8th Rabi-ul-Sani, Birth Anniversary Imam Hasan Askari (AS)

 

Biography

Name : Hassan

Title : Al-Askari

Kunyat : Abu Muhammad

Born : Monday 8th of Rabi-ul-Akhar 232 A.H. , at Medina

Father’s Name : Ali ibn Muhammad

Mother’s Name : Saleel

Died : At the age of 28 years, at Samarra, on Friday 8th Rabi-ul-Awwal 260 AH. Poisoned by Mo’tamad the Abbaside Caliph

Buried : at Samarra, Baghdad.

The Holy Imam Hasan al-Askari spent twenty two years of his life under the patronage of his father, Imam Ali al-Hadi (an Naqi) after whose martyrdom he became his divinely commissioned Imam and through the decree of the previous Imams. During the seven years of his Immamat, due to untold restrictions placed on him by the caliphat, he lived in hiding and dissimulation ( Taqiyyah ). He did not have any social contact with even the common people among the Shi’ite population . Ibid. p.155.

 

Birth & Childhood

When he was born his father said that it was an order from the prophet (p.b.u.h) that he should be named Hasan. It was so well known that the last Imams father would be called Hasan that people had previously looked for the 12th Imam amongst the sons of Imam Hasan Al-Mujtaba (AS)

His mother was Sulail (or Hudaitha) who was a slave of the 10th Imam whom he had freed and subsequently married. The 10th Imam said of her that she was one who was free from all vice and pollution and that she was one of the righteous ones. After the 11th Imam’s martyrdom he left all the “orders” of Imamate with her (his mother).

Once when Imam Hasan Al-Askary (AS) was a young child he fell into a well near their house. His father Imam Ali An-Naqi (AS) was praying and didn’t even notice the commotion around him of the ladies crying. When he finished praying and asked what had happened, he was told. He went towards the well. The water rose and all saw the 11th Imam sitting peacefully on the water and playing.

Bahlool once saw the young Imam crying in the street where all the other children were busy playing with their toys. He asked whether Imam was crying because he had no toys to play with. Imam replied: “We have not been created to play!”

 

Bahlool asked where he had learnt his from and the Imam said :

“Have you not read the Qur’an where it says – “Do you think we have created you in vain and that you will not be returned to us”.

When Bahlool heard this he asked Imam for some advice. Imam talked about death, barzakh and qiyama and cried so much, he fainted. When he came to, Bahlool asked him why he was so fearful as he was not even baligh yet. Imam said:

“I have watched my mother light a fire; she uses the little twigs to get the big pieces of wood to burn; I fear that on qiyama Allah too will use little ones to light the big ones.

 

Reports about His Nomination:

[Abu al-Qasim Ja’far b. Muhammad informed me on the authority of Muhammad b. Ya’qub, on the authority of Ali b. Muhammad, on the authority of Muhammad b. Ahmad al- Nahdi, on the authority of Yahya b. Yasar al- Anbari, who said: ].

Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Muhammad (al-Hadi), peace be on him, made his testamentary bequest to his son four months before his death. He indicated that the affair) of the Imamat) would belong to him after himself. He made me (i.e. Yahya b. Yasar al- Anbari) and a group of servants (mawali) witness that Kitab-al.Irshad, p. 508

[Abu al- Qasim Ja’far b. Muhammad informed me, on the authority of Muhammad  b. Yaqub, on the authority of ‘ Ali b. Muhammad, on the authority of  Ja’far b. Muhammad al- Kufi, on the authority of  Bashshhar b. Ahmad al- Basri, on the authority of Ali  b. “ Umar al- Nawfali, who said:]

I (i.e. ‘Ali b. ‘Umar al-Nawfali) was with Abu al-Hasan (al-Hadi), peace be on him, in the courtyards of the house. Muhammad, his son, passed us and I said to (al Hadi ) :” May I be your ransom, is this our leader after you?”

“No,” he replied, “your leader after me is al-Hasan.”Kitab-al-Irshad. P. 508.

[With the same chain of authorities (isnad), on the authority of Bashshar b. Ahmad, on the authority of ‘ Abdallah b. Muhammad al- Isphahani , who said:]

“Abu al-Hasan (al-Hadi), peace be on him, said to me (i.e. Abdallah b. Muhammad al- Isphahani): “Your leader after me is  one who will say the prayers over me (at my funeral) Kitab al-Irshad.   pp.507-508.

 

Imam’s  Social  Status:

Indeed Imam al-Askari (AS), like his noble fathers, was a prominent scholar and a leader (Imam) whom none of his own period could ignore. He (AS) was a chief of religious scholars, an ideal of worshippers, a leader of politics and opposition, and towards whom the hearts of people adhered with love and respect inspire of the existence of brutal terrorism, and political hostility to the  Ahlul-Bait (AS).

He (AS) and his companions always suffered persecution and oppression by the, then government and were thrown into prison and jails.

Ahmad bin Ubaidullah bin Khaqan, being an open enemy of Imam al-Askari (AS), narrates a full description about his position and social and political status :

“Hussein bin Muhammad Ash’ari and Muhammad bin Ali said: During his assembly one day the Alawites (i.e.) followers of Imam A’li) and their beliefs were mentioned. Ahmad bin Abdullah bin Khaqan was in charge of estates and the land tax in Qom. He was violently anti- Shia and far from favoring the house (AS). He was the severe enemy of the descendents of Ali ibn. Abi Talib, who said: ‘ I had not seen a man from the Alawites like Hassan bin Ali bin Muhammad bin Ali al-Rida.

Once, the Imam’s servant visited my father and said : Abu Muhammad bin al-Rida is standing at the door. Therefore he permitted them to enter,, and welcomed him (the Imam). Then, the caliph made him sit down on his prayer mat which he had been sitting on. He sat beside him facing him and began to speak to him and to use honorific expression- may I be your ransom.

I was amazed at what I saw. When the Imam wanted to leave, he (my father) bid farewell to him. Then, I asked my father about him (the Imam ) and he replied : O my son ! That was the Imam (leader) of Rafidah and if the office of leadership was to be taken from our caliphs entitled i.e. the family of al Abbas, none of the family pf Bani Hashim would be more entitled to it than him (the Imam) because of his great merit, his self restraint, his modesty, his fasting, his prayer He added saying : ‘I have never seen the one who is more plentiful in knowledge and manner, nor sweet in tongue than Hassan al Askari’. Ahlul Bait 13, Al Balagh Foundation ,1999, Tehran IRI. Pp 19-20.

Abdullah bin Khaqan, describing a part of the Imam’s great status and his social position and the peoples adherence and respect towards him , said :

‘When the news of his (the Imam) death was spread, Samarra’ became one uproar. The markets were empty. Banu (the family) Hashim, the military leaders, the secretaries, the judges, the attestators and the rest of the people rode to his funeral. On that day, Samarra seemed like the (day of) Resurrection. When they had finished the preparations for him, the authorities sent for Abu Isa bin Mutawakkil and ordered him to say the funeral prayer over him. Ibid. p. 21

 

The Imam’s Worship:

History is replete with news and narrations which talk about the Imam’s devotion (to Allah), asceticism, and piety. Among them one is:

The testimony of his opponent, Ubaidullah b. Khaqan for his son. Describing Imam al-Askari he told his son :

……my son, if the Imamat was to be taken from our caliphs, the family of Banu Abbas, none of the Banu Hashim would be more entitled to it than him (the Imam  A.S.)”  Ibid p. 24

Kulaini quoted another narration which talked about the Imam’s worship, asceticism, and how he spent his time in prison praising, worshipping and devoting himself to Allah, the Almighty, to the extent that he (AS) even had an impact on his own jailer and said:

“The Abbasids went to Salih b. Wasif when Abu Muhammad (Hassan al-Askari), peace be on him, was imprisoned .

They told him: be hard on him. Don’t give him any ease,.’What can I do with him Salih told them. ‘I entrusted him two most evil men I found (to guard the Imam). These two men became (men) of worship, prayer and fasting to an amazing extent. When they were called by the authority and questioned for not doing any thing to harm the Imam. They answered “What can we say about as man who fasts in the day and stands (in prayer) at night, who does not speak, and occupies himself with nothing except worship?” Ibid. p. 26.

 

Imam’s Cultural School:

“Imam’s main task was to safeguard the message of Islam, to defend originality, to  call people towards it and to  convey its principles and values.

Indeed the Imams of Ahlul-Bait (AS) spared no efforts in defending Islamic faith and thought, in spreading the knowledge of sharia, and its sciences and to acquaint people with them. They are the teachers of the religious scholars and the source of knowledge and sciences in this umma.

Imam al-Askari (AS), like his forefathers, practiced his cultural and scholarly role within the course of the school of Ahlul-Bait (AS) – which concentrated its activity on the Book (Quran) and prophetic traditions, safeguarding the originality of the message and discovering its contents.

The Imam (AS) lived during the third century of Hijra, in which ideological schools perfected their identity, particularly in the field of jurisprudence, interpretation, theology, the principles of jurisprudence, philosophy, and hadith…etc.”  Ibid. p. 51

“It was clear that the ideological and cultural activity in Islamic society at that time started moving on various centers.

Different schools and currents were appeared, but the school of Ahlul-Bait (AS) was distinguished one in jurisprudence, hadith, interpretation, political thought, theology, philosophy, understanding Islam…etc.”

“The one who studies the lives of Imams of the Prophet’s Household (Ahlul-Bait), will vividly recognize that every Imam practiced his role in managing the scientific school, in his downtime, and enriching it with knowledge and science. He will, also, recognize that each Imam represented a great figure to whom most religious scholars turned and a peak towards whom the followers of knowledge showed their respect and regards.” Ibid p. 51

 

Title: Al-Askary

The 10th and 11th Imamayn were both called Al-Askary as they lived in an area of Samarra called Askary.

Another reason that the 11th Imam was called Askary is said to be that once Mutawakkil wanted to show the Imam the strength of his army of 90,000 men and so he asked his men to fill their sacks with sand and pile all the sacks up. He then showed Imam this mountain of sacks. Imam asked Mutawakkil, to look through his (Imam’s) two fingers, where he saw a an army of armed Angels. Imam told him that they were at his disposal but he would not use them. (An army is called Askary).

 

Life & Works

Ahmed Bin Ishaq relates that when he heard of the death of the 10th Imam he went to Samarra and asked for the whereabouts of the 11th Imam. He was told that Imam had been imprisoned by Mo’taz Billah. After bribing the guards he was able to visit Imam one night. He described the prison as a tunnel under the Khalifa’s home where there was no space to stretch ones legs nor room to be able to stand. Ahmed says he cried when he saw Imams condition. Food was only one glass of water and a piece of dry bread a day.

He was imprisoned because all the rulers knew of the justice that was promised to come with the coming of the 12th Imam and they wished to prevent anyone being born of the 11th Imam.

Whilst in prison he told his companions to accumulate all the masails of Fiqh and he completed the masails on the chapters that were found missing. He introduced the institution of “Taqleed” advising people to follow those who were learned, “Muttaqi”, and just, as he was in prison and it was extremely difficult for people to meet him. Khums was collected through his representative and masails too asked to him, Abu-Ja’fer Uthman bin Saeed, who was later to become the representative of the 12th Imam.

There was once a severe drought in Samarra and a Christian priest came who whenever he raised his hands caused rain to fall from the heavens. The Muslims faith started wavering and the Khalifa Mo’taz Billah got worried for if they left Islam he would have none to rule over.

He went to the 11th Imam saying that Imam’s grandfathers religion was in trouble. Imam asked him to call all the people outside Samarra with the Christian priest. He asked the Christian priest to pray for rain. When he raised his hands to pray it started to rain. Imam asked for whatever was in this hands to be taken away and then asked him to pray for rain again. There was no rain this time.

Imam showed that what the priest had in this hand was the bone of a Prophet which whenever placed under the open sky caused it to rain.Imam then prayed for rain and it rained. Mo’taz could not re imprison Imam for some time for when the people saw the miracle they all wanted to visit Imam and asked where they might find him. Imam pointed to the Khalifa and asked them to ask him. Mo’taz told them that Imam was staying at the house where the 10th Imam used to reside.

Bibi Nargis was there and it was in that year that the 12th Imam was born. Imam was allowed out of prison for 13 months after which he was rearrested.

 

Martyrdom

In the six years of his Imamate several attempts were made on his life. On the 1st of Rabi-ul Awwal 260 a.h. Mo’tamad arranged for Imam to be poisoned in prison and then sent him home. Imam was in great pain and difficulty for 8 days. On the 8th of Rabi-ul Awwal he asked his son, the 12th Imam, to bring him some water and then leave him. He died that day and was given ghusl & kafan by his son, the 12th Imam.

 

Burial

The funeral prayers were led by the 12th Imam and it was then that a lot of Shia’s saw him for the first time. A large number of people attended the funeral and he is buried in Samarra.

 

Additional Notes

The 11th Imam was once asked of the signs of a mo’min (believer).He listed the following signs.

He is one prays 51 rakaats of salaa daily.

He prostates on Khake Shafaa.

He wears rings on his right hand.

He repeats the verses of Azhan & Ikama.

He recites “Bismillah” loudly in Namaz..

He prays his Fajr Namaz  before the stars disappear and his Zohar prayers before the sun starts to decline.

He recite Qunoot in Namaz .

He dyes his hair and beard.

He recites 5 Takbirs in Salatul Mayyit.