Name   : Ismail ibne Ibad    Title : Saheb,  Al Kafat

Born     : Khuzistan, Iran

Died      : Rai, near Tehran,Iran,  383 H 


For the period from the Ghaibat e Imam (a.s) till the times of Sheik Toosi there is very scanty information available about the Ulema of those days. After 328 H, till 460 H is the period of Sheik Toosi. We shall discuss about the Ulema who also served the Faith in that period. The period of Ghaibat e Sughra was a very delicate time for the Shias. Some of the Naibs or Deputies of the Imam (a.s) too had to live under dissimulation because of the tyranny of the rulers then. One of the Naibs had to establish some trade in Baghdad as a cover for the large numbers of people visiting him. Thus he was able to propagate the word of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) to their followers. Hussain ibn e Rooh was a Naib who spent all his life in Taqayya (dissimulation). Even to this day the people of the other schools consider him as their cleric! With the passing away of the last Naib that period came to an end. During that period Qum, that was distant from the sphere of the rulers’ control, had a degree of freedom to propagate and practice the Right Faith. Although the corporal control wasn’t in their hands, the spiritual leadership devolved with the Shia Ulema. We are making a brief reference of the Ulema there. Sheik Sadooq’s father was the chief of the clerics In Qum.



When the Imam (a.s) went into hiding (Ghaibat), some imposters claimed that they were the deputies of the Imam (a.s). These imposters used to head towards Qum. When Sheik Sadooq’s father felt that these imposters were exceeding their limits, he chased them out of the city. But in the rest of the Islamic Realm the conditions were very bad for the Shias.The conditions, however, slowly changed. The instructions given by the 6th, 7th and 8th Imams (a.s) started taking effect. They had said that when the conditions go totally out of control, the only alternative left for the Shias was to train themselves in skills and learning that they proved indispensable to the society. Therefore, many of the eminent physicians of the Islamic world were Shias. Several important administrators too were Shias. When others went enmasse to the fighting forces, the rulers had to turn to the Shias to occupy the important administrative positions. It is a paradox that the rulers, on the one hand, were massacring the Shias and, on the other depending on them for perfoming the important tasks of governance! We see that during the period of the 7th Imam, the prime minister of Haroon Abbasi was Ali ibn e Yaqteen. During the times of the 10th Imam (a.s), Fath bin Qaqaan, a Shii, was the minister of the tyrant Mutawakkil Abbasi. In 350 H the prime minister in Baghdad was a follower of the Al e Mohammed (a.s). Other Shias too occupied important positions in the government those days! Their control was so much that they literally were the king makers. They changed the caliph at will! Therefore the year 350H was the first year that the Shias could observe Ashura and celebrate Eid e Ghadir openly! Although they did observe these events quietly in the past, they had the freedom to do these openly from 350 H. But it was a short respite. When the people from the other sects saw this, they started creating problems and hurdles. It was a very critical period for the Shia Ulema. On the one hand they had to calm and control the Shias who very much wanted public manifestation of their beliefs. The result of this attitude was the inscription of the names of the Infallibles (a.s) on the walls of the mosques. On every threshold they started writing the tradition of the Prophet (s.a) saying “Mohammed wa Ali Khair al Bashar”. They also started writing the names of the enemies of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) on the external walls of their homes expressing disgust or chagrin against them. On the one side were these emotional youth of the Shia community and on the other the majority made all the efforts to crush them. During such fissiparous times the Shia Ulema performed their onerous duties. They neither got carried away with the emotional outburst of the youth among their following nor were they cowed down by the mobs of the opposition! They guided the youth to propagate the word of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) and busied themselves in writing books. They knew that the True Faith would flourish and the people in far flung places would need books for their guidance. This was the greatest service that the Shia Ulema rendered. The prominent Shia scholar of that time was Qazi Abu Hanifa. He was named after a well known scholar of the other sect, but he himself was a follower of the Al e Mohammed (s.a). In the beginning he was a follower of Imam Malik. Abu Hanifa propagated the Faith of Al e Mohammed (s.a) in the African Continent. He made a deep study of the Quran and the Hadit and was convinced that the Right Path was following the Faith of the Al e Mohammed (s.a). Egypt and its environs were ruled by the Ismailis. They felt the maximum danger from the followers of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s). They knew that their false imamate would get exposed if these people flourished. Qazi Abu Hanifa lived and worked in Egypt at that time. Like Hussain bin Rooh, Abu Hanifa spent his life in dissimulation and the scholars of the other sects consider him as one of their scholars. His dissimulation was with the Ismailis. If anyone was found believing in the 7th Imam (a.s), after the 6th Imam (a.s), the person would be officially executed in the Fatimid Realm! Abu Hanifa had the advantage of taking birth in a family that wasn’t Shia. Then he became a cleric of the Maliki Sect. In that dissimulation he wrote several books and gave a vivid description of the 6th and 7th Imams (a.s) in his writings. He also exposed the Ismaili regime through his writings. In the year 363 H there came up another prominent personality. Although he was a great scholar, he is famous as a minister of the realm! 


Qazi Abu Hanifa died in 363 H. The effects of his efforts were felt in the areas of the Maghrib, other parts of Africa and also Egypt. Then arrived on the scene an eminent scholar-Ismail ibn e Ibad. He first propagated the Faith of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) in Iran. When we think of Iran a thought comes to our minds that it has always been a center of Shia Faith and learning. What we witness today in Iran is the result of the selfless services of the great Ulema. In fact Iran was once a strong center of the enemies of Ahl al Bayt (a.s). The most rabid opponents of the True Faith were in the city of Isfahan. It was, infact, the last spot on the face of the Earth where Tabarra (malediction) of Hazrat Ali (a.s) was stopped. When Arabia had completely stopped this heinous practice, Iran continued to do it. While Qazi Abu Hanifa continued his services to the Faith in Africa, an eminent scholar, Ismail bin Ibad, was working for the same cause in Iran. In Iran the Babawia family formed a kingdom, breaking away from the other rulers under Moid ud Dawla. He was an ordinary person who rose to power. In his childhood he was a friend of Ismail ibn e Ibad. The friendship continued. Although Moid ud Dawla knew that Ismail bin Ibad was a Shia and not an Ismaili, he gave him the position of the prime minister. The poets in their eulogies had said that the prime ministership was bestowed on him because of his capability. Being a companion of the ruler since childhood, people started calling him Saheb or Companion. The Babawiya realm was in the area of Iran, adjoining Iraq that is called Khuzistan. Even to this day there are some villages in the area where inhabit people who are inimical to the Ahl al Bayt (a.s). It was for the first time that the Faith of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) was propagated by Saheb ibn e Ibad in an area away from Qum. He served the Faith so much, and so long, that any follower of the Shia creed in Khuzistan was called a follower of the faith of Saheb! It was like people in the West, these days, calling the Shias as the followers of Ayatollah Khomeini! 


This is a true and very popular incident. This happened in the city of Isfahan. There lived an old man. One evening he returned home late. When he entered his private chambers, he found his wife having sex with another person. He was very angry and started flogging his wife with a whip. He asked her why she indulged in the taboo act. She said that it was the matter of destiny. Whatever was destined to happen to her had happened. You must know that there is a school among the Muslims which believes that whatever one does in life is destined to happen through Allah’s Will and Wish! They say that even a leaf of a plant cannot be moved without His Will. The woman pleaded that she wasn’t at fault and that she did what Allah destined her to do! The anger of the old man was aggravated with this statement of his wife. When he shouted at her shamelessness, the woman cried aloud that her husband had gone wayward and that he had become a follower of the Faith of Saheb ibn e Ibad! In today’s parlance she meant that her husband had turned a Shia or a Rafizi. She shouted that her husband had shunned his creed of Sunnat wal Jamaat and had become a Shia. The man thought discretion was the better part of valor. He told his wife that she was a true Sunni. She did what Allah had destined for her and he was wrong in finding fault with her! Such was the belief of the enemies of the Al e Mohammed (s.a). When the rulers perpetrated cruelties on the people and their attention was drawn towards their cruel acts they invariably said that whatever they did was destined to happen by Allah’s Wish! The first words that Yazid said when the Tragic Entourage reached the court at Damascus after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s) in Karbala was, “What happened was with Allah’s Wish! I am not responsible for the event!”



Saheb ibn e Ibad functioned as the prime minister for 18 years in the realm of the enemies of the Ahl al Bayt. In the year 363 H Qazi Abu Hanifa died in Egypt and in 365 H Saheb ibn e Ibad became the prime minister of Iran. He was himself an erudite Alim and scholars from the other schools weren’t able to stand before him in a debate. Some people were envious of his becoming the prime minister. But the ruler was helpless because he knew it wasn’t possible to get an equally competent substitute. The regime in Baghdad was very strong and it was imperative for Iran to therefore have efficient administration in very capable hands. It is said about Saheb ibn e Ibad that he used to have 400 camels laden with books that always traveled with him. He was a voracious reader and would want to access any book that he wished to read wherever he had been.  

Saheb ibn e Ibad had a very good sense of humor. He had a very learned circle of friends. Once he noticed that a friend of his had a dull palor on his face. He asked him what was the reason for his morose looks.The friend said in Arabic, “Hima! Hima”—meaning he was having fever. Saheb ibn e Ibad retorted with the word in “Qa! Qa!”— which means asking him to protect himself from the fever. The person was clever. He understood that Saheb ibn e Ibad meant a pun in his utterance. When both the utterances are joined—Hima and Qa it becomes Himaqa in Arabic that means foolishness! During this care free banter Saheb ibn e Ibad used to propagate the word of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s). He possessed exemplary manners that attracted others towards him.  

The 6th Imam (a.s) was once asked what took away people from us. He said that some  of our people criticize our enemies harshly and thus love for us will not be created in the hearts of the listeners. They lampoon our enemies in such a manner that people start sympathizing with them because of the harsh criticism. 


The good manners of Saheb ibn e Ibad have been praised very much. He was very hospitable. He used to arrange feasts for thousands of persons at a time. If someone arrived at his place after the Asr Prayer in the month of Ramadan, the person wouldn’t be allowed to go away without breaking his fast and having dinner with Saheb ibn e Ibad. During Ramadan no evening would go without 1,000 or 1,200 persons breaking their fasts with him. He was known for his charity. People used to be surprised at the way he spent in the way of Allah. Those who came to him requesting for help, never went dissatisfied. Even his servants used to dress in expensive silks. Every servant was provided with a house to live in and a good horse for transportation. Silks in those days were very expensive and all categories of his servants wore silk garments. The silk fabric was imported into Iran from China those days and the difficult transportation used to render it very costly. When he gave largesses to persons, he would humbly say he hadn’t given anything. The recipients generally acknowledged his generosity very much. It is said that once a person came to him and requested for a means of transportation. Saheb ibn e Ibad gave to him all the different means of transportation available and said that if any more vehicles of transportation were there, he would like to provide them to the person! If someone asked for clothing, he would literally give him a wardrobe of different types of garments in vogue then.  

Saheb ibn e Ibad was known for his generosity, his exemplary manners and for his extraordinary intelligence. This was the reason for the great work he did in the propagation of the word of the Ahl al Bayt (a.s) in a country dominantly populated by the enemies of the Al e Mohammed (s.a). After the arrival of Allama Hilli in Iran the task of Saheb ibn e Ibad became easier.  

Nature took some very incredible tasks from Saheb Ibn e Ibad. Since his childhood, Saheb ibn e Ibad’s mother made it a practice that she would keep a Dinar under his pillow and he would give it as Sadaqa (Charity) to the first needy person he met when he stirred out in the morning. It is the saying of the Infallibles (a.s) that the act of Sadaqa saves the Momins from the calamities in store for them. It is said that a person approached the 8th Imam (a.s) and told him that his sons were expiring within three or four years of birth. He said that he had one child of about three years at that time and was afraid that he might meet the same fate as his other sons. The Imam (a.s) asked him to give Sadaqa after touching it to the hand of the child. Thus originated the practice of making the children and the sick persons touch the material for Sadaqa before giving away to the needy..   Saheb ibn e Ibad too followed this practice during the time of his parents and also followed it the rest of his life. His servants were instructed to keep some money under his pillow in the night and he would take the amount with him in the morning and give to the needy while going on the road. One night he was very restless and wasn’t getting any sleep. He saw under his pillow and noticed that the servant had forgotten to put the Sadaqa money under it. He thought that perhaps his end was near that such a thing had happened. He called his servants to take his very expensive silk bedding and give it to the first person they came across on the street. They found one blind person and his spouse on the road and told him that their master had given the bedding for him. The blind man fell down unconscious hearing this. He was brought to the mansion of Saheb ibn e Ibad. After sprinkling some water on the face of the man he became conscious. When the person was asked why he fell unconscious he said that a few days ago his daughter was married to a youth. The groom was angry that the dowry given to his bride was very meager and had sent the girl back to her parents’ home saying that unless she brought a bedding of Chinese Silk, he wouldn’t accept her in his house. The man said that the previous day the youth visited his in-law’s place and threatened that if his wish wasn’t fulfilled forthwith he would give divorce to his bride.The man said that he had come out on the street in the night thinking perhaps Allah would devise some way of helping them! When he heard the men of Saheb ibn e Ibad say that he had sent the silk bedding for him, he was overwhelmed with happiness and fell unconscious! Saheb ibn e Ibad not only sent the silk bedding to the person but he gave many other things as a dowry for the bride. The groom happily took home his bride!

 Qazi Abu Hanifa was propagating the word of the Ahl al Bayt in the Maghrib Region of Africa and Saheb ibne Ibad was performing this task in Iran. In Baghdad the period of Sheik Mufeed was about to commence. A little earlier than this Sayed Murtada Ilm al Huda and his younger sibling, Sayed Radi was born. These two brothers did great service to the Faith of Ale Mohammed (s.a).


The great administrater and cleric, Saheb ibn e Ibad passed away in Rai Province near present day Tehran in Iran

Source Urdu Lectures of Moulana Sadiq Hassan Book