Imam Hassan Askari (pbuh)
Birth & Childhood
When he was born his father said that it was an order from the prophet (pbuh) 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 Mujtaba (pbuh)
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 Askary (pbuh) was a young child he fell into a well near their house. His father Imam Ali Naqi (pbuh) 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.
Bohlool 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!"
Bohlool 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 Bohlool 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, Bohlool asked him why he was as fearful as he was not even reached adulthood 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.
The 10th and 11th Imams were both called Askary as they lived in an area ofSamarra 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 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).
Ahmed Bin Is’haq relates that when he heard of the death of the 10th Imam he went toSamarra 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 Questions of Fiqh and he completed them 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 questions 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 grandfather’s religion was in trouble. Imam asked him to call all the people outsideSamarra 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 his 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.
A detailed account of the marriage of Imam Hasan Askari (pbuh) was told by Majlisi in Biharul Anwar. His father Imam Ali Naqi (pbuh) entrusted this important matter to his friend Bashir bin Sulaiman. First the Imam wrote a letter in the script of ‘Rum’ and sealed it with his own noble seal. He placed the letter in a red purse, with 220 Dinars and then said to his friend, “Take this letter and go toBaghdad. Go to the ferry at the River Tigris when the boats from Syria are being unloaded. Look out for the ship owner whose name is Amr. Observe when he exhibits a slave girl who would be with silk garments and a veil to protect her from being seen or handled by the buyers. You will hear her call out in the language of ‘Rum’, ‘even if you have the wealth and glory of Solomon the son of David, I can never have affection for you, so take care lest you waste your money in purchasing me.’ And if a buyer approaches her, she will say, ‘Cursed be the man who unveils my eyebrow’ Her owner will then protest, ‘But what recourse have I, I am compelled to sell you? You will then hear the slave answer, ‘Why this haste, let me choose my purchaser, that my heart may accept him in confidence and gratitude.’
“You are to go then O Bashir, and tell the trader Amr that you have a letter written in the script of Rum by a certain nobleman, and that this letter shows his kindness, appreciation and liberality. You must give this letter to the slave girl to read, that she may agree to be bought by the man who has passed this letter to you.
Bashir reported later, “When I carried out these instructions and the girl received the letter, she began to cry as she read the letter. Then she said to Amr, “Sell me to the writer of this letter, for if you refuse I would surely be very unhappy and you will never be able to sell me to anyone else.” I therefore talked over the price with Amr, until we agreed on the 220 Dinars my master had given me. When I paid the money, and received the girl. She came with me without protest. In fact she was smiling and looking very pleased. In her excitement she took the letter from the Imam Ali Naqi (pbuh) from her pocket and kissed it, put it on her eyes and then put it back into her pocket. I told her I was amazed that she should act this way when as yet she did not know the writer. She answered, “May the descendant of the Prophet dispel your doubts.” Afterwards she gave me the following account of herself.
“I am a princess,the granddaughter of the Emperor of Rum. My mother was a descendant of the disciple Simon, the vicegerent of Jesus. My grandfather the Emperor was anxious to marry me to his nephew. I was 15 years old. At his castle he gathered a great assembly, including 300 monks and hermits, 700 of the nobility and 4000 of the officials of the army. I had a special throne made for me where I sat with the man I was about to wed. Christian priests were ready to pay us honor. They opened the Bible, and immediately all the images around us fell to the ground and broke. My cousin also fell down on the ground and fainted. All the great officials were overcome with fear and said,” O’ king, preserve us from witnessing this ill-fated day, for this sort of thing is a proof of the decline and disappearance of the Christian religion as we know it.” At this my grandfather was very angry and he ordered that all images should be brought back and put in their places. Once again they all fell down and a great storm blew the lights all around. At this second occurrence people were frightened and left the assembly hall. My grandfather fell himself and the whole occasion was cancelled for some other day.
One night after this I saw a dream, in which Jesus appeared with his disciples at the palace where the throne was erected. Their they built a pulpit of light, and behold, Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his successor, Ali (pbuh) and all his exalted descendants came into the palace. Jesus went forward to embrace Muhammad who said, O’Spirit of God, I have come to seek the daughter of your successor Simon for my son Hasan Askari.”
Jesus (pbuh) looked to Simon who was with him and said, “Nobility and glory has come to you in this chance to unite mercy with that of the family of Muhammad.” To this Simon assented and all of them assented to the pulpit of Light while Muhammad conducted the wedding service. After the dream, when I woke up I was afraid and dared not repeat the story to my father or my brothers for fear that they would kill me. While I kept the secret, love of Hasan Askari found its place in my heart and constrained me to give up drinking wine and I did not want to eat. As a result of not eating I grew thin and became ill. All possible treatment was available for me but without success. In the end my father told me, “O’you who have seen a light, tell me what is wrong with me. The doors of pleasure are closed for me. A voice replied, “If you set some of your prisoners free, it is possible that Jesus and his mother may help you.” I told my father of this dream and requested that some of the prisoners should be set free. My father granted my request, and after that I took food and felt better. A few days passed and I had another vision, when Fatima the daughter of the Prophet and Mary, the mother of Jesus came to me and explained that Hasan Askari could not come to me unless I should become a Muslim and declare, that there no God but One God and Muhammad is the last apostle of God. This I accepted and after that I saw Hasan Askari in my vision.”
But how did you come to fall among the prisoners? Asked Bashir. She replied, “Hasan Askari told me that my father was planning to send an army against the Muslims and that I should disguise myself and some of my women servants and arrange to go along with the army. I did this and before long some of the Muslim army guards captured us, and now you see how it all turned out.”
Bashir related that when they reached Samarrah he went to the Imam Ali Naqi (pbuh) who received the party gladly. The Imam asked the girl if he should give her Ten Thousand Dinars or a bit of good news. When she chose the latter, he informed her that she was to be given to his son Hasan Askari as she has seen in her dreams and that she was to be the mother of the one who was to cause justice to reign upon the earth. She was then committed to Ali Naqi’s sister Hakima who was to look after her.
Such is the account of the wedding of Hasan Askari to Nargis Khatoon as Majlisi recorded it in such detail in Bihar-al-Anwar. (The same account was found in Shaikh Tusi’s book) A few days later the wedding took place between Imam Hasan Askari and Nargis Khatoon, the grand daughter of the Emperor of Rum.
One of the famous students of the Imam was Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn Khalid who prepared a commentary of the Holy Qora’an which should be considered the work of the Imam himself. The Imam used to dictate its contents to Abu Ali who went on writing the commentary. Scholars indicated that the book consisted of 1920 pages.
Imam Hasan Askari (pbuh) lived a short life, only Twenty Eight years and in this short life he had to endure great sufferings by the hands of the Abbasid caliphs. 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.
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.
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