Debates between the companions of Imam Sadeq (peace be upon him) and a Syrian opponent – Necessity of Divine Proof

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عَلِيُّ بْنُ اِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ اَبِيهِ عَمَّنْ ذَكَرَهُ عَنْ يُونُسَ بْنِ يَعْقُوبَ قَالَ كُنْتُ عِنْدَ اَبِي عَبْدِ اللهِؑ فَوَرَدَ عَلَيْهِ رَجُلٌ مِنْ اَهْلِ الشَّامِ فَقَالَ اِنِّي رَجُلٌ صَاحِبُ كَلَامٍ وَ فِقْهٍ وَ فَرَائِضَ وَ قَدْ جِئْتُ لِمُنَاظَرَةِ اَصْحَابِكَ فَقَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ كَلَامُكَ مِنْ كَلَامِ رَسُولِ اللهِ ﷺ اَوْ مِنْ عِنْدِكَ فَقَالَ مِنْ كَلَامِ رَسُولِ اللهِ ﷺ وَ مِنْ عِنْدِي فَقَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ فَاَنْتَ اِذاً شَرِيكُ رَسُولِ اللهِ قَالَ لَا قَالَ فَسَمِعْتَ الْوَحْيَ عَنِ اللهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ يُخْبِرُكَ قَالَ لَا قَالَ فَتَجِبُ طَاعَتُكَ كَمَا تَجِبُ طَاعَةُ رَسُولِ اللهِ ﷺ قَالَ لَا فَالْتَفَتَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ اِلَيَّ فَقَالَ يَا يُونُسَ بْنَ يَعْقُوبَ هَذَا قَدْ خَصَمَ نَفْسَهُ قَبْلَ اَنْ يَتَكَلَّمَ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا يُونُسُ لَوْ كُنْتَ تُحْسِنُ الْكَلَامَ كَلَّمْتَهُ قَالَ يُونُسُ فَيَا لَهَا مِنْ حَسْرَةٍ فَقُلْتُ جُعِلْتُ فِدَاكَ اِنِّي سَمِعْتُكَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْكَلَامِ وَ تَقُولُ وَيْلٌ لِاَصْحَابِ الْكَلَامِ يَقُولُونَ هَذَا يُنْقَادُ وَ هَذَا لَا يُنْقَادُ وَ هَذَا يُنْسَاقُ وَ هَذَا لَا يُنْسَاقُ وَ هَذَا نَعْقِلُهُ وَ هَذَا لَا نَعْقِلُهُ فَقَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ اِنَّمَا قُلْتُ فَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ اِنْ تَرَكُوا مَا اَقُولُ وَ ذَهَبُوا اِلَى مَا يُرِيدُونَ ثُمَّ قَالَ لِي اخْرُجْ اِلَى الْبَابِ فَانْظُرْ مَنْ تَرَى مِنَ الْمُتَكَلِّمِينَ فَاَدْخِلْهُ قَالَ فَاَدْخَلْتُ حُمْرَانَ بْنَ اَعْيَنَ وَ كَانَ يُحْسِنُ الْكَلَامَ وَ اَدْخَلْتُ الْاَحْوَلَ وَ كَانَ يُحْسِنُ الْكَلَامَ وَ اَدْخَلْتُ هِشَامَ بْنَ سَالِمٍ وَ كَانَ يُحْسِنُ الْكَلَامَ وَ اَدْخَلْتُ قَيْسَ بْنَ الْمَاصِرِ وَ كَانَ عِنْدِي اَحْسَنَهُمْ كَلَاماً وَ كَانَ قَدْ تَعَلَّمَ الْكَلَامَ مِنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ الْحُسَيْنِؑ فَلَمَّا اسْتَقَرَّ بِنَا الْمَجْلِسُ وَ كَانَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ قَبْلَ الْحَجِّ يَسْتَقِرُّ اَيَّاماً فِي جَبَلٍ فِي طَرَفِ الْحَرَمِ فِي فَازَةٍ لَهُ مَضْرُوبَةٍ قَالَ فَاَخْرَجَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ رَاْسَهُ مِنْ فَازَتِهِ فَاِذَا هُوَ بِبَعِيرٍ يَخُبُّ فَقَالَ هِشَامٌ وَ رَبِّ الْكَعْبَةِ قَالَ فَظَنَنَّا اَنَّ هِشَاماً رَجُلٌ مِنْ وُلْدِ عَقِيلٍ كَانَ شَدِيدَ الْمَحَبَّةِ لَهُ قَالَ فَوَرَدَ هِشَامُ بْنُ الْحَكَمِ وَ هُوَ اَوَّلُ مَا اخْتَطَّتْ لِحْيَتُهُ وَ لَيْسَ فِينَا اِلَّا مَنْ هُوَ اَكْبَرُ سِنّاً مِنْهُ قَالَ فَوَسَّعَ لَهُ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ وَ قَالَ نَاصِرُنَا بِقَلْبِهِ وَ لِسَانِهِ وَ يَدِهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا حُمْرَانُ كَلِّمِ الرَّجُلَ فَكَلَّمَهُ فَظَهَرَ عَلَيْهِ حُمْرَانُ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا طَاقِيُّ كَلِّمْهُ فَكَلَّمَهُ فَظَهَرَ عَلَيْهِ الْاَحْوَلُ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا هِشَامَ بْنَ سَالِمٍ كَلِّمْهُ فَتَعَارَفَا ثُمَّ قَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ لِقَيْسٍ الْمَاصِرِ كَلِّمْهُ فَكَلَّمَهُ فَاَقْبَلَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ يَضْحَكُ مِنْ كَلَامِهِمَا مِمَّا قَدْ اَصَابَ الشَّامِيَّ فَقَالَ لِلشَّامِيِّ كَلِّمْ هَذَا الْغُلَامَ يَعْنِي هِشَامَ بْنَ الْحَكَمِ فَقَالَ نَعَمْ فَقَالَ لِهِشَامٍ يَا غُلَامُ سَلْنِي فِي اِمَامَةِ هَذَا فَغَضِبَ هِشَامٌ حَتَّى ارْتَعَدَ ثُمَّ قَالَ لِلشَّامِيِّ يَا هَذَا اَ رَبُّكَ اَنْظَرُ لِخَلْقِهِ اَمْ خَلْقُهُ لِاَنْفُسِهِمْ فَقَالَ الشَّامِيُّ بَلْ رَبِّي اَنْظَرُ لِخَلْقِهِ قَالَ فَفَعَلَ بِنَظَرِهِ لَهُمْ مَا ذَا قَالَ اَقَامَ لَهُمْ حُجَّةً وَ دَلِيلًا كَيْلَا يَتَشَتَّتُوا اَوْ يَخْتَلِفُوا يَتَاَلَّفُهُمْ وَ يُقِيمُ اَوَدَهُمْ وَ يُخْبِرُهُمْ بِفَرْضِ رَبِّهِمْ قَالَ فَمَنْ هُوَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ ﷺ قَالَ هِشَامٌ فَبَعْدَ رَسُولِ اللهِ ﷺ قَالَ الْكِتَابُ وَ السُّنَّةُ قَالَ هِشَامٌ فَهَلْ نَفَعَنَا الْيَوْمَ الْكِتَابُ وَ السُّنَّةُ فِي رَفْعِ الِاخْتِلَافِ عَنَّا قَالَ الشَّامِيُّ نَعَمْ قَالَ فَلِمَ اخْتَلَفْنَا اَنَا وَ اَنْتَ وَ صِرْتَ اِلَيْنَا مِنَ الشَّامِ فِي مُخَالَفَتِنَا اِيَّاكَ قَالَ فَسَكَتَ الشَّامِيُّ فَقَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ لِلشَّامِيِّ مَا لَكَ لَا تَتَكَلَّمُ قَالَ الشَّامِيُّ اِنْ قُلْتُ لَمْ نَخْتَلِفْ كَذَبْتُ وَ اِنْ قُلْتُ اِنَّ الْكِتَابَ وَ السُّنَّةَ يَرْفَعَانِ عَنَّا الِاخْتِلَافَ اَبْطَلْتُ لِاَنَّهُمَا يَحْتَمِلَانِ الْوُجُوهَ وَ اِنْ قُلْتُ قَدِ اخْتَلَفْنَا وَ كُلُّ وَاحِدٍ مِنَّا يَدَّعِي الْحَقَّ فَلَمْ يَنْفَعْنَا اِذَنِ الْكِتَابُ وَ السُّنَّةُ اِلَّا اَنَّ لِي عَلَيْهِ هَذِهِ الْحُجَّةَ فَقَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ سَلْهُ تَجِدْهُ مَلِيّاً فَقَالَ الشَّامِيُّ يَا هَذَا مَنْ اَنْظَرُ لِلْخَلْقِ اَ رَبُّهُمْ اَوْ اَنْفُسُهُمْ فَقَالَ هِشَامٌ رَبُّهُمْ اَنْظَرُ لَهُمْ مِنْهُمْ لِاَنْفُسِهِمْ فَقَالَ الشَّامِيُّ فَهَلْ اَقَامَ لَهُمْ مَنْ يَجْمَعُ لَهُمْ كَلِمَتَهُمْ وَ يُقِيمُ اَوَدَهُمْ وَ يُخْبِرُهُمْ بِحَقِّهِمْ مِنْ بَاطِلِهِمْ قَالَ هِشَامٌ فِي وَقْتِ رَسُولِ اللهِ ﷺ اَوِ السَّاعَةِقَالَ الشَّامِيُّ فِي وَقْتِ رَسُولِ اللهِ رَسُولُ اللهِ ﷺ وَ السَّاعَةِ مَنْ فَقَالَ هِشَامٌ هَذَا الْقَاعِدُ الَّذِي تُشَدُّ اِلَيْهِ الرِّحَالُ وَ يُخْبِرُنَا بِاَخْبَارِ السَّمَاءِ وَ الْاَرْضِ وِرَاثَةً عَنْ اَبٍ عَنْ جَدٍّ قَالَ الشَّامِيُّ فَكَيْفَ لِي اَنْ اَعْلَمَ ذٰلِكَ قَالَ هِشَامٌ سَلْهُ عَمَّا بَدَا لَكَ قَالَ الشَّامِيُّ قَطَعْتَ عُذْرِي فَعَلَيَّ السُّؤَالُ فَقَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ يَا شَامِيُّ أُخْبِرُكَ كَيْفَ كَانَ سَفَرُكَ وَ كَيْفَ كَانَ طَرِيقُكَ كَانَ كَذَا وَ كَذَا فَاَقْبَلَ الشَّامِيُّ يَقُولُ صَدَقْتَ اَسْلَمْتُ لِلهِ السَّاعَةَ فَقَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ بَلْ آمَنْتَ بِاللهِ السَّاعَةَ اِنَّ الْاِسْلَامَ قَبْلَ الْاِيمَانِ وَ عَلَيْهِ يَتَوَارَثُونَ وَ يَتَنَاكَحُونَ وَ الْاِيمَانُ عَلَيْهِ يُثَابُونَ فَقَالَ الشَّامِيُّ صَدَقْتَ فَاَنَا السَّاعَةَ اَشْهَدُ اَنْ لَا اِلَهَ اِلَّا اللهُ وَ اَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَسُولُ اللهِ ﷺ وَ اَنَّكَ وَصِيُّ الْاَوْصِيَاءِ …..

Ali Ibn Ibraheem narrates from his father vide another person from Yunus Ibn Yaqoob who reports, “I was in the company of Imam Abu Abdillah (al-Sadeq a.s.) when a man from Syria entered and said, ‘I am a theologian, jurist and (acting on my) duties. I have come to debate with your companions.’

Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) asked, ‘Your theology is from the theology of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) or your own theology?’

He replied, ‘It is a combination of the theology of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) and my own theology.’

Imam (peace be upon him) asked, ‘Are you a partner of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny)?’

He replied, ‘No.’

Imam (peace be upon him) inquired, ‘Do you receive revelation from Allah – Mighty and Majesty be He – that informs you (of the unseen)?’

Again he responded in the negative.

Imam (peace be upon him) questioned, ‘Is your obedience obligatory like the obedience of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) was obligatory?’

Yet again, he said no.

Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) turned to me and said, ‘O Yunus Ibn Yaqoob! He has defeated himself even before the debate has commenced. O Yunus! Had you known to debate well, you would have debated with him.’

I said, ‘O how much I regret (my inability to debate)! May I be held your ransom! I heard you prohibiting from debating and saying, ‘Woe unto the people of theology! They say, ‘This can be criticized and this cannot be criticized. This can be rearranged and this cannot be rearranged. This can be understood and this cannot be understood.

Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) explained, ‘I had said that woe unto them if they forsake what I say and tread the path as per their whim.’ Thereafter, he (peace be upon him) ordered me, ‘Go to the door and whosoever you see of the debaters, bring him in.’

So I brought Humraan Ibn A’yan, who was a good debater, (Momin al-Taaq) al-Ahwal, who too was a good debater, Heshaam Ibn Saalem, who also was a good debater and Qais al-Maasir, who according to me was the best of them in debates as he had learnt the art of debating from Imam Ali Ibn al-Husain (peace be upon him). We all settled down as a gathering and Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him), a few days before the commencement of Hajj, stay at the mount near the Holy Ka’bah, in a tent erected for him.

He (Yunus) says, ‘Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) stuck out his head from his tent, when he (peace be upon him) saw a camel ambling. He (peace be upon him) exclaimed, ‘Heshaam! By the Lord of the Ka’bah!

We thought it was Heshaam, a man from the progeny of Aqeel (Ibn Abi Talib), whom Imam (peace be upon him) loved a lot.

Heshaam Ibn al-Hakam, who was so young that his beard had just started to grow, entered. He was the youngest of us.

Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) made place for him and said, ‘(He is) our helper with his heart, his tongue and his hands.’

Thereafter, Imam (peace be upon him) ordered, ‘O Humraan! Debate with him (i.e. the Syrian).’ Humraan debated with him and defeated him.

Imam (peace be upon him) said, ‘O Taaqi! Debate with him.’ He argued with him and overpowered him.

Imam (peace be upon him) commanded, ‘O Heshaam Ibn Saalem! Debate with him.’ Both conceded quickly.

Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) said to Qais al-Maasir, ‘Debate with him.’ When they were debating, Imam (peace be upon him) started laughing due to the plight of the Syrian inflicted by Qais.

Finally, Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) said to the Syrian, ‘Debate with this boy (viz. Heshaam Ibn al-Hakam).

The Syrian agreed and said to Heshaam, ‘Young man, ask me about the Imamat of this man’ (indicating in a derogatory manner to Imam a.s.) due to which Heshaam became so angry that he was trembling with anger.

Heshaam asked, ‘O Syrian! Tell me, is your Lord more considerate towards His creatures or the creatures towards themselves?’

The Syrian replied, ‘Of course! My Lord is more considerate towards His creatures than the creatures are towards themselves.’

Heshaam: ‘What did He do to show His care towards His creatures?’

Syrian: ‘He established a proof and a guide for them so that they may not disperse or when they disagree, he (the guide) unites them, straightens their crookedness and informs them of their duties towards their Lord.’

Heshaam: ‘Who is this proof and guide?’

Syrian: ‘The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny).’

Heshaam: And who after the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny)?’

Syrian: The Book and the Sunnah

Heshaam: Are the Book and the Sunnah beneficial for us today in removing our differneces?

Syrian: Yes

Heshaam: Then why are we, you and me, disagreeing and you have come all the way from Syria, in our dispute with you?

Syrian was silent.

Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) asked the Syrian, ‘Why are you not talking?’

The Syrian responded, ‘If I say we don’t disagree, I will be lying. If I say the Book and the Sunnah dispels our disagreements, I will nullify my own argument because each of them has several intepretations. If I say we disagree and both of us claim to be right, then the Book and the Sunnah do not benefit us but that there should be an argument in it in my favour against him.’

Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) told him, ‘Ask him (viz. Heshaam). You will find him for a long time (a handful in answering you).’

Syrian: O so and so! Who is more caring towards the creatures? Their Lord or they themselves?

Heshaam: Their Lord is more caring towards them than they are to themselves.

Syrian: So, has He appointed for them someone who will gather their words, straighten their crookedness and informs them of their right from their wrong?

Heshaam: During the time of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) or now?

Syrian: In the time of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny), it was the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) himself. But who is the divine proof today?

Heshaam: The one who is sitting here, to whom people set out and he informs us about the news of the skies and the earth, inheriting it from his father and grandfather.

Syrian: How can this be proved for me?

Heshaam: Ask him whatever you want.

Syrian: You have severed my excuses. I have no option but to ask.

Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) informed, ‘O Syrian! I will inform you about your journey and the details of your path. It was such and such.’

The Syrian said, ‘You have spoken the truth. I submit to Allah right now.’

Imam Abu Abdillah (peace be upon him) rectified him, ‘Rather say, I believe in Allah right now. Islam is before Imaan. Inheritance and marriage is based on Islam while reward (in the hereafter) is based on Imaan.’

The Syrian accepted, ‘You have spoken the truth. Right now I testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) and that you are the successor of the successors….’

References:

1.    Kaafi, vol. 1, pp. 171 -173, H. 4 بَابُ الِاضْطِرَارِ اِلَى الْحُجَّةِ

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