When studying Shia narrations, one sometimes comes across strange inconsistencies. In this short article, we examine one of these inconsistencies. We take a look at the most prominent Shia book of hadith, Al-Kafi by Al-Kulayni, and at the most significant of all ideological matters, the number of the Imams.
In Al-Kafi, Al-Kulayni (329 AH) quotes that Jabir bin Abdullah narrating that he saw that Fatima – peace be onto her – had a tablet with the names of the awsiya (appointed Imams) from her children. He counted them and found them to be twelve. He said, “Three were named Mohammad and three were named Ali.”
Fascinatingly, we find Al-Mufeed (413 AH) in Al-Irshad, who quotes Al-Kafi, but with a different number. The narration says, “Three were named Mohammad and four were named Ali.”
Al-Karajiki (449 AH), in Al-Istinsaar, then quotes his teacher, Al-Mufeed, who quotes Al-Kafi, but provides a different number altogether. His narration says, “Two were named Mohammad and four were named Ali.”
What is the cause behind these major inconsistencies in one book in a century? Is it due to alterations or incompetence?
Allah knows best.
(Screenshots are provided below)