Meeting Imam Mahdi (as) – Cure for Ismail Harqali

The accomplished scholar, Ali Ibne Isa Irbili says in Kashful Ghummah that: Some people informed me from my trusted friends that there was a person in Hilla known as Ismail Ibne Hasan Harqali from a village known as Harqal, who died during my time, but whom I did not have the chance to meet.

His son, Shamsuddin narrated to me that his father said that an abscess came up on his left thigh and became as big as a fist. This abscess was there for a long time and it particularly gave him severe pain during the spring season. He used to lose a lot of blood through it. He said that he wasn’t able to properly offer his mandatory prayers because of the abscess. He worried so much about this that he went from his village to the town of Hilla. There he met Sayyed Raziuddin Ibne Taaoos, who was the most eminent scholar of the Shia during those days although he wasn’t recognized as their Marja, only, perhaps because he abstained from issuing edicts to the believers.

Ismail Harqali met him and explained his problem to him. Sayyid Raziuddin called all the physicians of Hilla and sought their advice. They suggested that the only possible cure was the amputation of the abscessed limb. But they also said that there was great risk even in amputation, because there was the risk of severance of some vital veins in the process of amputation. The physicians were believers, and they didn’t want to give him careless advice.

Sayyid Raziuddin told Ismail Harqali: “The Shariah gives permission to offer your prayers despite the impurity of the pus oozing from the abscess.” He said, in fact, prayers in such excruciating conditions will be doubly felicitous.

Now, there was only one city, Baghdad, where there could perhaps be a possibility of his finding a cure. Baghdad was the capital of the realm of Islam and scholars of all disciplines were assembled there. Ismail Harqali thought that he must head for Baghdad. He met the personal physician of the Caliph and went to heavy expenses to take his treatment. He spent all his money, but the cure was not in sight. He had spent all his funds and was then subject to abject penury. He now thought that he would go and seek the help of the Imam Mahdi (as) in Samarrah. Therefore, he proceeded from Baghdad to Samarrah.

For many days he continued to visit the Mausoleum of the Imams (as) and also visited the cellar from where the Imam Mahdi (as) went into Ghaybat. Although the cellar at Samarrah isn’t the abode of the Imam (as), it is certainly associated with his memory. Many days went by when he thought that there was no hope of his recovery from the abscess and he was thinking of returning home disappointed. He thought that he had left his wife and children at home long enough and that he must go back to them.

Therefore, the next morning, early with the sunrise, he went out of the ramparts of the city. Near the ramparts was flowing the river Tigris. He took a bath there and wanted to visit the mausoleums to bid adieu to the Imams (as). He changed into a clean dress and carried water in a pitcher for cleaning the abscess if it suppurated.. This was as a caution for his entering the mausoleum in a clean state. As he entered the ramparts of the town, he found four persons cantering on horses towards him. Their personalities and garments were different from those of the Samarrans. He thought that they must be some travelers passing through the town.

They came near him and suddenly stopped. Two of them were youths. They came and stood on his left. There was one elderly person who stood on the other side. The fourth person, who was neither a youth nor an old person, stood in front of him and inquired about the condition of the abscess and said that he would like to inspect it. He replied that the abscess was increasing by the day. Ismail thought that he had just cleaned himself and was going for the Ziyarat. He was wondering if he would lose his cleanliness if the person touched his abscess. He therefore refused to oblige. Now, the person strongly protested why he wasn’t willing to show them his abscess? Then the person bent low, pushed aside the garment from his thigh, held the abscess in his hands. Suddenly the pus gushed out from the abscess. He felt pain for a while, but was relieved soon thereafter.

Then the person put his hand over the area of the abscess and it looked completely cured. The person put back his garment in its place and said, “O Ismail! You are now fully healed!” He wondered who this person was? How could he know his name? He asked, puzzled and amazed, “How is it that you know me by name?!” The elderly person standing on his right said, “Ismail! Greet him! He is your Imam Mahdi (as)!” Ismail greeted the Imam (as). But replying to his greeting he swiftly mounted the steed and the four persons sped away from sight in no time!

Ismail tried to sprint behind the horse of the Imam (as). For once the Imam (as) stopped his horse and asked him to turn back. He continued to run behind the Imam’s steed. He stopped a second time, and a third time when he said angrily, “O Ismail! I am your Imam-e-Zamana and I have asked you twice not to follow me! Even then in sheer disobedience you continued to follow us!”

Ismail was taken aback. He turned back towards Samarrah. It was early morning and people were stirring out of their homes. He asked them if they had seen the four persons speeding through the town on their steeds. They replied in the affirmative. Ismail asked them if they knew the four riders? They said that they didn’t know them, but their faces and attire indicated that they were not from that area. Then Ismail said that they had deprived themselves the opportunity of meeting Imam Zamana (as). People gathered around him and asked if he had been able to meet the Imam (as).

He told them that he was visiting Samarrah seeking a cure for the abscess on his thigh. He informed them that the Imam (as) himself touched the abscess and it was instantly cured. The persons removed the cloth from his thigh to see if that was the case. They also inspected the other thigh. There wasn’t any sign if ever there was an abscess on any of his thighs. The persons snatched away small pieces of his garment to keep with themselves as a memento. They said that Ismail was the fortunate person, whose body was touched by the Imam (as). He went with difficulty to the inn, changed into a fresh garment and started for Baghdad.

When he reached the Baghdad Bridge, he saw a wondrous scene. The story of his miraculous cure had preceded him and there was a huge crowd waiting for him on the bridge. Whenever any traveler reached the bridge, they would ask his name and then let him pass. Ismail didn’t know why they were asking the name of the new arrivals. When he told them that he was Ismail Harqali, they caught hold of him as was done by the men in Samarrah. It was almost a stampede and he was about to swoon and fall down. Then he noticed Sayyed Raziuddin Ibne Taaoos coming towards him with a big crowd following him. He asked the men to allow him some fresh air.

Hearing his admonition, the men moved away from Ismail. Sayyid Raziuddin caught hold of his shoulder and took him to his house in Baghdad. He told Ismail that the entire populace in Baghdad knew about his miraculous cure. Ismail related to him the entire episode. He told him that not only the story was correct, but the Imam (as) had sent a personal message for Sayyed Raziuddin. Sayyid Raziuddin immediately offered a prayer of thanksgiving and took him along to the caliph.

The caliph was a follower of the Ale Mohammed (as). Sayyid Raziuddin recounted the entire event to the vizier. The vizier informed about it to the caliph. The caliph called them immediately to his court and ordered all the eminent physicians of Baghdad to immediately report at the court. They all came there. The caliph asked them if they remembered Ismail who approached them some days ago for the treatment of the abscess on his thigh. They confirmed that they did inspect the abscess and also that they thought that it wasn’t possible to treat it. The only alternative was the amputation of the limb. The caliph asked, if the abscess had healed, what would have been the result? They replied that if the abscess really healed, it would leave an ugly mark on the spot for at least two months or more, which would then turn into a white mark that the person would carry for his entire life. Now, the caliph asked Ismail to move his garment from the spot where the abscess was. The physicians inspected it minutely and were surprised that there wasn’t any mark of the abscess there and the skin was as healthy as that of a normal person.

One of the physicians was a Christian. He said that what happened could only be a miracle of Hazrat Isa (as). Now, the team of the physicians was sent away. The caliph wanted to give to Ismail a thousand Dinars as a gift, which he politely refused. The caliph was surprised why he was not accepting the gratuity. He said that the one, who cured him has ordered him not to accept any gift. Ismail now went back to the place of Sayyed Raziuddin Ibne Taaoos. He wrote a letter to Ali Ibne Owais, who sent to Ismail a purse containing 1,000 Dinars. When Ismail Harqali returned to his village, his son saw the thigh and was surprised that the abscess had totally disappeared and there was no mark left! Even hair had grown at that spot as it normally does.

Also his son, Shamsuddin narrated: After this incident, my father used to remain very sorrowful due to the separation. Thus, he used to go and stay in Baghdad during the whole of winter and travel to Samarrah and perform the Ziyarat. This year he performed Ziyarat for the fortieth time only in the hope that perhaps he gets the same chance again to see Imam Zamana  (as). But may Allah have mercy on him; he passed away this year with the hope that he will see the Imam again.

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