The Holy Sardab in Samarra
The Holy Sardab in Samarra
From the book of 'Sawa'eq' it appears that the Shia Imamiah's or a group amongst them reckon that Mahdi (a.s.) has concealed himself in the cellar. They expect him to emerge from this cellar and they stop near its door with their horses and await his reappearance. How good it was if the author of 'Sawa'eq' had mentioned the reference of this talk.
I think the author of 'Sawa'eq' has neither emerged from the land of Hejaz nor entered the country of Iraq nor visited Samarra. Otherwise, he would have realized that this matter bears no truth. Apparently, the source of this reckoning that the Shias believe Mahdi to have disappeared in the cellar is this that they see the Shia Ithna-Ashari visiting the holy place of 'Sardab' (cellar). It is necessary over here to mention the reason for visiting the holy p-lace of 'Sardab' (cellar).
Therefore, we say: as per the historical books, the holy courtyard, which is the mausoleum of Imam Ali-ibn-Muhammad Hadi (A.S.) and Imam Hasan-ibn-Ali Askari (a.S.), and that courtyard which is behind their holy mausoleum and that courtyard in which the cellar is located were all places of residents of those eminent personalities. Some of the great Islamic scholars like Thaqatul-Islam Nuri have stressed on this matter.
Since Mahdi (a.s.) is not having any specified place to be visited, it is better to visit him in his house. On the contrary, it even seems proper to visit his house itself because visiting the friends houses after they have left it is amongst the customs amongst friends.
In this regard, a poet says: ---
Amongst the houses I pass over the house of Laila I kiss this wall and that wall. Love of the house has not captivated my heart but the love of the one who was residing in it has captivated my heart.
Verily this matter has been the reason for the Shias visiting the cellar even though this reason is hidden and unknown to many. Visiting the 'Sardab' (cellar) is a good trend and a cordial custom, which has become the motto of the Shi'ites and how good and proper this act appears to be even though I have not seen any text or traditions in this regard.
Rather, we have not come across any of the books with any supported tradition, which commands us to visit Hazrat Imam Mahdi (a.s.) especially in the place of 'Sardab'. We Shias believe that our master, Mahdi (a.s.) is a living being who receives his sustenance and hears words and answers. Mahdi is the same Imam through whose obedience we should be 'upright' in the divine religion. Mahdi is the one who is the channel between God and us. His 'ziarat' (visitation) is correct; focusing (our attention) on him is permissible; conversing with him in every place and time and in any language is permissible. In this regard the holy 'Sardab' possesses no special specifications except what we have mentioned before. Similarly, the ziarats (visitations) which have come are not possessing any specification even though is preferable.
The houses over which tens of years have passed; the place where God has been worshipped; the place where God has been remembered; the place where prayers have been performed for days and nights and the place where the sound of recitation of the Holy Quran has been raised are worthy enough to be honoured and visited and at the time when a pilgrim enters them, he remembers its dwellers. One of the main reasons as to why such holy houses and especially 'Sardab' (cellar) are visited is this that its owners are alive - the owners who cannot reside in them and have in fact deserted them out of fear of enemies. Besides, we are in need of Mahdi (a.s.) and are deprived of his favours.
Visitation of these houses with such reminiscences will naturally move a pilgrim's heart who happens to be a Shia. How often a pilgrim weeps, sends out a shriek, implores involuntarily and requests god to hasten the emergence of Imam Mahdi. Verily, factors of intimacy and hearty - relation greatly influence a man's nature.
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