Hasan ibn Ali ibn Muhammad (c. 6 December 846 – 4 January 874) also known as Hasan al-Askari was the eleventh and the penultimate Imam of the Twelver Shia Muslims. His title al-Askari is derived from the Arabic word Asker for army. He was given this title because he lived in Samarra, a garrison town. He was 22, when his father was killed. The period of his Imāmate was six years and he died at the age of 28 and was buried in Samarra.
Hasan al-Askari, whose ancestor was the Prophet of Islam Muhammad, was born in Medina. His father was Imam Ali al-Hadi, the tenth Imam of the Shia. He was from the masters of the Ahlul Bayt. His mother was a bondmaid from an-Nawbah. Historians disagreed on her name. Some of them said her name was Saleel which was the most correct according to the previous tradition of Imam al-Hadi. Some said she was called Sawsan. Others said her name was Hadithah, and others said Haribah.
Imam Hasan al-Askari also had two other siblings, Muhammad Abu Ja’far, al-Husayn bin Ali al-Hadi and a sister named Aa'liyah or Aliyyah. Imam Hasan al-Askari and al-Husayn were called "as-Sibtayn" and were named after their two grandfathers Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain.
Oppression by the 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 was born. Al-Mutawakkil had strong animosity towards the any members of the Ahlul Bayt 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 Shiites 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'in 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. He was thus again placed under house arrest. Eventually, al-Musta'in'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.
He was very knowledgeable and despite being confined to house arrest for almost his entire life, Hasan al-Askari was able to teach others about Islam, and even compiled a commentary on the Qur'an that would be used by later scholars. This became known as Tafsir al-Askari. However, there was many suspicion regarding whether or not it truly was his or not. The Tafsir was accused by some to be weak in its chain of authorities (Sanad), which is an essential part of the transmission of a tradition. The tafsir was also questioned because it contained a few inconstancies and lacks eloquence which some claim ruin its validity by default. The main reason people questioned the validity of the Tafsir is the fact that the Imam was under constant watch by the Abbasid government who prevented any contact between him and the Shi'i so it would make it impossible for such knowledge to be transferred.
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 because 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 referred 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 Imam al-Askari's imamate was also in shambles as well. Because 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. As was the case when a philosopher by the name of Isaaq al-Kindi wrote "The Contradiction of 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 Ahlul Bayt 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.
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: 4 January 874) Al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, IraqAfter his death, his brother Ja'far ibn Ali took it upon himself to seize what was left behind al-Askari. It is claimed by historians that he also took public possession of his late brother's property and also tried to take his place in the eyes of his followers. It is also claimed that he made vicious insinuations against his late brothers followers and also began threatening them if they did not follow him.
After the death of Hasan al-Askari, there was a sect of his followers who believed, as a result of shock and bewilderment, that he did not die, but had instead entered occultation and that he was the Mahdi. According to this sect, their beliefs were based upon the impossibility of the death of the Imam without an apparent known issue (this sect did not believe in the imamate or even existence of Muhammad al-Mahdi), since the earth can never be without an imam according to their doctrine. This sect later separated into several other groups. Among them were those who admitted the death of Imam Hasan al-Askari, but added that he returned to life after a little while, in accordance with a tradition on the meaning of the word Qa’im, i.e. one who returns to life after his death. Also among them were those who claimed that he did die and did not return to life, but that he will return to life in the future. These groups incorporated some traditions (into their thought) from some early Waqifite Shiite movements. Another part of historians studying the pedigrees of some Central Asian "shejere" saints, believe that the 12th Imam was not the only son of Imam Hasan al-Askari. In the 11th Imam had two sons, Sayyid Muhammad (i.e. Imam Mahdi) and Sayyid Ali Akbar.One descendant of Sayyid Ali Akbar was said to be Saint Ishan (Eshon) Imlo of Bukhara. Ishan Imlo. - Bukhara "saint of the last time," as it is called in Bukhara, as it is believed that after him the Saints had no more. The average Asian Muslims revere him as the last of the Saints. Ishan Imlo, according to the source, died in 1162 AH (1748-1749), the mausoleum (Mazar) is in a cemetery in Bukhaaraa.
Hasan al-Askari is buried in the mausoleum containing the remains of his father, Ali al-Hadi – The Al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq. The site is considered a holy shrine for the Shi’a's, though a bomb blast on 22 February 2006 destroyed much of the structure, and another bomb blast on 13 June 2007 destroyed the two remaining minarets of the Al-Askariya Mosque.
As witnessed at his funeral, he had a son whose birth was concealed because of the difficulties of the time and because of the belief that he was Muhammad al-Mahdi; an important figure in Shi'i 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.