Mother of Awaiting..Narjis Khatoon
A Study on the Life of Hazrat Narjis (SA), Mother of Imam Mahdi (AS)
(By Nahid Tayyebi)
Vanguard of great men of history find their root in pure thoughts of mothers, who in garden of their existence nurture flowers of guidance. They rise from flourishing laps of angels who pour love and affection on creation and burn their candle of existence for the sake of future of mankind. Hazrat Narjis (SA), mother of Imam-e-Zaman (AS) on her mother side was a descendent of Simon Peter, the disciple of Propher Jesus (AS). She was the arand daughter of the Emperor of Byzantine. It has been mentioned in the narrations that Imam-e-Zaman (AS), Awaiting Mahdi (Leader), upon his appearance in the House of Allah will introduce himself in the forthcoming manner :
“You mankind, you people, anyone of you who wants to see Adam and Sheith (his son), cast your eyes on me. Indeed I am Adam and Sheith, and let it be known to those who want to see Jesus (AS) and Simon Peter that indeed I am the Messiah and Simon Peter. Those who want to see Muhammad (SAW) and Amiru’l-Muminin (AS) (Leader of the Faithful), be hereby informed that indeed I am, Muhammad (SAW) and Amirul-Muminin (AS).”1
Narjis (SA) is the lady of chastity and blessing, whose sweet fragrance of presence even after centuries, gives vigor and vitality to enamored souls of Shi’as of the Household of Vilayat (Guardianship) and Imamate. In the shadow of this shining sun of compliance, hearts calm down and find peace.
Ancestry of Hazrat Narjis (SA) :
Narjis is the daughter of Joshua, son of the Byzantine emperor. Her mother was grand-daughter of Simon Peter, the disciple of Prophet Jesus (AS). This Lady is also known as: Reyhaneh, Susan, Sayqal or Saqeyl, Khamt, Nassem. According to the narrations, once she became pregnant with the gem of Vilayat, Hazrat Vali-e-Asr (AS), she was called Sayqal (burnish, furbish). 2 In “Vafiyat ul-A’yan” – she has been referred to as “Khamt”, which has been defined in dictionary with two opposite meanings of sweet-smelling and malodorous, 3 and in “Mufradat” has put it as a thorn-free plant. 4
Abu Muhammad ibn Shazan asked Imam Hassan al Askari (AS) regarding God’s ultimate choice, the Twelfth Imam of the Shi’a Muslims and his mother’s name. The Imam (AS) replied: “His mother is called Melekeh, her other names are: Susan, Reyhaneh, Saqeyl and Narjis. 5 Reflection on narrations indicate merit and deliverance of this Lady as such that her name has been mentioned in “Sahifeh” of Fatima (SA). It has been said that Narjis (SA) was not a slave and her descendent and respectable family is known, but because she came to Baghdad with other slaves from Rome and was bought from a slave vendor, she was named slave and “jariyeh” who after the birth of her child, she was called “Ummul-Walad”. 6 It has been mentioned in a narration that when Imam Baqir (AS) was asked to identify clearly the person `Amirul-Muminin’ referred to in the saying: “Fatima (SA) is the best of noble woman.” 7 Imam Baqir (AS) replied that he was referring to Narjis, the mother of the Twelfth Imam of the Shi’a Muslims. History has it that Imam Hassan Mujtaba (AS) after his peace treaty with Muawiyah, said to those who swear allegiance to him: “You are ignorant of what I have done. What I have done for my Shi’a is far greater than what the sun does with its dawn and dusk to them. Am I not your Imam, and isn’t submission to me obligatory to you?!.. Thus Almighty God would keep his birth secret and would conceal him. He is the ninth descendent of my brother Hussain (AS), the son of Sayyideh of woman.” 8
On the Shore of Character :
From psychological point of view, there are two ways of knowing people. First by reflecting on their descendants and ancestry; secondly through observing their worthy and admirable qualities and good behavior. Regarding Narjis (SA), we learned that she belonged to an eminent and high-ranking family. Now we will ponder on her personality in order to know her true-self.
Alchemy of Courtesy :
Boshr ibn Sulayman, says on the arrival of the Roman Princess to Samarra (a city in Iraq), Imam Ali al-Naqi (AS) said to her: “How Merciful God unveiled the myth of Islam against Christianity to you? And how did He reveal the nobleness and superiority of Muhammad (SAW) and his Household to you?” The courteous Princess said modestly: “How could I explain to you, son of the Messenger of God something which you are far more aware of it than I am”! 9 Politeness indicates the eminence of a perfect human being. Courtesy in character and behavior are manifested and displayed in the manner and speech of man. In the Holy Qur’an, God has practised politeness. The Holy Prophet (SAW) has introduced himself by a beautiful sentence as “Divine chastised”. 10 All distinguished people are known by this meritorious quality. Hakima daughter of Imam Jawad (AS) said: “One day I went to visit Narjis (SA) [after her marriage to Imam Askari (AS)], she humbly asked my permission, and tried to help me in taking my shoes off. I told her that she was my Lady and it was my duty to be at her service most willingly.” 11 This clearly manifests the height of refinement and politeness of pure lady of Rome towards the daughter of Imamate and Vilayat. In another narration, Hakima Khatun (Lady) said:
“At the eve of the birth of Hazrat Hujjat (the 12th Imam of the Shi’a Muslims), and on the request of Imam Hassan Askari (AS) I stayed with them. In absence of any visible impression of pregnancy and imminent birth, I became agitated but the Imam (AS) with his remarks calmed me down, so I returned to the side of Narjis (SA). She asked me: `O my lady! How are you tonight?’ I replied that she was the one who was my lady and Khatun of our household.” 12 By using the term “My Lady” Narjis paid her respect and declared her devotion to the Household of the Holy Prophet (SAW).
An Apostle of Insight and Perspicacity :
Enlightened and Vigilant women, when faced with a variety of choices, always select nothing but the best. They are never deceived by delusive appearance. Narjis (SA), the Lady of Honor, was at the audience of Imam Hadi (AS), when she said to her :
“I wish to honor you, and give you a present. Please tell me which of the two suits you best: 10,000 dirhams or glad tidings to eternal honor and glory?” Lady Narjis (SA), the Roman Princess who was brought up in comfort and luxury of castle of Kaiser (Caesar), had such insight and vision that would never even comprehend the thought of worldly riches against eternal spiritual riches. So, she emphasized her preference of `Eternal Honor and Glory’ and not money! Imam Hadi (AS) replied: “Glad tidings to you with news of a child, whose vast governorship would embrace East and West of the world, and who would fill the world with justice and equity.” 13 This is how the vessel of existence of Narjis found its just capability and merit to host Hazrat Vali-e-Asr (AS). Hence the most beautiful birth of existence took place. With little deliberation on the political circumstances of Samarra on time of Imam Hassan Askari (AS), we perceive that Narjis was fully aware of the time and with clear perception distanced herself from watchful eyes of spies. Thus, protecting the life of the Last executor of the will of the Prophet (SAW). Political circumstances of the time were so oppressive that they demanded the secrecy of the marriage. So it was commenced in the house of Hakima Khatun. Weary of reaction of an enemy, who would stop at nothing in eliminating the possible birth of Imam-e Zaman (AS) – the Twelfth Imam of Shi’a Muslims. 14 Even after the birth of the blessed child, she prudently observed the ever-present agents of Abbasides in the House of Al-e Muhammad (SAW). Living under such circumstances, needed a strong spiritual awareness and spiritual support in addition to a deep-rooted insight. Another evidence of her insight and vision could be seen in her reply to Boshr ibn Sulaiman, who was the son of Abu Ayub Ansari and a confident of Imam Hadi (AS). He is quoted as saying that: when I saw her kissing the letter of the Twelfth Imam (AS) and laying it upon her eyes, I told her: “How strange that you kiss and honor the letter of someone you don’t know?” She replied: “You are ignorant of the status of the Household of the Prophet (SAW), hear me and let your heart follow me. I’m Melekeh, the daughter of Joshua who was the son of Ceasar and ….” 15
Recognition and true insight concerning the Prophet (SAW) and his Household is a precious gift that is not bestowed upon everyone. She was blessed with such insight, vision and perception that comprehending the importance and magnificence of Imamate and Vilayat of the Ahlul-Bait (AS) was the reality in making which didn’t need any proof, thus in her supplication we read: “I testimony that you passed away while you were satisfied with Allah. 16
Nectar of Forbearance :
The writings of Muslim and non-Muslim historians indicate the turbulent and troubled political and cultural circumstances of the time, which made patience essential for living under these circumstances. Bearing in mind the timing of the birth of Imam-e Zaman (AS) in the year 255 Al-Hejira and the martyrdom of the 10th Imam (AS) in Rajab of the year 254 Al-Hejira, as well as increased pressure of Abbasid caliphs on Ahlul-Bait (AS) will throw some light on the harsh conditions of life in Samarra at the time. According to numerous narrations, marriage of Imam Hassan Askari (AS) and Narjis Khatun (SA) took place in the lifetime of Imam Hadi (AS). So, Imam-e Zaman (AS) was born during the Imamate of Imam Hassan Askari (AS). Therefore, it could be anticipated that at least one and half years after the marriage the household of Imam (AS) were under enormous pressure by the ruling government. In order to prevent the appearance of the Last Executor of the will of the Prophet (SAW), the Imam (AS) spent a great part of his short-lived marriage in prison and responsibility of upbringing and safeguarding of their son laid solely on the shoulders of this patient lady. Historians reported that it was certain that from the year 255 till 256 in time of Mohtadi, Abbasid caliph of the time, Imam Hassan Askari (AS) spent some time in prison which was located in Jousaq and again in the year 259 Hejira before Dhu al Hejja, Imam Hassan Askari (AS) was imprisoned. 18
Considering that Imam Hassan Askari (AS) was martyred on the 8th Rabi’ al-Awwal, 160 Al-Hejira which is four month after his last imprisonment, it is apparent that for the greater part of his marriage, he was imprisoned. So, it consequently put a great deal of pressure on Narjis Khatun (SA), especially with political situation prevailing then in Samarra and brings about further praise and respect for this forbearing lady.
1- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 53, p.9.
2- Kamal ad Din, Vol. 2, p. 423-432.
3- Farhang Jam’ Novin, p. 272.
4- Mofradatul Alfaz al Qur’an, p. 159.
5- Najm As Saqib, Hajj Mirza Hussein Tabari, p. 18.
6- Nahla Gharavi, Muhhadethat Ash Shi’a, p. 284.
7- Montakhab ul A’sar, p. 24.
8- Ibid. p. 206.
9- Aayanu Shi’a, p. 35.
10- Navader Ar Ravandi, Vol. 5, p. 392.
11- Bar Setigh Armanha, p. 39-40.
13- The Last Ambassador, Sayyid Jamal ad Din Hijazi, p. 28.
14- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 13, p. 203.
15- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 51, p. 7.
16- Mafatih ul Jenan, Sheikh Abbass Qomi, p. 947.
17- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 50, p. 114.
18- The Political lives and Thinking of Imams of Shi’a (AS), Vol. 2, p. 187.
Translated by F. Karim Beigi Darian