Provided the Shi'ah are correct in their assertion that Al-Mahdi's (as) mother was a captive, is it not shameful that he should be born of a captive woman?
Hadjar, Prophet Abraham's (as) wife, was a slave woman. She gave birth to Ishmael (Isma'il), of whom the Prophet Muhammad (saws) is a direct descendants. If it is acceptable for the Prophet Muhammad (saws), the Seal of prophethood, to be a descendants of Isma'il who was born to a bondswoman, then why not Al-Mahdi (as)?
We have already mentioned that the birth of Al-Mahdi (as) was an event surrounded with secrecy, because the authorities, i.e. the Abbasids, knew that Al-Mahdi (as) -who was to bring about a revolution- was going to be the son of Imam Al-'Askari (as), and were awaiting his birth in order to kill him Owing to that, Imam Hassan Askari, Al-Mahdi's (as) father, could not behave conspicuously by revealing who the mother of Al-Mahid (as) was. What has created confusion among the critics of the Shi'ah is that Imam Al-'Askari did not refer to Nardjis with one name. A variety of names were used in an effort to fool the authorities, and to prevent them from recognizing who she was. This was part and parcel of the plan to protect Al-Mahdi (as). Had his father been slightly negligent in protecting his son, it is clear that Al-Mahdi (as) would not have survived.
The story of Al-Mahdi's (as) birth is like that of Moses. Female specialists were sent by the Abbasids to find out if anybody was pregnant and were regularly inspecting all the women. Al-Mahdi's (as) mother did not have any sign of pregnancy until the last hours, like Moses's mother. Whatever Allah (as) wishes will certainly take place.
Given these adverse conditions and hardships, the birth of Al-Mahdi (as) was kept secret. Even the closest people to Imam Al-'Askari (as), the father of Al-Mahdi (as) did not know of the time of his birth. This event reminds us of the first days of Islam's history when the Prophet (saws) preached the religion in utmost secrecy among a few loyal followers. The Prophet (saws) feared for the lives of these believers, and, as such, forbade them from revealing any information that might jeopardize his mission.
One can also argue that it is an honor for Imam Mahdi (as) to be born from a woman who stems from the Roman Empire, and as a descendent of Simon, Jesus' (as) closest disciple, and from Imam Hassan Al-'Askari who is descendent of the Prophet Muhammad (as). Being born from such parents signifies his crucial role entrusted to him in the future.
Adapted from the book: "The Awaited Saviour; Questions and Answers"
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