ʿASKARĪ, ABŪ MOḤAMMAD ḤASAN B. ʿALĪ, the 11th imam of the Twelver Shiʿites, known also as al-Ṣāmet, al-Hādī, al-Zakī, etc. He was born in Medina, the son of an omm walad called Ḥodayṯ or Sūsan. His date of birth is not known for certain. Nawbaḵtī, (Feraq, p. 79) and Qomī (Maqālāt, pp. 101f.) give Rabīʿ II, 232/November-December, 846; Kolaynī (Kāfī I, p. 503) says either Rabīʿ I/October-November, 846 or Ramażān/April-May, 847; while Tārīḵ Baḡdād (VII, p. 366) states that he was born in 231/845-46. In 233/847-48 or 234/848-49 he and his father, ʿAlī al-Hādī, were taken by the caliph al-Motawakkel to ʿAskar Sāmarrā (hence their nesba ʿAskarī). According to Imamite tradition, his father designated Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī as his successor a few months before his death in 254/868 (Shaikh Mofīd, Eršād, p. 335); his elder brother, Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammad, was already dead by this time (Nawbaḵtī, p. 78). It seems, however, that his right to the succession was challenged by his brother Jaʿfar.
Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī’s short imamate was uneventful, though he is said to have been imprisoned for a while by the caliph al-Moʿtamed (r. 256-79/870-92). He died on 8 Rabīʿ I 260/January 1, 874 in Sāmarrā (Ebn Ḵallekān gives 8 Jomādā I/March 1 ) and was buried next to his father in the latter’s house. His estate passed to his mother and his brother Jaʿfar. During his imamate small groups of extremists (ḡolāt), who ascribed prophetic or even divine qualities to the imams, continued the activities which they had in part begun under his predecessor. They included the Namīrīya, the adherents of Moḥammad b. Noṣayr Namīrī (Nawbaḵtī, p. 78) in Kūfa, the Esḥāqīya of Esḥāq b. Moḥammad Naḵaʿī Baṣrī in Baṣra, Baghdad, and Madāʾen (Kaššī, Reǰāl, ed. Moṣṭafwī, Mašhad, 1348 Š./1969, pp. 530f.; Tārīḵ Baḡdād VI, pp. 378ff; cf. the traditions in Kāfī I, pp. 508ff.), and the Ḥasakīya, the supporters and disciples of ʿAlī b. Ḥasaka, in Qom (Kaššī, pp. 516f., 520, 521). Since ʿAskarī had died without leaving any obvious heirs, certain groups of his followers believed that he had been carried off by God (ḡayba) and awaited his return or resurrection; others surmised that he had left a son called Moḥammad (known as Moḥammad al-Qāʾem), who had been born a few years before ʿAskarī’s death (according to the Imamite tradition in Šaʿbān, 255/July-August, 869; Kāfī I, p. 514) or even posthumously (Nawbaḵtī, pp. 84f., 90ff.). One sect maintains that he had left a concubine with child and that she would one day give birth to the Mahdī; other groups endorsed the imamate of one of ʿAskarī’s brothers, Moḥammad or Jaʿfar (cf. Nawbaḵtī, pp. 79ff.; Qomī, p. 102ff.). Of all these groups only the Emāmīya survived, who believe that ʿAskarī’s son Moḥammad was taken up by God (ḡayba), and they await his return.
See also Nawbaḵtī, Feraq al-šīʿa, ed. H. Ritter, Leipzig and Istanbul, 1931, pp. 78-94.
Qomī, al-Maqālāt wa’l-feraq, ed. J. Maškūr, Tehran, 1342 Š./1963, pp. 101-16.
Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammad Kolaynī, Oṣūl kāfī, ed. A. A. Ḡefārī, Tehran, 1388/1968, I, pp. 503-14.
Shaikh Mofīd, Ketāb al-eršād, ed. K. Mūsawī, Tehran, 1377/1957, pp. 314-25.
TārīḵBaḡdād VII, p. 366.
Ebn Ḵallekān (Beirut), II, pp. 94-95.
EI2 III, pp. 246-47.
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 16, 2011
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