Hisham b. Hakam’s Subsect in the Earliest Days of Imamism

Sayed Muhammad Hadi Girami1

Original Persian article can be found here.

*Translation is my own. I summarize for brevity.


Hisham – Hisham b. Hakam

Jawaliqi – Hisham b. Salim Jawaliqi

Yunus – Yunus b. ‘Abd al-Rahman

Fadl – Fadl b. Shadhan

Disruptionist – The current that believes that wahi (divine inspiration) was disrupted after the Prophet (p).


One of the most prominent and early, yet understudied, Imamite currents is the school of Hisham b. Hakam. This paper investigates the evidence, status, and claims of this current. Particularly, the charge of corporeality which isolated this group. As well as other unique views‚ such as limitations in the Imam’s knowledge and qiyas. Analyzing historical currents and internal approaches of Islamic sects could help us improve our investigations in various branches of Islamic studies and resolve contentious historical occurrences.


The term current in this discussion carries a unique meaning. It refers to a group which was considered distinct in their society’s era. Later scholars who lumped together unrelated people, in order to better understand their ideas, will not be considered.2,3

The belief of the author and other contemporary researches is that the Hishamites were the minority.4

1. Tracing the historical presence of Hisham

The current of Hisham b. Hakam is of the easiest to find historically. There are countless statements indicating his intra-Imami rivalries. The most famous clash was between the camps of Hisham b. Hakam versus Hisham b. Salim Jawaliqi about God’s qualities.5 Hisham was a corporealist, whereas Jawaliqi was an anthropomorphist. Jawaliqi claimed that God possesses a [human-like] face. This was not merely a debate between two men, but their followers.6 This fiery clash was strong even into the era of Imam Reda (a).7,8

Anti-Hishamism can also be found in rijali books. Kashi says he is an opponent of Hisham, Yunus, and Fadl. This is evidence that all three were of one current, and that Hishmism was recognized then.9 Ahmed b. Muhammad b. ‘Isa Ash’ari relates, “Ali b. Hadid forbade salah behind ‘Yunus and his ilk.'”10 Hasan b. Ali b. Yaqtin was an opponent of Yunus; there are reports of him condemning Yunus.11 Sulaiman b. Ja’far Ja’fari, a leading companion of Imam Reda (a) narrates, “I asked the Imam about Hisham, he (a) responded: ‘May God have mercy upon him. He was a pious man. He was mistreated by his friends due to jealousy.'”12 This report shows that 1) there were groups against Hisham, 2) such hostilities were alive during the time of Imam Reda (a). Furthermore, the condemnations in the rijali books indicate the anti-Yunusism of the Qummis, since most anti-Yunus reports are from Qum, whereas most pro-Yunus reports are from Fadl and his ilk in Nishapur.

To demonstrate the severity of the rivalry, books were written against the Hishamites. Sa’d b. Abdullah Ash’ari penned a book titled Mathalib Hisham wa Yunus (The Deficiencies of Hisham and Yunus). Ya’qub b. Yazid Andbari, a leading Iraqi Imamite from the era of Imam Jawad (a), and one of the most severe opponents of Hishamism, authored a book rejecting and ridiculing Yunus.14 Anbari was a professor to many Qummis, including Humayri, Sa’d b. Abdullah, Ali b. Ibrahim; many anti-Yunus reports originate from Anbari’s book.15

On the other hand, Hisham also penned polemical books, one against Jawaliqi and the other against Mumin al-Taq [which is titled Refutation against Shaytan al-Taq].16 Ali b. Ibrahim Qumi authored a book against Sa’d b. Abdullah Ash’ari’s Mathalib, indicating the continued hostility.

Another proof for the existence of this group is the alleged Hishami belief in corporealism which, although well-documented, caused tension. This belief was inherited teacher to student, demonstrating the closeness of the men in this current.17

The leader of Hishamism following Hisham was Yunus. Scholars in the fifth century write about Yunusism. Although exaggerative, it demonstrates Yunus’s eminent status.18 In support of this, in the Rijal of Sheikh Tusi, he labels some as “Yunusites.”19 Tusi labels the following as Yunusites – ‘Abas b. Muhammad al-Warraq,20 Muhammad b. Isa ‘Ubayd Baghdadi,21 Muhammad b. Ahmed b. Mutahar Baghdadi,22 and Yahya b. ‘Imran Hamdani.23

Other followers of this school include ‘Ali b. Yaqtin and Husayn b. Na’im Sahaf, in Baghdad, much interaction and tutelage with Hisham occurred.24

Muhammad b. Khalil Abu Ja’far Sakkak Baghdadi was also a student of Hisham and Yunus and, according to Najashi, he penned a book of tahwid which was anthropomorphistic (tashbihi). Fadl was of Hisham’s mutakalims (scholar of speculative theology), he considered Sakkak as a successor to Yunus who refuted their opponents.25 Ali b. Mansur Baghdadi was also a mutakalim of Hisham26 who, as stated by Ibn Abi al-Hadid, was also a proponent of corporealism.27

Other prominent men include Muhammad b. Isa ‘Ubaydi, a tutee of Yunus. Even though some modern researchers consider him a link between Hishamism and Jawaliqism,28 it seems that he was sympathetic to Yunus and his men. Muhammad b. Isa ‘Ubaydi was a prominent man in Baghdad during the era of Imam Hadi (a) in the first half of the third century. He was the most important transmitter of Yunus’s hadiths.29 The position of Ibn al-Walid, Sheikh Saduq’s most famous teacher, is a testifier to the continued anti-Hishamism of the Qummis.30 He enjoyed a special status according to the Khorasani hawza, and Fadl praised him. Sheikh Tusi weakened him and labeled him a Yunusite.31

After the foundation of the hadith schools in Iran in the end of the second and beginning of the third century AH, two currents formed. In the beginning of the third century AH, the most important Iraqi Imami schools transferred to Iran. When hadith transmitters, like Ibrahim b. Hashim, moved to Iran, they brought their currents with them.

On account of Sahl b. Ziyad Adami, who narrates from the hawzas of Nishapur, Qum, and Kashan around ~255 AH, the most controversial debate between the Imamites was corporealism vs anthrapormorphism (Allah having a face). The controversy had transferred to Iran.32 At the same time, the effects of non-Imami groups, such as the theological effects of the Khorasani Hanafis upon the Khorasani Shias, should not be ignored.33

It is difficult to find Qummi Hishamites in the third century. They were relegated mainly to Khorasan. Though a few examples can be found, such as Ibrahim b. Hashim and his son Ali b. Ibrahim. Najashi from Kashi narrates that Ibrahim b. Hashim was the student of Yunus. In any case, Kashi presents him skeptically.34

Ali b. Ibrahim Qumi wrote a book in defence of Yunus and Hisham.35 In his introduction, he exonerates them from accusations of tashbih (anthrapormorphism).36 However, we cannot declare Ibrahim b. Hashim and Ali b. Ibrahim as strict Hishamites, since most reports from these men are pro-anthrapormorphism, just as the overwhelming majority of third century Qummis were anthrapormorphists. Perhaps it is best to consider these two men as theologically in between Hishamism and most Qummis [who were Jawaliqites].

Of the highlighted scholars of Nishapur, the family of Fadl stands out. For a while, they held religious authority. Fadl’s father, Shadhan b. Khalil Nishapuri, was a dear friend of Yunus, and companion to Imams Kadim and Reda (a), from whom Fadl narrates through his father. Shadhan is a transmitter for Ahmed b. Muhammad b. Isa Qumi and is mentioned in the chains of al-Kafi.37

Fadl is the highlighted figure of this household, he was of the top scholars of his era. He narrated from Imams Jawad and Reda (a), as well as many companions including Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, Safwan b. Yahya, and Hasan b. Mahbub.38

Fadl, in the mid third century, was the leader of Hishamism in Iran. He and others such as Muhammad b. Abi ‘Umayr, Safwan b. Yahya, Yunus, and Hisham, were defenders of Shi’ism and wrote against their foes.39 The most important point about Fadl and his ilk is that they were the most important remainders of Hishamism in the third century.

From the fourth century, there is scant information about Hishamism. Remaining proponents are suppositions. Ibn Babuya in his Kamal al-Din relates that when visiting Nishapur, he saw Shias using qiyas, indicating the continued existence of Fadl’s teachings. It can be assumed that the last prominent Hishamite was Hasan b. Musa Nawbakhti, the professor of Najashi. He possessed a book about Hishamism.40 Muhammad b. Ahmed b. Junayd Iskafi was the most important personality of the fourth century who continued to believe in Fadl’s teachings, such as qiyas. Him writing a book in defense of Fadl’s opinions is the strongest evidence that Ibn Junayd was a follower of Fadl.41

Within researchers of Shi’ism, there has been much research into Hisham, particularly his belief in corporeality. However, few study the personal relationships between Hisham and the Hishamites. This brings erroneous conclusions, as much of what is unrecorded in history books can be inferred through these relationships.

Unfortunately, few researchers have investigated Islamic currents holistically. In addition, they have determined that this current has always been the smallest.42 In some lines, they have even erred.43 They allege that, Hisham was a rationalist, whereas the others were hadithists, causing the isolation of the Hishamites. Though it seems that the isolation was due to other factors.

The real reason for their isolation was their corporealism, as well as qiyas and the Imam’s knowledge. This accusation, alongside such intra-Imami rivalries, provided fertile ground against Hisham. It will be demonstrated that this belief was exaggerated, and Hisham’s phrase “Allah is a body unlike other bodies” was explained by Ali b. Ibrahim Qumi and Sheikh Mufid. The hostilities of other Imami groups against Hisham was due to jealousy, not “rationalism.”44

Of course, between Hisham and most Imamites there was ikhtilaf. There is no doubt that the kalami nature and rationalism of Hisham’s group was the most advanced of all the Imami currents. However, the opposition of Hisham was not due to his rationalism. Two matters must be remembered: First, this ikhtilaf was exaggerated in later books. Second, this was not a clash of Akhbarism vs Rationalism. Rather, the greatest cause for Hisham’s dislike was due to misunderstanding his view of God’s qualities. As well as their view of the Imam’s knowledge and allowance of qiyas.45

2. The accusation of anthropormorphism: The greatest social differentiator of Hisham’s current

The most important reasons why Hisham’s group became a current is the accusation that all of them are corporealists.46

Other sources repeat the same accusation. Shahrestani writes about a group called the “Hishamites.” In it, he groups both the Hishamites and Jawaliqites together and accuses both of being anthrapormorphists and corporealists due to the famous line “Allah is a thing unlike other things.”47 The reports of Ibn Abi al-Hadid al-Mu’tazili show that Sunnis considered Hisham a corporealist. Ibn Abi al-Hadid, a contempory to Shahrestani, states that the majority of mutakalims and philosophers negate corporealism, except for a few dumb ones like Hisham, who he claims believed that Allah possessed an earthly body, though in explanation of this, a report from him claims something else.

What is interesting from Ibn Abi al-Hadid is that he states that the Shias of his era were discrediting the notion of Hisham’s corporealism. They were of the belief that the meaning of “Allah is a think unlike other things” was that God exists.48

Sheikh Mufid, a Baghdadi personage, states that Hisham used anthrapormorphistic terminology, but denied it theologically.49

Particularly Yunus, Hisham’s prominent student. There are reports from the era of Imam Jawad (a) that indicate that Yunus and his ilk were corporealists.50 According to some contemporary rijali scholars, such accusations are doubtlessly sound.51 Shahrestani also states that Yunus was an anthrapormorphist and composed books about it.52 Abd al-Qadir Baghdadi also considers him an anthrapormorphist, but he exaggerates.53

On the Imamite side, Muhamad b. ‘Isa ‘Ubaydi explicitly states that the phrase “Allah is a thing unlike other things,” was the chant of Hisham and his ilk.54

The anthropormorphists also accused Fadl of this. Abu Ali Bayhaqi in a report attempts to show the famous expectation that Fadl is condemned, though not due to corporeality, but due to attempting to not pay workers in the area he was sent.55 In a report from the era of Imam Askari (a), there is a theological dispute between the inhabitants of Nishapur. It demonstrates that in the tawhid of Fadl, God was corporeal and he was located above his throne in the seventh heaven. However, He was different from all creation.56

3. The formation of currents against the Hishamites

3.1 – Within Imamism

There are multiple reasons for the formation of sects – including differing hadiths,57 the lack of clear-cut criteria in order to understand sects,58 factional motivations,59 intra-Shia rivalries,60 and the multiplicity of labels.61 Although it would seem that hadith fabrication was the primary reason for sect formation, the formation of these groups, particularly within Imamism, was due to the other reasons.

One way is the distortion of a group’s statements by their opponents. For example, the opposition against the Hishamites due to the accusation of anthropormorphism, particularly the quotes “Allah is a body unlike other bodies” and “Allah is a thing unlike other things.”62 Imamites in the fifth century endeavored to amend Hisham’s image. They stated that Hisham meant that, for God to exist, He must be a thing and body.63 Notwithstanding, Hisham’s opponents were able to distort his words due to their vagueness. Thus, this accurate quote, yet unaccurate understanding, was spread.

What also aided current formation was the phenomena of hadith transmission by meaning rather than literally. There are explicit narrations from Imam Sadiq (a) which demonstrate that the companions of the Imam would deliberately distort his (a) words about Zurara. In one hadith, Hamza b. Humran b. A’yan asked the Imam, “News has reached me that you hate my uncle (Zurara), is this true?” Al-Sadiq (a) responded: “I never said that I hate him, but some companions relayed incorrect statements that Zurara made. If I were to stay quiet, then they would have assumed that I agree with Zurara’s [un-islamic] ideas. So I stated that ‘I have nothing to do with those who say such things.'”64 He (a) did not lie, he told his companions that he hates Zurara’s beliefs, not him personally. However, since some of the companions transmitted hadiths based on interpretation, they either misunderstood or used this as an opportunity to intentionally slander Zurara.

Ghulati groups also transmitted by meaning and/or distortion. The government did the same so that the masses would turn against Shi’ism, by associating them with Ghulatis.

The aforementioned hadith of Imam Reda (a) to Sulayman b. Ja’far Ja’fari demonstrates the deceitfulness of the anti-Hishamite companions. Other hadiths from Imam Sadiq (a) demonstrate that some great companions were aware of this love for Hisham, including Humran b. A’yan, Mumin al-Taq, and Yunus b. Ya’qub.65

3.2 Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman as a prominent example

The opinions about Yunus are contradictory. As a prominent Hishamite, statements about him are a good example of the rivalrous nature of the early Imami community. Within rijali texts, two opinions exist. He is weakened by the Qummis and Iraqis, and authenticated by the Nishapuris i.e Fadl’s men.66

Iraqi statements, particularly Basran and Baghdadi during Imam Reda’s (a) time, demonstrate that the followers of the Ahlulbayt hated and badmouthed Yunus, particularly the mawalis. It was to an extent where Imam Reda dissimulated with his followers. Yunus became upset and complained to the Imam, but he (a) consoled him and told him to narrate what the people would accept.67

It is unclear why the Qummis so vehemently lambasted Yunus and his ilk. Sheikh Tusi in his Rijal states that the Qummis weakened Yunus, even though he is trustworthy.68 Ahmed b. Muhammad b. Isa Ash’ari Qummi was a loather of Yunus, but thanks to a vision, he repented from this. Those surrounding Imam Reda (a) knew of Hisham, and because of this, they disliked Yunus for being his student and promoting Hishamism.69 Ahmed b. Muhammad b. Isa narrates that Ali b. Hadid forbade salah behind Yunus.70 In contrast, most pro-Yunus narrations are transmitted from Ali b. Muhammad Qutaybi via Fadl, both Hishamites.

The dislike for Yunus seems to be due to the attributions of anthropormotphism, qiyas, etc. Ibn Walid only approved of Yunus’s hadith books71, not kalami books. It seems the Qummis disapproved of Yunus’s theology and use of qiyas.

Some of the hateful reports against Yunus are shameless. The most crass of which was “bastard” (illegitimate child). Even Kashi, after narrating such reports, questioned their origins.72

3.3 The endeavor to recover Hisham’s status

In the third century, attempts were started in order to explain away Hisham’s ideas and to exonerate him of such accusations. Though such attempts were slow and weak. Finally, by the fifth century, the general Imami community accepted Hisham.

Some narrations from Imam Reda’s (a) era indicate this. In a report from Kashi, a man asked the Imam (a), “Which tawhid was right, that of Hisham and Yunus, or Jawaliqi?” The Imam responded: “Yunus, the mawla of Al-e Yaqtin.”73 In another report, Ali b. Ibrahim in the beginning of his tafsir narrates that the anthropomorphic claim of Bazanti and the Jawaliqites, that Allah has a face, is wrong. The view of Hisham is correct.74

This shows that some prominent Imamites understood that Hisham’s theology was the more correct one. From the report of Ali b. Ibrahim, we know that that Ahmed b. Abi Nasir Bazanti is a proponent of Jawaliqism and opponent of Hishamism. He says to Imam Reda (a), “We believed God has a face, whereas Hisham denies corporealism.” This contradicts the vast majority of reports. It clarifies that the true proponents of anthropomorphism were the Jawaliqites.75

Sheikh Mufid states that Hisham’s quote “Allah is a body unlike other bodies” indicates that, although he was a proponent of anthropomorphic language, he was not a proponent of anthropomorphic theology.76 He explains that, although Hisham was an Imamite, he opposed Imamism in regards to the divine attributes.77

Three groups surrounding Mufid accused Hisham of anthropomorphism – the Mu’tazilites, anthropomorphic Sunnis, and the Shia Ahl al-Hadith [such as the Qummis, fellow anthropormorphists]. In response to accusations that the Imamites became anti-anthropomorphism due to Mutazilite tutelage, Mufid asserts that Imam Sadiq (a) himself was the one to negate such beliefs78

Other Baghdadi personages attempted the same. Karajiki narrates that Hisham came to Madina and repented from his beliefs.79 The story can only be found in Razi’s Tabrasah al-‘Ulum, a contemporary.80 The story cannot be found earlier.

4) Unique beliefs of the Hishamites

Besides the accusations of anthropormism, which we have explained, other accusations cannot be denied. It seems the Hishamites held these unique beliefs, in contrast to other Imami groups.81

4.1 The Hishamite belief about the Knowledge of the Imam

Of the oldest contreversies within Shi’ismm is the matter of the Imams’s knowledge. In Firaq al-Shia by Nawbakhti, he discusses this ikhtilaf within the Zaydis. In the Sarhubiya current, the Imam is born all-knowing. Other Zaydi groups asserted that the Imam learns, if he is unaware, he may use analogy.82

Sadir Sayrafi asked Imam Sadiq (a), “Your companions differ over the source of your knowledge. One group says you receive wahi, others say you are inspired in your ear, others say inspired in your heart, and others say that you rely on the inherited texts of your ancestors. Which is correct?” The Imam replied: “Ignore such ikhtilafs. We are God’s secretaries and proofs. Halal and haram is according to the Quran.”83

Since Imam Jawad (a) became Imam as a child, different groups formed to explain this dilemma. One said that the Imam become knowledgeable after puberty with the help of the Imam’s knowledge vectors, including ilham. A second differed slightly, they claimed that such knowledge vectors are transferred even before puberty. The third group, denying post-prophetic inspiration, claimed that the Imam uses his inherited books and documents to learn. According to Nawbakhti, the last group stated that, since the Imam is infallible, he may use qiyas.84

From the era of Imam Jawad (a), two groups formed. One which denied all post-prophetic inspiration. The second which accepted it, as long as it differed from prophetic inspiration. The first group said that the Imam learns from the documents and books he inherits from his ancestors. In order to compensate, they allowed the Imam to judge by qiyas since he is infallible. The second group, while accepting inherited knowledge, claimed that wahi was not over. New issues not mentioned in the inherited texts was then inspired. They denied all qiyas.

Abu Hasan Ash’ari in his Muqalat al-Islamiyin says that the Imamites are in two groups about this. One group says that the Imam is aware of all affairs. The other group says that the Imam is only aware of religious affairs, stating that it is unnecessary for the Imam to know about everything.85 Although not the same, it demonstrates that differences regarding the Imam’s knowledge existed.

The evidence is strong that Hisham, Yunus, and Fadl were Distruptionists. Believing that divine inspiration was disrupted after the Prophet (p).

Although not entirely definitive, when put together, Hisham’s beliefs can be ascertained. In a hadith from al-Kafi, via Hisham and Yunus, it states that the knowledge of the Imam is from the inherited books of all the past Prophets. Wahi is not mentioned. When coupled with the hadith from Imam Sadiq (a) “God does not leave a representative on earth that says ‘I do not know’ to a question.'” This shows that the inherited knowledge was extensive.86

Another report in al-Kafi from Ali b. Ibrahim from Hisham, as Hisham is telling Imam Sadiq (a) about his kalami ideas, the Imam attempts to correct him. Hisham asks, “You are the master of knowledge in regards to halal and haram, whereas I am telling you about my kalami ideas.” After which the Imam (a) reprimanded him and informed him, “The God’s representatives know everything that is needed of them.”87

Ash’ari states that there are two Shia currents regarding the knowledge of the Imam. Group one states that the Imams only know about halal and haram. Group two says that the Imams know all sciences.88 He adds that Hisham claims that the angels do not inspire the Imams.89

Unsurprisingly, the reports differ. According to Saffar which has a chain that includes Hisham, it states that the Imams know people’s deadlines.90 In addition, Yunus and Hisham are transmitters in a famous narration that states that the Prophet (p) taught Imam Ali (a) one door of knowledge which turned into 1000 doors.91 In conclusion, although it seems likely that the Hishamites held similar beliefs about the Imam’s knowledge, and western scholars indicate that the Hishamites disagreed with the majority of the Imamites about this.92 More research is needed.

Regarding Muhammad b. Isa ‘Ubaydi, Yunus’s most important student, there is scant information about his beliefs about the Imam’s knowledge. However, despite being a Hishamite, some narrations indicate that he believed in minor inspiration to the heart.93 This may be why he was never attacked as viciously as Hisham, Yunus, and Fadl.

There is much more evidence for Yunus, though. Some of which are about qiyas. In a report from the beginning of the third century regarding the incident of the Imamship of seven-year-old Imam Jawad (a), the heads of Imamism used to surround the house of Abd al-Rahman b. Hajjaj, even though the Imam was a child. One day Yunus asked, “Until this youngster matures, what must we do? The affair of imamship lies with whom?” This statement offended many of those present.94

About Fadl, in the mid-third century, there is report of a clash in Nishapur between two Imami groups. Fadl was with the Distruptionist camp. The other current denied disruption. They believed that the Prophet knew the languages of all peoples, birds, and creation. He knows what is in their consciousness. He knows what everyone is doing and where they are. If he were to see two children, he would know which would become a mumin and which a hypocrite. Before speaking with a person, he knew whether the individual was free or enslaved. This group believed that divine inspiration is continuous in order to deal with new problems. Thus, an Imam must always be present in order to receive inspiration to help with the novel situations.

On the other hand, Fadl believed that the Prophet (p) taught the knowledge he was inspired. Thus, the Imams had the knowledge of halal and haram, a tafsir, and Fasl al-Khitab. This knowledge was transferred in an inherited manner. A strict Distruptionalist.95 Ali b. Muhammad b. Qutayba Nishapuri, Fadl’s student, called their foes Yaz’amuns (pretenders).

Hishamism and Qiyas

Many researchers ask, with all the hadiths forbidding qiyas, why did some prominent early Imamites, such as Ibn Junayd Iskafi, permit it?96 The answer lies in understanding the relationship between the belief in qiyas and the Imam’s knowledge.

According to these Shia scholars, the Imams were the first in the ummah to judge by qiyas. The Imams and maybe the prophets passed fatwas with it. The reason for thinking so is due to the hadiths wherein religious affairs were delegated to the Ahlulbayt.97 Meaning that the Prophet (p) was able to command and negate in religious affairs as he pleased. According to such reports, God prepared the Prophet (p) until the age of 40, whereby religious affairs were entrusted to him (p). Since the Imams are infallible and aware of these religious doctrines, the Imams answer new matters by qiyas and ray, not nas.98

This corroborates with the champions of such scholars, they based such beliefs on the hadiths of God entrusting religious affairs to the Ahlulbayt. Ibn Junayd Iskafi based this belief on the fact that the different Imams would give different answers> Thus, they used analogy.99 An interesting example is when Imam Sadiq (a) was asked the same question by three different men – to which he gave three different answers, and the reporter became confused. The resolution was in the explanation that the religious affairs were delegated to the Prophet (p) and Imams (a).100

According to an informative research article, this difference in the knowledge of the Imams and his usage of qiyas was cause for serious discord between the Hishamites and Jawalaqites.101 The Distruptionists, on the basis of the delegation of religious affairs, argued that the Imams pass fatwas by analogy. The Distruptionists allowed analogy for the Imams as a compensation to not receiving inspiration. Likely in the manner that Nawbakhti mentioned that since the Imam is infallible, he may use qiyas.

Sharif Murtada from the fifth century clearly declares that head narrators, including Fadl, Yunus, and their ilk were proponents of qiyas.102 This claim of Fadl becomes serious when we look at Saduq, from the fourth century, who accuses Fadl and considers him blameworthy due to his belief in qiyas.103 Furthermore, he mentions that in a trip through Nishapur, he met Imamites who claimed that, during the occultation, ruling by analogy is permissible.104 Some modern theologians, like Mirza Abu al-Hasan Sharif Isfahani, denied all the aforementioned and claimed that Yunus negated qiyas.105 Though such assertions seem impossible in the face of so much evidence [i.e. historical revisionism].

Such confrontations became more serious. Sa’d b. ‘Abdullah Ash’ari Qumi, after mentioning the conflict about the the origin of Imam Jawad’s (a) knowledge, he shows that the Distruptionists allowed qiyas. He hints an ambiguous phrase to Yunus about this which indicates that, at the minimum, Yunus believed that some affairs were revealed to the Prophet (p), and he (p) proceeded through each issue differently by looking at its inferences and details.106 In reality, personages like Yunus and other Distruptionists, believed that the knowledge of the Imams are limited, upon which they are able to elaborate via their opinions and analogy.

Furthermore, the report of Sharif Murtada demonstrates that, in addition to Fadl and Yunus, a group of Imamites until the fifth century existed that supported qiyas. Although names are hard to come by from this minority group, Muhammad b. Ahmed b. Junayd Iskafi (d. 381 l) is a preeminent example. He authored a book in defense of Fadl using analogy.107 It is doubtless that Ibn Junayd’s was affiliated with Fadl’s ideology.108


One of the highlighted early Imamite currents was Hishamism. Its central figures were Hisham b. Hakam, Yunus b. Rahman, and Fadl b. Shadhan. The current took shape in the second century Iraq, then transferred to Iran, mainly Nishapur, in the third century. This current endured at least until the fourth century with personalities like Ibn Junayd.

The greatest distinction of this current was the accusations of corporeality and anthropomorphism. This caused much loathing from Imamites and non-Imamites. However, this was due to misunderstanding and distorting his phraseology.

At the same time, this current held unique beliefs which separated them from other Imamites. The most important differences of which were the beliefs about the Imam’s knowledge and qiyas. About the child-Imam of their time al-Jawad (a), two groups formed regarding the origins of his (a) knowledge. Group one which claimed that wahi did not end with the Prophet (p), which modern Imamites claim was different to prophetic wahi. The Hishamites were Disruptionalists, firm that wahi was disrupted after the Prophet (p). They claimed that the knowledge of the Imams was due to inheritance of prior books, as a result of the hadiths of delegation, they believed that the Imams judge by qiyas. The allowance of qiyas was a compensation for not receiving wahi.


  1. PhD student of theology at the University of Imam Sadiq (a).
  2. An example of such an ahistorical application, view Muhammad Reda Jabari (1379), Shanakht wa Tahlil Maktab-e Hadithi-e Qum az Aghaz ta Qarn-e Panjum-e Hijri. Nashariya-e Danishkada-e Ilahiyat-e Mashhad, v. 49 & 50, p. 78.
  3. For example, Sheikh Saduq is oft-considered the “head of Qummi Akhbarism,” even though such a self-declared sect did not exist at the time. Instead of “Qummi Akhbarism,” the phrase “Qummi men of hadith” is more apt. (For more information regarding the application of the term Akhbari, view Kamran Izdi and Sayid Muhammad Hadi Girami (1379), Istilah-e Akhbari dar Siyar-e Tawawwul-e Mafhumi. Majala-e Hadith-Pazhuhi, v. 3, p. 147-166.
  4. Hossein Modarressi, Crisis and Consolidation in the Formative Period of Shi’ite Islam: Abu Ja‘far Ibn Qiba Al-Razi and His Contribution to Imamite Shi’ite Thought, ch. 2, p. 213 (Persian translation).
  5. Ibn Babuya, al-Tawhid. With the help of Sayid Hashim Hussaini Tehrani, p. 97
  6. Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha. With the help of Muhammad Abu al-Fadl Ibrahim, v. 3, p. 224.
  7. Ayatullah Khui (1410 AH), Ma’jam Rijal al-Hadith, v. 19, p. 300.
  8. Ali b. Ibrahim Qumi (1404), al-Tafsir. With the help of Sayid Tayib Musawi Jazayiri, v. 1, p. 20.
  9. Muhammad b. Umar Kashi (1404), Rijal al-Kashi (Ikhtiyar Ma’rifah al-Rijal). With the help of Sayid Mehdi Rijayi, v. 2, p. 722.
  10. Khui; Ibid; v. 11, p. 302; v. 20, p. 211
  11. Ibid, v. 10, p. 150
  12. Kashi, Ibid, v. 2, p. 547
  13. Ibrahim b. Ali Najashi (1373 AHS), Kitab al-Rijal, p. 450
  14. Khui, Ibid, v. 20, p. 209-212
  15. Najashi, Ibid, p. 433. The book in Najashi is titled Kitab ‘ala Shaytan al-Taq, demonstrating the severity of the intra-Imami rivalries, since “Shaytan al-Taq” was the phrase used by the opponents of the Shia against Mumin al-Taq. However, some modern scholars theorize that “Mumin al-Taq” was the actual title. In any case, the situation demonstrates the hostility within the Shia currents. Marhum Muhaqiq Ja’fari states that the notion that the book was intended for anyone but al-Taq, lacks credible evidence. Muhammad Reda Ja’fari (1379 AHS), Muqadama-e Tas-hih al-‘Itiqad, Binyad-e Farhangi, p. 101-102
  16. Khui, Ibid, v. 19, p. 287-289
  17. Muhammad b. Abd al-Karim Shahrestani, al-Milal wa al-Nihal, with the help of Muhammad Sayed Kilani, v. 1, p. 188.
  18. No common book discussing the label “Yunusite” is found. However, Muhaqiq Tustari in his Qamus al-Rijal emphasizes that a Yunusite was a follower of Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman, including his heretical beliefs. (1414 AH) v.1, p. 81-82
  19. v.1, p. 361
  20. p. 391
  21. p. 401
  22. p. 369
  23. Kulayni (1363 AHS), al-Kafi. With the help of Ali Akbar Ghafari, v. 1, p. 311
  24. Khui, Ibid, v. 16, p. 74
  25. Ibid, v. 12, p. 187
  26. Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Ibid, v. 3, p. 228
  27. Ahmed Paktachi (1375), Garayish-hay Fiqh Imamiya dar Sada-hay Duwum wa Sewum-e Hijri, Nama-e Farhangestan-e ‘Ulum, v. 4, p. 19
  28. Software Darayah Nur, section of isnadic assessment.
  29. Khui, Ibid, v. 17, p. 113-115; v. 20, p. 199
  30. Ibid, v. 17, p. 113-115; v. 20, p. 199
  31. Kulayni, Ibid, v. 1, p. 102-103
  32. For more information regarding the Khorasani Hanafis of the second and third centuries: Ahmed Paketchi (1384 AHS), Andisha-hay Kalami dar Sada-hay 2 wa 3 Qamari. Majmu’a-e Islami, Pazhuheshi Tarikhi wa Farhangi, v. 2, p. 334-336.
  33. Najashi, Ibid, p. 16
  34. Ibid, p. 260
  35. Qumi, Ibid, v. 1, p. 20
  36. Sayid Jalal al-Din Armawi (1402 q), Muqadima al-Aydah, p. 7
  37. Muhammad b. Hasan Tusi, al-Fihrist, p. 539
  38. Kashi, Ibid, v. 2, p. 818
  39. Najashi, Ibid, p. 63
  40. Ibid, p. 388
  41. Hossein Moddarresi, Ibid, 210
  42. Ibid, 209
  43. The writer of this article strongly believes that the backlash and excommunication of Hisham’s current was not due to their rationalism, such sayings are unobjective and ahistorical. In fact, what is funny is that Hisham was strictly against modern notions of rationalism. (Ja’fari, Ibid, p. 62-63)
  44. Hisham’s current adopted the allowance of qiyas and ray because of their view of the Imams’s knowledge. They claimed that wahi completely ended after the Prophet (p), thus, the Imams learned through the knowledge transferred to them via being taught by their father and through the books they inherited. With the infallibility the Imam has, he uses qiyas (will be expanded upon). For more information, look at Khanum Tamima Bigum Dayu, Hisham bin Hakam wa Duktrin-e U Darbara-e ‘Ilm-e Imam and ‘Ilm-e Quran wa Imam dar Didgah-e Fadl b. Shadhan-e Nishaburi. In these two articles, she demonstrates how Hisham and Fadl’s view of wahi and ilham differened from the majority of the Imamites.
  45. For more information, look at The Shiite and Kharijite Contribution to Pre-Ash’arite Kalam, by Wildferd Madelung.
  46. Shahrestani, Ibid, v. 1, p. 184
  47. Ibn Abi Hadid, Ibid, v. 3, p. 223
  48. Sheikh Mufid (1413 q), al-Hikayat, with the help of Sayid Muhammad Reda Hussaini, Kungara-e Jahani Sheikh Mufid, p. 77-83
  49. Ibn Babuya (1417 q), al-Amali, p. 352
  50. Khui, Ibid, v. 20, p. 215
  51. Shahrestani, Ibid, v. 1, p. 188
  52. Abd al-Qadir b. Tahir Baghdadi (1408 q), al-Farq bayn al-Firaq, p. 53
  53. Ibn Babuya, al-Tawhid, p. 107
  54. Kashi, Ibid, v. 2, p. 821
  55. Ibid, v.2, p. 819-820
  56. ‘Ali Aqanuri (1386 s), Khastgah-e Tashayyu’ wa Paydayish-e Firqa-hay Shi‘i dar ‘Asr-e Imaman, p. 86
  57. Ibid, p. 79
  58. Ibid, p. 67
  59. Ibid, p. 76
  60. Ibid, p. 72
  61. Mufid, al-Hikayat, p. 77-80
  62. Ibn Abi Hadid, Ibid, v. 3, p. 223
  63. Khui, Ibid, v. 7, p. 246
  64. Sharif Murtada (1414 l), al-Fusul al-Mutakhara, p. 52
  65. Khui, Ibid, v. 20, p. 198
  66. Kashi, Ibid, v. 2, p. 782
  67. Tusi, Rijal, p. 346
  68. Khui, Ibid, v. 20, p. 201-208
  69. Ibid, v. 11, p. 304
  70. Ibid, v. 20, p. 217
  71. Khui, Ibid, v. 20, p. 209-212
  72. Khui, Ibid, v. 19, p. 300
  73. Qummi, Ibid, v. 1, p. 20
  74. Ibid
  75. Mufid, al-Hikayat, p. 77-83
  76. Mufid, (1414 l), Awail al-Muqalat, p. 38
  77. Mufid, al-Hikayat, p. 77-83
  78. Karajiki (1369 s), Kanz al-Fawaid, v. 2, p. 41
  79. Muhammad b. Hussain Razi (1313 s), Tabrasah al-‘Ulum fi Muqalat al-Anam, with the help of ‘Abas Iqbal Ashtyabi , p. 172
  80. Anthropormorphism was not the only unique belief attributed to the the Hishamites, so was their belief in God’s knowlwdge. According to Hisham, until something comes to existence, Allah is unaware of it. Sa’d b. Abdullah Ash’ari Qumi attributed such ideas to Hisham and Yunus. Muhammad b. Hasan Tusi (1411 l), al-Ghayba, p. 430-431. Mufid explains that, although Hisham was a Shia, he opposed Imamism regarding the divine attributes (Mufid, Awail al-Muqalat, p. 37). For more information regarding Sahw al-Nabi (the forgetfulness of the Prophet) and Bada al-Khalq, look at Sayed Muhammad Hadi Girami (1389), Mulifa-hay Ghulu Nazd-e Imamiya dar 5 Sada-e Nukhust-e Hijri wa Tathir-e an dar Fahm-e Guzarish–hay Rijali-e Mutaqadam, p. 96, 127.
  81. E. 2, p. 55-56
  82. Qadi Nu’man (1963 m), Da’aim al-Islam, v. 1, p. 50
  83. Nawbakhti, Ibid, p. 88-90
  84. With the help of Halmut Raytar, p. 50
  85. Kulayni, Ibid, v. 1, p. 227
  86. Ibid, v. 1, p. 262
  87. Ash’ari, Ibid, p. 50
  88. Ibid, p. 48
  89. Saffar, Muhamamd b. Hasan (1362 s) Basair al-Darajat, with the help of Mirza Hasan Kucha Baghi, p. 265
  90. Ibid, p. 302
  91. Tamima Bayhom-Daou (2003)‚“Hisham b. al-Hakam and his doctrine of the Imam’s knowledge”‚ Journal of Semitic Studies, Vol.48(1), p.71.
  92. Saffar, Ibid, p. 316-318
  93. Muhammad b. Jarir b. Rustum Tabari (1413 l), Dalail al-Imama, p. 388
  94. Kashi, Ibid, v. 2, p. 819
  95. Khui, Ibid, v. 14, p. 321
  96. Saffar, Ibid, p. 398 and 403
  97. Of course, the understanding of contemporary Imamites is opposed to these reports. In the kalami system of the contemporary scholarship, the notion is that the will of the Imam is equivalent to the will of the Imams. Such an understanding is a difficult one. However, by distancing ourselves from modern notions, and placing ourselves in the shoes of those early Imamites who lived prior to the solidification and institutionalization of theological ideas (getting rid of our preconceived notions), the explicit narrations state that the idea that God delegated religious affairs, which they maintained through qiyas and ray, was their belief. The qiyas of the Imam was religion. The approach that the position of the Imam is equivalent to the position of God, and that the position of the Imam is religion, became institutionalized over time.
  98. Muhammad b. Muhammad Mufid (1414 l), al-Masail al-Suriya, with the help of Saib Abd al-Hamid, p. e. 2, p. 75
  99. Kulayni, Ibid, v. 1, p. 265
  100. Pakatchi, Girayash-hay Kilami dar Sada-hay 2 wa 3 Qamari, p. 21
  101. Sharif Murtada (1405 l), Rasail al-Sharif al-Murtada, v. 3, p. 311
  102. Ibn Babuya (1413 l), Man La Yahdara al-Faqih, v. 4, p. 270
  103. Ibn Babuya (1405 l), Kamal al-Din, with the help of Ali Akbar Ghafari, p. 2
  104. Abu al-Hasan Fatuni ‘Amili (1418 l), Tanziyah al-Qumiyin (Turathana, v. 52), with the help of Muhammad Taqi Jawahiri, p. 163-242
  105. Ash’ari Qumi, al-Muqalat wa al-Feraq, p. 98
  106. Najashi, Ibid, p. 388
  107. Muhammad b. Hasan Tusi, al-Fihrist, p. 392

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