A Byzantine princess converted to Islam at the hands of Zahra… The story of Nargis, the long-awaited Mahdi’s mother

Despite the great importance that the character of Mrs. Nargis occupies in the imaginary Twelver Imami Shi’i, as the mother of the twelfth Imam and the long-awaited Mahdi Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Askari, Shia sources have had many discrepancies on the details of his origin, his biography and his death.

Shia sources – especially the later ones – have worked to link the personality of Mrs. Narges on the one hand, and references in ancient scriptures on the other, to show her story in the form of an ancient prophecy which has been repeated, which was exploited – again and again – in order to convey The global missionary trend on the personality of the expected Mahdi.

Traditional history: difference of origin and name

Admittedly, Shia sources have known great contradiction on the origins of Mrs. Narjis, while some opinions said that she – that is, Nargis – was a daughter-in-law, who lived since childhood in the house of Lady Hakima, daughter of the ninth Imam Muhammad al-Jawad, and that the eleventh Imam al-Hasan al-Askari had married her when he arrived And he admired her, according to what Hussein bin Abd al-Wahhab, who lived in the fifth century AH, mentions in his book “The Eyes of Miracles.” On the opposite side, we will find many sources which confirm that the real name of the Mahdi’s mother is Malika, and that she was a Byzantine princess. In the capture of Muslims in one of the battles, and that she named herself Narcissus, to hide the truth of her personality, and later she was known as Saqeel because of her pregnancy with the twelfth imam, because pregnancy radiated light from him.

“The real name of the Mahdi’s mother is Malika, and that she was a Byzantine princess, who was captured by Muslims in one of the battles, and that she was called Narjis, to hide the truth about her personality.”

The most famous accounts that spoke of Mrs. Narges were those mentioned by Muhammad bin Ali bin Babawayh al-Qummi, known as Sheikh al-Saduq and the late 381 AH in his book “Kamal al-Din wa Tamam al-Ni ‘my”. “, in which the story of the marriage of Mrs. Narges with Imam Hassan al-Askari was mentioned, by an unknown person called Bishr. Bin Suleiman Al-Nakhas, who was mentioned in the narration as being descendants of the companion Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari.

According to this narration, the eleventh imam, al-Hasan al-Askari, who lived in the city of Samarra, the capital of the Abbasids, was in a state closer to house arrest, he summoned Bishr the slaves, and him said: “O human, you are children of the Ansar, and this state has not left you in the state. zakat and your honor to a pioneer that you will precede or the Shiites in the fidelity of this one:

The narration mentions that Imam al-Askari gave a sum of money to a human being, and he wrote a book for him in Roman language and put his ring in it, and ordered him to go to Baghdad to search for a slave named Omar. bin Yazid, and to look at those with him of the servant girls, and he described a specific one to her and ordered her to deliver it Bishr obeyed him, and when he reached Omar bin Yazid, he found Mrs. Narjis with him, and he gave her the Imam’s book.” When she looked at the book, she wept bitterly and said to Omar bin Yazid the slave: “By me, from the owner of this book, and I have sworn to him who kept her from being embarrassed.” Herself.” Umar ibn Yazid could only sell it to people and take what money he had, so Mrs. Narjis would go to Samarra and meet the eleventh Imam.

The Vision and the Annunciation: The Prophet Muhammad gave his speech and she converted to Islam at the hands of Al-Zahra

According to Bishr the Slave, Mrs. Nargis told him her amazing story before they reached Samarra, when she said to him, “I am Malika, daughter of Joshua, son of Caesar, King of the Romans, and my mother is from of sons of the Apostles. It is attributed to the keeper of Christ, Simeon.” She told him that her grandfather, Caesar, wanted him to marry her with some of his relatives of people of power and influence, but the marriage arrangements were failed each time, and that she had seen one day in her sleep Christ and the disciples, and the Prophet Muhammad and a group of imams, and that the Prophet had betrothed her to Christ.

According to the narration, the sermon did not take place only with the blessing of men – the Prophet Muhammad, the Messiah, Simon and the rest of the imams and disciples – but that the female element also had an important and central role, as it was stated by Mrs. Narges that after four nights of the first vision she had a second vision, and at that time Mrs. Fatima al-Zahra and Mrs. Mary witnessed a thousand servants of Paradise, and that Madame Marie had introduced her to al-Zahra, and she said to him: “She is the mistress of women, the mother of your husband, Abu Muhammad. She greeted Narcissus and complained to her about the delay in Zahra reassured her and said to her: “My son, Abu Muhammad, do not visit you as long as you are a polytheist in God and in the Christian sect, and that is my sister Mary, you absolve yourself of your religion for Almighty God. There is no god but God, and I testify that my father, Muhammad, is the messenger of God, and when I said these words, the lady of women hugged me to her bosom, and she purified herself, and said: Now you expect my father Muhammad to visit you, for you are mine.

She had seen one day in her sleep the Messiah and the disciples, the Prophet Muhammad and a group of imams, and that the Prophet had betrothed her to Christ.

The dream visions continued to feature in the narration of Bishr the Slave, as it was reported that Narcissus knew in one of them that his grandfather, Caesar, would send his armies to fight the Muslims, so she got up in the morning, disguised and accompanied the army heading for the battlefield. The meeting of the Byzantine princess with the grandson of the Prophet, and that he had announced to her the birth of the Mahdi, and he said to her: “Good news of a boy who will rule the world, east and west, and he will fill the earth with equity and justice as it was filled with injustice and oppression.” Then he entrusted her to his sister, Wise, who taught her Islamic worship and obligations.

Her death: in front of her husband or in the palaces of the Abbasids?

The controversy surrounding the personality of Ms Nargis has not only been limited to determining her name and origins, but has gone beyond to reach a dispute over the details of her life after the birth of the Mahdi and when of his death. Contemporary Shia cleric Ali al-Kurani suggested in his book “Imam al-Mahdi’s Hadith Dictionary” that Mrs. Narges died shortly before the death of the eleventh Imam in the year 260 AH, relying on some narrations which mention that Imam al-Hasan al-Askari had told him what would happen to his family after his death from the Abbasids were pursuing them, “I asked him to pray to Almighty God that she would kill him before him, so she died while she was alive.”

Some other sources, including, for example, the “gossip” of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi, who died in 460 AH, have confirmed that Mrs. Narges was present when Imam al-Askari died. Therefore, many sources pointed out the great role Nargis played in protecting her son, and that she had pretended she was pregnant – to distract the Mahdi – so when the Abbasids found out about this, they kept it for a long time, and in this regard, Ibn Hazm, who died in 456 AH, says in his book “Al-Fasl” In boredom, whims and bees. “She was imprisoned for seven full years in the Caliph’s palace.

In this context, some Shia historians have mentioned that when the Abbasids were preoccupied with the conflicts and revolutions that broke out against them, the lady Nargis fled and wandered on her face, until she settled in the house of an Alawite, and when he died, she moved to the house of one of the senior Shia officials who worked in the Abbasid court in At that time, his name was Al-Hassan bin Jaafar Al-Nawbakhti. When the Abbasids found out where she was, they arrested her again after a long period of detention. “Al-Mu’tadid imprisoned her more than twenty years after the death of her master, and she remained in his palace until his death at a powerful time”, according to what Shams mentions. died in 748 AH, in his book “Sir Al-Alam Al-Nubala”.

“Character in the Bible”: the role of Ms. Narges in the Shiite imagination

In fact, historians and scholars have directed many arrows of criticism and skepticism at the historical existence of the character of Mrs. Narges, for example, they have doubted the occurrence of a battle between Muslims and Byzantines at that time. , and they also denied the existence of any captive Byzantine princess who fits the descriptions in the Bishr al-Nakhas story. . Nevertheless, we will find that the character of Mrs. Narges has enjoyed a prominent place in the Shia collective imagination over the centuries, which has appeared in many respected sources and narrations.

The imaginary Shia imami was keen – as usual – to emphasize the absolute purity of Ms. Narjis, especially since one of the criticisms leveled at the story of Narjis and Bishr al-Nakhas, was the possibility of an indecent assault while in captivity.

The first point that could underline the status of Mrs. Nargis, was an attempt to link her to many verses and good tidings contained in ancient scriptures, especially the Bible, with its Old and New Testaments. gospel music…”

On the other hand, and far from linking it to the holy books, the imaginary Shiite imami insisted – as usual – on emphasizing the absolute purity of Mrs. Narjis, especially since one of the criticisms addressed to the story of Nargis and Bishr al-Nakhas, was the possibility of indecent assault while in captivity. In this context, the Shia consciousness invested what was narrated in “Al Kafi” by Muhammad ibn Yaqoub al-Kulayni, who died in 329 AH, with the news of the divine protection of the mother of Imam Musa al-Kadhim , and how God entrusted her with someone to protect her at a time when she was still being sold in the slave market. This has become generalized to become an inherent characteristic of all mothers of imams.

Also, we will see that the central presence of the character of Ms. Narges in the Shiite imagination appeared in certain critical and difficult periods, in particular what Ayatollah Muhammad al-Hussaini al-Shirazi mentioned in his book “The mothers of infallible”. “, that when the plague struck the city of Samarra in the 19th century AD, and death spread among the people until they were unable to bury their dead, as some scholars had ordered the people to beg for Mrs. Narges, and when they did, the grief revealed itself and the epidemic was gone forever.

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