[5/77] al-Kafi: Ali b. Ibrahim from his father from Uthman b. Isa and al-Hasan b. Mahbub all together from Sama’a from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام, he (Sama’a) said: I asked him about a man who is answered oppositely by two of his co-religionists (i.e. Shi’as) in regards a matter – [and] both transmit it [their answers – on your authority], one of them obligates it while the other forbids it – what should he do? he said: he withholds [doing anything] until he accesses one who will inform him (of the true position), and he is respited until such a time as he meets him. [And in another narration [the Imam said]: whichever of them he acts by – suffices him – if done in subservience (with the intention of obeying)]. Comments
If one receives conflicting reports – both attributed to the Imam – one obligating action and the other forbidding – the Imam advises postponing judgment until you can meet him who will resolve it. This is Tawaqquf. The seeker is also not blamable in the interim. Al-Kulayni includes another narration which says – he can choose to do either one and no fault will attach itself to him if this is done with the intention of obeying. This is Takhyir.
al-Moḥsini says: As for the last Hadith then it is dependent on the possibility of the Mukallaf to refer the matter back to the Imam or a Mufti who is a Marja of Taqlid, so he will postpone acting until he meets him, and the words of the two men [who report the Imams position] will have no Hujiyyah because they are contradicting, and in this age there is no great difficulty upon the Mukallaf [to access the Marja]. This narration while it has utility for the Mukallaf who is a layman both in the age of presence of the `Aimma and the Ghayba does not have utility for the Mukallaf who is a Mujtahid in the age of the Ghayba (because he has no one to refer it to) … and Allāh Knows more.
In conclusion, it is undeniable that contradictions have occurred between Mu’tabar narrations and I have mentioned some of the reasons for this in my book Hudud al-Shariah. Two of the main reasons that can be inferred from the narrations found in this chapter are abrogation and using indirect speech because of Taqiyya or some other reason as we have clarified previously. And Allāh is the Protector and the Guide.