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Abū Shuʿayb Muḥammad ibn Nuṣayr, was a disciple of the tenth Twelver Imam, Ali al‐Hadi and of the eleventh Twelver Imam, Hasan al‐Askari (d. 873). Ibn Nusayr was known to his companions as a representative (bāb) of al‐Askari and of the twelfth Twelver Imam, Muhammad al‐Mahdi during the Minor Occultation. A rival of his in claiming to be the bāb (door) to the Imams was Abu Yaqub Ishaq, founder of the Ishaqiyya.
The followers of Ibn Nusayr are known as the Nusayris (Arabic: نصيريون) or, since the 1920s, the Alawis (Arabic: علوي). Nusayr was of Persian origin, but was associated with the Arab al‐Namir tribe.
After the death of al‐Askari the Shia community was faced with the issue of who the Imam's successor was, the solution that was later presented was that al‐Askari left a secret son (Muhammad al‐Mahdi, obviously so named to fulfill the tradition that the Mahdi would have the same name as the Prophet) who communicated with the Shiites via representatives. Ibn Nusayr claimed to have been intimate with the tenth and eleventh Imams, and upon hearing of the “news of the hidden son” similarly attempted to claim that he was a representative of the hidden Imam. His claim was rejected by the mainstream Shiites, and Nusayr was later excommunicated by Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Uthman, the official “second deputy” of the “hidden Imam.”
Nusayr was also prone to these antics earlier in his career when he claimed al‐Hadi was in fact divine and that he had been sent by al‐Hadi as a prophet, because of this he was officially “cursed” by the Shia community. The second “curse” was when he claimed to be the gate (bāb) of al‐Askari. At any rate the gist is that Nusayr laid claim to being the most intimate of intimates of the tenth and eleventh Imams. The death of al‐Askari and the confusion as to his successor produced a schism in which Nusayr was officially “banished” from the Shia community. The mainstream (Twelver) Shias therefore were headed by the Four Deputies whereas the Nusayris went underground.
Nusayr's excommunication from the Shiite body and his conflict with the official representatives of the “hidden Imam” was probably representative of the tension produced by Askari's death. Without a successor, there were only two routes: the bābs (intimates of the Imams who claimed to know their will) and the representatives (wukalā). The former and their followers were later denounced as extreme.
Nusayr did not lay claim to being the bāb of both Imams, per se, rather he claimed to be the bāb of al‐Hadi, and during the lifetime of al‐Askari, his ism. The doctrine of the maʿnā, ism, and bāb is a Nusayri doctrine. Obviously, Nusayr's ambition was to present himself as being intimate with the “hidden Imam” (in a way trying to “catch that wave”) however this did not work out. This is important to note, because if al‐Askari did not leave a son, then the true successors to the Shiite community would have been the bābs of the Imams, and not an invisible son of questionable historicity, to whom is attributed divine powers and unnaturally long lifespan. Seen in this way, it might be said that prior to the extreme‐moderate Shiite split, the entire Shiite community was one, but upon the death of al‐Askari (the ten previous imams having been legitimate), the true doctrine followed Nusayr and his followers into Syria, where the abdal are predicted to reside. This tradition is also interesting when considered in concert with the Prophet's prediction that his sect would split into 73 groups, with only one being in Paradise and the other 72 being in the Fire.
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- Encyclopedia Iranica, "MOḤAMMAD B. NOṢAYR"
- An Introduction the Modern Middle East: History, Religion, Political Economy ... - David S. Sorenson - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
- The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy - Henry Corbin - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
- Matti Moosa (1987). Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. Syracuse University Press. p. 267. ISBN 9780815624110.
- Matti Moosa (1987). Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. Syracuse University Press. pp. 407–8. ISBN 9780815624110.
- Encyclopedia Iranica, "NOṢAYRIS"
- Matti Moosa (1987). Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. Syracuse University Press. p. 262. ISBN 9780815624110.
- Matti Moosa (1987). Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. Syracuse University Press. p. 259. ISBN 9780815624110.
- Friedman, Yaron (2010). The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs: An Introduction to the Religion, History, and Identity of the Leading Minority in Syria. Leiden: Brill. p. 8.
- Friedman, Yaron (2010). The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs: An Introduction to the Religion, History and Identity of the Leading Minority in Syria. Leiden: Brill. p. 8. ISBN 9789004178922.
Shīʿī sources report that Ibn Nusayr was cursed and excommunicated twice. The first time was when he claimed that he was a prophet sent by al-Hādī, to whom he attributed divinity, and taught the doctrine of transmigration. The second time was after the death of Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī, when Ibn Nusayr claimed he was this Imām’s bāb (his intimate messenger).
- Friedman, Yaron (2010). The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs: An Introduction to the Religion, History, and Identity of the Leading Minority in Syria. Leiden: Brill. p. 74.
- Bar‐Asher, Meir M.; Kofsky, Aryeh (2002). The Nuṣayrī‐ʿAlawī Religion: An Enquiry into its Theology and Liturgy. Brill. p. 30.
This last view is germane to the central Nuṣayrī doctrine concerning the incarnation of the deity in the eleven Imams, and of the revealing of religious mysteries by al‐ʿAskarī to his disciple Muḥammad ibn Nuṣayr. In this view there is no place for Muḥammad, son of al‐ʿAskarī, as the twelfth Imam, but he retains, as in Twelver Shīʿism, his role as Mahdī.
- Bar-Asher, Meir M. (20 July 2003). "NOṢAYRIS". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
Moreover, in addition to its incarnation in a series of triads throughout history, the divinity also materializes in the first eleven Imams of Twelver Shiʿism, beginning with ʿAli and ending with Ḥasan al-ʿAskari.
- "THEY QUOTE QUR'AN AGAINST HADITH".
`Ali said: "Do not curse the people of Syria, for among them are the Substitutes (al-abdal), but curse their injustice.
I swear by the One Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, my nation will split into seventy-three sects, one of which will be in Paradise and seventy-two in Hell.
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