The Man from Damascus
Ali ibn Khalid was a Zaydite, and as such he did not acknowledge the Imams who came after Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin, the fourth Imam. (37—95 A.H.) He lived in the time of Imam Muhammad Taqi al-Jawad, the ninth Imam. (195—220 A.H.)He says "I was in the city of Samarrah, when I was told that a man from Damascus who claimed to be a prophet had been brought there and put in prison. Ali ibn Khalid went to see him and asked him what the matter with him was".
He said "I was in Syria where I was busy in worship at the site supposed to be the resting place of the Holy head of Imam Husayn, the Doyen of the Martyrs. One night I found all of a sudden a man standing before me. He asked me to get up. I rose unconsciously and went a short distance with him when I found myself in the Masjid of Kufah. He asked me if I knew that masjid. I said that I did and that it was the Masjid of Kufah. He offered his prayers. I too offered my prayers along with him. Then we set out again. We had not gone far, when I noticed that we were in the Masjid al-Nabi. There he invoked blessings on the Holy Prophet, and then we both offered our prayers.
Thereafter, we left that place too and set out again. A moment later I found myself in Mecca. There we circumambulated the Ka'bah, and then left the Masjid al-Haram.
After walking a few steps I found myself at my original place in Damascus. Then all of a sudden that man disappeared from my sight as if he was a slight draught of breeze which swept my face and vanished.
A year had passed since this incident when I met that man again. He took me on the same journey and we two visited once again all the Holy places which we had visited the first time. When he wanted to leave me, I said to him: 'I beseech you in the name of Him who has given you such a wonderful power to be so kind as to let me know your name'. He said 'I am Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Musa ibn Ja'far'. He was the ninth Imam.
Now I proceeded to tell this extraordinary event to everyone whom I met, till the news reached Muhammad ibn Abd al-Malik al-Zayyat. He ordered my arrest and accused me of posing as a prophet. Now, as you see, I am in prison".
Ali ibn Khalid says further: "I said to him Would you like me to write to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Malik about your case?"
You may", he said: I wrote, but in my reply he wrote back: "Tell him to ask the person who took him in one night from Damascus to Kufah and then to Mecca and Medina and then brought him back to Damascus to get him released from this prison also".
I was distressed by this reply. Next morning I went to the prison to convey the reply to that man. There I saw a large number of soldiers and a big crowd of other people coming and going around the prison. I asked the people what had happened? They told me that the prisoner who claimed to be a prophet had escaped from the prison and it was not known how he had escaped whether he had gone into the ground or had flown to the sky like a bird.
Ali ibn Khalid says "After seeing this incident I gave up my Zaydite creed and became a Twelver Shi'ah, believing in the Imamate of Imam Jawad, the ninth Imam in the line of Ali ibn Abi Talib. 2
2. Al-Irshad by Shaykh Mufid, p. 304—305.
Adapted from: "Master and Mastership"
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