The first deputy - Hazrat Usman b.. Saeed-e-Amri (r.a.)
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
(Ghaibat-e-Shaikh-e-Tusi, pg. 353)
His name and title
Usman 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
Among Shias Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.) is known by
1. Saman / Zayyat (Oil
Hazrat 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.
Scholars 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
(Ghaibat-e-Shaikh-e-Tusi (r.a.), pg. 354)
Special deputy of three Imams (a.s.)
Shaikh-e-Tusi (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.).
He 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
Nawwab-e-Khaas-e-Imam-e-Zaman (a.s.) by Ali
Ghaffarzadeh, pg. 106)
Dr. 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
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
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'
After referring to the books of these scholars Ali
Ghaffarzadeh concludes that Hazrat Usman b. Saeed (r.a.)
was not among the companions of Imam Jawad (a.s.).
(Pazoohashi Piraamun, pg. 109-10)
It 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
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,
هذا ابو عمرو
الثقة الامني ماقاله لكم فعنى يقوله وما اداه اليكم فعنى
This 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)
Imam's (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
هذا ابو عمرو
الثقة الامين الماضي وثقتي في المحيا والممات فما قاله لكم
فعنى يقوله وما ادى اليكم فعنى يؤدّيه
'This 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)
Imam 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.).
امامكم والامر اليه
'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
Imam 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.
الينا من كل شيء من النواحي فاليه المسير آخر امره ليوصل
All the 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)
Imam's (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
If 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.
The 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.).
Shaikh 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)
Hazrat 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
When 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 interesting.
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)
It 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
After 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
Hazrat 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. Saeed (r.a.).
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
The 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,
"Surely 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
(Beharul Anwaar, vol. 51, pg. 349)