عَنْ مُوسَى بْنِ اَشْيَمَ قَالَ دَخَلْتُ عَلٰى اَبِي عَبْدِ اللّهِؑ فَسَاَلْتُهُ عَنْ مَسْاَلَةٍ فَاَجَابَنِي فِيهَا بِجَوَابٍ فَاَنَا جَالِسٌ اِذْ دَخَلَ رَجُلٌ فَسَاَلَهُ عَنْهَا بِعَيْنِهَا فَاَجَابَهُ بِخِلَافِ مَا اَجَابَنِي فَدَخَلَ رَجُلٌ آخَرُ فَسَاَلَهُ عَنْهَا بِعَيْنِهَا فَاَجَابَهُ بِخِلَافِ مَا اَجَابَنِي وَ خِلَافِ مَا اَجَابَ بِهِ صَاحِبِي فَفَزِعْتُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ وَ عَظُمَ عَلَيَّ فَلَمَّا خَرَجَ الْقَوْمُ نَظَرَ اِلَيَّ وَ قَالَ يَا ابْنَ اَشْيَمَ كَاَنَّكَ جَزِعْتَ فَقُلْتُ جُعِلْتُ فِدَاكَ اِنَّمَا جَزِعْتُ مِنْ ثَلَاثَةِ اَقَاوِيلَ فِي مَسْاَلَةٍ وَاحِدَةٍ فَقَالَ يَا ابْنَ اَشْيَمَ اِنَّ اللهَ فَوَّضَ اِلَى دَاوُدَ اَمْرَ مُلْكِهِ فَقَالَ هذا عَطاؤُنا فَامْنُنْ اَوْ اَمْسِكْ بِغَيْرِ حِسابٍ وَ فَوَّضَ اِلَى مُحَمَّدٍ ﷺ اَمْرَ دِينِهِ فَقَالَ ما آتاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَ ما نَهاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا وَ اِنَّ اللهَ فَوَّضَ اِلَى الْاَئِمَّةِ مِنَّا وَ اِلَيْنَا مَا فَوَّضَ اِلَى مُحَمَّدٍ ﷺ فَلَا تَجْزَعْ
Moosa Ibn Ashyam reports, “I went to Imam Abu Abdillah al-Sadeq (peace be upon him) and asked him a question. He (peace be upon him) gave me a reply. I was sitting when another man entered and asked exactly the same question. Imam (peace be upon him) replied contrary to what he (peace be upon him) replied to me. Then, yet another man entered and asked precisely the same question. Now, Imam (peace be upon him) replied other than what he (peace be upon him) replied to me and the second person. I got frightened because of this and it was difficult for me to bear. When the people dispersed, he (peace be upon him) looked at me and said, ‘O son of Ashyam! It seems you are restless.’ I replied, ‘May I be held your ransom! I am restless due to the three (different) replies to one question’. He (peace be upon him) retorted, ‘O son of Ashyam! Surely Allah delegated to Prophet Dawood the affairs of His kingdom and said, ‘This is our grant. So, spend or withhold without reckoning.’ And He delegated to Muhammad (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) the affair of His religion and said, ‘Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it and from whatever He restrains you, abstain from it.’ Verily, Allah has delegated to the Imams (peace be upon them) from us and unto us whatever He has delegated unto Muhammad (peace be upon him and his holy progeny). Hence, don’t be impatient’.”
Shariah laws are many and of various types. For example, ablutions for obligatory prayers is obligatory at the least. But if there is any excuse, then the ablutions will become prohibited and should be replaced with tayammum. Since the infallible Imams (peace be upon them) are having knowledge of the unseen, they guide the people accordingly. Sometimes, they say perform ablutions and at other times, they say do tayammum. For some in the gathering, they see the apparent contradiction and get confused. Imam (peace be upon him) has judged only for the facilitation for the questioner. Another thing is that many traditions have come that Allah trained His Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny); when the Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) was trained, Allah handed over the religion to him. Now, he has the power to relate the branches of Islam. Just like a professor at the university explains the basic laws and gives different problems to students to solve. Now many laws have been formulated by the Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny). For example, earlier all the daily prayers were two units each but the Greatest Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) has increased some of them; noon and night prayers to four each and dusk to three. The Imams (peace be upon them) have this power to execute their legislative mastership. Thus, the Imams (peace be upon them) used to reply questioners of the same question with different answers, which were apparently contradictory to the naïve.
1. Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 23, p. 185, H. 52
2. al-Ikhtesaas, p. 329