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  Updated: May 17, 2005

Imam Al-Askari (P) – a paragon for all mankind

By: S. Fatimah

Holy Prophet Muhammad b. Abdullah (peace be upon him and his pure progeny)’s 11th infallible descendant Al-Imam Hasan Al-Askari (peace be upon him) was born on tenth of Rabi' ol-Akhir, 232 A.H. (December 4, 846 AD) in the holy city of Medina, the abode of divine revelation and the station of guiding angels.

His father was Imam 'Ali An-Naqi (peace be upon him) and his mother was Salil Khatoun (peace be upon her), an ideal woman in piety, worship, chastity and generosity.

Period of his imamate or divinely designated leadership was six years.

Moral excellence of human perfection

Imam Hasan Al-Askari (peace be upon him) was one of that illustrious series of the immaculate infallible each member of whom displayed the moral excellence of human perfection. He was fountainhead of wisdom and peerless in knowledge, forbearance, forgiveness, generosity, sacrifice and piety. The knowledge and authority of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his pure progeny)’s infallible Ahl`ol Bayt (peace be upon them) is God-given. They were the paragons of virtue, and the precedent set by them, still continues to be the model of emulation for all mankind.

Whenever Al-Mu'tamad asked anybody about his captive Imam Hasan Al-Askari (peace be upon him), he was told that the Imam fasted during the day and worshipped during the night, and that his tongue uttered no word but remembrance of his creator.

Imam Askari (peace be upon him) was so kind that during those periodic bouts of imprisonment that he was subjected to by the Abbasid caliphs, even the jail wardens were impressed by his dynamism. One prison official has left an interesting account. He says: “When the Imam looked at me, I was so fascinated by his spiritual aura that it seemed my own soul was no longer in my control and possession.”

Such was the charisma of the Imam (peace be upon him)’s personality that many a hard-hearted jailor was reformed and turned into a repentant and pious person to the bewilderment of the authorities.

The spiritual aura surrounding Imam Hasan Askari was such that even his opponents used to respect him. The account of the famous Turkish Chief Minister of the Abbasid Court, Ahmed ibn 'Abdullah ibn Khaqan, is a manifest example in this regard. Although he was very proud and indifferent, yet whenever he would see the Imam (peace be upon him) he got up from his place, and while riding a horse he would get down from it.

He said about Imam (peace be upon him), "Imam Askari (peace be upon him) 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 when the Abbasid caliph asked Khaqan about the descendants of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon him), he reported: "I do not know anybody among them who is more distinguished than Hasan Al-Askari. None can surpass him in dignity, knowledge, piety and abstinence, nor can anybody match him in the point of nobleness majestic grandeur, modesty and honesty".

Unparalleled exegetic of Holy Quran

The Imam (peace be upon him)’s unmatched excellent exegesis on the Holy Quran, which is actually the compilation of his lectures and explanations of God’s revealed word to students who had come to him from distant parts, is widely read to this day and translated in several languages.

Several high-ranking scholars benefited from his ocean of knowledge. Imam Askari (AS) saved the famous Arab philosopher Ishaq Al-Kindi from manifest error. It happened that Kindi was writing a book on what he called "self-contradictions" in the Holy Quran. The Imam came to know about this and raised interesting points during a discussion where one of the students of the said philosopher was present. Imam Hasan Askari’s excellent explanation of the Word of God and the inability of the human mind to properly grasp eternal wisdom unless expounded by those, to whom God had entrusted knowledge, had an electric effect.

The student went to his master and bringing up the discussion, raised the same points with the philosopher. Kindi was astounded and since he knew the limited ability of his own student asked him, "What you have argued is beyond your capacity: tell me truly who has taught you these lofty and excellent points?" He was told it was the Prophet (peace be upon him and his pure progeny)’s heir, Imam Hasan Al-Askari (peace be upon him). Then Kindi said: "Yes: this level of knowledge is the heritage of that House and only that House". He at once gave up his erroneous idea and acknowledged that if not for guidance from the Prophet’s household who were repository of divine knowledge he would have been perished in ignorance. Then he asked the students to set fire to all such works of his.

Kindi was not alone in benefiting from Imam Askari (peace be upon him). There were a host of others who later developed into leading scientists, jurisprudents, exegetes, theologians, and masters of different fields when they came into contact with Imam Askari (peace be upon him).

Some stories from the life of Imam:

- The poet Abu Yousef says: “My hard life, coupled with the birth of a son in this state of poverty, made me write a plea to the Abbasid government for financial help, but I was spurned. When I got disappointed I remembered the Prophet (peace be upon him and his pure progeny)’s descendant Imam Askari (peace be upon him). I went to him. I hesitated in informing him of my problem, for I feared that he might not help me because of my reputation as the court poet of the Abbasids. I wandered around the Imam’s house for sometime, before knocking at his door. The door opened and to my surprise a companion of the Imam came out and put in my hand a purse, saying: ‘Take these 400 dirhams. My master says cover the expenses of your newborn child with this amount. May God bless you and the child.’”

Abu Yousef said: "I was astounded. I had neither met him as yet nor disclosed the request I entertained at heart, and here I was given the money. I thanked God Almighty for blessing the earth with the presence of such great and generous person.

- There was a monastery in Samara 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.).

- Ismail says, "I was sitting on the way of Imam Hasan Al-Askari (peace be upon him) so that I may stop 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 Al-Askari (peace be upon him) 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 hand in his pocket and brought out a sack of gold and gave it to me. Then Imam (peace be upon him) 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 (peace be upon him) 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 (peace be upon him) 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.

Maxims of Imam:

Refrain from wrongdoing and disobedience of God, for they cause poverty and chaos in the community.

One who possessed two faces and two tongues is a bad person. He is the one who praises his brother-in-faith in his presence and slanders him in his absence. If his brother attains a status, he envies him, and if he is involved in some difficulty, he leaves him alone and does not help him.”

Generosity has a limit, when crossed becomes extravagance; caution has a limit when crossed becomes cowardice; thriftiness has a limit, when crossed becomes miserliness; courage has a limit, when crossed becomes fool-hardiness.

Let this moral lesson suffice: Cease from doing anything which you would disapprove of if done by someone else.

Let piety be your provision, patience be your garment, and buy hardship in the path of Allah; Be true in your speech, trustworthy in performing your deeds, prolong your sajdah (prostration), deal with others with best behavior, and treat your neighbor amicably; Perform your prayers even with those whom you think to be your opposition; attend their funeral ceremonies, visit their sick, and give them their rights. Verily I tell you that whosoever is honest and has good behavior in the eyes of others, he is the pious follower whom I will be proud of. Therefore, fear Allah, be as adornment on behalf of us and be not as shame that defames our name. 

  "Knowledge is better than wealth because it protects you while you have to guard wealth. it decreases if you keep on spending it but the more you make use of knowledge ,the more it increases . what you get through wealth disappears as soon as wealth disappears but what you achieve through knowledge will remain even after you."MORE ..  


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