Short Biography of Imam Mahdi AS
Imam Mahdi AS was born in the year 255 hijri or 869 AD in the city of Samerra in Iraq. His parents died when he was 6 years old, and since then he has been in absence by God’s order and for the fear of getting killed.
Imam Hasan Askari, Mahdi’s father, was strictly confined and controlled by the time’s caliphs, since prophecies and narrations from the previous Imams and even the prophet of Islam had told them that Imam Askari would have a son that would fill the earth with justice and peace, the same way it had been filled with cruelty and injustice.
However, like Prophet Moses, the birth of Imam Mahdi was also hidden and despite Pharaoh’s mass killing of the male infants, or the pregnant ladies, Moses’s miraculous birth happened at last. Likewise, Mahdi’s birth remained hidden in order to save his life. The Abbasid caliph, Mutamid, was ruling at the time of Imam Mahdi’s birth. He sent out his spies and agents into Imam Hasan Askari’s house as maids and friends to track down any news of a pregnant lady or a new-born son, in which case, if found were to be killed. However, with God’s help and power Imam Mahdi’s mother did not have the looks of a pregnant lady, and her delivery of the baby happened suddenly and by dawn, when everybody except for Imam Hasan Askari and his aunt, Hakimeh were only awake; therefore, nobody knew about Imam Mahdi’s birth.
After his birth, Imam Askari only let his trusted Shiite friends learn about the event. After Imam Hasan Askari and Narjes died, Imam Mahdi’s short absence started. The short absence took 69 years during which only 4 representatives chosen by Imam himself could be in direct contact with Imam, and other Shiites and Muslims had to refer to these 4 representatives their questions and requests. These 4 representatives were assigned as the middleman consecutively, meaning only 1 person was in contact with him in his lifetime, and after each one died, the next successor was introduced through Imam’s written letter and signature. These 4 were named:
1. Osman bin Saeed Amari Samman (874 AD - 879 AD)
2. Mohammad bin Osman bin Saeed Amari Samman (879 AD - 917AD)
3. Hossein bin Rouh Nobakhti (917 AD - 938 AD)
4. Ali bin Mohammad Samori(938 AD - 941 AD)
However after the final representative died, the long absence started in the year 329 hijri or 941 AD. Since then, no middleman or representative is in contact with Imam Mahdi, and anybody who claims to be in contact with him is a liar. In a narration, taking benefit of Imam during his absence has been symbolized as taking advantage of the sun when it is cloudy: Although you cannot see the sun, but you can still take advantage of its light. Likewise, human sins hinder being in direct contact with the Imam. The sins are like clouds that cover up between humans and the Imam. Therefore, the more pious one gets, the lesser the cloudy obstacle gets, and the more he can take advantage of the sun.
The long absence took place for a couple of reasons. Based on narrations the reasons for the long absence are:
• The fear of getting killed or harmed by people, since the society had not been ready to accept the twelfth Imam;
• To liberate Imam from being under sovereign of any caliphate, or ruling system, or king;
• To deprive unthankful people from the blessing of a liberating Imam, and to make them repent and pray for his coming back.
Similarities between Imam and the previous prophets:
1. Mohammad: He is the most similar person both in appearance and by characteristics to Prophet Mohammad. Likewise, he is attacked by the infidels by wars risen against him and he has to defend himself;
2. Noah: His long age resembles Noah’s long age;
3. Abraham: His hidden birth and his growth is similar to Abraham’s hidden birth. Imam Sajjad said, “Abraham grew in one day to the extent that a normal person would grow in one week; likewise, Mahdi grew in a month to the extent that other humans would grow in a year;
4. Moses: Resembles Moses for his hidden birth, and his absence. Moses’s birth and his growth were also hidden. Moses also had absences, the first one his growing up phase, when nobody knew he was the promised prophet, and the second one, the 40 day absence, during which he reclused in a cave to worship God, and when he returned to his people (the Israelites), they had converted back to paganism. Likewise Mahdi has two absences, he is in contact with people but people do not recognize him, and during his absence many will divert from the right path, and by the time he returns, many of the Muslims have become pagans again;
5. Jesus: His resemblance to Jesus is in people’s confusion about his existence. Like Jesus, people are confused whether Mahdi was born, or killed, or survived;
6. Joseph: Again like Joseph who lived in Egypt and became the prince, and traded with his brothers, but his brothers did not recognize him; Mahdi also walks among people but is not recognized. Also Joseph was the most beautiful man of his time, and Mahdi is said to be the most beautiful also;
7. Ishmael (Ismail): like Ishmael for whom a spring sprang out from the earth to help him and his mother survive in the wilderness; when Mahdi comes, wherever he points to, a spring will spring to help him and his group survive;
8. Adam: after creating Adam, God made him His successor and caliph on Earth; likewise, Mahdi will be God’s successor and caliph on Earth;
9. Saleh: Like Moses, when Saleh was absent from his people for a short while, all his people diverted back to paganism. During Mahdi’s absence, many Muslims will divert from the right path;
10. Jacob: Jacob’s monotheistic belief was tested by God by the several calamities that happened during his lifetime. But Jacob remained patient and steadfast during all those upheavals and did not go astray. Therefore, God rewarded him after years of loss, and gave him back whatever he had lost during those years. Mahdi, also will face serenity and peace after all these years of absence and torment;
11. Jonah (Younis): after Jonah returned back to his people after years of absence, his countenance had remained as the young face people had remembered him, and he had not aged. Likewise, when Mahdi returns, he will not look as he has aged (like a 1300 year old person), but will look like a 40 year old man;
12. David: like David whose judgement was accepted by all without the need for evidence and witness, Mahdi’s judgement would also be accepted as true without the need for evidence and witness.
13. Aaron (Haroun): Aaron was Moses’s brother and successor. He could hear and talk to Moses from long distances, without any special aid. They communicated without the need for a mediary in between. Likewise Mahdi will communicate with his friends from long distances without needing any mediary;
14. Shoaib: Like Jonah and Shoaib, when Mahdi returns he will look like a young man, and not as aged as he should be.