Fathiyya or Aftahiyya were believers in the imamate of ‘Abd Allah, son of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a), known as Aftah. After the martyrdom of the sixth Imam of Shi’a (a), his elder son, ‘Abd Allah claimed his succession. Mentioning this quote from his father that “imamate of every Imam (a) reaches his elder son”; ‘Abd Allah gathered some people around himself.
His claim did not last long and he died 72 days after the martyrdom of Imam al-Sadiq (a); and since he did not have any son or successor, his followers were left without leader and most of them turned to Imam al-Kazim (a) and the mentioned belief ended very soon. Some great figures of Imamiyya such as Bani Faddal turned to ‘Abd Allah first, but many of them returned either from halfway or after he died.
Cause of Naming
The cause of naming this group as Fathiyya has been mentioned to be one of the following:
‘Abd Allah’s title as Aftah due to having a large head (aftah al-ra’s) or large feet (aftah al-rijlayn).
Some others consider the leadership of another person called ‘Abd Allah b. Fatih from Kufa for this movement as the reason for calling this sect Fathiyya.
Destiny of ‘Abd Allah Aftah
‘Abd Allah, was the eldest son of Imam al-Sadiq (a) after Isma’il. His mother was Fatima bt. Husayn b. Hasan b. Ali.
According to some historical sources, he was inclined toward Murji’a and Hashwiyya thoughts so much that Imam al-Sadiq (a) called him Murji’a Kabir and therefore, he was rejected by his father.
After the martyrdom of Imam al-Sadiq (a), ‘Abd Allah introduced himself the successor of his father and took his place. He performed Imam’s (a) ghusl, shrouding and burial and wore his ring. He referred to this quote from Imam al-Sadiq (a) that “every imam’s imamate will be transferred to his elder son” and gathered people around himself.
‘Abd Allah died 70 days after the martyrdom of Imam al-Sadiq (a) and left no children. Therefore, the belief in the imamate of ‘Abd Allah Aftah ended and most of his followers turned to believe in the imamate of Imam al-Kazim (a).
Fathiyya Famous Figures
At the beginning of the claim of ‘Abd Allah, many great companions of Imam al-Sadiq (a) accepted his claim and considered him the true successor of Imam (a), the most famous of whom were:
Based on historical evidences, many of these people returned from their belief in ‘Abd Allah Aftah and there are no evidence whether others returned from that belief or not; however, it can be understood from rijal sources that all the mentioned people, despite their beliefs, were among reliable transmitters of hadiths who were trustworthy before Imams (a) and the Shi’a scholars. For example, Imam al-‘Askari (a) was asked about the validity of hadiths transmitted by Bani Faddal who was a follower of Fathiyya, and he (a) answered,
“Act according to their hadiths, but leave their beliefs.”
A theological sect the followers of which believed that worshipping together with disbelief has no benefit, and that, sinning does not decrease anything from faith. This sect considered intention and belief important and regarded speech and actions unimportant.
Followers of this sect are the extremists among Sunnis who did not care about rational thoughts and considered them unlawful innovations.