Imam Hassan Askari (A.S) tried to pave the way for Imam Mahdi’s concealment period, and help people get used to Imam’s inaccessibility, so that his concealment would not sound uncommon and unfamiliar to them.
Imam Hassan Askari’s demise is on the 8th of Rabi al Awal. He was the youngest Imam to have been martyred young after his ancestor- Imam Javad (A.S) -, and was martyred when was only 25. According to frequent narratives, this great Imam (A.S) was born on the 8th of Rabi al Sani, 232 Hijrat, while Imam Hadi (A.S) was only 20 years old. His mother was Hadiseh.
His most well-known titles include: Askari, which means corps and army. Our 11thImam was obliged to live in Askar neighborhood (the military residence) under Abbasid Caliph’s order. That is why he was called Askari. Zaki: it means pure. al-Rafiq: it means companion, friend and a helping person. Hadi: it means leader, and guiding (it was also Prophet Mohammad’s and the 10th Imam’s title). Taqi: it means to abstain and abstemious. Khalis (pure): pure and clean, and far from pollution. Marzi: it means happy and satisfied. Seraj: it means sun.
Imam Hassan Askari’s Imamate
Following Imam Hadi’s martyrdom, and while Imam Hassan Askari (A.S) was only 22, his Imamate was announced in 254 Hijrat, and he guided people for 6 years. Imam Hassan Askari (A.S) spent three years of his Imamate in prison. Imam Hassan Askari (A.S) and Imam Hadi (A.S) were under strict supervision of Caliphate; theywere prohibited from meeting people, and did not communicate with people very much, except for their special disciples who visited them to resolve the problems of their material and spiritual lives. The reason behind it was that the period of Imam Mahdi’s concealment was close, and it was necessary for people to get used to it, and ask the special disciples who were religious flag bearers to resolve their problems, in order that the concealment would not sound unusual to them.
Imam Hassan Askari’s Deputies
Due to the tyranny and oppression dominating the atmosphere of the time, Imam Hassan Askari (A.S) had to select representatives in different areas of the Islamic country to handle the religious affairs and important issues of his followers’ lives. Among them were Ahmad Ibn Is’haq Ash’ari Qomi, Imam’s representative in Qom, who was one of the special agents, and asked Imam about the problems people of Qom were confronted with. Ibrahim Ibn Abde, Imam’s deputy in Neyshabur, Ahmad Ibn Is’haq Razi, Imam’s representative in Rey, Ibrahim Ibn Mahziar Ahwazi and Osman Ibn Saeed Amri who was an honorable, trustworthy man, and also one of Imam Hadi’s, Imam Askari and Imam Mahdi’s greatest disciples.
Imam Hassan Askari’s opinions about Shiites
In Imam’s opinion, anyone who is called a Shia but does not have the features of a true Shia, is not regarded to be one. True Shias are those people who, like their religious leaders, assiduously serve their people and religious brothers, and adhere to God’s commands and prohibitions. In his pleasant words, Imam Askari (A.S) defined Shia as follows:” Ali’s followers and Shias are those who regard their religious brothers prior to themselves although they, themselves, are in need, and Ali’s Shias are those who avoid what God prohibited, and do what God ordered, and follow Imam Ali (A.S) in respecting their religious brothers.”
Referring to the signs of being a Shiite, Imam Askari (A.S) said:” there are five signs distinguishing the Shiabelievers; they pray 51 Rak’ats prayers a day (17Rak’atobligatory, 34 Rak’atNafilah), they performArba’eenZiyarat of Imam Hossein, they wear an agate ring on their right hand, they rub their forehead on earth, and they recite “bismillah” (In the name of Allah) loudly in their prayers.”
Imam Hassan Askari’s Martyrdom
During the reign of Abbasid Caliphs, such as Muhatdi and Moataz, they made frequent attempts to put Imam (A.S) aside; however, such attempts were futile. But during the sovereignty of Motamed Abbasi, due to the increasing influence and popularity of Imam (A.S) in society, and the increasing interest of people in him, Motamed felt insecure. Therefore, since he understood that not only does imprisoning Imam (A.S) detract from his glory, but also it adds to his popularity among people, following their tradition, he murdered Imam (A.S) while only 6 years of his Imamate had passed.
Obeid Allah Ibn Khaqan said:” one day my father (Abbasid’s minister) was informed that Ibn Reza (Imam Hassan Askari (A.S)), did not feel well. My father immediately told the news to the Caliph. The Caliph sent 5 people whom he trusted with the minister. One of them was TahririKhadem who was the Caliph’s special trustworthy disciple. The Caliph ordered them to keep a close eye on the house, and assigned a doctor who would visit him every morning and night. After 2 days, my father was informed that he was suffering much, and he was weak. My father got on his horse, and headed toward Imam’s house, and ordered that the doctors- who were mostly Jews and Christians, do not get away from him. He also called the Chief Justice, and ordered to recruit 10 of the prominent scholarsto be around Imam (A.S).They did all such things to hide the fact that they had poisoned Imam (A.S) from people, and make them believe that he had passed away naturally. Eventually, on 8th Rabi al Awal, 260 Hijri, Imam Hassan (A.S) was martyred when he was 28 years old.
On his demise, the disciples gathered in his house to perform prayers on his body. Jafar Kzzab was also present to perform the prayers. But suddenly, a young man came and pulled Jafar aside, and performed prayers on his father, and others also accompanied him. Jafar was shocked and could not speak a word. When the young man finished prayers, he left the house and disappeared, and no one understood where he went.Imam Hassan Askari (A.S) was buried in Samera, in the same house where his father was buried.
Valuable quotes by Imam Hassan Askari (A.S)
A pretty face is beauty in appearance, while good reason is inner beauty.
He, who gives advices to his brother in secret, adorns his brother, and he, who gives advices to his brother in public, reduces him.
Guaranteed provision must not prevent you from trying.
The most pious of the people is the one who pauses while in doubt. And the most devout of the people is the one who performs the obligations (Wajibs). The most ascetic of the people is the one who quits doing Haram. The most assiduous of people is the one who quits sinning.
The most obscene and the most abhorrent feature and condition for a believer is when he wishes something which causes humiliation and ignominy.
Regarding politeness, refrain from what you do not appreciate for others.
Never respect one so much that makes things hard for him.
God and angels send peace upon the one who contents to sit in a lower position in a roomuntil he stands up.
Imam Hassan Askari’s Demise, Sheikh Hassan Ibn Sheikh Mohammad DeraziBohrani, Nadjaf, 1372 A.H., p 56.
Imam Hassan Askari’s Birth, Seyyed Mohammad Taleqani, Nadjaf, 1378 A.H., p. 44.
Tuhaf al Oqul