If we turn the pages of history we will find numerous examples of personalities who have enlivened Islam through their sacrifices of life and wealth. One such personality is Abu Abdullah Mohammed Haaris Akbari famous as Shaykh Mufeed (ra). Mufeed implies the one who benefits others.
Shaykh Mufeed (ra) was born approximately seven years after the commencement of Ghaybat Kubra in the month of Zilqad, 336 AH in the north of Baghdad. Shaykh Mufeed (ra) with the help of his vast knowledge passed through various difficulties and welcomed all the obstacles that came his way with a smile. He sipped real recognition from the ocean of Wilayat and quenched the thirst of the followers of Wilayat. He was attached to the infallible Imam (as) and the Shias benefited immensely from him.
This man of medium height and wheatish complexion had a ready solution for religious, ethical and social problems. It is because of this that he had become a thorn in the eyes of his opponents. At the age of 40 years, he shouldered the great responsibility of defending the Shiite creed. It was an era when Greek and Hindu philosophies were rupturing the fabric of traditional Islam. Twisted beliefs and concocted views were finding their way into the realm of Islam. The enemies of Allah had prepared the groundwork to extinguish the light of truth.
In such a situation, how could the one who was given the title of ‘Mufeed’ by Imam Mahdi (as) sit quiet while ignorance and deviation were raising their heads and corrupt beliefs and views were gaining ascendancy as were the Sufis seated in their shelters. Expectedly, he lived up to his title ‘Mufeed’ and with the help of Allah and His Proof (Hujjat) he laid low the false, corrupt beliefs and nonsensical philosophies through his penetrative writings, teachings and training of students for debates.
He rescued the people from deviation and invited them towards the religion of Allah which was manifested through the teachings of Ahlul Bayt (as). In this manner many deviated sects received guidance. May be this was the reason why Imam Mahdi (as) called him ‘Mufeed’ as he was a helper for Imam (as) and a source of joy for people. The above possibility is proved through various signed letters from Imam (as) to Shaykh Mufeed (ra). But have we ever pondered why Imam (as) referred to him by the title ‘Mufeed’? Why he received so many letters from Imam (as)? Why Imam (as) in his letter remembers Shaykh Mufeed (ra) respectfully and calls him as his ‘sincere friend’?
The answers to these questions manifest for us the remarkable personality of Shaykh Mufeed (ra). The respect of Imam (as) for Shaykh Mufeed (ra) was the result of his memorable services for which he surrendered his entire existence. For the satisfaction of the Imam of his time, he willingly accepted all the difficulties so as to be enumerated among his (as) servants. He was engulfed in his love for Imam (as) in such a way that the flames of this attachment killed his desire for the world and its allurements.
In the eyes of Shaykh Mufeed (ra), everything paled in significance to Allah and His Proof (as). His heart was a dwelling of the love and remembrance of Imam (as); it did not have any place for worldly desires. He considered all his small and big works, his behavior (ethics) and speech as the scale of love and satisfaction of Imam Mahdi (as). He never desired anything other than this. All his efforts and services were for the satisfaction of Imam of the time and for propagating the beliefs of religion to the Shias with weak faith.
One night the Shaykh was fast asleep when he saw in his dream that Hazrat Zahra (sa) was coming towards him and Imam Hasan (as) and Imam Husayn (as) followed behind her. She came near him in the hall of the mosque where he was giving lessons to the youths gathered there. She sat in front of him and sent forward her two sons and said, “O Shaykh ! Give these two sons of mine lessons in the Fiqh!”
At that moment the Shaykh awoke from his dream. The scene was fresh in his mind and he cried the rest of the night. He was wondering if he had committed any misdemeanor that Hazrat Zahra (sa) came in his dream. It is said that even if one Masoom (Infallible) comes in the dream of a person, the dream cannot be wrong and, in this instance, Shaykh Mufeed had seen three infallibles in his dream. He was wondering how he could give instructions to Hasnain (as). He was wondering if the lady wanted to warn him that he was becoming proud of his learning!
Despite being listless, the next morning he went to the mosque that the students would have assembled there for taking their lessons. He went there and started the day’s lessons. In a short while he saw a highly respectable lady coming towards him. Her name was Fatemah binte Husayn and she had in tow two small children and sat exactly at the spot where he had seen Hazrat Zahra (sa) sitting in his dream of the previous night. She too advanced the children forward and said, “My wish is that you instruct these two sons of mine in the discipline of Fiqh.” The Shaykh understood those were the two children about whose education Hazrat Zahra (sa) instructed him in his dream. Those two children were from a family of sayyeds. One of them was Sayyed Murtaza to whom Maula gave the title of Ilm al-Huda and his brother was Sayyed Razi who collected and compiled the sermons of Hazrat Ali (a.s) under the name and title of Nahj al-Balagha—The Peak of Eloquence. It was the greatness of the seminary of Shaykh Mufeed that Hazrat Zahra (sa) came in his dream and asked him to impart learning to the two children.
His life was based on the saying of Imam Sadiq (as): “Our scholars are an obstacle for Shaitan to reach the weak and helpless Shias. Know that whoever rises from our Shias for this is better than a Mujahid who fights in difficult conditions against the enemies. A Mujahid (only) protects the physical boundaries of people but they (scholars) protect the religion.”
With his untiring efforts in the path of Imam Mahdi (as), Shaykh Mufeed (ra) merits inclusion among Allah’s best creatures. We find in traditions, ‘The best and most superior of all people after us are those who enliven our affairs and invite people towards our remembrance.” This is the reason that Imam (as) holds him in such high esteem and lauds his efforts.
Imam (as) in his first letter to Shaykh Mufeed (ra) addressed him, ‘This letter is for my brother and friend Abu Abdullah Mohammed bin Noman (Shaykh Mufeed) – May Allah keep him respected – May Allah’s peace be on you, you have adorned yourself with our friendship through sincerity and love and have preceded the rest in faith and belief…We are thankful to Allah for the bounties of your existence. And pray to Allah that He sends his mercy on our Master Hazrat Mohammed bin Abdullah (sawa) and his Ahlul Bayt (as). For helping the truth and striving to help our friends, Allah has rewarded you and has given us permission to correspond with you.’ ‘It is your responsibility that you convey our message and commands to our Shias – May Allah give them taufeeq of His obedience and safeguard them in His religion…’
In the last letter, Imam (as) wrote, ‘Know that your actions should be such which bring you closer to us and refrain from sins that are a cause of our dissatisfaction. O Shaykh Mufeed! May Allah inspire you with success and guidance through the unseen.’ (Ehtejaj volume 2 page 597; Beharul Anwar, volume 53, page 175)
The letters which have been addressed to Shaykh Mufeed (ra) by Imam (as) have been compiled by scholars in their books viz. Shaykh Tabarsi (ra) in Ehtejaj, Qazi Nurullah Shustari (ra) in Majaalisul Momineen, Allamah Sayyed Bahrul Uloom (ra) in Rejaal, Sayyed Mohammed Baqir Khunsari (ra) in Rauzatul Jannaat, Allamah Majlisi (ra) in Beharul Anwar, Allamah Muhaddisse Noori (ra) in Mustadrakil Wasael and Shaykh Abdullah Maamqani (ra) in Tanqeehul Maqaal and Mirza Mohammed Tankaabuni (ra) in Qasasul Ulamaa.
Mirza Mohammed Tankaabuni (ra) has recorded a letter which is based on a strange incident. Over here we have extracted only the relevant portion from the incident. Marhum Tankaabuni narrates, “A person from the suburbs of Baghdad approached Shaykh Mufeed (ra) to seek the solution of a vexing problem. He asked, “A pregnant woman has expired but her child is alive in the womb, what do you say? Should the foetus be removed through surgery or be buried along with the woman?’” Shaykh Mufeed (ra) replied, “Bury the mother along with the foetus.”
On getting the reply, the man left for his village. On the way, a horse rider crossed his path. He asked the man to halt and said, ‘Shaykh Mufeed (ra) has said that the foetus should be removed from the womb through surgery and then the woman be buried alone.’” The person accepted it and acted on it. After some time, the man came to Baghdad and narrated the incident to Shaykh Mufeed (ra). Shaykh Mufeed (ra) said, ‘I did not send anybody with this edict. It seems that the person was Imam Mahdi (as) (who gave the edict)’. Shaykh Mufeed (ra) says, “After this (wrong edict) I am not capable of giving edicts and undertaking the responsibility of Marjaiyyat. After that day I closed the doors of my house and told the people to no longer seek solutions of their problems from me. It was not long before I received a letter from Imam (as) in which he (as) wrote: “You give edicts, we will save you from mistakes and errors. We will not desert you to commit mistakes.’” In this manner, Shaykh Mufeed (ra) by the order of Imam (as) shouldered the responsibility of Marjaiyyat and recommenced solving the problems of the people.
At the end we can only beseech our beloved Imam – O son of Prophet! O son of Zahra! We lack the spirituality of Shaykh Mufeed (ra). We do not love you with the same intensity. On the contrary, we are immersed in sins from head to toe. Help us to love you. O our Master! Help us, look at us, to enable us to walk on the straight path. O Allah! For the sake of Mohammed and his progeny (as), hasten the reappearance of the last inheritor of religion (as). Aameen!
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