Hadith of Lawḥ (the Tablet) of Fatima al-Zahra (a) (Arabic: حَدیث اللَّوح), is among the authentic narrations which is reported in various traditional sources. Its authenticity and the explicit mention of the names of true successors of the Prophet (s), has placed it among the significant evidences to prove Shi'a Imams' Imama and their rightful immediate successor-ship after the Prophet (s).
The well-known version of this hadith is narrated form the famous companion of the Prophet (s), Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari. The Lawh (Tablet) on which this Hadith is engraved, was descended from Heaven to the Prophet (s) as a gift for the birth of his second grandson, Imam al-Husayn (a). As a present, the Prophet (s) gave this Tablet to his daughter, Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a). The Hadith of Lawh, has been reported in different accounts, with slight differences in the phrasing and the length.
The Famous Version
The famous version of Hadith of Lawh, which has been narrated by Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari is as follows: Muhammad b. Yahya and Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah narrated from: 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far from Hasan b. Zarif and 'Ali b. Muhammad from Salih b. Abi Hammad, from Bakr b. Salih, from 'Abd al-Rahman b. Salim from Abu Basir, from Imam al-Sadiq (a) who said:
- One day my father, Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Baqir (a), told Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari "O' Jabir! I have something to tell you, what time is suitable for you so I can talk to you?" "Whenever you wish" Jabir replied. So in a proper occasion, they gathered together and talked. In this session, the Imam wanted Jabir to tell him about the Lawh that he once had seen with his grandmother, Lady Fatima (a), and narrate for the Imam what she had told Jabir about the inscriptions of that Tablet. "I testify that" Jabir started, "during the lifetime of the Prophet (s) I visited your (grand)mother to congratulate her on the birth of her son, Husayn, there I saw a green Tablet in her hands which I thought had been made of emerald. There was a bright inscription on that tablet which was shining like the sunlight. I told her holiness 'may my parents be your sacrifice, what is this tablet?' she said: 'this is a tablet which Allah, the exalted one, has gifted to his Apostle (s). In this tablet, the names of my father, my husband, my two sons and the Imams who are form my descendants have been listed. My father, the Prophet of Allah (s), has given it to me so that my heart feels happy and pleased whenever I look at it." Here Jabir Added "then your (grand)mother gave the tablet to me and I read its inscription and made a copy of it." Then Imam al-Sadiq (a) continues the Hadith.
the Hadith of Lawh, has been narrated in different reports, with slight differences in the phrasing and the length. All of these different accounts can be summarized in five versions:
- The famous version, referred to independently as the Hadith of Law, narrated extensively by al-Shaykh al-Kulayni in al-Kafi; al-Shaykh al-Saduq in Kamal al-Din.
- The second narrative: in this account, at first, a part of the hadith is narrated by Imam al-Baqir (a) for Jabir and then Jabir continues. The rest is reported by Imam al-Baqir (a) from Jabir who had said: "one day I went to the house of my Mawla, Lady Fatima (a), with whom I found a very shiny tablet that kept my eyes staring fixedly because of its brightness. I could spot twelve names on that Lawh. Three names at the middle, three at the bottom and three at the margin." Jabir further added: "I had a look at that tablet and I recognized three positions on which it was written: Muhammad, Muhammad, Muhammad; and four positions on which it was written: 'Ali, 'Ali, 'Ali, 'Ali.
- The third account is a report by Ishaq b. 'Ammar from Imam al-Sadiq (a) in which the Imam tells him: "O' Ishaq, do you want me to give you good news?" Ishaq said: "may I be your sacrifice, O' son of the Apostle of Allah, yes I do like to hear the good news." Imam then said: "we have a script, dictated by the Holy Prophet (s) and written by Imam 'Ali (a), it bears: In the Name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful. This is a letter from Allah, the all-Mighty, the all-Wise, to Muhammad, his Prophet and his light and his apostle … the rest of the hadith is like the first account and there's no mention of Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansar and the report is not narrated by him.
- The report of Fadl b. Shadhan from the Hadith of Lawh. Fadl b. Shadhan reports the hadith with his particular chain of transmission. The hadith is narrated by Abu Khalid al-Kabuli. Abu Khalid saw the tablet with Imam al-Sajjad (a) that had been gifted by Allah to his Apostle (s) and contained the name of the Prophet (s) and the names of his successors.
- The fifth narrative: the report from Imam al-Sadiq (a) in Kamal al-Din of al-Shaykh al-Saduq. According to this account, Imam al-Baqir (a) gathers his sons and his brother, Zayd b. 'Ali, and shows them a scroll which is dictated by the Prophet (s) and the handwriting of Imam 'Ali (a) and bears the content of Lady Fatima's Lawh. There's no mention of Jabir and his report in this account.
The Hadith of Lawh is among the narrations that have been reported in authentic Shi'a sources. Also, there are contextual indications that affirm its authenticity and increase its value. Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni reports this hadith in al-Kafi through a trustworthy chain of transmission. Additionally, other scholars have considered this Hadith authentic and reported it in their collections with the same chain of transmission or other chains. Al-Nu'mani in al-Ghayba; al-Shaykh al-Saduq in 'Uyun akhbar al-Rida (a) and Kamal al-Din; al-Shaykh al-Mufid in al-Ikhtisas and al-Shaykh al-Tusi in al-Ghayba have reported this hadith. Also, in other sources like: al-Ihtijaj, Irshad al-qulub, Ta'wil al-ayat, Taqrib al-ma'arif, Fada'il of Fadl b. Shadhan, Manaqib of Ibn Shahrashub, Kashf al-ghumma, al-Fusul al-mukhtara, al-Sirat al-mustaqim and al-Irshad of al-Shaykh al-Mufid, this hadith has been reported, partly or entirely, sometimes without mentioning its chain of transmission.
Notable Points in the Hadith
- The divine precedent in appointing successors for previous Prophets (a): according to this hadith, Allah says: "I have not sent any apostle but when he finished his days (lifetime), I appointed for him a successor." In fact, the divine custom of appointing a successor (Wisaya) started from Prophet Adam (a) and continued to the final Prophet (s). In a similar long hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), it has been said that all the Prophets had divinely appointed successors. The names of some of these successors have also been mentioned.
- The Commander of the Faithful (a) is the best of Awsiya (divinely appointed successors): the supremacy of Imam 'Ali (a) among all other divinely appointed successors of the previous prophets is a fact that has been stated in various narrations.
- Continuity of Imama through the lineage of Imam al-Husayn (a): according to the explanations of al-Majlisi, it can be concluded that what has been meant by the word: (الکلمة التامة) al-Kalima al-Tamma (the complete word) and (الحجة البالغة) al-Hujjat al-Baligha (the ultimate evidence) and their association with Imam al-Husayn (a) by Allah, is the affairs of Imama. "I have placed my complete word and my ultimate evidence with him (al-Husayn)." The two mentioned features are correspondents to different aspects of the task of Imama. Also, the ultimate evidence can be interpreted as representing the proofs and evidences for the rightfulness of Shi'a Imams (a). In any case, this particular phrase affirms that later Shi'a Imams shall be among the descendants of Imam al-Husayn (a), a fact that has been stated in other mutawatir narrations.
- The continuity of the Divine Guidance through the continuity of Imama.
- Rejecting only one Imam means rejecting all of them: As non-selective belief in all the previous Prophets is necessary for Islamic faith and rejecting one of them results in rejecting all of them; likewise rejecting one of Shi'a Imams results in disbelief in all of them.
- Completion of Imama by Imam al-Mahdi (a). According to the hadith of Tablet, Allah says: I shall complete it (Imama) by his son (the son of Hasan b. 'Ali al-'askari), Muhammad.
- The doctrine of Mahdawiyya in the hadith of Lawh: Mahdawiyya means the general belief in a divinely appointed leader, savior and reformer that will rise in the end of time, who shall eradicate all forms of injustice and oppression and will establish justice in the globe.in the hadith of Lawh, Allah, the exalted one, describes this person as: (قاصم الجابرين و مديل المظلومین) "Qasim al-jabbarin and Mudil al-mazlumin" the smasher of the oppressors and helper of the oppressed ones. This, in harmony with Qur'anic verses in this regard, refers to the doctrine of Mahdawiyya.
- Prophecies of the events of each Imam: some parts of the hadith of Lawh contain the prophecies of what will happen to each of the Imams.
In Sunni Sources
- بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِیمِ هَذَا کتَابٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ الْعَزِیزِ الْحَکیمِ*- لِمُحَمَّدٍ نَبِیهِ وَ نُورِهِ وَ سَفِیرِهِ وَ حِجَابِهِ وَ دَلِیلِهِ نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الْأَمِینُ مِنْ عِنْدِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِینَ عَظِّمْ یا مُحَمَّدُ أَسْمَائِی وَ اشْکرْ نَعْمَائِی وَ لَا تَجْحَدْ آلَائِی إِنِّی أَنَا اللَّهُ لا إِلهَ إِلَّا أَنَا قَاصِمُ الْجَبَّارِینَ وَ مُدِیلُ الْمَظْلُومِینَ وَ دَیانُ الدِّینِ إِنِّی أَنَا اللَّهُ لا إِلهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَمَنْ رَجَا غَیرَ فَضْلِی أَوْ خَافَ غَیرَ عَدْلِی عَذَّبْتُهُ عَذاباً لا أُعَذِّبُهُ أَحَداً مِنَ الْعالَمِینَ فَإِیای فَاعْبُدْ وَ عَلَی فَتَوَکلْ إِنِّی لَمْ أَبْعَثْ نَبِیاً فَأُکمِلَتْ أَیامُهُ وَ انْقَضَتْ مُدَّتُهُ إِلَّا جَعَلْتُ لَهُ وَصِیاً وَ إِنِّی فَضَّلْتُک عَلَی الْأَنْبِیاءِ وَ فَضَّلْتُ وَصِیک عَلَی الْأَوْصِیاءِ وَ أَکرَمْتُک بِشِبْلَیک وَ سِبْطَیک حَسَنٍ وَ حُسَینٍ فَجَعَلْتُ حَسَناً مَعْدِنَ عِلْمِی-بَعْدَ انْقِضَاءِ مُدَّةِ أَبِیهِ وَ جَعَلْتُ حُسَیناً خَازِنَ وَحْیی وَ أَکرَمْتُهُ بِالشَّهَادَةِ وَ خَتَمْتُ لَهُ بِالسَّعَادَةِ فَهُوَ أَفْضَلُ مَنِ اسْتُشْهِدَ وَ أَرْفَعُ الشُّهَدَاءِ دَرَجَةً جَعَلْتُ کلِمَتِی التَّامَّةَ مَعَهُ وَ حُجَّتِی الْبَالِغَةَ عِنْدَهُ بِعِتْرَتِهِ أُثِیبُ وَ أُعَاقِبُ أَوَّلُهُمْ عَلِی سَیدُ الْعَابِدِینَ وَ زَینُ أَوْلِیائِی الْمَاضِینَ وَ ابْنُهُ شِبْهُ جَدِّهِ الْمَحْمُودِ مُحَمَّدٌ الْبَاقِرُ عِلْمِی وَ الْمَعْدِنُ لِحِکمَتِی سَیهْلِک الْمُرْتَابُونَ فِی جَعْفَرٍ الرَّادُّ عَلَیهِ کالرَّادِّ عَلَی حَقَّ الْقَوْلُ مِنِّی لَأُکرِمَنَّ مَثْوَی جَعْفَرٍ وَ لَأَسُرَّنَّهُ فِی أَشْیاعِهِ وَ أَنْصَارِهِ وَ أَوْلِیائِهِ أُتِیحَتْ بَعْدَهُ مُوسَی فِتْنَةٌ عَمْیاءُ حِنْدِسٌ- لِأَنَّ خَیطَ فَرْضِی لَا ینْقَطِعُ وَ حُجَّتِی لَا تَخْفَی وَ أَنَّ أَوْلِیائِی یسْقَوْنَ بِالْکأْسِ الْأَوْفَی مَنْ جَحَدَ وَاحِداً مِنْهُمْ فَقَدْ جَحَدَ نِعْمَتِی وَ مَنْ غَیرَ آیةً مِنْ کتَابِی فَقَدِ افْتَرَی عَلَی وَیلٌ لِلْمُفْتَرِینَ الْجَاحِدِینَ عِنْدَ انْقِضَاءِ مُدَّةِ مُوسَی عَبْدِی وَ حَبِیبِی وَ خِیرَتِی فِی عَلِی وَلِیی وَ نَاصِرِی وَ مَنْ أَضَعُ عَلَیهِ أَعْبَاءَ النُّبُوَّةِ وَ أَمْتَحِنُهُ بِالاضْطِلَاعِ بِهَا یقْتُلُهُ عِفْرِیتٌ مُسْتَکبِرٌ یدْفَنُ فِی الْمَدِینَةِ الَّتِی بَنَاهَا الْعَبْدُ الصَّالِحُ- إِلَی جَنْبِ شَرِّ خَلْقِی حَقَّ الْقَوْلُ مِنِّی لَأَسُرَّنَّهُ بِمُحَمَّدٍ ابْنِهِ وَ خَلِیفَتِهِ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَ وَارِثِ عِلْمِهِ فَهُوَ مَعْدِنُ عِلْمِی وَ مَوْضِعُ سِرِّی وَ حُجَّتِی عَلَی خَلْقِی لَا یؤْمِنُ عَبْدٌ بِهِ إِلَّا جَعَلْتُ الْجَنَّةَ مَثْوَاهُ وَ شَفَّعْتُهُ فِی سَبْعِینَ مِنْ أَهْلِ بَیتِهِ کلُّهُمْ قَدِ اسْتَوْجَبُوا النَّارَ وَ أَخْتِمُ بِالسَّعَادَةِ لِابْنِهِ عَلِی وَلِیی وَ نَاصِرِی وَ الشَّاهِدِ فِی خَلْقِی وَ أَمِینِی عَلَی وَحْیی أُخْرِجُ مِنْهُ الدَّاعِی إِلَی سَبِیلِی وَ الْخَازِنَ لِعِلْمِی الْحَسَنَ وَ أُکمِلُ ذَلِک بِابْنِهِ محمد رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِینَ عَلَیهِ کمَالُ مُوسَی وَ بَهَاءُ عِیسَی وَ صَبْرُ أَیوبَ فَیذَلُّ أَوْلِیائِی فِی زَمَانِهِ وَ تُتَهَادَی رُءُوسُهُمْ کمَا تُتَهَادَی رُءُوسُ التُّرْک وَ الدَّیلَمِ فَیقْتَلُونَ وَ یحْرَقُونَ وَ یکونُونَ خَائِفِینَ مَرْعُوبِینَ وَجِلِینَ تُصْبَغُ الْأَرْضُ بِدِمَائِهِمْ وَ یفْشُو الْوَیلُ وَ الرَّنَّةُ فِی نِسَائِهِمْ أُولَئِک أَوْلِیائِی حَقّاً بِهِمْ أَدْفَعُ کلَّ فِتْنَةٍ عَمْیاءَ حِنْدِسٍ وَ بِهِمْ أَکشِفُ الزَّلَازِلَ وَ أَدْفَعُ الْآصَارَ وَ الْأَغْلَالَ أُولئِک عَلَیهِمْ صَلَواتٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَ رَحْمَةٌ وَ أُولئِک هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ.»
- Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 1, p. 527.
- Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 1, p. 527.
- Nuʿmānī, Kitāb al-Ghayba, p. 62.
- Ṣadūq, ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā, vol. 1, p. 41.
- Ṣadūq, Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 1, p. 308.
- Mufīd, al-Ikhtiṣāṣ, p. 210.
- Ṭūsī, al-Ghayba, p. 142.
- Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 26, chapter of "Imams from the progeny of Husayn (a)".
- Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā bi-aʿlām al-hudā, p. 258.
- Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1407 AH.
- Majlisī, Muḥammad Bāqir al-. Biḥār al-anwār. Beirut: Muʾassisa al-Wafaʾ, 1403 AH.
- Mufīd, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-. Al-Ikhtiṣāṣ. Qom: Kungira-yi Shaykh al-Mufīd, 1413 AH.
- Shaʾīrī, Tāj al-Dīn. Jāmiʾ al-akhbār. Qom: Intishārāt-i Raḍī, 1363 Sh.
- Ṣadūq, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-. Al-Khiṣāl. Qom: Jāmiʿa-yi Mudarrisīn, 1403 AH.
- Ṣadūq, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-. ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā. Tehran: Nashr-i Jahān, 1378 AH.
- Ṣadūq, Muḥammad b. ʿAli al-. Kamāl al-dīn wa tamām al-niʿma. Qom: Jāmiʿa-yi Mudarrisīn, 1405 AH.
- Ṭāliʿī, ʿAbd al-Ḥusayn. Tuḥfa-yi āsmānī. Tehran: Mīqāt, 1378 Sh.
- Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Iʿlām al-warā bi-aʿlām al-hudā. 3rd edition. Qom: Manshūrāt al-Maktaba al-Islāmīyya, [n.d].
- Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Al-Ghayba. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Maʿārif al-Islāmīyya, 1411 AH.