By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“The Truth is with you, within you, from you, and in your direction; you are masters of truth and the mine of Truth itself… Yours is the final verdict that separates Truth from falsehood. Deprived and disappointed is the one who rejects you; astray is the one who quits you; triumphant is the one who holds fast unto you… Allah created you as light and kept you encircling His throne until He favoured us with your Divine presence; hence He placed you in houses which Allah has permitted to be exalted and wherein His name is glorified.”
The above passage is from the famous “Ziyarat-al-Jame’a al-Kabira”, a very comprehensive standard form of salutation to the 12 Infallible Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt or Blessed Household of the the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
It reveals their unrivalled merits, in view of the fact that all Twelve Imams are the chosen of the Almighty Creator and are holders of “Wilayat al-Mutlaqa” or Divinely-designated leadership of not just mankind but over all other creatures of God.
This particular “Ziyarah” is rather long and those interested could refer to the concerned books. The person who was Divinely-inspired to convey these immortal phrases to us was Imam Ali an-Naqi al-Hadi (AS), the Prophet’s 10th Heir whose martyrdom we commemorate today on the 3rd of Rajab, as a result of a fatal dose of poisoning by one of the self-styled caliphs of the usurper Abbasid regime.
The passage quoted above is surely food for thought. It not merely reflects the mysteries of creation but holds the keys to unravelling the unexplained reality of life for the guidance of mankind.
The reference is to Truth, the Ultimate Truth and to those who have been described as the embodiment of Truth. The words are an indication that the One and Only Creator, Whose glory is far beyond the imagination of His creatures, has blessed humanity with personages who personify the Supreme Truth, and through whom destinies are sealed in the transient life of this world for the journey to the immortal realm of afterlife, where it is Truth that makes the soul fly to the ethereal heavens, while the failure to grasp Truth traps it in the abysmal depths of blazing hell.
Imam Hadi (AS) needs no introduction. He was born in Medina in 212 AH and was a boy of 8 years when entrusted with the Divine mission on the martyrdom of his father, Imam Mohammad at-Taqi al-Jawad (AS) – in the manner of John the Baptist and Prophet Jesus, regarding whom God says in the holy Qur’an that they were mere boys when granted Prophethood.
His mother was Samana, a very virtuous lady whose nobility of character was beyond an iota of doubt. His father’s murderer, the Abbasid caliph Mu’tasim, in a bid to brainwash the boy-Imam instructed the governor of Medina asking him to place him for tutorage under the 80-year court scholar al-Junaydi – a poet known for his enmity towards the Household of the Prophet.
The plot was to make the people believe that whatever the 8-year old Imam had of knowledge could be attributed to Junaydi. To the horror of the caliph, however, when Junaydi was asked about his pupil, he became a changed man, and said: I am the student and he is the teacher. I now know what knowledge is. The boy-Imam had taught me such knowledge of which I had no idea.”
The caliph’s plot miserably failed yet again. For the next 17 years, Imam Hadi (AS) unravelled his God-given knowledge, grooming a great number of scholars in different branches of science. This was anathema to the Abbasid regime. The new caliph, Mutawakkil, forced the Imam to leave Medina and come to Samarra in Iraq in order to deprive the Muslims of Hijaz of the presence of the Prophet’s Rightful Successor in their midst.
Mutawakkel, who was notorious as “the most infidel of the Abbasid caliphs”, placed the 10th Imam under house arrest in Samarra after the Prophet’s Heir was given a rousing welcome by the people of Baghdad on his way. The reason for detention was that the Abbasids were afraid of the impending figure of 12 Infallible Successors of the Prophet as prophesied by the Almighty’s Last Messenger. The tyrants thought that by keeping the Prophet’s heir under close surveillance at the their capital they would find an excuse to implicate him in one of the frequent uprisings rocking the vast Abbasid realm from Khorasan in the east to North Africa in the West, and would martyr him before he could have a successor.
Mutawakkel, whose most blasphemous deed was the destruction of the holy shrine in Karbala of the Chief of Martyrs, Imam Husain (AS), thought of various stratagems against Imam Hadi (AS), but before he could carry it out, he was murdered by his own son Mustansir. In less than a year, the Turkish guard dominating the Abbasid court in Samarra, removed and killed Mustansir and installed his brother Mo’taz as the new caliph.
For his part, the 10th Imam continued his guiding role despite restrictions, thanks to the foolproof system of “Wikala” or chain of representatives throughout the Islamic realm built by the 9th Imam.
Alas, despite his role in guiding humanity towards truth, the 34-year mission of the 10th Imam was cut short on the 3rd of Rajab in 254 AH (868 AD) through a fatal dose of poison given by the caliph.
Imam Hadi (AS) was only 42 years old when martyred, and was succeeded his son Imam Hasan al-Askari (AS). Six years later, before his own martyrdom at the young age of 28 years, the 11th Imam entrusted the Divine trust to his 5-year son, the Promised Mahdi (AS), who will reappear to cleanse the earth of all vestiges of corruption and oppression and fill it up with the global government of peace and prosperity based on justice.
Among the dynamic measures taken by the 10th Imam to ensure that the Laws of God will always prevail in society and outlast all tyrants and all other absurd systems of manmade governments, is the following saying:
“During the ghayba – or occultation – of your Qa’em (that is, the 12th Imam) a group of the ulema will call people to believe in his Imamate and defend his creed by citing proofs revealed by Allah so that they might save the weak-minded from either the deceptions of the Satan and his followers, or the deceptions of the ‘navaseb’ (that is, the enemies of Imam Ali – AS). If these ulema were not there, then everyone would have strayed away from the religion (decreed by) Allah. As the pilot holds the rudder of the ship, the ulema will hold firmly onto the hearts of the Shi’ites – or the followers of the Prophet’s Household – preventing them from straying. Those ulema are the most excellent in the view of Allah the Exalted.”