Sayyid Abd al-Azim al-Hasani, One of the Greatest Defenders of Ahlul Bayt (A.S.)
His Scholarly Heritage
The biographers of Sayyid ‘Abd al-’Azim mention two books, which are attributed to him. 1)
Khutab Amir al-Mu ‘minin (‘a). Al-Najashi mentions this work in his biographical entry for Sayyid ‘Abd al-’Azim, number 651. 2)
Al-Yawm wa al-Layla. Sahib bin ‘Abbad has mentioned this work in a special treatise in which he documents Sayyid ‘Abd al-’Azim’s biography. Excerpts from this treatise are presented below. The author of al-Dhari’ah attributes this book to him citing from the Rijal of al-Najashi. However we did not find this attribution there!
His Position near the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (‘a)
His station near the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (‘a) comes to light in the course of their statements in his favor. Thus he was a brilliant traditionist, a source of reference in matters of the faith, trustworthy in matters of religion and here we mention some of their statements. Shaykh al-Saduq (d 381 AH/991 AD) reports from Sayyid ‘Abd al-’Azim that he said: ‘I visited my master ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Musa bin Ja’far bin Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Husayn bin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (‘a). When he caught sight of me, he exclaimed: “Welcome O Abu al-Qasim, you are indeed our true friend!”
So I said: “O son of the Messenger (s), 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”. So the Imam said: “Then present them O Abu al-Qasim”.
So I said: “I maintain that Allah, Blessed and Exalted is one. There is nothing like Him. He is beyond the two limits, 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 maintain) that Muhammad was His servant, His Messenger and the Seal of the Prophets. There is no prophet after him till the Day of Judgement. And (I maintain) that the Imam, the Caliph and the Guardian of the affair (of guidance) after him was Amir al-Mu ‘minin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, and then al-Hasan, then al-Husayn, then ‘Ali bin al-Husayn, then Muhammad bin ‘Ali, then Ja’far bin Muhammad, then Musa bin Ja’far, then ‘Ali bin Musa, then Muhammad bin ‘Ali and thereafter, you my master”.
So the Imam said: “And after me will be my son al-Hasan. However, I wonder how the people will react with regards to his successor” I asked: “Why do you say that, O master?” He 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.”
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, ‘Ali bin Muhammad (‘a) said: “O Abu al-Qasim, 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.”
Ibn Qawlawayhi narrates from ‘Ali bin al-Husayn bin Musa bin Babwayhi, who narrates from Muhammad bin Yahya al-Attar, who narrates from some of the natives of Ray, (one of whom said): ‘I visited Abu al-Hasan al-’Askari (‘a). He asked me: “Where were you?” I replied: “I was visiting the grave of al-Husayn bin ‘Ali (‘a).” He said: “However, if you had visited the grave of ‘Abd al-’Azim which is situated near you, then your status would have been similar to the one who visited al-Husayn (‘a).”
Perhaps (the authenticity of) this tradition may be disputed because of the unknown identity of the narrator transmitting the report from the Imam. But a response in its defence may be made by maintaining that Muhammad bin Yahya al-Attar who was the authority of Shaykh al-Kulayni (d 329 AH/940 AD) would not rely in such an important matter on the statement of a person whom he did not know or had any confidence in. Moreover, being a native of Qum himself, he would know the Shi’ites of Ray.
Perhaps another question may be posed here, which is: How can a pilgrimage to the grave of Sayyid ‘Abd al-’Azim be of equal stature to the pilgrimage to al-Husayn bin ‘Ali (‘a)? A possible response to this may be that the Imam uttered 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’ites on the basis of any pretext.
Mutawakkil reigned from 234 AH/848 AD till the year 247 AH/861 AD when he was murdered by his son. The reign of his son did not last long either as the Caliphate was taken over by one claimant after another such as al-Musta’in (r. 248 AH/862 AD – 252 AH/866 AD) then al-Mu ‘tazz Billah famously known for his enmity to the Ahlul Bayt (deposed in 255 AH/869 AD), then al-Muhtadi (r. 255 AH/869 AD – 256 AH /870 AD) and then al-Mu’tamad (r. 256 AH/870 AD – 279 AH/892 AD).
The prevailing policy in the ruling court was that of deception, enmity and oppression against the ‘Alids and the Shi’ites.
Thus in such circumstances, the Imam may have advised the Shi’ites to content themselves by visiting the grave of Sayyid ‘Abd al-’Azim in order to protect their lives and belongings from destruction and loss. Nevertheless, this does not mean that there is a reduction in the status of al-Husayn (‘a) or an exaggeration in the status of Sayyid ‘Abd al- ‘Azim.
Further, it is clear from what Sahib bin ‘Abbad narrates, that Sayyid ‘Abd al-’Azim was a ‘source of reference’ in matters of the faith and an interpreter of Islamic law for the Shi’ites in regard to issues which seemed ambiguous and unclear to them. Thus Abu Turab al-Ruyani says: ‘I visited ‘Ali bin Muhammad (‘a) in Samarra ‘ and I asked him some questions relating to the permissible and impermissible. He answered all of them. When I was bidding him farewell, he said: “O Hammad, if something regarding religion confuses or confounds you then refer it to ‘Abd al-’Azim, and convey to him my regards.”
This report expresses his position as a person who possessed the capability of ijtihad similar to Zurara bin A’yan, Muhammad bin Muslim, Yunus bin ‘Abd al-Rahman and Zakariyya bin Adam whom Imam al-Ridha’ (‘a) praised in response to one who asked him (something) by saying: ‘Refer to Zakariyya bin Adam, (who is) trustworthy in worldly and religious affairs.’
To be continued ...
Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr
The Most Vivid Portraits of Gallantry and Sacrifice (Part 2)
The Most Vivid Portraits of Gallantry and Sacrifice (Part 3)