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Ahmad b. Hilal al-Karkhi

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Ahmad b. Hilal al-Karkhi
Claiming Special Deputy of Imam al-Mahdi (a)
Full Name Ahmad b. Hilal al-'Abarta'i al-Baghdadi
Teknonym Abu Ja'far
Place of Birth 'Abarta' village
Place of Residence Karkh, Baghdad
Era 'Abbasid Dynasty
Known for Companion of Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam al-'Askari (a)

Aḥmad b. Ḥilāl al-ʿAbartāʾi al-Baghdadī (Arabic: أحمد بن هِلال العَبَرتائي البَغدادي) (b. 180/796 – d.267/880) known as Aḥmad b. Ḥilal al-Karkhi (أحمد بن هِلال الکرخي) was among the compaions of Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam al-'Askari (a) who denied the Special Deputyship of Muhammad b. 'Uthman during the Minor Occultation and thus was cursed in the letter of Imam al-Mahdi (a).

Ahmad b. Hilal was also accused of Ghuluw and in al-Ghayba, al-Shaykh al-Tusi has mentioned him among those who claimed to be the Special Deputy of Imam al-Mahdi (a).


Ahmad b. Hilal was born in 180/796 and died in 267/880. In the books of rijal, his name is mentioned as Ahmad b. Hilal al-'Abarta'i. He was attributed to al-'Abarta', a village in Nahrawan between Wasit and Baghdad. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi has also attributed the title of al-Baghdadi to him.

His teknonym was Abu Ja'far and perhaps, he was known as al-Karkhi because he lived in al-Karkh neighborhood in Baghdad.

Shi'a scholars of rijal have considered the life of Ahmad b. Hilal in two periods: one period was his association with some Imams (a). Al-Shaykh al-Tusi considered him among the companions of Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam al-'Askari. It is said that Ahmad b. Hilal went to hajj fifty four times, in twenty times of which he went on foot.

Second period of his life was about the beginning of the Minor Occultation and after it. After the martyrdom of Imam al-'Askari (a) and the demise of 'Uthman b. Sa'id al-'Amri, he denied the Special Deputyship of Muhammad b. 'Uthman and this was cursed by Imam (a) in a letter. The sentence, "stay away from this hypocrite and actor Sufi" is about him. However, al-Najashi believes that there are criticisms narrated from Imam al-'Askari (a) about him. Thus according to al-Najashi, his deviation happened toward the end of the life of Imam al-'Askari.

Claiming Deputyship

In al-Ghayba, al-Shaykh al-Tusi has mentioned his name among those who claimed the Special Deputyship of Imam al-Mahdi (a), but he has not mentioned his name in his other works. It is said that, at the time of Minor Occultation, he was among those who claimed deputyship such as Muhammad b. Nusayr al-Namiri and Muhammad b. Ali al-Shalmaghani about whom there are letters from Imam al-Mahdi (a) cursing or rejecting them. There is no evidence about his claim of deputyship except for the claim of al-Shaykh al-Tusi saying that his name has been mentioned in a letter from Imam al-Mahdi (a) beside the names of al-Shari'i, al-Namiri, al-Bilali, and others who claimed deputyship.

In the letter of Imam al-Mahdi (a), it has been mentioned:

"May God not forgive Ibn Hilal who interfered in our affairs without our consent and only based on his own personal desire until God ends his life with our curse. During his life, we informed special ones among our Shi'a about his deviation." [1]


The name of Ahmad b. Hilal is mentioned in the chains of transmission of many hadiths and even in the Four Books. He has transmitted hadiths from Ibn Abi 'Umayr and al-Hasan b. Mahbub and others.

Al-Najashi considered him "salih al-riwaya" (trustable with narrating) and said that there are correct and incorrect hadiths among what he has transmitted. Al-Najashi has attributed two books of Yawm wa layla and al-Nawadir to him. Ibn al-Ghada'iri said that he has stopped following his hadiths except for those which he has narrated from al-Hasan b. Mahbub's Mashikhiyya and Ibn Abi 'Umayr's al-Nawadir.

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi has mentioned him as a Ghali. Moreover, some other scholars have lowered his authenticity as well, including al-'Allama al-Hilli who has considered hadiths he has transmitted unacceptable.


  1. al-Kashi, Rijal, p. 536