Monday, October 26, 2009

History of Imam Mahdi's Occultation, by الشهيد Grand Ayatullah Sadiq al-Sadr (Part I)

Part one of a two part series: The first two volumes of Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid al-Shahid Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr's monumental four-volume study of the history and traditions revolving around the twelfth Imam are presented in this post. Ithna 'Ashari (Twelver) Shi'is believe that the twelfth Imam, Muhammad bin 'Hasan "al-Mahdi," will return at an appointed time to usher in a period of absolute justice preceding the Day of Judgment. During this period, the "true" followers of the Twelver Imams will be rewarded for their loyalty to the 'Alid-Husaynid line of the Prophet's family (Ahl al-Bayt). Twelver Shi'i ahadith collections however note that a segment of those who claim to be followers of the Ahl al-Bayt are really not.

Sadiq al-Sadr (second from left with white beard) and Muqtada al-Sadr (in the center back leaning on his hand).

Sadiq al-Sadr (1943-1999) and two of his sons were assassinated by the Iraqi Ba'th in February 1999 on the outskirts of the southern Iraqi Shi'i shrine city of al-Najaf. His was the cousin of Grand Ayatullah al-Shahid al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who was executed in April 1980 with his sister Amina bint Haydar al-Sadr. Sadiq al-Sadr's youngest son, al-Sayyid Muqtada, inherited the grassroots socio-political network that he established covertly in the 1990s.

During Sadiq al-Sadr's lifetime, his rivals spread rumors that he was an "Iraqi Ba'thi agent," pointing to the fact that for a time the Iraqi dictator Saddam Husayn cultivated relations with him in order to try and weaken the influence of non-Iraqi and non-Arab grand ayatullahs in the country, chief among them al-Sayyid 'Ali Husayni Sistani. This rumor is believed to have been started by his rivals in the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (since renamed the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, SIIC), a movement of Iraqi Shi'i exiles led by Ayatullah al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim founded in November 1982 in Tehran, Iran with the support of Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khumayni. Baqir al-Hakim and other SIIC officials were reportedly booed and pelted with shoes at a mourning ceremony for Sadiq al-Sadr hastily arranged by the Iranian regime after his assassination.

Sadiq al-Sadr preached the importance of an activist "speaking Hawza (seminary)," which he represented, as opposed to an apolitical "silent Hawza," which Sistani and the other grand ayatullahs of al-Najaf represented.

VOLUME I: Tarikh al-Ghayba al-Sughra
(History of the Lesser Occultation)

VOLUME II: Tarikh al-Ghayba al-Kubra
(History of the Greater Occultation)

*Both volumes are in Arabic, from his 4-volume Mawsu'at al-Mahdi (Encyclopedia of the [Imam] Mahdi), available in print HERE. I have a copy and it is beautifully bound and printed.

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