“The one who dies, not knowing the Imam of his time, will have died the ignorance death.”(1)
The most elementary form of knowing an Imam is basic identification; knowing who, from what line of descent, and with what characteristics is the Imam.
Some people during the lifetime of the Ahl al-Bayt (PBUH) were concerned about knowing their present time and future Imam, in order to avoid falling into darkness and losing the track of the right path, and not die the ignorance death. They were serious in this respect and put a lot of efforts.
One of the ways which clearly acted as a guide for the people to identify their future Imam was the introducing and reiteration and of the previous Imams, which their Imamate had been proven to the people; for that the statement of an Imam is a Hujjah (clear proof). In this respect, the tenth Imam of the Shias, Imam Hadi (PBUH) in various instructions introduced his son Imam Hassan Askari (PBUH) to the people, and explicitly called him his successor. For example:
1- Yahya bin Yasar Anbari says:
Imam Hadi (PBUH) introduced his son Imam Hassan Askari (PBUH) as the Imam and Successor after him four months before his passing away, and he asked for us for being witnesses.(2)
2- Ali bin Omar Nawfali says: we were visiting Imam Hadi (PBUH) in his courtyard when his son Sayyed Muhammad was passing by. I asked:
“My master, will this boy be our Imam after you?” He answered: “Your Imam after me will be Hassan.”(3)
3- Shahawayh bin Abdullah Jalab narrates:
Imam Hadi (PBUH) wrote a letter to me with the contents as “You wanted to know if my successor was going to be my son, Sayyed Muhammad (4), and you were worried. Don’t be upset for ‘Allah will not leave alone a people after guiding them, unless He explains what they have to avoid’ (5); and your Imam after me will be my son Abu Muhammad (Hassan Askari). What you need is with him, and Allah will put ahead anyone who He prefers, and will impede anyone He wants: ‘we don’t expire nor make obliterated a verse unless we convey a similar or better one. ’ (6) I explicated what was needed for an awake and enlightened mind, and what could convince reason.” (7)
4- Abu Baker Fahfaki says: Imam Hadi (PBUH) wrote to me:
My son, Abu Muhammad (Hassan Askari), is the most altruist of the Prophet’s household (at that time) and the most prevailing Hujjah (proof). He is the eldest among my sons and my successor. He will inherit my orders and Imamate; whatever you asked me you can ask from him, whatever needed is with him.”(8)
5- Abdullah bin Muhammad Isfahani says:
“Imam Hadi (PBUH) said: “Your Imam after me will be the one who will perform Salat on the occasion of my demise.”
We never knew Imam Hassan Askari (PBUH) until then. When Imam Hadi passed away, Imam Hassan Askari (PBUH) came and performed the Salat for his father.”(9)
6- Safar bin Dolaf says: I heard Imam Hadi (PBUH) saying:
“The Imam after me is Hassan, and after him it will be the Hujjah al-Qa’em, who will fill the earth with justice and equality after being filled with injustice and cruelty.”(10)
These are only some examples of the narrations that the religious and faithful believers have narrated from Imam Hadi (PBUH).
Yes, based on the sayings of the prophet of Allah (PBUH&HP), the identification of the Imam is not restricted to a special era; it rather pertains to all the periods and times. Therefore, it is our duty to identify our Imam of time and never fail to obey him, just as the Shiites did in the previous times.
(The above is a selection taken from “The Life of Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH)”, by Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi (with some changes))(11)
The Roshd Website congratulates all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon 8th of Rabee al-Thani, the birthday anniversary of the sincere servant of Allah (SWT) , the chosen and guiding leader, the 11th Master of the Shiites,
Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH).
1. Sunni References: Sahih Muslim, vol. 6, p. 22 – Masnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, vol. 4, p. 96 – Sharh al-Aqaed al-Nasfiye, p. 232 etc. Shia References: Kamal al-Din, vol. 2, p. 409 – Osool al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 367, narration #1
2. Osool al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 325
3. Osool al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 324
4. Some companions presumed that Imam Hadi’s (PBUH) other son (Muhammad) will be his successor; thus, Imam corrected this and emphasized several times that Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) will be the successor after him.
5. Holy Quran, 9:115
6. Holy Quran, 2:106
7. Osool al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 328
8. Osool al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 327
9. ’Alam al-Waraa, p. 368
10. Kamal al-Din, vol. 2, p. 55
11. The above text was originally translated to Farsi by Sayyed Hassan Islami