Who is Imam Mahdi (As) ?
After the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) , as the Qur’an indicates , the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) ordained Imam Ali (A.S) as the first imam , and thereafter the eleven imams stemming from the progeny of Imam Ali and Fatimah (p.b.u.t).
Imam Mahdi (As) is the twelfth imam , the son of Imam Hassan Al-Askari (As) , who has born at dawn Friday the 15th of Sha’ban in the year 255 Hijri (869 CE) .
He was born in a military section of Samara. This section was controlled by the Abbasid caliphs .
The Imam Mahdi (As) was born while his father was being imprisoned in this area.
The caliph of the time ordered soldiers to kill any baby that was born . This is why the Imam Mahdi’s (As) birth was hidden
The birth of Imam Mahdi (As) is a historical certainty . In addition to the Imam Mahdis (As) , the scholar , historians , and scholar of traditions ( both Shia and Sunni ) clearly testified to his birth . There are some researches which list 65 scholars who mention the birth , along with the books in .
The name of imam (As) is the same as the name as the same of his grandfather, the messenger of Allah. All histories and scholars of traditions agree that the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) chose this name for him. This name was not without reason. It states that just as the Prophet Muhammad’s (p.b.u.h) advent saved the world from misguidance and ignorance, twelve generations later, his grandchild s advent will mankind from darkness and misguidance .
The famous nickname of the Imam (As) are: Mahdi, Qa im, Khalaf al-Salih, Baqiyatullah, Mansur, Sahib al-Amr, Wali al-Asr, and Sahib al-Zaman. The most famous nickname is Mahdi. Each one of these nickname has one or more reason behind them. for instance, the Imam is called Mahdi because he has been guided with the truth. He is called Qa im because he will rise with the truth. He is called Muntazar because the believers are waiting for his return. He is called Hujjah because he will divine argument against his creation.
Sheikh Tusi related a tradition which states that his mother s name was Rayhanah. but, he immediately adds that she was also called Narjis, Sayqal, and Sawsan. Sheikh Mufid considered he name to be Narjis. This is the only name by which she is called in the tradition transmitted by Hazrah Hakimah (S.A), Imam Askari s aunt . Saduq, in his chain leading to Ghiyath, narrates that Imam Hasan Askari’s (As) successor was born on Friday and his mother was Lady Rayhanah, who was also called Narjis, Sayqal, and Sawsan. She was called Saygal because she had a special gleam to when she was pregnant.
There are various reports about the race of the 12th Imam s mother. Shaykh Saduq, according to a tradition, states that he mother was Malikah, the daughter of Yashu , the son of the Caesar of Rome and her mother was from the progeny of Simon, one of the disciples of Christ. She was taken prisoner by the Muslim army and was sold as a slave. Imam Hadi (As) had his representative purchase he from the slave marketplace of Baghdad. She was then sent to Imam Hadi (p.b.u.h) who lived in Samara.
That which is important is that this woman reached such a grand station that she became the mother of the Imam of the Age Hakimah, Imam Askari s (As) aunt, was a prominent female member of the family of the Prophet. She considered the mother of the Imam to be one of he own to be a member of her family. She considered herself to be the servant of the mother of the Imam Mahdi (As). The Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) , the Commander of the Faithful , and the fifth and sixth imams consider her to be one of the best slave and their eventual leader.
At the end, a tradition about the birth of the 12th Imam from the worlds of Hazrah Hakimah, Imam Askari s (As) aunt and the daughter of Imam Jawad (p.b.u.h) , will be related. This is a precise account of his birth. It was considered trustworthy during the lifetime of Mas udi. Shaykh Saduq narrated from hazrah Hakimah , the daughter of Imam Jawad (As), the son of Imam Reza (As)
Abu Mohammad Hasan bin Ali ( imam Hasan Al-Askari (As) sent word requesting my presence. He said: Aunt, break your fast with us tonight because it is the 15th of Sha ban. Tonight, Allah will make his Testament appear on the earth. I asked him: who is his mother? He replied: Narjis. I said: May my soul be sacrificed for you! But, there are no signs of pregnancy in her. He responded: what I said will happen. Therefore , I came in and was greeting the household when Narjis came forward to take off my shoes. She addressed me: My mistress, how are you doing? I responded: You are my mistress and the mistress of my family. She rejected what I said and answered: Aunt, what are you saying? I told her: My daughter, tonight Allah give you a son. This son will be the master of this world and the next. She became shy and blushed. I broke my fast, performed the night ( isha ) prayers, and then went to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night to pray. I prayed while Narjis was sleeping. She did not show any signs of begin pregnant. I sat down and supplicated. Then, I went to bed and woke up again while she was still sleeping. Then , she woke up , prayed , and lied back down. I left the room to watch dawn approach. But , she was still sleeping. Therefore , I started doubting what Imam Askari was expecting. Just at that moment, the Imam Askari (p.b.u.h) called out: Aunt , do not hasten the time is near. I sat down and started reciting Surahs Sajadah and Yasin. Then, Narjis woke up. I moved towards her and said: Collect yourself. I then felt extremely tired and fell asleep. I was awoken by the vice of my master. When she lifted he clothing I saw the Imam prostrating. I cuddled next to him saw that he was pure and clean.
Imam Askari (As) called me and said: Aunt, bring me my son. I brought him. He kissed him and caressed his eyes, ears, and elbows. Then he said: My son , speak. The infant started speaking and said: I bear witness that there is no god save the One, who has no partners. I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God. Then, he passed greeting to the Commander of the Faithful and each Imam one by one. He stopped speaking when he mentioned the name of his father.
Imam Askari (As) said: Aunt, take him to his mother so he can greet her. Then, bring him back to me. I did this and left them thereafter. The Imam Askari (As) addressed me: Aunt, come back in seven days to see him again. I came back next day to greet Imam Askari (As). I pulled back the curtain to see my master, but I did not see him. Then I asked the Imam Askari (As) : May my soul be sacrificed for you, what happened to my master? He answered : Aunt, I handed him over to the same person that the mother of Moses handed he son to.
Greeted him before I sat down. Imam Askari (As) said : bring me my son. They wrapped him in a blanked and brought him over. They repeated everything that he said on the first day and the infant repeated exactly what he said before. Then, he recited following verse of the Qur an:
And we desired to show favour to those who were abased in the land, and to make them imams, and to make them the heirs, and to establish them in the land, and to show Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts from them of which they were apprehensive .
The Abbasid rulers were deeply worried during the imamate of Imam Hadi (As) and Imam Askari (As). They put them under military house arrest in Samara . the reason that they were worried was that there were many tradition of the prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) and Imam’s (As) which stated that Imam Hasan Askari (As) would father a son who would destroy the foundations of invalid governments .
He would demolish crowns and thrones and spread justice throughout the earth . Therefore these two Imams , especially Imam Hasan Askari (As) , were put under strict surveillance .the caliphat tried to prevent the birth of such an Imam Mahdi (As) .
Hence , the pregnancy and birth of Imam Mahdi (As) was hidden from the people. Imam Reza (As) stated that the hidden birth is one of the characteristics of this Imam .
It has been stated in many tradition that Imam Mahdi (As) has many similarities with prophet Abraham (p.b.u.h) and Prophet Moses (p.b.u.h) . After his birth , nobody saw Imam Mahdi (p.b.u.h) except select companions of his father and that on sporadic occasions . Some of these people will be mentioned when the hidden stage of the Imam Mahdi’s (As) life is described.