The eleventh bright star of Imamate appeared on the horizons of the sky of guardianship (willayat) in Madina and set in Samarra.
His name was Hassan and surname Abu Mohammad and the well-known titles were "Zaki" and "Askari". His father was Imam Hadi (A.S.), whereas his mother's name was Sausan.
He was 22, when his father was martyred and the period of his Imamate, following his father's death, was six years. He was 28, when martyred by "Motamid" the Abbasade caliph in the year, 260 Hijrah and was buried in Samarrah.
His only son is Mohammad Mehdi (Mehdi, the promised one) who will upon his advent; fill up the world with equity, justice, and fairness.
Islam, because of the severe control and restraint in the age of Imam Askari (A.S.), had lost its influence and dissemination. The power helms particularly, Muttawil the Abbasade caliph, endeavored to keep Imam (A.S.) out of the reach of people.
Since they had learnt that the twelveth Imam (A.S.) will come into existence from Imam Askari (A.S.) and he is the one who will disappear from the sights and acquire the leadership of the Islamic Ummah and establish a single Universal government, they were strictly vigilant about the affairs of the Imam (A.S.).
But the God, who had saved and defended Musa (Moses) (A.S.) from the governmental machinery of Pharos, could bring the future leader of the Islamic Ummah too into existence, away from the sights of people.
Special features of Imam's (A.S.) morality
Imam Hassan Askari (A.S.) was a gracious personality and an unmatched exigest of Quran. More than a hundred well-known wise men remained continuously present in his assembly. During a period of sixteen years, when he lived in Iraq, the territories from Syria up to Madina, particularly Iran was under his influence. Imam's (A.S.) spiritual and knowledge's influence went to the extent that it overwhelmed the court of "Almotaz" and all the wise men busy in his government missionary got enamored enticed, and fascinated by Imam (A.S.). When Imam (A.S.) traveled to Iran and crossed over the Lawasan via Qum and Rai, the people captivated and fascinated by the school of Ahl al-Bayth (A.S.), gathered all around him and expressed their warm feelings and sentiments for him. He made a speech before the people of Lawasan and ordered them to build a mosque and declare it as their base.
This command of Imam (A.S.) proved so effective that they got busy in building seventy mosques on a single day.
One of the courtiers of Abbasade government named "Ahmed bin Khaqan", who was an enemy of the Prophet's family, said one day "I have not seen anybody in Samarra, among the Bani Hashim family, more pious, virtuous and chaste than Imam Hassan Askari (A.S.). If the caliphate goes out of the Bani Abbasade's hands then no one except "Hassan Askari (A.S.)" will be capable and fit for it. Then he said, "one day I was present with my father when Hassan Askari (A.S.) arrived there, although he was the enemy of the Prophet's family, yet he got up from his place, kissed his hand and made him seated upon his own place and sat before him like a pupil in front of a teacher and lent ears to his wards.
Abu Yousuf says about the charity and generosity of Imam (A.S.), I got down and out, and could not support my children any longer. We were all hungry, sad and desperate. I went to the court of Abbasades many a times so that I may seek their help, for, I was related to them. But they were so very enticed and lost in their lives that they would not attend to my agony and painful heart. One day, I paid a visit to Imam Hassan Askari (A.S.) and described before him my implications. He had four hundred dinnars available with him and he gave all of them to me and said, "Go and get your family freed from distress."
One day, he sent two thousand dinnars for "Ali bin Jaffar" so that he may distribute those among his afflicted and poor friends.
He was in prison for six years and in-spite of all his difficulties, problems and pains he met the people with smiling face.
Although the most wicked and evil character person were deputed in the prison to torture him, yet they were so enchanted and enticed by the piety and prayers of Imam (A.S.) that when the chief of the prison objected upon them saying "I have learnt that you have a fair dealing with Imam (A.S.)."
They said, "He is a man, who is always busy offering secret prayers to his God and keeping fast at the day time and busy in offering the prayers at the night time. Whenever he looks at us our bodies tremble how is it, that you wish us to harm and torture this man?"
Although Abdullah Khaqan the minister of Mutawakkil, was very proud and indifferent, yet whenever he would see the Imam (A.S.) he got up from his place, and while riding a horse he would get down from it.
He said about Imam (AS.), "Imam Askari (A.S.) was a person who remained busy in his supplications and prayers to God at night, and in the days he would fast. He was so kind hearted that he even prayed to God for his enemies. Whenever a distressed, or afflicted came his way, he would give him whatever he had."
Once the caliph handed him over to an ill natured wicked man named "Tahreer" to deal with him very strictly and tease and harm him. They, upon the behest of the caliph, threw him to the beasts so that they may tear and eat him up. All of the beasts gathered around him and rubbed and caressed their bodies against him. When the caliph saw this scene he freed him and put in efforts to honor him.
There was a monastery in Samarra whose patron was considered to be one of the chieftains and holy men of the Christians and was respected by them. Once he visited Imam (A.S.) and embraced Islam. He was asked as to why he became a Muslim. He replied, "I observed those signs in this man (Imam) which were only passed by the Christ (A.S.).
Imam's (A.S.) Wisdom
Imam (A.S.) was like a roaring river of wisdom, which quenched the thirst of those thirsty for it. As per "Khawarzamis" statement eighteen thousand men, thirsty for knowledge, benefited from his assembly. The first one out of the Abbasade caliph Almotaz's court, who took an oath of allegiance for him was the famous Iranian genius and talented person named "Mohammad bin Masood Shirazi."
It is narrated that such was his wisdom that even Kindi the teacher of "Abu Nasr Farabi" was defeated and failed in discussion with him, and burnt down his book which he had written against Islam.
The Christian scholars had become so enticed and enchanted by his knowledge and wisdom that they called him the Christ.
Once, when Imam (A.S.) faced the questions of those men who had come from different countries of the world for this purpose, he answered their question in their own various languages. All of them got amazed and surprised at it.
Revealing of Imam (A.S.)
A draught took shape in one of the years in Samarra. "Motamid" the Abbasade caliph ordered people to proceed to the desert and pray (for rain).
People did go to the desert for three days consecutively but rain did not fall. The next day, the Christians along with their scholars went to offer prayer and it rained.
This event, brought into effect a great zeal, fervor and excitement among the Muslim masses. The hearts of the Muslim got attracted towards the Christians. Motamid, the Abbasade caliph was very much perturbed, dismayed, and desperate over it. He sent a word for "Imam Askari (A.S.)" in the prison, and summoned him to his court and asked him about the solution to that problem.
Imam Said, "Tell them to go to the desert tomorrow for the sake of rain. They did so and Imam (A.S.) followed them with a great mob of people, following him to disclose and unveil the fact out of this matter. The Christians raised their hands towards the sky and prayed to God for rain. Not very long had passed that a cloud appeared and it started raining. Imam (A.S.) ordered that the hand of one of the Christians, which was raised up, be held and whatever was concealed among his finger folds be taken out. They observed a black bone and took it out of his fingers. They presented that bone to Imam (A.S.). He wrapped it in a piece of cloth and then told him to pray after that, for rain to fall.
As soon as the Christian raised his hands all the clouds scattered and the sun appeared shinning. All the people were surprised and astonished at it. The caliph asked Imam (A.S.) what was the secret of that affair. Imam (A.S.) replied, "This is a piece of bone of one of the Prophets of God which they have picked up from his grave." They swear to God and ask him for the sake of this bone. God grants their desire and prayer and makes the rainfall and whosoever will hold this bone the same thing will occur. After a test of it in the presence of people, what Imam (A.S.) said proved evidently correct and all of them praised the Imam (A.S.).
The training method of Imam (A.S.)
Abul Hassan who was one of the descendents of Imam Sadiq (A.S.) and lived in Qum was a bad character man. One day he happened to visit the house of "Ahmed bin lshaq Ashaari," who was the representative and delegate of Imam (A.S.), for some work. He asked for permission to see him, which was rejected by him due to his misdeeds.
He returned back to his home and appeared to be very sad, uncomfortable, and agonized due to the disrespect being shown to him. In the same year, Ahmed bin Ishaq Ashaari went to Mecca and on his way back he visited the house of Imam Askari (A.S.). Imam (A.S.) did not welcome and give him permission to meet himself. After weeping and expressing grief (when he was permitted). He asked the Imam (A.S.) as to what was the reason of it. Imam (A.S.) said, "I gave the same treatment which you gave to our cousin." Then Imam (A.S.) said, "Although you are one of our Shias and helpers but this was a wrong thing that you did."
He said, "Oh the son of Prophet (P.B.U.H.), I did that because he was a sinner and I wanted to reprimand and stop him from doing that bad work."
He said, "This was not a correct thing to do." In Islam they do not do such a thing with those gone astray rather they are to be guided and led.
When Ahmed returned to Qum, all the notables and dignitaries came to see him. Abul Hasan, the descendent of Imam Sadiq (A.S.), was also present among them. As soon as Ahmed saw him he got up from his seat and showed great respect to him and seated him upon his own place. Abul Hasan was surprised at his conduct and asked him to let him know about the reason of the difference of his conduct from that previously shown by him.
Ahmed explained to him all that matter which he had come across. He (Abul Hasan) was so ashamed of himself that when he returned from that congregation to his home, he decided that he would abandon his bad activities and acquires piety. Thus he turned into one of the pious and chaste men.
Imam's (A.S.) connection with the unseen World
Although many amazing stories of Imam (A.S.) have been narrated in the books but we point to two of them as a specimen.
1. Jaffar Jurjani: says, "I went for Hajj and visited Imam Askari (A.S.) I had the money for Imam (A.S.), which his friends had sent to him. I wanted to ask the Imam (A.S.) to whom I might surrender that. When I visited him before my saying something he said, Handover the money, which you have with you, to my servant "Mubarrak".
I handed the money over to him and told Imam (A.S.) that his friends in Gurgan conveyed their regards and salutation to him. He said, "God may bless them with reward." You will return to Gurgan and God will give you a son. Name him Sharif. He will become one of our friends and companions. God will give a son to Ibrahim, tell him to name him Ahmed, he also will be one of our friends. I bade farewell to Imam (A.S.) and returned back and what Imam (A.S.) had said, did take place.
2. Shablanji: Who is one of the Sunni scholars quotes Abu Hashim saying, he said, "I and four of the friends of Imam (A.S.) were in the prison." Imam (A.S.) visited us and we surrounded him and talked to him. There was a person among us who considered himself to be one of the descendent of Ali (A.S.). Imam Ali (A.S.) gave him a gesture to go out. When he went out Imam (A.S.) said, "This man tells a lie, he is not one of us, he is the spy of the caliph and has written and provided a report with respect to you, which he has concealed in his dress, to give it to him (caliph).
We brought him and investigated and as Imam (A.S.) told us he had procured a report regarding us, which if he had given to the caliph, all of us would have been killed and slain by him. We tore off and destroyed the report and thereafter got careful and vigilant about ourselves.
3. Ibrahim: He says, "A news reached me and my brother that our father was lost and traveled to a far flung place. We proceeded together from Madina towards Iraq."
I had decided to visit Imam Askari (A.S.) and request him to help us in finding my father. Because, only he was the one who could tell me the location of my father from the knowledge of Imamate.
I traveled a long way till I reached his house. I waited there for a while so that someone comes out of the house and inform him about the reason, which brought me there. While I was busy and immersed in my own ideas and was pondering and contemplating about my future course, the door of the house suddenly opened and the servant of Imam (A.S.) came out and shouted, "which one of you is 'Ibrahim', who has come from Madina to see Imam (A.S.)."
I rose up merrily and said, "Yes I am the one (you want) and have been waiting here from a certain time." He gave me a glance and then handed me over a sack saying Imam (A.S.) said, "This is a sack which contains your travel expenditure, take that and continue your journey and not very long from now, you will find your father." I took the sack happily and said to myself, "I did not see the Imam (A.S.) and did not inform him about my affair." How is it that he knew what was in my mind. I wanted to tell the servant to show me in to see Imam (A.S.) so that I question him about the location of my father. But suddenly I got aware that the servant had told me to continue my journey from the other direction.
A potential and complicated unseen power was pushing me towards "Tabristan" and forcing me to travel to that destination. I, without being conscious, undertook my journey towards Tabristan. When I reached there I kept wondering for a certain time till I met my father.
I rushed towards him and hugged him and was much happy to find him. I described all the matter to him. Both of us became await that Imam (A.S.) knew all the secrets of our interior. I was much more astonished when I observed that only one dirham out of the money which Imam (A.S.) sent for me as a travel expenditure was left over, exactly the amount necessary to get me to my destination.
4. Ismail: He says, "I was sitting on the way of Imam Hassan Askari (A.S.) so that I may detain him, while he passes that way, and ask him for help." Prior to that, I had hidden two hundred golden coins with me as a future provision for myself. Suddenly, when I was lost in my ideas, Imam Hassan Askari (A.S.) passed by me. I rushed after him, stopped him and told him about my poverty and misery and swear that I had nothing from the material sources. He was very much annoyed with my swearing. He told his servant to give me what was available with him. The servant put band in his pocket and brought out a sack of gold and gave it to me. Then Imam (A.S.) addressing me said, "We do not deprive anybody from our help but you took a false oath and made the God angry. You must never do that again and not deny the blessings of God in future and depend upon God and have hope from him, make use and benefit of the boon which. He has given to you.
You have concealed two hundred golden coins in a corner so that it may be of use and benefit to you on your rainy day. But beware, you will not have an approach and lay your hands upon them, while you need them."
The man says, Imam (A.S.) made me aware and conscious about my fault by his words. What he had said did occur. One day when I extremely needed those coins, I rushed towards the place I had buried them. But when I dug the place I was surprised to see that there was no sign of the coins. I came to know that my son got informed about them and did an ugly act by picking them up without my permission and running away. Exactly the way Imam (A.S.) said, that I would not lay my hand upon them at the time of need.
There after, I decided to control myself and put a restraint upon my faults and be a chaste and pious person before God.
Imam's (A.S.) letter to one of his friends
Imam (A.S.) used to write letters to his friends and companions. One of the letters written to "Ali bin Babuya Qumi" who is one of the dignitaries and great Shia men. The translation of some parts of it says:
After the praise, eulogy, panegyric of God I recommend to you, who is one of our friends, to be pious, forgive the fruits of people, and subdue your anger and look after your relatives and near ones and fulfill the needs of the distressed ones, have a clear and exact insight and perception about your religion, get to know, (be familiar to) your Quran, and be vigilant (alert and cautious) about your prayers and worshiping. Always practice upon my orders and make my Shias practice upon that.
The Martyrdom of Imam (A.S.)
Imam (A.S.) was four years of age, when he was exiled to Samarra along with his father. He was placed under the caliph's observation at a point, which was the center of the armed forces. Pertinent to the same, he became famous and known by the byname of Askar.
Following the death of his father, the Abbasade caliph "Motamid" imprisoned him. The piety, and chastity of Imam (A.S.) attracted the attention of all the prisoners towards him, and made them all enticed and enchanted. The officials and agents of the caliph daily reported to the caliph as to his condition.
Eventually, he was martyred on the 8th of Rabi ul Awwal 260 Hijrah and was buried at Samarra near the grave of his father.
After his martyrdom his brother "Jaffar Kazzad", who was a gone astray man and was counted as one of the helpers of the caliph, stood up to offer the funeral prayer upon the body of Imam (A.S.). But all of a sudden, the son of the Imam (A.S.), who was a minor, came forward and pushed his uncle back and stood upon his uncle's place and offered the funeral prayer upon his father's body. Thereafter, the short absenteeism and occultation period started. Only a segment of special Shias could meet him.
But following the activities of the Abbasade caliphs to search his hiding place, the long occultation and absenteeism period set in, so that no one could reach him. He will remain hidden from the sights till such day that the ground for his revolution is available.
Brief Sayings of Imam (A.S.)
1. Lead a simple life and avoid spending lavishly and with immoderation.
2. Reach whomsoever, solute him and when you arrive an assembly, sit at a low place became, this is from the humbleness.
3. Avoid telling lie, as it is the key to the evils.
4. Whosoever is not a friend of Ahl al-Bayth (A.S.) is a hypocrite.
5. Whosoever has faith in the resurrection day and hereafter, fulfills his commitments (promises).