By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
"There are places of certitude where Allah likes the servants to supplicate to Him. One of these is the tomb of the Chief of Martyrs (Imam) Husain (AS).”
The above statement about the significance of the place of martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWA) younger grandson Imam Husain (AS), who was martyred in the most brutal manner in the state of acute thirst in Karbala, is a sincere tribute from a worthy descendent, whose birth anniversary we celebrate every year on the 15th of the sacred month of Dhu’l-Hijjah.
The Prophet’s 10th Infallible Heir needs no introduction. Born in Medina in 212 AH (828 AD), he was named Ali (AS) in honour of the One and Only Commander of Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS). He carried the same ‘kunya’ (agnomen), that is, "Abu’l-Hasan”, and strove to enlighten the Ummah with the genuine teachings of Islam in those days of Abbasid tyranny.
If his spotless character brought him the epithet "an-Naqi” (the Pristinely Pure), his other famous epithet "al-Hadi” is proof of the fact that he was the divinely-decreed Guide of his age.
Like his father, Imam Mohammad at-Taqi al-Jawad (AS), he was also a boy of 8 years when the divine trust of imamate came to rest on his tender shoulders in 220 AH.
In the next 34 years, in the manner of Jesus (AS) – who was entrusted with prophethood while still an infant in the cradle, as the holy Qur’an says in Surah Maryam – he endured all sorts of hardships, including house arrest and imprisonment, to make the message of Islam triumph over deviated ideologies.
This is testimony to the virtue of the Tenth Imam’s mother as well – the spotlessly pure lady Sumana al-Maghrebiyya, who was of North African Berber descent. It is confirmation of the famous narration that the Prophets and the Infallible Imams are the offspring of the most virtuous parents of their age.
Imam Hadi (AS) was known in official circles as "Ibn ar-Reza”, since the awe of his grandfather, Imam Reza (AS), was still fresh amongst the Abbasid usurpers.
On his authority, the "ziyarah” or the standard form of salutations to the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), and to the Martyr of Karbala, Imam Husain (AS), has been recorded.
The most famous salutation, however, taught by him is the "Ziyarat al-Jame’at-al-Kabira”, which, as suggested by its title, is a comprehensive form of greeting for the Infallible Imams, mentioning in the most eloquent terms their unrivalled merits and their prime position in the Sight of God Almighty.
It has been hailed as food for thought for the seekers of truth and those in rational quest of Islam. It sheds light on many of the mysteries and wonders of creation.
Although for several years, the Tenth Imam was not harassed by the Abbasid caliphs, such as his father’s assassin, Mu’tasim, who was preoccupied with wars with the Byzantines, and the latter’s son and successor, Watheq, who was immersed in pleasures, the accession of the tyrant, Mutawakkel, changed the situation.
Son of a Greek concubine of Mu’tasim, among the first acts of Mutawakkel as ruler was to destroy the shrine of Imam Husain (AS) in 236 AH, and order the site to be flooded. To his utter astonishment, however, the waters miraculously did not touch the grave of the Martyr of Karbala. He levied heavy taxes on pilgrims to Karbala, and when this failed to deter them, he ordered the cutting of limbs of the pilgrims.
With an aggrieved heart, Imam Hadi (AS) endured this fresh tragedy against his ancestor, Imam Husain (AS). He advised the devotees of the Ahl al-Bayt against risking their life, and to visit other shrines such as those of his venerable disciple and distant cousin, Seyyed Abdul-Azim al-Hassani in Rayy (near modern Tehran). Nonetheless, he continued to highlight the lofty status in the Sight of God, of the Immortal Martyr of Karbala.
Mutawakkel, fearful of the popularity of Imam Hadi (AS) among the people, who were flocking to Medina from far flung places to learn Islamic sciences, forced the Prophet’s Heir to come to his capital Samarra, where he was kept under close surveillance.
With his stratagems to humiliate or martyr the Tenth Imam coming to naught, Mutawakkel was killed by his own powerful Turkic guards.
In the next seven years, the Turkic guards raised and removed from power several caliphs. Among these was Mu’taz, an enemy of God who in a cowardly manner laced the food of the Imam with deadly poison. As a result, Imam Hadi (AS) achieved martyrdom at the age of 42 in the prime of manhood in the year 254 AH, and joined his illustrious ancestors in heaven, leaving behind his son and successor, Imam Hasan al-Askari (AS) to take charge of the divine trust which would finally be entrusted to the Saviour of mankind, Imam Mahdi (AS – God hasten his reappearance for establishment of the global government of justice).
As for the assassin, Mu’taz, soon the Turkic guards most humiliatingly beat and kicked him to death after exposing him to the torrid sun, and throwing away his corpse.
Today, there are no signs of the graves of the Abbasid caliphs, let alone their palaces, while it is the Grand Shrine of Samarra which, despite being the target of dastardly terrorists, continues to attract pilgrims from all over the world.
Since we are on the threshold of the auspicious Day of Ghadeer, it would not be inappropriate to cite a paragraph from Imam Hadi's (AS) famous salutation to the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS):
"Peace be on you O my Guardian, O Commander of the Faithful, O Allah's Trustee on His earth, His Envoy amongst His creatures and His Conclusive Testament to His servants! I testify that you always opposed self-seeking impulses and were committed to Godwariness; that you were well able to suppress your rage and pardon and forgive the people; that you were displeased when God was disobeyed and were pleased when God was obeyed; that you did what you were enjoined with, observed what was committed to your care, preserved what you were entrusted with, communicated that which you were charged with, and awaited what you had been promised... You distributed the public funds equitably and carried out justice amongst the subjects. You knew Allah's laws better than the entire creation... But what is more amazing, and more atrocious after the denial of your right, is the wrongful dispossession of (the Orchard of) Fadak from (the Prophet's beloved daughter and your wife, Fatema) Zahra, the truthful and the pure one, the mistress of the world's women, and rejection of your testimony and that of your illustrious sons and the progeny of the Mustafa, may Allah's blessings be upon you, while Allah, the Most High, had elevated your rank over the entire Ummah and exalted your station, and He had made manifest your excellence and honoured you above all the world's denizens, keeping away all impurity form you and purifying you with utmost purification."
Congratulations on the Birthday of Imam Ali an-Naqi (AS)