'Ali b. Muhammad al-Samuri
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Abu l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Muḥammad al-Samurī (Arabic: ابوالحَسَن عَلي بن محمد السَمُري) is the fourth and last of The Four Deputies to Imam al-Mahdi (a). He undertook the position after Husayn b. Ruh al-Nawbakhti. Major Occultation started after he passed away. His correspondences with Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari indicate that he was also a companion of this Imam (a).
Many of his close relatives Like: Hasan b. Isma'il and Muhammad b. 'Ali, had several properties and lands in Basra, half of which they had dedicated to Imam al-Mahdi (a) who would receive its profit annually and corresponded with them.
Some of al-Samuri's relatives had been deputies to Imam al-Rida (a); one of which was 'Ali b. Muhammad b. Ziyad who was a deputy to the tenth and eleventh Imams (a) as well. He wrote a book to prove the Imamate of the Twelfth Imam (a). 'Ali sent a letter to the Imam (a) asking for a shroud. The Imam (a) replied: you are going to need it in the year 280/893. 'Ali died in the year 280, some days after he had received a shroud from the Imam (a).
The surname of the fourth deputy is pronounced Samari, Saymari or Saymuri. Out of these three, he is best known by the first dictation/pronunciation, and the latters are not very prevalent in biographical and traditional books. However, some contemporary biographers preferred "Samuri" as the correct form, since it is derived from the name of a village between Basra and al-Wasit called: Samura. Shaykh Aqa Buzurg Tihrani has recorded the correct form as Samari.
Close Ties with Imam al-'Askari(a)
Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) was in correspondence with him. This shows he was a companion to the Imam. 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Samari says: I visited 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Abd Allah. He had a letter from Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) in which I read: I have asked Allah to send down his punishment over this tyrant –meaning: Zubayri. This was three days after Zubayri had imprisoned the Imam and on the third day, the curse was sent over him and he was caught with a calamity.
Also, 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Samari says: Abu Muhammad, Imam Al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) wrote to me: there will be some devilry moves that perplex you, you shall be prudent and distance yourself from it. Three days after receiving this letter, something happened in Banu Hashim that caused a lot of troubles and difficulties for them. I wrote to the Imam asking him whether it was the same thing he had warned about before; the Imam wrote: No, it's something else, keep a full guard over yourselves. After some days the assassination of Mu'tazz took place. It is understood from this report that al-Samari was a close companion to Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a).
As the Fourth Deputy
- Main article: The Four Deputies
Although we have no particular report in which the Twelfth Imam (a) gives Husayn b. Ruh such order, we are certain that the choice was made upon the direct command of the Twelfth Imam(a); since the general rule has been outlined in other narrations that: shortly before his death, every deputy assigns the next according to the command of the Imam (a), not his own opinion. Al-Tabarsi writes in his al-Ihtijaj : none of these men could have attained such great position, if it weren't for the clearance by the Twelfth Imam (a) and the announcement by the former deputy.
Unlike other deputies, al-Samari did not have a long time, so he couldn't launch widespread activities and make noticeable changes in his relation with other minor deputies. However Shi'as had known him for his trustworthiness and nobility like the former deputies and accepted him for this position unanimously. According to a report of al-Shaykh al-Saduq, minor deputies had accepted him as the rightful deputy of the Imam (a) and would forward the Khums to him.
On the other hand, the oppression and prosecution was in its peak during his time, and that is one of the reasons as why he had lesser activities in comparison to former deputies. Based on this analysis, deputing the twelfth Imam (a) ended with al-Samari because of the harsh prosecution implemented by Abbasid government.
Like other deputies, Ali b. Muhammad al-Samiri performed some miracles by which the Shi'as were assured of his divine appointment.
'Ali b. Husayn b. Babawayh al-Qummi (the brother of al-Shaykh al-Saduq) narrates from a group of Qummi scholars, including: 'Imran Saffar, 'Alawiyya Saffar and Husayn b. Ahmad b. Idris (may Allah be pleased with them) who had gone to Kufa before the death of 'Ali b. Husayn b. Babawayh (the father of al-Shaykh al-Saduq). These Qummi scholars said: in Kufa, 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Samari asked about 'Ali b. Husayn b. Babawayh; "we have received his letters and he is fine" we replied. After some days al-Samari repeated his question to which we gave the same reply, but he said: may Allah reward you for the time you grieve for 'Ali b. Husayn, he's just passed away. We recorded the exact time and date, after seventeen or eighteen days, the news of his death reached Kufa, as he had died exactly the same time and date we had recorded.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq says: Abu l-Hasan Salihi b. Shu'ayb Taliqani narrated to me in Dhu l-Qa'da, 339/April, 951 from Ahmad b. Ibrahim b. Mukhallad who said: I participated in the session of senior scholars and heads of Shi'a tribes in Kufa. Shaykh 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Samari started: May Allah bless the soul of 'Ali b. Husayn b. Babawayh al-Qummi. The scholars in the session recorded the date of that day. After some days the news reached Kufa that 'Ali b. Husayn b. Babawayh had died the same day. These are signs for the fact that he was the rightful deputy to the Twelfth Imam (a) who was appointed for such position upon the Imam's command.
Samari passed away on Sha'ban 15, 329/May 15, 941 and his body was buried on the side of Khalajani street in al-Muhawwal neighborhood which is located in northern Buratha, to the west of Baghdad. A week before Samari's demise, the following letter was issued by the Imam (a):
- May Allah reward your brothers for they will grieve for you, since in fact you are going to depart after six days; therefore, make your preparations and do not assign anyone as your successor for the second occultation has started, for a long time there will be no reappearance before Allah's leave, after the hearts (of people) are filled with rigidity and the world with injustice. There will come to my followers (Shi'as) people who claim they have seen me, but be aware! Whoever claims seeing me before the uprising of Sufyani and the heavenly cry, he surely is a liar.
Six days after this letter, all minor deputies gathered on Samari's deathbed and asked him about his successor. He said: "the matter is up to Allah and he will carry it through" this was the last word heard from al-Samari. In other words, the minor occultation finished and the second one – according to later references: the major occultation- started.
- The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from علی بن محمد سمری in Farsi wikishia.