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Chapter 1.
Narration of the Messenger regarding the number of Imams

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) informed that the number of Imams after him are twelve, as the compilers of ‘Sihah’ and ‘Masanid’ have narrated it.

Muslim has narrated from Jabir ibn Samarah that he heard the Prophet (s.a.) say: "Always the religion will be upright till the hour is established or there are twelve vicregerents upon you, all of them from Quraysh."

And in a narration:

"The affair of the men will always ....."

And in two other traditions:

"Till the twelve vicegerents ....."

And in Sunan of Abi Dawood:

"Till there are twelve vicegerents over you..."

And in a tradition:

"Till the twelve ....."1

And in Bukhari, He said: I heard the Prophet (s.a.) say:

"There will be twelve rulers." Then he said some words which I could not hear. Then his father said: He (s.a.w.s.) said: "All of them are from Quraysh."

And in a tradition:

Then the Prophet (s.a.) spoke a few words which I could not understand. Then I asked my father: ‘What did the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) say?’ He said: ‘All of them are from Quraysh.’2

And in a tradition:

"The enmity of their enemies will not harm them."3

And in another tradition:

"This nation will always be straight in its affairs, and triumphant against the enemies, till twelve Caliphs will be among them; all of them from Quraysh. Then there will be discord and confusion."4

And in a tradition:

"There will be twelve upright Imams for this nation. Those who try to disgrace them will not succeed; all of them shall be from Quraysh."

"The affair of the people will continue as long as twelve men rule over them."

And from Anas:

"This religion will remain till twelve Imams from Quraysh (will pass), then when they expire the earth will swallow its inhabitants."5

And in a tradition:

"The affair of this nation will always be apparent till the twelve Imams will rise, all of them from Quraysh."6

Ahmad and Al-Hakim and others have narrated similarly from Masrooq who said:

"We were sitting one evening with Abdullah (ibne Masood). We were reciting the Quran, then a man asked him: ‘O Abu Abdur-Rahman, did you ask the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) how many Caliphs will rule this nation ?’ Abdullah said: ‘No one asked me about this before you from the time I arrived in Iraq.’ He said: ‘We asked him (the Prophet s.a.), he said: ‘Twelve, (like) the number of the Chiefs of Bani Israel.’"7

And in a tradition:

Ibne Masood said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) said: ‘There will be Caliphs after me, whose number are like those of the companions of Musa.8

Ibn Katheer said: ‘And there is a similar narration from Abdullah bin Umar, Huzaifah and Ibne Abbas.9

However, I have been unable to find this tradition of Ibne Abbas or others as reported by Al Hakim Al Haskani.

The traditions assert that the number of authorities are twelve and all of them are from Quraysh, and, Imam Ali, (peace be upon him) clarified it in his speech that they shall be from Quraysh when he said: Surely Imams will be from Quraysh, they have been planted in this line through Hashim. It would not suit others nor would others be suitable as heads of affairs."10

And he said: "O Allah ! Yes, but the earth is never devoid of those who maintain Allah’s plea either openly and reputedly or, being afraid, and hidden in order that Allah’s pleas and proofs should not be rebutted."11


1 Sahih Muslim 3:1453, Tradition No.1821, Kitabul Imarah. Sahih Bukhari 4:165, Kitabul Ahkam. Sunan Tirmizi, Chapter of Fitan. Sunan Abi Dawood 3:106, Kitabul Mahdi. Musnad of Tyalisi, Tradition No.767 and 1278. Musnad Ahmed 5:86. Kanzul Ummal 13: 26-27. Hilayah of Abu Nuaym 4:333.

Jabir bin Samara bin Junada was the nephew of Saad bin Abi Waqas. He died at Kufa. The compliers of traditions have narrated 146 tradtions from him. For his biography, refer to Usud al-Ghaba or Taqrib at-Tahzib.

2 Fath-ul Bari 16:338. Mustadrakul Sahiayn 3:617.

3 Fath-ul Bari 16:338.

4 Muntakhab Kanzul Ummal 5:321. Tarikh Ibne Katheer 6:249. Tarikhul Khulafa of Suyuti, Vol.10. Kanzul Ummal 13:26. As Sawaiqul Muhriqa :28.

5 Kanzul Ummal 13:27.

6 Ibid.

7 Musnad Ahmed 1:398 and 406. Mustadrak of Al-Hakim. Talkhis of Zahabi 4:501. Fath-ul Bari 16:339 Majmauz Zawaid 5:190. Sawaiqul Muhriqa of Ibne Hajar Vol.12. Tarikhul Khulafa of Suyuti, Vol.10. Jameus Sagheer 1:75. Kanzul Ummal of Al-Muttaqi 13:27.

8 Ibne Katheer 6:248. Kanzul Ummal 13:27. Shawahidut Tanzeel of Al-Haskani 1:455, Tradition No.626.

9 Ibne Katheer 6:248.

10 Nahjul Balagha, Sermon no.142.

11 Yanabiul Mawaddah of Shaykh Sulayman Qandoozi al-Hanafi Pg.523.

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