Our 11th Imam, Imam Hassan Askari (as) lived a short life of 28 years. In this short life, Imam Hassan Askari (as) had to endure great sufferings at the hands of the Abbasid Caliphs. But in spite of all that suffering and confinement in Samarra, Iraq, many students benefited from his God gifted knowledge and later became scholars in their fields.
The Ahlul Bayt (as) who carries the most wisdom and knowledge of the seen and unseen are they who most fear Allah (SWT) and pass their every second in life reflecting and pondering about the most important subjects.
It is written by the scholars that once our 11th Imam, Imam Hassan Askari (as) who was still a child was standing between some other children who were playing and having fun. Suddenly a lover of the Ahlul Bayt (as) was passing by. But he was trapped with this scene that all the children were playing but a beautiful child was standing alone crying. He decided to approach this child to ask what was wrong, maybe he could help him. He said: “My dear, are you crying because you don’t have the toys other children have. If you like I can bring some toys to you.” Imam Hassan Askari (as) replied: “Do you think I’m crying for the toys. We are not created to play with toys and have fun but to worship Allah (SWT) and seek for knowledge. This lover of the Ahlul Bayt (as) asked him that how he was sure about that and the young Imam Hassan Askari (as) answered: Have you not read the verse of the Noble Qur’an which guides us saying:
“What! Did you then think that We had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to Us?” (Noble Qur’an 23:115)
This lover of the Ahlul Bayt (as) was impressed with the answer and said: “But why are you so troubled in such a young age. You have not committed any sins. Imam Hassan Askari (as) replied: “Age does not matter. I watch my mother every day when she set fire to the large twigs she uses the small first. I am afraid that may not the young children of this world be used to light the fire of Hell.” Allahu Akbar, the Holy Imam Hassan Askari (as) who is an infallible personality and a Hujjat of Allah (SWT) reflects so deeply, this answer was only a lesson to His followers to ponder over. This capturing story of Imam Hassan Askari (as) is a great learning lesson for us all.
Imam Hassan Askari (as) and philosopher Ishaq al-Kindi
Our 11th Imam, Imam Hassan Askari (as) lived a short life of 28 years. In this short life, Imam Hassan Askari (as) had to endure great sufferings at the hands of the Abbasid Caliphs. But in spite of all that suffering and confinement in Samarra, Iraq, many students benefited from his God gifted knowledge and later became scholars in their fields. Imam Hassan Askari (as) discussed with agnostics of that age many times about the existence of God and the reasons for the necessity of the Prophets and Imams and many atheists changed their minds and converted to Islam.
One of those was Ishaq al-Kindi. This man was a great philosopher of Iraq. He collected such verses of Noble Qur’an whose meanings were apparently contradictory, in a book called as “self-contradictions”. He wanted to prove thereby that it was not the word of Almighty Allah (SWT).
When the news reached Imam Hassan Askari (as), he waited for an opportunity to refute him. One day, by chance some of his disciples (students) came to Imam Hassan Askari (as).
Imam Hassan Askari (as) asked them: “Is there anyone among you who can stop Ishaq al-Kindi from wasting his time in this useless effort fighting the Noble Qur’an?” The students said: “Sir, we are his students: how can we object to his teaching?” Imam Hassan Askari (as) urged that they could at least convey to their teacher what he had to tell them. They replied that they would be ready to cooperate as much as they could in that respect.
Imam Hassan Askari (as) then recited a few verses from the Noble Qur’an, which the philosopher Ishaq al-Kindi thought as contradictory of one another. Imam Hassan Askari (as) then explained to them thus: “Your teacher thinks that some of the words in these verses have only one meaning. But according to the Arabic language, these words have other meanings too which, when taken into consideration, indicate no contradiction in the overall meaning. Thus, your teacher is not justified for basing his objections and claim of contradictions on the premises of the ‘wrong meaning’ he himself selects such verses”. Imam Hassan Askari (as) then put up some examples of such words before them so clearly that the students conceived the whole discussion and the precedents of more than one meaning.
When these students visited Ishaq al-Kindi and after routine talk, reproduced the disputed points, he was surprised. He was a fair-minded scholar and he listened to his students’ explanations. Then he said: “What you have argued is beyond your capacity: tell me truly who has taught you these points?” The students said that it was their own reflection, but when he insisted that they could never have conceived those points, they admitted that, it was explained to them by Abu Muhammad Imam Hassan Askari (as). The teacher said: “Yes: this level of knowledge is the heritage of that House and only that House Ahlul Bayt (as)”. Then he asked the students to set fire to all such works of his.
Ishaq al-Kindi was not alone in benefiting from Imam Hassan Askari (as). Several high-ranking scholars benefited from his ocean of knowledge. There were a host of others who later developed into leading scientists, jurisprudents, exegetes, theologians and masters of different fields when they came into contact with Imam Hassan Askari (as).
Imam Hassan al-Askari (as) and the wild animals
Mu’tamid, the Abbasid Caliph is just like his forefathers he too was an open enemy of the Ahlul Bayt (as). He declared that Imam Hassan Askari (as) should be imprisoned and that no mercy should be shown to Him. And hence Mu’tamid, the Abbasid Caliph went to Salih bin Wasif and told him to treat Imam Hassan Askari (as) harshly. Salih bin Wasif sent for two of the evilest men he could find to take charge of the Imam, but the men changed into men of worship, prayer and fasting to an amazing extent. When Salih bin Wasif interrogated them about their change in character, they said: “What can we say about a man who fasts through the day and stands (in prayer) through the night, who does not speak and occupies himself with nothing except worship? When he looks at us, our limbs shake and within us is (a feeling) which we have never had.”
Then Imam Hassan Askari (as) was handed over to a man named Nahrir, the Jailer who was a very cruel man was once advised by his wife who said to him: “Fear Allah (SWT), have you no idea of who is imprisoned in your prison? He is a pious man and a great worshipper of Allah (SWT). I am afraid that Allah (SWT) will curse you.” Her husband said: “O’ really. Just watch me; I am going to send him inside the cage of the wild animals.”
Nahrir, the Jailer got the permission from his Abbasid Caliph and carried out his plan.
Imam Hassan Askari (as) was sent to this cage and the people thought that this was the end of Imam Hassan Askari’s (as) life. But when they returned to look what had happened instead they all witnessed that Imam Hassan Askari (as) was praying surrounded by the wild animals which all were prostrating before Him. Now the order was given to take Imam Hassan Askari (as) out from there.
Imam Hassan al-Askari (as) and helping poor
The Abbasids court poet Abu Yousef says: “My hard life, coupled with the birth of a son in this state of poverty, made me write a plea to the Abbasid government for financial help, but I was spurned.
When I got disappointed I remembered the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him and his pure progeny) descendant Imam Hassan Askari (as). I went to him. I hesitated in informing him of my problem, for I feared that he might not help me because of my reputation as the court poet of the Abbasids.
I wandered around the Imam Hassan Askari’s (as) house for sometime, before knocking at his door. The door opened and to my surprise a companion of Imam Hassan Askari (as) came out and put in my hand a purse, saying: ‘Take these 400 dirhams. My master says cover the expenses of your newborn child with this amount. May God bless you and the child.’”
Abu Yousef said: “I was astounded. I had neither met him as yet nor disclosed the request I entertained at heart, and here I was given the money. I thanked Allah (SWT) for blessing the earth with the presence of such great and generous person.
Imam Hassan Askari (as) and the knowledge of hidden things
Ismail says, “I was sitting on the way of our 11th Imam, Imam Hassan Askari (as) so that I may stop him while he passes that way and ask him for help.”
Prior to that, I had hidden two hundred (200) golden coins with me as a future provision for myself.
Suddenly, when I was lost in my ideas, Imam Hassan Askari (as) passed by me. I rushed after him, stopped him and told him about my poverty and misery and swear that I had nothing from the material sources.
Imam Hassan Askari (as) was very much annoyed with my swearing. He told his servant to give me what was available with him. The servant put hand in his pocket and brought out a sack of gold and gave it to me.
Then Imam Hassan Askari (as) addressing me said, “We do not deprive anybody from our help but you took a false oath and made Allah (SWT) angry. You must never do that again and not deny the blessings of Allah (SWT) in future and depend upon Allah (SWT) and have hope from him, make use and benefit of the boon which He has given to you. You have concealed two hundred golden coins in a corner so that it may be of use and benefit to you on your rainy day. But beware, you will not have an approach and lay your hands upon them, while you need them.”
Ismail says, Imam Hassan Askari (as) made me aware and conscious about my fault by his words. What he had said did occur.
One day when I extremely needed those coins, I rushed towards the place I had buried them. But when I dug the place I was surprised to see that there was no sign of the coins.
I came to know that my son got informed about them and did an ugly act by picking them up without my permission and running away. Exactly the way Imam Hassan Askari (as) said, that I would not lay my hand upon them at the time of need.
There after, I decided to control myself and put a restraint upon my faults and be a chaste and pious person before Allah (SWT).
Moral: You should trust in Allah (SWT) to look after you. You should thank Allah (SWT) for whatever He has given you. You should never lie, as you will be found out. Even if no-one finds out, Allah (SWT) knows.