The Role of the Four Deputies of Imam Mahdi (a) in Shiite Hadith Literature

Document Type: Original Article

Author

al-Mustafa International University

Abstract

After the holy Qur’an, Hadith is the second source of Islam in terms of authority and the first in terms of extent. Contrary to the Qur’an, hadith is prone to manipulation and forgery, as the Prophet (s) warned about it and history testifies to it. Prior to the era of occultation, many hadiths were presented to the Imams, and they rejected some of them and corrected or explained the others. Al-Shaykh al-Ṣadūq (d. 381/991) gathered many of these hadiths in his Maʿānī al-akhbār. On the other hand, the most important Shiite hadith books were compiled after the occultation of the Twelfth Imam. The period of the Minor Occultation was a crucial time in Shiite history. With a historical and analytical approach, this article studies the identity and conditions of the Four Deputies and their role in guiding the Shiite community in relation to Hadith. In this regard, the article discusses the stance of the Four deputies against the hadiths of false claimers like Shalmagānī (d. 322/933), their relation with the scholars of Qom, the reason why al-Kāfi was not presented to them so as to obtain the approval of Imam Mahdi (a), and finally the relation between al-Kulayni (d. 329/941) and the Four Deputies.

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