Khiḍr’s Testimony to Twelve Imams: Transmission of Khidr-tradition from Primary Sources to the Later Hadith Collections

Document Type : Original Article



One of the ancient evidences posed by Imāmī scholars, concerning the
number of Imams, is the testimony of Khiḍr to the twelve Imams with
the names of all 12 Imams, which is narrated by Kulaynī and some
other traditionalists on the authority of Ahmad b. Muḥammad b. Khalid
al-Barqī (274 or 180 AH). Al-Barqī has narrated another version of the
hadith in an extant Chapter (al-ʿilal) of his famous book, al-Maḥāsin,
in which full names of Imams are not mentioned. This variation has
casted doubt upon originality of the tradition.
Through studying the chain of transmitters of the Khidr-tradition, this
article aims to show that the origin of the hadith which contains full
names of Imams is the book of the main narrator, Abū Hāshim al-Jaʿfarī
(261 AH), from where it has been cited in later works such as al-Kāfī.
Furthermore, by examining statistically all hadiths in the chapter of al-ʿilal, this study tries to find the roots behind the differences between
the versions in al-Maḥāsin and other hadith collections. The study of
the chains of hadiths in al-Maḥāsin shows that al-ʿilal was originally
the book of al-Barqī’s father, Muḥammad b. Khālid, completed later
by al-Barqī. Moreover, it is demonstrated that the textual differences,
find their roots in the methods of hadith compilation of the father and
his son.