Debate between Heshaam Ibn al-Hakam (r.a.) with Amr Ibn Ubaid al-Motazeli in Basrah: Necessity of Divine Proof

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عَلِيُّ بْنُ اِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ اَبِيهِ عَنِ الْحَسَنِ بْنِ اِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ يُونُسَ بْنِ يَعْقُوبَ قَالَ كَانَ عِنْدَ اَبِي عَبْدِ اللهِؑ جَمَاعَةٌ مِنْ اَصْحَابِهِ مِنْهُمْ حُمْرَانُ بْنُ اَعْيَنَ وَ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ النُّعْمَانِ وَ هِشَامُ بْنُ سَالِمٍ وَ الطَّيَّارُ وَ جَمَاعَةٌ فِيهِمْ هِشَامُ بْنُ الْحَكَمِ وَ هُوَ شَابٌّ فَقَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ يَا هِشَامُ اَ لَا تُخْبِرُنِي كَيْفَ صَنَعْتَ بِعَمْرِو بْنِ عُبَيْدٍ وَ كَيْفَ سَاَلْتَهُ فَقَالَ هِشَامٌ يَا ابْنَ رَسُولِ اللهِ اِنِّي أُجِلُّكَ وَ اَسْتَحْيِيكَ وَ لَا يَعْمَلُ لِسَانِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْكَ فَقَالَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِ اِذَا اَمَرْتُكُمْ بِشَيْ‏ءٍ فَافْعَلُوا قَالَ هِشَامٌ بَلَغَنِي مَا كَانَ فِيهِ عَمْرُو بْنُ عُبَيْدٍ وَ جُلُوسُهُ فِي مَسْجِدِ الْبَصْرَةِ فَعَظُمَ ذٰلِكَ عَلَيَّ فَخَرَجْتُ اِلَيْهِ وَ دَخَلْتُ الْبَصْرَةَ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاَتَيْتُ مَسْجِدَ الْبَصْرَةِ فَاِذَا اَنَا بِحَلْقَةٍ كَبِيرَةٍ فِيهَا عَمْرُو بْنُ عُبَيْدٍ وَ عَلَيْهِ شَمْلَةٌ سَوْدَاءُ مُتَّزِراً بِهَا مِنْ صُوفٍ وَ شَمْلَةٌ مُرْتَدِياً بِهَا وَ النَّاسُ يَسْاَلُونَهُ فَاسْتَفْرَجْتُ النَّاسَ فَاَفْرَجُوا لِي ثُمَّ قَعَدْتُ فِي آخِرِ الْقَوْمِ عَلٰى رُكْبَتَيَّ ثُمَّ قُلْتُ اَيُّهَا الْعَالِمُ اِنِّي رَجُلٌ غَرِيبٌ تَاْذَنُ لِي فِي مَسْاَلَةٍ فَقَالَ لِي نَعَمْ فَقُلْتُ لَهُ اَ لَكَ عَيْنٌ فَقَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ اَيُّ شَيْ‏ءٍ هَذَا مِنَ السُّؤَالِ وَ شَيْ‏ءٌ تَرَاهُ كَيْفَ تَسْاَلُ عَنْهُ فَقُلْتُ هَكَذَا مَسْاَلَتِي فَقَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ سَلْ وَ اِنْ كَانَتْ مَسْاَلَتُكَ حَمْقَاءَ قُلْتُ اَجِبْنِي فِيهَا قَالَ لِي سَلْ قُلْتُ اَ لَكَ عَيْنٌ قَالَ نَعَمْ قُلْتُ فَمَا تَصْنَعُ بِهَا قَالَ اَرَى بِهَا الْاَلْوَانَ وَ الْاَشْخَاصَ قُلْتُ فَلَكَ اَنْفٌ قَالَ نَعَمْ قُلْتُ فَمَا تَصْنَعُ بِهِ قَالَ اَشَمُّ بِهِ الرَّائِحَةَ قُلْتُ اَ لَكَ فَمٌ قَالَ نَعَمْ قُلْتُ فَمَا تَصْنَعُ بِهِ قَالَ اَذُوقُ بِهِ الطَّعْمَ قُلْتُ فَلَكَ أُذُنٌ قَالَ نَعَمْ قُلْتُ فَمَا تَصْنَعُ بِهَا قَالَ اَسْمَعُ بِهَا الصَّوْتَ قُلْتُ اَ لَكَ قَلْبٌ قَالَ نَعَمْ قُلْتُ فَمَا تَصْنَعُ بِهِ قَالَ أُمَيِّزُ بِهِ كُلَّ مَا وَرَدَ عَلٰى هَذِهِ الْجَوَارِحِ وَ الْحَوَاسِّ قُلْتُ اَ وَ لَيْسَ فِي هَذِهِ الْجَوَارِحِ غِنًى عَنِ الْقَلْبِ فَقَالَ لَا قُلْتُ وَ كَيْفَ ذٰلِكَ وَ هِيَ صَحِيحَةٌ سَلِيمَةٌ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ اِنَّ الْجَوَارِحَ اِذَا شَكَّتْ فِي شَيْ‏ءٍ شَمَّتْهُ اَوْ رَاَتْهُ اَوْ ذَاقَتْهُ اَوْ سَمِعَتْهُ رَدَّتْهُ اِلَى الْقَلْبِ فَيَسْتَيْقِنُ الْيَقِينَ وَ يُبْطِلُ الشَّكَّ قَالَ هِشَامٌ فَقُلْتُ لَهُ فَاِنَّمَا اَقَامَ اللهُ الْقَلْبَ لِشَكِّ الْجَوَارِحِ قَالَ نَعَمْ قُلْتُ لَا بُدَّ مِنَ الْقَلْبِ وَ اِلَّا لَمْ تَسْتَيْقِنِ الْجَوَارِحُ قَالَ نَعَمْ فَقُلْتُ لَهُ يَا اَبَا مَرْوَانَ فَاللهُ تَبَارَكَ وَ تَعَالَى لَمْ يَتْرُكْ جَوَارِحَكَ حَتَّى جَعَلَ لَهَا اِمَاماً يُصَحِّحُ لَهَا الصَّحِيحَ وَ يَتَيَقَّنُ بِهِ مَا شُكَّ فِيهِ وَ يَتْرُكُ هَذَا الْخَلْقَ كُلَّهُمْ فِي حَيْرَتِهِمْ وَ شَكِّهِمْ وَ اخْتِلَافِهِمْ لَا يُقِيمُ لَهُمْ اِمَاماً يَرُدُّونَ اِلَيْهِ شَكَّهُمْ وَ حَيْرَتَهُمْ وَ يُقِيمُ لَكَ اِمَاماً لِجَوَارِحِكَ تَرُدُّ اِلَيْهِ حَيْرَتَكَ وَ شَكَّكَ قَالَ فَسَكَتَ وَ لَمْ يَقُلْ لِي شَيْئاً ثُمَّ الْتَفَتَ اِلَيَّ فَقَالَ لِي اَنْتَ هِشَامُ بْنُ الْحَكَمِ فَقُلْتُ لَا قَالَ اَ مِنْ جُلَسَائِهِ قُلْتُ لَا قَالَ فَمِنْ اَيْنَ اَنْتَ قَالَ قُلْتُ مِنْ اَهْلِ الْكُوفَةِ قَالَ فَاَنْتَ اِذاً هُوَ ثُمَّ ضَمَّنِي اِلَيْهِ وَ اَقْعَدَنِي فِي مَجْلِسِهِ وَ زَالَ عَنْ مَجْلِسِهِ وَ مَا نَطَقَ حَتَّى قُمْتُ قَالَ فَضَحِكَ اَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِؑ وَ قَالَ يَا هِشَامُ مَنْ عَلَّمَكَ هَذَا قُلْتُ شَيْ‏ءٌ اَخَذْتُهُ مِنْكَ وَ اَلَّفْتُهُ فَقَالَ هَذَا وَ اللهِ مَكْتُوبٌ فِي صُحُفِ اِبْرَاهِيمَ وَ مُوسَى‏

Ali Ibn Ibraheem narrates from his father who in turn narrates from al-Hasan Ibn Ibraheem from Yunus Ibn Yaqoob who reports, “A group of companions of Imam Abu Abdillah (al-Sadeq a.s.) were with him. From them were Humraan Ibn A’yan, Muhammad Ibn al-No’maan, Heshaam Ibn Saalem, al-Tayyaar and a group from whom was a young man Heshaam Ibn al-Hakam. Imam al-Sadeq (peace be upon him) told him, ‘O Heshaam! Will you not inform me how you dealt with Amr Ibn Obaid and how you questioned him?’ Heshaam replied, ‘O son of Allah’s Messenger! I hold you in awe, feel shy in front of you and become tongue-tied.’ Imam (peace be upon him) retorted, ‘When I order you something, then do it.

Heshaam said, ‘I heard about the beliefs of Amr Ibn Obaid and his gatherings in the Mosque of Basrah. It was difficult for me to bear this. Hence, I set out for him and reached Basrah on Friday. I came to the Mosque of Basrah and saw a huge circle in which was Amr Ibn Obaid, donning black cloak of wool and another robe over it. People were asking him questions. I made my way through the people and sat at the end of the circle on my knees.

Thereafter, I asked him, ‘O learned man! I am a stranger. If you permit, can I ask something?’

He told me, ‘Yes’.

I questioned him, ‘Do you have eyes?’

He shot back,’O son! What sort of a question is this? How can you ask about something which you are seeing with your eyes? 

I said, ‘My question is such.’

He said, ‘Son, ask, even if your question is foolish.’

I said, ‘Answer me about it.’

He reiterated, ‘Ask.’

I asked, ‘Do you have eyes?’

He replied, ‘Yes.’

I asked, ‘What do you do with them?’

He answered, ‘I see colours and persons through them.’

I asked, ‘Do you have a nose?’

He replied, ‘Yes.’

I asked, ‘What do you do with it?’

He answered, ‘I smell fragrances with it.’

I inquired, ‘Do you have a mouth?’

He responded, ‘Yes.’

I questioned, ‘What do you do with it?

He replied, ‘I taste foods with it.’

I asked, ‘Do you have ears?’

He answered, ‘Yes.’

I inquired, ‘What do you do with them?’

He responded, ‘I hear sounds with them.’ 

I questioned, ‘Do you have intellect?’

He replied in the affirmative.

I asked, ‘What do you do with it?’

He answered, ‘Through it I distinguish whatever occurs to my limbs and senses.’

I questioned, ‘Are not these limbs needless of the intellect?’

He responded in the negative.

I inquired, ‘How is this possible while these limbs are healthy and safe?’

He argued, ‘Son! When the limbs doubt about anything that they smell, see, taste or hear, they refer it to the intellect, seeking certainty and dispelling the doubt.’ 

I took confirmation, ‘It means the presence of the intellect is necessary otherwise the limbs cannot gain certainty.’

He reaffirmed.

I reasoned, ‘O Aba Marwan! So Allah has not left your limbs without a leader who will verify for them the correct things and grant certainty to them in things they doubt. But has left this entire creation in their perplexity, doubt and disagreements, without appointing a leader for them to whom they can refer in their doubts and confusions, yet He has left a leader for you for your limbs to whom you can refer in your confusions and doubts.’

He kept silent and did not say anything to me. Thereafter, he turned to me and asked, ‘Are you Heshaam Ibn al-Hakam?’

(Praciticing dissimulation) I denied.

He questioned again, ‘Are you from his colleauges?’

Again, I refuted.

He asked, ‘From where are you?’

I replied, ‘I am a resident of Kufa.’

He said, ‘Then you are certaintly him (viz. Heshaam).’ Saying this, he embraced me, made me sit in his seat and moved away from it. He did not utter a word till I stood up.

(Hearing this incident), Imam Sadeq (peace be upon him) laughed and asked, ‘O Heshaam! Who taught you this?’ 

He answered, ‘This is what I have learnt from you and compiled.’

He (peace be upon him) remarked, ‘By Allah! This is written in the scriptures of Ibraheem and Moosa.’            

Reference:

1.    Kaafi, vol. 1, pp. 169 -171, H. 3, بَابُ الْاِضْطِرَارِ اِلَى الْحُجَّةِ

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