28 Apr Why Occultation? – PART I
WHY OCCULTATION? – PART I
The Almighty Allah has bestowed the human beings with a superiority and has kept the rest of the creation under him. He says, ‘I have created man with the best parts’. Whether it is the earth or atmosphere, sea or the mountain, forest or the desert, man not only has superiority upon all these but they are subservient to his commands and power. But Allah has also said that when I turned around this man, I found him to be the worst of the creation. To show the superiority and specialty of man he has been given the freedom of will and with it, complete guidance. In this way the path for him was laid out that he may not misuse his freedom and be led astray by the instigation of the Satan. By giving him intellect and reasoning he was made capable of discerning the good and the bad. And the chain of 1,24,000 Prophets was initiated so that they may show man a way of life to remain away from the evils so that he may remain safe from his enemies and be forewarned of their designs. And that the worldly fallacies do not hinder the progress of his spiritual self. Among those prophets some possessed medium age and some were given a long life. Some were recalled (died) at a young age.
There are even some who were first made apparent to the people then the curtain of occultation was put upon them. There were some prophets who were apparent for some few selected righteous people but were hidden from the common masses like Hazrat Khizr (a.s.), Hazrat Idris (a.s.) etc. Allah is the Ultimate Power. He is the Knower of the Unseen worlds. He Himself is aware of the calls of His justice. He is the one who made man His lowly creation aware of His Lordship and made him submit to His mastership and described him with His Own qualities. When the chain of the Prophets came to an end by the coming of the seal of the Prophets, the greatest among the messengers, Muhammad al Mustafa (s.a.w.a.) then His morals, His commandments and His book were protected by his successors.
The chain of successors shall remain till the end of the world. This is guaranteed by Allah Himself. Since the vicegerent is appointed by Allah therefore the divine practice which was found in the Prophets also continued in the persons who were to hold the post of Imamat. History is a witness that while some Prophets were given a long life, others lived for a shorter duration. There were some who were apparent and some hidden from the eyes of the people, and still are concealed today. If the number of hidden Prophets from the 1,24,000 Prophets is few then the number of hidden Imams is also very less. Out of the twelve Imams, Eleven were openly carrying out their duties of protecting the commandments of Allah. Only one of the Imams has been concealed. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has prophesized that eleven of the twelve Imams will protect religion in their own time amidst turbulent environs and murderous surroundings. And by the quality of their personality they constructed the minarets of light which will illuminate the truth in the dark periods of history till the end of the world. Even among the Imams the different spans of life and duration of Imamat is to be found. Just like it was in the case of Prophets. The age of Imam Hasan al Askari (a.s.) was only 28 years. His period of Imamat was for six years from 254 A.H. to 260 A.H. After him the Imamat of his exalted son began who was born in 255 A.H. And he is the last Imam.
His age was only five years then. And his long life is known only to Allah. When he will reappear he will fill the earth with justice and equity like it had been filled with injustice and oppression. Although even today he is the supreme ruler and we all live in the limits of his domain. The gates of these apparent and concealed rule are ghaibat (occultation) and Zuhoor (reappearance). One thing is astonishing here, that the intellectuals are washed away in the torrents of thoughts. The human voice in them speaks out. Each and every person of this group knows that faultless people are being oppressed. They are dealt with cruelty. They are helpless and their pain and restlessness is apparent. Their plundered homes, the burning embers of hunger in their bellies, the whiteness spread on their eyes. The wretched children clinging to their mothers. Empty bowls in their hands, searching for their destination, where there is justice, there is equity. Where their talents are nurtured, where their voices are heard by someone, where there is a cool shade of peace. From the cracks of the walls of all religions emerge these calls. And the progress of the caravan of the human beings continues towards its destination. The pathways of which are manifest, but the end of the journey not in sight. If this had not been the case then these efforts and these preparations all would have subsided. And no hope would have remained (the spirit of hope is one reason of occultation). It is a strange logic indeed. The three factors which are hidden are believed in viz.
- The human species especially the support of the oppressed
- The hope of the ultimate destination.
- The image of the liberator.
But on reaching this point the belief is shaken down, where the question of the liberator arises. The so-called intellectuals insist that such a personality does not exist at all. It is only in Islam that this religion gives all the details of such a personality and also indicates the time and spatial dimensions of his existence. And he is recognized in a way like the sun is seen behind the clouds. The Muslim scholars in general and the Shia scholars in, particular have researched into the authenticity of this fact, from the historical as well as the traditional point of view and then believed in it. And this belief is based on such a firm foundation that no one can forgo it. The fact is that the light of his holy self (Hazrat Mahdi) filters through the curtain of the divinely ordained occultation, illuminates the creation and imparts life to it. Here one question acquires paramount importance and is also raised with great prejudice and that is, who is the representative of Allah and the savior of the downtrodden and oppressed people? If he exists then why is he not seen by everyone, why is he in occultation, why is the occultation so prolonged that it seems impossible, what are the reasons of all these?
First of all, we have already stated in the introduction that whatever was made necessary for the Prophets (a.s.) the same things are also for the successors of the Prophets. History is replete with examples where the moment a Prophet (a.s.) raised his voice for propagation, all the unbelievers took up cudgels with him and conspiring with the tyrant rulers tried all means to put hurdles in his way. But the Prophets (a.s.) never gave up their mission. They kept on striving. They never wavered in their steps nor were they haunted by any doubts. Their firmness of purpose never decreased. There is no instance in history where these Prophets (a.s.) have been subdued by the power of the rulers or the opposition of the people. However if the adversities intensified, the Prophet (a.s.) either prayed for divine punishment or bore the difficulties patiently till death, or were hidden from their people by Allah. The event of Hazrat Musa (a.s.) leaving Egypt has been recorded in the Quran. Hazrat Isa (a.s.) was raised to the fourth sky. Hazrat Khizr and Hazrat Ilyas (a.s.) are present in this world itself but are not been by everyone since ages. If we study the history of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and the background of his occupation, we shall find that its historical causes were the same as that of the various Prophets. Samarrah became the seat of power for Bani Abbas in 220 A.H. In 234 A.H. the Abbaside Caliph Mutawakkil sent Yahya bin Harsma to summon Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) to Samarrah. Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) was also with him [(Imam All Naqi A.S.)]. He was only two years old. In 247 A.H. Mutawakkil was murdered while intoxicated. During these fourteen years, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) faced great difficulties along with his father. There were restrictions on visiting the tomb of Imam Husain (a.s.). The signs of the grave were obliterated. Imam Hasan Askari and Imam All Naqi (a.s.) were in house arrest and were heavily guarded. Sometimes, Mutawakkil imprisoned them and at other times summoned them to his court. Sometimes he called them while he sat enjoying wine in their presence. And on their refusal to accept his offer of the intoxicants he cried in ecstasy. Spies surrounded them. After the murder of Mutawakkil, Muntasir and later Mustaeen became the Caliphs. Mustaeen shifted the seat of his government to Baghdad. Later, he entered into allegiance with Motazbillah and Samarrah again became the centre of Caliphate. A reign of terror was unleashed in the town of Basra. There were revolts in Khurasan and Ahwaz which were immediately suppressed. No place was safe for the common people. Imam Hadi (a.s.) was martyred in the year 254 A.H. The duratron of the Imamate of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) was from 254 A.H. to 260 A.H. Hazrat Wali-e-Asr (a.s.), the Promised Mahdi was born in the year 255 A.H. His age was only 5 years when Imam Hasan Al-Askari (a.s.) left this world.
Imam Hasan Al-Askari (a.s.) was poisoned at the order of Motamid in 26iO A.H. and his duration of Imamate came to an end after six years. During this time the activities of the spies had intensified to such an extent that midwives used to enter the Imam (a.s.)’s house forcibly and examine if any of his wives were pregnant. But like Allah had concealed Hazrat Musa (a.s.) in the womb of his mother, Janabe Nargis (s.a.) showed no outward signs of pregnancy. The spies were spread from the residence of the Imam up to the prison. Once Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) was in the prison of Saleh bin Vaseef (a Turk). Imprisoned in this place from before were some of his trusted companions Abu Hashim Jafri, Dawood bin Qasim, Hasan bin Muhammad Aqiqi and Muhammad bin Ibrahim Amri. A person by the name of Jarni was also there. Imam warned his companions to beware of this man because he was a spy. On enquiry it was found that he kept a record of the daily happenings there. Thus spies were there in every disguise. Hazrat Askari (a.s.) fell ill on the 1st of Rabiul Awwal. During these eight days the Caliph had posted a battalion of guards who kept strict surveillance on the visitors. Why did the Abbaside Caliph behave in such a manner towards the son of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)? A tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) says that whatever has happened in the nation of Musa (a.s.) will occur in My nation. Like Firaun knew that Hazrat Musa (a.s.) will rise to put an end to his claim of divinity, in the same way the Caliph was time and again reminded by the narrators of tradition that the 12th successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is to come and purify this earth from all injustice and oppression. The prophecy of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has to materialize one day. The caliphs felt the imminent danger to themselves and took all the possible precautions.
When such a terror was spread everywhere the birth of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) occurred in 255
A.H. [Like the concealed birth of Hazrat Musa (a.s.)]. One of the divine duties
of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) was the protection of Hazrat Hujjat (a.s.) from the
enemies. At the same time he had to inform his trusted followers that the
Promised Mahdi has been born so that they could follow him in future even
though he would remain concealed from them.
The conditions which had prevailed at the occultation of the Prophets (a.s.) were
also present here. The reign of terror among the people, the strict
surveillance of the ruler, the net of spies, discord in every area, the rising
of the Imam at the centre of Caliphate, the movement of the armies, the
oppressions upon the lovers of the household of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.),
the guards upon the residence of Imam (a.s.). Like in the case of Prophet Moosa
(a.s.) the divine command arrived for Hazrat Hujjat (a.s.) to go into
occultation in order to protect his life.
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