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The Eleventh Imam, ‘Hasan (a.s.) Ibn Ali (a.s.)

 

Name
Imam Hasan Ibn Ali (a.s.)
Father’s name
Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.)
Mother’s name
Janabe Saleel (S.A.)
Date of Birth
8 Rabi us Thaani 232 AH
Place of Birth
Madinah Munawwarah
Kuniyyat
Abu Mohammad
Titles
Askari, Khalis, Zaki, Hadi etc
Age
28 years
Martyrdom
8th Rabiul Awwal, 260 AH
Buried
Saamarra

 

“I will bring from him (Imam Hadi (a.s.)) a caller towards My path and a treasurer of My knowledge, Hasan.”

Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) was born on the 8th of Rabi us Thaani, 232 AH in Madinah. His mother’s name was ‘Saleel’. His Kuniyyat was Abu Mohammad. His moral, spiritual and physical characteristics are mentioned in historical books, greatly emphasizing on his majesty and grandeur. After the martyrdom of his father in 254 A.H., he took the reins of the nation’s affairs in his hand at the age of 22. He spent the six years of his Imamate with three Abbasside caliphs, Mo’taz, Mohtadi and Motamid. He spent his entire life under severe pressure from the government. To know the reason behind his title ‘Askari’, it should be remembered as mentioned in the lesson of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) that they were forcibly kept in a military cantonment (Askar) in Saamarra. The Imam spent most of the time of his Imamate in this area under strict government vigilance and hence the title of Askari was given to him. (Bahlul Behjat Affandi mentions this point emphatically in his book ‘Tashrih wa Muhakemah Dar Tarikh-e-Ale Mohammad, page 245.’ (He is a Shafaei Sunni writer). It will suffice to know that the main reason for the unlimited harassment of the government towards the Imam (a.s.) was to a great extent directly related to the matter of belief of the people that the real avenger and the one who will return the right of the innocent and oppressed from the oppressors – Imam Mahdi Hujjat Ibnil Hasan (a.s.) will be from his progeny. The Abbasids were certain of this prophecy because of their true reporters and informers. Therefore they made every attempt that the child should not come into this world at all.

Due to these restrictions, Imam (a.s.) had appointed his representatives for the ease of his followers so that through them, people could solve their problems and connect with Imam (a.s.). These representatives were bearers of great personalities and were highly respected amongst the Shias. Amongst these representatives were Uthman Ibn Saeed Amri and his son Mohammad Ibn Uthman.

The life history of Imam (a.s.) notes that he was always kept under the surveillance of hard-hearted and tyrannical jailors. Amongst this evil group, we also find the name of Saleh Ibn Waseef. In the past, the Abbasids made every attempt in destroying the manifested unity of the Shiahs. Often the tomb of Imam Husain (a.s.) which was a center to keep alive the spirit of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) revolution and a factor for inspiring the Shiahs towards a struggle and striving was flooded with water (as was done at the time of Mutawakkil). At other times, they used to block the path of eager visitors to Imam (a.s.) and also give orders for destroying the shrine of Imam (a.s.). Many times they also used to manifest their military strength and superficial power in order to create a threat in the hearts of Shiahs (like the march of 90,000 well-equipped soldiers in Saamarra in front of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.)).

A lot has been said about the spiritual, moral and Islamic characteristics of Imam (a.s.), some of which are recorded in the pages of history. He had no parallel in worship and piety, so much so that when two of the most wicked agents of Saleh Ibn Waseef (the jailor of Imam (a.s.)) were forced by the Abbasids to be more severe with Imam (a.s.), they would describe him in the following words, “What do you say about such a great man who fasts during the day and worships Allah during the night. He does not speak much and does not engage himself except in worship and obedience. When he looks at us, we begin to tremble involuntarily (a trembling due to the magnificence of Imam (a.s.)), and his fear sinks deep down into our heart.”

In order to circumvent the severe restrictions of the government, Imam (a.s.) placed a great emphasis on ‘Taqaiyyah.’ This was done in order to reduce the government pressure as also to ensure that Shias enjoy a better existence and create a center for Shiahs. He used to command his companions like Dawood Ibn Aswad not to be so offensive towards the detractors of Imam (a.s.) and to continue his own work.

This matter advises us that Shias should determine their own course in the society in accordance with the needs prevailing in the society so that maximum results are achieved with minimum resources and that they should not unnecessarily take superficial steps which are in fact hindrances. Perhaps the reason for the scattering of the famous companions of Imam (a.s.) in different corners (like Abu Ali Ahmed Ibn Ishaq Ashari in Qum and Abu Sahl Ismail Naubakhti in Baghdad) and remaining far from him during this period was due to the fact that they were working under the cover of ‘Taqaiyyah’ and at the same time were spreading the Shiah culture.

Amongst the most important works left behind from Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) is a Tafseer on Holy Qur’an which has been published several times over the years 1268 A.H. to 1315 A.H. and is available at present. His method of explanation of the verses of Qur’an was adopted and followed to a great extent by famous Shiah scholars like Shaikh Saduq (r.a.), Shaikh Tabrisi (r.a.) and Allamah Majlisi (r.a.).

The valuable sayings and advice of Imam (a.s.) which are in our hands are an illuminator of the path to be adopted by the followers. Regarding the general behavior of Shiahs, he says, Be an Ornament for Us

“Be careful (of your duty) towards Allah. Be an ornament for us and do not be a disgrace to us. Attract the love of others towards us and repel the evils (which attack the belief in us) away from us.”

When he wanted to brighten the saddened hearts of his followers and give them glad tidings of a bright future despite the prevalent anxiety, he would address his close friends and companions like Ali Ibnil Husain Ibn Musa Ibn Babwayh Qummi to whom he wrote,

Patience and Awaiting

“I advise you to be patient and to wait for ‘faraj’ (because) surely the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) said; The best act of my people is to wait for the ‘faraj’. Our people will always be engulfed in sorrows and troubles so much so that my son the one whose glad tidings (of reappearance) was given by the Holy Prophet will emerge. Advise all the Shiahs on my behalf to be steadfast and patient.”

On one hand, we see how Imam (a.s.) in the form of advice invites the Shiahs to adopt a high standard of morals so that it is the cause for attracting the love and affection (of the people) towards the Prophet’s household (a.s.) On the other hand, he recommends them to be firm and steadfast because one will have to face many hardships while proceeding on this path.

The Door of Paradise

In a society that was ruled by the Abbasids, the corruption which had originated from the center of the caliphate and spread till the far corners of the society and in its due course had destroyed all sorts of decency and goodness, Imam (a.s.) used to advice his companions towards their awareness. He would say, “There is a door in heaven called ‘Babul Ma’roof’ (the door of goodness) and none will enter it except people with goodness (in their actions).”

In this way, Imam (a.s.) enlivened the quality of goodness in the minds of the people. Imam (a.s.) in a short sentence warns those who adopt falsehood that they would finally regret it. Thus he said, “One who rides on the back of falsehood will be made to descent the abode of regret.”

During the brief period of Imamate, Imam (a.s.) (despite the pressures due to the restrictions of the government upon him) not only attracted the attention of the Shiahs and the scholars but also of the Sunnis and a group of their scholars (who were not apparently believing in Imam’s (a.s.) Imamate). It was to the extent that books like Matalebus So’l, page 88 by Mohammad Ibn Talha Shafaei, Tazkeratul Khawaas, page 203 by Sibt Ibn Jauzi, Fusoolul Mohimmah, page 272 by Ibn Sabbagh-e-Maaleki, Al Athaaf Be Hubbil Ashraaf, page 68 by Muhammad Shabraavi Shafaei, reflect a great portion of the details of Imam’s (a.s.) style, attributes characteristics, miracles which cannot be accommodated in this small treatise.

The period of six years of Hazrat’s Imamate ended and the people in spite of all the difficulties benefitted as much as they could from him. Ultimately on the command of Mo’tamid Abbasi, Imam (a.s.) was poisoned at the age of 28 years. The poison delayed its effect and gradually Imam’s (a.s.) health began to decline and he fell seriously ill.

When Mo’tamid heard of this, he sent his special servant Nehree-e- Khadim along with his other agents to serve him and appointed a doctor to look after him. When his fast declining health led Imam (a.s.) towards death, Mo’tamid ordered the Qazaelul Qozaat (Chief Justice) to go to Imam’s (a.s.) bedside with famous and known scholars and ordered them to prepare and sign false testimonies stating that Imam (a.s.) had died a natural death. This act itself proves how much the powerful Abbasids were fearful of the hidden Shiah strength that they had to play such a fraud on the people.

Thus, on 8th Rabiul Awwal, 260 A.H., Imam (a.s.) was martyred. On the caliph’s order, the house of Imam (a.s.) was searched by his agents in order to verify that he had not left behind a son. Allah put a veil on their eyes and they could see nothing. Therefore, they pushed Ja’far, the brother of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) and accorded him apparent respect to show that the chain of Imamate was over and that expectations of the society (that Imam (a.s.) Mahdi would destroy all the oppressive governments) will not become a reality. In 260 A.H., with the martyrdom of Imam Askari (a.s.), the Imamate or leadership of the community took a new turn which will be represented in detail in the forthcoming chapters.

The holy body of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) was buried in his ancestral home near the grave of his father. (Peace be upon them all)