Imam Hasan al-Askari’s Upbringing
By: Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi
Ahmad bin Ubaydillah bin Khaqan said about Imam al-Askari (a.s.), ‘He was brown with big eyes, fine stature, beautiful face, and good body. He had gravity and solemnity. And it was said he was between brown and white.’
Imam Al-Askari (a.s.) grew up in the house of guidance and the center of Imamate and general authority of Muslims. He was from the noble house whose people Allah had kept uncleanness away from and purified thoroughly.
Ash-Shabrawi says regarding this exalted house, ‘What an honourable house it is and what a glorious lineage it is! It is the house of pride and exaltation. They are all equal in the noble root, in the good inners, and in glory like the teeth of a comb. How exalted a house it is! It has all qualities of perfection to the extent that it is not excepted by limitations such as “other than” or “except”. These imams have been ordered in glory like the order of pearls, and harmonized in honor that the first of them equals the next. Many were those who strove to degrade this house but Allah exalted and still exalts it, and many were those who spared no effort to separate the unity of this house but Allah gathered and gathers it. How many rights of this house were lost but Allah does not ignore or lose…’
Scholarly studies note that one’s household has great influence on the forming of man’s behavior and the building of his personality. The good or bad scenes he sees inside the house are impressed upon him and adhere to him throughout his life. In the light of this fact, Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) obtained the best scenes of the purest education. He grew up in a house that Allah had purified and exalted … the house that raised the Word of Allah high in the Earth and offered dear sacrifices for the sake of Islam.
Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) grew up in the house of the Qur'an and the heart of Islam. His father Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) fed him with guidance and ideals to be the continuity of the mission of Islam.
The distinct aspect in the childhood of Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) was the fear of Allah. He was God-fearing since his early years. Historians mentioned that one day some man passed by Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) and saw him cry while he was with his fellow children. The man thought that this child cried for the toys in the children’s hands and that he could not participate in their playing. The man told the child that he would buy him what he might play with.
The child said, ‘No! We have not been created for play.’
The man was astonished and said, ‘Then, what for we have been created?’
The child said, ‘For knowledge and worship.’
The man asked the child, ‘Where have you got this from?’
The child said, ‘From this saying of Allah (What! Did you then think that We had created you in vain).’
The man was astonished and confused. He said to the child, ‘What has happened to you while you are still a guiltless little child?’
The child said, ‘Be away from me! I have seen my mother set fire to big pieces of firewood, but fire is not lit except with small pieces, and I fear that I shall be from the small pieces of the firewood of the Hell.’
Faith in Allah was a part of, and a distinguishing element of Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.). He did not fear but Allah, and this trait remained in him until the last moment of his life.
With His Holy Father
Imam Abu Muhammad al-Askari (a.s.) spent a part of his life with his father Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). He did not part with him even in his travels. He saw in his father a true picture of the morals of his grandfather the messenger of Allah (s.a.w.w.) who had been preferred to all prophets, and saw in him the spirits of his fathers, the infallible imams (a.s.).
On the other hand, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) saw in his son the natural continuity of the great Imamate and general authority of the Prophet (s.a.w.w.), and therefore he cared much for him. He praised him saying, “My son Abu Muhammad is the best of the progeny of Muhammad (blessing be on him and on his progeny) in nature, and the most trustworthy in authority. He is the eldest of my children, and he is my successor and the recipient of the handholds of Imamate and its governance.”
Of course, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was far above flattering or submission to emotions. He did not praise his son and announce his virtue unless he saw in him all noble aspects and high qualities. And it was so, because Imam Abu Muhammad al-Askari (a.s.) had all these virtues and nobilities.
Imam al-Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) kept to his father Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and saw what he suffered from the Abbasid kings, especially al-Mutawakkil who spared no effort in oppressing Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). This tyrant was excessive in harming the Imam. He house-arrested him in Samarra’ and surrounded his house with policemen and detectives to watch him, and to prevent the ‘Ulama’, jurisprudents, and the rest of the Shi’a from associating with him. Al-Mutawakkil also oppressed Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) in his living affairs, and ordered his men to search the house of the imam from time to time and take him to al-Mutawakkil in whatever state he was. It was al-Mutawakkil himself who had prevented officially the visiting to the holy shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a.s.), and ordered the shrine to be destroyed. All those terrible events took place before the eyes of Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) while he was yet in the early years of his youth. His heart was filled with pains and sorrows during the period he lived with his father.
The Death of His Brother
Muhammad Abu Ja’far, the brother of Imam al-Askari (a.s.), was a wonderful example of the infallible imams and a true picture of their thoughts and principles. He was very intelligent, with high morals and possessed vast knowledge, to the extent that many of the Shi’a thought that he would be the imam after his father Imam al-Hadi (a.s.).
Al-Aarif al-Kilani said about Abu Ja’far, ‘I accompanied Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ali since he was young. I saw no one purer nor more honorable than him. Abul Hasan al-Askari (Imam al-Hadi) left him in Hijaz while he was a child and then he came to him a young. He kept to his brother Abu Muhammad (a.s.) who educated him and fed him with his knowledge, wisdom, and morals.’
Abu Ja’far became seriously ill, maybe because of being poisoned by the Abbasids. He remained in this state for some days, suffering intolerable pains while his brother Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.), who loved him much, was with him all this time. However, after not long, Abu Ja’far departed to the better world, but Imam Abu Muhammad’s heart was broken and he was very sorrowful and distressed over the loss of his dear brother.
With His Brother Al-Husayn
Al-Husayn bin Ali al-Hadi (a.s.) was a pure man of great knowledge and high morals. He was always with his brother Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) and they were called “as-Sibtayn” like their two grandfathers Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (a.s.). They were famous for this title at that time. Abu Hashim said, ‘One day, I rode on my sumpter and said: ‘(Glory be to Him Who made this subservient to us and we were not able to do it). One of as-Sibtayn heard me say that and said to me, ‘You have not been ordered of this, but you have been ordered to remember the blessing of your Lord on you when you ride on it (on the sumpter).’
The Martyrdom of His Holy Father
Imam al-Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) suffered the great loss of his father, and it was the heaviest calamity he had ever faced in his life.
The Abbasid tyrant al-Mu’tamid assassinated Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) by adding poison to his food, when he saw all people talk prevalently about the virtues and vast knowledge and the high position of the imam. He was very angry and was filled with envy against Imam al-Hadi (a.s.). Then, he committed this terrible crime against him.
After being poisoned, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) suffered terrible pains and retired to bed. The Shi’a and high statesmen visited him. Some poets visited him like Abu Hashim al-Ja’fari who composed a sorrowful poem on him. Abu Du’amah visited him and when he wanted to leave, the imam said to him,‘O Abu Du’amah, you have a right on me. Do I tell you a tradition that shall delight you?’
Abu Du’amah said, ‘I am in utmost need of that O son of the messenger of Allah.’
Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) said, ‘My father Muhammad bin Ali told me from his father Ali bin Musa bin Ja’far from his father Ja’far bin Muhammad from his father Muhammad bin Ali from his father Ali bin al-Husayn from his father al-Husayn bin Ali from his father Ali bin Abu Talib that the messenger of Allah (a.s.) said to him, ‘Write down!’ Ali said, ‘What shall I write down?’ The messenger of Allah (a.s.) said, ‘Write down: “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Faith is that which hearts acknowledge and deeds prove, and Islam is that which tongues witness and marriage becomes lawful with.’
Abu Du’amah said, ‘O son of the messenger of Allah, I do not know which of them is better; the tradition or the narrators!’
Ali al-Hadi (a.s.) said, ‘It is a book written down by the hand of Ali bin Abu Talib and the dictation of the messenger of Allah (a.s.) that we inherit one from the other.’
Before his death, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) announced that the imam after him would be his son Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Askari (a.s.). He appointed him as the general authority for the Shi’a and entrusted him to prepare his corpse (after death), offer the prayer on him, and bury him. He entrusted him with other affairs too.
To The Paradise
The poison reacted inside the body of Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) and he grew weaker and weaker. Death approached him hastily, and when he felt his end, he turned towards the Qiblah and began reciting some Surahs (chapters) from the Qur'an. His pure soul went high to the heaven surrounded by angels while his lips and heart were busy mentioning Allah. The earth shook for the terrible disaster. The leader, the instructor, and the father of the weak and the deprived died! A bondmaid went out of the Imam’s house crying out, ‘It was terrible that which we have met on Monday before and now!’
The women’s eyes were filled with tears after this alarming cry, and their memories went back to that Monday where the meeting of as-Saqifah was held and since then disasters and misfortunes were poured over the Ahlul Bayt (a.s).
Imam Abu Muhammad (a.s.) washed the pure corpse of his father, and enshrouded it. Then he offered the prayer on his father while his heart was full of sorrow and pain for the great loss.
Samarra’ shook for the terrible affliction, and people of all classes hurried to escort the pure corpse of their imam. Stores, markets, and state offices were closed. Viziers, ‘Ulama’, judges, high officials, and the rest members of the Abbasid family were before the bier while mentioning the virtues and high qualities of the imam and talking about the great loss that afflicted the Muslim nation. Historians said that Samarra’ had never seen such escorting throughout its history.
Under a halo of the call “Allah is great" and before masses of human beings who were like waves in the sea, Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) was placed by his son Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Askari, whose tears were flowing over his cheeks, into his last abode.
When Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) died, Imam al-Askari (a.s.) was twenty or twenty-three years old. He assumed the Imamate and the general religious authority over Muslims while he was yet too young.
All elements of piety and righteousness, all virtues of this world, manners of prophethood, and qualities of Imamate were gathered in Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Askari (a.s.), compared to whom there was none better in his time.
 Bihar al-Anwar, vol.50 p.326.
 Ibid., p.238, Akhbar ad-Duwal, p.117.
 Al-Ittihaf Bihubil Ashraf, p.68.
 Qur'an, 23:115.
 Jawharat al-Kalam, p.155, the Encyclopedia of al-Bustani, vol.7 p.45.
 A’yan ash-Shi’a, vol.3 p.295.
 Al-Mujdi fin-Nasab (manuscript).
 The two grandsons.
 Qur'an, 43:13.
 Safeenat al-Bihar, vol.1 p.259.
 Al-Manaqib, vol.4 p.401.
 Murooj ath-Thahab, vol.4 p.171.
 Murooj ath-Thahab, vol.4 p.171.
 It was the day of the prolonged and acerbic negotiations which preceded the nomination of Abu Bakr as the successor of the Prophet (s.a.w.w.) who died just then and was not buried yet at the time of that meeting.
 Bahr al-Ansab, p.2.
Share this article