15th of Shaban – Zahoor-e-pur noor of the last Wasi of Prophet Mohammad (sawaw), Allah(swt) hujjat on earth and the Imam-e-Asr waz-Zaman, Imam Mohammad Mehdi (atfs) ibn-e-
The promised Mehdi(Ajallahu ta’allah farajahu sharif – atfs), who is usually mentioned by his title of Imam-e-Asr (the Imam of the “Period”) and Sahib uz-Zaman (the Lord of the Time/Age), is the son of the eleventh Imam Hasan Askari(a.s.). His name and kunniyat is the same as that of the Holy Prophet(sawaw).
He was born in Samarrah on the 15th of Shabaan in 255 A.H./868 A.D. and until 260 A.H./872 A.D. when his father was martyred, lived under his father’s care and guidance (Kamal-ud-Din Vol 2 Page 424, 428, 430, 433). His mother was Bibi Nargis Khatoon who was the grand daughter of Qaisar-e-Rome from the father’s side and the grand daughter of Janab-e-Shamoun who was the successor of Hazrat Eisa(a.s.) (Kamal-ud-Din Vol. 2 Page 420,424). His most famous titles are Mahdi, Hujjat, Qaem, Montazar, Montazir, Sahib-uz-Zaman, Imam al-Asr and Khalaf as-Salaeh
Sayyida Hakima who was the sister of the 10th Imam (Imam Ali Naqi(a.s.)) relates that she went to her nephew’s (11th Imam – Imam Hasan Askari(a.s.)) house for iftaar in the evening of 14th of Shabaan 255 A.H. The 11th Imam asked her to stay as his son was to be born soon. There was no sign of pregnancy on Bibi Narjis Khatoon. The 11th Imam asked her to recite Suratul Qadr on Bibi Narjis Khatoon. At the time of Fajr on 15th Shabaan, Sayyida Hakima heard the Sura being recited from the womb of Bibi Narjis Khatoon. The 11th imam told her that the birth would occur very soon. She states that as the time approached, it appeared as if a curtain was raised between her and Bibi Narigs and after a while when that curtain was removed, she saw a beautiful baby boy performing sajda (prostration) and proclaiming the oneness of Allah and the Prophet-hood of the Prophet Mohammad(sawaw). According to a report, on his right shoulder was inscripted “Jaa al- haqqa wa zahqal batil innal batila kana zahooqa” (see translation below).
He also recited the 5th aya of Suratul-Qasas “And We intend to bestow (Our) favours upon those who are weak in the land and make them the Imams (leaders) and make them the heirs”. On his right hand was written the 82nd aya of Sura Bani Israel “The truth has come and falsehood has vanished; Indeed falsehood (is a thing by nature) vanishing”. The 11th Imam(a.s.) arranged to have various animals slaughtered as aqeeqa and distributed among trusted believers so that there could be many witnesses of the birth of Imam Mehdi(a.s.).
Birth protected from the eyes of common people
The tyrant Abbasid rulers were aware of the prophecies of the Holy Prophet(sawaw) that the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari(a.s.) by the name of Mahdi will appear to remove all kinds of corruption and tyranny.
Hence they planned to eliminate the child when he is born. Due to this the birth of Imam Mahdi(a.s.) was kept a secret like that of Hazrat Ibrahim(a.s.) and Hazrat Moosa(a.s.). So much so that except for the most trusted of the shias and his own family, no one knew of the
existence of Hazrat(a.s.). Inspite of this whenever there was an opportunity, Imam Hasan al-Askari(a.s.) showed his son to his trustworthy followers; that in future they may follow him. This was in order that the shias may remain firm upon the right path, and not be led astray.
A servant Abu Ghanim says:
“Abu Mohammed(a.s.) has a son whose name is Muhammed.” On the third day of his birth he brought him before his companions and said: ….
“After me he is your Master of the affair, he is my successor, he is the same ‘Qaem’, who is awaited by alt When the earth will be fraught with injustice and oppression then he will reappear and fill the earth with justice and righteousness.”
(Kamal-ud-din Vol. 2 Pg. 431)
One of the women slaves called Naseema relates that when she went to see the baby Imam in his cradle she greeted him with salaam and was replied to. She then sneezed and the Imam said: “Yarhamukallah – it is a blessing from Allah and you have 3 days immunity from death”.
The last Imam(a.s.) was hidden from public view and only a few of the elite among the Shias were able to meet him. After the martyrdom of his father he became the Imam and recited the namaz-e-janaza of his father. Later by Divine Command he went into occultation (ghaybat).
Thereafter he appeared only to his deputies (naibeen) and even then only in exceptional circumstances.
Ghaibat (occultation) of the last Imam (a.s.)
The Imam’s ghaibat (occultation) was in two phase – Ghaibat-e-Sughra (minor occultation) was for about 69 years – 260 A.H. (872 A.D.) to 329 A.H. (939 A.D.) and the Ghaibat-e-Kubra (greater occultation) started in 329 A.H. (939 A.D.)and will continue until Allah(swt) so wills.
the 6th Imam, Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) states the reason of the ghaibat as prevention against being killed. Ishaq bin Yaqub (on authority from 12th Imam) says that all the Imams were under oppressive rulers. Our 12th Imam is hidden in order to rise in arms with obedience to no one.
Muhammad Yaqub Al-Kulayni has said that ghaibat is a test from Allah to test the steadfastness of belief in Imam.
If he is to remain in Ghaibat, what is the use of his existence?
Belief creates hope giving strength to the oppressed. It is a deterrent for the committing of injustice as one is always aware of the constant presence of the Imam.
To make the Shias used to approaching scholars instead of Imam himself. It started during the time of the 10th Imam who was under almost constant house arrest in Samarra and continuing through.
GHAIBAT-E-SUGHRA (160 A.H. to 329 A.H.)
During Ghaibut-us-Sughra, the Imam(a.s.) appointed four deputies/ representatives to represent him among the people. After the death of the fourth deputy, the Imam(a.s.) went into Ghaibut-e-Kubra (major occultation). This was on the 10th Shawal 329 A.H.
The 4 representatives were :
1. Uthman bin Saeed Umravi(A.R.)
It is said that at the age of 11 years he was a servant in the house of the 9th Imam later to enjoy the confidence of Imam. He occupied the same position of trust with the 10th and 11th Imam who told their Shias that after him they would not see the 12th Imam and would have to obey Uthman. After the 11th Imam’s martyrdom Uthman moved to Baghdad and disguised as a butter seller he set up the collection of khums for Imam. He served the 12th Imam for 5 years and received a letter near his death from Imam(a.s.) telling him to appoint his son Mohammed as the next representative.
2. Muhammad bin Uthman bin Saeed Umravi(A.R.)
He continued in his fathers footsteps also acting as a butter seller. He managed to keep Imam’s existence a secret from the Abbasids until the early years of the reign of Al-Mutadid. The rulers then started searching hard for Imam and killed countless mu’mineen with even the slightest resemblance to Imam. Spies were set up to probe the khums network. Imam issued an order for Shias not to take his name nor show mas’ala of khums to anyone until absolutely sure of them. As instructed by Imam he appointed Husayn bin Rawh as the next representative after his death in 305 A.H. He served the Imam(a.s.) for 40 years.
3. Husayn bin Rawh (A.R.)
His kuniyya was Abul Qasim. His sociable nature won him respect even from the Ahlul-Sunnah. He managed to keep his activities a secret from the rulers whilst maintaining good relations with them. It is to him that we address the ‘ariza’ to be delivered to Imam. He served faithfully until he died in Sha’ban 326 a.h. revealing the appointment of Ali bin Muhammad Samry after him. He served for 21 years.
4. Ali bin Muhammad Samry (A.R.)
He served for only three years. A week before his death he received a letter from the Imam(a.s.) telling him of his forthcoming death and that there would be no representative after him and that Imam(a.s.) was now going into Ghaibat-e-Kubra (major occultation). Imam(a.s.) would then appear when Allah(swt) wills it. Ali bin Muhammad Samry(a.r.) died on 15th Shabaan 329 A.H. after serving for 3 years.
GHAIBAT E KUBRA (329 A.H. to present)
Imam’s ghaibat is described by the Aimma like that of Prophet Yusuf (A.S.) who was amongst his brothers yet they did not recognise him.
Imam is known to meet a believer on 3 occasions:
1. At the time of trouble.
2. He is present at every Hajj.
3. He attends the funeral of every believer who has no religious obligations pending on him/her e.g. Khums.
During this time he continues to guide. Numerous letters have been received from him by (to quote a few) Ishaq bin Yaqub, Sheikh Mufeed…
It is reported that 30 people all over the world meet with him regularly.
Responsibilities during Ghaibat-e-Kubra
1. Pray for the safety of Imam(a.s.) at all time.
2. Be in waiting for Imam(a.s.) at all times.
3. Give Sadaqa for Imam(a.s.).
4. Pray for his re-appearance.
5. Whenever faced with difficulty (whether small or big) ask for assistance from Imam(a.s.).
6. Whenever his name is heard or recited, one should stand if possible, send salaams on him, put hand on head and bow.
7. If possible perform Hajj/Umra for Imam(a.s.). (Hajj-After own Wajibat)
8. Prepare for the re-appearance of the Imam(a.s.) by organizing oneself and following the teachings of Islam in its true letter and spirit.