Birthday of Hazrat Abdul-Azeem (PBUH)
Welcome to a special programme on the occasion of the birthday of a special person, whose holy shrine in Rayy which is an important site of pilgrimage, makes him the prime saint of the Iranian capital Tehran, to the extent that people call him Shah or King – in fact the spiritual king who continues to govern hearts and souls.
“O Kumayl, those who amass wealth are actually dead even though they may be living while those endowed with knowledge will remain as long as the world exists.”
What we recited to you is a statement on the merits of knowledge and the knowledgeable which was bequeathed by the Gateway of the City of Knowledge, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), to his loyal disciple Kumayl ibn Ziyad an-Nakha’i – to whom the Imam also taught the famous supplication known as “Du’a Kumayl” which is recited regularly at religious gatherings every Friday eve.
This gem of a saying means that the truly knowledgeable scholars are alive in hearts of the faithful even though they are not physically present in our midst.
Today, the 4th of the month of Rabi as-Sani is the birthday of one such immortal scholar, who in fact is from the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), and though not infallible like the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, his shrine is thronged day and night by thousands of devotees, reciting the holy Qur’an and supplicating to God Almighty, in view of the special position he enjoys in the Divine Court for enlightening people with the genuine teachings of Islam.
He is none other than Seyyed Abdul-Azeem al-Hasani (AS), affectionately known by Iranians as “Shah” or “King”, who although not a ruler, has continued to rule the hearts of the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt for the past millennium and almost two centuries from his sprawling mausoleum topped by a golden dome in the ancient city of Rayy – presently a southernmost suburb of Tehran.
Seyyed Abdul-Azeem is 6th in descent from the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), whose eloquently wise sermons he had collected in book-form titled “Khutab Amir al-Mu’minin”, a hundred-and-a-fifty years before Seyyed Radhi compiled the famous “Nahj al-Balagha” (Highway of Eloquence) on the same topic.
His lineage reads: Abdul-Azeem, son of Abdullah, son of Ali, son of Hasan, son of Zayd, son of the Prophet’s elder grandson Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (AS) – the son of Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS).
Born in Medina in 173 AH (789), he was in the prime of manhood when Imam Reza (AS) was forced to leave the Prophet’s City for distant Khorasan by the Abbasid tyrant Mamoun. This means, Seyyed Abdul-Azeem had benefitted from the knowledge of the Prophet’s 8th Infallible Heir.
Though senior by over twenty years to Imam Muhammad at-Taqi al-Jawad (AS), he was a devoted companion of the Prophet’s 9th Infallible Successor, as is evident by the following discourse on the advent of Imam Mahdi (AS) and the global government of peace, prosperity and justice.
Seyyed Abdul-Azeem narrates: “Once I went to my master Muhammad bin Ali bin Musa (al-Jawad) intending to ask him about Mahdi al-Qa’em; whether he was al-Mahdi himself or another one. Before I uttered a word, the Imam said:
“O Abu’l Qassim, al-Qa’em of us is al-Mahdi who must be awaited in his occultation and must be obeyed in his appearance. He is the third of my progeny. By Allah Who has sent Muhammad with Prophethood and singled us out with Imamate, if there will be only one day left for the world, Allah will prolong that day until al-Qa’em will appear to fill the earth with fairness and justice as it has been filled with injustice and oppression. Allah will prepare the affairs for him as He had prepared the affairs to Moses where he went to bring a fire and came back to be the prophet of his nation. The best deed of our Shi’a is the awaiting for deliverance.”
Seyyed Abdul-Azeem said: “I wish you were the Qa’em of Ahl al-Bayt who will fill the earth with justice and fairness as it has been filled with injustice and oppression!”
Imam Jawad (AS) replied: “O Abu’l-Qassim, every one of us is Qa’em (or Executor) of the orders of Allah the Almighty and a guide to the religion of Allah, but the Qa’em by whom Allah will purify the earth from the people of unbelief and who will fill the earth with justice and fairness is he whose birth will be unknown to people and who will disappear and it will be impermissible for people to call him by his name. His name and surname are like those of the Messenger of Allah (SAWA). The Earth will submit to him and every difficulty will be easy to him. His companions will be three hundred and thirteen men, as the number of the men of (the Prophet’s Battle of) Badr, will join him from the farthest parts of the world as Allah says (in ayah 148 of Surah Baqara) – “wherever you may be, Allah will bring you all together; indeed Allah has power over all things” – and when this number of loyal men will join him, Allah will make him appear.”
According to the famous Iranian scholar Shaikh Sadouq, who live a thousand years ago, once Abdul-Azeem asked Imam Ali an-Naqi al-Hadi (AS), the Prophet’s 10th Infallible Heir (AS): “O son of Allah’s Messenger, I wish to present to you my beliefs; if they are correct then I will affirm and adhere to them till I meet Allah, Great and Exalted. I affirm Allah, Blessed and Exalted is One; there is nothing like Him; He is beyond the two limits, that is, the limit of negation and annulment (of attributes) and the limit of anthropomorphism. And that He has neither a body nor a form; nor dimension nor a material core. Rather He is the One Who creates bodies and gives forms, the Creator of dimensions and matter; Lord of everything and its Possessor, Creator and Originator. And (I affirm) Muhammad is His servant, His Messenger and the Seal of the Prophets. There is no prophet after him till the Day of Judgement. And (I affirm) after him the Imam, the Caliph and the Guardian of the affair (of guidance) is Amir al-Mu’minin Ali bin Abi Taleb, and then al-Hasan, then al-Husayn, then Ali ibn al-Husayn (Zayn al-Abedin), then Muhammad ibn Ali (al-Baqer), then Ja’far ibn Muhammad (as-Sadeq), then Musa ibn Ja’far (al-Kazem), then Ali ibn Musa (ar-Reza), then Muhammad bin Ali (at-Taqi al-Jawad) and thereafter, you my master.”
Imam Hadi (AS) elaborated: “And after me will be my son al-Hasan (al-Askari). However, I wonder how the people will react with regards to his successor”.
Abdul-Azeem says, I asked: “Why do you say that, O master?” The 10th Imam replied, “Because none will see his person, nor will it be permissible to mention his name till he appears, when he will fill the earth with justice and equity as it was previously filled with oppression and tyranny.”
Seyyed Abdul-Azeem narrates: “So I responded: I accept (what you have informed me) and I maintain that their friend is the friend of Allah, their enemy is the enemy of Allah. Obedience to them is obedience to Allah; disobedience to them is disobedience to Allah. I maintain that the (Prophet’s) night journey did occur, that questioning in the grave will happen, that heaven and hell exist, that accounting of deeds will occur and that the Hour will undoubtedly arrive when Allah will resurrect those in the graves.
“I further maintain that the (religious) obligations after al-Wilaya (i.e. love and adherence to the Ahlul Bayt) are: Prayers, the zakat levy, fasting, pilgrimage to Mecca, striving (in the path of Allah), commanding good and discouraging evil.”
On hearing this, the 10th Imam said:
“O Abu’l-Qassim, what you have mentioned is, by Allah, the religion which Allah has chosen for His servants and one with which he is satisfied. So adhere to it, may Allah cause you to stay steadfast on the established faith, in this world and in the hereafter.”
As a missionary of the Ahl al-Bayt, Seyyed Abdul-Azeem came to Iran to enlighten people with the genuine teachings of Islam. He carried on his activities with caution during those days of Abbasid tyranny, before passing away in Rayy in the year 252 AH at the age of 79. Thus, according to Imam Hadi (AS), in those critical days for the followers of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt when pilgrimage was forbidden to Karbala, visiting the shrine of Abdul-Azeem in Rayy is equivalent to performing the pilgrimage of Imam Husain (AS).
Once when a man from Rayy visited the Prophet’s 11th Infallible Heir, Imam Hasan Askari in Samarrah, the Imam asked him where he was, to which the visitor answered: “I was visiting the grave of Imam Husayn (AS), in Karbala. The said: “If, however, you had visited the grave of Abdul-Azeem which is situated near you, then your status would have been similar to the one who visited Imam Husayn’s shrine.”
Perhaps some may question: How can a pilgrimage to the grave of Sayyed Abdul-Azeem be of equal stature to the pilgrimage to Imam Husayn (AS)?
A possible response to this may be that the Imam expressed this statement in harsh circumstances and intended to bring to light the nature of the reign of Mutawakkil and his cohorts who used to tyrannise and murder the Shi’ite Muslims on the basis of any pretext.