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Last Updated: 2012/01/11
Summary of question
Had Imam Mahdi's mother been the granddaughter of Caesar, the King of the Romans?
Had Imam Mahdi's mother been the granddaughter of Caesar, the King of the Romans?
Concise answer

According to reports and traditions, the real name of the mother of the Imam of Time, Imam Mahdi (atf) had been "Malika" daughter of Yashoa, the son of Caesar the King of the Romans. From mother's side, she was the descendant of the disciple Shimeon Peter, the vicegerent of Jesus (a.s). "

Detailed Answer

Shaikh Tusi, one of the great scholars and traditionists of the fifth century, in his book titled Al-Ghaiba (Occultation) reported Bishr bin Sulayman (a servant of 10th Imam, Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as)) as saying that one day, Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) called him and said to him: "O' Bishr, you are from the Ansars (inhabitants of Madina who believed in and supported Prophet Mohammad (SAW) when he migrated from Makkah to Madina in the early years of Islam) who have always been our loyal and our trustworthy through generations, therefore I want to exalt you and chasten you with the honor of carrying out a furtive mission."

Bishr bin Sulayman said that he became very anxious as Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) wrote a letter in Roman language, closed it and affixed his seal on it. Then he took out a yellow bundle containing 220 golden Dinars. Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) handed me the gold bundle and the letter telling me to go to Baghdad and to be near the crossing of Euphrates there in the morning of so and so day. Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) said: "when you see the arrival of ships with many captive women brought in for sale as slave girls, stay put as various panders for the Abbasid and a number of young Arab buyers gather around. Watch from distance, a slave trader whose name is Umar bin Zaid. He brings out a slave girl wearing silk and looks so and so. She will refuse to take the veil off her face, she will decline to show herself off or even let anyone touch her. She will cry out in Roman language to save her chastity from being attacked."

Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) added: "One buyer will admire her chastity and offers the salve trader (Umar bin Zaid) 300 Dinars to buy her from him. She will say to him: I have no desire for you even if you wore King Solomon's clothes and owned a kingdom like his, so do not waste your money on me. The slave trader will say to her: What's the idea? You are to be sold anyhow. She would reply: Why the hurry? I will choose a buyer whom my heart likes and accepts his loyalty and honesty. Then you approach the slave trader and tell him that you have a letter from a nobleman written in Roman language and inscription describing his generosity, loyalty, benevolence and noblesse. Trader said: "Show her this letter, and that if she tends to accept the vices of the writer, then you could buy her for him."

Bishr bin Sulayman said that he followed all the instructions as given to him by his master, Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) with regard to this slave girl. All the events that his master foretold materialized. Bishr added: When she read the letter, she started to cry and said to trader sell me to the writer of this letter, swearing and threatening to kill herself if he did not. Bishr bin Sulayman started to bargain with the slave trader on the price until he agreed to sell her at amount given to Bishr bin Sulayman by his master, Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as). Bishr bin Sulayman received the cheering and happy slave girl and accompanied her to the little room where they stayed in Baghdad. As she sat down, she took out the letter and started kissing it and swabbing with it her eyes.

Astounded, Bishr Bin Sulayman asked: You are kissing a letter of someone you do not know? Nargis Khatoon (sa) replied promptly: "You are incapable and little-knowing the position of descendants of Prophet Mohammed (SAW). Listen to me carefully; I am Malika daughter of Yashoa, the son of Caesar the King of the Romans. My mother is a descendant of Shimeon the disciple of Jesus the son of Mary (sa). I shall reveal to you my incredible story.

Nargis Khatoon (sa) said: "My grandfather the Caesar wanted to marry me off to his nephew when I was 13 years old. He summoned to his palace the descendants of the disciples of Jesus, three hundred of them were monks and priests, and a further seven hundred were high dignitaries. He also called four thousand men of his high ranking officers, generals, knights, noblemen and tribal chiefs. A magnificent throne, adorned with jewels and gems, was erected in the palace and raised forty steps high."

Nargis Khatoon (sa) added: "As my grandfather's nephew went up the throne, surrounded by huge crosses and the bishops stood up and opened their bibles, the palace started to shake, the crosses fell to the ground and the throne crashed down as its pillars shattered. His nephew was knocked down unconscious. The bishops turned pale and trembled. A senior bishop said to my grandfather: O' King, relieve us from attending this ceremony and witness these signs which augur an evil omen of the end of Christianity and the Royal religion."

Nargis Khatoon (sa) said: "My grandfather was annoyed and severely disturbed by this. He angrily commanded that the crosses be lifted and the pillars fixed. He ordered to continue the ceremony and called upon the brother of his nephew to marry me instead, so that the good fortunes of the latter nephew would stave off the jinx of his brother. Once again a tremor hit the palace causing great fear among the guests who ran away leaving the palace. My grandfather was saddened by this and returned to his sleeping chamber."

Nargis Khatoon (sa) said: "That night, I had a vision as I saw Jesus (as) with Shimeon and a number of other disciples gathered in my grandfather's palace, where a high tribune of bright light was erected in the same place where my grandfather was enthroned.

I saw Prophet Mohammad (SAW), his son-in-law and Imam Ali Al-Mortadha (as) with eleven of his sons entering the place. Jesus (as) advanced to receive them and embraced Prophet Mohammad (SAW). Prophet Mohammad (SAW) said to Jesus: "O' spirit of God, I came to you to betroth and engage your disciple Shimeon's daughter Malika to this son of mine, pointing out to Imam Hassan Askari (as), and the writer of this letter." Jesus (as) looked at Shimeon and said: "Honor has marched towards you. Relate your kin to the kinship of the progeny of Prophet Mohammad (SAW)." Shimeon replied: "I did". Then Prophet Mohammad (SAW) ascended the tribune and gave an eloquent speech and conducted my marriage ceremony to his son. Jesus (as) bore witness as well as Prophet Mohammad (SAW) and the present disciples of Jesus (as).

Nargis Khatoon (sa) elaborated: When I woke up, I could not relate the vision to my father or grandfather in fear of their persecution. I concealed this vision in my heart, but day by day I grew in love with Imam Hassan Askari (as). I yearned and longed to meet with him. I lost my appetite and stopped eating and drinking. I grew thin and weak and became ill. There was not a doctor in cities of the Roman Empire that my grandfather did not bring to treat my illness and find my cure.

Desperate and despondent about my recovery, my grandfather asked if I had any wish or desire to be fulfilled in this life. I said: "Dear grandfather, I see the doors of relief and hope being closed in my face, but if you would stop the torture of Muslim captives and prisoners and promise to release them from your jails and set them free, then may be Jesus and his mother Mary will then grant me good health." When my grandfather accepted my request, I forced myself to eat and drink a little and pretended to recover. He was so delighted with these signs of improvement, that he became very kind to Muslim captives and prisoners.

Nargis Khatoon (sa) then said: After fourteen nights, I saw another vision where I saw Fatima daughter of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) and Mary mother of Jesus (sa) along with a number of maids of honor came to visit me. Mary said to me: "This is the lady of the ladies of the world, your husband's mother." I embraced her and cried and complained that Imam Hassan Askari did not come to see me. She said that her son would not visit me as long as I was of a different religion, a follower of the pagans. This is my sister, Mary who seeks refuge to God from your religion. I would have to embrace Islam to see him. She said: "If you were inclined to satisfy God and satisfy Jesus (as) and Mary (sa) and wanted Imam Hassan Askari (as) to visit you, then you would have to say "La Ilaha Illa-Allah, Muhammadur Rasoolul Allah" (I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and that Mohammad is His messenger). .

I was willing heart and soul to accept Islam, and spoke those words. Fatima daughter of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) embraced me and said: "Now expect the visit of Imam Hassan Askari, I will send him to you".

I woke up very happy and eager for meeting my beloved. On the following night, I saw as if he came to see me and I am saying O' beloved, you have forsaken me, while I was suffering in your love. He said that my belief was the reason for his delay, but from now on he would visit me every night until Almighty Allah will join us together. Ever since that night, I have been continuously seeing in my dream every night.

Bishr Bin Sulayman asked: "Then how you became prison?" Nargis Khatoon (sa) said: "Imam Hassan Askari (as) told me one night that my grandfather will send out a big army to fight the Muslims on day so and so, and then he would join that army later on. When that happens, I am to follow them taking so and so route disguised as a maid with some of my maids. As I did what I was told, I found myself and the maids surrounded by the vanguard of the Muslim army. We were taken captives. No body knew that I was a Roman princess and I never told anyone. Even the old man, in whose bounty I became captive, the one you have bought me from, asked me my name. I said it was Narjis. He said that it is a maid's name. The rest of the story you witnessed in the slave market."

Bishr Al-Ansari asked: "How come you are a Roman and you speak Arabic?" She said: "Yes, my grandfather loved me so much that he wanted me to study literature and languages. He appointed his royal female interpreter as my teacher. She came day and night to teach me Arabic until I became proficient with it."

Bishr Bin Sulayman said: When I returned with her to Samarra. She met my master Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as), who asked her: "How Allah showed you the dignity of Islam and the honor of Mohammad and his progeny (as)?" She said: "What can I say about what you know better than I do."

Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) said: "I want to honor you. What shall you choose, ten thousand dinars or the news of good tidings of an everlasting honor?" She replied: "The good news of a son from me." Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) said: "Glad tidings for you, for you shall beget a child who will rule over the East and the West and fill the earth with justice and equity as it is filled with injustice and tyranny." Nargis Khatoon (sa) asked: "By whom (I shall have this son)?" Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) replied in Roman language: "By the one for whom Prophet Mohammad (SAW) had betrothed you on the night of so and so, the month of so and so, and the year of so and so...."

Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) described in detail the visions that she had. He added: "By the one to whom Jesus (as) and his disciple gave you in marriage." She said: "Your son Imam Hassan Askari (as)." Imam Ali Al-Naqi (as) said: "Do you know him?" She replied: "There was not a night, he has not visited me since the time I embraced Islam at the hands of Fatima daughter of Prophet Mohammad (SAW)."

At this moment, the tenth Imam told Kafoor, his servant: "Tell my sister, Hakimah to come to me. When that respected lady came, he said: Sister, this is the lady I had told you about. Hakima Khatoon embraced that lady for awhile and became overjoyed seeing her. Then Imam Ali al-Naqi (as) said: "Auntie, take her with you to your house and teach her religious obligations and recommended acts because she is going to be my son's wife and the mother of my of Qaim Aal-e Muhammad (peace be upon him).[1]

[1] - Allamah Majlisi, Behar al-Anwar al-Jame'ah le-dorar Akhbar al-A'emmah al-Athar, vol. (5, pg. 6- 10; ibid, vol.13,translation, Dawani, Ali, (Mahdi Maw'ud), pg. 182 – 198, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, year, 1378 (1999), 28th edition, Fattal Neishabouri, Rawzatul Wa'ezeen and Basiratul Mut'azzin, vol.1, pg. 252 – 255, Razi Publication, Qom; Shaykh Saduq, Kamal al-Deen and Tamam al-Nei'mah, vol.2, pg. 417 – 423, Islamiyah Publications, Tehran, 1395 A.H.

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