Thursday 13th of August 2020

The “Penultimate” Imam

The “Penultimate” Imam


By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz -

"Worship is not the quantity of prayer and fast, it's how much you are cognizant of God."

These words are indeed food for thought. They stimulate the mind and make us realize the dynamism of Islam, which is the complete and universal code for all humanity.


No ordinary scholar who had spent any part of his life in trivial matters or un-Islamic behaviour, even for a single moment could, have expressed such words of guidance.

Are these the words of the Almighty's Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)?

It would not be an exaggeration if I say that these are "Prophetic Words", although this particular statement in its strict sense, are not found in the bulky hadith literature attributed to the Mercy unto the creation.

Then how could they be called "Prophetic"?

The answer is simple, in view of the famous hadith of the Prophet:

"I am leaving behind among you the Thaqalayn (Two Weighty Things); the Book of God (holy Qur'an) and my progeny, the Ahl al-Bayt. Hold fast unto them and you will never go astray for the two will never separate, even when they return to me at the Fountain (of Kowthar in paradise)."

Today, the 8th of Rabi al-Akher, opens up new horizons for our inquisitive minds. It is the birthday of a member of the Thaqalayn bequeathed by the Prophet for our guidance. To be more precise it is the day on which in the year 232 AH, the "Penultimate" divinely-decreed successor to the Seal of Prophets was born.

I am not referring to any Sufi or self-styled Gnostic, who may or may not have been born in the month of Rabi al-Akher, and that too several centuries after the Prophet and without any direct connection to the person who emphasized in clear words that his divinely-decreed successors would number 12, of whom the Last will be the Redeemer of mankind, Imam Mahdi (AS), who will reappear in end times to rid the world of all vestiges of oppression and corruption by establishing the global government of peace, prosperity and justice.

For the information of those who have not yet fully grasped what I mean by "Penultimate", is reference to the 11th Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt, Imam Hasan al-Askari (AS), who is the father of the Promised Mahdi (AS), and who was born in Medina on this day to a couple who were the most virtuously perfect in faith in their days.

Imam Ali an-Naqi al-Hadi (AS), the 10th Infallible Successor of the Prophet needs no introduction. As for the mother of the 11th Imam she was a lady who although born in a distant land among people who neither spoke Arabic nor were white-skinned, was the noblest Daughter of Eve of her days.

Named "Saleel" by her virtuous parents in Africa, circumstances had forced her to find refuge in Medina in the Household of the blessed Ahl al-Bayt, where the Prophet's 9th Infallible Heir, Imam Mohammad at-Taqi al-Jawad (AS), on seeing the little girl remarked that "Saleel" means a person who is clean from all impurities. Then addressing her he gave her tidings of her bright future, saying: "O Saleel, soon you will be granted the Proof of God on earth, who fill the world with justice after it was rife with tyranny and oppression."

She soon acquired both esoteric and exoteric knowledge, to the extent that she became known as Hadeesa. Known for her wisdom and impeccable virtue, she also acquired the epithet Sowsan, which means a radiant flower. Divine Providence chose her to be the spouse of Imam Hadi (AS), and soon she gave birth to Imam HasanAskari (AS), and through him was destined to become the mother of the Awaited Saviour of mankind.

The Almighty surely knows where to put His trust. Born of such impeccable parents, Imam Askari (AS), whose period of imamate was rather brief - only six years - played a vital role in enlightening hearts, minds, and souls, despite his being constantly harassed by a succession of caliphs of the usurper Abbasid regime that either subjected him to bouts of imprisonment in Samarra or kept him under house arrest, in a vain bid to prevent the birth of the Mahdi (AS).

Yet, the 11th Imam utilized this period to instill in the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt and all those who came in contact with him, bezels of wisdom that continue to serve as guidance for humanity.

His letters to his representatives in the various parts of the Islamic realm, his expounding of the secrets of the ayahs of the holy Qur'an - including those that saved the Arab philosopher al-Kindi from committing blasphemy - his moving supplications in the divine court that believers still recite, his aphorisms, his strategy in making the system of "wikala" (representation) foolproof in order to serve the faithful during the crucial days of occultation of his son, his immunity from being harmed by wild beasts in whose midst he was once thrown by the Abbasid caliph, his deliverance of the Ummah from conversion to Christianity when a monk tried to deceive Muslims by exposing to the sky the bone of a past prophet so that rainfall would immediately occur, his nullifying of the stratagems of the regime, and so on - stand as glittering goals of guidance for us.

I end this brief newspaper column with a few of his maxims that are indeed food for thought.

"The worst of people is he who has two faces and two tongues; praises his brother in front of him, and eats his flesh in his absence."

"Anger is the key to all evils."

"The heart of an ignorant is his mouth, and the mouth of a wise person is in his heart."


Courtesy - Kayhan International, Iran's English Language Daily


source : english.irib.ir
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