: The necessity of this issue is…because there can be only three ways in it. Either that Allah has waived responsibility (taklif) from the creations after the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), that he no more commands them or prohibits them from doing anything, and they have become similar to wild beast and other animals, which are not responsible.
Or that people, after the Prophet (peace be upon him) have acquired knowledge similar to that of the Prophet, to the extent that one is not in need of the other, so that they will all be self-sufficient, and attain the truth without any differences among them.
Only the third option remains, which is that they are in need of others, because there must be knowledge to be established by the Messenger for them, in such a way that, he neither forgets, nor errs, nor deviates. He will be infallible and protected from sins, free of errors, one who all need, but who needs none. He said: “What is the evidence for that?”
Hisham answered “Eight evidences: four are features of his lineage and four are his personal features. As for the four features from his lineage (descent), he will be from a known race and a well-known tribe and a well known household, and that the Prophet pointed to him. There has never been a race in this creation as famous as the Arabs, of whom was the Prophet (peace be upon him). If it was permissible that the evidence from Allah (Imam) for His creation can be from any other race of the non-Arabs, and it would have been that what Allah wanted to be a source of good will is a source of corruption. This will not be compatible with the wisdom and justice of Allah, that He imposes on mankind an obligatory duty that does not exist. As this is not permissible, so it is not permissible that (the Imam) will be from other than this race, due to his relation with the prophet.
It is also not permissible that he will be of this race, if he will not be from this tribe, due to its close relation to the Prophet (peace be upon him), which is Quraish. As it is not permissible that he will be from this race, except that he is from this tribe, in similar ways, it will not be permissible that he (the Imam) will be from this tribe, except that he is from this household, for its close relation with the Prophet (peace be upon him). And as the members of this household, are many, and have quarreled on the issue of Imamate, due to its lofty position, with each one of them claiming it for himself, so it is not permissible except that the Prophet points to him in person, and by his name and his descent, so that all others will be excluded from claiming it.
As for the four personal features of (the Imam), they are that, he will be the most knowledgeable person as regards Allah’s injunctions and precepts, so that nothing small or big will be obscured to him; and that he should be free from all sins (infallible); and he should be the bravest of men, and the most generous of them.
Abdullah bin Yazid al-Ibadi then said: “Why do you say that he (the Imam) will be the most knowledgeable of all men?”
Hisham said: “That is because if he is not conversant with all the injunctions, precepts and laws of Allah, we cannot be sure that he will not change the injunctions of Allah, so that anyone who commits an offence will not be punished accordingly, if it involves cutting up his hand, he will not execute it: so that he does not establish the limits of Allah on what He has commanded, being in the long run, a source of corruption instead of reform as Allah wishes. Then he said, “How do you say that he is free from sins?”
He replied: “This is because if he were not free from sins, he will fall into error, so we cannot be secured that he will conceal what he has done, or conceal his friend or relation: and Allah will not set this person as his evidence on His creation.”
He then further asked: “How do you say that he (the Imam) is the bravest of people?” Hisham replied: “It is because that group of Muslims who will resort to him in wars, Allah says, “And whoever turns his back to them on such a day— unless it is a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop of his own he indeed has drawn upon himself wrath from Allah…. So if he were not brave, he will draw the wrath of Allah on himself. It is not permissible that the one who draws Allah’s wrath will be Allah’s evidence upon His creation.”
Abdullah further asked him: “How do you say that he is the most generous of people? He replied: “Because he is the keeper of Muslims treasures. For if he were not generous, his soul will crave for their wealth and he will take it, and that will be breach of trust: and it is not permissible that Allah will present a cheat as His evidence on His creation.
Dirar said: Tell me who is the bearer of those qualities today? Hisham said: The master of the palace, the chief of the believers. Harun Rashid who listening to all this from behind the curtain said to Ja’far bin Yahya: What a sharp tongue this man has! Ja’far, who does he imply by ‘chief of believers’? Ja’far said: He means Musa bin Ja’far.
Harun Rashid said: He has spoken of him with the titles only he is worthy of. Then he clenched his teeth and said: I don’t want this man alive even for a moment in my kingdom. By Allah his tongue is more dangerous for the hearts of the people than a thousand swords. Yahya learnt that Harun was terribly infuriated at Hisham.
When he came behind the curtain Harun asked: O Abbaside, who is that man? Yahya said: O chief of believers, control your anger. Then he came out and made a sign to Hisham to leave the place immediately. Hisham arose in such a way that people thought that he was going to answer Nature’s call. Thus he put on his shoes and departed in the direction of his house and from there he left for Kufa.
On reaching Kufa he hid in the house of Bishr Nabbal and told him what had passed. Bishr Nabbal was a companion of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.). Then Hisham fell seriously ill. When Bishr Nabbal offered to call the doctor he said: No, I am going to die. When you complete putting the burial shroud on me, in the middle of the night put my bier on the Kanasa highway and put a written slip in my hand that says: This is Hisham bin Hakam whom the chief of believers had summoned. He has died a natural death. Harun sent some people to his brothers and companions and got them arrested. In the morning the people of Kufa saw Hisham’s bier. The town Qadi, assistant-governor, the governor himself and the reliable people of Kufa gathered and wrote to Harun Rashid about the death of Hisham. On receiving the message Harun said: Thanks be to Allah that He Himself performed this task and saved us from getting involved in it. After that those who had been arrested were released.”
Kamaaluddin wa Tamaamun Ni’ma page 40