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Hasan al-Askari (Eighth of Rabi' al-thani 232 AH – Eighth of Rabi' al-awwal 260 AH; approximately: 1 December 846 – 1 January 874) was the eleventh of the Twelve Imams. His given name was Hasan ibn ‘Alī ibn Muhammad.His title al-Askari derives from the Arabic word Asker which means military. He was given this title mainly because the country he lived in (Samarra) was a military camp. Hasan al-‘Askarī was 22, when his father was killed. The period of his Imāmate, following his father's death, was six years. Hasan Al-‘Askarī died at the age of 28 in the year, ####260 Hijra and was buried in Samarra.
Oppression by the Abbasid Caliphs
Hasan al-Askari lived almost his entire life under house arrest in Samarra and under supervision of Abbasid caliphs. Al-Mutawakkil son al-Mu’tasim was the first of these oppressive caliphs. He assumed the rule in 232 AH. In the same year Imam Abu Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was born. Al-Mutawakkil had strong animosity towards the any members of the household and as such he ordered his men to bring Imam al-Hadi to Samarra from Medina. He imposed house arrest on the Imam and had detectives and policeman watching all his activities and preventing the Shia from having any contact with him. The reign of al-Mutawakkil was ended by his son, al-Muntasir, who joined forces with the Turks to kill his father. After the coup al-Muntasir assumed the rule that once belonged to his father. He was not like his father, and during this time Imam Hasan al-Askari felt freedom. This reign did not last long, as al-Muntasir died shortly thereafter. Most historians believe he was assassinated by the Turks, via poison, due to their fear that he might end their domination over the Islamic nation. After the death of al-Muntasir, al-Musta'een took control. he had little political influence and was considered by many to be a tool controlled by the Turks. He had bitter hatred of Imam al-Askari and feared that he might rise in a revolt against the Abbasid rule, as during this time a majority of the nation believed in his imamate and followed him. He was thus again placed under house arrest. Eventually, al-Musta'een's rule too was ended by the Turks and he was forced to hand the position over to al-Mu'tazz. Imam Hasan al-Askari continued to live under house arrest under the reign of al-Mu'tazz , al-Muhtadi, and al-Mu'tamid, until his death. The cause of his death has largely been speculated to be due to poison administered by the last Abbasid caliph of his time, al-Mu'tamid.
Hasan al-Askari's imamate met difficulty even before the death of his father. Many felt that Hasan al-Askari became the eleventh Imam by default due to the fact that his older brother had died and was considered the designated successor to his father during his lifetime. Some of those who refused to accept the imamate of al-Askari, had instead chosen to follow his younger brother hereafter refereed to as Ja'far (not to be confused with his deceased older brother). His right to succession was also challenged by this same brother. Imam al-Askari represented the front of opposition to the Abbasid rule. He criticized the rulers for appropriating the wealth of the nation and extorting the people under their rule. He did so by not communicating with or cooperating with kings who took wealth unlawfully and used followers of Islam as slaves. Due to the domination of the Turks, al-Askari had little effect on the Political life during his time. The state remained in a political crisis, as the Abbasid Caliphs were considered puppets of the Turks who ruled with terrorism. The religious life during the time of al-Askari's imamate was also in shambles as well. Due to the fact that al-Askari was under house arrest for a majority of his life, many non-believers took advantage of this time and tried to misguide the Muslims. He did continue to speak out against those who questioned the Qur'an. Historians claim that al-Askari had a disciple relay a powerful message to the philosopher in which he stated "If someone recites the Qur'an, is it possible that he means other meanings than what you think you understand? If he says it is possible say to him How do you know? He might mean other than the meanings that you think, and so he fabricates other than the Qur'an's meanings". The claim that follows is that the Philosopher burned his book in light of the belief that no one besides a member of the household could say something like this and that he must truly be the eleventh Imam from this lineage. In this way the Imam had some influence on the religious lives of his followers. He would address them through the visitors he was permitted to receive.
Due to the fact that he lived a majority of his life being mistreated under house arrest by the caliphs of the time eventually, Hasan al-Askari died on the 8th Rabi' al-awwal 260 AH (approximately: 1 January 874). At the death of the eleventh Imam, there was a lot of question as to who will succeed him. A majority believed he died childless and took this as proof that they had been mistaken in accepting his imamate. Others believe he had a son whose birth was concealed because of the difficulties of the time and because of the belief that he was al-Mahdi; an important figure in Islamic teaching who is believed will reappear at the end of time to fill the world with justice, peace and to establish Islam as the global religion.
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