25 Apr ABQARI AL-HESAAN
About the Author
The writer of this book is the chief of researchers and narrators, the late Hujjatul-Islam Ayatullah Haj Shaikh Ali Akbar Nahaavandi. He was born in the year 1280 A.H. and studied under great luminaries like Maula Lutfullah Mazandarani, Mirza Habibullah Rashti, Shariat Isfahani, Marhum Maamqaani and Mirza Husain Noori, the author of Mustadrak al-Wasail, (may Allah’s mercy encompass them all).
Marhoom Nahaavandi was known for his piety and chastity. He was unique and matchless in devotion and abstinence. Hence, many scholars and preachers took his permission before narrating traditions among the masses. He led the prayers in the Jama’ Mosque of Gauhar Shaad in the holy shrine of Imam Reza (a.s.) at Mashhad. Despite his prayers being lengthy, a large number of people would prefer to pray behind him and it was the largest congregational prayer in the entire province of Khurasaan.
He was exceptional in his submission, humility and worship. He departed from this world on 19 Rabi II, 1369 A.H. and is buried in the mausoleum near the feet of the Imam Reza (a.s.).
He was proficient in the sciences disseminated by the Ahle Bait (a.s.). He ascended to the higher levels of piety and asceticism and was peerless in scholastic efforts. He has authored books on varied topics. Some of his endeavours are still presently available:
1. Khazinah al-Jawaahir 2. Gulzaar Akbari 3. Wasail al-Abeed 4. Raahah al-Ruh 5. Jawaahir al-Kalimaat 6. Anwaar al-Mawaahib 7. Anhaar al-Nawaaib 8. Al- Fawaaid al-Kufiyyah 9. Raskhah al-Nida 10. Tur-e-Sainaa 11. Anaavil al-Lam’aat 12. Lam’aat al-Anwaar 13. Mufarreh al-Qulub 14. Al-Bunyan al-Rafi’ 15. Jannah al-Aaaliyah 16. Jannataan Mudhaammataan 17. Al-Yaaqut al-Ahmar
How did some people gain the opportunity of meeting Imam Zamana (a.t.f.s.) during the Major Occultation?
Several people in the period of major occultation have been honoured with the opportunity of meeting Imam Zamana (a.s.) and gained benefit of this unique grace from Allah. Incidents are so numerous that they do not require any proof.But the question is how these revered personalities gained the opportunity for this great bestowal? Was this blessing due to their piety, abstinence and righteousness? Or was their elevated knowledge and spiritual level responsible for their meeting Imam (a.s.)? Or was it the grace and bestowal from the side of Imam (a.s.)?
The truth becomes evident if we analyse the last Tauqee (epistle) of Hazrat Baqiyatullah (a.t.f.s.) which reached the fourth special deputy Shaikh Ali Ibn Mohammad Seymouri (a.r.). In it, Imam (a.s.) says
“Whoever claims to meet me (in a manner similar to the four special deputies) and before the coming of Sufyani is a liar.”
This narration clearly refutes regular and pre-arranged meetings with Imam (a.s.). Hence, none can claim – in the major occultation – that some kind of work can result in the meeting and seeing of Imam (a.s.). For, anyone who does such an action would be capable of meeting Imam (a.s.) and this would be similar to the status of the special representatives. On the other hand, when we analyse the various incidents in which people have met Imam Zamana (a.s.), we find different types of individuals who have enjoyed this privilege. The list consists of renowned scholars, pious people, the common man, individuals from the Ahle Tasannun and even the unbelievers (at times). Looking at all these personalities and the differences in the circumstances, spiritual levels and attitudes, we can safely say that the people who met Imam (a.s.) were not of any single type or rank. Rather Imam (a.s.) bestows his favour on both – the special and the ordinary. This grace is bestowed by Imam (a.s.) due to his lofty status of being the Caliph of Allah upon the creation and the worshippers.
Al-Abqari al-Hesaan – The Book
The book under review narrates the incidents of those privileged individuals who had the good fortune of obtaining the grace from Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and gain his favour. The copy of the book available with us is in two volumes – published and distributed by Dabistane Tehran. Despite being comprehensive, scholastic and literary in its purview, it remains out of reach of most people due to its voluminous size and old-fashioned style of writing. Its script and phrases are ancient. Consequently, people have not paid much attention to it. However, it finds favour in the libraries of famous scholars schooled in Najaf.
The book “Abqari al-Hesaan” consists of two volumes and five parts – three of which find place in the first volume and the remaining two parts are in the second volume. It includes narrations of the people having met Imam Zamana (a.s.) – right from the time of his blessed birth to the minor occultation and then about those who met him (a.s.) in the major occultation.
Chain of Narrators
The beauty of the book is that the author states the chain of narration before recounting each incident. These are of great importance to scholars and researchers alike.
Sections of the Book
As mentioned before, the book consists of five parts. But we refrain from mentioning sequential division. Rather we will discuss the topics mentioned in each part.
The First Part
This part mentions those who were honoured with meeting Imam (a.s.) and were able to recognise His Holiness (a.s.). It also includes details of such events where the people who meet Imam (a.s.) did not recognise him at the time of their meeting but later due to circumstantial evidence realised it was him (a.s.). Then there are incidents from which it is not clear whether the person who has met Imam (a.s.) has recognised him or not.
The Second Part
This part includes incidents in which the meetings with Imam (a.s.) have taken place through “mukashefaat” and “mushaahedaat”. “Mukaashefa” implies the stage of ‘semi-consciousness’ i.e. the condition between sleep and wakefulness. “Mukasheefa” are those ‘visualisations’ which are detached from the five physical senses. Rather, they are linked to the higher spiritual levels. In the state of dreams, man does not see or hear with the physical organs while in a state of “Mukaashefa” the soul of man is involved in perceptionof realities.
The Third Part
The third part deals with people who had the honour of seeing Imam (a.s.) in their dreams. These were true visions.
The Fourth Part
This part speaks about the manifestations of Imam (a.s.) i.e. the people come across some light or fragrance or voice of Wali-e-Asr (a.s.).
The Fifth Part
This part refers to people who implored to Imam (a.s.) for help and received a favourable reply.
The last part is particularly interesting. We may or may not meet Imam (a.s.) personally; we may or may not see him in our dreams, yet one thing is abundantly clear. That we can always solve our difficulties and have our wishes fulfilled by praying and requesting him (a.s.). Hence, it is the responsibility of Shias during the major occultation to seek the help of Imam (a.s.) and also to pray for his early reappearance.
Blessings of the Master of the Time (a.s.)
We mention here some accounts of people desirous of meeting Imam Zamana (a.s.) and who were successful in their endeavour of seeing his radiant visage.
The meeting of Mohammad Ibn Abi Ravvad and Ibn Ja’far Dahhan: Mohammad Ibn Ravvad Ravaasi narrates: ‘One day in the month of Rajab, I went to Masjid-e-Sahla along with Mohammad Ibn Ja’far Dahhan. Mohammad Ibn Ja’far told me: Take me to Masjid-e-Sa’saa (a mosque greatly revered since Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and other Imams (a.s.) have prayed in it). Thus, we proceeded to the Mosque. Once there – while in the state of salaah – we saw a man riding a camel coming towards us. He alighted from the camel, tied it in a shade and entered the mosque. He proceeded to pray two rak’ats prayers which were very lengthy. He then raised his hands and prayed a dua (this dua is found in the books of supplications under the A’amal of the month of Rajab and the mosque of Sa’saa. It is also available in the Mafaatihul Jinan). He then got up and proceeded to mount his camel. Mohammad Ibn Ja’far Dahhan said: “Shouldn’t we ask him as to who he is?” I accepted his suggestion.We got up and went near him. I said, “We give you the oath of God. Tell us who you are?” He replied: “I too give you the oath of God, who do you think I am?” Ibn Ja’far Dahhan said: “I think you are Khizr”. The man turned towards me: “Are you thinking what I am thinking?” I said: “Yes, I too think you are Khizr.” “By Allah!” he announced: “I am the one whom Khizr is desirous of meeting. Now return. I am your Imam (a.s.) of your era”. (Al-Abqari’al-Hesaan, 2/ 60/28)
24 Parganas (West Bengal, India)
Marhoom Aga Sayyed Ali Tabrisi Damad recounts ‘I had stayed in Pargana in India for some time. I was in my house one day, when an affluent lady entered the house.Without warning she took off her veil. I saw that she was young and extremely beautiful but was terribly thin. She spoke: “My body is weak and frail because I am in the clutches of a Jinn, who has reduced me to this state. I have no means of escape from it (jinn) except that I ask your help. You are a Sayyed and from the progeny of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).” When she concluded her tale, I advised her: “Whenever the jinn appears, recite Ayat-ul-Kursi, he will flee away from you.” She pleaded: “I do not know Ayat-ul-Kursi”. I made her memorize it. She later returned and thanked me: “Due to the blessing of Ayat-ul-Kursi, whenever the jinn appeared, I would recite it and would be safe from his harm.”
Sayyed Ali continues: ‘Sometime passed. One day I saw a black object (like a frog) stuck on the roof of my room. It was slowly sliding down the wall, increasing in size. When it touched the floor, it took on a strange shape. Witnessing this I was frightened. It spoke to me in an angry and shrill voice: “You have estranged me from my beloved by teaching her the Ayat-ul-Kursi. I will kill you for this.” I started reciting Ayat-ul-Kursi. The form started shrinking slowly till it reached its earlier state and then disappeared. This happened a number of times. Each time it approached me and swore to kill me, I would recite Ayat-ul-Kursi and was saved from its evil. One day, I left the town on a leisure trip. There was a forest nearby. As I entered the forest, I saw a large snake slithering among the trees. It was yelling: “I am the jinn and I will destroy you. Who will save you from my clutches?” As soon as I heard his challenge I was stirred to call out for help to the one who is the helper of the weak and the cause of their salvation i.e. Imam Asr (a.s.). I replied to it (jinn): “Hazrat Hujjat (a.s.) will save me.”
I had barely uttered these words when I found a young man wearing a green head-dress and with an axe in his hand standing in front of me. He gave me the axe and ordered: “Take this and put an end to the snake.” I replied “Fear has made me weak, my Master. How will I use the axe?” He clutched the axe and with a single stroke destroyed the snake. “Go. You are now free from its evil.” I inquired: “Who are you?” He answered: “Who did you implore for help?” I said: “I had prayed to Imam Asr (a.s.)”He replied “I am the Proof and Imam of the Time (a.s.).” Saying this, he disappeared. I expressed gratitude to Allah for this great blessing.
(Al-Abqari al-Hesaan 2/204/25)
Imam of the Time (a.s.) lodges the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad)
This incident makes it evident that the al-Hajar al-Aswad can only be placed by a Divine Proof. Abul Qasim Ja’far Ibn Mohammad Qulwayh states: ‘In 337 AH, I reached Baghdad with the objective of proceeding for the visitation of the House of Allah (This is the initial period of the major occultation. This was the very year in which the Qaraametah returned the Al-Hajar al-Aswad to Masjid-ul-Haram). My main intention of this journey was to see the man who would place the Al-Hajar al-Aswad in its original place. I had read in traditions that the removal and placing of the sacred stone is done only through the Divine Proof of the Time, i.e. Hazrat Baqiyatullah (a.s.). (As had happened earlierin the time of Hajjaj (may Allah curse him) who had removed the stone from its designated place and despite trying desperately, he could not place it back until Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.) himself did not place it with his blessed hands). I fell ill in Baghdad. My health deteriorated to such an extent that I thought I would never recover from this illness. I lost hope of visiting the House of God. I appointed Ibn Hisham as my representative and gave him a sealed envelope. The letter inside contained some queries regarding my age and whether or not I would die from my current illness. I informed him: “My main purpose in sending you is to take this letter and hand it over to the person who places the Hajar Aswad in its original place and request him for a reply.”
Ibn Hisham continues the narration: “I reached the holy city of Mecca. People were trying their best to set the Hajar Aswad in its place. I paid some money to my servant and told him to inform me of the man who would finally be able to place the stone in its actual position. He appointed some people to protect me from the jostling crowd. I witnessed that whoever tried to place the stone, the stone itself would start vibrating and would not come to rest in the groove. Meanwhile, a handsome youth with a wheatish complexion appeared and placed the Black Stone perfectly, which stayed put as if it had never been removed.
When the people witnessed this, there was a chorus of Takbirs (Allah-o-Akbar). The youth departed from Masjid-ul-Haram and I followed him. As I increased my speed – pushing the crowd away – the people stared at me as if I had lost my senses or. I was running while the youth had a calm and measured stride. But as much as I tried, I could not catch up with him till we reached a place where there was none who could see us. He halted and said: “Give me the trust which you have brought.” I presented the letter to him. Without opening it, he said: “Tell the writer of this letter that he will not die of his present ailment but will live for a further 30 years.” Ibn Hisham says: “Overwhelming grief engulfed me at that instant. I was incapable of taking a step. The youth walked away leaving me in that state until he disappeared from my sight.”
Abul Qasim Ja’far Ibn Mohammad Qulwayh comments: ‘Ibn Hisham informed me of the events on his return from the Hajj. The original narrator of the incident continues: “Thirty years after the occurrence of this event, Ibn Qulwayh fell ill. He started his preparations for the hereafter. He wrote his will, arranged his shroud and specified his place of burial. “Why are you afraid of this illness?” asked the people. “Allah will have mercy upon you and cure you of it” they said. He replied: “This is the year foretold in which I am to die.” In that year and on that very day, he left for the heavenly abode.
(Al-Aqtari al-Hesaan, 2/57/3)
The bounties and grace of Imam Zamana (a.s.) continue. Although we have narrated incidents of yore in this article but the truth remains that people who ask his help are honoured with his favours even today. We relate below a narration of the present era.
The great scholar, Shaikh Mohammad Ali Amri who only recently passed away, was a resident of Madina. He was 135 years old at the time of his death. He is buried in JannatulBaqi’. It was well-known that he had met Imam Zamana (a.s.). Hazrat (a.s.) had saved him from the oppressive regime and had him released from prison. The representatives of Al-Muntazar had met him and his son Hazrat Hujjatul Islam Shaikh Kazim Amri in the year 1998 (Muharram 1430 AH). We inquired from Shaikh Kazim Amri: “People say that your father has met Imam Zamana (a.s.)”. He waved off the query with a denial. But the representatives persisted and said: “But this is a very common perception, please explain.’’ Finally, he relented and said: “The event took place nearly seventy years ago, when I was not even born. My father and other Shias were arrested just for following the Shia faith. They (the rulers) committed untold atrocities on the Shias at Baab-e-Jibraeel until two of the Shias were martyred while my father was taken captive along with others. Since my father was a scholar, he was sentenced to death. But after a lot of opposition, the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment and my father was sent to a prison outside Madina. Our family and tribesmen were unaware of the reduction in sentence and were under the impression that he had been killed. My father returned home after a year. The joy of the people knew no bounds. Everyone asked him as to what had happened. He explained the matter to a few of them and has since related the event to us. He narrated: ‘When I was moved out of town and imprisoned, I would pray to Allah and the Imams (a.s.) for my release. I saw a dream one night that Imam Jawaad (a.s.) came to me and gave me the glad tidings of my early release. (The locality where Shaikh Amri resides is known as Avaali and it boasts of the Quba Mosque and a house of Imam Jawad (a.s.)). The next night brought the glad tidings from Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) for my early liberation from captivity. On the third night, I saw Imam Zamana (a.s.) in my dream. He was astride a horse, surrounded by companions, leaving the precinct of Mecca to travel towards Madina. He stated: “My representative is coming to you and he will secure your release.” I woke up with a start. I was perplexed, not understanding the implication of my dream. Soldiers later came to my cell and informed me of my impending discharge. Lo! I was free. I thanked Allah and prayed fervently for the early reappearance of my Master.’
After the recounting of his father’s episode, Shaikh Kazim Amri addressed the representatives of Al-Muntazar: “This is the incident. The truth is that we are safe in Madina because our Master and Leader Imam Zamana (a.s.) supports us. He always helps us. Then he pointed to a tradition (hadith) framed on the wall behind him. It read:
“Surely we are not negligent of your affairs nor are we oblivious of your remembrances…..”
Shaikh Kazim advised: ‘Imam (a.s.) is never inattentive of our affairs. He does not forget us. If he would stop helping us, the enemy would crush us under its feet. The Tauqee instructs us of the same.’ The representatives confirmed the narration from Shaikh Mohammad Ali Amri. Initially, he too was reluctant to speak about it but later – on repeated requests, confirmed..
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