Circumstances of the Mother of Hazrat Imam Mahdi (as)

Regarding the events around the birth of Imam Mahdi (as), it is important to establish the presence of his mother, Hazrat Narjis Khatoon (sa) and the circumstances about her existence.

This narration is from Bushr bin Suleiman, a slave trader from the descendants of Abu Ayyub Ansari and a sincere Shiah of Imam Ali Naqi (as) and Imam Hasan Askari (as) and their neighbour at Samarrah. Abu Ayyub Ansari is the person at whose place Holy Prophet (sawa) first stayed when he migrated to Medina.

While the narration is long it establishes several truths.

  • Firstly, it establishes the presence and existence of Janabe Narjis Khatoon (sa), the mother of Imam Mahdi (as).
  • Secondly, it narrates the entire background of Janabe Narjis Khatoon, the mother of Imam Mahdi (as), her relation to Hazrat Isa (as), to Christianity, her eventual capture and how she reached the house of the Imam Naqi (as).
  • It also establishes how Allah creates circumstances for His Command to be executed – how she permitted herself to be captured despite being the daughter of the king and also how she accepted Islam at the hands of Hazrat Zahra (as).
Tomb of Janabe Narjis (sa) at Samarrah, Iraq

Hazrat Narjis Khatoon (sa) is buried in Samarrah next to the graves of Imam Naqi (as) and Imam Hasan Askari (as) and Hazrat Hakima Khatoon (sa). Apart from Narjis, she is also known by other names – Maleekah, Raihana, Saiqal and Soosan in traditions.

The narration reported in Beharul Anwar, volume 51, chapter 1, tradition 12 is as follows –

Bushr said, One day Kafur, the slave of Imam Ali Naqi (as) came to me and summoned me to his master. When I went to the Imam, he said, “O Bushr, you are from the descendants of Ansar. This devotion is your legacy, which your each coming generation inherits from the preceding generation. You are trustworthy men of us, Ahle Bayt. I am elevating you and ennobling you by an excellence, through which you will surpass all Shia in devotion, by sharing a secret with you and sending you to purchase a certain slave girl.”

He then wrote a very fine letter in Roman script and Roman language and imprinted his seal on it. He took out a yellow cloth in which were two hundred and twenty dinars. He said, “Take this and go with it to Baghdad. He told me to go to the crossing of the Euphrates on the noon of such and such day. And when you reach the boats of the captives, you will see slave girls in them. You will find buyers working for the procurers of the Abbasids and a small group from the Arab youths.

When you see that, keep an eye on a man called Amr bin Zaid, the slave trader from a distance all day long, until a slave girl is brought to the buyers, who has such-and-such quality. Her dress is two thick silks; she refuses to be seen or touched by the examiners; she does not submit to anyone who would want to touch her. And you will hear a cry in Roman from behind a thin veil. You should know she is saying, Alas from the violation of the veil!

One of the buyers of Amr will say, Mine for three hundred dinars; her modesty has ever increased my desire for her. She will reply to him in Arabic, Even if you come in the form of Suleiman, the son of Dawood and with a kingdom like his, I will not be interested in you. So, save your money.

The slave-dealer will say, Then what is the solution? I have to sell you. The slave girl will reply, why the haste? There must be a buyer that my heart finds rest in him and in his fidelity and honesty. At that moment, go to Amr bin Zaid and tell him you have a kind-hearted letter from a certain man of nobility, which he has written in Roman language and in Roman script, describing therein his benevolence, his fidelity, his excellence, and his generosity, so she may discern from it the character of its author. Should she be interested in him and choose him, then I am his representative in buying her from you.”

Bushr bin Suleiman says, I performed all that which my master, Abul Hasan (as) had ordered me to do with respect to the slave girl. When she saw the epistle, she cried very profusely and said to Amr bin Zaid, ‘Sell me to the author of this letter.’ She took the solemnest of oaths that should he refuse to sell her to him, she will take her life. I negotiated the price with the dealer until it settled exactly on the amount my Master had given me.

The money being sufficient, I took the slave girl, who was so very happy and in laughter. I returned with her to the quarters I was residing at in Baghdad. She was very restless until she took out from her pocket the letter of our Imam. She would kiss it and put it on her eyes and place it on her cheeks and touch it to her body. Astonished by this, I said, “You are kissing a letter, you do not know who wrote it.”

She said, “O incapable and feeble from knowing the position of the progeny of prophets. Lend me your ears and empty your heart for my words. I am Maleekah, the daughter of Yashua, son of the Caesar of Rome. My mother is from the descendants of the Disciples of Isa (Hawariyin), and her lineage goes back to the successor of Isa, Shamun. I will narrate to you the wondrous story.

My grandfather, the Caesar, wanted to marry me to his nephew when I was a girl of thirteen. So he gathered in his palace, three hundred priests and monks from the descendants of Hawariyun (disciples of Hazrat Isa), and from their men of stature seven hundred men. He gathered four thousand commanders of the army and officers of the military and leaders of the armed forces and chiefs of the tribes. He erected a throne from the dearest of his riches, which was adorned with varieties of jewels and raised over forty steps. When his nephew climbed, the crosses were fixed about, the bishops took their stands in great reverence, and the pages of Injeel (Bible) were opened.

Suddenly the crosses collapsed from the top and hit the ground. The pillars of the throne crumbled and crashed onto the floor. My grandfather’s nephew, who had risen over the throne, fell down unconscious. The colours of the bishops changed and their chests trembled. Their leader said to my grandfather, ‘Please excuse me from facing this evil, which forebodes the demise of this Christian religion and the royal creed.’

My grandfather took this as an evil omen and said to the bishops, ‘Erect these scaffolds and raise the crosses and bring the brother of this deceased man, whose dreams have been ruined, so I may marry him this young girl; so the evil of his dead brother may go away through his fortune.’ And when they did that, the same thing happened to the second as had happened to the first nephew. People scattered away. My grandfather, the Caesar stood in great distress and entered the quarters of the womenfolk.

I dropped the curtains and in the same night saw in my dream that Hazrat Isa (as), Shamun, and a number of the disciples (Hawariyun) had gathered at my grandfather’s palace. They had installed there a pulpit of light that was defying heavens in height and elevation. It was in the same spot where my grandfather had installed his throne.

At this, Mohammed, (sawa), his son-in-law and his successor, Ameerul Momeneen (as) and a number of his sons entered. Isa went forward and embraced him. Mohammed (as) said to him, ‘O Ruhullah, I have come to you to propose to your successor, Shamun for his daughter, Maleekah for this son of my mine, pointing to Imam Hasan Askari (as), the son of the writer of this epistle. Hazrat Isa looked at Shamun and said, ‘The greatest honour has come to you. Let your relation be bonded with the relation of Aale Mohammed (as).’ ‘Shamun said: ‘It will be my honour to do so.’ He climbed over that pulpit. Mohammed (sawa) said the rituals and married me to his son. Isa bore witness and the sons of Mohammed (as) and the Hawariyun bore witness.

When I woke up, I was scared to report this to my father or grandfather, fearing they would kill me. I was keeping this a secret and not revealing it to them. Meanwhile, my heart throbbed with love for Imam Hasan Askari (as) so much that I forsook eating and drinking. I became weak and my body grew lean and I became very sick. There was no physician left in the cities of Rome that my grandfather did not bring and ask him to heal me. When despair overwhelmed him, he said to me, ‘O solace of my heart, does any wish occur to your heart in this world, so I may fulfil it?’

I said: ‘Grandfather, I see the doors of relief shut on me. However, if you save the Muslim captives in your prison from torture, and remove their chains, and do them favours, and kindly release them, I am hopeful that Hazrat Isa and his mother will give me health.’ When he did that, I made effort to display health and ate a little food. This made him very happy and he became ever intense to confer kindness and respect upon the captives.

I also saw in my dreams for fourteen nights the Leader of the Women of the Worlds, Hazrat Fatemah Zahra (as). She visited me along with Maryam, daughter of Imran, and one thousand serfs from the Gardens. Maryam said to me, ‘This is the Chief of the Ladies (as), the mother of your husband.’

So I held on to her and cried and complained that Imam Hasan Askari (as) does not come to visit me. Hazrat Zahra (sa) said: ‘My son, Imam Hasan Askari (as) will not visit you as long as you believe in a partner with Allah in the religion of the Christians. This is my sister Maryam, the daughter of Imran, and she turns to Allah with disdain from your religion. If you want the pleasure of Allah, the Exalted, and the pleasure of Hazrat Isa and his mother, and to have Imam Hasan Askari (as) visit you, say, ‘I testify that there is no god, except Allah and Mohammed is the Last Messenger of Allah.’ When I spoke these words, the Mistress of the Ladies of the World pulled me to her chest and my soul was blessed. She said, ‘Now expect the visitations of Imam Hasan Askari (as). I am sending him to you.’

I woke up in great excitement and expectation of meeting the Imam. When it was the next night, I saw Imam (as) and as if I was saying to him, ‘You abandoned me, my beloved, while the remedy of your love ruined my soul.’ He said: ‘My delay was not but for your polytheistic belief. Now you have embraced Islam, I am going to visit you every night until Allah brings us together.’ Until now, his visitations to me have not ceased.”

Bushr bin Suleiman said, I asked her, how did you fall amongst the captives?

She said, “Imam Hasan Askari (as) told me on one of the nights – Your grandfather will shortly be dispatching an army to fight the Muslims on such and such day, and he will follow them. You have to join them in the train of servants along with a number of servants from such and such route. I did that and the vanguards of Muslims encountered us, which led to my situation that you see. And no one knew that I am the granddaughter of the Roman Caesar until now, except you and that is because I told you. The gentleman in whose share of booty I fell, asked me of my name. I hid my identity from him and said, ‘Narjis.’ He said, ‘A flame of the servants.’”

I said to her, It is amazing that you are Roman and your language is Arabic.

She said, “due to my grandfather’s persistence and encouragement that I should increase my learning, he appointed a woman to me, who was his interpreter, to visit me. She would come to me day and night and teach me Arabic, until I became fluent.”

Bushr says, when I brought her back to Samarrah, I came to my Master, Imam Ali Naqi (as). He asked her, “How did Allah show you the glory of Islam and the disgrace of Christianity and the nobility of Mohammed and his Household?”

She said, “How would I describe, O son of Allah’s Messenger, something, which you know better than me?”

Imam (as) said, “I would like to confer kindness on you. Which one is dearer to you, ten thousand dinars or a happy tiding of eternal grandeur?”

“Happy tidings of a son for me”, she replied.

Imam (as) said, “Rejoice the tidings of having a son, who would rule the world, from the east to the west, and fill it with equity and justice, as it will be filled with oppression and injustice.” From whom, she asked.

Imam (as) replied in Roman, “from the one for whom the Messenger of Allah (sawa) proposed for you on such and such night, in such and such year. To whom Isa and his successor married you.” From your son? she asked.

Imam (as) said, “Do you know him?”

She replied, “has there been a night he has not visited me since I have embraced Islam on the hands of Chief of the Ladies!”

Then Imam Ali Naqi (as) said, “Kafur, call my sister Hakima. And when she entered, he said to her, here she is.”

Janabe Hakima embraced her long and was very much happy to see her. Imam Ali Naqi (as) said to her, “O daughter of the Messenger of Allah, take her to your house and teach her the duties and traditions, for she is the wife of my son and the mother Qaem (as).”

Thus it is established that Janabe Narjis, buried in Samarrah is the mother of Hazrat Imam Mahdi (as).

For more details on the birth of Hazrat Imam Mahdi (as), readers can refer to the following articles –

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