The Book of Occultation ( Kitab Al-Ghaibah)
(Volume 51 of BIHARUL ANWAR). Compiled by Allamah Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi. Translated by Hassan Allahyari. To know the Imam of The Time is one of the Prophetic injunctions to all mankind accepted unanimously across the different schools of thought. Imam Mehdi AFS, The Twelfth Imam after The Prophet SAWW , is our Imam of the Time. Thus, to teach us who the Imam is our scholars have penned erudite books. One is Allamah Majlisi’s Kitabul Ghaibah. A similar work is AL-GHAYBAH :OCCULTATION by Ibn Abu Zaynab An-Nu’mani, Translated by Abdullah Al-Shahin, Ansariyan, Qum.$18.00 + s&h (HB). 488 pp Allamah Majlisi’s book is divided into xxv chapters with prefatory matter and appendices that take the reader through from the Imam AS’ birth, lineage, names and titles and ahadith foretelling his birth and advent to the period of his ghaibah, both the short (al-ghybah al-sughra) and long (al-ghaybah al-kubra), his deputies (emissaries) reappearance and rule, impostors who laid claim to being the emissaries and gateways to the Imam AS, the holy letter from The Imam AS about Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali al-Shalmaghani’s blasphemous claims and falsehood. The translator of Allamah Majlisi’s book has incorporated the original Arabic narrations that are culled from a wide variety of sources, inter alia, Nahjul Balaghah, Al-Kafi, Al-Ghaiba of Sheikh Tusi, Ikmal al-Din, Al- Ghaibah of Al-Nu’mani rendering the book rich in its content. His sources are not confined to the Shi’a texts only; rather, he also quotes Sunni texts, which testifies to the authenticity of the presence of The Imam AS in Ghaibah. Abdullah ibn Umar, for example is quoting The Prophet SAWW “The Mahdi will rise and there will be a cloud over his head, from which a caller will be calling: ‘This is the Mahdi, the Caliph of Allah.’” One of the rare veritable ahadith from Abu Huraira is also quoted: “The Hour shall not rise until a man from my Household reigns. He will conquer Constantinople and the Mount of Dailam. If there should remain but no more than one day, Allah will prolong that day.” The book, however, does not identify the geographic locations of many place-names cited in the ahadith, though once in a while there is a footnote to a place-name. Al-Nu’mani’s book also carries the Arabic text and has information that Majlisi has not included in his book. For example, there is a whole chapter entitled “The Shia when Al-Qaim Appears” with ahadith that need to be pondered over.One such perplexing hadith is reportedly from Imam Al-Sadiq AS: “When al_Qaim(s) appears, those who have thought themselves as his followers will apostatize, and those who are somehow like the worshippers of the sun and the moon will follow him.” No further explanation is forthcoming in the book. Al-Nu’mani has also quoted a hadith that apparently alludes to the corruption in The Qur’an and appends a footnote to clarify that this is not the opinion of the Shi’a. Thus, intellectual integrity of Al-Nu’mani is demonstrated along with his strong faith in the Shi’a belief that The Qur’an between the two bindings is the real, uncorrupted text. Incidentally, Al-Nu’mani quotes from Majlisi’s Bihar also in his narrations. These two books together constitute a rich mine of information, albeit duplicated. Yet, if there is more information in one book than in the other, both are equally worth reading.