The traditions that indicate his birth will be concealed
Comprised of thirteen traditions
653. Kifāyat al-athar1: Abū `Abd-Allah al-Khuzā`ī informed us, from Muḥammad b. Abū `Abd-Allah al-Kūfī, from Sahl b. Ziyād al-Ādamī, from `Abd al-`Aẓīm b. `Abd-Allah al-Ḥasanī, who said:
I said to (Imam) Muḥammad b. `Alī b. Mūsā, peace be on him, “I hope that you are the Qā’im from the Ahl al-Bait of Muḥammad who will fill the earth with fairness and justice just as it will be filled with injustice and unfairness.” He replied, “O Abū l-Qāsim! There is no one from us but that he rises with Allah’s commands and is the guide towards the religion of Allah. But the Qā’im through whom Allah, Mighty and Majestic be He, will cleanse the earth from the disbelievers and deniers and will fill it with justice and fairness, is the one whose birth will be concealed2 from the people.
He will disappear from them and they will not be allowed to say his name. His name will be the same as the Messenger of Allah, Allah’s blessings be on him and his family, and also his epithet. He is the one for whom the earth’s distances will be shortened, every difficulty will be eased for, and for him will gather his companions—who are equal to the ones who participated in the Battle of Badr, three hundred and thirteen men—from distant places on earth. This is the [meaning of the] saying of Allah, Mighty and Majestic be He,
‘Wherever you may be, Allah will bring forth all of you. Surely, Allah has power over all things’ (Quran Surah Baqarah 2:148).
When this number of sincere people gathers for him, he will make his affair evident. When ten thousand men are complete, he will emerge with Allah’s permission. Then, he will continue slaying Allah’s enemies until Allah, Blessed and Exalted be He, becomes satisfied.” I said to him, “My Master! How will he know that Allah has become satisfied?” He answered, “Mercy will be inspired in his heart . . . (to the end of the tradition).”
654. Kamāl al-dīn3: Through the same chain of narrators— meaning `Alī b. Aḥmad al-Daqqāq and Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Shaibānī, may Allah be satisfied with them, from Muḥammad b. Abū `Abd-Allah al-Kūfī, from Mūsā b. `Imrān al-Nakha`ī, from his uncle al-Ḥusayn b. Yazīd, from Ḥamzat b. Ḥumrān, from his father Ḥumrān b. A`yun, from Sa`īd b. Jubair—from `Alī b. al-Ḥusayn, the Master of the Worshippers, peace be on him, who said: “The birth of our Qā’im will be concealed from the people until they will say, ‘He hasn’t been born yet.’ [It is concealed] so that when he reappears, he will not have pledged allegiance to anybody.”
655. Kamāl al-dīn4: Narrated to us Aḥmad b. Hārūn al-Fāmī and `Alī b. al-Ḥusayn b. Shādhawayh al-Mu’addib Ja`far b. Muḥammad b. Masrūr and Ja`far b. al-Ḥusayn, may Allah be satisfied with them, from Muḥammad b. `Abd-Allah b. Ja`far al-Ḥimyarī, from his father, from Ayyūb b. Nūḥ, from al-`Abbās b. `Āmir al-Qaṣabānī, from Ja`far b. `Alī b. al-Ḥasan b. `Alī b. `Abd-Allah b. al-Mughaira al-Kūfī, from his grandfather al-Ḥasan b. `Alī b. `Abd-Allah, from al-`Abbās b. `Āmir al-Qaṣabānī, from Mūsā b. Hilāl al-Ḍabbī, from `Abd-Allah b. `Aṭā who said:
I said to (Imam) Abū Ja`far, peace be on him, “Your followers in Iraq are plenty. By Allah, there is no one in your Ahl al-Bait like you! So, why do you not rise [against the government]?” He replied, “O `Abd-Allah b. `Aṭā! You have you have filled your ears with nonsense. By Allah, I am not your Master (ṣāḥibukum).” I asked, “So, who is our Master?” He answered, “See [who is the one] whose birth is concealed from the people; he is your master.”
656. Kamāl al-dīn5: `Abd al-Wāḥid b. Muḥammad al-`Aṭṭār, from Abū `Amr al-Laithī, from Muḥammad b. Mas`ūd, from Jabra’īl b. Aḥmad, from Muḥammad b. `Īsā, from Muḥammad b. Abī `Umair, from Sa`īd b. Ghazwān, from Abū Baṣīr, from (Imam) Abū `Abd-Allah, peace be on him, who said: “The birth of the Master of this affair will be concealed from these people so he will not have pledged allegiance with anyone when he reappears. Allah, Mighty and Majestic be He, will set right his affairs in one [single] night.”
657. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī6: Al-Kulainī, from a number of our companions, from Sa`d b. `Abd-Allah, from Ayyūb b. Nūḥ who said:
I said to Abū l-Ḥasan al-Riḍā, peace be on him, “We hope that you are the master of this affair and that Allah will hand it to you by pardoning [the people] and not by using the sword; because they have pledged allegiance to you and the coins have been forged with your name inscribed on them.” He responded, “There is no one from us except that when letters are sent to him or is pointed at by fingers [i.e. he becomes famous] or is asked questions or wealth is taken to him, that he is either assassinated or will die in his bed until Allah sends a boy7 from us for this affair. His birth and upbringing will be hidden but his parentage will not be concealed.”
658. Ithbāt al-Waṣiyya8: From Sa`d b. `Abd-Allah, through his chain of narrators from (Imam) Abū Ja`far, peace be on him: “The Qā’im is the one whose birth will be concealed from the people.”
659. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī9: Narrated to us `Alī b. Aḥmad, from `Ubaid-Allah b. Mūsā al-`Alawī, from Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Qalānisī—in Mecca in the year 267 AH—from `Alī b. al-Ḥasan, from al-`Abbās b. `Āmir, from Mūsā b. Hilāl, from `Abd-Allah b. `Aṭā al-Makkī who said:
I started the Hajj pilgrimage from Wāsiṭ and I met (Imam) Abū Ja`far Muḥammad b. `Alī, peace be on him, who asked me about the people and the prices. I replied, “I left the people while they were yearning for you. If you rise, the people will indeed follow you.” He answered, “O son of `Aṭā! You have listened to [the speech] of foolish people. By Allah, I am not your master (ṣāḥibukum). None of us is pointed at with fingers or with eyebrows but that he will be killed or that he will die naturally.”
I asked, “What do you mean by he will die naturally?” He replied, “He will die in his deathbed but in a state of anger, until Allah raises the one whose birth is unknown.” I said, “And who is the one whose birth is unknown?” He answered, “See who is the one that the people are not sure whether he has been born or not. He is your master.”
The following traditions also prove the above concept: 539, 574, 610, 645, 686, and 688.
- 1. Kifāyat al-athar, chap. “What has been narrated from Abū Ja`far Muḥammad b. `Alī al-Riḍā, peace be on him,” p. 277, no. 2; Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, chap. 36, p. 377, no. 2, with an addition at the end; I`lām al-warā, chap. 2, sect. 2, with the aforementioned addition at its end; al-Iḥtijāj, vol. 2, p. 449; Kifāyat al-muhtadī, pp. 100–101, no. 26, citing Kamāl al-dīn.
- 2. The reason of his concealed birth was that when the Abbasids found out about the traditions from the Holy Prophet and the Imams from the Ahl al-Bait, peace be on them, that the Mahdī is the twelfth Imam who will fill the earth with justice, will conquer the forts of deviation, annihilate the governments of the merciless, will kill the tyrants, and will takeover the East and West of the earth, they decided to extinguish His light by killing him. Hence, they appointed spies, secret agents, and midwives to keep a watch on the house of the father of the Ḥujja, Imam Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan al-`Askarī, peace be on him. But Allah desired to complete His light. Therefore, He, Mighty and Majestic be He, concealed the pregnancy of his mother Narjis from the people. It has been narrated that al-Mu`tamid, the Abbasid Emperor, sent midwives secretly and ordered them to enter the houses of the Banī-Hāshim, especially the house of Imam al-`Askarī, peace be on him, without permission whenever they wanted to investigate and find out about his condition and affairs. But they were unable to find anything for Allah had decided to repeat the custom of His Prophet, Moses, in His proof, just as his enemies adopted the tradition of the Pharaoh and implemented his policies. When the Pharaoh found out that his kingdom would be destroyed by a man from the Israelites, he appointed inspectors to check the pregnant women and monitored their births with strict surveillance. If the new-born was a male, they would kill him instantly and if it was a female, they would spare her. Consequently, they killed thousands of infants in their quest to find Moses. Allah, Mighty and Majestic be He, says: “They killed your sons and let you daughters live” (Quran 2:49). In this situation, Allah, the Exalted, placed His Prophet under His protection and concealed his birth from them. Allah, the Exalted, says: “And We revealed to the mother of Moses, ‘Suckle him and when you fear for him, throw him in the river and neither fear nor grieve. Surely, We will return him to you and appoint him as a messenger’” (Quran 28:7). His similarities with Abraham and Moses have also been mentioned in numerous traditions.
It has been narrated in Ilzām al-nāṣib from one of the books of the highly learned scholar, Muḥammad Yūsuf al-Dihkhārqānī, which he authored during the reign of Shah Abbās II: “One day, he [i.e. Imam al-Mahdī] was in the room of his mother in the courtyard when Narjis realized that some midwives were near. She became extremely anxious but did not have enough time to hide that light. An announcer called out to her, ‘Throw the Proof of Allah, the defeater (al-qahhār), in the well in the courtyard.’ So she did. The midwives heard the voice of the child and rushed into the house. They thoroughly searched the house but found no trace of him. They went out confused and perplexed. When the house became empty of strangers, Narjis went towards the well to find out what had happened to the apple of her eye. As she looked over the well, she saw that its water had risen to the level of the ground of the house and the Divine Proof was floating on the water, safe and sound, like a shining full moon. His diaper had not become wet at all. So she took him, suckled him, and praised Allah and prostrated to express her gratitude for Him . . .”
From what we have mentioned, it becomes clear why al-Ḥujja’s birth was concealed—but not his forefathers’ births. The reason is the glad tidings that were given about him: that he would conquer the forts, destroy the foundations of polytheism and hypocrisy, and inherit the earth and rule it in the end of times. The enemies of his forefathers knew they were practicing dissimulation (taqiyya) and would not rise with the sword until the voice would be heard from the sky and the signs were manifested. They also knew that the Mahdī—who is the last Imam and their seal—would rise with the sword, would put aside dissimulation (al-taqiyya), and would kill the enemies of Allah and cleanse the earth from polytheism, merciless rulers, oppressors, and disbelievers.
- 3. Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 1, chap. 31, pp. 322–323, no. 6; I`lām al-warā, chap. 2, sect. 2; Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 51, chap. 4, p. 135, no. 3; Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, chap. 32, p. 466, no. 126.
- 4. Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 1, chap. 32, p. 325, no. 2; I`lām al-warā, chap. 2, sect. 2; Kashf al-ghumma, vol. 2, pp. 522–523; Ithbāt al-hudāt, vol. 3, chap. 32, p. 467, no. 129.
I say: Other traditions have also been recorded with this meaning, see al-Kāfī, vol. 1, chap. 138, p. 342, no. 26; Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, pp. 167–168, no. 7–9; Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 51, p. 128.
- 5. Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, p. 480, no. 5; Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 52, chap. 20, p. 96, no. 15.
- 6. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, chap. 10, p. 168, no. 9; Kamāl al-dīn, vol. 2, chap. 35, p. 370, no. 1, similar to it.
- 7. The author of Lisān al-`Arab writes: “It is said ‘so and so is the boy of the people’ even if he is old, which is like saying, ‘so and so is the youth of the army’ even if he is old” (Lisān al-`Arab, vol. 12, p. 440).
- 8. Ithbāt al-waṣiyya, pp. 222–223.
I say: Here, ‘people’ means ‘non-Shias’ because in numerous traditions ‘non-Shias’ have been referred to as ‘people.’
- 9. Ghaybat al-Nu`mānī, chap. 10, p. 168, no. 8.
I say: As we already mentioned above, ‘people’ refers to ‘non-Shias.’