Ahmad b. Ishaq al-Ash'ari al-Qummi

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Ahmad b. Ishaq al-Ash'ari al-Qummi
The Tomb of Ahmad b. Ishaq al-Qummi, Sarpol-e Zahab
The Tomb of Ahmad b. Ishaq al-Qummi, Sarpol-e Zahab
Companion ofImam al-Jawad (a), Imam al-Hadi (a), Imam al-'Askari (a)
TeknonymAbu Ali
Wellknown RelativesAhwas b. Sa'il al-Ash'ari
Place(s) of ResidenceQom, Baghdad
Death/MartyrdomBetween 260/873-4 and 263/876-7
Burial PlaceSarpol-e Zahab
Works 'Ilal al-sawm and Masa'il al-rijal

Aḥmad b. Isḥāq al-Ashʿarī al-Qummī (Arabic:احمد بن اسحاق الاشعري القمي d. between 260/873-4 and 263/876-7) was a Shi'a scholar in hadith and jurisprudence in 3rd/9th century and met four Imams (a). He was among the companions of Imam al-Jawad (a) and Imam al-Hadi (a) and an agent of Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) and also among those who met Imam al-Mahdi (a) in the latter's childhood. Some sources reported about his activities during the time of Minor Occultation as the first deputy of 'Uthman b. Sa'id al-'Amri.

Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari mosque in Qom was built by him after the order of Imam al-'Askari (a). His grave is in Sarpol-e Zahab in Kermanshah province in western Iran.

His Lineage

His lineage was as: Ahmad b. Ishaq b. 'Abd Allah b. Sa'd b. Malik al-Ahwas al-Ash'ari. His teknonym is reported as Abu Ali.[1]

His forefathers were from al-Ash'ari family who lived in Kufa. His fourth forefather, Ahwas b. Sa'il al-Ash'ari participated in the uprising of Zayd b. Ali and was a commander of his army, who was arrested after his martyrdom. After four years being in the prison of Al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf al-Thaqafi, he was released by the intercession of his brother 'Abd Allah and emigrated with him to Qom and founded al-Ash'ari family in Qom.[2]

His father Ishaq b. 'Abd Allah b. Sa'd was among reliable narrators from Qom and narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (a) and Imam al-Kazim (a).[3]

Companion of Three Imams

From Shia references in rijal, it can be inferred that Ahmad b. Ishaq was among the companions of Imam al-Jawad (a), and Imam al-Hadi (a) and close companions of Imam al-'Askari (a) and narrated from them. It has been mentioned that he wrote several books including 'Ilal al-sawm' and Masa'il al-rijal.[4]


In some sources, he is mentioned as an agent of Imam al-'Askari for donations in Qom.[5] According to some evidences, some have also mentioned him an agent of Imam al-Hadi (a) as well.[6]

  • Request for a Piece of Writing from Imam al-'Askari (a)

It is mentioned, in some sources, that he, also, was in contact with Imam al-Askari (a) through correspondence.

Ahmad b. Ishaq says that, "one day, I went to visit Imam al-'Askari (a) and asked him to write something so that I would recognize his handwriting when I receive a letter of him. Imam said, 'O Ahmad! Writing using small-headed pen and big-headed pen might look different to you. Be careful not to make a mistake!" [Check out the writing style and not the size of writing.] Then, he (a) asked for a pen and ink and wrote. While he was writing I whispered to myself  : "I should request him to give me the pen he is writing with". When he (a) finished his writing, he (a) began speaking with me and cleaned the pen with a piece of cloth. He (a) then said, 'Take it, Ahmad!' And gave me the pen."[7]

Meeting Imam al-Mahdi (a)

Due to political pressure of Abbasid rulers, succession after Imam al-'Askari (a) was kept hidden and except for trustworthy and close friends of Imam (a), no one else was aware of that. Shi'a of Qom asked Ahmad b. Ishaq about that and to inquire more information and to see the successor of Imam al-'Askari (a) with his own eyes, he went to Samarra and met Imam al-'Askari (a). Imam (a) said, "Ahmad b. Ishaq! Since the creation of Adam (a) until today, God Almighty has not left the earth empty of proof and until the resurrection, He will not do so…" Ahmad asked, "Who is the proof of God after you?" Imam (a) went inside the house and after a moment, he (a) came out with a three-year-old kid in his arms and said, "If you did not have a great position before God and his proofs, I would not show you my son. This child has the same name and teknonym as those of the Prophet (s) and it is him who will fill the earth after it is filled with injustice."[8]

Before this meeting, in a letter to Ahmad b. Ishaq, Imam al-'Askari (a) had given the news about the birth of Imam al-Mahdi (a).[9]

Agency During the Minor Occultation

According to some evidences, during the deputyship of 'Uthman b. Sa'id, Ahmad b. Ishaq was sent to Baghdad from Qom together with Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Qattan al-Qummi and Hajiz b. Yazid and began working as the assistant to the first representative of Imam (a).[10]

Al-Shaykh al-Saduq has also mentioned his name among those agents who had the opportunity to meet Imam al-Mahdi (a).[11]

His Social Activities

Ahmad b. Ishaq was the agent of Imams (a) in Qom who answered the jurisprudential and theological questions of the people. He collected religious taxes of people and sent to Imam al-'Askari (a). He also managed endowments of people and it is famously reported that he began building a mosque in Qom by the order of Imam al-'Askari (a) which is now called Imam Hasan al-'Askari's (a) mosque.[12]

His Memorial

Memorial stamp of Ahmad b. Ishaq al-Qummi

In March 2nd and 3rd, 2011, the first international conference for memorial of Ahmad b. Ishaq al-Qummi was held in Kermanshah.[13] In this conference, a special stamp of the conference was unveiled.[14]

His Demise

According to al-Kashshi, Ahmad b. Ishaq was alive after martyrdom of Imam al-'Askari (a). According to this report, he wrote a letter to Imam al-Mahdi (a) and asked for permission to go to hajj. Imam (a) gave permission to him and also sent a piece of cloth for him. When Ahmad saw the cloth, said, "Imam (a) has given the news of my death." Upon his coming from hajj, he passed away in Halwan.[15]

It is mentioned in Dala'il al-imama that Ahmad b. Ishaq was serving as the agent of Imam al-Mahdi (a) until he asked Imam (a) to go to Qom. In a letter, Imam (a) gave him the permission and said that he would not reach Qom and will become ill on the way and will pass away. Later, he became ill in Halwan, passed away and was buried there.[16]

The date of his demise has been reported between 260/873-4 and 263/876-7.[17] However, according to a report from al-Shaykh al-Saduq,[18] Ahmad b. Ishaq passed away at the time of Imam al-'Askari (a), but this report does not agree with other reports. His grave is in Sarpol-e Zahab in Kermanshah which is visited by Shiites.[19] There is also a tomb in Qom in front of Imam al-Hasan al-Askari (a) mosque which is attributed to Ahmad b. Ishaq.


  1. Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 91.
  2. Nāṣir al-Sharīʿa, Tārīkh-i Qom, p. 126-131; Bāqirī Bīd-hindī, Amīn-i Imāmat, p. 15.
  3. Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 73.
  4. Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 91.
  5. Nāṣir al-Sharīʿa, Tārīkh-i Qom, p. 211; Ṭabarī, Dalāʾil al-imāma, p. 272.
  6. Jabbārī, Sāzmān-i wikālat, vol. 2, p. 549-550.
  7. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 1, p. 513.
  8. Ṣadūq, Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, p. 384.
  9. Ṣadūq, Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, p. 434.
  10. Nāṣir al-Sharīʿa, Tārīkh-i Qom, vol. 2, p. 555.
  11. Ṣadūq, Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, p. 442.
  12. Nāṣir al-Sharīʿa, Tārīkh-i Qom, p. 227.
  13. The conference in commemoration of Ahmad b. Ishaq al-Ash'ari
  14. The special stamp of the Ahmad b. Ishaq al-Ash'ari unveiled
  15. Kashshī, Rijāl al-Kashshī, p. 557.
  16. Ṭabarī, Dalāʾil al-imāma, p. 503.
  17. Pākniyā, Aḥmad b. Isḥāq nimāyanda-yi wīzhi-yi Imām Ḥasan ʿAskarī, p. 22.
  18. Ṣadūq, Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, p. 464-465.
  19. Nāṣir al-Sharīʿa, Tārīkh-i Qom, p. 250.


  • Bāqirī Bīd-hindī, Aḥmad b. Isḥāq. Amīn-i Imāmat. Tehran: Nashr-i Sāzmān-i Tablīghāt-i Islāmī, 1376 Sh.
  • Jabbārī, Muḥammad Riḍā. Sāzmān-i wikālat wa naqsh-i ān dar ʿaṣr-i Aʾimmah. Qom: Muʾassisah-yi Imām Khomeini, 1382 Sh.
  • Kashshī, Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-. Ikhtīyār maʿrifat al-rijāl known as Rijāl al-Kashshī. Mashhad: Dānishgāh-i Mashhad, 1348 Sh.
  • Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. 2nd edition. Tehran: Islāmiyya, 1362 Sh.
  • Najāshī, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-. Rijāl al-Najāshī. Qom: Jāmiʿa Mudarrisīn, 1407 AH.
  • Nāṣir al-Sharīʿa, Muḥammad Ḥusayn. Tārīkh-i Qom. Edited by ʿAlī Dawānī. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Rahnimūn, 1383 Sh.
  • Pākniyā, ʿAbd al-Karīm. Aḥmad b. Isḥāq nimāyanda-yi wīzhi-yi Imām Ḥasan ʿAskarī. Majalla-yi Muballighān. Spring 1387 Sh. No 102, (page 11 to 22).
  • Ṣadūq, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-. Kamāl al-dīn wa itmām al-niʿma. Edited by ʿAlī Akbar Ghaffārī. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī Tābiʿat li Jamāʿat al-Mudarrisīn, [n.p].
  • Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-. Dalāʾil al-imāma. 1st edition. Qom: 1413 AH.