Ali bin Yaqtin

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Ali bin Yaqtin

Question: Ali bin Yaqtin, Imam Kadhim (as) inside man in the court of Harun
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Ali bin Yaqtin was one of the outstanding student of the seventh Imam (as), he was a highly esteemed and pious companion who enjoyed a special place in the eyes of Imam Kadhim (as). He is highly revered within the Shiite community and holds a great position amongst them[1]. He was born in Kufa in the year 124 Hijri, during the last years of the Bani Umayya dynasty. His father, Yaqtin, was one of the core supporters of the Abassids, it was for this reason Marwan Himar (an Umayyid Khalifa) ordered his arrest, forcing him to go into hiding. In the period that Yaqtin was in hiding, his wife moved to Medina with their two children Ali and `Ubayd. After the fall of the Bani Ummaya dynasty and the coming to power of Bani Abbas, Yaqtin returned to Kufa and joined Abu al-`Abass Safah, following this, his wife also returned to Kufa with their sons[2]. Ali bin Yaqtin grew up in Kufa where he became a student of Imam Musa Kadhim. According to historians and experts in the science of Rijal he is counted amongst the close students and companions of the seventh Imam (as) and has narrated many traditions from him, however he has only narrated one tradition from Imam Sadiq (as)[3].  He was well established personality amongst the Shiites and recognised by the masses as a man of knowledge and was the author of several texts which include;

1) Masa’il `anhu al-Sadiq (as) min al-Malahim[4]

2) Munazireh al-Shak bi-Hadhratihi[5]

3) Discussions relating to different topics that he had discussed with Imam Kadhim (as)[6].

As a result of Imam Kadhims approval, Ali bin Yaqtin accepted the political post offered to him by Harun, hence becoming a minister for the caliph[7]. Through the position he gained, and his influence amongst the people of the time he was able to act as a strong supporter and source of help and resource for the Shiites. He used to his position to aid the cause of the Imam to the extent he could.  On a few occasions Ali wished to resign from his post, however each time the Imam (as) would instruct him otherwise[8]. Imam Kadhims objective in keeping Ali bin Yaqtin in such a position was to protect the lives and properties of the Shiites, defend their rights and help their secret movement. Imam Kadhim said to Ali ‘Guarantee me one thing, and I shall guarantee you three’, Ali asked what those three things were, the Imam replied ‘the three things that I guarantee you are;

Firstly, you will never be killed by the sword (at the hands of your enemies), second, you will never suffer extreme poverty and lastly, you will never be imprisoned. However, that whih you must guarantee is this; whenever one of our Shiites turns to you, honor and respect them, fulfill their needs and help them in whatever they require. Ali accepted the deal and the Imam on his part fulfilled his promise[9]. Encouraging him further the Imam added ‘your post has become a source of honor for your brothers (other Shiites), and I hope that through you God compensates our (the Shiites) losses and puts an end to the corruptions and plots of the enemies’. Ali bin Yaqtin remained faithful to his oath, and throughout the period that he held this post he proved to be a great source of help and a place of shelter for the Shiites, even in the most difficult of situations he was able to play a huge role in protecting the Shiite masses and prepare the means for them to succeed and continue growing.

Through thwarting the plans of the enemies of the Shiites, Ali bin Yaqtin was able to gain the trust of Harun, who in turn made him his personal minister giving him influence over the vast Islamic lands. Ali used this opportunity to tirelessly aid and support the Shiites, especially so in matter of finances, he helped give them some economic foundations and secretly sent his personal Khums, a noticeable amount which at times could range in between a hundred to three-hundred thousand dinars, to the Imam (as)[10]. This in its self was a significant step and further highlighted the idea that the Islamic system of governance relies considerably on Khums payments.

The son of Ali bin Yaqtin narrates “Whenever Imam Kadhim (as) needed anything or required something important to be done he would write a letter to my father asking him to buy a certain object or to complete a certain task. He would ask that the action be done on behalf of Hisham bin Hakam, however the instructions to use Hisham’s name were only for very important and sensitive matters[11].

In one of Imam Kadhims trips to Iraq he was asked by Ali bin Yaqtin about working for the oppressive government, the Imam replied “God (swt) has people He loves living amongst the oppressors who He uses to support his other good servants and you (Ali) are one of Gods loved ones”[12]. In another instance where Ali bin Yaqtin asked the Imam (as) regarding his duties as someone continuing to work with the oppressive dynasty of Bani Abbas, the Imam told him “If you don’t continue this occupation, be aware of what will happen to the state (possessions/properties) of the Shi`ites”. Ali bin Yaqtin obeyed the command of the Imam, and used this as a general principle to try and help the Shi`ites. On the surface he would collect the governmental tax from the Shi`ites, however he would secretly return their money back to them[13], the reason being that the Abbaside government was a non-Islamic one, so following its laws was not a religious obligation for the Muslims. God gave the right of government and religious authority over the Muslims to Musa bin Ja`far, and it was on his (as) orders that Ali bin Yaqtin would return the property of the Shi`ites to them.

One of the great achievements of Ali bin Yaqtins great recorded inthe books of history is his sending of large numbers of people every year to the annual Hajj pilgrimage representing him, to perform the pilgrimage on his behalf. The numbers he would send would sometimes exceed 150, 250 and even 300[14], and he would pay each pilgrim ten to twenty thousand dinars[15]. At the very least, this shows Ali bin Yaqtins great respect and importance towards this sacred Islamic ritual which has been so greatly emphasised. However, when we examine the number of people Ali sent, and the large sum of money he provided to the, then there seem to be more to it than just a grand act of kindness (giving people and excuse to perform the pilgrimage). If we wanted to get an average or minimum estimate of how much he spent for Hajj during the year, we could assume he took an average of two hundred people and paid them an average of twenty thousand dirhams, we would come up with a sum of around two million dirhams! This expenditure was apart from the money he paid in charity, khums, zakat and other monetary gifts. With all these estimates in mind, how much could Ali bin Yaqtins income be that he had enough to cover everything? It seems that amongst the Shiiite scholars, the first person to draw attention to this point was Sheikh Baha’i; he makes a very accurate observation in this regard, he says ‘It seems that Imam Kadhim (as) had given Ali bin Yaqtin full permission to make use of the Muslims treasury, and Ali bin Yaqtin would pay large sums of money to the Shiites using Hajj as an excuse, (he did it in this manner) as not to raise the concerns and complaints of his enemies’[16]. Hence the move of sending large numbers of pilgrims to Hajj, and paying them heavily was actually a well thought out strategy through which Ali bin Yaqtin was indirectly able to financially strengthen the Shiites in a hidden manner. A indicator of this matter is the fact that amongst those being selected to go Hajj on behalf of Ali were some of the great companions of the Imams[17], who held special positions in the eyes of the Prophets household (pbut). These personalities included people like Abd al-Rahman bin Hujjaj and Abdullah bin Yahya Kahili[18]. Another result of Ali bin Yaqtins plan of sending big names from amongst the Shiites, that is the scholars amongst them, to Hajj was that the scholars could participate in the enormous gathering of Hajj and defend the rights and authenticity of the Shiites in debates and discussions with other schools of thought, this would create a huge Shiite cultural wave. Ali bin Yaqtin, through all his hard work had earned the unrelenting support and approval of the Imam (as), who in turn helped him out of many dangerous situations. One of those situations was as follows: One year, Harun gifted a large amount of clothes, including valuable robes, to Ali, one of those robes was brocaded with black fur, it appeared to be a robe specifically for rulers. Ali gifted a large number of these clothes, including the special robe to Imam Kadhim whilst delivering his usual Khums payment. The Imam (as) accepted the payments and the clothes, all accept the emroidedered robe, which he returned to Ali along with a note telling him to keep the robe as it would come in handy for him in an upcoming event that he would encounter. Ali did not understand why the Imam (as) wanted him to hold on to the robe, but he did nonetheless. Coincidently, on one particular day he happened to remove one of his special employees, who had fallen short in following orders. This employee was aware of Ali bin Yaqtins special relationship with the Imam, and the fact that Ali would send the Imam gifts and payments, so he went to Harun to tell him what was happening. He told Harun ‘He (Ali) believes in the Imamat of Musa ibn Ja`far, and every year he sends him his khums payments and large gifts’. He used the event in which Ali gifted the Imam the expensive clothing as evidence against him, telling Harun how Ali had gifted all those clothes to Imam Kadhim. On hearing this news Harun became enraged and decided to look into the matter planning to punish Ali by death, be these claims true. Harun summoned Ali asking him about the whereabouts of the clothes, Ali told him ‘They have been packed away and perfectly preserved’. Harun ordered Ali to bring the clothes immediately, at which time Ali told one of his servants to go and bring them quickly. He gave him instructions on how to get the key and where to find the robe so that he could bring it as soon as possible. It did not take long for the servant to return with the chest that the clothes were in along with the seal of the Caliph upon it. He presented the chest to Harun who ordered that it be opened in front of him. When the chest was opened he saw that the clothes were there exactly how he had originally gifted them to Ali bin Yaqtin. His anger faded and he turned to Ali saying “after this, I shall never believe the words of anyone who slanderer you again”. He then ordered that some more valuable gifts be given to Ali and that the person who had slandered him be severely punished.[19,20]

Footnote: 1. Tusi, Al-Fehrist, Mashhad, Danishkadeh Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.234
2. Ibid, Najash, Fehrist Asma’ Musnafi al-Shi`eh, Qum, Maktbeh al-Dawari, p.194
3. Najash, Fehrist Asma’ Musnafi al-Shi`eh, Qum, Maktbeh al-Dawari, p.195
4. Imam Sadiqs for-telling of tests, trials and events to come, in response to questions asked about these issues
5. A debate with one of the Shaghakan in the presence of the Imam
6. Tusi, Al-Fehrist, Mashhad, Danishkadeh Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.234
7. Tusi, Ikthiyar Ma`rifah al-Rijal, Tahqiq: Hasan al-Mustafawi, Mashhad, Danishgah Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.433
8. Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Tehran, al-Maktab al-Islamiya, 1385, v.48, p.158
9. Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Tehran, al-Maktab al-Islamiya, 1385, v.48, p.136. Tusi, Ikthiyar Ma`rifah al-Rijal, Tahqiq: Hasan al-Mustafawi, Mashhad, Danishgah Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.433
10.Tusi, Ikthiyar Ma`rifah al-Rijal, Tahqiq: Hasan al-Mustafawi, Mashhad, Danishgah Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.434
11. Tusi, Al-Fehrist, Mashhad, Danishkadeh Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.269
12. Ibid, p.433
13. Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Tehran, al-Maktab al-Islamiya, 1385, v.48, p.158
14. Tusi, Ikthiyar Ma`rifah al-Rijal, Tahqiq: Hasan al-Mustafawi, Mashhad, Danishgah Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.434 and 437
15. Ibid, p.434 - An Amount lesser than this has also been mentioned, in any case it seems that this distribution was based on the financial situations of the people involved
16. Mamaqani, Tanqih al-Mithal, Tehran, Intisharat Jahan, v.2, p.317
17. Tusi, Ikthiyar Ma`rifah al-Rijal, Tahqiq: Hasan al-Mustafawi, Mashhad, Danishgah Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.435
18. Abd al-Rahman bin Hujjaj benefited from and was a companion of both Imam Sadiq (as) and Imam Kadhim (as). He was a pious and outstanding well-respected man from amongst the Shiites. (Najash, Fehrist Asma’ Musnafi al-Shi`eh,Qum, Maktbeh al-Dawari, p.65. Mamaqani, Tanqih al-Mithal, Tehran, Intisharat Jahan, v.2, p.141) Imam Kadhim (as)had said to him “O Abd al-Rahman, engage in intellectual discussions with the people of Medina, for verily I love that amongst the Shiite their be men like you” (Ardabili, Jame` al-Rawah, Manshurat Maktabeh Ayatullah Mar`ashi Najafi, v.1, p.447. Tusi, Ikthiyar Ma`rifah al-Rijal, Tahqiq: Hasan al-Mustafawi, Mashhad, Danishgah Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.442)

Abdullah bin Yahya Kahili also enjoyed a special rank and position in the eyes of Imam Kadhim (as), so much so that the Imam (as) on countless occasions reminded Ali bin Yaqtin to take care of the affairs of Abdullah. The Imam is reported to have said “Secure the wellbeing (financial and otherwise) of Kahili and his family, and God will secure for you a place in heaven.” (Tusi, Ikthiyar Ma`rifah al-Rijal, Tahqiq: Hasan al-Mustafawi, Mashhad, Danishgah Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.402). Ali bin Yaqtin acted on the orders of the Imam (as), and always did his best to support and provide for Abdullah and his family till the end of his life. (Tusi, Ikthiyar Ma`rifah al-Rijal, Tahqiq: Hasan al-Mustafawi, Mashhad, Danishgah Ilahiyat wa Ma`arif Islami, p.448)
19. Sheikh Mufid, al-Irshad, Qum, Maktabeh Basirati, p.293. Shablangi, Nur al-‘Absaar, Maktabeh Mashhad Hussaini, p.150. Ibn Sabbag Maliki, al-Fasul al-Muhima, Najaf, Maktabeh Dar al-Kutb al-Tajariyah, p.218. Ibn ShahraShoob, Manaqib Aale Abi Talib, Qum, Mo’assaseh Intasharat Allamah, v.4, p.289
20. Collected from the book: Sireh Pishwaiyan, Mehdi Peeshva’i, p.449
Published on: « 1392/09/18 »
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