Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) was the
first special deputy of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) in Ghaibat-e-Sughra. The
renowned Shiite scholar, Shaikh Muhammad b. Hasan Tusi (r.a.) records in
his illustrious book, 'Ghaibat' - Among the companions that the
infallible Imams (a.s.) considered as virtuous and pious, was Hazrat
Usman b. Saeed-e-Amri (r.a.). Imam Ali Naqi, Al Hadi (a.s.) and Imam
Hasan Askari (a.s.) have spoken highly of him and he was their most
trusted companion."(Ghaibat-e-Shaikh-e-Tusi, pg. 353)
His name and title
was his name and his father's name was Saeed. His name in
Rijaal-e-Kashi is recorded as 'Hafs b. Amr', but other scholars of
Ilm-e-Rijaal (science of narrators of traditions) have considered this
erroneous. His name is widely recorded as Usman b. Saeed.He has been
attributed with 2 agnomens (Kunniyat) - Abu Amr and Abu Muhammad. He
was called Abu Amr since his grandfather's name was Amr. He was called
Abu Muhammad because of his son Muhammad. In books of Rijaal and
traditions he is referred to as Abu Amr. However, in Safinatul Behar and
Beharul Anwaar, he is referred to as Abu Muhammad.Among Shias Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) is known by four titles.
1. Saman / Zayyat (Oil Vendor)
Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) took up the profession of oil-vending to
camouflage his more critical duties and responsibilities of deputyship
from the masses in general and the tyrant kings of Bani Abbas in
particular. In this way, he protected his own life and the lives of
Shias from the persecution of the Bani Abbas. He had a very ingenious
way of operating. He would collect all the money and trusts from the
Shias for Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.). Out of fear of the Bani Abbas
caliphs, he would conceal all money and trusts in his oil barrels so as
to escape the scrutiny of the common masses. In this way, he could
safely courier everything to Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.).(Ghaibat-e-Shaikh-e-Tusi (r.a.), pg. 354)
To keep his position of deputyship secret, he used to supply oil and other goods to the army.(Rozgar Rehai Az Kaamil-e-Sulaiman, vol. 1, pg. 291)
He was a member of the Bani Asad clan and was therefore also famous as 'Asadi'.
He used to reside in Samarra, in a place called 'Askar'. This was the reason he was also called as Askari.
are unanimous that 'Amri' was one of his titles. However, scholars of
Ilme-Rijaal have given differing reasons for this title. The illustrious
scholar Muhammad b. Hasan - Shaikh Tusi (r.a.) has explained, 'First of
all he was referred to as Amri due to his grandfather whose name was
'Amr'. Some scholars have recorded that Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) did not
like that the names Usman (name of third caliph) and Abu Amr should
combine in one person. That is why he ordered Usman to change his
Kunniyat from Abu Amr to Amri;(Ghaibat-e-Shaikh-e-Tusi (r.a.), pg. 354)
Special deputy of three Imams (a.s.)
(r.a.) records that at the tender age of 11 years, Hazrat Usman b.
Saeed (r.a.) swore allegiance to Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) and commenced
serving Imam (a.s.). Shaikh-e-Tusi (r.a.) has discussed the companions
of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) in detail. While mentioning about Hazrat
Usman b. Saeed (r.a.), he says - He was an oil trader famous as Abu Amr.
He was an esteemed and reliable companion in the eyes of Imam (a.s.),
and was also Imam's (a.s.) special deputy. The statement of Shaikh Tusi
(r.a.) makes ' it clear that he was deputy of three Imams (a.s.).
further records that he was also a special deputy of Imam-e-Zamana
(a.t.f.s.) and enjoyed an elevated and eminent status among the Shias of
that period. Likewise, Ibne Dawood-e-Hilli in his Rijaal,
Marhoom-e-Qahyaai in his Majmaul Rijaal, Syed Muhammad Mahdi Bahrul
Uloom (r.a.) in his Rijaal have recorded this fact. This has also been
mentioned in several other books of Rijaal like Tanqeehul Maqaal,
Qamoos-e-Rijaal, Mojamul Rijaalul Hadis.(Pazoohashi Piraamun-e-Zindagani Nawwab-e-Khaas-e-Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) by Ali Ghaffarzadeh, pg. 106)
Jasim Husain in his 'Tarikh-e-Siyaasi -e-Ghaibat-e-Imam-e-Dawazdahum
(a.t.f.s.)' has reported that Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) was among the
companions of Abu Jafar-e-Saani -Imam Muhammad Taqi al-Jawad (a.s.).
Likewise Ibne Shahr-e-Ashob in 'Manaqib-e-Abi Talib (a.s,)', Shaikh
Abbas-e-Qummi (r.a.) in Safinatui Behar and Allamah Hilli (r.a.) have
recounted this fact.
Ali Ghaffarzadeh in his 'Pazoohashi
Piraamun-e-Zindagani Nawwab-e-Khaas-e-Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.)' has
rejected the fact that Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) was the deputy of
Imam Jawad (a.s.). He writes, 'Anyone who is even briefly acquainted
with the lives of the Imams (a.s.) and Ghaibat-e-Sughra will know that
Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) was not a deputy nor a companion of Imam
Jawad (a.s.). This is not an established fact of history and there is no
chain of narration to support such an idea.'
After making this
claim, Ali Ghaffarzadeh has outlined the names of scholars who have
recorded in their books that Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) was not a
companion of Imam Jawad (a.s.).
i. Haaj Muhammad Ardabeli (r.a.) in his book 'Jaameui Rowaat'
ii. Shaikh Abdullah Uqaani (r.a.) in Tanqeehul Maqaal'
iii. Allamah Shustari (r.a.) in 'Qaamoosul Rijaal'
iv. Ayatullah Uzma Khoie (r.a.) in 'Mojamul Rijaal'
referring to the books of these scholars Ali Ghaffarzadeh concludes
that Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) was not among the companions of Imam
(Pazoohashi Piraamun, pg. 109-10)
is possible that he did spend a few years under the Imamat of Imam
Jawad (a.s.), but may have been too young to qualify for companionship.
His (r.a.) status in the words of Imams (a.s.)
Ahmed b. Ishaaq Qummi (r.a.) narrates,"I
was in the presence of Imam Ali Naqi, al-Hadi (a.s.). I said, 'O my
master! At times I have the good fortune of meeting you and at times I
am deprived of this blessing. It is not always possible for me to be in
direct contact with you. Under such circumstances, who should I contact
and whose commands should I obey?' Imam (a.s.) informed me,
man - Abu Amr (Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.)) is a reliable, upright and
trustworthy person. Whatever he relates to you is from my side.
Whatever he gives to you is from us.'(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 51, pg. 344)
(a.s.) narration in favour of Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) underlines
the level of Imam's (a.s.) trust and confidence in him. Moreover, it
underscores another important fact -Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.)
performed some critical duties i.e. to convey Imam's (a.s.) message and
commands to the Shias. The duty of the Shias was to accept this
communication and implement it.
After Imam Hadi's (a.s.) martyrdom,
Ahmed b. Ishaaq Qummi (r.a.) once again approached Imam Hasan Askari
(a.s.) and repeated his previous query who responded thus:
man - Abu Amr (Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.)) is a reliable, upright and
trustworthy person. He was dependable for the previous Imam and is
dependable and reliable even for me in my lifetime and even after my
death. Whatever he conveys to you is from our side and everything he
gives to you is from us.'(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 51, pg. 344) Deputyship of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.)
Hasan Askari (a.s.) appointed Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) as the first
special deputy of Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.) in the presence of 40 Shias.Some
Shias like Jafar b. Muhammad b. Malik-e-Fazari, Alt b. Bilal, Ahmed b.
Helal, Muhammad b. Muawiyah b. Hakeem, Hasan b.Ayyub b. Nuh have all
narrated that they approached Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) specifically to
inquire from him about his successor. They recount - In addition to us,
there were 40 other people who were present with Imam (a.s.). Then
Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) rose and asked Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.), 'O
son of Allah's Apostle! We wish to ask you a question of which we are
sure you are aware.' Imam (a.s.) replied, 'O Usman, be seated.' All of a
sudden the expression on Imam's (a.s.) face changed and he went out of
the room after ordering us to stay in our places and not follow him
outside. We did as Imam (a.s.) commanded us.
After some time, Imam
(a.s.) called out Usman b. Saeed's (r.a.) name and the latter rose. Then
Imam (a.s.) said, 'Should I inform you about the reason why you all are
here?' All of us said, 'O son of Allah's Apostle! Please inform us.'
Imam (a.s.) revealed, 'So that you may know who is the Imam after me.'
The members in the assembly replied, 'Yes. We just saw a young child
whose face was beautiful like the moon and looked very similar to you.'
Imam (a.s.) informed, 'After me, he is your Imam and my successor. Obey
him and do not scatter in confusion about him else your religion will be
destroyed. After this meeting you shall never see him again until his
appointed time. That is why take whatever news you get from Usman b.
Saeed (r.a.).'He is the deputy of your Imam and deputy ship is for him alone.'(Beharul Anwaar vol. 51, pg. 346)
Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) - Deputy of deputies
Hasan Askari (a.s.) wrote a lenghty letter to Ishaaq b. Ismail
Nishapouri, stating, 'Don't leave the city until you meet Usman b. Saeed
(r.a.). Convey to him my salaam. He is trustworthy, pious and reliable
and is most proximate to us.
wealth that is collected from various places for us, is first
accumulated with Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) so that it reaches us safely.'(Beharul Anwaar vol. 50, pg. 323)
(a.s.) letter emphasises an important point. All cities where the Shias
used to inhabit had deputies. These deputies accumulated money by way
of Khums, Zakaat, etc. from the Shias on behalf of Imam (a.s.). These
deputies collectively transmitted all this money to Hazrat Usman b.
Saeed (r.a.), who in turn finally submitted it to Imam (a.s.) himself.
The religious and political scenario of the time
one casts even a cursory glance at the political and religious scenario
at the time of Ghaibat-e-Sughra, he will appreciate the significance of
the deputyship of Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.). The government had
appointed spies in every nook and corner so as to keep a close watch on
the Shias of Imam (a.t.f.s.), especially the trusted and reliable Shias
who were known to be proximate to Imam (a.t.f.s.).
As if the
government's persecution was not enough, the differences between the
Shias and outbreak of various sects only added to the confusion. Under
such trying circumstances, deputyship was an impossible task. However,
under Imam's (a.t.f.s.) constant supervision and guidance, the Shias
were rescued from the darkness of doubt and uncertainty and were steered
towards the light of guidance and certainty. Being the special deputy
of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) played a very important role in this regard.
criticality of his role can never be fully comprehended and
appreciated. On the one hand, he had to unite the Shias who had split
into many sects. On the other hand, he had to contend with Jafar ibn Ali
Naqi the government's candidate for the role of Shiite leadership. To
challenge Jafar was a monumental task. On the martyrdom of Imam Hasan
Askari (a.s.), Jafar usurped the mantle of Imam's (a.s.) successorship,
which gave him the right to lead the Shias after Imam (a.s.).
Mufeed (r.a.) writes in his book 'Kitabul Irshad': 'After the martyrdom
of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) when Jafar b. Ali Naqi (famous as
'Jafar-e-Kazzab') saw that their Imam (a.s.) did not have a successor,
he usurped his (a.s.) property, imprisoned his (a.s.) maids and the
women of the household and said evil things about his (a.s.) companions
who were steadfast in their faith that Imam (a.s.) had a son and were
waiting for his reappearance. He threatened them but they did not pay
attention to him. Finally, Jafar approached the Caliph of the time and
sought his assistance to claim the position of his brother (Imam Hasan
Askari (a.s.)). He paid a huge amount to the government by way of bribe,
but failed miserably in his evil plans.'(Kitabul Irshad, chap. 34)
Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) had to face the uphill task ofJafar's claim of
Imamat, his standing to lead the funeral prayers of Imam (a.s.) and
creating doubts about the Imamat of Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.). He provoked
the government of the time to help him in his cause, he imprisoned the
Ahle Bait (a.s.) and persecuted them and sought religious dues (khums,
zakat) from the people. Under these grievous circumstances Hazrat Usman
b. Saeed (r.a.) with the help of Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) humiliated Jafar
and protected the status and Imamat of Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.).
the Shias heard of Jafar's claim and his usurping Imam's (a.s.) property
and seeking help from Bani Abbas, some of them consulted Hazrat Usman
b. Saeed (r.a.) and requested for a 'Tawqee' from Imam-e-Zaman
(a.t.f.s.) to clarify the matter and remove all suspicion and doubts
once and for all. Our readers should find the following incident very
Jafar b. Ali wrote a letter to a follower of Imam Mahdi
(a.t.f.s.) - I am the Imam after my brother and I have the knowledge of
the permissible and the prohibited and all other sciences with me. When
the companion received the letter, he became sorrowful. He took the
letter to Ahmad b. Ishaaq Ashari, a close confidante of Imam Hasan
Askari (a.s.). Ahmad b. Ishaaq wrote a letter to Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.)
enclosing Jafar's letter. He gave it to Usman b. Saeed (a.s.) to be
forwarded to Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.). Imam (a.t.f.s.) gave a very
strong-worded reply and refuted the Imamat of Jafar. Following is the
extract of Imam's (a.t.f.s.) letter:
This defrauder (Jafar) has
falsified Allah and has claimed Imamat. We do not know on what basis he
has made such a claim. If he claims knowledge in the Ahkam and Fiqh of
Allah's religion, then by Allah, he is not able to distinguish between
the permissible and the prohibited. He cannot distinguish between the
clear and ambiguous verses of the Holy Quran. He is not even aware about
the limits and timings of namaz. And if he is having certainty about
his piety then by Allah he has forsaken namaz for forty days. His claim
should be based on a miracle. Let him forward his miracle and if he has
proof then he should explain it.'
(Pazoohashi Piraamun, pg. 128, narrating from Ehtejaaj-e-Tabarsi, vol. 2, pg. 468)
was with the representation of Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) that such
letters could reach Imam (a.t.f.s.) and Jafar failed in his nefarious
plans. Once in a gathering Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) said The caliph
(Motamid-e-Abbasi) thought that Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) left this world
without appointing his successor and gave his inheritance to such a
person (Jafar) who did not deserve it. The followers of Imam (a.s.) were
patient on it and were vacillating in state of confusion. Nobody dared
to recognise him and help him or to convey something to him.(Usule Kafi, vol.2, pg. 121, Persian edition)
Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) in Baghdad
the martyrdom of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.), the first representative of
Imam-e-Zaman (a.t.f.s.) came to Baghdad from Samarrah by the order of
Imam (a.s.). The reason being that the government vigilance and control
in Samarrah was very strict and it had relatively ignored Baghdad.
Samarrah was the capital of the Abbasi government. Motamid was appointed
as ruler on 12th Rajab, 256 A.H. Till the end of his rule, Samarrah
remained the capital. In 279 A.H., the capital was shifted to Baghdad.
Till that time Baghdad was the Shiite center. The migration to Baghdad
helped Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) to keep in touch with the Shias
residing in different places. In this way, his activities spread to
different areas and were not restricted only to Baghdad. If he was in
Samarrah or if Baghdad had been the capital of the Abbasides, then this
have been very difficult.(Pazoohashi Piramun , Pg. 130)
His (r.a.) mode of operation
Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) had appointed some agents in Baghdad who used to
coordinate with the other agents of Iraq and other areas. People met
these agents in Baghdad, who collected the wealth and accepted the
letters and queries from the Shias and forwarded them to Hazrat Usman b.
Saeed (r.a.) and he in turn forwarded the same to Imam (a.s.) Hajiz
bin b. Yazid-e-Washsha, Ahmed b. Ishaaq Ashari, Mohammad b. Ahmad b.
Jafar Qattaan, Ahmad b. Ishaaq were initially the representatives of
Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) in Qum, Iran. After the martyrdom of Imam Hasan
Askari (a.s.) they returned to Baghdad as helpers of Hazrat Usman b.
Mohammad b. Ahmad Qattaan had taken up the work of
selling clothes so that nobody could cast any doubt on his real purpose.
The other agents delivered the letters and wealth wrapped in a cloth to
him and he forwarded it to Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.).History is
replete with such incidents wherein the special representatives employed
such ingenious methods to protect Imam (a.t.f.s.) and his Shias. The
wealth used to reach Imam (a.t.f.s.) without anybody learning about his
(a.t.f.s.) actual abode.
His (r.a.) demise
duration of his deputyship and the exact date of his demise has not got
wide coverage in books of history and traditions. But it is clear that
the combined duration of his own deputyship and that of his son - Hazrat
Muhammad b. Usman (r.a.) was 45 years.
Janabe Bahrul Uloom (r.a.) has recorded in Taaleqa-e-Rijal that Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) expired in 264 A.H. or 265 A.H.Ali
Ghaffarzadeh in his book has narrated from historians and scholars -
the death of Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) took place before 267 A.H.(Pazoohashi Piramun, pg. 144)
He is buried near western Baghdad inside Shaare Maidan in Masjid Zarab.(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 51, pg. 347)Today
there is market near his grave and one has to pass through several
small lanes to reach the grave. Due to this, some visitors (Zaaireen)
avoid going for ziyarat. His ziyarat has a lot of merit and it is
similar to meeting him when one comes to meet Imam (a.t.f.s.), as he was
Imam's (a.t.f.s.) deputy.
After the demise of Hazrat Usman b."Saeed (r.a.), Imam (a.t.f.s.) wrote a condolence letter to his son, Muhammad:
we are from Allah and we will return to Him. We submit ourselves to His
command. Your father devoted his entire life to goodness and right till
the end he was praiseworthy. May Allah have mercy on him and include
him with His friends and the Imams (a.s.). He continuously endeavoured
and struggled in the affairs of his Imams (a.s.) till he met Allah, the
High, and the Imams (a.s.). May Allah make his face contented
and happy. (Beharul Anwaar, vol. 51, pg. 349)