He was born on the night of 15th of Sha’ban in the year 255 AH. At the time of the death of his father, he was five years old.
God endowed him with wisdom and the distinction of speech. He made him a sign to the worlds. He endowed him with wisdom as He had endowed John the Baptist while still a boy. He made him an Imam while still in the state of apparent childhood just as He made Jesus, son of Mary, a prophet in the cradle.
The nomination of him had been given earlier to the community of Islam by the Holy Prophet, then by the Commander of the faithful, Ali bin Abu Talib, and the Imams, consecutively one after another, down to his own father, al-Hasan (al-Askari), had nominated him.
His father had nominated him in front of the trusted and close members of his Shi’a. Information about his occultation (ghayba) was established before his existence. Information about his state was widespread before his occultation . He is the leader with the sword (sahib al-sayf) from the Imams of guidance, the one who will undertake the achievement of truth (al-qa’im bi-al-haqq), the one who is awaited (al-muntazar) to (bring about) the state of faith.
Before his appearance (qiyam), he will have two occultations. One of them will be longer than the other as is reported in the traditions. The shortest of them was from the time of his birth to the end of the period of direct representation (sifara) between him and his Shi’a, and the end of the representatives (sufara’) through death. As for the longer (occultation), it will be after the first and at the end of it he will arise with the sword (yaqum bi-al-sayf). God, the Mighty and High, has said:
“We want to favour those who were weak on earth. We give them Imams and We give them heirs. We give them power on earth. We show Pharoah and Haman and their soldiers but they will not be warned.” (Surah 28:5-6).
He, exalted be His name, said:
We have written in the Psalms after the message (to Moses): My righteous worshippers will inherit the earth (Surah 21:105).
The Holy Prophet said: “The days and nights will never end until God sends a man from my House, whose name will be the same as mine. He will fill (the earth) with justice and fairness as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.” He, may God bless him and his family, said: “If only a single day remained for the world, God would lengthen that day so that He could send on it a man from my descendants, whose name is the same as mine. He will fill the world with justice and fairness as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.“
At dawn, on the 15th Sha’ban 255 AH, the rays of the illuminating world shone with a powerful shaft of light into a human form which became the source of existence for the universe. Yes, finally, the Divine Promise was fulfilled and Imam al-Mahdi, peace be on him, was born in spite of the efforts of those who denied him. It is one of history’s miracles that the Umayyids, ‘Abbasides and other opponents of this Holy Imam attempted to extinguish this divine light but met with complete failure.
The cruel and tyrannical caliphs of the Bani ‘Abbas had heard that the Twelfth Imam of the Shi’ites would establish a just Government and would rule over the east and west of the world, and would destroy the foundations of injustice. Therefore, to counter this event, they tortured and shed the blood of the Shi’ites as much as they could. The conditions of the martyred Shi’ites can be referred in the books on this subject.
In the year 235 AH, Mutawakkil, the ‘Abbasid caliph, ordered the Tenth Imam Muhammad al-Hadi (A), and his family to be shifted from Medina to Samarra’, his seat of government, so that he could keep a close watch on the Imam of the Shi’ites. Similarly, Mu’tamid, the ‘Abbasid caliph, the Pharaoh of the time, was afraid of the son of Imam Hasan al-‘Askari (A). He formed a group of detectives and midwives who had the mission of frequently searching through the houses of the ‘Alawiyyin, and especially the house of Imam Hasan al-‘Askari (A) so that if a newly-born child were found, he could be killed immediately.
The search to find and kill Imam al-Mahdi (A) was intensified when Imam Hasan al-‘Askari (A) left this world for the eternal one. This is because everyone knew that on that day the command of Divine Leadership (Imamate) was to be entrusted to the Twelth Imam, and the universe would come under his authority.
Shaykh Saduq writes in Kamalu’d din: “When the holy body of Imam Hasan al-‘Askari (A), was buried and the people went away, the caliph and his comrades started their efforts to search for his growing son and inspected the houses carefully.“
Shaykh Mufid also wrote in Irshad: “When Imam Hasan al-‘Askari (A) passed away, the caliph of that time, pursued his son because the Shi’ite Imamiyyah’s belief was famous and was spread about that the Shi’ites were awaiting His Eminence.“
Mu’tadid, one of the tyrant ‘Abbasid caliphs who ruled from 279 to 289 AH, decided all at once to destroy the entire family of al ‘Askari when he heard that more than twenty years had passed since the birth of the son of Imam Hasan al-‘Askari (A) and that he was still living in spite of the attempts of the preceding caliph to kill him. One of Mu’tadid’s officers said: “Mu’tadid has ordered me and two other persons, each of us to mount a horse and to proceed to Samarra’ in full speed without even stopping for prayer. He gave us the address of (Imam) al-‘Askari and instructed us to enter his house without his permission and to bring him the head of whoever we find there.” As a matter of fact, they were unaware that the same power which had protected the Imam from the former caliphs would give him protection from his evil, because:
Allah disdains (nothing) save that He shall perfect His light, however much the disbelievers are averse (Surah 9:32).
Indeed what an immature thought and foolish act it was! If the Divine Will bears on some matter, can a person revolt against it and combat it? Is it possible that definite Divine Promises may not be compiled with? Or is it possible that the reins of oppressive imposters who fight against the Divine decree will not cut? Is it not more amazing that Peerless, Almighty Allah has shown His power many times before, so that after that all men should know that if He wishes to give His chosen servant government and sovereignty and to destroy infidelity and irreligiousness through him, then there is no one who can disrupt His rule? Fortunately, this sensational story is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.
Pharaoh, the great emperor of Egypt, who had great power and pride, claimed the divinity for himself. He determined to kill all the youths and boy children of Bani Isra’il as a result of what he had heard about a son being born who would destroy his empire and divinity. He shed the blood of innocents, and banished many persons to unknown regions; but see how Almighty Allah restored His Prophet and how the Divine Will worked to protect the life of Musa, peace be on him, and destroy Pharaoh:
And We revealed to the mother of Musa, saying, “Give him suck; and if you fear for him, launch him on the river; and fear not, nor grieve; for We will return him to you and make him one of the Messengers.” And took him up Pharaoh’s people, that he might be to them an enemy and a (cause of their) grief, (for) verily Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts were sinners … So We did restore him to his mother that her age might be refreshed and that she might not grieve, and that she might know that the promise of Allah is (always) true, but most of them know not.(Surah 28:7-13)
Yes, Allah will protect His Proof (Hujjah) and will fulfil His promises and glad tidings because His decision is based on its execution, although most people do not know it. Would Allah wish to save the life of Prophet Musa who was only a messenger to a certain nation and tribe, and yield the Imam of the Age (Imam e Zaman) into the hands of Mu’tamid and Mu’tadid ?
Would Allah protect the life of Musa while he was in the middle of the roaring waves of a river, and give no security to the Imam of the Age who was in the house of his father, Imam Hasan al-‘Askari (A)? Would the Sustaining Allah of the Prophet Ibrahim, peace be on him, protect Ibrahim, peace be on him, in the middle of the flaming fire, but allow the Last Pearl of the Prophet’s progeny to be a victim of the lust and anger of the ‘Abbasid caliphs?
At dawn, on the middle day of Sha’ban in the year 255 AH, Imam Hasan al Askari (A) beheld the heavenly, shinning face of his son who was to fulfil all Divine promises and glad tidings. Not more than three days had passed after his birth when the Eleventh Imam took the holy child to his companions and told them: “After me this will be your master of authority and my successor, and he is the ‘Support ‘ (al-Qa’im) for whose appearance all people will wait; when the earth is full of injustice and tyranny, he will fill it with peace and justice.”
Our role as Shi’as:
So now, what is a duty of a Shi’a? What responsibilities does he have? Truly, are we reckoned among the real followers of His Eminence (Imam al Mahdi)? If we study the lives of the devout Shi’as (followers) of the Holy Imams before the Twelfth Imam, and consider their sacrifices without the slightest hesitation, we shall at once awake from our neglectful slumber and realize our weakness and guilt.
Were not Salman al-Farsi, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, ‘Ammar ibn Yasir and Malik al Ashtar, the followers of the contemporary Imam ‘Ali, Amir al-muminin (A), and are we too the followers of the Imam of our Age? Was not Maytham at-Tammar, who did not cease to praise ‘Ali, a follower of ‘Ali, and are we too, who are passing with the Imam of our Age through a strange period, the followers of him? Were not the martyrs of Karbala’, who with love strived in the way of defending the Imam of their time, Husayn (A), and were martyred, the followers of His Eminence, and are we too, who refuse to give our wealth, lives and other means in the way of the Imam of our time, His Eminence’s followers ? Is a person like Hisham ibn Hakam, who in his extraordinary and valuable debates erushed and defamed the opponents of the Divine Leadership (Imamate) in such a way that he was called the “assistant of the Imam” by Imam as Sadiq (A) a Shi’ia? And are we too, who are sluggish in fulfilling our foremost duty to recognize the Imam of our time, Shi’ias?
From what we read of the glad tidings in the Qur’an and the traditions of the Holy Prophet and the infallible Imams, the Imam of the Age (Imam e Zaman) has special responsibilities which other Imams did not have. Imam e Zaman will establish a Universal Government. He will fill the earth with righteousness and justiee. He will exploit the earth’s treasures and natural resources. He will improve and develop the land, and in this way people’s awareness and understanding will improve.
Therefore, do not the followers of His Eminence have a very particular duty? Should not the Shi’as endeavour to obtain the competence and merit of being His Eminence’s special Companions when he reappears by Divine Command? Therefore, let us see what our duties are and how we should observe them. Undoubtedly, our first duty is to become aquainted with him. Recognizing Imam e Zaman is so important and essential that in the Holy Prophet’s traditions we read:
He who dies without reeognizing the Imam of his age is like one who had died during the jahiliyyah (the pagan era before the advent of Islam).
To die during the jahiliyyah means a death devoid of Islam and faith. And it is obvious that one who dies without recognizing the Imam of his age is counted in the group of the faithless. In another tradition, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) is quoted as having said on the same subject:
One who dies without having (accepted) the Imam, it is as if he died in the jahiliyyah, and people are not exempted from recognizing their Imam.
Therefore, we must endeavour to recognize His Eminence (Imam e Zaman) for the sake of Islam and our faith, and so that we may be reckoned among those who have gained salvation and among the faithful. Another duty of the Shi’as during the major occultation, which the Holy Imam have alluded to, is the question of being ready for the Saviour. Hence, the first step for salvation is to recognize the Imam of the age; and the second step is to be prepared for the establishment of just Government by His Eminence.
One who is waiting (muntazir) and preparing himself for the appearance of the Imam must have the characters and merits of the companions of Imam al-Mahdi (A), and should sacrifice his life and wealth in his way. For this reason Imam as-Sadiq (A), said:
One who waits for our commands is like a person who sacrifices his own blood in the way of Allah.
One who dies while expecting the Government of al-Qa’im is like one who is in the presence of al – Qa’im (Imam al-Mahdi).
After a pause he added:
But he is like one who has been struck with a sword while accompanying him. Then he insisted further by adding:
Nay, by Allah! He is like one who has been martyred in the presence of the Messenger of Allah.
Are we reckoned among those who are expecting His Eminence? Are we at least waiting for the Divine Promise of the Authority of Allah (Waliyyu’llah) in the same manner as we wait for the return of our loved ones from a journey? In another tradition, Imam as-Sadiq (A) narrated the virtues of the companions of Imam al-Mahdi (A) saying:
If one takes pleasure in being among the companions of al-Qa’im, then he must wait for him and must act with good behaviour and modestly. If he dies before the appearance of al- Qa’im, then he will be rewarded like one who has followed him. Then act diligently, and await, that this effort and awaiting will give you delight, O’ you who have found salvation. Shi’as must have a devout link with His Eminence during the occultation. Their hearts and souls should be filled with love and affection for him. Their thoughts should be devoted to his service and their desire should be to meet him. Their prayers should be to ask for the blessing of Allah to be showered on His Eminence, and their supplication should be for salvation. Their existence should be one welded and fused unit, and their life should blaze with love for him.
Dua for Imam al Mahdi (atf)
O Allah! We ask of You to favor us with the gift of being obedient to You, and Detach us from being disobedient to You. Bestow on us being sincere in intentions; and Provide us with the knowledge of what is sacred.
O Allah! Honor us with guidance and honesty, and Direct our tongues to what is right and wise; Fill our hearts with comprehension and knowledge, and Cleanse us from the forbidden and doubtful.
O Allah! Prevent [our hands] from committing oppression and theft, Lower our gaze [out of modesty] from the immoral and disloyal, and Block our ears from hearing the vain talk and slander. Endorse our scholars with the gift of piety and fitting advice, and the learning ones with hard work and desire to learn.
Bless the listeners [to Your scholars] with wisdom and compliance, and Impart recovery and comfort to the sick ones from illness and disease, and bless the dead among them with kindness and mercy.
O Allah! To our old people, award dignity and peace of mind, To our young people, confer repentance and turning away from sin, and To our women, bestow modesty and chastity.
O Allah! Supply the rich with humility and abundance; and the poor with patience and contentment. Let those fighting in Your way be victorious, and the imprisoned be freed and unfettered.
Let the rulers be just and kind and the ruled be fair and with good conduct; Bless the ones on pilgrimage with abundance and support, and help them complete what is obligatory on them.
With Your Grace and Kindness, O Most Kind, Full of Grace!
The 12th Imam, Article listed on www.islamicentre.org