SHAFAQNA- “An age will approach when the people’s faces would be laughing (exalting) and their hearts would be dark, bleak and dirty. Their ways would be innovation and heresy. The faithful would be belittled and debased among them. The transgressor would be honoured and respected among them. Their lords and chiefs would be ignorant and aggressive ones. And the religious scholars would be on the threshold of aggressors and tyrants”. Imam Hassan Abu Muhammad Al-Askari (AS) (Mustadrakul-Wasail, vol. 2 p. 322).
From birth until the Divine Call of Imamate
Imam Al-Askari (AS) had a very high position for two important reasons, the first: He (AS) was the eleventh Imam of the holy Ahlul-Bayt (AS), the 11th leader by Divine Command after the passing away of our most beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), he was the 13th infallible. the second important reason is: He (AS) is the father of the holy Imam of our times, who is the divinely selected leader (the last of the Holy Imams (AS) before the coming of the end of all life, the resurrection, and the Day of Judgement) who will clean and purify the world of corruption, injustice, every kind of impurity and immorality, Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi (AJ) (May ALLAH (SWT) hurry his advent). Imam Hassan Abu Muhammad Al-Askari (AS) lived only 28 years. He was born the 8th Rabi al-thani 232 A.H. He was martyred by poison and left this temporal life on the 8th of Rabial-Awwal.260 A.H.
As all the holy Imams before him, he was of the highest possible level in worship, ethics, knowledge, piety, patience, etc. His holiness Al-Imam Hassan Abu Muhammad Al-Askari (AS) was without any doubt pure and infallible. He was brought up by his father Imam Ali-al-Hadi (AS) who taught him in the holy tradition of the Ahlul-Bayt (AS) in abundance of knowledge, asceticism, holy Jihad, good actions, the best of morals, the spirit of belief and the good merits of the Ahlul-Bayt (a-s). For a little more than 23 years, Imam Al-Askari (a-s) lived under the tutorship of his beloved father Imam Al-Hadi (AS) and learned the inheritance of divine leadership (Imamate). ‘Imam Abul-Hassan Ali ibn Muhammad Al-Hadi (AS) made his testamentary bequest to his son Imam Hassan Abu-Muhammad Al-Askari (AS) four months before his death. He indicated that the Imamate would belong to him after his passing away. He made (Yahya b-Yasar Anbari) and a group of servants to witness it’. (Kitab Al- Irshad p. 335).
The Light of Imam Askari: His worship and personality:
Despite the terrible Abbasid Caliphs who terrorized and abused the “Alawites” (followers of Imam Ali (AS) ) and no matter what terrible things they did to Imam Al-Askari (AS), they could not ignore his holy personality, nor could they destroy his social status, political role and scholarly. Because of Imam Al-Askari’s (AS) great status, the authorities imposed a semi house arrest on him and would force him to attend the office of the Caliphate every Monday and Thursday each week. One of the servants of Imam Al-Askari (AS) said: “Imam Al-Askari (AS) was so righteous. I have never seen a man like him, when the streets were crowded and noisy and full of people, when the Imam came, all noise would become silent and he would enter the office of the Caliphate and then the noise would start again, then when he would come out to leave, again all would become quiet again”. (Ibid, p. 434). As his status grew and the love for him (AS) built-up, the Abbasid Caliphs pressed harder on his followers, Imam Al-Askari (AS) sent a letter saying: “No one should greet me, nor refer to me with his hand, nor gesture because he would not secure himself”. (Bihar-Anwar, vol. 50 p. 269).
Much of his time was spent in the tyrant’s jails, prisons and dungeons. Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “I called upon ALLAH (swt) make all of my efforts to worship HIM and he did this”. Muhammad Shakiri said: “Imam Al-Askari (a-s) used to sit in his prayer niche (Mihrab) and start prostrating, then I slept and when I woke up, I saw him still prostrating”. (Safinat Bihar, Majlisi, vol. 1 p. 260). Muhammad ibn Ismael said: “While Imam Al-Askari was in prison, he (a-s) used to fast the day and pray at night. He (a-s) never talked, nor occupied himself with anything else than worship”. (Ithbat-al-Wasiya, p. 245). The Abbasids went to Salih b. Wasif when Imam Al-Askari (a-s) was imprisoned. They told him: “Be hard on him. Don’t give him any ease”. “What can I do with him?” Salih asked them: “I entrusted him to two of the evilest men I could find. They have become men of worship, praying and fasting to an amazing extent”. Then he ordered those two men to be brought to him. He said to them: “Shame on you! What is your involvement in the affairs of this man?” They answered: “What can we say about a man who fasts through the day and stands in prayer through the night, who does not speak and occupies himself with nothing but worship? When he (Imam Al-Askari (a-s)) looks at us, our limbs shake and within us is a feeling which we have never had”. When the Abbasids heard this, they left in despair. (Kitab Al-Irshad, p. 522 Shaykh Al-Mufid).
One of Imam Al-Askari (AS) recommendation to his followers and students:
“I recommend you to be in awe of ALLAH (swt), establish prayer, and pay poor rates (zakat) because no prayer will be accepted if one forbids paying poor-rates. I also recommend to you to ask for forgiveness in the case of committing sin, and restrain yourself in case of rage, to strengthen the relationship with relatives, to help friends, to strive hard in meeting their needs, be it in times of difficulties or easiness, to have patience in times of ignorance, to have good knowledge in your religion, to act slowly and carefully in all affaires, to bind yourself with the Qur’an, to have good behaviour, to bid what is right and to forbid what is evil And to avoid abominations altogether. ALLAH Azz wa Jall, says: ‘There is nothing good in most of their whisperings except (in him) who bids charity or goodness or peace among the people.’ (Holy Qur’an 4 An-Nisa-114). You should keep up prayer at night, indeed, Prophet Muhammad (saww) recommended to Ali (a-s), saying: ‘O Ali! You should perform the prayer of night, you should perform the prayer of night, because whoever belittles the prayer of night is not from us, therefore, act according to my recommendation and order all my true followers (Shi’a) of what I ordered you until they practise it. Be patient and wait for relief, the best of my ummah is to wait for relief…’” (Anwar Bahiya, Qomi, p. 264.)
Some of Imam Al-Askari’s (AS) miracles and merits:
I (Abu Hamza) heard Abu Muhammad Al-Askari (a-s) speaking on more then one occasion to his servants in their own languages. Among them were Turks, men of Byzantium and from Saqaliba (in the Caucasus). I was amazed at that and I said: “This man was born in Medina. He (a-s) did not show himself to anyone until Abu Al-Hasan Al-Hadi (a-s) died, and no one saw him. How is this?” I was saying this to myself when he (a-s) came up to me and said: “ALLAH (swt) has separated his proof (to the world) from the rest of HIS creatures and has given him knowledge of everything. He knows languages, genealogies and events. If it wasn’t for that, there would be no difference between the proof and those who are given the proof.” (Kitab Al-Irshad p. 519 Shaykh Al-Mufid).
I ((Isma’il b Muhammad) sat waiting for Abu-Muhammad Al-Hasan al-Askari (a-s) at the side of the road. When he passed me, I complained to him of a need (which I had). I swore to him that I did not have a dirham, nor anymore than it, nor had I had any breakfast or supper. “You swear by God as a liar”. He (a-s) said: “You have buried two hundred dinars. However, I am not saying this as a way of not giving you anything. Servant, give him what you have with you”. His servant gave me a hundred dinars. Then he came towards me and he (a-s) said: “You will be denied the dinars which you buried at a time when your need for them will be much greater than at present”. He (a-s) spoke the truth. In fact, I spent what he gave me. Hard necessity forced me to pay for something and the means of gaining provision (from the authorities) were closed to me. I dug for the dinars which I had buried and I did not find them. I looked. One of my sons knew where they were. He had taken them and fled. I could not do anything. (Kitab Al-Irshad, p. 529 Shaykh al-Mufid).
Imam Hasan Al-Askari (a-s) was handed over to Nahir. He was hard on him and did harm to him. A woman said to him: “Fear God, you do not realise who is in your house”. She told him about Imam Al-Askari (a-s) righteousness and devotion to ALLAH (swt) and said: “I fear for you as a result of him”. “By God, I’ll throw him to the wild animals”, he declared. He asked permission to do that and it was granted. He threw him to them. The authorities were not disturbed by (wild animals) eating him. They looked at the place in order to find out the situation. They found Imam Al-Askari (a-s) standing in prayer with the wild animals around him quietly. Nahir ordered him to be taken back to his house. (Kitab Al-Irshad, p.522 Shaykh Al-Mufid).
His words of wisdom and advice:
Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “To greet everyone you pass by and to sit in a place other than the first class of a session are signs of modesty”. (Tuhaf-Al-Uquul Imam Al-Askari (a-s) #9)
Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “Very much offering of prayers and fasting is not the worship; the very worship is the very much pondering over the affairs of ALLAH (swt)”. (Tuhaf-Al-Uquul Imam Al-Askari (a-s) .13).
Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “Anger is the key to every evil”. (Tuhaf-Al-Uquul Imam Al-Askari (a-s) .13).
Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “No one except a thankful and grateful person recognizes the beneficence and favour. And nobody thanks for the boon and benevolence except the Gnostic (Sagacious)”. (Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 78, p.378).
Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “The best of your brothers is the one who forgets your sin and remembers and mentions your favours done to him”. (Bihar-ul-Anwar, vo.78, p. 379).
Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “No respectful one abandons the right except that he becomes: debased and abject. And no abject and debased acquires it except that he becomes respectful and honourable”. (Wasail U-Shia, vol. 18, p.95).
Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “Nothing is above two characters: believing in ALLAH (swt) and benefiting the friends”. (Tuhaf Al-Uquul, p. 585 # 25).
Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “ALLAH’s favours encompass every misfortune”. (Tuhaf Al-Uquul, p. 585 # 34).
His declaration about his son Imam Al-Mahdi (AJ).
Narrated to us Muhammad ibn Abdul Jabar: I said to my master Al-Hasan Al-Askari (a-s): “May ALLAH (swt) make me your sacrifice, O son of the Messenger of ALLAH (saww)! I would love to know who’s the Imam and the Hujjat of ALLAH (swt) on HIS servants after you”. Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “Verily the Imam and Hujjat after me is my son, the namesake of the Messenger of ALLAH (saww) and who has the same kunya (agnomen) as he (saww); and who is the last Hujjat and Khalifa of ALLAH (swt)”. Then I asked: “From whom will he be born? O son of the Messenger of ALLAH (saww)!” Imam Al-Askari (a-s) said: “From the grand-daughter of Ceasar, the Byzantine emperor. He will certainly be born, but he will disappear from the people in a long occultation; then he will reappear and kill Dajjal (the impostor); and he (a-s) will fill the earth with equity and justice as it would be filled with oppression and injustice. So no one is allowed to mention him (a-s) by his name or describe him by his kunya before his appearance blessings of ALLAH Azz wa Jall be on him”. (Mukhtasara Ithbati-r-Rajah. Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan. 260 A.H.)
Imam Abu Muhammad Al-Hasan Al-Askari (a-s) began to fall sick from poisoning on the 1st of the month of Rabi al-Awwal in the year 260 A.H. and died in martyrdom the 8Th of that month in the same year. At the time of his (a-s) death he was 28 years old. He (a-s) was buried in the same house which his father (a-s) was buried in Samarra (today it is one of the most important holy shrines for Muslims around the world). He left behind a multitude of pure, truthful and holy teachings, as well as his son (a-s) the awaited Al-Mahdi Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan (a-s) who will bring the true state of truth and will clean out all corruption on earth (may ALLAH Azz wa Jall hurry his advent). He had concealed his birth and hidden his affair because of difficulties of the times and the Intensity of the search by the evil authorities for him (a-s).Truly Imam Hasan Al-Askari (a-s) was the holy infallible Imam of his time, one of the lights of the Ahlul-Bayt (a-s). Imam Hasan Al-Askari (a-s) was the most knowledgeable and the most pious of his time. He (a-s) was one of the greatest examples of monotheism in the history of mankind. “ALLAH bears witness that there is no god but HE, and so do the angels and those possessed with knowledge, maintaining HIS creation with justice; There is no god but HE, the Mighty, the Wise”. (The Holy Qur’an 3 Al-Imran sura 18). When the news of the martyrdom of Imam Hasan Al-Askari (a-s) became known Samarra became one uproar. The markets and the streets were empty. On that day, Samarra seemed like the day of resurrection. ( Kitab-Al-Irshad. Shaykh Al-Mufid)