The test of our belief, the test of steadfastness in love and conscientiousness, when everyone says it is not possible, he does not come, he has come, he has gone! And your heart should not tremble; be steadfast in this love and believe in the fulfillment of God’s promise.
He will come even if one day has been left from the life of the world!
In this article, we intend to give a brief description of the martyrdom of Imam Hassan Askari (AS), the 11th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny) and the start of Imam Mahdi’s (AS) global mission:
Martyrdom of Imam Hassan Askari (AS) and the start of Imam Mahdi’s (AS) global mission
Al-Mu’tamid, the Abbasid Caliph was always worried about the popularity and social base of Hazrat Askari (AS), because he saw and heard that all people bowed and respected Imam Hassan Askari and put him in virtue, above all Alawites and Abbasids. For this reason, he decided to reduce the spiritual influence of that Imam by implementing policies and restrictions, but the more he tried, the less he achieved and that Imam became more and more popular in the hearts of the people. As a result, the anxiety and terror of the oppressive Abbasid caliph increased and he finally tried to kill the Imam and poisoned him.
Imam Askari on the verge of martyrdom
Imam Askari (AS), who knew that he would soon be poisoned and martyred, had informed his mother of this tragic event. A few days before his martyrdom, he was taken to Al-Mu’tamid Abbasi. While the Al-Mu’tamid was very upset, he was forced to drink a deadly poison. As soon as the Imam (AS) drank that poison, his whole honorable body was poisoned and he fell ill and was in severe pain.
Imam’s reference to succession of his son before the moment of martyrdom
Abu Sahl Nowbakhti says:
I went tomeet Hazrat Askari during his illness which led to his martyrdom. He said to his servant Aqid, “Bring me a decoction of mastic.” He did so. Then, Saqil the mother of Imam Mahdi (AS) came. When the cup was in his hands and he wanted to drink, his hand shook and the cup hit his teeth. So he left the container and said to Aqid: Go inside the house and you will find a child prostrating, then bring him here. Aqid said: I went in and searched until I found a child prostrating. I greeted and told him: My lord wants you. Meanwhile, his mother Saqil entered and took his hand and took him to his father, Imam Hassan (AS).
Abu Sahl says:
… When the Imam saw him, cried and said: O, the man of Ahl al-Bayt! Drink me as I go to my Lord. The child took the cup full of mastic with his hands and put it on his father’s lips and he started drinking. When he drank it, he said: Prepare me for prayer. They spread a handkerchief for them in the room and the child performed ablution on them and anointed their heads and feet with water. Then the Imam said: I have good news for you, my son! You are Imam Zaman and you are the Mahdi and you are the Hojjat or proof of God on his earth and you are my son and my executor … You are the last Imam, and the Messenger of God, the Prophet of Islam (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) has given the good news of your (uprising) and has named you and given you epithets … It was at this time that Imam Askari (AS) passed away.
The martyrdom of Imam Askari and the manifestation of Imam of the Age in the prayer ceremony on him
Al-Mu’tamid had ordered some of his close men and courtiers to watch the house of the Imam and to monitor all matters and currents. He also ordered the physicians to visit the Imam every morning and evening in order to pretend and deceive the people. Al-Mu’tamid sent Hussein ibn Abi Shawarb, the judiciary chief to the Imam’s house with 10 people and ordered them to be there day and night and to testify after the Imam’s death that he had died as a result of a natural death.
This tragic event happened on Friday 8th of Rabi al-Awwal (in the year 260 AH) after the Morning Prayer.
Abu al-Adian was one of the servants of the house of Imam Hassan Askari (AS) who, in addition to attending the house of that noble man, was also in charge of the affairs of the letters of the Imam and taking them to different cities. He is one of those who have mentioned the narration of the martyrdom of Imam Askari (AS) and the prayer of Hazrat Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance) on the Imam.
Quoting Abu al-Adian, Shiekh Sadouq writes:
I was in the house of Hazrat Askari (AS) and I delivered his letters to the cities. One day, when he was sick that led to his passing away, I came to see him. He wrote letters and stated, “Take these to the cities. You will not be here for 15 days, and when you enter Samarra on the fifteenth day, you will hear the sound of wailing and weeping from my house and you will find me in the place of Ghusl (full-body ritual purification).
Abu al-Adian says: I said: My Lord! In that case, who will be your successor? He said: The one who asks you for the answers of the letters, that he will be my successor after me. I asked him to guide me more. So he said: The one who prays on my body will be my successor after me. I said: Please explain more. He said: He who knows what is in the bag will be successor after me. His reverence did not allow me to ask about the content of the bag. So I left with the letters and went to the cities. After receiving the answers, I returned and entered Samarra on the fifteenth day. As the Imam had said, there was a loud moaning and crying from his house, and their blessed body was on the place of Ghusl, and their brother Ja’far was standing in the house, and the Shiites around him were busy offering their condolences. I said to myself: If this is the Imam, the Imamate has disappeared; because I knew him who drank wine and gambled and was a drummer. So I went ahead and offered my condolences. He did not ask me anything. So the servant Aqim came out and said: Sir! Your brother was shrouded, so get up and pray for him. Ja’far entered the house and the Shiites joined him. When we stood in front of the body of the Imam, Ja’far went forward to pray over the body his brother and as soon as he wanted to say Takbir or God is greatest, a brunet child . . . went out and took off Ja’far’s robe and said: O uncle! Stand aside, I deserve more for praying over my father. So, Ja’far stood aside while his face was burning with rage, so the child went forward and prayed and buried the Imam next to his father’s grave. Then he said to me: Give the answers you have with you. I gave them to him and said to myself: These two signs! Only the toe bag remained! Then I went out along with Ja’far while he was sighing… At this time, some people entered from Qom and asked how Imam Askari was, and when they learned of his death, they said: To whom should we offer our condolences? (The irony of who is his successor?) People pointed to Ja’far. They greeted him and offered their condolences and said: we have brought letters and properties. And while he was shaking his clothes, he said: They want us the foreknowledge!
At this time, the servant came out and said: “There are so-and-so letters and a bag with you in which there are a thousand dinars and ten dinars of which are gold plated.” So they gave him the letters and the property and said: The one who sent you to get these is definitely the Imam. After this, Ja’far went to Al-Mu’tamid and told him the story. Al-Mu’tamid also sent his agents and they pressured Saqil Kaniz (the dear mother of Imam of age (AS)) and demanded the child. She denied it, claiming she was pregnant in order to hide the baby. So she was handed over to the judge Ibn Abi al-Shawarib Qazi to take care of her so that he would inform them if she gave birth to a child.
The beginning of Imamate and minor occultation
Thus, Gheibat al-Soqra or the minor occultation of Imam Mahdi (AS) started. Most religious scholars consider the beginning of the minor occultation from the time of the martyrdom of Imam Hassan Askari (AS), i.e. from the eighth of Rabi ‘al-Awal in 260 AH and until the 15th of Sha’ban in 329 AH when the last special deputy of the Imam, Ali ibn Muhammad Samari passed away. In this case, the minor occultation is some 69 years. Some, like Sheikh Mofid, consider the beginning of a minor absence from the birth of that Imam. Accordingly, five years life of Hazrat Mahdi (AS) during the life of his dear father are also considered in calculating the period of minor occultation and the total is 74 years.
Major occultation of Hazrat Vali-e Asr (may God hasten his reappearance)
The major occultation begins in 329 AH with the death of the last special deputy of the Imam Mahdi, Ali ibn Muhammad Samari. According to most Shiite sources, he died in the middle of Sha’ban in the year 329 AH; but Sheikh Saduq and Fadhl Ibn Hassan Tabarsi consider his death in 328 AH.
According to Shiite sources, a week before the death of Ali ibn Muhammad Samari, the Imam of the Age announced his death and the beginning of a long occultation in a proclamation and ordered him not to choose a successor.
The divine test and the virtue of the waiters
Numerous narrations in Shiite sources indicate that those who believe in the Imamate of Imam Mahdi (AS) will have doubts about the Imamate of that Imam due to the prolongation of the major occultation.
In a narration from Imam Sadeq (AS), Sheikh Saduq says, “You will be tested separately in a way that the people say: The Mahdi has died or been killed; where is he or what is he doing if he is alive?! The believers weep over him, and they tremble like a stormy ship; No one will be saved except those from whom God has made a covenant and helped them by the breath of God.
Thus, it has been stated in narrations that waiting for the appearance of Imam Mahdi (AS) is the highest worship and many rewards have been said for it.
Yes, we the Shiites are waiting for his appearance.
But our waiting must be active, not passive, so that we do not despair and do not allow the darkness of the world darken our hearts. Active waiting means that we have a firm certainty of the appearance and fulfillment of God’s promise, and we always keep the desire for his appearance alive in our hearts and stand up for his help.