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IMAM AL-MAHDI - A REALITY OR A FICTION?
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posted May 22, 2007 21:45
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH THE MOST HIGH
As we already know, in matter of IDEOLOGY, issues have to be plainly clear as we are only requested to accept what we can understand. We will only be held accountable on the Day of Judgment according to our understanding.
This issue would have to be looked upon intellectually without allowing sentiments and prejudices to blind us.
Allah wants us to be as natural as possible; miracle is not our life; it is just that certain clarifications have to be made sometimes.
For the fact that Hassan al-Askari did not come to the world with a child, it is the Shias who would have to prove that he did give birth to a child.
When a person analyses the Shia sources with respect to this case, the following points become very clear:
If Hassan al-Askari did not marry to indicate that he wanted to have a baby; the slave girl in his house admitted never to have been pregnant; and likewise, there is no baby that can be clearly presented as an evidence of offspring, on what ground can anyone accept that Hassan al-Askari gave birth to a baby?
When one turns to miracle for explanation, it can not help because miracle is done to clarify issues and not to compound them. Holding to miracle in this case would only open the room for any irrational claim.
For instance, a man could claim that he became miraculously pregnant and gave birth to 5 babies yesterday. When he is asked to provide evidence for his claim, he would say that it was secrete and that all the babies have gone into occultation.
This is how the Shias narrate the birth of Imam Mahdi:
After my prayer, I found Narjis Khatoon sleeping while there was no sign of her delivering a baby. After my prayers, I slept again and after some moments I got up in anxiety. I saw Lady Narjis was sleeping. I doubted the Imam’s (???? ??????) promise. Suddenly I heard Imam Askari (???? ??????) saying with a loud voice: “Aunt! Don’t be surprised since the time is very near.” When I heard his voice, I started to read Sura Baqara, Sajdeh and Yasin. Meanwhile Lady Narjis got up anxious. I approached her while reciting Allah’s names.
I asked her: “Do you have any SPECIAL FEELING?” She answered: “Yes.” I said: “Don’t worry, be bold, this is the glad tidings of which I told you.” Then we both slept, after some minutes I awoke and saw the infant was born while he was prostrating with the seven parts of his body (i.e. his two palms, knees, his big toes, and his forehead) touching the ground. I embraced that beautiful baby. Strangely the baby was pure and clean of all the birth-giving impurities…” Mahjubah vol. 21 No. 10(213) – P. 54 – (October 2002/Sha’ban 1423)
This is the main story of the birth according to authentic shia books. I have also copied the translation from a shia magazine.
The ‘special feeling’ is what is sometimes translated as pregnancy which was a brief experience in this case. Hakimeh according to this narration, woke up only to see a baby prostrating and in another narration, raising up his finger and praising Allah verbally. In this narration, he talked to the father moments later and then to the mother. Refer to the same Mahjubah.
If there was a story like this and the baby were to be there, how would anyone prove that the baby was not brought in from somewhere else?
The problem with this line of argument is that if the holy prophet could not provide the internal guidance as clearly expressed by the Qur'an that you (the prophet) do not guide whom you love but that Allah guides whom He wishes, how come al-Mahdi?
The holy Prophet was no more than a human being that we are – he had no assess to any person’s heart – he only judged by the apparent activities. Since he was never a supernatural human being, we can not expect al-Mahdi to be.
Shaheed Baqir Sadr’s explanation that the four special representatives (who were purportedly meeting with the missing son) were trustworthy, learned, unconnected together and were never doubted contradicts historical facts. Baqir said:
The first link (deputy) between the hidden Imam and the Shia community was the father of the second deputy and both were disciples of the 11th Imam. The third deputy was introduced by the second deputy to succeed him and he was a known Shia. The fourth was introduced by the third and he was also a known Shia. Refer to ‘An inquiry concerning al-Mahdi’ by Baqir Sadr PP. 113-117
Look critically into this story reported by al-Irshad under the title – ‘Extract from the Evidence, Proof and Signs for the Leader for the (Rest of) Time’
Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Mahziyar narrated his story:
Then he said: “Fear God with regard to this money,” and he entrusted it to my (safe-keeping).
Three days later he died. I said to myself: “It is not possible for my father to entrust me with something for safe-keeping which is not true. I will take this money to Iraq. I will hire a house on the (river) bank and I won’t tell anyone anything. If something becomes clear to me like it was clear at the time of Abu Muhammad (al-Hassan al-Askari), (???? ??????), I will hand it over. If not, I will spend it on enjoying myself and entertaining myself.”
I went to Iraq and hired a house on the river-bank. I remained there for several days. Then suddenly a letter (was brought) by a messenger: “Muhammad, you have such-and-such ………”
(It went on) to describe everything I had, even what I was not aware of being included in it. I handed it over to the messenger. I remained for some days without a head being raised to me (in greeting) and I was grieved. Then (a messenger) came to me: “We have put you in the position of your father. So praise God.” ‘Al-Irshad’ by Sheikh al-Mufid P. 533
Who was the man in the story, who was his father and who were they representing? Who was the messenger and from whom was he carrying his message?
Sheikh Kulayni (the author of al-Kafi) who gathered the over 16,000 of his Hadith during 30 years that the so called deputies were in touch with al-Mahdi and present with him in the same Baghdad would surprisingly not narrate all the ahadith through Imam al-Mahdi!
The so called representatives themselves have nothing tangible to show of their scholarly work like that of Kulayni. They were rather busy gathering money from the Shia community for the purported al-Mahdi and collecting letters from the Mahdi to denounce other claimants to their position. Shias now rely on Kulayni’s work for guidance.
Coming to the letters purportedly written by the hiding Mahdi, one can clearly notice some technical faults which can never be ascribed to people considered to be Infallible. For instance, how could an infallible Imam forget al-Qur’an and only refer people (during his absence) to the ‘narrators of his Hadith’? The ‘Narrators of Hadith’ would later be replaced by the ‘Usuliyun’!!!
Concerning the argument that there must always be a Mumin on earth to serve as proof against others, how can the purported Mahdi be that proof and yet he is not seen physically? In which way can he be a proof of anything? A Hadith in Bihar al-anwar of the Shias also make it a condition that a proof must be physically present.
Meanwhile, no one can claim that there was no proof on earth during the period that separated Prophet Isah and Muhammad. Is Allah lying when He said that for every community is a guide (a person they can physically refer to)? Is the Qur'an not there as a proof or do you want to believe that there are no Muminun at all?
This is how ‘fatah’ analysed the events at the death of the 11th Imam:
“There were four major trends amongst these various sects:
“(1) There were those who accepted the death of Hasan al-Askari as a fact, and accepted also the fact that he left no offspring. To them Imamah had thus come to an end, just like Nubuwwah came to an end with the death of Rasoolullaah (s.a.w.s) . However, there were some amongst them who kept hoping for the advent of a new Imam.
“(2) The second trend was one to which the student of the history of “succession to the Imamah” would be much more used to. This was the tendency to deny the death of Hasan al-Askari, and to claim that he would return in the future to establish justice upon earth. We have seen this tendency emerge amongst the Shi‘ah at more than one critical juncture in the history of the Imamah of the Shi‘ah; it is therefore only logical to expect it to resurface at a moment as critical as the death of Hasan al-Askari.
“(3) The third trend was to extend the chain of Imamah to Hasan’s brother Jaa‘far.
“(4) The fourth trend was the claim that Hasan al-Askari did in fact have a son. It is the fourth trend which ultimately became the view of the dominant group in Shi'aism.
“The missing son
“This trend was spearheaded by persons who had set themselves up as the representatives of the Imam, and who were in control of a network covering various parts of the Islamic empire— a network for the purpose of collecting money in the name of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt.
“All followers of the Imams were obliged to pay one fifth of their (annual surplus) income to the representatives of the Imams. (This is a practice which continues up to today.) At the head of this network was a man called Uthmaan ibn Sa‘id al-‘Amri. His manner of resolving the predicament was unique: Hasan al-Askari was dead, he admitted, but he was not childless. He had a 4-year old son, Muhammad, with whom no one but he— Uthmaan ibn Sa‘id— could have contact. And from that point onwards he would act as the representative (wakeel) of the Hidden Imam and collect money in his name.
“To the fact that Hasan al-Askari’s own family were completely ignorant of the existence of any child of his, and that his estate had been divided between his brother Jaa‘far and his mother, Uthman ibn Sa‘id and his ilk responded by denouncing Jaa‘far as al-Kadhdhab (the Liar).
“In due time a fantastic story was brought into circulation about the union between Hasan al-Askari and a Roman slave-girl, who is variously named as Narjis, Sawsan or Mulaykah. She is mentioned as having been the daughter of Yusha‘ (Joshua), the Roman emperor, who is a direct descendant of the apostle Simon Peter. But history shows that there never was a Roman emperor of that name. The Roman emperor of the time was Basil I, and neither he nor any other emperor is known to have descended from Peter. The story goes on to tell of her capture by the Muslim army, how she eventually came to be sold to Hasan al-Askari, and of her supernatural pregnancy and the secret birth of the son of whom no one— aside from Uthman ibn Sa‘id and his clique— knew anything. Everything about the child is enveloped in a thick and impenetrable cloud of mystery.
“The four representatives
“Uthman ibn Sa‘id remained the “representative of the Hidden Imam” for a number of years. In all that time he was the only link the Shi‘ah had with their Imam. During that time he supplied the Shi'ite community with tawqi‘at, or written communications, which he claimed was written to them by the Hidden Imam. Many of these communications, which are still preserved in books like at-Tusi’s Kitab al-Ghaybah, had to do with denouncing other claimants to the position of representatives, who had come to realise exactly how lucrative a position Uthmaan ibn Sa‘id had created for himself. The Shi'ite literature dealing with Uthmaan ibn Sa‘id’s tenure as representative is replete with references to money collected from the Shi'ite public.
“When Uthmaan ibn Sa‘id died, his son Abu Jaa‘far Muhammad produced a written communication from the Hidden Imam in which he himself is appointed the second representative, a position which he held for about 50 years. He too, like his father, had to deal with several rival claimants to his position, but the tawqi‘at which he regularly produced to denounce them and reinforce his own position ensured the removal of such obstacles and the continuation of support from a credulous Shi'ite public.
“He was followed in this position by Abul Qasim ibn Rawh an-Nawbakhti, a scion of the powerful and influential Nawbakhti family of Baghdad. Before succeeding Muhammad ibn Uthmaan, Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti was his chief aide in the collection of the one-fifth taxes from the Shi‘ah. Like his two predecessors, he too had to deal with rival claimants, one of whom, Muhammad ibn Ali ash-Shalmaghani used to be an accomplice of his. He is reported in Abu Jaa‘far at-Tusi’s book Kitab al-Ghaybah as having stated: “We knew exactly what we were into with Abul Qasim ibn Rawh. We used to fight like dogs over this matter (of being representative).”
“When Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti died in 326 AH he bequeathed the position of representative to Abul Hasan as-Samarri. Where the first three representatives were shrewd manipulators, Abul Hasan as-Samarri proved to be a more conscientious person. During his three years as representative there was a sudden drop in tawqi‘at. Upon his deathbed he was asked who his successor would be, and answered that Allah would Himself fulfill the matter. Could this perhaps be seen as a refusal on his part to perpetuate a hoax that has gone on for too long? He also produced a tawqi‘ in which the Imam declares that from that day till the day of his reappearance he will never again be seen, and that anyone who claims to see him in that time is a liar.
Thus, after more or less 70 years, the last “door of contact” with the Hidden Imam closed. The Shi‘ah term this period, in which there was contact with their Hidden Imam through his representatives-cum-tax-collectors, the Lesser Occultation (al-Ghaybah as-Sughra), and the period from the death of the last representative onwards the Greater Occultation (al-Ghaybah al-Kubar). The Greater Occultation has already continued for over a thousand years.
“Activities of the representatives
“When one reads the classical literature of the Shi‘ah in which the activities of the four representatives are outlined, one is struck by the constantly recurring theme of money. They are almost always mentioned in connection with receiving and collecting “the Imam’s money” (from) his loyal Shi'ite followers. There is a shocking lack of any activities of an academic or spiritual nature. Not a single one of the four is credited with having compiled any book, despite the fact that they were in exclusive communion with the last of the Imams, the sole repository of the legacy of Rasoolullaah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.
“When we look at the major sources upon which the Shi'ite faith is based, we find that most of them were written after the onset of the Greater Occultation. Those works, like al-Kafi, which was written during the latter decades of the Lesser Occultation, contain scarcely a reference to any of the four representatives as narrators from the Hidden Imam. Instead it is filled with thousands of reports which go back, via other channels, to the fifth and the sixth Imams. That is indeed strange, considering the fact that a man like Uthmaan ibn Sa‘id al-‘Amri is claimed to have been closely associated with the 10th, the 11th as well as the hidden 12th Imam, and also the fact that his son remained the Shi'ite community’s solitary link to that Imam for half a century. Would it not have been better and more authoritative for an author like al-Kulayni to report the hadith of his Imams from the Hidden Imam via his representatives who lived in Baghdad at the same time as he rather than to trace it all back to the fifth and sixth Imams through a myriad of doubtful channels?
“But of course, he could not have done that, because the activities of those representatives did not have as much to do with authentically preserving the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt as with the collection of wealth in their names.
“In light of the fact that the Shi‘ah explain the necessity of Imamah in terms of the need for an infallible guide who serves as the repository of the legacy of Ahl al-Bayt, it appears extremely incongruous that this particular guide has left no sort of legacy of his own whereby the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt can be known. Despite the fact that an infallible guide supposedly exists, it is upon fallible persons such as Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub al-Kulayni that the Shi‘ah must depend for that legacy.
“The only bit of information that has come down to us regarding the Hidden Imam’s authentication of the hadith legacy of the Shi‘ah is what is recorded by Aqa Muhammad Baqir Khwansari in his book Rawdat al-Jannat. He writes that al-Kulayni’s book was presented to the Hidden Imam who looked at it and declared, “Hadha Kaafin li-Shi‘atina” (This is enough for our Shi‘ah). This is incidentally how the book received its name.
“A report such as this creates a huge problem. It appears to be a ratification of the contents of the book al-KAAFI by the infallible Imam. Yet, 9 centuries later the Shi'ite muhaddith, Mulla Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, would declare in his commentary on al-Kafi, named Mir’at al-‘Uqul, that 9,485 out of the 16,121 narrations in al-Kafi are unreliable. What did Majlisi know that the infallible Imam was so unaware of that he would authenticate a book, 60% of whose contents would later be discovered to be unreliable?
“The Iraqi Shi'ah scholar, Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, finds proof for the existence of the Hidden Mahdi in what he calls “the experience of a community”. The existence of the Hidden Imam, he postulates, was experienced by the Shi'ite community as a whole in the written communications that the representatives used supplied them with (used to supply them with).
“The crux of this argument lies in the fact that an individual experience might be doubted, but never that of experience of an entire community. However, the glaring flaw in this line of reasoning is that it very conveniently overlooks the part of the representatives as the individual go-betweens.
The community never had the privilege of seeing or meeting the person they believed to be the author of the tawqi‘at. Their experience was limited to receiving what the representatives produced. Even the argument of a consistent handwriting in all the various tawqi‘at is at best melancholy. There is no way one can get away from the fact that the existence of the Hidden Imam rests upon nothing other than acceptance of the words of the representatives,…”
While the Shia sources suggest to us that Al-Mahdi went into hiding because of the too much oppression that existed at his time to the extent that he did not even want his name to be mentioned, the same sources would tell us that the Hiding Imam will only reappear when there is too much oppression on the land – What a contradiction?!!! What oppression could be more than the one that sent him into hiding in the first place?
How foolish were the people in government at the time of the hiding al-Mahdi that while searching for al-Mahdi, they allowed-his representatives to move freely on the land and to gather money for him without arresting them to get to the purported Mahdi?
If the Sunna of the purported Mahdi is to hide, why have his followers chosen to live their lives outside caves in defiance of this Sunna of hiding?
Therefore, we have to admit that there is no human being by name MUHAMMAD HASSAN AL-ASKARI. It was a fabrication meant to deceive and enslave people.
All times are PT (US)
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