Those who have seen him during the Major Occultation
Comprised of Thirteen Traditions
891. Al-Anwār al-nu`māniyya1: (After mentioning the great precautionary-piety [wara`] of Muqaddas al-Ardabīlī and his abstinence, piety, and miracles), he says: Narrated to me the most reliable of my teachers in knowledge and practice that this man—referring to Muqaddas al-Ardabīlī—had a student from Tafrish. His name was Mīr `Allām [Faiḍ-Allah] and he was very virtuous and pious. The student had said:
I had a room in the school which was surrounded by the Holy Dome. I had finished my studies and a considerable part of the night had elapsed. I went out of the room to look at the courtyard of the shrine and it was terribly dark. Suddenly, I saw a man moving towards the holy shrine. I thought to myself “perhaps he is a thief who has come to steal the lanterns.” I came down and approached him and I could see him but he couldn’t see me. He went to the door and stopped.
The lock opened by itself and the second door opened for him [too]. Then, the same happened with the third door. He approached the holy grave and said hello. Someone replied to him from the holy grave. I recognized the voice of this man and he was discussing some religious issues with the Imam.
[When he finished], he went out of the city towards the Mosque of Kūfa. I followed him but he couldn’t see me. When he reached the Mosque’s prayer-niche, I heard him speaking to another man about the same issue. He returned and I returned behind him. When he reached the city gates, the morning had become bright. I announced myself to him and said, “Our master! I was with you right from the beginning to the end.
Please inform me about the first person with whom you spoke to in the Holy Shrine and the other one with whom you spoke in the Mosque of Kūfa?” He took a covenant from me that I will not inform anyone about his secret until he dies. He then enlightened me, “My son! When some issues were unclear for me I would some nights go to the grave of our master Amīr al-Mu’minīn, peace be on him, to discuss the issues with him and hear the answers from him. Last night, he referred me to our master Ṣāḥib al-Zamān and said to me, ‘Tonight my son Mahdī is in the Mosque of Kūfa. Go to him and ask your questions.’ The [second] person was the Mahdī, peace be on him.”
892. Biḥār al-anwār2: A group from the citizens of Najaf informed me that
A person from Qāshān came to Najaf on the way to the Sanctuary, the House of Allah (Bait Allah al-ḥarām). He became severely ill to the extent that both his legs became paralyzed and he was unable to walk. His friends left him behind and entrusted him to a righteous person—who lived in a room in the school surrounded by the holy shrine—and went ahead for Hajj. Every day, this righteous man would lock the door and go to the desert to seek sustenance. One day, the ill-man said to him, “I am bored and I am fed up with being confined to this place. Today, take me someplace and leave me there and go wherever you like.” (The ill-man narrates,) “He accepted and carried me to the Station (maqām) of the Qā’im outside Najaf. He made me sit there, washed his shirt in the pond, and hung it on a tree, then left for the desert. I was alone and sorrowful and was thinking about my fate. Suddenly, I saw a handsome youth with a tanned complexion. He entered the courtyard, greeted me, and went inside the building and started praying some units (rak`a) in the prayer-niche with a humility and humbleness the like of which I had never witnessed before. When he finished his prayers, he came out to me and enquired about my condition. I said to him, ‘I have been afflicted with a calamity that has straitened me. Allah neither cures me so that I am freed from it nor does he make me die so that I am relieved of it.’
He said, ‘Don’t be sad! Soon, Allah will give you both.’ Saying this, he left. When he went away, I saw that the shirt had fallen on the ground from the tree. I stood up and washed it and hung it back on the tree. Then, it struck me that I could not move. So how did I get up and do all these things? I inspected myself but found nothing of [my ailment].
I realized that he was the Qā’im—Allah’s blessings be on him. I went out in the desert but saw no one and became very sorrowful. When the owner of the room returned, he asked me about my condition and was amazed at my condition. I informed him about what had happened. He too became sorrowful about the opportunity both of us had lost and I walked along with him to his room.”
He was in sound and healthy condition until the pilgrims and his friends returned. When he saw them, he stayed with them for a short time but fell ill and died. He was buried in the courtyard [of the Holy Shrine]. The truth about what the Imam, peace be on him, had said became evident—for both things had occurred.
893. Jannat al-ma’wā3: The 9th Incident: The practicing-scholar (al-`ālim al-`āmil), the complete mystic, the diver in the depths of fear and hope, the traveler in the lands of abstinence and piety, our beneficial companion, our true friend, al-Āghā `Alī Riḍā, the son of the great scholar al-Ḥāj Maulā Muḥammad al-Nā’īnī—may Allah have mercy on them both—informed me from the pious scholar, the possessor of miracles and high stations, Maulā Zain al-`Ābidīn b. Muḥammad al-Salmāsī, may Allah have mercy on him, who was the student of Ayatollah al-Sayyid . . . Muḥammad Mahdī, known as Baḥr al-`Ulūm, may Allah elevate his position. The aforementioned person was one of [Baḥr al-`Ulūm’s] very special students regarding both secret and open matters. He said:
I was present in the assembly of the Sayyid in the Shrine of Najaf when Muḥaqqiq al-Qummī—the author of al-Qawānīn—came to visit him. This occurred in the year in which he had returned to Iraq from Iran to visit the graves of the Imams, peace be on them, and to perform Hajj. All those who were present in the assembly dispersed—and were about a hundred people who had come to learn from him.
Only three people remained who were all pious and righteous and had attained the high position of Ijtihād. The Muḥaqqiq turned towards the Sayyid and said, “You [who live in Najaf] have seen many miracles . . . please narrate some of these to us so that the hearts may become assured.” The Sayyid replied without hesitation, “Three nights ago or less (the doubt is from the narrator), I was in the Great Mosque of Kūfa and was performing the night-prayers (ṣalāt al-layl). I had the intention of returning to Najaf early in the morning so that the religious debates and classes would be performed on schedule—and this was his practice for many years.
When I came out of the Mosque, I felt a great desire to go to the Mosque of Sahla but I dropped the idea fearing that I might not reach the city in time to perform the classes. But my desire increased every moment and my heart was inclined to that place. I would take one step forward and would stop the other one.
Suddenly, a wind blew which was full of dust and I lost my way [in the dust]. But since divine-success (taufīq) is the best of friends, I landed at the gate of the Mosque of Sahla. I entered and it was empty of worshippers and visitors except for a majestic man, who was engrossed in supplicating to Allah. He was using words that would melt the hardened hearts and would make tears flow from the dried eyes.
My tiredness vanished, my condition changed, my knees started trembling, and my tears started flowing by hearing these words—that my ears hadn’t heard and my eyes had seen nothing like them in the prayer-books. I realized that the supplicant was making up the words at the same moment that he was reciting them and he wasn’t saying something he had memorized. I stood in my place and listened with pleasure until he finished supplicating.
Then, he turned to me and called out in Persian, ‘Come here, O Mahdī!’ I went a few steps toward him and stopped. Again, he ordered me to come forward. I walked a little then I stopped. Once again, he ordered me to proceed, saying, ‘Surely, etiquette lies in obedience.’ I went ahead and our distance was such that my hand reached him and his hand reached me. He then said some words.”
Al-Salmāsī, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “When the talk of the Sayyid reached this stage, he stopped and started answering another of Muḥaqqiq al-Qumī’s questions. Muḥaqqiq al-Qummī changed the topic again and asked about those words. He indicated with his hand—in a gesture of denial—that this was a secret that could not be disclosed.”
894. Jannat al-ma’wā4: The 11th Incident: Through the same chain of narrators (from al-Salmāsī):
We were praying behind the Sayyid in the holy shrine of the `Askariyyain [in Sāmarrā’]. When he intended to proceed from the tashahhud to the third unit (rak’a), his conditions changed. He stopped for a while then stood up.
When we finished, we were all surprised and could not understand its reason. None of us dared to ask him until we returned to the house and the dining cloth was laid. One of the Sayyids from amongst our companions indicated to me to ask him about it. I said, “No. You are closer to him than me.” He, may Allah have mercy on him, turned to me and said, “What are you speaking about?” I replied—and I was the most audacious of all towards him—“They want to know as what happened to you during the prayers.” He responded, “The Ḥujja—may Allah hasten his reappearance—entered the holy shrine to salute his father, peace be on him.
So, whatever you saw of the change in my condition was on account of witnessing his illuminated beauty, until he went out.”
895. Al-Kharā’ij wa l-jarā’iḥ5: From them is what has been narrated from Abū l-Qāsim Ja`far b. Muḥammad b. Qūlawayh, who recounts:
When I reached Baghdad in the year 339 AH, I decided to go to Hajj. It was the year when the Qarāmiṭa returned the Black-Stone (Ḥajar al-Aswad) to its place in Ka`ba.6 My greatest concern was to reach the one who would place the stone [back in its place] because it had been written in some books that whenever it had been removed [the only person that had been able to] put it back in its place had been the Divine Proof of that time.
For example, during the reign of al-Ḥajjāj, Imam Zain al-`Ābidīn, peace be on him, had placed it back and it had stayed in its place. Meanwhile, I became so ill that I feared for my life and it became impossible for me to do what I had intended. I appointed a representative who was known as ibn Hishām and gave him a sealed letter in which I had asked about the length of my life and that whether I would die in this illness or not.
I told [ibn Hishām] that my concern was to convey this letter to the one who would place the Black-Stone back in its place and to get the answer to it. [After he returned), ibn Hishām reported, “When I reached Mecca, I spent a lot [of money] on the custodians of the Holy House until they allowed me to see who places the Black Stone back in its place. I stood there and some of them remained with me to keep away the crowd of people.
Whenever someone put it in its place, it would start shaking and would not remain in its place. Then, a youth with a tanned complexion and handsome visage came forward. He took it and placed it in its place and it stuck there as if it had never been taken out. Due to this, [the crowd] roared and the youth returned and left from the door. I stood up from where I was and followed him and tore the crowd apart [sending them] right and left.
The people thought I had lost my mind and moved out of my way. My eyes were fixed on him until he moved out of the crowd. I rushed towards him yet I couldn’t reach him, although he was walking calmly. When he reached a place that no one could see him except me, he stopped, turned to me, and said, ‘Bring forth what is with you.’ I gave him the letter and without reading it he said, ‘Tell him that there is no fear for him in this illness. The inevitable [i.e. death] will occur after thirty years.’ I was astonished to the extent that I could not move and He left me and went away.”
In the year 369 AH, Abū l-Qāsim became ill. He started organizing his affairs, acquiring the needs for his grave, and writing his will and was very serious in this regard. He was asked, “What do you fear? We hope that Allah, the Exalted, will grant you good health? You need not fear!” He had replied, “This is the year I was told to fear,” and he died from his illness.
896. Muhaj al-da`awāt7: I was in Sāmarrā’ when I heard him, peace be on him, supplicating in the morning. I memorized a part of his supplication in which he mentioned the living and the dead then said: “And make them survive—or—and make them live in our honor, our nation, our kingdom, and our government.” This was on the eve of Wednesday, Dhū l-Ḥijja 13, 638 AH.
897. Dār al-salām8 (Comprised of the stories of those who had the honor of meeting the Imam of our time, peace be on him): The 19th Incident: The virtuous scholar Mīrzā Muḥammad al-Tunkābunī in his book Qiṣaṣ al-`ulamā, from the learned al-Lāhījī Maulā Ṣafar `Alī, from the author of al-Mafātīḥ, al-Sayyid Muḥammad—the son of the author of al-Riyāḍ—from Ayatollah al-`Allāma in the margins of one of his books in which he mentions that
One night he went to visit the grave of our master, Imam Abū `Abd-Allah al-Ḥusayn, peace be on him. He was riding a donkey and in his hand was a whip to drive his beast. On his way, he met a man dressed like an Arab, who joined him [on the journey] while the latter was walking in front of him. Gradually, they started talking and discussing.
From the talks of the Arab, he realized that this Arab was very learned and well informed and very few people were like him [in knowledge]. So, he informed him about some difficult problems and found him to be the solver of problems and puzzling issues and the key to scientific dilemmas. He asked him the questions that had baffled him and [the Arab] had revealed the answer to all of them.
The discussion reached an issue in which the Arab’s fatwa differed with his view. He refuted him by saying, “Your fatwa is absolutely against the basic principles and laws [of jurisprudence]. It is necessary that some proof be put forward to establish it.” The Arab replied, “The proof is the tradition recorded by al-Ṭūsī in al-Tahdhīb.” `Allāma answered, “I am not aware of any such tradition in al-Tahdhīb and neither Shaykh nor anyone else have recorded it.” He replied, “Refer to the manuscript of al-Tahdhīb which is with you now; go to such and such page and such and such line and you will find it.” When the `Allāma heard this from him and realized that this news was of the unseen (al-ghayb), he was astonished and became startled.
He thought to himself, “Perhaps this man who has been walking in front of me for such and such time whilst I was on my mount, is the pivot around whose existence the universe rotates.” Due to him being engrossed in deep thought and astonishment, his whip fell from his hand. While the whip was falling down from his hand, he asked, “Is it possible to have the privilege of meeting our master and guardian, Ṣāḥib al-Zamān, during the Major Occultation? The man bent down and picked up the whip and put it in `Allāma’s hand and said, “Why is it impossible whilst his hand is in your hand?” On hearing this, `Allāma threw himself on [the Imam’s] feet and became unconscious. On regaining consciousness, he saw no one and became sorrowful and sad. He returned to his family and browsed through the copy of al-Tahdhīb. He found the tradition just as the Imam had informed him in the margins of his copy. He wrote in his own handwriting on that place, “My master and my chief informed me about this tradition—which is in such and such page and such and such line.”
The virtuous al-Tunkābunī has narrated from Maulā Ṣafar `Alī, from the aforementioned Sayyid, may Allah have mercy on him, that he had seen that copy with `Allāma’s writing in its margin.
898. Dalā’il al-imāma9: Abū l-Ḥusayn Muḥammad b. Hārūn b. Mūsā al-Talla`ukbarī, narrated to me from Abū l-Ḥusayn b. Abī l-Baghl al-Kātib, who said:
I accepted a responsibility from Abū Manṣūr b. al-Ṣāliḥān but something occurred between me and him that I went into hiding. He sought me and frightened me and I remained in hiding and was fearful. On the eve of Friday, I went to the graves of the Quraish and stayed there that night to pray and supplicate.
It was a windy and rainy night and I asked the warden, ibn Ja`far, to close the doors so that I could pray and supplicate in solitude and be safe from the entry of anyone with whom I felt unsafe with and feared to meet. He did so accordingly and locked the doors. As it became midnight, heavy wind and rain prevented anyone from venturing to that place. I stayed there and supplicated, recited ziyārats, and prayed.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps near the grave of our Master (Imam) Mūsā, peace be on him. There was a man visiting [his grave]. He sent salutations to Adam and the Resolute Prophets (Aulū l-`Azm) followed by the Imams, one by one, up to Ṣāḥib al-Zamān. I was stunned and thought to myself, “Perhaps, he has forgotten [the last Imam] or he does not know or this is the religion of this man.” When he finished his ziyārat, he performed two units of prayers. I feared him because I did not know him. He was a youth and a perfect man.
He was wearing a white dress and a turban—whose ends were suspended and lowered around his shoulders. He said to me, “O Abū l-Ḥusayn b. Abī l-Baghl! Why don’t you recite the supplication of Faraj?” I replied, “What (supplication) is that, my master?” He replied, “Perform two units of prayers, then say, ‘O He who exposed the beautiful [deeds] and covered the nasty ones, O He who does not rebuke for crimes and does not rip the veil [which covers our crimes], O generous pardoner, O noble excuser, O He who has broad forgiveness, O He who has opened His hands with mercy, O He who all whispers [of supplications] end at Him, O He who all complaints are sent to Him, O helper of all those who seek help, O He who bestows graces before they are deserved, O my Lord (ten times), O my Master (ten times), O my chief (ten times), O my final destination (ten times), O my uttermost desire (ten times), I ask you for the sake of these Names, and for the sake of Muḥammad and his pure family, to remove my agony, and to remove my worries, and to free me from my sorrows, and to set right my affairs.’ After this, supplicate as you wish and ask your need. Then, place your right cheek on the earth and say a hundred times while in prostration, ‘O Muḥammad O `Alī, O `Alī O Muḥammad, suffice me for you are sufficient for me, help me for you are my helpers.’
Then place your left cheek on the earth and say a hundred times, ‘Reach me (adriknī),’ and repeat it many times. Then, say, ‘Aid me (al-ghauth),’ until you run out of breath. Then, raise your head, because Allah will surely fulfill your needs on account of His munificence, if He, the Exalted, wills.”
I started the prayer and supplication and he left. After finishing, I went to ibn Ja`far to ask him about the man and how he had entered. But I saw that all the doors were closed and locked like earlier. I was surprised and thought to myself, “Perhaps there is another door which I am not aware of.” I called ibn Ja`far and he came out of the lamp-oil store and I asked him about the man and how he had entered.
He replied, “All the doors are locked and as you can see I have not opened them.” I informed him about what had happened and he said, “That was our master, Ṣāḥib al-Zamān. I have seen him many times in such nights when no one is here.” I became sorrowful because of what I had missed. I left near morning and set off for Karkh—near the place where I had been hiding in.
The sun was rising when the companions of ibn al-Ṣāliḥān requested to meet me and were asking about me from my friends. They had a letter of amnesty from the vizier and a note in his own handwriting in which he had greatly praised me. I went to him with a few of my reliable friends.
He stood up and hugged me and dealt with me in a manner that he had not done before. He said, “You reached such a state that you complained about me to Ṣāḥib al-Zamān.” I replied, “I only supplicated and asked.” He answered, “Woe to you! Last night—meaning the eve of Friday—I saw my master Ṣāḥib al-Zamān in a dream.
He ordered me to be gracious [to you] and he treated me so harshly that I became scared.” I said, “There is no God but Allah! I bear witness that the [the Imams] are the truth and the pinnacle truthfulness. Last night, I saw our master Ṣāḥib al-Zamān while I was awake. He instructed me to do so and so,” and I explained in detail what I had seen the previous night in the Holy Shrine. He was surprised and I attained things that I had not expected and I acquired such a position before him that I could not even think of. All these were because of the blessings of our master, Ṣāḥib al-Zamān.
899. Al-Imāma wa l-mahdawiyya10: In the Name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful. His Holiness Shaykh Muḥammad al-Kūfī was famous for abstinence, piety, and righteousness amongst the great scholars and learned men of Najaf al-Ashraf.
He would continuously go to Najaf on the eve and day of Friday. I had heard from a scholar about his meeting with the Master of the Time—may Allah hasten his relief (faraj)—on a Friday in the Sadr School in Najaf, in the room of one of his noble friends. He had the privilege of being in his presence and at his service.
I asked him to recount the story of his meeting with the Imam, may Allah hasten his relief (faraj), so that I could hear it directly from him. Here, I am narrating what I remember from the things he mentioned to me. He said:
I had gone with my father to Mecca and we only had one camel with us. My father would ride it while I walked and my main concern was to serve him. When we were returning, we reached al-Samāwa where we hired a mule from a Sunni, whose profession was to transfer corpses between al-Samāwa and Najaf.
[We hired the mule] because our camel travelled slowly and would usually stop and lie down and we had to make him stand up again with great difficulty. My father mounted the mule and I sat atop the camel. We moved from al-Samāwa and the camel was lagging behind because in most places, the path was filled with mud and water. I was afflicted with the bad temper of this Sunni whose mule we had hired.
This situation continued until we reached a land which was extremely muddy. The camel lied down and refused to budge. We tried our best to make it move but to no avail. Due to our attempts in making it move, our clothes became soaked in mud. The Sunni was forced to stop so we could wash our clothes with the water that was there. I distanced myself a little from them to take off my clothes and wash them.
I was worried about our fate and bewildered because I didn’t know what would happen to us and how everything would end. Moreover, the valley was dangerous because of bandits. I felt the need to make tawassul to the Guardian of the Time, may our souls be sacrificed for him; but nothing happened.
The desert was empty to where the eyes could see. Suddenly, I saw near me a youth who resembled Sayyid Mahdī b. Sayyid Ḥusayn al-Karbalā’ī. [I don’t recollect whether he said that there were two people or only this person. Also, I don’t remember who greeted the other first.]11 I said, “What’s your name?” He replied, “Sayyid Mahdī.” I asked, “The son of Sayyid Ḥusayn?” He replied, “No, the son of Sayyid Ḥasan.” I asked again, “Where are you coming from?” He replied, “From Khuḍair.” In this desert, there is a place known as Maqām al-Khiḍr, peace be on him.
I thought that he was referring to that place. He asked, “Why have you stopped here?” I told him about the incident in detail and that the camel had lied down and complained to him about my bad condition. He looked at the camel and put his hand on the camel’s head and it immediately stood up on its feet.
I saw him, peace be on him, speaking with the camel and pointing right and left with his index finger and showing it the path. Then, he turned to me and asked, “Do you need anything else?” I answered, “I have a lot of needs but I cannot mention them in this state of restlessness and discomfort. Specify a place for me so that I may come there prepared and I will ask you.” He said, “The mosque of Sahla,” and suddenly disappeared from before my eyes. I went to my father and asked, “Where did the person who was talking with me go?” (I wanted to know whether he had seen him, peace be on him, or not). He replied, “No one came here and I can’t see anyone—as far as my eyes can see—in this desert.” I said, “Mount [the mule]! Let’s go.” He asked, “What will you do with the camel?” I replied, “Leave it to me.” They mounted and I sat atop the camel. It moved very fast and overtook them. The Sunni hirer screamed, “We cannot catch up with you with this speed.” Everything had turned upside-down. The Sunni asked amazingly, “What has happened? The camel is the same camel and the path is the same path?!” I answered, “That is a secret.” Suddenly, a big river appeared right in the middle of the road.
For a second time, I was bewildered and didn’t know what to do with the water. While I was in the state of bewilderment, the camel went inside the river. Sometimes he would go to the right and other times to the left. When my father and the Sunni hirer reached the river, they called out, “Where are you going? You will drown. It is not possible to cross this river.” But when they saw how fast I was crossing it with the camel and nothing was happening to me, they too dared to cross. I said to them, “Go right and left and follow the same path the camel had crossed.” They crossed accordingly and we safely reached [the other side]. It was then that I remembered the Imam pointing right and left to the camel with his index finger. He had been showing [the camel how to cross] the river.
Anyway, we started traveling until we reached some nomads in the night and we dismounted near them. They all asked us surprisingly, “Where did you come from?” We replied, “Al-Samāwa.” They all said, “The bridge has collapsed and there is no other way to cross the river except with a ship.” They were all amazed and the most amazed amongst them was the Sunni hirer. He pleaded, “Inform me about the secret of this whole affair.” I said, “When the camel sat down, I made tawassul to the twelfth Imam of the Shias. He came to me and solved all our problems. [I don’t remember whether he said that he (the Sunni) became a Shia along with the others or not].12 Then, we traveled a few miles towards Najaf. The camel sat down again and I put my head near its ear and said, “You have been ordered to take us to Kūfa.” I had barely finished my sentence when it got up from its place and completed the journey. At the door of our house in Kūfa, it lowered its knees and sat down on the ground. I neither sold it nor slaughtered it until it died. During the day, it would go around Kūfa for grazing and in the evening, it would return to the house to sleep.
After this, I asked him, “Did you have the honor of meeting our great master in the Mosque of Sahla?” He answered, “Yes. But I am not permitted to disclose the details of that conversation.”
Āqā Imām al-Sidihī.
The traditions with the following numbers also show the above meaning: 881, 882, 884, and 886
What we mentioned in this section are only a handful from the many incidents and stories that have been mentioned in reliable books. We have sufficed with these because we did not want to make the book lengthy. Moreover, these incidents are so many that it is impossible to enumerate all of them.
The scholars have mentioned many of them in their books. To realize their vast number, you can refer to Biḥār al-anwār, al-Najm al-thāqib, Jannat al-ma’wā, Dār al-salām (comprised of the accounts of those who had the privilege of meeting the Imam), al-`Abqarī al-ḥisān, and etc. Whoever browses through the books which have mentioned such incidents, narratives, and accounts—most of which are authentic and reliable due to the correctness of their chains of narrators, and the fact that their narrators were famous for their trustworthiness, knowledge, and piety—will become sure and certain about his existence, peace be on him.
We ask Allah to grants us the grace to compile an exclusive and large book in this regard. Surely, He is the Best Facilitator and Helper.