WHO ARE THESE TWELVE SUCCESSORS OF THE HOLY PROPHET (Peace

and blessings of Allah be upon him and his immaculate progeny)?

Narrated Jabir ibn Samura: I heard the Prophet (pbuhf) saying, “There will be Twelve Commanders.” He

then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, the Prophet (pbuhf) added, “All of them will be

from Quraysh.” [Sahih Bukhari (English), Hadith: 9:329, Kitabul Ahkam; Sahih Bukhari, (Arabic), 4:165,

Kitabul Ahkam]

The holy Prophet (pbuhf) said: “The Religion (Islam) will continue until the hour (Day of Resurrection),

having Twelve Caliphs for you, all of them of them will be from Quraysh.” [Sahih Muslim, (English),

Chapter DCCLIV, vol.3, p.1010, tradition #4483, Sahih Muslim (Arabic), Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Saudi

Arabian Edition, vol.3, p. 1453, Tradition #10]

What the Sunni Scholars say:

We have counted the Amirs after the holy Prophet (pbuhf) as twelve. We found them as follows: Abu

Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, Ali, Hasan, Mu’awiyah, Yazid, Mu’awiyah bin Yazid, Marwan, Yazid bin ‘Abd al-
Malik, Marwan bin Muhammad bin Marwan, As-Saffah…After this there were twenty seven caliphs from

Now if we consider twelve of them we can reach only till Sulayman. If we take the literal meaning we have

only five of them and to these we add the four Righteous Caliphs, and ‘Umar bib Abd al-Aziz.

I cannot understand the meaning of this hadith. (Ibn al-‘Arabi)

Qadi ‘Iyad al-Yahsubi:

The number of Caliphs are more than that. To limit their number to twelve is incorrect. The holy Prophet

(pbuhf) did not say that there will be only twelve and there is no scope for more. Hence it is possible that

there can be more. (Al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, 12:201-202; Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, 16:339)

Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti:

There are only twelve Caliphs until the Day of Judgement. And they will continue to act on truth; even if

they are not continuous.

We see that from the twelve, four are Righteous Caliphs, then Hasan, then Mu’awiyah, then ibn Zubayr, and

finally ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. They are eight. Four of them remain. May be Mahdi, the Abbasid could be

included as he is an Abbasid like ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-Aziz was an Umayyad. And Tahir ‘Abbasi will also be

included because he was a just ruler. Thus two more are yet to come. One of them is Mahdi because he is

from the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) [Al-Suyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa, p.12; Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Al-Sawaiq al-Muhriqa

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani:

No one has much knowledge about this particular hadith of Sahih Bukhari.

It is not correct to say that these Imams will be present at one and the same time. (Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani,

Fath al-Bari 16:338-341)

The first Caliph of Bani Umayya was Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah and the last, Marwan al-Himar. Their total is

thirteen. Uthman, Mu’awiyah and ibn Zubayr are not included as they were among the Companions of the

holy Prophet (pbuhf).

If we exclude Marwan bin al-Hakam because of the controversy about his being a Companion or that he was

in power even though Abdullah ibn Zubayr had the support of the people. Then we can get the figure of

Twelve. …when the Caliphate came out of the Bani Umayya, a great disturbance arose. Until the Bani Abbas

established themselves. Hence the original conditions had changed completely.

(Ibn al-Jawzi, Kashf al-Mushkil, as quoted in Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, 16:340 from Sibt ibn al-

It could also mean that the twelve Imams will remain during the period of Islam’s supremacy. The time when

Islam will be a dominant religion. These Caliphs will, during their tenure, glorify the religion.

(Al – Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, 12: 202-3)

This number (twelve) is found till the period of Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. After this, there was chaos and

disturbance. Then came the Abbasid dynasty. This report has increased the number of Imams. If we neglect

some of the characteristics which came after the disturbance, then their number will be much higher.

(Ibn Kathir, Tarikh, 6:249; Al-Suyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa p.11)

Whosoever follows Bayhaqi and agrees with his assertion that Jama’ah means those Caliphs who came

intermittently till the time of Walid ibn Yazid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik the transgressor comes under the purview of

the tradition quoted by us criticising and denouncing such people.

And if we accept the Caliphate of Ibn Zubayr before ‘Abd al-Malik, the total shall be sixteen. Whereas their

total should be twelve before ‘Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz. In this method Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah will be included

and not Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz. However, it is established that that the majority of ulama accept Umar ibn

Abd al-Aziz as a truthful and a just Caliph. (Ibn Kathir, Tarikh, 6:249-250)

We need another Sunni scholar to finally clarify who these Twelve Successors, Caliphs, Amirs and Imams

The famous scholar al-Dhahabi says in Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, vol.4, p.298, and Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani says in

al-Durar al-Kaminah, vol.1, and p.67 that Sadruddin Ibrahim bin Muhammad bin al-Hamawayh al-Juwayni

al-Shafi’i was great scholar of hadith. The same al-Juwayni reports from Abdullah ibn Abbas (r.a.) from

the holy Prophet (pbuhf) who said, “I am the chief of the Prophets and Ali ibn Abi Talib is the chief of

Successors, and after me my successors shall be twelve, the first of them being Ali ibn Abi Talib and the last

of them being Al Mahdi.”

Al-Juwayni also narrates from Ibn Abbas (r.a.) from the holy Prophet (pbuhf): Certainly my Caliphs and my

legatees and the Proofs of Allah upon His creatures after me are twelve. The first of them is my brother and

the last of them is my (grand) son.” He was asked: “O Messenger of Allah, who is your brother?” He said,

“Ali ibn Abi Talib. “ Then they asked, “Who is your son?” The holy Prophet replied, “Al Mahdi, the one

who will fill the earth with justice and equity like it would be brimming with injustice and tyranny. And by

the One Who has raised me as a warner and a giver of good tidings, even if a day remains for the life of this

world, the Almighty Allah will prolong this day to an extent till He sends my son Mahdi, then He will make

Ruhullah ‘Isa ibn Maryam (a.s.) to descend and pray behind him (Mahdi). And the earth will be illuminated

by his radiance. And his power will reach east and the west.”

Al-Juwayni also narrates that the Messenger of Allah informed, “I and Ali and Hasan and Husayn and nine

of the descendants of Husayn are the purified ones and the inerrant.” (Al-Juwayni, Fara’id al-Simtayn,

Mu’assassat al-Mahmudi li-Taba’ah, Beirut 1978, p.160)

Amongst all the Islamic schools of thought, only Shia’h Imamiyyah Ithna-Ashariyyah (Twelver Shi’ites)

believe in these individuals as the Twelve Rightful Successors of the holy Prophet (peace and blessings of

Allah be upon them all) and obtain their understanding of Islam from them.

The Prophet (s) said:

“The Religion (Islam) will continue until the Hour (Day of Resurrection), having Twelve Caliphs for you, all

of them will be from Quraysh.”

1)  Sahih Muslim, (English), Chapter DCCLIV, v3, p1010, Tradition #4483; 

      Sahih Muslim (Arabic), Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Saudi Arabian Edition, v3,   

         p1453, Tradition #10

2)  Sahih al-Bukhari (English), Hadith: 9.329, Kitabul Ahkam;

         Sahih al-Bukhari, (Arabic), 4:165, Kitabul Ahkam

3)      Sunan al-Tirmidhi (Arabic) Chapter of Fitan,  2:45 (India) and 4:501 

4)      Tradition # 2225 (Egypt)

5)      Sunan Abu Dawud (Arabic) 2:421,  Kitab al-Mahdi.  Sunan Abu Dawud (Arabic)

3:106, Kitab al-Mahdi.

Who are these twelve Caliphs?

Sunni Explanation of this Hadith

  1) ibn Arabi after putting different scenario and counting all the caliphs from Quraish finally concluded

that he cannot understand the meaning of this Hadith

Ibn al-‘Arabi, Sharh Sunan Tirmidhi 9:68-69

2) Qadi ‘Iyad said that the number of caliphs is more than twelve so it is incorrect to limit number

Al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, 12:201-202. 

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari 16:339.

3) Al-Suyuti says:  There are only twelve Caliphs until Qiyamat. And they will continue to act on truth, even if

they are not continuous.  Al-Suyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa, Vol 12

4)  It is mentioned in Fath al-Bari that:

Four of them (the Righteous Caliphs) have passed. The rest also must pass before Qiyamat.

Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn al-Jawzi and other great sunni scholar discussed this Hadith in depth and put

all sencrio even including Yazeed and excluding Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Hassan as they claimed that Muslims

were divided on their rule.

But could not reach any conclusion and

Finally Ibn Hajar after reviewing the explanation of all great Sunni scholar says

“No one has much knowledge about this particular hadith of Sahih Bukhari.”

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari 16:339.

Correct Explanation of this Hadith by Great Sunni Scholar

Al-Juwayni  reports that Abdullah ibn Abbas remarked that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) said, “I am the

chief of the Prophets and Ali ibn Abi Talib is the chief of successors, and after me my successors shall be

twelve, the first of them being Ali ibn Abi Talib and the last of them being Al Mahdi.”

Al-Juwayni has also mentioned another tradition from Ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) that he narrates from the Messenger

of Allah (s.a.w.s.):

“Certainly my Caliphs and my legatees and the Proofs of Allah upon his creatures after me are twelve. The

first of them is my brother and the last of them is my (grand) son.”

He was asked: “O Messenger of Allah, who is your brother?”

He said, “Ali ibn Abi Talib”

Then they asked, “And who is your son?”

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied, “Al Mahdi, the one who will fill the earth with justice and equity like it

would be brimming with injustice and tyranny. And by the One Who has raised me as a warner and a give

of good tidings, even if a day remains for the life of this world, the Almighty Allah will prolong this day to

an extent till he sends my son Mahdi, then he will make Ruhullah ‘Isa ibn Maryam (a.s.) to descend and pray

behind him (Mahdi). And the earth will be illuminated by his radiance. And his power will reach to the east

Al-Juwayni also narrates from his chain of narrators that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) informed:

“I and Ali and Hasan and Husayn and nine of the descendants of Husayn are the purified ones and the

Reference: Al-Juwayni, Fara’id al-Simtayn, pg 160

  Al-Dhahabi says in  Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, vol. 4, p. 298, that Sadruddin Ibrahim bin Muhammad bin al-
Hamawayh al-Juwayni al-Shafi’i was a great scholar of Hadith. Also see his biographical note in Ibn Hajar

al-‘Asqalani, al-Durar al-kaminah, vol. 1, p. 67.

Why such confusing explanation

There are many such Hadith clearly mentioning the names of all

Caliphs then why such confusing explanation because

Among the scholars of the School of the Caliphate it was the general tendency, due to the political

expediency, to conceal such traditions from the people. A majority of their scholars have tried their best

to explain away these traditions in a confusing manner. They have endeavoured to make vague guesses

regarding the names of the Caliphs mentioned in these reports. On the other hand the Holy Prophet

(s.a.w.s.) has mentioned clearly, by name, his Twelve Successors.

Explanation of this Hadith by Old Tastament.

And as for Isma’il, I have blessed him, and I have made him fruitful. And I have truly multiplied him, he will

beget twelve leaders and I will provide for him a large nation.

Genesis (17-18:20)

This also indicates that the blessings, fruits and multiplication is in the generation of Isma’il (a.s.).

In Hebrew version of old testament the word use are ”Shanim Asaar” means “twelve”; and the word “Asaar”

is used for a compound number when the counted things are masculine. The singular “Naasi” means: Leader,

chief, head, etc.

Jews who accept Islam view about this Hadith

Ibn Kathir says:

We see the following prophecy in the Taurat which is in the hands of the Jews and the Christians: “Indeed

Allah, the Exalted, has given Ibrahim (a.s.) the glad tidings of Isma’il, and he has bestowed a favour and

multiplied it and placed in his progeny twelve mighty (personalities).”

Ibn Taymiyya said: “And these are the same, regarding whom the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has given the glad tidings

in the tradition of Jabir bin Samurah and stated their number; indeed this is with regard to the Imams and the

Hour will not come till they last. And many of those who accepted Islam from among Jews think they are

the same Imams of the Shia sect.”

Reference: Ibn Kathir, Ta’rikh, 6:249 and 250.

One of the points in the traditions mentioned above is that each of the twelve will be from the Quraysh.

After them there will be chaos. Another point is that the religion will remain established till the twelve

Caliphs of Quraysh are present. When they die, the earth will swallow its inhabitants.

The above two points thus prove that after the twelve Caliphs of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the earth will be

Therefore it is necessary that one of these twelve successors should have such a long life that it should

surpass the age of this earth.

This is exactly how it happened. The Twelfth successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was bestowed with a

long life. He is Al-Mahdi Muhammad ibn Hasan Al Askari (a.s.).

The traditions discussed in this treatise prove the Imamat of these Twelve Noble Personalities. Not anyone

What about the various divisions and sub sects within Sunni Islam?

On one hand you deride the Hanafi, Shafe’i, Hanbali and maliki and in the same breath you claim that they

are all on the “straight path” and then you even utter a prayer….lol ! …then you claim that “sunni” is the right

way but Qur’an makes no mention of the word “Sunni”….

So do you follow the sunnah or do you follow the Qur’an? and whose sunnah?..you make as usual a felicitous

claim..”that Shi’ism is a separate religion completely in opposition (rival) to Islam…

You haven’t been able to explain why most of you followed Yazid and Muawiya ? Why you rebelled against

your own Caliph and why you sided with the butchers of the Prophet’s family and yet you say you follow

Prophet’s “sunnah” ! if someone was to kill your family and then tell you that they love and revere you and

follow your sunnah, would this make any sense?

Narrated Jabir ibn Samura: I heard the Prophet (pbuhf) saying, “There will be Twelve Commanders.”  He

then said a sentence which I did not hear.  My father said, the Prophet (pbuhf) added, “All of them will be

from Quraysh.”  [Sahih Bukhari (English), Hadith: 9:329, Kitabul Ahkam; Sahih Bukhari, (Arabic), 4:165,

Kitabul Ahkam]

The Holy Prophet (pbuhf) said: “The Religion (Islam) will continue until the hour (Day of Resurrection),

having Twelve Caliphs for you, all of them of them will be from Quraysh.”  [Sahih Muslim, (English),

Chapter DCCLIV, vol.3, p.1010, tradition #4483, Sahih Muslim (Arabic), Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Saudi

Arabian Edition, vol.3, p. 1453, Tradition #10]

What the Sunni Scholars say:

We have counted the Amirs after the Holy Prophet (pbuhf) as twelve.  We found them as follows: Abu

Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, Ali, Hasan, Mu’awiyah, Yazid, Mu’awiyah bin Yazid, Marwan, Yazid bin ‘Abd al-
Malik, Marwan bin Muhammad bin Marwan, As-Saffah….

So did you read the list above? Now how come the sunnis don’t consider the rest of them (apart of the first

Four) as Khulafa e Rashdeen?

After this there were twenty seven caliphs from Bani Abbas….

Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti:

There are only twelve Caliphs until the Day of Judgement.  And they will continue to act on truth; even if

they are not continuous….now do the count for yourself….you guys are way off the mark….

According to the Sunnis, the Prophet (s) said:

“The Religion (Islam) will continue until the Hour (Day of Resurrection), having Twelve Caliphs for you, all

of them will be from Quraysh.”

1)  Sahih Muslim, (English), Chapter DCCLIV, v3, p1010, Tradition #4483;   

      Sahih Muslim (Arabic), Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Saudi Arabian Edition, v3,   

         p1453, Tradition #10

2)  Sahih al-Bukhari (English), Hadith: 9.329, Kitabul Ahkam;

         Sahih al-Bukhari, (Arabic), 4:165, Kitabul Ahkam

3)      Sunan al-Tirmidhi (Arabic) Chapter of Fitan,  2:45 (India) and 4:501   

4)      Tradition # 2225 (Egypt) 

5)      Sunan Abu Dawud (Arabic) 2:421,  Kitab al-Mahdi.  Sunan Abu Dawud (Arabic)

3:106, Kitab al-Mahdi. 

Who are these twelve SUNNI Caliphs?

Sunni Explanation of this Hadith

  1) ibn Arabi after putting different scenario and counting all the caliphs from Quraish finally concluded

that he cannot understand the meaning of this Hadith

Ibn al-‘Arabi, Sharh Sunan Tirmidhi 9:68-69 Qadi ‘Iyad said that the number of caliphs is more than twelve so

it is incorrect  …Al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, 12:201-202. 

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari 16:339.

Al-Suyuti says: 

There are only twelve Caliphs until Qiyamat. And they will continue to act on truth, even if they are not

continuous.  Al-Suyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa, Vol 12

4)  It is mentioned in Fath al-Bari that: 

Four of them (the Righteous Caliphs) have passed. The rest also must pass before Qiyamat.

Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn al-Jawzi and other great sunni scholar discussed this Hadith in depth and put all

scenario even including Yazeed and excluding Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Hassan as they claimed that Muslims

were divided on their rule.

But could not reach any conclusion and

Finally Ibn Hajar after reviewing the explanation of all great Sunni scholar says

“No one has much knowledge.” 

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari 16:339.

Correct Explanation of this Hadith by Great Sunni Scholar

Al-Juwayni reports that Abdullah ibn Abbas remarked that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) said, “I am the

chief of the Prophets and Ali ibn Abi Talib is the chief of successors…

And so is this the straight path you are boasting?

Why such confusing explanations?

Among the scholars of the School of the Caliphate it was the general tendency, due to the political

expediency, to conceal such traditions from the people.  A majority of their scholars have tried their best

to explain away these traditions in a confusing manner.  They have endeavoured to make vague guesses

regarding the names of the Caliphs mentioned in these reports. …but isn’t it clear that Muawiya and Yazid the

butchers and rebels are mentioned as your caliphs…lol ! in your own books !

Explanation of this Hadith by Old Tastament.

And as for Isma’il, I have blessed him, and I have made him fruitful.  And I have truly multiplied him, he will

beget twelve leaders and I will provide for him a large nation. Genesis (17-18:20)

This also indicates that the blessings, fruits and multiplication is in the generation of Isma’il (a.s.).

In Hebrew version of old testament the word use are ”Shanim Asaar” means “twelve”; and the word “Asaar”

is used for a compound number when the counted things are masculine. The singular “Naasi” means: Leader,

chief, head, etc. …IT IS THE ALE IMRAN NOW AS PER THE QURAN OF ALLAH WHICH YOU DO

NOT FOLLOW….OR KNOW MUCH ABOUT…

One of the points in the traditions mentioned above is that each of the Twelve Sunni CALIPHS will be from

After them there will be chaos CLAIMS THE SUNNI SCHOLARS.  Another point is that the religion will

remain established till the Twelve Caliphs of Quraysh are present…not THEREAFTER. When they die, the

earth will swallow its inhabitants. 

The above two points thus prove that after the Twelve Caliphs of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the earth will be

Therefore it is necessary that one of these Twelve successors OR SUNNI should have such a long life that it

should surpass the age of this earth….AS THE WORLD HAS NOT SWALLOWED ITS HABITANTS… 

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http://www.al-islam.org/info;

http://al-islam.org/philosophyofislam;

http://www.muslimunity.co.uk;

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http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Spa/7220/index1.html

http://www.imamreza.net/old/eng/emamreza/index.htm

http://www.irshad.org/exposed.php

http://www.al-islam.org/quran

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http://al-islam.org/wahhabism/

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9031181739160070561

http://www.cyconline.co.uk

Shias and the companions

http://www26.brinkster.com/sdolshah1/satc.html

Tabarra, do shias curse the companions

http://www26.brinkster.com/sdolshah1/tabara.html

Ahadith; do Shia deny prophetic teachings

http://www26.brinkster.com/sdolshah1/hadith.html

http://www.al-islam.org/twelve/

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