Before we mention about the blessed birth of the great universal reformer and the hope of humanity, the great leader of the people, the Awaited Imam (a.s), it would be most fitting to mention in brief about the exalted family and genealogy of the holy Imam (a.s), and the true loftiness and exaltedness that is present in this pure family tree and is the source of heavenly light. He it is who would illuminate the horizon of the world and eradicate oppression and darkness of ignorance and stupidity and destroy the mischief-makers and their centers of destruction and oppression.
Honorable father of Imam Mahdi (a.s)
The eleventh of the Imams of guidance is Imam Hasan Askari (a.s). Like all the Imams, he was the source of contemplation and awakening of the Islamic world and one who made the people proximate to God, one who entreats and pleads in the court of the Lord of the world.
According to unanimity of historians and biographers, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) was the greatest personality of Islam of his time and the leader of opposition of the usurper and oppressor Abbaside ruler, whose rule was based on injustice and the rights of the people were being trampled upon.
The Abbaside rule kept on increasing pressure and force on the Imam (a.s) till they finally imprisoned the Holy Imam. And he was forcibly taken to Samarrah and put under surveillance and house arrest. Every type of communication between the Imam and his Shias was stopped. The complete life history of this holy Imam has been discussed by us in the book, Life of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s). In the forthcoming discussion we would again touch upon some aspects of his blessed life.
Respected mother of Imam Mahdi (a.s)
The genealogy of the respected mother of the Awaited Imam can be traced to the great Roman personalities on the basis of traditional reports and clear statements of the historians. She was the daughter of Yusha whose genealogy goes back to Caesar of Rome. In the same way her mother's lineage could be traced to Simon, the successor and one of the companions of Prophet Isa (a.s).
This chaste lady is one of the greatest lady of the Muslims by way of purity, faith and chastity, and she is the mother of the greatest reformer of human society after his honorable forefathers, throughout history. This alone is sufficient for her from the viewpoint of dignity and honor.
In spite of the fact that Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) himself possessed absolute perfections and virtues, he used to accord utmost respect to this esteemed lady, just as the respected aunt of His Eminence, Askari (a.s) paid due honor to her since her nephew informed her that the Awaited Imam would be born through her.
The name of Imam Mahdi's Mother
Historians have mentioned the following good names of this honorable lady: Susan, Raihana, Narjis, Saqeel, Khamt. From the aspect of her being pregnant with the holy effulgence of the Promised Mahdi and that she was the mother of that respectable personality she was surrounded by effulgence and light, therefore she was addressed by these blessed names.
In Praise of Imam Mahdi's Mother
In history a part of traditional reports and narrations of the Imam of guidance is recorded in praise of this honored lady. We mention below a few of them.
1. In the final stages of the Battle of Naharwan the matter of the advent and reappearance was presented before His Eminence, Amirul Momineen (a.s). Ali (a.s) praised and glorified the mother of Imam Mahdi (a.s) and said thus:
"O Son of the best of the maidservants! How long would you waita I give good news of a near victory from the Merciful Lord."
2. Abu Basir, a student of the school of Ahle Bayt says, "I asked Imam Sadiq (a.s), 'O Son of the Messenger of Allah (a.s)! Who is the Qaim among you Ahle Bayta' He replied: 'O Abu Basir! He is my fifth descendant from my son, Musa (a.s). He would be the son of the chief of the maidservants and the greatest of ladies. He would go into an occultation and the followers of falsehood would doubt in him. After that, the Almighty Allah would make him reappear, and conquer the east and west of the earth through his powerful hands.'"
3. Muhammad, the son of Asaam, through his own chain of narrators narrates from Abu Basir (a.s) that he quotes Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) or Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) that he said, "There are two signs in His Eminence, Qaim (a.s), a black spot on the head and a black spot between the shoulders, just as the leaf of the sweet basil. He is the son of the female prisoner and the best of maidservants."
History mentions numerous narrative reports of such kinds from the Imams of Ahle Bayt (a.s) describing the lofty station of this exalted lady and her greatness and majesty. Inspite of the fact that she was a slave maid there is no negative effect in her status because the great religion of Islam has destroyed and eradicated all types of criteria, standards and baseless veils and made piety and obedience of the Lord of the world to be a distinction and merit.
Manifestation of the light of the Imam of the time (a.s)
The sky and the atmosphere of the world became illuminated by the birth of the great reformer who would once again create the grandeur and bounty of Islam for the people and save them from the darknesses of oppression and transgression.
Among the greatest of bounties of Almighty Allah upon His Eminence, Mahdi (a.s) was that his presence in the womb of his mother and his birth was kept concealed like that of Prophet Musa Ibne Imran (a.s). Historians state that Imam Hasan Askari invited his aunt, Hakima the daughter of Imam Jawwad (a.s) to his house, who was an Alawite lady of a very pious character. Her chastity and purity closely resembled that of her honorable grandmother, Fatima Zahra (s.a.). When she arrived at the residence of her nephew, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s), he welcomed her with utmost respect and said,
“Auntie, be with us today for breaking the fast. Very soon the Almighty Allah would gladden you as a result of His Wali and Proof (Hujjat) on the people and my caliph after me.”
The whole being of the exalted lady became surrounded with elation and joy just by hearing these words of the Imam and she said, “O my master and chief! May I be sacrificed on you, from whom would the caliph be borna”
Imam (a.s) replied, “From Susan (or Narjis).”
Her Eminence, Hakima cast a glance at Susan but did not see any sign of pregnancy in her. She turned to Imam (a.s) and said, “She is not pregnant.” The Imam (a.s) smiled and said, “The pregnancy would be manifested for you at dawn. Because her pregnancy has not become apparent like that of the mother of Musa (a.s) and no one could learn about it till the time of delivery. This was so because, the Pharaoh used to have the bellies of expecting ladies cut open so that he could get hold of Musa (a.s); and this newborn child is also like His Eminence, Musa (a.s).”
When the time of evening prayer (Maghrib) arrived, Lady Hakima recited the evening and night prayers. After that she sat down with Lady Susan for breaking the fast. Later she went to sleep. She awoke during the night and glanced at Susan but again saw no sign of pregnancy and childbirth in her. When the last hours of the night approached she arose and began to perform the Midnight (Shab) Prayer. When she reached the one-unit ‘watr’ prayer, Susan, the chaste lady, woke up from her sleep and also recited the Midnight Prayer. After the prayers she began to feel labor pains. Lady Hakima approached the honorable maid and asked, “Do you feel somethinga” She replied, “I am feeling a severe thing.”
Lady Hakima addressed her with utmost kindness and respect, “If Allah wills, there is no fear for you.” Not much time passed when a beautiful male child was born from the womb of his mother, Susan. The child who would purify the earth from transgressors and oppressors and establish the rule of God over it.
His Eminence, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) was extremely overjoyed at the birth of this blessed and fortunate child and he began to speak up in refutation of the Abbaside rulers that they used to think that they would be able to soon kill him and deprive the Imam from continuing his progeny. He said in this way, “These cruel people thought that they would kill me so that this progeny could be cut off. What an estimation of God’s power they hada”
Performance of rituals connected with the new birth
Lady Hakima took the newborn child of exalted rank to its honorable father, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) who welcomed him with great pleasure and joy and initiated the Islamic rituals connected with the occasion. In the right ear of the newborn child, the Imam recited the 'Azan' and in his left recited the 'Iqamat'. Thus the first words to reach his ears were, 'God is the Greatest' and, 'There is no god, except Allah'.
In fact, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s), by these words fed the child with the secret of existence and the aim of the prophets and it resulted in completely surrounding the heart with kindness, feelings and understanding and at this moment the nascent divine child spoke up, like among the past prophets Isa (a.s) had done, reciting the following verse from the Holy Quran:
"And we desired to bestow a favor upon those who were deemed weak in the land, and make them the Imams, and to make them the heirs…"
In this way, the Proof of Allah on people and His Guardian (Wali) was born in such a concealed way due to the fear of the oppressive rulers who were in severe pursuit to find and kill him. Lady Hakima took him in her arms, kissed him and said, "I smelt such a sweet fragrance from him as I had never before experienced."
Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) again took the child from Lady Hakima and said, "I am entrusting you to the one whom Musa's mother had entrusted, Remain in the care and protection of Allah."
Then he said to Lady Hakima, "Auntie take him back to his mother, and keep the report of the birth of this newborn child a secret and do not convey it to anyone till the time is ripe for it…"
After the birth of his blessed child, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) ordered that a large quantity of meat and bread be purchased and distributed among the needy people of Samarrah. In this way seventy sheep were slaughtered for his Aqiqa Ceremony from which four were dispatched to his friend, Ibrahim along with the following letter: "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. These sheep are due to (the birth of) my son, Muhammad Mahdi. Partake it yourself and whomsoever of our Shias you see, make them partake it too."
Shias informed of the birth of the Imam of the time
The Shias learnt of the birth of the Imam, Proof of Allah upon the people, the awaited Imam, and they were overjoyed upon this news with their whole beings. Among those who received the good tidings was Hamzah, son of Abul Fath. He was told, "Good news! Yesterday, the Almighty Allah bestowed, Abu Muhammad, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) with a child, though the holy Imam has ordered that this information be kept confidential."
Hamzah asked, "What is the name of the child?" He was told, "His name is Muhammad and agnomen, Abu Ja'far."
Felicitations for the birth of the Imam of the time
As a result of the birth of Imam Mahdi (a.s) all the centers and gatherings of Shias were in joy and exultation. Prominent personalities and elders came to Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) in groups and congratulated him for the birth of Imam Mahdi (a.s). One of them, Hasan, the son of Husain Alawi says, "I came to Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) in Samarrah and complimented him about the birth of his son, Qaim (one who rises)."[3
Not much time elapsed after the birth of the Holy Imam that Shias continued to compliment and congratulate each other for the good news, and poets composed couplets and poems on the festive occasion expressing their joy. Shaykh Muhammad Samawi says,
"O the night that passed in the birth of that child.
By whom the atmosphere was mesmerized and his fragrance spread all around…"
Among those who composed eulogical poems on this occasion was Shaykh Kazim Aale Nuh, the acknowledged and successful literary personality. He writes in a panegyric thus,
"Good news arrived on this great night.
Of the one who is as great as this night."
 - Bihar, 13/5
 - Bihar, 13/5
 - Matalib as Soo-ol fi Manaqib Aale Rasool, Bihar, 13/7
 - Bihar, 13/6
 - Wafayatul Ayaan, Al Irshad
 - Miraatuz Zamaan
 - Bihar Al-Anwar
 - Yanabiul Mawaddah
 - Kamaluddin
 - Ghaibat Nomani
 - Bihar 13/5
 - Bihar 13/10
 - Call for Prayer
 - Shorter call for prayer
 - Allaho Akbar
 - Laa ilaaha illallaah
 - Surah Qasas 28:5
 - Bihar, 13/7
 - Bihar, 13/10
 - Bihar, 13/4
 - Bihar, 13/6, Ghaybah, Shaykh Tusi
 - Minanur Rahman, 2/233