In fact, there are also many points to encourage us to disagree with Sachedina's opinion.

First, the installation of all the twelve Imams in the office of the Imamate from Imam `Ali b. Abi Talib until the time of the Twelfth Imam, had been carried out neither by the interference of their followers nor by election. As has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout this work the fact is that the promotion of each new Imam occurred according to the personal stipulation (alュ Ta yin bi‑l‑Nass) of the preceding Imam in his last will. Moreover the installation of the first and second Saf段rs had followed the same method. They were promoted to the office of the Wikala by the order of the Imam and there is no evidence to prove that Ibn Ruh was not similarly appointed.

Second, none of the ten eminent agents, who were present at that meeting, expected to participate by election, nomination or other means in the appointment of Abu Ja`far's successor. On the contrary, they attended the meeting so as to know who would be stipulated as the third Saf段r by the order of the Imam himself.

Third, the second Saf段r had ordered his personal servant, Dhaka, that in the case of his death, he should hand his staff and the treasure chest over to Ibn Ruh(1).

Fourth, if we take into consideration the fact that the rest of the ten agents recognised the promotion of Ibn Ruh, especially Ibn Matil, who was expected to be the third Saf段r(2), and the fact that al‑Shalmaghani, even after his own aspiration to the office of the Sifara recognised Ibn Ruh as the Saf段r(3), it is clear that Ibn Ruhmust in fact have been appointed by the Imam himself and neither Abu Sahl al‑Nawbakhti nor his family did influence the Imam's decision.

3. The Activities of Ibn Ruh al‑Nawbakhti

According to al‑Dhahabi, after the death of the second Saf段r in 305/917, his successor Ibn Ruh went to the headquarters (Dar alュ-Niyaba) of the organization, where he met the eminent Imamites such as the servant of the second Saf段r, Dhaka. The latter prepared the things which his master had entrusted to him, that is, the staff and the treasure chest containing the seals of the Imams, and handed them over to Ibn Ruh as he had been instructed. Thereafter Ibn Ruh together with the other agents went to the house of Muhammad b. `Ali al‑Shalmaghani(4), his close associate who later became his rival.

From the very beginning, Ibn Ruh proved his ability to lead the organization successfully. His shrewdness enabled him to avoid the consequences of participation in the sectarian discussions which took place at the palace of Ibn Yasar, one of the high officials of alュMuqtadir, the caliph. He used to attend those discussions only as a listener. According to al‑Tusi, Ibn Ruh was so cautious that he even discharged his servant because he had cursed Mu'awiya(5).  Perhaps he took this step to avoid the danger posed by the vizier, Hamid b. alュ`Abbas (306‑311/918‑923), who was well‑known for his hatred of Shiites generally(6).

There is evidence that the ten agents of the second Saf段r continued their activities under al‑Nawbakhti. Among these agents were Ja断ar b. Ahmad b. Matil, Abu Abd Allah al‑Katib, al‑Hasan al‑Wajna`, Muhammad b. Humam,`Isma段l b. Ishaq al‑Nawbakhti, Ahmad b. Matil, Muhammad al‑Aswad, and al‑Madd'im. Two other names also appear in the lists of the agents in Baghdad: al‑Shalmaghani and Ahmad b. Ibrahim al‑Nawbakhti. The latter was a narrator of traditions and the husband of Umm Kulthum, the daughter of the second Saf段r, and Ibn Ruh employed him as his personal secretary. The former was appointed as an agent by Ibn Ruh after he had become the Saf段r(7).

Through his ten agents in Baghdad Ibn Ruh directed the activities of the Imamite agents and their underground political cells in the other provinces. He sent his first letter of instructions to the agent of al‑Ahwaz, Muhammad b. Nafis, on 5th Shawwal 305/23rd November 917, in which he confirmed him in his office(8).

He appointed his agent al‑Shalmaghani to supervise the underground Imamite cells among the people of Band Bistam in Baghdad(9) and made him the mediator between himself and the agents of Kufa, Abu Ja`far al‑Zajawzji and Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Sulayman alュ-Zurari(10). Al‑Shalmaghani continued his supervision of the agents of Kufa and Baghdad until the year 312/923, when Ibn Ruh discharged him from his office and excommunicated him after he had taught the incarnation of God inhuman form(11)

According to al‑Tusi, Abu `Abd Allah al‑Hasan al‑Wajna`, one of the ten agents in Baghdad, practised his activities in Nisibin and Mosul. In 307/919 he met a certain individual called Muhammad b. al‑Fadl al‑Mawsili who denied that Ibn Ruh was the Saf段r of the Twelfth Imam. He tried to convince him that Ibn Ruh was truly appointed as Saf段r by the Imam, but al‑Mawsili argued that, if Ibn Ruh was so, he must show miracles as the first and the second Saf段rs did before. In order to content him, al‑Hasan al‑Wajna` brought him to Baghdad, where he saw with his own eyes Ibn Ruh's miracles which prompted him to recognize him as the rightful Saf段r.(12)

This report reveals that al‑Hasan al‑Wajna` was appointed by the third Saf段r to direct the Imamites' activities in the province of Jazira. In Wasit, al‑Hasan b. Muhammad b. Qatat al‑Saydalani, the Wakd al‑Waqf during the time of the second Saf段r, and Ibn Matil, who had worked as the connecting link between al‑Saydalani and the second Saf段r(13), continued their activities during the time of Ibn Ruh(14).

As has already been noted, some reports reveal that because of the persecution of the Imamites which had been carried out by the caliphs al‑Mu'tadid (279‑89/892‑902) and al‑Muktafi (289‑95/902‑8) and their attempts to arrest the Imam, he changed his place of residence from Samarra to the Hijaz. This situation naturally led to difficulties as regards the methods of communication between him and his agents. Furthermore information concerning the relations between the third Saf段r and his agents in the other provinces is rare and obscure. However, there is evidence that the Imam continued to practise his activities from Mecca. Al‑Tusi relates that a certain Ya qub b. Yusuf al‑Ghassani saw a group of men from different provinces come to the house where the Imam lived and correspond with them through an old serving woman. Some of those men were from Baghdad(15).

Al‑Saduq reports that the agent al‑Hasan al‑Wajna` met the Imam at the same house in 314/926,(16) which indicates that the residence of the Imam was in the Hijaz during the time of the third Saf段r. But there is no available reference to the names of the agents in Mecca and Medina.

The Imam also had agents in Egypt who recognized the sifara of Ibn Ruh(17). According to al‑Tusi, al‑Qasim b. al‑ `Ala was still the agent in Azerbayjan. He directed the Imamite activities through two assistants, that is Abu Hamid `Umran b. al‑Mufallis and Abu `Ali b. Jahdar, and also used to look after the personal domain which the eleventh Imam, al‑`Askari, had endowed to the Twelfth Imam. Correspondence between al‑Qasim b. al‑`Ala and Ibn Ruh took place through a messenger who used to come to Azerbayjan. After the death of al‑Qasim his son al‑Hasan was promoted to the office by the order of the Imam(18).

In Iran, Muhammad b. Ja断ar al‑Asadi al‑Razi, the agent of Rayy, had been instructed by the second Saf段r to supervise the activities of the agents of the other Iranian provinces. He continued this supervision during the time of the third Saf段r(19). But after the death of alュ-Razi in 312/924,33 the method of communication between the agents in Iran and Ibn Ruh changed from indirect correspondence via alュ Razi to direct contact between Ibn Ruh and the agents. Al‑Saduq reports several narratives in support of this point. For example, `Ali b. al‑Husayn b. Babawayh, the leader of the Imamites in Qumm, made direct contact with the third Saf段r via the agent in Baghdad, alュ-Aswad(20).

An agent from Balkh, Muhammad b. al‑Hasan al‑Sayrafi, did likewise. He collected the tax dues (gold and silver) from the Imamites of Balkh and handed them over to Ibn Ruh in Baghdad, and he continued his direct contact even during the time of the fourth Saf段r, al‑Sammari(21)

 In the same way al‑Husayn b. 'Ali al‑Qummi received ten gold ingots from Ibn Jawshir, who asked him to hand them over to Ibn Ruh, so he did so(22). These reports indicate that the position of Ibn Ruh as the Saf段r of the Twelfth Imam became wellュ known amongst the Imamites, in contrast to that of the first and the second Saf段rs, whose office had been kept secret. For this reason some ordinary Imamites were encouraged to ignore the agents of their areas and contact the third Saf段r directly.

Ibn Ruh was highly esteemed by the `Abbasid court during the time of the caliph of al‑Muqtadir (295‑320/907‑932). This can be attributed to the influence of Ibn Ruh's family, Banu Nawbakht, in the `Abbasid administration, an influence which had begun during the time of the caliph al‑Mansur (d.158/774) and lasted until the time of al‑Muqtadir. Ibn Ruh himself participated in the Abbasid administration. According to al‑Jahshayari, he was at one point in charge of the personal domain of the caliph (Diwan al‑Diya al-ュKhasya)(23).

Therefore we find some agents, such as Abu Ghalib alュ-Zurari, paying respect to Ibn Ruh because of the economic and political influence of his family(24). Abbas Iqbal illustrates Ibn Ruh's influence by reporting that, during the time of the vizier Hamid b. alュ`Abbas (306‑311/918‑923), Ibn Ruh's house became the place for the meetings of administrators, nobles, and deposed viziers, especially Banu Furat(25).

Most likely Ibn Ruh exercised his influence upon the Shi段tes, who were working in the administration, encouraging them to employ their brothers in faith in the 'Abbasid administration and offer financial help to the needy among the Shiites in general. Certain references indicate that these instructions were put into action by `Ali b. Muhammad b. Furat. According to Ibn Khallikan, he used to support 5,000 people financially(26)

When he was a vizier he appointed the agent Abu Sahl al‑Nawbakhti as governor of the Mubarik district of Wasit and Muhammad b. `Ali al‑Bazawfari as governor of the district of al‑Sulh and al‑Muzara誕t in Wasit(27). Simultaneously Muhsin b. al‑Furat apppointed the Baghdad agent al‑Shalmaghani as deputy to certain governors in other districts(28).

Participation in the administration enabled the agents to study the economic and political situation of the government and facilitated communications through their administrative positions.

Despite Ibn Ruh's great influence he seems to have been put in a critical situation by the militant activities of the other Shiites, particularly the Qaramita. These were used by his rivals as a pretext to cause his arrest. In 311/923 a caravan of Baghdadi pilgrims, including some relatives of the caliph al‑Muqtadir, were attacked and captured by the Qaramita, an act which caused the people of Baghdad to be very upset.

Since the Qaramita were Shiites,this gave the enemies of the Shiites, like Nasr al‑Hajib the chamberlain, an excellent weapon against the vizier Ibn al‑Furat. Nasr claimed that because Ibn al‑Furat was Shiite, he had encouraged the Qaramita to attack the pilgrims. Moreover, the masses were provoked to shout in public that Ibn al‑Furat and his son Muhsin were the "greater Qarmati and the lesser Qarmati". In 312/924, as a result of these events Ibn al‑Furat and his son were discharged and then murdered(29).

Al‑Tusi reports that Ibn Ruh was arrested in 312/924, but does not give any reason for his imprisonment. Al‑Dhahabi claims that his arrest was caused by the inflammatory propaganda against the Qaramita. He was accused of corresponding with the Qaramita in an effort to have them besiege Baghdad(30).

According to Ibn `Arib, Ibn Ruh was arrested because he failed to hand over to the government the money which he owed it(31).

This reveals that some officials may have falsely accused Ibn Ruh of corresponding with the Qaramita in order to facilitate his arrest.. In any case, Ibn Ruh spent five years in jail until the caliph, al‑Muqtadir, released him in 317/929.(32)

Ibn Ruh recovered his previous respect and reputation, renewed his direct supervision over the Imamite activities, and once again received money from the Imamites. Many of his relatives, such as Ishaq b. Isma段li (d. 322/933), Ali b. al‑ Abbas (d. 324/935) and al-ュHusayn b. Ali b. al‑ Abbas, had managed to maintain high offices in the Abbasid administration, so his influence increased. Many influential officials and deposed viziers like 'Ali b. Muqla sought his acquaintance in order to pave the way for their advancement in the `Abbasid administration(33).

For example, the vizier Ibn Muqla spent 20,000 dinars on estates and endowed them as awqaf for the Talibiyyin in 319/931.(34) But later he lost his office and therefore asked Ibn Ruh to help him. Ibn Ruh contacted his relative al‑Husayn b. 'Ali b. al-`Abbas al‑Nawbakhti, who was the secretary (katib) of Amir al‑ Umara , Ibn Ra'iq, and asked him to support Ibn Muqla in his efforts to recover his office, which were successful in 325/936.(35)

At the same time that the third Saf段rwas wielding his powerful influence in official circles, he was faced with the serious deviation of his main deputy, al‑Shalmaghani, who began to make claims outside Islamic beliefs.






(1)al‑Dhahabi, Tarikh al‑Islam, f. 132.

(2)T. al-Ghayba, 240. According to some reports, the decision that Ibn Ruh would be the successor of Abu Ja`far had already been revealed by Abu Ja`far himself to a few agents three years before his death in 305/917. Ja`far al‑Mada'ini and Muhammad b. `Ali al‑Aswad were amongst the agents who received these instructions. Kama値, 501‑2.

(3)T. al-Ghayba, 256.

(4)al‑Dhahabi, Tarikh al‑Islam, f. 132 b.

(5)T. al-Ghayba, 250‑1.

(6)For a full account of the career of Hamid b. al‑`Abbas, see al‑Kubaysi, op. cit., 190‑9.

(7)Bihar, LI, 320‑1; T. al-Ghayba, 212, 242‑3.

(8)Iqbal, op. cit., 216.

(9)Bihar, LI, 371; T. al-Ghayba, 263.

(10)T. al-Ghayba, 197‑8, 212.

(11)al‑Najashi, 293‑4; Buzurg, Nawabigh al‑Ruwat, 289.

(12)T. al-Ghayba, 205‑6; Buzurg, Nawabigh al‑Ruwat, 96.

(13)Kama値, 504.

(14)T. al-Ghayba, 240.

(15)T. al-Ghayba, 176, 179‑80.

(16)Kama値, 443‑4.

(17)T. al-Ghayba, 255.

(18)T. al-Ghayba, 202‑5. According to Buzurg, al‑Qasim died in 304/916. But alュ-Tusi refers to his activities during the time of the third Saf段r(305‑26/917‑37), so his death must have occurred after 304/916; T. al-Ghayba, 202.

(19)al‑Najashi, 289.

(20)Kama値, 502.

(21)Kama値, 516- 517.

(22)Kama値, 518‑9.

(23)al‑Jahshayari, al‑wuzara', 300

(24)T. al-Ghayba, 199.

(25)Iqbal, op. cit., 217.

(26)Ibn Khallikan, Wafayat al‑A`yan (Cairo, 1948), III, 99.

(27)al‑Sabi, op. cit., 40‑1.

(28)Ibn Miskawayh, op. cit., I, 123.

(29)Ibn Miskawayh, op. cit., I, 120‑7.

(30)T. al-Ghayba, 200; al‑Dhahabi, Tarikh al‑Islam, f. 132a.

(31)`Arib, op. cit., 141.

(32)`Arib, op. cit., 141; T. al-Ghayba, 200.

(33)Iqbal, op. cit., 220

(34)Ibn Miskawayh, op. cit., I, 225.

(35)al‑Suli, al‑Awraq, 87.