By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“The heart of an ignorant is his mouth, and the mouth of a wise person is inn his heart.”
Food for thought indeed; this mind-stimulating statement is from none other than the person whose martyrdom anniversary we commemorate every year on the 8th of Rabi al-Awwal.
He was forced to leave the mortal world at the young age of 28 years due to a fatal dose of poison that was stealthily mixed in his meagre food, while under virtual house arrest in the city of Samarra in Iraq in the year 260 AH (874 AD).
His assassin was Mo’temad, the self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime, whose plot was to cut the life of his victim in the prime of youth before he could become a father so as to belie Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWA) famous hadith of Twelve Infallible Successors, of whom the last would rise as Qa’em al-Mahdi (AS) to cleanse the world of all vestiges of oppression and corruption by setting up the global government of peace, prosperity, and justice.
Mo’temad, thus exposed himself as an infidel by trying to disprove God Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger, whose every word, as the holy Qur’an testifies in the opening Ayahs of Surah Najm, is Divine Inspiration.
The identity of the person, to attend whose funeral the merchants of Samarra had closed their shops, and in memory of whom we have been holding mourning ceremonies for the past 1183 lunar years ago, to offer our heartfelt condolences to his orphaned son who was born in secrecy five years before his martyrdom, ought to be crystal clear by now.
He was than Imam Hasan al-Askari (AS), the Prophet’s 11th Infallible Heir and the father of the Imam of our Age for whose reappearance we eagerly wait.
Born in 232 AH in Medina, Imam Hasan Askari (AS) was a picture of perfection regarding faith and morals. He inherited all the merits of his Infallible Ancestors whom God had bestowed with virtue and knowledge. As historians and narrators of hadith have testified, he was the most excellent person of his age. Even non-Muslims have acknowledged his excellence.
For instance, Bakhtshou, the Christian physician of those days said to his disciple Batriq (Patrick) about the 11th Imam: “He is the most knowledgeable of all those under the sky in our days.”
Alas, if the Abbasid usurpers had not subjected the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt to persecution and confinement, the Righteous Successors of the Prophet would have filled the world with their knowledge and sciences, and humanity would have long ago achieved heights of intellectual development and spared of the catastrophes that it has gone through over the past centuries.
The Abbasids knew that if they did not prevent the people from association with the Infallible Imams, the masses would become enlightened, not only in the fields of sciences but also in the political and social arenas, thereby exposing the caliphs in their true colours as imposters.
Imam Askari (AS), as the paragon of patience and forbearance, always kept his emotions under control and treated even those who wronged him with kindness and forgiveness.
Despite intermittent bouts of imprisonment by the regime, which vainly tried to implicate him in the uprisings in various parts of the vast Islamic realm from Khorasan till North Africa, he proved to be a person of indomitable will and courage.
No one was more generous than him during his lifetime. He appointed representatives in most of the Muslim lands for providing welfare to the poor and the deprived.
The 11th Imam’s lofty morals had profound effect on some of his opponents, and they turned to be his loyal followers. Once when he was imprisoned during the reign of Mutawakkil, who was the bitterest enemy of the Ahl al-Bayt, the jailors were ordered to be harsh and severe with the Imam. But when the jailor observed the high morality and piety of the prisoner, he was confounded and showed the utmost respect to him.
Ahmad bin Obaydollah bin Khaqan, a senior official of the Abbasid state, has said about the 11th Imam: I have neither seen nor known in Samarra, a descendant of the Prophet like Hasan bin Ali (AS), nor have I heard the like of his guidance, faith, chastity, nobility, and generosity among all the Hashemites.
Even the father of this Ahmad, who was named Obaydollah, is on record as saying: If the caliphate is taken away from the Abbasids, no one from the Hashimites will deserve it except this man – that is, Imam Hasan Askari (AS).
The Imamate is one of the most important pillars on which civilization, safety, public welfare, and amity among members of the society are built. It provides people with the ideal life they desire on the basis of faith. Under the blessings of Imamate, there are no racial or other superficial differences amongst human beings. The Imamate is a gift of Allah for all creatures.
This is what Imam Askari (AS) proved to the Ummah during the 6 years of his Imamate by ably discharging his duties in awakening the conscience of the people and guiding them towards perfection.
Once when someone wrote to him asking for a supplication, the 11th Imam replied: Pray Allah in this manner:
“O You the Best Listener of listeners, the most Perceptive of seers, the best of lookers, the promptest of Reckoners, the Most Merciful of the merciful, the Wisest of judges, send blessings on Muhammad and on the progeny of Mohammad, and increase my livelihood, prolong my age, favour me with Your mercy, make me from those who defend Your religion, and do not replace me by other than me…!”
When asked about the hadith that “The earth will never be void of the Hujjat (God’s Proof), and anyone who dies without acknowledging the Imam of the Age dies the death of ignorance,” he replied: “Yes, indeed the matter is as clear and real as daylight.”
When asked about the Hujjat and the Imam after you, he said: “After me the Hujjat and the Imam will be my son Muhammad.”
“… God will keep him in occultation and then He will cause him to emerge so that he will fill the earth with justice and equity.
Imam Askari (AS) knew what havoc would be played with the shari’a by imposters and charlatans during the absence of his Heir from the society. For this reason, during the long period of occultation of his son and successor, he made it obligatory for the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt to “follow the qualified jurist, who refrains from committing wrong, emphasizes his faith, opposes carnal desires, and obeys Allah’s command.