Mahdi and his place of Occultation


 

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Mahdi and his place of Occultation

The circumstances of occultation of abul-qasim muhammad-ibn-hassan Mahdi (a.s.) (which we have previously mentioned) is correct in the views of we shiah-Imamiahs and the manner of his concealment is the same as what the great scholars and traditionists (whom we trust and rely on their saying) have narrated.
However what some of the common shia’s say in this regard and the sunni scholars attribute them to us is lacking in any evidence and proper transmission.
What we had previously mentioned about the circumstances of Mahdi’s occultation is correct in our view but such matters like: where was Mahdi at the time of his father’s demise? where did he go into concealment or in which portion of his house he concealed himself? whether he went over the top of his house or went down in the ‘sardab’ (cellar)? whether he hid himself in the house or fled from its door? are all uncertain.
Verily, what appears customary is that he should have remained in the house besides his great father at the time of his father’s demise why shouldn’t it be so, especially if we consider that Mahdi at that time was only a child (apparently) and besides had no other place other than his parents house. perhaps this matter can be infered from the tradition of ahmad-ibn-obaidullah-ibn-yahya-ibn-khaqan because hazrat at that time was in his own house and he disappeared without the people being aware of him. although the caliph and his followers and helpers were in search of him, yet they could not find him. previously it was mentioned that the caliph had put his trusted men in charge of looking over Imam hassan askari at the time of his illness pretending to be his helpers because on that day none were present except ‘aqid’ the servant and ‘siqal’ who was Mahdi’s mother.
The caliph had appointed ten of his trusted men under the pretext of serving Imam (a.s.). however his only purpose was to get information about Mahdi’s whereabouts because it was normal for a child like Mahdi to be present in his parents house especially at that time when his father was on the verge of departing from this world. however allah did not wish that they should become informed of Mahdi and so kept his affairs concealed from them.
Verily, the one who protected musa-ibn-imran in the middle of the sea while the waves were driving him to the left and right and the god who protected musa (moses) in his infancy in firaun’s house is powerful enough to protect our master Mahdi in his own house.
The god who protected his great grand-father on the day when he fled from the enemies hands towards the cave and kept secret his trace from the enemies and saved him by his power and strength is not helpless in protecting our master, Mahdi (a.s.) who was then five years old living with his parents.
I do not deny this matter that protection of our master, Mahdi at the age of five or six is something unusual. rather, i am forced to say. protection of hazrat at that time was through unseen channels and even if it was through ordinary channels we are compelled to say: these channels are rare and impracticable for majority of the people.
In short, our master, Mahdi (a.s.) apparently went into concealment either from inside or outside his own house without its particulars being known to us. allah knows better this matter.
Here it is worth mentioning the following point:
Whatever a group of learned sunni scholars and some of the shia writers have mentioned about the characteristics of Mahdi’s occultation are all lacking authentic reference(s). how good it would have been if they had mentioned those references.
Sardab (cellar) and its visitation

From the book of ‘sawa’eq’ it appears that the shia Imamiah’s or a group amongst them reckon that Mahdi (a.s.) has concealed himself in the cellar. they expect him to emerge from this cellar and they stop near its door with their horses and await his reappearance. how good it was if the author of ‘sawa’eq’ had mentioned the reference of this talk.
I think the author of ‘sawa’eq’ has neither emerged from the land of hejaz nor entered the country of Iraq nor visited Samerra. otherwise, he would have realized that this matter bears no truth. apparently, the source of this rekoning that the shias believe Mahdi to have disappeared in the cellar is this that they see the shia ithna-ashar visiting the holy place of ‘Sardab’ (cellar). it is necessary over here to mention the reason for visiting the holy p-lace of ‘Sardab’ (cellar).
Therefore we say: as per the historical books, the holy courtyard which is the mausoleum of ali-ibn-muhammad hadi and hassan-ibn-ali askari and that courtyard which is behind their holy mausoleum and that courtyard in which the cellar is located were all places of residents of those eminent personalities. some of the great islamic scholars like thaqatul-islam nuri have stressed on this matter.
Since Mahdi (a.s.) is not having any specified place to be visited, it is better to visit him in his house. on the contrary, it even seems proper to visit his house itself because visiting the friends houses after they have left it is amongst the customs in force. (amongst friends)
In this regard, a poet says: —
Amongst the houses i pass over the house of laila i kiss this wall and that wall. love of the house has not captivated my heart but the love of the one who was residing in it has captivated my heat.
Verily this matter has been the reason for the SHI’ITES visiting the cellar even though this reason is hidden and unknown to many. visiting the ‘Sardab’ (cellar) is a good trend and a cordial custom which has become the motto of the shi’ites and how good and proper this act appears to be even though i have not seen any text or traditions in this regard.
Rather, we have not come across any of the books with any supported tradition which commands us to visit hazrat Mahdi (a.s.) especially in the place of ‘Sardab’.
We shias believe that our master, Mahdi (a.s.) is a living being who receives his sustenance and hears words and answers.
Mahdi is the same Imam through whose obedience we should be ‘upright’ in the divine religion. Mahdi is the one who is the channel between us and god. his ‘ziarat’ (visitation) is correct; focusing (our attention) on him is permissible; conversing with him in every place and time and in any language is permissible. in this regard the holy ‘Sardab’ possesses no special specifications except what we have mentioned before. similarly, the ziarats (visitations)which have come are not possessing any specification even though are preferable.
The houses over which tens of years have passed; the place where god has been worshipped; the place where god has been remembered; the place where prayers have been performed for days and nights and the place where the sound of recitation of quran has been raised are worthy enough to be honoured and visited and at the time when a pilgrim enters them, he remembers its dwellers.
One of the main reasons as to why such holy houses and especially ‘Sardab’ (cellar) are visited is this that its owners are alive – the owners who cannot reside in them and have in fact deserted them out of fear of enemies. besides, we are in need of Mahdi (a.s.) and are deprived of his favors.
Visitation of these houses with such reminiscences will naturally move a pilgrim’s heart who happens to be a shia. How often a pilgrim weeps, sends out a shriek, implores involuntarily and requests god to hasten the emergence of hazrat. verily, factors of intimacy and heartily – relation greatly influence a man’s nature.
Wassalam
Syed mohammad m Abidi

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