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Those Who Saw the Imam of the Age When He Was Small

Dr. Jalali: How can it be possible that a person could have a son and no one in the world would know about him? Moreover, how can it be so that five years would pass and he would remain unknown? Did not Imam 'Askari live in Samarra? Was not he visited by anyone? Could one believe the only report on the presence of the infant son of the Imam coming from Abu 'Amr 'Uthman b. Sa'id?

Mr. Hoshyar: Although it was clear from the very beginning that, under the circumstances which prevailed in Samarra under the 'Abbasids, the birth of Imam 'Askari's son would be kept secret, there were those trustworthy associates and relatives who had seen the child and had testified to his presence. Let us examine some reports to that effect:

(1) Among those who were present at the birth of the twelfth Imam and who reported the event in great detail was Hakima Khatun, the daughter of Imam Muhammad Taqi and the aunt of Imam Hasan 'Askari. The story in brief is recounted by her as follows:

One day I was visiting Imam 'Askari's house. At night, which happened to be the fifteenth night of Sha'ban (255 AH/29th July, 870), when I wanted to return to my home, the Imam said: "Aunt, stay with us tonight, because God's friend and my successor will be born this night." I asked: "Which one of your slave-girls is expecting?" He said: "Sawsan." Hence, I started looking at her to see if there were any signs of pregnancy in her. I could not see any. After breaking the fast and finishing prayers, I slept in the same room as Sawsan. After a while I woke up from my sleep and began to think about what Imam 'Askari had predicted. Then I started performing the midnight prayers. Sawsan also woke up and prepared to perform her prayers. It was getting close to the dawn. But there was no sign of child-birth in her. I was beginning to doubt what the Imam had predicted when he said from his room: "Aunt dear, do not doubt. The time for my son's birth is approaching."

All of a sudden Sawsan's condition started changing. I asked her if everything was alright. She said that she was feeling some discomfort. I began to prepare things that were needed for delivery and took charge of the situation. Within a short while God's friend was born, all clean and pure. Just then Imam 'Askari said: "O Aunt, bring my son to me." When I took him to the Imam he held him close to himself and stroked his tongue over the infant's eyes. The eyes of the infant opened immediately. Then he stroked his mouth and ears with his tongue, and his head with his hand. At that time the infant began to recite verses from the Qur'an. Then he gave the infant back to me and asked me to take him back to his mother. I brought him to his mother and went home.

On the third day, I came back to Imam 'Askari's house and straight away I went to Sawsan's room to see the child. But I did not see him. I went to the Imam's room. but hesitated to ask about the infant. The Imam at once informed me: "O aunt, my son is in concealment in God's protection. When I depart from this world and when you see my followers in dispute about my successor, tell those trustworthy among them what you have witnessed in connection with his birth. However, make sure that the event is guarded in secrecy because my son will be in occultation."1

(2) The two maids at Imam 'Askari's residence have related that when the Imam of the Age was born he sat on his legs and raised his finger toward the sky [bearing witness to the Unity of God]. Then he sneezed and said: "Praise be to God, the Lord of the universe."2

(3) Abu Ghanim, the servant at Imam 'Askari's house, relates that a son was born to Imam Hasan 'Askari, whom he named Muhammad. "On the third day he showed him to his companions and said: 'This son of mine will be your master and Imam after me. He is the Qa'im who is being awaited by everyone. When the earth is filled with injustice and tyranny, he will rise, and fill it with justice and equity.'"3

(4) Abu 'Ali Khayzarani relates from the slave girl he had presented to Imam 'Askari that she was present at the time when the twelfth Imam was born. His mother's name was Sayqal.4

(5) Hasan b. Husayn 'Alawi said: "I personally went to see Imam Hasan 'Askari in Samarra to congratulate him on the occasion of his son's birth." A similar tradition has been related by 'Abd Allah b. 'Abbas 'Alawi.5

(6) Hasan b. Mundhir reports that one day Hamza b. Abu al-Fath came to see him and informed him: "Last night God granted Imam 'Askari a son. However, he has asked us to keep the matter secret. I asked him his name. He said it is Muhammad."6

(7) Ahmad b. Ishaq relates that one day he came to see Imam Hasan 'Askari with the intention of asking about his successor. The Imam began the conversation. He said:

O Ahmad b. Ishaq, from the time God created Adam until the Day of Resurrection, God has not and will not leave the earth without His proof. It is because of the existence of this person that calamity is removed from earth and rain falls on it, through which the earth brings forth blessings.

At that juncture Ahmad asked the Imam about his successor. The Imam went in the private quarters of his house and returned carrying a three year old boy whose face was shining like the fourteenth night moon and said:

O Ahmad, if you had not been close to the Imams and highly respected by them I would not have shown my son to you. Know that this boy's name and patronymic are the same as the Prophet's name and patronymic. He is the one who will fill the earth with justice and equity.7

(8) Mu'awiya b. Hakim, Muhammad b. Ayyub and Muhammad b. 'Uthman 'Amri related the following account:

We were forty people who had come together in Imam Hasan 'Askari's house. The Imam presented his son to us and said: "This is your Imam and my successor. After me you must obey him. Do not get into a dispute on this matter, otherwise you will be destroyed. However, you must remember that after this you will not be able to see him."8

(9) Ja'far b. Muhammad b. Malik was among the group of the prominent members of the Shi'a that included 'Ali b. Bilal, Ahmad b. Hilal, Muhammad b. Mu'awiya b. Hakim and Hasan b. Ayyub. He relates the following occasion:

We were all gathered at the Imam 'Askari's house to find out about his successor. We were some forty people there. At that time 'Uthman b. 'Amr stood up and asked: "O son of the Prophet, we have come to ask you about something of which you have better knowledge." The Imam said: "Please be seated." He then left the room asking everyone to remain there. He returned after an hour, having brought with him a small boy whose face was shining like the moon. He then announced: "This is your Imam. Obey him. And also know that you will no more see him after today."9

(10) Abu Harun reports that he saw the twelfth Imam when his face was shining like the full moon.10

(11) Ya'qub relates that one day he went to visit Imam 'Askari. On the right side of the Imam he saw a room with a curtain hanging on its entrance. He asked the Imam as to who was the Master of the Age. The Imam said: "Raise the curtain!." When he raised the curtain, a boy appeared and came and sat on the Imam's lap. At that time, the Imam told Ya'qub: "This is your Imam."11

(12) 'Amr Ahwazi reported that Imam 'Askari showed him his son and told him that he was the Imam after him.12

(13) A Persian servant related the following:

I was standing at Imam Hasan 'Askari's door when I saw a maid leaving the house with something covered in her hands. The Imam said to her: "Reveal that which you have in your hands." The maid uncovered a beautiful boy. The Imam told me: "This is your Imam." After that one time I never saw that boy again.13

(14) Abu Nasr, the servant, and Abu 'Ali Mutahhar relate that they saw the son of Imam Hasan 'Askari.14

(15) Kamil b. Ibrahim relates that he saw the twelfth Imam in the house of Imam Hasan 'Askari. He was four years old and his face was as beautiful as the full moon. The Imam answered his questions before he asked him.15

(16) Sa'd b. 'Abd Allah recounts: "I saw the Master of the Age as his face was bright like the full moon. He was sitting on his father's lap and responded to the questions I asked."16

(17) Hamza b. Nusayr, Imam 'Ali Naqi's slave relates from his father: When the twelfth Imam was born the family members in the household of Imam Hasan 'Askari were congratulating each other. When the Imam had grown a little older I was asked to buy daily meat with some bone and it was said that the meat was for "our younger master."17

(18) Ibrahim b. Muhammad relates:

Once because of fear of the governor I decided to escape from Samarra. I came to Imam Hasan 'Askari's house in order to bid him farewell. I saw a beautiful child next to him. I asked him: "O son of the Prophet, who is this child?" The Imam replied: "He is my son and successor."18

This was the list of the trustworthy associates, relatives, and servants of Imam Hasan 'Askari who had seen his son in his childhood and who had testified to his existence. When one puts this testimony along side the information given by the Prophet and the Imams, then certainty about the existence of the son of Imam Hasan 'Askari is attained.

1 Tusi, Ghayba, pp. 141-42.

2 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 7, p. 292; Ithbat al-wasiyya, p. 197.

3 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 6, p. 431.

4 Kamal al-din, p. 105.

5 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 6, p. 433 and Vol. 7, p. 20.

6 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 6, p. 432.

7 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 23.

8 Ibid., Vol. 52, p. 25.

9 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 6, p. 311.

10 Ibid., Vol. 7, p. 20.

11 Ibid., Vol. 6, p. 425.

12 Ibid., Vol. 7, p. 16.

13 Yanabi' al-mawadda, Bab 82, p. 461.

14 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 7, p. 344; Ithbat al-wasiyya, p. 198; Yanabi' al-mawadda, Bab 82, p. 461.

15 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 7, p. 323; Yanabi' al-mawadda, p. 461.

16 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 52, p. 78 and 86.

17 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 7, p. 18; Ithbat al-wasiyya, p. 197.

18 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 7, p. 356. For detailed information on the birth of the twelfth Imam see: Sayyid Hashim Bahrani, Tabsirat al-wali fiman ra'a al-qa'im al-mahdi and Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 51, Bab 1; and Vol. 52, Bab 17 and 19.

Adopted from the book : "Al-Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.); the Just Leader of Humanity" by : "Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini"

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